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,”



The Respect Dare – Dare 17 – This is Scary Stuff! – For Parents of Tweens & Teens

Sitting in the Generations Class, Felicia had her homework assignment. She just didn’t know how comfortable she felt doing it. Ask my 12 and 15 year old to give me feedback on how I react to them during the day…especially in times of conflict? She just knew it was certainly going to be a time of frustration for her. She was worried that she might not hold up under the pressure of all the negative feedback she was sure to get from her kids.

Felicia took notes as the trainer gave them suggestions in how to set up the assignment.


  1. Make sure that you and your kids have a relationship where you can talk and have fun together before you begin.
    Well, that was something she had been working on since she had started the class. She felt like there had been quite a bit of improvement. Angela seemed to want to hang around the house more than she used to and would talk to Felicia more about what was going on at school. Those homework assignments had certainly done wonders for their relationship.
  2. Tell your kids that this is a homework assignment for your class. You want their feedback so that you can improve as a mom or dad. Let them know you’d like to know about some of the things you do right as a parent as well as areas where you could improve. Let them know that it is always hard to receive negative feedback and that you hope they will say the things they want to say as nicely as possible. Regardless of what they tell you, thank them for the feedback.
    I hope I can do this. Treat it like a class assignment…no emotion…just an exercise.
  3. If something they say to you makes you emotional, thank them for the feedback and ask if you can get back together again to discuss it when you’ve got your emotions better under control. Whatever you do, do not react in a negative way to the feedback. I know this is where I’ll mess it up. I can be just like my parents. When someone tells me something I don’t want to hear, words can come spewing out of my mouth.
  4. If you can emotionally handle it at the time, apologize for the reactions you’ve had in the past. Thank them for the feedback you’ve given them and tell them you want to think and pray about it. Also let them know that there will be a follow-up assignment next week. If you get emotional, tell them that this is a really difficult assignment for you and that you need to think about what they’ve said and pray about it. Let them know you’ll follow up with them later. When emotional, exit the conversation by apologizing and telling them I’ll get back to them. Keep it like an exercise. It’s homework…nothing more.
  5. Pray that God will be with you through the exercise. Maybe even pray before you begin the conversation together. Yea, this is going to need lots of prayer!

Felicia spent several days praying about the assignment and trying to get up her nerve. She decided to try it with Ben, her 12 year old. He’d probably be a little more lenient with her. The two of them weren’t nearly as reactionary together as she was with Angela.

She had survived! By Friday, she had sat down with both of her children. As she was mulling over her conversations with her children while cleaning the bathroom, she realized that just like the mirror she was cleaning, her kids had given her a true reflection of how they saw her. The verse of the week was something she needed to focus on and incorporate in her own life.

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Both Ben and Angela had mentioned numerous times when she had pounced on them with her words, even when sometimes all they were doing was making a simple request. When they had replayed the scenario from their perspectives, Felicia realized how her reaction had actually been the catalyst to set off the explosive words from each of them. They had also reminded her how she was always telling them what they weren’t doing right rather than giving them encouragement for what they were doing. “What my kids need is for me to be their cheerleader!”

Walking into class on Tuesday evening Felicia felt confident in her role as a parent. She might not get everything right, but she was learning so much about the things she did…her words and her reactions. She knew after this last assignment…

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Sometimes as parents our kids want to give us feedback. We welcome anything positive, but are ready to tell them why they are wrong when they want to tell us the negative. Sometimes I wonder if that might be the reason for the saying that I grew up with; ‘Children should be seen and not heard.’ When emotions get high, feelings get hurt, or negative comments come our way, that’s when we need to listen more intently. Our children see our weaknesses. We may not be able to change their behavior, but maybe if they see us want to grow in our role as parents, they will be more open to working in areas where they need to change.

Dare you to ask for feedback on how your kids see you as a parent. You might learn something valuable that could change the family dynamic.

“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 5 – The Respect Dare – Is My Mouth in Check?

Karissa went into the guest bedroom, tears welling up within her. “Why did I even come? I love her, but I hate being around her!” she thought to herself. “Why is it that I can graduate from college with honors, go to work every day and get accolades for a job well done, be up for a promotion at the age of 24, and then come home and feel like I can’t do anything right? I’ve been here less than 15 minutes!” Dread for the coming week welled up within her. “I wish I had just stayed home.”

While Karissa was in the bedroom unpacking, her mom was busy in the kitchen in the kitchen fixing lunch. “A whole week with Karissa to myself!” she felt as light as a feather. “I get her all to myself.”

Karissa pulled herself together hoping her mom wouldn’t notice the tears. “Brace yourself!” she warned. “Just let her words go in one ear and out the other. Nothing she says can hurt me.”

