8 Ways to Manage Your Complicated Relationship With Your Sister

sistersThose of us with sisters know -- that relationship can be tricky. My own sister is just 18 months younger than I am. We played together every day as kids. We fought, we cried, we bonded. We've said horrible things to each other, and then made up. We love each other like crazy and can't imagine life without each other's support.

That's why it saddens me to see what appears to be some tension between Beyoncé and her sister Solange. Of course, we have no idea what's really going on! But it's because of my own relationship with my sister that I see Beyoncé's posting of photos with Solange on Instagram as a sincere gesture toward peace-making. Sister relationships are complicated! But here's what I've learned about how to manage them, mostly from my own sister's superior example.


1. Be aware of rivalry. It happens, and you can't always prevent it. The important thing is to notice feelings of rivalry so you can deal with them.

2. Respect each other's right to be her own person. You're probably a lot alike, which is why your differences sometimes cause tension. That's okay. Respect each other's perspectives and choices even when they're not the same as your own.

3. Talk regularly. This is harder for those of us who live far away from our sisters. And I'm so lazy about picking up the phone! But regularly talking with each other keeps you familiar. It also shows your sister that you're interested in her life.

4. Let hot emotions subside before responding. When one of you makes the other angry, stop before responding. Sit with those feelings until you're ready to say "what you said hurt me" rather than striking back with something equally hurtful. And if your sister says something potentially offensive, remember: You can make a conscious choice not to be offended.

5. Keep your sense of humor. My sister and I love to laugh together -- including at ourselves and each other. This is essential.

6. Don't assume you know better. This is for us older sisters. I am not always right! I repeat! I am not always right!

7. Learn from the past. By now you know what your sister's buttons are -- don't push them! Just don't. Resist.

8. Always act out of love. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a sister. If you happen to have one -- or more -- treasure that relationship. Treat it gently. Always have each other's back. And try to remember to always act and speak out of love for her.

How do you manage your relationship with your sister?



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