Tag Archive for: conflict in relationships

How Does Your Family Communicate?

But should we put more thought into the way we communicate with our family?

Are we aware, truly aware, of the sensitivity of some of our kids?  What might be considered joking and fooling around to one of our kids might actually feel like bullying to another–a feeling of not measuring up.

I came from a family where put-downs were commonplace.  With five brothers, the game of one-upsmanship was a daily endeavor and as the only girl I learned to  play it well.  Then, I  married into a family where sarcasm was a sport.  Quick wit resulted in words spoken with a hint of sting.  During our dating years I didn’t know quite how to handle the ridicule, but it didn’t take long for me to learn how to dish it out with the best of them.  Words rolled off my tongue as slippery glass ready to take down the next opponent.  

I’ll admit that at times the sarcasm continued even after we had kids.  My husband and I had continued our families’ traditions mainly because that is what we’d learned as normal family behavior.  Neither of us were the sensitive type so we’d usually laugh, pretend that we were keeping score, and move on to the next opportunity for a take down.

But then we witnessed the same behavior in our kids.

Ouch! Talk about seeing yourself in the mirror!

Noticing the same behavior from our kids gave us a wake-up call.  Dave and I joked about how we were trying to get the genie back in the bottle.  It took work, lots of work, to teach our kids to treat each other with kindness and respect instead of sarcasm and contempt.  Some learned better than others.

We noticed that a couple of our kids were more sensitive than the others to the verbal sarcasm that was hurled.  Others relished in the game.  It became a juggling act of the right consistency of discipline for the abuser and empathy for the one with hurt feelings.

A few weeks ago it hit me as our pastor spoke on Sunday morning about relationships and the need to communicate appropriately to the receiver.  

Do we communicate as we’ve been taught to communicate growing up (as in one-upsmanship language or sarcasm and contempt), or do we communicate in a way the other person needs to hear?

Here’s another way to think about it.  Are we speaking to hear ourselves or are we communicating to be heard from the other person.

Hmm…something to ponder.

Our pastor used the analogy of talking with his two kids.  With his son he needs to be very direct–laying out the process, making sure he understands.  But his daughter is more sensitive.  Speaking to her in the same way he speaks to his son would crush her sensitive spirit.  She needs the language of respect.

Oh my, do we crush our kid’s sensitive spirit with what we see as humor?  Is our humor borderline bullying masked in sarcasm?  Are we crushing our children’s sensitive spirit and allowing siblings to do the same without much intervention because we don’t know what to do? 

Old habits are difficult to extinguish even though I’ve worked hard to wipe sarcasm from my lips.  When I’m back with my brothers, I can easily slip back into my old ways of communicating and have to ask God for forgiveness.  At times I see the old patterns slip in with my now adult children.  

Romans 7:15

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Just last week I found myself saying something that rolled off my tongue before I gave it thought.  Really?  After almost 30 years of trying to rid myself of this habit it reared it’s ugly head.

1 Peter 2:1

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

I repented and asked the person for forgiveness.  I even confessed my sin to my husband, Dave–after all, this is something that we’ve both worked hard on over the years.

And then my husband shared with me about what he calls his GEL project.

He’s become more aware of the ease with which our adult children have slipped into our old patterns now that we all live in the same city and are together more.  Yes, they’re adults, but we’re still trying to teach in a relationship-type way.  Here’s our new mantra.

  • “G” stands for grace.  Grace that we extend to the person who violates the ” no one-upsmanship or sarcasm” new family tradition.  We also remind that person that they need to extend grace to the person who they feel the need to put down.  All we have to do is say the word grace and the offender knows what we are talking about.
  • “E” stands for empathy.  Each of us needs to extend empathy to the other person for the mistakes they make, for not measuring up, or for things that sometimes happen to them.  We learn to understand the feelings the other person has and listen when they voice their frustration of the words spoken to them.  Empathy is especially needed in communicating with those who are more sensitive.
  • “L” stands for love.  We love each other as 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Dare you to look at the way your family communicates and take action on whatever needs to change.  Maybe you should institute a GEL project in your home.   Awareness of how we are to treat others will not only change the culture in our homes, but if we can teach our kids to take it out into the world, who knows what changes might happen.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Interested in leading a parenting Bible study that will have women sharing on a deep level from the beginning?  Want them to walk away with a WOW! experience?  With All Due Respect will do just that and we promise to make it easy to lead.  You don’t need to be a perfect parent; you don’t need to have perfect kids; and you don’t need to have ever led a group before.

Dare ya!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Home Filled With Laughter?

When our kids are little it is easy to laugh at the cute things they say and do.  Even during those early years of school we watch with excitement as they encounter new experiences and are filled with wonder.  And then as our kids become tweens and teens the climate in most homes changes.  Instead of laughter, life gets serious — sometimes too serious.

