Building Strong Sibling Relationships

Episode Transcript

Julia Landauer 0:04 Hello everybody and welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. I hope everyone had a good week. Mine was very low key. I finally got back to Charlotte after three weeks on the road for the holidays, and got to go into the office for a day. We had a more social unexpected weekend we had one of our French friends here in Charlotte threw a galette Party. Galette des Rois is a three kings cake and Three Kings Day is celebrated more heavily in Europe by the party involves baking this puff pastry cake filled with frangipane. And there's a little porcelain figurine that's baked in there. And so at the party, someone who is the youngest in the group goes underneath a table randomly calls out the names of people at the party, they get the randomize slices, and then whoever has the porcelain figurine in their slice is the king or the queen of the party. It's really fun. Last year, I was the youngest person there. So I went under the table this year it was someone else. It's just it's a lot of fun. It's silly, then baked to collect cakes that we brought to it, which was really cool. And we had our host bake one that was great. And then another store bought one because there were 20 people there. And it was just a lot of fun. One of the winners used my 30th birthday Tiara as the the crown. So that was very special. He looked beautiful in the 30 tiara. And yeah, so that was fun weekend, we then also went to a friend's birthday, which was really nice. And then Ben and I caught up on household stuff that we had to do, we finally got rid of our Christmas tree, which shout out to whoever thought of inventing a nine foot garbage bag because the tree was so dry and so bristly and we had to squeeze it through a narrow doorway into a pantry through another narrow doorway through the kitchen out the door. And so it would have made a total mess if we did not have it in a bag. So that was fantastic. And then let me tell you, federal holidays hit different when you otherwise have to go into the office every day. I'm recording this on Monday. And it's really nice to just have a day to do other stuff. So yeah, working woman learning all the details. So I'm really excited for this week's episode to talk about something that's a major part of my life, which is having a strong relationship with my siblings. I started thinking about the idea for this episode, because I will regularly mentioned to people that I meet or colleagues or just in conversation that my siblings and I FaceTime every week, and every time I mentioned that people's faces light up and they you can tell that they think it's Oh, it's cool. Like, that's an interesting idea. That's a really frequent amount of time to talk with your siblings. It's dedicated sibling time. And so seeing those reactions from people made me think like, Hmm, maybe maybe there's something here. And maybe I can share something that can be helpful to other people, as you navigate your own relationships with your siblings. Or if you want to improve a relationship with your siblings, or if you're an only kid, if you're thinking about your future kids and how you want to raise multiple kids. Because we've gotten to a point my sister brother and I, that we had this really solid foundational relationship, I wanted to share what I think has been really important for helping us get to this point. For context, my younger sister, Emma is a little less than three years younger than me, and my younger brother, Aidan is almost six years younger than me. So there's a bit of a spread. And for those of you who are interested in zodiac sign, so I'm the oldest and, I'm a Scorpio, my sister's the middle, and she's a Leo and my brother's the youngest, and he's an Aries. So I don't really know what that means. But I'd love to hear in the comments if you do know what that means. Or if you feel a certain way after listening to this episode, and the eighth, and I have made it to the point where we have this wonderful, strong loving relationship, and we're supportive of each other and we help each other. And it's a really special place to be. But if I'm honest, it took a lot of work to get here, right? Any relationship, especially long lasting ones take a lot of maintenance, a lot of work and effort and sibling relationships are no different. And I think sibling relationships are interesting, because there are some unique challenges to these lifelong relationships. You know, first and foremost, we all usually have like very different personalities and different interests. And so if you think about it, siblings are in close quarters raised together, they have this familial bond, but they may or may not actually have a lot of shared interest. They may or may not have a lot of shared ways that they do things or life views or whatever that might be and Emma, Aidan, and I talked about this that if we were to all be at a party, and we were all come across each other, we're not sure that we would naturally gravitate towards each other. We have different styles we have different things that we find inter Seeing we have different ways that we communicate. So there are a lot of things that can kind of get in the way of having natural synergies. But at the same time, we love each other. And we know that we're lifelong support systems. So that can be interesting. Another area that potentially makes sibling relationships challenging is birth order. So there are a few different theories about how birth order affects your personality and how you walk through the world. And Alfred Adler is one of the more well known people to look into this. And so for a quick summary on what birth order can do for a child, according to Adler tends to be more controlling and reliable and high achiever and has a more structured life. And they may benefit from kind of the exclusive attention that they get from their parents before their siblings are born. But then at the same time, they have these high expectations put on them and these high responsibilities that go into their relationships with their siblings. If