Dare 2 – The Respect Dare – Childhood Introspection

Sitting in a Daughters of Sarah classroom, my mind started spinning as I heard the stories. These were real women trying to understand how their childhood memories were being played out in their marriages. Some stories were funny. Some were sad. And some were absolutely horrifying. For me, somehow it made my distorted childhood memories feel somewhat normal. Everyone didn’t have perfect parents who had a great marriage. I was learning that most women struggle at one time or another.

I may as well have been in a different room though… my mind was on childhood introspection alright, but my thoughts weren’t focused on marriage. I was thinking of how my parents parented me and my siblings. I was focused on what could have triggered some of the issues that were coming into play as I parented my teens and twenty-somethings. At that moment, I was trying to figure out why my twenty-somethings weren’t like the other kids at church. For me, it was hurt and disappointment.

Then the memory came into sharp focus with finite clarity.

It was a spring day of my junior year of high school and I was sitting on the back patio with my mom and stepdad. Our family was a Brady Bunch with an added caboose, and one of my step-brothers was my same age. My brother and I were good friends, even though we weren’t anything alike. At this point in his life, school wasn’t on the top of his priority list and his grades were taking a nose dive.

I remember the conversation distinctly between my parents that they chose not to have in private.

“Your son is failing all his classes. He won’t graduate if he keeps this up. You need to do something,” my mom pleaded.

“Well, at least he has friends and goes out and has fun, unlike your daughter,” my stepdad retorted.

“Well, my daughter studies and makes good grades. She’s going to go places!”

“She’s always got her nose in books. It takes personality to get somewhere in life.”

“If he keeps this up, he won’t amount to a hill of beans,” she responded.

And the conversation continued…

In front of a 16 year old girl…

Being compared to one of her best friends…

Feeling like a rag doll being pulled from both sides.

Questioning, “Do I measure up?”

As I contemplated the memory, the answer was in full view now. I realized as an adult the lie that I believed for so long. I’d been trying to compare my kids to others to see if they measure up, just like I wanted to meet my stepdad’s expectations.

I want my children to be to loved and accepted by everyone. Somehow I’d forgotten that my kids are who they are because that is how God created them. I don’t need to compare them to others. They don’t need to measure up to someone else’s expectations. God has a specific plan for their lives.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Dare you to look at how your childhood story impacts your parenting. Are you reacting to a childhood incident that might be having negative effects on your relationships with your teens and twenty-somethings?

Double dare you to join Nina Roesner, Leah Heffner, and me as we go through The Respect Dare one DARE at a time.

Boldly walking alongside you in your parenting.

“Let go…and let God,”


The Respect Dare – Dare 2 – Childhood Introspection

Even though exhausted, Melissa had several things still on her list before the big weekend. “Thaw out the meat, finish the deviled eggs, run to the store to get streamers, cake, candles…and ice cream. Then come home and mop the kitchen floor and make sure the kitchen and family room are straightened. Better make sure there is enough gas for the grill, too,” she played over in her head as she took inventory of her list.

As the evening wore on, Ryan tried to get Melissa to come to bed, but Melissa kept thinking of a few more things that would need to be done to make the next day perfect for her 13 year old son’s birthday party. She had pulled out all the stops this year. Both her parents and Ryan’s were coming for the celebration. Different times of course, her family on Saturday afternoon and Ryan’s parents on Sunday afternoon, because things just didn’t seem to gel right when everyone was there at the same time. Then there would be all Ryan’s friends on Saturday evening. She wanted to make sure he felt special this weekend!

By Sunday evening, all Melissa could think about was crawling in bed. The last of the guests were gone and the birthday boy had decided to go shoot hoops with a couple of his friends over at open gym at the church. She decided to take a power nap before dinner and immediately fell asleep.

After the kids had gone to bed, Ryan pulled Melissa over to the sofa. “Do you mind if we just spend some time together and talk?” he asked. “You look absolutely exhausted.”

Sitting in the family room, Ryan gently prodded. “I know that Conner had a great weekend. We all did. Everything you did was perfect! But I want to talk about why you felt you had to do so much? Why did you feel the house had to be spotless? And then you felt you needed to make so much of the food from scratch. Why three parties and not just one? I guess I just felt like the weekend took on a life of its own and you were determined to make it all happen. I just want to understand what was going through your mind.”

“You’re right…I’m totally drained.”

“So what was so important about this weekend…this birthday for Conner?”

“Ryan, I thought you knew.”

“Am I supposed to? What did I miss?”

“Ryan, when I was 13, I couldn’t wait until my birthday! You know, it’s a big deal becoming a teenager. Anyway, about two weeks before my birthday, my parents announced that they were going to California on vacation with my aunt and uncle and my grandmother was going to stay with us. They left the day before my birthday. There was nothing special about that day. I just remember feeling like my parents really didn’t care about me at all…no cake, no presents, not even a telephone call on my birthday. I remember asking my grandmother if she was going to make me a birthday cake. You know what her response was?”

“No, sweetheart, what was it?”

“She told me she didn’t make cakes anymore and that if I wanted a cake, I’d have to bake it myself.”

“I’m so sorry. So that’s why the big deal this weekend?”

“I guess so. I think I wanted my parents to see exactly what birthday celebrations are supposed to be about. I guess I was trying to prove that I care about my children. And then you know how mom is such a stickler for criticizing everything that isn’t perfectly clean in the house. I think I try to make everything spotless in anticipation of her criticism. Honestly, I guess I just wanted to feel valued by her.”

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. ~Psalms 91:1

Are you reacting to events in your childhood as you parent your tweens and teens? Maybe it’s time to ask God for rest as you seek his guidance and wisdom in your parenting.

Dare you to look at one of your own childhood experiences that gets played out in how you parent.

Double dare you to join me on a regular basis as I blog through Nina Roesner’s book, The Respect Dare, from a parenting perspective.
For a young mom’s perspective, check out www.LeahHeffner.com and then you can also join Nina directly at www.NinaRoesner.com.

More than anything, as you find yourself struggling in your parenting journey, my desire is that you…

“Let go…and let God,”