Tag Archive for: help for the struggling parent

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are Your Parenting Truths?

 

When my kids were in the teen years and there seemed to be more conflict in our home than I wanted to deal with, I started doing some introspection as to what truths I held in my parenting.  What I discovered was that all the things I had learned from my parents during my childhood weren’t necessarily true.

As children we see and learn through a child’s mind.  We interpret things through a brain that is not fully developed and doesn’t have the full breadth of experience of adulthood.  And depending on how we interpret the world, either through a the lens of a glass half-full or a glass half-empty, whether we felt safe, loved, needed, and had purpose, determines whether we view our family of origin’s parenting style in a positive or negative light.

Either way, it will have impact on how we parent.  We will either choose to parent how our parents parented or we will choose to do something different.  Most likely if we didn’t like how our parents parented, we will pendulum swing and do the exact opposite.

The question we have to ask ourselves though is what is our parenting Truth?

Are there lies that we believed as a child that impact us and keep us from being the parent God wants us to be?

Are there actions or reactions in your parenting that need to be viewed from an adult lens rather than what was modeled or said to you when you were a child?  Are there partial truths we are believing that stem from our culture?  The neighbors?  Or other parents?

It has been amazing to me through the years as I’ve interacted with many parents how we as Christians will justify our words, our negative reactions, and sometimes anger at our child.  Our disrespect of our child’s perspective, feelings, or requests can easily be overlooked.  After all, we’re the parent and think we know best.

I’ve been there.  I’ve offered a sweet chuckle as I’ve shared a story of an interaction with my child trying to “normalize” my response.  It’s something I saw modeled and took as my own.  Somehow we think that if we laugh about our sinful response to our kids we feel justified in our actions rather than feeling remorse and moving toward reconciliation with our teen.

I think that God gives us these sometimes difficult teen years to help us see His Truth in our parenting rather than what we think is truth.

So what about you?  What truths do you hold to in your parenting that may not be truths at all?

  • It’s my job to make sure my kids are happy.
  • If I orchestrate the family schedule, no one will feel left out.
  • I need to give my kid every experience possible.
  • If my teen challenges me, maybe I was too harsh and should back down.
  • When my child is emotionally acting out, I should use my authority to bring them under control.
  • Everyone else their age has electronic devices so I have to get them one so they don’t feel left out.
  • How I respond to my kids is justified based on what and how they say things to me.
  • If my kid works hard he can be whatever he wants to be.
  • The kids will only be with us for a few more years, their desires are more important than our marriage.  We’ll have time for us in a few years after they are gone.
  • If we are good parents our children will make wise choices.
  • If my kids work hard at their studies or sports, they’ll get a scholarship for college.
  • My thoughts on what is going on in our home don’t need to be verbalized because they aren’t important.
  • What our parents think about our parenting choices should be part of our decision making.
  • I need to compare our family to other families to make sure our kids measure up.
  • If what I say as a parent is met with silence and non-compliance from my child, I need to just give up on trying to get them to respond.
  • It is up to me to give, give, and give to my teens at the risk of feeling like a slave to their needs.
  • The only thing we can take to heaven is our kids.
  • I can control who my child dates or marries.
  • And the list goes on.

The lies we have bought into that affect our parenting can become toxic patterns that the enemy would love for us to embrace.  These lies or partial truths not only affect the quality of our relationships in our homes but give us a weak foundation in our parenting because when we base our decisions on anything other than God’s Truth, we will typically pendulum swing in our responses based on how we feel in the moment or whether we have enough energy to fight the battle.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Dare you to look back at your own childhood and filter the things you learned about parenting through the lens of adulthood.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you into the His Truths as you parent your kids by taking your lies and half-truths and making them obedient to Christ.

“Let go…and let God”,

Does it feel like your tweens don’t listen when you’re talking? Or maybe you don’t feel like your teens respect you? Tired of the conflict?  I’d love to connect with you for a free coaching session.  You can contact me at debbiehitchcock@gettingperspective.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rules and Consequences Not Working?

