Talking with a mom the other day, I smiled realizing that she needed a dose of perspective. It was hard for her to understand the difficulty another mother was having in raising her kids. “If only she would __________, her son wouldn’t act that way. It’s her own fault. As expected, this mom espoused the virtues of how her child was better equipped because she was parenting the right way.
It’s easy to think we can parent another kid better when we have tunnel vision based on only our experience with our kid. All kids are different, just like all of our husbands are different, and our moms are different, and we are different. Put our different ideas, thoughts, and reactions together, and only God knows how our kids will turn out when they leave the nest.
Yes, we do the best we can and have to trust God with the outcome. Are there things we could have done differently? Of course. Will we regret some of our reactions? Probably. But do we trust that God will work all our parenting issues out for His glory? I hope the answer is yes–even when it turns out differently than we want.
But the question for this blog post has to do with our kids’ perspective. How do we teach our kids to not have that same tunnel vision? How do we teach them to think of the other person’s situation with grace and empathy? How do we teach them to be humble when others are struggling?
At the risk of sounding too simplistic, the answer comes from helping our kids see their situations from the other person’s point of view.
Let me explain through an example.
Erin comes home from school upset at how a friend Sara treated her unfairly. You listen patiently as your daughter goes on and on about the injustice of what happened. Once she has finally exhausted her words and her anger is starting to dissipate and you’ve shown her the empathy she needs, you might begin asking questions to get past the emotion of her judgment.
- I know you are really hurting. I’m sure I’d feel the same way if I were in your shoes. You have every right to be upset. Would it be okay if we talk about Sara for a few minutes?
- What do you think might have triggered her reaction?
- What do you know about Sara–her personality, her home life, her friends?
- Do you know if there was anything that might have set her off — maybe she started her period, or had a fight with her mom or a boyfriend?
- Could you have accidentally done something that made her target you with her outburst?
- Does she have a reason to maybe be jealous of you?
- How have you responded to her so far?
- What could you do to show her grace and show her the Jesus in you?
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
Having these deep conversations with our kids can help them think outside their own box. Perhaps by talking about the other person involved, they will begin to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and see something outside of their own idea of justice. Hopefully, Erin will see that Sara needs some grace in the situation and if she were in Sara’s shoes, the world may look differently.
Just like the mom in the first story, maybe God gave her some great mothering instincts as a result of the parenting she received. Or she is good at gleaning information from parenting books. Maybe the other mother has a strong-willed child or one that keeps her up at night. Perhaps she grew up without a nurturing mother and is having to learn the ropes of parenting without a healthy role model.
It is easy to make snap judgments about another person until we know the whole story. And teaching our kids to look beyond the surface of relationships and situations can help them gain perspective in how to extend grace rather than remain in their own world of injustice.
Dare you to have some deep conversations with your teens when they are in situations where they want to judge the other person. Maybe they’ll see that there is always more than one perspective.
“Let go..and Let God”,
Would you like a different perspective in your own parenting? With All Due Respect is about deepening your relationship with God and your kids. In it you’ll find real life stories about moms who have chosen to look at parenting from a different perspective. You’ll also find questions to think through your own parenting situations. Most moms have told us that the book has stretched them in looking at parenting with the focus of a healthy launch. Why no grab a few friends and read through the book together? Or maybe treat you and a friend to a copy for Mother’s Day.