Are You Helping Your Kids Too Much?

Most of us would do anything for our kids.  We want them to be happy.  We want them to say we were always there for them.  We want them to be successful in school, in sports, and in relationships.  Our desire is for our kids to be the best they can be and compete at the highest level.  Yet, I wonder if instead of helping we are stunting their growth.  Are we enabling them to not take care of themselves because they know that we will be there to provide for them no matter what?

What is our real desire for our kids for their future?

And how do we raise kids who become mature adults who can think for themselves, solve their own problems, and have a desire to get ahead in life?

A couple of years ago there was a video on Facebook that was priceless and I think could teach all of us a thing or two about parenting.  A baby elephant had slid into a stream and struggled over and over to pull himself up onto flat land.  The problem was that the ground where he was trying to get out had become so wet and muddy that it became a slide that would not allow him a firm grip.  Over and over he slid back into the stream.  At one point you could tell he seemed to be getting tired.  He quit trying.  He paced back and forth as if he was doing some self-talk. Frustrated at his circumstance he kept circling lowering his trunk into the water.

He paused.  

Then he decided to try again. 

This time as the camera panned out we could see his mother from a distance coaxing him to try harder.  After much time she slowly walked toward him and seemed to hug him as she took her trunk and wrapped it with his.  Knowing nothing about elephants I wondered if she would try to pull him out with her strong trunk.  

But she didn’t.  She actually backed away several feet.

I could almost hear her.  “You can to this.  Come on.  Try again.”

After a few more rounds of slipping, mama elephant slid into the water, encouraged him to try again, and then behind him proceeded to give him a little nudge.  With that, he made it to higher ground.

The question that most of us need to ask ourselves is “At what point do we intervene with our kids and how much assistance do we give?”  Intervening too quickly and and with too much assistance moves us from helper to enabler.   

Sometimes we need to allow our kids to fail so they can actually learn to keep trying.

Enabling allows our kids be irresponsible.  We intervene so they won’t suffer the consequences of their choices.   Sometimes we think we are showing our kids love by helping with homework or picking up after them or giving them money rather than encouraging them to get a job, but will that well-intended help cause them to realize that someone will always be there to bail them out?  What will be the consequences of our actions for their future mate? Will they be looking for a mom-figure who they think should fix the situation causing marital conflict for their future?

If you are a mom who likes to help your kid, maybe it is time to do some soul searching.  What is the driving force behind the extra help that you give your kids?  If your kid is successful have you bought into the lie that it means you are a good mom?  Is the extra help because you don’t believe your kid can do it on his own?  Or maybe you aren’t willing to trust God with your child? 

This isn’t an attempt at condemnation.  It is an honest assessment by you about you.  And this goes for me as well.

Just this week I had my own time of contemplation.  Having had a 26 year old in chronic pain for more than seven years, I’ve been chief caregiver through several surgeries.  It’s natural for me to be involved in his medical situation with doctors.  Yet, I made a phone call this week to ask a question and the nurse who answered the phone caught me by surprise.  He seemed to be a little shocked at my call and said, “Oh, I’m surprised he had you to call.  We only have adult patients.”

Oh my, I thought.  I’m doing exactly what I’m trying to encourage other parents not to do. 

And I realized how easy it is to fall into the trap. 

Ugh. 

A harsh truth.

And a wake-up call for me.

Is it time to let your kid be more responsible for his stuff.  Is he the owner of his to-do list or are you owning it?  

I know.  

I’m with you even in my reality of my son’s chronic pain.

And, yes, oh that realization hurts.  OUCH!  But sometimes painful self-assessment can push us to do things differently.

