A few months ago, I wrote an article on Stuff Christians Like about sex. CNN.com picked it up and it got a lot of attention on the homepage of their site. Out of nowhere my wife got emails from folks she hadn’t heard from in a while that essentially said, “Hey Jenny! Saw your sex life on the homepage of CNN.”
You’re not going to believe this, but my wife was embarrassed by that. Who knew?
So let me come right out of the gate and say this:
“This post is not about anyone in particular.”
This post isn’t about anyone specific. I’m not secretly calling out anyone. There’s no incident or family I’m thinking about right now.
There, I feel better already, but can we talk about one thing? Can we all discus one idea?
What do you do when you have good friends who are raising punk kids?
Maybe this has never happened to you. Maybe you’ve never had close friends make some crazy parenting decisions. Maybe you’ve never had good friends laugh casually as their kid punches yours in the face or knocks over a vase or teaches your kid how to swear. Maybe you don’t have anyone in your circle of friends who has a teenager sized blind spot right now. If that’s the case, well that’s awesome. You are living a charmed life my friend.
But if you haven’t escaped life so easily, if you’ve ever had to wrestle with what to do when close friends raise punks, let’s look at a few questions:
1. We should pray, right?
I mean ultimately, we don’t get a free pass on love your neighbor. If your friend is raising a punk, we need to give them grace. Loads and loads of grace. We need to love them and not end our relationships over stuff like this, but at the same time, we need to love our own kids. I’m not going to use my 5 year old as an unwilling missionary to change other kids. I’m not going to “voluntold” her into doing things that will be harmful for her. The Bible is jam packed with verses about the need to be careful about who we let influence us and your kids are little sponges. So where’s the line?
2. We should bite our tongues, right?
A dad once told us, “I’m stuck. My two year old refuses to leave the playground.” He was trapped in a two foot tall, goldfish eating prison. And in that moment, watching the little boy take his tantrum to terror level red status, I wanted to say, “Anything that only weighs 27 pounds is always movable. You’re never really physically trapped by someone who can be carried in one arm.” But I didn’t say anything because I tend to be such a jerk in situations like that. We’re supposed to bite our tongues, right?
3. We can still hang out, right?
When we run into this situation, the temptation is to just break up with your friends. You and your wife will talk and decide, “We’re done. That last thing with the mongoose was the final straw. Where does a six year old even get a mongoose? That thing had inconceivable ferocity.” And so, you decide to break up with your friends. But here’s the thing, maybe your friends are having a hard time right now and this is the absolute worst time to stop hanging out with them. Just because you don’t want your kids being influenced by theirs doesn’t mean you can’t hang out as a couple and go to dinner. Leave your kids with a sitter.
4. What if we’re the parents with the punk kids?
We’ve all got blind spots, areas in our lives where we just don’t see what’s really going on. For instance, I thought I was street until I made a joke about NWA on Twitter and a rap fan with a pit bull in his twitter profile swore at me 19 times and told me I “looked like I grew up on a farm.” Hip hop street cred is apparently a blind spot for me. I just don’t have it. But maybe the blind spot is our own kids. Maybe we don’t see that we’re making some bad decisions with our kids. We all need people who love us enough to tell us the things we don’t want to hear. Without “mirror friends,” folks who will reflect the truth back to us, we all end up making decisions we might regret.
There’s not an easy answer to this one. We’ve got to give grace. But sometimes, you might need to love your friend but also say, “Hey, I’m not OK with you guys all singing along to Katy Perry songs when you car pool my 4 year old home from pre-school. The other day she asked me if her Osk Kosh were ‘skin tight jeans,’ and started singing ‘Teenage Dream.’” You might have to say that. That might happen. And that’s OK. Life is messy. Friends are messy. And parenting? That’s probably the messiest thing of all.
Has this ever happened to you?