Tag Archive for: I want a relationship with my kid

How Do You Stack Up in the Affection Department?

As my kids get older, I’m realizing that I’m not quite as affectionate as I used to be.  After all, they know that I love them–right?

When they were younger, it was easy to give them a kiss on top of their head as I wiped jelly off their face, or hold them in my lap after putting ointment on a skinned knee.  But now that my kids are taller than I am and definitely a little bulkier, holding them as we sit on the floor together is certainly not an option.

As our kids start to become more independent and we’re more worried about getting them to soccer practice or dance lessons on time and making sure they have their homework done, we sometimes forget the simple things in life–and affection can be one of them.  Stress typically keeps us centered on the next task and striking things off the to-do list rather than helping us focus on the relationship.

Did you know that appropriate physical affection can elevate a hormone called oxytocin that causes a calming sensation?  There is also a scientific study that shows that appropriate physical touch helps build trust in a relationship.  After all, we certainly want our kids to trust us.  But there is also evidence that physical connection puts us in a better mood the next day.  And, of course, most of us would prefer that over the sometimes hormone induced negativism.

Our kids need to feel that they are lovable and affection shows we care.

However, affection doesn’t only need to be physical.  Sometimes verbal affection can be just as important as physical touch.  While a soft hand on the shoulder or a ruffling of our teen’s hair denotes endearment, sometimes our kids just want to hear the words.  “I believe in you”, “You can do this”, and “You know that I love you, don’t you?”, if said with sincerity in a moment that brings connection will breed a relationship that withstands the struggles of conflict and disagreement.

Remember that the timing of affection can be everything.

I’m laughing as I’m writing this as I’m reminded of when my son was in grade school and used to have his best friend sleep over on a regular basis. I’d put blankets on the family room floor and say prayers with them as I tucked them in for the night.  And my ritual was the same.  I’d give my son a big hug and a kiss on the cheek and do the same with his buddy.  Every time, the routine was the same and we’d laugh together.

As they moved into the teen years, I remember bringing the blankets downstairs as I usually did; however, this time I didn’t pray with them or tuck them in.  I said something like, “You two are old enough to say your prayers and tuck yourself in.”  To which my son’s friend replied, “But you have to kiss us before we can go to sleep.”

And I did.

I was communicating to both of them that I loved them.  They were used to the affection and wanted to know that even though they were growing up, my love didn’t need to change.

That said, in any other circumstance, giving my teen affection in front of his friends would have embarrassed him beyond belief.  That’s where the timing of affection comes in.  In intimate settings where patterns have been established our teens will appreciate it; otherwise we need to respect them in public settings so that they won’t be the target of ridicule by their friends who don’t have appropriate affection modeled.

So what can you do, if affection hasn’t been a regular staple in your home?  What if it feels awkward and something you aren’t used to?

Start small.

A touch on the hand, a rubbing on the shoulder, or a playful tickle on the neck might be a good place to start.  Find a one-on-one time where you are alone together talking and make a gentle move.  Don’t be surprised if they look at you funny or say something like, “You’ve never done that before.”  

Rather than being embarrassed and backing off, say something like, “I just miss the closeness we used to have when you were little.  You’re growing up on me.  I just know that sometimes I like someone to show me affection.  Know that you can come get a hug from me anytime you like.”  And go on with whatever else you are doing.

I’ve always found that nighttime is a good time for words of affection.  Knocking on the door soon after one of my kids has gone to bed has been a great time to say, “Goodnight, I love you.”  

If you find your kids feeling down or sad, hugs are usually welcomed.  Go slow with a side hug if it hasn’t been something your kid is used to.  My guess is that as the new behavior continues, they’ll seek you out more for their hug.

And if they are those rare kids that don’t like physical touch, try a fist bump or a high-five.  It still says that they are lovable and important to you.

Romans 12:10

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

“Let go…and Let God”,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh No, My Kid is Talking Marriage

A friend of mine was talking a while back about the unbelievable boldness of her son’s girlfriend. “How dare that girl come into our home and act that way,” she verbalized to me. “I have no idea what Nick sees in her anymore. It’s like she has become a totally different person.”

