Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Sibling Effect

Girl Holding Little SisterI’d seen the “sibling effect” clearly—and regularly—when it comes to rivalry, but this was something entirely new.

I had been looking after a toddler a few times a week while her mother worked. She was close in age to my son, so it wasn’t a big deal. I would read to them together, take them to the library, put them down for naps, and they got along pretty well.

One week, this little girl’s older sister stayed with us as well while her mom worked. Suddenly, I noticed the toddler’s behavior change drastically.

I would announce, “Time for a diaper change,” or “Time for a nap,” and she would literally run for cover, hiding behind her sister. If I insisted, she would begin to cry her sister’s name, so she would come and “rescue” her. Needless to say, I took a back seat during that week.

I was worried about the following week, when her sister would no longer be around and it would be “just the three of us” again.

I needn’t have worries.

Once again, she was her independent and playful self, chasing my son around the room, playing puzzles with him and eagerly running to the table when I called, “Snack time!”

I don’t think she consciously altered her behavior when her sister was around. It was just what I have started to label “the sibling effect.”

When her older sibling was around, it was her hero, her champion, someone with whom she felt the safest and the most comfortable.

When we become God’s children, Jesus becomes our “big brother.” The effect should be somewhat the same as the sibling effect I noticed with that little girl.

We run to Him when things go wrong.

We look to Him for comfort and assistance.

We turn to Him when we’re in tears.

We let Him hold us and reassure us that everything is going to be okay.

After all, isn’t that what siblings are for?

Cherished and Loved

cute toddlerAs usual, at the end of the day, I prayed for the night with my kids and ended the prayer with, “Thank You for my sweet and happy kids.”

My daughter asked me, once the prayer was over, “Are we really sweet and happy?”

I said yes, of course, and wondered to myself why she asked. After I kissed them good night, I thought back over the events of the day. I soon realized why she had asked me that question, and I felt guilty. It wasn’t that my kids had acted up a lot that day. They are kids though, after all, and there were the usual blunders, antics, and yes, even broken glass.

That wasn’t the problem though.

The problem was my reactions to them just being kids.

Had I been patient? Not exactly.

Longsuffering? Don’t think so.

Meek? Far from it.

I had committed the cardinal parenting no-no: Don’t let a child’s behavior, no matter how disappointing or frustrating, cause your reactions to be overly negative.

Had my reactions caused my daughter to think that I was no longer thankful for her? If so, my reactions were definitely worse than their behavior.

I gave them an extra kiss and vowed to try better the next day

to take a deep breath and smile a bit more often

to sing some songs with them

to read a story or two

to laugh at their jokes

to remember that they are only this young once and that it is a time that should be enjoyed and treasured, every moment, whines, accidents and all.

I am raising the hope of the future after all, and they deserve to know they are cherished and loved, more than anything else.