Part of living in an imperfect world means there are problems that arise on a daily basis. Unkind words, misunderstandings, gossip, bragging, bullying and internal struggles are all legit problems our children face within their families and outside the home.
How should we respond as parents and how can we help lead our kids in a Christ-like response? We can lead our kids well by looking at a few approaches to conflicts they will face.
Don’t react quickly.
Tears running down his face, your sweet child tells you of the injustice done at recess. You can feel your temp rising a little as he speaks.
Although our first reaction is tempting to act on, don’t!
There are times that an isolated incident happens and it doesn’t spread from there. Many times children can work out these smaller issues themselves. If they know you won’t defend them without some questioning first, then they become empowered to work it out.
The problem is really not the problem.
When you peel back the layers, there is usually more to the story and more at the heart of the issue. Maybe the child aggravating your child at school has problems at home? Maybe your child has an offense towards someone? The answer lies in a Christ centered approach. 1 Corinthians 4:12-13 says, “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate.” Impossible? Yes, apart from Christ we can do nothing. Take advantage of these messy problems that have a beautiful way of being redeemed when you allow Christ in to do His work.
Give the benefit of the doubt!
This goes a LONG way in life. I’ve been “that mom” and wished I would have waited before I bring the problem up to the other child or parent. I have brought up “the problem” only to find out I didn’t have all the facts and assumed wrong motives. Ouch! So now we have implemented the 3rd offense rule in our house.
I wait before reacting. If the incident happens more than once, I walk my child through ways to approach it.
If it drops on its own, hooray!! They learned how to work through it.
If it’s a repeated/more complex issue, that’s when it might be a good idea to approach the other parent. With kindness.
Understanding that we all have areas we need grace for in our own lives. We need to be eager(or pray to be eager) to give grace to the offender. Wow, this is hard stuff. How much more should we walk it out with our children. It is just as much for us as it is for them.
2 Corinthians 12:9 is our promise that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
There are always two sides to every story.
There are always two sides to every story. “One man story seems right until the other has spoken…”
My kids would fault us for trying to see the perspective of the “other side” first. Encourage your kids to see the problem from the other persons point of view. Role play how they would feel if they were the one being talked about, having the bad day, or having problems at home. We usually have grace for our own failures, but not so much for others short comings.
Growing in grace happens as we see how much we have been forgiven. It gives us perspective to forgive others the same way. Besides the fact that God does not hear our prayers when we are unforgiving of our brother.
Sandpaper smooths out the rough spots.
We love it when God uses people's strengths to get us where he wants us to go, but we hate it when he uses someone’s weakness to do the same. People can be like sandpaper in our lives. Their “annoyances” can be used to smooth out OUR rough edges. We can encourage our kids to see how they react to certain personalities that are difficult. Whether you are the offender or the one offended, it is certain that God can use it for the both of you. Since you are responsible before God for your response.
Let’s help our kids (and ourselves) through this process. It’s a lifelong endeavor. Our families, schools and communities will be blessed by our efforts.