Today’s Ask Amy comes from a reader who asks:
How do you say no to a play date with a child whom you’d consider a bad influence? And what do you when you are at a birthday party where the theme is in opposition to your beliefs? Can you avoid appearing self-righteous or snobby?
First, let’s get the last part of this question out of the way…
Any time you stand up for what you believe when it directly opposes those around you, you will appear self-righteous to someone. Sorry, just the way it is. And always remember…
€œIf the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
These situations are tough. You wonder how “in the world, but not of it” are you supposed to be. You wonder if you can be a good influence in the other child’s life without sacrificing your own child. You wonder what God expects of you when it comes to ministering to others.
In the matter of play dates, there are a couple of things you can do.
1. Always say no until they eventually stop asking.
2. Occasionally say yes, but on your terms.
What I mean by #2, is to be the one in control of the play date. Don’t create an environment where your child will be off alone with the other child. Make it a play date that is family-oriented. Make it a trip to a museum or zoo with the children near you at all times rather than a playground or home where the children run off and play outside your direct supervision.
If you do encounter something during a play date or party, you again have a couple of choices:
1. Address it right then and there either publicly or privately.
2. Address it later.
You first need to decide if it is bad enough that something needs to be said right then and there to the host or to your children. Often, the matter is not so dire it needs to be publicly called out and you can get by with explaining quietly to your children why the other child’s behavior is unacceptable or why they won’t be participating in the current activity. Sometimes you might need to explain to the other family why you feel the way you do, but the fewer words you use, the better. Remember:
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
Before you publicly say anything, be sure you are clear why you believe what you believe, and it is not merely a matter of personal preference that is better off addressed later with your children or the other family. Be discreet and be kind.
And please, please, please…be humble.
No family is perfect. Not even yours.
Your turn! How do you deal with bad influences when it concerns your children?