we look at the middle children, there have been some notes that maybe they might be a little more competitive, because they're there to overthrow the older sibling, or they might be a little more rebellious, because maybe there's more attention on the first sibling. And at the same time, they might be more even tempered. And they might be able to look at a situation and have a more rational approach to it. And there might be a social butterfly. And when it comes to the youngest, the baby of the family, there's a tendency that maybe they're a little more spoiled, they might also be more fun, loving, more outgoing, they might be more attention seeking. And this is not a hard and fast rule. But it's interesting to look at different families, including our own and see, well, maybe we see some of that. And even this past weekend at a party, I was talking with someone and he just had his second kid like a year ago. And he was saying that he's starting to see these differences where there's more like rule following with the first one, but she's also really ambitious. And then the second one they're seeing as being a little more mischievious. So some of these psychological or nurture related realities of birth order could also be playing into sibling relationships, which then can spur on some frustrations. I don't want to say resentment necessarily, but can make the dynamic interesting if an oldest sibling is has the tendencies to do things a certain way. And then they see their younger siblings doing things differently. And it can be challenging, right? Like that is a very real thing to deal with. The last thing I want to touch on that may impact how a sibling or multiple siblings get along with each other is how involved the parents are. And I say this, from the context of my parents have told us since we got older that they put a lot of active effort in to making sure that we had a good relationship with each other. And they persevered and pushed through our resistance when we weren't each other's biggest fans. And they, they really helped us to build those relationships. And I'll get into some of those specific things they did later. But I recognize that that's a privilege, right to have parents who are kind of committed to that and that it takes a lot of effort and time and energy. And so it's something I'm lucky for, and it's something that I have flagged for my future. If I have kids that that we will have to put a lot of effort effort into make sure that they stay close with their siblings. I think it's worth overcoming these obstacles. Because while there might be some challenges with sibling relationships, in particular, siblings also may be some of your longest life relationships, like people who've been with you from start to the finish. I like this idea that blood is thicker than water, and hopefully, unconditional love for family drives respect and trust in a way that you may or may not get with many other people in your life. And at the end of the day, no one else will have that really deep, intimate knowledge of the dynamic of what you were raised with and what imprints you had on you that might affect how you go through the world now. So especially if you're working through something or you have a challenge, a sibling will know kind of the background of what you what baggage you might be dealing with. And so I think that's a really special insight that can potentially be helpful. So with all that I want to share kind of how I want to go through this episode of tackling sibling relationships and hopefully helping you out. And so I want to share a bit of my family background and my own relationships with my siblings. I want to give some concrete tips as to how to stay close with your siblings. And because I recognize that I am biased in how I view my relationship with my siblings, I wanted to make sure I was checking myself and so I invited Emma and Aidan to come on and share some of their perspectives which will happen at the end of the episode. So thank you in advance Emma and Aidan for some family background as I look back on how my relationship with my siblings evolved and changed and developed. There are a lot of more subtle things throughout our upbringing that I think lend themselves to helping us out. So we spent a lot of time together as a family and we would go spend weekends out out in the woods at my family's place, which was pretty isolated. So it really was exclusive family time except for the, you know, occasional friend or family friend that would come and spend the weekend. But it was at uninterrupted family time, that forced us to be creative together and to have fun together and spend a lot of time together. Eventually, that turned into racing go karts, most weekends. And so we were doing these challenging sports together. And we were working as a family as a team. So there was a lot of that bonding time. On top of that we grew up in an apartment in New York. And so there was very physically close proximity growing up, which I thought was great. And one thing that I think was particularly special that I didn't think about until more recently, is that my sister and I shared a room for our entire upbringing. And this did a few things. So one, I think my sister and I had pretty big personality differences throughout high school and elementary school and everything. And I can't even really begin to imagine what it's like to have an older sibling going through school before you and from what I've heard from her things that like, you know, just teachers always reference your older sibling. And in a school setting, you don't kind of have your own identity the same way that I did as the first kid. And so I completely respect the frustrating nature that that might have brought on. So there was that element. And we just were into different things. And we were doing different things. And so we I wouldn't say we were the closest throughout elementary school and middle school and everything. And then in high school, we weren't going to the same high school. So those years, I think, we can both agree that they were not our closest. But at the end