Tag Archive for: I’m a failure as a parent

Questioning What is True?

Have you ever been in a situation with one of your kids where you questioned what is true?  I’m actually in that situation like that right now and I’ll admit it’s a struggle.  I spin daily trying to see the situation from every angle, trying to understand what could have really happened to get us here, and the butterflies in my stomach and feelings of disbelief keep me from accomplishing little except replaying circumstances in my head.  My daily to-do list is slow to materialize and, thankfully, my husband is willing to pick up the slack.

If you are like me, you hurt deeply when there is something you can’t fix with your child.  You can’t change a thing, the damage is done, and all you can do is accept that it-is-what-it-is.

I meditate on scripture knowing that God is somewhere in the circumstance; yet, I question why he would allow this to happen.  I find myself constantly on the brink of tears yet holding them back so I can be strong.

I know in the past I would have questioned what I did wrong as a parent, but I learned years ago that God allows what He allows and my job sometimes is to just learn to walk through it without fear.

Easier said than done.

We think we know our kids by the time they reach their teen years and suddenly we are thrust into circumstances where we question if we really do know them.  They break our heart, do something stupid, make a choice that is against our value system, and even make a decision that we think is against anything we think they are capable of doing.

And then others, usually adults, interject their version of the circumstances and it has us questioning all over again.

What really happened?  What is true?  And how can I  be the adult in the room when I can hardly think?  How can I best put calm to the situation when I’m not even calm?

So what do you do when your world seems tilted sideways and you have no idea what the truth really is in a situation?

  1. Breathe.  Deep breaths bring oxygen to the brain which quiets the mind.  It brings about a state of calmness.
  2. Journal.  What are your fears?  What is keeping you from having peace in the situation?  Take inventory of what is going on within you and put words to your feelings.  Allow yourself to grieve the situation if needed.
  3. Pray and Listen.  Asking for wisdom and discernment in a situation allows the Holy Spirit to speak to you.   Ask Him if there is someone with whom you can share your burden.
  4. Get perspective. Share with a few trusted friends, counselor, or coach.  Others can sometimes see something in the situation that you can’t see because you’re too emotionally attached.  It will at least give you different views and help take bring a clarity that you might not have seen.

God showed up in my personal dilemma yesterday with a phone call.  A person I have never met wanted me to make a decision on a situation real-time in the moment.  I couldn’t do it.  And suddenly with the perspective they shared, I knew what God was calling me to do.

I love it when God does that.

This morning I shared bits and pieces with three trusted friends seeking input.  They all said the same thing confirming my decision.  They put words to their view of the situation that I hadn’t yet discerned.  Now I have clarity to act.  And I have more peace.

I’m so glad God gives us connection with others to help us on the journey when we can’t fully see.

A dear friend sent me some scriptures recently that I’ve been meditating on as I’ve been in this fog-brained state of consciousness filled with disbelief.  If you are in the place where I am, I hope they will renew your strength as you persevere.

Psalm 42:5

Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your HOPE in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Isaiah 40:31

But those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, HOPE.  And HOPE does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

I’m so grateful for those who have been praying for me and our family.  Your texts of encouragement and scriptures have been a God-send when I find myself in the pit.  Please know that I read them over and over.  My journal is filled with the scriptures you’ve sent me and I feel blessed to call you friend.

If you too are having difficulty discerning what is true and could use prayer or a shoulder to dump your bucket on so that you can get perspective, just respond in the comments and I’ll be sure to pray or get in contact.

Thank you for joining me on the journey.

“Let go…and Let God”,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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”,

 

 

 

Got Mom Guilt?

Just the other day a couple of us were laughing and shaking our heads “yes” as a mom shared that she was having detailed dreams of things that had happened with her kids for which she felt guilty.  She shared how she texted her college-age student one evening when she thought of something she had done–and apologized.

I love that she did that.

After all, hurts can take up residence in the heart of the person we’ve wronged and stay there a lifetime.  Apology can be a great way to ease the burden for the other person and for us.

As most of us have experienced, Mom guilt is a thing.  We’ve all gone down that path a few times when we’ve said or done something to our kids that we regret.  Or maybe it is something we wish we could do for our kid but we can’t.