As Karissa entered the kitchen her mother grabbed her and hugged her. “I’m so glad you are here! Sit, let’s eat! You need to put some meat on those bones, dear. You’ve lost too much weight!”

“Just busy I guess.”

“You’ve got your hair different. I like it, but you know I really like it shorter. You should cut about an inch off so way people will see your face better.”

“I like it this way, Mom. I get a lot of compliments on it.”

“So, Karissa, are you dating anyone yet? I know you want children someday.”

“No, Mom. No future husband in the wings. I’m sure he’ll show up when he is supposed to and I think I’ve got a few years left on my biological clock for children.”

“What about that guy, Dan, you were dating. I really liked him. You should see if he still has any interest.”

“He’s married now, Mom.”

“I knew you shouldn’t have let him get away.”

And on and on the conversation droned.

By bedtime, Karissa was ready for seclusion from her mother’s words. “Lord, I know Mom doesn’t say things with a malicious intent. It is as if she doesn’t even think about the way her words affect other people. Help me to not be so sensitive. Help me to just enjoy her.”

By day three, Karissa was having a tough time keeping it together. All she could think of was the end of the week and getting away from all the criticism and negative input from her Mother. She decided she had nothing to lose. In actuality, there wasn’t even a relationship from her perspective…so there really was nothing to lose.

“Mom,” she ventured that evening. “Can we talk about us, about our relationship?”

“Sure, honey, you sound serious.”

“Do you like having me here?”

“Of, course.”

“Do you like me for who I am?”

“You know I love you. I love you with all my heart.”

“I didn’t ask if you love me. I asked if you like me. Do you like me for who I am?”

“That’s a silly question.”

“Mom, I know you don’t mean to, but I feel like you are constantly telling me who I should be, what I should do, what I’m not doing. What I’m really saying is that I don’t think you respect me, for me…You read your Bible don’t you, Mom?”


“There’s a scripture in there that goes something like this. Philippians 4:8 Whatever is true, noble, right pure, lovely, and admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

“I know that verse.”

“Could you try meditating on that when you think of me? When I’m around you, I feel like I don’t measure up. I feel like you want to “fix” me into whatever your idea is of a “perfect” daughter. In reality, I don’t think you respect the fact that I’m an adult and my own person.”

“Karissa, that isn’t the way it is at all.”

“Mom, I’m not accusing you of anything. I’m just letting you know how it feels to me. There’s another verse you might want to think about too.”

Proverbs 25:11

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

“Mom, I want to feel like you cherish me as you would gold or silver. I want to be cherished like one of your best friends now that I’m an adult. Would you tell your best friend that you thought they should cut their hair, or wear a different color lipstick, or wear different shoes, or find a husband? I doubt it. But you still feel like you can say those things to me because in your mind I haven’t grown up.”

Moving our children into the adult world in our minds is difficult. We will always have a desire to mother them.

Dare you to choose your words carefully as you cherish this new adult to adult relationship.

“Let go…and let God,”


Be sure to join Nina and Leah as they blog through The Respect Dare for wives and young mothers.

<!– start LinkyTools script –>

<p><b>Powered by Linky Tools</b></p><p><a href=”http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=226735&type=thumbnail“>Click here</a> to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…</p>

<!– end LinkyTools script –>

Dare 4 – The Respect Dare – The Vision

Now that I’m officially established in my role as a mother of 20-somethings, I’m finding myself listening more intently to other parents’ comments about interactions with their adult children. As I process what they are saying, it makes me think about how I might be coming across to my own kids.

I thought I’d share a couple of dialogues as we talk about visioning because we can learn a lot from others’ success and failure. If it works for them, it might work for us. If it “ain’t workin” for them, why try it?

Here’s one that I had to laugh about!
Obviously, names have been changed to protect those who were complaining.

“He knew I wanted the grandkids this weekend!” Kelly responded, obviously miffed.

“What happened?”

“He’s mad and won’t let me have them this weekend. He said I’m getting too possessive of his kids! Of course I’m possessive! They’re my grandchildren!”

“What triggered him saying that?”

“Oh, I got upset with him for taking the kids to see Marla’s parents on a weekend that I was supposed to have them.”

“Well, isn’t it good that the kids got to spend time with their other grandparents?”

“Yeah, but does it have to be on my weekend? Ron and Marla know that I get the kids every other weekend when I’m not working. I can’t believe that he thinks he can just decide which weekends I don’t get them!”

Hopefully, you all are laughing saying “what is she thinking”! Obviously…she isn’t.

Here’s a contrast of a different interaction.

