Monday, November 17, 2014

Learning to Solve Sibling/Friend Rivalry

Boy, I don't think the timing could have been better to have a family with 3 kids move in suddenly. I'm learning to stretch my limits and I have to admit, just a week prior to them moving in I had asked God to help me learn hospitality.  Coincidence?  Our costs have definitely soared with extra people in the house (water, electricity) but I'm content.  My only weakness (maybe a strength?) is no matter who's kids are over, I always treat them as my own.  I mean, completely as my own.  I'll hug, tell them I love them, involve them in daily chores, talk to them, spend time with them, think about them, pray for them...just as my own.  It's hard for me to realize that, ummmm, the parents are living here as well and might find it offensive for me to correct their kid when they could have.  I need to explain better, it's never okay to go to someone's house and boss their kids around in my opinion.  I guess maybe it's different because the kids are living, eating, and sleeping in the same room as my kids. It's such a fine line and I'm always worried I'm crossing it.  I do love these 3 kids as my own and tell them often.  Ack.  If I do cross the line, it's never because I'm against the kids, just that I love them as my own and treat them as such.  Things like "no koolaid in the rooms, you need to finish your chores, pick up your mess, bed is by 8pm, etc." Things I would say to my kids.

I think the hardest thing sometimes would be the arguments.  If I'm not careful, I can get pulled into he said/she said type stuff all throughout the day.  Usually my rule is no tattling unless someone is being hurt or is being a pervert.  Sometimes I'll think someone is being outrageously bad, get all over their case, but then once I hear the other side of the story I feel bad because I didn't hear the other side first.  And sometimes, the stories are so wildly different I have to just walk away and tell them to just separate. I'm learning really quick to choose my battles very carefully.  If I don't, I'll be settling fights all day long. Sometimes I realize the tattling comes from boredom and a need for drama from the kids.  Sometimes it looks like I don't care to the kids but I've learned the worst thing I can do is when a case is brought to me, to look at the accused and rebuke in front of the offended.  Sometimes, and it's completely human of us to do this, kids find satisfaction in seeing another kid punished.  Dr. James Dobson has always suggested to take the accused aside privately and ask their side of the story.  If both sides are wildly different, separate them.  But don't lash out at the accused in from of the other kid.  I love that advice.  However, people that see me acting completely calm in the middle of an argument, it's because I'm listening to both sides and mulling it over in my head.  Once one of the kids goes back and plays, I'll quietly have a talk with the other one whether it's to ask more questions or correct their behavior. Not an easy parenting task, dealing with arguments.  Alas, it must be done.  Ha.

Terrible photo. Cell cam is messing up
Another common argument is who has got the hardest chores.  I try really hard to be fair.  The older the kids, the harder their chore.  Naturally, I'm not gonna give the harder ones to the younger kids.  There will always be someone that thinks they have the hardest.  That's when I look at them and ask if they'd like my chore.  Often I wake up to watching a sermon, get up, get ready, homeschool and do my chores, wash lots of clothes, feed everyone, and by dinner time it's the only other time I get to sit down.  I looooove my job.  I wouldn't trade it for any other in a million years.  But moms have the hardest job for sure.  I never believe in just giving all the work to the kids.  I'm working right alongside them.  If I really feel like a chore is just too much for a kid, usually it's because there is just too much clutter and a lot needs to be tossed.  I did that today in the girls room because my girls just couldn't clean it up everyone day.  There was just too much stuff hidden in all kinds of places. This picture is it.  My girls are so used to not getting attached to stuff, they wanted the room to look just like the picture below.  I wish my whole house was that clutter free!  Their chore is going to be much easier tomorrow. :)  I think if I had to pick a kid, Ryan has the hardest because it's the kitchen.  OH MY GOSH.  That poor kid.  Haha. Lots of cleanup in there.  He's fast though so he's the perfect kid for the job.

My girls have learned to love less stuff because it means less stress

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Combining families is never easy. My Mum has lived with us most of the last year and a half. Even that is difficult because she has her way of doing things and I have mine. I'm the Mum of the house, but then she is my elder and mother and deserves my respect. And the respect of all of the kids. Working out though who disciplines the kids has been a bit difficult, as long as we all stay level headed--it works out in the end. I loved your advice about tattling and taking the accused kid aside before disciplining, etc. Very good!