Tag Archive for: Emotions

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.”

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!”

Dare 20 – The Respect Dare – How do I Respect My 20-Something?

I was absolutely elated! The phone call had finally come! “We’ve been able to move your son’s appointment up to July. Will that work?”

“Absolutely! You really did get him in for July? This is great! I was beginning to doubt this would even be a possibility! Thank you.”

As I started listening to the details of the scheduled appointments for my son’s medical condition, I almost couldn’t contain my excitement at what God was doing. I had shared the prayer request with everyone that I knew. His original appointment had been scheduled for September, almost 20 days after his junior year of college was to begin. If the appointment hadn’t been changed, he would have had a decision to make: college and continued pain or the possibility of resolution at a pain clinic. I knew what he was thinking. There was no way he wanted to skip a year of college waiting for what “might happen.”

After hanging up the phone, I couldn’t wait to start telling everyone the news. My son would be able to start classes in August as we had hoped! God had answered our prayer!

Just as I began the Facebook post giving God the glory, my fingers paused. “How will Michael take the news? It means that he will only have a week left of his summer vacation. It means a 23 hour car ride. It means he will live out of a hotel for 3 ½ weeks. It means a full-day program going to doctor after doctor. It means going straight from the pain program into college classes.

And I began to feel a real sadness…for him and for me.

It means that summer is almost over.

It means the mad rush of getting things in order to leave in a week.

As we sat at the dinner table that night, I wasn’t sure how to broach the subject. He did it for me. “What did you do today, Mom?”

“I was on the phone a lot.”

“What for?”

“Well, I need to tell you, I’ve got some good news and possibly some bad news.”

“Like what, Mom?”

“They were able to move your clinic appointment up.”

His jaw dropped.

“But it means we’ll have to leave next week. You’ll be back right in time for classes to start.”

That’s when his frustration began to rise.

“What do you mean? My summer is over! This is crazy. I don’t want to go. I’m not ready to give up the rest of my summer! I’m 21 and I don’t have to go. Tell me you won’t make me. You’re not going to hold this over my head are you? Are you going to start taking things away because I won’t do what you think I should do?” All the angst and frustration at the situation came tumbling out.

I held my tongue and let him spew.

It wasn’t easy.

I tried to resist telling him all the reasons why my logic made more sense than his did at the moment. And I told him how sorry I was for the circumstances he was in. I told him I would probably feel the same way if I was in his shoes.

He started sorting through all the reasons why this was a bad idea while I tried to gently counter his thinking. Then the words came out. “Mom, is this MY decision?”

The moment of truth had arrived. Could I live with it being HIS decision?

And that’s when I realized that in actuality I couldn’t make this man’s decision for him. He may be my son, but he is a man…responsible to God for whatever decisions he makes. He is the one who would have to be willing to work through their program. I could spend all my time and energy getting him there, I could spend money on a hotel for the 3 ½ week program, but in reality, it had to be him to do the work. This was for him and not for me.

Painfully, I assured him that it was his decision.

He then told me that he would need to hear back from a couple of loose ends from doctors he had recently seen before he would be willing to commit to the program.

I told him I would be praying for his decision.

The next day, God showed up! The doctor called closing up the loose ends.

Meanwhile, I prayed that God would show my son which path to take. I continued to make arrangements in hopes of my son making the decision to go through with the program.

Finally, I ventured into potential conflict. “Michael, I’d really like you to help me make some of the decisions around this trip. I want to make it as much of an enjoyable time as is possible given the circumstances. Would you help me pick a hotel?”

“We’re going to have to go, aren’t we, Mom?” he whispered in a voice not wanting to believe that it was necessary.

“I think it is best.”

As the silence ensued, I looked at him. “God has purpose in all this, son. Maybe you are supposed to be here at this time so you can minister to someone else. There will be lots of kids there in pain. Maybe you can make their time easier. You know, the younger ones will look up to you. You’ve been working with high school kids all summer at church. Maybe you can help the time pass more quickly for everyone.”

