Generation Cedar

It’s no secret…if you have children at home, especially if they’re together all day, you deal with a certain amount of wrong attitudes and strife.  (If you don’t, email me please.)

For me, this is probably THE hardest part of our daily struggles.  It seems I never know quite how to handle it.  Sometimes I think it best to let them settle  minor disputes instead of refereeing every incident.  But other times I feel it an important part of teaching proper responses and right attitudes.  Ironically, homeschooling is socialization at its best. My children are friends, for sure.  Most of the time they are pleasant with one another.  But not always.  And while we know strife is a part of life, we do not just accept it as “normal”.  We strive toward “esteeming others better than ourselves”, even if it means starting over each day.  I don’t think parents are one bit naive to expect and continue to teach their children to demonstrate honor and love to one another.  I think we are doing a poor job to just accept anything else.

But how to deal with it?  That one escapes me.  Today brought one of those challenges.  The temptation is to want to shout, “Just be nice to each other!”  But alas, I don’t think that is very effective.

So as I sat with two of my children, looked at them, and sighed.  “I don’t know what to say.”  (How’s that for a stroke of mother-genius?)  I tried to bring them both to a place of understanding, regardless of who instigated the dispute.  First I just let them talk and discuss their complaints.  I then tried to explain to my 10-year-old son why it might be possible that his sister snapped at him for no apparent reason, that something changes in girls, and hormones happen, and it’s hard to explain, (and he’s looking at me  like, “Mom, are you making this up?”)

Then, to my daughter I sympathize that she’s having a bad day but remind her that hormones are no excuse for sin (and remind myself too).

I tell them both, “I can’t make you exemplify Christ.  I can’t make you love each other.  You have to pray for a heart that desires that, and for power to demonstrate it.  But I CAN tell you what  the Bible says about how we should treat each other.  I can tell you that  a kind word and tone will go a long way toward building a loving relationship.  Being kind is a choice you have to make, and it will largely determine the atmosphere of our home.”

As I had opportunity, I pulled each one aside separately and encouraged them a bit more.  I suggested to “the offended” that he should find something nice to do for his sister.  So he sneaked off and completed one of her chores for her.

By the evening, they were hugging and laughing and I smiled…“This is hard work, yes…but it’s worth it.”

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13 Responses

  1. This was just the post I needed after today. My children do the worst when I am pre-occupied. It amazes me how that works.

    Today as I was listing things on Ebay (for hours…my back hurts… but we are moving next month, so I must get rid of stuff!). They got a little out of hand with picking at one another. I did NOT feel like being a patient parent. But you are so right; patience and hard work on our end does make a difference.

  2. Oh, but Kelly, what do we do when we’re on our 10th round of playing ref for the morning? Sigh.

    My children love each other dearly too. But they seem to thrive on quibbling. Often about the silliest stuff. And I just run out of steam to deal with them by the 7th clash of the day. Then I pull the not-so-wonderful rabbit from my hat and tell them in unpeaceful tones, “That’s it! You guys are soooo grounded.” or I send them to their beds, or I tell them they’ve lost the privilege of being allowed to talk to each other.

    It sounds like you handled your recent situation beautifully. Are my children just more contentious than most? I could do what you did once or twice a day. 7 – 10 times I just can’t. I’M not that nice and patient.

    Beth (aka Tovah)

  3. Beth,

    Rest assured, that is NOT how I handle disputes all the time (do you really want me to share my not-so-patient moments 😉

    I have tried the “you’re not allowed to talk anymore” thing, and really, I think it is OK to instruct them to keep silent if they can’t speak in a kind tone, even while expressing disagreements. And we need to remember to *show* them how. (i.e. “Please don’t take my pencils without asking” instead of “Leave my pencils alone!”)

    I think this is an area where children need LOTS of reminding–not only from you, but through the use of example. It seems when I tell my children a story that demonstrates sibling courtesy, or when we read “Making Siblings Best Friends” it’s just the inspiration they need.

