No, my children are not perfect. They do not always get along, although if I was honest, I have to humbly admit that it’s not often that they fight. Generally they love each other and find joy in each others company. People comment on this often enough. After one recent remark I began to reflect on why they get along so well. I don’t have any amazing revelations but here is what I think has worked for us.
1. We homeschool. They have no other choice but to be each other’s best friends.
2. We don’t allow our children to tease each other in demeaning ways.
3. We practice a “family first” mentality.
4. We encourage them when they show kindness and love to each other.
5. When we are out in public or with friends and see kids who are treating their siblings unkindly we will often discuss how it probably made the other sibling feel.
6. No exclusions: Even when friends are over, we don’t allow our children to exclude each other, with the exception of when someone isn’t playing fairly or if there are gender specific activities going on.
7. We teach them to respect each other. If someone is doing something annoying (which is inevitable in a house full of kids) and it is bothering someone else we talk about respecting their feelings and personal space. We talk about respecting each others bodies like in the case of rough housing. This isn’t to say we don’t allow that kind of play, we just monitor it. If someone says “stop” we talk about respecting that word.
8. Time apart. We all need some time away every now and then. We often let our children visit friends or have special days alone with grandparents- And they LOVE it. Sometimes this is really helpful because it provides a different dynamic for the kids left behind, who then seem to find a new love for each other.
9. We don’t mediate. Ok we do on occasion have to step in and diffuse the situation, but as much as possible we try to stay out of the conflict and let them try and resolve it themselves. As is the case with the above situation. I actually have no idea what that fight was about. I just happened upon the signs and thought it was funny enough to send the pictures to my husband at work.
10. We don’t allow tattling. Our rule is, unless someone is hurt or about to be hurt we generally don’t need to know about it.
Of course even with all that we do and try to do, we still can have some really rough days. There is no perfect algorithm for parenting. Everything is trial and error. Even with the best intentions there are still days when our kids just don’t like each other. And that’s okay too. There is always tomorrow.
What challenges/joys have you found among your children’s relationships?