Our society puts a lot of emphasis on “socialization.” I even take my kids to a preschool with a primary emphasis on navigating social relationships over more academic learning, so I clearly value it. It’s become a bit of a priority as H Boy continues to grow into his own person, one who has developed with a strongly introverted nature.
He’s not quick to join new social settings or make friends quickly, especially if those friends come across loud and excited. He will hang back, observe and once he experiences what he deems as an indication of safety, he’ll join in. I try not to worry and allow him to be himself (without making it too easy for him to opt for solo activity every time), but the noise surrounding “well socialized” children gets pretty loud.
But just watch him. He’s the most amazing big brother. His concern for his sisters, and now his baby brother, speaks louder than all my worries. He asks them to play, begs for one of them to sleep in his room for a nap, and entertains the baby more often than I wish he would.
He’s sensitive to their feelings and watches out for them. He’s an all-around good brother. Why isn’t society applauding this kind of relational success?
|“Watch your step,” he says.
Take a quick survey of the adults in your world – who do they spend time with? Who appears on your frequently called list? When family, specifically siblings, live nearby they tend to stick together. One of our favorite things is to spend time with my sister, her husband and children – we look forward to it and build it into our calendar on purpose. I have cousins who do the same, sharing mutual friends. Of course, there’s always the exception to the rule and often you hear the case of estranged siblings. And those stories tend to sink our hearts because deep down, we know something broke beyond a friendship gone awry.
We have these precious early years that kids begin their sibling life, and then we send them off to school to “get socialized” only 18 years later to see that they’ve gravitated toward their sibs again. We spend time teaching kids how to “be a good friend” but what if that wasn’t the starting point?
If we go digging in the family tree to find we’re all brothers and sisters. We come from the same place, whether you believe that’s Adam and Eve or an ape named Thor. It started somewhere and the rest of history seems to be this awful story of siblings spending more time in rivalry than seeking mutual edification. So if our basis is sibling love, it should extend out to all those with whom we share space.
Sometimes it’s hard to love your brothers and sisters fully because you know them in their raw form. There’s no dressing them up because we find them in the kitchen with morning breath, at bedtime throwing tantrums and during playtime, stealing toys and teasing you about your name. But when we dig into the hard love, the real love, the honest love, we’re learning a skill for our lifetime (especially if you get married. Doubly so if you have children).
It’s easy to fake a love for friends or people we see at select times and places. Siblings, however, serve as training ground for living out things like forgiveness, honesty and respect. And when it’s done well, you reap a lifetime of blessing living with family and friendship.