Schooooooools out for summer!!!!!!

I can’t help but have the rock and roll anthem play in my head as I navigate the last few weeks before we dive into all things summer! Endless hours in the sun, catching lightening bugs, spur of the moment ice cream runs, and cook outs in the back yard! Summer is one of the most exciting and fun parts of the year for our family. It brings a reprieve from the relentless everyday grind and more time to spend with each other. But do you know what it also brings? Constant sibling conflict!

With lots of extra time to spend together as a family, also comes lots of together time for my son and daughter that often results in screaming, bickering and lots of conflict. Nothing pierces the air more than my daughter screaming “stop” at the top of her lungs or my son’s constant drum of “she’s not playing fair”.

Sound familiar?

In anticipation of this onslaught, I decided to make a change!  

There is nothing I can do about the amount of time that they would spend together or but I could research ways to reduce sibling conflict and increase the peace. I don’t have any real goals of making it disappear altogether. I think that’s probably too lofty a goal, but I do want to get through the summer without pulling all my hair out. So I dove into subject of sibling conflict and surfaced with the some knowledge I couldn’t wait to share!

Though sibling conflict can occur more often in the summer this gem of information can be used at any time or any season of the year. Even right in the middle of your busy!

In help reduce sibling conflict and increase love among our children we can dive deep with them into a biblical example of sibling conflict and help them understand that sin has no sliding scale.

Sin Has No Sliding Scale: Parable of the Lost Son

Most of us know the parable of the lost son. A wealthy father has two sons. One son asks for his inheritance early and goes off to spend it all very unwisely. After near starvation and in a state of destitution the son returns to his father. Upon seeing that his lost son has returned the Father prepares a feast and celebration. The father’s other son, who had not left and not spent his inheritance unwisely, is furious and reproaches the father for celebrating a child who betrayed him. The Father then warmly explains that everything he has is for the son who did not leave but it was fitting to celebrate the son that was lost.

Most of the time we read this parable and focus on the lost son and the hard lessons he learned. But if we want to reduce sibling conflict we actually need to take a closer look at the father in this story and his solution to the conflict between his sons.

When we examine the parable closely we can see that these two young men are outwardly very different from one another. One of them makes wise choices in their life, the other does not. In today’s society we would say that one son made his parent proud, the other would likely be the center of gossip. It’s really easy to understand why the son who made wise choices becomes infuriated when his rule breaking brother is celebrated. Breaking the rules is bad and it should not be celebrated.

But what does the father in this story see that his son’s do not? He sees that though his sons are outwardly very different, inwardly they are the same. Sinful. His wayward son is sinful for his disobedience and wrong choices. His other son is sinful in his pride in his right choices and jealousy over his brother’s celebration.

He helps his son to understand that sin has no sliding scale. Not one sin is better or worse than the other.  The weight of all sin is death.  Being with prostitutes is no worse than pride. Our morality really wants to tell us that that’s not true. But scripture states that all have fallen short of the glory of God.

Sibling Conflict

In order to reduce sibling conflict we must help our children move away from a morality point of view. Screaming at your sister for cheating is just as sinful as cheating itself. Pushing your brother because he wouldn’t obey the rules is just as bad as not obeying the rules. Sin is sin. And Jesus died for it all. We must show each other the love of Christ because not one of us is better than the other.

In the middle of the busy, its really hard to not default to the idea that one sin is worse than the other. But if we really want to decrease sibling conflict we must help them and ourselves remember that sin has no sliding scale. Just like the father in the parable of the lost son we must be able to look past the outward appearance and see the heart within. We are all sinful, christ died for it all and we must show love to others because we desperately need that love as well.

Blaze a new trail and parent well in the middle of busy!

 

 

 

It was Friday night…

We were having a family over for a cook out. We love to host and do so almost every Friday night, but on this particular day I knew my son would need some coaching. One of the children coming to play was older and my son always seemed to find himself in trouble when they played together. My husband and I had been working on coaching him to lead rather than just follow. So in the brief moments we had as we drove home from his weekly ninja class at the gym up the street to our home for the cook out, I prepped him: “You’re going to have to step up and lead. You can’t let your friend convince you do things that aren’t kind, polite, or respectful to others.” I coached.

Do you know what happened that night?

