Even with the master bedroom now turned into an all-boys bunkroom (I promise I'll post pictures sometime in the next year :) ), true camaraderie between the boys doesn't just happen. Sure, they love each other, but friendship-- loyalty, laughter, considering one another more important than yourself-- that doesn't come naturally. And, with a new baby, I sit at my spot where I nurse throughout the day and watch (and hear) all the interaction between the boys through the filter of "What kind of brotherhood is Haddon growing in to?"
Not a day goes by where there isn't fighting and bickering among them; feelings get hurt, careless words fly, and defenses are raised. So believe me-- it is not bliss and kumbaya-around-the-fire everyday at the Simons' house. But as I do believe that loving takes continual effort, it's really no surprise to find us learning these lessons over and over again...
Originally published May 16, 2011.
I wrote last week about the Brotherhood at our house. I spoke of the boys becoming best of friends. I don't know of any parent who wishes for their children to simply co-exist and tolerate one another. Although it is common to hear a mother request for her children to "just get along," it is never for the lack of desire for her children to "love one another." Mothers long for their children to be best of friends...for their children to defend one another...for them to enjoy spending time with each other. I'm sure I'm not the only one who encourages my children to this end.
I was pleased to read the question: "Any words of wisdom on how to encourage that?" in the comments last week, as it was my intention to follow-up that post by writing about this very thing. Because my mind is currently supplied by the broken-up sleep of a mom with a newborn, I am collecting my thoughts through a handful of bullet points. I humbly submit this encouragement as ways our family nurtures friendship within our home. I hope these, and many other ideas you discover, bring your children together in ways that last a lifetime.
So, today's post is dedicated to a subject dear to every mother's heart: How do we foster friendship in our children?
What We Must Believe As Parents:
- That it is possible for siblings to be friends.
- That the family is central; that family is what God has provided to demonstrate the Gospel and the love of Christ to our children.
- That friendship and family-centeredness is not the ultimate goal...but Christ-centeredness IS.
- If Christ-centeredness is the ultimate goal, then our kids will love one another empowered by, and in response to, the love of God.
- Our kids' first example of friendship is by observing their parents.
- Subsequent children learn about friendship by observing the relationship between older children.
- Prioritizing time with family friends keeps the siblings together for social gatherings rather than apart.
- Guilt and manipulation are not lasting (or right) motivators, but joy and love are.
- Our kids will find their siblings endearing and special when they hear us as parents speak primarily of their endearing and special traits, rather than their challenging ones.
What We Must Communicate To Our Children:
- To consider one another more important than yourself. (Phil. 2:3)
- That it is more important to win the heart of your brother than it is to win a game.
- There's great joy in loving each other more than your "own things"; which is to say: sharing or letting a sibling in proves more enjoyable than keeping him out.
- Always protect and stand up for your sibling, especially among your friends.
- You are teaching your younger brother how to be a friend by the way you treat him; be the kind of friend you want to have.
May our children be true friends and strong in their love for one another...that those around them may be blessed and encouraged by the work of the Gospel in their lives!