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Sibling Harmony - Issue 323
November 15, 2013
Hi there! ....

This week: One of the things we have had to adapt with having a grown family living with us is how we plan family time. Our older kids now have plans and commitments outside of what comes from Peter and myself. We are excited for the other things our kids get involved in, so it isn’t a problem, just a change. The wet season (late December to February) has always been a family time for us as Peter’s work load changes. We do little formal studies during this time and instead spend our days working on a family project, enjoying social times, or going on family holiday. So last Saturday we had a family meeting to hear the goals of each of our children for this down time so we all could all make plans (the kids and us) that would work in with each other. It was a good time – not only sharing ideas we already had, but bouncing other ideas as well. We’ve done this type of meeting a few times – it is a good thing.

This week Daniel had a cooking lesson with our friend from Thailand. Daniel’s favourite meal that she cooks is sticky rice and dried beef – so she was going to teach him how to cook it. It was a bit disappointing though that the day she wanted to sun-dry the beef there was no sun!! But they were flexible and air-dried it anyway before frying it. We all joined them for lunch as a special wrap up party as our friends were finishing their formal homeschool studies this week.

Live life with your kids!

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Sibling Harmony

One of the things that all parents want for their children, is for them to get along with their siblings. Have you ever paused to consider what your vision is for your kids’ relationship with each other? To be intentional in this area of family life we need to know what we want (where we are going) before we can consider how we are going to get there.

I want my kids to:

  • have a genuine friendship with each other
  • care for each other in real ways
  • be there for each other in hard times (and in good times), for them to go to each other for advice and encouragement
  • accept each other’s differences and use those differences to bless each other
  • work together as team but also be able to support each other’s individual pursuits
  • be an example of Christian relationships (what happens in the family is a model for what happens in the body of Christ)

Often when we consider sibling relationships though we think in terms of:
Arguing, teasing, fighting, criticising, hurt feelings (offense),
insensitivity, sarcasm, wanting to have the last word, lack of patience,
intolerance, anger, selfishness, meanness, hitting, bossing,
competiveness, lack of co-operation, moodiness, put downs,
tattling, bickering, niggling,
making comparisons and wanting all things fair!

With such a long list of things to overcome, do we really think harmony is achievable?

The command of Christ is foundational in our family:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
'Love your neighbour as yourself.'
Matthew 22:37-39

Jesus tells us to love our neighbour and we know from the story Jesus told about the good Samaritan that our neighbour is the person we meet in the course of our day. Our kids meet each other constantly!

Another verse I remind my children of (and myself) is

If possible, so far as it depends on you,
live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:18

Yes, Jesus wants our kids to get along.

The family is the school for all relationships. As our kids learn to relate to each other, and to their parents, they are gaining skills and confidence in handling relationship challenges further afield. All relationships have challenges. It isn’t about removing the challenges, but rather teaching our kids to handle them with grace.

Romans 12:10 says…

Love each other with genuine affection,
and take delight in honouring each other. (NLT)

Or another version says

Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honour. (ESV)

We are more familiar with teaching respect than we are teaching honour. When we teach respect we teach outward behaviour – actions towards a person. Manners for example are based on respect. But honour goes deeper than this – honour is an attitude, it is a belief system, a heart issue. Honour believes that others are precious, important, and special. This attitude, this belief will motivate actions, when we honour people we will go beyond the normal manners that show respect. When we honour someone we lift them above ourselves, we prefer them, we consider them, and we want what is best for them. We tend to think of honour as a special ceremony but it is more to do with day to day actions that show others that they are special.

You can show respect, without honour
But you can’t
Honour without showing respect

When we have an attitude of honour, we are seeing the people around us (our kids are seeing their siblings) as God sees them. God made them, he loved them so much that he sent His son Jesus to die for them. God sees them as precious.

The gospel of John records Jesus’ command to us slightly differently:

A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34

God loved me, forgave me, lives in me: how can I have any other response but to love the others that God loves!

And if your kids are having a hard time with this remind them that Jesus also asks us to pray for our enemies.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those
who persecute you.
Matthew 5:44.

When we focus on these truths, we can help our children get their eyes off from themselves and onto Jesus. We can help them love their sibling, even in the midst of frustration, envy, or indifference.

We need to create a family culture – that is a family way of life, that honours people, that considers them special, that prefers others. We do this first by our own example. How do we relate to people? Our husband? Our children? Our neighbour? Do we honour them? Secondly we do it by teaching the standard – teaching that honour is to reside in our home, teaching the idea of honour – teaching the idea of preferring one another. And thirdly we are to help our children see how they can make choices of honour. We are to teach them what honour actually looks like, that it is actions, not just an idea.

When those conflicts come, when that arguing, teasing, sarcasm, or insensitivity happens, instead of being annoyed (and we are annoyed because their actions towards each other fly in the face of our desire for our family – we don’t want them to be like this!!!) So instead of being annoyed we need to take the situation and make it an opportunity to teach honour – to give our kids the opportunity to choose to honour another person: to choose to put them before themselves.

As I broke in on an escalating petty argument the other day, I reminded the kids that they weren’t showing love or honour to each other. I concluded that they each had a valid point and yet as they argued about it they were just insisting that they themselves were right. How could they show honour? Immediately their focus was redirected. They were both able to think of a different way to respond to the situation. They chose honour.

It is easy to look for a list of rules and tips to handle these sibling issues, but that isn’t really going to cut to the heart of it. Instead we need to consider honour and start to teach and practice preferring one another and as this belief system takes hold of your children’s heart – their actions towards each other will change.

During the week I blog at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I've posted:

Check out other homeschool and parenting issues over at my website, Lifestyle Homeschool

My Bookshop

Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?

This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!

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