Staying at home with my kids was a great joy when they were younger. Being a teacher, I enjoyed planning little learning lessons for them to do. Happy and busy, things would rock along fairly well. Then there would come times when things were not good at all. Selfishness can rear its ugly head at any moment. You learn to hear it in their voices—the tone, the stridence, the pain showing as anger.
We handled this in different ways at different times. When I knew they just needed space, I gave it to them. I just told them to do different things away from each other. Anna: reading time, Patrick: piano practice, William: reading, Judith: reading, Jean-Luc: blocks, Danny: nap. Fortunately, you know your kids, so you know the different activities each one can do alone.
When harsh words were spoken, I simply said, “When sweets don’t come out, sweets cannot go in.” That child would receive no sweet treats and no desserts for the rest of that day.
Keith’s mom told us once, “You don’t need to ‘see’ everything. So let them work some things out themselves.” Sometimes they can work it out; sometimes they can’t. What we didn’t want was for there to be no resolution and for resentment to grow. If they weren’t making progress, we stepped in.
Relationships are so important to me because I grew up in a home where so many offenses were never resolved. As a single adult, faithful people walked me through a process of clearing my own heart of pain and unforgiveness.
As a young mom, I was reading in the Bible one day when I ran across the story of Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro watched Moses setting up court and judging between the people all day long. He asked Moses, “What is going on?” Moses answered in Ex. 18:16,
Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me,
and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws."
Moses had over a million people to deal with, and he took the time to listen to them and help them resolve their issues. Surely I could do that for my kids.
1. I began to try to help them sort through the facts.
2. I listened to each of them so that they were “heard out.”
3. I made a decision as their arbitrator and explained why. Usually, I took them to the scripture.
4. We asked forgiveness as appropriate.
5. We prayed together.
A couple of other scriptures helped to guide us in these circumstances.
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Ps. 133: 1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
3 . . . For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
We made it a priority to keep relationships clear. It was work, it took time; but it bore good fruit. As our children have grown and reached adulthood, there is no greater joy than to see them encourage one another and pray for one another.
Take the time.
Resolve the issues.
It is worth it.