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I have a parenting question. My eight-year-old daughter has a friend about a year older than her who lives down the road. She and my daughter have been friends for several years, but recently, the neighbor girl berated my daughter to the point that she came home in tears. Unfortunately, this has happened before in their friendship. Also, as the neighbor girl has gotten older, she has developed a fairly bad attitude that is becoming a challenge for my daughter. The neighbor girl has a habit of doing this when she is upset about something, but she also usually comes back with an apology. This time, however, I'm leaning towards discouraging my daughter from continuing a friendship with this girl. My dilemma is: I want to teach my daughter to be forgiving, but I also don't want to put her in a situation where she will get hurt again or steer her towards a friendship with a girl who is becoming an increasingly bad influence. I also am not sure that I want to teach my daughter to continue a potentially abusive relationship simply because of an apology (I'm thinking ahead). Should I encourage my daughter to accept her friend's apology and continue the relationship on the grounds of forgiveness, which is vitally important, or should I encourage my daughter to end the friendship despite the apology because of the unhealthy nature of the relationship?
Parenting is about nurturing your children along to adulthood (Eph 6:4). Nurturing means more than just teaching one concept; it means providing them with all of the skills and strengths they will need in life. You are doing things exactly right.
It is important to teach children about forgiveness, mercy, and kindness – numerous verses teach that concept. However, that isn’t the totality of God’s teaching on relationships! If it were, Christians would be required to put up with untold abuse and accept every unhealthy influence that comes our way. Instead, God also teaches that bad relationships can corrupt us (1 Cor 15:33).
You can simultaneously teach your daughter to forgive this other girl while also teaching the benefits of setting healthy boundaries. That is a skill set she will need for the rest of her life. Forgiveness isn’t the same as trust. After all, Jesus forgave people but didn’t necessarily trust them in all circumstances (Jhn 2:24-25). You are right to seek a balance, and your daughter is blessed to have a parent that nurtures these healthy social skills in her.
I have a son who is married, but he and his wife are separated. He is seeing other women and having sex with them. He stays with us, and so if he’s living with us and we know that’s what he’s doing, will that stop the blessing from coming in our house?
When a child becomes an adult, they are responsible for their own sins… but you are responsible for your household. Eli was sharply rebuked and cursed by God because he honored his sons above God’s law (1 Sam 2:29). When a love of family supersedes our love for the Lord – we’ve got big problems (Lk 14:26). You cannot control what your son does when he leaves your house – but until then, remember the words of Joshua: “As for me and for my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15).
My son is dying a horrible, long lasting death of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). I have been a Christian my whole life and an active staff member in the church. My whole spiritual world has been rocked by watching my son suffer day after day with nothing in sight except a horrible death. My question is: I have been taught my whole life that God answers prayers. That is not true. God can heal. Yes, He can, but it is just a matter of whether or not He will. God doesn't like to watch His children suffer. Then why does He let us?
Dear Mad Mom,
We are so sorry for your son's suffering, and we cannot fathom the pain it has wrought for you as well. Sickness is a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. One of the curses of their sin was that we all must face our own mortality – life is finite (Gen 2:17). Sickness, disease, and pain are a part of the human existence. Sadly, this is true even for our children. When God gave us freewill, He gave us the right to cause problems for ourselves and others, and if He simply removed all the consequences for our actions, He would be removing our freedoms as well.
God could have made us without the freedom to choose, but then we wouldn’t be “in His image”… we would be automatons. As a parent, you have seen how the freewill of our children can break our hearts sometimes, and it can be difficult to see your children hurt when they make choices that have painful consequences. From scraped knees to heartaches, parents watch their children get hurt when they leave the nest and strike out on their own. God has that same parental paradox (Heb 12:9-10) – the love to let us choose even when those choices have caused all sorts of problems for us. Your son is suffering because of the diseases mankind’s choices have brought upon us.
I have the most wonderful son in the world; he is seven and has Down syndrome. My question is: after he dies and goes to heaven, will he still have Down syndrome, or will he be like us?
Down syndrome is a body issue, not a soul issue. Your wonderful son is a soul (Gen 2:7); he has a body. When we die, our spirit separates from our body (Jas 2:26). At that moment, your son will never again face the health issues he does now.
Three years after my wife and I got married, she had an affair and got pregnant. I stayed with her even though I had some struggles accepting the fact she cheated on me. I accepted the baby because I am unable to have children. It was our only child. Our son recently was killed on a motorcycle through no fault of his own. He was thirty-five years old. My wife and I divorced twenty-two years ago, but we are still friends. My question is: even though he was a great son and a church-going person with his wife who is sixteen weeks pregnant, is my son considered to be an illegitimate child to where he can't enter into the Lord’s congregation? I accepted him as my son, but I can't get this off my mind. Could you give me an answer, so I can clear my mind? I love my son more than I can explain, but I am so confused from what I read. Like I said, he was a church-going person and never gave anyone any problems.
Dear Mourning Father,
We are so sorry for your loss. What a devastating time for your family. Let us give you one comfort – your son is not responsible for the choices that others made that led to his conception. God very specifically says that each person is responsible for their own sins. The entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 deals with this issue. God’s conclusion is that a son can choose his own path regardless of what his parents chose (Ezek 18:20). Each of us works out our own salvation before God (Php 2:12). Your son is not barred from heaven because of his mother’s past. His commitment to Christ will define him on that great Day of Judgment.