Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘responsibility’

Q&A: Setting Boundaries With an Adult Daughter

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Question: My adult daughter has moved back home after making a mess out of her life. I think I’ve enabled her to be too dependent on me and now she is acting like an angry teenager instead of a responsible adult. What can I do to help her?

Answer: I hear this so often. Well-meaning parents have crippled their children by not teaching them how to stand on their own two feet. My definition of a good parent is that you work yourself out of your job. In other words, your kids don’t need you in order to function anymore. With that said, you can’t change your daughter. But you can identify and own your problem.

What is that? You have given too much. You’ve been too nice and that may be one reason she is not taking responsibility for her own life. Unfortunately, this kind of unhealthy relationship fosters a love/hate relationship between you and your child. She loves you and is dependent on you and hates you for always being right and having to “need” you.

To change this dynamic, you will need to figure out why you have been overindulgent with your child for so long. Are you afraid to say no? Are you anxious that if she doesn’t need you, she won’t have a relationship with you? Do you pity her and believe she can’t do it without you? This is an important step so that you don’t revert back to rescuing her when things get hard for her.

Second, you need to evaluate what is in her best interest. I know you love your child, but godly love acts in the beloved’s best interests, not just what feels good. I’m sure you didn’t give your child candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner, even if she screamed for it because you know that wasn’t good for her. It is the same principle here. To change things, you will have to say no to her requests for help, not to be mean, but because it is good for her to learn to figure out some things for herself.

Third, you need to let her know how you are changing. I talk about this in section two of my book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship in detail.

Let me give you a sample speak up dialogue that you may want to share or write to your daughter.

I love you. You are my child and nothing will ever change my love for you. But I realize now that I haven’t always given you what you needed most. I have given you lots of things, probably too much, but I have not given you the confidence that you can manage your life just fine without me. I fear you have grown too dependent on me to solve your problems, to rescue you from your financial woes, and to provide your living space, when at this age, you should be doing these things on your own.

I will take responsibility for my part. I now see that by giving in to you, I didn’t help you grow up. I know you are in a tight spot right now and have moved back home but I want you to know that this is only a temporary solution. I expect you to get a job, work hard and save money toward moving out on your own. You will need to pay room and board while you’re here so that you learn that you have to be responsible for your bills and your life.

I want to have a good relationship with you, and we will not have one if I treat you like a child and you behave as one. I want us to respect and care for each other as adults.

If you haven’t done step 1 and 2 first, it will be hard for you to stick with your resolve. Make a plan as to how you will respond when she cries, complains, criticizes you, or doesn’t pay her room and board. Remember, you can’t make her be responsible or mature at this point in her life. That is her job. However, you can create an atmosphere where it is more likely that she will make those choices.

The problem with caring too much or “over-caring”

SOURCE:  Rick Thomas/Counseling Solutions

While walking downtown Main Street the other day I met a beggar coming my way.

My mind hit a momentary pause button and then I re-indexed and ran a few thoughts through my head about how I should respond to this man.

As he came closer to me, he popped the question.

“Mister, can you spare a dollar or two. I haven’t had anything to eat since yesterday.”

I told him it would be a privilege to help him.

With a quick glance to my right, I pointed to the local Subway restaurant and told him I’d love to buy him a sandwich.

He said that he didn’t want a sandwich, but preferred I give him a couple of dollars to help him out.

I declined to give him cash and attempted to carefully explain that to him.

He was fixed on what he wanted.

I let him know that I could not help him that way, but would love to serve him.

He declined and continued on to his next prospect.

Within minutes of that encounter he became a fading event of my past, one of a million things I have done in my life that I hardly remember anymore. I was not perturbed, bothered, upset, or annoyed that he was working me.

It was just one of those events that happens to all of us. It was a quick opportunity to discern the Spirit and ask the question, “What would the Savior do in a moment like this?” You deal with it the way you believe God would want you to deal with it and you move on to the next thing that He has prepared for your day.

I did not dismiss this man or show a lack of care for him. It could possibly be analogous to the rich young ruler who wanted something from the Savior. The Savior encountered him and sought to serve him, but believed it would not be wise to give the young ruler what he wanted the way he wanted it.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. – Luke 18:22-23 (ESV)

The rich young ruler did not want what Jesus was offering. He had another motive. I’m not sure if this young man ever became a Christian. Minimally he became a Bible illustration regarding salvation.

I don’t think I was unkind to the beggar-man. He asked for money for food. I offered him food instead. He decided that he did not want the food after all. He wanted the money. I believed I did what I was supposed to do. I went on with my day. I tried to care for him, but did not feel tempted to over-care.

When caring becomes over-caring

Brent has been my friend for many years. We went to high school together and then separated shortly thereafter as marriage, family, and work took us to different places around the country.

Years later we reconnected. During the intervening years Brent’s life went from good to bad. His wife was about to leave him, his children did not have a heart for God, and Brent’s head was immersed in the worldly cares of this life.

He wanted to meet to work through some of these problems. We met. And we met. And we met again. And again and again and again. We met for nearly six months.

During this time Brent proved to be stubborn and disinterested in the kind of change that was necessary to bring reconciliation to his family. He said he wanted to change, but he was not willing to do what it took to change.

I prayed and pondered many hours about how to help this man to change. I would present change this way and then talk about it another way. It didn’t seem to matter. Nothing worked for Brent.

Not being deterred, I would back up and start all over again with a totally new approach. That new fangled approach did not work either. Over time I started becoming critical of Brent. Initially I never said anything, but sensed my heart growing frustrated with him.

After awhile I began to go home and tell my wife about how difficult he was being–about how rough and challenging the counseling was going. As the weeks went by and my personal investment in his life grew, I began to grow impatient with him.

It wasn’t long before I became harsh and unkind toward Brent. Sadly, I actually had a growing disinterest in helping him. He was not listening. I was over-caring. The investment had grown deep and the change was not happening according to my expectations.

