Thursday, November 12, 2015
Coaxing Friendship Between Siblings
"It's true," I had insisted. "Friends may come and go, but family is always there. Brothers and sisters can be really close friends."
They had stood there scowling. He was mad that she had crumbled his Lego creations by mistake, and she was hurt that he had laughed at her.
"MOM! John told me to be quiet!"
"MOM! Morgan is bugging me. Tell her to go away."
The battles raged. Pink tutu-ed Morgan had stomped her foot, sticking out a hip with all the attitude a skinny six-year old can muster, and John had rolled his brown eyes in droll ten-year old nonchalance.
Once, in a story that has become legend at our house, Morgan had thrown her tiny five-year old arms backwards, lowered her head in charging rhino-fashion, and barrelled across the room to tackle her big brother. Snaking out a long arm, John had held her off with laughing glee.
I had felt my patience slipping down to hide among the Legos on the floor.
"Hey, you guys can being really close friends someday, but we've got to work on this now..." my voice had trailed off. Mediation took time, and each person had wanted to explain their side.
Besides lots of prayer, and this repeated refrain of someday you can be really close friends, there is one other thing I'm so glad we got into the habit of doing as a family. And it started unexpectedly as newlywed marriage advice.
"No matter how mad you are right now, tell me five things you like about him," my newly-married friends and I would badger each other in those early years. Sputtering and sighing, my female friends and I would hem and haw, before softening and speaking aloud several things we loved about our men.
Overwhelmed one day during a sibling battle between my two children, surrounded by Lego blocks, stuffed animal bears, and Barbies in various stages of disrobing, I had tried it on my kids.
"John, Morgan, some day you two are going to be really close friends. John, you're going to want Morgan's advice on girls, on relationships, and maybe on fashion. Morgan, you're going to want John's perspective on guys, on relationships and life, and you will want his big brother input. So before we leave this conversation: John, what are three things you like about your sister? Morgan, what are three things you like about your brother?"
Their eyes had flashed fiercely at me, their eyebrows declaring to the neighborhood the ridiculousness of my notion. Stuck, though, they had paused, grumbled for a moment, and then quietly reflected.
"Morgan, I like how you..." John's voice had been gruff but soft, and I had watched Morgan's shoulders relax as her brother had spoken aloud the good he saw in her. She had followed, in a small high-pitched voice. "John, I like..." and I had seen the anger melt from my son.
They flounced away to their separate rooms that day, still slightly angry, but the bluster had faded. I had thanked God, prayed hard for them, and looked forward to the days ahead.
We still sometimes hear angry roars downstairs, but they are short-lived. John and Morgan know how to apologize and how to work for reconciliation. And that truth? We're convinced of it, and I thank my God for how he can weave friendship between siblings.
As my youngest son watches his older siblings now, it gets to start anew. What has helped you and your siblings build closeness? What have you found helps your kids build closeness in their siblings?
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