Saturday, July 22, 2017

Matthew 18

"MOMMY!! She ripped apart my LEGOS!!"
"MOMMY!! He stole my blankie!!"
"MOMMY!! He won't let me have the pool noodle!!"

This, my friends, has been my week. No matter how peacefully their interactions begin, they end in screaming. Within minutes, someone is yelling for me and pounding down the stairs, determined to win the battle with my help. 

I cringe at the sound. I pray for patience. I wish my children had a mute button or that someone would invent an invisibility cloak that I could hide underneath. Instead, I pick myself up and face the conflict head on.

I've read books and blog posts about conflict resolution. I've asked for friend's advice. The best advice, however, has come from the book of Matthew. These verses were brought to my attention at a homeschooling conference when they suggested modeling this form of conflict resolution for your kids. The steps are simple. First, go to the person privately. Second, bring along someone else as a witness or helper. Third, bring in someone from the church to help resolve it. I decided to give it a shot.

"Everybody to the kitchen table!" I yelled over their screams. (This blowout was about whose matchbox car was the fastest. Biggie.) 
"Why!?" my middle yelled. "We're playing!"
"To the table. Now." I opened up my Bible and took a deep breath. I want the Bible to always be a positive thing in their life and so I tried to quell my frustration. Once they were seated, I began. "Seems like there's been a lot more fighting going on between you guys."

"Yeah that's because Rosie won't stop messing with my stuff!" my oldest said as he glared at his little sister.

"Maybe so," I said diplomatically, "but I wanted to share this really cool tool I learned about at the conference. It's a way to get through fights and I think it could help." I started reading only to be interrupted by my middle child. 

"Wait, you're reading this from the Bible?" he asked.

"Yeah - There's so many cool things about how to live life in here. I know we've mostly only read stories, but there's so much more. Check this out." I read "brothers and sisters" and their heads shot up, hearing this literally. They were paying attention. I finished reading and ran through it one more time in a simpler way. "This is going to take some practice. Change always does. I'm here to help you after you go to each other on your own. Got it?"

"Got it!"

The fighting continued incessantly and I have spent the last five days answering their tattling with, "Okay - What did he/she say when you shared with them why you are upset?" They usually run away without a word to try and handle it themselves. This has erupted into further argument and I try to help coach them through the interaction. Today, I heard them actually do it on their own.

"Rosie, I'm so upset that you slammed the door in my face," my oldest said calmly.
"Can you forgive me, Luke?" she replied.
"Okay!" he said and they returned to playing.

Change isn't easy and I think this is going to take years to really sink into their little brains and habits. (They actually interrupted my writing just now because of a fight.) But if I can teach them to go directly to someone that has upset them rather than letting it fester or stop them from telling everyone else except the person that wronged them, I will be thankful. And if they can stop screaming for Mommy every five minutes, I'll be even happier.

Is there conflict somewhere in your life right now? Between your children, your spouse, your extended family? Take a look at Matthew 18:15-17. Pray over it. Ask God how it may help you and your family to grow.

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