Here are 4 ways to move from enabling to helping:

  • Assess where you might be enabling and make a choice to back off.  Be sure to communicate with your teen, or in my case, twenty-something that you feel like you might be hindering their future and that you want to help them mature.  Let them know when this will go into affect.
  • Ease your child into their new reality.  Too many times parents see that they are doing too much for their kids and make a statement that they are no longer going to do XYZ to help. It can come off as harsh and shuts down the relationship. Sometimes it is better to take baby steps as we try to wean our kids into their new mature behavior.
  • Be their cheerleader.  Send them a text, cheer them on, give them a hug, and let them know you think they can be successful.  It is important to remember that cheerleaders don’t take the ball and try to score.  Once you’ve communicated that it is their game, don’t take the ball back.  If they lose the first game, there is always another opportunity.
  • When they are stuck, give them a nudge from behind (that’s elephant speak).  If you see your kid floundering, offer suggestions, and be ready to get in their space to give a nudge in the right direction.  

I was talking to a mom recently about her kid that she used to bail out because he would get behind on homework assignments and everything would be due at the same time.  When I asked her how things were going, she told me “great”.  “He seems to finally be grasping where my boundary is in how I’m willing to help.  When he comes in needing help with schoolwork, I ask him to take a calendar and decide when he is going to do each assignment.  It is forcing him to make some tough choices between fun activities and grades.”

Whether it is doling out money or giving our kids a ride to school when they could be taking the bus or helping with homework, our kids need to be learning that we’re here to help them be successful not make their life easy.

If we aren’t careful we will believe the lie from the enemy that our job as parents is to pave the way for our kids such that they don’t stumble or experience frustration or pain.  

Galatians 6:5 

For each will have to bear his own load.

2 Thessalonians 3:10

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

Dare you to assess if you are more an enabler than helper and choose to nudge your teen toward adulthood. 

“Let go…and let God”,

Are You Fighting Your Kid’s Battles?

Two things happened almost simultaneously this week.  That’s when I knew God was trying to get me to listen and take note.

Sitting at brunch with my oldest son, my husband and I were listening to my son’s every word.  For us it was a moment of trying to get our feelings under control at the thought of our son moving away.  We were painfully aware that this would be the last time we would see him other than FaceTime for several months.  And for us, it was time for deep introspection. 

As typical of our major times of separation from our kids, Dave was trying to let our son know how proud we were of him and encourage him in his new adventure.  We wanted him to know that the move was the right thing for his family even though we would miss them all terribly.  Our son was doing the same for us reminding us of all that we had poured into him through the years.

And then on a jovial note he commented, “But there is one thing I think you should have done in your parenting.”

Oh no, the moment of truth and a long pause as my brain automatically jumped to that word of “failure”. 

“I really think you should have let us fight our own battles.”

Hmm…

As he talked about a couple of situations, I knew where he was going with the comment.  When things got political with their sports, when my kids had a tough time with a teacher, or when they were having a tough time navigating a situation, I’d step in  ‘mom to coach’ or ‘mom to teacher’ or ‘mom to mom’.

Oh, no.  Gulp.  That was me.

“I know that you did it for all the right reasons.  I just think I would have been better equipped, especially as I got older, if you had taught me to fight the battles myself.”

And with that comment, I could see the progress I had made as a parent from my first to my last child.  My oldest wasn’t telling me something new.  He was sharing something that God had been teaching me in the moment.  Our youngest was in a battle at the time  and it had taken everything in my power to not step into the middle of the situation.

You see, my youngest had been in a situation where he was wrongfully accused.  He had been sharing bits of what was going on in his life with me for several months.  I knew the people involved.  I could have easily initiated a conversation that would have most likely cleared the entire situation up.

But I chose to stay silent.

As the situation became more heated and my son’s character was called into question, my heart broke for him.  How could this person accuse my son and say the things he had said without truly understanding the situation?  

And everything in me wanted to right the injustice.

But as I spent time with the Lord, He kept saying to me.  “This is your son’s battle, not yours.  These are the things that will make him a man.  He needs these difficulties to make him stronger.  Listen to him.  Make suggestions on how he should handle the situation.  But let him fight the battle.”

