When will they stop fussing? Love must be trained, to grow! Way # 5

joel and joy piano

Joel and Joy, playing and singing again.

There was a time, actually some years, when I wondered if Joy and Joel could go for a day without chafing each other. Whatever personality issues lay between them, add a little sin nature and age difference, and life would find them often correcting each other’s opinion or thoughts or heating toward high friction.

Some of my best memories the past two years, though, have been seeing them come to the piano again and again–playing, singing, harmonizing for literally hours–as they are both singer-songwriter types; seeing Joel coach her as she practiced her speeches and then spending hours judging at her speech and debate tournaments; coaching and encouraging each other through life, loves, thoughts, and becoming real, down deep friends.

Same with Sarah and Nate, or Joy and Sarah or Joel and Nate, …, you get the picture!

Moms often say to me, “When are they ever going to stop fussing? Will they ever be friends?”

It does take longer than any of us would want, but training is the key to training the heart’s response.

But, as I have paraphrased in other principles–love is not natural, it is supernatural. Love is a choice, an obedience. It grows when self is put away again and again. Love is a choice practiced over and over again–in order to build a strong “love muscle.”

And yet, Jesus says that love is the very reality that will separate us from the world, because love is such an exceptional light in a sea of dark relationships–that we would actually show love for one another is the way He said we would win the world.

As he said, “They, (the world), will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.”

The reason people would know that something was different about believers in Christ is that love is not natural to normal people–love is not normal in this world where divorce, law suits, violence in homes, separation of friendships, petty fussing and fighting, church splits, this is the norm.

That is why this week’s “way” is so very important.

We love one another, treating others with kindness, gentleness and respect.” Way #5

Memory Verse:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

I John 4:11-12

Love must become a trained habit. Living by feelings is not a choice, we must help our children to “become strong inside” by choosing what is right, beyond  negative feelings. Living in submission to the power of the Holy Spirit, and choosing to practice love, is what is at stake here. Obedience to practicing love and learning to forgive is a pathway to maturity and a choice where God will provide strength in the midst of such a choice of obedience.

What we sow, we reap. And if we sow seeds of love, seeds of choosing to be kind, learning to be gentle and showing respect, we will empower our children to have strong relationships.  All of this must be taught, modelled, and then corrected and trained again and again.

The practice of learning to love goes on at home:

Is that the way to be kind, gentle and respectful to your sister? How could you have said that differently? What is our Family way about how we treat one another? Now, I want you to apologize and tell your sister that you love her.

weakly's clarksons church fun

Some of our besties–even friends offend each other.

Friends must also become a place of practicing loving.

I know you feel like your friend irritated you and was unjust–but our verse says, “Since God loved us, we also ought to love one another. So, could you find it in your heart to forgive your friend? Mama has quarreled with her friends before, too. I know it hurts your feelings. But since God forgave me, I knew He wanted me to forgive my friend. Can I pray for you and your friend? ……….Now, let’s surprise her and write her a nice note about how glad you are that she is your friend and maybe we could take her a plate of cookies?”

If we separate from our friends just because of quarrels, then we are teaching our children that we don’t have to love everyone–we only have to love the people who we feel like loving–and then your training of this verse and family way becomes null and void.

What we model as adults is the integrity of our teaching them to follow our ways.

(And even in those irrational relationships with family, believers and others who will not speak to you anymore or who have decided to be at enmity to you, you must model restraint–show respect because you are a child of Jesus. Show your children what it looks like to respect even those who have offended you and sinned against you. When you model unconditional love in front of your children, they know deep in their hearts that you are choosing to control your feelings in order to sow love–and guess what, that is exactly how they will behave when they are tested as adults–because they learned integrity from you!)

loving Clay

Oh no, you mean I even have to model this way in marriage?

All marriages have stress and ups and downs. This is the training grounds for parents to practice unconditional love in front of their children. Way 5, loving because He first loved us- is not something that just the children are required to follow–even we must follow our Family ways, especially in marriage–sowing love and grace, kindness, gentleness and respect with our spouse, even when our feelings disagree. This is the training grounds for greatness for our children.

