Parenting Help

Sisters Learning to Become Friends

Earlier this year I blogged about knocking down a wall in my house between my girls’ rooms.

No, it wasn’t in anger (although I’ve felt like knocking down a few walls at times), but it was per their request. My two girls, teenaged sisters, wanted to room together. (I know . . . weird . . . more about that here).

It’s been a year since we knocked the wall down, and they moved into bunk beds in one room. The idea was for them to become better friends. The question is, Did it work?

This is an interesting dynamic for sisters—being forced to get along with someone and share space. We always explain that their relationship with each other is good practice for future relationships: college roommates . . . post-college roommates . . . and their husbands! They always reply, “But don’t I get to choose my husband?”

The moving into the same room has it drawbacks. I think the biggest drawback is what I would define as “bickering.” I don’t know many parents who don’t witness this out of their kids. In my girls room it’s petty little disagreements.

“Alyssa, did you set the alarm?”
“No, you always set it.”
“Exactly. Why don’t you set it for once?”
“Because you don’t like the way I set it, so I let you do it.”
“But I’m in the top bunk . . . you’re right there!”
“Sorry. Your job!”

This can go on for about 20 minutes.

Last night the power went off in our house. This morning they were talking about their banter last night. Apparently it went like this:

“Alyssa, why did the night light just turn off?”
“The power is off. Who cares! Go to sleep.”
“But now our alarm isn’t set for the morning. We should set our phones.”
“Go ahead.”
“Alyssa . . . aren’t you going to set it?”
“Why don’t you set it?”

It sounds as if this went on for about 20 minutes.

How can we, as parents, turn situations like these into teaching moments?

I always try to implement two practices in these instances:

#1. Use Questions Instead of Lectures

When my kids disagree, my tendency is to begin preaching a long sermon on “love one another.” This doesn’t usually have the desired effect. Instead of lecturing, try asking questions and making them come up with their own conclusions.

“So when you’re married some day, will you always ask your husband to get up and set the alarm?”

“How do you think that will go over?”

“Do you like it when your sister always asks you to get up and do something?”

“How would you feel if your sister got up and said, ‘I’ll set the alarm. What time would you like it set for?’”

Or how about bringing up some biblical truth . . . which leads me to my second practice . . .

#2. Point to Scripture

When possible, it’s nice to be able to give a glimpse of what the Bible says on the subject matter. In this case, I brought up Philippians 2:3 and 4, the “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” verses. I follow that up with questions:

“What would ‘do nothing out of selfish ambition’ look like in our house?”

“What would ‘consider others better than yourselves’ look like?”

A combination of the above practices seems to do the trick, not every time, but a dash here and there.

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Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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