Thursday, January 13, 2011

Twenty Relationships Under One Roof

Coffee Talk Thursday

As moms, we are not only home managers, we are interpersonal communication experts and counselors. If doctorate degrees could be earned by experience, we'd all have one!

When you consider the number of people living under one roof in your home, and the total number of relationships therein, this counseling and communications job is no small feat. Within my immediate family of five, for instance, there are actually 20 relationships. Whew! Each sibling has a relationship with two brothers, plus two parents. (I am counting the relationship between son X and son Y as two relationships, not one, since there is the relationship from X's perspective and from Y's.) So three boys times four possible family relationships equals twelve; Mom has a relationship with four other people and so does Dad--therefore, twenty under one roof.

With that many interpersonal relationships, it's no wonder things go haywire at times. There are moments during the day, perhaps several times a day, when any number of those relationships are displaying the results of the fall--sin--instead of epitomizing the picture of heaven at home. This can make us sad...and grouchy.

As moms, we want everyone to get along. We want our homes to be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  When we're seeing anger, irritability, taunting, meanness, impatience, harshness and aggression instead, it can make us lose our self-control. I know that when my boys are fighting with each other, or one's making another one cry because he's teasing or being mean, that's when I'm most likely to come unglued.

Yet, if we think of ourselves as the "interpersonal communication expert" and the licensed counselor, perhaps it will be easier to maintain our control and rule over the situation, directing it to a peaceful outcome. A counselor wouldn't freak out in a couple's counseling session. The counselor is a trained professional who reacts to statements and behaviors calmly, neutrally. Maybe if we can separate ourselves from the conflict a bit, we would do better in dealing with it.

I think it's also important to continue to guide, train, and instruct--over and over again, as necessary. Some practical ways to bring that about:
  • Find Scriptures that teach the character qualities you want to see improvement on in your kids' lives, and read them to them. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).
  • Don't underestimate the power in praying about the problems. Pray about specific relationship problems you're seeing among your family members and ask God to work in the person's heart and relationship. I am seeing answers to prayer in this regard, which is a huge praise!
  • Study effective communication strategies, if you haven't already, and teach them to your children. This will help not only with their sibling relationships, but for the rest of their lives (with future coworkers, spouses, etc).
  • Realize there is nothing wrong with your family or your home. We all deal with it. And with that many relationships, it's no wonder we have a lot to deal with sometimes!
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)


  1. Such timely advice and tips...thank you!

  2. I like the advice about picturing myself as an "interpersonal communications expert." :) I have two little boys who are doing quite a bit of fighting and teasing these days. Remembering to train them instead of simply reacting to them is a good reminder for me. Thanks!