Sibling Rivalry

Vacation is still merry and bright. However, we did run into a slight speed bump today:  rainy day and the 8 day hump. That’s right. We have now been on vacation for 8 days, and today was the day the children all seemed to turn on each other. Traveling does take a toll, I suppose. I was struggling to blog, on a borrowed computer, much different from my own. The boys kept interupting my thoughts with their bickering, and so it appears that today’s post will have to be about sibling rivalry!

When you have four boys, fights are inevitable. They do happen.

There was one day that Caleb was being particularly mean to his brothers, and we asked Caleb,

Caleb sighed, “I just want to be the oldest brother.”

hmmm very true response..

Sometimes I feel like I live in a pride of lions, and occasionally the younger males rise up and try to take on the older ones. I have this feeling that this is going to get worse before it gets better. After all, those puberty years of testosterone still loom in our future!!!

It’s really nothing short of amazing that they get along surprisingly well most of the time. Daniel and Caleb do look up to Joshua so much, even if they may secretly wish to be the top dog themselves.

A few minutes ago, Daniel decided he wanted to watch Paw Patrol, but no one else wanted to watch t.v. right now. Dan did the classic younger brother trick of repeating the same word 2,000 times just to annoy Joshua.

“Yes. Paws. Yes. Paws. Paws. Yes. Paws Paws Paws. Yes Paws. Yes.”

Alan and I sat on the couch, with Joshua in the middle of us, coaching him quietly, “Just ignore him. Just ignore him. The person who ignores and pretends to not be bothered has the most power.”

Joshua only made it for a minute before he yelled,  “Nooooo!!!!!”

How do we handle sibling rivalry? We hand out punishment for straight up bullying. We try to let them work out most disputes on their own, but when things get ugly, I intervene. We do a LOT of making them tell each other sorry, and my favorite part, “I love you.” I feel like making them tell each other “I love you” helps their hearts. After all, at some point in their lives, they will eventually have to actually work out disputes with females, and I want them to learn to be a little more sensitive!

Let’s face it. No two people in the world are going to agree on every single decision every single time.

While slugging it out may feel like a good idea when dealing with an angry brotherly fight over who is in charge, that mentality will land you in the slammer in later life. We coach, and coach, and coach on using words to settle arguements–not name calling–but words like, “Hey, I worked hard to clean the water off this swing, and if you want a turn, you are going to have to wait a few minutes.”

Words like, “May I have a turn, please?”

I felt like I hit gold when I taught them the verse from the sermon on the Mount that says that calling your brother a “fool” is just as bad as murder.

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.    Matthew 5:22

Joshua and Caleb are firm believers in Jesus, so I say to them, “Jesus said that calling your brother an idiot is just as bad as killing him.” No, I do not tell them that they are in danger of hell, because my boys are saved through their faith in Jesus. We don’t believe it’s possible for any person to live a life with no mistakes.


The funny thing is that no matter what you TELL your children, what they actually learn and repeat the most is what you MODEL. If you know how stubborn I am, then you know that they see plenty of mom and dad arguing over how to do something, and then they see and hear us come to an agreement, and apologize for being hard to deal with. Of course, anytime we act wrongly, they learn that behavior too. We always try to make sure to apologize to the boys for our mistakes and ask for their forgiveness. It doesn’t do a child any good to believe that their parents are perfect and never make mistakes, even if you are good at hiding them from your children. Ha! Of course, I’m the worst secret keeper ever. My problem is more not hiding enough of my mistakes! Or maybe what that means is that I make too many mistakes. Lord, help me.

Let me clarify this, I’m not saying that anyone should ever have a screaming match in front of their children. I’m saying that if you DO, then that is what they will learn to do as well. Yelling matches in a house are a terrifying thing.  Of course, total conflict avoidance, and ignoring important issues in order to avoid conflict is equally as scary.

I’ve always been stubborn, and I hate that I’ve passed a whole lot of that onto my children. That’s what is so challenging about parenting! You have to become a better person yourself! Ha! Will we ever truly arrive? No, but we can certainly improve.

Ah, for this precious, wonderful moment, we have JD sleeping, Caleb in the backyard, and Daniel and Joshua are playing quietly in their room. No one is arguing. No one is angry. Ah. Peace reigns. The rain has cleared. Savor the moment.

Pretty soon the brother that is ACTUALLY in charge will wake up: John David. He is like royalty around here. Right now he is napping, so everyone knows they are required to be quiet, and to enter his room while he is sleeping is to take on Mount Everest itself.

Now JD is awake, Nana is feeding him, and people are feeling less ….suppressed. 🙂 It’s going to be a beautiful day and a happy new year.

Much love to all of you in the exciting New Year! Let’s all RESOLVE to make 2015 a GREAT one!

Happy New Year!




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