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. :)