Tag Archive for: I can’t do this parenting thing anymore

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Steps to Take to Kick Your Kid Out of the House

This is a hard post to write.  As I sit here contemplating what to say to those of you who are at a place where you think it is time to kick your kid out because of behavior issues, I hope you’ll read last week’s blog before this one.  My prayer is that if there are any other options that you will take those first before pulling the trigger.  Actions can have major fallout for decades to come and while the Now you are in seems overwhelming, the silence down the road can become a heavy burden to carry as well.

A decade ago, I was in a similar situation with one of my kids.  The defiance, disrespect, and “you can’t tell me what to do” were stretching my husband and me to a breaking point.  We had allowed things to go on for too long and were truly at a point of losing perspective.  This teen’s actions were affecting the entire family in a way that I knew was unhealthy.  We were at our wits end.  What should we put up with and where was the line for letting natural consequences play out?  

Regardless of your child’s age, as I know many of you have adult children living under your roof, the principles are the same.  Helping them move forward into maturity is the goal while attempting to maintain the relationship.

Thankfully, a wise therapist/psychiatrist helped us discern the best course of action and spent many hours making sure my husband and I were speaking the same language to our teen.  He knew that we had to be fully on the same page to move our family forward.

As my husband and I met with the therapist weekly, he coached us through the process of working through our own differing opinions on parenting issues.  Meanwhile, he was working with our teen to determine possible scenarios to change behavior.  About six months into these separate sessions, I remember his word’s vividly.  “You can’t allow this to continue in your home.  I have real concerns for your other children.  I think it is time to put a plan in place.  The choice is hers.  She either adheres to your boundary or she chooses to leave.”

Notice I didn’t say we kicked her out.

She chose to leave.

And that is the difference in future potential for the relationship.  When we empower our children to “choose” their destiny, we aren’t foisting our desires, feelings, and anger on them.  We are drawing a line in the sand  and letting them make the choice on which side they want to land.

So what are the steps we took and what makes it their choice?

  1. Determine what has to change.  This doesn’t mean everything that is going wrong.  What are the non-negotiable behaviors that are negatively impacting the family? 
  2. Make sure the behaviors that need to change are measurable.  You will want to be able to cite instances of both positive and destructive behaviors on a weekly basis, so take good notes.
  3. Determine the date that the teen will need to move out if things don’t change.  Our counselor was insistent that we not stretch things out too long.  The date was set with the intent of allowing our teen time to decide whether they were going to follow our rules, find a place to live if they chose to move out, and to make sure they had a plan in place for adequate financial stability.  In our situation we allowed 2 1/2 months.
  4. Write down the plan before meeting with the teen.  Writing things down help both parents determine specifics and makes sure that both are on the same page.  There needs to be no question about each step along the way and the behaviors that need to change.
  5. Have the conversation.  Remember, once you are here, there is no turning back.  You need to make sure you are strong enough to follow through.  With our teen the conversation went something like this.  “Honey, we love you and we want so much for you to be part of this family.  We’ve had a lot of friction about ____, ____, and ____.  You are making choices that are impacting our family in a negative way and we can no longer live this way.  Your mom/dad and I have decided that you can either change your behavior or choose to move out.  Know that whatever you choose, we will always love you.  Please understand that this is really difficult for us, but in life there will always be rules and people that have authority over you (like a boss).  We hope that you will choose to work on the things we’ve outlined that need to change.  (Read the list you’ve compiled and be willing to talk through specifics.  If they want to negotiate a point, let the teen know that you and mom/dad will talk about it and get back to them). Please know that if you choose to move out you’ll need to find a place to live and figure out how you are going to survive without our financing.  You will be responsible for you.  We will be more than willing to help you find affordable housing or teach you about budgeting or anything else you need to make it happen.  If you choose to move out, ______ is the date.  We would like to sit down with you weekly/every other week, to see where you are at so there is no question as to how we think you are doing regarding the rules we’ll be monitoring.  Again, we do love you and hope you’ll do everything in your power to make this work so that you can continue to live here.”
  6. Continue to stay in relationship.  Be kind, loving, and encouraging when/if you see positive behaviors.  Remember the goal is to build the relationship and not have them move out if they are still a teen.  If you are dealing with an adult child your goal is to pave a way to give them encouragement to leave.
  7. Be sure to check in regularly during this time.  Your goal should be to help them succeed regardless of their decision.  Feedback on their behavior is paramount.  This is where your note taking and measurable goals will be discussed. And if they choose to leave, a goal should be to let them go without hard feelings.
  8. If their behavior changes, celebrate.  If it doesn’t, remind them that their continued behavior means they are choosing to leave.
  9. When the day arrives for those who choose to leave, carry their things down the stairs, tell them you love them, hug them, and fall apart after they walk out the door.

So how did it go for us?

Our child chose to leave.  And it was one of the most difficult things I have ever endured. 

