Monday, May 11, 2015

Sibling Rivalry —Part 1

by Betty Jackson

With summer coming, school will be out for most home and public schooled children. More challenges for a peaceful environment are no doubt in store! Sibling rivalry or fussing can be one of the most frustrating parts of child rearing. Observation, experience, prayer, and much study of the Scripture will help parents cope with this stressful, yet typical behavior of children. We pray that these suggestions may be helpful.

A Peaceful Environment Begins With Parents

First of all, parents need to love and respect each other. When a couple has significant problems, the family is out of sync. Children who sense or witness serious problems between the parents will have a tough time feeling loved and secure. Although a peaceful home begins with parents, no family is going to be without conflict all the time. There will be differences of opinion. But the environment must be conducive to teaching children how to live in harmony with others, and how to deal with strongly-felt differences. When adult family members disagree, children need to witness them talking kindly and civilly to one another.  

Most conflicts between husbands and wives are best quietly settled in private. But minor matters can be discussed before the children to help them learn how to properly work through differences. Remember: Children learn what they live. Parents who deal with their own disagreements in a godly manner, are already on the road to teaching their offspring how to get along with others. 

We need to be contented people. God's children need to learn, as Paul did (Phil. 4:11-13), how to be happy, in spite of problems. Granted this is a learned response to life's circumstances; but it is crucial that our children do not perceive us as grumpy, whining, self-pitying or always down-and-out people. (We know that some families have serious problems. Here we are not addressing those kinds of severe situations.) How can children learn to be happy and to get along with others if the home atmosphere is heavy with unhappiness and tension?

As you attempt to solve the problem of sibling rivalry, think about the way you talk. Speech is a great revealer of attitudes. Sharp or demeaning tones surely reveal the heart-felt emotions.

The Lord taught that our words come from the heart, whether good or evil (Matthew 15:18-19, Luke 6:45). Paul urged the Ephesians to speak things that are “…good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear” (4:29). How do you speak to your spouse and your children? 

There is some truth to the saying that “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Learn to be content by studying the word of God on this topic. Be grateful every day for what you have, instead of being overwhelmed by what you don’t have. Set the tone for your family. Read what Paul went through in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. In spite of his suffering, the apostle taught that we are to rejoice in the Lord. Maturation in the Lord will bring us greater happiness and joy. Let that inner peace and joy spill over into every day life, so that your example will impact the lives of your children for greater peace in your household.

Take some time to read Philippians 4:4-9. 

More suggestions will be forthcoming in Part 2. May the Lord bless us each day to be greater examples for those children whom we must train in the Lord (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:21; Prov. 31:26). 

Recommended Reading

Jason Jackson. Parents Obey Your Father.

Wayne Jackson. Loving Life; Seeing Good Days.

Picture copyright: 123rf Nagy-Bagoly Ilona.

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