“We just came home because our buckets are too full. Can we dump them and just go finish the last loop down the street?” my tiny Red Riding Hood asked with a smile.

I should have said no. I should have said this was more than enough candy. I should have pointed out that it was FREEZING. But those smiles. And this was different.

This year, I only sent two trick-or-treaters out into the neighborhood and they weren’t the kids who usually get along as well. My eldest son is off at college and eldest daughter went to a party with friends. The two headed out were my 17-year-old with autism, declaring he really should make this the last year since he’s getting so big, and my 9-year-old youngest daughter. The age gap and autism make it a struggle for them to interact quite often. But tonight, oh tonight they had fun.

If you have a child with a disability, you get the struggle to help neuro-typical siblings interact sometimes. As much as they love each other, the strain of dealing with a disability puts a strain on the relationship. Even beyond a disability, I worry about my children staying connected and close as they grow up.

Growing up I had two sisters who were always close. I was the outsider. Now as adults, nothing has changed. They are best friends, living a few miles apart while life has taken me halfway across the country. They share similar hobbies, parenting styles, and a deep friendship. I’m happy they have that.

I want my children to understand the relationship with their siblings can be a beautiful one. I pray my kids can grow closer together even as they grow out of my house. My heart longs for them to prioritize being friends and making time to connect long after I’m forcing it upon them. If life takes them to distant reaches, I pray their relationships have roots that span the miles and they can get creative with connecting.

When you have more than one child, you hope they get along when they are small. Oh the joy of built-in play-friends allowing you to get stuff done around the house! But as they grow into adults, that relationship maintenance is entirely up to them. Offering opportunities for them to hang out or enjoy similar interests helps nurture that relationship. Choosing not to use them as spies on each other is another way to allow their bond to grow.

I pray I’m laying the groundwork for helping them enjoy a connection. And I’ll continue to ask God to help those relationship bonds strengthen.

So if you saw my 6’1” Plague Knight (a character from a video game) and my tiny Red Riding Hood roaming the neighborhood tonight, know this was no ordinary pair. This was magical. This was memory-making. This was worth an extra lap around the loop even though it was cold and dark and getting late. This was nurturing a life-long relationship and that deserved a little grace on bedtime.

What’s one way you help nurture the relationship between your children? Share in the comments.

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