Whether or not you like your siblings, at some point, you may be the only remaining members of your original family. You are the only ones who could laugh with just the mention of “home run,” remembering when you sister hit her best home run at the expense of your neighbor’s living room window.
Since research shows that more than 85% of siblings over the age of 85 keep in touch regularly, why wait until then to repair your relationship. Most problems between siblings can be resolved – once you understand the underlying issues from each of your perspectives. I assume if you know enough about the issues that are causing you problems and you know how to resolve them, you wouldn’t be looking at a sibling retreat.
Thus, here is something you may not know: the cause of current sibling conflicts often has its origins back in childhood and sometimes has little to do with each other. Therefore, getting clarity on the conflicts and finding ways to move beyond can be relieving – with the added advantage of possibly rebuilding a good relationship today. If you were ever close in pre-school years, there is a very good chance you can recapture that now.
Some of the many types of issues you might want to address include:
- Resolving old grievances
- Dealing with one sibling who has cutting off contact with others
- Getting along even when in the presence of your parents
- Preparing for dealing with aging parents
- Healing from childhood experiences – from a sibling or your parents, such as sexual abuse, violence, alcoholism, nasty divorce
- Solving issues around a family business or inheritance
The retreats are custom designed to meet the needs of you and your siblings; therefore, no two are exactly alike. My goal in designing your Sibling Retreat, then, is to have it be flexible enough to meet your needs yet to provide enough structure to make sure your needs are met.
Description of the Retreat
Typically, we meet for a weekend — Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon (but this is flexible.) Some of your concerns might be around needing help in understanding the effect and impact of your old relationships and how to move forward today. You might discover that each of you has a different perspective on current and past situations – and why. You probably will learn how your parents (perhaps inadvertently) caused ill feelings among you as children and the carry over effect of that into your adulthood. And, most likely, you will learn new information about your family and each other.
At the beginning of the Retreat, I will get an idea of what each of you would like to accomplish. (I understand you may not be able to put it into words.) Then, I design the rest of the Retreat around that.
There are no lectures. There are only discussions, exercises, and activities that are focused specifically on your individual and group goals. At different times, they may include all of you siblings or just some sub-sets.
There will be breaks where you have free time to do what you want (together or separately) or to do an assignment that grows out of the prior discussion. During some of the free time you may be alone or meeting with all or sub-sets of your siblings. Meals will be together, separately, or in sub-sets.
While a lot of important emotional and painful issues get raised and settled, the Retreat provides opportunities for laughter and fun and enhancing your relationships.
By the end of the retreat,
- You will clear up misperceptions.
- You will come away with a better appreciation for what each of you has experienced – in childhood and in your adult life.
- You will have answers to specific questions or issues you had when you arrived.
The weekend concludes with each of you having set specific actions or behaviors you want to carry out in the months and years ahead.
Often people tell me, “I’d love to do this, but my brother or sister would never agree.” Since this is not uncommon, part of the planning for the retreat may be with just the one sibling who contacts me. Designing how to “invite” the others is a major part of the planning.
You may or may not end up best friends, but the air will be cleared and any awkward tensions will be eased. Moving into being the oldest generation will be easier with good lines of sibling communication.
For over four decades I have been helping siblings resolve and understand their conflicts and tensions. I would be glad to help you and your siblings.
Do contact me for more details about the location and price and for specific issues you and your siblings are facing.
Dr. Karen Gail Lewis
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