by Jessica Frierson, March 2022

There are five requirements for crystals to form: ingredients, temperature, pressure, time, and space, according to Gem Rock Auctions. 

If you are the parent of more than one child, you know that all of these ingredients are present in your home. Take a road trip with those children, and you will see the temperature and pressure grow in proportion to the space decreasing and the time increasing! But take heart; all of that pressure and heat work together to produce something beautiful. 

Riches you hold in your hands are inferior to treasures you store in your heart.

Matshona Dhliwayo

“The majority of gemstones are formed by metamorphism. This is when minerals are forced together under great pressure and heat…. The minerals are forced together and they metamorphose into different minerals, sometimes without melting.” This sounds like a portrayal of our last family vacation, about five hours into an eleven-hour drive.

The formation of gemstones is an apt description of sibling life. As writer Harper Lee says in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family.” Brothers and sisters will live together in the same house, often sharing bedrooms, for the formative years of their lives. Their shared experiences will shape their characters and greatly impact their futures. 

 

I thought how great it would be if we could trade in Fudge for a nice cocker spaniel. That would solve all my problems. I’d walk him and feed him and play with him. He could even sleep on the edge of my bed at night. But of course that was wishful thinking. My brother is here to stay. And there’s nothing I can do about it. 

Judy Blume, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

One of the hidden treasures in life is having another person in your house who calls the same people “mom” or “dad” that you do. Although you may (or rather, will) get on each other’s nerves at times, children who grow up with a sibling likely have a built-in best friend, teammate, co-conspirator, and sounding board. While sibling rivalry can certainly get out of hand, a little friendly competition can motivate children to work harder and do their best. In speaking with parents with an only child, their child’s lack of a sibling has been one of the most challenging aspects of homeschooling.

Who has brothers or sisters and hasn’t argued like cats and dogs with them? It’s almost a prerequisite for moving through childhood! There’s hardly a sibling that doesn’t have at least one good fight story to pull out. But if the tables are turned, you know who you can count on to always have your back.For homeschooled children, there is no break from being together while each goes to their separate classroom or school campus for the day. This can result in increased tension and quarrelsome behavior. A telltale sign that it’s time for some space from each other is when “he’s looking at me” becomes grounds for war to break out in your house. Giving them opportunities to have time alone in a quiet place can help reduce the strain and strengthen their relationships with each other. It is important to take the means necessary to nurture the growth of such precious gems as you have in the making. You want them to treasure the many benefits of having their brothers and/or sisters to walk with through life.

Someone to get in trouble with

Every parent knows that feeling of sudden dread. The children are playing in their room, their shouts and laughter filling the air. Then, suddenly, you realize that it is quiet…very quiet. Too quiet! And every parent also knows that silence almost ALWAYS accompanies trouble. 

When children are doing nothing, they are doing mischief.

Henry Fielding

Years down the road, your children will probably shock you with recounts of the close encounters they faced together—stories that they were sworn to secrecy over at the time they occurred. Yet, watching their faces as they relate their tales of silly pranks and near catastrophes, you will see the reflection of joy exuding from their hearts. Like diamonds enshrined in gold, shared shenanigans have a way of forming an unshakeable bond. 

 

Someone to laugh with

If you can’t let your guard down around your brother or sister, who can you be yourself around? Children make up games at the dinner table that consist of nothing other than, “betcha I can make you laugh first!” and then simply staring at each other with a goofy expression. They can share a joke between themselves that no one else will ever understand. Growing up with such shared experiences as siblings do gives them an abundant supply of inside jokes and a treasure chest full of material for future roasting. 

 

Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child

Dr. Barbara Alpert, MD

 

Someone to share your sorrows with

Whether it is spilling ketchup on your favorite shirt or your first heartbreak over unrequited love, your sibling is likely to have the shoulder that you cry on. Just as they know why you are laughing without any need for words, they also feel your hurts as if they were their own. 

 

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. 

Proverbs 17:17

 

 

Someone to play with

My children get so accustomed to having their siblings around that they can easily take them for granted. On the rare occasion that everyone else has gone off somewhere and they are the only one left home, they mope around like a lost puppy. Having an on-call playmate that doesn’t have to be penciled in on the calendar makes for lots of impromptu fun. Since they are on virtually the same schedule, they can be ready in an instant to join in on whatever imaginative ideas are ready to be explored.   

                   

There can be no companion better than a brother and there can be no friend better than a sister.

Anonymous

 

Learn how to care for and about others

Shortly after our youngest was born, his four-year-old sister wanted to hold him. She quickly informed me that his diaper needed to be changed. I jokingly told her that I’ve changed over 80,000 diapers in my life (he is the youngest of ten, plus years of babysitting), so she was going to have to do them from now on. She looked at me in disbelief but then cheerfully approached the task. Although I had been teasing her, I decided to let her do what she could. She was so cute trying to pull off his pajamas, unwrap his diaper, snap the new diaper together and fit the wool cover over it, then gently wrestle his arms back into his sleeves under my guidance. 

When it was over, she looked at me so proudly and said, “I did it! I really did!” Then she smiled so contentedly and sighed, “Babies are the BEST!” I was so glad I had stumbled into creating this special moment for her. It reminded me of the many times I had helped my mother care for my younger siblings, especially my youngest brother, who was born when I was twelve. The seeds of joy from helping to care for a small child were planted in my heart and grew to shape my lifelong dream to be a wife and mother one day.

I see the same satisfaction that comes in nurturing others in my older sons as they show a younger sibling how to throw a football or take a fussy baby for a walk outside to soothe them. I know that their experiences with their siblings will help my children be more compassionate and prepare them for the day when they will be parents. 

Every family is precious and powerful in its own way. For those who have the added joy of more than one child (and more mess, noise, work, and everything else that each additional person brings!), you have the chance to see the marvelous formation of some of the world’s most precious treasures. As the space, pressure, and interaction of siblings living and growing together combine over the passage of time, beautiful gems emerge to shine like jewels in your crown. 

You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Isaiah 62:3

 

Jessica Frierson is a homeschool graduate and has been homeschooling her ten children since 2000. She serves as the secretary for NCHE, writes for GREENHOUSE, and is the lead blogger for the NCHE blog.