CONFLICT & IN-LAW RELATIONS

CONFLICT ITSELF, all thru life: - It's INEVITABLE!

0.) INTRO: "Man is born into trouble, as the sparks fly upward." Job 5:7
A.) The battle of the ages.
B.) War with Amalek (Exod 17:16), Flesh vs. Spirit (Gal 5:17)
C.) Unmet needs (James 4:1-3)
D.) Opposing Values (2 Cor 6:14-18)
E.) Just plain Nastiness (Psalm 120:5-7)
F.) "Good Conflict" (Prov 27:17)
G.) Our orders (Rom 12:18)
H.) Our goal (Matt 5:9)

IN-LAW RELATIONSHIPS - A book by Gary Chapman
(He has 30+ years Christian counseling experience. Wrote "5 Love Languages")
Conflict is most painful when it's within extended families, or close friends.

1.) PARENTS VS. THEIR ADULT CHILDREN
a-) Examples
b-) Issues: Control / Interference / Inconvenience / Clashing values / Clashing traditions.
c-) Biblical Principles:
1.) Separation from Parents (Gen 2:24, Eph 5:31) Interest of spouse trumps interest of parents. Gracious suggestions are worth considering, anything beyond that is not.
2.) Honor toward Parents (Eph 6:2-3)
a-) Communicating, which implies "I still want you in my life."
b-) Caring for in old age. (1 Tim 5:4,8)
d-) From Parents perspective: We're to train them towards INDEPENDENCE.
"In the future, we must view them as adults who will chart their own course, for better or for worse. We must never again impose our will upon them. We must respect them as equals. This does not mean we will no longer help(or advise) them. It does mean that when we have a desire to help, we will ask first if they want it."

2.) LISTENING - The First Step On the Road to Reconciliation
"We cannot read each other's minds."
a-) Ask questions: careful, specific, sincere, (ie not to prosecute or manipulate)
b-) Don't interrupt. The purpose of listening is to UNDERSTAND, not make a point.
c-) Clarify their meaning. (Be sincere, not clinical)
d-) Express appreciation, or at least reception. (Doesn't mean you agree.)
e-) Share your perspective if they're interested.

3.) SPEAK FOR YOURSELF - The "I" statement vs. the "You" statement
a-) Examples from book.
b-) "You should…" "You always…" These are often interpreted as patronizing, degrading, prosecuting, even condemning statements.
"We have concluded that we know what kind of person the other is, and we verbally label or even assail them for it. This causes division."
We also put ourselves into the ministry of either the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), or the devil.
c-) "I feel…." "I started thinking…" These are valid, because you're now the expert. You know what you think and feel. You still have to be gracious, and "ask for their help or clarity."
EG - "When you hung up the phone on me, I felt like I had offended you. I didn't mean to. Did I go too far?"
4.) THE ART of showing RESPECT (5 areas)
We choose to recognize their importance as a creation of God, and respect them accordingly. They are responsible to God for how they run their lives.

A-) Respecting their PRIVACY - Surprise visits, probing questions, gossip, etc.
This should be confronted openly, gently, graciously. Eg: The surprise visit:
1- We love you. 2-We want to continue good relations. 3-We know your intentions are good. 4-We have an issue that doesn't work for us. 5-We want to find a compromise that works for everyone.
EG - the repetitive "surprise visit". "When you don't call ahead, I can't always respond." If necessary, resort to TOUGH LOVE where you do turn them away at the door.

B-) Respecting Their IDEAS
1- Seeking others wisdom is generally a good strategy (Prov 11:14), eg Moses' Father-In-Law (Exod 18).
2- Be secure in your own God-given self-worth to evaluate another's ideas objectively. This might even include their tone. Then if you disagree, thank them for their interest, state you present conclusion, and close the subject.
3- If you're giving advice: Don't force it. Present it (don't "sell it") if they're willing to listen. Then step back.

C-) Respecting their HOLIDAY TRADITIONS.
1- See their in-laws as just as valid as yours. 2- Suggest Compromises. 3- Be practical.

D-) Respecting RELIGIOUS Differences
1- Hopefully the Christians involved didn't marry outside the faith. (2 Cor 6:14-15)
2- Don't "Pull rank" because you're right. (Eg-nominal Catholic, or Biblical perfectionist).
3- Parental objections to son/daughter choice of church is often based on fear and/or love.

E-) Respecting PECULIARITIES
"All of us are different, but some are more different than others."
Observing weirdness: Do the victims mind? Is it harmful? Is it significant?

5.) THE ART OF NEGOTIATING
Eg- Story of Father-In-Law providing alcohol.
A-) Definition: "We're trying to work this out."
B-) Requires the groundwork of Listening, respect, and Speaking for yourself.
C-) Enemies: Anger, Pride, Stubbornness, Fear.
D-) We must negotiate, because we're all Different and we're all Sinners.
E-) Technique: Make PROPOSALS
1-) Realistic (practical). 2-) Account for differences. 3-) Specific. 4-) Win-Win.
F-) If rejected practically: Ask for alternative proposal from them.
If rejected wholeheartedly: State consequences and opportunity. Withdraw for a season.
G-) Reiterate: The goal is a WIN-WIN. If one side walks away a "loser", the relationship is hurt. A temporary battle has been won, but a larger war looms.


6.) MAKING REQUESTS, NOT DEMANDS (Negotiating, Part 2)
Eg - Story of G-parents who were ready to sue to see G-kids after poor testimony by G-pa was taken too far.
a.) Demands vs. Requests: how does it make YOU feel?
b.) Requests - Are proposals in the form of a QUESTION
"Will you forgive me?" is a request, not a demand for forgiveness.
"May I discuss this with you? What are your feelings on ___? Is there a way we can spend more time? When would be a good time to____?"
c.) Entertaining Requests - 1-Acknowledge and affirm. 2-Express your honest reservations. 3-Ask for time to think & pray. 4-Suggest a response time-frame. 5-Make a counter-proposal.

7.) THE GIFTS OF FREEDOM and LOVE
Eg- "Will you also go away?" (Read John 6:66-69 and discuss.)
A.) Two types who can't grant freedom to their adult children (or certain others)
1- Controllers - Well-intended, clear-thinking, but too aggressive. (Most controllers marry "complaints" and vice-versa. You can calculate the nature of their relationship almost immediately.)
2- Emotionally Needy - Their self-worth is tied to another's approval or closeness or success. (Better to accept yourself as God's child and servant.)
B.) Some DO's and DON'Ts:
1- DON'T make them dependent on you. Certain situations may force exceptions, but try not to contract into an ongoing dependence. (Eg- subsidizing housing.)
2- DON'T give gifts or advice that isn't desired.
3- DO affirm and appreciate the interests of your adult children and in-laws.
C.) LOVE - It's nature is: Kind, Patient, not Self-serving. (1 Cor 13:4-7)

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