As the conversation continued, the whole story came tumbling out. “Nick has been dating Chelsea for a few years.  They’ve been cute together and I liked her.  Even as they started college I always thought they were going to be the perfect couple. It is like she has always been part of our family. But something seems different about their relationship.  As time goes on and I see them talking about marriage, it is as if she has changed.  She has become someone who wants Nick to always do things her way.”

“Just last week I had all the kids home for the long weekend.  After dinner Tom suggested that everyone help with the dishes so it wouldn’t take so long. Chelsea has always helped me in the kitchen when she was there before. But this time, as I gave everyone a job, I handed her a clean dishcloth to wipe off the table. She looked at me and said, ‘Someone else will have to do that job; I’ve told Nick I’m not going to do dishes any more. When we get married, that’s his job.’ She then handed him the dishcloth and told him to do it while she went in and sat in the family room to look at a Bride’s magazine.”

“Obviously, I was stunned.  I didn’t even know what to say as I watched Nick clean off the table for her.” 

Nicole continued to lament. “I don’t know what she expects, anymore.  The other day she was at the house with Nick and we were sitting in the family room talking about when they thought they would get married. It was as if she had her life all planned out–next year we’ll get married, then I’m going to grad school, then I want to work for several years–at least 10 years–and I might decide to get my doctorate, and then we’ll probably have a baby.”

Laughingly, I interjected, “So if you do all those things, how old will that make you when you have your first baby?”

“What did she say?” I chimed in.

“We did the math together, keep in mind we were all still laughing and enjoying the conversation, and she realized that if she followed her plan, she would be 42.”

“What happened next?” 

“We continued on with our conversation, no big deal, and then the two of them left.”

“So the conversation went well I take it? She realized that her dream most likely wouldn’t become reality?”

“Yeah, I thought so until later that night. Nick came home and was so upset at me. He told me how mad Chelsea was that I had ruined her plans for her life and that I had no right to interfere.”

I see it often.  Girl meets boy.  Boy wants to impress girl.  (Sometimes it is the opposite). They fall in love.  And something happens as they each get older and one begins to steamroll to make sure they get the life they want.  Sometimes our kids are oblivious to the changes and the potentially unfulfilling life they might be choosing.

So what can we do as parents when we see our kids moving toward marriage with the wrong person?

  1. Keep the lines of communication open. 
  2. Rather than complain about the person your son/daughter is dating, ask questions when you and your child are alone.  “I see you and Chelsea are talking about marriage.  How did you come to the decision that she is the one?  What do you envision for your life together?  I was surprised that Chelsea refused to take the dishcloth and help clean the kitchen the other day.  Is something up?”
  3. As you ask questions, listen and don’t comment.  Let your child talk without interruption.  Then ask more questions when there is lull in the conversation.
  4. And if you haven’t already, begin conversations about how your child sees marriage.  You might even talk about what you appreciate in your own spouse especially as it lines up with behaviors you are seeing in your child’s relationship.
  5. Continue the dialogue.  “After our earlier conversation about Chelsea, I have some concerns I’d like to share.  May I do that?  I’m hearing her talk about her life, but how does that intertwine with your life plan?  She is talking about grad school and a doctorate, all of that is going to be expensive.  I’m concerned that Chelsea is only looking at her life and not your lives together… I hope you will both talk about these things before you decide to get married.  But know that I never want you to feel the need to choose between Chelsea and us.  I’ll support you no matter what you choose.”
  6. And pray without ceasing.

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

When that special ‘someone’ enters our children’s lives we naturally want to gravitate to giving advice to our kids.  It is important that they are in the right place to receive it and that means we have to think about our own relationship with our kid.  Whatever we say will most likely get repeated to their significant other.

When in doubt about the communication — think relationship.  

Dare you to respect your 20-somethings enough to cautiously give advice and at the same time recognize that they have to make their own choices.

