Since the time our children are just little we tell them that they are each other's best friends. We tell them that there is a good chance that their 'friends' will one day leave, but they will always be family. So it is most important to work on being each others best friends. We don't go out of our way to make sure our kids have friends, rather we cultivate the friends that we have right in our own home. Not that we don't have outside friends, we do. But our family of friends is a priority. Some of the ways we encourage our kids to be best friends? No talking mean or down to each other or calling each other names. No tattling in order to get the other in trouble. When a sibling asks another sibling to play a game or something else we tell them if at all possible to do so. If we do have outside friends over, our children are not allowed to leave out their siblings if they want to join in. We don't have separate bedrooms for each child, we have one big girls room and one big boys room. We don't encourage 'time to yourself'. And there is so much more right now I can't even think of. But we are always on the lookout for opportunities to train into their relationship with each other.
We also teach them to rejoice when one rejoices and cry with those who cry (not usually literally:) If someone receives something or gets to go somewhere that the other sibling does not, we encourage them to rejoice with them rather than let jealousy take over. If someone gets hurt or loses or breaks something we encourage them to comfort their sibling in any way possible.
We have talked with our kids about how God has been so kind to give each other the perfect environment in which to learn these things and so much more. Having many siblings, there are many opportunties to learn the Godly characteristics that will grow them into Godly men and women. And that is our goal as parents. God made the family as a perfect, safe place to learn all this and so much more.
And every once in awhile we are blessed to witness a beautiful moment between our children and see the fruits of our labor. Such a moment happened yesterday and made me realize again that even though training our children according to God's Word is hard, constant work, IT IS WORTH IT :)
We went to Brandon yesterday with a load of cattle. We took with us Caleb, Zachary & Jesse. Afterward we did some shopping and went to a .99 cent store and I told the boys they could each pick out 1 item. They each chose a pair of sunglasses (in hopes of having some warm sunshiny weather I am sure :) They were all quite pleased with them and wore them the rest of the day. But SOMEHOW on the way home, the arm of Jesse's glasses broke off. Needless to say he was quite saddened by this and the truck became quiet. A little while later I looked back and saw that Jesse was wearing Zachary's glasses. Jesse told me that Zachary had given his pair to him. I was touched. A little while later I looked back again only to see that Zachary was now wearing Caleb's sunglasses. DOUBLE TOUCHED :) It truly was a beautiful moment that was shared between brothers, BEST FRIENDS. A beautiful moment.
I cannot, of course, tell you just this part of the story because it might make us seem like we are the perfect family:) So....here's the rest of the story. We got up this morning and noticed that Zachary and Caleb were both again wearing their regular sunglasses, the ones they had bought. So we asked Zachary what was going on and he proceeded to tell us that he was now sharing his glasses with Jesse (funny they were on his face!) and he had given Caleb's back to him :( Well Mark then took this opportunity to politely tell Zachary that the glasses he gave Jesse were Jesse's and it was Jesse who would decide if he wanted to share, and Caleb's were now Caleb's since he had given them back! So now Zachary is once again without glasses (last I checked).
So there you have it, the training moments continue and just when you think things are going just peachy, reality hits :) But there will be many more years to train and for that we are grateful!