Our six year old daughter is laying, rosy cheeked on the couch. She has a high fever and has been resting for a while. I'm in the kitchen preparing lunch before I peek in the living room to check on her. I look on the couch and can barely find her because she's completely buried in stuffed animals. Her little brother, in an effort to help her 'feel better', had carried nearly ALL her stuffies from her upstairs room and piled them around her head.
I laughed out loud before I melted at the sight of my four year old, gazing at his sister with concern in his eyes.
Later, our eldest, takes it upon himself to shove a thermometer in her underarm while she's still snoring.
"Mama!" he beckons. "Mama, she's still really hot. 102." His brow is furrowed and he's waiting for me to do something. My little analytical - his way of showing he cares is this... take her temperature, announce her situation. I smile.
It's days like this that warm my heart. I'm sure you have them too. Those days our children shine bright and show how much they, deep down, truly love each other. Despite the arguing, the 'this is mine' battles, the competition, and whatever else seems to plague siblings, they actually DO care. Thank goodness, I've done SOMETHING right.
Siblings truly ARE friends gifted by God, but that doesn't mean their friendship is immediately there. I've realized, love between siblings is a natural progression that needs to be nurtured, just like any other love relationship. If their relationship is nurtured, they will grow close and they will have deep rooted concern and care for one another. Our children are by no means perfect - they argue and they certainly are very different, but they are also the closest of friends. We are, of course, a work in progress. I thought I'd share a few insights, in hopes they might encourage you today.
Three great ways to Nurture Love between Siblings:
Spend tons of quality time together, as a family, enjoying each other's company.
It is so vital that families spend quality time together, nurturing their relationships with one another. This includes siblings. We live in a culture where families are spending less and less time together. Children are over-scheduled and parents are pulling their hair out trying to escort every child to and from their separate activities. As a family, we've decided to unplug from that cultural 'norm' and slow WAY down. How can our children become friends, if they don't spend enjoyable time together? How can we grow close as a family if we aren't intentionally investing in those relationships?
Demonstrate the kind of love you would like to see them share.
I have to constantly remember, the children are ALWAYS watching. Children watch and repeat. The way I treat them hugely affects the way they treat each other. The more patient, loving, caring, and kind I am with them - the hope is, they will repeat this kind of behavior with others and within their sibling relationships. I've seen this first-hand as I've changed some of my bad habits... often times we don't realize how much of an affect our attitudes have on our children. We need to be acting the same way we want them to act.
Encourage family togetherness above peer reliance.
For so many parents, the battle is on for the hearts of their children. Peer groups have become the biggest influence on the majority of children's hearts and minds. Often times, peer friendships take the place of any possible sibling friendship. The siblings can become further and further detached and eventually their relationship is distant, fractured, and frayed. This of course isn't the case with every family, but it is often the reality.
It's so important that we, as parents, work diligently to encourage and foster that close family togetherness and attachment. This tight bond will rise above the threat of peer reliance and will hopefully keep siblings connected on a much deeper level.
This friendship will not only enrich their childhood, but will follow them for their entire lives.
What are some of the ways you've nurtured a loving relationship between your children?
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