Am I Too Involved?

Being involved with our kids is a good thing, right?  After all, we want to have relationship with them.  We want to have influence over situations that our kids get themselves into that we know won’t turn out so well.  And, naturally, we want our kids to be successful.

But can we be too involved?

I’ll admit that I have been that mom at times.

I remember the days when I would make sure that I looked at their class syllabus at the beginning of each school year.  After all, I reasoned, I might need to remind them of their test or project due date.  I wanted to make sure that I could lovingly nag them enough to start early so that school didn’t interfere with extra-curricular activities.  “Better to start that project on Monday rather than wait until the last minute.”

And then there was the electronic grade system that gave me play-by-play updates on how my kid was doing any hour of the day.  And, of course, the feature where I could easily direct email the teacher sometimes came in handy.

Don’t get me wrong, we do need to be involved in our kids’ lives; however, we also need to figure out when we need to start backing off.

I remember a mom who sent her kid to college for the first time and had a tracker on his phone.  Throughout the day, she would “see” where her son was physically located on campus.  Was he in class?  In the cafeteria?  Or heaven forbid off campus?

Unfortunately technology allows us to keep close tabs on almost everything our kid has going on in his life.  It makes it easy to be that helicopter parent without even trying.  It also means that we can easily assume responsibility for the very things that our teen needs to be learning for himself.

Turning 13, or 16, or 19 means that we should be out of the coaching phase of parenting having moved to the role of consultant.  Being a consultant means that if our kids need help, they can come to us.  Sure we might ask at the beginning of the school year if there is anything they need.  We could even take time to help them get a system in place.  And then, let your child know that you believe in them.  This is the opportune time to let them know that you respect that they are starting to grow up and become responsible for themselves.

By letting our kids go, it allows us to focus on what God has for us.  Rather than worrying about every move our kids make, setting them up for what we consider success, why not figure out what God has for you during this phase of life?  Our kids need to see that we have a life too–one that is not always focused on them.

And if school has already started and you’ve already started being “overly helpful”, why not have a conversation now.  Maybe you could try something like this:

Hey, Honey, now that we’ve gotten you set up for the school year, let’s talk about how it should play out from here.  I want you to learn to be successful on your own with minimal involvement from me.  Part of growing up is owning what is yours to own.  Part of the process of you being a (teenager, high schooler, college student) is trying to become more independent and I want to respect that.  Another thing is that sometimes I become so invested in your success that I start to take the reigns when I should really allow you to be in charge of you.  I’m thinking that this year, you should be responsible for __________.  If you see me starting to step in by nagging or telling you what to do, feel free to tell me that I need to own what is mine to own and let you own what is yours to own.  I love you and want to respect that you are growing up and moving toward adulthood.  I’ll be available if you need to consult with me anytime.  I’m not going to stop being Mom, I just want to give you the opportunity to discover who God created you to be without me pushing you.”

Galatians 6:5

For each will have to bear his own load.

1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

“Let Go…and Let God”,






Struggling With A Teen Making Poor Choices?

Excusing herself from a Saturday morning brunch, Erin pretended a headache and left in a hurry. As she got to her car she found herself shaking so much that she was having trouble finding the right key to open the car door. Gasping for air and holding back tears, she finally found the right one and quickly unlocked the door. Safe inside the driver’s seat, she let the floodgates of despair roll down her cheeks. “These are supposed to be my friends. How can they be so cruel? Lord, where are you? What am I doing wrong?”

Needing to get away from the pain, Erin quickly exited the church parking wanting a place of solitude. Trying to think of a place where she could be alone, she steered the car onto the interstate thinking of the park a few miles away–a place to walk and pull her emotions back in check before she returned home.

Seeing the beautiful trees in bloom and the little bridge across the stream gave her a sense of calm. “I know you are here, Lord. I just need to see you and feel your presence.”

She grabbed a stack of tissues and stuffed them into her jacket pocket before she grabbed her old gym shoes from the trunk. She knew she needed better support for walking with the ground damp from yesterday’s rain. She chuckled a little at the thought that she would be adding to the dampness when her tears really started flowing.

Walking down the hill to a place where she could be alone, she found a bench overlooking the fork of the river. She allowed herself to sit and think through the conversation of the morning.

