Encourage peace within the family.
With hearts seeking to apply love and trust to their interactions in the family, our children are in a better position to begin to consider how taking the perspective of others can help to build harmony in the home. Paul returns to his discussion of harmony, discussing peace with others in Colossians 3:12-14. “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Having love and trust in our hearts for one another creates the fertile ground in which grows a desire to be bound together in perfect harmony.
The conversations that we have with our children, helping them to gain a heart with a view toward taking on the perspectives of others as they interact with us, are the foundation from which we are able to instruct our kids on how they can understand what is going on in the hearts and minds of their siblings and other family members. Pairing a compassionate heart with a mind filled with meekness and humility opens our children up to take on the perspective of others well. There is a decision that is as much of the mind as it is of the heart, wherein we all learn how to set ourselves aside in order to more fully seek to grasp the viewpoint of others.
Notice that growing in harmony as a family involves knowing what it means to forgive one another (Colossians 3:13) as we have already discussed. Further, in order to forgive and restore harmony, there is a need to make the decision to bear with one another. Being able to think through what has taken place from the point of view of others, helps our children to be able to understand the complaints that they might have against each other. As a parent, you like do not need to be reminded that in many if not most conflict situations that disrupt the harmony of the home, each of our children involved contributes their own complaint into the cacophonous altercations that rampage across our living rooms. What helps to keep the squabbling of our kids from getting too far out of control is developing the mental skills to be able to slow down emotional reactions, read the room, and assess from more than one vantage point what might be taking place.
When Paul talks about love “which binds everything together in perfect harmony” I cannot help but think of the original bond upon which the family unit is established. In establishing marriage as the foundation for the family God outlines the depth to which husband and wife are to bind themselves to one another. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) It’s hard to imagine a binding more tightly connected than two becoming one flesh. The bonds of the family grow from this new single flesh.
In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul discusses the mutual submission that husbands and wives are to have for one another. In order to engage in this mutual submission, we must look at what takes place in our life together from the perspective of our spouse. In a similar fashion, the relationships that our children have with one another and with us should mirror this bond in a similar mutual submission. Thus as a family, we bind ourselves to one another, seeking perfect harmony through a growing understanding of each other’s perspectives.