Good morning, Five Minute Families! It is wonderful to join you on this cold, cold morning. We have all spent much of the past year inside with way too much family time. Wait? Did we really just say too much family time? Well, ok, let’s adjust that. Maybe there is not technically too much family time, but admit it, sometimes it FEELS like that, doesn’t it? Especially when disagreements happen and there are very few physical, on-the-go distractions to give some time, space, and perspective.
Families fight. We disagree and misunderstand each other and all that jazz. But, how do we RESOLVE disagreements? We cannot wallow in our anger, and we cannot become comfortable in the silence that often results as we seek to avoid further conflict. So, how does a five-minute family deal with those disagreements?
Parents, the role of negotiator, mediator, or arbitrator will often fall on you. You must resolve to set good boundaries and fair practices. It can be so very exhausting if one or more of your children are more prone to conflict-producing behavior, but you need to seek the Lord’s strength and wisdom. Don’t step away from your God-given role like I tried to do once during a particularly trying period in one of our son’s lives. He seemed to live to disagree with everyone inside our home. Abdicating my role was a mistake, and I had to learn from it.
We must, above all, display Christ-like character. Even when we may feel like a failure, we must intentionally choose the attitude of Christ. Philippians 2:4-5 reminds us that “each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
In all disagreements, there will be times to compromise. There will be times to collaborate, and there will be times to accommodate the other person’s needs. Remaining flexible is extremely important.
1. First, define the specific problem at hand. Now, you might see that there is a deeper, underlying issue, but try to focus on the immediate disagreement, and then, later, if there is a deeper, underlying issue, make a plan to address it when the timing is right.
2. Assess everyone’s emotional and physical needs before diving in. If a little one needs to run to the bathroom or grab a bite to eat, those will help immensely to ease the tension and allow focus.
3. Make a commitment to respect each other’s viewpoints and to recognize the importance of each family member involved in the disagreement.
4. Seek to understand the other person’s position. Mom and Dad, there may be times when you speak individually to each child in order to validate their feelings and hear them out without interruptions, and sometimes, you will need to let the kids (or each other) fully hear the other one out in order for them to better understand the other person’s perspective. Remind your children and yourselves that everyone we be listening carefully for the other person’s heart feelings and perspective, not just waiting for the other person to speak.
5. And, finally, propose a solution. Part of the solution may require forgiveness (we will be discussing forgiveness in detail in a couple of weeks).
While conflict might drive the narrative in writing a good story, conflict in real life can be damaging OR it can be a teaching opportunity that motivates better communication and better relating in the future. Just like fictional writing can include conflict with the self, conflict with others, conflict with the environment, or conflict with the supernatural, conflict and disagreements in real life often are the intersection and interactions of the four. Members of the five-minute family, especially the parents, must take time to ascertain whether one of those conflicts are superseding what the disagreement really seems to be about.
Please note that we know that some disagreements will take much more than the five steps we discussed. If you are in a place of ongoing, unresolved, or destructive conflict, please seek safe, godly counsel from a wise pastor, mentor, or therapist. If the disagreement has led to continuing sinful behavior, it can be harder to reach resolution. However, it can be done, but you must be willing to seek God’s will and engage in some serious relational work.
Whether it is a minor disagreement over whose turn is next or it is a major disagreement such as whether to move to another state, seek the Lord and His will in your relationships. Remember, blessed are the peacemakers.
Thank you for joining us this morning. And don’t forget to tell your family and friends to join us because they, too, can benefit from a good godly perspective for their families. May God bless your week, and we hope to hear from you on our blog at clearviewretreat.org.