"I don't want to be your friend anymore."That is one of the most hurtful sentences a little one can hear. Of course, it is something we have probably all said and something we have definitely all heard. The irony of that statement is that it is expected from young school-aged children, however, that simple sentence carries on throughout life.
When your child (young or old) comes home hurting because of the words or actions of another,
that is when the lines of parenting become blurry.
The need to protect your kids does not diminish as they get older. In fact, for me, it's become stronger. From my experience, the earlier years seem simple. My children always listened to me when I gave them an explanation as to why certain friends were not being nice. They trusted me to take care of them and guide them in the right direction. I think mine were actually eager for me to help and sometimes "handle" those situations. As a Mom, my knee jerk reaction has almost always been to step in.
Now that some of my littles aren't so little anymore, I'm realizing that stepping in all the time is actually not the best thing. Although words, actions, and their meaning tend to cut deeper, it may not be my place to be judge and jury. That's a tough one...especially when the realization that sometimes a person actually does not want to be your friend anymore comes to light.
I have come to the conclusion, that some conflicts in life are a good thing. Our children need to experience conflict and walk through the steps that lead to resolution. In our house, my marriage is a good example for them. While I wish Mike and I never had a spat or disagreement, that simply isn't so. Who would ever think that seeing your parents disagree would be a good thing? BUT, seeing that arguments happen and reconciliation is possible is a good thing! It's a very normal part of life and one that you can get through!
So, while my momma bear claws are itching to come out as soon as the tears of hurt burst forth, I am realizing how imperative it is to put my feelings aside and guide my children through this unavoidable part of life. After many tears and many more prayers, these are the conclusions I've come to that are the most helpful...
Encouraging your little to believe in themselves! They need to know and often be reassured, that they can get past this. Finding resolution will empower them and build their confidence. No matter how rocky the road to resolution is, it is our job to enforce the face that they are capable of making it through and moving forward.
We need to support them. Listening and empathizing with them cannot be understated. During this time when our youth are talking to us and expressing themselves, it is so important to just listen...no matter how bad we want to interject our opinions. These are the moments we simply need to feel right alongside of them.
Finally...the guidance. I don't mean telling them exactly what they should do and and how they need to do it. I mean we, as parents, need to mentor them. Help them to take responsibility for the actions they may have participated in to escalate the situation. What, if anything, did they do to make the situation worse? What did they say? How did they react? Those answers may lead to the need to apologize (the art of apologizing is another thing in and of itself). Of course, there are going to be times where they have handled themselves well and legitimately may be in the right. In those cases, it may just be best just to walk away (1 Samuel 24:10). Each and every situation will be different.
In any case, squabbles are an unavoidable part of life. They're no fun at all, but we're all called to deal with them at some point in time. God reminds us in Ephesians 4 not let the sun go down on our anger, so working things out is imperative!
Please know, that all things I write about come from my own experiences. By no means do I pretend to have all the answers. Every day is a new experience for me.
I'm doing the best I can and only hope to share some of my trial and errors with you.