Being a first-time parent is tough. You’re tired all of the time, you have a whole host of new responsibilities, and you’re figuring it all out as you go. Raising a child is both difficult and highly rewarding, and the newborn days can be exceptionally rough.
Parenting for the first time is always a challenge, but today, there are helpful apps that can make it a little easier to handle. Downloading these apps on your smartphone is a simple way to record your baby’s important and info and manage your day-to-day life with your new addition.
The Wonder Weeks
Ever wondered why your baby is suddenly much fussier than usual for a few days, even when their routine has stayed the same and they’re totally healthy? They might be having a “wonder week,” which refers to a period of rapid development that occurs several times throughout the first few months of a baby’s life. During a “wonder week,” your baby might cry more often and wake up more frequently throughout the night.
The Wonder Weeks app reveals which developmental milestones your baby reaches during a given week. It provides parents with tons of educational information on every “leap.” You can also use it to create personalized schedules. There is even a “leap alarm” feature so that you’ll always be ready for upcoming leaps!
It’s perfectly normal for first-time moms to have lots of questions about breastfeeding. New moms who are often on the go will want to know the simplest way to manage pumping and storing breastmilk. The app Milk Maid allows moms to enter information about pumping sessions, keep track of how much they have pumped, and note where they’ve stored the bottles and bags. Noticed any issues with your milk supply that could be indicative of a health problem? The Milk Maid app can help you share this data with your doctor. You can export everything you record in the app to a spreadsheet, which you are free to share with any medical providers.
Sit or Squat
Family road trips always require some advance planning, but when you’ve got an infant coming along for the ride, you’re going to need some extra preparation before packing up the car. In fact, as Kindred Bravely explains, you’ll need to fill your diaper bag with a number of important items one of which is a portable charger to keep your phone ready to roll.
The Sit or Squat app can help you plan where to stop and use the restroom. You can search for the nearest public restroom while driving, and you can also view photos and ratings of each public restroom on your route. This is especially useful for parents who want to make sure that there are clean changing tables wherever they choose to stop.
Cozi Family Organizer
Every new parent wonders how on earth they can keep their house clean while taking care of an infant. You find yourself putting off those basic chores that you and your partner used to finish in a couple of hours every Sunday afternoon. The laundry piles up, the sink is filled with dishes, and you can barely muster up the energy to vacuum. Cozi Family Organizer is an app that lets you enter the schedules of everyone in your household, make to-do lists and grocery lists, and even store your favorite recipes. You can see your whole family’s daily agenda in one place. Plus, the app lets you capture family memories to look back on together in the future.
As a new parent, it’s hard to stay organized, keep track of your baby’s important milestones, and communicate clearly with your partner when you’ve got so much on your plate. Sometimes, you’ll wish that you had a personal assistant to take care of it all — but if you can’t hire a secretary, these convenient apps are the next best option.
My first son and I have something very in common. We write our best articles when we feel passionate about something, especially if that something hits us in our emotions. Yep. We’re emotional beings and occasionally another being will hit our emotional nerve and cause us to sort things out until we feel we sufficiently understand them or can at least put it behind us.
(If you’d like to see his writings about refugees and his newest adventure in Uganda working with communities go to AndrewFrania.com. You will be blessed.)
So, if you’ve gotten this far and plan to continue reading, I’ll get specific and to the point.
Yesterday I spent time with and/or talked to 9 of my 15 children. I know! That’s pretty cool in itself. I could have even reached 10 but one of them hasn’t texted me back yet.
Let’s break it down and then I’ll address my topic.
(1) One of my adult kids just spent 2 days attacking me via text. Blindsided me actually. Out of the blue. I still have no idea why. It just happened. One minute I was holding my new grandson for the first time while out of town visiting him and his family and the next I was looking down at a text that totally obliterated my “new grammie feeling.”
For just a moment. A millisecond actually. I chose to compartmentalize that moment and willed myself to take myself back to that moment of bliss, blocking the cruel punch to my grammie bubble.
It’s something I’m learning and am getting pretty good at. Most of the time. For the most part. OK, sometimes I’m able to do it.
After our “grammie meeting new baby” trip was over, I questioned the texter as to the why of the attack and it just spiraled to an all out “beat up mom for no reason” texting extravaganza. I decided it was going nowhere, so I asked my DH to handle it for me. He’s such a good doobie. I seldom ask him to step in, but I was getting nowhere and just wanted it to stop. It was ruining my day and just adding to the mound of stress I already had been battling.
It continued into the next day – one text after another. This time it was at work and I needed to focus on my job, not this ranting from the abyss. I warned that it must stop and gave my ultimatum: be kind and respectful or I would block any communication using that handy, “block caller” check box. I’ve never done it before. But sometimes “ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.”
Are you like me? Do you check your texts in between your busy moments to see what’s going on in your little world and then get a sick, heart turning upside down, kinda feeling when you read something negative? What if you kept getting negative, mean or spiteful messages every time you looked at your phone for two days straight?
How long do you let it go on? Do you thrive on derision? I don’t.
