December 30, 2017


Dear Brandon,

My sister and I used to fight over little things, but now it’s over almost EVERYTHING! I get SO mad at her that I yell things I don’t really mean to say, like “I hate you” or “I wish you weren’t my sister.” The worst part is that I’m the youngest sister, so she thinks she knows more than I do and bosses me around. That makes it even more IMPOSSIBLE to get along with her! Please help!!

Sorry Sister

Dear Sorry Sister,

This sounds really tough. I mean, I don’t have a sister. I don’t have any siblings. So at first I thought I couldn’t answer this. But then I thought maybe I can be a little more of an impartial observer. Like, I won’t bring my own drama with my siblings to this answer. Maybe that’s good? I don’t know. I’ll do my best, and hopefully others will give their opinions in the comments, too.

Based on stuff I’ve heard from friends, it’s normal for siblings not to get along sometimes, and it can get intense. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other. I think sometimes we fight MORE intensely with family members than anyone else because we know, at the end of the day, family members will still be there, no matter how awful we act.

And as tweens/teens, our hormones are going crazy, right? And we learn in health class what that means physically, but I feel like we don’t talk enough about what that means emotionally. The way I understand it, all those crazy hormones make our emotions super extreme, and our brains don’t control our impulses as well as they will when we’re adults.

This is NOT an excuse to just be a jerk and blame it on your hormones. BUT it does explain why you both might go too far sometimes, even though you really love each other.

I think it would be good to talk to your sister some time when you guys are NOT upset. Tell her how much you love her and let her know that you don’t want to fight so much, and you know it’ll still happen, but that no matter what you say in the heat of an argument, you really love her.

Depending on what you guys argue about, these ideas might help:

  1. Create a contract: A lot of siblings seem to fight over boundaries—one sibling getting into the other’s space, who’s using the TV, borrowing the other’s stuff without permission, etc. If you have these kinds of problems, maybe you could sit down with a parent or another trusted adult and come up with some rules for whatever you argue over that are fair to you both, and that have consequences for ignoring.
  2. Family Meetings: If you’re arguing a lot, chances are it’s having an impact on everyone in the family. Maybe it would be good to have a regular family meeting where everyone can talk about things that are important to them, so things aren’t bottled up until they explode.
  3. Sister Project: It might help you bond if you and your sister come up with a project you can work on together. Maybe you make dinner together once a week. Maybe the both of you could shoot some hoops or train together for a 5K. Or since your sibling is older than you are, you could ask her for homework help. It doesn’t really matter what the project is, but a chance to work together on something—not just a one-time thing, but something that you’d work on regularly—might help you both learn to interact with each other with more support and fewer out-of-control emotions.
I hope these ideas help. And maybe some of our other readers can give their thoughts in the comments. How do you guys handle constant arguments with siblings? Do you say things you don’t mean? How do you feel when your siblings say awful things to you?