SIBLING CONFLICT

SIBLING CONFLICT

I heard a mom say, “Without sibling conflict, our family would be so peaceful. It is the main area that seems to bring such chaos.” What about your home? How is the peace level? Siblings are God’s built-in training ground for teaching children how to walk in the fruit of the Spirit so that they can be successful adults.

CALLING CHILDREN HIGHER

This is a great write-up from my friend who is an outstanding mother raising solid children. I agree that we cannot force our children to do anything, but we absolutely are called to create a lifestyle where we expect love, respect, and kindness from our children. It is taught, reinforced, and intentionally gone after by parents who value the process of character training.

“During this holiday season: My kids will be required to be warm and loving to all of their relatives, whether they see them often or see them a few times a year. They will be expected to behave, and though I can’t force them to *love* anything, they will be expected to appreciate every friend and family event we attend (hello, 6 Christmases). They will be given the knowledge that they are so lucky to have so many friends and family to celebrate with. They will say thank you and be grateful for every single gift that is given to them, regardless if it’s something they would choose for themselves. They will once again be taught that someone took time out of their busy life to think of them and used their hard-earned money to purchase them something and that – regardless of what is in the present – the act behind getting it is more than enough to be thankful for. As their parent, I will remember this too. Our guests can overstay, overshare, give us advice, come bearing gifts or come just as themselves with no gift at all, tell my girls they are beautiful without bringing up that they are also intelligent and immensely capable of anything they put their minds to – and even if ALL of it is ‘unwanted,’ we will smile and be grateful that we have people who care enough to do so. I keep seeing these posts about kids not being required to show love (which can be shown in more ways than just hugging) to relatives they don’t see often. They don’t have to behave at or love the events they attend. I see posts about not giving parents unwanted advice or warning about guests overstaying their welcome. I see posts about what kinds of gifts are considered acceptable, posts about how we shouldn’t call young girls pretty and should replace it with different words, and all it makes me think is, my goodness (!!). When did all of these things – compliments, gifts, friendly visits, advice, showing love towards a child, family spending time with family… things more often motivated by love than not – become things we need to put so many rules on? My kids will be taught that people show love in different and sometimes funny ways but to always look behind the gesture and see that, more often than not, it is love. As for me and my family, we will give the benefit of the doubt. 

Sincerely, The odd mom out?”

HUMILITY

Teaching your child to confess their sin robs the enemy of his desire to wrap them in shame. Humility is taught, not to condemn but to FREE us from the sins of our flesh. It looks like this: There is conflict, and you ask, “Sweetie, what did you do wrong?” They tell you their part (confession), and then you help them ask for forgiveness. “Jesus, I hurt my brother. Would You please forgive me?” If they honestly can’t tell you what they did wrong, then YOU haven’t done your part as a parent to teach them what right living (righteousness) looks like in that situation. Teach and empower them in times of peace what right living looks like. Forgiveness isn’t a blank credit card for our sins. It is a GIFT that needs to be acknowledged, honored, and intentionally received. When children mess up, they carry the guilt, which can easily become shameful if not dealt with. Helping them confess brings peace to their heart.

SIBLINGS’ LOVE TANKS

Your child needs to know not only their own language but their siblings’. When a child is aware of their needs, it makes it a lot easier for them to get their need met in a healthy way. Say their language is quality time, and yet they haven’t invested any time in their family; they are going to feel disconnected. Love tanks aren’t something to just passively let others fill. We can intentionally put ourselves on the path to be filled up. They can be doing things that encourage their needs to be met. Many times when there is conflict in my home, it is because their tanks are low with each other. While it would be so much easier to just separate the two ‘offending siblings,’ what they REALLY need is connection. When I see this is an issue, I will ask the child what their brother’s love language is and ask what she can do to fill it and vice versa. The older they get, the more I solve sibling issues this way than anything else. Disconnected kids act out like kids starving for attention!

LANGUAGE OF LOVE

Sibling connection is important, yet without tools, language, or empowerment to create a peaceful environment, sibling conflict can be a great source of chaos in many homes.

SPEAKING SIBLINGS’ LOVE LANGUAGES

How else is your child going to learn how to relate to their future spouse, boss, or friends unless they are taught? The day-to-day issues between siblings are your God-given training ground to equip them. The conflict can be used for good when you see it as an area in which they need help growing in. Most children do not have an issue with feeding or dressing themselves because you have done a great job at teaching them how to do it. You assisted them, gave them lots of grace, coached them, and encouraged them, and now they (and you) are bearing good fruit in these areas. The same goes for character training between siblings. How many of us have heard about the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman? Have you ever considered how a child feels when their tank is overflowing? Or running on fumes? This tool alone will radically change the temperature in your home. Show the kids what a magnet is and talk about the force that it carries. They won’t be able to see it with their eyes, but it’s there. Then show them how a magnet works. When you put the two right ‘loving’ sides together, there is a PULL for more. But when you put the wrong ‘unloving’ sides together, they push apart.

