31 Days of Questions: Day 21

21

Can a blind man lead a blind man?  Will they not both fall into a pit?         Luke 6:39

In honor of my son, who read Day 20 and said, “Mom, you left out the part about how you made us do that thing”, here is my second strategy in quelling arguments between kids.

1) Take two contentious children in the midst of a tussle.

2) Have each of them stand on opposite ends of a living room or other large space.

3) Make them say Ephesians 4:32 in unison while looking at each other.  (“We will be kind and compassionate to each other, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave us.”)  Note: expect some rolling of the eyes and resistance.  Hang tough.

4) Instruct them to take one large step toward each other and say it again.

5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the two squabblers are nose to nose.

6) Force them to end in a hug.

There is power in the spoken Word of God to dispel conflict.  It’s also very hard for two children to stand nose to nose and not break into giggles.  Do this enough times, and someday this could happen: “We better quit arguing or mom will make us do that thing.”

There may be a lesson here for adults as well.  Two people in a heated debate are often blind to the other’s point of view.  Before falling into the pit of strife and hostility, maybe someone should step in and make them look at each other in light of God’s forgiveness.

No guarantees, but it’s worth a try.

 31 Questions

31 Days of Questions: Day 20

20

“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.

31 Questions