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Home » CHFWeb Forum » TitusTwo » Brothers
Brothers [message #818279] Wed, 14 September 2016 22:45 Go to next message
DeannaBanana  is currently offline DeannaBanana
Messages: 480
Registered: July 2005
Location: Southeastern U.S.
Senior Member
I think I may have raised Cain and Abel. My boys are 16 and 17. They do not have a good relationship. Normally, we function fairly well until something comes between them and it's World War III. I guess they don't "fight fair." Typically they disagree about how something should be done. Then older son acts like younger son is stupid. Younger son escalates into mild physical contact. Actually, older ds is rude and disrespectful to younger ds often. Younger ds is harboring a grudge. Neither one "esteems the other as better than himself."
I don't know whether to try to draw them in to repair their relationship or to keep them separated as much as possible. I want them to love each other, but I can't make older ds act the way he should. I can however, make his life miserable, if that would inspire change. I don't think it would though. Only God can change his hard heart. Younger ds is that angry man who is like a city without walls. He has actually gotten better about managing his temper, but when it comes to his brother, he is much less willing to be wise.
I am so sad and so tired.
Re: Brothers [message #818280 is a reply to message #818279 ] Thu, 15 September 2016 06:31 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lisa R.  is currently offline Lisa R.
Messages: 14918
Registered: April 2005
Location: Georgia
Senior Member

I don't have a lot of time to respond right now, but it seems to me that before you can deal with the relationship, you'll need to deal with both of their hearts individually. Treating anyone with disrespect should not be happening, but when it does, it is a heart issue. If you focus on "you should treat your brother better," you're dealing with externals. The issue is "Your heart should be focused on pleasing the Lord."

I would sit them down and have a serious discussion about what is expected in your home. My "speech" would include things like:
--I can't change you're heart; only God can do that
--But loving heart or not, this is our home and we need to live in peace
--I can't make you love your brother, but I can insist that you treat ME with respect by not acting this way in our home.
--regardless of the condition of your heart, externally, these are the behaviors I expect in our home, and these are the consequences of your refusing to honor me in this area. (list desired behaviors and consequences. At 16 & 17, it may just be loss of car/phone/whatever you're paying for, and remind them that if they can't be a pleasant part of the family, they need to remove themselves.)
--At their ages, I'd remind them that they have 1 and 2 years, respectively that I am still legally responsible for them, but after that, they are not welcome to live in my home if they cannot work to make it a peaceful haven. They should keep that in mind when considering school and jobs (i.e., are they in a place to support themselves entirely in such a short time, if they cannot live according to the house rules)

I might include reading part of the story of Cain and Abel and reminding them of the horrible consequences from their refusal to honor God in their relationship. Again, I wouldn't focus on their relationship, as in getting them to love one another. I'd focus on pleasing God. (I'm assuming they are Christians. If not, they won't have the Holy Spirit to guide them, but you can continue to remind them that, heart change or not, these behaviors are desired and these are no longer allowed. Then establish consequences for *behavior* and let the heart change follow.

(That was a little longer than I expected...I hope you find something in there to help--oh, and of course, PRAY! That's your biggest "weapon." Smile)

Lisa R.
Re: Brothers [message #818297 is a reply to message #818279 ] Fri, 16 September 2016 16:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sherry in NH  is currently offline Sherry in NH
Messages: 9596
Registered: April 2005
Location: Small Town New Hampshire
Senior Member
Also...have you had a sit down with each, preferably out to breakfast alone....to understand each one's perspective? And if not resolved, a family meeting with parents...we hashed out many an issue that way and often realized that there was either more to it, unknowns or misunderstandings between them....good news...they all get along famously now that they live in different states Very Happy

In Jesus

Sherry from NH
Re: Brothers [message #818601 is a reply to message #818279 ] Tue, 18 October 2016 21:42 Go to previous message
janetR  is currently offline janetR
Messages: 1937
Registered: March 2010
Location: TX
Senior Member
I'm so sorry, Deanna. I understand that sadness, and was really worried about it for my two oldest girls, who at 14 and 16 years old exhibited these same heart issues and behaviors. Others would tell me that they'd be best friends after they grew up, but my two sisters do not speak to each other, so I know that issues that begin in childhood CAN continue for a lifetime.

On the other hand, something that had happened in my childhood home that did not happen in our home was that my dad was abusive to one sister and counted on the oldest to always be responsible. She, of course seeing the consequences of not, held up her end of the bargain, and other sister upheld her role of being the "bad one." That was an element I had not considered as I watched my own teens. I think that if you and husband model good relationships it makes a huge difference. My own combatants, now 34 and 32, while certainly not best friends, get along great and have found more in common through their late 20's and early 30's.

Now for some practical advice, which may or may not be of any use to you since I used this when my youngest two were about 9 and 12. But you may be able to adapt it to an older pair.

I had noticed that their interactions were characterized by negativity, and wanted to focus on changing that. I put a paper cup with 100 pennies on the kitchen counter, and an empty cup beside it. The goal: to move all 100 pennies to the other cup, one at a time. The reward: a trip to Dairy Queen all together. The rules: 1) You get to move a penny when the OTHER one does something nice for you or says something nice to you, and YOU come and tell me about it. 2) You can move no more than one penny per half hour. However, it's okay to plan an interaction together and both move a penny each half hour. The purpose for this rule was to avoid moving 20 pennies one after the other in a short time span, but then an hour later go back to the negativity. I wanted them to forget about the pennies for a bit, and then think about it again the next time they interacted or saw each other.

Like I said, I know your boys may be a little old for this, but maybe it will spark an idea. (And I agree with Lisa that all this behavior modification is secondary to the heart issues. We also had discussion and prayed and read Scripture and also a book called Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends.)

daughter of the King since 1980
wife to dh since 1981
mom to five of the most incredible adults on the planet, one wonderful 18yo, and grandma to two bouncy grandsons
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