A very wise counselor said to me one time, “If it isn’t a matter of life and death, it doesn’t need to be fixed right now.”

Oh, I wish I had heard those words years before and really grasped the true meaning.

The most common thing I hear from parents is that a kid knows the consequence and yet the teen continues to do the very thing that caused the consequence over and over again.  As parents we feel caught in a loop and we don’t understand why our kid gets angry and starts building a wall sneaking around us to get what they want.

The problem is that many of us think of parenting as transactional.  What I mean by that is that we’ve devised a system that says if our teen chooses to not abide by our rule, we issue a consequence.  Cut and dry.  Black and white.  No discussion.

Let’s face it.  Transactional parenting is easier.  We don’t have to get caught up in the tears and listen to the 99 reasons why we are being unfair and why our kid should get off this time.

But here’s the downside.  When we use transactional parenting, we might get the obedience that we want, but at what price?  

Obedience doesn’t necessarily mean compliance on a heart level.  More times than not, it means compliance on a fear level.

Several weeks ago I had a mom ask me what to do with her junior high age daughter who kept sneaking her phone into her room which was against the rules.  The family rule was that when they came into the house they were to park their phones in the kitchen until after dinner.  Already taking the girl’s phone away numerous times, Mom was upset that the girl had taken mom’s phone into the bathroom to call someone when she came into the house.  The daughter’s phone was sitting in the kitchen where it was supposed to be.  

I chuckled when I heard the story.  Isn’t that just like a kid?  We’ve all been there.  Most of us have experienced something similar at one time or another.  Can we just laugh?

Unfortunately in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to laugh.  Our rule has been broken, our tween needs to learn a lesson, and we feel the need to issue the consequence.

Unfortunately, that’s what this mom did.  She issued a consequence that escalated the situation into a shouting match.

Over what?  Yes, you heard.  Over what?

What was so important that this girl felt the need to violate the rule knowing she would most likely get a consequence?  To take her mother’s phone was a bold step.

When I asked the mom why her daughter needed to use the phone, Mom couldn’t tell me. All she knew was the rule had been broken.

How sad. 

Like I said earlier — transactional.

Let’s go back to my opening line — “If it isn’t a matter of life and death, it doesn’t need to be fixed right now.”

What if the mom in the scenario could have paused (after all it wasn’t life or death) before she confronted her daughter? 

Here are a few things that she might have thought of if she had taken the time to wait before the confrontation.

  • “I don’t want her to think she can use my phone when she isn’t allowed to use hers.  Do we need a consequence for that?”
  • “Boy, that was gutsy.  This must have been really important for her to sneak my phone.  Something must be up.”
  • “I wonder if it is time to revisit this rule and consequence?  Maybe we need to look at why we started this rule in the first place.  Maybe it’s time to think about it differently.”
  • “It will be interesting to see if she comes and talks to me about taking the phone.  If she does, I’ll know that the Holy Spirit is working in her life.”
  • “I need to have a conversation with her that won’t be combative.  I’ll try to talk to her after dinner or maybe tomorrow after school.”

If we’ve trained our brain to look at the possibilities rather than the rules, we’ll most likely discover that our kids have needs of which we aren’t even aware.  Sometimes those needs and desires are worth the consequence and it is up to us to be the detective to understand the “why” so that we can reach their heart without always reacting to the rule.  Sometimes we need to pause long enough so that we can see if God is working in our child’s heart.

So what can we do as parents when we blow a situation with our kids.  After all, if we’re in the heat of the battle we don’t always remember to pause.

