TIP 31. SIBLING AFFECTION
In many families across our country a civil war can develop between siblings over the slightest provocation, and it brings with it disruption to the entire household. As we may already know, sibling rivalry has been well documented previously and there are a number of books by parenting experts that deal expressly with the issue and propose ways to counteract what can be a devastating habit within the ranks of our children. As a father it is important to have a parenting plan that deals with this major subject.
I have always believed it's easier to build a fence at the top of the hill, rather than have an ambulance waiting at the bottom of the hill. As a wise man once said 'Prevention is always better than cure'. If we can identify ways to stop our children's relationship dissolving into a state that is susceptible to sibling rivalry, we will have gone a long way to avoiding our own civil war.
We need to realise that siblings having arguments among themselves is part of growing up, and learning to be flexible sometimes and assertive at others. This is part of a process that helps shape how we see ourselves, our self image, and is a normal part of life. The problem comes when resentments are allowed to build up between siblings, and last months issues carry over into this months argument.
To avoid the building up of resentments between your siblings there should be a process of dealing with the issues that arise, but also of dealing with the emotional damage that is often done when things are said in the heat of the moment during an argument. Long after the particular issue is forgotten, the hurtful words spoken by siblings can still have a damaging affect in the heart of a child.
Teaching your children to express their love for each other, is like most things in parenting, easier to do the earlier you start. Having your children say 'I love you' to their siblings on a regular basis is like preventative maintenance on a car, it stops it breaking down long term. Those few little words have the ability to break down the walls that build up between siblings, to heal old wounds, and to encourage new growth in the relationship.
It is probably easier to get a girl to express her love verbally than a boy, due to the emotional make up of females, but boys are well able to say it even if it is often in their 'own way'. The main thing is that they do express their love for each other and don't fall into the habit of not saying what they really feel.
There is tremendous power released within a family when our ever present love for each other is verbalised, and as a father this should be a top priority. During my years as a pastor I had to perform numerous funerals, and dealt with many families who expressed regret that they had failed to verbalise their love for each other regularly, and now at the funeral it was too late to say what they always felt inside.
Life is far too short to miss out on the opportunities that come our way to express our love for our families. By teaching our children this simple process we can bring peace into our homes and help them to avoid terrible regret later in life.
Dads' Call To Action:
Teach your children to express their love for each other regularly. Lead them by your own example.
( 1 John 4 v 7)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.