Maybe it’s our kids pushing our patience or their mouthiness that makes us as parents feel the need to control.  I think sometimes we realize that our kids are no longer those sweet, innocent children any more and we become fearful of the possibilities and reality of what could happen if they make the wrong choices.  We push them to strive for excellence in school or in sports because college is looming up ahead and we come to the realization that someone needs to pay for it.

Whatever the circumstance with your teens, take time to fill your home with laughter.

I was talking to a mom a few weeks ago and could feel the weight of heaviness resting on her shoulders.  She was giving me a list of all the things her teenage son wasn’t doing.  It was obvious that mom had certain expectations that her son was not fulfilling.  Blame was heavy as we talked.  She no longer found joy in this son, only condemnation.  Laughter was the furthest thing from her mind.

I’ll admit I’ve been in that place at times.  When our kids are doing things that cause us fear and anxiety it is easy to be so afraid that we can’t find any joy in any moment.  At times it seems they aren’t listening to anything we ask them to do.  That’s when it is time to take our thoughts captive.  It’s when we need to be able to think quickly on our feet in order to turn the difficult moment into a memorable opportunity filled with laughter.  It’s where we show our kids that the joy of the Lord is our strength.

So what can that look like?

  1. When there is conflict in the house, have a family code word.  In our house there is a code word that will bring laughter to any situation.  If we hear siblings arguing, either Dave or I will enter the room and quietly watch the verbal match.  When the right opportunity presents itself, we say the code word and immediately change the subject.  Inevitably, our kids will look at each other, then they’ll look at us, and laughter will fill the air.  Everyone in the family knows the code word and everyone has permission to use it.  It means unhook the bickering and laugh!
  2. Find the positive in every situation.  Even disaster can have a silver lining if we take time to look.  If your teen flunks a class, he’ll have opportunity to prove himself again and learn from the mistake.  If your daughter wrecks the car, she’ll most likely become a more careful driver.  If your teen is still breathing, that is the positive — find joy in that moment.
  3. Be mindful of the now.  Too many times we fearfully get wrapped up in what could happen in the future — won’t get into college, won’t get a scholarship, will end up doing something stupid like alcohol or drugs, or whatever is your greatest fear.  Work on the now and the future will take care of itself.  Find joy in the moment and love your teen right where he is.  Remind yourself that the future is in God’s hands.
  4. Find time to do fun things with your teens.  You know your kids better than anyone.  Try doing some of the things that they like to do with them.  Chances are you’ll bring laughter to the room as you try to lip sync or play one of their video games with them.  I’ll never forget being in the mall with my son as we both tried to do DDR (Dance, Dance Revolution for those who don’t know what that is :))  My son never laughed so hard as I drew a crowd in the mall as the worst player ever.  It’s a great memory for both of us.
  5. Take negative comments and situations and turn them into laughter moments.  My husband, Dave, is the expert at this in our home and I’m working hard on it.  When one of our now 20-somethings comes out with a sharp accusation or negative comment, Dave will take it and put a spin of laughter on it.  Just like Dare 15 in With All Due Respect, quick thinking with a dose of humor can turn a difficult moment into an opportunity to teach respect.

Proverbs 31:25 (NLT)

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

Nehemiah 8:10b

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Dare you to not take life quite so seriously when your kids become tweens and teens.  Humor in the difficulties of life can bring opportunity to model respect and provide teaching opportunities much more than lectures and condemnation.  

“Let go…and Let God”,

Want a way to connect with other Moms?  Why not grab a copy of With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens and go through the book together.  Whether your kids are 9 or 29, you’ll find the questions will apply to your parenting.  You can also connect with us in the With All Due Respect eCourse on Facebook.  It’s free for a limited time.

Here’s what Shaunti Feldhahn, Social Researcher and Best Selling Author of For Women Only had to say:

“A spectacular tool for every mom who has heard the advice “be purposeful,” and wondered, “But what does that mean?  This ultra-practical guidebook shows each of us what it means.  Step by step, day by day, this amazing resource will walk each of us into being the godly moms we all deeply want to be, to have the impact on our kids we are all longing for.”

Belligerent or Self Protection?

If you have tweens and teens, at one time or another you’ve probably seen that warlike seething that sometimes seems to explode even when asked to do what you think is a simple request.  Or maybe you see it in your spouse and don’t quite understand it.  How do you respond when you ask someone to do something because you need help or maybe just because it would be something good for them to learn to do, and you are met with a resounding “NO!”? Read more

Parenting Focus – Integrating Heart and Mind

I’m in the middle of three books which, if you know me, is highly unusual for this linear thinker.  The thing for me is that none of them are remotely connected–or so I thought.

Today, I had the A-ha that God has me focused here for a reason.  Each of these books is focused on the mind.  One goal I have for myself is to have the mind of Christ as I parent.  I want to see the world as He sees it.  I want to be focused on His will, His priorities, and His values.  Isn’t that what we want for our children as well?