Ugh, it would be so much easier if I could just take care of it myself and not be forced to sit on the sidelines.

But isn’t that what we want to do as parents.  We just want it to go away.  We don’t want our kids to suffer.  We want life to go smoothly.  

But if we fight all their battles, they don’t grow stronger.  If they don’t feel pain, they don’t need us to lean on.  It is in the times of battle that they want our insight and will ask for our perspective.

My youngest fought his own battle and it didn’t turn out the way either of us had hoped.  And even though I’d still like to “say something”, it’s not my battle.  My job as parent is to remind him that there is injustice in the world and to be there for him with hugs and empathy attempting to normalize his frustration and disappointment.

There can be much learning when our kids fight their own battles and there can be opportunities for connection as we soothe their disappointments.  

As my oldest got out at the airport to leave, I reminded myself of my own growth as a parent.  I had changed when it came to the battles my kids face.  And I certainly didn’t see the lessons my oldest had missed out on by me not allowing him to fight his own battles, but I’m thankful that God allowed him to see my failures so that he could right the wrong with his son and the generations that will follow.

Ephesians 6:12

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Isaiah 64:8

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

II Chronicles 20:15

Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the battle is not yours but God’s.

Learning to stay silent when I want to speak.

“Let go…and Let God”,

 

 

 

9 Steps to Take to Kick Your Kid Out of the House

This is a hard post to write.  As I sit here contemplating what to say to those of you who are at a place where you think it is time to kick your kid out because of behavior issues, I hope you’ll read last week’s blog before this one.  My prayer is that if there are any other options that you will take those first before pulling the trigger.  Actions can have major fallout for decades to come and while the Now you are in seems overwhelming, the silence down the road can become a heavy burden to carry as well.

A decade ago, I was in a similar situation with one of my kids.  The defiance, disrespect, and “you can’t tell me what to do” were stretching my husband and me to a breaking point.  We had allowed things to go on for too long and were truly at a point of losing perspective.  This teen’s actions were affecting the entire family in a way that I knew was unhealthy.  We were at our wits end.  What should we put up with and where was the line for letting natural consequences play out?  

Regardless of your child’s age, as I know many of you have adult children living under your roof, the principles are the same.  Helping them move forward into maturity is the goal while attempting to maintain the relationship.

Thankfully, a wise therapist/psychiatrist helped us discern the best course of action and spent many hours making sure my husband and I were speaking the same language to our teen.  He knew that we had to be fully on the same page to move our family forward.

As my husband and I met with the therapist weekly, he coached us through the process of working through our own differing opinions on parenting issues.  Meanwhile, he was working with our teen to determine possible scenarios to change behavior.  About six months into these separate sessions, I remember his word’s vividly.  “You can’t allow this to continue in your home.  I have real concerns for your other children.  I think it is time to put a plan in place.  The choice is hers.  She either adheres to your boundary or she chooses to leave.”

Notice I didn’t say we kicked her out.

She chose to leave.

And that is the difference in future potential for the relationship.  When we empower our children to “choose” their destiny, we aren’t foisting our desires, feelings, and anger on them.  We are drawing a line in the sand  and letting them make the choice on which side they want to land.

So what are the steps we took and what makes it their choice?

