“Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.”
Friendship. It is something I am whole-heartedly instilling in my two youngest boys. *E* is 7 and *C* is 4. At the worst of times they are at each others throats. Neither one can do right in each others eyes. I quickly want to pull my hair out. At the best of times they can play legos, army-men, star wars, you name it, for HOURS; side by side as only best of friends can do.It quite commonly comes out of my mouth (especially during those *worst of times*): “You two are FRIENDS. You always will be there for each other. You always will be brothers.” Friendship and Brotherhood go hand-in-hand.
It might stem from my own childhood. I have two younger brothers. I look to both of them very fondly and consider both of them two of my closest-buds. I can be open and honest with them. I can tell them my fears without fearing rejection. I can be as crabby as I want to be and still KNOW that they love me. (Yah, sometimes they just have to leave me alone.) I can share with them my deepest dreams and desires and know they will be happy for me.We were (and remain) military-brats. We moved together. We made new friends together. With each PCS we dreaded the change together. [I think I did more of the dreading then each of them… but at least they knew I was dreading ;)] We were there for each other. That friendship was instilled from the very start.
Now I have to take a step back and look at my husband’s relationship with his two siblings, one older, one younger. Those relationships, in fact, make me quite sad. Hubs has said to me that ‘friendship’ was not necessarily part of their relationship growing up; and as they have gotten older they have not gotten closer.
All this time I took it for granted that siblings were friends. Because of this, I have taken a very close look at my own sons. I want them to have the friendship and relationship that comes with being siblings. I have been very pro-active at instilling this important aspect of being a family.
What do you do to reiterate the importance of siblings and being friends? These are my own quick thoughts, day-to-day rules and routines that keep the harmony:
1. Talk it out! If there is a problem don’t run away from it. Don’t murmur under your breath and leave the room. Let the other one know why you are hurt. Why you are crabby. What you could have done differently. What they could have done differently. Let them help you if they can.
2. Make time for each other. We all need our alone time! Momma does, *E* does, *C* does, Dad does. But we also need our ‘together’ time. Take time to play together.
3. Not one person can always make the rules. *E*, 7 years old, would be quite content to boss *C* around all evening, as only an older sibling can. But part of growing up and being a good leader is letting others lead too.
4. Read together. It may seem simple and possibly not related. But how I love to snuggle with them at bed time on the bedroom floor. They each pick out a book and I (or Hubs) read both books. They both get what they want, and they both get to listen to other’s choice book too.
5. If the mood gets too crabby inside, take a run outside. Break the tension, Moms and Dads. If they are fighting have them put on their shoes and take a quick run (one lap or two) around the house. They will appreciate the fresh air (even in December!) and by the time they get back inside they quite possibly have forgotten what they were fighting about to begin with. That rule was in place when I was a child. My only modification to my mom’s rule is they have to come in the door together. Team mates, not racing each other.
6. Let each other lend a helping hand. If either of the boys do something to help the other it’s a big deal. They get lots of praise from Mom. They feel good about themselves and feel good about being a friend.
It’s a short list… but just my initial thoughts. I’m not a parenting-expert… except that, yes, I am a parent. I do love my boys though and do want them to make the most of their childhood, and influence their way into adulthood.
So the next time one child threatens the life of the other I will tell them to find some alone time, then bring them back together and remind them how good it feels to be a friend!