The question asked was: “Can I really expect my teenagers to get along and not argue? They tell me that I shouldn’t expect them not to fight, that all siblings fight.”
I turned that question over to my thirteen year old son and he answered, “You do not have to expect your children to fight. My siblings and I get along well. Sometimes we have disagreements or problems but we work them out and forgive each other.”
Of course I felt I had to add something, so I explained, “It is about our expectations, if we do not expect them to get along—they won’t! Just because we expect them to get along does not mean they will not have conflicts, it just means we expect them to apologize and forgive afterwards. When being kind to each other is the expectation, then it becomes the norm.”
I continued, “Do we expect our children to obey? Yes. Do they always obey? No. Yet, because we expect obedience we deal with the disobedience in order to keep it from happening again. (This is training.) So it is with kindness amongst siblings.”
Okay, so now this is what I wish I would have added. Encourage an attitude of siblings being best friends. Speak of how they are each other’s closest neighbor and God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Live in a way as to build relationships with each other, knowing siblings will be in each other’s lives for the rest of their lives. Friendships may seem all important, but friends come and go. Siblings will be family forever!!
Recently a friend was planning her son’s birthday celebration. They were planning to do a camping trip. The nine year old son was allowed to invite three friends for an overnight with him and his dad. The boy picked his friends. As they were talking about the plans with the family the seven year old brother asked, “If I am suppose to be his best friend, then why aren’t I invited to go camping?”
What a great question. These wise parents recognized their error and quickly included the sibling in the birthday event. They also reevaluated and now purpose to not just tell their children that they are best friends, but to live in a way that encourages them to be best friends.
Yes, I sound like a broken record, but we truly can train our children to any level we expect of them. And as JT told the mom at the conference, “You do not have to expect your children to fight.”