Home dating/courtship When Your Extended Family Doesn’t Agree With Your Life Choices

When Your Extended Family Doesn’t Agree With Your Life Choices

by Kelly Crawford

When Your Extended Family Doesn't Agree With Your Life Choices

If you homeschool, or have more than the average number of children, or don’t let your children date for fun, you should probably just wear a t-shirt that says, “Two headed monster.” Or get a clown nose. That way, you can just do all your friends and family a favor and address the fat elephant in the room. They think you’re weird.

Seriously, family opposition can be one of the most painful and difficult challenges to face. And while most of the time, they only have good intentions, it can seem unfair, as they got to choose how to raise their children.

It seems in our society, there is a very small normal box. As long as you fit in it, smooth sailing. But once you don’t, people assume it is fair game to tell you all you’re doing wrong.

So how do we deal with the people closest to us, namely parents, whom we are commanded to honor, when there is conflict with our family choices? The answer is nearly impossible, because every situation is so different, varying from mild disapproval to outright threats.

But there are principles we can all observe. (We are very blessed with mostly supportive family who, even if they don’t agree, still respect our choices, though there have been seasons in our lives where we’ve dealt with conflict.)

Honor. Yes, we honor them. You can disagree with someone or even share conflicting views and still do it with honor. They will be more receptive when we maintain a spirit of honor and kindness and even if they aren’t, it’s our duty, in as much as we are able, to live at peace. That doesn’t mean that we may never speak firmly, if the situation warrants it, but having a spirit of honor should be our starting place.

Communication. Some opposition is met by family members who simply have never heard of what you’re doing. It might be helpful to give them information and let them know you have prayerfully and carefully made these choices.

I think it’s important, and fair, if there is confusion/conflict, that we express our wishes respectfully, provided they are reasonable. It’s not fair to get angry about unmet expectations if we haven’t made them clear.

Often conflict comes from a sense of their feeling condemned if you choose something different than they did. Be sure you are not displaying a spirit of condemnation, even if you need to disagree with their viewpoint.

Silence. Sometimes we are best to simply let time work things out. I’ve seen homeschooling enemies become huge fans after watching the fruits of it lived out. We must get to a place where we are OK with opposition and where we don’t need the approval of man.

Distance. Depending on the severity of the opposition, distance might become necessary. If threats are being made, or you feel that your authority is being deliberately undermined (after you have confronted it), you may have to explain that less frequent visits (or more guarded visits) are the consequence. I would only suggest this as a last resort, and in extreme circumstances.

Be above reproach. Be kind, honest, open and yet confident that you are responsible and allowed to make choices for your children even if others don’t understand them.

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Gabrielle April 30, 2015 - 3:30 pm

Whoops, I think you meant, “Be sure you are not displaying a spirit of condemnation” 🙂

Kelly Crawford April 30, 2015 - 3:58 pm

Ha ha, yes, thank you! I did.

Anonymous (this time) April 30, 2015 - 10:17 pm

I appreciate this very thoughtfully written piece. We have had no support or acceptance of our lifestyle (homemaking, homeschooling, large family) from relatives and have tried so many, many different ways to work things out but to no avail. I came from an abusive home and had tried to have a relationship with my parents after I was married and had children but unfortunately this was mostly out of fear of them. I wanted so badly to honor them, but truly just didn’t know how. When their threats turned to reality and they arrived at our home (4+hours away from theirs at the time) and I was badly beaten in front of my four (at the time) small children, while pregnant with our fifth child, we had to take legal measure to provide safety for me and our children. Even after these measures were taken we continued to have problems with these relatives. We chose not to press charges for many instances in hopes of honoring them. I’m still not sure it was the right thing to do. The Lord began to open doors for us and we eventually moved across the country. It took awhile for us to be found and once again trouble began but thankfully things didn’t escalate as they had before. All this to say that sometimes things are so extreme that you just have to severe the ties and move on. For us things would have been much better had we made that decision several years sooner.

Kelly Crawford April 30, 2015 - 10:55 pm


I am so, so sorry. Yes, the Bible does speak of those who are forced to forsake even father or mother for His sake. Great is your reward.

also anonymous May 1, 2015 - 8:52 am

Hi there anon!I am so so sorry that you have struggled with this. I have had the same struggle,but not to the same degree as yours. My mother is a recovering alcoholic who is married to a man on parole. My husband and I moved away 15 years ago (which was one of the best choices we have made). I have a “peaceful” relationship with them as long as I always “turn the other cheek” and go along with their “My way or the highway” rule. We are going through a big ordeal (though nothing as big as the abuse you endured) now because I defended myself against slanderous allegations from my mother. As a result my children (who were unaware of any quarrel) were treated very ugly by my mother’s husband at a family funeral that we drove across the country to attend. Once returning home, I have received texts, calls, and a letter that are obsurd. I struggle with how to honor my mother and have a peaceful relationship without allowing myself (or especially my children) to be manipulated and treated wrongly.

Gel stain and other Friday favorites - May 1, 2015 - 10:28 am

[…] When your extended family doesn’t agree with your life choices “Seriously, family opposition can be one of the most painful and difficult challenges to face. And while most of the time, they only have good intentions, it can seem unfair, as they got to choose how to raise their children.” […]

Erin May 3, 2015 - 5:21 pm

Things have changed between my parents and myself regarding my (sort of) large, homeschooling family. It is mostly because I finally did one of the things you recommend; I tried silence and it works ;).

Only God can change their hearts and they have fallen in love with the latest children as much as they did the older kids.

Josie May 5, 2015 - 8:29 am

Kelly, Thank you for writing this post. I feel as though it was written just for me. Smile. I will try to implement the following ideas in a spirit of honor and I know that in time God will work it all out.

Kelly Crawford May 5, 2015 - 11:25 am

You’re welcome, Josie.

Susan Raber May 5, 2015 - 2:42 pm

These are good general principles to apply. One of the things that helped us deal with rudeness and opposition is to view these situations as an opportunity to show our children how to be kind but stand their ground. We want them to have the courage of their convictions, but that means we need to model it for them.

Stephanie May 9, 2015 - 12:54 pm

This is so hard. My mom disapproved when I got out of the military, REALLY disapproved when I decided to stay home with the kids, freaked out when I joined a conservative Baptist church (and the brief period wherein I covered my hair? Whoo boy), and don’t even get me started on homeschooling. My oldest won’t even be starting “preschool” until next fall and the snark has already started. I’m trying to avoid the conversation as much as possible, but it’s getting harder to avoid. This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon – she’s made it pretty clear that she neither respects nor supports ANY of the major life decisions I’ve made over the last few years – but I still haven’t figured out a way not to let it get to me. The cruel irony is that her lack of approval makes me want it even more desperately.

Kelly Crawford May 11, 2015 - 12:18 am

I’m so sorry, Stephanie.


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