One of the issues of parenting that I hated the most was dealing with sibling rivalry. We have three children, and when they were kids at home, I certainly had my share of listening to them squabble and pick at each other. I hated it—maybe because I’m an only child and did not grow up fighting with brothers and sisters. Sometimes I wanted to walk out the door and not come back—at least for a while.
After my children were adults, I ran across a plan to settle the problem that I wish I had known about earlier. Here it is:
If your children are arguing and fighting, put them together in one room—if you’re quite sure, of course, that they won’t kill each other! Then, presuming it’s nearly dinner time, for that’s when 80% of conflicts take place, tell them, “There’s 30 minutes left until dinner for you to get this ironed out. I want you to forgive each other and pray together. I want you to come out loving each other. Then I want you to call me and each of you to tell me that is what you have done.” Remind them of Ephesians 4:32, that says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I can’t guarantee it will work. Your children may miss dinner out of sheer stubbornness to settle their differences. But you will be putting the burden of straightening out the problem squarely on their shoulders, which is where it should be. After all, you are a mom or dad, not a wrestling referee.
Attitude makes all the difference in the world. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3). That applies to parents as well as children. May God help us to live this verse in our homes!