Helping Your Kids to Resolve Conflict With One Another
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We’re not raising children, we’re raising adults who need to learn how to navigate conflict and reconcile with others. So how do we navigate arguments between siblings and why do we implement rules like “no tattling allowed”?
Sibling arguments are a given. Yes, our kiddos love each other, but they are still humans in sinful flesh and they are bound to hurt one another. What does the Bible say about reconciling with others and how can we guide our children to love each other biblically?
In this episode, we talk about the biblical foundation for resolving conflict and some practical day-to-day methods for training our children to peacefully reconcile now and into adulthood.
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What does the Bible say about parenting? What wisdom can we gain from those who've gone before us? How can we aim to raise children into adults who repent and follow Christ? And honestly, what do we practically do when we wake up tomorrow? We're Charlie and Christina Madsen. We're on a journey to seek answers to those questions and more.
We have five kids, so we're always praying and learning and growing and what God and the Bible has to say about raising these wonderful children. This is the behind the scenes of our life with children seeking to raise them in biblical wisdom. Join us and together let's work to confidently navigate the journey and biblical parenting.
We're not raising children. We're raising adults who need to learn how to navigate conflict and reconcile with others. So how do we navigate arguments between siblings and why do we implement rules like no tattling allowed in our home? On this episode we're going to share what we do in our home and the scriptures that guide our decisions. But first one curious thing.
So what is our one curious thing this week?
Well, we lived in a trailer and like an RV for a year and a half when David was just a few months old.
My parents make trailer parking. Yeah, it was one.
Uh, we were, you know, trying to start a business and we didn't have much and so we lived in the RV and one of my, my most, not fond memories, but one out of one of my most, uh, I guess burned into my brain and nasal nasal, yeah. Memory is draining the septic tank.
And uh, what I would have to do is climb underneath it and like pull this pin and drain the septic and it would splash against the cement underneath and kind of hit me a little bit. So in the summer was the past. Oh yeah. Hot septic septic. That's that's what you want all over you. And then also I, I actually didn't realize this till we moved out, but I gained so much weight while we were in there because no mirrors would go below like my chin. I was such a tiny place. I couldn't see what my body looked like and so I was kind of surprised when we moved out and I had looked a little different. What about you?
You know, honestly, one of the things that I think about most when I think about living there was that Charlie and I moved into that trailer because we had wanted to save money and pay off the debt that we had at the moment. And so our plans, not the Lord's plans, but our plans were that we were going to live in this trailer and we were going to save just all this money and it was going to be so awesome and God totally knew better. Not long after we moved into the trailer. Work got really tight. Charlie was just starting his company and we could not have afforded to live in the apartment that we were living in before. So I always think how good God is to have provided that really, really inexpensive, quote unquote rent for us while we were living there. Um, and your mom brought us like pies and cakes. Oh my gosh. That's where we gained so much weight. Yes. And like sometimes Charlie would travel for work and it was the sweetest thing. Like my dad would come over and knock on like the backdoor where our bedroom was and deliver coffee and like chocolate cake to me is gone. And remember we used to order $5 hot and ready pizzas and like eat them with my parents like multiple times a week. I wonder why we get and live off of very little.
It was good.
All right. So getting into our discussion, sibling arguments, I think everyone can give a loud amen to those. They're a given in every home. But uh, you know, our kiddos love each other, but they're still humans in a sinful flesh and they're bound to hurt one another. But as we said, we're raising adults, not children, so how are adults called to address conflict in the scriptures? I think we should start there and work back. Now, this is not an exhaustive list, but we will share the main themes that we come back to with our kiddos whenever they're struggling with a dispute. First in Matthew 2236 through 40 Christ said that the greatest commandment was to love God with everything we have heart, soul, and mind, and the second is to love others as we love ourselves. He said that these two commandments depend all the law and the profits, meaning that his audience would be obedient to all of the scriptures they had at the time by getting their minds to love God fully and to love others sacrificially. The same is true for us today and so the driving force behind how we exhort our kids to resolve conflict is wrapped up in the ideas of loving the Lord and loving others.
Absolutely. When you share that passage, I instantly think of one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. It's Philippians two three through four and it says, do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Now, this literally means that we should view others as being superior to us, and God wants us to treat those around us like they are better than we are, which would then give us a natural desire to serve them with great affection. And we tell our kids, it's not that God has distinguished between us. You know that brother is more important than that sister. Obviously God says his affection on all of us, but he calls us to look as though those people around us are more important that we want to view their needs as superior to our own needs because Christ set this example perfectly for us and he did that all the time.
