As parents, we have to make decisions about what we feel is best for our families. Other than God, we know our children better than anyone else, and we seek His wisdom to do what is best. We trust that our extended family members will respect our parenting styles. However, this isn’t always so. Therefore, tension can arise within the family.
Perhaps one of my least favorite things is to be ignored when it comes to my expectations for my children. I do not like for another family member or friend to allow my children to do things that I would not allow. Also, I don’t like for other family members to do things that I’ve asked them not to do. To me, these things questions my authority and confuses my children.
I do understand that grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other close relatives and friends want to spoil my children, however, as their mama, I know their limitations. For instance, I know my youngest child can not handle Mountain Dew and will eat nothing but sweet, sugary foods and chips if you let him. My middle child has food allergies and asthma. He also gets sick easily and has a difficult time getting over illnesses. My oldest is loving and considerate and not likely to let someone know he is uncomfortable in certain situations. So, as their mama, I have requests and special measures to take with them. It isn’t because I’m a mean mama, but because I want them to be safe and healthy.
Perhaps a major obstacle for many families is what is supposed to happen when a couple marries. In both the Old and New Testaments, we are told that when a man and woman marry, they leave their parents and become one flesh. And in that becoming of one flesh, they start their own family together. Whether they have no children or 10, it is entirely up to them and God. When children are part of God’s will , it is then between Him and the parents on how those children are raised. Sure we are all influenced by our own parents, but ultimately, how we raise our children is up to us. What’s difficult is when the extended family doesn’t respect our wishes.
We can be ugly and say, “You had your chance with your kids. These are my children so butt out.” That’s not the biblical response and definitely won’t help keep the peace.
Whether it is your in-laws, your own parents, other family members or friends, we must stand firm in our parenting. However, we must stand firm in a biblical way, keeping peace within the family. If our mouths or attitudes are causing us to sin, we must first rid of that sin before our family can heal. Ephesians 4:29-32 says this,
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
As Christians, we should work to build up one another, and we should not degrade others, especially in front of our children. We should be forgiving and show love toward those family members who seem to oppose us, treating all as Christ has treated us. And I do say this, loving and forgiving is not saying, “Oh, it’s ok. Go ahead and do whatever you want with my children. Make me look like the bad guy. No big deal.” That’s not it all. Regardless of our situations, love is always the answer. Sometimes, love makes us take some time and space from the relationship so it can not be damaged further. Yes, this could be difficult to do, but may be necessary. To me, family is family. No matter the drama, you love and forgive, but you also learn your boundaries and limitations. For instance, if you know your family members consistently fill your children up on sweets, ruining them from a good dinner or wiring them up at bed time, reconsider the time you visit. Go after a meal when your children aren’t hungry. Also, lovingly remind your children and the family member of the effects of too many sweets. Help your child make responsible choices.
In Chapter 23, Amber gives some tips in keeping the peace within the family:
- Unite as a couple. Your marriage and family unit is the priority. Remember what scriptures say about two becoming one.
- Consider your own sin against the family members.
- Stick to your decisions and don’t let fear or pressure influence you. Never put your children in situations you are uncomfortable with just because of an intimidating family member.
- Plan out your responses. This will allow you to have confidence in your decision and choose the righteous path with your family members.
One thing I read from this chapter of Triggers that stuck with me was this: our firm and loving responses toward our family members can convict them of their sin. Y’all, we will NEVER change our family members. It isn’t up to us. However, by our biblical responses to the tension within the family unit, we can point them to Christ. He is the only one with the power to change their hearts.
What are your suggestions for keeping peace within the family while sticking to your guns about what is best for your children?
What scripture can you share that would offer encouragement to those who are struggling in this area?