“Tonya, I know that you know how I feel about your decision. You can’t have lived under our roof for 18 years without knowing the values that your dad and I have tried to teach you. But, you are an adult at 20. I recognize that it is your choice and not mine, but I want you to know that I think this is a decision you will later regret. Regardless of the decision you make, your father and I will still love you. I will be praying that you will change your mind because that’s my job as a mother, but again, it is your decision.”

“Mom, thanks for recognizing that it is my decision. I know this is hard for you, but I think it is the right choice for me.”

((HUGS)) happened here.

Is either scenario a reflection of you?

James 1:23-25

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a doer of the Word. I want my reflection as a parent to give freedom. I want to be blessed in what I do. I want to be mom in the second story…the best “launching” mom on the planet!

So I decided to take Nina’s Dare and apply it to me as a parent!

Remember, this is where I want to be…not where I am. I’m creating a vision for how I want to parent my 20-somethings!

I am a woman who has the strength to recognize that her “babies” are now adults. I continue to share my wisdom, but I will do it like I would to my best friend, asking permission but recognizing that some decisions are not in my control. No matter what challenging circumstances come my way, I will respectfully allow my children to make their own choices and work through their own consequences, leaving them in God’s capable hands. I have peace recognizing that each of my children is on the journey that God has for them in this stage of their life. My phone will ring often because my adult children will want to have relationship with me. They will come to me for wisdom or just to talk. They see me as a friend who knows them well. I will use this time with children out of the house, to rekindle the sparks in my relationship with my spouse. As I walk in this new phase of parenting, I will find my identity in how I am to spend my additional time by seeking God daily relying on Him for encouragement, wisdom, and happiness.

Dare you to write your own vision for this phase of life.

Double dare you to share it by posting it on my blog.

Walking the journey with you!

“Let go…and let God”,


Be sure to follow other bloggers as we go through Nina Roesner’s book The Respect Dare. You’ll find Leah blogging to wives with young kids and Nina blogging about marriage. We’re only on Dare 4, so if you are just joining us, it won’t take long to catch up. Join us on our 40 week journey!

Dare 3 – The Respect Dare – Personal Assessment

Tanya sat on the stool at Leanne’s kitchen island sipping her steaming tea. She loved these opportunities talking to her friend as the sun was shining through the entry. They were talking about their grown children, laughing at their new “freedom” with kids out of the house.

Leanne’s cell phone vibrated on the counter. “Excuse me just a minute, I need to take this,” Leanne muttered. “It’s Jenny. I’ll let her know that I’ll call her back.”

As Tanya listened to the short conversation, she let her mind wander. “Why don’t my kids call me like that?” she thought.

As Leanne hung up with her daughter, Tanya asked. “Do your kids call you every day?”

“Well, not all of them,” she laughed. “Depends on which one it is. With four kids that are twenty-something, they lead pretty busy lives. Jenny usually calls daily through the week on her way home from work, Darcie usually calls every two or three days unless she is struggling with something, then I may hear from her two or three times a day! Marty usually calls every day or so, and then Mitch typically calls at least every week or two.”

“Wow, that’s hard to fathom. My kids rarely call. I feel so disconnected from their lives.”

“You sound a little disappointed,” Leanne ventured.

“Yeah, I really am, I guess. For some reason, family doesn’t seem that important to my kids. It seems that the only time we talk is if I initiate the conversation.”

“I take it you’d like to be more connected to their lives?”

“Of course! I just don’t know what we did wrong.”

“Can I offer a suggestion?” asked Leanne. With a nod from Tanya, she began, “Don’t focus on what you may have done wrong. No one will win with that logic. Why not try to think about steps you could take to build the relationship? It might not become exactly what you want it to be, but it could become a lot better.”

“But, how? I don’t think I would even know where to start!”

“Why not start with taking them out to lunch? Share with them what you are feeling. Tell them what you are hoping for the relationship to be. Find out what they are looking for in your relationship at this point in their lives. Ask how you can be there for them, and then reciprocate, letting them know what would help you feel engaged.”

“You make it sound so easy. It’s obviously working for you.”

“I’ll let you in on a secret. When each of my kids were making their big move out of the house, I took them out to lunch and told them how excited I was that they were heading out to their new adventure. I assured them that I was their number 1 fan and would always be here for them. I also told them that I wouldn’t be calling them regularly to ask lots of questions. I wanted them to feel independent. But, I also told them how much I loved them and that I hoped they would call me regularly so that I could know what is going on in their world. I told them I wanted to be their friend and hoped they wanted the same from me.”

“Wow. Wish I had done that. You seem to have real friendship going with your kids.”

