The Respect Dare – Dare 11 – Developing Maturity in our Tweens & Teens

Sitting at her small table in the basement Eloise was thankful for the silence. Ted had agreed to focus on the kids and food for the day while she took time to pray and seek God’s guidance for the next school year for each of her kids. She had been homeschooling for the past several years, but was realizing that it was becoming much more difficult as the kids entered junior high and high school. Tonight, Bryan, their 16 year old, would be in charge so that she and Ted could go out to dinner and talk through her plans for the school year.

“Lord,” she prayed. “Help me to put together a plan for each child. Help me to not only focus on the school part of the year, but also help me to focus on behaviors, friendships, and character development. Help me to focus on their strengths. Help me to pay close attention to how you would want them to develop and not forget that they also need to build relationship with you.”

On her computer she had three documents open with each of the kids’ names on top. She also had the categories that she wanted to focus on.

STRENGTHS began one column. PLACES TO GROW began another.

Earlier in the week Eloise had taken time to spend a couple of hours with each of the kids separately. She had taken each one to their favorite restaurant for lunch and talk time. Conversations were similar for each of the kids. There was talk about the things they had enjoyed during the school year along with things they would like to try during the coming year. Naturally sports, music, and drama came up with. They talked about co-op and distance learning, classes they enjoyed and ones they didn’t like, and what they thought they might be interested in for future careers. They talked about how God had created them unique with a gifting. It was an opportunity for each child to dream about the future while giving Eloise some data to plan the school year.

Now it was time for Eloise to put together a plan. What was realistic for each child? How much time would she have to be on the road with each child transporting them to activities? What would be good balance for family life at home?

Eloise decided to start with their 14 year old son who struggled the most with fitting in. In the past, she would have started with her firstborn. After all, as a family, they would have less time to influence him. But Eloise wasn’t so sure that’s where she and Ted should be spending the most energy. Bryan was getting lots of opportunity with the freedom of driving. Stephen seemed to need more attention right now. Stephen was her most determined child…determined to do things his way…and get his friends to do things his way…and upset the family when things didn’t go his way.

She was excited about her new tactic. In the past she would have focused on her kids’ weaknesses, especially Stephen’s. This was the kid who always pushed her patience. She had spent so much time correcting him, scolding him, and grounding him, that she was determined to follow the nugget she had learned in Daughters of Sarah.

Whatever we pay attention to growsJ!

She was beginning to see it happen!

During the last month, she was seeing a glimmer of hope with Stephen. One day she noticed him help his younger sister reach something she wanted from the top of her closet. Typically he would have gotten it for her and then would have proceeded to do something to upset her, like dump it on the floor or start taking it apart. Eloise just happened to be walking through the hallway at the time and interrupted the scene. Just as Stephen was getting the item down, Eloise entered the room. “Stephen, thank you for helping your sister reach that! I really appreciate how you look out for her! You are such a good big brother!” And with that she gave him a hug.

With each new incident, Eloise was trying to see the “good” in her son and it was paying dividends. Just by commenting on his “good works” she was watching him try harder to do the right thing. Even the other kids were starting to “commend” Stephen for his positive actions. Wow! What a different tone was emerging in their home.

Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

When we have those “difficult” children who always seem to be stirring up dissention, it is easier to correct and scold the bad rather than encourage them when they are doing something good. Rather than wait to speak when they do something wrong. Try only commenting when they do something right!

Dare you to “catch” you tween or teen doing something right and make sure to offer positive feedback! Pay attention…the “good” will grow!

“Let go…and let God”,

Hope you will join Nina Roesner as she provides insight on marriage and Leah Heffner as she blogs to wives with little people as we go through The Respect Dare together.

Dare 9 – The Respect Dare – Developing Patience – For Parents of 20-Somethings

Driving back home from campus having just dropped their youngest daughter off from a weekend visit home, Lynette turned to Russ and began chuckling. “Isn’t it amazing how God has grown us!” she began. I can’t believe we were able to respond as we did.”

“You are so right,” Russ responded. “I guess raising four kids will do that for you. I love that kid so much and just want her to be successful.”

The day had started out similar to every Sunday on the weekends that Britney had chosen to come home. Together they would get up and go to church and rush home to pack up her things. Clean laundry, books, computer, purse, snacks for the dorm, became the routine checklist. Lynette would usually make a visual sweep of every room just to make sure Britney hadn’t forgotten anything that she might need for the next few weeks.

Typically they headed out the door for Britney’s restaurant of choice. That was her ‘treat’ for the weekends that she came home. “Yeah, something other than the standard cafeteria fare!” she would sing.

As they were leaving the restaurant with half a pizza left from their meal, Britney gasped. “Oh, no! I forgot to get my shirt for the concert out of the dryer. I’m so sorry, Dad, but we’ve got to go back home!”

Twenty minutes to return home wasn’t really that big of a deal. “At least it’s early enough in the day that we can still make it back home before dark,” he responded.

On the road again, the conversation was light. It was obvious that Lynette and Russ were just enjoying being with their daughter and hearing her talk about her world at school. They had never fathomed how much they would miss the chatter of their kids until this one left for college.

About an hour into the drive, Britney remembered something important. “Oh, I can’t believe it. Mom, we didn’t get laundry detergent!”

Responding with extreme calmness, Lynette suggested they take a detour into the next town and find a grocery store. “Glad you thought of it now,” she remarked. With that, Russ took the next exit without emotion or frustration. In ten minutes they were back on the highway.

