Biblical Boyhood:  Brothers as Friends

“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

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!

Find the rest of the Biblical Boyhood series here:

The Heart of a Hero

Fighting, Retaliation, and Bullies

Setting an Example in Speech:  Part 1

Setting an Example in Speech:  Part 2



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  1. Marsha Oct 1, 2012

    Thank you for another great post. I love this one as I struggle with the bickering brother thing all the time! My youngest just hit 8 months so we're at the same stage...except mine had a very slow start on the solid food and can't eat cheerios yet. I also wanted to say how clean and spotless your floor looks! :)

  2. Jamie Oct 2, 2012

    Love this! I pray that Sam and Silas will be friends as well as brothers. I love hearing about the boys cheering each other on. :)

  3. Traci Oct 2, 2012

    My boys ages 9 & 7 fight constantly. I struggle daily with being the referee. Then, on rate occassion, I will look over and they will be playing together nicely. It doesn't always last long, but I hope it continues. They also are very concerned when the other is not feeling well.

  4. Kim M. Oct 21, 2012

    My boys are 5 & 4 and like Traci said, you appreciate the rare glimpses of sibling love. The other 90% is refereeing them. Looking forward to trying the "Kindness Car" with my boys.

  5. Anna Feb 8, 2014

    THANKYOU. I am a mother of three, an autistic boy of 5 and b/g twins almost 3. The boys get along most of the time but I want them support each other too.

    Reading your posts gives me strength that I can do it. With common sense, love of god and respect I know I will raise my boys to be MEN

  6. N Slabaugh Nov 5, 2015

    Your boys are so adorable! I have 2 girls ages 6yrs & 21 mo, & a boy 4yrs. You're posts have inspired me to try harder to teach character building instead of "nagging" to be nicer. Thank you for your posts, & God bless you!


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