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Posts tagged ‘healthy relationships’

Is Self-Care Selfish?

SOURCE:  Taken from the Prepare-Enrich Newsletter

Spoiler Alert:  It’s Not!

Self-care is taking time to care for yourself in whatever what makes sense for you. We often overlook self-care by thinking that it’s something only selfish people do and isn’t that important. However, the more I intentionally practice self-care, the more I see the positive impact on my relationship and I know it’s not a selfish act. Most importantly, I’ve found it allows me to be more present in my relationships because I took the time to make myself feel whole.

The problem with the idea of your partner being your “other half” is that you are unable to invest any part of yourself into your relationship if you aren’t whole. By reframing my thoughts around self-care, how loving and appreciating myself can create a stronger connection in my relationship, I have been able to overcome the negative stigma of “selfish self-care.” It’s important for me to take care for myself for mine and my partner’s sake.

Why Does Self-Care Matter

  • Increases your emotional/mental well-being
  • Allots time for you to take care of your physical self
  • Gives you the energy to care for others
  • Feeling positive about yourself gives you a better outlook on your relationship and life in general

How to Practice Self-Care

Simply take time to do something you enjoy, something that feeds your soul and inspires you. Here are some ideas:

  • Journal – write down your daily thoughts in the morning or at night
  • Volunteer – give back to others using your talents
  • Cook – develop a new recipe, make your favorite dinner
  • Be creative – draw, write, rearrange your living room
  • Pamper yourself – get your hair cut, take a long shower, get a massage
  • Spend time with family – look at old family photos, play a game
  • Go outside – take a walk, jog, or go for a run
  • Be active – go to the gym, practice yoga
  • Eat what you want – drink water, eat your veggies, and eat your cake too (in moderation)
  • Sleep – go to bed early, allow yourself to sleep in, take a nap

The 9 Unwritten Rules of Grandparenting

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Kristen Sturt/Grandparents.com

Abide by these handy guidelines, and your grandparenting experience will always be a breeze.

Rule #1: You’re responsible for staying in touch.

Whether they’re halfway through college or just starting kindergarten, one of the biggest complaints we hear about grandchildren is that they just don’t reach out. It’s a kid thing, not necessarily exclusive to the current generation. Either way, the onus is on you to stay in touch.

“The ticket to keeping ties with your grandchild strong is maintaining open lines of communication,” says writer Jodi M. Webb. To do that, you need to reach out to kids in ways they’ll respond to. Learn to text! Communicate on social media! Make the occasional phone call! Ask about their interests, and try to keep things light and loving.

Rule #2: The favorite grandparent is the one who is the most fun.

They might not admit it to your face, but secretly, grandkids have a favorite grandparent. (Admit it: You did, too.) The favorites are willing to try new things, suggest kid-friendly activities, and go with the flow. They’re the ones who laugh freely and hug closely, who—cliché as it is—have the most cookies on-hand.

Rule #3: Offended? You gotta move on.

At some point, when it comes to your grandkids, you’re gonna feel left out, guilty, confused, frustrated, or worse. Your son and DIL might not invite you for Thanksgiving. Your grandson might disrespect you. Your granddaughter might forget your birthday! (Oy. That kid.) In these inevitable instances, you can air your feelings and even expect an apology. But unless it’s something irreversibly hurtful, you can’t harp. Grudges damage relationships. Forgiveness and communication strengthens them. Go high and be the bigger person.

Rule #4: Pitch in up front.

Grandbabies are a blessing, not to mention a ton of work, and new parents may need help during those first hectic months. (You did, right?) If your kids are amenable, lend a hand any way you can:cleaning, cooking, babysitting, etc. It’s a great way to get off on the right foot with your family, and—bonus!—you’re sure to get quality time with your new favorite infant.

Rule #5: Share the grandkids with others.

When a grandchild is born, you want that baby all to yourself, and probably always will. But there are other grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more to think about. Sharing can be hard. Head off problems by planning ahead and keeping lines of communication open. Try creating ground rules when appropriate (take turns visiting, switch holidays yearly, etc.), and be welcoming, flexible, and understanding. Oh, and wine helps, too.

