It’s mine! ” “No, it’s not yours, it’s mine!”. Then there was a grab, a hit and a scream!
Sibling rivalry is as old as humanity. It began with the first children of the first parents on earth. The rivalry between Cain and his younger brother deepened into such intense jealousy that Cain killed Abel… “(Gen 4:3-5:8)”.
Sometimes the ill-feelings can be deeply noted and long lasting. For instance, twenty years of separation did not abate the murderous passion Esau felt against his brother Jacob. Ever since, sibling conflict has been a feature of virtually every two or more children of the family.
At the root of every sibling rivalry is self-interest. Each child seeks to monopolise the parents’ time, attention, affection and approval. There is constant struggle to steal the show in the manifestation of intelligence, physical attractiveness and athletic ability. Even the mere sight of a new-born younger sibling can make some children feel insecure and vulnerable. The feeling that all the attention and affection that should have been solely theirs would have to be shared with or taken away by another child is enough to make them bitter and aggressive. This is natural as no child likes to feel ignored, inferior or unwanted. He may be barely two years old but he has already developed strong capacity for emotional feelings.
Moreover, sibling rivalry can be fuelled by a lack of reasonable system of Justice in the home. When, for example, a “law-breaker” is condoned or, if apprehended, is set free in that standing trial, “it could pass the message of FAVOURITISM to the other siblings. Sometimes too, parents fail to intervene in the conflict among the children but rather leave them to fight it out among themselves. At other times, parents seem to lack sufficient disciplinary control to enforce their judgement. All thes have the potential to deepen mutual antagonism among children. Also, sometimes, parents require an older child to live with an an admitted injustice, ” because your brother is smaller than you are”, thus tying his hands and rendering him utterly defenseless against the mischief of his spoilt brother.
God designed the family to be a replica of the love and joy that reign in heaven. However, with the entrance of sin into the first family, the love and joy gave way to conflict, rivalry and hatred. But God is willing and able to reverse the situation. To this end, parents must consciously determine to do all that is necessary to foster genuine love and prevent undue rivalry among among their children. One way of doing this is to allow sufficient time between the births of their children. When children are not within the same development level, their needs and the methods of meeting them won’t be exactly the same, thereby reducing the chances of competition and rivalry between them. Another way is to avoid showing special preference for any child above the others. It’s normal to have such feeling of fondness for whatever reasons; but it’s never wise to make it obvious to others sibling in anyway.
It also helps when parents frequently plan and carry out family activities that will involve all their children. They must however be careful not to let the children engage in activities or contest that will end up in someone “winning” and the others “losing”. Rather, they should encourage activities that will require team work and lead to mutual fulfillment.
In addition, parents must ensure that they train their children to respect the right of others, to forgive when their rights are eroded and to seek justice only from parents. They must inculcate in the children, early in life, the practice of peace-making and being at peace with others.
Also parents must train their children in the habit of self denial such that, of their own free-will and pleasure, they will prefer the comfort and happiness of others to their own. In addition, parents must continually counsel and guide the children, ensuring that they keep to godly standards in their daily activities and interaction with others. When this is done in love, understanding and patience, it would help godly ways of doing things. Children are born with a natural tendency to be selfish, stingy and covetous. This manifests early in life, parents must therefore strive to suppress this evil tendency in the child right from infancy.
It is a rather costly mistake parents make when they expose their children to the corrupting influences of the contemporary media.
Moreover, all parental dealings with children must be in love. Angry words, sharp reproof, impatient answers and comparison of one child with another must be totally avoided as these will generate strife. Parents must know and accept that training children in the way of the Lord requires quality time, one-on-one attention and perseverance.
Finally, it is important to note that the regenerated parent cannot by natural birth bring forth a child in her own spiritual likness. This can only be done through prayer, faith and standing on the promise of God. “(Isa 49:25)”.