Yep, I’m another one of those girls with a heap of brothers! Today, I want to talk about respect .. respecting our siblings, and helping them to learn to respect us. My brothers are fun-loving, mischievous, loud scamps who drive me crazy, but they love me and show their love by respecting my personal space and my opinions. I have a brother who is very close to me in age, and he is one of my best friends! As a teen, he has begun to mature in ways that amaze me. Not only does he respect me, he has also protected my heart, protected my body, and kept my secrets. Not every girl is so blessed as I am.
Thoughtless comments, rough physical touch, ridiculing, teasing, bugging on purpose … how does any sibling, and child of God, deserve to be treated this way? Some brothers treat their sisters with carelessness, not with care. These brothers might not bad guys – they just have a bad habit of treating their sister with less respect than she deserves, not only as their sister, but as a woman, as a daughter of God.
This makes me wonder … why do brothers fail to respect their sisters? I understand occasional kind-hearted teasing, (goodness knows, my brothers have dished out their fair share often enough!), but what about when it becomes an epidemic of unkind words and actions? What drives young men to treat their sisters this way?
I’ve learned that for some boys, they don’t feel like their sister deserves respect. They feel that she is a baby, or that she’s mean to them, so why should they be nice to her? They might have bad examples in their parents, who treat their daughter with less care than they should. Or, they might feel that they don’t measure up to their sister, and the only way to deal with their bitterness is to act out of it, rather than releasing it. Whatever the reason, our brothers need to understand that respect is not necessarily deserved (because of course we will fail and disrespect them sometimes) but respect is something that you give freely, like love.
We love because Christ first loved us – so why don’t we respect our siblings the way Christ treats His brothers and sisters in the faith?
Another thing that we girls need to realize is that, although we may crave our brother’s respect and kindness, we may be making it difficult for them by treating THEM unkindly. In the same way that girls can show kindness to our guyfriends by dressing in a way that does not provoke them to immoral thoughts, so we should act in a way that makes it easier for our brothers to love us back.
- We need to respect THEM first. Although there is no excuse for our brothers to disrespect us simply because we disrespect them, we cannot expect a major life change to occur in their hearts unless WE change first. Maybe your brother will change on his own, but as an older sister, I can tell you that our brothers will, to a certain degree, mirror our actions. Respecting them is a great way to show them the kind of respect we want.
- Our brothers are the men of tomorrow. If these young men don’t learn to respect us as their family and the people they live with, then what kind of respect will they have for their wives, sister-in-laws, and even their own daughters? I’m not saying that their fate rests on your (and my) shoulders alone, but I am saying that we can be the change in their lives. Encouraging them to respect us in their words and actions will prepare them for the day they realize that their wife wants to be respected too.
- Even though it hurts to be disrespected, you must know that you’re not in this alone. Your parents are the ultimate enforcers in your house. If the situation has come to a place where the line has been crossed between simple teasing and ridiculing, then don’t be afraid to ask your parents for their advice, or ask your dad to talk to your brother. Communicate clearly with them that you love your brother, that his disrespect makes it difficult to respect him back, and that his attitude hurts you. Not every brother is man enough to take it humbly, and to actually change the way he relates to you, but some WILL own that responsibility.
- Don’t forget to PRAY. If you’re a sister waiting for your brother’s heart to change towards you, don’t wait without doing anything. Pray that God would touch his heart and his responses towards you. God can do anything, even fix your relationship with your brother, so don’t be afraid to bend the knee every once in a while to seek his help in mending the fences.
And to those of you guys who are reading? Please, please, examine your heart, thoughts, and actions. Are you respecting your sister? Or are you putting her down? She doesn’t need to DESERVE your respect. But if you truly believe that all of us matter to God, then you need to treat your sister like you love her with GOD’S love. And who knows? Maybe she will blossom under your affirmation. And maybe not. But no matter what happens, are you man enough to respect your sister like you will have to respect your wife someday?
And while you’re at it, love them. Help them. Protect them. Serve them. Know that your actions are being seen, not only by those who will come into your future someday, but also by the One Who holds your future in His hands.
Well, sisters, you should know that my heart hurts for those of you who have been hurt by a brother’s disrespect. When my brothers disrespect me, I feel abandoned and rejected, because I want a loving relationship. So I understand what you feel like. Please don’t be afraid to take steps to love and respect them, even if they continue to hurt you. In the end, we are to love our enemies. You’re brother might not be your enemy, but the principle remains; to love all, even those who don’t love you back.
And if you have friends who get disrespected by their brothers … let’s protect them, shall we? Let’s stand up for them. Because, even if nothing changes in their lives, we have a responsibility to love the unloved and respect the unrespected. And once we do that, one thing will for sure happen – you will be a voice of hope and change in your friend’s life.