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?!

9 Responses to “Honor one another – even your brothers and your sisters! (Chap 7)”
  1. myderbe says:

    Dawn, we are working on this, and we still have a long way to go. I have some VERY strong-willed children that are not easily deterred by punishment or consequences. I also have very demonstrative children. They hug and kiss and say “I love you” a lot. And when they are upset or angry, they also don’t hold back.

    Recently, I told my husband – “For a family that isn’t allowed to say ‘stupid’ or ‘shut up,’ we hear those words an awful lot.” We have consequences for saying those things. We talk about being kind.

    I’m sure I could do a lot better and be a lot more consistent. But I have been very prideful in the past about my children being each others’ best friends and getting along so well — they beg to sleep together; they don’t like to be apart; my son moped and cried nearly every Monday last year when my girls went to school. And all those things are still true. But they have begun to fuss and fight some too. We are trying to find constructive ways to share our feelings without yelling, “Shut up, Stupid!”

    Sometimes, my children even get physical –kicking, pushing, hitting. We deal with this also, and do not permit it. But they still get caught up in a moment of anger and behave this way. We do not expect this of siblings (as some people do), and our children know this is not OK. But they do still do it sometimes. It’s humbling to me. I tell you that.

    I was so embarrassed at my parents’ this past weekend when people noticed a slight bruise on my 7 year old’s cheek and she told people that her sister did that to her. First, I didn’t even know about it. She gets hurt easily and I assumed the small bruise had come from some accident. Second, I -of course- don’t want people to think we allow them to beat on each other. I have a feeling this bruise happened after they begged to sleep together and then ended up spatting about space and kicking at each other. That has happened several times, and Daddy goes in and handles it each time. Slow learners.

    Anyway . . . this dishonoring can happen in a home with a lot of children in a small age-span and loving parents who do not allow it and who would never dream of referring to the children as rug-rats. It can happen among children who are not “allowed” to behave that way.

    I think explaining that whatever you do to your brother or sister, you are doing to Jesus is a grand idea. I wonder why I’ve never thought of it that way! We may see if that will influence them at all.

    (By the way, a couple of my children are truly, truly repentant after such spats and hateful words and actions. A couple others, not so much.)

  2. javadawn says:

    Oh MD, I didn’t mean we never deal with sinful behavior toward siblings – we just don’t deal with it in the context of name calling much. I must say, as we hit puberty with more children – we have #4 who will be 11 this year – name calling has become more of a temptation for them. (Of course, being Clarks…they’re very imaginative names. Like “Gormless Wally” :roll:)
    ANDANDANDAND YOU have some different health issues to add into that mix. That means the dynamics you’re dealing with require a whole lot more resilience than most of us. (Certainly more than I have to come up with!)
    Here is a little tidbit that I used to figure out how to really help deal with some of these things: I’d BEG God for *creative* ideas for reaching each of their hearts.
    Now, keep in mind, for one child, it meant that they couldn’t sleep with their beloved sibling – and they had to tell me why that night before bed. For another it meant that they had to spend the day doing the other siblings’ chores. For another, she had to prepare a special “feast” for her offended sibling. For yet another, they had to walk behind them, flapping the big plume feather duster saying, “Thus shall it be done unto the sister whom the Mother delighteth to honor!” 😀
    I’m SO sorry if I implied that we are above all this – we just display our sin in many various other ways – as mentioned – being bossy, being “funny” at another’s expense…we have plenty of our own sinful issues. 😕

  3. whimsy says:

    You won’t hear much name calling in our family, but by not dealing with the heart behind the actions, I am seeing an increase in passive-aggressive behavior. I have NO idea where they would have seen that modeled (*insert sarcastic eye rolling here – I used to be the p/a queen*)

    So, we’re diggin’ a little deeper to get to this root.

  4. myderbe says:

    Oh, Dawn, I am sure you have your own issues. We’ve always had some issues. I just really never thought it would be THIS issue. I was so proud of the way my children were friends, and I would see other children fighting and calling each other names and hear other parents talk about the inevitable sibling rivalry and sibling fighting (or so they seemed to just assume all siblings fought that way), and I would think if they just adopted the attitudes my husband and I had and teach their children like we were teaching ours . . . well, then, obviously, their children would be as near-perfect as mine! LOL LOL LOL Ugh . . my pride.