  1. Initiate a casual conversation.  “Honey, I want you to know what I didn’t do a good job of handling the phone situation earlier today.  I got really upset and took your phone away and I know you think I was harsh in issuing the consequences.  I’m sorry I got so upset and I know that you are working really hard at following the phone rules otherwise you wouldn’t have left your phone on the kitchen counter. (See the positive?). I didn’t listen to you and I’m sorry.  I’m listening now.  So what happened today?
  2. Listen.  Don’t interrupt and listen with your heart.
  3. Make sure you understand the core issue.  Is it a rebellious streak of “I’m going to do whatever I want and you can’t stop me.” Or was the phone call so important that it was worth a potential consequence?  Do you have a relationship with this child so that she could have asked to use the phone without hearing a lecture?
  4. Pause before changing the consequence.  Too many times we hear our child’s side of the story and immediately change the consequence because of new information.  We think of it as fixing the problem.  I want to suggest that you keep the consequence until you’ve had time to process the new data and spoken to your spouse or a trusted friend who may be further along in their parenting.  Tell your tween that you want to think about your conversation and then promise to get back to her.  
  5. Revisit the consequence.  Pausing on the consequence gives you opportunity to rebuild trust and leaves the door open for more conversation on what happened.  Use this as a chance to right the wrong as well as address how you would like similar situations to be handled in the future.  Be sure to end the conversation with a hug.

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Psalm 46:10

Be still and know that I am God.

Dare you to be still in the heat of the parenting battles.  Pause and let God work in your heart and the heart of your teen.

With the holidays around the corner why not put With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens on your shopping list?  Whether it is for yourself, a friend, or as gifts for your child’s teachers, learning the language of respect is important as we try to capture the hearts of the next generation.  

Here’s what one mom had to say:  “If you want to renew and energize your relationship with your kids, this book is a great place to start!  Each dare spoke such truth and I looked forward to each new real-life story.  I wish it had been available when my oldest was going through the teen years.”

 

 

 

 

 

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!”

How Do You Want to be Remembered as a Parent?

This has been a contemplative time for me as a parent.  Dealing with my own daughter’s death and thinking through her life, God has brought to mind many of my parenting interactions — the good, the bad, and the ugly.  There are many of those thoughts where I got it right in my parenting interactions, yet there are other times where I wish I could have had a “do-over”.  Grieving is hard work as it takes me down memory lane.

It occurred to me that the process of grief makes us look backward — what was, but could have been different.

As I contemplate that thought I’ve been reminded of my years as a corporate human resource manager.  Every year employees were asked to set goals for personal growth.  Each person was to write down not only what they wanted to achieve in sales, technical expertise, and other things to accomplish for the year, but they were also asked to assess what would make them more valuable in their job as a person.  These were what were sometimes seen as soft skills.  Leadership, influence, communication, and personal awareness were identified as opportunities for improvement.

As I compare the business world to family life, I wonder how many of us as parents take the time to set goals for ourselves — specifically in the soft skills.  As moms we sometimes set goals for running our homes such as making sure the kitchen is clean before we go to bed or cleaning the toilets at least once a week, but do we think about setting goals for how we interact with our kids?  Do we envision the person we truly want to be?

Thinking about our role as a parent is two-fold — yes, we need to think about the skills and goals for our children so they can become successful adults, but we also need to also think about the legacy of relationship that we will pass on to the next generation.

As we look forward to who we want to be or what we want to accomplish, it is sometimes easier to fast forward to a time in the future.  I’m going to ask you to look at who you are as a parent and consider what you would like your children to write for your eulogy.  What words do you want on your tombstone?  How do you want to be remembered?

  • She was a good listener.
  • I could tell Mom anything without condemnation or reaction.
  • Mom was gentle.
  • She was fair in serving consequences.
  • There was never a doubt that she loved me.
  • I knew I could always count on her.
  • She was calm and never raised her voice.
  • Mom didn’t stand over me always telling me what to do.
  • Mom let me make mistakes and taught me how to resolve them.
  • She asked me if she could share her thoughts when she knew I was about to make a poor decision.
  • Mom didn’t bail me out when I messed up.
  • She let me own what was mine to own.
  • Her laughter filled out home.
  • She was great at encouraging me.
  • She loved God and wanted me to know Him like she did.
  • Her words and actions were in sync.  I always knew where she stood on any subject.
  • I could always count on her to be there to support me.
  • She taught me to keep my commitments.
  • When mom made a mistake, she always apologized.
  • Mom worked on her own personal growth and encouraged me to do the same.
  • Even though Mom had lots to do, she would always stop whatever she was doing to focus on what I needed from her.
  • She always validated my feelings letting me know she truly understood.
  • Grace was more important to her than coming up with another rule that I would have to follow.

