Episode 4: Meg Glesener on Sibling Rivalry

home Feb 23, 2021
Meg Glesener knows sibling rivalry

Meg Glesener is the host of the Letters From Home Podcast where you will hear everyday, extraordinary stories of faith. 

Meg's offer for you: Her podcast has an app that she would love to share with you.  You can find it in the Apple App Store or in the Google Play Store.

Connect with Meg at her website, on Facebook, or Instagram.

Meg's favorite gadgets are...bean bag chairs and bookshelves.

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This is a transcript of the This Mom Knows Podcast - Episode - 4

Jennifer Uren
So Meg Glesener is joining us today she is a Seattle mother of eight, grandmother of five and wife to her husband for 30 years. She podcasts at Letters From Home where she seeks to capture the heartbeat of amazing everyday people that inspire her to love Jesus and her community more deeply. And sharing these conversations with the world is why she has the podcast. So welcome, Meg.

Meg Glesener
Thanks, Jenn.Thanks. Thanks for having me on. I'm so excited to hang out with you today.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, thanks. I'm glad you're here. So we know a little tiny bit about you. But why don't you tell us a little bit more about who you are, where you're from? Maybe where you grew up a bit about you and your family?

Meg Glesener
Sure. Yeah. My, my husband and I, we moved up to Seattle from we met in California and married, you know, if we met each other Bible study in college, and we moved up to Seattle 30 years ago to plant a church, and we have stayed up here, and eight kids and five grandkids later, we're still serving the Lord up here in Seattle. And of course, like every one, it looks a little different during quarantine. Right? You know, we're doing home church and having, you know, celebrating communion in our living room and watching sermons. And, and we, our kids are ages 30 to 15. And we have two left. So you might hear a French horn in the background because my kids are in class down the hallway. And so yeah, we're, we're just busy serving God here. And, you know, trying to try to deal with everything that's going on, just like everyone else.

Jennifer Uren
Yes. So I know Seattle's a beautiful place. And I enjoy the city. And it's funny, because whenever I go to places that are known for being cloudy, it's always sunny when I go. So I haven't been to Seattle when the sun isn't shining. But are you? Are you really close to the city? Are you out more? Like, are you on one of the islands around there? Or how close are you to Seattle?

Meg Glesener
We live in Seattle proper is one block away from us. We are seven miles from downtown and I would agree Seattle is such a beautiful place. And yeah, there's precipitation 300 days a year. And we don't mind it's home. And we love Seattle. So I'm, I feel blessed that the Lord put us right here because we're willing to serve, wherever you know, that's great.

Jennifer Uren
Well, let's start talking a little bit about what it is that you know about. And that's really, you know, sibling relationships with eight kids, you have a lot of experience with ,with that, and really help getting them to get along. And I know when we adopted our littles, someone told us, they said, "You're not just adding two people to the family, you are exponentially increasing relationships," because you've got relationship with mom with dad with Big Brother with big sister and and you get this web of relationships. So when you have eight kids and two parents, that's a lot of relationships to to manage and manage well. And conflict is bound to happen in that. So what is it with your kids that caused the most conflict?

Meg Glesener
Yeah, well, that's a great question. So so many things, right? When they're, they're little, there's so many opportunities for conflict. And I know during quarantine, so many moms are just overwhelmed, because there's conflict all the time, and they're just putting out all the fires, right? But I think, yeah, so I think for me, when they were little, the whole sharing thing, you know, that's mine, you can't play with it, you know, little little game things, little conflicts during, during games, like wanting to cheat or if they're, you know, sitting there playing like a little game and one person loses, or one person wants to win, and then they cheat. So, you know, these are some of the some of the big things that come up, not speaking nice to each other, getting frustrated, expressing their frustrations with each other, you know, a lot of lot of lot of words and interpersonal things come up on a daily basis, you know, and then there's also hitting there's, there's biting. So it's it's like physical stuff, word, stuff, sharing all those things?

Jennifer Uren
Well, that sharing is a big one. When the more people you have, the more you're sharing naturally. So in some ways, the more important it becomes to have your own your own things that you can control and not have to share. So that that adds an interesting dynamic at times, too.

Meg Glesener
Absolutely. Yeah, it's it's a hard balance to find right for them to be able to say they have something that especially the older kids, where their little siblings aren't going to just always be crashing their blocks and ruining their little creation that they made or that they actually running around their little bike or whatever, and then it's theirs and they get their space, but also teaching them and I, one of the helpful things that we've done with the kids is, if a kid comes would come up and they'd want, they say, "may I have a turn? Or can I have a turn," and then that gives gives them the see it and want it and they have something that they can say. And in the person who's writing it, they can say "in a little while," so they've got their space, and no one's gonna bother their space. And, you know, it can kind of teach both of those things at the same time, right?