Being concerned – Being responsible

Have you ever over-cared for someone or something? Have you ever cared too much? If you are a Christian with the love of God in your heart, I suspect you have. Have you ever over-worried? Have you ever been over-anxious?

Let me ask the questions this way:

  • Do you generally feel responsible for certain people?
  • Or can you guard your heart from being responsible, but still show concern?
  • Do you know the difference between being responsible and being concerned?

It is one thing to be concerned for someone regarding whether they change or not. It is a wholly other matter to be responsible for people–including your own children. I’ve illustrated the two positions with the stories above.

I am concerned – I was concerned for the beggar on the street, but I did not sense a responsibility to change him. I wanted him to change. I even thought about how I could serve him before he popped the question. But I did not feel like it was my job to make him change.

I did not act disinterested by showing no concern and I did not cross the line as though his change was my responsibility. I offered him some food and hoped to continue the conversation by introducing Christ to him. He wanted one thing–money.

I am responsible – With Brent it was a different story. I crossed the line from being concerned to thinking it was my responsibility to change him. I treated him much different from the beggar in the street or the way Christ interacted with the rich young ruler.

I forget what my role was with Brent. It’s simple: my role for all people at all times is to be concerned, but I am not to be responsible for anyone. I cannot make people change.

Righteousness is not something that can be forced on anyone. It is a personal choice between an individual and God. This has been my story regarding how I have changed through the years. No one could make me change, except for God.

  1. They could water.
  2. They could plant.
  3. But they could not give the growth.
  4. Change is God’s job.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. – 1 Corinthians 3:5-6 (ESV)

When the water boy sins

I am forever grateful for the people who have loved me enough to speak into my life. I love all water boys and seed throwers for Jesus. But I do not hold anyone responsible for my personal change.

Sometimes I can forget this very basic truth about the Gospel. Sometimes I can cross the line from being God’s water boy and seed thrower to trying to make a person grow–to change or what the Bible calls repentance.

When I forget my role, it is as though I believe I am responsible for their change. There is a world of difference between being concerned for someone and being responsible for someone. If I cross that line it won’t be long before I’m sinning against them.

You may ask, “How do I know when I have crossed the line from being concerned for those I help versus feeling responsible for them changing?”  That is the million dollar question and it’s easy to answer.

When I begin to over-care for a person there are certain things that begin to happen in my heart. Initially they are not discernible to the human eye, but if I don’t take these heart sins to God, they will soon manifest in behavioral sins that are clearly discernible.

What I try to do is keep an eye on my heart by sensing when I am caring too much. If these sins (below) begin to rear up then I know I have crossed the line from being appropriately concerned for someone to caring too much for someone.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of heart attitudes and behaviors that I commit when I’ve crossed the line. If any of these things happen to you, then may I suggest that you are caring too much–that you have forgotten your role in the change process:

  • I’m tempted to become angry when a person does not change.
  • I’m tempted to become critical when I think about him.
  • I’m tempted to gossip about him to others.
  • I’m tempted to be cynical and lose faith in God that he will ever change.
  • I’m tempted to become impatient when I am with him.
  • I’m tempted to exhibit more sadness than joy when I think about him.
  • I’m tempted to uncharitably judge him because he won’t change.
  • I’m tempted to worry or become anxious as though his lack of change is because of me.

When I sense these sinful temptations in my soul, then I know that my trust is slipping from the Savior of the universe to my own abilities, agendas, and preferences for this particular individual (think Brent here).

I am mini-Messiah, hear me roar

In short, I have become a Mini-Messiah. In those moments I have become a functional atheist–a man who believes the change process rests more on him and his opinion of how things should be than whatever God may be thinking or doing in a person’s life.

This is hardcore pride that must be repented from. In the case of me, I have to reposition myself within the framework of God’s purposes for that individual’s life.

If I do repent of my pride and realize that my main purpose is to water and to plant the seed while trusting God to bring the growth, then my human ability to serve my friend does not impede what God is doing in his life.

However, when I begin to feel more responsible than God wants me to feel, then I typically sin against the person–according to the list above. My sin then becomes a distraction in the helping process. My faith for change and the timing for change must be fully in God’s will, especially when I’m helping a seemingly unchangeable person.

For me, the tipping point is usually a person I have spent more time with rather than a person I will meet only briefly. That is why it was easier for me to not become emotionally attached to the beggar. He was a temporary encounter. That is also the reason I crossed the line with Brent. He was a long-term investment.

Typically people will sin against a person they have spent a long time praying for, pulling for, and generally helping and hoping that they will change. That is normal. The more time you put into somebody’s life, the more you expect them to change.

A lot of mothers are this way with their children. They are tempted to cross the line from being concerned and helping to taking it personal and getting in the way or becoming a distraction regarding what God might be doing in their child’s life.

It is one of the toughest lessons for a parent to learn. Can we discern and obey our roles in the change process, especially with our children? One of the triggers that will let you know if you have crossed the line is when you begin to sin. If you’re sinning, you’re not helping.

If you are becoming more anxious, worried, fearful, fretful, impatient, frustrated, or some other sin, then you’re out of line and in the way. You must repent and trust God. This is one of the most remarkable things about the Savior. He was cool in all contexts. He shared His Word and went on His way.

He was not uncaring and He would not force His righteousness on anyone.

Parenting: Teaching and Training

SOURCE:  Living Free

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 NIV

Thoughts for Today
Consistent teaching and training while our children are young can help prepare them for whatever life may bring.

The old saying that actions speak louder than words is so true when it comes to teaching our children. The example we live has much more influence on them than anything we could ever say. Children learn by what they see their parents doing. Living a consistent godly life before them is the best training we can give.

Obviously, we all make mistakes. There will be times we set a poor example. But being willing to admit when we’ve missed the mark can be a positive lesson for our children.

Consider this … 
Teach your children a sense of responsibility, how to develop positive relationships and the importance of choosing godly behavior. As they grow, begin to allow them more freedom of choice in issues that won’t endanger them if they take some wrong turns. Even when they make bad choices, they will gain valuable insights and a deeper understanding of consequences.

