I’m pleasantly working my way through a stack of Real Simple magazine back issues. Let me know if you would like me to pass them on to you next.

I enjoyed family-relationship expert Jane Isay’s “10 ways to be closer to your siblings” from the May 2010 issue. She is the author of Walking on Eggshells and Mom Still Likes You Best: The Unfinished Business Between Siblings. She offers sensible advice with tongue-in-cheek humor. I decided to post about this column when I read this line: “Avoid hot-button topics (politics, religion, high-fructose corn syrup).”

Here’s a sample of her advice:

1. Childhood is like Vegas: Let what happened there stay there. Don’t guilt yourself over the mind games you played on your brother, and stop accusing your sister of stealing the sweater you bought in Florence, circa 1992. Make a conscious effort to forgive these childhood misdeeds and they’ll soon be water under the Ponte Vecchio.
3. Stop being the family mole. Ever-shifting alliances, surreptitious confabs, stealth reconnaissance – you’d think we were talking about The Bourne Identity and not those other people born to your mother. Sibling relationships are often defined by behind-the-back gossiping, whether that means secretly slamming one sib to the other or listening greedily as your parents decry your brother’s latest over-the-top electronics purchase. As expected all this duplicitous chatter erodes honesty and makes it nearly impossible for you to be as close-knit with your clan as you would like. So cut it out. And if you’re finding it difficult to tear yourself away from, say, Mom’s gripe-fest, remember that she most likely lets loose about you, too.
4. Mind your manners.Would you ever ask a friend, “Have you brushed your teeth this week?” No? Then don’t speak to your brother like that. You don’t have to be formal with siblings, but a petty comment still rankles, no matter how close you are to them. The brothers and sisters whom I spoke to say digs about weight, grammar usage, and your sib’s choice of friends are especially off-limits.
6. B GR8 TXT FRNDS. Occasional hours-long chats are nice, but you’re actually more likely to supercharge your bond by having frequent casual contact, many sibs say. Technology can help. Text messaging from a train platform, commenting on a Facebook update, and pinging on your Blackberry make it really easy to be the thoughtful sister you are.

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