Jennifer Uren
Absolutely. Yes. Making a need or a request. No. And and being able to graciously respond with a boundary is yes, that's excellent.

Meg Glesener
Which takes work.

Jennifer Uren
It does take work. Yes, yes. And just when you think you got it, then they become teenagers. And it all shifts again, for sure. So what was the dynamic like in your house with, with teenagers and young adults and littles and you know, sort of there becomes a disparity of interest level and, and things like that. How did that work in your family?

Meg Glesener
That's a good, that's a good question. Yeah, there is a dynamic with different ages. And I think on our home, when all of the kids were little. So starting with the older ones, when they were little, we really tried hard and, and perfectly. One thing I want to say is this, this mom knows she needs Jesus. And this mom knows she didn't come with a manual. You know, I know that kids come with manuals, so we're figuring it out. So when I say that, we worked so hard, when they were little to set a really good tone of love, and teamwork, and really taking the time to work through some of those things like, like sharing, you know, like we said, there's there's a sharing, there's a thing, there's the name calling, or maybe one kids having a hard time with the other kid, to, to stop, and to be proactive about what we're doing. So today, you know, we're sitting around reading with the kids, today, we are going to think about how can we be a blessing to somebody today, you ask the two year old, how can you be a blessing? I'm going to go potty, you know, I'm going to ask Mommy, what I can do to help, I'm going to ask my brother, can I help you. And so when you when you take those extra minutes, and be a little more proactive about to say, Now, you know, especially if it's someone that you knew they had a hard time with that kid, oh, let's go see if there's something we can appreciate about the blocks that he's building. I like how tall your tower is, you know. And so it takes probably as much energy as putting out all the fires, but to step back, and to start fresh, and to, to just be more proactive about the direction that we're going to set. So I think, setting that tone of cooperation and love and appreciation for siblings, like having a devotion at the dinner table, and then a year saying, oh, let's pray for people and or you take one of the kids and you're praying with them at their bedtime, and you're praying for their siblings, or you're praying for daddy, daddy works so hard. Like when he's gone all day, he works so hard. Let's take a minute and pray for daddy. So it's it's that being proactive to set that tone to - and then they're thinking about? Oh, yeah, I should think dad works. Dad, thank you for working so hard today or that older sibling? Oh, I like how you're doing your schoolwork, you know, it just gets their mind focus, because the natural mind is to be selfish, right? I mean, right? I fight against that still.

Jennifer Uren
Well, and that's a good one. Because you know, as a mom, it can feel like you're constantly putting out fires. And it takes a lot of energy to do that. And so sometimes it feels like focusing on the root causes, or the foundational, you know, pieces, the building blocks, takes a lot more work. And some days, it does take more work, but it has a better payoff, than just fighting fires all the time. So that was I appreciate how you shared how you intentionally worked at that, because some kids are easygoing. And you know, our firstborn was very easygoing, and our second born went along for the ride. And so we didn't put a lot of hard work in with those two because it didn't feel like we needed to. And then the third came along, and we realized that we really should have been doing some things differently from the get go. It's harder to change course when, when they're older. So so your kids have just sort of always been on board with this because this is what you've done from the get go.

Meg Glesener
They have they really have and, you know, but when they're little, you know, I think one of the things that really helped with that is and again, it's not perfect, but you like having a house meeting And saying, "Okay, now let's talk about, like, who do we want to have for dinner this week? Or is there some family we can write a letter to?" And you know, or you bring a scripture, one of the early scriptures, we had the kids memorizes, whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for God, not for men. And, you know, and so they're like, Oh, I want to work hard, you know. So, you know, they, they, you know, they hear that, and you focus on that, of course, you know, when you have your, your little house chore list, and you got that one kid who's not wanting to do it, and it takes them an hour to do five minute job. And your whole day is exasperated, because you're trying to help this one kid make the bed or the six year old that's talking you into circles, even though you graduated from college. You go on these bunny trails, you're thinking, Wait, that room is my one daughter, we're talking to circles? Isn't that mom, my rooms clean? No, your room's not clean, because you have stuff on your floor. And then you just realize that was a 15 minute conversation because this kid doesn't want to accept responsibility. Right? So yeah, I think having a house meeting where you setting a tone and talking about those things, is really healthy. And, you know, having having little prayer times, with the kids like about how, what is one of my favorite things was, what is our contribution in the house? Well, dad is working and, you know, and you know, and maybe mom's working, or whatever, and we say, and I can ask to do to help or I get to do my jobs, or I can take care of myself. And but you know, and it's like, you just get more ownership in everything the kids are doing and it really pays, it really does pay off so much in the teen years when you have that strong foundation. And and you know what, sometimes we lose it as moms, I mean, I yelled at my kids, I'm not proud of it. And saying I'm sorry. And asking forgiveness and having a fresh start the next day giving our kids the fresh start that the one button pusher pushed your button 20 times yesterday, to have a great prayer time to clear your heart and mind and give them a fresh start the next day, right?

