Yesterday I shared about the importance of older siblings investing into the lives of their younger siblings. I’m continuing on that thought…
Practical Life Skills.
Our desire is that our kids can run a house by the time they leave our home. (Aiming for a few years before graduation.) This means mentoring from parent to child is simply a way of life.
This is true also for the older ones passing down skills to the younger ones. When the older one is working (doing any task), ask yourself if it is a good time (age wise and time wise) to have a younger sibling tag along and learn. The older one should be taught to be intentional in calmly and effectively mentoring the younger. The younger should be taught to listen, be respectful, and find value in learning from the older. (Yes, younger can also teach things to the older and the same things apply).
Here are some practical life skills that your older siblings can be teaching younger siblings (not saying this is exclusively them teaching, but just wanting to open up your eyes to this concept of them being able to mentor younger ones):
- yard work – weeding, mulching, mowing, trimming, edging, blowing, cleaning the pool, pool filter, chain saw
- yard equipment maintenance – changing the mower blade, checking oil, gas, replacing the weed eater wire
- home skills – cooking, cutting foods, meal planning, grocery list, grocery shopping, cleaning well, making beds
- home maintenance – hanging pictures, changing light bulbs, painting, changing air vents (and how to know which size), patching holes in the walls
- car maintenance and repair – changing a tire, checking and changing oil, washing the car
- equipment – attaching a trailer to a vehicle, strapping down items on a truck bed or trailer
- maintenance -mow, edge, blow, yard work, fix a lawn mower, change the oil, put gas in the car
- computer skills – Power Point presentations, Excel, problem solving basics (Umm…I’ll be honest. I need some serious help here.)
- phone skills- scheduling own appointments, RSVPing, knowing how to properly and respectfully address a concern, ordering over the phone, taking messages properly, being respectful to sales calls (even if we don’t enjoy them, don’t answer or be respectful in how you communicate no thank you to them, recognizing they are real people working a hard job)
Please note I am not saying the training is exclusively done by the older siblings. The parents are actively involved in training all the time as well. We have experienced the blessings of our older kids being intentional to invest into the lives of the younger ones. Before one child leaves to go to college, he/she is to make sure the next child knows how to do all they know how to do as far as yard, home, and skills. They’ve done a pretty good job of this, although someone needs to come back home and coach us on using a camera properly AND on computer skills. How did that slip by? (Alexis, Daniel, John, Kelsey… are you reading my blogs? Help!!) Our kids have shown interest in the likes of the others, hobbies of the others, and passed on many trades and skills. Some of the things they’ve passed on were learned on their own or from others outside our family.
What if the Siblings Have Nothing in Common?
So often our kids have different hobbies and interests than each other. My older son loves the great outdoors and everything about it. My younger son is crazy about anything and everything soccer. They share common interests, too, like Gator Football and good home-cooking and hanging with the family (I put that one in there without confirming because I wanted to.) John has come home from college to watch Daniel play soccer games and support him in his favorite sport. Daniel, on the other hand, has woken up super early to accompany his brother on a boat ride to an island to go hunting, dressed in waders and the works. I can tell you this was an act of love. Daniel’s preference wouldn’t be a 4AM wake-up call. (Of course, when it comes to a soccer tournament in a city far away, he can rise and shine early with the best of them.)
Showing Interest by Investing Time.
Here are some additional ways to build an interdependent family that is not focused on being peer dependent nor being consumed with self.
- Plan Sibling Dates – to Disney, a movie, or a park. (ie. using the car to invest in sibling)
- Plan Sibling Traditions – one family has “Hamrick Olympics” and their grown kids and spouses still continue it today
- Older son take younger sister on a date to show how a guy should treat her and manners
- Older siblings initiate a trip with younger ones to the zoo, a movie, the fair, a concert, the beach, a theme park, a local park
- Older siblings pray with younger ones, taking time to hear them, hug, be concerned, come alongside them, and actually stop and pray right there with them
- Older sister show how to put on make up, pick out clothes, accessorize, do hair, enjoying the process together
- Family Fun Night: older sibling leads the younger in gathering ideas and planning and executing monthly Fun Family Nights: bowling, skating, dancing, board games, dominoes
- Family Theme Night: for the super creative family. My friend Stephanie Little is off the charts in this category and I simply have to enjoy her Facebook pictures and not allow myself to feel like a bad mom. However,we can introduce this idea to our kids and let them shine. Matching activity, food, snacks, etc. (Stephanie, how about a guest blog post on this? You and Kaitlin??)
- There is great value in the kids planning these things: leadership skills, respectful of all ideas, bonding, traditions build family ties
- Older plan birthday parties for younger. (younger can be involved in planning for the older too)
- Hobbies of older sibling- include younger sibling and mentoring when doing their hobbies/interests: hunt, fish, music, stamp collecting, photography, sewing
- Plan and cook a candlelight dinner for parents
- Celebrate the accomplishments of the younger sibling
- Coach or help to coach siblings sports teams or teach skills at home in extracurricular interests (art, music, kayaking…)
- Help with homework
- In our neck of the woods, older siblings who drive, can take the younger ones on a quick trip to the Kangaroo gas station for refills on their Roo Cups. (25 cent icees all summer long).
There’s a lot more that I could say on siblings spending time with each other, but for now, I am just hoping to paint a picture for you of children being engaged in the lives of their siblings, even if their interests do not align. I’m also wanting you to see the value of them being teachable – even to their siblings. Even if a sibling is younger there are things to learn.
A home that has teachable family member is a wonderful home indeed. Interdependent not peer dependent. Others-focused not self-focused. Work towards this. You’ll be so glad you did.
Share your thoughts. How are your kids investing time intentionally into their siblings?
Rhonda tookabreakfromhomeworkandheadedouttotheocean(eventhoughIwantedtoorganizeschoolbooks)GoMe. ellis
Great ideas! Thanks for posting.