Some Silly but Serious Rules You Should All Remember:
- Do not borrow money from each other. Ever. I don’t care how affluent one of you may become, borrowing money puts a monetary value of the relationship. It makes the person borrowed from feel as if the only reason that the relationship exists is to be a pocket book to the other. It’s painful. When the person borrowed from finally says no, the relationship is extremely strained and it could take years or even a decade to overcome this. No amount of money is worth this. Don’t Do It. Ever.
- Keep in contact with each other, but don’t feel like you need to be in constant contact. This is a little tricky to manage and describe. If one of you does all the initial contacting, that person is going to feel as if the relationship only exists because they are putting in the effort. So each of you must make the effort to initiate contact. However, recognize that life is crazy hectic and busy. Long conversations, or the never-ending text conversation can’t always happen. People just can’t do it. Sometimes just a simple text reminder that you are thinking of the other is enough. Be aware of the other’s time commitments and struggles. Pray for each other. Be a support for each other.
- Be worthy of the relationship. Live your life as unto the Lord. Take care of your individual families. Always strive to improve yourself and do more and become a better man. That effort should be there until the day you die. Be worthy.
- Be gentle with each other when it comes to childhood experiences. Growing up is rough. Even under the best of circumstances, there will always be challenges when it comes to forging sibling relationships. Mistakes are made. Bad attitudes may be present for a time. Just try not to hold on to past resentments from childhood. If it still bothers you as an adult, it’s best to talk about it and get it out in the open. Handle it with wisdom and a great deal of prayer. Childhood experiences can open up some serious personal and hidden wounds. Just try not to base your relationship on things that happened during childhood itself, although I agree that it may be difficult.
- Try to see each other at least once a year. I know that may be hard given how life leads us around, but do make the effort. Having said that, when you do get together, there are some things you can do to keep things easy. Try not to stay under the same roof, and if that can’t be avoided, keep the duration of that down to just a few days. People need a place to retreat to after a day of entertaining and visiting. That’s normal. Sometimes, we just need our coffee the way we like it, or we want the use of a normal size bathroom, or we just need our kids to begin to wind down without getting hyped up by their super cute and funny cousins, or we just need to chance to reconnect with our spouse because these visits often divide us up gender wise as men do men things and women do women things. I swear every family visit we have, I hardly see your Dad for a week. It takes a toll but these simple things will keep the visits cheerful and manageable. Trying to visit for a whole week under one roof isn’t going to create the memory you want it to. Get a hotel if it’s going to be longer than 4 nights. Seriously.
- Look for ways to make each other laugh. There probably won’t be many people that can make you laugh so hard that snot flies than your brother.
Sibling relationships can be complicated. Let me just say that up front. Your father and I have several siblings between the two of us, and there have been times in our lives when these relationships can pose the greatest challenges to us.
Some of this is because of our expectations. For one thing, we tend to believe that just by having a sibling, that there is some supernatural bond that will tie us all together and that natural feelings of love, empathy, compassion, kindness, and support are all going to be there, all the time, and in every single circumstance. Let me just start by saying….that’s not exactly true. Probably more so than any relationship you have in your entire life, this is the one that will require the MOST work because you have to choose to work on it. And here is the kicker – you both have to choose it but more importantly, you both MUST be the kind of men worthy of being chosen for this kind of serious effort.
The kind of man you choose to be will dictate how natural your relationships are. If one of you has decided to live a reckless and for all intents and purposes, irresponsible life, then these relationships will be difficult, and may not even be possible. It’s important that you recognize the simple and beautiful truth that you…must…grow…up! You must be willing to take on life’s challenges and struggles and ever increasing responsibilities. If you don’t choose to “grow up” with each other, at the same general pace, then things are going to get rocky really quick. This doesn’t mean you have to have it all figured out by 18. Few, if any of us, do. It does mean that you have the ability to handle 18 with dignity. If you are partying, and living the life of someone who belongs on a talk show – well, that’s going to be your indicator that you have gotten off track with your life and it’s time to go back to the Word and read and renew your relationship with God, and begin to put your life back on track. From there, you can begin to renew your relationships with your siblings.
What happens if one of you does go off the deep end? Does that mean that person is cut off? Let me surprise you and say this. While my motherly instincts tell me that you are each so loved and there is no reason any one of you should ever be cut out of the life of the others…wisdom says that as grown men, you have responsibilities that you have taken on, and the decisions you make have to reflect on the impacts to your individual families. This means that tough decisions will be necessary and I won’t tell you that just because someone has the title of “Brother” to you means that you keep that person, no matter how reckless their behavior, deeply involved in your lives. Drugs, alcohol, extremely poor financial decisions, a lack of work ethic to manage and do a job well to support the family, poor handling of general responsibility, reckless behavior… these things will create insurmountable challenges to keep a sibling relationship healthy. Like I said, it may not be possible.
Having said that…can a person recover from this kind of life? Absolutely – you will see it over and over again throughout your lives that the power of God is awesome, and it is only through Him that lives can be turned around. But, it is ONLY through Him that they can be turned around. Nothing else in this world will do it. Why? Because if he devil has managed to get a person so far off course, that’s where he would like to keep them and no amount of therapy or other intervention will create true change in a person’s life. Only with humble prayers to God, will a person like this find new hope.
In closing, just know that your sibling relationships require a lot of work. Work means that you have to do things for each other that remind each other that you care about them. A lot of the negative feelings that we have tend to come from the belief that the other person doesn’t care for us – at least, not to the degree we care for them. Putting in the effort for each other is important. One of the reasons that we are choosing to homeschool you boys is to give you the honest chance to put in the work to build up your relationships in your youth. You have to find your common ground early on. If I were to send you off to school each day, you would be split up for most of your lives.
I’m going to have to stop here. You boys are out of bed, and playing with the felt board with Mary, Joseph, and the Angel. I told you the Nativity story yesterday or tried to. So far, you know that the Angel said “Don’t be afraid. You are going to have a baby boy, whose name will be Jesus, and He is the Son of God.” That’s as far as we got. So I need to shut this down. Know you are loved boys. Always.
Edit Update: Later this day, during prayer, Justin had an interesting thank you to God. He said “Thank you for Mama and Daddy and Graham and Max and Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus and the Angel and the Moose”… You read that right. A moose. I don’t know what happened during the story that introduced a moose into the nativity, but he was very serious about it. Sometimes during prayer, I hear the craziest things. God has to be laughing.