“Let go…and let God,”

What if I Mess My Kid Up?

As I talk to mothers across the country, I hear it more and more, “I’m afraid I’ll do something to mess my kid up”. 

I want us to take a step back from that statement and think deeply about what that real fear might be.

  1. Do we think that we might say something that will make our child want to leave home and never speak to us again?
  2. Are we afraid that our actions might cause our kids to make choices like drinking, taking drugs, cutting, getting pregnant, or something else?
  3. Do we think that they’ll need to be in therapy when they get older because of something we did?
  4. Are we fearful that if we don’t teach our kid everything they need to know our child might make a mistake and something bad will happen to them?

I’ve heard some women make comments like this and laugh afterwards hoping it comes across as a joke.  I wonder if deep down, under the surface, there is a subtle thought that one false move could turn their fear into a nightmare.   I wonder if holding onto that fear will move them toward abdicating their God given authority and perhaps swing them into the permissive parenting zone in order to not rock the boat with their kids?

Let’s face it.  We all want to be the best mom we can possibly be to our kids and the reality is that we won’t always get it right. 

No, we-won’t-always-get-it-right.

I hope you are breathing a sigh of relief here. 

I hope you are taking a deep breath and letting that reality sink in. 

You can let go of the fear, the anxiousness, and the “did I do that right? questioning”.  We don’t have to always second guess our decisions and wonder if everything will be okay.  The bottom line is that sometimes it won’t be all right.  Sometimes we will cause our child pain or frustration.  That is how they have to learn at times.

We also need to remember that we aren’t God.  If we parent as if we are in control of our kids’ world and their happiness, we’ll most likely mess them up anyway.

If you will, take a step back and think of where God has woven the tapestry of your own life.  Your childhood set you on a path.  You learned some tough things as you grew up.  You learned survival skills, and how to take ownership.  You learned that there will be good times and bad times.  You learned that your parents aren’t perfect and that sometimes Christians don’t always act like Christians.  You learned about relationships, and conflict, and a host of other things.  And sometimes it was painful.  And, yes, sometimes we’ve had to go to counseling for it so that we can better understand our past.

And that is okay.  Life should be a growth process.

The contexts in which you have learned have been in every aspect of your life — as a student, as a daughter, as a sister, as a wife, as an employee, and as a friend.  Through those contexts God has woven our testimony for our good and for His glory.

And He will do the same for our kids if we don’t get in the way.

Can we trust Him?

We don’t have to feel the weight of being the perfect mom.  We just need to be the best we possibly can given the tools we have in the moment.  The best thing we can do is learn who we are in the context of scripture and apply principles from His Word so that we will be what our kid needs in the day to day of life.  

We need to give our tweens and teens the freedom to make choices.  We need to build relationship.  We need to encourage independence.  We need to resolve conflict well.  We need to interact with respect.  We need to apologize when we mess things up.  And we need to be their safety net when they make wrong choices.  

God is weaving our kids’ journey that He wants to use for His glory.  And truth is that we might not like the path He allows them to go down.

The question we need to ask is, “Will we let Him be in control?”  Or, will we take ownership fearing that we will mess them up?

2 Timothy 1:7 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control.

Matthew 6:31-33

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

1 Peter 5:6

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

John 14:27 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Psalm 23:4 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Letting go of fear means that we don’t have to worry or fret any more.  Letting go of fear means we can love more deeply regardless of the choices our kids make.  Letting go of fear is that we can admit that sometimes we will blow it.

Letting go of fear means that we trust God’s promise that He will work all things together for our good.

Dare you to see where fear might be impacting your relationship with your teen.

“Let go…and Let God”,

If you like what you are reading in my blogs, can I ask you for a favor?  Please share it on Facebook.  The more it gets shared the more we can impact families.  And that is my true heart’s desire — that as moms we will learn the Biblical context of respect in all of our relationships and especially with our kids.  We want to not only leave a legacy for this generation but the generations that follow.

For more information on what Greater Impact does as a ministry, check us out at www. greaterimpact.org.

