According to a book I recently read on parenting, it is better for children to see their parents fighting...as long as they also see them reconciling.
The alternative -- hiding the conflict -- was worse, because it would make children believe conflict was something to be hidden or suppressed, rather than resolved.
If you have two children (as I do) or more, then you know that conflict between siblings is inevitable.
The original Prodigal Son had conflict with his brother.
So does Marvin and his older brother, Nathrop.
Marvin doesn't just forgive his brother in the end. He doesn't just experience "godly sorrow", causing him to turn from his rebellious ways.
He seeks to restore the relationship and do so, in his own way, through sacrifice.
Those three steps of repenting of one's own role in the conflict, forgiving the other, and then seeking to restore the relationship are difficult to model in real life.
Yet those elements are part of the Gospel-relationship we develop through Christ.
We repent. God forgives , sacrifices, and restores.
I model this process in the relationship between Marvin and Nathrop.
But there's more to their relationship.
The conflict between Nathrop and Marvin is also like the conflict between the older brother and his brother, The Prodigal Son.
Nathrop does not understand why the King is so glad to see Marvin when he finally returns.
He's puzzled and tries to remind his father of all the bad things that Marvin has done.
It's just as important to guide our children to not be like the older brother. Righteousness without Christ is not the model, either.
When I first read the parable, I thought, "Boy, that older brother has every right to be mad. He's right to feel things are so unfair!"
I see now the error of the older brother's ways, as well.
We all make mistakes and sin.
Not one of us can be fully righteous in our own power.
It's better to be always desiring to do so than not, of course.
But the idea is hard. We want to teach our children the right path, the moral life.
At the same time, we need to free them from the trap of becoming like the "older brother" -- and that may need a gentle illustration.
Questions I ask at this point:
What do you think?
Is it possible, in your own personal journey or in the way you raise your children, you overlook the story of the older brother as well?
How do you help them understand the lesson of the older brother?