more on sisters

I was asked how my parents “made us friends.” I thought rather than just respond with a lengthy comment, I’d brainstorm my memories in a post. Mom, sisters, add anything that I forgot (or perhaps wasn’t aware of from my “child” perspective.)

:: When friends came over, we all played together with the exception of perhaps an hour (or less) of “alone with our friend” time. Mom would say that our sisters are our friends, too, and we can play with them, thank you very much. There would be no exclusivity.

:: For birthday parties with a few friends invited over, our sisters closest in age were always included as “friends”. Because they were. And Mom and Dad weren’t happy if they found a crying little sister who was being snubbed by either us OR our friends. It got clearly and promptly addressed.

:: Nastiness between siblings was always called out. “I don’t hear you talking to your friends like that. That tells me that you’re capable of kindness to friends, but for some reason, are grumpy and unkind to your family. We’re going to cut back on friend time and start working on being that kind to us.” So, drawing our attention to the fact that valuing our family and treating them kindly and politely was not optional.

:: In resolving fights, mom would say, “friends will come and go, but family is forever. Someday you guys will be grown up — hard to imagine right now, but it’s true — and the saddest thing would be if you had fighting and bitterness in your hearts towards your own siblings. God wants you to be best friends! So you need to repent to each other and make sure your hearts are right.”

:: They helped us understand our differences, especially if certain personality combos tended to invite fireworks. We learned to not just love our siblings in a general sort of way, but to try and understand them and how we could best relate. That was, of course, an invaluable lesson for dealing with and relating to people.

:: One thing that I so appreciated about my parents was that fighting and such just wasn’t really tolerated. Yeah. My dad had zero tolerance for bickering (one of his favorite words, I think!) People would ask my sisters and I as we got older, “So, do you guys ever fight?” Well, yeah, sometimes, but no, not really. Since fighting was dealt with fair and square as young tykes, by the time we were older, we mostly knew better. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have an episode now and then, but when we did, it got addressed.

There. That’s my brainstorm. Go ahead, guys, fill in what I missed. :)

11 Comments more on sisters

  1. Katie

    I smiled reading this. Sounds like our mom’s used the same parenthood manual ;-) It was especially amusing because earlier today my sister and I were discussing how our mother used to say the same thing about friends coming and go, but family being forever!

  2. darlenesinclair

    Super good stuff, I must say. So grateful for daughters (and sons) who have learned valuable lessons and now live them. So very blessed…

    Remember the “older sisters chuckled at younger brother” story? Or the Valentine’s lunch that turned into a stern rebuke and lecture on love? To sum them up, they were situations where loving nurture wasn’t being demonstrated amongst the siblings. Mama wasn’t happy about that. Mama addressed it immediately and firmly. No mincing words when it came to unkindness. “It ain’t happening here,” was this mom’s attitude. It may have brought a damper on our Valentine’s celebration for a spell, but it was worth it in the long run. With tears of disappointment and hurt I remember delivering a speech to a my small audience assembled around that table regarding all the above concepts. In no uncertain terms I let you all know that plenty of mistakes are made by people, but this one would never go overlooked in our home. And this one was going to be overcome. Period. It was clear that I was brokenhearted over the lack of love displayed that day — and thankfully you kids were responsive. Mama was angry and so sad — genuinely so — and you all took that seriously.

    As to the younger brother being chuckled at? — Mama was in a rage. And I don’t even feel bad about saying so. That was my little boy being crushed that day, and if you’ve ever seen a Mama bear watcing out for her little cub you just might come close to what I was feeling. I don’t regret it for a moment. The girls understood beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had better nurture my little guy and treat him with honor. And they did. They were truly repentant when “the eyes of their understanding” had been enlightened. That day they learned to cherish small beginnings, we talked about the value of family being a shelter — that the world would always be quick to make fun and belittle but home should never be a place where we need to fear such things. If we cannot be free to be ourselves there, then where? They understood.

    Thanks for sharing about this valuable lesson stuff. It is a reminder to me that I still have precious people here at home and we need to establish and guard these important principles. Off to work I go!

  3. darlenesinclair

    Oh, I thought of one other little concept that actually contributes to sibling kindness. When there was an infraction against another sibling part of the correction involved an explanation that the offender had just hurt “my” little girl/boy. “You may not care about Johnny, but he belongs to me. How dare you hurt my little boy? Who do you think you are? Would you like me to hurt your dolly or book? No! And I don’t want you touching my little boy like that. Is that clear?” They usually seemed to think it was pretty clear. ;)

    If we get down to their level and help them put it in context, it becomes something they grasp with real understanding. Then they can apply it as a principle in other contexts. But this concept helped them learn to cherish each other as Mama’s or Daddy’s kids — of which they themselves were one. It cemented a need to show special care.

  4. nancy

    “I don’t hear you talking to your friends like that. That tells me that you’re capable of kindness to friends, but for some reason, are grumpy and unkind to your family. We’re going to cut back on friend time and start working on being that kind to us.”

    My little darlings are quite familiar with that proclamation!
    I usually added, “You are joined to my hip for awhile until your attitude improves.”

    This is rough on the mom, too, as when bad attitudes and unkindness “hits”, our first instinct is to go far away from the source. But hey, parenting and self-sacrifice go hand-in-hand, right?

  5. brietta

    I think the thing that’s so revolutionary about stuff like this in our culture is that we’re so led by feeling. And in the moment, when a mom is having to “make” her kids be kind to one another, there are no warm fuzzies or goosebumps, to say the least!

    In our culture, if you don’t like your vegetables, professional chefs will tell you the problem is the way they’re served. On some level, this is true. (A heap of canned peas shouldn’t be appetizing to anyone, I’m convinced!) But on another level, you just have to eat the vegetables. And if you do, you start to get an appetite for them.

    Likewise, with sibling love and relating, we started out having to be “made” to cherish. I’m sure it felt weird to Mom and Dad at times. You know– the family day that looks like a kodak moment but only because the parents took charge and told the children that it’s going to be like that! (Not for selfish gain, but so that we would love one another, of course.) But once we started being “made,” I think we soon developed appetites. I love being with my sisters. There seriously aren’t any other people I would rather hang out with.

  6. Judy T.

    Great stuff!
    I thought I would share that one of the tools I am so grateful for in establishing this relationship amongst my boys is-homeschooling. Over the years I have grown more and more thankful that my sons get to spend their days together. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! It really gives wonderful opportunity to work on and foster these precious relationships.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Stacy

    Hi! I’m a friend of Jackie C’s and found your blog through her and Mom and Us.

    I just wanted to say how much I liked this post. I could spend a month explaining the reasons why, but making my two daughter’s into friends was just a completely foreign idea to me until fairly recently. Now I find myself struggling to find ways to encourage them to not just co-exist but to really want to know each other.

    So I wanted to let you know that this post was very helpful to me and I’ve already put the info to use.


  8. jackie

    I love reading about the Sinclair girls. Being that I have no sisters and only one brother (who unfortunately I am not close with), I have no clue how to make my girls friends. Its been a process but we’re getting there. “Your sisters are your team. You have to learn how to play together because they are going to be your best firends forever.”- is heard daily in our house. Its helped but we still have a ways to go. Thanks for the inspiration. :-)

  9. Andrea Hawkins

    Hi Danica, I love this post. My boys hear this kind of thing from me too. :) I always tell them to stick up for your brother, your friends will come and go but you will always have your brother and their brother should be “the” best friend. Me and my siblings are close and I want that for my 4 boys. Thanks for the encouragement.


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