Siblings are both a blessing and a challenge! Sometimes we have great relationships with them either naturally or after working at it over years. Other times it is like—how in the world did we come from the same home because we could not be more different! God chooses who is a part of our natural family. The more we ask for His guidance, both as a sibling ourselves or for our children, the easier it will be to love them with His love.
I was saddened the other day when I heard a mom speak of how her two sons were done with each other and each did not want anything to do with the other one. It was as though she had just given up, that there was nothing she would do to help them to find a way to get along. I pray that maybe she was just having a tough day and it was not that bad for these two brothers. Her boys were the same ages as my two boys, so I understand many of the challenges she faced. I know some days are going to be harder for them to get along. There will be days when they just need their own space and their own activities to do especially during the summer months without schoolwork to occupy many of the hours. Some days the mixture of my two boys and one girl are just a minefield ready to explode. However, there are also countless days when they share laughs, joy and fun together! But I will admit that it takes work, patience and a little vision to help them find ways to like (and dare I say enjoy) their siblings! I pray for my children that they see their siblings as built-in best friends for life!
I have learned over the years that often when we cannot handle the people closest to us, it is something inside us that is off and out of peace. We need to address our own internal issues (being too tired, needing quiet time, feeling misunderstood, etc). Then suddenly it is not so upsetting what the other person is doing. I try to teach my kids to look inside first and to not be so quick to assume the other is the cause of the problem. But we have a long way to go to grow in our emotional intelligence over here in our house!
Patience is a virtue we all need, but I am weary to pray for it! It seems to be a prayer God quickly answers by sending opportunities right away for you to work out your “patience muscles.” Even though we really do not need to pray for it, we do need to teach our children and ourselves how to assume the good in others first and be patient with them (since they are trying to be patient with us)!
A long time ago, I was listening to a podcast (but cannot remember who) that told one rather simple but insightful thing to help parents to build sibling relationships when they are young. Ask them to create a vision of what kind of relationship they want to have with their siblings when they are older (for instance as college students or adults.) My kids now talk about sharing a house and going to the same college together as ways they want to stay close after they leave mom and dad’s house. They have even picked a dog breed they want to adopt and a name for their dog! That might be God’s plan for them, and it might not be. Either way, they are putting vision into how they want to be friends now and later in life!
This past Sunday, we celebrated the feast of St Benedict. His twin sister, St. Scholastica, is honored on February 10. Many of us know of the Rule of St. Benedict and how vital St. Benedict was to the monastic life during his time until today. However, it is often not as known the love that these two siblings shared for one another. The devotion and love they received at home in Nursia definitely had a part in their close relationship throughout their lives and their answering the call to religious life. To inspire us in our desire for a more loving and peaceful house full of saintly children, reflect upon this story recounted of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica:
According to the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, the brother and sister spent their last day together in prayer and conversation. Scholastica sensed her death was close at hand and she begged Benedict to stay with her until the next day.
He refused her request because he did not want to spend a night outside the monastery, thus breaking his own Rule. Scholastica asked God to let her brother remain and a severe thunderstorm broke out, preventing Benedict and his monks from returning to the abbey.
Benedict cried out, “God forgive you, Sister. What have you done?” Scholastica replied, “I asked a favor of you and you refused. I asked it of God and he granted it.”
Brother and sister parted the next morning after their long discussion. Three days later, Benedict was praying in his monastery and saw the soul of his sister rising heavenward in the form of a white dove. Benedict then announced the death of his sister to the monks and later buried her in the tomb he had prepared for himself. (Saint Scholastica)
May we find ways to connect closer with our own siblings and create an atmosphere of sibling love in our own homes. Remember how powerful prayer can be to connect us more deeply with our family!
How can we create a better bond with our own siblings or between our children?
Can we find more ways to seek God’s goodness and will in our family life so that we more efficacious in creating brothers and sisters in Christ?
For more inspiration on other sibling saints, check our this article https://owlcation.com/humanities/Brother-and-Sister-Sibling-Saints.
St Benedict and St. Scholastica, pray for us!
Saint Scholastica article retrieved from https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-scholastica
Author: Laura Stephens, FF Homeschool Coordinator