Sibling Love in the Latest House TV Episode

An impossible choice, one that no parent can make. The latest house episode left me in tears but showed an example of sibling love and courage. When push comes to shove do your children sacrifice for each other? My son is the giving one but he's getting to that age where he wants to be more independent, have more of his own identity without her. The result is more skirmishes, more arguments, and more tears. I yearn for the days when they were everything to each other but that was before friends. Its my job to help them learn how to communicate, accept, and love each other. Hopefully they will always remain healthy, God willing, but if not I hope there is enough love to give the gift of life.

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The Problem with Prayer

I'm no pro when it comes to praying, I probably could use a few lessons.  The problem with prayer though is communication, its all one sided most of the time.  I tell God clearly what I want but I have to guess at what he wants.  How is that fair? 

God knows my trivial requests, a trampoline for the kids.  He knows my urgent serious requests, a job please.  He knows my important requests, support for a family friend dying of cancer.  I ask him, what do you want from me?  What is it that I am suppose to do now? What is your plan for my life? and I get nothing.  I have to sift through a text written centuries before my time by a culture so foreign to me that I cannot possible understand the meaning behind every word. 

I don't keep a record of prayers and a tally of those answered.  I feel to do so would be testing God and I don't want to tempt fate for the worse.  That takes my thoughts a whole different direction to that of Fate - how much is fate, chance, or personal fulfillment?  How much of what happens in my life is a direct result of answered prayer? or is it just the consequence of actions and decisions made?

I have been lead astray by thinking this must be what God wants because everything is coming together, then it all falls apart.  I've believed that a prayer is in the process of being answered only to find out that things are getting worse not better. 

I'm tired of guessing, I want a road map, I want a detailed outline, I want to know what decision is the right one.  Am I asking too much for a dialog? a relationship where both parties are equally engaged? Probably, after all I am talking about God here.  There is no equality.  I am but an ant, one of thousands on this tiny ball in the middle of the universe.  Maybe the only comfort I can take is that prayer if not heard, is at least helping me define what I want out of life.  Today that happens to be cash flow.

Homelessness - But for the Grace of God Go I....

I never really thought about how a family ends up out on the streets but I've been thinking about it lately.  I've been out of work for a year now, and out of Employment Benefits for 3 months, my bank account is in a negative balance and I am unable to pay even the minimum balance on my credit cards.  I have no way of putting gas in the car or even buying a bus ticket.  I have absolutely no income. 

I am so frustrated at how hard its been to find a position that works for me and my family.  When I look back at my job search and the types of jobs that I should have taken I am filled with regret.  Especially when I can't even afford to put my kids in extra curricular activities.  I feel guilty my kids friends are off to after school activities and I can't afford something as cheap as Brownies. 

Thankfully I am married to a wonderful man who is gainfully employed at the moment. However, if for some reason the economy takes a turn for the worst and he finds himself on unemployment insurance we will loose everything and be out on the street. 

But for the Grace of God go I.....  Without my husband's income we'd be on the street starving to death.    The sad thing is that there are too many families on the street unable to afford housing, food, or things for their children.  There are too many who are employed but can't afford the high prices of rent or food.  Not everyone on the street is there because of drug or alcohol addiction, some just can't afford to be anywhere else. 

We throw a can of food into the food bank bin, we toss some coins at charities assuming they are handling the situation.  We don't see the homeless families so we assume they aren't there.  We go through our life thinking that its someone else's problem, but tomorrow it could be ours. 

Should Kids Play with Kids Older than Them?

My friend's daughter, who is 8, is spending a lot of time with girls who are 12 years old.  She's torn about how to handle the situation.

In one respect her little girl is getting a boost to her self esteem because the older girls keep complimenting her and teach her new cheer leading moves.  On the other hand she is neglecting friends her age and hurting her relationships with her peers. 

