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Sibling Relationships–How to Make Them Friends

by Kelly Crawford

Lately in our home, we’ve been focusing a lot on sibling relationships. In fact, the rule right now is, “Friends inside the home or no friends outside the home”. We have elevated this part of our training to priority, doing whatever is necessary to make our children friends. Sound harsh? There is one reason behind our determination:


Sibling and family relationships are foundational to all other relationships in life. If those of us from the same home, same rules, same genes, same habits cannot learn selflessness and yielding, how can we expect to get along with a spouse from a different set of circumstances altogether?



So, where do we start? Let me use a Scripture we refer to often…if you don’t grasp the importance of sibling relationships and are content to ignore it under the guise of “kids will be kids”, the strife will never be solved and you do your children a grave injustice. You simply MUST understand the gravity:


“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield…” James 3:16,17 


“Willing to yield”…oh if we could just get that one thing, how much more pleasant life would be! Just like most other principles of Scripture, this one is anti-culture; we are going against the grain and must fight hard to instill this concept into our children. (How many times have you heard parents say they want their kids in school so they can learn to “fight for themselves”? It’s a great humanist goal, but absolutely non-biblical.)

How do we foster this ever-important sibling friendship in our homes?

Make it important. Just as I mentioned above, our children know that “until they are friends in our home, they aren’t ready to have friends elsewhere”. If it means limiting regular interaction with friends, so be it. We’re serious and they know it.

Use the language from Scripture and keep pointing back to the basis for all behavior. They should know that our insistence on kind behavior comes from a higher authority than ours. “Yield”, “selfless”, “esteeming others better than yourselves”–let them get used to hearing those terms.

Understand their childishness without allowing it to continue. We know they are immature and are growing, and patience should be distributed accordingly. But we should be always moving them in the direction of maturity. It should be a continual growing process with more and more expectations.

Heart issues are priority, but habits are usually turned inward. I’ve said before, “I can’t make you share”…but we have discovered more and more that children often just need to get into the habit of generosity and kindness, and those habits will eventually internalize.

Try to catch every inappropriate act. This is where our job gets tedious and challenging…but the rewards are worth it! And yes, we have to “be there” physically, close by, ready and willing to intervene. Examine the situation and steer responses and tones in the right direction. Make them repeat an unkind word in a kinder tone, and make them keep short accounts with each other.

Talk in “friend” language. This has a little to do with brain-washing 😉 Tell your children that they are best friends. If I catch a child doing the slightest kind thing for/to another, I try to notice and say, “You are so blessed to have ____ as a sister! Y’all are best friends, I can tell!

And one day, the harvest will come, when your adult children adore each other and enjoy spending time with each other’s families, and all other relationships have been strengthened from the lessons learned at home.

Then you can start on the grandchildren 😉








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Kelly April 10, 2009 - 10:57 pm

What a truly beautiful post. I cannot agree more! We have an almost three year old daughter and are blessed with a three month old daughter. I prayed from the time that we conceived our first child that we would raise all of our child to love one another in Christ’s goodness and for the Lord to help my husband and I teach the kids to be lifelong friends. I daily thank Him for giving my girls a best friend for life – someone who knows them, loves them, will support them in Jesus and in all that they do. There’s no greater blessing in friendship than being close with your siblings. :o)

Have a very lovely Easter, mama! He is Risen!


Sommer April 11, 2009 - 12:37 am

This is a wonderful post and really important for me to have read right now:-) I have 9 and 6 year old girls, a 2 year old boy and another girlie due in just a couple of days. It is ever so important to me to have my children be close and be friends with one another!

This really gave me a place to start and work with. Thank you!


authenticallyme April 11, 2009 - 8:19 am

I tell my girls the same thing. One time not too long ago, there was a “disturbance” while we were driving somewhere. I think one of them was talking to the other disrespectfully. Anyway, I went into a little speech about how friends come and go sometimes in life, but sisters are always sisters and they need to look out for each other and stick together like glue. I said when no one else is there, your family will always be there for you….blah blah blah.

I also have not allowed my oldest to hang with friends when she cant treat her sisters nicely. I told them they arent going to disrespect each other characterisitcally, and then waltz a friend in the house who they giggle and laugh and be sweet with. It is so hurtful and sad to see, as a parent. Whenever I see this, and feel sad, I am moved to understand, just a little bit, about how God feels when we dont get along.

I am a little more lax perhaps though, as my kids have seen a lot in my family. But, this is a BIG important issue to me.

