Tag Archive for: Daughters of Sarah

Who’s Controlling Your Family?

Young woman in red dress and man with a glass of wine talking in the cafe or restaurant

Coming home from a 6:00 am men’s group at our church, my husband put his book on the kitchen counter. “Wow! This morning really made me think about how I grew up and the impact moms have on their kid’s lives. They played a video of a Mom’s letter to her son and I felt like they were reading a letter your mother might have written you.”

He certainly had my attention.

Drying my hands on the dishtowel, I knew I wanted to hear more. For my husband to come home that excited about something was an anomaly. He was obviously having an A-ha moment of better understanding our family tree. After 34 years of marriage, four children, and over two decades of parenting blunders, he was beginning to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

“The letter was unbelievable!” he continued. “The mom was obviously pulling out her arsenal of threats to get what she wanted.

Control!

“In the process, she was destroying the relationship with her son and his family. I felt like I was watching a video of our own lives being played out after we got married,” he continued.

Oh my.

As my husband kept sharing the story from class, we began taking stock of our children and our relationships with each of them. We transitioned to talking about what a healthy separation process looked like.

Oh, no!

Daggers to a mother’s heart.

Is there really such a thing as healthy separation?

Many of us grew up with mothers from whom we have never successfully separated. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that having a relationship with your mom or dad is a bad thing. It can be awesome.

But can it be unhealthy?

If you have to choose between Mom and Dad’s advice or your spouse’s desires, do your parents win? Does your family of origin trump your own family’s needs?

Hmm–something to ponder.

As parents we have to figure out how to relinquish control of our kids in a healthy way that will allow them to be men and women of strength and character.

Pausing long enough to take inventory, I was reminded of all the unhealthy things I had done in years previously to convince my family that we needed to honor my parents’ requests.  Or maybe better phrased—demands.

How many times had I felt caught in the middle between my mother and my husband in decisions we made for our kids?  Or my mother and my kids?

And, I’ll admit, sometimes my mom won and my husband lost or grandma won and my kids lost.

Heaven forbid that I disappoint my mother.

Sad, but true.

Ouch.

Several years prior to this conversation with my husband, I had taken a marriage class called Daughters of Sarah. In light of our dialogue, I was now looking at a couple of scriptures from the course in a different light.

Ephesians 5:33b

…And the wife must respect her husband.

 

Matthew 19:5-6

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

I wonder if God was potentially thinking about how my mom, dad, or in-laws might get in the way of my husband and me being united in our parenting decisions?

One of my sons had recently married at the time of this conversation with my husband.  I remember well my quiet time that day.

“Lord, please help me not get in the way of my son’s marriage.” I cried out. “Help me to be an encourager–a cheerleader for them to make decisions together without my interference. Help me to allow them to spread their wings—to have their own family that doesn’t feel like I’m a mom butting in to their business.”

“And, please Lord, with the children that are still at home in my care, help me to make decisions on what I think best rather than taking the advice of others.  Help me to put my husband’s suggestions in a higher place of consideration over my mother’s.”

I have started taking that prayer seriously. When my mother starts to chime in about something my kids are doing–my response?

“Mom, I love you dearly, but this is a decision for our immediate family. Be the grandmother and watch from a distance; that’s your role now.”

And if you have married children?

Why not write the couple a letter or note?

  • Tell them how proud you are of both of them.
  • Assure them you will never take sides in their arguments.
  • Explain all you are learning in the parenting process.
  • Let them know that you view both of them as your children.
  • Assure them that you accept their creation of a new family unit–independent from you.
  • Promise that your goal is to make sure that your actions do nothing to come between them.

As parents, we can influence both generations if we are willing to take healthy steps to ensure that each of us is playing our God-ordained role.

DARE YOU to take stock of your relationships with your parents to determine if they are having a healthy impact on your tweens and teens.

DOUBLE DARE YOU to have conversation with your spouse and decide how to let your twenty-somethings go in a healthy way.

Still Learning to do the tough stuff!

“Let go…and let God”,

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In 12 days, you too can start having a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens.  Click here to find out more.

When God is Silent

2014-08-03 18.38.50As I sit here writing, I keep wondering if the tears will ever come.  Silence darkens my life right now as I continue to wait for God to open the door.  I’m guessing my NOW has different circumstances from yours, but if you’ve had kids in their tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings, I’m sure you can relate.  Sometimes we just need to know that God is with us in the trenches of day-to-day life. Read more

You Want Me to Argue?

2014-08-19 19.41.26My world is spinning in marriage as of late.  Not my own marriage, but difficult marriages.

About eight months ago my husband told me he had been looking into getting some training to help men in difficult marriage situations.  It seems that his work world was being ravaged by men who were on the brink of divorce. Read more

DARE 12 – The Respect Dare – They Still Need Me? – For Parents of 20-Somethings

Sitting on the back patio in the early morning savoring the spring sunshine and cup of coffee, Sally was still in her PJ’s. Their backyard was private enough that she loved going out there to spend quiet time with God. Her teens were already at school and Alex, her twenty-three year old son was at work. As she sat their contemplating Alex’s recent announcement that he would be moving out next month, Sally’s heart sang. Not that he was moving out, mind you, but that the year had been a success.

