I’m not sure how this happened, but this morning we were ready for church 2 hours before the service started. As a family of six that is a rarity. If you’re like me, you have good intentions to start your morning off right, but some how the time ticks by and before you know it, you’re either just squeaking in on time or you’re late. We are usually the latter.
With all this time on our hands this morning, my boys just played cars in the living room, while I nursed my littlest. As I sat there and watched them play, I thought to myself how peaceful this is to see them all playing together so nicely. Now, my boys do play fairly well together for the most part but as siblings often do, the brawling and arguing ensued a short while in. I couldn’t help but think to myself, just as God uses marriage and children to sanctify me, he uses sibling relationships to sanctify my children.
Besides parents, siblings often know each other inside and out, especially in the early years when you’re doing life together all the time. They know your likes and dislikes. They quickly learn which buttons to push and how to manipulate the other to get what they want.
In our house, we’ve decided to homeschool, which means we are around each other practically 24/7. Thankfully, we have space in this house, that if need be we can each have our own space. Some days this is a life saver.
Homeschooling gives my children a truly unique opportunity to learn and grow in Christ-likeness. I’ve seen many homeschool families whose children share such a close bond with one another. They share so many great moments together throughout the day- learn, cook, clean, eat, and play. I’m very aware that siblings, even homeschool ones don’t get along all the time, but to do life with someone day in and day out requires you to eventually work through your frustrations with one another. A couple years ago, I attended our provincial homeschool conference and the speaker said, ‘how are we to expect parents and children or siblings to ever work through frustrations with one another if our solution is to send them to school where they never get the opportunity to interact with one another.’ If we are to learn to live, play and work together well, we must have the opportunity to communicate, cooperate, interact, negotiate and forgive. Beth Moore shared that often times the people we love the most can cause us the deepest hurt and frustration. They can draw out our sin that we thought we had dealt with or hidden. They can push us to our limits, invade our space and simply drive us crazy.
It’s only likely that at this stage of life with my kids being so little that sin would be inevitable. They are still in the ‘it’s all about me’ stage and their behavior and attitudes have yet to be tamed. They are just beginning to understand who Jesus is and what he truly did for them. They are learning to pray and to ask Jesus into their life; to help them to control their anger, impulses, tongue and selfishness.
Our children are so vulnerable right now to Satan’s attacks and influence in their lives. We must cover them in prayer daily against the enemy. We must pray that the Lord will strengthen their relationships with their siblings and not put a wedge between them. Satan always looks for opportunities to create a division between God ordained relationships, so we must defend against these attacks through rigorous prayer. I encourage you to pray the following Scripture over your children as a way to guard them against the enemy.
“Be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tender-hearted, be courteous.” 1 Peter 3:8
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Psalms 133:1
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
As parents we have the responsibility of praying over our children in all situations, but we are also called to train up our children in the way of the Lord so when they are older they will not turn from it. I believe we can train our children to establish and maintain loving sibling relationships that reflect Christ-likeness, by equipping them with a spiritual toolbox that they can carry with them through life.
For this situation, I’m equipping my children with the following three tools: prayer, the Word and stillness.
- Prayer- As parents, we must cover our children in prayer. This is their first line of defense against Satan’s attacks. Not, only do our children need our prayer over them, but they need to know how to pray. The only way they will succeed is with the help of Jesus living in and through them. They must accept Jesus into their hearts and turn to Him in times of trouble, conflict and weaknesses.
- The Word- Our children need to know how we are to live according to God’s Word. The Bible gives us clear instruction on how we are to get along and do life in community with those around us. God established these relationships for His good and to draw us closer to Him. So, I encourage you to speak His truth into their life so they have a solid understanding of how they are to live and act.
- Stillness- We all need time to be still. We need time to ourselves to reflect, unwind and refuel. Encouraging your children to find a quiet space to themselves every now and then allows them to get close to God. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Our children need a full tool box of strategies that they can use when they become frustrated or overwhelmed with their siblings. Help them to see that to do life well requires Jesus every step of the way. We were created to be in relationship with one another from the very beginning, but after the fall the Bible warns us that Satan will try tear them apart. He was successful with Cain and Abel, but we can prevent that from happening in our own families. Our greatest desire is for our family to know the Lord and grow in Him. Let’s equip our children today so they can establish loving sibling relationships for the days to come.
SHARE: What tools are in your children’s toolbox? How can you help your children establish loving sibling relationships?