I had a similar situation with my son earlier this year when he was hanging out with a boy 5 years older.  It was much easier for me to say that they couldn't hang out because they didn't go to school together.  Its harder for my friend because her daughter is at the same school as her older friends and plays with them every chance she can.  By ignoring her peers on the playground in favor of older friends she is damaging her friendships with peers.  For example my daughter thought they weren't friends anymore because she (the 8 yr old) was always running off to find her older friends.

I can understand how cool it feels for a younger child when older kids pay attention to them.  However, its not good for younger children to always be with children years older than them.  Older children are going through things younger children can't comprehend, nor should they.  Can children form real friendships with children 4-5 years older than them?  As siblings possibly over time but as school mates, I'm not so sure. 

In Calgary the schools are divided more then the schools in BC.  In Calgary my children couldn't go to the same school because of the way they are divided: Grade K-4, 5-7, 8-10, and 11-12.  In BC they are in the same school: Grade K-7, 8-12.  I don't like the way younger kids are put onto the playground with older kids and I certainly don't like it when grade 8 girls are hanging around grade 12 boys. 

In my girlfriend's case I can see how this friendship gives her little girl confidence but I believe it should be monitored and limited so that better friendships with peers have a chance to grow. 

Sibling Rivalry - Don't Let it Be the Norm in Your Home

I hear parents talking about their kids fighting like its a right of passage, a badge of honor, something that is natural, something to be proud of. They are more concerned about how the fighting effects them instead of how it is effecting the sibling’s relationship. If parents truly want their children to get along and be lifelong friends then it is up to them to ensure it happens. It comes down to the parent to figure out why their children can't get along and that takes effort, time, communication, conflict management, and a bit of psychology.

If a child is about to become a sibling, now is the time to start educating them on the realities of being a big brother or sister. Forget the fluff, after all, the baby won't be a playmate for awhile and will take a lot of mommy's attention and energy for the first few months. You need to figure out ways that the older child can help care for the new baby by giving them responsibility and communicate your expectations. As an older sibling they are responsible for helping care for and teach the younger sibling. Above all though, make sure you make time for the older sibling. Special mommy and son/daughter time will go a long way to help quench feelings of resentment. Elicit your spouse to step up and take on a more involved role with the older child, father and son/daughter time will help them develop a stronger relationship and make the older child feel special because they can do stuff the baby can't. Ask grandparents and friends to take an active interest in the older child and not just coo over the baby. Have the older child introduce his/her new sibling to friends and family thereby ensuring he/she feels like part of the process. Building a close sibling relationship starts at conception and by involving the older child with a responsible role.

If your children are a little older make sure you don't step in between them too much. It's always tempting to solve their fights or champion the one you see as being the underdog. When younger children start to fight just separate them, it’s probably time for them to have some alone time anyway. If they are fighting over a toy, just take the toy away - if they can't share it then neither gets it. By not taking one child's side over the other you ensure that both are treated equal - favoritism or perceived favoritism is the root of sibling rivalry. Once separated young children usually settle down and are ready to play again. You don't have to put them on time out and punish them - just send them to their corners or rooms to cool off and play by themselves for a little while. They will come out and start playing again on their own when they are ready. Younger children learn from natural consequences rather than elaborate teaching concepts like time outs to solve conflict.

When kids are older and can communicate how they feel or what they think, its time for the parents to listen. If they are fighting, separate them into separate rooms, give them time to calm down and then talk with each of them one on one. Just make sure that you aren't always talking to one child first all the time. Listen to what each of them says and ask them leading questions to help them see things from the other child's perspective. Ask questions to help them see how they contributed to the problem and how they can solve the issue. Don't let them get away with self-pity, which leads to unrealistic and untrue conclusions. Call them on lies and help them to understand reality. As children get older parents can utilize communication skills to put each child into each other’s shoes and come up with their own solutions.

Sibling rivalry is not a necessary right of passage. Families can find harmony in each other if they listen and find common ground. Discipline has its place in raising children but it doesn’t belong as a solution to sibling rivalry. Bring children closer by increasing their responsibility for each other, encouraging communication, focusing on common interests and celebrating differences. I believe that with a little work and some communication any family can avoid sibling rivalry and develop close sibling bonds.


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