One way to navigate sibling arguing

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Spring Break was dreamy. For two reasons.

Reason 1: We were in South Carolina. If you’ve never been to Palmetto Bluff, S.C. I highly recommend it. It is, I am convinced, heaven on earth.

Reason 2: We are in this very sweet spot where I wish I could just freeze my 10, 8, and 5 year old boys. I love this stage. I love everything about it.

Well, almost everything. Because as sweet as this stage is, our boys are fighting much more than usual.

Which is why Spring Break was also hard.

Because life can still be hard, even in beautiful places, right?   And parenting can still be hard, even in beautiful stages, right? And acknowledging that it’s hard doesn’t negate the fact that it’s also so beautiful.

So Spring break was both dreamy and hard.

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Well, about halfway through our vacation, on a morning when Mike let me sleep in, I came down the stairs to find Mike and our boys huddled around the dining room table. I didn’t want to interrupt so I made my way to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and overheard …….

“Ok Brennan, how would you like to pray for Cal today?” and then “OK Cal how would you like to pray for Owen today?” Mike continued to ask each of the boys how they’d like to pray for one another that day until each of them had specific ways they could pray FOR each other.

I stood in awe, just blown away by what an extraordinary father God has given our boys.

(In an effort to keep it real, let me assure you that round one of this exercise presented an opportunity for our boys to point out each other’s weaknesses. Prayers sounded a lot like, “I would like to pray that my brother can be more self-controlled.” Yes, that was their starting place.)

It's not that I was surprised to find Mike praying with our boys because we are a praying family. (We are also a “prone-to-get-it-wrong-all-the-day-long” kind of family, which is probably why we pray so much. We know how much we need Jesus :) )

But here’s the thing. Though we pray with each other a lot, what I haven't done is have the boys pray for each other. How simple. How profound.

When Mike was finished having the boys pray for each other, we headed out the door and jumped on our bikes for another day of fun and adventure in Palmetto Bluff. And do you know what happened throughout the day?

It was all-glorious. There was no fighting and no unkind words. Just love and hugs.

Not.

Amidst all the crazy fun and belly laughter, they still fought and they still lacked self-control and they still had to seek forgiveness from one another.

Not because our prayers fell on deaf ears. And not because God isn’t working in each of our boy’s hearts. But because we aren’t always going to see immediate results.

Well, let me say that differently, we can maybe see immediate results when we are relying on rewards and consequences to change their outward behavior.

But if our purpose is to reach their hearts with the transforming power of God’s grace rather than to control their outward behavior with rewards & consequences, it's going to require patience and trust. 

I’ll be the first to admit- I like immediate results. It makes my life easier. I wanted to see some grand difference in their behavior that day.

But what I like more than immediate results is knowing that God is taking the grace we are giving and the grace we are showing and doing something so much more than we can imagine.  And I like knowing that they are learning to navigate their sibling struggles with Jesus in prayer.

So, on that day, Mike taught our boys to love each other deeply by praying for each other daily.

And on that day, instead of getting immediate results, God reminded me to rely on His grace, not our parenting, to shape their hearts.