Relationship with siblings and other children

Jun 18, 2021

Having an older brother really helped me learn how to be a better person. When he does something good, I copy it and when he does something bad, I try not to laugh at him. – unknown
 


 

The dynamics of the sibling relationships could be viewed as a natural laboratory for young children to learn about their world. 

It should be a safe and secure place for them to learn how to interact with others as engaging playmates, learning how to regulate themselves, manage disagreements and learn to express their emotions in socially acceptable ways.

How can we as parents inspire our children to love, support and encourage each other, to be humble in walking alongside and supporting each other’s walk with the Lord.

1 Peter 3:8 says “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”

It’s sometimes hard to get along with our siblings, or to step back and watch our own children navigating this arena, as sometimes sibling rivalry can go much further than a few arguments.

Siblings are mentioned often throughout the bible. Some of the most well-known are Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1–8); Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:19–27) and Joseph and his eleven brothers (Genesis 37), and they all hold valuable insight and lessons.

Cain and Able… probably the ultimate example of sibling rivalry, where Cain murdered his own brother.

God gave Cain a warning about sin. In this case, his sin was an all-consuming jealousy against his brother.

We need to grasp how, as parents, we can encourage our children to acknowledge that we all have things that we “bring to the table”, that we are each a unique creation and that God wants us to honour one another. The lesson in Cain and Abel is overcoming jealousy so they do not lead to angry and harmful feelings. 

 


The story of Jacob and Esau shows us that it isn’t uncommon for siblings to fight for their parents’ attention and love, and how some older siblings want to be the more dominant child.

In this case God had made it clear that the elder brother, Esau, would serve Jacob as he was the chosen one.

This story reminded me of how we as parents have a role to play in defusing sibling rivalry. We are capable in this situation, drawing on prayer and wisdom as guidance for our children and embracing each other as an elaborate thread woven into our family.

While Esau and Jacob both played a part in their story, and while it may have taken a large portion of their lives for them to reconcile, we can see invaluable lessons in how sibling rivalry and the harsh things we say to our brothers and sisters can be overcome.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

 


 

The rather well-known story of Joseph and his brothers is another insightful example of sibling rivalry.

Jacob, following in his father’s footsteps, showed a great deal of favouritism towards Joseph.

His brothers clearly saw this, and it created an unrest between them. Healing took many years and much tribulation, but in the end the brothers were reunited, and all was forgiven.

One would think that Jacob would have learned not to show favouritism, having experienced that with Esau, but looking deeper this story, it could be a clearer example of how contention takes two, that both sides were wrong but ultimately, does it really take that much to understand one another?

How can we as parents, entrusted with the privilege of raising God fearing boys and girls, become a consistent example of balance, portraying acceptance of each other, not taking offence and showing devotion and honour to one another in love?

 


With 3 children roaming our home, with significant age gaps between them, there are times where we are conflicted in navigating the dynamics of their relationships. Sean and I therefore have one golden rule for them all in our home… to treat each other in the way you would want to be treated. In Luke 6:31, Jesus encourages just this. He also prompts us to respond gracefully in the face our brother or sisters anger or accusations and instead of retaliation, to go out of your way to serve them.

Does watching a 15-year-old trying to reason with a 2-year-old make us laugh, grit our teeth, bang our heads against the wall or roll our eyes… ABSOLUTELY, but we delight in the fact that we have a hope and a resolute prayer, that they will grow closer as they grow up.

This is also a great reminder that family love needs to be unconditional. Yes, our siblings have or our children will make mistakes and they will at times hurt each other, but each of us is an invaluable and irreplaceable part of our families, we are a team, and each of us has a testimony… commit yourselves to raising up children in your family, united, to be the foundations that legacy is built on.

 

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

KETTRICK SHEFFERMAN
Being His Presence In Every Place