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’s best to let them settle minor disputes instead of refereeing every incident. But other times I feel it’s 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 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.”