Talk with your kids about it. When other parents question your family’s rules, it’s a good time to explain the values and reasons behind your rules to your kids. Discuss why it’s important for your family to have the rules you have, but be careful not to judge or condemn other families in your conversation. Encourage your kids to express their own thoughts and feelings about your family’s rules in respectful ways, so they can work through the issues involved. A 2011 research study conducted by psychologists at the University of Virginia (“Predictors of Susceptibility to Peer Influence Regarding Substance Use in Adolescence”) showed that teens with parents who encourage them to express their own views in family discussions about tough issues are less likely to give in to peer pressure than other teens because they’ve processed the issues well in their own minds. Help your kids understand that you have good reasons behind your rules, and that you want what’s best for them because you love them.

Talk with the other parents about it. Don’t ignore pressuring remarks from other parents; instead, contact them to talk about the specific comments you’ve heard they’ve made. Yes, it’ll be uncomfortable, but keep in mind that wounds that are neglected only get worse, while wounds that are attended to can begin to heal. Ask them to clarify what they really said, and explain why they said it. Calmly let them know that you value your relationship with them enough to care about trying to solve this problem, and ask them to respect your family’s perspective on the issue going forward.

Evaluate whether or not you can rebuild trust. If you observe that the parents who had previously pressured you and made negative comments about you to your children are truly changing their ways and now showing respect to your family, you can continue your friendships with them.

Break off unhealthy relationships when necessary. If, however, some parents refuse to respect your family’s rules and boundaries, or continue to poison your relationships with your kids, they’re not true friends. Since trust is the foundation of every relationship, you must be able to trust other parents to have healthy relationships with them. No trust means that it’s time to end the relationship between yourself and the other parents. Break off contact to prevent the other parents from hurting your family anymore, but be sure to follow God’s command to forgive them, and trust God to help you heal and learn from the experience.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles. Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer

Publication date: November 6, 2012