Sibling Rivalry: Stop Telling Your Kids To Quit Fighting

[Epaphras] is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf.  He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.  Colossians 1:7-8

If your children never argue, scream at one another or come stomping down to inform you that “brother has locked the door and won’t let me in his room!!” then this post isn’t for you.

If the above accounts are commonplace in your home – read on.

I romanticized the idea having multiple children.  When my babies were in utero, I dreamt of building playroom forts, Saturday morning baseball games and Spring afternoons climbing trees after school.  And while all of that happens, I wasn’t prepared for all of the “out takes” that squeeze in between the pictures I post on Instagram.

Sibling Rivalry –   Peddy arguments. A kick under the table. An elbow in the side.

Most days, motherhood is made up of laughter,  playing catch in the back yard and Friday night movies with crumbles of popcorn all around.

But other days, give me a whistle and a black and white striped shirt.  

“Mommy” is just a darling name for “Referee.”

Can I get a witness?

Example?  Just last night at dinner we talked about baptism.  The boys are both wanting to be baptized (which is awesome) BUT they began to argue over who would “daddy would dunk first.”  Grant insisted Ethan.  Ethan insisted Grant.  Round and round they went until Grant blurted out, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first, you know!”

Sigh.

Brent said, “Only you two would fight and misquote scripture over who is being baptized first!”

As I am reading through the book of Colossians, Paul’s encouragment to the church at Colosse struck a cord with me – a red-faced mom praying hard for these three brothers to get along and not kill each other by age 15…

[Epaphras] is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf.  He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.  Colossians 1:7-8

Epaphras was reporting back to Paul with an encouraging update on the Colossians.  He came with the message of their continued pursuit of Jesus. And one specific thing this church was doing very right was simply… loving each other.

So… Colosse?  What is the secret?  Is it that you are all like-minded and have a natural bend towards selflessness, servanthood and kindness?  Is that it?   Maybe you are just an unusual group of people who get along?

Doubtful.

Their “love-for-others-secret” is not secret at all.  The explanation is actually found in the last five words of verse 8.

He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.  Colossians 1:7-8

Oh mama (or daddy), we can talk to our kids about being kind to eachother until the corndogs burn, but the true heart change we long to see intervene sibling rivalry is an act of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t we spend too much time talking and not enough time praying?  And specifically praying THIS PRAYER… “Holy Spirit give my children a LOVE FOR OTHERS.  Namely ONE ANOTHER.”

The Holy Spirit is the changer of hearts.  It was the Holy Spirit who quickened your own spirit to confess your sins and come to Christ.  It is the Holy Spirit who reminds us to put a watch on our tongues, give to the homeless, and pray for the sick.  It is the Holy Spirit who reminds us of the Scripture that we need in the moment.  It is the Holy Spirit who comforts the weary caregiver and leads a barren couple to adopt a child.

The Holy Spirit.  The third of the Trinity.  A Person – NOT a force like in Star Wars. He lives in you and gives  you an endless supply of power to parent and pray for your children.

So why would I ever exclude Him from our sibling rivalry issues?

The Colossians loved one another well, not because they were good kids,  but because the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to love.

A divine gift. Undeserved. And frankly unexplained apart from Him.

So, the next time I am tempted to give my boys another “reason” to not fight, let me lead with this silent, milisecond prayer…

“Holy Spirit give my children a LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER.”

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So, take the pressure off yourself and call on the Holy Spirit.  You can’t “make” your kids be nice to one another.  But you sure can combat sibling rivalry in prayer — Talk less. Pray more.  This is your most effective parenting stance.  

Power Verse:

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16 NLT

Reflection:

Spend a few minutes praying over your children today.  Invite the Holy Spirit into their relationship with one another.

If you don’t have children, pray over your family and current relationships.  Where do you see a spirit of rivalry?  Combat this spirit with your prayers which have “great power and produces wonderful results.”

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4 thoughts on “Sibling Rivalry: Stop Telling Your Kids To Quit Fighting

  1. Wow! Read this after what felt like a bazillion sister fights later…and it truly changed my outlook. Praying for Jesus to touch their hearts instead of willing my children to love one another…makes so much sense! And the other blessing is I feel so much calmer and more at peace. It isn’t up to me to make them best friends, kind, empathetic…God’s got this. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement today!

  2. This is so where we are living right now and it has been grieving my heart deeply. Sometimes my boys are soooo ugly to each other, I just want to cry and they, like yours, will fight about anything, including who is going to pray or tell what they are thankful for first. Ugh!!! I too am reading Colossians right now, but this particular verse didn’t click for me. Thank you for pointing it out! I know you are right that we need to pray more and talk less. The talking just comes so much more naturally for me. 🙂 Love you friend!

  3. Our Moms in Prayer Group frequently prays that our children would get along. I like specifically praying for the Holy Spirit would give them a love for one another.

I means so much to hear from you!

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