The Day My Brother Bit My Big Toe!
Way before “Charlie, you bit my finger” got popular, I was bitten by my brother Mike on the big toe. Brotherly love you might call it…. The situation was not unique as it relates to siblings. I was 4 and he was 9. It was time for bed and I was on the top bunk. I kept hanging my foot over the side of the bunk near his face. He warned me to put my foot up, but I kept it hanging there knowing that it was bothering him. Then it happened. With the force of what seemed like a crocodile, that sucker latched on to the end of my toe and bit down with those nine-year old needle teeth… I don’t remember a lot from when I was 4 years old, but this event 38 years ago is etched into my memory. As the croc held on to my toe, the screaming commenced followed by the yelling parents. Does this event sound similar to what’s happening in your house mom’s and dad’s? You may feel like you are alone, but don’t worry you aren’t. Here are a few tips that might help you keep your sanity
Remember that no home is perfect
Recently a lightsaber got hijacked at our house by a six-year old. My oldest son (15) is a big Star Wars fan and recently ordered a hand-crafted lightsaber with some money that he had saved up. Obviously my six-year old thought that this lightsaber was totally cool and wanted to play with it. He waited for his opportunity, took it and hid it in his bed. Of course, when we found it, something had broken on it. How do you think that this went over with the 15 year-old? Let’s just say that it didn’t endear him to his younger sibling. You have similar stories don’t you? Maybe one good story per day? Remind yourself that in every house that has multiple children there is fussing and fighting that happens at some point. You are not alone. You don’t have to put on the fake smile and act like life is perfect. It’s not. Jesus is perfect! No home is perfect and if anyone acts like their home is, they aren’t being honest. Don’t get down on yourself, keep praying, being an example and remembering that Jesus is the only hope for us and our children.
Let sin in your home lead to gospel conversations
Your family needs reminders about the gospel. Instead of getting annoyed about the sin that is committed in your home between siblings, remind yourself that these are perfect opportunities for gospel sharing. At the end of the day, when siblings fight, their relationship is strained or broken. Reconciliation needs to happen for restoration to be complete. This perfectly illustrates our brokenness before God because of sin and our need for the relationship to be restored. Be thankful, not angry that the sin happened in your house. This allows you to carefully walk your children through confession of sin, repentance from sin, forgiveness and restoration. This is a blessing, not a curse!
If your children are born again remind them of the power of the Holy Spirit in their sanctification. Romans 6:6-7 says, “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” The perfect Savior conquered sin and death and set us free to serve Him with our lives. Born-again siblings don’t have to fight, but when they do, remind them of the gospel that leads to restoration.
Look for the life lessons
Have you ever heard the saying, “If you mess with the bull, you get the horn?” The day I stuck my foot in my brothers face, I got the horn! In all honesty, I learned an important lesson that day about aggravating an older sibling. You have heard of the Kingdom principle of “reaping and sowing” haven’t you? You will “reap what you sow” is not just some cliché saying, it is a life principle that I learned the day I kept aggravating my brother. Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to its vomit, a fool does the same foolish things again and again.” Sometimes we don’t need to “save” our kids from repeating foolish choices and allow the Kingdom principle to teach them. Does your child constantly walk out of the house without a coat in the winter after 600 reminders from you? Maybe they should get cold once. The Kingdom principle may get them to the truth quicker than your strained voice. (obviously, use good judgement here). I love my brother today, but make no mistake, I would never put my toe anywhere near his face again… Lesson learned..
Remember to laugh
I am guessing that if you had siblings growing up, you look back at some of the fussing that happened and laugh now. Keep perspective as a parent! In the moment this can be tough, but don’t blow things out of proportion or make small conflicts seem like the end of the world. Some things that happen, like my brother biting my toe 38 years ago make for funny stories when all of the family is together today. When conflict arises, keep pointing your kids to the need for restored relationship with each other and God. Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember to laugh.