Dare 23 – The Respect Dare for parents of 20-Somethings – Are You Awfulizing?

Sitting at lunch with Brenda, Nadine couldn’t keep herself from telling her woes.  “I’m just wondering if he will ever graduate from college, let alone get a job!  He’s changed his major three times.  At this rate he’ll be paying off school loans until he’s 40!

She paused briefly to take a sip of water.

I can’t count on one hand how many classes Josh has dropped and he’s lost his academic scholarship.  I’ve told him he needs to get a part-time job, but it seems that he was late on the signups at school to be considered.  I don’t know whether I should just tell him to quit school and get a job or encourage him to finish.”

“How many credits does he need to graduate?” Brenda questioned taking a bite of her salad.

“I’m not even sure at this point.  I think he told me he had a year and a half left.”

“Are his grades pretty good?”

“They’re not bad, but they aren’t great either.”

“What’s his major now?”

“I think he landed on business.”

“Well, that’s a good major.  He should be able to get a job with a business degree.”

“I hope so.  I just know my nephew got a degree in business and he’s waiting tables right now.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.  I know with the economy the way it is a lot of kids are finding themselves in that situation.  Nadine,” Brenda continued, “we’ve been friends for a long time.  I can be honest with you, can’t I?”

“Of course!  What’s up?”

“I’m sensing a pattern in how you look at Josh.”

“How so?”

“Let me ask a question first.  Does Josh remind you of anyone you know?  Maybe someone in your family?”

“Funny you should ask.  He is just like my brother, Greg.  Greg never graduated from college.  He just couldn’t decide what he wanted to do and finally dropped out.  He and Judy have struggled to make ends meet their entire marriage.  He’s been working at a hardware store for almost 20 years!  Not that there is anything wrong with that, it is just that he had so much potential and squandered it.”

“Hmm, that must be hard to see Josh in the same light.”

“It is.  That’s why I worry about him so much.”

“That must be what I’m sensing from you. You seem to want to awfulize Josh’s behavior and decisions.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I’m just wondering if because you feel that your brother Greg didn’t make good choices about college, you are afraid that Josh will make some of the same mistakes.”

“Of course I am.  They seem to be two peas in a pod.”

“Nadine, what good comes from imagining the worst with Josh’s decisions?  Who does it affect?  And most important, how is your interaction with Josh when you tend to doubt that he’ll make good choices?”

“That’s a lot to think about.  I guess I do tend to think about what I consider were Greg’s failures.  I’m afraid that Josh will do the same thing.”

“You’re afraid, so you think of the worst thing that could possibly happen with Josh?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“So, who does that affect?”

“I guess me, because I sit around and worry a lot.”

“And how do you interact with Josh?”

“I’ve tried to warn him over and over, but he just doesn’t seem to listen.”

“Nadine, when we always look at our kids through a negative lens, we tend to look at their decisions in the worst possible scenario.  That’s what I was referring to when I said you might be awfulizing.  When we do that, we tend to want to over-parent our kids.  We’re afraid they’ll make a wrong choice or become like, in this case, Josh’s Uncle Greg.  It can impact our relationship with our kids and it can hold them back from really exploring who God made them to be.”

“I never thought of that.  Raising kids can be so scary.  I just want him to graduate so he can get a good job!”

“One of the things that I’ve had to learn while my kids were in college, is to think about these years as a time of exploration.  A friend of mine had a daughter who just knew she wanted to be an English teacher.  She graduated from college, got the perfect job teaching English and literature, and after two years of teaching, she realizes that she hates it.  But now, she feels like she is stuck.  Why not look at Josh through a different lens?  He’s exploring his options now so that he is better equipped to really know that he is in the right profession later.  Yes, he might make some mistakes in the process, but through the mistakes he’ll grow.”

“You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about.  You’re right, I do want a good relationship with Josh and I need to let him be in charge of his decisions.”

Philipians 4:8-9 ESV  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

“Let go…and let God,”

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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 23 – The Respect Dare for Parents of Tweens & Teens – ME or WE?

