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The latest family birthday launched us into the teen years with our eldest child. Her sister and I spent an afternoon planning her party by preparing invitations, planning party games and picking a delicious menu. Her friends were invited, as well as some adults who are close with our family. Her invitations caused a bit of a stir because the RSVP was to be sent to her 11-year-old sister, not me.

Since the birth of our second child, my husband and I have always recruited a sibling to help plan a birthday party, special event, or surprise of some kind for the other. I wanted to do this for a few reasons. Whether this party was “just a family affair” or a bigger bash with friends, this was important to us for a few reasons. First, it helped them be a part of a day that wasn’t focused on them. They still felt included and even had a bit of authority in the events. Second, including them in the planning has helped them become amazing hosts. Third, it provided a place for the celebrated sibling to receive the gift of honor from their sister or brother. Opening gifts is fun, but knowing you are deeply loved by a brother and sister is amazing.

When our latest party guests were confused by the RSVP instructions on the invitation, I was provided an opportunity to explain the why behind it. Everyone responded with comments like “oh, that is a good idea!” or “wow, you put so much thought into details”. In all honesty, it not that much of a big deal, but it does set a tone in our home. We hope to raise kids that like each other and are good friends. I quickly noticed that if one of my children saw me putting in a bit of time planning a party for her sister and pushing her out of my way in the process, she was likely to have hard feelings against her sister and the event. By simply including her in the planning and helping her enjoy being a hostess, she had an important job and was thanked for her service.

As parents, it’s hard to keep an eye on all of the tiny details that make our homes run efficiently. But it is even harder to keep an eye on the unseen things that make our home a warm and welcoming place for everyone that lives there…simply because the details are unseen and we are frequently too busy to take notice.

In what ways can you help foster an attitude of celebrating siblings in your home?

Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.