“Tanya, it is not too late for you. Pray and engage with them…not as a mother, but as a friend. God will do the rest.”

Philippians 1:6

…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

As parents, most of us long for relationship with our adult kids, especially our single twenty-somethings. Sometimes that means taking a personal inventory of who we are and how we attempt to connect with them. Too often, parents continue to “parent” their older kids, expecting them to still “obey”. When their adult children resist, feelings are hurt and relationships are stilted. Why not use this opportunity as we go through The Respect Dare together to assess where you might need to make changes in order to see your relationship with your children grow?

Here are a few questions to get you started. I hope you’ll pick two or three to focus on while we’re on this journey together.

  • Do I choose to live my life for God more than I am concerned about what other people think?
  • Do I let my twenty-something know (appropriately) what I am struggling with?
  • Does my twenty-something confide in me?
  • Do I know how to give advice to my twenty-something such that they hear it and often take it?
  • Am I still trying to control my twenty-something’s behavior and get them to do what I want them to do?
  • Do I make demands of my twenty-something and feel disappointed or angry when they don’t respond?
  • Do I communicate with my twenty-something so that they want to have relationship with me?

Moving into adult/adult relationship with our kids is tough. We are expected to give up control…and I’ll admit, sometimes that is a hard thing to do…especially at times when we might be footing the bill.

My hope for you is that above all things…Think relationship!

“Let go…and let God,”


P.S. Hoping that you join Nina and Leah as we blog our way through The Respect Dare.

Dare 1 – The Respect Dare – Expectations!

“I just don’t know what to do!” Erin sobbed. “Nothing I say seems to get through to her! We raised her in the church, she knows right from wrong, yet she chooses to date guys that most girls wouldn’t even give a second look. The fact that I know she is sleeping with them absolutely breaks my heart! I just worry so for her future!”

Without saying a word, Suzette handed Erin a tissue knowing how deeply she hurt. “What do I do?” Erin sniffled.

Suzette paused to let Erin collect herself.

“Erin,” she gently probed. “Is that why you’ve stopped coming to our small group?”

“I just can’t face anyone. You are the only person I’ve been able to be honest with. I just feel like a failure as a parent and I know everyone who knows my daughter is wagging their tongue about our situation. The difficult part is that I had such hopes and dreams for her…for us!”

“She’s 24. When I was 24, I gave birth to her! I remember the relationship I had with my mom during that time in my life; she was so good about being there as I struggled as a new mom. My relationship with Hannah is so different. I’m not even sure you could call it a relationship. She is bound and determined to do things her way regardless of the consequences.”

Stories like this are not uncommon in today’s culture, even with Christian kids. Somehow as parents we think that if we do everything “right”, this won’t happen to us. But the sad fact is; it does.

But should that really surprise us?

If you’ve spent much time in the Old Testament reading the stories of the kings in the Bible (Kings through Chronicles), you’ll remember the words “they did right in the eyes of the Lord” or “they did evil in the eyes of the Lord”. If you look closely, there is no connection to whether the parent did right or wrong in the Lord’s eyes as to whether or not their offspring would repeat the pattern.

1 Peter 5:8 says…

…your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

As Christian parents, sometimes we set ourselves up with the expectation that “it won’t happen to my kid” if I do everything that scripture says. Reality is that Satan would delight in not only devouring our children but also us as parents!

Most of us want to “fix” our kids. We want the hurt and pain of our expectations on how our kids should live and who they should be to go away. We look side to side at other families and see what we want in our own.

So we do everything in our power to get what we want. We tell them that what they are doing is wrong, we preach, we beg, and we put stress on the relationship because they are putting stress on us. But the bottom line is, we aren’t God. We have no power to change them.

The only person we can change is us…and it starts with our expectations!

As we go through Nina Roesner’s book The Respect Dare together, I challenge you to look not only at your marriage, but also your relationship with your 20-somethings!

Are you trying to change them?

What could you do to change the way you interact with them that could impact the relationship in a positive way?

Here’s my list as we go through The Respect Dare together:

  • Allow my 20-somethings to say “no” to my requests without whining.
  • Stop preaching about the choices they make that I’m not happy about.
  • Work on friendship on a “grown-up” level.

Dare you to grab a copy of The Respect Dare and take this journey with me. I can’t wait to hear what God does with you in your relationship with your husband, your tweens and teens, and your 20-somethings!

“Let go…and let God,”


P.S. Why not join other Respect Dare blogs as we journey through Nina’s book together. Visit Nina at www.ninaroesner.com and Leah Heffner at www.leahheffner.com or visit our website at www.greaterimpact.org.