I also always make a deal when I see the older girls especially….share, be helpful without being told…to their sisters.

Kimberly April 11, 2009 - 11:00 am

My 3 year old wakes up every morning looking for his friends…He has a set speach, where is my Ashley, My Nik Nik, My Connor boy, my Jonny, my Sean Patrick, where are all my friends?.
4 days a week I have to tell him they went to school, and he always answers, they left without me? When will the bus bring them home…Alexandra loves to play with him,like he loves to play with Sean Patrick…and so on.

Dana April 11, 2009 - 11:14 am

My parents always emphasized this with us, too (I’m the oldest of 7 girls, but with a big gap in the middle). We were far from perfect but those of us who are grown up are all close now. In fact, my second-born sister told me shortly after she got married, “I used to complain about you to Mom [not about bad behavior per se, but about opposite personality traits that irritated her] and she would say, ‘God gave you these sisters for a reason.’ You know what? In some ways, A. [her husband] is just like YOU.” And they’re happily married 6+ years now so I guess it helped. 🙂

Quinn April 11, 2009 - 11:33 am

I like to use 1 John 4:20 for this too.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Even though they don’t hate their siblings, they can show hateful behaviors.

The problem that I’ve had with using scripture to correct my children is that they learn to use it against each other. For example with the verse above, if one treats another poorly, the victim will inform the antagonist that they can’t love God, because they don’t love them (the victim.) It’s frustrating.

Belinda April 11, 2009 - 2:01 pm

Since we homeschool there is not a lot of social interaction outside the home except for at church. Still, I have had to pull back from some of the church activites because I can’t be at three places at once and I like to stay on top of their attitudes towards others.

I usually try to remind them of scripture verses that apply to how we treat others anyway but if they get out of hand I take them out of those activities and use that time to really drive home how we are to treat others. Love begins at home and love is not selfish.

When they are able to enjoy those activities again, I watch for bad attitudes and try to nip it in the bud and ask questions like” Why did we not participate in these activities last year?” Then, they are reminded to not think of themselves before their siblings.

Literary Maidens April 11, 2009 - 6:39 pm

Miss Kelly,

I am a 17 year old homeschooler who puts to together a samll magazine to encourage young ladies and their families. I was wondering if you’d mind me using your post ‘Siblings Relationships’?
The Lord has just today allowed my older sister to come across your youtube video about Goin’ Green God’s way (while searching for our families band).

You wouldn’t believe it but our magazine’s theme this issue is Brother/Sister relationships.

Please pray about it and ask for God’s will alone.

A little sister in Christ,

Word Warrior April 11, 2009 - 9:06 pm


Thanks for reminding of the phrase I meant to include in the post.

“Just nip it in the bud!” That’s the bottom line 😉

Missi April 12, 2009 - 3:14 pm

This is something that we almost see no end in sight to in our home right now! We do the “best friend brainwashing” already, but I like that scripture verse you mentioned and I think we’ll memorize it this week!

It seems to take me an hour just to fix breakfast lately because I have to keep stopping to correct attitudes toward one another. I’m sure this is a result of my being lax on training during my 1st trimester. =/

Anyway, once again, thanks for the encouragement!!

Anonymous April 12, 2009 - 4:08 pm


Could I use your post on my Xanga if I refer back to you and your site for all info posted? I think this is a terrific help for many. Thank you.

Word Warrior April 12, 2009 - 11:14 pm


Sure–no problem.

Lori April 13, 2009 - 7:59 pm

Great post. I always envied those siblings who were best friends, and want that for my kids.

Rina April 14, 2009 - 3:59 pm

This is a wonderful post. May I link to it from my blog?

Word Warrior April 14, 2009 - 4:22 pm


Mindy at Grateful for Grace August 10, 2012 - 1:06 pm

I agree with lots of what you say and I believe you have wonderful intentions, but I disagree with the mind set that our children have to be friends and, especially, best friends.

While I agree that we are to train in how to behave and how to love and how to have godly relationships, I think that the mind set of “until they are friends in our home, they aren’t ready to have friends elsewhere” is controlling and dictates a heart issue that we have no right controlling (and actually can’t go, though it can look like it on the outside). I believe there is an important difference between being friendly and being friends.

I have just written a blog post on this anti-Biblical teaching.


I really do believe it can damage our children to dictate this kind of thing, even when well intended.

Growing in Him,

Growing Relationships at Home | November 6, 2013 - 11:47 am

[…] Help them learn to be friends. […]


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