I am happy to help someone in trouble, lift someone up that’s down. I thrive on meeting needs and encouraging others. But sometimes you just can’t help. Sometimes people are just hell-bent on destroying others because they themselves are unhappy. I don’t get it, but it does happen. That is the case here. I came to realize that whenever something negative or hurtful or disappointing happens to this individual, they immediately text and dump on me. Most of the time I can take it. Most of the time I can talk them through it and find out what happened and help them navigate their way through it.
But this time it was different. I was their emotional punching bag. Right. Mom always loves you. You can do whatever you want to her and she will always love you. Well, yes, this is true. BUT…
This time it was different because no reasoning worked. No questions were answered as to why the attack. There was no foundation for the spewed hatred being typed into words via text. The rant just kept coming. All day. All night. The next morning. So I blocked said attacker. I warned. It continued. I blocked. But that’s not the end of the story. It yet has to play out.
Now let me tell you what happened after that moment when the attack stopped (on my end, probably not on their end). But I couldn’t hear it because I checked that little box, “block caller.” Sometimes you just have to remove yourself from the path of destruction for your own safety.
But it gets better. At least it did for me. I mentioned I talked to 8 more of my kids that day. I suppose I am more blessed than others because when one hurts me, I still have 14 others that I can look to. And good percentage of those 14 are kind and loving toward me, consistently.
So here is the break down of the other 8.
(2) One called me from Uganda, East Africa in the middle of his busy work day to encourage me when he found out I was having a hard day.
(3) Another joked with me and shared her children – hugs from grandkids cannot be adequately described. A (4, 5)couple of others texted and messaged me – always upbeat and respectful no matter what is going on in their lives. The every day chatting with some of my kids provides a good dose of sanity and grounding, reminding me they do not live in the drama zone nor do they want to drag me into it. Refreshing.
(6) Another called wanting details on a car accident one of our other kids had been in – I realized I hadn’t called her to let her know. She could have been angry but she wasn’t! Hmmm. That is the standard families should hold to. Graciousness. A little found commodity in many families. Graciousness was what I needed – it was granted to me even when I was negligent by my lack of communication. And she didn’t even yell at me! No nasty texts. Only concern for her brother.
(7) Another called about the car accident, wanting to know how he could help.
(8) Another messaged me thanking me for a tiny gift I’d given him.
(9) One took me to dinner and shopping. Retail therapy. It works! (Maybe I shouldn’t have said that out loud!)
Of course I have to add my wonderful DH as always was, well, wonderful.
So here is my many faceted parenting tip #45.
You are not a punching bag. If your adult kids can’t be kind and respectful, walk away. Yes, you should try to help. Offer advice. Do what you can to alleviate suffering and meet needs. But if they are just mad and wanting to take it out on you because they think you are “safe,” then cause them to think again. Will you miss them if they don’t make it right? Yes. But you will not miss being abused.
Even if your kids are mentally disabled, emotionally scarred, or generally just clueless, that doesn’t mean they are incapable of being respectful and polite. Put up your boundaries. If they try to beat you up, taking their frustrations out on you, don’t let them do it! Draw your line and if they cross it, walk away. Tell them you love them no matter what, but that you will not let them abuse you.
I’m going to say it again. Moms are not punching bags. We are soft and breakable. We are not super human. We can be hurt. We have our own lives to manage and we are not responsible for managing our adult children’s lives. They must figure that out themselves. If anything, once they are adults, THEY SHOULD BE TAKING CARE OF US. We did our deal. For years we put them first, met their needs, taught them, educated them, taught them about spiritual things, modeled adulthood and set limits, taught them respectfulness, how to work hard…the list goes on. There is a time when that stops and you just become “mom” the one who they respect and care for. It’s called adulthood. If they can’t manage to do that, then look to those who do. Revel in their love and respect and let go of those who don’t.
Realize they may never come back if you make them stop hurting you. They may walk away because of some misguided accusation in their head that tells them they can’t count on you or that you don’t love them or some nonsense like that. They might choose to do something stupid that will damage them for life. Realize it’s not you, it’s them. Realize you cannot control them or their messed up thinking process. Of course the “*” to that is to assume you were not the cause of their problem. If you are, then fix it. In this case the attack was unwarranted and I have not discovered the root cause, though I tried. But honestly, it doesn’t matter.
The real root cause of such abuse is much deeper than what set the attack in motion. The root cause can only be fixed by God, the healer of all pain and hurt, the one who can spot a deep dark pit that harbors all the hate and anger. You can’t do it. You can’t fix whatever is wrong with them. So stop taking that on. This is a situation where the, “Let go and let God” comes into play. You cannot and are not obligated to fix everything and everyone who is broken. This especially applies to adoptive parents. You’ve done your best (hopefully) to raise them to be hard working, responsible adults with a conscience and a loving heart, ready and willing to serve God and their fellow man. They are adults now. They must choose to live right. Your relationship should and will change. Let it.
They are not your peers. If your adult children try to treat you as a peer, don’t allow it. You are the parent and they should respect and honor you. Period.
This was a long one. No pictures. No fancy doo-dads, quips or quotes. Just reality. Let me know your thoughts. But only if you are kind. I’ve had a rough week and it’s only Wednesday.