    So, my sweet daughters, who really do love each other and really are best friends, can be just horrible to each other. And my daughter with Tourette Syndrome does sometimes fall into name-calling — for a while, it was “baby-cry” not “crybaby,” mind you, she had to mix it up a little. 🙂 She does speak without thinking sometimes, and she does tend to repeat things she has heard. But my other daughter, who does not have a neurological condition on which to blame her behavior, is just as guilty. And she doesn’t seem to feel very repentent about it all most of the time. Well, sometimes she does — but almost as often she feels justified in whatever she has said because it’s how she truly feels (and “Why should I honor those boys when they just broke my thing?” -a question she asked me today). Oh, it hurts so much and is so frustrating because I totally see all the ugly things from my own heart that I just am too dignified to say out loud.

    Anyway . . . I just never thought we’d deal with this particular sin problem because I really thought we were doing all the right things to avoid it. Guess there is no fool-proof sin-prevention method to parenting, huh? Duh! 🙂

  5. Violet says:

    Jenn, your words on the pride issue really rang a bell for me. Our first two children were very compliant and such a joy to parent, i.e. they fit right into our “perfect parenting”. Then…we adopted two, one with multiple physical problems and the other at aged 9 with some real anger/rebellion patterns already well established. All of our perfect parenting brought about nothing but digging in of heels and more chaos. I know now, that God allows us the privilege of parenting to mold us into the image of His Son. For some of us that takes a whole lot more work than others! I’m just so thankful for His longsuffering toward me, and that He will work in my children’s lives in spite of the mistakes I make. In fact, He uses those mistakes to accomplish His purposes for them – He is truly amazing!!

  6. Margie says:

    Thank you for the inspiration, Dawn. The one line that you remind your children that when they call each other names they are calling Jesus names really stuck in my mind. Yesterday, my dear daughters were picking on each other and I talked with them about the fact that when they pick on each other they pick on Jesus. The idea seemed to register with them.

    Name calling, although “friendly” names is a problem in our household. My oldest uses the name shrimp alot in reference to her sister. I asked her if she thought it was appropriate to call Jesus “shrimp.” That set her to thinking about her words.

    I am not sure that it falls into the category of practical joking, but my husband likes to tease the girls and sometimes they respond by calling him “wierdy.” I don’t see this as honoring, but he doesn’t seem to mind and almost seems to like it! Not really sure how to handle this as DH frequently expresses humor at his own personal expense.

  7. myderbe says:

    I think there is such a fine line between laughing and playing and having fun and honoring and respecting. I can remember when I taught some very funny 2nd grade boys and they would sometimes cross the line in their attempts at humor. I don’t even know how many times I would smile and say calmly, “Hey, that really crosses the line. Be careful to not get carried away.” And they would say “Yes, Ma’am,” and be more careful.

    I do that often with my own children now. They are still feeling out the whole sense of humor thing, and they’re going to cross the line sometimes as they’re learning.

    Margie, I am OBVIOUSLY not an expert, but I’d say if the “weirdy” thing doesn’t bother your husband and if he doesn’t find it disrespectful, then I wouldn’t worry about it.

    I certainly wouldn’t want to give up being playful and funny. I know families whose children are most certainly respectful and polite, but they are also about as fun and personality-filled as a piece of cardboard. There must be a balance. 🙂

  8. javadawn says:

    Here here! I agree – (the balance thing)
    My son remembers going to another family’s house for dinner – and things were so quiet and so without humor that when he complimented the mother on the soup she made – several of the family members jumped.
    I’m with MD – if it doesn’t bother your husband, I wouldn’t fuss over it.
    Violet – I think what you’re talking about is the hardest part of having children and understanding that they are still responsible for their relationship with the Lord. SO HARD to open my hands to that!!!!!

  9. Margie says:

    MD and Dawn,
    Thanks for the reassurance. I guess part of what I see is that hubby’s insecurities are expressed by making fun of himself. It really is an issue of confidence in self and who God says he is for Bill.


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