Tips For Raising Siblings To Be Forever Friends
If I get anything right during my mommyhood season, I pray that it will be that my kids would grow in deep relationship with one another. My prayer is that they see each other as more than just siblings. My hope is raising siblings to be forever friends.
A few months ago I went to a homeschool moms mini retreat weekend. We were blessed to have a homeschool mom among us that has raised and schooled and graduated five children and is a world of knowledge to us moms that are still in the thick of mommyhood. And that night she offered some parenting advice that made me re-examine my mission in raising siblings.
And this advice transcends all moms and all missions.
Her advice was this….
“Know your end goal and focus on how to get there.”
Know your end goal….at the end of this heavy season of being mom, what do you want your kids to be? More importantly, what does God want them to be?
Focus on how to get there….knowing the end goal, what do you need to do as a mom to get your kids there?
For me, I knew immediately what I want for my kids at the end of their childhood.
I want them to be forever friends.
And not just any friends. But the kind of friends that call each other at 2 AM; the kind that lean on each other; the kind of friends that celebrate holidays and birthdays together; the kind of friends that love deeply and serve each other sacrificially.
BFFs, as my preteen would say.
So that has become my mission. More than academics. More than socialization. More than extracurricular. I structure our schooling, our schedules, our activities, our day to day grind to encourage and cultivate my kids to be forever friends.
And I’m starting to see results….in raising siblings.
It was recently Sassie Lassie’s birthday. She was so excited. And the other kids were just as excited. They love decorating and getting presents for each other. Shark Bait wanted to buy Sassie a gift but he had just spent all his money on a Ninjago Lego set a few days earlier. It bothered him that he couldn’t get her something. So he came up with a solution.
And it burst this proud mama’s heart.
He decided that instead of giving her a present, he would spend the whole day playing anything Sassie wanted to play, without complaining or whining about what she chose.
And that is exactly what he did.
They played house.
They played doctor.
They played with Barbies and babies.
He painted her finger and toe nails.
And they played her favorite games-Memory and a little game she made up (and constantly changes the rules to) called Build the Longest Block Line.
They had a grand time, playing from the moment they got up until bedtime. Not once did I hear them argue or fight. And not once did I hear Shark Bait complain or whine or try to get out of something she wanted to do.
It was beautiful.
It was encouraging.
And it made me realize that while the The Huntsman and I have failed a lot doing this thing called parenthood, we have gotten at least one thing right.
We aren’t just raising our kids to get along. We are raising our kids to be best buds. Forever friends.
Because someday, a long, long someday, when The Huntsman and I are gone, we want our kids to know that they are not alone. That they can count on each other, lean into each other, and be the best friend for each other that hard times demand and that good times deserve.
So here are a few things that I think every parent needs to do if they are wanting to raise more than siblings.
Raising Siblings to be Forever Friends
- Set house rules/boundaries. Simply put, do not allow teasing, name calling, or rude behavior towards one another. Ever. I try to remind my kids that how they treat their siblings should be BETTER than how they treat their best friend. It’s the Golden Rule on steroids. If they can’t treat their sibling as fairly as they would treat a friend, they shouldn’t expect us to let them hang out with their friends.
- Create opportunities for them to help each other. There are several times throughout the day when I could help one of the littles. But I don’t. Instead, I give one of the older kids a chance to be the hero. Whether it’s changing a diaper, making a sippy, cleaning up a toddler’s mess, I create a situation in which they are learning to rely on each other, and not just me or The Huntsman, to fill a need or find a solution. Plus, BONUS, this is great birth control. My oldest kids joke that they don’t ever want kids; they’re already raising mine!
- Let them have silly, messy fun together. My boys love to wrestle. They love being goofy with one another. And for this OCD mama, it drives me CRAZY! My insides get all tight and I just want to scream, “That is not funny!” But I know they are bonding. My girls, on the other hand, love to paint their nails and do arts and crafts. Usually after I have just cleaned up the kitchen, of course. My first instinct is to tell them no. But I don’t always. Sometimes I just let it go. They are creating memories that only they will laugh about. And so I say a little pray for sanity, bite my tongue, and let them be kids.
- Insist they be second. This goes back to the first rule. But takes it a bit further. Yes, they need to be nice and respect one another. Yes, they need to treat each other better than their friends. But they also need to treat each other better than themselves. Before they serve themselves, they need to serve others. Self takes a back burner when the goal is to put someone else first. And in our selfie obsessed society, this probably seems weird. “I” become second, “you” become first.
- Look for acts of kindness. When I see one sibling do something nice without being prompted, I try to immediately praise them for it. Doesn’t matter how simple it may seem. I want them to know that the good is appreciated and celebrated. I want them to always be looking for ways to serve each other. And I want to teach them to do it with a joy-filled, servant’s heart. Raising siblings to be forever friends.
- Shake up the friendships. We have a lot of kids. A lot. So they naturally gravitate to another sibling their age. But sometimes I like to shake it up. I make the oldest play with the youngest. I pair a girl with a boy. Or I insist that they all do something together, from the oldest preteen to the youngest toddler. Doing this, they learn to appreciate the unique needs of others and how to overcome differences in interests. Because that’s real life and our favorite saying is that childhood is practice for real life.
- Refer to each other as best friends. I don’t want our kids to just think of each other as “brother” or “sister”. I want them to think of each other as best friends. So that is what we call each other. And I make sure they hear and know how lucky they are to have each other as siblings and friends. It may be hard for them to see this now, but I know that someday they will understand what a blessing they have having their sibling be their best friend also. This is raising siblings.
- Set up sibling playdates. Let one plan a special playdate with another or set up pairs to do a fun activity. Let them be creative. Let them have fun. The goal is to build memories and bonds that will stand the test of time and any situation life throws their way.
- Cultivate friendships outside the home. Even the best of friends need a break from each other sometimes. So give them a best buds break. Bring in a family friend to mix things up. Plan a playdate away from home. Send one to visit Nana for some solo sibling time. We all know the saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Grow their hearts with some time apart.
It isn’t easy what we’re doing, building forever friends from brothers and sisters. But it is SO worth it.
Proverbs 27:17 says
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
A sharpened tool can and will be used by God to do great things. So our ultimate goal as parents is to nurture our children so that they grow in wisdom and stature among God and man to make an impact on the community God has placed them in. I want them to be the kind of friend that encourages others to also grow in wisdom and stature. I want them to be the kind of friend that strengthens their walk with Christ and encourages others to do the same. I want them to be kind and loving, and that starts at home, with their own siblings. We are raising siblings, but much more. We are raising arrows, tools, that have a unique destiny that only they can fill. It’s our job to prep them for their purpose.
So get out your own sharpeners, mamas. It’s time to build some best bud bonds.
We want to hear from you! How to you encourage forever friends in your family?