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Olivia stood in disbelief at the kitchen sink watching 14 year old Emily interact with her 13 year old brother.  Typically they were pretty good friends, but something was wrong, terribly wrong.  She had seen them walk out back together as they got off the bus.  As backpacks landed on the deck, they had climbed up in the playhouse that was still standing in the corner of the property.  Sitting on the wooden planks the two were in deep conversation.

Being able to see everything from her kitchen window, Olivia was mesmerized by the continued friendship even as they had entered the junior high years.  She wished she had a similar companionship with her siblings.  As she stared entranced at what was transpiring between them, something seemed to snap in Emily.  What had seemed like a natural exchange between brother and sister turned into a rage of anger followed by a wrestling match with fists flailing.

As if standing in quicksand, Olivia felt like she was moving in slow motion. Just as she reached the back door, she saw Dean push Emily up against the side railing allowing him a little relief from her continuous blows.  Thankfully it was enough to stop the fight before someone fell from the 6 foot high perch.

Ordering each of her kids to their separate rooms, Olivia assured them they would talk about it later after cooler heads prevailed.

“Lord, I have no idea what just happened!” Olivia breathed out loud as she settled herself in a chair in her own bedroom.  Behind closed doors she voiced her prayer, “You know what this is all about.  Please help us to get to truth and give me wisdom in how to best handle the situation.  Give me your eyes and ears to truly understand what each of my children are thinking.  Calm my heart and may your glory be seen in this situation.”

At the dinner table, it was obvious that neither of the kids were going to speak to each other.  After dinner dishes were put away, Olivia sauntered into Dean’s room.

“Is now a good time to talk about this afternoon?”

“I guess so.  I just don’t get Emily anymore.  She’s changing.  And not in a good way.”

“How so?”

“She just seems to want a boyfriend so badly that she’ll do just about anything to get one.”

“Is there something specific you want to share?”

“Not really.  What she did was not what our family is all about.  It’s all about her and not about us.”

“Tell me more.  Why did she get so angry?”

“I told her that what she did was impacting me as well.  I tried to tell her I thought what she did was wrong.  She didn’t like what I had to say.”

“I’m sorry, Dean.  I’m glad you love your sister enough to speak truth to her.  I’m not sure how we are going to resolve this, but I’ll get back to you after I’ve had a chance to talk to Emily.”

Later that evening, “Emily, do you have a minute that we can talk?”

“I guess so.”

“You want to tell me what was going on out there in the playhouse this afternoon?”

“Mom, I just got so angry at Dean.  He has no right to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do!  It’s none of his business!”

“Is that what you truly think?”

“Well it isn’t!  I can make my own decisions and he needs to stay out of it!”

“Do you want to tell me what Dean is so upset about?”

“I’m sure he already told you everything.”

“Actually he didn’t.  He told me you did something today that he thought was wrong and it had an impact on him.  Do you want to tell me what happened?”

“Not really.”

“Would I have been upset at what you did?”

“Probably.”

“Did you have a right to go after Dean the way you did?”

“You would say I didn’t.  I just hate having a younger brother tell me what I shouldn’t be doing!”

“Emily, family is about “we”.  We want what is best for you and it sounds like that was what Dean was trying to convey to you.  No matter what you choose to do, it has the potential to have an impact on our entire family.  Do you understand that?”

Silence from Emily.

Olivia continued, “Emily, your dad and I want you to become the person that God created you to be.  Obviously, I don’t know the details of what came down today, but I’m thinking maybe Dean telling you what he thought today was about how much he cares for you as a sister and wants the best for you as well.  Life isn’t about “me”.  Your entire life you will have to make choices about pleasing yourself, but know that those decisions will more times than not impact others”.

Continued silence.

“Let’s plan to go to lunch on Saturday and talk about what happened today.  Maybe I can help you sort through what you are feeling and why you did what you did.  In the meantime, I’m hoping that you will pray and work through your anger with Dean. You know you need to apologize to him.”