But specifically, even when he washed his disciples feet after the last supper, I mean he was God incarnate, yet he humbly treated his disciples, even the one who would soon betray him. That gets me all the time as greater than he was by washing their dirty probably stinky feet. So one of the questions that we will ask our kiddos when they're upset and are you about arguing about something with a sibling is simply are you viewing your sibling as more important than you are right now? That's usually a pretty quick answer there. Another question that can expose the same kind of error and hits directly on what you were just saying sweetie, is are you treating your sibling the way that you would like them to treat you in this situation which we have the, you know, quote unquote golden rule and scripture. Um, both of these questions really stop all of us in our tracks, adults and kids alike. And if we're answering honestly in the middle of a dispute, nine times out of 10, the answer is going to be no.
Okay? So those are helpful questions. But even as adult, I'm sitting here as an adult, I'm sitting here saying, okay, so, but who are you directing those questions toward? If two of our kids are fighting, which one gets the heart check?
That is a great question and it's honestly one of the aspects of training for biblical conflict, conflict resolution that takes the most time because the answer is both of them. I talked to both children separately and help them both to resolve where their own hearts were in the sin and what aspect of the argument they need to take responsibility for. Um, these two questions are where we often begin because they can really help us to get to the meat of the problem pretty quickly. And I will say just from a practical standpoint, if you have one kid that comes to you and you don't, you're not in the midst of it, then I direct it to that child that came to me. I ask them those questions. But if you are like suddenly right in the heart of this dispute, then you have to address all the kids that are present.
Well it's, I mean we've seen it play out time and time again with adults. I mean, it really is comes down to who's going to serve the other person more because sometimes there isn't going to be an agreement to be made. So absolutely on what you said and I think it's important to keep Ephesians six four in view when we're doing this so that we don't further provoke an already frustrated child. We can't say it enough. Take time and slow down. This is a big one for me. I want to get through this stuff quickly and aggressively and it's just not how hard training works. Training our children is always an investment and this is no different. Um, before we just start hitting them over the head with the right answer, we need to give them a hug. Let them know that we can relate to why they're overwhelmed and we totally understand that it's hard.
Then once they're calming down tenderly, bring them to these questions and where they come from. We remind our children often that no one knows better how we ought to function. And the one who made us, he is kind to give us directions so that we might live blessed lives. This means that following his directors for how they should treat their siblings is really for their own good. Um, we love our kids and so we want them to be blessed and that is why we are always bringing them back to these truths. That brings me to another question. When is it that we are engaging to this level? What happens when our kids come running inside to tattle on a sibling?
Awesome. Well that even kind of goes back to what I was saying about when the one kid comes in. And so this is how we handle that. You know, first off, our kids know, like you said at the beginning of the episode that we do have a no tattling allowed rule and the rule actually comes straight from scripture. It comes from Matthew 1815 we have a very clear description of how we are supposed to seek reconciliation when we are sinned against. The first step is to go directly to the offending party. So in the case of sibling arguments, this means that they need to go back to the offending sibling to address it. And just to be clear, we know that there's a real difference between tattling and needing some legitimate help, which we do make clear to our kids. Tattling looks to harm a sibling.
Their motive is seeing their sibling get into trouble or at the very least, getting what they want without consideration for their sibling. Getting help, however, looks to the interest of their sibling. So even though we train our children how to seek reconciliation, we do know that sometimes they're going to get stuck. Just like as adults, we get stuck and need help. Sometimes they can't seem to get over their frustration or their sibling isn't coming down and they just don't know what to do next. We even see this clearly happened with grownups, which is why Matthew 1816 through seven 17 goes on to talk about the getting help in those situations with our kids. They are always welcome to come and let us know that they need to give help. So what they do is they can give us a high view of the situation. You know, we encourage them not to get into the nitty gritty details and really throw their siblings under the bus.
And what we do is then give them ideas for how to continue. We can ask them, well, did you try saying this? And a lot of times too, we help them to see that instead of just saying, you know, I'm, I'm mad at you because you took this from me. We train them to be really vulnerable and to say why, like it hurt my feelings when you called me that name or it upset me when you took that for me because that makes them kind of expose themselves a little bit rather than just point a finger and it helps the other silage not automatically get defensive, but to actually have compassion for how they've wounded their sibling. Um,
yeah. And if every adult, if we all did that well, I mean, what a different world that would be. I mean, these are hard concepts, but once you get them down and you understand, uh, the biblical reason for it, and you see the blessing in it, it's amazing how it opens up relationships. I mean, even treating our children like this has caused me to be a better friend to others.
