“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”
Jonathan will be nine months old this week! He has been crawling for about two weeks, and he just started pulling himself up to standing. The other day, he crawled under his highchair to eat the leftover cheerios down there, and then discovered that he could pull himself up to stand and hang onto the highchair. The brothers were cleaning up lunch in the kitchen, and saw him do it. They were all cheering, and Jonathan was so proud!
That picture was taken with my phone. Here’s a clearer version with my “real” camera, but it was after the huge smile had passed!
(Look at that drool-soaked shirt! He’s working on one of his top front teeth!)
Moments of brotherly love are such a treat.
We are all sinners at our house. We struggle daily with selfishness and sibling fighting. Sometimes I feel totally worn out having to referee their squabbles and correct their rude words (and tones and actions!). But it’s worth the struggle. Why? Because, as Edith Schaeffer writes in “What is a Family?”, the family is “a formation center for human relationships.” Teaching little people how to relate to others is important work!
“The family is the place where loyalty, dependability, trustworthiness, compassion, sensitivity to others, thoughtfulness, and unselfishness are supposed to have their roots. Someone must take the initiative and use imagination to intentionally teach these things.”
From “What is a Family?” p. 74
How do we teach our boys to love each other as brothers?
Model how to encourage and build each other up. Set an example by encouraging and praising your husband and your children. ”Thank you so much, son, for taking out the trash! You saw that it needed to be done and you did it!” Dinner time or bed time provides a good opportunity to recognize a job well done whether it be a chore or a painting or an act of service to others. It is also important to model grace and forgiveness when tempers are lost or mistakes are made. No family member will be perfect all the time. Children should observe us setting the example that we are all in this together, and that differences can be reconciled and wrongs forgiven.
(During especially difficult times of sibling fighting and grumpiness, we’ve found that a new project or idea can help quite a bit. Check out our “Kindness Car” as one idea for spurring your children on to kindness.)
When Owen started gymnastics, he would not get on the trampoline at first. After a few weeks, he starting getting on and jumping. I told Aidan and Gresham, “Look at Owen jumping! He’s doing so good today!” Last week, Owen did a “seat drop” for the first time on the trampoline. The gym has a big bell on the wall, and the kids get to ring the bell when they have done something especially well. Owen’s coach told him to go ring the bell, and as he ran across the gym, Aidan called out, “Good job Owen!”
My boys’ lives are rich because of being part of a family. Families present all kinds of opportunities to learn – to learn to care for someone who is sick, to be patient with someone who is little, to be sensitive to someone who is busy.
The struggle is worth it. Progress is being made. Thank you God for the blessing of brothers!