Our goal as godly parents should be to help our children grow and develop in a way that is pleasing to our heavenly Father. Consistency is vital to this process.

Prayer
Father, help me to be more consistent in being a godly example to my children. Help me to be humble—and bold—enough to admit to them when I’ve erred. Help me to train them in the way they should go. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Godly Parenting: Parenting Skills at Each Stage of Growth by N. Elizabeth Holland, M.D.

SHAME: Misplaced Vs. Well-Placed

Battling the Unbelief of Misplaced Shame

SOURCE:  John Piper/Desiring God

2 Timothy 1:6-12

Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. 8 Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, 10 and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

The Definition and Causes of Shame

Let’s start with a dictionary definition of shame. Shame is the painful emotion caused by a consciousness of guilt or shortcoming or impropriety.

Let me illustrate each of those causes.

  1. First, the cause of guilt. Suppose you act against your conscience and withhold information on your tax returns. For a couple years you feel nothing because it has been put out of your mind, and you weren’t caught. Then you are called to account by the IRS and it becomes public knowledge that you lied and you stole. Your guilt is known. Now in the light of public censure you feel the pain of shame.
  2. Or take the cause of shortcoming. In the Olympics suppose you come from a little country where you are quite good in the 3,000-meter race. Then you compete before thousands of people in Seoul, and the competition is so tough that by the time the last lap comes up, you are a whole lap behind everyone else, and you must keep running all by yourself while everyone watches. There’s no guilt here. But the humiliation and shame could be intense.
  3. Or take the cause of impropriety. You are invited to a party and you find out when you get there that you dressed all wrong. Again, no evil or guilt. Just a social blunder, an impropriety that makes you feel foolish and embarrassed.

Well-Placed Vs. Misplaced Shame

One of the things that jumps right out at you from this definition of shame is that there is some shame that is justified and some that isn’t. There are some situations where shame is exactly what we should feel. And there are some situations where we shouldn’t. Most people would say that the liar ought to be ashamed. And most people would probably say that the long distance runner who gave it his best shot ought not to feel ashamed. Disappointment would be healthy, but not shame.

Let me illustrate from Scripture these two kinds of shame. The Bible makes very clear that there is a shame we ought to have and a shame we ought not to have. I’m going to call the one kind, “misplaced shame” and the other kind “well-placed shame.”

Misplaced shame (the kind we ought not to have) is the shame you feel when there is no good reason to feel it. Biblically that means the thing you feel ashamed of is not dishonoring to God; or that it IS dishonoring to God, but you didn’t have a hand in it. In other words, misplaced shame is shame for something that’s good—something that doesn’t dishonor God. Or it’s shame for something bad but which you didn’t have any sinful hand in. That’s the kind of shame we ought not have.

Well-placed shame (the kind you ought to have) is the shame you feel when there is good reason to feel it. Biblically that means we feel ashamed of something because our involvement in it was dishonoring to God. We ought to feel shame when we have a hand in bringing dishonor upon God by our attitudes or actions.

I want to be sure you see how important God is in this distinction between misplaced shame and well-placed shame. Whether we have a hand in honoring God or dishonoring God makes all the difference. If we want to battle shame at the root, we have to know how it relates to God. And we DO need to battle shame at the root—all shame. Because both misplaced shame and well-placed shame can cripple us if we don’t know how to deal with them at the root.

So let’s look at some Scriptures that illustrate misplaced shame and some that illustrate well-placed shame.

Misplaced Shame

2 Timothy 1:8

Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God.

What this text says is that if you feel shame for testifying about Jesus, you have a misplaced shame. We ought not to feel shame for this. Christ is honored when we speak well of him. And he is dishonored by fearful silence. So it is not a shameful thing to testify, but a shameful thing not to.

Secondly the text says that if you feel shame that a friend of yours is in trouble (in this case: prison) for Jesus’ sake, then your shame is misplaced. The world may see this as a sign of weakness and defeat. But Christians know better. God is honored by the courage of his servants to go to prison for his name. We ought not to feel shame that we are associated with something that honors God in this way, no matter how much scorn the world heaps on.

Mark 8:38

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Shame is misplaced when we feel it because of the person or the words of Jesus. If Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” and others laugh and call it unrealistic, we should not feel ashamed. If Jesus says, “Fornication is evil,” and liberated yuppies label it out of date, we should not feel shame to stand with Jesus. That would be misplaced shame because the words of Jesus are true and God-honoring, no matter how foolish the world may try to make them look.

1 Peter 4:16

If one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God.

Suffering and being reproached and made fun of as a Christian is not an occasion for shame, because it is an occasion for glorifying God. In other words in the Bible the criterion for what is well-placed shame and what is misplaced shame is not how foolish or how bad you look to men, but whether you in fact bring honor to God.

This is so important to grasp! Because much of what makes us feel shame is not that we have brought dishonor on God by our actions, but that we have failed to give the appearance that other people admire. Much of our shame is not God-centered but self-centered. Until we get a good handle on this, we will not be able to battle the problem of shame at its root.

Romans 1:16

I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

The reason shame in the gospel would be a misplaced shame is that the gospel is the very power of God unto salvation. The gospel magnifies God and humbles man. And so to the world the gospel doesn’t look like power at all. It looks like weakness (asking people to be like children and depend on Jesus, instead of standing on their own two feet). But for those who believe it is the power of almighty God to save sinners.

2 Corinthians 12:9–10

Jesus said (to Paul),

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly exult in my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Now ordinarily weaknesses and insults are occasions for shame. But for Paul they are occasions for exultation. Paul thinks that shame in his weaknesses and shame at insults and persecutions would be misplaced shame. Why? Because the power of Christ is perfected in Paul’s weakness.

I conclude from all these texts that the biblical criterion for misplaced shame is radically God-centered. The biblical criterion says, don’t feel shame for something that honors God no matter how weak or foolish it makes you look in the eyes of unbelievers.

