Have you ever wondered why your kids have to argue? Perhaps, in a moment of pure exasperation, you’ve reminded them that family is forever and that they should be each other’s best friends. And they still don’t get along! Have you fallen short as a parent?
I suspect that God wonders the same thing about His children, and it didn’t take long for Him to see problems. Want to talk about sibling rivalry? Adam and Eve lived in a picture-perfect life in the Garden of Eden. How hard could it have been? There were no alarm clocks, traffic jams, performance reviews, X-Boxes, IPADS or distractions from modern-day culture.
Yet their boys had different personalities and bickered about the gift they were given. And oh, the jealousy! The Bible doesn’t share all the details of what happened before or after the incident. Did Eve teach the boys what an acceptable gift was? Did Adam model gift-giving for the boys? Did either parent show favoritism? We don’t know, but the Supreme Father issued a serious warning when he saw Cain sulking: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
God knew that what would happen next was every parent’s nightmare and the ultimate outcome of jealousy. Cain allowed his jealousy to overcome his better self and he killed his brother. Do you suspect that Eve obsessed over what she could have done differently? Did she teach mutual respect? Did she and Adam model conflict resolution? Did they discipline the boys when they saw signs of jealous behavior? We can only guess, but what we do know of the story in Genesis 4 provides valuable lessons for parents:
1. Even in an ideal home, in the most beautiful neighborhood, without distractions like Netflix and social media, siblings will compete in inappropriate ways. It’s part of our sinful nature, so we must accept it and decide how to respond.
2. How we as parents respond to that rivalry makes a difference. If we don’t address it early on, it may lead to broken relationships in the future. We need to be proactive by celebrating each child’s uniqueness and teaching mutual respect for their varied gifts and talents.
3. We can also teach proper conflict resolution. Despite our best hopes and most fervent prayers, our kids will argue. We can practice the basics of using “I-statements” and addressing behavior rather than attacking the person. Frankly, the best way to teach positive conflict resolution is to model it in marriage. (Not to bring up the whole apple incident, but it’s safe to say that Adam and Eve would have benefitted from some coaching in that area.)
4. Most important, we can heed God’s warning: If we make sinful choices, they will rule over us. When we see sin in our lives or in our children’s lives, we must address it. We can’t ignore it, pacify it or hope it will go away. If we fail to address it, jealousy will take root, and this story teaches us that it doesn’t end well.
So will kids argue? Yes. Will their sinful nature lead to jealousy? Absolutely. But our proactive response and day-to-day parenting can and will make a difference in the outcome. Lead well. Model what you want your kids to learn. And address the issue head-on when you see it. If you haven’t seen results you want, call us. That’s why we’re here.
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