When we're in relationship with people, there will always be opportunities to get offended. If someone has rubbed us the wrong way, said something wrong...or...I'm sure you can think of a few examples.
As my daughters are getting older and having to work out issues with friends down the street, in church, or in different groups - I'm finding it quite a "political dance" to help them work through things at times. Dealing with MAMA BEAR can be hard to navigate. It's so easy to get defensive if our (perfect) children (not!) get accused of being not so nice, RIGHT?
I remember when my daughter was a toddler and went in those tubes at the McDonalds play park...and some kid hit her. OOOOO, this 5 foot nothing mama turned into Hulk with a pink shoes in an instant. Don't mess with MAMA BEAR!!!!!!
Here's the problem - if we're to look out for one another, stoop down and encourage one another - AND Iron out our differences (Philippians 4:2) that also must involve embracing those who wrong us, or our kids.
Here's an approach I've used over & over and it has actually produced MIRACLES - not just with the relationship among kids, but a high level of respect & authority among fellow mama bears. To respect those in our lives, I will not be giving stories to illustrate, but this works. When we've had issues with our girls' friends, we've approached the parents with 3 attitudes:
- Benefit of the doubt. I NEVER go with the approach that their child is 100% wrong, and mine is innocent. This IMMEDIATELY brings any defensive walls down. I do an approach something like this, "I was just wondering if you were aware of ____. This is the story I have, but maybe I'm wrong and I would love to just get it in the open before it gets worse. ______ LOVES spending time with ______ so I'd just hate for things to escalate.
- I ask how I can help. I love the "It takes a village to raise a child" mentality so I consider their child someone I can look out for and encourage. So I ask permission to go out of my way to dote on that child. This creates an atmosphere of safety & community. Every time I've given this kind of support to a parent, it's literally a door to minister Christ's love to that family...whether they know Jesus or not. What an opportunity to SERVE that family!!!!!
- I talk to my daughters about serving & loving that child - ESPECIALLY if they're not being oh-so-nice. Didn't God say bless our enemies? I've watched over and over my daughters lean into those who others would consider awkward or un-friendly. And the reports I've gotten back is that the habits that caused discord lessen - because they were around positive friends, instead of being shunned for their attitude.
I hear often stay at home moms feel like they have nothing to offer the Kingdom because they feel so isolated in the sink of dishes, or mountain of laundry & snotty noses. My answer is to go out of their way to affect the circle of kids around them, and their parents. You NEVER KNOW the eternal impact you are having by just touching a fellow family with kindness.