Well-Placed Shame

The same God-centeredness will be seen if we look at some texts that illustrate well-placed shame.

1 Corinthians 15:34

Come to your right mind, and sin no more. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Here Paul says that these people ought to feel shame. “I say this to your shame.” Their shame would be well-placed if they saw their deplorable ignorance of God and how it was leading to false doctrine (no resurrection) and sin in the church. In other words well-placed shame is shame for what dishonors God—ignorance of God, sin against God, false beliefs about God.

1 Corinthians 6:5

The Christians were going to secular courts to settle disputes among themselves. Paul rebukes them.

I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood?

Again he says they should feel shame: “I say this to your shame.” Their shame would be well-placed because their behavior is bringing such disrepute upon their God as they fight one another and seek help from the godless to settle their disputes. A well-placed shame is the shame you feel because you are involved in dishonoring God.

And let’s not miss this implication: these people were trying their best to appear strong and right. They wanted to be vindicated by men. They wanted to be winners in court. They didn’t want anyone to run over them as though they had no rights. That would look weak and shameful. So in the very act of wanting to avoid shame as the world sees it, they fell into the very behavior that God counts shameful.

The point is: when you are dishonoring God, you ought to feel shame, no matter how strong or wise or right you are in the eyes of men.

Ezekiel 43:10

And you, son of man, describe to the house of Israel the temple and its appearance and plan, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities.

God says Israel ought to feel shame for its iniquities. Sin is always a proper cause for shame because sin is behavior that dishonors God.

(See also Romans 6:212 Thessalonians 3:14 for more instances of well-placed shame.)

We can conclude from all these texts that the biblical criterion for misplaced shame and for well-placed shame is radically God-centered.

The biblical criterion for misplaced shame says, don’t feel shame for something that honors God, no matter how weak or foolish or wrong it makes you look in the eyes of men. And don’t feel shame for bad circumstances where you don’t share in dishonoring God.

The biblical criterion for well-placed shame says, DO feel shame for having a hand in anything that dishonors God, no matter how strong or wise or right it makes you look in the eyes of men.

Now how do you battle this painful emotion called shame? The answer is that we battle it by battling the unbelief that feeds its life. And we fight for faith in the promises of God that overcome shame and relieve us from its pain.

Three Instances of Battling Misplaced Shame

Let me illustrate with three instances.

1. When Well-Placed Shame Lingers Too Long

In the case of well-placed shame for sin the pain ought to be there but it ought not to stay there. If it does, it’s owing to unbelief in the promises of God.

For example, a woman comes to Jesus in a Pharisee’s house weeping and washing his feet. No doubt she felt shame as the eyes of Simon communicated to everyone present that this woman was a sinner and that Jesus had no business letting her touch him. Indeed she was a sinner. There was a place for true shame. But not for too long. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). And when the guests murmured about this, he helped her faith again by saying, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (v. 50).

How did Jesus help her battle the crippling effects of shame? He gave her a promise: “Your sins are forgiven! Your faith has saved you. Your future will be one of peace.” So the issue for her was belief. Would she believe the glowering condemnation of the guests? Or would she believe the reassuring words of Jesus that her shame was enough? She’s forgiven. She’s saved. She may go in peace.

And that is the way every one of us must battle the effects of a well-placed shame that threatens to linger too long and cripple us. We must battle unbelief by taking hold of promises like,

There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 130:4)

Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked man forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord that he may have mercy on him and to our God for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6)

If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)

Every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:4313:39)

2. Feeling Shame for Something That Glorifies God

The second instance of battling shame is the instance of feeling shame for something that is not even bad but in fact glorifies God—like Jesus or the gospel.

Our text shows how Paul battled against this misplaced shame. In verse 12 he says, “Therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

Paul makes very clear here that the battle against misplaced shame is a battle against unbelief. “I am not ashamed FOR I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED AND I AM SURE OF HIS KEEPING POWER.” We fight against feelings of shame in Christ and the gospel and the Christian ethic by battling unbelief in the promises of God. Do we believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation? Do we believe that Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness? The battle against misplaced shame is the battle against unbelief in the promises of God.

3. Feeling Shame for Something We Didn’t Do

Finally, the last instance of battling shame is the instance where others try to load us with shame for evil circumstances when in fact we had no part in dishonoring God.

It happened to Jesus. They called him a winebibber and a glutton. They called him a temple destroyer. They called him a hypocrite: He healed others, but he can’t heal himself. In all this the goal was to load Jesus with a shame that was not his to bear.

The same with Paul. They called him mad when he defended himself in court. They called him an enemy of the Jewish customs and a breaker of the Mosaic law. They said he taught that you should sin that grace may abound. All this to load him with a shame that it was not his to bear.

And it has happened to you. And will happen again. How do you battle this misplaced shame? By believing the promises of God that in the end all the efforts to put us to shame will fail. We may struggle now to know what is our shame to bear and what is not. But God has a promise for us in either case:

Israel is saved by the Lord with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity. (Isaiah 45:1749:23)

No one who believes in the Lord will be put to shame. (Romans 10:119:33)

In other words, for all the evil and deceit,  judgment and criticism that others may use to heap on us a shame that is not ours to bear, and for all the distress and spiritual warfare it brings, the promise stands sure that they will not succeed in the end. All the children of God will be vindicated. The truth will be known. And no one who banks his hope on the promises of God will be put to shame.

The Wonders of Reality Discipline

SOURCE:  an article by Shana Schutte/Focus on the Family

This clever discipline method is less exhausting and more successful than ranting, raving, blaming, pleading, begging or threatening.

I once read a newspaper headline that made me chuckle: “Red Lipstick Empowers Women.” The caption, coupled with a photo of Marilyn Monroe wearing a white flowing dress and painted crimson lips, made me think that perhaps I’d found the answer to the discipline problems with my elementary students.That’s been my problem all along  I’ve been wearing champagne pink!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if changing lipstick was all it took to become more effective and empowered in handling discipline problems with children?

