Have you ever had another mother or friend of yours come to you to talk with you about an issue with your child?
Have you ever had to go to a friend to bring their child's sin to attention? Do you just ignore the issue at hand? Or do you approach the other parent recognizing that the parent might not have any idea at all? This is a hard topic to talk about. It’s uncomfortable, because we have all been there. If you are a parent, you will most likely experience BOTH sides of this scenario, because all our children are sinners. If someone was to come to you and say, “Sister, listen, I love you, and I get that my kids are sinners too, but there is an issue that I need to bring to your attention and it has to do with your son/daughter,” how would you respond?
I think this aspect of parenting is one of the hands down hardest things to deal with because many of us fear it will jeopardize our friendships. But, what if by committing to invest deeply in one another's lives and our children's lives, we drew closer to one another? Can you imagine the potential growth and accountability that could come alive in our friendships if we, as moms and dads, were able to humble ourselves enough to speak truth to one another without judgement, but rather from a heart of concern and love? Can you imagine a life where we don't bear burdens alone but embrace parenting in community?
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:1-5
You see, I bring this up because I am convinced this is another one of those closed topics that not many are willing to talk about. As the body of Christ, we are meant to encourage and exhort one another toward living better, toward living holy, because He is holy. As a mom, I get that things slip by me. I miss things that need to be dealt with, like heart attitudes. I need a community that loves and cares for my children, that is invested in their hearts WITH me.
So How Can we Help One Another? How Can We Confront In Love?
Develop strong relationships with other parents.
Over the years we have been blessed to develop a few close friendships with some families where we have had talks about this in particular. We decided to give one another the permission upfront to be able to come to one another if we saw something that needed to be addressed. In these relationships, we haven’t put any limitations on what we voice concern about. And I have to tell you, just having that communication line open, has made our friendships deeper, safer, and more authentic.
Bring up the topic and lay it out on the table for discussion.
Do you want to be able to communicate freely, not letting any sin, even the sin of your children, hinder the potential depth of communion with one another? Because the reality is that unspoken or unaccounted for sin destroys friendships. And as your children grow, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain friendships with others if you are not able to bring up the sin and not take offense when they bring it up to you.
Don't judge your friend for her child's sin
My children are pretty good at sinning all on their own, without my help. It is my responsibility to hold my child accountable and to teach them what it is, to call it out, and to even allow them to experience consequences. If I don't hold up to my duty, my responsibility as a parent, I am in sin, because this is part of what God calls me to as a parent.
As sisters in Christ, we shouldn't judge one another for our child’s behavior or sin, we view it as an opportunity to serve and love one another. For example, if I see a disrespectful heart attitude in one of my friend's children, I have the freedom and responsibility to talk to the parents about it, but to remind my friend that I acknowledge my kids are sinners too and that I just care about their child!
Make a effort to point out their children's good qualities, gifts, and those times when you see fruit in their lives.
Just as we need to have the ability to speak truth to one another about the sin we witness in the daily lives of all our children, we also need to be quick to build one another up in Christ. One of the best ways to build a relationship of trust, confidence, and love is to first acknowledge out loud the good character qualities in another’s child. If all you do is come to them with complaints, that is not healthy or productive, and your word will lose influence.
The point here, is that we shouldn’t just be critical and on the lookout for sin, but also on the lookout for all the good godly characteristics in others and recognize them verbally!
Be in prayer for your friends as they are parenting and for their children, that they would have teachable, humble hearts ready to receive correction.
We absolutely need to support one another through prayer. I love that I have friends that are in the exact same season of life, raising children, in the trenches, and that we can go to one another with prayer requests, not holding anything back. It has made our friendship so much deeper and God glorifying! What do we have to loose? Pride is SO over rated!
I get that this kind of friendship is difficult to come by. Many people don’t allow others to even get close enough to see one another’s sin, let alone confront one another on it. And for some reason there is a “off limits” feeling when it comes to other people’s children.
For me, one of the reasons I struggle with going to another is because I feel strongly that It is my responsibility to correct and train my children, and if they are not in sin, it is easy for me to take offense that I am the one being judged for being a negligent parent. The reality though, is that if I am feeling threatened by someone coming to me with a concern, it must be a reflection of a lack of confidence in Christ, in my own life.
As a woman who loves Jesus and wants desperately to leave a God-fearing, Kingdom focused legacy, I have to be able to separate my identity in Christ from my concept of any track record as a parent. Once I can do that, then hearing those words, “Your child…” should be easier and I shouldn’t take it personally.
I love John MacArthur’s definition of encourage, its great to keep in mind as we go out on a limb in our relationships with other families:
Parenting is hard, especially in a society that doesn’t believe in sin, or a community that tends to overlook children’s sins giving the excuse that they are “just being kids.” We need to come together and support one another, both through encouragement that we are doing great things with our children, but also in caring enough to speak up when we see a child sinning against someone else and holding them accountable in the appropriate way by going to the parent whose duty it is to train them.
So are you with me?
Let's help one another out, and choose to separate our identity in Christ from our parenting record. Let's love one another, and choose not be judgmental women, but have the depth of love to speak truth to one another and offer help and prayer in the process.
Join me in the online course, The Christian Woman's Guide to Building Authentic & Intentional Friendships at Courageous Mom Academy.