  1. Determine what has to change.  This doesn’t mean everything that is going wrong.  What are the non-negotiable behaviors that are negatively impacting the family? 
  2. Make sure the behaviors that need to change are measurable.  You will want to be able to cite instances of both positive and destructive behaviors on a weekly basis, so take good notes.
  3. Determine the date that the teen will need to move out if things don’t change.  Our counselor was insistent that we not stretch things out too long.  The date was set with the intent of allowing our teen time to decide whether they were going to follow our rules, find a place to live if they chose to move out, and to make sure they had a plan in place for adequate financial stability.  In our situation we allowed 2 1/2 months.
  4. Write down the plan before meeting with the teen.  Writing things down help both parents determine specifics and makes sure that both are on the same page.  There needs to be no question about each step along the way and the behaviors that need to change.
  5. Have the conversation.  Remember, once you are here, there is no turning back.  You need to make sure you are strong enough to follow through.  With our teen the conversation went something like this.  “Honey, we love you and we want so much for you to be part of this family.  We’ve had a lot of friction about ____, ____, and ____.  You are making choices that are impacting our family in a negative way and we can no longer live this way.  Your mom/dad and I have decided that you can either change your behavior or choose to move out.  Know that whatever you choose, we will always love you.  Please understand that this is really difficult for us, but in life there will always be rules and people that have authority over you (like a boss).  We hope that you will choose to work on the things we’ve outlined that need to change.  (Read the list you’ve compiled and be willing to talk through specifics.  If they want to negotiate a point, let the teen know that you and mom/dad will talk about it and get back to them). Please know that if you choose to move out you’ll need to find a place to live and figure out how you are going to survive without our financing.  You will be responsible for you.  We will be more than willing to help you find affordable housing or teach you about budgeting or anything else you need to make it happen.  If you choose to move out, ______ is the date.  We would like to sit down with you weekly/every other week, to see where you are at so there is no question as to how we think you are doing regarding the rules we’ll be monitoring.  Again, we do love you and hope you’ll do everything in your power to make this work so that you can continue to live here.”
  6. Continue to stay in relationship.  Be kind, loving, and encouraging when/if you see positive behaviors.  Remember the goal is to build the relationship and not have them move out if they are still a teen.  If you are dealing with an adult child your goal is to pave a way to give them encouragement to leave.
  7. Be sure to check in regularly during this time.  Your goal should be to help them succeed regardless of their decision.  Feedback on their behavior is paramount.  This is where your note taking and measurable goals will be discussed. And if they choose to leave, a goal should be to let them go without hard feelings.
  8. If their behavior changes, celebrate.  If it doesn’t, remind them that their continued behavior means they are choosing to leave.
  9. When the day arrives for those who choose to leave, carry their things down the stairs, tell them you love them, hug them, and fall apart after they walk out the door.

So how did it go for us?

Our child chose to leave.  And it was one of the most difficult things I have ever endured. 

This teen continued to make poor choices; however, we stayed in relationship.  Two days after she moved out she showed up and asked her dad to test drive a new car she was planning to purchase.  He graciously did and even went with her to sign the papers.  We didn’t co-sign the loan, but we were there for her.  Several weeks later I called and offered to take her to lunch–no lecture, just a “how are you doing” conversation letting her know that we respected her decision and still loved her dearly.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve coached several parents through this same process.  It isn’t easy to endure, but I know for me, I was so glad I had an outside perspective as I walked through it.  

My prayer is that regardless of what you are dealing with in your difficult situation, that you will not kick your kid out with anger and hard feelings.  Sometimes we have to let go and let God do His work in our children’s lives.  Our goal is to set the stage for easier forgiveness and restoration.

Isaiah 43:1-2

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

 

“Let go…and Let God”,

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Keeping You From Connecting With Your Teen on a Deeper Level?

It was a Thursday evening. I had just gotten off a plane, exhausted and hungry. My husband offered to take me out to dinner and I was more than willing to let him pick the restaurant so that I could go home and crash.

Sitting in the booth telling my husband about the trip to visit my mother, I couldn’t help but notice the family sitting next to us. I tried not to stare, but I’ll admit that it was hard.

From afar it appeared to be Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad with two kids, and an adult brother of the Dad. Maybe a family reunion with Grandma and Grandpa coming to visit.

But let me get to the point. We sat there for over an hour watching the daughter play games on her phone. Even though she was sitting beside grandma, there was no interaction. Zero.

Sure enough, after they had ordered, Mom got out her phone and started texting. I thought for sure she would put it down. Nada–at least until the food came out. Poor grandma sat there in silence as the men carried on a conversation at one end of the table in their own world.