He was a follower and he got into trouble.

After the festivities were over and I was helping him clean his room, we talked about the evening and how he found himself in trouble yet again. During our conversation he said one thing that I struck me hard. “Mom, I tried. I tried to be good, but I just couldn’t.”

In that moment my heart broke for him. In that moment I heard myself standing before my heavenly parent saying the same thing. “I tried. I really did. But it just didn’t work.” I feel the sting of failure every day of my life. Do you know how God responds to me when I come to him in those moments? He repeats his law of love to me.

It goes something like this:

You are not innately good and you should not tell yourself you are or that you can be. The only thing that counts before Me is belief that My Son died for you and after that responding in love for Me and to each other. That love alone can transform you.

In the middle of the daily busy we want to make sure we handing our children the gospel and not morality. Morality says “be good for goodness sake”. The gospel says “You aren’t good. Only God is good and the only good that can come out of you is a response to My goodness for you.” I told my son to be “kind, polite and respectful”, in other words, “be good”. The one thing I asked him to do was the one thing he can’t. But, you can learn from my mistake. There is something else we can ask instead. 

 

be good

 

Learn from my mistake.

When you are overwhelmed and busy use this guide for what to say to your child instead of “be good”; It is broken down by age group, first toddler/preschooler age children , then elementary age children, and finally what to say to your middle/high school age children.

 

You can access the What to Say Instead of “Be Good’” printable cheat sheet in the Free Resource Library! You can sign up at the bottom of this post or click here! 

 

Toddler or Preschool Age Children

In my opinion this is the hardest age to address the concept of sin. We are still in middle of what my mentor likes to call “the trenches of obedience training.” Toddler and preschool age children have a very limited vocabulary and understanding of the world around them. It’s important to note that children don’t even have an awareness of themselves as a person (that he or she is the same as the humans around them) till 18 months- 2 years old. As a parent of a 2 year old we use words like “no”, “stop”, “don’t” because these are simple words they can understand. The trick is to use simple words in the moment that we recognize the sin to help them start to understand God’s love for them. This could sound something like:

“We all have icky in our heart. But we have to know that God loves us and He wants us to love others.”

Elementary Age Children

Alright, so they have grown a bit and simultaneously become easier to communicate with and harder to talk to at the same time! They understand quite a bit about the world around them and because of this they have started to form opinions about the world. Often these opinions are loudly expressed as they are still learning emotional intelligence and how to express what they feel in an appropriate way. We can use a much more complicated vocabulary with them to help show them the sin in their hearts. This can sound something like:

“Remember, you are loved by an amazing God and the most important thing in our life is to always remember His love and show it to others.”

 

Middle and High School Age Children

Oh where have your babies gone? Hopefully, now you find yourself having full on conversations with your children. They have the ability to understand things you say without you having to simplify your vocabulary. Most of the time they have to ability to see the sin within their heart without your helping them come into contact with it. You have entered a true season of being more of a coach than a guide. Often children at this age want as few words as possible when you are guiding them. They feel like they’ve “got it” and often don’t need/want your help. So before they step out the door to their oh so busy and overwhelmed lives instead of saying “ be good”, simply say:

“Remember the law of love”

They may roll their eyes. They may act like they don’t care or they might ignore you. But have faith that God is planting seeds and you are handing them the gospel!

Giving our Children the Gospel, Not Morality

Being busy and overwhelmed we often default to statements like “be good” or “be polite, kind and respectful.” They are simple short and easy to remember. But this is teaching our kids morality. To be good for goodness sake. When we should be teaching them the gospel. That while we were still sinners Christ died for us. We can’t be good, but he loves us anyway and that is what what can transform us. Learn from my hard lesson. Learn what to say instead of “be good”.

Let’s parent well in them middle of busy! 

 

P.S. 

If we haven’t met yet… hi, I’m Emily! Thank you so much for reading. I hope you found this helpful in the middle of your busy life. My goal is always to help encourage, inspire and equip you to cultivate your child’s heart in the middle of your daily hussle. Know my door (my inbox, rather) is always open if there is something you think I can help with! I’m on this busy parenting journey too! Also, if you know someone else that could gain something by reading this article, please feel free to share it with them .  

Blessings,
Emily 

 

 

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