With four contentious kids, I fully expected to someday die from battle-stress and could even visualize my headstone:
Here Lies Mom
Bickering between siblings was considered an inescapable fact of family life by everyone I knew. Still, I hated it. I wanted a family of peacemakers, not rabble-rousers. I taught my little people to follow Jesus–yet the daily, even hourly, disputes grated my spiritual nerves raw. King Benjamin's commandment that “neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another" spoke directly to me.
Even as the rightness of the principle pressed upon my mind and occupied my feelings, I knew that another FHE lesson wasn’t going to cut it. What more could I do in my little vineyard? The answer was in there…just a nudge or two from the Spirit and I might yet come off conqueror!
Determined to act instead of being acted upon, I eventually reasoned that the munchkins needed to learn to settle their own spats and that boiled down to…communication skills! Ah-ha! Now we’re on to something! A crazy idea started to piece itself together in my imagination and a whoosh of light gave me the tingles.
I rearranged the living room so that Grammy’s big, round, rag rug was front and center, then called the kids to a “come-to-Jesus” meeting.
“Here.”I explained, “is The Rug”. From now on, any parties suffering a disagreement will be immediately referred to “The Rug”. The parties in question will face each other, sitting Indian-style, knees touching (absolute rule). You will have to decide who presents his case first. The other will have to listen without interruption. When Party One is completely aired out, then Party Two speaks his mind – same courtesies applied.”
Now the clincher: NO ONE WOULD BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE THE RUG UNTIL BOTH PARTIES AGREED ON A RESOLUTION.
They were intrigued, even enthusiastic about what sounded more like a game than a consequence. It wasn’t long of course, before the first “players” competed for my attention. “STOP!” I covered my ears. “On The Rug!!!” They marched off and I watched them from a crack in the door. Quietly and with childlike reasoning, they established their defenses. Within ten minutes the two of them ran off together to do something completely different. Wow, I marveled. It worked!
And it continued to work for the next several years. It got to the point that all I had to say was, “On The Rug!” and they settled on the spot, one or the other acquiescing. Sometimes the litigation morphed into more of a contest of who would be the peacemaker first.
What seemed “natural” (to fight and quarrel) became “unnatural” in our home with just a little faith, creativity, and consistency. In Elder Ballard’s words: "People [your children] deserve quality alternatives that you [mama], with the influence of the Holy Spirit, are capable of providing."
Mona muses inspirational every Sunday at Mona's Gospel Musings and preaches romance in marriage at Mona's Musings with a Hint of Romance. She is the mother of four plus three, grandmother of two, and the award-winning author or With Mine Own Hand: The Musical Account of Nephi. For a daily Hint of Romance, go to Mona's Musings on Facebook.
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