Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.
~Susan Scarf Merrell
Siblings have the potential to be our best friends and confidants. Sibling relationships are the ones that help us learn how to get along with others, how to serve, and how to be a good friend.
These relationships developing under our roof need extra care and attention. I don’t pretend to know what is the best way to foster and nurture sibling relationships, in fact, I’m often feel that I’m making all this up as I go along!
Below are a few things I’ve learned so far, about fostering sibling relationships:
Allow them time to spend together
With the myriad of activities available today, it is easy for siblings to be so busy they barely know one another.
It is important to intentionally make time for them to be together. This is one of the reasons we chose to homeschool. But even if you are not a homeschooler, you can still limit extra activities so your children have time to be together. They need unhurried hours to play and talk. Structured and unstructured time are both beneficial.
This time together enables them to know one another and to strengthen the bond between them. It also aids their future relationshps as they learn to how to get along.
If you want to know how your girl will treat you after marriage, just listen to her talking to her little brother.
Let them work together
Have you ever worked alongside someone through a difficult task? If you have, you know it has the potential to strengthen the bond between you.
Let the kids work hard to clean a room, create a welcome home sign for daddy, set the table for dinner, or make a meal. Yes, tension often arises during these situations, but what better way for them to learn how to compromise and get along than in the safety of their own home?
Teach them to protect each other
My wonderful mother-in-law talked to my kids about how important it is to look out for one another. I hadn’t thought much about this (the kids were still young) but I am so grateful she taught us this worthy trait.
It’s important for kids to know that it is not okay to blurt out their siblings secrets. If brother is struggling with an issue, that is family business, not fodder for teasing or general conversation.
Make this a big deal.
Talk to them about how they will be tempted to share things about their siblings that are not theirs for the sharing and discuss what they could do in those situations.
A sibling may be the keeper of one's identity, the only person with the keys to one's unfettered, more fundamental self.
Help them implement the Golden Rule
I think many parents aim to teach their children to treat others the way the want to be treated. It’s a wonderful thing and I’m glad for it.
I don’t have any extra tips, I just know it is a valuable lesson for kids (and adults) to learn to look out for the needs of others.
Teaching kids to see their siblings are made by God will help them develop care and concern in their relationship. (Of course, this takes a lot of guidance from mom and dad! Whisper in their ear or take them aside and tell them how much sister would enjoy it if they did so and so. Smile in delight when they do such things.
Be sure to praise them when you see them being kind to their siblings. Especially when they give up something they want to do for the sake of the other person.
What do you do to foster and nurture sibling relationships in your home? Please tell me, I really want to know!