of the day, we always shared a room. And so I met, we were doing our homework within a few feet of each other. And we had our lofted beds with our desks underneath. And so we were doing that, and then we went to bed pretty much at the same time. And so we would have our chats before going to sleep. And it allowed that more intimate debrief of what was going on and what what we were thinking about at any given time, that was really, really special. And I recognized that that probably brought us closer than it would have if we had our own rooms, not related to sibling relationships. Having to share a room also meant that we had to compromise on our aesthetics. And we had to accommodate each other's stylistic needs, we also had to as we got older, learn how to negotiate and compromise on who got privacy when Right. And, you know, we couldn't always have a room to ourselves. And so kind of learning how to work with someone else in that capacity was really a good life lesson, we also had to respect each other's needs from how the room was kept. And you know, I think I'm probably a little more messy and chaotic. And Emma's a little neater and balancing your needs versus your siblings needs is a really, really delicate skill that you need to have. And so those were some some elements of sharing a room that I didn't think about until later that were really beneficial, I think, to overall personality development. So I think that I'm going to have my kids share a room regardless of our living situation, because it just forces that closeness. I'm sure my brother loved having his own room and you know, more power to you, but going to make the best of the fact that we shared a room that Emma and I shared a room and we're able to grow closer because of that. In addition to that, you know, my family in general had really regular family discussions, we ate dinner together every night, we were super communicative. We were expected to give thoughtful answers as to what our day was like. And my parents really wanted to help us learn how to articulate our feelings, which inevitably helped us as we built our own sibling relationship as we got older. And as I mentioned, not only with my sister, but during my teenage years, I think was also where I felt most distant from my brother because at six years younger, you know, he was a 12 year old, pre pubescent boy, when I was an 18 year old young woman about to graduate high school going to college. So we were in two vastly different worlds. And I think that's just a very challenging space to be in to have a relationship and communication styles different life experience is different. So I felt the most distant during those years. And that is part of what spurred on my parents, to encourage us to have weekly calls once I did go to college. And if I'm honest, I did not remember how we started doing those sibling face times. And I had to ask my parents and they said simply that they knew that there was this big age gap, especially between me and my brother, and that I was leaving the house. And so it was really important for them to make sure that we maintained our communication so that we didn't get to distance so that we didn't get caught up in our own lives and forget to make time for others. So pretty much as soon as I went to college, we had first weekly phone calls. I think we just had three way phone calls. And then as more software came out for us to have video calls, we started incorporating video calls with some Random companies and products that I don't remember what they are called. But we eventually got onto Skype calls and then FaceTime made everything a lot easier. But we started having these calls. And it's so special because we got to see each other's emotions, we got to see what each other were feeling and get to hear the emotion in their voice. And then also it kind of subconsciously, let all of us know that we were very intentionally making time for each other, that we were taking time out of our weekly lives to catch up with each other to hear what was going on. And some weeks we will be focused on more than one sibling, some weeks, it's just surface level updates on what's going on. But it has that communication element, and it has that intimate visual component that we can see each other. And we can have that closeness, especially when we're not seeing each other every week. And my siblings to this day, see each other almost every week. But for us being far apart, it really brings us that much closer together. And we are up to date on what's going on in each other's lives. And we are having these regular communications. The last thing that I want to touch on from my upbringing that I think was really helpful was that my parents put a lot of effort into helping each of us think about our siblings perspective, because I would complain about my siblings to my parents usually. And they really tried to teach us to be empathetic and to understand what someone else is going through and where they might be coming from and what the intent of what they're saying or what they're doing is. And that is such a crucial life skill that allows us to kind of put our ego aside and to be more analytical on the situation, and really get at the meat of what's being said, because at the end of the day with Emma, Aidan and I, we know that we love each other deeply, we know that we have each other's best interests at heart. But some of these other elements or things that we're going through, or frustrations or ways that we communicate can cloud that meaning. And even though we know all that, and even though we were very close, we can still really get frustrated with each other. So I'm really grateful to my parents for helping us to learn to read what someone's saying and how they're saying and really learn what the intent is, we're gonna take a quick break, but we'll be right back. And we're back to talk about sibling relationships. Okay, so now I want to share four tips that I have for building and maintaining a strong relationship with your siblings. The first tip is to talk regularly. And to talk about substantial stuff, it is very