Tag Archive for: The Respect Dare

Who’s Controlling Your Family?

Young woman in red dress and man with a glass of wine talking in the cafe or restaurant

Coming home from a 6:00 am men’s group at our church, my husband put his book on the kitchen counter. “Wow! This morning really made me think about how I grew up and the impact moms have on their kid’s lives. They played a video of a Mom’s letter to her son and I felt like they were reading a letter your mother might have written you.”

He certainly had my attention.

Drying my hands on the dishtowel, I knew I wanted to hear more. For my husband to come home that excited about something was an anomaly. He was obviously having an A-ha moment of better understanding our family tree. After 34 years of marriage, four children, and over two decades of parenting blunders, he was beginning to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

“The letter was unbelievable!” he continued. “The mom was obviously pulling out her arsenal of threats to get what she wanted.


“In the process, she was destroying the relationship with her son and his family. I felt like I was watching a video of our own lives being played out after we got married,” he continued.

Oh my.

As my husband kept sharing the story from class, we began taking stock of our children and our relationships with each of them. We transitioned to talking about what a healthy separation process looked like.

Oh, no!

Daggers to a mother’s heart.

Is there really such a thing as healthy separation?

Many of us grew up with mothers from whom we have never successfully separated. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that having a relationship with your mom or dad is a bad thing. It can be awesome.

But can it be unhealthy?

If you have to choose between Mom and Dad’s advice or your spouse’s desires, do your parents win? Does your family of origin trump your own family’s needs?

Hmm–something to ponder.

As parents we have to figure out how to relinquish control of our kids in a healthy way that will allow them to be men and women of strength and character.

Pausing long enough to take inventory, I was reminded of all the unhealthy things I had done in years previously to convince my family that we needed to honor my parents’ requests.  Or maybe better phrased—demands.

How many times had I felt caught in the middle between my mother and my husband in decisions we made for our kids?  Or my mother and my kids?

And, I’ll admit, sometimes my mom won and my husband lost or grandma won and my kids lost.

Heaven forbid that I disappoint my mother.

Sad, but true.


Several years prior to this conversation with my husband, I had taken a marriage class called Daughters of Sarah. In light of our dialogue, I was now looking at a couple of scriptures from the course in a different light.

Ephesians 5:33b

…And the wife must respect her husband.


Matthew 19:5-6

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

I wonder if God was potentially thinking about how my mom, dad, or in-laws might get in the way of my husband and me being united in our parenting decisions?

One of my sons had recently married at the time of this conversation with my husband.  I remember well my quiet time that day.

“Lord, please help me not get in the way of my son’s marriage.” I cried out. “Help me to be an encourager–a cheerleader for them to make decisions together without my interference. Help me to allow them to spread their wings—to have their own family that doesn’t feel like I’m a mom butting in to their business.”

“And, please Lord, with the children that are still at home in my care, help me to make decisions on what I think best rather than taking the advice of others.  Help me to put my husband’s suggestions in a higher place of consideration over my mother’s.”

I have started taking that prayer seriously. When my mother starts to chime in about something my kids are doing–my response?

“Mom, I love you dearly, but this is a decision for our immediate family. Be the grandmother and watch from a distance; that’s your role now.”

And if you have married children?

Why not write the couple a letter or note?

  • Tell them how proud you are of both of them.
  • Assure them you will never take sides in their arguments.
  • Explain all you are learning in the parenting process.
  • Let them know that you view both of them as your children.
  • Assure them that you accept their creation of a new family unit–independent from you.
  • Promise that your goal is to make sure that your actions do nothing to come between them.

As parents, we can influence both generations if we are willing to take healthy steps to ensure that each of us is playing our God-ordained role.

DARE YOU to take stock of your relationships with your parents to determine if they are having a healthy impact on your tweens and teens.

DOUBLE DARE YOU to have conversation with your spouse and decide how to let your twenty-somethings go in a healthy way.

Still Learning to do the tough stuff!

“Let go…and let God”,


In 12 days, you too can start having a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens.  Click here to find out more.

Do You Believe the Lie?


Several years ago I was cornered as we walked into church on Sunday morning.  I watched another mom reach out to my junior high son just steps ahead of me. “Not so fast,” she said loud enough for me to hear.”We need to talk with your mom.” Not even allowing him to speak, she ushered my 13 year old son over to me. I watched as he sheepishly bowed his head in silence knowing what was coming next.

“You would not believe what your son did yesterday!” she hissed. “Do you know the kind of things that your son is doing and bragging about it?  I heard what he did to your poor cat!  Not only that, but he is laughing about it with his friends.  You need to know that what he is doing is absolutely sick! I heard all about it when he was in my car yesterday. Did you know he stuck…”

And the rant continued.

Luckily, this was not my first time encountering one-of-those moms. In the past, I had handled these situations all wrong, frustrated that my child had embarrassed me in front of another adult; horrified that my child had been caught doing something wrong.  In the past, I would have questioned my child in front of the other adult and made sure that he had offered up an adequate apology.

Not this time.

This time I was more concerned about my relationship with my son rather than whether or not I looked like a “good” mom who had her kid under control.

I had finally unraveled the truth from the lie.

TRUTH:  What my child does is not necessarily a reflection of me.

