3 Reasons to Lean In to other people’s children…especially when they stumble

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3 Reasons to Lean In to other people's kids...especially when they stumbleBrrrring.

Melissa hesitated to answer. It was the dreaded phone call from the mother of the boy her 6-year-old foster child had just punched in the face on the school playground.

Melissa’s family brought Joey into their home 2 years ago while his mother tackled the consequences of her addictions. Their family loves really well even welcoming Joey’s mother into their house every Friday for an overnight while she works through her recovery.

Joey therefore looks forward to Fridays all week. Friday was a special day. Friday had significance. He knew that he would be with his mama. He didn’t see her struggles, just the face of a woman who he loved.

But 2 weeks ago, Friday came and went, and mama didn’t come…didn’t even call. Then again last Friday, no word from her. She had a setback in her recovery.


Melissa humbly answered her cell ready to apologize for Joey’s playground punch.

Any parent knows that terrible feeling when your child has wronged somebody else’s beloved child. It’s not a fun place to be.

But before Melissa could speak, the other mother began,

“Hi, it’s Tam. We were hoping Joey could come over this afternoon for a playdate. We want to make sure he knows how much we still love him.”


I imagine Melissa’s mind went something like this,

“My foster child just closed-fist punched your son in the face two hours ago, and you are inviting him over for a playdate… today? So he feels loved?”

I burst into tears hearing this.

Can we just pause at her response?

Oh the love!

So much beauty is said through her words. What if we met the people in our life with a love like that? A love filled with grace and mercy that doesn’t turn when we stumble. A love that says when you wrong me, I still love you.How do we look beyond behavior to the heart of a child? Great insight into why and how we can Lean In to other people's children

What if we met other people’s children with a grace like that?

The teenager that texted inappropriately

The middle school clique filled with girl drama and gossip

The bully on the school bus

 Why and How to Lean In to other people's children when they struggle3 Ways to Lean In to our children when they stumble


Why it is important to Lean In to kids when they are struggle.


Our instinct is to pull back.

To judge.

To gossip.

To ultimately feel better about our own children and parenting.

But what if we leaned in as a community, not with judgment but GRACE and LOVE?

What would change?


Why and How to Lean In to our youth. Our tendency to is pull away from the "bad kids" yet that opposite of what they really need.

3 Reasons to Lean In to other people's children...particularly when they stumble.

A book that has rocked my world in understanding grace is Parenting A Wholehearted Child by Jeannie Cunnion. If you desire to better understand how the grace of God can radically change your family, read it.

We don’t know the hidden stories and unseen struggles of the people around us. We often see their actions, not the pain in their heart.Often we pull away from the "bad kid" who continues to get in trouble. Here are 3 reasons why we should Lean In and how to do that.

For the 6-year-old foster boy longing to see his mother at week’s end… what was it that caused him to lash out?

Just 3 innocent words spoken by his friend.

“It’s not Friday.”

And with that his heartbreak came out in a punch.

But because one woman chose to lean in, he was met with what he really needed…Love.


Often we pull away from the trouble maker kids when what we really need to be doing is the opposite. Here is why and how to lean in.

  1. Kids need other adults speaking truth into them. This is especially important as children reach middle and high school. Often teenagers hear things from teachers, coaches, and other adults they might not receive from their parents. It is a different role than the parent yet can back them up by reinforcing truths from a different angle.

Andy Stanley once said, to have influence in a person’s life, we must start with a relationship. We need a relationship before our words will ever have influence. At that point, loving correction can help children see that although their actions may seem justified, there are consequences to poor choices. Our goal is not simply acceptance but changed future behavior.

  1. We have the opportunity to affirm in children who they truly are, not who their missteps dictate they are. It is a powerful moment when a child understands their identity is not based on performance or actions, but on who they are as a child of God, forgiven and covered in grace.
  1. The easiest way to show love to your friends, is to love their children wholeheartedly. Invest in those relationships. I feel most loved in my life when my friends graciously and compassionately lean into my children when they stumble. They offer hugs, encouragement, guidance and speak truth into their souls.

This is community.

