Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I feel compelled to actually use VOCABULARY instead of just posting redundant photographs all the time. I think it's time to "use my words".
When I was pregnant with baby #2, knowing the little being inside would eventually take up residence OUTSIDE of the serene, solitary womb-home and come into the loud, boisterous real-life world (with a SISTER!), I worried and fretted about how to ensure that my children would grow up to be friends. When said baby turned out to be a wee little Panda-boy, I worried even more, knowing that boys and girls just don't share the same thoughts, interests and mindsets.
HOW could I encourage their relationship to be close without sacrificing their differences and individuality? God made boys and girls different, and rightly so. They ARE different and are HERE to fulfill different purposes.
I have a special bond with my boychild, but I will not (cannot) allow him to become a Mama's boy. Why? Because Mama's boys are not what God intended for men to be, and eventually (even though often without our notice) they DO grow up. Boys need to be encouraged to become strong men and leaders. The Lord knows we need more of those! He can't be that if he is coddled.
In the same respect, I want my daughter to be raised to value her femininity and find not only contentment in her God-given roles, but happiness. She, as a young lady (and she puffs with pride everytime Papa calls her that), needs to be prepared for a life of service. Because that is what the life of a wife and mother IS.
Now, don't get me wrong: I was an upside-down-hangin', haymow jumpin' girl who could tackle the best of them, but I knew (and valued) my God-given role as a someday woman. My lanky legs could race (and beat) just about anyone, but from the time I could speak, when asked what I wanted to be in life, my answer was always "A mother. To A DOZEN children!" ;-)
Boys and girls need different things out of life, need to be treated differently... I am reminded more so every single day that I parent both genders.
So how does one foster a close relationship with children who have entirely different frameworks?
Wellll, since I am the ultimate authority, here is what I suggest....
(I hope you know that the above sentence was said in absolute sarcasm...)
Here are some of the things that have worked for us:
* Don't wait for playdates. WHO NEEDS 'EM?!? I'm not a fan of playdates anyway, for various reasons (don't get me started), but your children don't need to rely on "outside friends" to have fun. Stress the gift of them being together and they'll soon see it for themselves.
* Refer to them as friends. If a child is leaving their brother/sister out of the fun, I remind them that their sibling is their best friend, and that a having a brother or sister to play with ALL the time is God's gift to them.
* Encourage your child to participate in the other childs' interests. Andrew has a doll and Corynn plays with trucks. They play these things, not because it particularly interests them, but because they want to PLAY with each other and share in each others' lives.
* Sharing a room. I'll forever be a fan of sharing rooms, while they are little anyway. It is great fun (and at times a bother) to hear them chatting to each other or singing songs after lights are out. They wouldn't be nearly as close if they didn't live CLOSE in proximity to one another all the time.
*Along those same lines, homeschooling really builds the opportunity for close ties because again, they are sharing most of their time with one another instead of a classroom full of OTHER kids. Let's face it, unless they are twins, siblings often don't go to school "together" anymore. Long gone are the days of the one room schoolhouse.
* Boys need respect and need to feel respected. We tell Corynn often to be respectful to her brother. That means not talking down to him and always speaking respectfully. (This is good training ground for respecting husbands.)
*Girls tend to need more tenderness, so Andrew understands that he must be more gentle with his sisters. He can rough-house all he wants with Matt, but sisters should be treated with care. (Again, I hope that I am helping to raise up a tender husband for one of your daughters out there! hehehe)
* Don't compare your children to their siblings in a negative way. "Well, JOHNNY does SO and so. WHY can't you be more like HIM?!?!" Yikes. That is BAD news. Doing so will only add a hearty measure of resentment toward one another.
* Likewise, when the inevitable argument eventually breaks out-listen to BOTH sides of the story and don't automatically assume the responsible party. There are two sides to every story and each should be given equal attention.
And probably the biggest:
**** There is a zero-tolerance in our home for mocking or name calling. Simply is not tolerated, under any circumstances. The children can speak kindly or not at all.
Children who feel belittled by another will obviously not have a good relationship with the offender. I know I wouldn't want to have a relationship with someone who constantly belittles me or mocks me. I won't expect from my children what I don't expect from myself.
Your home ought to be a safe haven for those you love, and the "Haven" comes not in the form of bricks and mortar but in the presence of those who love you and have your best interest at heart.
Now, if you'll excuse me...is that a squabble I hear ?!? ;-)