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Over the weekend I’ve been thinking about teenage sibling relationships. There has been a subtle change in how deep our children’s friendship goes, the older they get. And unfortunately there are some things that I need to pull back and get back into proper alignment. What should teenage sibling relationships look like?
When the kids were little we focused on family identity – we were the Letchfords. They were to be best friends – and they were. But I’ve noticed a slight change in attitudes and something is niggling me about it. It is as if as they grow older they start to focus on who they are as an individual and that ever so subtly becomes a little stronger than who they are as a family. The family still looks strong because a good foundation has been laid but when you start to look at individual relationships – there are red flags waving.
What is a red flag waving – remember Tootle the train – he was warned not to go off the tracks, but he ignored the red flags and ended up in trouble. Red flags to parents are the little indications that something needs attention – else trouble is on its way.
Our teenagers are growing up, they are establishing who they are and yet here we have a conflict. The world tells our teenagers that they need to find their identity in and of themselves, and yet does that line up with the Bible. The natural family is the training ground for functioning in the body of Christ. God uses the language of a natural family to illustrate the spiritual. We find our function, our identity as a Christian in the body – so too should our teenage children – they can find their identity, their function in the family. This is not the way we are taught, this is not what our children will encounter as they circle of acquaintances broadens. Will it be the way of our family?
With these thoughts I have been challenged to maintain the intentional strengthening of family bonds, to maintain the ideals that we are to be each other’s best friend and that family comes first. What do these things look like in a teenager’s life? Here are some of the red flags waving:
- Joking – one of the marks of growing up is the change in how our children joke. Australians are all too comfortable with knocking people down, taking the ‘mickey’ out of someone. This is the lowest form of humour and therefore so easy to pick up. I need to remind my children that even our joking needs to be edifying.
- Serving – our sibling relationships are not only a practice and training ground for the body of Christ but also for marriages. Is my son serving his sister, is my daughter serving her brother? The love that drove them to do things for each other when they were little needs to be not forgotten, and encouraged to be expressed. The world tells them that this is not normal – the Bible says it is to be expected!
- Being there for each other – as a young family being there for each other was easy, the kids didn’t have individual interests, friends and activities. We did things as a family. I need to ensure that this remains a part of our family culture. Once again, the things that I allow to happen will either build this ideal, or make it easy to slip aside; after all I control/monitor the family calendar. When I say someone can do something I need to consider the affects on family relationships, and the other commitments we have.
Over the next little while I am going to keep an eye out for those red flags. We need to elevate family relationships so that the balance between family and individual is healthy.