I see a lot of posts online about being a better mother, how to be a good father, and "peaceful parenting". I love these posts. I love reading them, studying them, learning from them.
But I'm not a mother. I'm certainly not a father. I'm a big sister.
And I think siblings are just as important in a child's life. Big siblings offer protection, guidance, comfort and serve as an idol of sorts. Younger siblings offer forth inspiration, understanding, acceptance, and perspective. And both give love, unconditionally, always.
So I'm going to do something different today. Instead of talking about being a better parent, I'm going to talk about being a better sibling.
1. Don't judge. Accept them for who they are. Even if you don't like it, even if it makes you uncomfortable, even if it challenges who you are and how you understand the world. Do not judge them on who they are. That is how families are torn apart, how countries go to war, how suicides happen, how racism starts, how prejiduce becomes violence. Don't judge them, and they won't judge you.
2. Don't yell. Storm away, slam doors, throw glass sculptures out the window, burn a forest down. But never, ever yell at them. No matter what, never, ever yell at them. Being yelled at hurts more than being hit, being kicked, being betrayed, being cheated. It is an indescribable pain, that in your-face knowledge that you have broken someone down to the point that they scream at you. It's never worth it. Don't yell.
3. Give, unconditionally. If they want to play with you, need help with homework, want a few dollars, need someone to talk to or hug, give it to them. Always. Nothing is more important than them. When you refuse them for something else, you are telling them that what you are refusing them for is more important. Is it?
4. Trust them.
5. Forgive. Give them unlimited second chances.
6. Never give up on them. Always believe in them, always support them, always help them and be there. No matter how frustrating they are or how hopeless they seem, keep trying.
7. Set a good example. Whether you are younger or older, your sibling's will see almost everything you do, and learn from it. So if you're doing something you don't want them to learn, maybe you need to change. Kids are the biggest detectors of hypocricy.
8. Be proud of them, often. Let it show, loudly. They ace a class that was hard for them? Throw a party. They draw a cool picture? Hang it up in your room. Brag about them - and let them overhear you doing it.
9. Be gentle. No matter how angry you get, how hurt you are, how betrayed you feel, don't hurt them. Physically or emotionally. No insults, no secrets revealed, no low-blows, no harsh criticism. Because once you've said it, you will never be able to take it back.
10. Have their back. They're family. That's more important than anything. So when they're struggling, whether they're facing a mean teacher or an army of demons, Have their back. Back them up.
11. Listen. Believe them. They want you to love them and accept them. Remember how much it hurts when your parents don't believe you. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
12. Know we all screw up, and that's okay. You will screw up, they will screw up, the whole world screws up on a regular basis. Accept that as a fact of life, learn from your screw ups and theirs, and move on. Don't let a mistake hold you apart.
13. Love them. And express it. Every opportunity you get to show your love, to prove it, to express it, take full use of that moment. Don't waste it.
14. Be honest.
15. Believe in them. Support them. Don't tear down their dreams - build them up.
16. Don't hit back. Don't take revenge. Let go of what happened, move on. Be the bigger person. Obviously if your life is in danger, protect yourself, but that's the only acceptable excuse, ever.
To older siblings: You are their leader. You are a king, a queen, a sovereign, a feudal lord. My question for you is what kind of leader you will be.
It doesn't matter if there's twenty years between you and your siblings. It doesn't matter if you live in different countries. It doesn't matter if you have one sibling or seven. It doesn't matter if they've screwed up in the past, or that you have. What matters is that they're family, and family is more important than anything.
I'm not perfect, and I'm certainly not a perfect sibling. I screw up, and I screw up royally. And I tend to screw up quite often, too. But I love them, and I try. So I'm not here sitting high and mighty on my throne, telling you how to live your lives. I'm just saying that maybe as siblings, we could be better.
How do you show your love for your siblings?
p.s. These things are applicable to parents, but with the level of authority a parent needs to maintain, among other factors, you might have to tweak things a little.