Entries from August 1, 2008 - September 1, 2008
Puzzle answer: The paragraph doesn't contain the most popular letter of the alphabet, the letter E.
It would be so much easier to write a post if my family was problematic, neurotic or weird. We are a little weird in that, of the seven of us who are married, we are all married to our original husbands or wives. Given that 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce, that makes us nicely, statistically weird.
It sounds braggy to say that my sister-in-law (the one and only, how brave do you have to be to marry into a family of a bunch of sisters) is gracious. She and my brother were leaving the next day on an extended vacation with their young children. Even though any vacation with young children involves planning and preparation that rivals China’s Olympic preparations, they had us over for dinner in their home the night before they left. Another sister thought to bring the meal. Honestly, I like these people but think how much I would have to write about if they weren’t so nice.
My daughter and I went to the Bronx Zoo with my sister and her children, and on another adventure we had to hike up and over a mountain. I prefer to be a slug on vacation but my sister endured my moderate complaining without complaint. Again, nothing to write about and my daughter and I had a grand time. If you live by the Bronx Zoo and don’t mind crazy traffic (or have a family member that doesn’t mind the drive), that is an interesting place to spend the day. Even though the day was warm, the Zoo is well shaded. The exhibits are impressive.
I saw all my siblings - some even driving from out of state so we could be together. Yet again, why does writing about family being thoughtful sound like bragging, but families being thoughtless make for dramatic writing?
We went on a yarn crawl, to NYC for the day (another hike, different from the mountains but enjoyable all the same), took a taxi to the train station (even that was not a life threatening experience), and attended two family parties. Since I live out of state and often miss family parties, hitting two in one trip was a treat. These parties were only about a week apart, so it was mostly the same family members at each party. Would you enjoy two family parties a week apart? Evidently, my family doesn’t understand the need for drama to make a blog interesting. A good time was had by all and I have nothing to write about. I am going to have to start making things up!
The young cousins are all doing well. Some are involved in learning to crawl, some in preschool, others in sports, acting, video games and with friends. They were thoughtful and kind to my daughter and me. They are not rude to their parents. They even talked with me so I can’t expound on what the younger generation is coming to. The teens and twentysomethings are more interesting to write about, but those are their stories not mine, drat!
My daughter and I had a wonderful time. She told me at the airport she wasn’t quite ready to go home. I really like my family….I just wish they could be more helpful in providing me with something interesting to post about.
Sometimes I just can't believe my eyes. I think I am adjusting.Yes, yes, I know there are things I have to adjust to as I get older. But my brain is imploding and I just can't think anymore.
(Actually I have too much to think about and still no time to write new postings after getting back from vacation, so I am going with this.)
The human mind can only absorb so much before it shuts down. I was grocery shopping today, this very morning and I kid you not....I still am in shock...I saw ...I saw a display for Halloween candy!
I am used to the annual Christmas space/time distortion that starts mid October. You can get a Santa Suit and your Halloween costume all at once. Saves a ton of time.
Even Easter items coming out in February. That makes sense also. Who can keep track of when Easter will be year to year. (Who decides that anyway? Hallmark?)
But this my overfull, looking for a reason not to write a coherent posting mind can not absorb. To all retailers out there: I will not be buying any Halloween candy before October! It is time for a consumer revolt. Will you join me?
Unless of course the candy is on sale for a really good price. Then we can talk.
Especially difficult for parents of faith is our young adult children making moral/religious choices different from the faith we brought them up in. Our anger and judgment as their parents isn’t going to help. We tend to put the blame for our adult child’s decisions on others. They (who ever they may be) are a bad influence. Nevertheless, the ubiquitous “they” would not influence your adult child if the child’s heart were not leaning that way already. If getting to church on Sunday were important, she would get there. Nagging, anger and judgment will not chance her heart. If marrying inside the faith were a priority, he wouldn’t be dating women outside the faith. It is not his fiancée’s fault she isn’t of the same faith. Being mad at her for leading your child away from the faith is nonsensical. Demanding she change is unfair.
Sometimes there are no easy solutions. Speaking as Christian parents, we have taught our children the Bible is the final authority on the nature of who God is. Morality, what is right or wrong, is based on the revelation God’s character to the world through the Scriptures. As adults if they chose to reject this or see different application of the Truth (we disagree on entertainment issues and smoking) that is a heart issue and the One who can change the human heart is not us.
