Secret Service Society
One academic year, I instituted a theme of “secret service” with my children. We determined to find acts of service we could perform without the recipients’ knowledge or for those who couldn’t repay us in any way. At first, the kids had a hard time embracing the concept, but they gradually caught the spirit and thought up their own ideas. We quietly picked up the abandoned, wet newspapers around the neighborhood, replaced a neighbor’s burnt-out porch light, packed Operation Christmas Child boxes, picked up trash and downed branches on our church property, and mowed a neighbor’s lawn while he was in the hospital. We served others while building a sense of family ministry and purpose, looking for the next “secret service” to perform.
Karen K. / Suisun City, CA
Sharing Love as a Team
We’ve had several children come and go from our home as we pursue adoption through foster care. Teamwork as a family is a given—not an option—while including our young biological children in this 24/7 process.
During a homeschool Bible lesson with my oldest son (age 6), we were discussing the book of Job. I was questioning my son about things that God can give and take away. Knowing that he has developed a fear of losing his younger biological brother (due to his inability to fully understand the purposes and complexities of our foster care ministry), I took a risk, looked my 6-year-old in the eyes, and asked, “What about your little brother? Can God take him away?”
My 6-year-old looked at me as if a huge light bulb just turned on and gave me an answer I didn’t expect: “Mommy, I know you’re just foster-caring me because God made me and I’m a child of God, so I belong to Him and not you. So you’re just foster-caring me, for God!”
Our family serves the Lord as a team, by loving kids who need to be loved.
The N. family / Inglewood, CA
After years of homeschooling, the Lord gave me this great idea. On each of my three older children’s assignment sheets I inserted a task entitled “Ryan Time.” This was a 30-minute slot set aside for time with their little brother, Ryan. I had a list of activities from which they could choose that both Ryan and his sibling would enjoy.
I thought this would just be an opportunity to keep Ryan busy and out of trouble, but it proved to have many additional benefits. It provided a great education for Ryan, a break for each sibling, and uninterrupted teaching time for me. And most importantly, it allowed each of my older children the time to build a very special relationship with their little brother.
Connie B. / Chino Hills, CA
How to Build a Team
1. Start at birth. We limited sibling rivalry by having the new baby “give” a gift to her big brother stating she was happy to have the best big brother ever and that she would count on him to love and protect her. We also made sure that the firstborn did not feel cast aside or that the new baby got all the parents’ attention. We gave him a chance to say, “The baby is crying; let’s go get her.”
2. Be a cheerleader. We discuss the importance of building each other up and foster an atmosphere that provides opportunities to do so. We regularly attend events that only involve one family member so the others can show their support. We encourage conversations that are positive—not the sarcastic barbs that seem to be so prevalent today. We focus on strengths of each member instead of picking apart faults.
Lisa S. / Galax, VA
Set an Example and Listen
As mom to eight children with an 18-year age range, I’ve had ample opportunity to ponder and implement multiple ideas for fostering cooperation among my children. Two things come immediately to mind.
First, you must set the example! Like it or not, they will pick up your behavior. If you respond softly, they will learn to do the same. Remind each other daily that you are on the same team, called by God to work together. One of our favorite verses is Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Second, listen to your children. Really listen. Hear them, and respond in wisdom. Our family values and encourages the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Ruth G. / Bristol, VA