What shapes family relationships? How can your kids grow up to be close friends? I wish I could tell you that you can build sibling relationships using a simple three-step formula. It can be simple, but it does take work and more than three steps to create an environment that will strengthen sibling relationships.
Our family gets together on a regular basis. It’s just who we are. We drop things and rearrange schedules as much as we can to get together. It might be a birthday or a family movie night. At least once a week we try to get together and as many as can show up. I love that my kids want to be around each other. It’s so much fun to watch their conversations and see their close relationships now as adults. It took many years and a lot of work to create an environment for those relationships to grow, strengthen, and thrive.
As Your Family Grows
When you introduce a new child into your family, the dynamics shift. The other kids didn’t get a say in whether or not this new little one could join the family and a measure of chaos exists as sleep is disrupted and schedules have to change. This can lead to some resentment. Take time to look at these issues through the eyes of your older child or children. Understand that the older siblings didn’t ask for siblings. They didn’t get to choose a boy or girl, how many siblings, if they would share a room, and more.
Ways to Strengthen Sibling Relationships
Here are some things to watch for and remember as you create an environment and a family dynamic for sibling relationships to be strengthened:
- Watch for bullying. Some kids will act up when you’re not looking. Even Christian siblings are not immune to this.
- Keep tabs on how your children are getting along. Help your kids understand how the words or tone they use will land on their siblings’ hearts.
- Teach them to respect their differences and uniquenesses. Show your kids how each of them fits into your family.
- Remember that you can’t force your kids to be friends. Friendship is a commitment to love one another. It means working things out when something goes wrong and it requires forgiveness. Your child has to make this choice.
- Remember the ages and stages of your children. The middle school years are very hormonal and the high school years often come with requests for space. Relationships will change as the years go by.
- Help your kids identify what’s at the root of frustrations with a sibling. Help them learn to see past the flaws in each other.
Mom and Dad, it’s up to you to cultivate an environment that causes sibling relationships to grow. The goal is that they’d be friends long after you are gone. We want them to respect each other for who they are and not what they do. Each child belongs in our family because God placed him or her here. Encouragement, care, compassion, respect, and entertainment. These all play a part in strengthening sibling relationships.
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