Tom and I did a lot over the years to cultivate close sibling relationships within our family. I hear frequently that this is an issue of importance and concern for you as you raise your kids. You want to build strong sibling relationships between your kids. So, what do you want to see for your relationship with your kids when they become adults? What do you want to see in the relationships between your children when they become adults? Let’s talk about how you can build a strong foundation starting now to achieve that vision.
Throughout the day we spend a lot of time settling arguments and soothing hurt feelings between the kids, don’t we? Someone did something to someone… again.
- “Mom! So and so looked at me funny.”
- “Mom! So and so broke my lego set.”
- “Mom! Why does he always get to stay up late?”
Sometimes it’s an endless list of offenses, isn’t it? By the end of the day mom falls into bed worn down and worn out. Maybe she’s even begging the Lord to please make the kids stop fighting and start getting along. I bet that happens in your family too. If you have several kids, the amount time spent being a peacemaker or referee can quickly add up.
The truth is that teaching your children to love and honor and accept each other for who God made them to be is necessary to the future of your family. I believe God established the family unit to not only bring Him glory but to help us live a life of togetherness.
You probably already spend countless hours investing in your child:
- Going to church
- Reading God’s Word
What more can you do?
Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
You want to build a strong family. You want what’s best for your family. It’s going pretty well until maybe around middle school or high school or college and then you might find these relationship related things are becoming a little harder.
People often ask me about my kids and our relationships. How are the relationships now that they are adults? How did we get there? Well, it is important to know first that how we live life has changed over the years. This is something I write about in Parenting Beyond the Rules. The schedules and routines we clung to when the kids were little, like nap times and bedtimes, shifted when we hit new seasons like high school. I suggest not becoming perplexed when what used to work stops working. There is a natural shifting and changing that takes place over time. Let God lead you in how to change these things as you and your children grow and change.
I don’t think when I was a younger mom there were as many self-proclaimed experts telling me what to do, but I was still careful of who I let give me advice in those days. Back then, I would sometimes get down thinking about how imperfect our family was or how I wished things could be better. That’s the internal drive I have towards ideal. The problem is that’s not realistic. What is realistic is that we have to cultivate that which we want. We have to put in the effort it takes to guard and protect and nurture those sibling relationships. Then we must be willing to adjust along the way.
Richard Plass and James Cofield wrote in The Relational Soul (page 12): “We are designed for and defined by our relationships.” Think about that for a minute. You are designed for relationships. First with God, then with others. Next, you are defined by your relationships. First with God, then with others. Being designed for relationships with others starts within your home with the imperfect people God chose for you to do life with.
“We were born with a relentless longing to participate in the lives of others… We cannot not be relational.”The Relational Soul – Plass and Cofield
How to Build Sibling Relationships
We must nurture trust with and between our children. They need to know that your family is safe. This is a safe place to be you. Here are some ways that you can do that:
- Don’t allow your children to poke, make fun of, or shame their siblings for their weaknesses.
- Listen to learn why a child struggles with another sibling.
- Don’t allow your kids to compare between each other.
- Ask leading questions
- Don’t let joking cross the line to making fun of a sibling.
- Remind each child they are part of something larger – the family!
Trust is the key to building the relationships that hold your family together. It takes sincerity, reliability, competence, and care every step of the way.
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