I’m sure I’m nowhere near alone in the “I’m-so-sick-of-my-kids-bickering-with-each-other” parental lament. We’ve talked and prayed with them about showing respect for one another, loving each other like Jesus loves us, showing kindness, letting things go. But, as my 5 11/12 daughter would say, “Nada. Zip. Zilch.” No progress. We have 3 children 9, 7 1/2, 5 11/12 and at any given time an argument will begin over who gets to go first, how we should play our game, who cheated at Rock/Paper/Scissors to determine who gets to go first and most recently, who pressed “A” on the Wii controller before passing it to the next player. Oops. Forgot the favorite: he’s/she’s looking at me!
Had a thought run through my head listening to our pastor talking about families this weekend. We are in a series “People Of The Second Chance“. Giving radical grace. It hit me that my kids give little grace within our family–including to mom and dad. When there is an offense and subsequent apology, they are usually fast to forgive and move on. But in day to day treatment, they use a contemptuous tone of voice with harsh words and are quick to point out faults. I know how to deal with that towards mom and dad. Its a big “oh no you didn’t.” But how can we teach them how to treat each other when all else seems to be failing?
I want them to be siblings of the second chance–giving radical grace to their brother and sister(s). But how to instruct? First thought is a family meeting. Usually when we have one of those sit downs, its because a HUGE shift needs to be made in our home. Perhaps that will get their attention. I want them to hear:
- That everyone makes mistakes.
- Not everyone knows how to play every game or can discern the system you have developed.
- Think the best of your brother or sister.
- You may not testify to a crime you have not personally witnessed.
- Show courtesy.
- Know what is your business and what is mom and dad’s to correct and instruct. Accept that, no, you really aren’t the boss of your siblings.
God gave us to each other as a family. We are a team. This home is to be a safe place. We have each others’ backs. As Michael Corleone would say, “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family. Ever.” Does anyone have a way to communicate these things at home so children will understand? I don’t think a lecture will necessarily cut it but it may have to begin that way.