The Catholic Letter

Catholic Help With Marriages And Families

How to Create a Loving Relationship Between the Kids

If you’re a parent of more than one child (I have six) then you’re looking at this headline and laughing. For those of you who don’t have more than one (even though you wouldn’t be reading this article) let me tell you a little about how kids interact with each other.

I was only twelve years old when my Grandmother decided that she wanted to send my parents on a vacation. She paid for the week-long trip, and arranged to baby-sit the seven of us at her house (aided by my Aunt Berta).

Their intentions were good. They had all sorts of activities and outings planned for us. It was going to be a solid week of summer fun. She went over each thing with my parents before they left, and everything was set.

When my parents returned from their trip, they sat down with my Grandmother and Aunt Berta to see how things panned out. The two dear ladies sighed and said, “You know, after breaking up all the fights, I’m afraid we just didn’t have enough energy to do anything else.”

And that’s the plight of every parent. Breaking up fights. If kids came with manuals, they would say: Chain to solid objects…in separate rooms. Well maybe that’s a little extreme, but (speaking to parents) don’t deny the thought hasn’t crossed your mind.

So is there a solution to the fighting, bickering, and hitting?

There is in a sense. Always try to remember that it’s normal. The kids will fight and torment each other, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. But that doesn’t mean you should permit it! Fighting should never be tolerated.

Permissiveness is Encouragement

Spanking, time out, kiss and make up, hold hands for an hour, grounding…there are hundreds of ways to punish kids for fighting. But they should receive the punishment every time they’re caught fighting. In most cases (use some common sense on this), it’s useless to try to figure out who started it or who’s at fault. It takes two to fight, so two kids need the disciplinary measures.

But this is just your immediate reaction. The real solution is not in how you react to fights…it’s mostly a matter of example. The first influential relationship that the children witness is the one between Mom and Dad.

Mom and Dad

If they see fighting, it’s an open invitation to fight. If they see respect and love…well let’s not get carried away. They’ll still fight (as children) but throughout their childhood, you’ll continue to build a solid foundation for them. The example you set for them now will eventually turn into a guideline for them.

The same rule goes for how you and your spouse interact with the outside world (outside your immediate family). Do the children hear you bicker and argue with your siblings, neighbors, and friends? Do they hear you gossip? Do they see a Christian example?

It all contributes to their understanding of relationships. When they see your exemplary lifestyle, and witness it every day, it becomes their focal point as they develop into adults.

There’s one more thing…you have to pray. Raising children is difficult in five hundred different ways. Prayer is what binds it all together into a manageable lump. The children are a gift from God, and the only way to lead them to God is with His help.

The Bottom Line

For now, you’re destined to spend a great deal of time breaking up fights. Don’t let it get to you…just keep going and asking God for help. Eventually (after they’ve sucked every ounce of energy from your poor old body) they’ll start to get it. Until then, remember that you’re not alone.