My kids enjoy each other’s company – they are friends. But that is not to say they don’t have arguments or discussions that damage their relationship. They are also very different from each other – their perspective on things, their communication styles, their personalities – there is going to be conflict. The thing is, they’ve been taught how to get along. We cannot just hope for siblings to be friends – we must teach them, and give them the skills to be so.
Love one another is a foundational verse. It sets the stage for being kind, sharing, helping, making up. We do this because we love each other. We love each other because God made us a family and secondly because God made that other person and he loves them and died for them, so we can love them too!
Respect each other as individuals. We taught our kids to recognise and respect each other’s differences, their strengths and weaknesses. As they grew older they were able to depend on each other’s strengths – one was good at spelling, another good at explaining concepts, one was good at wrapping gifts, another at fixing things. This creates an atmosphere of acceptance and working together.
You can encourage but you can’t boss. The Bible tells us to encourage each other to good works – but in the heart of a child this can soon become bossiness. We encouraged our kids to encourage their siblings to do the right thing and then leave it be. We can influence the people around us but we can’t make them do the right thing.
Pray for each other. Though it is easy to pray that God would deal with the sibling that has hurt or frustrates them this is not a helpful prayer! Instead, our desire was that they would pray a blessing for their sibling – this was as much for their own heart – that they would leave the judgement to God, and that they themselves would not sin against their brother by getting angry or even.
Serve one another. The expectation was that they would drop what they were doing if their sibling needed help. They could pick up and return something that belonged to someone else, even if you didn’t use it or drop it. You could open a door for someone if they were carrying a heavy load. You could answer their questions or help them find answers, help them look for what they’ve lost, offer to do a chore if they were overloaded or busy, make their bed for them – the list goes on. These are everyday family life examples where our kids have an opportunity to serve each other.
Forgiveness. There is always going to be relational issues. We need to be humble enough to acknowledge we’ve done the wrong thing and to ask for forgiveness. On the other hand, we need to be humble enough to know that we too are forgiven and be quick to offer forgiveness to those who ask for it.
Communication skills. Any list on relational skills is going to include communication – to be brave to say what is on your heart, and to listen to not only the words but the heart as well, to read body language, to listen reflectively and ask for clarification, to ask questions instead of presuming. I think most issues arise because someone has not taken the time to listen carefully.
I originally wrote this post for Hip Homeschool Moms blog hop – but its been a while, and yet this topic is always a topic parents want to talk about. Can siblings be friends?
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