This morning, within minutes of getting out of bed, we had 2 teen boys come into our room arguing.  Two digital clocks in our kitchen read 7:55 and the big one on the wall read 8:00.  They were arguing about which was the “right” clock to go by.  REALLY??  My head actually started spinning as they flung words back and forth.

It’s these moments that can make you want to cover your ears and run out of the room screaming!  I resisted the urge(this time).  I react SO easily to the emotions that often seem to take over the situation.  It seems to be handled best if we hit the “pause” button…take a minute and think about what is REALLY going on.

First of all, this wasn’t really about the clocks.  This was about who was “right”.  It was about having to BE right, which always involves pride.  Both boys were being prideful in their approach to the problem.  You see, these two boys have the responsibility of milking our cow every morning (I’m not making this up).  I purposely put the two of them together on the task because I knew these issues would come up.  They are very different in personality and approach life from completely different perspectives.  Consequently, it brings out some pretty raw displays of sinful, human nature.  Do I ever question my decision??  ABSOLUTELY!  I don’t enjoy these conflicts AT ALL.  But when I stop and think about the benefits of walking through conflict with them,  I know in my heart that it’s worth it.

You see by walking alongside our kids through conflict,  we get the chance to see what they are really made of.  What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses?  And THEY get to see them as well.  We can give them tools to help them learn how to resolve conflict in a godly way.  Most importantly, we have opportunity to teach them to be responsible for their own words, actions and choices.   And we do that by pointing them back to the Gospel.

The fact that we are all sinners who need Jesus to save us from our sins.  THAT’S our starting point.  It’s a place of humility.  A place where we have to admit that we can’t do this life well and certainly not in a godly way, without HIM.  I can testify that this is NOT an easy place to get our boys to.  But it’s the goal.  It may take much prayer, time and many conversations pointing them back to the cross.   Can I just interject an important reminder here?  Keep your words to a minimum and simplify how you verbalize this gospel message to them.  Boys tend to get lost in lots of words.  And these are the most important words you will speak to them.

There were a couple of other relational issues that were involved in this spat between our boys.  The older one tends to be administrative and the younger one fights this to the bitter end.  Again, it’s about pride when both boys are forcing their way.  But it is also an opportunity for the older one to learn what’s appropriate in using his God-giving gift of administration. To take responsibility for his part and let the younger one deal with whatever consequences come his way for the choices he makes.   It’s also a chance for the younger to learn to be willing to take direction and  responsibility for his part in the task at hand.

Again, I’ve found that taking a break when things are heated, is the best way to keep things from escalating.  Often I will have the boys just be quiet for awhile or go to separate places and be alone for a bit to cool down.  This gives me a chance to pray and think the issue through in light of the gospel.

Our kids attend classes for a day, once a week.  Awhile back, one of the teachers called me.  She wanted me to know that our boys stood out among the many other students she has.  She expressed her appreciation for their work ethic, their willingness to serve and their good attitudes.  It was balm to my soul.  It can be so frustrating to go through these processes at home with our kids, but as parents, we have a responsibility to pray for wisdom and to take advantage of these scenarios for the good of our boys.  Remember that you are raising future husbands and fathers.

Be encouraged moms.  You WILL get through this.  We aren’t shooting for perfection.  We want our kids to have tender hearts toward God.  We will never be perfect parents and sometimes that means setting the example and saying we are sorry to our kids.  Rest in God’s faithfulness to work in your heart and theirs.

(For more encouragement, check out my simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling, The Unhurried Homeschooler. {aff link} I also have a podcast available on my blog, durendawilson.com, iTunes and SoundCloud)