Siblings…. What comes to mind? Best friend, archrival, giggles, tears, supportive, teasing, inseparable, irritating… It really depends on who you ask! Growing up, my 3 brothers and I practically did everything together; I have lots of fond memories of just hanging out together … even being bored, together. At the same time, because we were together alot, we could really get on each other’s nerves, which often led to name calling and fighting…which then led to lots of “talks” and lots of consequences. Though I am sure we exhausted our parents, I am so grateful for all the time that they made us be together!
Siblings are who God has given our children to live with – for a season. Sibling combination possibilities are endless: all boys, all girls, brothers and sisters…one year apart, 4 years apart, 10 years apart… twins, triplets…2 siblings, 4 siblings…adoption, step-sisters, step-brothers. Our family make-up is under God’s sovereign hand.
What does the Lord hope that they’ll give, model, and learn from each other – through observation and interaction? Their shared time under our roof is our primary opportunity to help them cultivate significant relationships with each other. Furthermore, how they learn to relate with one another influences how they will engage in relationships beyond their family.
Our kids don’t choose each other. We need to be bridge builders for these relationships – helping them get to know each other, understand one other, and grow to genuinely love each other. Varied interests and abilities, age range, personality differences – none of these details have slipped by God…
“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Ps.126.1) When I read this today, I noticed the builder and the watchman have a tangible responsibility, BUT unless they look to the LORD to lead them, then their labor will be in vain.
The same is true for us. How will we parent our children in their sibling relationships? From the woundedness of our own sibling experience, feeling inadequate because we didn’t have siblings, pointing fingers at our own upbringing, copying our friends … OR asking the LORD to lead?
Loving, strong, healthy sibling relationships are very possible! But they have to be cultivated. “You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4.2) We don’t have to dream up strategy; God wants to supply this. As we participate with Him, He grows the relationships. He molds their hearts – which includes changing them, healing them, and filling them. Do we believe this? Do we pray to Him like we do?
Over the years of being a bridge builder among our kids, I’ve moved in and out of sitting in the driver’s seat as I’d realize yet again that I needed to humbly surrender it to the LORD. I’ve learned that I grab the steering wheel when I let their relational circumstances speak to me, rather than listening for my LORD. Thankfully, each time I “start anew” in my life’s journey as a parent, I take comfort in God’s Word, “…hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” (Ps. 130.7)