It is midway through the summer. How are you doing? Are your kids beginning to pick at each other? Do you feel a little frustrated with your kids’ bickering? Is their relationship what you had hoped? Do you want your kids to best buds when they grow up? Of course! Most parents do. 
But here’s the kicker…not all moms and dads are relationship builders- some act more like relationship busters.
Honestly examine your building or busting with these five questions:
1. Do you compare your children? “Why aren’t you responsible like Brandon? Why don’t you behave like Emma?  Your brother used the big potty when he was three.”

2. Do you allow constant conflict? “If there isn’t blood, work it out yourselves.”

3. Do you foster competition?  “I bet you could run even faster than Sam if you practiced.”

4. Do you choose one over the other?  “Cayden and  I have a lot in common.  We just click.”

5. Do you coddle one over the other? “Caitlin is having a bad day, she can’t help it that she behaved badly.”

Comparison, constant conflict, competition, choice, and coddling one over the other pit siblings against each other. They are relationship busters. 

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you can still change your ways. Here are some relationship builder approaches:

1.  “You have unique and special talents, just as your brother has unique and special talents.”

2. Give the kids tools to resolve conflict. Don’t allow them to fight dirty (name calling, physical actions)

 3. Have the child compete against himself. “You can do better if you practice. I can help you come up with a plan to improve.”

4. Find a way to connect with all your kids.

5. Be fair in treatment. Don’t play favorites.

So…. how can a mom encourage her children to genuinely like each other? How can she build relationships and connections between siblings? She can intentionally create opportunities for kids to enjoy each other. Have the activities be viewed as special, doing things that are not normally done.  Even with summer part way over with here are ten ways to wrap up your vacation time together on a good note. And… then tweak these ideas to fit the rest of the year!

Have fun together: A slumber party in a common area.
Eat together:  An indoor picnic.
Work together: A lemonade stand.

Create together: Cook a meal, bake cookies.

Serve together: Join forces to help out another. (pick weeds or mow an elderly neighbor’s yard)

Delight in each other: Do a surprise act of kindness for a brother or sister. (make a bed, do a  chore)

Demonstrate thoughtfulness. (If you are out with one child and stop at DQ, think of the one at home and bring him a treat-let the sibling be the giver.)

Encourage each other up: Designate a “Special Person” during dinner. Go around the table, stating PUT- UPS or affirmations for that individual.

Pray for each other:  Before bedtime have prayer time.

Build memories: Make a scrapbooks of shared activities.

Be the coach and not the referee this summer and beyond. Guide and encourage your kids to be sibling friends.  When you act as a relationship builder you will have the great pleasure of watching your young adults seek opportunities to enjoy one another’s company.

Have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 1:22b

What do you do to build up your kids’ relationships?
(Portions of this blog were taken from Lori’s article over at Her View From Home, June 6, 2013)

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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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