While child psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman is an out-of-the-box parenting problem solver who might buy into the lipstick method if it worked, Dr. Leman instead teaches parents about the effective “Reality Discipline.” This clever method of getting little “ankle biters” to obey is less exhausting and more successful than ranting, raving, blaming, pleading, begging or threatening.

It’s all about responsibility

The first thing to remember about Reality Discipline is that you want your children to learn to think for themselves and learn to become more responsible through guidance and action-oriented techniques. In an article from First Things First, Dr. Leman says, “Action-oriented discipline is based on the reality that there are times when you have to pull the rug out and let the little buzzards tumble. I mean disciplining your children in such a way that he/she accepts responsibility and learns accountability for his actions.” Here’s an example.

When my brother was in high school, my mother implemented Reality Discipline without realizing it. My little brother, Gannon, could sleep through a tornado (or a hurricane or tsunami) and my mother was tired of waking him up every morning and saying, “You’d better hurry, or you’re going to miss the bus.” Finally, Mom thought, I’m not waking him up anymore. He can be late. Just as she suspected, Gannon did miss the bus and was forced to walk the mile to school. Much to my mother’s delight, he was never late again. She didn’t have to beg, plead, give him ultimatums or nag Gannon one more time. Instead, she let reality do the discipline.

A little bit of ice cream can do the trick

One afternoon, I had the privilege of listening to Dr. Leman explain on the radio how reality discipline teaches responsibility. He told an engaging story about a mother whose preschool son was driving her bananas because every day when she stopped to pick him up from preschool, he ran from her on the playground. She felt like a fool for being outrun by a preschooler while teachers and parents looked on. Desperate, she asked Dr. Leman for advice.

Dr. Leman suggested that if her son ran from her next time, she should ask another adult on the playground if they would be kind enough to keep an eye on her son for a few minutes. Then she should drive away, go to the nearest ice cream shop, purchase a cone for herself and drive back to the school to pick up her son. Then, when her little guy got in the car and asked, “Where’s my ice cream?” he told the woman she should cheerfully say, “Well you could have had some ice cream, but you ran away; so I had to go get some alone.”

One point for mom; zero for Junior. That’s Reality Discipline. No ranting. No raving. No warnings. Just cool, collected action with some quick, clever thinking to make your point loud and clear.

Sounds great, right? Here are some basic principles of Reality Discipline to help you get (and keep) the upper hand with your kids.

Don’t focus on creating a happy child

In his book Have a New Kid by Friday, Dr. Leman says that the goal of parenting is not to create happy kids; rather, it’s to create responsible kids. This means Junior will probably be pretty unhappy that he didn’t get an ice cream cone; he may even throw a fit, and rant and rave — but he will become more responsible and respectful. Don’t back down, but do stay cool as a cucumber. Remind yourself that it’s a battle of the wits and the wills, and you will win.

Understand your child’s reality

According to Dr Leman, if you want to use Reality Discipline effectively, you need to know what’s important to your child — what really moves him in his reality. Your child may value money, sports, a daily cookie break, staying up late or spending time with friends. Parents who know how to use Reality Discipline make creative connections between bad behavior and discipline through action rather than through warnings, nagging or threats.

For example, suppose you ask your ten-year-old daughter (who loves saving money) to take out the trash. She ignores you, and thirty minutes later the trash is still sitting by the back door. With a little creativity, you decide to implement some Reality Discipline. Instead of reminding your daughter about the trash, you enlist her younger sister to take it out . Then you take some money out of your ten-year-old daughter’s allowance and give it to her sister for a job well done. Can you imagine the peace and satisfaction that could come from being such a quick-witted parent?

Note: If you want to use Reality Discipline, you have to listen to your child. Then you’ll know what will move him to responsibility. The more you understand what’s important to him, the more ammunition you’ll have in your arsenal to “train up” your child in the way he should go.

Make sure that Reality Discipline is grounded in love

In Have a New Kid by Friday, Dr. Leman writes, “Show me a mean teacher, and I’ll show you a good one.” If you find that you are a permissive parent who is afraid of “pulling the rug out from under your child” as Dr. Leman suggests, remember that Reality Discipline is not unkind. Instead, when it’s motivated by love to help your child mature into a responsible adult, it’s a very good gift.

THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

SOURCE:  Adapted from    The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiving Oneself

Forgiving yourself is an opportunity to free you of pain and anger that has built up over time. Forgiveness moves you from focusing on a past hurt into the present.  You may not forget the hurtful event, but you can move on with your life.  This choice to forgive yourself may not be a one-time event and may take time to do, but over time you will find yourself living without the familiar pain you are used to carrying with you. Forgiving yourself may not be easy, but the alternative is choosing to live with the pain of bitterness and resentment toward yourself.

Failure to forgive ourselves can result in:

•Continually being hurt by unresolved pain, suffering and ways of acting that harm us

•Low self-esteem and low self-worth

• Being overly defensive or distant in relationships

• Unnecessary guilt and remorse that wear us down.

• Self-destructive behavior

Forgiving ourselves can have many benefits such as:

• Learning to love yourself in healthy ways and no longer beating yourself up for your mistakes

• Realizing we are human and all make mistakes

• Letting go of hurtful memories and painful events and developing an optimistic view for the future

•Realizing you have value and self-worth can open you up to loving others in new ways and demanding respect for yourself

Forgiving Another Person

Even in the closest of our relationships we can harbor unforgiveness.  Taking some time to reflect on our relationship can help us identify and dislodge any unforgiveness that may be present.  If pain and resentment are left unchecked in our relationship, and the healing power of forgiveness has not been made use of resentment, bitterness or a loss of hope could develop.

We often carry around misperceptions of what forgiveness is and these misperceptions impede our ability to forgive or be forgiven.

It is important to know what forgiveness is not:

• Forgiveness is not forgetting.  We often will not forget a hurtful event, but we can still seek and grant forgiveness.

• Forgiveness is not having resolved all the painful feelings.  Often the hurtful feelings will last. But we can still seek and grant forgiveness.