In the days to come, when there is conflict, lovingly approach them with your magnets in hand and explain that they are releasing something that causes others to want to pull away from them. Is that what they really want? Show them that they can flip the situation by choosing love to draw them in rather than push them away. Have each child take their own online quiz. Print out the summary and then call a family meeting to share how each person needs their tank filled. This isn’t a one-time teaching but rather a lifestyle that is cultivated by sowing into it daily. You can also sign up for their weekly newsletter, which will provide you with simple creative ways to speak each language each week. Your child NEEDS to know not only their own language but their siblings. When a child is aware of their needs, it makes it a lot easier for them to get their need met in a healthy way. Say their language is quality time, and yet they haven’t invested any time in their family. They are going to feel disconnected. Love tanks aren’t something to just passively let others fill. We can intentionally put ourselves on the path to be filled up. They can be doing things that encourage their needs to be met.

My two children who have the most conflict is the one who has the language of words and the one who is a strong leader. The way she often speaks hurts his heart, and then he reacts. As annoying as this is at times, it is most excellent that one can learn to guard his heart and not give his peace away so quickly, and the other one, who will lead many, gets to learn how to do it in love. Many times, when there is conflict in my home, it is because their tanks are low with each other. While it would be so much easier to separate the two ‘offending siblings,’ what they REALLY need is connection. When I see this is an issue, I will ask the child what their sibling’s love language is (if they honestly don’t know, you have more teaching to do). Then I ask, “What have you done to love them in the past 24 hours?” The answer is generally “nothing.” So, if the real issue was their lack of connection, I would help walk them through ways they could reconnect based on their love languages. The older they get, the more I solve sibling issues this way than anything else. Disconnected kids act out in ways that create connection, even if it is unhealthy. The child bullying or trying to get a reaction out of their siblings is most likely crying out for connection but doesn’t know how. I am equipping my children to change the world around them, and the issues between their siblings are my training ground to shape them into dynamic humans who know how to walk in love, honor, and respect because they have been TAUGHT.

The Love Language™ Quiz (5lovelanguages.com)

BROTHERLY LOVE

Someone gave Hudson a can of pop (or soda, as some of you say), and his sister commented how lucky he was. The next day he used his own money to get her one and put it on her bed with a note. It touched me deeply because, in all honesty, this isn’t his normal expression. A few days later, I inquired with him what motivated him to be so gracious and kind. He said, “Oh, she wanted to spend time with me the other day.” I have said it before, and I will say it again. TEACHING CHILDREN THEIR SIBLINGS LOVE LANGUAGES MATTERS. Siblings get their sense of belonging from each other, and when their tank is full, they naturally pour out love.

TRAINING GROUND

How else will your child learn how to relate to their future spouse, boss, or friends unless they are taught? The day-to-day issues between siblings are your God-given training ground to equip them. The conflict can be used for good when you see it as an area in which they need help growing.

GRACE AS A PARENTING TOOL

When my kiddos were younger, I was learning about God’s grace. That sweet, love-filled gift of grace. I was so moved by His grace towards me that I decided I would give my children grace when they acted out… and all hell broke loose. I was perplexed that my kindness and goodness were being met with utter chaos. God showed me that grace without authority is nothing but entitlement. My children did not know how to handle the grace given because they had not yet fully been established under my authority. Let me say it this way – if you give grace to your children as a parenting tool BEFORE you have established your authority, you are not giving grace but empowering their flesh. Grace can only be received in the backdrop of understanding what they are given grace for. This is why character training is so important. It establishes for the child right living and positions them under your authority and covering. Do not mistake ignoring, avoidance, or checking out as giving them grace. That is laying down your God-given role to teach your children about His Kingdom structure. Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you absolutely don’t deserve.

GREATEST INVESTMENT

Parenting is an investment, and whatever you put into it, you will get out of it. You will reap what you have sown. What you go after and invest in when they are one, you will reap when they are two. What you go after and invest in when they are two, you will reap when they are three. What you go after and invest in when they are three, you will reap when they are four. Going after their heart and character and honoring God TODAY will reap fruit tomorrow.

HELPING KIDS LOVE

I often buy fun treats or trinket toys and give them to one of my children to give to their siblings, adding their own ‘creative flair’ to communicate love. For example, my oldest made some lovely notes for her siblings and put some sweet treats on their beds for them to come home to after school. I believe that by assisting them with ideas that communicate love to one another, they are strengthening their sibling relationships and learning how to communicate love to their friends, future spouse, and their children someday. I want them to be people who know how to love well!