“Emily, we all make mistakes.  Learning to own up to them and talk about them with those who love you will help you make better choices in the future.  You know we love you.”

After hugging Emily, Olivia left the bedroom.  She headed toward Dean’s room to say goodnight.  “Dean, I spoke to Emily and encouraged her to come apologize.  I’ll be praying for the two of you.  I love you.”

Parenting through conflict situations can be so difficult!  We want to know all the details.  We want to tell them what they did wrong.  Sometimes just encouraging our child to do the next thing allows them to “own” what they did wrong.  Setting up a time to work through the details usually takes the emotion out of the situation.  Remember that the important piece is that our children need to see that “we” are in this life together and we both want the same thing…for them to be the best at what God created them to be.

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

“Let go…and let God,”

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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 22 – The Respect Dare – A Gift for You and Your 20-Somethings

Marian walked into the basement looking at all the boxes. Her kids were grown and no longer lived at home, but their stuff still had residence. Not only were there memories galore, but college textbooks, furniture she had saved for their first apartments, and even clothes that her girls had not wanted to part with.

“Ugh! I just want this stuff out of here!” she thought.

She had mentioned to her kids on several occasions that she wanted each to take their belongings with them, but still they lay idle in the basement. She knew there were things her kids would want someday. She also knew that one of her sons might want his things when he returned from overseas. Her one daughter didn’t have enough room for any “extra” non-necessities in her small apartment. On top of all that, she wasn’t sure they would recognize the importance of some of the memories some of the boxes held.

On more than one occasion she had threatened to get rid of it all, but she still hadn’t reconciled it fully in her mind to take the plunge.

However, today she was ready to put her plan into action! Thanks to Linnea’s wisdom, she was ready to start the process.

Sorting the boxes she had a stack for Jimmy, one for Ethan, another for Jared, and finally Eva. Then she had her five boxes for distribution. She decided that she would designate them throw away, give away, give to the kids now, or save for the future. The final one was for “I have no idea what to do with this!”

Before heading into each box, she decided to stack all the furniture in the corner of the basement. Then she sent the text to her kids, “Furniture in the basement has to leave the house by Saturday afternoon. Blue flowered chair, office chair, small desk, two lamps, twin bed with mattress, 2 chests of drawers, small bookcase, coffee table, sofa. Text me if you would like any of these, otherwise they are heading to a new home. If you want something and can’t get it by Saturday, let me know. Love, Mom”

Feeling like she had accomplished enough for her stint in the basement, Marian put a smile on her face as she headed upstairs to fix dinner. She knew she’d pencil in next Thursday on her calendar to tackle the next stage.

Four weeks in a row, Marian had sorted through each kid’s belongings. She couldn’t believe how long it had taken. Tears would come to her eyes as she played through the memories in her mind. Since Jimmy was overseas, she carefully marked each of his boxes and put them on the wired shelves. She’d deal with his when he came home for Christmas.

Armed and ready, she planned a special day for each of her kids to stop by separately for dinner. After dinner, she pulled out their “I have no idea what to do with this” box and went through it with them. Eva came first and quickly assessed what was in her box. Most of its contents would be recycled. After assuring Eva that she had held on to the things that would be precious to her in the future, Maria gave her the box of things that she should have now. “I’ve put some special things away for my grandchildren when you start having children. I know you don’t have space for it now.”

Within the span of six weeks, the basement was clean and organized. Not only that, but she felt at peace that she hadn’t taken it all to the dumpster as she had threatened. She was surprised at how good she felt of not having her children wrestle with going through the boxes on their own. She remembered when Darren’s father has passed away. His mother had given them over twelve boxes of stuff to sort through. “No child should have to do that no matter how old they are,” she chuckled.

1 Corinthians 14:40

But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Dare you to bless yourself and your children by sorting through belongings of the past. One day soon they will thank you and someday you’ll be easily able to bless your children and grandchildren with memories of the past.

“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.