6 Parenting Lies That Can Affect Your Marriage

Most parents struggle with priorities.  It doesn’t matter if you have one child or several kids, orchestrating a balanced life sometimes seems next to impossible.  Juggling housework, job, kids, homework, activities, and a spouse is enough to make anyone’s life seem thrown off kilter at times. Add to that a kid who isn’t fairing well in his current circumstances and emotionally we’re pulled toward that child over the rest of the family.

I would know.  Living a balanced life with four kids under my roof was a challenge for me.  I not only believed some of the lies that permeate our culture but I could also put that struggling child’s needs first as well as easily get wrapped up in the spotlight of the successful child’s endeavors.

Here are some of the lies I embraced as well as others I am seeing parents put into action:

  • My job is to create a happy life for my kids.
  • I need to offer my kids every opportunity to be all they can be.
  • I need to watch every game, recital, or activity to let my kids know that I’m here for them.
  • I should put all my energy into the kids since they’ll be gone before I know it.
  • I can “fix” the child who is struggling if I just try harder.
  • I’m the mom, I know what’s best for my child better than anyone else, including my husband.

Whatever plays out in your parenting, know that these are lies the enemy would love us to embrace.  If we do, we’ll be exhausted and so child-focused that there will be no hope of balance, especially as our kids move into the teen years.  We can become so enamored with each new stage of discovery with them reliving our own childhood or  we can become so focused with the fear of what they will choose that we become the overzealous parent trying to keep that child from crossing the lines.  Either way, balance will be skewed.

But where does that leave our marriage?  Does our spouse fall outside the priority box because of our parenting? Do we choose to prioritize our kid’s needs, desires, or whims, over the person who should be our soulmate?

It is easy to become so kid centered in our parenting that our spouse can sit on the sidelines barely on our radar.  There are moments when you pass in the wind telling the other person that you’ll see them at the end of the 18 year kid commitment.  “They’ll be off on their own before you know it” becomes yet another lie that we believe as we push our relationship with our spouse into some far off future.

Do we take time to cultivate our relationship as two parents working side by side or do we bark orders and cast blame when it comes to how our spouse interacts with the kids?

Our family has been under a tremendous amount of stress.  Not only did we lose our daughter suddenly, but I have a son who has been in tremendous physical pain with no medical answers.  Finances have been challenging due to expenses we could never have begun to anticipate.  Tension has been high.  Yet, peace is permeating my thoughts.  I recognize it as a peace that can only come from God.  But yet I’ve gained a new awareness that the peace also stems from somewhere else–someone else.  That peace comes in knowing that my soulmate is here to soothe the anxiety in my soul.  We’re on the same page with the goal of running the race, together.

The thing I want to communicate is that as your kids move into junior high and high school, there will be conflict.  Chances are that you and your spouse will have very different ideas on what your children should and should not be allowed to do. It puts pressure on the family, especially the marriage.  If your spouse is not a priority and if you’ve not begun communicating early about how the two of you will navigate those rocky roads of the parenting journey, then not only will the parenting lies have you focused on the wrong priorities, but your marriage will most likely come under attack.

1 Peter 5:8

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

As I look around today at the stress on parents to have perfect kids or kids who at least think like their parents do, it is no wonder that divorce is high.  Add to that the number of parents who are worried about potential issues of alcohol, drugs, pregnancy, cutting, same-sex relationships, suicide, and a host of other issues that plague our kids today, it’s no wonder that our lives are out of balance.

Dare you to looks at the balance in this stage of your life.  Focus on becoming a united team as husband and wife as you parent your kids.  By doing so you will not only have someone to grow old with once the kids have moved out, but you’ll be modeling balance and a good marriage to a generation that needs to know that a successful marriage is possible even when trouble comes.

“Let go…and let God”,

If it is time for you to make a concerted effort to parent together, why not start with With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens .  It is a great book to start the parenting discussion on 40 different parenting topics. 

Or, if your husband won’t participate, then try getting a group of moms together.  You’ll find ways to encourage each other whether dad is involved in your kid’s lives or if you are parenting alone.  Either way, we know that your relationship with your teens and tweens will be more fulfilling than it is today.

Dare you!

 

 

 

Are You Emotionally Connected to Your Teen?

As I talk to a lot of moms of teens and ask about their kids, I typically hear about the struggles to achieve. Whether it be tryouts for a sports team, a certain score on an AP exam, practicing for a musical showcase, or getting into the college of choice, society places a lot of pressure on our kids to be the best. And, if truth be told, sometimes it is us as parents adding to the stress. Competition is stiff and as our kids move toward high school graduation, the stakes seem to be getting higher. After all, most kids are competing for those limited scholarship opportunities that we think our kids deserve.