Even as they ate, the daughter sat her phone on the table and continued to play games. Mom never said, “Honey, would you please put your phone away so you can eat?” There was no communication with this girl–only silent approval that this was acceptable behavior.

I’ll admit I wanted to get up and shake this mother and tell the pre-teen to put her phone away. But I did choose to be civil. After all, we were in a restaurant and this woman didn’t ask for my help.

As dinner was winding down, I happened to glance at the grandmother. She knew what I was thinking. And she turned her palms up, shrugged, and glanced at me as if to say, “There’s really nothing I can do.”

“Really?” I thought.

As moms, we may be way more engaging than this mother in setting boundaries for our kids and helping them learn the social skills that they will need to survive in the future, but I wonder how many times we’ve allowed something or someone else crowd out the deep connection we could be having with our teen.

  1. When our kids ask us for something, are we “too busy” in the moment and fail to circle back to help them at a better time?
  2. Do we set specific times on a regular basis to have special one-on-one time to do things that we both enjoy? And then do it?
  3. Do you have “talk” time or are you always rushing to the next activity with a list of “Did you do your_____ (homework or chores)?”
  4. Do you encourage interaction with other adults, especially with Grandma and Grandpa, so that relationships develop and a sense of family becomes important?
  5. Are we willing to do hard things ourselves, like put away the phone or give up something else, so that we can model relationships for our kids?
  6. Are we willing to step into the situations that are not going as we would like and say, “Honey, I would like you to put away the phone right now so we can enjoy each other, grandma, or whoever else is in the room.”?
  7. Are we willing to have the tough conversations before and after a situation so that our kids will learn what relationship is all about?

1 Timothy 4:12

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

Romans 12:1

I appeal to you therefore, brothers/sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Dear Heavenly Father,

So many times I fail in my own actions and model behavior that will one day be passed to yet another generation. Lord, help me to not only think through my own convictions but to live them out for my children. Help me to be brave and walk into what might be conflict over things like phones, computers, gaming systems, friends, and other things so that I can teach my kids the art of true relationships.

Lord, I also pray that my relationship with you will become deeper and stronger as I choose to live my life for you. Help me to be a parent who engages with her children in a way that will bring you glory and honor.

In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Dare you to think about ways you can more deeply connect with your teen and teach them about true relationships.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Teaching teens the importance of relationship is so very difficult in a technology driven world.  If you would like to connect more deeply with your teen, why not grab a copy of With All Due Respect and join us in our on-line eCourse?  I’ll be joining you in a community of christian women who want to take their relationships with their kids to the next level.  Hope to see you there!

 

 

Are You Helping or Enabling Your Kids?

Most of us would do anything for our kids.  We want them to be happy.  We want them to say we were always there for them.  We want them to be successful in school, in sports, and in relationships.  Our desire is for our kids to be the best they can be and compete at the highest level.  Yet, I wonder if instead of helping we are stunting their growth.  Are we enabling them to not take care of themselves because they know that we will be there to provide for them no matter what?

What is our real desire for our kids for their future?

And how do we raise kids who become mature adults who can think for themselves, solve their own problems, and have a desire to get ahead in life?

Last week there was a video on Facebook that was priceless and I think could teach all of us a thing or two about helping instead of enabling.  A baby elephant had slid into a stream and struggled over and over to pull himself up onto flat land.  The problem was that the ground where he was trying to get out had become so wet and muddy that it became a slide that would not allow him a firm grip.  Over and over he slid back into the stream.  At one point you could tell he seemed to be getting tired.  He quit trying.  He paced back and forth as if he was doing some self-talk.  Frustrated at his circumstance he kept circling lowering his trunk into the water.  He paused.  

Then he decided to try again. 

This time as the camera panned out we could see his mother from a distance coaxing him to try harder.  After much time she slowly walked toward him and seemed to hug him as she took her trunk and wrapped it with his.  Knowing nothing about elephants I wondered if she would try to pull him out with her strong trunk.  