How did you stack up?

If there are things on this list or even your own list where you feel like you might be falling short, I would encourage you to take time to contemplate and set goals for personal growth.  While none of us is a perfect parent, if our kids are still alive we have opportunity for a “do-over”.   We have time to override what our future holds as we overlay our new behaviors on our old self.

Ephesians 4:22-24

 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness

If you remember a situation that you didn’t handle appropriately yesterday, last week, last month, or a decade ago — go back and apologize.

If you keep adding rules for your teens to follow rather than offering grace and connection — tell your kids that you’ve decided to dispense with some of the rules because you’ve seen progress in their behavior and want to give them more freedom.

If you find yourself raising your voice to the level of your kids’ outbursts — pause and speak with a gentle, controlled voice or let your children know that you will talk about the situation later when your emotions are under control.

Ask God to help you see and grieve your parenting mistakes from the past so that you can press on to be the parent He desires you to be for the future.

What changes need to be made in you as you move forward in becoming the parent God wants you to be?  What is one small step you can start making toward a better eulogy from your kids?

Dare you  to post one thing that you are going to work on as you parent.  Just by posting you are interjecting a level of accountability in making the change.  Then be intentional in asking God to help you reach that goal.

Praying God will infuse your heart and mind with the goodness of His grace.

“Let go…and Let God”,

If you want to have influence in your family and desire to become a Titus 2 Woman leading other’s to grow in their walk with God, we have an opportunity to you.  Our Titus 2 Boot Camp will give you opportunity to learn the skills that will transform your life into one that honors Him.  We give you the tools as well as an opportunity to practice them in a safe environment.  It’s fun!  It’s a growth opportunity in the soft skills I mention in this post. And, it will be a time of refreshment as you spend time with God in a beautiful retreat setting.  Meet other women who love the Lord and want to serve Him in their marriages, in their families, and in whatever He calls them to do.  You’ll have time to interact with both Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock personally as we lead you in an exciting weekend of personal growth.  If God is calling you, we hope you will join us!  If you can gather a group to attend, contact us for a discount.  We promise, it will be a growth opportunity like you’ve never experienced before.

 

 

 

 

Finding Peace in the Midst of Parenting

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind.  I’ll admit that I’m having trouble remembering what I’ve done from one day to the next.  Grieving the loss of a child is so very hard and the enemy is relentless in attempting to get me into the pit of despair.  I’m thankful for all of you have who have been there to help carry my burden in the midst of such pain.  The little things–a meal, a text, a card, a donation to a ministry in our daughter’s name, or a response to my blog have been a lifeline to keep me out of the rabbit hole that could swallow me up.  These small things give me peace in the midst of the turmoil in my present circumstances.

As I treasure all of those who have been there for us during a time of death, I am contemplating how we as a body of Christ can be there for each other in a time of life.

I’ve spoken to many parents who are struggling to find peace in the midst of their parenting.  Many have strong-willed children who are determined to control their universe, others have kids who are struggling — peer pressure, sexting, cutting, pornography, alcohol, drugs, sex, pregnancy, same-sex relationships, and the list goes on.  One day we think our NOW is good and the next day brings trouble we can’t even begin to comprehend or explain.

So how do we find peace in the midst of the pain our children sometimes bring to our lives?  How do we deal with our own self-condemnation that we should have been a better parent or this wouldn’t be happening?  How do we deal with a culture (and sometimes church) that wants to blame someone for what our kids are doing — so it must be the parents’ fault?

If you are a parent whose kids seem to “get it” and by the grace of God they are choosing to follow His will, delight in the fact that He has chosen to spare you the pain of suffering through your children.  It can be an overwhelming cross to bare.

But can I ask you to stay here with me for a few minutes?

