In parenting there are times I have realized that training a skill or character trait needs to start WAY earlier then I could even imagine. Today I want to touch on the issue of defending those unjustly treated. This is not a trait I thought I would need to be training on until my kids were older, but God opened my eyes to the beginning stages of sinful nature of excluding others.
The examples I give are traits I see at a very young age, please hear me when I say that there is GREATER injustices going on, but I would like to touch on the eye opening experiences I am seeing now with my kids who the oldest is 4.
In our family we have 4 children, 3 boys and 1 girl. We also have a large age difference in ability to play between our two older and two younger children. This has given a lot of opportunities for the children to desire to exclude one or more of their siblings. There are times in life when age separation is needed for safety (small pieces), destroying projects a child is working on while (youngers are trying to play with olders) and or for privacy issues with girls and boys (bathing, changing etc). BUT what I have been seeing is in order to encourage inclusion the main verbiage I am saying is, “What can we do to include others by thinking of them, getting on their level, finding ways to involve.”
We have tried our best to create spaces where there are families space in which we all play together; compared to if you would like to play with this toy that has small pieces we will have to find a special place, or if you need some alone time we have your room available, or this is a toy that we would love to play with during the younger kids nap time etc. Making the family/sibling time together just that: a time together.
Other areas we have ran into is when we have play dates, friends over, mommy groups and other time when we are with others, is creating a standard in which we ALL play together. Please note that mentioned above there are times in which there are reasons not to ALL play together but as much as I can I want to create an atmosphere of INCLUDING.
This topic has so many facets and is an area in which will have to be adjusted with age and maturity, however here are a few more standards we try to follow:
- If we want to start a new game or activity we need to ask everyone there if they would like to participate as well.
- We can never call someone a name or thing before getting their approval and if they can not speak for themselves we must ask their parent. (This may seem out of the box, but I can see this being a way to call people names, separate, or tease, especially when they are too young to understand or stand up for themselves.)
- We do not run from others, even if we think it is a game, UNLESS they have said it is ok, and if they can not speak for themselves we must not run from them since they are unaware of why we are running.
- We are never allow to play in a room where the door is closed and there is not adult. (This rule is for many reasons but also ties into bullying, pressures, and having the support to stand up for those who are treated unjustly.
- WE ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS invite our siblings to play with us even if we have a friend over (again there are times and places where this is not safe but as a general rule we are all friends with everyone and our siblings are our BEST friends and if they had a friend over they would ask us to join as well.
There is a lot to still be discovered for myself in regard to helping my children stand up for those treated unjustly, as well as cultivating a spirit of inclusion, I pray God will work on my heart and continue to reveal more and more about His love and how I can translate that to my kids in developing their character.
1 Peter 2:19 says, “This shows you have received loving-favor when you are even punished for doing what is right because of your trust in God.”