Several years ago I heard a mom jokingly tell her kids, “In addition to saving up for college for you, maybe we need to start putting money away for the counseling you will need as adults with all the mistakes we’ve made in our parenting.”

I thought is was a great line and so true.

Humor aside, as moms we all know that we’ve made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes in our parenting. But do we need to feel the heavy guilt for what we’ve done?

As our small group of women continued to talk about mom guilt, a very wise woman said it best.  “I don’t feel guilty.  I just feel sad and have regrets.”

Think about that for a minute.  What’s the difference?  Guilt versus sadness and regret.

As I tried to wrap my brain around her comment, the wisdom of what this woman was saying spoke volumes.

Guilt implies that you knew what you were doing at the time was wrong.

Read that last sentence again.  Guilt implies that you knew what you were doing at the time was wrong.

There are times when we don’t know what we don’t know, so we can’t be guilty.  To me that is freeing.

In my own life I’ve learned to look at things through a lens of not being responsible for everything that happens with my kids.  Let me explain.  None of us are God.  We can’t know everything.  There are things we will be blind to until God opens our eyes–typically through a painful event that leads to wisdom.

Our kids didn’t come with an instruction manual.  We learn parenting by trial and error and we will make mistakes.  But most times we don’t know our parenting decisions are mistakes until we see the outcome that proves we should have taken a different approach.  That’s when God peals the blinders from our eyes.  That is where we gain wisdom.

So what can we do to get rid of the guilty feeling that the reason our kids are doing bad things, making poor choices, or are struggling is because we weren’t a good enough parent?  How do we deal with the judgment we are heaping on ourselves making us believe the lie that we are terrible parents?

  1. Take the guilty feelings and leave them at the foot of the cross.  Ask God to help you see truth in that moment.  Did you have the knowledge and wisdom that you do now?  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1.
  2. Learn to accept that we aren’t perfect nor will we ever be this side of eternity.  We can only parent with the knowledge and wisdom we have at the time.
  3. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made.  Let God’s mercy wash those feelings away and ask Him to right your wrongs in your kids’ lives.  With God all things are possible.  Matthew 19:26.
  4. Apologize to your child for the things that come to mind.  Even if it happened a decade ago, letting your child know that you are sorry for what you did at the time lets them know you are human and models accepting responsibility for our own mistakes.
  5. If your teen brings something up, apologize, empathize, and if they are ready to listen, share why you made the decision you made.  Be sure to give them a hug and let them know they are loved.
  6. When guilt rears its ugly head again, and it will, have scriptures available to keep you from the pit.  After all, whatever you have done, whatever guilt or shame you feel, He allowed it to happen.  He works all things together for our good. Romans 8:28.

Pray with me.

Dear Heavenly Father,

“Oh how I feel guilty for things that I have done or should have done with my child.  I know that I did the best that I could with what I knew in the moment.  You created ___________ as a separate human being who has free will.  And that’s kind of hard for me to fathom.  At times our lives are so intertwined that I wish I could help them see what’s best for them.  I’m sad for their choices; however, I know that I cannot own the decisions they’ve made.  I am not God.  Lord, You are weaving a tapestry that I will not fully comprehend this side of heaven.  Please help me to pray without ceasing and let You be God in this situation.  My child is yours, Lord.  You’ve only given him to me on loan.  Help me to do the best I can in each and every moment so that You will receive the glory and honor.

In the precious name of Jesus.  Amen.

Knowing that we’ll never be perfect this side of heaven… 

“Let go…and Let God”,

Would you like to learn more about letting go of the guilt we put on ourselves as moms?  Would you like to deepen your relationship with God and your kids?  With All Due Respect isn’t just a book.  It’s deep thinking curriculum that will help you look at yourself as you parent.  It will give you insight as seen through the lens of moms who are farther ahead in the parenting arena.  Why not pick up your copy now or better yet, do it in a small group?

Don’t have a small group?  You can join our eCourse with women across the country that are learning how to connect on a deeper level.  There you will find support from your eCourse mentors as well as myself.  Hope to see you there.