These battles are best fought first and foremost by prayer, prayer for the heart of your child and wisdom for you as to when to step in and when to stay out of the way, when give way and when to stand fast in grace. Ruth Graham wrote a now out of print book (which means you can get it used for cheap) called Prodigals and Those Who Love Them.
She had experience with wayward children. What impressed me is reading her children’s accounts (written in other books) of how she and her husband treated them during their difficult years. Ruth and Billy were kind, patient but firm on the truth of the Scriptures. I nail the firm on the Scriptures part but I all too often behave as if my anger and judgment is what will bring my struggling children to either maturity or repentance.
There is always hope for parents struggling with difficult children. That hope exists not because of some wonderful parenting technique out there somewhere for us to hunt down like some magic formula to change the heart of our child. Nor does it reside in time and life experience brings our child to maturity. That often happens but that is not where hope is found for a hurting confused parent.
Hope is not a feeling, a mind set or a matter of temperament. Hope in the Biblical sense is a person.
13 May the God of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ro 15
This is the promise He offers hurting parents. He promises not to fix your kid as you define fix….He promises something better….Himself.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4
Does this mean we stand by while our children get into more trouble or farther from the faith, we raised them in? No.
This means that we can chose to put aside anger and judgment as the means of changing our child’s behavior. We can act or not as the Holy Spirit leads. We, like our kids have the option to live out the truth of the Scriptures or not.
God’s promises His peace in the conflict. We want so much for our kid to live out the faith we taught them because they also at one time accepted Jesus as their Lord. As parents struggling to raise difficult teens and young adult’s, we have to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to rejoice, to pray, to give thanks, to receive His peace in the heat of the on going problem? Where does my heart turn, to anger and judgment or to Truth?”
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Your child is now in his teens or early twenties. You have poured prayer, time, and effort into that child. I remember talking with a good friend about the struggles we were having with our oldest son. Bless her heart; she started to say,” If parents would just ….” Then she looked at me, realized who she was talking to and continued” But you did all that”. Yeah we did, not perfectly or always well, but yes, we, my husband and I, take parenting our children very seriously, still here, we were, struggling. Some things we have learned:
For some difficulties, time and reality are the best teachers. Our oldest failed out of a very good, excellent if you will college, reading dead European writers and being active in Campus Life. He blew an amazing opportunity. Looking back, we can see how our “helping him apply for college” did not really help. That situation could have gone either way. Understanding his character better now, we would not be so “helpful” and would let him flounder earlier. Because flounder he did. Three years later, he is a poor but humble youth pastor intern and he is going back to college this coming winter semester. What was a huge struggle resolved itself over time. If only we had a crystal ball, as parents we would not have worried, plan or plotted how to save this child from himself.
Again sometimes the difficulty lies in the parents desire to help a child. Help the child cannot or will not accept. Our second son is a less than diligent student. He is a rising 11th grader and past behavior is an indication of future performance, he will be an A, two B’s and a C student. His grades are not going to get him into the college of his choice. My husband is adamant we don’t micro manage this child and let him experience the consequences of his lack of diligence. This difficulty will resolve itself over time. I will grow gray but he will grow up.
For some difficulties, there are no easy answers and the long-term consequences of a child’s behavior can drain a family perhaps destroying a marriage. For parents struggling to finish raising a child involved with drugs or other criminal behavior, there is an excellent out of print book called “Before It Is Too Late” by Stanton Samenow.
I can say this: Be careful to protect your marriage. Do what you need to do to protect your other children. Be prepared for your child to blame you for any and all that they have done wrong. I have watched too many good parents be crushed under the guilt of their own mistakes, being used by their wayward kids, to justify their wayward actions. Acknowledge fault where you are at fault, make amends as needed but understand if you have taught your child to be a person of character, they are responsible for their own foolish and/or criminal behavior.
What I have observed is that truly bad kids are rare. Truly difficult kids are more common than we parents would like to think.
Moreover, I have seen that for the parent struggling to finish raising difficult teens….there is always hope.
Were you a difficult teen? How did your parents finish raising you?