Tag Archive for: awfulizing in parenting

Dare 23 – The Respect Dare for parents of 20-Somethings – Are You Awfulizing?

Sitting at lunch with Brenda, Nadine couldn’t keep herself from telling her woes.  “I’m just wondering if he will ever graduate from college, let alone get a job!  He’s changed his major three times.  At this rate he’ll be paying off school loans until he’s 40!

She paused briefly to take a sip of water.

I can’t count on one hand how many classes Josh has dropped and he’s lost his academic scholarship.  I’ve told him he needs to get a part-time job, but it seems that he was late on the signups at school to be considered.  I don’t know whether I should just tell him to quit school and get a job or encourage him to finish.”

“How many credits does he need to graduate?” Brenda questioned taking a bite of her salad.

“I’m not even sure at this point.  I think he told me he had a year and a half left.”

“Are his grades pretty good?”

“They’re not bad, but they aren’t great either.”

“What’s his major now?”

“I think he landed on business.”

“Well, that’s a good major.  He should be able to get a job with a business degree.”

“I hope so.  I just know my nephew got a degree in business and he’s waiting tables right now.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.  I know with the economy the way it is a lot of kids are finding themselves in that situation.  Nadine,” Brenda continued, “we’ve been friends for a long time.  I can be honest with you, can’t I?”

“Of course!  What’s up?”

“I’m sensing a pattern in how you look at Josh.”

“How so?”

“Let me ask a question first.  Does Josh remind you of anyone you know?  Maybe someone in your family?”

“Funny you should ask.  He is just like my brother, Greg.  Greg never graduated from college.  He just couldn’t decide what he wanted to do and finally dropped out.  He and Judy have struggled to make ends meet their entire marriage.  He’s been working at a hardware store for almost 20 years!  Not that there is anything wrong with that, it is just that he had so much potential and squandered it.”

“Hmm, that must be hard to see Josh in the same light.”

“It is.  That’s why I worry about him so much.”

“That must be what I’m sensing from you. You seem to want to awfulize Josh’s behavior and decisions.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I’m just wondering if because you feel that your brother Greg didn’t make good choices about college, you are afraid that Josh will make some of the same mistakes.”

“Of course I am.  They seem to be two peas in a pod.”

“Nadine, what good comes from imagining the worst with Josh’s decisions?  Who does it affect?  And most important, how is your interaction with Josh when you tend to doubt that he’ll make good choices?”

“That’s a lot to think about.  I guess I do tend to think about what I consider were Greg’s failures.  I’m afraid that Josh will do the same thing.”

“You’re afraid, so you think of the worst thing that could possibly happen with Josh?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“So, who does that affect?”

“I guess me, because I sit around and worry a lot.”

“And how do you interact with Josh?”

“I’ve tried to warn him over and over, but he just doesn’t seem to listen.”

“Nadine, when we always look at our kids through a negative lens, we tend to look at their decisions in the worst possible scenario.  That’s what I was referring to when I said you might be awfulizing.  When we do that, we tend to want to over-parent our kids.  We’re afraid they’ll make a wrong choice or become like, in this case, Josh’s Uncle Greg.  It can impact our relationship with our kids and it can hold them back from really exploring who God made them to be.”

“I never thought of that.  Raising kids can be so scary.  I just want him to graduate so he can get a good job!”

“One of the things that I’ve had to learn while my kids were in college, is to think about these years as a time of exploration.  A friend of mine had a daughter who just knew she wanted to be an English teacher.  She graduated from college, got the perfect job teaching English and literature, and after two years of teaching, she realizes that she hates it.  But now, she feels like she is stuck.  Why not look at Josh through a different lens?  He’s exploring his options now so that he is better equipped to really know that he is in the right profession later.  Yes, he might make some mistakes in the process, but through the mistakes he’ll grow.”

“You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about.  You’re right, I do want a good relationship with Josh and I need to let him be in charge of his decisions.”

Philipians 4:8-9 ESV  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

“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.