The Ground Rules

Help your family resolve conflict with this Bible-based model.

"No son of mine is going to school looking like a confused cockatoo!"

I heard Rick loudly declaring from the downstairs bathroom. Our son Chip was in sixth grade at the time and had just moved from the "I care nothing about my appearance" phase into the "My unique looks will totally define my coolness to my peers" phase. As his parents, Rick and I were both struggling. The clothes, the hair, the attitude—this was all new territory for us.

We had, I admit, skirted the perimeter of this alien place with his older sister. But her serious, conservative nature had made for only a few short trips off the straight and narrow. Chip was a different story. We knew his adventuresome, on-the-edge spirit was going to be a major challenge to our nerves, our comfort level, perhaps even our sanity.

I heard the bathroom door slam and Chip's voice rise in irritation.

I sighed. How many times that week had he and his dad clashed over everything from television shows to bedtime? We definitely needed a better system to hash out these issues with both of our children. We needed a way for our family to work through issues objectively. Responding on a purely emotional level wasn't working for anyone.

After his run-in with Chip, Rick felt as defeated as I did and agreed there had to be a better way. We prayed, we talked, we went to the Scriptures and to more experienced friends for counsel. What we ended up with is a model for handling conflict that has made a tremendous difference in the lives of every member of our family. We believe it works so well because it's based on three scriptural principles: God's unchanging nature, human responsibility, and grace.

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May 25

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