There's one thing that will certainly be a part of Christian Parenting, and that's helping our children to navigate conflict. They are sinful humans, who are still learning how to work through differences with their siblings and the world. Here's how we train for conflict resolution with our kids.
Tattling is not allowed in our house. In Matthew 18, Jesus gives us a pattern for going directly to our offender and seeking first to reconcile. We want to teach our children to do the same. It's important to note that they are allowed to come to us for help if they hit a wall in their communication.
We do not referee. Our job is not to declare who is “right”, but to get each party thinking about the other biblically. We ask questions like, “What would be the most generous thing you could do?”, “How could you best love your sibling right now?”, “How would you want to be treated in this situation?”. All of these questions are founded on biblical principles… being generous, thinking of others as more significant than ourselves, treating others as we would want to be treated.
We address each child individually. We help each child to focus on their own sin. They are not allowed to point out another sibling's sin when addressing the issue with us. They must look only at their own behavior and their own response and walk through what was sinful and how to best honor God moving forward. Paul talks much about giving up our rights for the greater purpose of loving others. Christ, Himself, endured extreme injustice without ever saying a word. We want our children to get comfortable with giving up what they believe to be their “right”. Not to be “walked all over”, but to have a biblical understanding of sacrificial love and to grow to be a natural servant of those around them.
It is so important for us, as the parents, to remember that the bible is in extreme opposition to our culture. A lot of this feels wrong, it feels somehow unjust in regards to our feelings or emotions. But Scripture is extremely counter-cultural. If we want to raise our children to have hearts that bend towards Christ and His direction, then we need to raise children that bend away from the cultural norm. If our children handle conflict differently than their peers on the playground, we cannot assume that is a negative. In fact, most likely, it is the result of a biblical response versus a worldly response.