Raising Kids Who Will Look Out For Each Other

2:44 AM

There is nothing more reassuring for parents than to see their kids actually looking out for each other. The world is filled with so many potential aggressors that having siblings as allies is very comforting. After all, parents will not always be present as they very seldom outlive their children in the natural course of life. When parents are gone, siblings are expected to look out for each other.  

Setting the Stage for Sibling Roles

Parents have the important responsibility of setting the stage for the roles their children play in their siblings' lives. In the Filipino culture, older siblings called "Kuya" or "Ate" are taught to be good examples to the younger ones. They often have to give way as well to the preferences of the younger siblings to preserve domestic peace. However, the younger ones are taught as well to respect their older siblings.

As children grow and mature, they should learn that sibling relationships go both ways. One has to give and receive. Respect is given to every member regardless of age. Most importantly, there will always come a time that a family member will need to be "rescued" whether it be from physical harm or bad decisions. Kids who learn early on to look after their siblings usually know by instinct that something is wrong.

Sibling Dependency

Teaching children to look out for each other is different from sibling dependency. It does not bestow on one sibling alone the role of protector, caretaker, or the selfless martyr while another becomes the perpetual victim of circumstances who always have to be saved and allowed more leeway. It is all about inculcating reciprocal genuine concern for the well-being of each other.

Parents can do a lot in ensuring that their kids go the right way by doing away with favoritism to avoid ill-feelings of siblings against each other. It is never easy to understand that a "favorite" child did not necessarily set out to destroy the other by doing good in their parents' eye. Most siblings who grew in an environment of favoritism tend to take it out on each other as adults.

Maintaining Distance

As kids grow, they would need some privacy that would require siblings to maintain an unwritten degree of distance from each other. They would need to discover many things for themselves and will learn from their mistakes in the process. That is something that cannot be helped.

Caring siblings maintain a respectable distance but will never really go away. Sometimes they will wait for an actual request for assistance so the help they offer will not be interpreted as meddling. At other times when the situation calls for it, they will come rushing in uninvited, risking rebuff, but never really minding if doing so will mean saving the sibling in trouble.

My Say

Hearing my young children's frequent bickering and squabbling with each other sometimes makes me afraid that they may not look out for each other as adults. I would always recite to them my mantra that at the end of the day and in the darkest moments of their lives, they may only have each other to turn to so they must treasure each other.  Those words will always be met by silence so I don't really know what they are thinking.

That said, I am hoping I have done enough. I have a feeling that I did, for during their unguarded moments, I usually catch them staunchly defending each other maybe even not realizing it. I pray for the grace to raise them well so that helping each other out is not even a question to be asked but a fact to be held on to by them.

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