Home motherhood/family/parenting Getting Your Children to be Friends–Part 2

Getting Your Children to be Friends–Part 2

by Kelly Crawford

Deep breath–let’s get down to business!

Siblings rub each other the wrong way; but then again, don’t we all, living together, take each other for granted? We grown-ups know better, but still have a hard time! I’m encouraged that if we can focus on developing habits of friendship among our children while they’re young, they will have an easier time of it when they’re grown.

I think family was God’s most brilliant idea. What better way to mold us into His image? And so, let’s lay that ground work for our children, explaining to them that irritations and frustrations are actually blessings for which we must be thankful.

(And let me clarify, before we get started: I’m not going to address differences of doctrine regarding salvation, but I know that the Bible teaches us to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That means we start treating them as belonging to God from the time they are born. We don’t wait until we are certain they are saved to begin…such is not biblical. So it goes without being said that in some cases, a undesirable behavior can only be solved by a work of the Holy Spirit. But much of a character can be trained, as a habit, even apart from salvation.)

There are some basic concepts that I wanted to list that will intertwine our efforts to train our children to be friends. We will be reminding them of this:

  1. God placed just the brothers and sisters you have, in just this order, in our family for your good.
  2. It is OK to disagree; but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
  3. You are best friends.
  4. The investment you make in your relationships now, will be a blessing or a curse to your friendship with each other as adults.
  5. The older ones are more responsible for modeling right behavior and responses.

Elizabeth, at Raising Godly Tomatoes, teaches a careful monitoring of behavior in order to “bend” it in the right direction. She writes:

“How much wiser to be your child’s tomato stake from early on, keeping him close to you beyond infancy, training him constantly to be as you want him to be — a godly child and eventually a godly adult. If you do this, eventually, when he is grown, he will be strong in the ways you have trained him and will not easily be persuaded toward the viewpoint and ways others.

Tomato Staking is a powerful tool that enables preemptive parenting. When you Tomato Stake, you can anticipate wrong attitudes and misbehaviors and nip things in the bud before they become ingrained habits. You are right there to encourage right behavior as well.”

This is a great place to start, because frankly, we can’t train behavior if we’re not there, or too preoccupied. Training little characters is A LOT of work! This is one of the most important reasons I see for mothers being keepers at home. Training the character of a child is a constant, tireless job, requiring a huge portion of our time. There is a terrible dearth of untrained characters among our generation!

I think it would be wise to gather your children (or your husband could do this) and “announce” that you are going to be working with them in some areas of relationships. Go over the list above, and ask them each to prayerfully consider the importance of modeling Christ-like love among each other.

Then, make a list of what you see as your top difficulties; as you note the undesired responses (grabbing, whining, tattling, lying, hitting, etc.) make a note of desired responses.

Just as important as pointing out a child’s fault with his behavior, is giving him the appropriate way to deal with his frustrations. You need to be ready to do that. From here out, when a child is disciplined for wrong behavior, give him the appropriate response to replace it.

I will address some specific problems in the next post–this one got too long in a hurry!

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Mommy Reg October 2, 2008 - 6:02 pm

I really like this series. My kids are all best friends already. They love being with each other and feel lost when one of them is not there. From the beginning, I taught them to treat everyone and everything with love and respect no matter what. I still have times when someone decides to push a button or two but over all they really get along great. I love being reminded of what I am doing and why. (I am a firm believer in tomato staking and have seen good fruit from it.) Thanks again for doing this series.

Anonymous October 3, 2008 - 6:41 am

good series.

I have one question you said, “That means we start treating them as belonging to God from the time they are born. We don’t wait until we are certain they are saved to begin…such is not biblical.”

Do you allow your little ones to take communion with you? I ask because I am curious on how this fits in with the above statement. It is something we are trying to figure out for ourselves.


Word Warrior October 3, 2008 - 11:57 am

We do practice paedo-communion.


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