When Your Extended Family Doesn’t Agree With Your Parenting

Great tips for handling touchy topics with family!


Kelly Crawford | Generation Cedar

If you homeschool, or have more than the average number of children, or don’t let your children date for fun, you should probably just wear a t-shirt that says, “Two headed monster.” Or get a clown nose. That way, you can just do all your friends and family a favor and address the fat elephant in the room. They think you’re weird.

Seriously, family opposition can be one of the most painful and difficult challenges to face. And while most of the time, they only have good intentions, it can seem unfair, as they got to choose how to raise their children.

It seems in our society, there is a very small normal box. As long as you fit in it, smooth sailing. But once you don’t, people assume it is fair game to tell you all you’re doing wrong.

So how do we deal with the people closest to us, namely parents, whom we are commanded to honor, when there is conflict with our family choices? The answer is nearly impossible, because every situation is so different, varying from mild disapproval to outright threats.

But there are principles we can all observe. (We are very blessed with mostly supportive family who, even if they don’t agree, still respect our choices, though there have been seasons in our lives where we’ve dealt with conflict.)

Honor.

Yes, we honor them. You can disagree with someone or even share conflicting views and still do it with honor. They will be more receptive when we maintain a spirit of honor and kindness and even if they aren’t, it’s our duty, in as much as we are able, to live at peace. That doesn’t mean that we may never speak firmly, if the situation warrants it, but having a spirit of honor should be our starting place.

Communication.

Some opposition is met by family members who simply have never heard of what you’re doing. It might be helpful to give them information and let them know you have prayerfully and carefully made these choices.

I think it’s important, and fair, if there is confusion/conflict, that we express our wishes respectfully, provided they are reasonable. It’s not fair to get angry about unmet expectations if we haven’t made them clear.

Often conflict comes from a sense of their feeling condemned if you choose something different than they did. Be sure you are not displaying a spirit of condemnation, even if you need to disagree with their viewpoint.

Silence.

Sometimes we are best to simply let time work things out. I’ve seen homeschooling enemies become huge fans after watching the fruits of it lived out. We must get to a place where we are OK with opposition and where we don’t need the approval of man.

Distance.

Depending on the severity of the opposition, distance might become necessary. If threats are being made, or you feel that your authority is being deliberately undermined (after you have confronted it), you may have to explain that less frequent visits (or more guarded visits) are the consequence. I would only suggest this as a last resort, and in extreme circumstances.

Be above reproach. Be kind, honest, open and yet confident that you are responsible and allowed to make choices for your children even if others don’t understand them.

Feature image: Photo by David De Lossy/Thinkstock


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