If you’d like our free course, click here.

 

Too Busy for Relationship?

Standing in the kitchen I was focused on fixing dinner when my teen walked through the back door.  Barely looking up, I asked my son how his day went and continued pealing potatoes for the evening meal.  He sat down at the kitchen island and rambled on about all the things that had happened during the day.   With an occasional glance I would give him my half-hearted “really” as he continued his story.  I had other things on my mind–the to-do list of my evening activities.

As soon as he took a breath I interrupted.  “I need you to go get your homework finished.  Your dad and I have a commitment after dinner and I have several things to do before then.”

I could tell he was frustrated with me.  And, yes, I probably should have been more focused on his needs.  But life can’t always revolve around when my teen wants to talk, can it?

The truth was, I blew it.  It wasn’t in the fact that I ended the conversation.  It was in the how I ended the conversation.  

Matter of fact.

No consideration for his feelings.

And a “task” that I felt at the time was more important than listening to him. 

I wasn’t focused on the relationship.

As parents we all make mistakes in how we interact with our kids.  But do we make an attempt to recover from them?  Do we learn from our mistakes and think through how we should handle it next time?

As I lay in bed that night thinking through my day, I realized that I needed to apologize to my son.  I asked for his forgiveness the next day since I made my agenda for the evening more important than what he had to share.  I told him how I blew it and how I wished I could have a do-over.  I shared the specifics of what I wished I had done differently.  We talked through them setting a plan in place for the next time a similar thing occurred.

  1. Look him in the eye.  Teens want to know that we are really listening and eye contact is a mechanism to bonding.  It says they are more important than the task.
  2. Speak your truth.  “I would really like to hear about your day and I only have 10 minutes before I need to get ready for tonight’s activities.  Would it be okay if you share the highlights while I peel the potatoes and we’ll talk after your dad and I get home tonight?  I really want to hear about what is going on in your world.”  This is also where you would give any instructions about the evening.
  3. If he agrees, position yourself with your task so that there is eye contact during the conversation.
  4. When time is up, say something positive.  “I really love that you come and share your day with me.  I just wish I had more time right now.  I’ll look forward to our talk later tonight.”  

Teens have a lot to process about their world and it is important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that they are willing to talk with us.  We want to encourage them to see us as their confidant.  One of the most important things we can do to build the relationship is to be a good listener.

Colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Sometimes just sitting with our kids, listening as they talk about their day, can give us insight and opportunity to influence their decisions if we validate their feelings and show them acceptance and that they are important in our lives.

Dare you to assess whether you make your teens a priority in your life and handle your interactions with them with respect and humility.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Wish you could help Dad be more intentional in your teen’s life?  365+ Ways to Love Your Family:  Practical Tips for Dads of Tweens and Teens is an easy way to quickly help him have a positive way to have influence.  In less than a minute each day, he can put an action in place that will teach your kids the language of respect.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You a Reactive Parent?

Sitting on the deck reading while enjoying the warmth of the early summer sun, I barely noticed the activity at the pool nestled behind the evergreens.  Immersed in my book, I was suddenly blasted with a string of profanity being hurled from the pool area.  In a fit of anger, I watched a dad rant as he paced along the pool deck screaming obscenities while what looked like junior high age kids and younger continued to play in the pool.  As I sat amazed, shell-shocked actually, I noticed it took more than 10 minutes for this grown man to finally calm himself enough to be able to communicate to his kids that it was time to leave.

Talk about an anger issue.

But what about us as parents?  We might not be as explosive as the temperament of this man, but do we react to things our kids do in a way that others might sit up and take notice if they were to witness the outburst?

I’ll be the first to admit that there were phases in our parenting when our home was anything but calm.  Having had four teens under our roof at the same time at times equaled chaos and sometimes my responses as a mom didn’t help the circumstance.  Instead of bringing a gentle and quiet spirit into a conflict I would sometimes escalate the problem simply to be heard.

But what causes these outbursts in us?  And how do we determine the root cause so that we can learn to respond rather than react?

