In Part 1, you learned you have a basic need to feel loved, accepted, and valued JUST AS YOU ARE. This is true of you, whether or not you are a Christian. When you have sibling rivalry in your Christian home, you want to learn to do it differently from the world. Here are three more ways to have a harmonious home, following Christian values to stop sibling rivalry. Spoiler Alert: All three are about RELATIONSHIPS because as Christians, we follow a relational God!
1. How Christian Siblings Relate and Rival.
If you live in a Bible-Believing, Christ-Following home, it is important for your children to understand from Scripture what God says about your relationships with others. Christ teaches you to be kind and to forgive when someone has treated you poorly and put others before yourself. He also teaches you to be kind and helpful even when others are hurtful. You are to do everything you can to be at peace with others and not grow weary in doing good.
Your children are going to need practical examples of what this looks like in their lives. You can compare what the “world” says is OK to do versus what the Bible tells you to do. For example, if your brother yells or hits you, what does the ‘world’ say is ok to do? What does the Bible say to do? Which one is easier? Which one honors God? Have discussions about ways they can put each other first. “So, you BOTH want this last cookie (or to play this game not that one – you get the idea). What can we do about it? How could you put your brother first in this situation?”
The younger your children are, the more important it is to model this thinking out loud for them:
“I feel so angry when cars cut quickly in front of me. I wonder why that is…? Maybe it’s because I feel scared…? I am going to take a deep breath and remind myself that God loves me and He is always with me. I can handle these hard feelings because I have the Holy Spirit inside me!”
Not only will this help your CHILDREN learn these truths, but it will help YOU remember them, too!
The most effective parenting is PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE.
You can often anticipate the things your children will face and teach them ahead of time what the Bible says. Then, when the situation arises, you can simply remind them what they’ve already learned! Understanding what the Bible says about how to treat others is going to have to be taught and practiced! And then reinforced and retaught and encouraged. And practiced some more!
After reminding you to love God with all your heart, soul, and might, He tells you to teach His truth diligently to your children at home, away from home, sitting, walking, going to sleep, and waking up!Deuteronomy 6:5-7
2. How YOU (as a Christian) relate – or rival.
Take stock of how YOU are modeling honor and respect to others. Think about how you and your husband communicate in front of your children. How do you communicate in person or on the phone with friends or strangers? What do you say when those others are not around? Are you teaching your children to love others by the way YOU are loving others? Are you modeling forgiveness when you are wronged? Do you put others before yourselves and do all you can to be at peace with them?
You cannot reasonably expect your children to get along with others if YOU don’t get along with others! If you treat others with disdain, you can’t possibly expect your children to treat others any differently. However, if you model God’s love and respect to others – even if they treat you poorly – your children will learn that, too.
LET ME BE CLEAR! I am not saying that anyone should stay in an abusive relationship, only offering love and forgiveness! If you are being abused, please GET OUT and seek help from your local church or Woman’s Shelter! God does not want His children to be abused. Anyone who twists His word to “turn the other cheek” to mean that you deserve this abuse is WRONG and needs help. And YOU need love and support and healing!
Don’t expect your children to be conflict-free. Your children are sinners, just like you. And me. They will disagree and compete with one another. Competition, conflict, and division are here until Jesus comes back to make everything right. BUT, for now, your children can provide many training and teaching opportunities for you to learn to do it differently.
3. How to Reconcile Relationships as a Christian (sibling or not).
Trying to MAKE children “apologize” when they’ve wronged their sibling when they do not truly FEEL sorry, just teaches them that dishonesty is ok. You and your children may be tempted to just say “sorry” and move on to the next thing. But you would be missing an opportunity to feel the angst that leads to repentance. You don’t want your children to think as long as they SAY “Sorry,” all is well. As a mom, you want more than that for your kids!
The Bible talks about seeking to reconcile with a brother by bringing the fruits of repentance. But you can’t force children to be repentant. You can’t be the Holy Spirit. You can, however, help them see how their actions have had a negative impact on their sibling. The next time one of your children is crying or hurt, FIRST comfort the one who is hurting. This shows you value healing! NEXT say to the offender, “See his face? His face is saying it hurts when you take his toy/hit him/use those words.” Then, ask if he is willing to help his brother feel better. He can give an ice-pack, touch softly, or ask for forgiveness. The child who has been hurt ALSO needs to be taught to ACCEPT this show of repentance and grant forgiveness as well.
As a mom raising two boys who couldn’t be ANY more different than night and day, I can understand the struggles you may be experiencing in your home. Don’t lose hope: You are not alone! But, I beg you, don’t ignore sibling rivalry! Pray for your children. Help them learn these needed conflict resolution skills. and you will reap the benefits of having children who are friends as well as siblings!
Make sure you check out Part 1: Five Ways to Stop Sibling Rivalry – Part 1 to find out more!
Kate Fraiser is a Parent Coach with Connect Point Moms helping you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you’re in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them. For quick and helpful parenting videos, find her on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, or Facebook.