As our family has grown and expanded to include the boys, I love what they teach about the addition of siblings, and the language they use for adding more kids to the mix.
Implementing their ideas that our family is a team, that the kids are all teammates rather than rivals has, I think, been a catalyst of much positive change in our family. I watched this, in the last few weeks, play out most notably in my oldest, my daughter.
It’s not that we were raising them to be in competition with one another. But raising them as a TEAM wasn’t our distinct intention, either. And if we’re not teaching these things on purpose, they will develop what their human nature and culture defaults to: the individual comes first, and competition/comparison is a way of life.
My daughter is a great big sis, but she’s a human and she’s 9. She can be defiant and selfish, just like the rest of us.
But a few weeks ago, we had a talk about her role in our family, which was prompted and fueled by some of the things I had read recently from Family Teams. I explained that each of the kids has a role to fill in our family, and while the boys have their own that they’re growing into, in this season, as the oldest, hers is clear: she sets the tone.
When she is helpful, her brother is too. When she is resisting the plans, her will too. When she is gentle, her brother is too. (The baby is just usually a baby, lol).
This manifests differently in each of them, and it doesn’t work perfectly – and we talked specifically about the times when the boys are being difficult, even if she’s not.
But that idea and that language took a tense moment of discipline and correction, and made it one that empowered my girl and emphasized her natural leadership qualities.
And that made all the difference.
Like I said, it hasn’t been perfect. It’s not a magical, night and day sort of transformation. She’s still a kid and her own person – but now we have this conversation to fall back on in those more challenging moments, and the language we need to encourage her in our correction. The seeds are planted to grow her and shape her and nurture these natural characteristics in her.
And when this all plays out well, it’s incredible.
I couldn’t believe it: yesterday, as we were getting ready to leave (always a challenging time with all the pieces and parts that go into an outing with all 3), and it started to derail a little bit, I watched something click in my daughter, whether consciously or otherwise; she stepped up to the plate in her role and set the tone. She was gentle and calm and supportive. Not just of the boys, but even of me. She did it with this very confident and secure spirit, and it was like she saw that it was her time to lead and rose to meet that need. And that made a huge difference in the way our day played out.
My mama heart is full of such pride.
Not just because she was compliant and helpful, but because she realized on her own that it was time to lead, and she did it gently, by example, and with such love and gentleness.
My girl. Our little leader – not in the making, but in the now.
The tone setter of our family.
More powerful than she realizes. But she’s realizing.
It’s my hope and prayer that we can guide and shape her well.
All that being said, though, I can’t recommend the teachings and encouragement coming out of the Bethke’s and Family Teams enough. I definitely would send anyone there who was looking for just a new, healthy and positive way of doing family that allowed for connection and unity within the family while still honoring and celebrating the individual. It’s brilliant and is definitely helping us so much over here.