How to Stop Being the Nagging Big Sister (with your adult siblings)

How to Stop Being the Nagging Big Sister (with your adult siblings)

Old habits die hard, eh? I’ve spent the first three decades of my life nagging my little brother to death. He’s 3 years younger than me, and I always used my “superior” age to make sure he knew who was boss.

Our childhood was a unique one. My dad was a truck driver, often working 18 hour days or more. My mom was out a lot — at work or with her friends. For both of my parents: when they weren’t working, it was party time: lots of drinking & drugs. So my brother and I were on our own a lot, and I found myself responsible for getting him up, getting him to school, helping him with his homework, and a lot of the cooking and cleaning at home. This situation led to two things: I became über-responsible, and my brother became somewhat the opposite.

As we entered our teens, I nagged him like crazy: Stop drinking. Stop smoking. Don’t hang out with that guy. Don’t date that girl. Do your homework. Don’t stay up so late.

I joined the Army after high school, but that didn’t change my nagging ways. Every time I spoke to my brother, it was me bossing him around and trying to tell him how to live his life better. {Newsflash: it didn’t work.}

Eventually, we both learned a lot and matured. What once was a strained relationship is now a great friendship! I wanted to share with you some of the things I had to do (and change) inside myself to repair the damage that my nagging ways had caused.

1. Listen (and shut up)

It’s totally fine to inquire about what’s going on in their lives, just leave the commentary to yourself.

2. Keep your conversations to yourself.

Whatever conversations happen between your sibling and yourself should stay there. Don’t be a middleman between your sibling and your parent/grandparent/etc.

3. Don’t give advice unless they ask.

But what if I know the answer to their problem!?!?! I know, it’s hard to keep your mouth shut when you think you can help. But they’ll never mature if they don’t figure things out on their own.

4. Ask THEIR advice.

Nothing shows that you respect and value them as a mature adult like asking for their expertise on something.

5. Don’t judge.

My little brother has done many things that I don’t agree with, ethically and morally. But I do my best to show love to him even if I disagree with his choices. And I try not to talk about him in a negative way to my husband, especially if the kids are around.

6. Be a good example.

More is caught than taught! Be a good example: don’t take advantage of family, don’t use debt, don’t abuse alcohol, be kind and generous. These behaviors can rub off on even the surliest little siblings over time.

Titus 2:7

Like I said before, these techniques have worked for me (and my brother), but I’m sure that every family and every relationship is different! If there’s something that you have done to strengthen your relationships with your adult siblings, please share in the comments below!!

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