With less than 10 minutes until they would arrive at Britney’s dorm, a distraught groan of “Oh, Dad, you are going to kill me!” came from Britney’s lips. “Did either of you pick up my dorm keys? I didn’t see them on the table with my other stuff. I can’t get in my dorm without them. We’ll need to go back home.”

Russ quickly pulled off to the side of the road to scan the van for the keys. As they looked, Russ remembered having put them on the key hook at home. None of them had thought to grab it when they left. Starting to turn around and drive the hour and a half home, Lynette suggested that they call campus security to get Britney in her dorm room so she could get the things done she needed for class tomorrow. It was decided that Russ would return with the key later that evening…another three hours on the road.

Playing back the day’s events with Russ, Lynette was able to reconstruct what would have happened if this has been their firstborn. First, Lynette would have chastised him for forgetting the shirt. Then when the laundry detergent had come up, she would have told him that he needed to plan ahead. She knew that both she and Russ would have been upset that they had to give up that extra time stopping at the store and would have probably let their emotions show how much he had upset their day! But the key would have set both of them off into a spiraling whirlwind of accusations of “whose fault it was”. They would have given voice to words that would have destroyed, rather than nurtured the relationship.

Proverbs 18:4

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

Forgetfulness by our 20-somethings can be frustrating if we are the ones impacted by their lack of thought. May God give you patience and wisdom as you provide servant leadership and keep your tongue in check.

“Let go…and let God,”

Hope you will join Nina Roesner as she provides insight on marriage and Leah Heffner as she blogs to wives with little people as we go through The Respect Dare together.

The Respect Dare – Dare 7 – For Parents of Tweens & Teens

Sitting in a small group of women at her Tuesday morning Bible study, Marjorie slowly retreated into her own world of pain. In her mind she knew these women meant no harm to her personally, but she could feel the weight of failure as a single parent. Silenced by their ongoing chatter, she could almost sense that she might hyperventilate. “Get hold of yourself,” she thought. “You’ll be out of here soon and will be busy at work in no time. Until then just smile, nod, and pretend like it is no big deal, so they think you’re engaged with the conversation.”

As their study time was wrapping up, the group had broken into their small groups to do their “catch up on what’s going on in your world” conversation so they could get to know each other on a deeper level. “You know the drill, ladies. Make sure you walk away with a prayer request from each person in your group so that you can pray for them this week,” their leader had instructed.

As they had moved chairs and gotten situated, Brie got her group started.

“Things are great in my world. Melissa is getting ready for her first date! I met the boy yesterday after school, and he seems so nice. He plays guitar in the worship band at his church.” They’re going to go have pizza at that new little Italian place by the interstate. I’m taking her this afternoon to get a new outfit! Maybe I’ll even treat her to a new hair style and a manicure. It will be so much fun. I guess just pray that they’ll hit it off and that Melissa and I can really stay connected as she is growing up.”

“That’s so cute! I remember when Daniel started dating Tiffany. It was fun watching them get to know each other. Even after two years of marriage, they are still so in love,” Linda gushed. “They’re leaving on their cruise next week. I hope they come back with a grandbaby in the oven. Maybe just pray for their safety and, of course, that Tiffany will have an announcement to make!”

Everyone laughed.

“Oh, it’s my turn. Tyler just found out he’s getting a full-ride academic scholarship! I’m so proud of him. We’ve told him that since he won’t need to use the college money that we’ve saved, we’ll go ahead and buy him a new car with it. He’s already got it picked out! We’ll make a big deal of getting it the day after graduation. For me you can pray that he and his dad can agree on which car to buy.”

For Marjorie, the conversation droned on. All she could think of was what a loser she felt like.

Nancy had a praise. She shared about her son Martin’s new promotion at the bank. She also asked that everyone pray for their neighbor who recently had a heart attack.

Leah talked about the new smartphones she had just bought her junior high twins. “Just pray that they don’t do anything stupid with them and they can handle them maturely. This is such a scary time as a parent. Dan and I were a little nervous about getting them, but we finally felt like we had to give in to the peer pressure. Just pray that we’ll be able to work through what might come our way through all of it.”

It was Marjorie’s turn. She’d been rehearsing in her head what she would say during the time she felt the darts of the others’ words pierce her heart. She knew she couldn’t even compete on the level of their world any more. How could they even relate to all she was going through? She knew that she couldn’t have when she was married to someone who was earning six figures! Here they were talking about their smartphones and cruises and she needed prayer that God would protect her teens while she was away at work. She needed God to shield her kids from the influence of their father’s world with his new live in girlfriend. She could see how her boys were struggling in both worlds they had to live in. She was really getting worried about her 16 year old and the new friend he was hanging out with. Even though things were heavy on her heart, she responded, “Not too much going on in my world. Mitch, my 8th grader, is thinking he wants to try to get a paper route which would keep him busy a couple of afternoons during the week while I’m at work. I guess just pray that he gets it.”

Jeremiah 10:23

“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches.”

As parents, we’re all proud of our kids and their accomplishments. We love to share all the good that is going on in their lives. But our tongues can sometimes be a dart that brings poison to others when those we are boasting to are not experiencing the same success.

Dare you to become aware of how your excitement to share your kids’ success might impact a hurting parent.

Having been both the participator and the recipient of similar conversations, I’ve had to humbly…

“Let go…and let God,”

Hope you’ll join Leah as she blogs through The Respect Dare to moms with little people and Nina Roesner as she continues to inspire us with new insight on marriage.