“Mom, let’s stay at the hotel across from the clinic. Maybe I can get some card games going in the lobby at the end of the day! I’d like to be in an easy access location so that kids can come hang out.”

Psalm 40:2

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Really knowing our 20-somethings and letting them recognize that we respect them as adults can make a huge difference in the decisions they make.

Dare you to try out some of these skills.

  1. Allow your 20-something to vent when they are frustrated.
  2. Validate their feelings. Let them know you would probably feel the same way if you were in their shoes.
  3. Recognize that they ARE adults. They will have to deal with the consequences of their decisions.
  4. Appeal to their bent. Help them see the positives of a good decision and how God might be using them.
  5. Celebrate their good choices and let them know you love to watch how God is maturing them.

Ephesians 3:20 NKJV

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

“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.

 

 

 

 

 


The Respect Dare – Dare One

Expectations! I can tell you emphatically that I have them for my kids. I can’t tell you my entire list of all my expectations for my tweens and teens because there wouldn’t be enough space to list them!

You know the drill…Keep your room clean, don’t talk back to me, don’t fight with your siblings, get your homework done…

And the list goes on…and on…

But the most important one would be. Don’t embarrass me!

You know what I mean here. Don’t do something that my friends will see…that would make them think I was a bad parent. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, drink, or get someone pregnant would probably be at the top of the list. Of course, you have your own list based on how you were raised.

The Respect Dare may have been written for married women, but as I sat in a Daughters of Sarah classroom (the class that the book is based on) I was focused on my relationship with one of my teens. I’ll admit it needed lots of work. I had expectations that this teen had no desire to fulfill. Every step I took toward attempting to move this one forward toward adulthood ended in more anger, more frustration, and more tears for both of us. Rules didn’t apply. Fun didn’t work. This one wanted to move out and I was ready to see that happen. Nothing I attempted brought us together.

Until Daughters of Sarah

It was all about my expectations.

You see, I wanted this teen to change! I wanted relationship! Why couldn’t this teen and I have a connection like I had with my other kids?

And Daughters of Sarah taught me that it was about letting go of expectations for other people…even my children. It was time to start focusing on my relationship with God. I needed to rely on Him to solve the problem. The only person I could really change was me!

I love how Sarah Young puts it in her devotional Jesus Calling, “When your private world feels unsteady and you grip (Jesus’) hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on Me.”

That’s what I want as I go through The Respect Dare again; this time with you. I want to know Him more and depend on Him to change me.

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Isn’t that what we want for our kids? Maturity.

Well, the same goes for us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I hear something come out of my mouth to my teens, I wonder if I’ve arrived at that place of maturity! I have screamed, I have been known to use condescending language and flippant remarks, I have issued ultimatums in anger, and truth be told, if the video camera was rolling…those watching would be laughing their heads off! Maturity? My behavior is anything but.

As we go through Nina Roesner’s book together, I would encourage you to focus on expectations for yourself and think of the expectations you need to let go of for your teen. What areas would God like you to change in dealing with your teens? Most likely, it is an area where there is the most conflict.

My list looks like this:

  • Allow my teen to manage his own daily schedule without me continually asking if his homework is done.
  • If anger starts to rise, I will request that we have a cooling off period and resume conversation when the sparks have died down.
  • No longer harp at my daughter when she speeds into the driveway.

If you are like me and have multiple teens, having more than three goals might be overwhelming. If all three can apply to all the kids, then it will be easier to build relationship with each of them.

I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer with the God who can change lives!

Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Thanks for joining me on this journey~

Wherever this journey takes you…TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

My desire above all else is for you to strengthen your relationship with God and your tweens and teens!

“Let go…and let God.”

Debbie

Dare you to bravely share the three things you are going to work on changing “in His strength” as we take this path together.

Double dare you to subscribe to my blog!

Be sure to join Nina Roesner, www.ninaroesner.com, and Leah Heffner, www.leahheffner.com as they take The Respect Dare journey with me. You can visit our website at www.GreaterImpact.com for more information about our ministry.