Parenting Our Kids to be Lifelong Friends

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Back in the day of mothering three little energized, super-powered boys, wiser women used to stop me in the stores and shine a light on my current status, saying one of two things.

The first, “Oh my heavens bless your heart - you have your hands full.” Sympathetic and maybe apologizing for the mess I’d gotten myself into. 

The second, “Oh honey this will be the most wonderful time of your life - your work matters.”

I chose to believe the second version of the reality God had so kindly blessed me with - wonder and purpose with a heavy side of exhaustion.

Those years of trying to make it through the grocery store without giving in to donuts in route down isles, and holding fast to no random toys at checkout are a distant memory for my first three sons.

Now they are the ones picking up the groceries and bringing Mom donuts. To God be all the glory! 

The little years are precious and the older years are powerful.

It ALL matters - but do we really believe that?

Even though I am still very much in the thick of younger kids parenting, my older three sons are very much growing into the incredible humans God made them to be. Their passions and purposes are coming into focus. 

Their friendship has gained momentum. 

Cultivating friendship in our families doesn’t just happen without saying yes to things that create memories and trust - while saying no to things that would rob us of together.

People began to share with me the words of my boys who were explaining to people why we are so close, and how it happened organically because of how we lived life.

I know us Moms would honestly rather not think about how on earth our current state of parenting will affect our kids and their relationships with each other in the future - because we feel as if we miss that darn mark every single day. 

We ask ourselves questions like,

“Did they hear me today?”

“Did any of my brother arguing intervention and pep talks make any kind of difference?”

“Did I show them the grace of Jesus that I so desperately depend on for my own heart?”

“Do they know that their relationship as brothers could be the strongest friendship they will ever have?”

“How can I create a culture of family community that thrives on together instead of living in isolation?”

With our kiddos sucked in to technology (like their Moms), with the culture of bullying and self harm (also present in adult circles), and the pressure to stand out in the crowd (hello, everywhere), we have to provide an alternative to kids growing up feeling alone and not enough.

Each ordinary way that we are present adds to the culture of trust and together. 

Doing family life on purpose is exhausting, but plays a heavy role in difference making in the lives our toddlers turned teenagers.

Now that those three little brothers are working jobs, driving everywhere, and looking out for each other… I can see that the choices we made along the way really did matter.

Little decisions carry massive impact. Here are a few of the ones we made that worked great for us but may look different for you!

  • We said no to disrespecting each other and outlawed mean fighting. 

  • We embraced co-watching television and movies.

  • We were better for the absence of screens in rooms.

  • We were the almost-Amish ones whose teens had no iPhones before driving.

  • We tried to be a home for friends where dinner, games, and stories happened around the table or in the car together, even if it was frozen pizza and Wendy’s value menu. 

  • We carved out time for hundreds and hundreds of mini van road trip miles where we had moments of insanity, but grew a history of seeing beautiful places together all documented on video tape.

  • Now our boys plan their own road trips and choose to hang together on the weekend.

  • When they choose each other, and their loyalty is so strong that others just HAVE to know how that actually happened - we can call all of it a miracle and something God gave us wisdom for along the way.

Miracles happen in parenting - we just forget to celebrate them!

Even though most of the time I feel completely unworthy and unqualified to mother them towards friendship, Jesus reminds me of what it’s like to have a constant friend cheering for, fighting for, and there for me no matter what comes into my life. What Jesus offers to us, we can extend to each other in the walls of our home.