Dealing with Conflicts in the Home

By Andrew McColl, 4th October, 2022

The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding (Prov.10:21).

When a family decides to home school, they open their doors to many blessings from God, along with extra challenges, which are also from Him. The children who might have been dispatched to school from 8am till 4pm, now are home all day.

That means that parents get to see aspects of their children that wouldn’t be quite as evident if they were off to school every day, and that’s a good thing, too.

I’ve mentioned before the wise pastor’s saying,

                       Where there are people, there are problems.

Family problems aren’t necessarily sinful ones, though of course they certainly can be. I’m sure Adam and Eve confronted some significant problems in the garden, before they sinned. But parents in the home (along with children), are obliged to deal with many problems and conflicts that arise. Ideally, this should be in a God-honouring way. I’ve made the mistake of needlessly treading on toes of family members, and initiating unnecessary conflict! And I needed to apologise.

When there are six people in a home, there are six wills, and you’ll find that there are occasions when not everyone in a family sees things with a perfectly uniform perspective! And managing those differences requires wisdom on the part of parents.

The Bible from Genesis onwards, has lots of examples of family conflicts, which frequently weren’t handled very well, and these should be a warning for us. King David was a courageous warrior for Israel, but there were times in his family when he was utterly incompetent to deal with serious family conflict and crises, with tragic results (see II Sam.11-18). Physical and moral courage are two different things.

There are a few ways to respond when conflicts in the home arise. The father can say:

“I don’t want to know about this. This is way too hard to deal with.” (That’s procrastination no.1).

Or, he can defer a decision about the conflict to another date, hoping it will go away. (That’s procrastination no.2).

Or, he can say, “I’m in charge. There’s my way or the highway.” (That’s the authoritarian approach).

Or, he can take a family vote. (That’s democracy).

Or he can seek the views of all family members old enough to have a relevant opinion, discuss these options with his wife, and then come back to the family for any further comments and his final decision.

The Bible makes this clear: all authority is given by God, with a view to serving others.  The scriptural command is that we are to “… through love, serve one another” (Gal.5:13).

How we go about resolving conflict is just as important as the conflict we want to resolve. Why is that?  Because Jesus said that He was “…gentle and humble in heart” (Mat.11:29).

If He is, we ought to be too. Having authority from God is never a licence to be authoritarian; people always appreciate humility in leadership from someone who took the time to listen to them.

Pride is the biggest thing that gets in the way of conflict resolution. Proud people find it hard to admit their fault or mistake. The Bible frequently contrasts pride and humility. It says that “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honour” (Prov.29:23), and that “…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

The critical issue when facing family conflicts is that participants, beginning with parents, exercise godly wisdom, maturity and humility. They can begin with:

  1. Do I have all the information I need?
  2. Have I chosen the right time, place and method?
  3. Have I committed this matter to God?
  4. Am I coming with a right attitude?
  5. Do I have a clear conscience?[1]                                                                                                
  6. Is the outcome we’ve chosen, really going to honour the Lord?

Conclusion:                                                                                                                                  Dealing with and resolving conflicts in the home may not be easy, but it is an essential aspect of parenthood that we cannot and must not avoid. As we go about this process responsibly and humbly before the Lord, we can ask for and expect His blessing, and the life of the Lord in our home and family.

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honour and life (Prov.22:4).

[1] “Interpersonal Relationships,” in Christian Light Education Classroom Teacher Training, 2013, p.40.

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