Where do you begin when trying to build strong relationships among your children? Why not start with love? More specifically, start by teaching your children what God says a loving relationship looks like, as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13.
- Love is patient, love is kind: Brothers and sisters are to love each other as themselves and show patience and kindness. There should be no yelling or calling names. Siblings must recognize that each person has strengths and weaknesses. Patience is necessary when interacting with their siblings because God is patient with us.
- Put it into action – Ask your kids, “What is kind about what you did or said to your sibling?”
- Love is not jealous or boastful: Teach your children to be happy for one another when one succeeds or receives a compliment, gift or reward. Teach them to build each other up, not boast in themselves. “Let another man praise you and not your own lips.” Prov. 27:2 tells us.
- Put it into action – Practice being happy for others by asking them at the dinner table to tell Daddy one good thing their sibling did that day.
- Love does not demand its own way: Teach your children to compromise. Teach them that meekness is restrained Help them see that a person can be demanding by refusing to do something, as much as he can be demanding by requiring others to do it his way. Neither is loving.
- Put it into action – Have your child “Take 5” (meaning 5 minutes) to consider Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (ESV)
- Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged: Teach your kids to wake up happy. Don’t allow a “Grumpy Gus” in the house. Explain that they are not to recount past offenses or they have shown that they did not forgive. Teach them that when God forgives us He wipes the slate clean. Tell them that a happy face reflects a happy heart.
- Put it into action – For a child who is characterized by being moody, irritable, or grumpy, have her carry around a mirror so she can see what others are seeing in her countenance. For the child who is unforgiving, have him memorize applicable Bible verses like Eph. 4:26, Matt. 6:14-15, or 1 John 1:9.
- Love is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out: Teach your children that if their sibling gets punished, they should not be happy about it. They should be mindful that there were times they deserved a punishment and were shown mercy. Don’t allow tattle tailing.
- Put it into action – Encourage your children to pray for their siblings when they see them receiving correction. Have them pray that the offending child will learn from his/her mistakes and choose wisely the next time.
- Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Teach your kids that they should pray for their siblings and never lose sight of the fact that God is working in all of them. Refrain from labeling others, saying “they always do this or that.” Show them that God makes all things new again. Each day is a day of grace.
- Put it into action – Put confidence into the one who is struggling by speaking life … speak what they can become when virtue overcomes vice.
All children squabble but your response to those conflicts will have a big impact on the strength of your children’s growing relationships with each other. Persevering through the process of restoration takes time but it will reap lasting benefits.
- Require children to seek forgiveness and restoration when wronged by a sibling. As hard as it might be, there are benefits in the process, so require the process. Let it come from their hearts. Hugs never hurt to solidify the restoration. Look for the right attitude. The words alone are not enough.
- Consider using isolation as a corrective measure when siblings are not playing well together. Playing together is a privilege which should be removed if they are not demonstrating love as mentioned above. Don’t let them play with friends in place of their sibling. Insist that they work on building a strong relationship with their brothers and sisters first.
Your children can grow up to be best friends with each other but you, as parents, need to be encouraging those relationships now by providing a loving environment and resolving conflicts quickly.
Excerpt adapted from the CFH Contact Mom Manual. To be connected to a Contact Mom who can give you godly advice on sibling relationships as well as a host of other parenting concerns, click here: https://christianfamilyheritage.org/ask-a-mom/