Often we pull back from the trouble makers and "bad" kids when they really need us to Lean In. This post explains why relationship is the gateway to influence.10 Ways how we can Lean Into other people's kids who are stumbling and 3 Reasons why this is incredibly important.

 ♥ Allison

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55 thoughts on “3 Reasons to Lean In to other people’s children…especially when they stumble

  1. I love everything about this … It’s grace … It’s forgiveness … It’s love. We are called to love – not just talk about loving – seeing and hearing about it being carried out is so beautiful … And inspiring. It’s being Christ to others and investing in the lives of kids, teens, women and men who desperately need to see Him. Thank you sweet Alli … Beautiful post

  2. Thank you for the raw beauty in this truth of how grace, forgiveness and love in action is not only what we all long for, but are called to live.

  3. Allison,

    This is so inspiring. I follow your blog/website even though my children are all grown. But I feel the need to be in tune with what children do and are going through these days for my grandchildren. Life would be so much more wonderful if more people treated all our children like this woman did. It shows the true meaning of “It takes a Village.” I do hope the mother will stay on track for her son Joey. Thankfully he has his foster parents and the parents of his friends to help along the way. I do believe that the love he is getting from the foster parent and other parent will make a lasting impact for him.

    • I could not agree more Elizabeth. These foster parents are showing him what a healthy home looks like, what love feels like…and acts like. They are giving him a framework with which to move forward. So thankful Elizabeth you are part of this community.

  4. I was just wondering… Did the other mom use the opportunity to speak with her own child about the thoughts he shares with his friends? I am totally not blaming him for the innocent words he spoke, but I hope that this will be a heart-changing experience for him, as well.

  5. It’s the right thing do. I Am so thankful for those that stepped in and talked with my 16 year old after her dad/my husband died tragectly . They loved and counseled her when she need someone else to talk to and listen to.

  6. This touched my heart in so many ways!! I will remember this and do my best to teach my boys to have this same compassion, love and grace as well. I wish I had read this a few years back. Hugs to you!!

  7. I love this! I’ve worked in the mentoring field with at-risk kids for the past 11 years and I believe this sums up what I want our mentors to do and be for the kids! Thank you! I sent this post to my co-workers to read and share with our volunteers!

  8. Love this! I teach forgiveness to elementary school students and we were just discussing the impact of being kind to people who have hurt us! I am going to share this story with them tomorrow.

  9. Wow, needed to hear this. It was so much easier to me to see their needs when we had our foster children. Now, we have bio and adopted since birth, and it seems so much harder to see what they need. I will read the book on grace and pray for God to use me better.

  10. This is BEAUTIFUL and honestly brought tears to my eyes. I have a son who is ADHD and often gets wild and crazy. For his whole life, my family has treated him like he is a naughty child because he has a difficult time controlling himself. While that is a different situation entirely, it breaks my heart to know that people are judging my sweet, sensitive son because of actions he can’t always control. This is such an amazing piece and I am sharing everywhere. Empathy, compassion, understanding… they go SO far to make the world a better place!

  11. This is a fantastic article. I live far away from my family, and my friends and their kids are my family. A lot of times I’ve learned things about what my own child was feeling, thanks to the compassion of my friends.

  12. There was once a teenage boy that had a lovely girlfriend. After many, many months of dating, the boy began to panic about going away to college. He broke up with this beautiful girl in a cruel and painful way. The boy’s mom dreaded the day that she would see the girl’s mom at church. So much dread that she even thought about never going there again. But when she went and saw the girl’s mom……the girl’s mom leaned in close and whispered, “It’s ok, he only did what teenage boys do.” It’s been years, but I still weep at the grace shown to me. Grace that sees humanity. Grace that knows pain. Grace like Jesus.

  13. Pingback: Leaning Into Other People’s Children | the grove

  14. I am a middle school counselor in a challenging area…this resonates so strongly with me! It is beautiful! Thank you very much for sharing!

