Tuesday, June 13, 2006Siblings and Socialization
I have five brothers and three sisters. I am so thankful to my mother and father for continuing to be open to life after child number 2.3 (wait, I think the new American average is 1.8). I never really bothered to thank them until I was in my early twenties and fully appreciated what we have.
Some couples, aren't blessed with many children for reasons only God knows... but I think these families, by continuing to be open against all hope to life are still able to sanctify their homes and live in a way that glorifies God through the challenges and blessings a single-child or even no-child family have. Since this is probably less common than people willingly saying "No" to God's creative hand, I'm focusing on how siblings can aid in the whole socialization process that seems to concern many parents. Watching my two sons grow up together has been so enlightening. All mothers worry about how they will love their second child as much as their first of course-- it's too soon in the family life to understand how love multiplies and doesn't divide. But once that other one is there, it's impossible to imagine life otherwise. No longer am I the sole entertainment for my son! He and his brother do everything together. And I am so excited for this third baby (did I tell you it's another boy?) to join in on the fun. What a gift they have in each other!!! I met a young mother recently who put her son in daycare throughout the week. She didn't work and so I asked with respectful curiosity why he was in daycare (thinking she'd tell me it was so she could have that ephemeral "break" I keep hearing about). Much to my surprise, she told me it was for the sole purpose of socializing him. She wanted him to interact with other children.
Of course societal interactions are important but it made me appreciate just how wonderfully most of this socialization can take place within one's own family. I love to go to parks or libraries etc., and watch the kids play with other children but I guess I've never really scheduled "play dates" like a lot of mothers seem to now. I get together with other moms I am friends with but there is no concentrated effort to create a socialization situation to shape my child's development. I plan on getting involved with sports and community groups as they come up just for fun and to let my kids try things out. But frankly I think they are learning to socialize just beautifully by interacting with each other primarily... and also with other adults and older children. (I believe this is one of the great advantages of home education, which I'll bring up later). They learn the concepts of sharing, problem-solving, communication and mutually motivated diversions to avoid boredom.
Family get-togethers are so rich for me. All my siblings and nephews and nieces bring such joy to everyone. I can see a change too in my own parents as they age (with grace). They seem to be ENJOYING our family and its tender offsprings more and more every day. We have all been through a lot and we have our share of closets full of skeletons but it seems that there is a central kind of love that is bringing us together as we all go about life in our own way. Things are calming down bit by bit as the blessings of God are made so apparent.
I am grateful to be married to a man that is open to any future blessings God gives us-- I can't wait for my own children to experience the world with the comfort and support of a loving family encouraging them along the way. I don't think there is any greater gift parents can give their child than the gift of brothers or sisters.