As adults we need to look deep within ourselves in order to put the pieces of what might seem like a puzzle together.  “Oh, I guess I’m just like my mom or dad isn’t a good enough response.”  If we want to be able to have influence with our teens, we need to show them that we have self-control.  After all, isn’t that what we want from them?

Looking at our childhood is a great place to start. 

  1. Did your parents or other close family members react in ways that as you look back were a little over the top?  If so, has it become ingrained so that it seems normal to you?
  2. What are your fears?  Sometimes our fears are rooted to something that we are afraid will happen in the future because we saw it happen to someone else in the past.  For example.  Your brother totaled his car at 16 so you might have a fear of your child driving.
  3. What are your beliefs when it comes to potential issues with your kids?  Dating, drinking, language, sex, clothing, hair, friends, church attendance, and a host of other things make up part of our belief system.  Which ones are you more likely to react over? 

Once you’ve had time to visit your childhood through realistic adult eyes, ask yourself if you can really control these things.

Let’s face it.  All of us want our kids to turn out to become the person we dreamed they would be.  In order to do that we think we need to be in control even though once our kids hit the junior high years, it becomes obvious to most of us that we can’t control the other person.

Learning to let go of our fears and relinquish control to a God who loves us and our children takes effort from us.  We have to learn better ways of bringing calm into the situation rather than reacting to our kids by getting upset and lashing out.

  • Learn to pause and breathe in the heat of the moment.  Deep breathing and counting to 10 brings oxygen to the brain rescuing it from a fight or flight response.  It will actually help you engage your brain better.  If that doesn’t work, let the person know that you need to break from the conversation to give yourself time to get your emotions under control.
  • Ask yourself what you are afraid of and what you are trying to control.  Reactions are about you and not the other person.  What are you feeling?  Why does this make you feel like you are not in control?
  • Look at the situation from your child’s perspective.  Sometimes we need to look beyond the NOW we are in.  What else is at play with our child’s reactions?  Is there a big test coming up?  Did he get in a fight with a friend?  Many times the conflict we find ourselves in with our child has very little to do with the current situation.
  • If you are feeling the pressure of an immediate response, say “Let me think about it”.  Putting boundaries in place so that your teens know that you will not give them a response at a moments notice will allow you time to exercise this option most of the time.
  • Learn to think positively.  Many of us typically think of the worst outcome when, in fact, most situations have several alternatives.  By learning to look at potential options rather than focusing on the worst scenario, we will be able to change our outlook to the positive.

Just last week I was sitting in the family room holding our new grandson while my husband and son were in a conversation in the kitchen that was starting to escalate.  I’m sure I was probably more aware of the increased intensity of their conversation because of the baby’s startled reaction.  Knowing what to look for, it became obvious to me what my husband feared most in the moment.  I gently reminded both of them several times that the situation was escalating.  By doing so, I noticed that my husband was finally able to verbalize his fear to my son in a way that my son understood.  My son then reassured his dad that his fear would not materialize.  With that the problem was resolved.

Being aware of our reaction is the first step to self-control.  Being able to identify the fear can help bring resolution to an escalating discussion. 

1 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Dare you to look at your own reactions as you parent your tweens and teens.  What steps do you need to take be be the calm parent instead of the reactive parent?

“Let go…and Let God”,

Want to learn more skills as you try to become a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit in your own home?  Gaining control over our own emotional responses can change the tide in how our children react to us.  That’s why we’ve designed a women’s retreat to teach moms how to deflate defensiveness with their kids.  The next one is near Cincinnati, Ohio May 30-June 3, 2018.  Not only will you meet other moms who want great relationships with their kids, but you’ll enjoy the bonds of sisterhood in a way that will encourage you as you parent.  You’ll leave with resources and friendships that will be there to carry you through on those difficult days of being a mom.  

Price includes 4 nights stay in a private room and 10 meals in a retreat setting in addition to a world-class training like you’ve never experienced.  Most women come back year after year after they see the change it makes in them and all of their relationships.