Tag Archive for: How do I build a relationship with my teen

Does Fear Drive You to Control?

Sitting in the driver’s seat of our son’s 1996 Camry in rush hour traffic, I could feel the shift of the engine revving up.  I was sitting on an exit ramp with nowhere to go.  Even with my foot on the brake, the minute I let up to inch forward I could feel the car begin to speed up way too fast.  I did what most anyone would do, I held on for dear life praying that I wouldn’t hit the car in front of me.  My calf was stinging from the force with which I was pushing on the brake pedal.

As soon as there was a berm wide enough on the side of the interstate, I had no choice but to pull to the side of the road as I proceeded to shove the gear shift into park.  My breathing was labored and my hands were shaking.  I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I knew it wasn’t good.

The first thing out of my son’s mouth was “Mom, let me drive.  I’m stronger than you.  I can hold the brake pedal down.  I’ll get us home.”

Of course, I wanted to say a few things to him like, “Over my dead body.  You’ll get us killed.  I’ve been driving for a lot longer than you have.”  And my brain kept churning.

“No, no, no,” I wanted to shout.

Luckily I did what we train others to do.  I paused.

Parenting can be that way sometimes.  Things can be fine one minute while the next it feels like they are revving up — out of control.  We don’t know what to do in the middle of the situation.  But the adrenaline kicks in and we know we have to do something.  And just like the situation with the car and my son in the passenger seat, we want to be in control.

And what happened next is also a typical phenomenon with most parents.  Our brain goes to the worst case scenario.

My brain told me that if I didn’t remain in control of the situation, we would both die.

Okay, I’m sure it seems like I’m being melodramatic, but that is how it felt.  That’s how our brains work.  When we’re in hyper alert mode out of fear we swing the pendulum as far as it can go thinking the worst.  That’s where I was.

I talk to moms regularly that get in these type of situations with their teens.  Their kid isn’t responding the way we think they should.  The teen is doing something that sets us off and we want to control it so badly that the adrenaline kicks in and we become melodramatic.  We scream, we pull a plug out of the wall, we grab a phone and throw it, or we do something so irrational that we can’t believe we did what we did.  And then…

We justify it.

If you had done your homework…  If you had come when I called…  If you had not been on your phone…  If you had been more reasonable…  Then I wouldn’t have done what I did in response.

Think about that for a minute.

In reality what we are saying to ourselves is “If you had acted like I wanted you to act, then I would have been able to keep my behavior under control.”

Let me ask a question.  When we respond in an out-of-control manner, where is the adult in the room?

Yes.  I said that out loud.

Adults are supposed to be mature enough to have self-control even when their kids are out of control.

If only we could always do that.

Trust me when I say most of us have been that out-of-control mom at times.  Me included.

And when our behavior is out of control, especially with our children that we love so deeply, it’s time to start looking within.  It’s a signal that we need to start working on us and grow to the maturity that God has for us rather than justifying our actions.

Trust me when I say that it takes hard work.

But the growth we see in our kids when we work on us is unbelievable.

That’s what I can help you do as a coach.  Becoming self-aware in your parenting in a gentle way through introspection that develops a win-win for you and your child sets the stage for change and mutual respect in your relationships.

Proverbs 16:32

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

So how did that growth play out as I was sitting on the berm of the road, smelling rubber, with my son in the passenger seat and me shaking and thinking I was going to die?

My son gently touched my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Mom, I know you are scared.  I am too.  I know you don’t want me to drive because of the number of times you’ve been in an accident with someone else driving.  What would you tell other moms to do in this situation?”

Yes, he had my attention with that last question.  I paused long enough to engage my brain from the over-the-top emotion.

In the quiet of the moment, God’s still small voice spoke truth to me.  “You’d tell another mom that sometimes it’s important to let your boys be men.”

Oh my.  Could I really give up control in this moment and let my son attempt to drive us home?

At that exact moment, my son held out his hand and said, “Mom, can we pray?”  I took his hand, still trembling.  And I witnessed the most precious prayer.

“Lord, we need you in this moment.  We’re both scared.  We need to get home and my mom is having a hard time letting me drive.  Will you give her strength to let me do this and will you keep us safe?”

He then looked at me.  “Can I do this for us, Mom?  I know the car better than you do.  I’ll go slow.”

And with that, I moved to the passenger seat.  I gave up my control.

My son became the adult in the room (or the car in this case).

That’s what changing us does for our kids.  When we learn to change our behaviors and give up control, the things we model for our kids are adult-like behaviors.  Then, the blessings trickle down to the next generation.

Dare you to think about the things you are trying to control.

