Sibling Rivalry dates back to Cain and Abel. Yet managing conflict among stepsiblings adds another element of difficult. Stepsiblings often deal with another layer of resentment and jealousy. They feel threatened and often do not know their place in the family. If you are tired of breaking up World War III in your home, here are some suggestions on taming the tussle:
1. Schedule a Family Meeting. Start with weekly meetings. Give everyone a chance to voice what is on their mind. Set goals so that the meetings are constructive, and then revisit those goals each week to make sure the meetings are productive.
2. Stress Teamwork. Remind your kids that just like in sports, every family functions as a team. If there is infighting on the team, the team loses. If there is bickering among the family, the family loses.
3. Ask each other, “Am I being loving?” Instead of creating a bunch of rules (which kids will break or find loopholes) ask your kids, “Are you loving each other?” or “Is what your doing loving?” or “Was what you did motivated by love or selfishness?” Your kids will know the answer before you even ask the question.
“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.”
~ Mark 12:31, NIV
4. Ask each other, “Am I being respectful?” Again, don’t rely on a long list of rules, which can be broken. Tackle the heart issue. Ask your child, “Are you being respectful?” “Is your tone of voice respectful?” “Are you treating each other with respect?” Love and respect cover a multitude of sins and actions.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
~ Luke 6:31, NIV
5. Offer choices. Life is full of choices. The sooner we start giving our children the power to make choices (and the consequences of living with those choices), the better.
For example, choosing to either fight or live at peace with our sibling is a choice. If we choose to fight with our sibling, the consequence is scrubbing the toilets together (thereby also promoting teamwork). If we choose to live at peace with our sibling, then we receive a reward (going to movies as a family).
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
– Romans 12:18, NIV
Elizabeth Oates is a wife, mother of three, and an author, blogger, and speaker who encourages, inspires, and equips a new generation of women seeking a deeper relationship with Christ. She is a cliché Generation Xer from a broken home who once searched for purpose and significance apart from Jesus Christ. Today she devotes her life to spreading the message that we are not defined by our past; our God is bigger than our broken family trees and stronger than the sins that weigh us down. She graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary and co-founded Project Restoration Ministry. To learn more about Elizabeth or receive her weekly blog, please visit ElizabethOates.com