Many young people have younger siblings in their home. In every such case, there is a responsibility which is not always recognized. If older brothers and sisters knew the influence they have over their little siblings, it would make them very thoughtful.
It is no doubt true that older brothers and sisters are Divinely appointed guardians for younger children. The story of Miriam and little Moses is one of the most charming stories of the Bible. While the baby lay in the little basket among the bulrushes, by the water’s edge, the young girl – with quick ear and keen eye – stood not far away, near enough to see all that went on and to be of instant help in case of danger.
In many homes, older sisters have played the role of Miriam to perfection. Many men who now occupy an important position in the world owe the opportunities by which he was enabled to rise to his position to an older sister, who kept sacred watch over his infancy and early years. There are many men today in high professions who came from homes with difficult circumstances, and who owe all they are to the sister who forgot herself, practiced self-denial, and toiled early and late so that the brother whom she loved might have the opportunity to rise to the honor which she, in her loving heart, had dreamed for him.
It may be worthwhile to call the attention of older siblings to the little brother or sister at home who needs guidance, encouragement, and stimulus. Far more than you know, they watch you, and are influenced by your every movement. They will be impressed much more also by what you do and what you are, than by any teaching they may receive from you.
It is important that you know just how to make the most of your influence over your younger brothers and sisters. You cannot do it by perpetually nagging at them; nagging is one of the most mischievous vices of home-life. It is all the worse because it is practiced in the name of piety and virtue. The best you can do for your siblings is, first of all, to be good yourself. When the young Princess Victoria discovered one day that she would sit on the throne, she said, “I must be good.” The thought of the great responsibility which someday might be hers impressed her most wholesomely. When you think of the influence you are to exercise over your little brother or sister, you should settle it once and for all that you will be good.
Another thing you can do will be to form a close friendship with your siblings. Take them into your confidence. Let them talk to you freely and familiarly. Teach them to trust you, and never betray their confidence. Be a loyal friend to them. Treat even their most childish behaviors with respect. Never laugh at them. Do not hurry their development; it is like trying to hasten the opening of a flower, and only harm can be done by such a process.
You can answer your younger siblings’ questions, and you ought to do it very patiently. Remember it is a new world in which they are living. Every day brings them into a new world of wonders. They ought to ask questions. They would not be wholesome children if they did not. You can help them him by trying to answer these questions. You can guide their reading. You can quietly influence them in the choosing of their friends. This is very important. They do not know the good from the evil, and you can withdraw them from the company of those with whom it were better that they should not associate. You can set before them visions of beauty which will become influences to draw them toward the best things.
If your own heart is right, and if you keep yourself in the spirit of childhood, you will be able to lead your younger siblings in safe ways. The world is full of dangers! Your little brother or sister will hear on the streets many things which they ought not to hear. You can quietly lead them so that they will instinctively repel all temptations to anything low or base or impure. You can turn their minds toward the possibilities of beauty within their reach. You can continually keep before them noble things in disposition, in conduct, and in character, thereby quietly inspiring in them the desire to fill their own lives with such worthy things.
There is a great responsibility in having younger brothers and sisters. They are always around, and you cannot get out of their sight. They have keen eyes too, and they see all that you do. You dare not live carelessly in their presence, for you may become their stumbling-block! There should be nothing in your example which you would be sorry to see again in them.
This little sibling of yours loves you, and they want to trust you. Your influence over them will be almost unbounded; you must see to it that this influence is pure and wholesome in every way.
The older brother or sister must answer for their little sibling; they are their keeper. They must make themselves worthy of their sacred trust. If their own heart is not clean, if their own mind is not wholesome, and if their own hands are stained, then they are not fit to be a child’s older sibling. The thing for the older child to do in such a case is not to thrust the younger away from their natural place of confidence and affection; rather, they must bring up their own lives to the true standard of purity, sweetness, and beauty, where they shall be worthy to be a friend of Jesus’ little ones.
Do you have younger brothers and sisters in your family? If so, how can you go about to guide them and influence them in the ways of the Lord, since they look up to you as someone whom they can trust and follow? How can you inspire them to fill their lives with those things that are noble and Godly and pure? How can you build a closer relationship with your younger siblings, so that they will become your most loyal friends?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this article! Please take a moment to leave a comment below and tell me how these words encouraged you or challenged you.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for our King’s glory,
photo by Maura Griesse | Lightstock.com
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on my website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.