Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Your Brother. Your Neighbor. Your friend.

So how do you respond as a homeschool mom when your child begins to show concern for his younger brother's academic advancements?  When the older child worries because his siblings do some of the same curriculum?  I hear this often - older children concerned that their younger siblings may surpass them in particular areas, or feel that it's not fair for younger siblings to do the same work. Our oldest has begun to express similar sentiments.  Perhaps in your family the issue expressed by your oldest children is not in regard to academics, but in another area.

Sibling Rivalry, they call it.  "It's normal", they say.  "There's nothing you can do about it".

Isaiah and I discussed, and as we delved further into discussion, I found that our conversation turned quickly as we encroached upon the heart of the matter.

The heart being the heart of the matter.

Pride creeps in.  Selfishness takes root.  He begins to believe the lie that he must be better because he's older.  It's normal only because we are sinful beings.  Sibling rivalry may be normal, but it's also ugly.

Both of these boys are tremendously gifted.  One is cautious, calm, even-keeled.  One is charismatic, outspoken, and crashes hard at the end of each day.  For years we have watched this relationship develop between our oldest two sons.  They are each others best friend.  They have an understanding of each other and an ability to feed off of each others gifts that is just uncanny.  They communicate often without words, as they know each other so well that words aren't always needed.

Elijah is fast out of the gate, smiley, assertive, center of attention.  As he grows weary, Isaiah fills in the gap.  Just as assertive and pleasant he has the consistency but lacks the charisma.  They both lead but take turns leading.  One more comfortable in large crowds, the other prefers the smaller.

So, our discussion turned from his explanation of the matter, and the expression of his concerns to an explanation of the heart of the matter.  Along with the realization of the state of his heart came a sudden change of heart.

We talked about the function of our family.  We talked about how our family is a part of the body of Christ.  The body being one body, but many parts - Christ the head, each of us an arm, a leg, a thumb.  We giggled as he concluded that little Noah was a toe.  He was catching on.  He added that his father and I are the legs.  One without the other doesn't work as well.  He and Elijah an arm and a hand.  The hand doesn't work without the arm and the arm can't do much without the hand.  By now he was grinning from ear to ear.

Our conversation continued as we discussed that God is the gift giver.  We talked about how his gifts could be used to serve his brothers.  How his brother's gifts could be used to serve him.

He volunteered how much better it would be if he and his brothers encouraged each other and spurred each other on.  He volunteered that it would be so cool if Elijah could read what he read and do the math that he does - how much fun the schooling time would be, like how fun it is that they can ride bikes together and play football.  He recalled how it was he that taught Elijah those things too.  How Elijah wants to do what Isaiah does because he wants to be like Isaiah.  He began to see Elijah's efforts to do what he does as a compliment.

What "they" say matters not.  Sibling rivalry will not be the accepted norm in our home.  When biblical principles of trust, forgiveness and love are acted upon in a home, sibling rivalry cannot be accepted as normal.  There is no place for such disrespect amongst the commands of Christ that we strive daily to live out.

If love is patient, kind, does not envy, boast or be proud.  If love does not dishonor, is not self-seeking... if it always protects... there is no place for anything other.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Is not your brother your neighbor?  Is there no greater commandment?!

The normal, the expected behavior of siblings is to rival.  To fight and bicker.  This is not what God expects of our children, and therefore it's not what we expect as parents.  How much more pleasant the home, the atmosphere, where children treat one another with love and with kindness.  Where they offer encouragement to one another and lift each other up.  Where they begin to display fruit of their own in their actions and words toward those God has placed in their lives, to live with them, to be their closest neighbors.

My discussion with Isaiah ended sweetly, with a reminder that God CHOSE Isaiah to be our first child, the older brother of Elijah and Noah.  God CHOSE, for now at least, for Elijah to the the middle child and Noah the baby.  God has given them each what is needed to fulfill the roles he gave them, to make their part of our larger body function as we follow the head, that is Christ.

Since Isaiah is the oldest, he has the added responsibility of helping train his younger siblings.  Elijah excels academically, in large part, because of the time and effort Isaiah has invested in teaching and encouraging him.  Isaiah is no less bright!  Reassurance of his position in our family, of his position before God, and a review of our and God's expectations seemed to bring a sigh of relief to a little boy.
"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12:3   

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...