SIBLING CONNECTION

RIGHT AND WRONG

One day, Emma came to me all upset about something her brother did. I could tell she needed some help working it out, so I called Hudson to join us. The first question I asked him was, “Do you know why you are here?” and he immediately said, “Yeah, I am going to get disciplined.” He was making my job very easy! So, I asked him for what, and he said, “Being a boy!” Hmm. Apparently, he was taking his bow and arrow and shooting it in the living room, where the girls were watching a movie. I had to explain to Emma that he wasn’t doing anything wrong – that boys are like that and that it was just his way of playing. However, I then needed to explain to Hudson that while he did not do anything wrong, he failed to see WHY shooting a bow and arrow around the girls was upsetting to them. It made Emma feel threatened and unsafe to have the arrows whizzing by. It is so important, especially as children get older, that they don’t just see the rules but the heart behind them. The arrow was not the issue; Emma’s heart was. I want my children to be sensitive to the hearts around them, even if it means laying down what is fun and okay for them.

FLESH WASN’T THE ISSUE

My youngest two have always been super close; however, they have been snapping at each other a lot. I finally sat them down to dig deeper. It was obvious that one of them was carrying some hurt, but they didn’t know what or why. Not a problem, Jesus knows! Psalms 139 tells us He can search our hearts and reveal things to us. So, we asked Jesus to shine His flashlight into her heart. She started crying and said that during Christmas break, she asked to play with him on numerous occasions, and he told her NO (I assume it was because he was busy playing with his new toys). She took this very personally and has built a wall around her heart with him. I could have disciplined her flesh for snapping at him, but her flesh wasn’t the issue – her hurting heart was. As soon as Jesus revealed the truth of what was going on, she could forgive and be free from the hurt that was agitating her heart.

THE GREATEST GIFT

The best thing I ever did was teach my kids each other’s love languages. Ellie came to tell me how good Hudson was reading. I reminded her that his language is words of affirmation and told her to go tell him directly. They have been best friends since. When a kid says they are bored, I ask them what Emma’s language is, and they say, “quality time.” The light bulb goes off, and they run to her, knowing she will always play with them. Taking ownership of loving each other is such a blessing in this household! How do you teach your children each other’s love language? Print out the results from the online quiz, call a family meeting, and share. I encourage you not to just say “words of affirmation” but to give examples of how they can do that.

TRAINING GROUND

I passionately believe siblings are God’s built-in training ground to raise up successful adults who know how to deal with people, love those who are different and reap the fruit of deep connection and community.

INCREASING PEACE AND LOVE

Perhaps one of the greatest ways you can increase peace and love in your homes is to speak your child’s love language and empower siblings to do the same with each other.

POOL JOY

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?

THE SHARING RULE

When I had four kids under 4, including twins, the one area that drove me nuts was sharing. The constant need to referee who had what toy and someone else crying over it was a full-time job! I remember thinking there was no way I would survive 18 years of this. God gave me a great solution which we named the ‘2-minute rule’. Anytime someone wanted something you had, you ONLY had two responses, “Yes!” and be a joyful giver on the spot, or you could say, “In 2 minutes,” which taught the other person to be patient. It was a win/win situation. No need for tears because they were empowered with how to handle the situation. When conflict broke out, I would go back and help guide them back to the two options, and peace would resume. To this day, I am able to reap the fruit of this because their character had a chance to grow in the midst of conflict.

What is something in your house causing chaos? Ask Holy Spirit to give you a creative way to equip your children to handle the situation and aid in their character development.

SPEAKING SIBLINGS’ LOVE LANGUAGES

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.

The Love Language™ Quiz (5lovelanguages.com)