Considering birth order, varying ages, the melting pot of personalities, and male and female differences, it’s a small miracle there’s ever a calm moment in any home. It mostly happens when everyone’s asleep.

I got a question the other day about keeping the peace. I wish I had a standard-issue answer. But, like anything concerning family and kids, each situation is different and there are numerous factors that are in play. I can offer suggestions and tell you what worked and didn’t work for us. We made it through in one piece and are still standing so I suppose that counts for some level of success.

I would like to tell you our house was pleasant and lovely and our children didn’t fuss and argue. The truth is, it got so crazy sometimes I felt it might be best to go to my room, lock the door, and call the National Guard. But then, Jim Brawner would come home. He’s kind of like the National Guard.

About halfway through every family vacation I seriously questioned my ability to make rational decisions about traveling with three children. The brochures seemed to perpetually trick me into trying again.

One spring break we flew in to Seattle to drive over to Canada for a four days of skiing. I must be a slow learner or my memory blocked out the pain of skiing with kids. It’s like giving birth. I forgot how painful it was so I did it again and then again.

When we finally recovered all of our luggage, we trekked over to the rental car area. Did we ever consider it was NCAA basketball tournament week in Seattle when we planned the trip? We just booked a standard size car thinking we would upgrade at the counter. It didn’t happen.

After 20 or so minutes of Jim trying to fit everything for the five of us in a midsize car the natives’ restlessness began to get out of hand; “She won’t stop talking. Get away from me! He’s breathing on me. I need my three feet of personal space. Owww.”

Suddenly Jim raised up out of the car and in a loud, very firm voice said, “All right. All three of you come here and stand by the car.” The parking garage was very crowded and several people turned around. I instantly got a knot in my stomach. You know people can call the authorities. Jim started on a monologue of how disappointed he was they couldn’t get along and how fortunate they were to be on this trip and then added a bit about the starving children in the world for emphasis.

By this time people had put down their suitcases to watch what was unfolding. Then he said, “Now, I want the three of you to hug until I get this car loaded.”

“Daaad, Nooo!”

“Don’t argue! HUG,” he said and went back to packing. So they did. Within 15 seconds the group huggers were laughing so hard they could barely breathe. So was everyone watching the saga. I finally quit holding my breath.

It’s universal; siblings are going to stir it up. But, at the end of the day, they would take a bullet for each other. Many times minor skirmishes are best left to the kids to work out themselves. When you do have to step in, be consistent, it helps to be creative, and occasionally run trick plays

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One response to “

  • Mary Paddock

    Well done! With four boys–all two or so years apart–we've seen our fair share of this. Keeping a sense of humor about it, and helping them to do so as well, goes a long way toward teaching them to keep things in perspective.

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