One of the byproducts of being a parent, especially a mom, is gaining skill in settling disputes among brothers and sisters. This requires an understanding of the heart of man apart from Jesus Christ, and that, despite how cute one’s little darlings are, they are first and foremost sinners. Thus, it should be of no surprise that as soon as children become mobile, they are more than capable of manifesting their sinful natures when someone or something does not conform to their likes and dislikes. In a family setting, that someone usually ends up being a sibling.
At first it is tempting to want to make the standard to be that no problems or arguments at all are allowed in the household. While that may seem preferable, it is unrealistic inasmuch as those who live in close proximity to one another tend to trespass against each other on a regular basis. That is precisely why built in to the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9–13) is an acknowledgement of this reality and a reminder to forgive as we have been forgiven.
Romans 12:18 tells us, If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. This is should be a bedrock policy within the family and one that is reinforced daily by the mother. Since disagreements will inevitably arise between family members, an understanding of what the Scripture means by “peace” is important. R.J. Rushdoony notes in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount,
Peace is thus the order which God ordains and which man can only have on God’s terms, faithfulness to His covenant law. By his sin and fall, man has no peace with God. Jesus Christ comes to make reconciliation with God. (p. 37)
For this reason, from the earliest age, children must be taught that the rules of the household are based upon (and infractions judged on the basis of) God’s law. This establishes the premise that parents are not tyrants nor despots but fellow subjects of God under the authority of His law-word. Then, when situations arise whereby adjudication needs to be made in terms of right and wrong, obedience and disobedience, and compliance and defiance, there is an already established foundation upon which judgment will be made.
From the get-go, truth needs to be established as the order of the day, even if it means someone will get into trouble. In our household certain offenses brought greater penalty if deception and secrecy compounded the issue. But, children in dispute with one another have a way of seeing their rightness and overlooking their own sin. (Funny thing is that we adults do that, too!) Thus, in playing “King Solomon” to warring kids, moms need wisdom, discernment, and understanding, coupled with knowing their children’s strengths and weaknesses. God’s law needs to be the subject in which mom is well-versed!
Sometimes, rather than being the judge of quarrels, I instructed my children to settle their own disputes (without coming to blows) and come back when they had resolved the matter and reconciled with each other. Romans 12:10 became an often referenced verse:Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. This gave them practical skills in human interaction that have served them well as adults in school and job settings, as well as interpersonal relationships.
One of the many reasons why the best candidates to raise children are their own mothers, is so that “peace” can be strived for and realized in day-to-day encounters with those inside and outside the family. To quote Rushdoony once again,
The peacemakers are those who shall be “called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9). Those
who know the atonement know peace: they alone can be peacemakers, because they are by the adoption of grace the children of God. To be born again of the Father is to be His son by grace; having His Spirit, we do His will. This will of the Father requires us to be peacemakers and to establish God’s law and His order wherever we are. We bring His law-peace in our lives through Christ, in our homes, and into our callings.
The first aspect of this peacemaking is to reconcile men to God through Jesus Christ. The second aspect is to apply God’s word for the development of this peace to every area of life and thought. His law is the means to peace (p. 39).
Parents should remember that in the area of peace, you cannot bring to your children that which you do not possess yourself.