It’s been about 22 months of a pandemic with three kids shut inside four walls…
It’s been a journey (without going anywhere!). Some days are just overwhelming and exhausting as kids get bored, frustrated and moody. If I leave the room for five minutes to connect to a zoom call, shrill voices on cue call out, “MUMMY! He’s __________,” to me. There are many scenarios: one tickled another, grabbed, teased, pinched, milk has spilt, someone snatched a book, a brother played computer games during class. The list is long.
Multiple kids bring an exciting dynamic to a family. But sibling rivalry can get very tedious. Does it have to be part of life and growing up?
How do we teach our children to honour each other? How do we set boundaries, so they respect each other?
“But I didn’t DO anything.”
I confess, sometimes I listen to the one that wails the hardest. My youngest has perfected the art of a raised voice. He’s learnt to be loud so that his voice doesn’t get swept aside in our noisy, busy household. He also often points the finger at his older brothers. I hear the phrase, “But I didn’t DO anything.” I’ve heard this so often, I’ve seriously threatened to make t-shirts with this as the catchphrase on them. Conflicts happen, blame is placed, someone cries. I didn’t think about this part of parenting when I was looking at cute baby toes.
“I forgive you.”
We constantly talk about honour in our house. We put up posters in kids’ bedrooms about mercy and compassion and try to persuade our children that we honour each other (treat each other as though they are very precious) to help them build better relationships. When needed, kids get timeouts or lose privileges (they only get 20 minutes of game time Monday – Friday after completing homework; if they lose that, they are devastated.). Those consequences don’t repair relationships, but the forgiveness that they ask each other for does. We walk them through it and do it again and again.
But it’s precious to hear them say, “I forgive you.”
Have we resolved sibling rivalry? No, not at all. Are we in a better place this year than we were last year? Most definitely, but we have a long way to go. I believe that they are learning the foundations of honour and how to resolve conflicts. I don’t know what the future holds (beyond increased hormones, puberty, more mood swings, testing of limits and probably more challenges). Still, I’m hopeful that if we can keep engaging them, talking with them, giving them boundaries that they will embrace, respecting each other is learning not to shame, point the finger, or even tattle on another.
Keep talking, connecting with your kids, and having FUN moments. I find those fun moments, and even just reading with my pubescent teen helps calm the water a lot more than any LOUD yelling or pointing fingers. I earn peace through fun family times.
A movie night at home (without any devices in anyone’s hands) and plenty of popcorn eases tensions. Grace to you in whatever your situation: keep persevering and pressing in. Keep honouring them through your actions, words and time, talking about it and maybe one day, they will stop blaming each other, and you will find them laughing together, thankful to be in the same family.
Christy has three energetic boys and she’s married to Mark. She enjoys being active, going on walks and reading a book when she can. Life is busy and she’s reminding herself to enjoy every moment.