In this issue, we are going after SIBLING CONNECTION! Siblings are God’s built-in training ground to raise solid, kind, and fruitful young adults to care about the world around them. We also have a special section JUST FOR DADS in this issue that you don’t want to miss!
I want you to look back for a moment. Do you have siblings? How was your connection with them as a child? Were you taught to respect and love each other? Were strife, conflict, and physical violence tolerated? Did you feel like you belonged? Were you accepted? What things did your parents do that cultivated your relationship with them? Looking back, what things do you wish your parents would have done to help with your relationships with your siblings? This is important because you are deciding what things you want to keep in your generational line and what things you want to change. Siblings matter because they are part of God’s plan for family. God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are ONE, yet they all have different characteristics to them. Such as, my son is one human, but he is a son, brother, and friend. He relates differently as a son than he does as a friend. Family is so dear to God because the earthly family mimics the nature of Himself, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. Our earthly father is where we get our sense of identity (who we are), being provided for, and protection, which is a reflection of the character of God, our Provider, and Father. Our earthly mother is whom we get our comfort, nurture, and learn about life from, which is a reflection of the character of Holy Spirit, our Helper, Teacher, and Comforter. It is through siblings that we get our sense of BELONGING, which is a reflection of the character of Jesus, our Companion, and Friend. When siblings are not taught, trained, and expected to get along, it affects their deep sense of belonging in the world. There is great insecurity inside of them when those closest to them are allowed to reject them. The fact that there is conflict isn’t the issue (and is not a reflection of you being a bad parent). The conflict in itself is actually quite normal. Children have flesh that is selfish and self-seeking. Part of parenting is equipping our children with the tools to GROW. The conflict isn’t a reflection of anything ‘wrong’ but rather highlighting areas in which you, the parent, have some work to do to teach and equip them.
I heard a mom say, “Without sibling conflict, our family would be so peaceful. It is the main area that seems to bring such chaos.” What about your home? How is the peace level? Siblings are God’s built-in training ground for teaching children how to walk in the fruit of the Spirit so that they can be successful adults.
Sibling connection is important, yet without tools, language, or empowerment to create a peaceful environment, sibling conflict can be a great source of chaos in many homes.
A mom shared how her girls were at it all day. Cranky, mean, and unkind words. She had them soak in God’s presence and taught them that their hearts are like a sponge. We spend time with Jesus so we can drip His love on others. Later they brought out their journals, and the sister had so much to say about her younger sister to encourage and lift her up. No person feels good when there is sibling conflict, and sometimes we need an extra dose of Jesus to help move us from bickering back to kindness.
Jesus, fill our hearts to overflowing so that we may love each other the way You intended.
We were at the pool one day, and Hudson sneaked up behind Emma, who was sitting by the edge, not wanting to get wet. He motioned to me if he could throw her in. I responded, “You can, but will it help your connection with her?” He took a second to realize the joy of the victory would not be worth the splash it would make in their connection. I have taught my children over and over and over that the way they treat each other today will affect tomorrow. It may feel ‘good’ to be powerful today, but tomorrow you will reap the fruit of a low account with them.
My son deeply needs to connect with his family. It is beautiful yet developing the skills can be messy at times. I was away on a ministry trip while he stayed at a friend’s house for the weekend. I reminded the girls he would need to reconnect upon returning, and they eagerly created plans to connect. About an hour later, I got a text saying he walked away and didn’t want to play anymore. I called to check in with him and asked if he felt like the girls were connecting with him, and he said, “NO!” Upon inquiring with the girls, they recited that they grabbed his favorite meal, ate together, and played games. In other words, they gave him a gift and quality time. I asked them what his language was, and they both realized immediately that it was words of affirmation. I asked if they affirmed him with their words, and they realized they labored so hard to connect at that moment, but through their language, not his. This is a classic example of people’s hearts in the right place, wanting to intentionally love someone else but missing the boat because they are speaking the wrong language.
How else is your child going to learn how to relate to their future spouse, boss, or friends unless they are taught? The day-to-day issues between siblings are your God-given training ground to equip them. The conflict can be used for good when you see it as an area in which they need help growing in. Most children do not have an issue with feeding or dressing themselves because you have done a great job at teaching them how to do it. You assisted them, gave them lots of grace, coached them, and encouraged them, and now they (and you) are bearing good fruit in these areas. The same goes for character training between siblings. How many of us have heard about the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman? Have you ever considered how a child feels when their tank is overflowing? Or running on fumes? This tool alone will radically change the temperature in your home. Show the kids what a magnet is and talk about the force that it carries. They won’t be able to see it with their eyes, but it’s there. Then show them how a magnet works. When you put the two right ‘loving’ sides together, there is a PULL for more. But when you put the wrong ‘unloving’ sides together, they push apart.