If you have, and are not sure still if you can help, even though everything looks kosher, then start out by helping them on a small scale.
Lend them a few dollars to get by and see if they pay you back.
Give them a ride and see if they are appreciative.
Say, “No” and see how they react.
Give good advice and wait to see if they follow it.
Watch their spending habits.
Pay attention to how they treat people around them.
Listen to their stories and complaints and evaluate their decisions.
You say it’s not right to judge? Well, if you are deciding on what part you will play in someone’s life, you’d better judge his or her behavior or you will find yourself on the wrong road. I once told my daughter that she may choose her own road, but don’t expect me to leave mine to walk that road with her.
You as a parent are under no obligation to follow your child down the wrong road by making bad decisions under the guise of “helping.” Dr. R.B. Ouellette once said that, “Opportunity does not equal obligation.” Let’s modify that a bit to say, “Whining and begging by an irresponsible, disloyal, or disrespectful adult kid does not mean you must meet their wants or needs.”
Save the bulk of your money and time for the kids that love and respect you and have proven themselves responsible. You say that’s not Christian? I say, where do you think the advice “Cast not your pearls before swine” came from?
There is a reason that the prodigal son ended up eating the food of the swine. He walked down the wrong road.
One of my sons many years ago would text or call me and say rude and disrespectful things. After reading the book, Boundaries, (affiliate link) I decided to put my foot down based on what had I learned from that book and told him each time that if he didn’t change the subject, I’d hang up.
I had to hang up a few times and yet the rude behavior continued. It got so bad that I finally told him that if he said one more thing that was out of line, I’d not talk to him for a month. It only took one time of following through for him to stop. If he slips, we just say, “Change the subject” and he does. Boundaries – they work.
I’ve been so successful at putting together a great circle that I no longer feel the need to put up with disrespectful or rude behavior. Part of it comes from confidence born out of experience, part of it comes from having enough self respect that allows me to pick and choose who I will spend time with. I spent 30 years parenting kids under 18 and now that they are all grown, I’m determined to guard my CIRCLE and keep it safe. It is the fuel that keeps me going and helps me weather life’s storms.
Get a CIRCLE. Only let the safe ones in. Lay down boundaries. Guard your CIRCLE with your life – for therein it lies.
* Disclosure: This post contain an affiliate link. If you buy anything after clicking on one of the affiliate links, I receive a small commission of the sale. The cost to you is the same, and I only link to items that I think would benefit my readers. Your support of this blog is greatly appreciated!
If you can answer all of the questions from yesterday, “Yes,” then it’s looking good for you to step out and help your adult child that is on SHAKY GROUND.
Now let’s break it down.
Is your SHAKY GROUND adult child really on the right road?
One of my Love My DIY Home subscribers sent me this quote: “If someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Too often an adult child in crisis will tell you they have turned their life around, have seen the Light, and their heart is in the right place. They are publishing on Facebook that their marriage is amazing, they make a lot of money, they love their family, yada, yada, yada, but in reality nothing has changed.
In the past (and I’m sure will in the future), I’ve been so hopeful that I took them at their word only to find out they were in a jam, were trying to dig themselves out of a pit but it didn’t last because there never was a real change. It got too hard or things improved, or the crisis passed, they went back to “the old them.”
You need to be discerning. Believe them but don’t believe them. In other words, be compassionate, be their cheerleader, encourage them, love them, even make an effort to help them (in a small way to start) to see how they will respond and what they will do with your help. Wait and watch. Be cautiously optimistic. This is not the time to bring out the big guns and devote tons of undivided attention or give them a lot of money. Help but keep your priorities strong. Don’t jump in with both feet until you KNOW. BTDT
You are both adults.
If you determine you can’t or won’t help, just tell them “No” or just don’t offer and leave it at that. You are under no obligation to explain. Both of you are adults. If they want advice on how to solve their problem, then offer it, but most likely if they not completely off the ROAD TO DESTRUCTION, they won’t want your advice anyway.
They will be offended and get angry or try to make you the bad guy. Don’t fall for their accusations. Be relieved that their behavior as shown you that you made the right decision.
Often when an immature or narcissistic adult is told, “No,” they think they are angry with the one who is not giving them what they want.
In reality their anger is a cover-up for their hurt pride and shows their extreme self-love. They have trouble identifying this emotion so they spew anger toward the one who disappointed them rather than doing some much needed introspection. After all, if they can label you as the selfish or uncaring one, then they won’t have to evaluate their own behavior.
introspection in·tro·spec·tion (ĭn’trə-spěk’shən) n. Contemplation of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and sensations; self-examination. www.dictionary.com
“If someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
NEVER forsake or ignore or put on the back burner those who have been faithfully in your circle for the one who is in trouble. Yes, you come to the aid of those in crisis if you can and if appropriate, but be sure to keep your priorities straight. It’s hard sometimes and it can be a real juggling act, but you can do it. It’s all about choices. Be aware that if you lose your circle, you lose your ability to reach outside of your circle to help others.
What road are you on as a parent? Are you on a STABLE STREET or PROSPERITY LANE where you have the resources to help them?
