One of the hardest and most frustrating issues in many homes with children is contentious quarreling. Often voices escalate into loud arguing as children provoke each other to rage. A friend, Sarah, shared with me, what I found to be, an amazing story, a unique way of resolution that God revealed to her, one that has virtually put out of control fighting between her children to rest.
She shares: I had been having so much trouble with, not just the “normal” sibling fights, but with out of control verbal contention among my boys. Finally, I had just had it. I had already talked until I was blue in the face to my older son about taking the lead and being the bigger person by ignoring his little brother’s taunts. But it hadn’t worked… again… so I prayed, yet again.
Recalling an internet article on having children earn back privileges by earning points for different chores performed, my husband and I agreed to try the idea. I felt led to add a few things to the list that would make my older son have to interact with his younger brother in a positive way. What happened was amazing.
When older brother became frustrated with the first chore, God brought to mind something I had studied months before. Although my son believed in God and knew fighting was wrong, I asked him if he knew what it meant to repent. Since he didn’t, I explained that if we are heading one direction and doing one thing, we need to completely change the direction, do a 180 degree turn and head the other direction. Then God will change your heart and your brother’s will follow.
God gave me an example: If I came out in the morning and tried to turn on my iPad and it didn’t turn on, I might come out the next morning and try again. But how many mornings would I repeat this before I quit? When I figure out it isn’t working, I would stop pushing that button… Just the same, when younger brother sees older brother doesn’t react to him anymore, he will stop pushing that button.
That evening, I watched almost in tears as I saw my older son complete two of the tasks on the list. One was to read a book to his brother before bed for several nights, and the second was to pray with him. I went into my younger son’s room after these events, and he was fast asleep. I went to tuck in my older son and told him he had done a great job! The next night the same thing happened, but I was able to catch my younger son before he fell asleep. He said, “Mom, is brother in trouble?” I asked why. He said, “Well, he’s being really nice and reading to me. I hope he never forgets….” Talk about heart strings being pulled. I then went to my older son’s room and I told him what his brother had said and how proud I was of him that he had been making the positive adjustments I was hoping to see. I could see that he had changed direction and it was transforming his behavior.
In the weeks that followed, I continued to see that constructive change in their relationship, including big brother still reading to younger brother… There are still occasional fights, but just the regular sibling stuff.
Truly, Sarah had heard God’s voice to call her sons to repentance and implement a creative, restorative discipline…one brother reading and praying with the other. A simple, yet profound, word from God. An idea worth passing on, don’t you think?