easy to touch base on just the kind of surface level things that we're dealing with. But dedicating substantial time, like our facetimes are usually an hour to an hour and a half, once a week, but to dedicate substantial time to your siblings, to let them know that you care to let them know that you want to dedicate this time, and to provide the space where you can dive into the things that are bothering you that you're excited about that you're struggling with. You know, when I was going through, trying to get a job and was going through that process, my siblings helped me out so much with some of the just logistical things that I had to do and how to read certain situations. So there's stuff like that. Then there's also relationships, things that we talk about and what we're excited about what we're working through friend things, we get to talk about our parents and our family situation. So we just really take the time to dive deep into that. And we we complement those those weekly calls with daily texting and everything. So we've made it to a point in our relationship where we have a sibling Text group, and we pretty much exclusively text each other in that group. And it's an everyday situation. We obviously have our one on one text chats, but but their use a lot less frequently than our group text. And I think that's really critical because it means that we're able to stay up to date with each other everything that we're sharing is known by the other siblings. It's a place for fun stuff, serious stuff, frustrating stuff, questions, concerns, updates, you know, it's just there's a lot going on in that text and lots of videos that are sent in photos and is just a really nice way to stay connected, especially since I don't live in the same city as my siblings. I'm not saying everyone needs to talk with their siblings that much. But to have dedicated substantial time somewhat frequently allows you to become more familiar with what you're going through and to be able to help each other out. The second tip is to do enjoyable things together. I think it's so so important to remember to have fun with the people that you have substantial relationships with. Whether that is your romantic partner or your best friends or even colleagues you're working with regularly or your siblings or your parents or other family members. Have fun. It's important to have fun in life and so for my siblings and I not only do we go out to dinner when we're in town together or you go to shows or watch shows together or talk about, you know, British Bake Off or talk about the crown. But we also have our annual sibling trip. We started doing this a few years ago. And it just becomes so special to be able to look forward to that moment in our year. It's usually in the spring or early summer. And we get to check a bucket list item off our list for someplace we want to go, you know, we've gone to places like Charleston and Portland and Rhode Island. And, you know, one day we want to go to Montana, maybe we want to go to Canada, just to have a fun thing to look forward to. But then also to have that unstructured time where we just get to talk about whatever's on our mind at a given time, to be able to do activities, we like being outdoors and physical and hiking. And we also like eating and drinking and having that great time. And we love a spa night. And so going through those things that bring us joy with each other and to bond over that. Super important. The third tip, which I think is really important for not only sibling relationships, but all relationships is that when something is bothering you about your sibling, it's important to address it quickly with I feel statements and not let it simmer. This is something that I'm really proud of my siblings and I for getting quite good at because especially if you're not living in the same place. If a sibling does something that annoys you, and you let it simmer, then you're going to have that energy anytime you interface with them. And it's just going to build up and you're going to get more frustrated, you're going to be more inclined to remember the negative. And so if we're able to nip that in the bud, and we're able to say, hey, it made me feel X, Y and Z when you did ABC, and I'm I don't think you meant it a certain way. Or, you know, I was a little surprised that that was that. Can we talk about it, you know, super important. And again, it's important not to make accusations, it's important to come from your feelings because no one's feelings are wrong. But to ask questions and to see what the issue is and to be honest about how it made you feel and what you're concerned about. And then giving your sibling the benefit of the doubt and giving them the opportunity to respond with their own perspective that you might not be privy to. So having those conversations sooner rather than later can help prevent anger and build up in frustration that will only have the potential to explode later on. And that leads me to my fourth tip that I want to share with you, which is to tell your siblings that you love them, and then you want to have a lifelong relationship with them. I think we can take family for granted sometimes. And I think that we can kind of just assume that they'll be there. But if we're not putting the work in to help make our siblings feel loved and appreciated and special, then those those loving, joyful feelings might go away. Right? People like to feel special, people want to know that if they're investing time in you that you're also investing time in them. And so reminding your siblings that you want to have this relationship that you want to build it up or that you want to be an outlet for each other, I think can be really, really powerful and emotional, and it's vulnerable. But that is what we're supposed to be with our siblings, I think. And maybe I'm taking a romanticized approach. But I think it's really, really critical to do that. So as a quick summary, for the tips for staying close, talk regularly and about deep stuff, do enjoyable things together, when something is bothering you address it right away with I feel