Are you sure that if you help them you won’t be thrown onto SHAKY GROUND or the ROAD TO DESTRUCTION?
Recently I spoke with a friend who told me she’s blown through all of her savings trying to help an adult child who took her for all she had – all because she whined about how hard her life is and constantly asked for money to bail her out.
The mom hadn’t set boundaries and was so afraid she’d lose her child that she gave in EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.
This is where I recommend the book Boundaries. (affiiate link)
Go read it. It changed my parenting life. Seriously. I’m not exaggerating.
If a child on the ROAD TO DESTRUCTION reaches down to a parent for help and the parent gives in, the child may never learn and the mom may eventually find herself on their ROAD, especially if she is on SHAKY STREET already. There is more than one way to end up on the ROAD TO DESTRUCTION, and they all begin with bad decisions.
Are you sure that if you help them that others who have earned a place in your CIRCLE will not go without or that your actions won’t damage your relationship? It’s good to let others into your circle, but not if it’s going to hurt the ones already in there. Guard your circle.
This one is tough. When my kids were little, we were constantly putting out fires. We bounced from one crisis to another because we had many kids who came from difficult backgrounds that had trouble learning, reasoning, had no idea what boundaries were, and extremely desired things they shouldn’t have. It was a constant struggle to get through most days.
But we also had a few compliant kids who desired to please their parents and had a genuine desire to do right. I had such trouble balancing a need to give positive attention to those kids because of the constant demand of the other ones. I was fortunate that the compliant kids were compliant and very patient and helpful.
There was one defining moment that set my course for the rest of our parenting for when they were all adults.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on Mom of Many because I’ve been busy putting together my DIY program.
But I’m back today with the first in a series – it started out to be a simple set of tips and morphed into a full-blown series because there was so much to say.
Have you ever wondered…
How do I tell them “No,” when I can’t help?
Am I obligated to help every time they ask?
What do I do when I have a demanding or whiny adult child?
Am I obligate to babysit every time they ask?
How do I deal with unkind behavior from my adult children?
Do I support them no matter what?
How do I deal with my feeling of guilt if I have to walk away or say, “No.”?
What if they keep asking for money?
Do I give it or loan it?
Mom, can I use your credit card?
And the beat goes on. So many questions. How do we know what to do? How do we deal with the emotional implications?
Here I will lie out my experiences with my 15 kids and perhaps show you what works and what doesn’t.
We Are All on a Road
Some by choice, some not by choice, though some would argue everyone is right where they are due to their own choices. But really, let’s be gracious and take the “high road” and realize that sometimes circumstance can throw a curve ball and knock even the stoutest person off their feet.
For the purpose of my illustration, let’s say there are four roads. I define them here:
ROAD TO DESTRUCTION – This is the road that will destroy you, your family, your future, possibly your life if you continue down. It’s hard to believe people choose this road, but they do.
SHAKY GROUND – This is the road that many walk daily. Financial struggles, relationship issues, job/financial woes, health issues, etc., but you are striving to work it out and your desire and choices are eventually going take you to STABLE STREET.
STABLE STREET – This is where maybe you aren’t financially independent, are fighting illness, or haven’t yet realized all your dreams, but you feel happy and confident, your relationships are great and you have a basic satisfaction and can honestly say, “Life is good.” You feel like you are doing well and feel blessed – you have a handle on life.
PROSPERITY LANE – I’m not sure anyone ever makes it to prosperity lane. I suppose some do or think they have, but life isn’t normally a bed of roses all the time. This is where we all desire to stroll. Relationships are fulfilling. You feel you’ve found your purpose in life and can pull out the stops in every area. Financially you are doing great. You are able to give to others. You have the wisdom to make great choices and confidence to advise others how to live. Others look up to you and your kids want to be just like you and appreciate you. Yep. Not sure this is possible, but it is what we all strive for.
One never ‘arrives” until the end of their life.
The final destination isn’t this world. We all are on a journey. That sounds hokey to me because EVERYone uses the word “journey”. But it really does fit. I think that it is very possible that is why we have so many screw-ups in this world. They look around and think they need to arrive and think – “this will make me happy,” “if I only had this I’d have a happy life.” They grasp at straws and never feel like they have “made it.”
This life is a road we are walking TOWARD a destination. Right now I won’t get into the spiritual aspect because that could be considered a “rabbit trail.” Though, I believe to be living in the Spirit allows us to access the ultimate road map.
Now, let’s define “CIRCLE.”
When I refer to our circle, I mean the realm where we live, where we are influencers. Those people love and respect us, treat us with deference, are there to help when needed, are loyal, and genuinely desire to be a part of our life consistently and faithfully. These are our people. Anyone can be in our circle, but they must earn a place. No one can join our circle over night.
Guidelines. Boundaries. Personal Safety.
Here are the guidelines we use when it comes to “helping” our adult kids. I put “helping” in quotation marks because we need to ascertain first whether stepping in and “helping” is really helping.
Through the years when we parented, many people felt it their obligation to step in when they saw some of our adult kids struggling and advise, give money to and even house them. This isn’t necessarily the right thing to do because it could be classified as enabling. But that’s another discussion.