• Forgiveness is not absolving someone from the responsibility of what they have done. What they did was wrong; you are simply choosing to not let it negatively impact you (and your relationship) anymore.

• Forgiveness is not accepting being continually hurt.  If you are in an abusive relationship or one in which you are regularly being hurt, then that pattern must change.  You do not deserve to be hurt.  This may require staying away from the offending person to protect yourself.

• Forgiveness does not mean the relationship is always back to where it was before.  If the offense is minor, you might be able to go back to where you were.  If the offense is serious, it may take time (even years) to rebuild trust in the relationship.  Forgiveness is simply starting this healing process.

Parents Teaching Children to Forgive

Parents teach their children forgiveness in a variety of ways.  While there are many ways to learn forgiveness, one of the most effective is for children to see their parents modeling forgiveness in their daily life.  Children can also benefit from their parents instruction on forgiveness.  Like most life lessons, teaching forgiveness to your child will be a continual process, but one that can bear great fruit.

Children, especially young children, are very impressionable.  As you teach your child how to forgive it will be an on-going process.  You may even have to give your child the words to say if they have not developed the vocabulary of forgiveness yet.

An example might look like:

Parent: “Johnny, you hit your sister and now she is hurt. You need to say “I’m sorry.’”

(Or if the child is older, “I feel bad that I hurt you and I am sorry for hitting you.”)

Johnny: “I’m sorry Sally.”

Parent: “Very good Johnny. Now give your sister a hug to let her know that you are sorry.”

Johnny hugs his sister.

Parent: “Now I want you to play nicely with your sister.  If you get angry, use your words.

Hitting is not appropriate.  Have fun.”

The parent gave her child the words and actions to do in step-by-step fashion.  Children often can only remember one step at time.  Following the words and actions of forgiveness, the parent set a new course of action for the child, one without violence.  When your child responds to your request, be sure to reward his behavior by saying “Thank you” or “Good job” or hug them yourself.  This process may have to be repeated over and over, but in time it can bear fruit.

As your children get older their lives will get more complex and nuanced and they will need an ever expanding capacity to forgive.  They will need to learn problem-solving and conflict resolution skills as they get older, but the foundation that you have taught them as a child will help make this process go smoother.  They will always need to see you role model these and other skills.

If you feel ill-equipped to teach your children forgiveness, take the time to go to your local library and get some books or tapes on forgiveness. Check your local community for parenting classes. These resources will be especially important if you did not receive these skills yourself as you were growing up.  We all learn forgiveness in a variety of ways.


PARENTING YOUR “ADULT” CHILD

SOURCE:  Adapted from  the book, Once a Parent Always a Parent by Stephen Bly

(The following are notes excerpted from the source book for a workshop on how to parent and relate to adult children.)

Demographics:

Many have adult children at home?

Many have adult children out of the house?

Many have adult children that are in the process of returning home?

Sometime when our children are between the ages of 18 – 20, a dramatic turn of events takes place in our parenting.  Dr. James Dobson (with Focus on the Family) calls it our “final release from parental responsibility”; that is, we have completed the task of our responsibility for our children’s day-to-day behavior.

That is when we let them go.  “We are given 18 or 20 years to interject the proper values and attitudes,” Dobson says, “then we must take our hands off and trust in divine leadership to influence the outcome.”

The parental role changes drastically at this time, but it has not been eliminated.  As long as we live, we will be much more to our children than simply friends, counselors, or encouragers.  We will always be Mom & Dad.

Our obligations to them change quite dramatically, however.  Up to this point, we have interjected our parenting into their lives in decreasing levels of intensity.  But from this point on we must stop altogether.  The adult child must now be the one to determine when and where our love, wisdom, and skills are needed.

Many parents look forward to the empty nest.  However, for many parents, the empty nest is a myth.  Some parents shudder at the thought that the nest will never become empty.  Many can feel resigned, maybe angry, and sometimes like failures…or even just trapped.  Sometimes, the nest is more than full, it’s CROWDED!  The bottom line is our roles will certainly change and vary with age and circumstances, but we will always be parents.  And, in some sense, our job is never finished.

*THE CROWDED NEST – WHEN ADULT CHILDREN LIVE AT HOME

PRI – Premarital Residential Independence

RYAS – Returning Young Adult Syndrome

ILYA – Incompletely Launched Young Adults

First, if you have adult children at home, relax.  It’s a common practice.  Research data indicate that, among midlife parents (age 45-54) who have adult children, about half have an adult child living at home.  Second, if you have adult children at home, it is not necessarily a sign of failure.

Why Adult Children Come Home:

– Economics – college, graduate school, spiraling education costs; slow job market; inadequate salary; saving for buying a home, etc;

– Marriage Deterioration – divorce or separation;

(Adult children seek a place that provides security, stability, and acceptance –>home.)

– Career Changes

– The Comfort-of-Home-Factor

(Some children are in no hurry to abandon the comfort of the world we have created for them.)

Six Problems to Anticipate When Adult Children Return Home

– Arguments

(Chances are, your patterns of settling differences with your adult children will be very similar to what it was when they were teenagers.)

– Increased Need for Privacy

(Big people take up more space than little people and have more stuff; they stay up later; they begin their free times later; they have friends over later who stay longer.)

– Continuing Sibling Rivalry

“It isn’t fair.”  “Mom and Dad are spoiling him/her.”

(There will be rivalry between your resident adult child and your nonresident adult child.)

– Disagreement Over Finances

(More people cost more.  Consider incremental costs and extend these costs out over a year…two years….money can become a source of serious contention.)

– Extra Tension Between Mom & Dad

(Mom and Dad might not agree on whether they should allow the adult child to move back at all.  They may not agree about what the rules should be once the adult child moves back.  Most often, it seems fathers see resident adult children as some sort of failure, while mothers view them as kids who still need mothering.)