There were six of them at the table. All of them had been friends for years. They had several kids similar in age and had shared many times the antics of growing up. They had laughed about the mistakes their children had made through the years and had rejoiced together at each one’s accomplishments. But now things were different. The stakes were higher.

It all started out innocently. Barb had mentioned her daughter’s scholarship. Sharon had mentioned that her son Cory had barely missed the ACT score he was hoping for. There was banter of summer jobs the kids had acquired. After lots of laughter and catching up, the dreaded question came. “So Erin, how is Dan doing?”

“Not too much has changed. He still isn’t making the choices Sam and I would like.”

“What’s going on now?”

Erin cautiously began sharing a little bit of their latest saga with their 17 year old. All Erin remembered then was the barrage of advice. “If he were my son, then I’d  ____________.”

“I can’t believe you haven’t tried _____________.”

And then the problem solving party began. It wasn’t so much that she minded their desire to help. She knew that each of them really did want the best for all their kids. Lord only knew that she would do anything for the right advice.

She would do anything to change the situation with her son.

The problem was the invalidating way they went about it. By the time she left, she felt as if each of them was the best mother in the world and she was ‘stupid’ for not getting it right with her son.

She had overheard Margo whisper to Jan, “If she would just take our advice, she wouldn’t be in this mess.”

That’s when Erin fled the scene. How dare they judge her and pin Dan’s behavior on her.

Here she was in a group of women that had always been the best of friends, but when her teen was making poor choices, she felt their disrespect of her situation loud and clear.

“Lord, help me to cling to truth in this situation. If I truly am the source of the reason Dan is making these choices, then show me the way. Give me the tools and the wisdom to know how to respond in each situation with him.”

As the tears flowed, she continued.

“I know your word is true.”

John 16:33

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

“Lord, I know that I am not in control of the trials I will endure here on this earth. Lord, this situation with Dan is so difficult. Help me to see truth; Your truth. If I am the source of his behavior, then make it clear to me.

With each tear that fell, peace flooded her soul.

And then Erin felt a prompting that surprised her. “The closeness of your friendships is not healthy for you right now. Put boundaries around your heart through this trial. You need someone walking beside you who has been down this path; someone who is safe to talk with. You need someone who will respect you for who you are and will affirm you in this situation. There are women who have experienced your pain. They will know what you need.”

“Lord, help me find the person to walk beside me. I need them and I need you.”

Other moms don’t always understand when we’re in the middle of difficult waters with our kids.  Friendships that were once anchors in our life have the potential to pull us under and become toxic to our ability to see truth.  

Dare you to find women who have walked through similar fires and are on the other side.  How did they navigate the trials?  What worked and what didn’t?  And how did they survive the storm?  Surrounding yourself with moms who can relate to your life circumstances can be a healing salve in an otherwise harsh world.  Take care of yourself and surround yourself with women who will give you empathy and grace.  

“Let go…and let God,”

Am I a Good Listener?

As 24 year old Annie stood at work bored and waiting for the close of her shift at the local mall to end, she thought the next hour couldn’t come soon enough. Snow was supposedly swirling outside with the anticipation of another few inches and all she could think about was curling up at her apartment in front of a movie and being off her feet. These long evenings with little chance of customers in the store left her drained. With no one to talk to, time seemed to stand still. She desperately needed something to keep her mind occupied on these slow nights. Too bad there was no Wi-Fi she could connect to so she could surf the net.

“Oh, I know Mom will be at home!” she thought. “I’ll just give her a call.”

Michelle was tired after a busy day. As was typical of their evenings, she and Mitch along with their 17 year old were settled in for one of their favorite shows. It was the way they unwound each evening. Something Michelle particularly looked forward to. Sitting in her favorite chair with a cup of cinnamon tea, Michelle was engrossed in the happenings on the screen. Breaking into the silence, the phone rang.

“Mom, do you have to answer it?” Cadie whined. “Why does someone always call when we’re in the middle of a show?”

“Cadie, it will only take a minute. Pause the show, I need to take this.”


“Hi, Mom! What are you up to?” Annie asked

“Just watching TV with Dad and Cadie.”

“I just called. It is so boring here. No one is in the mall!”

“I’ll bet. It’s really starting to come down out there. Is there something really important that you need? If not, we’ve got about 10 minutes left in our show. Can I call you back then?”