Shortly after graduation from college, Alex had announced that he had landed an awesome job nearby. “Would you mind if I live with you guys for a year to get my finances in order and pay down my student loans?” he asked.

Jeff and Sally were feeling good that their son was even willing to consider moving back in with them after being on his own for four years. “Alex, of course you can move back home!”

As the day drew closer for graduation, Sally decided to give Alex a call. “Son, you know that we love you and are happy to help you get on your feet financially this year. We just want to make a couple of things clear before you move all your stuff in. You know that we still have your younger brother living at home. I know you are now an adult, but for this to be successful we are going to need you to abide by the same rules that existed while you were living here in high school. We will expect you to be home at a reasonable hour and we will still want you to let us know when you are going somewhere and when you expect to be back.”

“Mom, I’m going to be working. That shouldn’t be a problem at all.”

“Alex, this is for one year. At that point, we’ll reassess. One more thing,” she paused. “You know that your dad and I love you with all our heart. I want this to be a good year. It isn’t going to be easy for us to have you back home and it isn’t going to be easy for you to live with the rules that you’ve had freedom from for four years. Can we agree that if you have a problem with something we’re doing, you’ll talk to us about it? The same goes for us. Our goal is that you won’t leave anxious for freedom again. Our goal is that when you leave here in a year, we’ll be good friends.”

“Mom, it will be fine. It will work. I promise.”

As Sally continued to enjoy her coffee, she smiled at what the year had meant to her and Jeff. They really were best friends with …

Just then her cell phone rang. “Mom, I need your help!” It was Alex. “I’ve done something really stupid and I need you to come get me at work.”

“Okay, let me get a shower and I’ll be there shortly. Maybe we can do lunch?”

“No, Mom, you don’t understand! I need you to get dressed and come get me now! You need to drive me to a client’s office and drive me back to work. I took the bus today, so my car is sitting at the park-n-ride. I’m sorry to take you away from whatever you are doing today, but this is serious. Please just come!”

Sally quickly sat her cup in the sink and was dressed and out the door within minutes.

The longer she was in the car for the 45 minute drive, the more upset she became. How dare her son think that whatever he was dealing with was more important than her day? No shower, no makeup, and she was driving to go solve whatever her 23 year old son had messed up! She needed to let him know that she couldn’t just drop everything for him. She had a life too.

As her angry thoughts took hold, she knew she was going to let him verbally have it! This is ridiculous! He’s 23 for heaven’s sake. It’s time to handle your own problems!

Just then the words from a couple of Daughters of Sarah scriptures took hold.

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.

James 1:19

…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

“Okay, Lord. I hear you,” she breathed. “Just listen. My job is to listen. This isn’t about me. I need to forget that he is my son and that I’m his mother. This is a friend who needs my help. I’m being the feet of Jesus to Him like I would any of my other friends.”

The more she prayed for Alex, not having any clue why she was actually going to pick him up, it dawned on her. “It must be a desperate situation for a 23 year old to feel the need to call his mother to come get him. That had to be really humiliating.”

“Respect! That’s it! I need to respect that he is a friend in need and not grill him on what he messed up this time.”

As parents, when our adult children need our help, we need to remember that most likely it is difficult for them to ask for our help. Our job is to listen and be available. It isn’t about them taking advantage of our generosity, sometimes it about us just being their friend.

“Let go…and let God”,


Be sure to join Nina Roesner and Leah Heffner and they blog with me through The Respect Dare.


The Respect Dare – Dare 11 – Developing Maturity in our Tweens & Teens

Sitting at her small table in the basement Eloise was thankful for the silence. Ted had agreed to focus on the kids and food for the day while she took time to pray and seek God’s guidance for the next school year for each of her kids. She had been homeschooling for the past several years, but was realizing that it was becoming much more difficult as the kids entered junior high and high school. Tonight, Bryan, their 16 year old, would be in charge so that she and Ted could go out to dinner and talk through her plans for the school year.

“Lord,” she prayed. “Help me to put together a plan for each child. Help me to not only focus on the school part of the year, but also help me to focus on behaviors, friendships, and character development. Help me to focus on their strengths. Help me to pay close attention to how you would want them to develop and not forget that they also need to build relationship with you.”

On her computer she had three documents open with each of the kids’ names on top. She also had the categories that she wanted to focus on.

STRENGTHS began one column. PLACES TO GROW began another.

