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Dealing with your Friends' Kids - Issue 352
August 15, 2014
|Hi there! ....
This week was a bit sad as Mum and Dad headed off on Tuesday. I filled my day with catching up with a few friends, keep busy and all that. It was such a blessing to have them here – their wisdom, godly encouragement, and fun loving ways brought much life into our home. Thank you Mum and Dad. The rest of the week has been about assessing the things that we let drop because of visitors, and thinking about how we are going to address our next season of focus. The bathroom has finally been painted – just a few more things to do and hopefully it will be ready for our next visitors. Peter and the boys have gone to Darwin for the Northern Territory Taekwondo Championships (and a bit of boy time). Meanwhile the girls and I are having a quiet weekend together, along with a few movies and some yummy food!
If you are a new Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.
This week I wrote a blog post Parent-Student Meeting (with Homeschool Highschool students) so click over to my blog if you missed that through the week.
I also shared over at Our Homeschool Forum - Preparing for the Next Year so if you are getting ready for your next 'homeschool' year there may be some helpful tips in that post for you.
Dealing with Your Friends’ Kids
One of the topics that often comes up when I’m talking to mothers of toddlers is how do you deal with your friends’ kids when your friends parent differently and have different values.
I was recently told this story: A mum had her friend and two little kids (a toddler and a baby) come over for a cuppa and visit. While the two mums sat in the lounge room, the little boy managed to find an empty bottle of hair dye in the bin, helped himself to nappy rash cream from the bathroom, paint from a cupboard, and tipped golden syrup through the pantry. Since the mother didn’t clean him up at any stage the mess was spread to the leather lounge chairs. There was no apology – not even when the mess was commented on. It took a couple of hours to clean up – with a lot of stuff having to be either thrown out or permanently stained.
This is one of the most extreme examples I have ever heard.
What to do? Well, as I encouraged my friend, you can either address it head on and confront your friend for damages (probably not a very nice solution) or you protect yourself next time your friend comes to visit – I suggested meeting in a park!
You may not have had such an extreme thing happen (and I hope not) but we are all familiar with the kids who don’t respect our property or who are mean to our kids and the parents just tune out. I think that is the worst of it – the parents seem to forget they are the parents, and take no responsibility for what their kids do. This urks.
Though we cannot change our friends, there are a few proactive things we can do when we are in this situation:
These are just ideas to help you start thinking of the boundaries you need to set to protect your family. We need to realise that our family comes first and though we want to be hospitable and be a loving friend, we need to set boundaries that protect our family. Hopefully we can do this lovingly but subtly, and that our friends respond; it is always hard to let a friendship go, but sometimes that may be the answer.
Whenever I get annoyed at how someone else chooses to live I have to remind myself to do a heart check and to assess how I act in these or similar situations. The question has to be asked: how aware am I of my kids when we are out and about?
It doesn’t matter how exhausted I am, or how needy I am for adult conversation, my children are always my responsibility. This means when I go out for coffee, or a visit to my friends place, I need to make sure that my young children are doing the right thing. I need to make sure that they continue to do the right thing. For this to happen they may need to play nearby so I can see them, I may need to bring some toys so they have something to do, I need to be prepared to interrupt my conversation in order to help my child, I may need to cut my visit short if they are not doing the right thing and are unable to respond to my correction appropriately.
Please note, I am not saying that we let our children do whatever they want (isn’t that the scenario I started out with), but rather that we are responsible to continue training our children in respect, obedience, self control etc even when we are out and about.
This means that for many years, catching up with friends is spasmodic, interrupted, and often unfinished. I remember going on playdates/coffee dates (because my kids played while I visited!) and coming home, only to phone my friend, once my kids were having their nap, to finish our conversation. Being a mum means having many unfinished conversations! But it is a seasonal thing.
The benefit of being prepared to deal with your children even when you are visiting is twofold:
We cannot change our friends parenting style or values. All we can do is live by our own values and respond to any person or circumstance with character – with grace and yet good stewardship, with love and forgiveness, and yet with discernment. And most of all, we need to ensure that we ourselves are diligent in our parenting.
Have you visited my blog, Live life with your Kids? You can subscribe to receive updates in your email inbox (see the subscription button on the right hand side of my blog)
Or you could read more at my website (homeschooling and parenting issues) Lifestyle Homeschool
Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.
Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.
Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?
This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.
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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter
Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!
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