When Our Kids Come Home

Melanie lay across the university lawn excited yet tentative. She couldn’t wait until finals were over…one more to go and she would be finished with the semester. Yet she wasn’t ready to leave the university. She loved the comradery of being with the other kids not to mention the independence of doing what she wanted when she wanted. To go back home to be a “child” in her parents’ home for the summer was not something she was looking forward to. She knew they would be harping about her finding a job the minute she walked in the door. She had applied for a summer internship she thought would be so much fun and would surround her with people her own age, but unfortunately she didn’t get it. Most of her friends lived in other parts of the country so there wouldn’t be much social life for her summer.

She found herself becoming a bit agitated as she started packing her belongings. If only she had a more exciting summer planned!

Back at home, Jill, Melanie’s mom was apprehensive about the turn of events for their summer. She was disappointed that Melanie didn’t get the internship she had wanted. She would have been perfect for the youth camp position! Yet, Jill was looking forward to getting another summer with her daughter. “There won’t be too many summers like this left,” she thought to herself. “Before we know it, Melanie will be graduating and moving on with her life. I just hope we can find a sense of rhythm where we can enjoy each other.”

Then there was re-entry!

It took forever to unpack the van! “Why did she take so much to school,” was muttered more than once from Mark, Melanie’s dad. Then there was the mess that hadn’t been cleaned out of the refrigerator for an entire year and the mountains of laundry that engulfed the laundry room. The family room was swimming in boxes and plastic tubs filled with school supplies and miscellaneous dorm room paraphernalia. She could tell Mark was struggling to work through their new reality.

Melanie was mourning the loss of her friends at school while Mark was mourning the simpler life without stuff everywhere. It took days to get the house to some semblance of “normal”.

Melanie muttered her dissatisfaction with life on more than one occasion. “I wish I could have just stayed at school! I could have taken a couple of summer classes. Then life wouldn’t be so boring. There is no one to hang out with here.”

Jill held her tongue. Re-entry wasn’t easy on any of them. The simple life of just she and Mark had grown accustomed, eating when they chose, doing what they wanted whenever they decided, and working their schedules around just the two of them had come to an abrupt halt with Melanie home. Enjoying a cup of tea on the back patio while Melanie was still asleep gave Jill an opportunity to work through her emotions of the changes.

“Lord, help me realize your purpose in having Melanie home this summer. Help us to re-acclimate to having us all under the same roof.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.  A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up.…

“That’s it. I need to recognize that this is a season. This is a time to build up our new relationship,” Jill breathed in praise as she sat quietly in His presence.

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.

“Lord, that is my prayer. Whatever I speak to Melanie over the next several months, may it build her up. When she is crabby and lets her emotion fly out of her mouth at the frustration of her circumstances at home, may I remind her that it is only a season and encourage her to try to enjoy the moments we have as a family. May the words I speak to her bring a balm to her soul such that she will return to school in the fall knowing that her parents love her.”

Re-entry is a stressful time for everyone when the kids come home from college. It can become a mourning of freedom and independence for both the parents and the student. Realizing that this too shall pass and is but a season of life should help everyone. My prayer is that when the stress is high and feelings of frustration come into play, that you remember that your student will either leave your home in the fall anxious to get away from you or anxious to continue their life journey.

Dare you to provide a place of respite from the demands of college life rather than pressure cooker where your students can’t wait to leave.

“Let go…and let God,”


 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


The Respect Dare – Dare 5 – Me and My Big Mouth

Rachel skipped to the car in the driveway, excited! “Yeah, I finally have freedom!” she screeched in sheer joy knowing that she was taking her first solo drive to work.

Nancy felt uneasy as she watched Rachel throw her swim bag, sunscreen, and sun visor in the backseat. She was concerned that her daughter was over confident in her driving ability. It would be her maiden voyage, her 16 year olds’ first solo drive and it would be on the interstate all by herself in what would most likely be bumper to bumper traffic.

“Lord,” she prayed. “Keep her safe! Help me to stay calm for the next 30 minutes while Rachel is in route to work. Please, just keep her safe. Why am I so antsy, Lord? It is just so hard to let go!”

Nancy was working hard not to say all the things she really wanted to say…like “don’t go over the speed limit, make sure you lock your doors, look both ways, stay in the slow lane, be careful turning left out of the neighborhood…you know cars sometimes whip around that curve…” But she chose to remain silent with those nagging thoughts. She knew she needed to respect this rite of passage.

“Bye, Honey! Be sure to call me as soon as you get to work,” she plastered on the fake smile trying to sound confident as she let her daughter go.

“I will, Mom, don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”

And off she drove…

As Nancy returned to the kitchen, Sam came down and gave her a quick hug. “Are you okay? I know that you don’t think she’s ready, sweetheart. But she needs a chance to grow up. She’ll be fine.”

Ten minutes later, Nancy was standing at the sink prepping dinner while Sam was piddling in the garage. All Nancy could think about was the conversation she and Sam had last night about Rachel’s request to drive to work by herself. Sam was right. Other kids drive to work all by themselves at 16 all the time. She knew she was just being silly, so she chose not to press him further.

“I’ll take care of it, Rachel,” Sam said as he came in from the garage, obviously talking to Rachel on his cell phone. “You’re sure you are alright to drive? Just be careful. I’ll let Mom know. We’ll look at it when you get home. Call us when you get there.”

Nancy kept her feelings in check. She knew what she wanted to say to her husband. She knew Rachel wasn’t ready to drive alone yet! But she kept her tongue silent.

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.

“What happened?” Nancy responded.

“Rachel took out the neighbor’s mailbox.”

“Oh, Sam, is she okay?”

“She’ll be fine. I think she is a little shaken up, but she’ll be fine. I guess maybe she wasn’t quite ready to drive by herself. It sounds like she hit a mailbox with the passenger side mirror. It flipped forward, so there was no real damage to the car, probably just a little scrape. She must have told the neighbor that she’d have me come see the damage. She said she knew she’d have to pay for the mailbox.”

“At least that’s all that happened. I’m sure it will make her be more careful on the drive to work.”

Dare you to recognize that your teens are growing up and as parents we do need to let go…even when it doesn’t feel right.

Still keeping my “feelings” in check to give my teens the respect they deserve.

“Let go…and let God,”

Debbie