One of my funnest ideas that God has given me in my work with the boys has been to match them up in “brothers” while they are living in the dorm. It started a few years ago when I had a broader age range of boys, some up to eleven years old. As they were getting bigger, we were getting bigger problems, including a lot of hitting for no real reason.
While driving alone in the car one day, I felt God literally drop this idea in my head – “put them in brothers.” I was like, “brothers? what do you mean brothers? is this you God?” In praying and thinking if through, the beginnings of a plan took shape on that drive.
I could see all kinds of value for the littler guys – they could get hand me down clothes, the older ones could help them learn to tie their shoes, and look out for them, etc. But I couldn’t think of a selling point for the older ones. I needn’t have worried – they loved they idea and jumped right on it. And the hitting decreased by about 80% overnight.
We’ve done brothers ever since and the boys love it. It helps the older kids feel responsible for someone else, and sometimes respected. It helps the little ones feel cared for and sometimes spoiled. I don’t have to invest a lot more work into the program they naturally sort themselves out in all kinds of brotherly situations.
I’m very behind (this should have been done in January) but I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it this year because I had changed the rooms this year for the first time to be mixed ages so I thought maybe it wasn’t necessary. But I kept thinking about it, asked my Tias if they thought it would still be good and they said it really would be helpful.
So, the oldest three of each room got to choose two “little brothers” from within their room. They are so excited. I wish I had had my camera ready but I’m still not sure it would have captured Felix’s proud smile when he was selected as the older brother (the Mano) to choose little brothers. He was thrilled! They all were but he was especially delightful.
For me, it’s also a step toward remembering basic family structures and trying to bring some of that into play in our very different setting.
Please keep our little groups of “brothers” in prayer, that God will work in them the natural family connections that are often lacking in a setting as large as ours.
This idea really came to me straight from God – a divine inspiration as I call it – so it must be valuable! And look how excited they all look!