I wish I could tell you how many times in my life I have stuck my foot in my mouth and said something to someone else before thinking—using words I did not mean just to gain an advantage in an argument. I wish I had a more solid foundation in those times and perhaps a clear head; but I didn’t and those moments happened. I’ve learned a lot from these mistakes, as well as what the Bible says about calming a dispute. As parents, we are our children’s primary role models. The way we handle adverse times when they arise sets the bar for how our sons and daughters will too. Here are three quick ways we can avoid falling into the trap of excessive arguing, thus ensuring our children don’t become casualties due to our ignorance.
- Prepare your heart ahead of time
It’s hard to put your armor on when you are already engaged in a battle. Do you know what your triggers are or who pushes your buttons the most? Getting a grip early on how you will handle a situation, especially when caught off guard, will save a lot of unnecessary pain down the line (James 1:19).
- Use soft words
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Yeah, right! Our words can cause more damage to another person than a physical altercation. The tongue is a powerful weapon, full of life or death. Even if you do find yourself in a disagreement or dispute, choose words that will turn away wrath, rather than stir it up (Prov 15:1).
- Walk away
If engaged with someone in an argument face to face, the best thing you may be able to do at the time is just walk away. Tell them you recognize the danger of continuing the conversation and politely excuse yourself. If through a text or email, choose not to respond to their comments, or take plenty of time to think and pray about it before answering (Prov 10:19).
There’s no doubt we all will be challenged at some point and must make the snap decision of igniting a dispute with someone, or diffusing it immediately. Personally, I have found that the way I handle challenging times is in direct correlation to my quiet time with God. Lots of time with Him equals more victories. Less time with Him usually results in me acting out through my flesh. I encourage you to seek the Lord’s guidance on how you can diffuse an argument before it starts. When we do, everyone wins—especially our children.
The Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged. -2Tim 2:24 (NASB)
Do you know where you are vulnerable to arguments, and how will you diffuse them ahead of time?