You never know what your children will gain from all the myriads of conflicts, conversations and teachings you had with them over the years. It’s frustrating to me that you never really find out how you did until it is too late to do anything about it. I guess that means I am totally and utterly dependent on God as a parent. I certainly was not capable of the huge task of keeping them alive much less teaching them what they “really” needed to know. How was I supposed to know what they “really” needed to know? I didn’t have a window into what they will encounter in life.
There is a passage in scripture now called the “golden rule”, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” that was my motivation to teach my kids how to fight. I grew up in a home where fighting amongst siblings was just plain expected and disrespect went uncorrected. The fights amongst my siblings, at times, felt life threatening to me since shedding blood was an acceptable way to “win”.
When I went to college I took a class on communication. It was like opening up a window of hope. There is another way! As a result, communication and conflict resolution became a 20+ year course in our home starting from when my kids were taking teddy bears away from each other, “just cause”. My rigorous 20 year communications course is the one thing my kids seem most grateful for.
So what did I teach? Well—respect—that it matters whether what you do is hurtful or kind especially towards your own family. Certain words got the same punishment as cuss words, words like stupid, hate, and can’t (saying, “I can’t” is disrespectful of yourself which counts!)
It is important to take the time to personally own everything you can first. Start by owning your part in the conflict or any fault that added to it…A true, well thought out, accurate, “I’m sorry” puts a pin in the heat of the moment (a true I’m sorry brings a change with it… words mean nothing!) But tell the truth. Sometimes there isn’t anything to own.
Conflict isn’t about winning but building relationship… learning about the other by listening to their pain and honoring it… even if you are not the source of that pain. Sometimes the only way to find the source is to hash through conflict with someone else who willing to hash. (I hate conflict…I often want it resolved before it is hashed… I stand corrected… my kids have become my teacher.)
There was no doggin’ allowed (put downs, mean jokes or name calling), even in “fun”. If disrespect and conflict was going on at home, no one was ready to go play with someone else.
Mostly, I taught how to use “I feel” statements instead of “you” statements and to eliminate always, never and the like. When someone said, “Your trying to make me blah, blah, blah…!” It needed to be transformed into, “When this happened, I felt this way.”
So what was the point of all that? It was to eliminate accusation in any form in my home. Satan is called the accuser of the brethren.We join with him in his work when we dog on each other or speak in statements starting with "you", like, "you always, you never, you need to, you’re a pig, you are making me angry" etc (check out thinkingoutwords.blogspot.com even statements like, “you’re beautiful are still shrouded accusations… different than, “I like the way you look”). When we speak in accusations we are eating again from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We are once again beguiled by the serpent to seek God's place and stand as judges.
We are not appointed as judges. We were never intended to live by the knowledge of good and evil but by grace. We were intended to live by God's unmerited delight in us! We are all heirs of right...ness. The ability to have a place with God is a gift. It is an inheritance received because of the death of our benefactor. Grace says, we are all equally deserving of death and equally rescued from our death sentence. Outside of that, we have no ground whatsoever to stand on. But because of our benefactor... You and I are equally delighted in by God.