In the days to come, when there is conflict, lovingly approach them with your magnets in hand and explain that they are releasing something that causes others to want to pull away from them. Is that what they really want? Show them that they can flip the situation by choosing love to draw them in rather than push them away. Have each child take their own online quiz. Print out the summary and then call a family meeting to share how each person needs their tank filled. This isn’t a one-time teaching but rather a lifestyle that is cultivated by sowing into it daily. You can also sign up for their weekly newsletter, which will provide you with simple creative ways to speak each language each week. Your child NEEDS to know not only their own language but their siblings. When a child is aware of their needs, it makes it a lot easier for them to get their need met in a healthy way. Say their language is quality time, and yet they haven’t invested any time in their family. They are going to feel disconnected. Love tanks aren’t something to just passively let others fill. We can intentionally put ourselves on the path to be filled up. They can be doing things that encourage their needs to be met.
My two children who have the most conflict is the one who has the language of words and the one who is a strong leader. The way she often speaks hurts his heart, and then he reacts. As annoying as this is at times, it is most excellent that one can learn to guard his heart and not give his peace away so quickly, and the other one, who will lead many, gets to learn how to do it in love. Many times, when there is conflict in my home, it is because their tanks are low with each other. While it would be so much easier to separate the two ‘offending siblings,’ what they REALLY need is connection. When I see this is an issue, I will ask the child what their sibling’s love language is (if they honestly don’t know, you have more teaching to do). Then I ask, “What have you done to love them in the past 24 hours?” The answer is generally “nothing.” So, if the real issue was their lack of connection, I would help walk them through ways they could reconnect based on their love languages. The older they get, the more I solve sibling issues this way than anything else. Disconnected kids act out in ways that create connection, even if it is unhealthy. The child bullying or trying to get a reaction out of their siblings is most likely crying out for connection but doesn’t know how. I am equipping my children to change the world around them, and the issues between their siblings are my training ground to shape them into dynamic humans who know how to walk in love, honor, and respect because they have been TAUGHT.
Ephesians 2:14 – “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”
This word is in reference to the Jews and Gentiles and the relationships of the five-fold ministry, all working together, not divided. If this verse is for nations and opposing people groups, SURELY, it is applicable to our families as well. Next time you have two sibling groups that are walking in disunity and conflict, show them this verse and remind them that Jesus is their peace and He has destroyed the inability to work together!!!!!
Is sibling conflict breaking out in your home? It did in our house, and I AM SO GLAD! I am keeping our days moving by having a balance of rest, school, and movement. I got two of them settled on a project and took another for a brisk walk with the dog. While coming back inside the house, I could FEEL strife and knew there was conflict. My daughter came to me sobbing, telling me how she was mean to her sister and pushed her. Her tears were massive, and she was fully repentant, confessing her wrongdoings. I told her she was indeed wrong and that a consequence was appropriate, but that life was pretty hard these days, and I wanted her to spend an hour in her room alone processing and giving her heart a voice to herself. She is my easy-going, always smiling, glass-is-half-full child, and her heart needed to get real – life IS challenging right now. I moved to the other child involved, who flashed this massive smile across her face as I approached her. She did not know that I knew about the conflict. I asked how she was doing, and she said, “Great.” I said, “Really? How can you be doing great if your sister just pushed you?” and she burst into tears. I instructed her too to go into her room and spend an hour giving her heart a voice. She not only lied to me but herself. I went to her after a bit, and she began to unpack how her sister doesn’t like her and has been rude and disrespectful to her for days and that her heart was hurting. I went back to the offending child and asked what was going on, and she, too, broke down, telling of pains and hurts that have been piling up between them.
We were enjoying a day at the swimming pool. Hudson asked for a sip of my pop, and I felt led to lavish him with the whole thing. Lauren came over and robbed him of his joy by being bossy, controlling, and ‘self-focused.’ I decided to treat the girls to one, too (it is a treat and not something I usually do). I gave it to Lauren to share, but she was being mean-spirited and controlling about it with her sisters, too. I called her over and pointed it out to her. She was frustrated with herself for being like that but didn’t know why. We asked Jesus to shine His flashlight in her heart and show us what was going on. She began to cry and say that the other girls would move away from her whenever she joined them. Bingo! Hurts, lies, offense. She was hurt and offended that her sisters were working on a skit together and were not including her. I explained that she was partnering with control and meanness to make herself feel better and listening to the lie that she couldn’t be weak and show tears (something she struggles with) and that in doing so, she was releasing the wrong kingdom. I asked if that was what she wanted (because she does have a free will, and I would rather parent with her will than try to control her against it). She didn’t want that and agreed to let her sisters know how she felt. She learned that it is safe in God’s Kingdom to show tears and weaknesses, which she revealed to her sisters. I declared over them that they were powerful and incredible world-changers who could devise a plan to resolve the conflict and then left them to figure it out, and the joy returned! Can you see how spanking, time outs, removing the treat, etc., would not have even come close to addressing the real issue of her hurt heart?