Rule #6: Bite your tongue.

Disagree with your grandson’s sleep schedule? Think your daughter is too strict with sweets? Unless you’re asked directly or believe your grandbaby is in danger, keep your child-rearing opinions to yourself. Too often, a grandparent’s unsolicited advice comes off as veiled criticism, which can breed resentment and drive a wedge between family members. If you need to vent, your partner, friends, and coworkers are ready and waiting.

Rule #7: Act like your grandchildren are always watching (because they are).

“Saying we want good behavior from children can be vague for them, especially when they are young,” says children’s advocate Kathy Motlagh. In other words, if you want well-behaved grandkids with good values, talking isn’t enough; you have to practice what you preach. Model kindness and respect through your everyday actions. Resist impulses driven by anger and fear. Be the good in the world, and those babies will follow your example.

Rule #8: Get the gear.

To paraphrase a famed author, it is a truth universally acknowledged that grandparents in possession of good fortune must spend a little on stuff for visiting grandchildren. When the grandkids are young, a few books, toys, diapers, activities, bottles, and dishes are simple enough to acquire and store, and ensure parents don’t have to haul extra belongings. If overnight stays are in your future, you might consider a highchair, small stroller, or even a crib. Space and income will play a factor in your equipment list, but really, any effort will be appreciated.

Rule #9: There are no rules.

Grandparenting changes from generation to generation; you’re different from your grandparents, and your grandchildren will differ greatly from their own grandchildren. And while experience and history offer some guidance, all we can ultimately do is confront the challenges in front of us at any given time. Heed good advice, do your best, and love and enjoy your grandkids. It’s all anyone can ask for.

Adult Children: The Main Problem is US !

SOURCE:  Excerpted from a book by Allison Bottke

Assuming Responsibility for Our Choices

Although it’s high time many of our adult children begin to accept the consequences of their choices, the plain truth is that we must first accept the responsibility for our choices—past choices, present choices, and future choices.

Our biggest problem isn’t our adult children’s inability to wake up when their alarm clocks ring, or their inability to keep a schedule, or their inability to hold down jobs or pay their bills. It’s not their drug use or alcohol addictions. It’s not the mess they’re making of their lives. The main problem is the part we’re playing in stepping in to soften the blow of the consequences that come from the choices they make.

The main problem is us.

Ouch.

It’s also the excuses we make to ourselves (and others) for our enabling. Excuses like these:

  • “It’s just so hard for kids today.”
  • “If I don’t help, who will?”
  • “But I’m only trying to help.”
  • “No one understands my Larry [or Sally].”
  • “He [or she] just needs to find the right treatment program.”

Excuses like these keep us in pain—and further from any real resolution for our children or us. What must stop are the ongoing (and often useless) discussions we continue to have with our adult children, who clearly know how to push our buttons, how to control us and thus control the outcome, be it consciously or subconsciously.

The excuses must end.

And as difficult as it may be to hear, we may be somewhat responsible for whatever part we’ve played—large or small—in the dysfunctions of our adult children. For some of us, the responsibility may be large. We have surely played a part—perhaps unwittingly—in raising disrespectful, irresponsible, ungrateful, selfish, self-centered, egotistical, and debilitatingly lazy adult children. We have played some part in raising excuse-ridden sluggards—“The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (Proverbs 13:4).

Does this sound harsh? It was meant to. I know some of you may be saying, “Allison, please don’t make me feel even more guilty about my parenting choices. I feel bad enough already.”

I totally understand. However, if we really want things to change, it’s time to stop feeling guilty, take the spotlight off our adult children, and focus ownership of the issue on ourselves. The reality of what we’ve done and why we’ve done it may be ugly, but underneath it all is something beautiful: well-meant intentions. And it’s those well-meant intentions that cause us grief today.

For years some of us have focused our attention (and worries) on our adult children. We’ve not only taken on the role of director in the drama of their lives, but the roles of producer, stage manager, dresser, caterer, financier, and scriptwriter as well. We’ve done countless things for them that they are more than capable of doing for themselves. No matter whether it’s a comedy, a tragedy, or a melodrama, it’s time for the curtain to come down on this act.

