We try hard to teach our kids appropriate ways of handling sibling conflict. Scripture says, “If you have a problem with your brother, go to your brother.” We use that verse to discourage tattling and whining about what “she” did. When they come to tattle we say, “Have you talked to her about it yet?” We also use this principle to try to teach them how to go to their sibling. For example, you don’t want to yell at them about what they did, or hit first and talk later. You talk to them calmly and let them know you want them to stop, or that hurt your feelings, or that hurt your arm, or whatever the case may be. Now, our kids are little sinners. This type of behavior hardly ever happens without prompting from Mom or Dad. And occasionally, it seems, they put their own standards on when or to whom to apply the biblical principle.
Case in point:
On Friday morning, I was going downstairs to do breakfast, and let Clay sleep in a little bit. Samuel and Elisabeth had both already been hanging out in our bed for a little while before I mustered up the energy to actually get up, and Samuel had some toys in bed with him. When I finally got up, Elisabeth and Silas and I went into the dressing room to change Silas and get Elisabeth dressed. Samuel was still in my bedroom trying to round up all three of his Handy Manny toys to take downstairs with him. Clay had already buried his head back under the pillow but heard Samuel searching. One toy was still on the bed, so Clay grabbed it and tossed it towards the door, where it landed right behind Samuel. Poor Elisabeth happened to walk up behind Samuel at the same moment. Samuel heard it fall, turned around and saw Elisabeth, and immediately got a stern frown on his face, a frown that only Samuel can frown. “E-li-bess! Don’t throw my Hanny Manny toys!” Then, whack! He popped her good.
I was already trying to keep from laughing because he is so funny when he’s trying to keep his sisters in line. “Samuel!” I said. “Elisabeth didn’t throw your toy! Daddy did!” Well, that threw him for a loop for a moment. Then he just calmly turned around and climbed back up onto the bed. As I said, Clay already had the pillow completely over his head, so Samuel lifted the pillow off and said in the sweetest voice ever, “Daddy, can you not throw my Hanny Manny toys please?” Clay apologized, and Samuel said, “Thank you! You can hide again now,” and put the pillow back on his daddy’s head.
So apparently, if you have a problem with your daddy, go to him. But if you have a problem with your sister, smack her.