MORE THAN GETTING ALONG
My sister and I are 17 months apart...I know, my poor Mom! We were a grade level apart, had different friends growing up, and I thought I was waaaay older than her. And in turn, bred my control. I wanted to be the boss, the care taker, the control freak. It became something of contention in our relationship for years, and being that she is someone with a backbone, the conflict that came from it was often intense. Our relationship, based on our closeness in age, our difference in personalities, and our "independent woman" mentalities, could have been driven apart, but instead we fought and fight for each other, still. We were taught that love is the standard. We were taught that “getting along” was not enough.
I don’t want my kids to just get along. I don’t want them to grin and bear it, or just handle being with each other. Dare I say, I want more? Well, I do. We do. The "more" that we want is such a subtlety that is most often missed in today’s parenting. The 'more" is where getting along ends and Love begins. The difference seems slight, but it’s vast. It deserves the distinction and it deserves to be highlighted.
I know there is a difference because not only was I taught it growing up with my sister, I distinctly felt the difference. Love is not shoving a problem under the carpet to keep the peace. Love is holding the other accountable, not ignoring the trouble. Love is serving the other for their sake, not your own. Getting along is none of those. It’s masked as peace. But getting along is not peace.
Sibling conflict doesn't just magically appear or suddenly disappear. It is not a phase or something you hope will get better. It is frustrating to witness and requires the work of you, the parent, to maintain the love you want for your kids. Sibling conflict is a reflection of the individual's humanity, a weakness that needs to be strengthened, and it can be done.
Love requires more than just getting along. It hurts more, it humbles more, it cries more, and it laughs more. Love will withstand the good and the bad, not just barely make it. We want more than getting along, more for our kids, for our marriage, for our life. I choose to press in, push through, hold on, and dig deep.
As I watch our own children fight, it is often times so much easier to just yell from the other room to "knock it off," or "stop it," and say "can't you just get along?" It is easier to just ignore or minimize. It is easier to look across the street and see the other pair of siblings at each other's throats and say, "it's normal."
Well, it may be normal, but do we always follow the norm? If "so and so" is allowing it, does that make it okay? Let's raise the bar, shall we? Let's stop watching our kids eat each other alive and hope it will change someday. Let's be the one family in the neighborhood to ignite a new normal, where kids get corrected for their attitudes towards each other, for their tone of voices, for selfishness.
Let's up the standard which requires us to take a stand, to push back justification, to follow the light of what is right; and in this case, what is sibling love. This love is something to fight for in our homes, in our families and between the hearts of our kids.
Getting along is lip service, a band aid. Love is active and heartfelt and truth. Teach them the difference between loving and getting along. Retrain your words from telling your kids to “just get along.” to “love each other.” That in and of itself prompts action, prompts humility and a look at the heart. It causes them to re-frame what their own relationships should be., and in turn the relationships with those outside the confines of the family. Although kids still fight, there is still conflict, problems arise, the little shifts in our standards will shift the paradigm of the home. We aren’t just there to coexist, but to lean in, draw close and sow for the future relationships worth having.
1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.