How do you respond to the “black sheep” in your family?

Our question this afternoon is a bit different from the last several ones, but I think it’s appropriate with the looming approach of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and those epic family get-togethers that characterize the holidays: how do you deal with the “black sheep” in your family?

Here’s an answer from Dan Seaborn of Winning at Home, a Christ-centered family ministry:

A wise counselor friend once told me that the best way to deal with family members—especially difficult ones—is to simply be a family member to them. What he meant by this was that we should make efforts to bring the very best of family into the relationship. We should lead with love, reaching out to our relatives even when they hurt, annoy, and offend us.

This sounds much less complicated than it really is, of course, because past hurts can run deep, and because if there’s anybody on earth who can really get under your skin, it’s family.

Think about it, though. How would things change if you made an effort to bring the black sheep a little closer to the fold? What would be different if you practiced extra patience, built a bridge, agreed to disagree?

Now, I’m not going to say that there shouldn’t be any accountability or that we should turn a blind eye to real problems.

Still, there should come a time when you acknowledge that this family you’ve got is the only one you’ve got. It might never be perfect, but it will always be worth making a phone call, having a conversation, having a laugh.

Read the complete answer at the Winning at Home website.

Do you agree? Are you looking at any difficult family gatherings this holiday season, and if so, how do you deal with difficult family members with Christlike grace? And for extra credit, rephrase the question to ask how we should deal with the “black sheep” in the church family—is your answer to that any different than your answer to the original question?

What do you think?

11 Responses to “How do you respond to the “black sheep” in your family?”

  • we’ll i’m a blackship. my family used to judge me in everything i do. they dont trust me but through prayers everything went well.. prayer ois the best solution… God bless..

  • sorry…lol. not balackship but black sheep.. i’m just a little bit tired…

  • That would be recovering black sheep thank you very much, and I spare everyone the awkward moments and attend a 12-step gratitude dinner with all the rest of the separated flock.

  • Linda says:

    I think love and patience captures it all……..

  • Carolyn says:

    There have been a few “black sheep” in my family.
    I think if they had been told that “they were in our prayers,”
    and how much we have learned from them, and how valuable they were, possibly some of these sheep would not feel so unloved!

  • I was the “black sheep” in my family,even now, many members of my
    family didnt believe en me, they didnt know that Jesus lives in my
    hart, that Jesus can change the worst person in this world,and He
    have the power to made a new person for good. Some family members
    think that the “black sheep”still is the same bad person, but for
    God, that black sheep is walking now for the skinny way.In the fami-
    ly chritsmas reunions, it is hard to the family to believe in me.But
    Jesus believed in me, when I came to Him with my hart repented.

  • mp says:

    Congratulations to you all that have posted above. I am so glad that God is working in your lives!! Praise be to God!!!
    I have a brother who is a black sheep. He lives only 6 hours away from my mom and NEVER comes home. He rarely calls his two siblings or his parents. He is very content with his life, and God is not in it. We’ve asked him if he’d like to pray (privately, one on one) and he is not ready for Christ to enter his life. He hasn’t spoken with me in 4 years b/c he complains about everything that I do. He doesn’t like me, which is fine. I’ve accepted that. In his eyes he has never done anything wrong. “I forgive you for the things you’ve done, MP.” He always use to say to me.
    There is a time where you have to cut the strings and pray that someday, in God’s timing, that he will come around. You cannot physically keep trying b/c it emotionally wears you down. All you can do is pray.

  • Evelyn says:

    I was a Black sheep for may years of my life..and I have family members that are still Black sheeps. I can remember when they treated me kind and giving me all sorts of advises but I only became worsts during the years. I tried to bounce back on my own several times but I only relapsed after every try..when I gave my heart to the LORD I prayed from the heart and God delivered me from my destructive ways of living. Now I know I am saved and delivered. GOD”S promises are so true!! he has worked through me to deliver other members in my family and I know He is still at work in regards to the remaining Black sheeps. things do come to pass it’s all in just a matter of His time…..I can only deliver the message to my family and pray for them..GOD will do the rest..therefore when you have to deal with Black sheep family members…remember where you came from and give them the equal love and understand you received form our LORD and Savior…it’s hard because we reflect on our old behaviors but it is possible to forgive and help other in need.

  • Petals says:

    When we became Christians, this name is not a name for someone.
    Maybe one member of our family is a problem to everybody,
    which is really hard to deal with, and a hard job to show
    love, but deal it with LOVE anyway. It’s very hard without
    Jesus, I’m sure, that’s why we need Him, because we can’t
    do it without Him.

  • Sarah says:

    My question is this….how do you manage to do these things if the black sheep of your family does not give an inch, is atheist and does not take any accountability whatsoever in his own actions or in the hurt he has caused his entire family? Not to mention ignoring multiple emails, phone calls, texts, etc.

  • Priscilla says:

    I have an older brother who is definitely a black sheep. He has even gone out to the stage of disowning all family members, and wont take calls from any of us. I would be grateful if anyone knows how to deal with that