“Let go…and Let God”,

 

What about you?  When have you seen a blessing when you gave up control?  We’d love for you to share what God is doing in your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tired of the Conflict?

One of the things we sometimes forget as parents is that our brain is hardwired for conflict.  Spend some time with a 2-year old and you will see the way he is willing to stand up for his rights.  “No” seems to be his word of choice as he separates from mom and learns that he is an independent person.

It seems we spend the next several years trying to teach our children obedience and listening to mom and dad only to have that “no” rear it’s ugly head again, sometimes with vengeance, as our tweens and teens desire to break away.  As parents, we need to wrap our brain around the fact that their “no” is a good thing. 

Yes, you heard me right.  “No” can be a good thing.

Pause.  Take a deep breath.  And let that sink in.

We want to allow our kids to say “no” to us as they become older — as long as they can do so respectfully.  This is their way of self-protection.  It is how they figure out who they are and gain emotional awareness.  It is through conflict resolved well that our teens learn skills that will help them navigate adulthood with maturity and deeper connection with those around them.  They will learn that others are not necessarily all good (when I can get my way) or all bad (that person controls my every move).

Let me explain.

More than a decade ago my husband and I were struggling with one of our teens.  Conflict was a daily interaction–sometimes with several occurrences during the same day.  I felt totally inept and didn’t have the skills to navigate it.  I was at a loss.  I wanted to love this child but couldn’t seem to find the right balance of control versus letting her have her way.  It felt that whatever decision I made one of us was going to lose and most likely it would be her with the outcome of her choice.  Sometimes  I would set a boundary, she would cross it, and I would get tired of implementing it over and over again.  Talk about feeling overwhelmed.

Then my husband Dave and I took a dramatic step.  We decided to go to counseling together and were determined to find the counselor with the best reputation for handling conflict with teens in our city.   We needed someone to help us parent this particular child.  We were exhausted and at the end of our rope.

That’s where we started learning the skills to help us navigate conflict as a family.  Dave and I would give the counselor scenarios from the week’s drama in our home and he would patiently walk us through how we could have handled the situation differently.  It was eye opening and refreshing to have a different perspective.  These were skills I had never been taught.

That’s where Dave and I learned that we needed to pause when we were in stressful situations of conflict.  When our teen was having what seemed like a 2-year old meltdown, we learned to give her time to process the outcome of that “no”.  Then we would re-engage with non-emotional conversation.

As Dave and I were learning the skills with a professional, Nina Roesner and I would talk regularly about ways to apply these skills in both of our homes.  We both began researching the brain science behind conflict focusing on communication skills that would foster deeper connection in a way that would help us deal with our challenging person more effectively.  The more we would talk, the more skills we developed. 

We found that we had the perfect test lab for these skills in our own homes.  We both had teenagers!

What was amazing was what happened with my own family.  Trust was built in ways I had never experienced before.  My kids started coming to me with their questions more often.  My husband and I grew closer as we worked hard to strengthen our marriage to parent our children together.  We both came to realize the importance of being on the same page.

I’ll admit that our one teen continued to be difficult,  Even into her 20’s I continued to work on our relationship without much positive response.  I prayed without ceasing and used the skills Nina and I had refined.  But something was still missing. 

One day as Nina and I were talking it was as if a light bulb went on!  I decided to try this new idea with my daughter.

I implemented the technique the next time I was in communication with her.  Almost immediately, I started to see the defensiveness  dissipate.  She began sharing more and more of her struggles with me.  My heart soared last year when my husband told me what she had shared with him.  “Dad, I want you to know that mom has become my best friend.  I feel like I can tell her anything.”

Those words meant so much to me!

That’s what I want for you as a mom.  I want you to feel those words even if you never hear them as your teens move into adulthood. 

And it doesn’t come with closing our eyes to their defiance and letting them do things their way without boundaries.

It doesn’t come with control.

It comes with the skills that help us deflate defensiveness and garner respect so that we can influence their decisions.

Dare 28 in With All Due Respect is about resolving conflict in your home.  And it starts with us as moms in teaching them the skills they need.  Scripture talks about resolving conflict as well.

Matthew 5:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons (daughters) of God.”

Matthew 5:24

Leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Dare you to become the peacemaker in your home and learn to offer reconciliation in a way that your teens can hear.  Join us for our all new Deflating Defensiveness Training Retreat near Cincinnati, Ohio May 30-June 4, 2018.  It will give you the skills to navigate conflict in all your relationships as well as help you model them for your kids.  

