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July 28, 2011

Friends for Life

I know I have mentioned many times, on this blog, how we believe it is very important for our children to be each others best friends. And many times I have been asked by my readers just how we get that to happen. It has taken me a LONG time to get this post down in writing but here is some of our thoughts on this topic.

When our children are still very young we teach them to LOVE one another using 1 Cor. 13:4-8a
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
Love never fails." When siblings live in true love towards each other, they are best friends :)

We believe that a major contribution to our children being each other's best friends is simply because we homeschool. They spend all day, every day together. If they want a playmate.....they will play with a sibling. If they want someone to talk to.....it will often be to a sibling. And so it naturally happens that by spending so much time together they become best friends!

Another things we have concentrated on over the years is not to make a big deal about having friends outside of our family. We don't make an effort to "get" friends for our children. Yes, it happens, but not because we saw that there was a void or a need. It's because there are great people out there that our children have gotten to know. I hear way to often how parents get their kids into activities, sports, or groups so that they can meet new friends. It's great to have friends, and we are not against that, but it can place stress on siblings relationships. Instead of having "friends"over, we choose to have families over. This is a great way to make friends, everyone can fellowship together, children learn to get along with ALL ages, and there is always lots of fun to be had with large numbers!

Over the past few years we made a decision as a family to limit sleep overs (only under very specific occasions do they happen). The reasoning for this is because we saw the ugliness that would happen when we had sleep overs. More often than not, the one having the friends over would become very unloving to his/her siblings. It was like they became a different person overnight. At first we chalked it up to lack of sleep...but then we started to realize it was much more than that. It was peer pressure. This is the first we saw negative peer pressure raise it's ugly head in our family. And it didn't take us long to realize it was just not a healthy thing. 

Another thing that we believe contributes towards siblings as best friends is not allowing a lot of "me" time (meaning the child). We have found this to be another thing that causes a lot of frustration and resentment among siblings. Frustration of being interrupted by a sibling or hurt feelings while someone is being left out. When our children become young adults they have quiet time in their rooms for prayer/bible study time, but even at this age long periods of isolation are not encouraged. Too much "me" time usually translates into meism. "I am the most important person, I NEED time to myself, I want everyone to leave me alone!" God put us in a family for a reason. If He would have wanted our children to be isolated, He wouldn't have given them any sibings. But He didn't choose that....He chose a bunch of people to live under one roof. And what character we have learned from it!

We often tell our children how important it is to invest in their relationship with their brothers and sisters. From the oldest to the youngest, they need to nurture and cultivate relationships with each other. It takes effort and sometimes it is even hard work, but it will be so worth it in the end. When our children are grown they will lose touch with most of the friends they have now. But their brothers and sisters will always be there. They are stuck to each other for life. And that is why the way the treat each other now is so very important for their future. We learned long ago that we don't raise our children for the here and now. We train them for the future. And cultivating friendships with each other is no exception!

Now this is by no means an exclusive list nor is it the only way that siblings will become best friends. This is just what our experience has been and we have found that it has worked. And since you asked.....I told you :)

1 comment:

Derek & Jo said...

Great post Rosalie! I think it's so important to cultivate healthy sibling relationships. I've also begun to realize the importance of my relationship with my siblings as I teach my kids to love and respect one another...I realize that the relationships I model with MY own siblings is a powerful example to my children. It has challenged me to be intentional about my relationships with my own siblings! Thanks for your thoughts!