Parenting with the Bible is written by Bible scholar and child expert, Caryl W. Krueger. Caryl is the author of 15 books about parenting, including The Parenting Encyclopedia, and 1001 MoreThings to Do with Your Kids. Both of these books and many others of Caryl’s CDs, cassettes, and books are available on Shop BibleWise.
Rules for Fights!
"Fights" is not a word we like to use -- we'd rather call them confrontations or challenges. That's fine, but in the big world, they are usually called fights, much as in Bible times. More important than the semantics, however, is the question of what a parent can do to prevent fights, solve fights, figure out what is worth fighting for, and even eliminate fights.
This is a short month and I suggest you consider certain Bible stories and their messages in each of the four weeks. Then on Leap Day (February 29), you can look back and hopefully see a greater sense of harmony and peace under your roof, in the schoolyard, and even in your own work place.
Our protection against fights – evil -- in whatever forms it comes. We start by arming ourselves as Paul says in Ephesians 6:10 (Good News Translation):
Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil's evil tricks. For we are not fighting against human beings...
How important to know that, and to separate the action from the actor - whether it's a sibling, schoolmate, or business associate! Discuss the qualities that Paul says protect us: “righteousness, truth, peace, and faith.” Show that just one person can make a difference. See Ecclesiastes 9:14, 15, a story that is summed up in the next verse:
Wisdom is better than strength.
The aim this week: to express that wisdom through good-responding, truth-speaking, peace-acting, and faith-thinking.
How we combat opponents who are stronger, bigger, devious, and threatening. Of course, we immediately think of David's fight with Goliath (See I Samuel 17:38-50). However, youngsters may not know how a woman named Rahab saved the lives of Joshua and his friendly spies (told in Joshua, chapter 2). Also, when fighting the elements (floods, tornadoes, earthquakes), it is well to remember that Noah's story, as told in Genesis chapters 7& 8, comes to a happy conclusion because Noah listened to God and followed what he said, rather than thinking the idea of building an ark was quite silly. The aim this week: to expect creative answers to challenges at home and away by listening for God's guidance.
What to do if we get battered, bruised, burned, or hurt in other ways. One character in the Bible knew what to do with big "owees". Daniel and his pals were persecuted for their religion, and the king had them tied up and put in a raging fire. (An exciting paraphrase of this story is on pages 1585-7 of Eugene H. Peterson's The Message, and in Daniel 3 of the King James Bible.) The young boys were seen walking in the fire with a fourth person, identified by the king as the "Son of God." The result was complete protection, not even the smell of smoke on them, and best of all, the king recognized their God as the one God. And, later, another king was angered by Daniel and that king put him in a den of lions. Find out how he escaped without a scratch by reading chapter 6 in Daniel. The aim this week is to be sure that we don't make false gods of fame, drugs, money, popularity or physical prowess, but rather honor one God.
How to avoid fights. A grand story that shows how not to be sucked into violence is that of Nehemiah who is rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. (It's a story worth reading in Nehemiah, chapters 4-6).
His enemies did everything to stop his work and engage him in a fight, but he instructed his workers to be watchful and prepared, while focusing on their own business. That's an important clue: we don't need to use the methods of the so-called evil-doers - the seemingly selfish family member, the school bully, the devious business associate. In fact, we can be totally free of them, as Jesus was (See Luke 4:28-31). When the plan was to toss him over the cliff, Jesus simply passed through the crowd unseen. So, our aim this final week is to be so aligned with God's strength that we are invisible to evil.
On this final day, have a celebration-summary of what your family has learned about avoiding fights. Read the wonderful description of what's called "The Peaceable Kingdom" (or peaceable home, school, neighborhood or workplace) found in Isaiah 11: 6-9.
Now, go onward in peace.