statements and tell your siblings that you love them, and you want to have a lifelong relationship with them. These are my perspectives on sibling relationships, and what's important and what's challenging. But I recognize that I'm biased. And so I wanted to reach out to my sister and brother, Emma and Aidan and ask them two things. The first question I asked them was, what is one thing that they think is really important to a sibling relationship? And the second question I asked them is, what is something that I do that frustrates them to this day, even though we work through things, and we have a good relationship? So here is what Emma thinks is really important to having a strong sibling relationship. Emma Landauer 24:03 I think that the most important thing in a sibling relationship is communication. And I think that that does span to other relationships as well. But I would say that with siblings, you might think that you have the same experience and the same thought because you know, you share the same DNA and you've gone through similar things. But I think that everybody's experience is different. And I think that communicating and keeping that, you know, top of mind when you're dealing with your siblings is really important, because even though you have usually the same parents, or at least in our case, the same parents, same upbringing, same values, you know, we're all different people. And I think that communicating our differences and communicating how we feel about certain situations, is really important. Julia Landauer 24:46 And here's what Aidan thinks is really important to having a strong sibling relationship. Aidan Landauer 24:50 I think at the base of it friendship and a desire to want to be friends makes a huge difference in a sibling relationship. Obviously family is your family and your you grow up with these people. But if you can get the relationship with their siblings to a point where you're actually friends and you actively enjoy spending time with each other, not because you're family, but because you guys just get along well, I think that makes a really strong sibling relationship. Julia Landauer 25:14 And I really did not know what to expect for me and Aidan in terms of what I do that bothers them. But this is what I do that bothers Emma. Emma Landauer 25:22 One thing that has always been a little bit tough in Julia's and my relationship is our different definitions of neatness. And after sharing a room for about 15 years, probably more, you know, that is one area where she and I had very different views on how neat a room should be. I'm very much everything should be in its place, everything should be put away. And Julia is a bit more creative when it comes to where things should go. And so it is something that I have to constantly remember when we're together for holidays in the same house that we have different definitions of where things should be and how things should look. So, you know, try to remember that as life continues to get more chaotic, and sibling, that's something I'm working on. But that would definitely be top of my list for things that I've had to work on with Julia. Julia Landauer 26:04 Sorry, sis. And here is what I do that bothers Aidan, Aidan Landauer 26:09 I'm going to answer this with more of like a general thing rather than one specific thing. I think sometimes what's frustrating with Julia is that we just have different styles. And this is the same with my other sister. But we you know, as we've all grown up and gone our separate ways and done different things in our lives, personally, professionally, etc. We all develop our own styles. And I think what's challenging sometimes is when we all come back together, just understanding those styles and realizing what's different between the three of us within our sibling relationship, and assuming positive intent. So yeah, I just think, you know, an appreciation for a respect of an understanding of how to manage the different styles is a way to work through that. But we always work through it. Because you know, the love is there, the friendship is there, we respect each other. And, as I said, assume positive intent. It's a very powerful tool. Julia Landauer 26:59 Oh, my goodness, I just love my siblings so much. They're so great. This is so special to be able to do this with them. And thank you, Emma and Aidan, for your perspectives. To wrap up, I wanted to acknowledge that not all siblings will be able to have strong relationships. Some people are struggling with their own demons, some people are toxic. Some people have questionable morals, and some some families are broken beyond repair. And some siblings just won't want to put the effort into having a close relationship. And at the end of the day, I don't think it's something we can force if it's not all parties wanting to put the work in. But I hope that that's the minority of people listening. And my hope after listening to this episode is that if any part of you wants to use this as a catalyst for revamping a relationship with a sibling or trying to get closer with a sibling, feel free to use this, you can say that you heard that Julia and her siblings FaceTime every week and that you liked that idea and would like to have standing time on the calendar with your siblings. Or you can say that you heard this episode and you thought of your sibling and wanted to send it to them and talk about it with them afterwards. And if not, if you didn't like it, then understood, but that is that is what I hope that we will be able to take away from this episode or just have something to think about in the future as you're raising kids, and you know, whatever your objectives might be for sibling relationships, if this can be helpful. I'm so thrilled. Friends, that is our show. Thank you Emma and Aidan for sharing your perspectives. They were so great and I loved hearing from you and you have great radio voices in my opinion. And if you liked this episode, please share it with a friend please leave review rate the podcast and as always, thank you for letting me be honest with you and I look forward to seeing you next week.