Yet, what I’m finding interesting as my kids have moved to become 20 and 30 somethings, is that a lot of those kids who pushed so hard to achieve end up losing in the end. When the competition becomes overwhelming, or stress of exams becomes too much, and even the pressure on the job seems formidable, they don’t know how to handle the feeling of ‘not measuring up’. They don’t know how to objectively look at a situation and know if it is good for them.

I know that competition can be a good thing and high achievement is good for our society. Helping our kids to become independent and launch is what we should all be striving toward as parents. However, if we forget the connection part during the teen years, we’re setting our kids up for a lonely existence and the inability to assess their emotional needs in high pressure situations.

I grew up in a family where emotions weren’t allowed. Tears meant I was a crybaby. Emotion meant that I wasn’t tough enough. Feelings were to be stuffed or people wouldn’t want to be around me. And jokes or silliness were instinctively inserted to take away the knot in the pit of my stomach.

Avoiding anything emotional was the game that was played–not out of insensitivity but because it wasn’t in my parent’s vocabulary. Dealing with emotion hadn’t been passed down from their parents.

However, we are emotional beings. God wired our brains with both the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala so that we can think and feel. Connection comes from the feeling part of our brain. And it is possible to under-develop the emotional part of our brains so that we stifle our growth toward healthy connection.

Thankfully, what I have discovered is that emotional connection can be learned. While it might feel foreign and uncomfortable at first and, like my experience, you might have to consciously think through the next step, the benefits for both us and our kids can be game changers when it comes to connection in the relationship.

If you are like me and didn’t learn to deal with emotion as a child, you are probably stifling the emotional connection with your own kids. Here are some ways to recover what has been lost as you forge ahead toward becoming more emotionally healthy creating more meaningful connection with your own kids.

  1. Learn to notice your kids when they are stressed out. What attitudes, behaviors, or reactions do they exhibit? If you see moodiness, anger, withdrawal, or complaining, ask them to put words to what they are feeling. Be available to listen without judgment or telling them “you shouldn’t feel that way.”
  2. Learn to notice when you are stressed out.  What are you exhibiting? Name it. And when your teens challenge you by saying something like, “Why are you in such a bad mood?”, be honest with them. Let them know if you are feeling angry, sad, or upset and the “why” within reason.
  3. Comfort yourself. When you find yourself stressed out, allow yourself to feel it, name it, and normalize it. Give yourself a physical hug and let yourself know that you have a right to feel what you feel. Then ask yourself what you need.
  4. Comfort your kids. Physical touch, hugs, and soothing words go a long way in helping our teens know that even in the middle of what feels like disaster they will be okay. Say something like, “You seem to be really upset right now, would you like to tell me about it?” If they say “yes”, listen and validate their feelings. Ask them what they need from you.  If they say “no”, respect their decision and let them know that you are available to listen when they are ready.

Psalm 23: 1-6

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Learning to connect emotionally with our kids is like being Jesus with skin on. Even though they are walking through an emotional valley, we have the ability to comfort them through our tenderness, our touch, and validating words so they have the desire to pick themselves up and move forward.

By doing the same for ourselves and validating our own feelings, we are modeling healthy maturity in what life can be like when the chips are down and we ourselves become overwhelmed. This is showing our kids what healthy adulthood can look like.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Do you wish you knew more skills to emotionally connect with your teen?  Why not start a group with other moms to learn how.  With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens is a great place to start.  If you can’t find a group, feel free to join our on-line eCourse where you will find daily encouragement and can interact with other moms in the same place in the parenting journey.

Another opportunity I’d like to share is our Deflating Defensiveness Training Retreat in Milford, Ohio that will be held June 27-30.  There you will interact with moms who are brave enough to try out the skills in person in a safe environment.  You’ll see behaviors taught, modeled, and you’ll have opportunity to practice.  You’ll walk away with a new perspective on what relationships can be in your home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Often Do You Crash and Burn?

Image of a frustrated or tired young brunette rubbing temples

“Oh, my” I thought.  “I should have seen this coming!”

Ready to sit down at the dinner table, I thought I could stuff the frustration and emotion I was feeling.  The now I was in was difficult to endure, but I knew that if I just kept smiling, I’d get through it.  After all, that’s what Moms do. Read more