Honor one another – even your brothers and your sisters! (Chap 7)
“I just don’t know what I am going to do. All my kids do is argue and call each other names. Do you have that problem too? Your family is almost as big as mine.”
“No, we don’t. We simply don’t allow that kind of dishonoring speech in our household.”
“Really? Your kids don’t EVER call each other names?”
“No, not really. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever heard any of them calling each other names.”
“How do you keep them from doing that?”
“Well, we discuss honoring one another with our speech AND I remind them that when they do that, they are calling Jesus whatever name it is that they are calling their sibling. It seems to help us all remember the power our words have.”
“Hmmm, I think I’m going to start charging my kids a quarter every time they do it.”
This is a shortened rendering of a conversation that took place in my kitchen. I tried to explain to this mom (they had 7 children at the time the conversation took place – we had 5) the value of teaching our children to communicate kindly to one another. I obviously failed miserably.
Growing up, sibling kindness was not something that our parents stressed. In fact, of the many memories I have of fighting with my brother, one of the two most powerful memories include my mom walking up the stairs while Dave and I were at it – fists, fingernails and nasty mouths. “Where are you going?” I shouted after her. “To my room.” she replied. “We’re going to kill one another!” I yelped. “I guess you’ll have to kill one another then, I’m going to go read my book.” We obviously didn’t kill one another, but I wouldn’t say we have a terrific relationship, though, either. (Not a bad one, just not a great one.)
Three road blocks to honor among siblings:
#1) Anger. My son is an apple that has not fallen too far from his parents’ trees. He struggles with anger. We have all grown so much in not allowing anger to determine our responses. It took a long time for me to realize that when a child was in the midst of being angry, that that was not THE time to address it. It simply wasn’t within my paradigm to allow the child to cool down before I got into the fray. I’m wiser now. 🙂
Anger is helpful for identifying problems, but lousy for solving them. (Dawn’s paraphrase)
#2 Selfishness. Being a servant helps children grow out of selfishness. Ahhh – another purpose for chores. Not only are they an opportunity to help the household run, they are an even richer opportunity for displaying servanthood.
Treat each child as unique. THIS one was a new concept for me altogether. I had been taught that if A happens, then the consequence for A is ALWAYS B. End of discussion. But, over time the Lord really opened my eyes up to the fact that He has made my children different and to discipline them all the same, while easier for me, does little to reach the specific heart of the child I’m dealing with….therefore, whether easier or not, it’s generally useless.
The Old “I cut, you pick” rule. I know it well. My mom implemented it when I was a child – and it moved with me, right into raising my own children.
#3 Foolishness. Clarks are clowns. It just goes together, hand-in-hand. The frustrating part is when it’s more important to be funny than it is to be honoring. This is one area of honor that we struggle with a great deal.
We have been working to learn how to honor one another for awhile now. I find that the longer we’re at it, the more I forget how different we are. I keep thinking that we’re just like every other family. This last weekend, we had a rich example of how untrue that is. My children had some guests over.
When the guests left, the children were all abuzz – they were shocked that the mother kept referring to the children as “Rug Rats.” I heard one of our daughters encourage one of the children to nicely tell their Mom that they didn’t like being called a Rug Rat. The child starred at my daughter as if she had grown green antennae. The daughter had no idea why she would tell her Mom that. In addition to that, my children (keep in mind, they’re all daughters at this point, which might make a difference) were so saddened by the way the girls spoke to one another. They kept telling them, “Don’t call your sister that. That’s not kind.” “Don’t push your sister around, that’s not honoring.” And it went on and on. (I couldn’t believe the other children stayed to play.) It was good for our children to see that……
BUT, I think perhaps the next issue of honor that the Clark household needs to work at is being bossy, huh?
How are you doing with all this? Is this rocking your boat? Changing your paradigm?!