If your child is ROAD TO DESTRUCTION with no sign of changing their lifestyle or making better choices, if they ask for advice but don’t follow it or just plain turn a deaf ear to the voices of reason all around them, then it should be parental hands off. Prayer and a whole lot of walking down the avenue of hope is our only resort as parents.
Now if they leave that ROAD TO DESTRUCTION and step onto SHAKY GROUND, you have a different scenario. They are cleaning up their lives, striving to improve their situation, looking for and following advice for the most part, and you see a genuine desire for change, then that changes things for you as a parent…maybe.
We must realize that SHAKY GROUND could also be the road of your new adult kids, newly married adult kids or even the road of new parents (grand kids, yes!). To be on SHAKY GROUND doesn’t mean your kids have done anything wrong or made bad decisions, it just means what it says. They are trying to find and keep their feet in the middle of difficult circumstances. Some do well; some do not. But for us as parents, we have to decide what put them there and if our help will actually help, if they need to do the balancing act alone or with you and your resources by their side.
When if your kids make the decision to step from THE ROAD TO DESTRUCTION to SHAKY GROUND, it certainly does change your relationship status. This is where relationships begin to mend but they are still tenuous and will need lots of work to get back on the right road. Should you step in and help at this point? If so, how much? That’s a hard question. Let’s answer a few questions first.
Is your SHAKY GROUND adult child really on the right road or are they just asking for help because they are in a crisis?
What road are you on as a parent? Are you on STABLE STREET or PROSPERITY LANE where you have the resources to help them?
Are you sure that if you help them you won’t be thrown onto SHAKY GROUND or the ROAD TO DESTRUCTION?
Are you sure that if you help them that others who have earned a place in your CIRCLE will not go without or that your actions won’t damage your relationship with your CIRCLE? It’s good to let others into your circle, but not if it’s going to hurt the ones already in there. Guard your circle.
Are they in your CIRCLE?
Does this adult child who is on SHAKY GROUND use gifts (time, money, advice, compassion) wisely and learn by example and through personal experience? In other words, would you be throwing your pearls before swine?
Does this adult child that is on SHAKY GROUND treat you with respect in private and public? Do they show appreciation when you help them? Are they trustworthy?
Are you offended yet?
Wait till you’ve read the whole thing before you decide.
I’ve not done book reviews in a long time. But since I’ve been wanting our church to improve our community outreach and strengthen the bonds among our church members, the desire for change has been chasing me. I want so much. I want a tight knit church family. I want a welcoming atmosphere for members and visitors. I want our community to know who we are and have a favorable opinion of us. I want to influence those around us.
I want it all.
Mark, my DH would say to me, “How’s it feel to want?”
I am never satisfied unless I’m moving forward, seeing results, and/or seeing victory on the horizon. I want more!
When I was approached to do a book review on Lessons from the East, I was curious after I read the synopsis. I accepted because it was along the line of what I’ve been searching out. Church polity. Ministry outreach. Church unity. The Great Commission. It’s all linked.
Yet, in many churches the links have been broken or are rusted.
Bob Roberts Jr. in the book Lessons from the East shares with us his approach. Some will think it’s “out there” because it’s pretty radical – different from what we are doing (or maybe I should say, “not doing”).
He suggests that we here in the western world focus too much on the wrong things: self promotion, numbers (competition among churches), our Sunday morning presentation, separation, etc. We take these things and place such a high importance on them that they overshadow our real purpose – to glorify God to the world.
His radical way of reaching out to people needs to be investigated and much of what he says evaluated and implemented here in our home churches. He formed a world wide group of ministers who want to reach their area like those in the East – befriend all men and bridge the gap that has become so wide that we no longer have any influence.
We need to do something! Regardless of how we agree or disagree with Mr. Roberts, we know our outreach ministries are not impacting our communities like they should.
We need change and we need it now.
I don’t agree 100% with his opinions or methods, but that is the beauty of what he suggests. True believers with differing opinions are still in the same fold and should not isolate themselves or shun others who are different out of fear. Nor should we fear those of other faiths. How do we let God’s light shine through us if we hide away in our church buildings afraid of being “tainted”? If our faith is solid, which it should be, then who or what is there to fear?
Let’s befriend all men and allow God to love them through us.
I recommend this book – not because I agree with Mr. Roberts 100% but because we need to take a fresh look at how we are ministering to those around us and what our true purpose is. It’s time for change – not in doctrine but in its practical application.
She is a good mom, cares for her child, works hard, is faithful and loving. She did what her mom did with her back when she was little. She did what she thought was best in the moment.
While she was in the store an onlooker called the police and took a picture of her son sitting in the car alone. Since the whole fiasco, this mom has decided her choice was unwise and plans to never do it again. She does a great job in the article laying out the situation and ramifications.
My comments have to do with calling 911 to deal with situations like hers:
This onlooker though she knew best and felt the need to “protect” a stranger’s child.
She didn’t know the mom.
She didn’t know the kid.
She didn’t know the circumstances, age, or maturity of the boy.
She thought she knew better than the mom.
She perceived “danger” when there was none, until she grabbed her phone, that is.
