No. The dog isn’t dinner. Sambo the lab and Sabal the panther are cuddling! They are best buds. And the sign on the very large cage says, “If separated, will stress-out.”

Over Christmas break, we took a family vacation to Florida. One of the places we visited was an Alligator Farm in the Everglades. Although I’m not exactly sure why the dog and panther were at an exhibit with snakes and gators- I’m glad they were! (Hey- are panthers native to Florida?)


We saw the two pals play, run, wrestle (I held my breath a couple times), and cuddle. Crazy. All six of us were mesmerized.

In a way it made me think of my four kids. Each one so different from the other. Yet if one is separated from our little family – it just doesn’t feel right.

It’s good to know as my teen and young adults grow into their own lives, they are still there for each other. Currently, one of  the four is going through a tough time. The other three have all rallied and are reaching out.

In the midst of the trial, I have seen blessings. Blessings in love and devotion. I’m grateful God has given them a heart for each other.

Here are a few tips to be a relationship builder verses a relationship buster:
      1. Avoid comparison. “Joey works really hard at _____. Why don’t you exert more effort like him?”
      2. Do NOT play favorites. Find good things and ways to connect with each child.
      3. Build the relationships. “Caitlin thinks you are the coolest sister. She loves spending time with you.”
      4. Allow time for your older kids to hang out without mom and dad.

What types of things do you do to increase relationship and decrease rivalry?

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Romans 12:10

Created by Melanie

© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.

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