– Serious Strain in Households with Returning Stepchildren and in Single-Parent households

(If there has been conflict between a parent and a step-child (ren), it can be tolerated because parents hope for relief when stepchildren reach the age to seek independent residence.  BUT what if the stepchild does NOT move out…..or moves BACK?  In a single parent situation, a returning child can cause  an emotional and financial burden difficult to bear.)

It is helpful to understand the potential sources of conflict that can occur in a crowded nest, but it can work.  While always striving for the biblical goal of independence for our children, we can still enjoy the benefits that come along with the strain of having an adult child at home.

Building the Family WITH Resident Adult Children

– Talk More But Don’t Yell

(Weekly family council meetings might be a good forum where the entire family sits down and discusses how things are going.  Any subject can be approached.  Any subject can be offered.  No yelling…No insults…Just open talk.)

– Divide the Tasks and Expenses

(Negotiate roles and responsibilities in the context of a “shared household.”  Who is going to do what when?)

-Plan Together Where All of This is Leading

(It is important to discuss what the long-term goals might be for the present living condition.  Having a plan does not guarantee it will be completed, but it does unite all parties around a common goal.)

– Spend Time Playing Together

(Find ways to have fun with your adult child.  Parental satisfaction with co-residence appears to be highest when parents are involved with adult children in pleasurable activities.  Don’t allow your home to be a lonely place, merely a room and a bed, for your resident adult child.)

-Times to Say “NO” to adult children

+Refuses to recognize your authority over the home;

+Is physically abusive

+Is verbally abusive

+Is using your home merely to avoid facing any unresolved situation such as responsibilities of life, mar4riage difficulties

+Abuses or is addicted to drugs/alcohol and refuses treatment

+Repeatedly steals or destroys your belongings

MARRYING THEM OFF

Wait until your son/daughter stands at the altar, pledging vows to some other person.  He’s not the baby anymore.  She’s not Daddy’s little girl.  And, you are certainly not the focus of your grown-up child’s attention.

A constant question for parents is at what point should we attempt to stop living out our plans for their lives and let them begin to discover their own.  How can we give advice, ask the right questions, and let them think through what they are planning to do?

Mate Selection Questions The Adult Child Should Consider

– Does This Person Bring Out Your Best Behavior?

(This should be true whether your child is 20 or 40.)

– Do You Enjoy Being Around His/Her Relatives?

– Do You Have Compatible Views on Sex, Money, and Religion?

– Can You Love This Person for a Lifetime, Even If He or She Never Changes?

– Do You and Your Prospective Mate View Each Other As Equals?

– Is Your Prospective Mate Serious Enough To Make A Long-Term Commitment?

– Do You and Your Prospective Mate Understand Each Other’s Goals?

Four Crucial Times To Talk To Your Adult Child About His/Her Upcoming Marriage

– When You Have Reasonable Concern About the Mate Selected

(Make sure your child understands the difficulties ahead.)

– When Your Friends/Family Are Asking Why Your Adult Child Isn’t Married Yet

(If anyone is nagged into marriage by worried parents/friends, that person’s marriage will have a very weak foundation.  Single adult children are just as delightful, fun, interesting, and successful as married ones.  Let your adult children know you love them the way they are…single or married.)

– When It Is Time To Begin Planning The Wedding Service

(Many times the first major arguments between an adult daughter and her mother is about the wedding service.  Parents see this as the last big hurrah they can provide for their adult children, and the adult children see this as one of the first events in adult life they get to plan the way they desire.  Remember, learn to advise and ask the right questions to guide their thinking.)

– When Your Adult Child Is Marrying For the Second (+) Time

(Have frank discussions about the wisdom of waiting…that you love them in spite of divorce…..discuss how the relationship will be with the former daughter/son-in-law…how you will grandparent your grandchildren….how the new adult child’s spouse will be treated as a first-class member of the family….let everyone know they are in your prayers continually.)

Being parents of adult children usually hits it highest intensity when your adult child marries or remarries.

DO YOU STILL KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE?

How do we learn to “worry” about our adult kids in a nice, healthy way?

How much should we, as parents, be aware of our adult children’s comings and goings?

We need to be involved and aware to be a healthy constant factor/presence in their routine family life….BUT…trying to know where they are all the time and involved in the details of their lives opens us up to being a pest.

Guidelines For Communication

– Assume It Is As Much Your Responsibility As It Is Theirs To Keep The Friendship Growing With Your Adult Children

– Develop A Communication Routine With Your Adult Children, And Be Careful About Keeping It.

(Consider letter writing, fun activities, evenings out, holidays, family meals, and phone calls)

– Adapt The Communication Routine To Best Fit The Individual Needs Of Each Child

– Special Times For Contact:

* Change of vocations, job positions, etc

* Participation in their favorite hobby, tournament, competition, interest, special event

* Purchase of something major such as a house, swimming pool, piano, etc.

* Receiving an honor, award, achievement

* Times of serious illness or an accident

* Experiencing failure or disappointment or setbacks

* Holidays

* Events involving grandchildren

Showing You Care

– Let Them Know Where You Are And What You Are Doing

– Let Them Know You Keep Up With Them And Their Activities

– Have A Regular Prayer Time For Your Adult Children, And Let Them Know

– Ask Their Advice Given Their Expertise

– Display Current Photos

– Keep Their Treasures

(Not the 97 broken crayons and the box containing only half of the puzzle pieces)

– Enjoy Your Adult Children’s Friends

– Say “I Love You”

– Participate In Their Adventures, Interests

– Show Support In Times Of Successes And Struggles

– Don’t Let Them Get Away With Sin

This is the tough one!

We all have times we need to be lovingly confronted….do so with patience and instruction….letting them know you are not perfect.  Don’t make enemies…the goal of confrontation is a loving, biblical lifestyle and relationship.

LENDING MONEY WITHOUT GOING BROKE

– Get Yourself In Good Financial Shape First.

– Distinguish Clearly Between Gifts And Loans

(Gifts should be gifts with no strings attached and no payments due.  You can give your adult child your vast wisdom about how to use it, but the gift is all theirs.)