“Let go…and Let God”,

 

 

5 Actions to Take When You Can’t Believe Who Your Kids Are Hanging Out With!

It’s tough as a parent when our kids choose to hang out with what we might refer to as “unsavory” characters.  Whether it is the need to feel included or a desire to test the waters of independence, most kids are more likely than not to choose friends that are not necessarily a good influence on them at some point in their teen years.  I’ll admit there have been times I’ve not wanted my kids to hang out with other “church kids” for fear that the behaviors I saw would influence my teen’s character.  After all, research says that you become the average of the five people with whom you hang out.

Oh my, what a scary thought!

So how do we handle these situations?  Do we lay down the law or move heaven and earth to keep them away from each other?

And, of course, the answer depends on your particular situation. 

I’ve known parents who were in such dire situations with their kid that they chose to move the entire family in order to push the reset button hoping for a new start.  By all means, if this is your circumstance, I would encourage you to seek wisdom and counsel from professionals as you move forward to save your teen.  As you make this difficult decision, know that it will have a huge effect on all of you as a family.  I would know.  We made that decision at one point in our teen’s life.

But what about the other times when  fear creeps in?  How do we interact with our child knowing he is not hanging out with kids who are embracing the same character qualities we want to see in our teen?

  1. Resist the urge to always say “no” even though everything in your brain is seeing danger.  Our kids are wired to push back as they enter the tween  and teen years.  The last thing we want to do is set our relationship up to be antagonistic.
  2. Be welcoming.  When your kid wants to “hang out” with the friend, create a warm inviting atmosphere in your own home where the kids can hang out.  Encourage them to meet on “your turf” and provide opportunities for you to drop in on them.  Not many kids can resist warm cookies or a mug of hot chocolate.  This is your opportunity to share the love of Christ.
  3. Have positive conversations with your teen about their friend.  I know this seems difficult to do when you are so opposed to their choice, but hang with me here.  Ask questions and listen.  
    1. Why is this friendship so important to your child?  
    2. What is it about this person that your teen really likes?
    3. Let your child see that you agree with their analysis of their friend wherever possible.
    4. Then, as situations randomly arise, continue to ask questions.  What do you think (friend) would think/react in this situation?
    5. Share stories about your friendships and what you’ve learned over the years.
  4. Once you’ve created safety over time with your teen, begin to offer a comparison to their friend’s values versus your family values in a non-threatening way.
  5. Encourage your child to broaden their friendships to include kids with similar family values.

One of my kids always liked to push the envelope by hanging with people who were  directly opposite to our family’s value system.  I’ve found myself squeezed to the point of learning to love like Jesus loved even though it didn’t come naturally and it took everything in my power to choose that path to have a relationship with my child.

Sometimes as parents we need to be the role model for our kids to show them that Jesus hung out with sinners with purpose and intent.  Because of my teen’s choices I’ve been forced to love people who have chosen transgender lifestyles, homosexuality, a life of theft, and drug addiction.  These people have been in my home.  Sometimes, by the grace of God, they’ve joined our family at church.  We’ve been able to have spiritual discussions. Know that it was when I felt backed into a corner and knew that God wanted me to show love to my child by accepting her friends, that He began to weave a story that I had to release to Him.   

Mark 2:17

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Kids need to be able to figure out on their own how to develop true, meaningful friendships.  And it is much better if they can learn from us while they are under our roof where we can coach them through the process.  Parenting out of fear in these situations can easily drive our kids toward the very people we so desperately want to shield them from.

Dare you to encourage your kids to have healthy relationships that make them better people like Proverbs 27:17 friendship and engage with those of questionable character with purpose and intent of showing them the love of Christ.

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Double Dare you to enter the fight for your kid’s life choices in a way that deflates their defensiveness and woos them to good choices.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Navigating our kids’ friendships can be a scary thing.  Our actions as a mom in these fearful moments of parenting can build walls that are difficult to tear down.  That’s why we’ve created our Deflating Defensiveness Training Retreat.  Let us help you reinforce the relationship before the walls go up, or if you are already there, we can help you rebuild the relationship in a way that will help tear the walls down.  If you feel that you are losing your tween, teen, or 20-something, this course if for you!  Conflict abounds as you parent and we can help you navigate it in a way that actually builds a stronger relationship.

If this is you, we hope you will join us May 30-June 3, 2018 near Cincinnati, Ohio.  Join other women who want to learn the skills to create stronger relationships with their kids, their husbands, and other people.  Pricing includes:  4 nights in a private room in a beautiful retreat setting, 10 meals, and interactive training with professional trainers who love the Lord and what to help women grow in their relationship with God and others.  Not only will you have opportunity to learn and practice new skills in an encouraging environment, but you’ll have an opportunity for private reflection as you develop an action plan to help you get started.