But she didn’t.  She actually backed away several feet.

I could almost hear her.  “You can to this!  Come on.  Try again.”

After a few more rounds of slipping, mama elephant slid into the water, encouraged him to try again, and then behind him proceeded to give him a little nudge.  With that, he made it to higher ground.

The question that most of us need to ask ourselves is “At what point do we intervene with our kids and how much assistance do we give?”  Intervening too quickly and and with too much assistance moves us from helping to enabling.   

Sometimes we need to allow our kids to fail so they can actually learn from their mistakes.

Enabling allows our kids be irresponsible.  We intervene so they won’t suffer the consequences of their choices.   Sometimes we think we are showing our kids love by helping with homework or picking up after them or giving them money rather than encouraging them to get a job, but will that well-intended help cause them to realize that someone will always be there to bail them out?  What will be the consequences of our actions for their future mate?  Will they be looking for a mom-figure who they think should bail them out causing marital conflict for their future?

If you are a mom who likes to help your kid, maybe it is time to do some soul searching.  What is the driving force behind the extra help that you give your kids?  If your kid is successful have you bought into the lie that it means you are a good mom?  Is the extra help because you don’t believe your kid can do it on his own?  Or maybe you aren’t willing to trust God with your child? 

This isn’t an attempt at condemnation.  It is an honest assessment by you about you.  Is it time to let your kid be more responsible for his stuff.  Is he the owner of his to-do list or are you owning it?  

I know.  

I’ve been there.

And, yes, oh that realization hurts.  OUCH!  But sometimes painful self-assessment can push us to do things differently.

Here are 4 ways to move from enabling to helping:

  • Assess where you might be enabling and make a choice to back off.  Be sure to communicate with your teen that you feel like you might be hindering their future and that you want to help them mature.  Let them know when this will go into affect.
  • Ease your child into their new reality.  Too many times parents see that they are doing too much for their kids and make a statement that they are no longer going to do XYZ to help. It can come off as harsh and shuts down the relationship. Sometimes it is better to take baby steps as we try to wean our kids into their new mature behavior.
  • Be their cheerleader.  Send them a text, cheer them on, give them a hug, and let them know you think they can be successful.  It is important to remember that cheerleaders don’t take the ball and try to score.  Once you’ve communicated that it is their game, don’t take the ball back.  If they lose the first game, there is always another opportunity.
  • When they are stuck, give them a nudge from behind (that’s elephant speak 🙂 ) If you see your kid floundering, offer suggestions, and be ready to get in their space to give a nudge in the right direction.  

I was talking to a mom recently about her kid that she used to bail out because he would get behind on homework assignments and everything would be due at the same time.  When I asked her how things were going, she told me–‘great’.  “He seems to finally be grasping where my boundary is in helping vs. enabling.  When he comes in needing help with schoolwork, I ask him to take a calendar and decide when he is going to do each assignment.  It is forcing him to make some tough choices between fun activities and grades.”

Whether it is doling out money or giving our kids a ride to school when they could be taking the bus or helping with homework, our kids need to be learning that we’re here to help them be successful not make their life easy.

If we aren’t careful we will believe the lie from the Enemy that our job as parents is to pave the way for our kids such that they don’t stumble or experience frustration or pain.  

Galatians 6:5 

For each will have to bear his own load.

2 Thessalonians 3:10

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

Dare you to assess where you might be enabling rather than helping and choose to do things differently.  Doing so might help you raise the mature adult that you desire.

“Let go…and let God”,

What to become a MASTER at handling conflict with your kids?  Want to grow as a woman and help others grow in their relationship with God and their families?  Whether you are influencing others in your home or wanting to help other women who are stuggling in their relationships, we’ll help you develop skills that will give you opportunity to be all He created you to be.  Titus 2 Leadership Boot Camp