To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth— because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 2 John 1:1-5 NIV
With another school year behind us my work mate was sharing her son's kindergarten experience with me. She and her husband have tried diligently to teach their son to be kind, thoughtful and polite. This past year he struggled with a more dominant classmate, as they all are learning to navigate classroom etiquette and politics. During the school year the parents of both children have developed a close friendship. My friend had hoped that through more frequent exposure the boys would learn to work out their differences. Dinners, play dates, etc. have allowed additional time together, but most occasions have ended with tears, shouting and someone in time out, usually my friend's son being the one in trouble. The parents of the other young man do not see an issue and shrug it off as "boys will be boys." My friend and her husband see the other boy's behavior as manipulative, bullying which are qualities they do not desire their son to learn or be subjected to. Julie wanted to know how to "fix" the problem with the boys so the parents could continue to spend time together.
Additionally, the two families have planned a summer vacation together, renting a large lake house for a week. While my friend really enjoys the other couple, and wants to go, she is also concerned that it will be seven days with her son being mistreated and upset which would make the time miserable for she and her husband.
My question was, "What is The Kingdom Issue? How to play nicely together, how to handle bullies or how to stick up for himself?" To me the question is what is this young boy learning about friendships? Is the friendship between the parents more important than how he is treated when subjected to play time with the other boy? Is it appropriate to be mistreated in order to have "friends?" What about in high school if a bully confronts her son? Will he have the courage to say anything if the parents didn't do anything when he was younger?
Our first job as parents is to protect our children from all kinds of dangers, bullies included. Secondly, we are to teach them how to navigate the obstacles of this world. By maintaining a parent-level friendship with this couple, the boy is being mistreated, and is learning to submit to the bullying, stay out of trouble, and avoid conflict in order to have this boy as a "friend." Friendships are built on mutual love for one another, manipulation and selfishness have no part.
Parent friendships are wonderful and provide interaction with other parents that are crucial, but not at the expense of our children. By disengaging this parent friendship, my friend and her husband are demonstrating that their son is important, he is a priority for them above others, and that sometimes you have to disengage activities with others for a greater good. I encouraged a family discussion to express their love and commitment to their son, and to help him learn the qualities of true friendships.
Loving Father, You demonstrated Your love for Your children, by saving us from the darkness of the evil one, and there was no sacrifice too great for our rescue. Our precious children are treasures give to us from Your hand. Please help us make decisions for their good according to Your purposes, protecting their spirits as we communicate our unconditional, self-sacrificing love for them, as Christ sacrificed for us. Give us words that encourage and teach our children so they may become a friend. Amen.