Last week was spring break, which meant a LOT of munchkin and mama time and not much mama-alone time. :O It also meant more opportunities for sibling squabbles because what do siblings like to do the most? Drive each other CRAZY. It’s like an unwritten rule in the sibling by-laws, maybe even rule #1. But because my younger sister and I are a decade apart in age, we never had our share of fights and I never understood what all this rivalry nonsense was about. If you don’t know either, it’s basically like an intense love/hate relationship with your closest ally/enemy.
Case in point: One day we were all in the car and hubby and I heard lots of yelling coming from the backseat. When we turned around, the kids had their arms around one another’s shoulders in a tight side hug and huge grins on their faces! When we faced forward, they started squabbling again, but as soon as we looked back, they were all hugs and smiles! It was HI-LA-RI-OUS.
Despite all the craziness that comes with sibling squabbles, I’ve discovered its silver lining: The munchkins have lots of chances to practice getting along. And I have lots of chances to help them. (Insert scared face here!) I’ll admit though that I am the most ill-equipped person when it comes to repairing relationships. In my marriage, there’s one person who’s known to shut down at the first sign of conflict (*ducking my head*). 😛 So, I’ve been learning along with the kids on how to get along.
Recently, however, I had a major breakthrough. So major that I wanted to give myself a pat on the back and I couldn’t wait to tell hubby about it. After yet another sibling squabble, one of the munchkins had slammed their bedroom door, forcing the other one out. I didn’t know exactly what had happened, but I knew one of them had pushed the other one’s buttons. I also knew the button pushee would eventually get over it and make up with the button pusher because that’s how the dynamics of their relationship works. I was pretty fed up though with the whole situation and knew I had to address the issue—but how? I needed to give some better advice than, “Go make up NOW. And don’t do it again!” Then it came to me, “it” being my brilliant nugget of wisdom that I was about to impart. I said to the button pusher, “I know she’ll forgive you, but it doesn’t mean you should take advantage of her kindness.” And I followed it up with, “Be careful when you go to the bathroom; the floor’s wet.”
Boom! (That was the sound of me dropping my mic and exiting the room. Just kidding!)
What I liked about my response was that one, I kept my cool and delivered it in a calm but firm voice. Two, I attempted to address the heart (namely, the issues of gratitude, grace and forgiveness) and not just focus on the behavior. And three, I showed that I wasn’t necessarily taking sides and that I still cared about the button pusher because I didn’t want him to slip on the freshly mopped floor. It was the kind of “tough love” talk I’d always heard parents should give, but it was the first time the words had come out in a natural and sincere way.
It was seriously one of my proudest parenting moments (which aren’t many)! To be honest, I don’t know how much my words made an impact that day, or if they did at all. But the experience showed me that I have a little more insight now into repairing relationships. And it gives me hope that I (and the munchkins) will continue to learn more about how to get along with each other. Because there will be plenty more munchkin and mama times coming … especially during summer vacation, which is like ten times longer than spring break. (Insert scared face here again!)
P.S. This experience also reminded me of our relationship with God and the truth behind Romans 6:1-2: “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” This could be a whole other blog post, one I’ll have to save for another day. 😉
I don’t really have a song that goes with this post, but I’ll leave you with Lindsey Sterling and The Piano Guys’ cover of the Mission Impossible theme song because parenting is all about getting the impossible done!
What have you learned about sibling squabbles?