This show is over.

But a new production is on the horizon!

We must replace our enabling behavior with something else.

Ending Enabling Behavior

From experience I’ve learned four life-saving truths about changing enabling behavior:

  1. We can pray for the power to change ourselves.
  2. We can help (not enable) adult children of any age develop wings to fly on their own.
  3. We can find comfort in knowing we are not alone on this journey.
  4. We can take back our lives!

In the book of James, we read, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (1:2-3). In place of “perseverance,” the New American Standard Version uses the word endurance. Either way we look at it, the lesson is clear: we are being instructed to hang in there, to stay the course, to persevere and endure.

What are we really made of? It’s been said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I’ve always understood the second part of that quote to mean that when we’re faced with trials, we must proactively do something. We must get going, as in get up off the couch and make some positive changes. It seems others have interpreted this quote as justification to retreat, to run away from the trial, to get going—as in I’m outta here!

Many of our adult children have retreated from the trials and tribulations that not only test their faith but would also stretch them in ways that would develop their character, prove their mettle, and give them a sense of achievement. Consequently, many adult children have no idea what they’re truly capable of accomplishing. They’ve never really tried to move ahead with confidence and be all they can be.

Remember, God knows when to discontinue a trial because its purpose has been fulfilled. And He gives us two great promises concerning our trials: First, His comforting presence:

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.

For I am the LORD, your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

(Isaiah 43:2-3)

And second, the assurance that He won’t permit more pressure than we can handle:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The apostle Paul wrote from his experience:

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).

True, he wasn’t a parent of a dysfunctional child, but these verses apply to any Christian who is “hard pressed on every side” and “struck down.”

And we have certainly been struck down countless times, but like the Energizer Bunny, we keep getting up. Yet we’re so weary of living with the ongoing crisis that we return to the same behaviors and habits—and our adult children have us pegged. They know what to expect from us. They know that eventually we will “help” them yet again.

The bitter truth for many of us is that we haven’t been helping; we’ve been enabling.

So instead of praying to God to stop the pain, remove the difficulty, or change the lives of our adult children, we must rise up and pray for something entirely different. We must pray for the courage to look deep in our own hearts and souls. We must pray for the strength to begin a journey that quite possibly may change our own lives—and pray for the wisdom to make new choices.

Making new choices won’t always be easy. We’ve been repeating the same patterns for years, but now we need to ask ourselves what rewards we’re getting from enabling our adult children. What need is this fulfilling in our lives?

Quite simply, we must identify our own issues.

It took me years to get to the bottom of my own issues, but once I did, things began to change.

I was 16 years old when my son was born, living a nightmare, trying to stay alive. I had run away from home at the age of 15 to marry my prince charming, except he turned out to be anything but. The first year of my son’s life was like any number of Lifetime Movie of the Week scripts in which violently abusive husbands stalk their wives, making their lives a near hell on earth. One horror story after another had me looking over my shoulder for years as I tried to make sense of my world.

As a toddler, I had been brutally beaten and molested by a foster parent, which left me scarred in ways that would take me decades to sort out. I was an emotional mess before I met my first husband, then after what he did to me, I was even worse. I was only 16 years old; I had no business being a mother. I was too young, too immature, and too unstable.

But, oh, how I loved my son.

You may argue that babies have been having babies for centuries. It wasn’t unusual in many cultures for girls to leave their homes as young as age 13 to begin families. However, in most of these instances, the babies were raised in households where extended family resided. Thus, a young woman learned how to become a mother from older women who were far wiser and more experienced.

Not so today. Families are spread out all over the country, and young parents are thrown into the fray with very little preparation.

Plus, the young mothers of yore seldom had the severe emotional baggage young mothers carry today. In my case, I didn’t just carry baggage; I had a truckload of dysfunctions.