SHE was the danger to this boy.
Her one phone call caused this family a year’s worth of pain and loss.
Because of her reaction to a perceived danger, the mom was charged with child endangerment.
This one act created a long lasting fear in the child that someone would come take him away from his mom.
You might say, “Well, she deserved it.” or, “No, the mom caused it with her decision to leave her child.” Regardless of your opinion regarding leaving kids in the car for a few moments, one thing we must agree upon. The mom is the mom. Her parental rights say she and the dad alone have a say in how they parent. Period.
The boy wasn’t in danger
He wasn’t in trouble, causing trouble, or in any type of distress.
It wasn’t hot out.
He had the maturity to handle himself and was happily sitting, playing on an iPad.
Stranger danger? Yep…danger from someone who thought they were responsible for a stranger’s child while walking by.
A different lady on one of my Facebook groups saw a boy in a car alone and asked what everyone thought she should do. Should she call 911 or leave him alone and mind her own business? The responses were split. Half said leave it alone and half said she should call 911. What do you say?
Guess what she did…
She stayed with the boy while he sat in the car until his mom came out – because she was concerned.
She didn’t call 911 – because it wasn’t any of her business.
She limited her “social responsibility” to observation, not judgement or action.
Win. Win. She alleviated her doubts and helped a mom in need (or so she felt was in need – it’s called appropriate, non threatening concern).
Is there a better way?
Why don’t we just help instead of criticize?
Why don’t we give people the benefit of the doubt and do what is best for everyone involved?
People don’t understand that by calling 911, or protective services, they are creating a danger in the lives of the entire family that is just as damaging as the perceived risk of leaving a child in the car (if not more).
One day I was in a bathroom stall and heard a mom come in with several little kids. She keep saying, “Stay right in front of the door while I am helping your brothers go potty.” She kept talking to her 6 year old son to keep him occupied while she took care of business. She had three little kids.
Was the boy standing outside the stall in any danger? No. Could he have been? Maybe. If I’d been a pervert or kidnapper, I definitely had opportunity. But I wasn’t. He was fine. Was I concerned? A little Was there a minor possibility of a problem? Maybe.
Rather than criticize or assume she couldn’t handle her kids, I decided to help.
I told her I would stay with her son and watch the door until she was done.
I explained I was a mom of a bunch of kids and I understood her situation.
She profusely thanked me when she came out and explained that she was frazzled trying to manage them.
I certainly knew what she meant because I’ve gone shopping with a passel of kids and know what it’s like to try to manage all of them alone (which is why I seldom went out alone without my DH!)
He was fine and she was encouraged by a concerned onlooker.
Let’s not judge, intervene or criticize.
Let’s not cause a problem where there is none.
Let’s not assume we know better than the parents.
Let’s not step in where we don’t belong.
Let’s decide to help rather than create a problem where there is none.
If we see a need. Let’s help.
If we see possible danger. Let’s help.
If we see a mom needing help, let’s help!
Let me know what you think or if you’ve had experience with the “helping hand.” I have a comment section and I read every one!
Back when all 15 kids were home and we were crazy busy, I still took time to read books, learn new technology and techniques in my graphic design and photography passions and kept up with several of my hobbies. Do you? Do you have a hobby or creative outlet that brings a smile to your face? You need to get a hobby if you don’t have one now.
Why a hobby, you ask?
Well, to start with, you want to maintain your sanity. To be creative and see progress even in the smallest of areas helps you to stay positive and motivated. Hobbies such as gardening, scrapbooking, painting, reading, blogging, etc. give you a creative outlet. There are so many stressors in our lives that we need to find ways of release.
Too busy, you say? Nope. You aren’t too busy to have hobbies. Actually, if you are very busy, you NEED those creative outlets to balance your daily life. If you work all the time, your body and mind will eventually tell you, “STOP!” either through illness, exhaustion or plain ol’ mental weariness.
There are others benefits too.
Scrapbooking showed my kids that they were VALUABLE. Often there would be one or more of the kids standing at my side or looking over my shoulder to see what I was up to and would find their pictures being double sided taped to the page with some fancy embellishments – this made them feel wanted and special. It was tangible.
When I painted shirts for my kids, they were able to see their personality and preferences come to life via paint. The other day when my youngest DD and I were looking through some old toddler clothes from long ago, she came across a toddler shirt with an elephant on it – she knew who it had belonged to because we all knew our son loved elephants.
Reading allows you to step outside of a very stressful life and jump into someone else’s for a brief moment – a chance to let go of the things that plagues you, even if for a brief time. I would read in the living room, the hub of family activity, which allowed me to supervise AND regroup, to mentally let go of the things that were worrisome.
Photography was another way I could show my kids that they mattered. I was the church and school’s ministry and sports photographer and graphic designer, so as I was taking the kids’ pictures and editing them, they saw themselves become the “focus” (no pun intended) in my scrapbooks, the school yearbook, website and publications.
Think about your life.
Some people think that if they sacrifice every moment of their life for ministry or others, then God will bless them above and beyond. It IS true that a life spent for Christ is rewarding and will bring blessing, but it is NOT true that 100% must be dedicated to our “calling.”
