“You are not the Mommy!” This is an oft-repeated phrase at my house directed at bossy siblings. It began with my second daughter. Her older big sister was being bossy and telling her what to do. Her response – “You are not the mommy!” As much as she wanted to be – she was not. She did not have that authority. No matter how accurate her understanding of the family rules, it was not her place to enforce them.
The Need for Control
Oh, how we long to control the actions of others. We want to tell them what to do so that our lives are easier. We know what rules we are expected to follow. More importantly, we think the world will be fair and orderly if others have to follow those same rules as well. If we have control over someone else, maybe we will have control over what happens to us.
We desperately want control over our lives. Power over someone else gives us a sense of security that we are not at the bottom of the totem pole.
Bossy Siblings are Not Parents
Siblings are not parents. Scripture commands us to honor your father and mother. It does not tell us to extend this same authority and position to siblings.
“When you boss your sister, you upset the natural order of things
and it breaks your relationship with her.”
This is a phrase with which I have often admonished by eldest child.
I have used it a lot over the years. Another mom had the privilege of witnessing the sister squabbles and my gentle rebuke to my eldest once again. The fresh wisdom of the statement was a surprise to her but seemed common sense to me. God was gracious to me in giving me this insight early on with my little ones and their bossy siblings.
Bossy Siblings need to recognize Order & Authority
Our God is a God of order. We live in a world where honor and authority are looked down on. It is not so in the Kingdom of God. We see in scripture the structure that God has created for how we are to live. God creates the basic unit of a family – a mother and a father who are to be honored. This is a new unit. No longer bound to their parents but in marriage, they cleave to one another. Children are admonished to honor their parents. Husbands are told to love their wives. Wives are told to respect their husbands. A mother has authority over her children, but she is also subject to the authority of her husband as the head of the household.
We see this order in our churches. In America, we struggle with our ideas of the structure of our government and how they influence the structure and authority of our churches. Whereas the biblical structure of the church is not a democracy, it is to be led by the overseers/elders and deacons. We see more instructions on patterns of influence in that older women are to instruct younger women and older men are to teach younger men. Also, there are even instructions on how younger men are to address older men.
Bossy Siblings need to learn Submission & Authority
We are reminded in Galatians that there is neither male nor female, Greek nor Slave, etc. in the Kingdom of God. There is radical equality that was amazing and profound for its time and for our time. At the same time, there is an emphasis on submission and authority. Moreover, these ideas are not seen as competing ideas but complementary.
We don’t like being told what to do by people who are not in an authority position to command us. “Who are you to tell me what to do?” A fellow citizen who points out our error will not be afforded the same respect as a police officer who speaks the same words. In fact, we are likely to be angered that the fellow citizen stuck their nose in our business.
Do Bossy Siblings have any Authority?
For my sanity as a mom, I want my kids to get along. Can I get an amen? My ears grow tired some days listening to the silly squabbles that seem never to end.
More than that though, I want my children to be friends with one another. Not only do I want to enjoy their company, but I also want them to enjoy one another’s company. Certainly, bossing and bullying are not good building blocks for friendship.
As parents, we should not ask our children to be mini-parents to their siblings. My daughter can babysit her brother, who is eight years her junior. However, the discipline she uses is not the same as a parent. She will have to intentionally use more honey and persuasion in getting him to obey. A sister cannot be the mom. She has to be a loving big sister.
Authority & How We Speak
They will imitate us in speaking with their siblings. I have the authority to command, but my children do not. I often have to point out to them how they need to modify how they speak to their siblings because they do not hear what they speak. Bossy siblings usually don’t realize how bossy they sound. Children assume more kindness and persuasion than what was actually conveyed. They need to be coached in how to speak to one another lovingly.
It is a challenge for me as a parent as well. How do I instruct in ways that are firm and polite? When I ask for something to be done, it might be posed as a question; however, it isn’t an optional thing.
Authority belongs to the parents, not to the sibling. One of the challenges that we see for the Devil, time and time again in scripture, is his longing for the things that belong to Christ. Therefore, he is continually seeking to usurp the things that belong to Christ for himself. Upsetting the natural order is absolutely part of the Devil’s playbook. He will use that same tactic to upset the relationships in our families.
Humility & Authority
To ensure a healthy relationship between my children, it is vital that they deal with each other humbly as siblings of equal authority. The differences of age will all fade in adulthood. Admonish your children to speak to one another as friends. Advise them to plead and challenge one another as friends. We cannot control other people. However, we can pray for them. More importantly, we can model for them. Be a sibling, not a parent – that is your right relationship.
The boy. The youngest. He has added his own transformation to the phrase. “You are not the daddy!” – He argued with me one day. No I am not, son, but trust me – I have Daddy’s authority to tell you what to do. A post on the importance of the united front of Moms & Dads on another day!