Friday, January 25, 2013

Taking the Bull By the Horns

So, I'm going to tell you the truth.  Living in a house with four boys ages 9, 7, 5, and 3 often feels like barely controlled chaos.  My little men, as awesome as they are, wear their momma out.  It is constant noise & motion in our house.  It is LOUD.

But, it isn't the boy energy that makes me crazy.  Yes. It does wear thin on me.  But, I'm conditioned I guess.  I can take it for a while before it sets me on edge.  No.  It's not their energy that gets to me.  It's the fighting.

There seems to be constant bickering, arguing, teasing, fussing, complaining, whining, name it!  The biggest culprits are my two oldest boys.  They seem to clash over everything.  And, I mean everything.  I really wonder if they even like each other at times, much less have brotherly love for each other.  But, while those two can barely even be in the same room with each other, that arguing and fighting is filtering down to the younger two as well.

I feel so helpless sometimes.  I don't know if they are even hearing what I'm trying to teach them about Christ's love, how we are to love one another & treat each other...putting others first, not responding in anger, responding in love even when insulted or hurt, being peacemakers.

And frankly, sometimes it scares me.  Because as they grow older, more and more things are going to compete for their attention and influence.  I want to imprint God's Word on their hearts now.  I want them to always carry it with them.

I should note, on the positive, that this kind of behavior has been limited to our own household.  At school my boys are attentive, considerate,kind, & respectful.  Both of their teachers have always had wonderful things to say about their behavior and character.  This makes me happy.  Really it does.  But, I still need to deal with the downright mean...sometimes cruel things that are said and done in our own house.

Let me share another frustration with you.  I have encountered a few older Christian moms, whose children are grown who also had all boys or a large passel of boys.  I've asked them how they dealt with the fighting, the bickering, the competition, and anger.  And, I kid you not!  Every single time the response I've gotten is something along the lines of, "Oh.  My boys really got along well with each other.  I don't remember having issues with fighting."

Aaaruugghhh!!!  Really?  Really?  I don't know.  Maybe they didn't have fighting.  Maybe there really is something wrong with our household.  Maybe there really is something wrong with ME as a mother.  The one consolation and encouragement I take is this.  Apparently my husband and his younger brother closest in age to him (also the 1st and 2nd child in their family) fought terribly when they were children.  It wasn't until they were both adults and out of their parent's house that they formed an amicable relationship.  And, today they have a good, solid relationship.

And, my husband assures me that this is just how boys are.  He compares them to lion cubs.  They will wrestle with each other trying to determine who the strongest, most dominant male is going to be.  No wonder momma lions sometimes growl at their cubs!

In the meantime, I wanted to do something to really try to get a grip on this whole situation.  Because, honestly, I'm tired of waking up to the sound of fighting & listening to it most of the day.  I'm tired of ending my day in tears..

So, I came up with an idea!  We are going to take the bull by the horns!

I made two jars.  One is the 'Bored Jar'.  I can't claim ownership over this idea.  I got it from another mom in my mom's group.  In this jar are slips of paper giving the boys ideas of things to do (that do not involve electronics of any kind!) when they are bored.  Frankly, I think sometimes part of the problem is that they don't have something to focus on or work on and so they gravitate toward arguing with each other.

The second jar is the 'Peace & Love Jar'.  I spent the morning yesterday finding verses that talked about peace & love.  I wrote a bunch of them down on 3x5 cards & put them inside the jar.  When my boys start fighting with each other I'm going to redirect them to the jar, have them each take a verse, find a quiet spot & work on memorizing the verse.

I'm pretty sure there will be some resistance to this.  I'm bracing myself for that.  But, they did already take a slip from the Bored Jar yesterday.  They seemed to like that idea.  And, I'm hoping that the Peace & Love Jar will have a positive effect.  That's what I'm praying for!

So, what techniques do you use when you're children fight amongst themselves.  Do any of you have a pair of children who seem to clash over everything?  What do you do?


  1. I'm with your husband. As the mom of four boys, I get the noise level and fighting stuff. I always say they're like puppies--have to be wrestling and touching a bugging each other all the time. My two older boys were not the best of friends growing up--mostly due to my oldest son's personality. Now that one is 20 and the other 16, they are better friends, and I can see the years of fighting getting put behind them. My two younger boys are just wrestling hitting fighting fiends. But I love them anyway. I told them this week that if they hit each other to the point of tears more than five times in the week (that sounds like a lot, but it's not--you know :) ), then they lose a privilege, a big privilege like going to basketball or karate. So far we are down only one hit in ten. I call that success.

    Good luck. Boys are boys, my friend.

  2. I can totally relate to the LOUD!! I CRAVE silence sometimes...

  3. I can relate, too! Our oldest is a girl, but then we have six boys. The noise and bickering and wrestling.... When Dad is home, I send them to him, but that's only an hour or so a day. Most of the time, they do get along all right, but the oldest boy ends up crying when someone does something to him at least once a day. That bugs me no end, but I never know what to do about it! I grew up the oldest of four girls, followed by four boys. I was 10 when the first boy was born, so never really experienced living with boys till we had ours! What an education. Let us know how your jars work!


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