Siblings without rivalry

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When I was pregnant with my second child, a kind acquaintance farther down the path of parenting more than one child passed on a reading list of helpful titles. I was an eager student, especially given that seven long years passed before I became anyone’s sister. I grew up dreading my friends’ summer vacations and envying families where there was a built-in playmate. My babies, however, would be just thirty three months apart, and society told me exactly what to expect. Competition. Struggles. Drama. Vying for my attention. Jockeying for position. Whining. Tattling. Bickering. Rivalry.

At the very top of the list of suggested reads, I found what I was looking for: Siblings Without Rivalry. I immediately went to the library, checked it out, and dug in.

I poured over advice on how to love my children uniquely, as individuals, creating safe spaces for them to express their feelings, allowing them to express their negative feelings about one another, and helping them to understand that they couldn’t let good feelings in without allowing bad feelings out. By the time I had finished the book, I was pretty sure that there was absolutely no way my children would be friends, let alone love one another. It was just too tall an order. There’s a reason so many brothers and sisters aren’t close, I decided. It’s too much work.

Siblings without rivalry

And yet, by the grace of God, my experience has proven the book title true. We have siblings without rivalry. Not because of any advice contained in those pages; when I think back on my time with the book now, it strikes me as largely, well … useless. I’ve never consciously applied the principles, although I guess it’s possible I’ve inadvertently adopted a few. My guidelines for encouraging sibling relationships have come more from the Bible than a secular bestseller, and have given us peaceful playtimes, willing teammates, and older siblings eager to help younger ones try their hand at something new. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for my favorite Bible verses for siblings.)


Does this mean that the children in this family never argue? That we never have hurt feelings, bad moods, grudging apologies, or “oil and water” seasons?

Uh, no.

They’re human, after all. And still children. They are going to make mistakes, be selfish, sin against others, disobey, and lack self-discipline. We have squabbles over whose pj pants were left on the floor and younger brothers who play the part of Godzilla in taking down sand castles uninvited.

But do they love one another? At the end of the day, if they had to choose who they’d see in the morning, would their siblings make the list?

Siblings without rivalry

They wouldn’t even pause, not one of them. They love each other with the kind of dedication that makes a Momma’s heart swell, and I am grateful. So grateful.

In the end, there was no magic. No formula laid out in a self-help guide. And no inevitable slide into the apathy or anger we’re so often told to expect, or constant teasing and bickering that we’re lead to believe is part and parcel of children. Brothers and sisters can, indeed, dwell in unity. They can even like it. I pray that your home enjoys the same spirit of love, cooperation, and joy. There truly is nothing quite so beautiful as seeing it lived out right before your eyes.

Siblings without rivalry


Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:19

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. Mark 10:9

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4: 8-10

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Phillipians 2:3

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

One thought on “Siblings without rivalry

  1. Thanks for the encouragement! And the Bible verse list! I printed it and stuck it on the fridge… mostly for me… but also for the little people.

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