Monday, January 21, 2013

Sibling Love | Yes, It Can Be Normal in Your Family


Psalm 133:1  "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"

Brothers and sisters. Sisters. Brothers.

When you see a couple of siblings together being civil toward each other, have you ever complimented the parents and heard, "Oh, that's what they're like right now. But when they are home, they are a normal brother and sister (or other sibling combination) and fight all the time."

Do we really want "normal" for our children?

Is it really "normal" for siblings to be at each other's throats all the time?

I hope not!

I don't want my children to be normal if that is the case.

Addie and Ian are totally in love with each other. Addie is convinced that she is going to marry Ian when they grow up and tells him that all the time (it will break her heart to learn the truth, but I don't want to break her heart just yet).

Ian will often toddle over to where Addie is and hug her, and when he is done he walks away and finds something else to do.

She plays with his toys with him, and he tries playing with her toys with her (Daddy has some issues of him playing with pink toys and dolls). If you want to find Ian at any point of the day, you can probably find him in Addie's room.

It is not just my children that have a sweet relationship with each other. I have seen first hand brothers and sisters that have beautiful relationships with each other during the growing up years- my cousins Belinda and Luis, and John and Lisa were best friends with their siblings. I have watched the children of Team Mac interact with each other beautifully.  My friend Kathy's children took care of each other, especially little Jackie during their visit with us. Another friend Cathy's children, Kenberly and Jonathon, were taught kindness towards each other and Kennie helped care for and look after her brother. I didn't see them growing up, but my brother-in-law Jim and his sister Kathy are so sweet with each other that you just know that type of relationship was fostered growing up. Finally, my own sister and I were best friends growing up.

I am not saying that there were/are never any bumps in the road. Each sibling relationship is composed of imperfect people who sometimes clash in personalities, opinions, or wants.

There are times when Ian picks up something that Addie is playing with, but we have taught (and are still teaching) Addie how to handle that. She finds a different toy and tries to negotiate with Ian to swap the toys. Ninety percent of the time it works. When it doesn't, we step in and correct the situation. Ian is also being taught during those times that he cannot take things away from someone else.

Our home is pleasant. We do not have the constant sound of whining, kids shouting at each other, kids being physically violent with each other, or crying and screaming because "he/she took my toy!"

They are children, and there is still a lot of learning to be done, but that is the point. Our children are learning and being taught how to interact with each other. Children are children. They are not born knowing how to do anything. It is our job as parents to teach them how to interact with others- how to show respect to those in authority over them, how to interact with friends, what is and what is not socially acceptable behavior. All of this training begins within the four walls of our homes.

By learning to take turns at home with siblings, our children are also learning that taking turns works in the "outside" world. By being kind to their siblings, they learn that they are to be kind to everyone around them. By learning to speak with respect to their siblings, they are learning how to speak to future bosses and colleagues. By doing chores with their siblings, they are learning how to work as a team with others and how to compromise to get the job done in the most efficient way possible. By not being allowed to fight, bicker, scream at, hit, or say hurtful things to their siblings, we are teaching our children what is not appropriate behavior when dealing with others outside of our homes.

Unfortunately, we teach our childen how to value and treat others outside of our homes, while not teaching them to value the relationships God had them born into.

Rather than teaching our children that it is "normal" to fight and bicker, perhaps it is time for us to teach them what God's Word says. "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"

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