  1. Suzanne Eller is a speaker, parenting columnist, and author of The Mom I Want to Be. Responding to my questionnaire, she wrote,

Poor parenting skills are a contributing factor to the enabling epidemic. I often talk to parents whose intentions are positive, but their methods keep their adult children in a state of limbo. One parent complained that she felt her adult son would never leave home. “Why don’t you tell him it’s time to go?” I asked. She said that he was financially unable to support himself. This son had a nice vehicle, a Jet Ski, and trendy clothing, and he went out to eat or play often. Mom and Dad paid the mortgage, the food bills, and the utilities, and they didn’t have the financial means to “play.” It simply didn’t make sense. This mom had no clue that they were not only teaching their adult son that others would care for him and his “needs” while he spent his money on “wants,” but they were also setting him up for future relationship disasters. One day he will step into marriage, and the chances are, he will expect those he loves to continue the pattern.

It’s time we break the pattern. It’s time we find out what kind of parents we are and do what it takes to become the parents our adult children need.

Self-awareness of the part we play in the enabling dynamic is a major success step. When we become aware of our heart issues, we are one step closer to being healthy. And it’s our own lives we must make healthy, not our adult children’s lives, no matter how much we want to help them.

How they live their lives, the choices they make or don’t make, and what they inevitably choose to do or not do with their future is up to them, not us. It’s amazingly empowering when we begin to define and clarify our own issues as parents.

Pointing the light at ourselves is the powerful first step to changing our lives, and God willing, our adult children’s lives as well.

Forgiving is good. Helping is good. Being there for our adult children is good. However, when living in constant need, crisis, or trouble becomes the rule and not the exception for our adult children, we must step back and take a look at our own lives. We must recognize our own problems with enabling and change our own patterns of behavior.

I know the idea that you may have contributed to your adult child’s poor choices is uncomfortable. Perhaps some of you really haven’t done much to bring about your adult child’s present crisis. You may not be a chronic enabler. But keep reading. There is much for you in these pages.

Whether or not you can identify enabling behavior in your treatment of your adult child, you will still need to set boundaries in your relationship with him or her. In either case, it’s no longer about your adult child; it’s about you.

I know because I’ve been there.

And deep in your heart, you know it too.[1]

—————————————————————————————————————–

[1] Bottke, A. (2008). Setting boundaries with your adult children: Six steps to hope and healing for struggling parents. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.

Relationship Addictions

SOURCE:  Living Free

“Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].” (Hebrews 12:2 AMP)

When we think of addiction, our minds usually turn to thoughts of substance abuse. However, relationship addictions are just as real; and can be devastating. There are several types of such addictions.

Here are a few:

Emotionally dependent relationship: a relationship in which you are so attached to another person that you are controlled by that person’s moods to the point of being overwhelmed.

Physically dependent relationship: a relationship in which you are physically dependent on another person, especially in the area of physical attraction. You become obsessed with spending time with him or her.

Spiritually dependent relationship: a relationship in which you have no spiritual identity or relationship with God apart from your relationship with another person. You depend on this other person to define your walk with God.

Codependent relationship: a relationship in which another person’s misbehavior is affecting your sense of well-being, and you become obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.

Codependent relationships are major distractions. Today’s scripture reminds us we are to look away from all distractions and focus on Jesus. May these thoughts encourage you to identify distractions in your life and turn your focus fully on Jesus.

God, my life is out of control. I do believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me, and help me turn from my sin and trust in Jesus. I cannot do this alone. I need you. In Jesus’ name . . .

————————————————————————————————————————————————–


These thoughts were drawn from …

Close—But Not Too Close by Dr. Jimmy Ray Lee.

A PRAYER FOR WISDOM ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS AND EMOTIONS

SOURCE:  Scotty Smith/The Gospel Coalition

   If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

Dear heavenly Father, what a great Scripture with which to begin (and continue) this day.

I praise you for the free, full, and perpetual access we enjoy with you, all because you’ve declared us to be perfectly righteous in Jesus. And I praise you that as we come seeking wisdom, we’re kissed by your welcome and inundated with your generosity.

Indeed, Father, I need your wisdom about a few matters that confuse me, all of them having to do with relationships.

I need you to show me the difference between a costly investment in people’s lives, versus co-dependent entanglement and enmeshment. I know that loving well—as Jesus loves us, always requires more than we’d easily give, but I’m not always sure what that looks like.

