Want more family peace? Require sibling honor!
Start at birth teaching your children to refer to each other as “best friends.” We practiced that
along with implementing the following principles in our homes when our children were very
young. And now that they are reaching adulthood, they still prefer each other above all other
friendships. It’s never too late to make sibling friendship a priority.
Here are some family habits for making brothers and sisters best friends:
• Have zero tolerance for unkind speech in your home. And actions, attitudes and body
language are just like words. Bring any unkindness to the attention of your children
immediately. Have them repeat the action or words with a correct tone and attitude
before moving on with the day.
• Working on words and attitudes with the oldest children has a trickle down effect for
the rest. Call your older children to rise to the responsibility of mentoring the younger
ones. Younger siblings naturally reciprocate what they see and experience.
• Cover the topics of love languages, spiritual gifts and temperaments as a family.
Understanding differences helps siblings celebrate each other and forgive besetting sins.
• Require repentance, forgiveness and restoration. “I’m sorry” is bumped to the more
vulnerable “Will you forgive me for _______ ?”
• When two children are angry with one another, don’t prefer each other, or the
relationship has been weakened over time, plan to have them spend more time
together. Limit outside activities and influences until their hearts are right. Require them
to do something extra kind for one another and use kind words. Ask the older sibling to
be responsible to plan an event, help with school, or bake with the younger sibling so
they have extra opportunities to strengthen the relationship.
One thing that really helped our families was reading the book Making Brothers and Sisters Best
Friends, by Sarah and Harold Mally, out loud. We had our children make a “lapbook” about
laying down his or her rights, being willing to “lose in the good fight,” and other major themes
from the book. Later, we reread the book since the youngest children were too small to
understand it well the first time through. When two siblings are vying for the first or best we
ask, “Who would be willing to lay down his rights?” Having taught what this means in a time of
non-conflict, almost always someone graciously lays down what he deserves for the sake of a
brother of sister. It is considered a mark of honor.
Also, we frequently say, “You wouldn’t speak to so-and-so that way. Why would you treat your
sister/brother, who is your best friend that way?” Family peace in founded in strong sibling
relationships. It’s our prayer that our children will esteem and prefer one another all the days
of their lives.