  15. I read this article because a friend posted it on Facebook. What I thought about was the fact that this concept should not stop with kids, but it works for adults and adult situations. The 14 simple ways to lean in are a wonderful reminder. As a teacher, I conference with parents often and sometimes the conferences aren’t that successful because they don’t like what they hear. I tend to get defensive and want to voice why I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing. After reading this it really made me think, those parents need me to listen, understand, speak the truth, respect, encourage, affirm, and on and on. Remembering and using these simple ways helps me show God’s love and grace. Sometimes they just need someone who will listen and work with them.

  16. Thank you so much for this post. This spring, while with a friend and his mom, my 8 yo son expressed some things that were pretty disturbing. The next day, after some thought, the mom called me. Not in judgement, Not in anger. But in love and concern. The next few weeks rocked my world as I found that my 8 yo old was hurting inside and some scary things came out. But my friends surrounded us with love and support. They called to check in on us. While I feared they would be afraid to have their kids around him, the opposite happened! Rather than our normal group meet ups, they invited my son to spend one on one time with each of their kids so he would know he was loved by each child as well as the group. They asked what they could do to help him and help us heal. At what was a very scary time in our lives, we were surrounded and lifted by love and grace and I can honestly say that had we not had that – I am not sure we would have come through it all in one piece! I only hope that every child (and parent) can find the same sense of love and community that we had in our time. And I only hope that I can give that same love and grace to a child that needs it.

  17. I’m a grandma to 2 wonderful children. I enjoyed your write up and thought how great it would be for someone to show love to these precious ones of mine. We all fail at some point in life and I’d be thankful for a step up from an adult with your wisdom and love for others.

  18. Being the parent of one of these kids who rarely chooses the right action, says the right words, or expresses the right attitude, (even when corrected/disciplined), I’m not sure what I would do if another parent loved on him instead of chastised him, prayed for me instead of questioning how I do/don’t hold him accountable for his actions. Don’t get me wrong, it has happened before – this sort of magical grace that breathes Christ to us – but it is SO rare. However, when it happens, you have found a friend, a true someone who understands, and a confidant. They challenge me to do the same thing and return the grace I so long to be shown to my child. That is what it is about :) Thank you for this honest article :)

  19. I learned many years ago, like it or not, we all go through life hoping someone will look in your eyes and say sincerely “I love you”. It’s magical.

    Gene c

  20. Love this so much! had to share! thank you for your wonderful words!
    A friend sent this to me thanking me for leaning in to her kids and I was humbled. what a beautiful post and how wonderful would th e world be if all leaned in to each other!

  21. Crying my eyes out at work. This hits so close to home right now. My son’s Dad (we divorced when our son was 2, he is now 11) is going through his second divorce (he was married to this woman for 8 years and my son loved her dearly.) and has already moved in with his new girlfriend. In the last month his dad had seen him for a total of 7 days where he used to see him 3-4 days a week (we live in the same town). This is a lot for my 11 year old to process and sometimes he isn’t doing it very constructively (understandably). He has recently been lashing out at his friends in a physical way. Hitting, pushing, being a generally angry boy. I correct him every time and we are doing our best to deal with things in a constructive manner. I had a mother of one of his friends call me and ask if we could get the boys together to talk things out or something to fix things (he was on the verge of loosing this friend because of his behavior.). This phone call meant so much to me. I feel like people judge my son for his issues (he also has ADHD and anxiety) and the cause of his distress is out of his control. The fact that this mom took the time to let me know they did want to fix this, and she didn’t hold anything against him, I cried. Thank you for this post. God bless you!

  22. This was so beautiful. Thank you for saying all this. For sharing this story. I have a handful of people who lean into my kiddos and so appreciate their love and acceptance of who my children are…it is a rare thing, but so important.

  23. Pingback: Leaning In | Life … As It Is

  24. ThIs should apply to LGBTQ children as well, many of whom are shunned by other kids and their families. They have an acceptable high rate of suicide. If another parent, teacher, or coach would give them even one word of encouragement, it could make a world a difference. You can’t pray the gay away. They won’t infect your straight kids. But you will be doing what Jesus commanded when He told us to love one another when you reach out to this lonely group.

  25. Pingback: What This Mom Did to the Boy Who Punched Her Son in the Face Made Me Burst Into Tears - For Every Mom

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