– Put All Loans Of Any Significant Amount In Writing

(Loans should be based on more than just memory.)

– Make Sure You and Your Mate Completely Agree.

(Agreement in parenting is an extremely important factor whether your kids are 5 or 50.)

– Make Sure Everyone Understands The Strings That Might Be Attached

(Everyone must understand the details…all assumptions must be written down….any particular requirements must be noted.)

– When You Just Don’t Have Money To Spare, Or When You Think Assisting With Money Is The Wrong Thing To Do, Help Your Children Find Another Solution

(Maybe you could help them find a used car instead of a new car….maybe selling something to raise the cash…maybe getting an extra job instead of a loan.)

– As Parents, Understand And Uphold A Biblical View Of Money

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil….Let your character be free from the love of money….being content with what you have….

There’s more to family life than trying to take care of every monetary need your adult children might have.  Parents are not the cavalry ready to rescue adult children from every financial pinch.  Our kids are on their own.  They need to learn to pray and pay their way, budget their funds, live within their means.  But, at the same time, why in the world have we worked so hard for so long if we can’t enjoy using part of our income to help out our own kids?

The Key is BALANCE and BOUNDARIES.

SAYING “NO” TO OUR ADULT CHILDREN IN A HEALTHY WAY

We all have times when we just have to say “no.”  Some decisions are quite simple.  Many are not.

Four Important Things To Do Before You Give Your Answer

– Listen

(Make sure you have heard the whole story.  Maybe the real need takes a while to surface.)

– Think

(Ask, “How much time do I have to think about this before you need an answer?”  Don’t just say “yes.”  Don’t just say, “You must be kidding.”)

– Discuss

(Talk over the situation carefully with your mate.)

– Pray

(There is higher knowledge..and divine wisdom…take time to talk to God.)

When you heart tells you one thing and your mind tells you something else, let your spirit cast the deciding vote.  Your decision, whether yes or no, should be one that you feel at ease with in the presence of God.

Characteristics Of  A Nice “NO”

– Be Reasonable

(Your answer should come  with good reasons to support it, and it should be open to reasonable questions.  Reasonable does not necessarily mean that your children will agree with the reasons.  Reasonable does not mean you are always right.  Reasonable does not remove the ability to change your mind.  Reasonable means you thought it over carefully and acted upon your best wisdom at that particular moment.)

– Be Gentle

(Put forth an answer that coveys the feeling of tenderness and compassion.)

– Be Distinct

(Jesus said we should let our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no.  Make your “yes” indisputable.  Make your “no” crystal clear.)

– Be Edifying

(Edification means that your words helped another person’s moral, intellectual, or spiritual improvement.  How will saying “no” help them understand and benefit from this?  By setting boundaries, coming up with alternative solutions, by giving solid, reasonable information.)

– Be Peaceful And Strengthening

(But “no” is such a pessimistic word???  They will get mad if I tell them “no.!!!”

Remember, that peace and strength are much more than just the absence of conflict.  Peace is confident assurance that God is still in control in the midst of conflict.  Strength is the ability to endure a tough situation and come out of it tougher than you were before.  Both characteristics assume conflict and trial.  Sometimes saying “no” is just what our children need to toughen them up. In facing up to the dilemma, they can find peace and strength.)

– Be Concerned About Long-Term Goals

(Proper behavior when your children are old is a long-term goal.  If saying “yes “would enable a behavior or lifestyle or decision that is ultimately harmful to them and their children, perhaps the answer is “no.”  Example:  “Could you loan us the money to buy the boat so we can spend weekends at the lake?”   Maybe you know this would perhaps enable them to never come to church.)

WHEN ADULT CHILDREN FAIL

What do you do when adult children reject moral, social, and spiritual wisdom and choose a life that is totally unacceptable?

Remember –

* A Good Environment Does Not Ensure Perfect Children.

(Consider the Garden of Eden….The Prodigal Son)

* There Are No Perfect People

* All People Are Responsible For Their Own Actions

* All People (even our adult children) Are Capable Of Totally Unreasonable Actions

* Behavior Does Not Necessarily Reflect Home Environment

* Eventually We Have To Allow Our Adult Children To Make Their Own Choices

* Make Sure Adult Children Know The Door To Home Is Never Completely Shut

* Make Sure Adult Children Know There Is A Longing To Forgive

(This does not mean they are let off the hook of personal responsibility.  No does it mean they can blame others or the devil that a particular behavior is sin. But we are determined to see him/her through one way or another.)

* Make Sure Adult Children See An Open Display Of Compassion

(Many times for fallen adult children, parents are sometimes their last hope.)

* Make Sure All Adult Children Have Explanations When They Don’t Understand Your Decisions

(It is the adult child’s sibling that has the hardest time understanding.)

* Make Sure More Emphasis Is Placed On Relationship Than On Finances Or Material Possessions

(The more serious the offense committed, the more difficult it is to forgive.  The less repentant the offender, the more difficult the act of forgiveness.  Truly repentant children, no matter what the acts committed, need your forgiveness almost as much as they need God’s forgiveness.  And true repentance of sin (that is repentance that leads to a change of behavior) is always accepted by God.)

But what about those tough cases where there is no repentance?  We must do our share and trust in God’s empowerment as we live with the burden of incomplete relationships until they are ready to repent of their failure

* Parents Can Not Give Up

(Keep praying, seeking counsel, reading, setting boundaries, exploring alternatives that might work, but keep your heart and home open.)

* Parents Can Not Cut Off All Contact

( Look for the little things…the exceptions…the meager attempts that you can use to capitalize on and reinforce the type of behavior that will be beneficial.)

* Parents Can Not Negate The Sin

(There is right…there is wrong…and even the best raised children do wrong.)

* Parents Can Not Reverse The Damage

(You can’t prevent circumstances and consequences from taking place.  You can’t always protect the grandchildren from psychological harm.)

Forgiveness is not the end of the story.  Forgiveness is not the last step in reestablishing a relationship.  It is the first.

Tag Cloud