Ah, sibling rivalry. Whether it’s over an object or over wanting to surpass a sibling in ability, it’s an ordeal to contend with. And while we Christian parents are aware of what is at the very root of it, our children may not be. After all, little Johnny only cares about grabbing that empty paper towel tube that little Susie has. Or young Tilly wants to be at least as witty as her older brother Tommy.
In the midst of these squabbles, parents experience a mix of emotions… to laugh or to cry? In either case, the only answer to peace, is combating sibling rivalry one battle at a time.
Whether as a couple or as your own parent-teacher conference, take a few moments to regroup. Because it’s time to meet with the King of King’s about these villagers.
In these moments, remember who or what is in control. Important to remember, is that our kids are in a spiritual battle. Ultimately, as Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (ESV)
For this reason, it’s time to make sure that we have the armor of God put on before we deal with the situation at hand.
Call a Time Out
While we may want to jump in the middle like any warrior, there’s wisdom in letting siblings calm down. Once they are apart from each other, have a heart-to-heart talk with them about the matter.
First, listen without interrupting as the individual accounts are given. Be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). If you find that you’re receiving conflicting information, remind your child that his conscience is the most sacred of all property. And ask your child if what he’s saying is the truth. Because it will give them a chance to check in with themselves and prayerfully give room for the Holy Spirit to convict if needed.
Second, discuss the internal to external matter with them. For instance, what is going on inside the heart: jealousy, greed, or coveting? Walk him through Scripture about what sin is to help your child identify what is going on.
Disciple In Repentance and Forgiveness
If your child is recognizing that he is in sin, explain from Scripture the need for repentance. And the importance of going before our Heavenly Father to ask for forgiveness. Once, he does this, then his heart is in the right place to go to his sibling and ask for forgiveness for the specific issue(s). That being said, he needs to know that he needs to forgive himself, too.
On the other hand, if your child is not the instigator you still can talk about the need for repentance and forgiveness. Help him to see the cause to effect. And aid him in evaluating if he is harboring anger, resentment, or bitterness toward his sibling who is guilty of strife. In this case, walk this child through Scriptures about this state of the heart. Truly, repentance is a need from these matters. And so is forgiveness.
Making Peace Makers
When hearts are soft, it’s time to bring them together again. Lovingly, it’s time to confess sins to one another and forgive. Perhaps it’ll be helpful to use a T-Chart to compare Scriptures about strife and peace. And dialogue about what heart attitudes Christ desires in His Kingdom.
It’s important to remember is that this takes time. And it takes repetition. But do not weary in doing good! You’re planting seeds and working toward and end goal with peace training. As a result, good fruit will be produced from your diligence.
So, be encouraged! Because God gives us principles to live by…and they work.
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