LIE:  If my child does something bad/wrong, there must be something wrong with my parenting.

How many times do we react to something that another adult tells us about our child because we believe the lie.  Do we continue the judgment without giving our child an opportunity to share his side of the story?  Do we sometimes assume that the other adult is right–after all they’re an adult?  But can their perspective be skewed based on their kid’s personality or their family’s determination of acceptable behavior?

“Lord, help me to take a deep breath and walk humbly with you in this situation.” I muttered under my breath as I faced that mom.

This time I was more prepared to salvage the relationship with my son rather than prove anything.  I also wanted this mom to not be offended by my reaction.

“Jane, thanks for taking the kids to the youth event yesterday.  I know that junior high boys can be difficult at times.  Thanks too for being concerned for my son.  He and I will be talking about it.”

The end.

No blubbering about how difficult it is to deal with junior-high boys.

No over-the-top apology.

No embarrassment that my son was now on her radar and I might be considered one of those parents.

No chastisement of my son in front of her.

No questioning his side of the story.

Just, the end.

Quickly, I swept my son out of the woman’s sight with arms around his back.  When we were out of sight I laughingly asked him, “Are you alright?”

With a sheepish nod, he replied, “Mom, it wasn’t like that at all!

“It’s okay, son, we’ll work through it. I know you well enough that there has to be another side to this story. We’ll talk about it after lunch this afternoon. Don’t worry about it. Just go enjoy Sunday school with your friends.”

He gave me a slight smile as I winked at him, assuring him that we’d get through the ordeal with that mom.

Thankfully, I had learned through scripture and experience that my son deserved a fair trial.

Micah 6:8b

…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 

As I suspected, that mom’s version was far from what I thought my son was capable of conjuring up on his own.

“Son, so tell me what happened yesterday when you were in the car.”

As my son rattled off the events of the previous day, the light bulb began to illuminate. Oh my, these weren’t his stories–these were stories his dad had told him about pranks he remembered being played during his college days 25 years ago!

I wasn’t sure if I was more upset that my husband had actually shared those stories with our kids or horrified to think that my son might have actually considered doing something similar on his own.

“Son, did you ever do that to our cat?” I ventured.

“Mom, you know how it is with us guys. We sometimes do stupid stuff, and I will admit that one time I stuck her in the old microwave out in the garage. But it wasn’t plugged in! We intended to get her out right away, but you remember, the door got stuck and Dad had to take it apart to get the cat out. I felt horrible! I would never intentionally hurt Duchess!”

“It was the same way, yesterday,” he continued. “Mark, James, and I laughed retelling the story of Duchess, and one thing led to another, and James told us what his dad had done to the dog when it died, and the stories just kept getting more and more exaggerated. Mrs. Gibson thought they were all true and started yelling at us before we had a chance to explain.”

“So she doesn’t know the truth?” I asked, trying to hide the laughter that was welling up inside me.

“I guess not.”

As we put together a plan for him to redeem himself with Mrs. Gibson, I thanked God that I had kept my cool with my son after her reprimand. My husband and I would have a good laugh about this one tonight behind closed doors.

Boys at this age can get themselves in the strangest predicaments!

Remember, our kid’s behavior is not always about us. When we are confronted by our child’s misbehavior our first inclination might be to “prove” that we are good parents by giving other parents what they want.  However, parenting is about helping our children know that we will always believe in their innocence until they are proven guilty. If we listen to both sides, before passing judgment, we have a better chance of building relationship even through the trials of the tween and teen years.

Dare you to ask questions next time a situation appears to incriminate your child, holding your tongue until all sides have spoken.  Be sure to find the humor in the situation as well.

“Let go…and let God”,


2 Things to Consider in Trying to Resolve Conflict

happysad moments

Let’s face it, there are always times when we will struggle with our relationship with our tweens and teens.  Attitudes of defiance or simply overlooking our simple requests can drive us up a wall. Read more

Open Letter to the Parents of Brock Turner

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.” ― Anne Frank (1)

Brock Turner, Stanford University’s scholarship swimmer who had dreams of competing in the US Olympics and becoming an orthopedic surgeon, now has three convictions for sexual assault.  At the age of 20, he is listed as a sex offender.  His swimming career will come to an end as he has been banned from USA swimming and will not be allowed to compete in the US Olympic Trials as a result.  Most likely he’ll never become the doctor he wants to be.  His actions have banned him from Stanford’s campus.

Since I write about parenting, I hope that you’ll go on a short journey with me.  Imagine that this is your son.  What would you do?  How would you respond?  Keep in mind, this is a 20 year old. Read more

How Often Do You Crash and Burn?

Image of a frustrated or tired young brunette rubbing temples

“Oh, my” I thought.  “I should have seen this coming!”

Ready to sit down at the dinner table, I thought I could stuff the frustration and emotion I was feeling.  The now I was in was difficult to endure, but I knew that if I just kept smiling, I’d get through it.  After all, that’s what Moms do. Read more

Parenting with a Team Mentality

team Hitchcock

Sitting at the table dressed in formal attire taking in all the sights, sounds, and feelings of our son’s wedding reception, I heard my husband’s words to our new daughter-in-law as he proposed a toast.  “Lori, welcome to team Hitchcock!” Read more