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Lessons from Nazareth on Dealing with Family Conflicts

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/26/2007 | Religion

It is very common in nuclear families today to have conflicts arising due to various reasons. These conflicts are compounded further due to spouse pressure, when these conflicts are between the parents, and due to parental pressure when they arise due to child errors.

These family conflicts can easily grow into mutual irritation, coldness and isolation if corrective measures are not taken promptly, to defuse the situation.

Let us look how the Holy Family of Nazareth dealt with just such a situation, about two thousand years ago.

The boy Jesus was twelve, an age when Jewish boys were welcomed into manhood, and carried out his obligation of attending the Passover Festival in Jerusalem, along with his parents, Joseph and Mary. It was his first Passover and the Holy City, its Temple, and happenings must have surely fascinated the little boy.

So, when it was time to return home, Jesus was neither with Joseph, nor with Mary, and each of them thought he was with the other. Only when the group camped at the end of a day's march, did they find out that Jesus was missing. You can imagine the anguish and the anxiety of the parents, especially since they were entrusted by God to protect, nurture, and bring into full manhood, His Son, Jesus!

With sinking hearts, the worried parents rushed back to Jerusalem, to search for Jesus. "On the third day they found him in the Temple, sitting with the Jewish teachers, listening to them and asking questions" (Lk 2: 46)

Now, did Joseph and Mary rush up to Jesus, to vent their suppressed anxiety and worries on the little boy, ranting and raving about his wrongdoing? Did Mary go up and catch Jesus by the ears? Did Joseph ground him till the next Passover Festival? No!

When the astonished parents saw Jesus, Mary said to him, "My son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been terribly worried trying to find you." (Lk 2: 48)

Mary did not call Jesus names, but addressed him humbly with the endearment, "My son....

How many family conflicts would be immediately defused if the aggrieved party addressed the wrongdoer with terms of affection like, "Sweetheart", "Love", "My darling", and "My beloved son", or "My beloved daughter". The wrongdoer, who is braced for a fight, will instantly be disarmed and pliant.

The next words of Mary are very important. She was seeking a reason why little Jesus had put her and Joseph through so much pain and anxiety. It is important that the aggrieved party seeks the reason for the child's or the spouse's errant behavior, so that future similar situations can be avoided.

Mary continues, and expresses the anxiety and fears she and Joseph underwent due to Jesus' disappearance. This is a very important aspect, for it informs the child that he/she is loved and very precious to the parents.

Look at the result of Mary's handling of the crisis situation. "So Jesus went back with them to Nazareth, where he was obedient to them.....Jesus grew both in body and in wisdom, gaining favor with God and men" (Lk 2: 51 - 52).