As I think about the christian parenting books that I’ve read through the years, most of them talk about capturing the child’s heart. Know that love and a desire to obey have to come from the heart.

 Luke 6:45

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

When our hearts are in the right place, a place of humility in reverence to God, we can parent with grace.

Ron Deal author of The Smart Step-Family shares a scripture that I have never really thought about from a parenting perspective.

1 Peter 5:5

dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Think about that as a parent.  When we relate to our kids as if we have all the answers, they tend to push back in opposition.  However, when we give grace and approach them with humility, they are much more likely to give us grace in return.  Humility helps forge the relationship.

Working on the heart of the child means that we are developing relationship such that they want to do what is right and pleasing because they can feel our love and acceptance of them being a distinct person separate from us.  It means having more positive interactions than negative.  Focusing on the good in our child rather than always pointing out what they are doing wrong allows our kids to develop in a way that is positive and healthy.

But scripture also tells us in Matthew 22:37, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

I find it interesting that there don’t seem to be as many christian books out there that focus on developing our children’s mind.  I’m guessing that the reason might be that most of us already do so much to educate and teach our children the things that we value.  I remember when my kids were little they heard my husband say over and over, “We’re Hitchcock’s, we’re good at math, reading and tennis.”  In addition, we did an Awana program that focused on scripture memory hoping they would understand what it means to focus our minds on Christ.  As Christian parents most of us spend lots of time trying to help our kids develop their minds.

I find the latest research on brain development fascinating as it relates to how we relate to our teens.  Most know that our brains don’t fully mature until somewhere in the mid-twenties.  For parents of tweens and teens, it means we can still help our kids develop their minds while they are still under our roof and beyond. Our focus needs to make sure that we help our teens integrate both the cognitive and emotional sides of the brain.

Learning empathy, compassion, and other relationship skills (the right side of the brain) is very different from learning rote memorization of facts and the logical way to solve problems that occurs in the left.  When used in harmony both sides of the brain will help our kids develop what the Bible refers to as wisdom.

Dr. David Jeremiah in his study What Do You Think? reminds us that in the ancient Hebrew language, wisdom meant “skill”.  As we consider the use of the word in our parenting, it means our job is to help give our kids the “skills” to connect emotionally and logically in a way that will help create new pathways in the brain to forge better relationships.

Unfortunately in today’s culture, relationship skills are taking a back seat to technology communicated through text and pictures rather than face-to-face communication.  Assumptions are made without the opportunity to see a person’s body language, tone of voice, or facial expressions.  It means that our kid’s brains are being wired with shorter attention span and the inability to use both the logical and emotional sides of the brain at the same time because part of the “data” is missing from the interaction.

Bonding with our child’s heart becomes the ‘glue’ that helps connect our child to us so that we can help them develop the mind of Christ.  This means we teach them both skills that develop the emotional side of the brain as well as help them fill the cognitive side with God’s Word.  Then as we live life under the same roof we can model the empathy, compassion, and grace necessary to integrate a whole person helping them to connect words with action.

I love how Dr. Jeremiah puts it in his  What Do You Think? study, “We have to be very careful that we don’t lose sight of those things that create wisdom in our life — time, reflection, experience, correction, and meditation upon God’s Word.  We need information, but after that, we don’t need more information.  We need to allow God the opportunity to create wisdom in our life.  And it takes discipline in our digital age to turn off the electronics long enough to process the knowledge we already have.”

Dare you to become aware of whether your parenting actions line up with God’s Word.  Do you approach your tweens, teens, and 20-somethings with humility that will draw you closer together?  If you do, the relationships in your home will be more fulfilling and there will be less opposition during the teen stage of life.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Do you feel inadequate in fostering the relationship skills that you so desire with your kids?  Maybe you are just tired of parenting and the constant struggle is wearing you down.  We have two opportunities for you.

  1. Why not grab a group of moms and go through our book With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship With Your Teens & Tweens.  This book will give you the opportunity to (like Dr. Jeremiah says) create wisdom in your parenting.  It is an opportunity to spend time and reflect as you meditate upon God’s Word.  It’s a great Bible Study tool or can be used as a 40 Day Devotional.
  2. If you want to learn “skills” that help create wisdom in your kids, know that we run a once a year three day workshop that will help you deflate defensiveness in your home with the people you love.  It’s called the Titus 2 Leadership Experience.  Here’s what one participant had to say:

“I am a preacher’s daughter who was born and raised in the church. I’ve been to countless women’s retreats. This is different! I’ve never experienced Christian women and leaders be so REAL with each other. God is doing something special with this ministry. My marriage and my family are being transformed. Most importantly, God is growing me. I highly recommend that you come see and experience this amazing Boot Camp for yourself!”

Remember or Dismember?

Something our pastor said this week really got my attention.

“The opposite of ‘remember’ is not necessarily ‘forget’; it’s dismember.” Read more