Give yourself a break. You will be happier and healthier if you give yourself a mental, emotional and physical respite. It will help you be focused, encouraged and hopeful. People who are burned out or even bored and some of the most miserable people around – they tend to either be discouraged, depressed or turn into dull, overly pious or busy bodies.
Dull? Yes. If someone has nothing that draws them creatively, where will their depth of personality come from? Where do you think coveting comes from?
Overly pious? Yes. If a person dedicates 100% of their time to service, they might begin to wonder why others don’t and will judge them accordingly.
Busy body? Yes. If one has no personal life, they may begin to look into others’ lives and think they are much more interesting (and they would be right!) and start to meddle and criticize just to get some attention because they are feeling unfulfilled (no depth).
Do any of these apply to you? Probably not. But watch out – it has a way of creeping up on a person and is seldom recognized because the motivation is seldom understood. If we don’t know why we do something or why we think the way we do, how do we even begin to change or seek the solution?
So moms, get a hobby. It’s for the good of everyone around you, including you.
In the comments below, list your hobbies. You never know, you just might inspire someone! If you are willing to help a mom start up a new hobby, you can do so in our M.O.M. Facebook group.
Yesterday I left off with: “There was one defining moment that set my course for the rest of our parenting for when they were all adults.”
Let me tell you about that moment.
When our older kids were in college, they all came home from college for Easter one year and I found myself falling into the crisis repairing stage with one of them during those few days. At the end of the week, I’d realized that short vacation was gone and I’d not had many good moments with the ones that weren’t in crisis. I’d spent all my time trying to put out a fire that eventually just re-ignited anyway.
So basically I had chosen the one in crisis over the ones that were not. I felt like the worst parent in the world. I decided right then that I would NEVER do that again. Never again would I put a troubled adult ahead of one that was not. I worked at repairing and protecting my CIRCLE from that day on. I have determined to surround myself with those who consistently love and respect me, make a genuine effort to do right, and try to live a good and peaceable life.
That doesn’t mean I won’t be there for those who were in trouble or need me. But I will always carefully consider my priorities and strike a better balance. Now that all of my kids are over 18, I do not feel I have any obligation to disrupt, ignore or put off anyone in my CIRCLE for anyone outside of it. If that offends you, go back and read my definition of CIRCLE. It is what it is and I don’t apologize for it.
It is the only way to have peace and be happy when you have difficult kids who choose to live a self-destructive lifestyle or constantly find themselves on SHAKY GROUND due to bad decisions. I will not risk losing those in my CIRCLE ever again. Nor will I pressure those in my circle to join me when I reach outside of it to help someone in crisis. That is for them to decide. For me to do any of that would be choosing to walk the ROAD TO DESTRUCTION or the very least to be on SHAKY GROUND with those in my CIRCLE.
Does this adult child who is on SHAKY GROUND use gifts (time, money, advice, compassion) wisely and learn by example and through personal experience? In other words, would you be throwing your pearls before swine?
Does this adults child that is on SHAKY GROUND treat you with respect in private and public? Do they show appreciation when you help them? Do they only “love” you when you give them things?
Have you ever given money to a person for a bill and they turned around and spent a bunch of money on unnecessary “stuff”?
We have an obligation to not be an enabler.
An example of an enabler would be a wife who covers up for her husband who is a drunk or an abuser. She fears losing her home, her security and even her life if she speaks up and asks for help.
Moms and dads feel this pressure too. BUT if we enable those adult kids through giving and giving and then giving some more when they just squander our gifts, how are we helping them to break the cycle of irresponsible living and bad choices? Wouldn’t it be better for them to fail and learn from their mistakes? Sometimes it takes many mistakes for them to learn, but let’s not put off their learning by fixing their problems for them.
Do we not have an obligation to be good stewards?
Might we not fail ourselves if we don’t make wise choices? Does our obligation of being a good example end when our kids turn 18? Do we not influence everyone around us? Are we exempt from the consequences of our wastefulness? Is it OK to waste our money on those who will squander it?
Before you help any of your kids on a grand level, look at who they are. Are they kind and respectful? Are they hard working and responsible? Are they givers themselves and generally live right and strive to be a blessing to others? Do they make wise decisions and put forth their best effort? Is the need genuine? Did they arrive at this need through bad decisions?
Remember the quote, “If someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Let this guide you.
Years ago we saw a rash of food theft in our home. We limited the sugar many of our kids consumed because of their sensitivity, though occasionally we would reintroduce it into their diets to test it out. Within two weeks we’d see such a negative change in their behavior that we’d withdraw it again.
There were some who would sneak whatever they could find when my back was turned – a mom has got to use the bathroom once in a while! One day I came out into the living room and saw one of my kids throw an empty pop bottle into the kitchen bathroom, hoping I’d not see they had taken it out of the fridge.
When confronted, they would not own up to their disobedience even though it was obvious I saw them. When I retrieved the empty bottle,
confirming what had happened, they still would not admit they had done it. “Deny to the death” was their mantra.
