This week my oldest daughter has been writing “thankful” post on her blog. One of the post that she wrote was about being thankful for her sisters. My oldest daughter is 17 and the younger two are 9 and 6, so there is quite a bit of age difference between them. The younger girls love spending time with Kendra. Any time she is working on a project, they are begging to help. It makes me happy to see that the younger girls want to spend time with their older sister, but it blesses me even more to see their older sister taking the time to nurture the relationships with her younger sisters.
This is one of the greatest goals I have for my children. I remind them over and over that their siblings are not the friends they have picked out for themselves, rather the friends God has picked out for them. They are to be BEST FRIENDS FOREVER (eternally!).
As our family grows and the dynamics change, we have had to adjust our training but our goal remains the same. Obviously, my 17 year old will have a different relationship with the 14 year old whom she has grown up with, than she will the new baby. However, we expect them all to love each other with a deep unconditional love.
5 Ways We Foster Love Between Our Children
1. We require them to speak kindly with each other and about each other. Our children are not allowed to call names, make fun of each other, put each other down, talk negatively about each other, or scream at each other. Some of these things may seem like harmless kids play, but they can have a lasting impact on the relationship. I am a kidder myself and find myself often making smart remarks in jest. However, a couple of children who are more sensitive to these kinds of remarks. I have had to really work on making sure that my words are edifying to those around.
2. Our children are to honor one another. This should be done both in word and deed. Some ways we show honor are not embarrassing your siblings, choosing them to be on your team, building them up, not telling personal things about them. In other words, edifying our siblings.
3. Our children are to put others before themselves. Just two nights ago one of my youngins had a large pixie stick she had won at the pizza palace. Another youngin had used her tickets to buy playing cards for everyone to enjoy. When it came time to eat the pixie stick, I gently reminded the owner of the pixie stick that it would be nice to share with her sister who didn’t have any. She gave her a small amount. We then had a short chat about putting others before yourself. I asked her how she would feel if she were her sister. She quickly evened out the candy and even let her sister pick which one she wanted. It made my heart sing!
4. We teach our children to stick by their siblings side. Normally, we try to fellowship with entire families and the children have learned to play together as a group, with children of all ages. Sometimes they do pair up with children closer to their own ages and inevitably one of the younger ones hear, ‘You can’t play with us. Your too little!”. I have tried to teach the kids that their siblings are their best friends first, and if someone doesn’t want to play with them, then you don’t need to play with that someone. There are times when the older kids are wanting to do an activity that the younger kids can’t do so we gently find something to keep the smaller ones busy. But as a general rule, we discourage exclusion.
5. We teach our children to think of their siblings as training for their own homes. One day, Lord willing, our children will marry and have children of their own. The loving relationships they build with their siblings today will help them build solid loving relationships with their spouses and their own children. Learning to be patient with young children, learning to put others first, learning to honor each other–these are all things that will carry over to other relationships in their lives.
Resources for Training
This last year has been a roller coaster of a year for us. Any time there is stress in a family, it is easy to get off track and let things slide. This can quickly lead to disorder and a lack of peace and love in the home. I have been seeing this for a while and have been praying for guidance to get back on track. As we were doing our Bible time during school, I remembered 2 books that I have had since the first year I started homeschooling eleven years ago. They are written by Gregg Harris and are entitled 21 Rules of This House and Uncommon Courtesy. These two books were gems buried in our library.
We have just started reading them again (first time for the younger kids), but they fit in seamlessly with the things we already try to teach our kids (or would like to). It is amazing how far a little courtesy can go in building healthy families.
I don’t know about you, but there are times that I want to teach my children something, but just don’t know what it is called. I can’t pinpoint what it is that they are doing wrong and what to call what they should be doing. This summer I purchased a copy of Proverbs for Parenting. This is great resource because it is divided up into categories, then it has a list of verses that fit into that category. Great little reference guide!
One last book I will mention is one that I read several years ago called Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends co-written by siblings Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Malley.
I don’t want anyone out there thinking that my kids are perfect, never fighting, never arguing, never getting on each others nerves. That’s just not the case. There is plenty of sibling rivalry going on in our house. We are a work in progress and praise God, He has extended His grace on each one of us.
We are all learning–I am learning to train my children and they are learning how to love each other. I don’t think this learning will ever be complete this side of heaven. But this is what we strive for.
And my goal is for my children to love each other, forever.
Make sure and check out the other moms as they write about fostering relationships between their children!
Andie @ Happy Andersons
Stacy @ A Delightful Home
Brandy @ The Marathon Mom
Keri Mae @ The Happy Home