When they hear the truth of the way and learn the verse, then when they see that in their home, forgiveness is practiced over and over again; saying your sorry and giving respect and restoring the relationship; choosing to act and speak in respectful ways, prepares your children to:

Stay loving and faithful and forgiving in marriage

to be a loyal and faithful friend

to get along and learn how to honor and handle others at work

In short, training a child to choose to love by showing kindness, gentleness and respect will prepare them to go before kings or paupers and to become leaders in their generation. This is one of the most important areas of training, so that our children can learn how to influence people with the messages of Christ–it starts with an attitude that says, “God has designed me to love people, to be humble like He was, to show respect and kindness.”

Did fussing irritate me? Of course–drove me crazy!

Did I ever wonder if my children would get along? Thousands of times.

Did I wonder what I was doing wrong? Of course I did.

But training is a matter of process and maturity. And it really is going in deep in their hearts.

But training them to love is not about forcing them and yelling at them–but training, correcting, loving, modeling and doing it all over again, until this is a true value of their soul.

But it does work and God will knit together your family, because it is deeply in their souls–His way and design for them.

I am not quite sure when the “magic” of my children really loving each other and enjoying each other and really loving to be together happened, but it is a gift and a result of the seeds we planted and watered over many years.

Even last night, Nathan rang us at 10:30 and we had a 20 minute, face time–me on the couch, showing the dog, getting 3 of us in camera site at once–just to be together and “jaw.” We giggled, shared, talked and loved once again as a community of Clarkson’s. The fruit was sweet to my mama heart.

This training is an over and over and over again issue, but I must say now, fighting hard for this way to become the “way” of their hearts is one of the sweetest harvests of training, because now we have all become best friends.


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  1. says

    I just love your wisdom, Sally. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately…developing our family friendships. I so want my kids to be best friends…I’ll keep praying, loving and training. Thank you!

  2. Dawn Walton says

    I’m seeing that fruit with my older ones now too, but with the younger ones it’s still on again off again! We have 9 children. So….we keep modeling and training! I’m so glad I found your ministry here online. You have been such an encouragement to me and help me feel I’m getting a grip on this thing called godly motherhood!

  3. Charlotte says

    This was so timely, Sally! Thank you so much for sharing! And for showing that there *is* a happy-ever-after ending concerning my boys and their squabbling!

  4. says

    Oh, we are still on Way #2 but we definitely need this one. Sometimes I wonder if Chloe and John (18 months apart. 6 and almost 5) will ever stop bickering. Some days they play beautifully and other times they – just don’t. Grrr. But in reading this post, I realized that the Ways we are beginning to learn as a family are not just for my tots benefit but for mama too.

  5. L. says

    My little children are fussing so loudly at the moment I’ll have to bookmark this page and come read it later, which is really hitting my funny bone in the midst of this wild moment! The sweet picture of sibling love at the top of the page is enough to help us through, thanks for the encouragement!

  6. says

    In high school, I met some brothers who were far from being friends with one another. One with disagree with the other just to disagree even if it wasn’t what he really believed. Their parents had pitted them against each other, one favoring one, and one the other, and they also had charts to see how much money they would get for the grades they got. One is lucky to be born smart, it doesn’t mean they tried hard. Anyhow, they was my first glimpse at sibling rivalry, and it scared me. I’ve heard stories about families where someone doesn’t attend a function because so-and-so was there, and that hurts my heart. Hard stuff to deal with, I’m sure. My parents always taught us to be friends with our siblings. We had our moments, but it was just kids being kids. We still do everything together, and I hope that it would be true of my girls, and their cousins.

  7. Jackie says

    Sally, you are such balm to my soul! You are showing me a path, as a mama, that I didn’t realize was possible. We tend to only really know what we grew up with, and I didn’t realize there was so much more to motherhood than just “surviving.” God is tremendously working in our family and calling us to live a different life than how my husband and I were raised, and it is so encouraging to read the wisdom of your heart. We have many of your books (including 24 Family Ways) and without them I would feel like I was traveling this road alone. I can’t put in to words the blessing you and Clay have been to our family. I pray that you find encouragement and endurance to continue your life-changing work! Thank you.


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