    Another thing…try heading it off first thing in the mornings. While everyone is still happy, gather them around and give them a little pep talk. (“Let’s remember what the Bible says about how we should treat each other…”) I find this to work pretty well sometimes. There will still be the quibbles, but get them thinking in the direction of controlling their flesh and it seems to help.

    I feel your pain, sister. That’s why I said this was the hardest for me. I REALLY have to work on not getting angry over sibling strife.

  4. Needful for me today as well! Yesterday almost left me in tears because of the fussing amongst the 4 oldest ones. I’m afraid my example has more to do with it than anything.

  5. Stephanie,

    I feel your pain. I am in tears almost every day because my children act like they hate each other. I know I have missed the boat on something, but I do not know how to fix it. HELP!

  6. Mine are so little and you can’t really “reason” with them yet. I like the book “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends”.

    Just a question…how does it affect the child who was wronged in their attitude when although they were wronged they are instructed to “do something nice” for the offender, especially if the offender wasn’t punished? I know that would not have gone down well with me when I was a child, but then again, that might be because my middle sister was the favourite with my parents and everyone knew it. I have heard it works with some children though and maybe it does with yours too, because I am interested in attitudes and heart training, I thought I’d ask about that process.

  7. Mrs. W.,

    Several dynamics are at play…it wasn’t a clear “one was wrong and the other innocent”…this was the second or third spat and both attitudes had been off.

    Secondly, the talk I had with them was “punishment” enough for my older one who is much more sensitive to that and easily sees her sin when it’s pointed out.

    Thirdly, the older one does a lot more serving both by nature and age, so it seemed appropriate to do what I did.

    He was not a bit annoyed. Mind you, I didn’t say, “You need to serve your sister” so that it seemed like a punishment. I just gently, with a smile *suggested* it and he did it on his own.

    Then lastly, and most importantly,

    “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”

    It was “biblical medicine” for the situation. And honestly, the one who did the serving received the most joy, I think.

  8. Just what I needed today as well. Like Leslie Viles, my 4 boys can act as though they hate each other, and I feel as though I’ve “miss the boat” with something,too.

    I find myself acting exactly the opposite of how I want them to behave. (aka. VERY bad example.) Being 20 weeks pregnant with #5 doesn’t help me in the hormone department either.

  9. Perfect post for me today…I think it has been me dealing with the hormones though, not my 3 1/2 or 2 year old. 🙂 Tough morning…

    Sometimes it can be a bit tough to remember that God uses our little blessings to “grow” us.

  10. Nice post. We only have one blessing, but my daughter often comments on the different types of families. In one family type the siblings openly love each other and show non-stop grace. In another, the siblings argue, fight, bicker, and are sometimes just horribly mean. We always come back to the parents as the difference. As a whole, kids only do what they are allowed. I have found myself being irritated with a particular trait in my daughter that isn’t great. I have to remember that the only reason she is doing it is because I have allowed it. I have to correct myself first (again). This is not speaking to a one time thing, or occasional, but a consistant behavior.
    To Anita and Leslie, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. It is clear you want His will over your kids. Ask Him to show you a strategy. The Bible says He is able to restore the years the locusts have destroyed. It is not to late, and God is willing to forgive any confessed sin and use your heart that is seeking Him to guide you into a new family norm. Don’t listen to any lie that it is too late, too far gone or too overwhelming. He cannot give up on you, He is too faithful.

  11. Great wisdom, Kelly L. When I see unacceptable behavior in one of my children, it’s usually a reflection on (and a wake-up call for) me! I have to repent and go from there. Thanks, WW, for a great, and needed, post!

  12. Thank you for this posting. Just this evening I was crying out: Please God I need wisdom! I experience this every time when I’m pregnant (I’m 20 weeks pregnant with #8)- I’m not in control and don’t have the energy or wisdom to know how to handle the disputes and often I wonder if I am the only homes chooling mother of many who has this problem. Thank you for your advice and being transparent and real!

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