Joey and Carla Link
January 18, 2023
How many times a day do you say to your kids, “Why can’t you get along?!” when you are on your way to intervene in another sibling conflict. We can relate. We said it plenty to our three when they were growing up in our home. We are sure you have all talked with your kids about getting along at one time or another. We thought we would give you concrete ways to do this.
Think about doing this for a family night or two: Give one of these ideas to each of your kids/teens and have him/her come up with a skit to show how it would work. Your child can use you in his skit or ask his siblings for help. This is a great way to make them think about what these principles look like in real life. We wouldn’t tell them Family Night is going to be about learning to get along with each other. I would tell them it is about “Respect”. Covering all of the principles listed below in one night would be difficult, so we encourage you to plan for two Family Nights.
1. Respect the needs of others but most importantly siblings and parents, because family comes first.
-This starts when your kids are young. How? Ask if they can play with another’s toy before grabbing it out of their hands.
-If one of your kids is doing his/her schoolwork in a designated “quiet place” the younger kids shouldn’t be allowed to disturb him or make noise around him.
-If one of your kids is doing his/her chores, the others should stay out of his way and encourage this sibling rather than talk negatively to him.
-If Dad brings work home, the kids should not be noisy wherever he is and not pester him.
-As a family, come up with a catch phrase to say “quit bothering me” that will tell all this person is asking for some space.
2. Encourage your kids to treat others as they want to be treated. As a family memorize Matthew 7:12:
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (NIV)
This could be one Mom and Dad do for the kids on Family Night.
-Ask each of your kids what stands out to them about this verse and to give an example about what this would look like when they put it into practice.
-Ask one of your kids to define what “in everything” means. Have each of your kids give an example of what “in everything” doesn’t look like.
-Ask your kids what “for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” means. Work with your kids, asking them questions that will help them understand what “this sums up”, “the Law”, and “the Prophets” means. This is the core of Inductive Bible Study – to break down every part of a verse to understand its meaning to your life.
– “for this sums up” – it is the totality of what we do, meaning it is the “whole of something”, the total of all we do. So you could draw it on a piece of paper like this:
Mom told you to pick up your stuff + Mom told you to do your homework +Your sister asked if you could help her with one of her math problems + Dad told you to get off the computer + Mom asked you to play nicely with your brothers + Your brother asked if he could play with your Legos© + Dad told you to get ready for bed without squabbling with your siblings = “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
How your kids responded to each of the things that come up in a day represents who they are in the eyes of others, especially God. If I (Carla) was telling Joey about our son’s day, I would tell him the “sum total” of the day, meaning I would take all the things that happened during the day and summarize them into “He had a great day, responding well to what I told him to do and didn’t fight with his siblings at all.” What I was saying in essence was “For ‘Do unto others…’ he got an A!”
Explain to your kids that they get to start over every single day, and the sum total of their responses to what comes up during the day at the end of each day represents to you and others what they are characterized by.
· What is “the Law”? Since it is in capital letters, the meaning would refer to biblical law. Throughout Scripture we are told repeatedly to put the needs of others first.
· Who are “the Prophets”? Again, since the word “Prophets” is in capital letters, it means biblical prophets like Elijah and Jeremiah. So “this sums up the Law and the Prophets” means it sums up all they are trying to tell people to do, which is in the Bible for us to read and learn from.
-Once your kids understand the meaning of a verse, they will have no trouble memorizing it. The first kid who could say the verse with no prompts in our home got to go out with Dad for an ice cream. The more fun you make learning about God the more your kids will remember it.
3. Show respect for others.
-Your kids know they are supposed to say “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me”. Stop reminding them to do so and hold them accountable with correction when they don’t. Teach your toddlers the signs for these words. Encourage your older kids to use the signs when talking to the younger ones.
-Do not use words like “shut up”, “idiot”, “You’re stupid”, “moron” and so forth. The child being called those names is hurt in a way that doesn’t easily go away. Kindness does matter. Teach your kids to choose to speak positive words that encourage not tear down. That’s what speaking life is all about.
4. Always apologize when you do something wrong. This is part of showing respect to others and also falls under Matthew 7:12.
-Apologizing is a lot more than saying “I’m sorry” in a rude tone. We hope you have taught your kids to tell the one they offended what they did that was wrong, why it was wrong, ask this person for forgiveness, and then tell them how they are going to make it right. Going through these steps this way is how to wipe the slate clean in the heart of the one who was offended.
-When your kids hit the preteen years (11-12), work with them to see that they need to apologize if someone was hurt, even if they didn’t mean to hurt them. We often said to our son in particular “We know you didn’t say anything wrong. But your sister is in her room crying. Your harsh tone hurt her. You should be willing to apologize for speaking that way to her.”
-When your kids make mistakes, encourage them to make it right whenever possible.
5. When someone is having a conversation, do not interrupt.
When we first took the parenting class Growing Kids God’s Way, we loved learning about the “interrupt rule”, especially since I (Joey) was a pastor and both of us were often in the middle of conversations our kids didn’t need to hear. When they used the “interrupt rule”, we could ask the other person we were talking to if they could wait for a minute, find out what our child/teen wanted and then resume the conversation.
-The Interrupt Rule: You are talking to someone; your child/teen places their hand on your arm or hand to let you know they want to speak to you.
·Squeeze their hand to let them know you know they are there. They should step back and wait for you to talk to them.
-If your kids are doing this as a skit for Family Night, have them show the ways not to do it.
-One of our daughters was not characterized by patience. She would continuously pat my hand until I looked at her. I would squeeze her hand and point to the ground, and she knew she was going to have to sit and wait longer than normal to teach her patience.
·This same daughter would come to us, pat our arm and start talking. Again, we pointed to the ground and she had to sit and wait for us to deal with her.
·Our older kids would touch our arm and instead of stepping back and waiting, they would stay close so they could listen to the conversation. We would use the sign for “no” then point to a chair for them to sit and wait until we got to them.
We have tried to give practical ways of teaching your kids what “respect” looks like in daily life. Please remember it is useless to teach your kids something you are not characterized by doing yourself. They are always watching and pick up on more than we think they do.
Respect has left our society in the “me-first” world we live in. Think what it would look like if parents raised a generation of “others-first” kids!
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”