The wonder of the Hero’s Journey is that it honors each individual while holding up the importance of the community surrounding that individual.
For families, this brings up the interesting challenge of raising siblings – each on a unique journey; each within the same family.
When my boys were very young, I gained wisdom from my mentors at The Priscilla Pond Flawn Child and Family Laboratory and referred often to the following notes from one of their teachers (tidbits that apply well to families who are living out hero’s journeys):
- Trust each child as an individual – a unique person with special skills and talents.
- Spend special time alone with each child – for example, 5 minutes before bedtime.
- Model appropriate behavior – no name calling or resolving conflicts with violence.
- Teach children about child development – “I’m bathing Casey because she is a baby and cannot bathe herself. When you were little, I bathed you also.” “Your sister is 14 and this is a very difficult age for a girl.”
- Fair does not mean equal – fair means giving each child what they need.
- Have a good marriage. If you are a single parent, have a good relationship with ex (in front of child). If going it alone, do not make children your “soul mates.” Model healthy adult relationships.
- Have siblings treat each other as friends: must ask to borrow clothes, say please and thank you, acknowledge each other’s feelings, stay out of each other’s drawers, etc.
- Allow children to share negative feelings and acknowledge them. (“I can see that Missy getting into your stuff really makes you angry.”)
- Use the word, “family.” “We are a family.” “Families do not treat each other like this.” Or use your family name: “We are DeLaCruz’s and DeLaCruz’s treat each other with respect.”
- The younger child should not get away with things because she is younger and smaller. We must teach respect.
- Intervene when you feel enough is enough. Know your children. If they are fighting for your attention, leave the room. If just squabbling, ignore. If there is true anger or resentment, intervene and have them talk it out – teach conflict resolution. (“Johnny, what can you think of that might help this situation?”) Help provide words for your children.
- Avoid, “I love you all the same.” Make each one feel special. “I love all of you. I love your creativity and sweetness. I love Ashley’s ability to play any instrument and I love Sammy’s ability to make me laugh. I feel blessed to have children that are unique and so special.”
- Show disapproval of toxic behavior – disrespect of parents, hurting an animal, being mean to a sibling, teasing a neighbor or being rude to a grandparent.
- Temperament is a matter of luck. What matters is character.
- Go camping. A family in crisis together bonds together.