“Mommy, we don’t want to play with him, he’s mean.”
I have heard that line so many times from my daughter in reference to my son, my warrior lion boy who leaps through his day growling and preparing for battle.
“Honey, boys sometimes act differently than girls, and while it may seem like he’s being mean, he’s just really into playing lions.”
I bring my daughter and my son and her friend together, and we talk about playing together, and taking turns with what they play. I advocate that they find ways to include each other. I understand that sometimes girls need to play with girls, and boys with boys, but overall, I’m trying to instill a bond between my children where they want to play with each other.
I do not want to perpetuate the popular thinking that sibling rivalry has to be normative (sin, of course, is normative).
Almost every movie or T.V. show I see, siblings are at each other with ugliness; it’s a rarity to see genuine friendship or tenderness between them, especially between brothers and sisters.
I understand that there is conflict between siblings, we have plenty of it, but I don’t want to foster the idea that it’s okay to ignore or even encourage sibling bickering. I am holding my ground on this one in our family, and at every turn I’m reminding my children that God gave them to each other to be friends, and to love each other and be kind to each other. We deal with conflict daily, but my heart is to admonish my children to be close and tender-hearted with each other.
We even encourage our children to be best friends.
We tell them to watch out for each other, protect each other, and respect each other. We try and teach them to serve each other, think of the other before themselves, and treat the other how they want to be treated. Basically, we’re civilizing them. We’re preparing them for life, and even marriage.
I know the more I strengthen my children’s resolve in treating one another with love and respect, the more prepared they will be in marriage. Living with a sibling is like living with a spouse. You must choose to love, even when the days get long and the other person’s faults make you crazy. You choose love. You choose forgiveness and grace. The day in and day out of choosing to love someone, faults and all, is accepting the human story: we are mess makers, but the Maker loves us anyway.
I want my children to reflect the Maker. I want them to love well, to be gracious, and to be long-suffering.
I want to teach them to love the eternal soul of another, with all its intricacies, weaknesses, and beauty.
No, I will not accept the “cat and dog” mentality of the sibling relationship; I’m aiming higher. I’m aiming for love.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7