Brotherly Love or Brotherly War?

Boxing GlovesOne of the Bible verses my children know is Romans 12:10 “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (NKJV). The words “brotherly love” were nagging at me. I hadn’t been seeing much “brotherly love” in my oldest two boys lately. I was frustrated with their attitudes towards each other. They were fighting and competing with each other a lot. They were even rejoicing in each other’s sufferings. They would try to be first to finish chores in the morning so they could taunt the other one. I know that some of this is male competition, and I don’t mind some competition. It can encourage them to go faster or work harder, but this had gotten out of hand. It was causing fighting and problems. I felt like it was pulling my boys apart. It seemed more like “brotherly war” would have been a better description of their behavior.

Romans 12:10 kept playing in my head. I kept thinking that there was something wrong with my boys. They were not acting like they should. They are brothers, but their behavior was wrong! I want them to be drawn together as brothers. I want them to love each other like brothers and more than friends.

This has been really bothering me lately. I’ve been praying and trying to find ways to foster that “brotherly love” instead of “brotherly war”. I tried making them do chores together. It usually didn’t work very well. My six-year-old would usually whine and complain the whole time and get frustrated because my four-year-old was whining and complaining so much that he wasn’t even doing the chore. If they finished with out my intervention, my six-year-old would usually have ended up doing 99% of the work.

two boys on a rocking horseSo last week, I tried something new, I told them they had to work together to fold the basket of laundry I had just dumped on the bed. And then told them, “Oh yeah, and if I catch either of you not working together, such as not participating in the folding or whining about how the other one isn’t participating, then the boy not working together is going to finish the whole chore by himself.” I then told them that supper was in 30 minutes and that they were not allowed to come out until the laundry was folded and put away. I closed the door and walked away.

They folded the laundry TOGETHER in record time and seemed to actually enjoy each other’s company while doing it. Just in case this was a fluke, I have since repeated the same process a few times. So far, it seems to be working. My four-year-old, of course, had to test if I meant it once, and refused to actually fold a load of laundry. Since my six-year-old was fully participating in the chore without whining, I released him and left my four-year-old to finish the load by himself. The chore was done, there was less whining, and neither of the boys were fighting with each other. This made for a happier and less stressed home. I think I’m going to repeat this process with other chores as well.

How do you foster “brotherly love” in your children?



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