Time to Read: 4 minutes
Listen to Madeline and Macy share how they overcame conflict growing up to become best friends now. What can parents do to plants the idea of Siblings as Best Friends in their kids’ hearts? What do you say during times of sibling conflict?
A core belief at Crazy Cool Family is siblings can and should be best friends for life, and this month we are exploring how we make that happen in our families.
How do you encourage awesome sibling relationships when there are continuous conflicts between older and younger siblings? So often the older sibling is filled with jealousy, revenge, hurtfulness, or resentment because of the attention the younger sibling gets. It can start when the younger sibling comes in as a cute, little baby and continues as they fight each other for attention. If the older sibling is outgoing, she can sometimes cast a significant shadow over the younger sibling. When the younger child feels covered up by the shadow of the more dominant, overbearing older child, she can be filled with frustration or resentment, and act like a bratty little sister.
In this podcast, we have a great discussion with Madeline and Macy, our second and third kids. They are a brief eighteen months apart and did a lot together growing up. Macy, the younger sibling, describes Madeline as “fun and joyful” which caused her friends to want to play with Madeline, making Macy feel “invisible.” Her reaction was to cry/throw a fit/tattle on Madeline.
This leads to something all parents need to learn – many times, behavior issues are actually relationship issues. In this case, Macy acted out because she felt dominated by her older sister. Conversely, Madeline felt like Macy didn’t like her – somewhat true in that Macy resented her yet still wanted her approval – so she certainly didn’t pursue her, and instead tolerated her at best.
What if we retrained this in our kids? In this situation, Madeline’s shadow overshadowed Macy, causing behavior issues and relationship issues. But what if we flipped it? What if we taught Madeline to use her shadow to protect and nurture Macy instead of overshadowing her? And what if we taught Macy not to respond by being bratty but to join in with Madeline with her big personality and her joyfulness to create an awesome playtime?
Our job as parents is to show our kids over and over how God handpicked them as siblings to grow up together and to give them a bigger vision of where God wants them to go in their relationships.
“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” – Psalm 17:8
That verse was a plea that David requested from God, his Protector. We are made in God’s image, and are called to protect those entrusted to us. What if we taught the older siblings to make their younger siblings the apple of their eye? To look out for them, to take care of them, to love and adore them the way God loves and adores us?
The good news in Madeline and Macy’s relationship is that over time they truly became best friends. We kept instilling the idea of being best friends, and they kept working through their relationship issues to become best friends. And it worked! They are now women of God who want the best for each other and fight for (not with) each other.
We switched gears and asked the girls what advice they would give parents to help siblings become best friends:
- Everyone plays together – it helps teach reconciliation and unification.
- Sibling relationships trump relationships with friends.
- Embrace how each sibling’s relationship with Jesus may be different – but He is still the best common denominator.
- Be persistent and keep saying, “Your sibling is your best friend.” Each time you say it, you’re building the expectation of true friendship.
- Know the characteristics and qualities of each of your children, and empower the other siblings to love each other’s uniqueness.
- Remember – it’s all worth it! The struggles, time, intentionality all build a well-rounded person that can get along with the diverse personalities found in the real world.
We invite you to listen to the podcast and hear in their voices about their struggles, but more importantly, how they overcame those struggles. We also hope this podcast will encourage you to inspire the little people of your family to see their siblings with love and adoration (as the apple of their eye) and choose to protect and nurture (in the shadow of their wings) those key sibling relationships.
If you have a question or a parenting issue that you’d like us to discuss in a future podcast, email us at [email protected].
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