Yeah, for sure. Because we're training them to do something we have to do, you know? And so as we're giving them these different things and things to help, like I said, we're telling them what to say. Sometimes it's just even a really practical thing. Like, Hey, I want you to say the same thing you told them, but I want you to say it in a softer voice. Um, sometimes it honestly means like giving their siblings some space if their sibling is still really hot and heated, and we tell them to just walk away for a little bit, you know, give them some time. And sometimes, like Charlie was saying, when two people want two different things, they're not all going to get what they want. And so sometimes if things can't be worked out, we honestly should let our children know that one of them will have to suffer loss for the sake of the other. And we leave that to them. We calmly say, Hey, you're both not going to get what you want. Someone's going to have to out serve the other. So you need to come to that conclusion.
Yeah. And I encourage you to stick with it. It might not be clean in a little bit. It might be a little messy at first, but we've seen a lot of progress with this and we've seen a lot of tenderness in our children and more times than not, somebody steps up and takes that role.
Yeah. And in the beginning, if you're just starting this, you know neither Kate is probably going to want to do that. So it's going to take more of that one on one time of really getting to the heart of sin, Christ's forgiveness of us, how Christ has treated us and really walking them through that so that they see and understand what their sin is doing, the damage it's causing. And then later you can simply ask that question and like Charlie saying, the kids really do step up and choose to OutServe each other
and we want to bring it back to the gospel. Just like you were saying earlier, I mean, a true picture of reconciliation involves confession and forgiveness. And like we said earlier, we want to help our children recognize and take responsibility for their own sin rather than focusing on the sin of their sibling, just like we want them to do when they're an adult. So each child confesses their sin to their sibling and then humbly seeks forgiveness. It's amazing to see how soft-hearted our children become when they received an honest confession from their sibling. I mean, same thing with adults, right? It usually instantly produces equal fruit of repentance in them. Uh, I've seen this play out in adults and it's amazing to see in children and like we've been saying over and over again, what we're really trying to do is train them for this, for life. Um, and also it creates a more peaceful home. And once confession has been made, forgiveness has been granted and repentance. The decision to not continue in their sin toward one another has occurred. The relationship is restored, reconciliation has occurred. What a great display of the gospel.
Absolutely. And it's important to note that pointing our children to their own sin doesn't mean that we over look or minimize their hurt. We can sometimes believe that focusing our children on their sin is mean or harsh. But sadly, a child who's unaware of their sin is a child who's unaware of their need for a savior. It's so hard because our emotions get so tangled into it as parents who love our kids. But we have to really look at the biblical foundation that's been laid for us as parents and as people.
Well, from able to preach that event, you know, evangelical message to our children. We're not going to be able to do it to other adults because that is the process of preaching the gospel.
We can't be afraid to offend them. You know, it's like even in provers it talks about, you know, the, the wounds of a friend, right? But how good those are. Like these are the, the good kind of hurts and we say them in love and in gentleness, but we give them what's true.
Yeah. And if you do it wrong, like I have at times, you're doing it not out of that tenderness. And so yeah, it's, it's about the tone, the motive, you know, and all of that
we, you know, but when our children do get genuinely hurt, whether that's physically or emotionally, maybe our kids are the only ones who physically hurt each other, you know, but in case that ever happens in your home, yeah. You know, we simply encourage them to, like we said before, to share that hurt with the one that hurt them. It's a prideful and aggressive statement that says you took my toy. And so we teach them to replace that with a more humble statement of, it hurt my feelings when you took that away from me. But here is a radical idea that we do share with our kiddos. It is okay and even biblically to choose to overlook a sibling's offense at times. Proverbs 1911 tells us that good sense makes one slow to anger and it is his glory to overlook an offense. And then Peter writes in first Peter four, eight above all, keep loving one another earnestly. Since love covers a multitude of sins, more times than not an argument arises because of something downright silly. What a blessing it is to see our children make a choice, to simply let it go and choose to love their sibling over a desiring their own glory and gratification.
Oh my, what a world that would be what a social media it would be if us adults could let it go a bit more often. Um, in isn't that the epitome of living for Christ? I mean, that usually takes us all the way back to loving God fully and love or loving others as we love ourselves. I mean, we can't save our children, but we came can aim them at Christ and we can help them to see how helpless they are in their sin without him. Um, yes, this is about training them to biblically handle conflict. But more than that, these are all excellent ways to point their hearts toward a savior and at the risk of beating a dead horse. I want to say again that we are adults. Think about it. What if everyone in the world, let's just say for this example, everyone in the church handled conflict like we've discussed above. It's easy to see that it would be much easier to live out. John 1335 that says, by this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.
Thank you for joining us on this week's episode of the bear and squirrel podcast. All the music and mixing for this episode was produced by LINQ peach. We recorded this episode in our sweet little home studio in Meridian, Idaho. Come back next week to hear more about our very real life on this incredible journey at biblical Parenthood.