“Sure. Just call me on my cell.”

As the TV program came to an end, Michelle picked up the phone to return Annie’s call.

“Hi, honey. Any more customers?”

“No. These evenings never seem to end. I hate it when I’m here ’til close by myself.”

And the conversation continued…

And continued…

And continued.

Michelle seemed to add little to the conversation. Just saying “un-huh” occasionally seemed to do the trick.

At 8:50, Annie finally looked at the clock. “Oh, it’s almost time to close. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”

As Cadie came down the stairs to get a snack before bed she asked, “Mom, why do you spend so much time with Annie on the phone?”

“Because she is lonely, Cadie. Sometimes it is tough to be her age with life being so drastically different than when she was in school. Friend’s work schedules don’t always line up with hers. If you are like Annie, you live all alone in your apartment. If you have a job like her, sometimes you get a shift all by yourself. On nights like tonight, no one darkens the door of the store because of the weather. This is when I want to be here for her. Yeah, I know it interrupted our TV show for a few minutes. But I made sure she knew that we were busy. I didn’t want to spoil my time with you if she didn’t have something urgent that needed taken care of. That’s why I agreed to call her back. You know, I want to be Annie’s friend now and sometimes friends are just there to listen.”

“Yeah, guess you’re right, Mom. At least I know when it’s my turn, you’ll be there for me.”

Colossians 3:12-14

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Sometimes our 20-Somethings just need us to be there for them. Whether it is just listening when they need a friend or someone to help them with a problem, sometimes knowing that you will allow them to vocalize their frustrations in a safe place is all they need. When others in your home get interrupted by older siblings, be sure to acknowledge that their time with you is important too.

Dare you to just be there to listen to your 20-somethings, even when it isn’t necessarily convenient for you.

“Let go…and let God”,


Are You Still Treating Them Like Kids?

“Mom, why can’t Dad see things my way?” Tim angrily retorted. “I get so frustrated with him sometimes. I feel like he’s always preaching the same sermon and it’s his way or the highway.”

“Why do you say that?” Mom attempted to help Tim verbalize his anguish hoping to lower his frustration.

“No matter what I do or say, he has an opinion. Everything I start to do is scrutinized by his good boy, bad boy ideology. I doubt that he even remembers what it was like to be 21.”

“You might be right,” she laughed. “I know you’re dealing with a lot right now. It must be hard to be at home for the summer with parents breathing down your neck.”

“You have no idea, Mom. I’ve been away at college living on my own and now Dad is back to treating me like I’m still a little kid.”

In an attempt to validate his feeling, Sheryl replied, “In some ways, Tim, you are right. Your dad sometimes does have a difficult time remembering that you’re an adult. I think he just wishes things could be like they used to be. It hasn’t been easy for any of us to have you living back at home this summer.  It puts you in a position of having to live under our house rules again and it changes the dynamic of what we have while you are at school.  But we’ve all agreed that it is the best thing so you can continue to work nearby.  Look at the bright side.  Next year you’ll have graduated and can be fully out on your own.”  She paused before speaking again, “You know he loves you, don’t you?”

“I know, Mom, but can’t he just keep his mouth shut sometimes and let me figure out life for myself?”

“Tim, your dad isn’t perfect and neither am I. We love you and we’re all in this together. So let’s try to figure out what the real issue is. Why don’t you come up with a list of situations where you feel he has frustrated you and let’s set up a time to talk about them with him? How does that sound?”

“I don’t know, Mom. He’s not usually one to listen to my side of things.”

“I know you can handle this on your own, but how about if I try to “grease the skids”, so to speak, before the conversation?”

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe I can appeal to some of his memories of being 21,” she laughed.

“If you think it will work, I guess I’ll try anything. Thanks, Mom.”

Sometimes as parents with college and sometimes adult kids living in our home it is easy to fall into several communication dangers. We can either “bash” the other parent when opportunity arises because we think our 20-somethings can handle “truth” now that they’re adults or we can communicate to our kids that they should move out if they don’t like their circumstances. At times, the most important thing we can do is validate everyone’s feelings and try to understand the true objective during this season of life–relationship.

Ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Dare you to really listen to your adult children’s frustrations and be a bridge to relationships.

Always striving to communicate better with our kids regardless of their age.

“Let go…and let God,”