Encouraging Sharing and Kindness Among Siblings, by Mara Spiropoulos

My husband told me something the other day that started to change the way I think and dream. See, I am a dreamer. I have always been one to imagine my life running many different courses, and following only a few. Truth is, I have lots of ideas and secret dreams that will likely never come to fruition for they are either too far-fetched or the idea is no longer of interest to me for I have moved on to yet another dream. I have even bigger dreams of saving the world through starting a plethora of non-profits.

My husband told me that if I truly want to save the world, then I need to put the non-profits on hold and for now, focus all efforts on raising my children well. Though the dreamer in me gets a bit bruised when my husband pulls me back to earth, I’m thankful he has this grounding ability. His words ring in my ears when I find myself a bit bored at times by the daily repetitive rhythms of life with kids. Those words bring me out of the clouds where I dreamt up my next big non-profit to save the world and back down to the earth where, when I can pull myself back into the moment, I find myself surrounded and unconditionally loved by the three angels that chose me as their mother.

The idea that I was fortunate enough to be chosen, not once, not twice, but three times by these beautiful, unique, and destiny-filled children is amazing to me. Sometimes, I am so humbled by this prospect that I feel unworthy as their mother. Since I truly embrace the philosophy that our children see their future as angels prior to birth, and choose the parents they come down to earth to, then I know that in fact I have within me all the capacities and gifts needed to raise them well. I just need to hone them.

Completing the LifeWays training was empowering and continuing to work on the blog serves as a wonderful link for me to a world of knowledge on how to raise children well. What does that mean, to raise a child well? For my husband and me, it means raising them to be balanced, healthy, and whole in their bodies, minds, and spirits. It means surrounding them with love and warmth and giving them secure, compassionate boundaries so that they see this world as a place that offers love and security.  And it means helping our children learn to treat their siblings, their parents, their peers, and the outer community members with kindness and respect.

Creating a loving and warm environment for our children is a work in progress. One of the central components of creating this environment is helping our children learn to treat each other kindly and with respect. The social arts, or the work we do to get along with one another, can be both challenging and invigorating. This work is for us all, for we all can benefit from working a bit more at treating each other, especially those we disagree with, nicely. From personal experience, this can be very difficult, but when we are able to put aside our feelings and realize that each of us comes from the same source – love – then we realize we are all worthy of being treated kindly.

I wish I had some magical and fail-proof tips for you all on how to help your children learn to treat their siblings nicely and to share, but alas, I do not. I believe that sharing is a great tool to have in your belt, but it is also a lifelong lesson that we adults are still working on fully embracing. If I do not share everything in my possession, why should I make my child? Some things can be shared, a snack, a meal, or a toy that we have several of, but there are certain things I do not think we have to have our children share with others. A lovey, a favorite toy, or sometimes something that was just given to that child and no one else, are all things that can be kept and not shared.

When you parent three little children, all born within the span of 3 years, you learn that one of life’s hardest lessons is learning to share. Another is learning to be kind and keep your hands off your little sister who is just so irresistible!

With my oldest being only 4 years, we have not yet evolved to buying our children their “own” toys. We do not have many toys in our home, partially due to being inspired by Simplicity Parenting, and mostly because our children do not really play with toys but instead tend to scatter them throughout the house. We have also learned several times over that when one of your children gets a special toy, the other wants that and only that, fighting soon ensues, and mama’s patience gets put to the test. So, we learn to live with less and find much more peace this way.

Learning to be kind to siblings and keep our hands from pinching our little sister’s cheeks is a whole other matter. This lesson, I feel I am failing at teaching. My middle child and only son cannot keep his hands off his little sister. He just loves touching her, pinching her cheeks, squeezing her hands, etc. Through LifeWays, I have gained knowledge of child development and through discussions with other parents, I realize that boy energy is different and they need outlets and firm, loving boundaries to guide their behavior.

This lesson it seems is one for us all to benefit from, for my son, he gets to learn self-control, kindness, and personal space, and for his parents, we get to learn that each child requires and deserves his own, personal, creative strategies in which to teach life’s great lessons. At the end of the day, we have to acknowledge that although at times we fall down, most of the time we do the best we can for our children to help guide them to be social and kind creatures who gently inhabit this earth.

The two professional pictures of Lincoln with each of his sisters were taken by the talented photographer Billy Zakrewski and shared with his permission.

Mara Spiropoulos is the blog coordinator and parent voice for the LifeWays North America blog. She is a recent graduate of the LifeWays training program, resides in Milwaukee, WI, and a full-time mother to 3 young children. Mara enjoys spending time in nature, reading and researching natural parenting and living, and crafting. She would love to hear from anyone willing to be a guest writer and you can reach her by email at linearmara@gmail.com.

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