Dear Dr. Bill,
My best friend is married with three kids, and most of the time she seems overwhelmed! Her kids have no discipline, no consequences and no rules. I love my friend dearly, but my nerves can’t take being around her household for any length of time.
I’ve tried to suggest that her family needs structure and discipline, but I don’t think she sees this as a problem. I don’t want to lose my friendship but frankly, I don’t want to have anything to do with her kids. What do you think?
If your friend doesn’t see a problem with her parenting style, there’s not much you can do. It’s clear that you care about her very much, but if she’s not open to making changes, you’re simply going to find yourself more and more frustrated with the relationship.
The bible tells us that a wise person will appreciate good advice, but that a foolish person will ignore advice or even hate us for giving them counsel.
As I see it, you have two choices. One is to accept the fact that she’s not going to change and continue to love her anyway. The second option is to tell her that you care for her very much, but that you’re no longer going to be spending time at her home because you can’t bear to see the damage she’s doing herself and to her kids.
The second option will be much harder, but it’s actually the more loving of the two.
If she’s unwilling to make changes, you may need to break off the relationship, especially if her chaotic parenting and her kids’ negative behavior is putting your own kids at risk. In that case, the best thing you can do is continue to pray for her, and then be available if and when she hits a crisis point.
Thanks for writing Carol. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Culture Connection page.