Today is my birthday. My dear friend, Theresa, came to visit me so I've been taking the day off playing and doing fun stuff. I'm attaching a question I was asked while doing a column at Today's Christian Woman Magazine. I think sometimes our girlfriends, as dear as they can be, can sometimes say things that get on our nerves. What are we to do? Here is my response to this woman's dilemma.
Question: My friend is constantly telling me how I should discipline my children and how I’m too lenient. It’s really getting on my nerves. I love my friend and we always have a great time together – except when she starts in on my kids. How can I kindly tell her to mind her own business without it ruining our friendship?
Answer: A good girlfriend is a wonderful gift. But a healthy relationship must include the freedom to disagree about issues and to be honest about how you feel.
Before I give you some tips on how to have a heart to heart talk with your friend, let me first ask you if you’ve taken some time to ask God if there is any truth about her concerns? My dear friend Theresa has said some hard things to me over our twenty-five year friendship. Although I never liked hearing them, much of the time she was right. The psalmists says, “Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it” (Psalm 141:5).
Is it possible that God might be using your friend to help you see areas in your parenting that he wants you to look at?
On the other hand, people are individuals and don’t always do things the same way. Being different doesn’t mean one way is right and the other wrong. Your style of parenting may be more lenient than your friend’s but still be wise, loving and godly.
To maximize the best possible receptivity to what you have to say to your friend, prepare what you want to say with prayer and practice. Blurting out our negative feelings at the moment of their greatest intensity often does ruin friendships. Set aside some specific time you can talk uninterrupted by the children. Begin by affirming her and your friendship before you share your concerns.
You might say something like this. “I love you and deeply value our friendship. I think you are a great mom and a wise woman. I’ve prayerfully considered what you’ve been telling me about being too lenient with my kids and I don’t think that’s true. I do parent differently than you do but that doesn’t make it wrong. I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t comment anymore on the way I raise my kids. I know you mean well but it upsets me.
Your friend might be surprised by your honesty, but if it’s a healthy friendship, she will be thankful for it.