Wasn’t kidding about the eating dirt thing…
I love these little guys and pray for and with them every day. I pray they will one day be an active part of God’s kingdom, I pray for their soul, for their health and YES even for their future wives! (I am currently praying that they will keep sleeping so I can finish this post!)
One thing in particular that I talk to God about is their relationship with each other. The bond between siblings can be a strong and powerful thing. It is my hope and prayer that God will create and solidify that bond and that he will use me in the process.
Have you ever noticed how if left alone things tend to fall apart and decompose? For example: Bailey, my husband is very tall. Six foot six to be exact. Because of his height he often uses the top of the refrigerator like a third counter top. I am over a foot shorter so I cannot even see the top of the fridge which is why when he left a banana up there I did not become aware of it until FIFTY THOUSAND fruit flies told me about it. It had become a rotten mess.
I am of the opinion that just like a decomposing piece of fruit, our relationships will also fall apart if we do not put in regular effort, time, and work. Because of this, I try (key word folks) to be very intentional towards Bailey and our boys.
As their Mama I feel it is my God given responsibility to pursue a relationship with them and to help them pursue a relationship with each other. It is important to keep perspective. I am not raising boys. I am raising future men of God.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
That being said, I wanted to share some practical and intentional ways I foster that brotherly bond…
Use Your Words
James 3:3-5 says
“If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!”
My sphere of influence may not be wide but it is deep. My words have a great impact on my children and on my husband. My spoken word, “boasts of great things” and figuratively speaking can set a forest ablaze! Knowing this, I regularly (try to) speak good, encouraging, life giving words over and to my boys.
- There is great power in suggestion. I tell my boys that they are going to be best friends. I tell Adam that Owen loves him. I tell Owen that Adam loves him. When I notice Owen watching Adam I say “Look Owie is watching you! He loves his big brother!”
- Before Owen could crawl I would use my words to encourage physical contact. I told Adam to give Owen a hug or a kiss. Now, because I suggested he do this so often, he does it on his own and regularly shows affection towards Owen and vice versa.
Create Opportunities for them to Interact.
Adam and Owen as well as many other young kids tend to “Parallel Play” rather than interact directly with those around them. Parallel Play is where they play, maybe with the same thing or in the same room but not actually with each other. Crawlers and Toddlers especially tend to do this. While there is nothing wrong with Parallel Play and it is natural at their age, I think that it is beneficial to also create opportunities for siblings to interact more closely with one another. In that way, the fun memory will include their sibling instead of simply the toy or whatever their focus was on. Shared experiences are a necessary component to any relationship so even if your children are too young to have actual memories of these experiences the connection will still ultimately be beneficial. Interaction breeds interaction. Also if you take pictures and videos of their adventures together it will be good for them to see those down the road.
Practical examples to encourage interaction:
- If you have a laundry basket or wagon, try piling both kids in and pulling them around. Before Owen could crawl I sat Adam in our wagon, put Owen in his lap and showed Adam how to put his arms around him to support him. I held onto one of Owen’s hands (just to make sure he didn’t topple out if Adam let go) and pulled them around the house. We still do this and both boys think it’s a blast.
- I also read to them at the same time. We snuggle on the couch and usually end up reading a big ‘ole pile of books. Both boys enjoy this. Adam likes to turn the pages and Owen likes to hit them.
- Speaking of books, a daily Bible study is a great way to teach them spiritual truths/Bible stories while at the same time fostering interaction with one another. Every morning after breakfast we sing a few Bible songs and then read out of our baby Bible book. While singing the songs I will sometimes tickle the boys, tap them on the head with the Bible (they LOVE this), get them clapping along with me etc.
- Before Owen could sit or crawl on his own, I would put him in my lap or hold him in a sitting position on the floor and put a toy between him and Adam (also sitting down). As they would play together with the toy I would sing silly songs or tickle them. Sometimes Adam would take the toy for himself. He still does this quite often (do two year olds ever learn??)! When this happens I go straight into a round of the “Sharing Game.
- The Sharing game is simple enough and unfortunately for you–your kids will want to play it OVER and OVER! Here’s how it works. I’ll give Owen a toy saying “Owen’s turn!” and then slowly count to three (usually in a comical voice). Then I take the toy and give it to Adam, again, counting to three. We go back and forth this way for quite a while. Usually after a couple of rounds Adam will count along and also hand the toy back to Owen at the end of his turn. This has been a fun interaction between the two with the added bonus that Adam has gotten
somewhat better at sharing with other kids.
- Taking baths is a necessary part of life and requires close supervision so it is a perfect opportunity to create some memories! You can play the sharing game, sing silly songs, blow bubbles, play pretend, let your older child help you bathe the younger, etc.
- I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need a break! In that case, if the boys are not due for a nap, I put on a movie. Currently Adam is OBSESSED with the goofy movie! Rather than let them watch it from wherever they are sitting/standing I often grab their Micky Mouse Couch and set them up together. They definitely seem to enjoy the snuggle time and I DEFINITELY enjoy the Mommy time. 😛
Well there you have it! Some ideas on how to help young siblings create a bond that will prayerfully last a lifetime! What are some ways you help foster that bond between brothers or between siblings? I would love to hear your input! Hope this post has been helpful and I hope to see you around the Becoming Mom blog.