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This Is Why Having A Sister Is Better Than A Significant Other

This Is Why Having A Sister Is Better Than A Significant Other

I am one of seven children. My three sisters and I grew up in a smallish bedroom with two sets of bunk beds stacked up against the walls. We shared a closet, a dresser, and just about everything else.

I had friends who were only children. I looked longingly at their perfect dolls and toys placed carefully on their perfect shelves in their perfect little girl bedrooms. Every day their moms would sneak in while they were at school and put everything in order, like a hotel maid. These little girls would come home to everything just perfect.

These same little girls had beds with canopies. They had bathrooms to themselves. They could sleep in on weekends and some even had TVs in their rooms. Their moms were their best friends. They could leave school just to get their hair done.

Our bedroom always had stuff hanging about. There just wasn’t room to store the paraphernalia of four girls who had definite ideas about how they wanted their space to be.

As a result it was a jumble of all of our stuff, all over the floor, all the time.

All of us girls shared a bathroom with our three brothers. We could never sleep in because the house woke up when it woke up and there was din until nightfall.

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My mom did my hair, and when I turned ten I grew it long and hid behind it. It stayed that way until I grew up and went to beauty school. I could finally get a professional haircut because I was able to give one in trade. And I was good at it.

From a very young age, I really thought I was hard up.

Today is the third of July. I am getting ready to go to a mad family reunion. My family is nothing if not a little bit unusual. It will be a huge rush of humanity, all trying to catch up on communication that should have occurred over the past year but, for whatever reason, it did not.

I always look forward to seeing them again because, like them or love them, they are my sisters.
I have come to realize that there are so many reasons that sisters rock the universe but I can only give you a few here.

1. They get you

Your sisters have grown up with you so they know the ENTIRE back story of your situation and everything leading up to it.

They may not agree with you all the time but they never wonder why you do what you do or say what you say.

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To this day I can go to my sister Bess and say, “What’s happening mujere?” (pronounced Moo-hair in our Wonder Bread vernacular) and she will respond as though I have not said anything unusual.

2. They have seen your naked butt.

This may seem like a completely random statement, but there is no bond like the one forged when you catch a glimpse of your sister’s naked rear quarters as she streaks from the bathroom to the hall closet to claim a forgotten towel. There she is, dripping wet, and she looks up just in time to see your laughing face as she scrambles with the knob on the hall closet door, frantically trying to get it open.

Before you laugh too heartily though, don’t forget that you have forgotten your towel too and the chances are very, very, very great that she has seen your butt naked as well.

3. They have suffered with you through awful times.

I know sisters love to say “I told you so,” but they really do suffer when you suffer. I know that when one of my sisters is unhappy, I am unhappy too. They are family, they are blood, and they are connected to you.

Yes, there are moments when you feel like kicking each other to the curb but just wait until some non-family member tries to injure you. The claws will come out!

4. They have cheered you on.

Sisters do get jealous at times but, even so, they are happy that you are doing well. They were there when you got married. They called to check on you when your kids were sick. They gave you “atta girls” when you made some bully eat dust, and they rejoiced at your new bonus as long as you took them out for drinks and fattening appetizers!

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5. They do girl stuff.

I am a mom now and I have two boys. I love these dudes immensely but they NEVER like to get their nails done! They also don’t like to shop for shoes or dresses. I have been known to borrow a friend’s young girls because we love shopping together. When my sisters and I are together, we shop. We eat. And we laugh about really dumb things. It is the best time ever.

6. They are on the same diet you are.

We are women in a world where thin is equated with beauty. No matter how unjust this is, we are always on diets. There is nothing like a sister to call and whine about how you want an ice cream cone and can’t ever have one again. When you do this, you know that they understand perfectly what depths of despair you are going through.

We rejoice with each other’s loss of ounces and frown at each other’s pounds of gain. In the end we forget the whole diet concept and go out for cake. Then we are all happy.

7. They are aging at the same rate.

As we get older, we change, and not always in ways we love. However miserable this can be, it is heartening to know that someone shares your misery and is on the same conveyor belt to Hell that you are.

Sisters can talk with perfect understanding about love handles that have sprung up over night, a sudden wild whisker hair that has appeared on your lip, weird bumps and growths that appear out of nowhere and jeans that no longer button up like they once did.

They know what you are going through because they are going through it too. There is no one who cackles as heartily at you trying to get your stiff hips up out of a chair than someone who looks as bad or worse when she tries it.

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The last and best thing about sisters is that they are stuck with us. We can have our upsets and misunderstandings but we always come back to each other.

Looking back, my “only children” friends had nice things. They had designer beds and beautiful bedrooms, but I always had someone to play with, someone to talk to. Even if everyone hated me, one of my sisters did not and that was all I needed.

My sisters and I made up games and went around the neighborhood begging for old dresses and petticoats so we could put on plays in our garage. We made up each other’s faces and rated each other’s ability to movie kiss by watching as we practiced on our pillows and gave helpful critiques as though we knew what the heck we were talking about.

Our house was the center of activity for the whole neighborhood. We had sleepovers in sleeping bags on the lawn every Saturday night during the summer. We had dance shows and baseball games in the street. We had rope swings and caught pollywogs from the creek. In short, we had everything we ever needed because we had each other.

I know many people reading this have had upsets with their sisters or you wouldn’t be reading this. All I can say is communication fixes everything. If you miss your sister, tell her so.

If you have a BFF that has stuck with you through thick and thin, adopt her as your sister and keep her close to you. One can never have too many sisters.

I know I don’t say this enough but Sissies, I love you wacky dudettes!  Hey! I have a hankering for margaritas and something fattening and fried. Who’s in?

Featured photo credit: Beautiful Girls Having Fun in the Park via shutterstock.com

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Chris Ellis

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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