Titus Two Tuesday
Welcome to our very first Titus Two Tuesday, where a question submitted by a CultivatingAHome blog reader is answered.
Today’s question is from a Facebook friend. Join my page here
My two oldest children are a 14 yo girl and a 12 yo girl. They are polar opposites. My oldest is very outgoing, friendly (never meets a stranger), helpful to others and therefore is called on to help for various things. My 12 yo lives in her shadow. She is very soft spoken, shy (we are working on that one, thanks to you!), extremely helpful, but most don’t notice because she is very quiet in all she does. She feels overlooked at times and “left out” because she is not called on by others to help near as much as my older girl. Of course this is due to her being “quiet”, and I’ve explained that to her and have tried to role play with her and pray with her to have courage. Do you have other suggestions on how to deal with this situation? I can see she is becoming more insecure. She wants to be like her older sister. I’ve pointed out to her all her amazing attributes, but she wants to be “liked by everyone” and be on stage, etc
Yesterday’s blog post “Siblings Showing Interest by Investing Time” addresses some of this as far as teaching your kids the importance of investing into the lives of their siblings.
In this particular case, given only the information above and not knowing your children personally, here are a few thoughts:
Romans 12:10-11 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”
That verse says that the older one is to be devoted to the sibling, give preference to the sibling, and to be fervently living for Christ and devoted to serving Him.
There’s the answer in a nutshell, which would make this be my shortest blog post ever. And, you know I have trouble keeping things short, so here are some additional thoughts:
The Holy Spirit will guide us supernaturally into understanding the heart of our children. Pray for all family members, and in this case, particularly ask for for wisdom in the relationship between the older and younger sisters. Ask for the causes of the deep hurts to be revealed to you and for His timing and His creativity (ideas) in reaching the hearts of both sisters as you guide them to see through other eyes.
The Whole Family
The whole family plays a part in making each member feel valued. Take special notice of how family members treat each other – particular the younger sister -in this situation. You very well may notice some things going on that you previously didn’t realize were taking place.
The whole family needs to have time with just them where they enjoy, laugh, have inside jokes (like one-liners from favorite TV shows or movies), play games and need no phone, internet, or outside friends to be involved. Just family.
The Older Sibling
Have an easy-going, casual conversation with the older sister where it’s just you and her. (I’m not a big fan of the “We need to talk” approach, so just grab some time alone in the car or take her out to dinner but make it part of a conversation with lots of different topics so it doesn’t feel staged.)
Share your observations, concerns, and use this time to interject some thoughts (to train ahead) with her so that she is aware of how important her role is in her sister’s life. I’d be careful, though, not to communicate in any words or nonverbal expressions that unintentionally promote the perspective that she is better than her sister. Rather, your goal is to help her see the hurt in her sister’s heart right now and how it is that this can be happening.
Another goal in communicating this with the older sister is for her to see with fresh eyes, what plays in to this and see how she can be helpful in coming alongside and supporting her sister.
You mentioned the older is asked to do, to serve, is given opportunities that the younger one is capable of but is overlooked. Throw out one or a couple of examples (being careful that no blame is given) of this. “You being invited to go swimming with X, Y, and Z and she wasn’t” and “You being asked to try out for the leadership group and she wasn’t” and “You being asked to work in the nursery and she wasn’t” (or fill in the blank). Then ask, “Do you think she could do well at those things?” Listen to the “why not” if the answers include any hesitation.
That insight will be helpful for you, the older daughter, and the younger daughter for several reasons:
- It reveals how your younger is perceived or misperceived and gives you helpful information on the work to do with her at home.
- Examples: sending people the message “I don’t need you,” “I’m too shy,” “leave me alone,” “I don’t have any friends,” and learning to speak up, be confident, engage in conversation…
- You might see specific ways you never noticed the younger one bothers the older.
- It reveals your older daughter’s heart and therefore helps you know how to coach her heart.
- Example: teaching her how to quietly help her sister in areas of insecurity, recognizing talents and skills in her sister and cheering for her in those things, including her when invited somewhere and not leaving her out, or to help her see that she is prideful, about image, more concerned with her own glory than elevating her sister –
- It’s helpful for the younger daughter to see how she is perceived (if appropriate) and helping her grow
- It’s helpful for the older daughter to see the importance of including and cheering for her sister. It’s helpful in her seeing life through her sister’s eyes.
Ask the older one for ideas in how she can help “build up” her younger sister and make sure she realizes the important role she plays in this.
Some ideas could be to work with her sister to plan a Family Fun Night. Or that the two of them only go get ice cream (since they’re young, you drive), or each can invite a friend and they do this… but I wouldn’t include a friend until you see that the sister is definitely inclusive of the younger. Some other examples could be game night, working on a project together – like a themed family night, cleaning the kitchen together, cooking a meal together, or serving someone in the neighborhood together.
The goal: together where friendship is being strengthened. Older doing activities the younger is most interested in.
The Younger Sibling
You mentioned your younger is “soft-spoken.” It sounds like you’ve already done this, but for the others reading…make sure that she is comfortable being herself (quieter), YET she knows the importance of and knows HOW to show interest in others. What signals is she sending that lead people to put her in the “quiet” category to such a degree they interpret it to mean “Don’t Include Category.”
For example, she should know how to have good eye contact, smile, how to speak up when she has an idea, how to interject a thought, how to ask questions of others, be interested in their responses, and know how to ask follow up questions.
She, also, just like her older sister needs to show interest in the the other sibling. Perhaps she also needs to learn how to compliment the other and not compare herself.
She needs to be her sister’s biggest fan and not allow jealousy to creep in. Envy is put away by encouraging. Teach her to celebrate her sister’s accomplishments.
What are your thoughts?
Rhonda pardonmewhileIgotendtomyowntwodaughtersarguing ellis
I love this Rhonda! Beautiful insight.