By: Leslie Vernick
Someone asked me this week how she could tell her good friend to stop giving her advice about her parenting without ruining their friendship. She said, “My friend constantly tells me I’m too lenient with my kids. I’m getting tired of hearing it.”
A good girlfriend is a wonderful gift, and a healthy relationship includes freedom to share honest feelings and disagreements.
But I encouraged her that, before she initiated a heart-to-heart with her friend, she ask herself if her friends concerns have any truth. I remember when my friend, Barb, shared with me that she thought my life was too busy. Although I didn’t like hearing her corrective comments, she was right.
The Bible encourages consideration of constructive criticism. Psalm 141:5 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” (nlt). God could be using your friend to show you areas needing improvement in your parenting.
Of course, being different from your friend doesn’t mean her way is right and yours is wrong. Not everyone does things the same way. You may be a more lenient parent than your friend and still be a wise, loving, godly mother.
If you want to address this disagreement, prayerfully practice what you want to say. Rather than blurt out negative feelings during an intense moment and potentially ruin your friendship, set aside a specific time to talk uninterrupted by children. Then affirm your friend before sharing your concerns.
For example, you might say, “I love you and value our friendship. You’re a great mom and a wise woman. I’ve prayerfully considered your comments about being too lenient with my kids, but I don’t think I am. Although my parenting may be different from yours, mine’s not wrong as a result. I’d really appreciate if you wouldn’t comment anymore on how I raise my kids. I know you mean well, but your remarks upset me.”
Such candor might surprise your friend, but if your friendship is healthy, she’ll be thankful for your honesty.