I need wisdom for knowing the difference between rightly validating the emotions of those I love versus wrongly taking responsibility for their emotions. My broken default mode is to try to “fix” people; but I know you’re not calling me to fix anyone, but to love everyone. Grant me wisdom, dear Father; grant me wisdom.

I need wisdom, Father, about my own emotional world. The emotion of anger has always confused and threatened me. Help me to know when the anger I feel is nothing more than my selfishness on display. Help me to know when to express appropriate anger in ways consistent with the gospel. Help me to listen and understand the emotion of anger in others, and not rush to judgment or rush out of their story too fast.

Father, just praying this prayer stirs up many other thoughts and feelings inside my heart. My joy is in knowing that we can keep this conversation going throughout the day. My great joy is in knowing that you will give us the wisdom we need, and you will do so generously. My even greater joy comes from resting in the gift of your Son, Jesus—”who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (1 Cor. 1:30)

So very Amen I pray, in his mighty and merciful name.

The give and take of healthy relationships

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Leslie Vernick

I want to talk about the importance of reciprocity in maintaining healthy adult relationships.

Reciprocity means that both people in the relationship give and both people in the relationship receive. Power and responsibility for the care and maintenance of the relationship are shared, and there is not a double standard where one person receives the goodies of the relationship while the other person does most of the work.

There may be seasons where one person gives much more than the other due to illness, incapacity or other problems, but when both individuals in the relationship are capable, reciprocity means that both individuals are givers and both individuals are receivers.

For example, John and Mary constantly argued about their budget. Mary required John to be accountable for every penny he spent, yet Mary did not hold herself to that same standard. She always had an excuse as to why her spending was more justified than John’s. John agreed that Mary was a better money manager than he was yet there was something fundamentally imbalanced in their marriage. Over time, he began to feel resentful and started acting out like a rebellious teenager, taking money out of the ATM without telling Mary. That caused more conflict between them.

John wanted some decision making power as to how they managed their money. He wanted to be a part of a “we” decision regarding their finances instead of feeling like a child being given an allowance. In order to rebalance their marriage, Mary would need to share the decision making with John instead of informing him of her decisions.

In another example, Amber felt frustrated with herself for always saying “yes” when she wanted to say “no”. She lacked the freedom to say no in her relationships because she feared that if she said “no”, people wouldn’t like her or she would lose their friendship. But as she began to evaluate her relationships, she realized that most of her friendships were very lopsided, with her being the giver and her friends being the takers. It didn’t surprise her that she felt afraid that if she stopped being such a generous giver, she might lose some of her friends. Yet she was tired of having friends who gladly took from her yet never gave anything back.

Amber realized that if she wanted to have healthier relationships with these people, she would need to start speaking up about her own needs and feelings in the hopes of rebalancing their relationship.

9 Surefire Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship

SOURCE:  Kim Blackham

Have you ever wondered what the most effective way to ruin a relationship would be?  Below are 9 simple and surefire ways to sabotage yours.

  • Criticize your partner, point out all his or her flaws, and demand that he or she fix them. This kind of interaction will certainly help things fall apart quickly.  The meaner and more cutting your tone, the better.  And don’t forget facial expressions.  Make sure they are condescending and clearly communicate your disapproval. 
  • Ignore your partner, shut him or her out, appear emotionless and totally unresponsive.  If you really want to get the fights going and increase the fear and panic in your partner, this is the way to go.  Talk logically and reasonably, and make sure to stick to the facts.  Facts really don’t matter in relationships as much as the connection, so if you stick to the facts, you are sure to back the relationship into a corner to where it can begin to deteriorate.
  • Involve as many other people as possible – friends, family, church members, co-workers, etc.  The more you can talk negatively about your partner, the more damage you can inflict.  As soon as everyone around you starts forming an opinion – based only on your side of the story of course, the more you can feel justified in your negative emotions and eventual decision to end the relationship.

To read the full article:  go to this link:  http://www.kimblackham.com/9-surefire-ways-sabotage-relationship/

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