Earlier in the week Eloise had taken time to spend a couple of hours with each of the kids separately. She had taken each one to their favorite restaurant for lunch and talk time. Conversations were similar for each of the kids. There was talk about the things they had enjoyed during the school year along with things they would like to try during the coming year. Naturally sports, music, and drama came up with. They talked about co-op and distance learning, classes they enjoyed and ones they didn’t like, and what they thought they might be interested in for future careers. They talked about how God had created them unique with a gifting. It was an opportunity for each child to dream about the future while giving Eloise some data to plan the school year.

Now it was time for Eloise to put together a plan. What was realistic for each child? How much time would she have to be on the road with each child transporting them to activities? What would be good balance for family life at home?

Eloise decided to start with their 14 year old son who struggled the most with fitting in. In the past, she would have started with her firstborn. After all, as a family, they would have less time to influence him. But Eloise wasn’t so sure that’s where she and Ted should be spending the most energy. Bryan was getting lots of opportunity with the freedom of driving. Stephen seemed to need more attention right now. Stephen was her most determined child…determined to do things his way…and get his friends to do things his way…and upset the family when things didn’t go his way.

She was excited about her new tactic. In the past she would have focused on her kids’ weaknesses, especially Stephen’s. This was the kid who always pushed her patience. She had spent so much time correcting him, scolding him, and grounding him, that she was determined to follow the nugget she had learned in Daughters of Sarah.

Whatever we pay attention to growsJ!

She was beginning to see it happen!

During the last month, she was seeing a glimmer of hope with Stephen. One day she noticed him help his younger sister reach something she wanted from the top of her closet. Typically he would have gotten it for her and then would have proceeded to do something to upset her, like dump it on the floor or start taking it apart. Eloise just happened to be walking through the hallway at the time and interrupted the scene. Just as Stephen was getting the item down, Eloise entered the room. “Stephen, thank you for helping your sister reach that! I really appreciate how you look out for her! You are such a good big brother!” And with that she gave him a hug.

With each new incident, Eloise was trying to see the “good” in her son and it was paying dividends. Just by commenting on his “good works” she was watching him try harder to do the right thing. Even the other kids were starting to “commend” Stephen for his positive actions. Wow! What a different tone was emerging in their home.

Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

When we have those “difficult” children who always seem to be stirring up dissention, it is easier to correct and scold the bad rather than encourage them when they are doing something good. Rather than wait to speak when they do something wrong. Try only commenting when they do something right!

Dare you to “catch” you tween or teen doing something right and make sure to offer positive feedback! Pay attention…the “good” will grow!

“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 6 – The Respect Dare –

Mark and Audrey were at odds on what to do. It seemed that lately there were a lot of money issues with their twenty-three year old son. Mark was of the opinion that by twenty-three, it was up to their son to be totally independent. “He’s a man, for crying out loud!” Mark bellowed. “I didn’t have my dad bailing me out every time I turned around.”

Audrey had been tempted to challenge him because she saw things differently. But she bit her lip and decided to pray about it instead.

“Lord, Justin is still in college with only one semester remaining. He sounded really down on the phone today. It is obvious that he wasn’t sure he would be able to make it through the next few days financially. It had obviously taken a lot just for him to ask. I know we’re paying for part of his college tuition, but everything else is on his dime, and he has maxed out his loans. I know that Justin is carrying a heavy load trying to graduate on time. I understand why he recently quit his 20 hour a week job because of one of the classes he needed to graduate; this leaves him with little to no spending money. It makes sense that He needs a loan. He just needs necessities to get by. Help Mark to see that, Lord, and please help us come up with a solution.”

She thought about how she had seen her aunt operate in situations similar to this. She knew what Aunt Mabel would do. She would just pretend like she was “spending extra money” at the grocery store or some other place and give the money to her son without telling his father.

022614_0211_Dare6TheRe2.jpgAudrey didn’t want to undermine her husband like that. She had seen the remnants of trust be shredded by Aunt Mabel’s willingness to “get her way” regardless of what her husband thought. She needed to come up with another way to get Mark’s attention. She also didn’t want to drive a wedge between Mark and Justin.

What was it she had learned in Daughters of Sarah? “State facts without emotion,” she remembered. “Men need short, logical communication.”

As she continued to contemplate how to best approach Mark she kept remembering a verse.

Ephesians 4:1b-2

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.

Audrey kept thinking about the relationship with both of her “men”. She needed to not only show respect for her husband, but also respectfully spur Justin on to independence as well. How could she do that without undermining either one?

The next evening, Audrey ventured into conversation with her husband. “Mark, I know that you and I are at odds on how to deal with Justin’s financial struggles right now. Would you be willing to listen to an idea that I have that might be a win-win for all of us and still recognize that Justin needs to be financially independent?”

When you and your spouse don’t agree on how to handle a particular situation, parenting can be difficult. Communicating in a way that the other understands can be crucial in reaching the best solution. And sometimes choosing to not do things like “Aunt Mabel” did, is a true act of showing kindness out of love.

Dare you to lean toward gentleness in your communication with your spouse.

“Let go…and let God,”

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Be sure to join Nina and Leah as we go through The Respect Dare together!