A Sibling is a Safe Place
I like my brother. I always have. I think most people are fortunate enough to develop a friendship with their siblings once they reach adulthood and the camaraderie of parenthood but I am one of the rare individuals who has enjoyed a friendship with my brother for our whole lives. Sure, we had our moments - like the time he chased me around the house with a meat tenderizer or the unfortunate occasion when I drooled in his mouth...accidentally! But for the bulk of our lives, we have been friends.
How did this happen? My parents forced us to be a safe place for each other.
And now I am forcing my kids to be a safe place for one another as well.
The people we live with see the good, the bad and the ugly. We've got some dirt on each other and that means the people who know us the best are the people who can hurt us the worst. That was not allowed in my home growing up and it is not allowed in my current home either.
What does it mean for siblings to be a safe place for each other?
It means we don't hurt each other on purpose (physically or emotionally). We don't call each other mean names or embarrass one another in front of friends or use our insider information to hurt or harm one another.
It means we are a team - we are on our sibling's side. If a kid at the park won't let your little brother play then you don't play either. When a sibling does well we celebrate with them. When they hurt we hurt with them. We are a team.
It means we don't let arguments or disagreements fester. We air it out. We talk it out. We hug it out. We are united. We are family.
We frequently tell our kids that their sibling is their best friend. (I got this idea from Jen Wilkin) When one of my children talks about so and so from Sunday School being their best friend I always say, "So and so is a great friend but your brother is your best friend. He's going to be your friend forever."
Jill Savage has an entire chapter of her book My Heart's at Home dedicated to the idea of home being a "Safe House" and if you are looking for more ideas on how to make your house safe you may want to check that out.
All siblings are going to fight from time to time because all humans have sin wrapped up in our hearts. The good news is that with God's help, we can foster an environment that demands loyalty and kindness and respect. As a rule we are for one another and not against each other. I pray that like me, my kids will experience the blessing of growing up with best friends who live in their house. And that is why we require them to be a safe place for one another.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.