Not Close to Your Sister? Here’s How to Change That

By Josie Brown

inhershoesFamily gatherings bring up a lot of pent-up emotions — particularly between siblings. Rivalries between sisters is to be expected. If you can really relate to the Cameron Diaz/ Toni Collette movie based on Jennifer Weiner’s book In Her Shoes, my guess is that your relationship with your sister is not as close as it could be.  Sure, you shared parents, and a childhood, but somehow you grew apart.

When did it happen, and why? So that you can break bread and wishbones together, here are a few insights on how you can become close again.

What Happened

1. You wanted to be different.

When you were growing up, your parents may have treated you exactly the same, even given you identical toys, and dressed you alike. But at a certain age, maybe even as early as three our four, you strived for your own identity. That makes sense, since your tastes, goals, and innate skills varied. It was natural, then, that as you grew older, you also grew apart.

2. You competed for attention.

Sibling rivalry is common-and natural-between sisters as well as brothers. It begins the minute a second (or third, or fourth) child comes into the family. And if a parent shows more attention to one child than the other, jealousy and competition will be the result, and may be a lifelong issue among you and your sister. Your and her realization of these dynamics will go a long way to solving any problems you have between you.

3. You marked your unique territories.

Success is important for human well-being. In families, competition is natural, and can be fun and productive. But if it gets out of hand, it can tear apart this primary relationship. One way in which siblings deal with undesired competition is to choose hobbies, goals, or careers in which they can shine-and boast about at family functions.

Then again, sometimes their actions aren’t nothing to boast about (think “black sheep” personalities, such as Billy Carter, or the Brothers Rodham, or the “Unibomber,” Ted Kaczynski). Any attention-even bad-can lead us or siblings to do something we regret later in life.

…And What You Can Do About It Now

1. Cut her some slack.

If there is any bad blood between you, it’s time to put it to rest. A fresh start means not bringing up past issues that stick in your craw. In other words, give her the benefit of the doubt, and as for the same reprieve.

2. Treat her as a friend.

You have a wonderful set of friends—because you show them respect.

You are tactful to them. You are available to them. You commiserate with them, when they are low. You celebrate with them, when they are high.

And they reciprocate. If you want to re-establish your relationship with your sister, treat her with the same respect you hope she’ll show you. Start today.

3. Make her a priority.

Get on the phone with her at least once a week. In fact, set up a standing phone date. Better yet, if you live close by, make a lunch or dinner date.  If you treat her has your new best friend, she will rise to the occasion.


Josie Brown,’s Relationships Channel Editor, is the author of two novels: IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED, and TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES. Her next book, written with her husband, Martin, is the perfect self-help manual for your BFF (…okay, and for you, too). It’s  THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO FINDING MR. RIGHT, Look for Josie’s third novel, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES, in bookstores June 2010.

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