Jennifer Uren
Yes, well, and what a good thing to model for them, you know, making mistakes, but correcting those mistakes, and, you know, repairing that so well, that's good. So it sounds like you had a lot of opportunistic approach, you know, we're gonna take advantage of this moment, but also a lot of intentionality behind that. And I think sometimes that's the harder part. Sometimes it's easy to seize the moment, but it's harder to, to set out with the intentional plan and stick to it.

Meg Glesener
So and, and, you know, yeah, I mean, you know, I, with eight kids, I spent, I believe it was 16 or 17 years straight, either pregnant or nursing. And those years are hard. And to all the moms out there, of course, some days, we're just trying to get through the day, when we don't have any energy to be proactive. We're just trying to help people not hurt each other. We're trying to make sure they get fed, we're trying to make sure we get to even say hi to our husband, and you know, like or, or the moms who are out there working or single moms, they're working, and then they're coming home and trying to unload, you know, we can only do what we can do. So I don't I hope nobody feels like a heavy burden that they have to do everything God knows our situation every day. But when we do have that energy to lay aside the phone, or whatever. And I think I think one of those really hard things, but it's so helpful. Somebody gave us advice when our older kids were little and they said, you know, don't give your kids a lot of unsupervised playtime. And, you know, it it's so true. I liken it to like the dynamite. The dynamite going off, you know, like when kids are together, you can hear the tension start to rise, right, you can hear the arguments start to happen. And so as a mom, one thing i've you know, always valued choosing, especially when they were little is when you hear the blood pressure start to go up when you hear them, you know, you come over and you stop and you you try and help them work it out themselves. Say now, now wait a second, what are we talking about? Okay, and then you just re focus the situation. And, and you can also use your house meetings for those things as well saying, you know, lately in our home, it seems like what do you feel like we do well as the Gleseners, what have we been doing well, you know, and what's something we need to work on? And even the little ones will say, 2, 3, 4 I need to have a good attitude, or I need to not be so fussy or I, I need to eat my vegetables or you know, and you're like, that's good. So in a non confrontational time, we ask everyone, what do we want to do so you're encouraging what they're doing well, and then having them own a little bit that we're gonna work on and you say, yes, we've all been doing bad at sharing this week. You know, mommy and daddy too. Instead we're gonna restart we're gonna restart this and this is a great thing I love being able to say we're going to start fresh. Let's work on this tomorrow. And so there's always room for growth even if you feel like oh my goodness, my kids are teens and I wreck them. No, we can still have a meeting, we can still talk about what's important and what we value and have a fresh start. There's always room for growth.

Jennifer Uren
Yes, do overs or so. There's been several days where I have put the kids back in bed and we said we're gonna get up again and start the day over so

Meg Glesener
Oh, that is awesome.

Jennifer Uren
always room for a do over. Yeah. So that's great. So are your your married kids and grandkids are they nearby? Are they littles now in the mix of this family? Or are they further away and not engaged as frequently?

Meg Glesener
They're further away. They're all I've got people out of country but, and out of state. We live in Seattle, we have people in eastern Canada, Fairbanks, Alaska, San Diego, El Paso, Texas, it's like it's nowhere close to Mama can love on them. But last week, right, our daughter's buying a house and she's pregnant. And my granddaughter just turned five yesterday. And they were here a couple of weeks ago. And those same things that we did with our our kids, when they were little was reading a book and you're reading a Bible story. I read our granddaughter Shiloh a book, and I was reading your Bible stories and telling you about Jesus. And it was so precious, because you just like you do with the kids. And probably the most important thing that kids learn from us, I would say two things, is they see the image of us spending time in God's word. They see my face when I'm patient or when I'm saying sorry, after I wasn't patient. It's what they see us doing. They see us loving one another as husband and wife and our communication. They see all of that. And that's so important. And so our granddaughter, she came and we got to talk with her and have her go pick out a Bible story crawl on our lap and pray. And then I think she's like, God made the stars. I thought elephants made the stars. And I said no, God did and we're just outside and looking at the. And then the next day we're sitting for lunch. And she said Grammy, and she was four at the time, Jesus. Jesus just told me we forgot to pray. I grabbed her a little it was just a little protein snack. So I didn't you know, and and so we prayed. And then she said Grammy while I was outside playing. I was thinking and praying for mommy and daddy. I was praying for Grammy and Poppy. I was praying for my uncles. And this is and I don't think she even but just that conversation, she soaked it in. And then I got a text from my daughter Havallah three days ago, and she said, Shiloh asked me, Mommy, what else did grandma teach you about Jesus? Oh, and so the best thing we have to give Jenn is our hearts for the Lord. And so it is really as mom has taken that minute to get our hearts right with the Lord. It sounds like a simple thing. But that helps with sibling rivalry that helps set that tone for teamwork and love because we are working trusting God for ourselves too, right?

