Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Protecting our children's hearts from each other

Your relationship with your siblings is unlike any other you encounter in your life. Trying to teach our children to recognize this while they are all still under the same roof seems an almost impossible task.

Our oldest 4 have very different personalities. They have very different felt needs and different ways of responding to both negative and positive interactions. As I think through "house rules" - basically rules that allow us to live in profitable community with each other - I consider the "why's" a lot. Ultimately we want the "why" to break down to "because God loves us" but there are many complex steps along that path. Today I realized another reason why we have house rules - to protect our hearts from each other.

I have lived with roommates off and on for the past 20 years, but they all had one thing in common that our kids do not - they were adults. Sometimes I find myself saying to my husband, "why can't they just..." and on clearer moments myself responds, "REALLY? Because they are kids!" Yup, that is the crux of the situation - we are two adults with over 7 decades of combined life experiences, dozens of heartbreaks, hundreds of failures, thousands of opportunities to have sought wise counsel and to learn from our mistakes. We live with 4 (soon to be 5) people who have not yet had the time to learn the things we have learned. Add to that instability and hurt our kids have been through during their short lives and what we end up with is a house full of people with sinful natures all seeking to have their needs met with a history of doubt.

Today Lil called Zeke from down the hallway several times and then pounded on his bedroom door (I heard the hammering 3 rooms away) to ask about a video game. He had just gone to his room 10 minutes before to lie down. She did not know this as at the time she was in her own room with her door closed. An annoyed Zeke and a frustrated Lil listened to me (probably more adamantly than necessary) try to explain why we respect each others need for space and try to consider the other person's needs compared to our own. (I have a feeling I did a poor job of this.) At one point Lil asked if Zeke cared that she pounded on his door. And this was my reflective moment - theoretically, if he didn't care, then why should I? Was I "correcting" a situation that didn't need my input? There are many times that I realize that my input is NOT needed and they need to figure out how to interact without me.

But in this case, I am going to say Yes, I was needed. Because, part of my job is to help guide and protect our kids hearts from each other. Lack of respect for space and possessions is not protecting their hearts. Allowing them to berate and name call is not protecting their hearts. Allowing outside influences to pervade and overwhelm our family love is not protecting them. Allowing emotional or physical abuse is not protecting them.

We are all learning how to live together in peace. In that process Mark and I are the protectors of our home... and protecting our hearts from unintended abuses from each other is part of the package.