Dealing with Sibling Conflict
One of the greatest sources of sadness and discouragement for parents is watching their children fight. Teasing, bickering, arguing, and meanness wear heavily on a parent’s heart. Is sibling conflict inevitable? Yes and no. Sibling conflict is an opportunity. The family is a place where we learn and grow. Getting along with sinful people is never easy, and nowhere is it more difficult than in family life.
Sibling conflict is a child’s first class in relationship training. You are the teacher, your home is the classroom, and honor is the curriculum. Developing honor as a lifestyle in your family can turn relationships around. Honor is the solution to sibling conflict. In fact honor is the solution for all relationship struggles.
We believe that God has placed every person in a family for a reason. Sometimes a child is annoying or irritating. That’s a problem and that child needs to learn self-control and sensitivity to overcome those tendencies. But that doesn’t mean that other siblings can be mean. We like to tell children that maybe God has placed that annoying child into your life to teach you some valuable lessons about yourself.
The first roadblock to sibling harmony is anger. Children not only need a plan for dealing with their own anger but God’s solution is to learn to be a peacemaker. Unfortunately, in family life, many times children are troublemakers instead of peacemakers. It takes work to develop the skills necessary for becoming a peacemaker but it’s worth the effort.
The second roadblock to sibling harmony is selfishness. This involves things like wanting to be first or best, tattling, and much of the quarreling between children. God’s solution is described in the Bible story of the two guys who wanted the best seat. Two disciples, James and John, came with their mother to Jesus in Matthew 20:20-28 with the request that one sit on Jesus’ right and the other on his left when he sets up his kingdom. That is the same kind of selfishness many children demonstrate by their competitiveness and comparison with brothers and sisters.
Jesus’ answer provides the solution. He says, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Servanthood is the biblical solution to selfishness. Teaching children to serve one another is a primary task in managing sibling conflict.
The third roadblock to sibling harmony is foolishness, usually demonstrated through meanness, teasing, and intentionally annoying others. God’s solution for foolishness is wisdom. A wise person recognizes the consequences of present actions. Children need to learn how to become wise and much of the sibling conflict provides opportunities for them to learn it.
In addition, the Children have a sin nature often demonstrated in anger, selfishness, and foolishness. God provides salvation through his Son to help address the root problem of sin in our lives. Your continued work in the area of sibling conflict can help children learn how to follow God’s principles in helpful ways. Kids need to learn the tools of successful relationships. They need to learn to negotiate, compromise, and be creative in conflict. Your children have a lot to learn about life. The daily interactions within a family are the opportunities they need to practice new skills. In Romans 12:10 God instructs his children to honor one another. This principle is for our earthly families too.