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, absolutely. Oh, yes. I know I, we have a mutual friend with a Grace Enough Podcast. And I just think of that I don't even have to listen to the podcast. I just have to think of the name go. That's what I need today.

Meg Glesener
Yeah, no.

Jennifer Uren
So you've said two things that, you know, it's really it's start early and keep at it. But what if you're coming in to a situation where, you know, maybe, I don't know, you've adopted older kids, or you're a stepmom to older kids, or you just didn't start early? What would you tell that mom in how she can something she could do today to start to foster this with her kids?

Meg Glesener
I would say there's, there's always hope. God is big, there's always room for growth. And, and I would say to just pick something, pick one thing, you know, it helps to pick one thing. We we when they were little, we just picked a cup. probably our biggest phrase was how can we be a blessing? It just sounds like because because one of our values as a couple was that our home would be used to bless the world. So for the mom who's starting out are feeling overwhelmed, like there's a million things. One thing, pick one thing that you think, you know, it would be, you know, talk if you're a single mom, just, you know, think about what's really important to you and your home or if you're a new stepmom, congratulations. That's so exciting. Then you You know, maybe think what's one thing that I would love for us to work on and talk with your husband? And have a little meeting and define what that might look like. If it's like, what would respect look like more in the house? And then if it's teenagers, and then how can we show you respect? Because we want to respect you like we're a team here? How can we do better at this and then also plan positive family times together that aren't confrontational moments, you know, if that teenager that's hard to listen, that's having a hard time support them in whatever way you can, if they're, if they're playing the ukulele, you know, have them play a song like, oh, could you play that? Can you I love when you play the, you know, like, we just want to encourage that one thing that is good, and kind of let a lot of the other stuff slide because they're going to be overwhelmed. And goodness, I think of how much we've changed since we were teenagers, you know, so if we give our kids a break, and just work on one or two things at a time, you know.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah, I think that's good. I, I was talking to somebody earlier today. And that was kind of her advice. And in talking about a hard marriage is you can control only yourself. And so I think as moms, we have to remember that if we expect their children to control themselves, and respond a way that we want them to respond to their siblings, we have to be the ones to do that first and model it and remind them and, and all of that. So I love that idea of having a really having a mantra to go with what it is, you know, how can I be a blessing or, you know, what is it whatever it is that your family wants to be known for or start to see a change with - So that's great advice. Sure. So you have a podcast. And I know you've had your kids on in different ways, and at different times, have they been involved with it in getting it going in more than just reading, reading things for you or sharing thoughts? Have they helped with any of the production of it?

Meg Glesener
And in almost every way, our oldest daughter did the artwork for it. And you know, before I started, I just really had prayed I wanted the blessing of the family before starting because I didn't want to do something and them feeling like it was taking away from anything with them. And the kids. My husband were older kids, they all said Mom, this is great. We love the idea Go for it. And so one of my daughters did the artwork for it. My son has has sons have written the intro, the music and the transitions. My daughter Eden's reading Second Corinthians three, three, which is the foundational verse for the podcast that our lives are like a letter, she reads the verse. My other son who did theater, he's he reads the intro, and outro and my teenager, he's been my technical director, he helped me get signed up, you know, all the things we have to learn, like, what I need a platform to put the podcast and I need a website. So he's been my technical director, he actually just use that on his college applications. He's a senior this year, right? And so yeah, everyone has participated. I even have my granddaughter on there saying, here's my Grammy and lots of little moments. So when you feel that you have the people that are the wind in your sails, again, it's that one thing that I just, you know, there's things we haven't done well, we all struggle with our way, you know, like, but you know, my family, there is a sense of teamwork. And I, I don't know what I would do without it. It's a blessing to have that wind in your sails. Helping helping you along. So yeah,

Jennifer Uren
well, I'm how fun with the podcast that is sort of a tangible thing to point to and how everyone gets along and you're all you're doing this together. So that's really neat. So tell me a little bit more about, about the podcast itself and and who you talk to and why you talk to them.

