As our kids have grown up, we’ve tried to teach them that supporting one another is really important. We even used the term “Team Sasser” when they were young to drive home the idea that we’re all in this life together. Unless there is a major conflict or we just can’t do it, we’re all going to be at games and events to cheer each other on.
It was football season and our son was on the high school’s JV team. He played quarterback and, for the first few games, another kid was the starter. That kid was moved up to the varsity and my son was going to get his first start. Games were normally on Thursday nights, but for this week the game was moved to Wednesday. Our daughter, who was in eighth grade, had a dilemma. Wednesday nights are youth group for her, and she really loves it. It’s a night for her to connect with her friends and leaders and grow in her faith.
Early in the week when she realized the conflict she started asking me, “What should I do?” My wife and I had decided that she was at the age where we weren’t going to force her to go to the game and we were hoping that the seeds of “Team Sasser” we had planted earlier in life would sprout during this decision. She knew how important this game was to her brother as he had waited for a few years to get this opportunity. She decided to skip youth group and go to the game and she went with a great attitude.
I was in the car with her the next day and I thanked for making the decision to go. I told her that making the decision to skip something that was important to her in order to support her brother was a sign of maturity and it really meant a lot to him, even if he never said anything. She doubted he really noticed or cared about her sacrifice.
The next night we were all out to dinner together. In the middle of our conversation about who knows what, our son randomly (and totally unprompted) said, “Kylie, thanks for coming to my game last night.” My wife and I smiled both inside and out. Later that night, when it was time for bed and goodnight hugs, he said it again. “Kylie, thanks for coming to my game last night.”
Do our kids always cheer for each other and have a perfect relationship? No. Are there days when they whine about having to go to something to support their sibling? Absolutely! But, I do believe they are slowly taking steps TOWARDS each other and building a better relationship. At least I hope they are. As parents of more than one kid, a big part of our job is to facilite healthy relationships between them. I desperately want for them to love each other, be for each other, and have a real and deep relationship when they are adults. If that’s one of the goals, we have to pay attention to how they are relating to one another now and help them grow closer together.
Relationships are messy, and family relationships can be the toughest. As our kids are learning how to grow and mature in the midst of their sibling struggles, we have to be the ones to point them to health and help them get there. We have to persevere during the hard days of leading our kids to support each other in order to catch a small glimpse of what we hope they will become in the future. This incident was a ray of hope and a reminder that all of the hard work of planting seeds will eventually bring about fruit.