With summer approaching and school winding down many parents are going to be dealing with the dreaded “f” word. That’s right. FIGHTING. Siblings fighting at home, fighting in the car, fighting on vacation, fighting until mom loses her ever-loving mind and screams for them to GO OUTSIDE. Can I just tell you, I’m so over it? I’m over sibling rivalry and the idea that it’s acceptable simply because it is normal.
The bottom line in our house is that it is not allowed. Just as lying isn’t allowed. Or disrespecting me. Or disobeying. We’ve told them countless times that in our house, we love. Love takes work and it requires putting others before yourself. The world may say sibling rivalry is normal. The world may say kids will grow out of it. The world may say kids will be kids. But in my home, we love because the Bible says to love. If they continue to argue, use condescending tones, or bicker, they are punished. (Yes, I still punish my children.)
I heard a mom say the other day that she tries really hard not to intervene when her kids fight. I see where she is coming from and it sounds like noble reasoning: she wants them to learn to work it out. Problem solvers. I get it. I want my kids to be problem solvers too, but I also think they need some direction in how to treat one another and some consequences for being down right rude.
I’ve spent plenty of time analyzing why the fighting happens-and don’t get me wrong it definitely happens here. Personal space, jealousy, insecurities, stress, or just plain old ANNOYANCE. We work on those things, but they are not an excuse for actions to be rude, hateful, or unkind. We’ve had some serious talks that consisted of, “Your sister is a treasure to me and to God and I will not allow you to treat her like trash.”
Want to know when they are the worst? I’ve found they are worst when I’ve been speaking rudely to them. They turn right around and take it out on someone else. *Sigh* When I’m stressed, I can be short with them and easily annoyed. They know it. If it doesn’t come through in words spoken it certainly comes through in tone. In return, they are easily annoyed with each other. I’ve learned my weak moments and try to choose my words and actions wisely. It’s a work in progress. We try to verbally point out the strengths of all of them and help them to see strengths in each other. We offer grace and forgiveness and too many apologies to count. It’s hard, but if I’m going to teach them anything in these short years I hope it will be to love.