Meg Glesener
I think of people that inspire me, and, you know, like one of my friends Catherine, she's an emergency foster mom. And I know she had 30 kids over the years, like, I would love to help get her I want to hear her story, all and not just little bits. And if I'm inspired by her story, maybe someone else would too. And so just hearing her story, or my friend, my my oldest daughter, Naomi's friend, Elizabeth, who gave birth in the back of an emergency vehicle 10 weeks early to somebody who had never done a birth before and she's walking them through there. You know, and I just think, seeing how God moved in each person's life through these things. So I have moms on there. I have one lady who lived in Gabon for four years and help translate a translation of the Bible. I have a man on there who's who's done like almost 200 funerals. And I leave funerals encouraged. And so I think of things that inspire me and stories where I see the hand of God. And I think, you know, how would this encourage someone else and I have like this huge list of people that I want to have on I just, you know, scheduled some more interviews. It's super exciting. It's a great, I get encouraged in the process while I'm hearing how God worked in their life, and then I preparing a little blessings for everyone else.

Jennifer Uren
Everyone else just gets to listen in as you as you get encouraged,

Meg Glesener
if you have an hour, it's a longer one. But you know, you can get little bits Yeah, I know. It's tough for moms do a little sound bites But yeah, I guarantee you'll be encouraging.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, that's great. And and it's fun to it's fun to pursue those stories like that, you know, because someone like like your friend, who's the emergency foster mom, she's living her life. And to have someone say, Wait, tell me I want to hear I mean, that's got to encourage her too to know that people notice and they don't just take it for granted. So I think that's really that's really neat. Well, one thing that I asked everybody, it's a little bit more lighthearted. But what is your favorite gadget?

Okay, it'sa stretch to call this a gadget, but I'm gonna say, beanbags and bookshelves. So we, when we bought our house 15 years ago, we got have beanbags in the house. So our youngest has always had beanbags. And having kids just it's like free little exercise thing inside the house kids can jump in, I actually have a picture of my 15 year old playing French horn in the other room there. If you hear that. I have a picture of him jumping off of a counter with a cape at age four, right into this beanbag, and I think it made my mother's heart stop. And it did mine. But beanbags are so helpful with exercise and fun. And just being able to plop down and read a book. It's great for when their friends come over as teenagers, we still have those beanbags. And those teenagers, and college students love it. And then something we just put up two months ago, which I love is those little bookshelves, you know, like when you go into a doctor's office, the ones that go on the wall with the little wood across it, we got those so we have like the little board books on the bottom. And it makes me so happy. Every time I look at I wish I would have had it younger because reading has always been a big part of our home. And now, like I said with the grandkids when Shiloh was here last week, she went in there and picked a book off the shelf. And then we go pop on a beanbag and read it or so any beanbags and bookshelves.

Oh, and how fun and then you can rotate the books out so that it's something new and different every Yeah. Every time. Yes, I can see as a homeschooler. That would be great. Because you get your themed books up there. Yeah,

Meg Glesener
once you get past the stage of kids are eating and breaking everything. It just it's a whole new world when you don't have to worry about kids choking on stuff. It's kind of fun being a grandma,

Jennifer Uren
yo, but yeah, you get all the all the perks and other the responsibility, right? Yeah. So how can people connect with you? Where can they find you?

Meg Glesener
Well, I have a website letters from home podcast.com. So yeah, you can just go there and check things out. And and then I have an app, I don't know a period of time.

Jennifer Uren
Yeah. So just say you have an app to go along with that. So people can listen to all your past episodes and never miss a new one. Tell us about the app.

Meg Glesener
Yeah, so it's cool if you have an android or any kind of phone, but the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. If you go and just pop in letters from home, podcast, it'll pop up, you can download it on your phone, it's free. And then you know, there's a little rainbow on there. So when you're like, Oh, I have some time for a test when you just look. Click the rainbow and you'll have a little bit of heaven brought to your doorstep.

Jennifer Uren
Oh, I love that. Well, thank you this was it was fun getting to know you a little better. And it was encouraging to to hear about your kids. And because there are days that I go, I don't know that they're gonna make it and then there are days where I'm so proud of them. So thanks for giving me hope for the the outcome with them. So yeah, thanks so much.

Meg Glesener
There's always hope. I just think of that first verse. I planted, Apollo's watered, but God gives the increase. So in a certain sense, as moms, we don't have to have that intense pressure on ourselves. We're just being there. We're just planting seeds and we're just trusting God, right.

Jennifer Uren
That's right. Oh, well, thanks so much for joining us.

Meg Glesener
Thanks for having me.

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