“What are you arguing with them about?” Mark 9:16
PB and I didn’t let our kids fight.
We made them like each other.
We were such mean parents.
I know it sounds too good to be true, and it was probably mostly luck to get kids with fairly compliant natures, at least in their early years. We simply insisted that they were each others’ best friends and they bought it.
I remember one day in particular. One sibling was egging on another sibling. I took all the kids and lined them up in front of the big picture window. I said, “Look out there.” Four sets of big blue innocent eyes looked out the window probably expecting a new swing set or a pony. “Out there,” I said, “I can’t control what other people do to you. Somebody might be mean to you out there. Someone may say something that hurts your feelings. But in here, we are for each other. In this house, you are safe from mean words and hurtful actions. I can’t promise that out there, but we will be kind to each other in this house.” Something like that. Although I had to go through the whole routine many more times, I kept preaching it.
Then I wrapped up the little pep talk at the window by making them say Ephesians 4:32 to each other, like this: “We will be kind and compassionate to each other, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave me.”
Ephesians 4:32 is emblazoned onto my children’s souls. Because we needed to forgive A LOT and be reminded to be kind A LOT. So we said that verse to each other A LOT.
I can’t promise this will work for everybody. Maybe it was meant just for us. But nothing wore me down more as a parent than my children’s bickering, so it was a good idea to find a game plan and stick with it.
Twice in one chapter, Jesus asked his disciples what they were arguing about. The first time, they were going at it with the teachers of the law (Mark 9:14). The second time, they were quarreling with each other (Mark 9:33). He must have wondered if they would ever grow up and get along. Jesus kept on preaching forgiveness and pouring love into the Twelve. It seemed to work.
I only had the Four. And Ephesians 4:32.