Can I ask you to  stop a minute and try to put yourself in other women’s shoes?  Can you take a moment and  feel their pain and offer empathy and a shoulder to cry on?  Can I ask each of us as Christian women to carry each other’s burdens?  Can you reach out and listen without condemnation and trying to tell them how to “fix” their parenting problem.  Can we all just listen and feel for our beloved sisters in Christ?

Our pastor said it eloquently at our daughter’s funeral service, “Who’s to blame for a child who is born blind, the child or the parents?”  Jesus answered “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:3)

Think about that.  When our children make wrong choices they are blind.  They can’t see that they are on a path to destruction.  However, God can use us or them, and even in spite of our choices or their choices, to accomplish His purpose.  He is writing a testimony on our child’s heart and on our heart that He will use for His glory.  

That’s our hope.  That should be our peace.

I’ve been talking to women around the country who feel like they have to hide in the church.  These are the moms whose kids are making choices that are against everything they as a family believe in — yet they don’t feel safe to share their pain even to their church family. How sad.  They feel judged for things beyond their control because to us as Christians their child’s behavior is an unfathomable sin.

There is a lie the enemy wants us as a church to believe.  It is a lie that the enemy wants us to believe as parents.

And that is that our child’s sin is nonredeemable.

The last two weeks I’ve seen what God can do through us in spite of the choices we make.  By the Christian standard my daughter had made more than her  share of wrong choices.  Eventually, her choices caught up with her.  But in spite of her choices, God used her in some pretty incredible ways.  Ways that I would never have dreamed were going on “behind the scenes” of what I saw as her life.

Even in her choices, my daughter led a troubled young woman to Christ and helped her overcome an addiction to cutting.  Even in her own pain, she encouraged a young man by inviting him to her Bible Study group.  This young man now knows Jesus as his Lord and Savior and through her words of encouragement just recorded his first song.  In the midst of trying to find herself, she taught a young girl to braid hair and now this young adult has graduated from cosmetology school.  Because of my daughter’s bent toward helping others, she was ministering to a young woman with downs syndrome taking her into her home to bake and just spending time with her.  Because of her desire to have others know a Jesus who forgives sin, I’ve sat beside sinners in a church pew because she brought them to church desiring for them to find hope.

In spite of our kids’  choices, in spite of our kids’ sin, in spite of the road they choose to travel, God will use even their wrong choices to put them in a place where He can use them.  He’ll use them for His glory.

As for us as parents, we need to look to God for peace in the midst of our parenting chaos.  We need to understand that He is weaving His story and that story might bring pain for us.  We need to cling to a verse in John.

John 10:28-29

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

If your kids accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior at a young age, He’s got them even in the midst of the path they’ve chosen as teens.  If not, there is still time for redemption. They may make wrong choices, but don’t we all?  Some of us may struggle with alcohol, some overspending, some anger, some lust, and some self-righteousness, but if we’ve raised them to follow Jesus, He’s got them and He’ll use them in spite of their poor choices–just like He’ll use us.

And that should be our peace.  

God’s got this even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Isaiah 54:10

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Can you trust Him in the midst of your sorrow?  Can you trust Him with your pain?  If you are fortunate enough to have kids who are, by the grace of God, making wise choices, can you be a beacon of light to a hurting mom who is struggling because of her teen’s path?  Can you choose to let God use you to help other moms feel safe among their church family?

My prayer is that, just like I am trying to do, you will cling to Him for peace in the midst of it all–whatever your parenting struggle and that there will be other Christian moms who will give you a shoulder to cry on.

May you choose His peace as you…

“Let go…and Let God”,

Want to help moms develop a deeper relationship with God as they create more fulfilling relationships with their teens and tweens?  With All Due Respect was bathed in tears as God walked me through a powerful life-changing process that impacted my relationship with my daughter.  Because of what God taught me through parenting her, other moms can now grow closer to Him as they work through the devotional Dares from this book.  What is more, if you choose to do the book in a group you’ll have opportunity to develop deep connecting relationships with other women who are also on the parenting journey.  Check back next week to see how you can get your copy of our small group leader’s guide that will make your small moms group a WOW experience.