If you have a sibling…you’ve had rivalry. On some level, at some point, we’ve all been there! How do we navigate this normalcy as parents? Katie Tucker gives us some great biblical truth to help us out.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 2 Corinthians 12:17-18
Sibling rivalry is as old as the first set of siblings, Cain and Abel. As you may remember, the first brothers’ relationship ended very poorly when Cain’s jealousy and hatred of Abel drove him to murder. We can point to many other biblical examples of siblings who have fought or dealt with jealousy or comparison (Jacob and Esau, Rachel and Leah, Joseph and his brothers, Mary and Martha…). You may have experienced this with your own brother or sister, or you may be watching it happen between your own children.
The Bible shows several examples of sibling rivalry, and that tells me one thing- this is normal! God created each of us differently, and as long as there is sin in the world we are going to rub each other the wrong way. However normal it may be, quarrels and jealousy between siblings can lead to a lot of hurt, pain and distraction from God’s best for our families.
How can parents help influence their children to love and appreciate each other and curb the sibling rivalry?
- Don’t show favoritism. When parents show favor to a sibling another child can feel neglected, and use this hurt to lash out to the favored child. Often, the favored child even feels resentment toward the parents. Examine your actions to make sure you aren’t unintentionally showing favor toward a child.
- Celebrate individuality. God created each of us unique. Instead of comparing one child to another let’s be thankful God created us as a body, with each member having our own unique role. (See the key verse above!) Help your children see how special their place is in the body of Christ and in your family! Celebrate your child when you see God use him as a foot bringing His good news or as an ear showing compassion to the lost!
- Encourage them to chase their dreams. You may have to let go of some of your own dreams for your children and be open to the plan God might have for them. Encourage him to chase HIS dreams. If children aren’t given freedom and encouragement to explore their dreams and desires it can be a breeding ground for bitterness and resentment as they try to please you or “be more like their sister.”
If you are experiencing some sibling rivalry in your family today remember you are not the only family! Celebrate, praise, and encourage each child to be exactly who God made them to be!
Did you know God created you and your brothers and sisters to be important members of His body…playing a certain role like a hand or an eye or an ear? How has God uniquely used you this week to be a helping hand or listening ear? How about your brother or sister?