This teen continued to make poor choices; however, we stayed in relationship.  Two days after she moved out she showed up and asked her dad to test drive a new car she was planning to purchase.  He graciously did and even went with her to sign the papers.  We didn’t co-sign the loan, but we were there for her.  Several weeks later I called and offered to take her to lunch–no lecture, just a “how are you doing” conversation letting her know that we respected her decision and still loved her dearly.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve coached several parents through this same process.  It isn’t easy to endure, but I know for me, I was so glad I had an outside perspective as I walked through it.  

My prayer is that regardless of what you are dealing with in your difficult situation, that you will not kick your kid out with anger and hard feelings.  Sometimes we have to let go and let God do His work in our children’s lives.  Our goal is to set the stage for easier forgiveness and restoration.

Isaiah 43:1-2

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

 

“Let go…and Let God”,

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Kids Are Breaking the Rules and You Seem to Have No Authority

My heart breaks for parents who are struggling with their teens.  Most have us have had those fleeting thoughts of “I just wish they would move out”, but we quickly come to our senses.  Sometimes we think that it would be easier if they were gone, but we know deep down that they aren’t ready and we realize that we still have a legal and moral responsibility to our children until our teens reach the age of adulthood.  And  most of the time whatever we are experiencing is just a phase that will dissipate in a matter of time and maturity.

But I too know that sometimes parents get to a place where they feel like they are just biding their time and being held hostage until they can kick their teens out.  These are the tough parenting trenches where it feels like hope is lost and we can’t seem to find our way.  This is when we’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work.  Defiance, wrong choices, broken rules, and an attitude of “you can’t tell me what to do” can bring parents to a breaking point and destroy a family.

I’ve been asked many times how to discern if the time is right to actually pull the trigger and push them out of the nest.

Why?

Because I have been there.

Trust me when I say that making that decision is not trivial.  It needs to be prayerfully considered not based on what we feel but based on what is right for the entire family.  Know that it can have potential to affect your relationship for a lifetime and should be well executed and not done in the heat of a battle.  How our kids perceive our action can have negative consequences that can affect their future in many ways.  It can also have lasting impact on siblings and even ourselves if not handled in a well thought out and respectful way.

For us personally, thankfully, we had the coaching of a wise counselor who walked us through the process when we were at the end of our rope.  We were careful to make the process a choice rather than an action foisted upon our wayward teen.  It took time, thought, and deep introspection on our part as to whether or not we could or should go through with it.  In the end, the execution of the action resulted in a decision with which we could all live–not just my husband and I, but each member of our family.

So what are some questions you and your spouse might want to ask yourselves to see if this is really a path you should even consider heading down?

  1. How old is your child and how long would you have to endure until they are ready to function as an adult on their own?  Our counselor told us that for most kids that would be somewhere between the ages of 18 and 21 based on maturity, whether they could keep a job, and their potential of finding a place to live.
  2. What impact is this teen’s actions having on siblings?  Perhaps there is bullying involved, or sharing of too much information on more mature topics such as sex, drugs, stealing, or other inappropriate character issues.  Is this teen dragging siblings down the wrong path with them?  If so, the future of younger siblings could potentially be in danger.
  3. Are you and your spouse on the same page?  If not, don’t do it. And here’s why.  If the two of you are at odds with an action that involves your teen, then maybe you should be focusing on your marriage.  I know that might seem like a harsh statement; however, taking such a strong stance without your spouse’s buy-in will most likely lead to more marital stress and distrust.  If something goes wrong, it will be natural to blame the other person.
  4. Are there drugs or alcohol involved that are impacting the teens reasoning?  As parents we have the authority to help our kids through counseling and even inpatient programs.  This should be our first step prior to any thought of kicking our kids out.
  5. Have you tried counseling or intervention?  Sometimes an outside perspective can help both your teen and you.  Our counselor refused to see our teen without seeing my husband and I together.  This gave him a more objective view and he was able to open our eyes to things we weren’t seeing.  Some counselors work in pairs.  One counselor works with the teen while another counselor works with the parent and these counselors work in tandem on a weekly basis to move the family forward.
  6. Does the situation and the potential risk of not moving the teen out of your home outweigh the potential consequences and fallout from the action?  In other words, is there more potential for harm to your other kids and you if you don’t take this action?
  7. Can you live with the potential consequences?  Kicking our kids out of the house has emotional baggage for our kids and for us.  Ask yourself:  How would I feel if this child never spoke to me again?  How would I feel if this child was living on the streets?  How would I feel if for some reason this child died?  Could I live with myself if something horrific happened as a result of my action?

I know that this is a heavy subject for most parents, but it seems that the questions are coming up more and more.  If you are wondering what you can possibly do to move your teen forward, feel free to reach out.  I’ve been coaching parents through the process for several years.  And I’m happy to say, that as of today, not one parent has actually had to kick their kid out.

There is hope.

1 Thessalonians 5:21

  But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good

Next week I’ll walk you through a process that will ease your mind if you determine that it is time to change the locks and force your child to grow up.  Until then, know that I’m praying for those that are facing these decisions of heartache.  I’m here if you need me.

“Let go…and Let God”,