How to maintain a strong sister bond

Tips and advice to help you make your sister bond even stronger:

  • Take time to spend together (just sisters, no spouses, partners or children).

  • Remember to say aloud the positive things that are taken for granted or obvious.

  • Bite your tongue when it comes to giving advice, especially when suggesting ways to improve. Though it's meant well, the advice can come across as criticism.

  • Remind yourself of how different the world looks to someone in a different birth-order position.

  • Be cautious about using e-mail to address a problem.

  • Never underestimate the power of an apology.
COMPARISON: Sisters are often compared and contrasted in opposing pairs like "the shy one" & "the sociable one, "the tomboy" & "the girly-girl," or "the pretty one" & "the smart one." These labels imply one cannot be both, so each individual hears an unspoken "you're ugly" and "you're stupid," which was the case for one woman who graduated #10 in her class. She considered herself "the stupid one" because her sister graduated #2 in her class.

COMPETITION: Sisters are inescapably in competition, whether it be for money, time or attention, as was the situation for Tamara. She was happy for her siblings when they married but not when her parents placed photographs of the weddings all over their home. Photographs of Tamara all but disappeared as a result.

HIERARCHY & BIRTH ORDER: Age-ranking is immutable and fundamental. Each sister gets placed into a role based on birth order (oldest, youngest and middle), forming a power dynamic and affecting the way sisters interact, like the older sister who cared for her younger sisters when they were growing up and now the younger sisters resent the older sister for being bossy and judgmental.

Deborah Tannen will be signing her book: "You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives" at the following locations:

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009
Talk, Q&A, Signing
7:00 PM
80 W Portal Ave
San Francisco, CA 94127-1304
Store: 415-564-8080

Friday, Oct. 9, 2009
Talk, Q&A, Signing
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Store: 650-324-4321

Friday, Oct. 9, 2009
Talk, Q&A, Signing
7:30 PM
2904 College Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
Store: (510) 704-8222

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