Btw, sometimes I just mention a Bible reference.
Hover over it and you'll see the verse.
So far... Kerry and I have basically the same goals as far as how the kids ought to treat people. But we differ in our views of balancing compassion with caution in making friends.
2. Who the boys hang out with.
Here's where the rubber meets the road. The boys don't live in a bubble, after all. They're in contact with all kinds of people.
And they're young and immature. I don't mean they're immature for their ages, but they are not adults. They are not mature. They are not wise and discerning. I think they need help - they need guidance in evaluating who they can and should hang around with. They really do.
I'll tell you a story. When Tate was about seven, there was a boy in his class at school who lived nearby. I think Tate liked him because he was funny. Oh, he was funny all right. He was a smart aleck, popping off in class. I let him come over to play a few times, against my better judgment. But that came to a screeching halt when he persisted in bullying Gunnar every time he was here. Sometimes right in front of his own mom. And Tate was just too young to get it.
On the other hand, there are other neighborhood kids that our boys go back and forth with constantly, with our blessing. They're not perfect. We're not perfect. But we're on the same page, so I don't have to be as vigilant in overseeing their time together.
As some of you wisely pointed out, there are friends and there are friends. I think of Proverbs 12:26, "A righteous man is cautious in friendship."
Rachael mentioned the importance of paying close attention to how our kids respond to other kids. Are my kids being judgmental? Are they able to be gracious without compromise? Or are they being attracted by what they know is wrong? How are they handling it?
When I watched Tate with this other boy, I could see that Tate thought it was all really funny, a big game. He thought this kid was "cool". When I told Tate we weren't going to be having that boy over any more I also asked him to find some other kids to play with at recess. And I got resistance. Which, to me, is a warning flag. Why are we so fascinated with trouble?
Around that same time we had temporary custody of Kerry's niece for about a year. Her parents are/were the most vile, self-serving, manipulative druggies you can imagine. They would've thrown her under a bus to get whatever they wanted. The things she had been exposed to would curl your hair. And you know what? Whenever we were downtown, or at a store, we would see people like her parents - people our grandparents would call "low-lifes" - and she was clearly drawn to them. They were her normal. I would watch her watching them... see her interest, her attraction. And she was two years old. Broke my heart, and scared me for her future.
So I'm cautious about whom I want the boys getting comfortable around.
Goes back to Proverbs 22:24-25. Why do we avoid certain people? So we don't fall into their ways. So we don't become like them.
I think Kerry's gut-reaction is to equate this with being snobby. Being holier-than-thou. I see it differently.
I'll tell you the truth. It's not because I think my boys are so pure and noble and perfectly mannered that they need to somehow be protected from contamination by "bad" kids. Oh no, it's because they - we - are weak. And easily influenced by the company we keep. Proverbs 13:20.
So I'm left with the tension of trying to balance the virtue of being a friend to the lonely and the outcast, with my desire to protect my boys from trouble and temptation, knowing all the while that we bring our own trouble to the equation.
Rachael didn't pull any punches when she said, "Sin isn't a disease we catch. It's a genetic conditon."
We have it, too.