There is a meme going around on Facebook that says, “Don’t worry about it… just deny, lie, attack those telling the truth, blame everyone else, and then pretend to be sorry. Works every time.”This quote not only fits the person who denies even when confronted with ironclad evidence of their wrong, but could create a dilemma in the mind of one who does not parent confidently.
I was fortunate enough to have been very confident and tried to always be consistent. My DH was the same and we supported each other. And by the way…BOTH parents need to project a united front. It is important for a child’s emotional security.
If you can get someone to doubt themselves, you have defeated them.
There is a common thread among some of today’s teens and young adults who think their parents ought to apologize for discipline.
direction, order, authority, rule, strictness, a firm hand
As believers we had a two-fold purpose: to turn out responsible kids who loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him. To do so required a stalwart resolve that colored every minute of every day, every decision, and every move we made. It required a 100% faithful consistency and unwavering commitment.
We believed that to waiver is to fail.
That commitment was more important than friends. It was more important than ministry. It was more important than our own lives or welfare. It was more important than sleep, food or money. The kids’ welfare dominated our every thought, our every plan, our every move.
So why apologize?
If the above is true, if a parent can honestly say that they did their best with the best of intentions, then why do we see parents apologizing to their children for being too hard on them? Why do we see children asking their parents to admit they were bad parents and asking them to apologize? Why do parents feel responsible for the bad choices their kids make in adulthood when they were taught to do right? Why are parents feeling guilty? For what?
Disclaimer time: I’m not letting parents off the hook that aren’t doing or didn’t do their best, are or were lazy or neglectful. I’m not condoning the behavior of parents who don’t/didn’t care about their kids and put their own desires and welfare ahead of their kids.
I’m talking about the parents who did their best to provide a good, stable home. I’m talking to the parents who, with great consideration, raised their kids to respect authority, be responsible, care for others, work hard, be consistent, live morally, love God and value family. No one can judge a parent. Only God can judge and only He knows the circumstances and challenges the parent had to deal with.
Since when are parents accountable to their children?
God is the giver of life. He alone builds families.
God alone knows what is best and what the future holds and which parents each child needs to become what He has planned for them.
God knows who were are, what we’ll do, and how we will react.
He has things in place to guide and direct us and if we truly desire to follow and please Him, then He will be our guiding Light.
God has the power to intervene and will do so when needed.
It is not the responsibility of anyone but God alone to judge a parent and He can be trusted to manage and mold anyone or anything into His own perfect plan.
You will not find past generations cowering to their kids immature emotional demands.
Why do parents feel the need to apologize when there is no need? In the story above, in a later conversation that child told me, “It’s your fault. If you would let me have sugar whenever I wanted it I wouldn’t have to steal.”
If I had lacked confidence, I might have bought into that faulty reasoning, or at least re-evaluated my prior decision to do what was best for them and the family.
“Don’t repent of decision in the dark decisions made in the light.”
Children don’t have the latitude to make those decisions because of their lack of maturity, experience and information. That is why God gave them parents. Yet, as they remember back, their incomplete and immature memories corrupt their thought process.
It is important to your kids’ maturing process that they stop blaming others or their circumstances or consequences for their actions and start taking responsibility for their decisions and how they will affect their future. To fixate on what they thought was unfair keeps them looking back. For many this can hinder their maturing process.
Should we apologize for:
Providing a healthy lifestyle?
Teaching them to clean up after themselves or help with the chores?
Requiring they do their homework and do their best in class?
Setting a bedtime and requiring them to be quiet and leave everyone else alone?
Teach them to be respectful, obedient, and kind?
Making them take responsibility and holding them responsible for their actions?
Expecting proper dress and language?
Preventing them for owning things that would tempt them to do wrong?
Teaching them to work, pray or plan ahead?
Following through, being consistent or persistent?
It’s not that complicated.
Am I saying we should never apologize?
Occasionally we will run across someone that felt offended or was hurt unintentionally and they will harbor feelings of ill will. If they are not mature enough to put it in the past and leave it there, then is when you say, “I had no intention of offending you, but I’m sorry if you felt that way.” If it was over a good decision that they didn’t like, add, “But I stand by my decision.” This can be applied to our children as well.
If you’ve done your best as a parent because you wanted the best for your child, then don’t apologize. It’s simple. Don’t enable your child if they cling to a corrupted memory of the past. They don’t always remember correctly or may be searching for an excuse for their poor behavior (probably both). If you apologize for good parenting, you only enable their immature thought process and undo all your past work.
It’s amazing the growth you can see in a person when they stop blaming others. Stand firm by your conviction that you were/ARE a good and faithful parent. Make them see the truth through the boundaries that you set – by your confidence in your parenting.
We are amazed and thrilled at how well most of our kids are doing in their adult life and are blessed often with good reports. Hang on if you are discouraged – God isn’t done. We should always have hope our kids will mature and take hold of our faith and lead a responsible lifestyle.
Takeaway: Kids don’t respect weak parents.
They don’t always appreciate their upbringing until they mature – but that doesn’t mean you were wrong.
Give them time to mature, but don’t waiver. Exude confidence.
Stand firm and expect to be treated with respect. They need your strength and confidence to have a firm footing.
Let them go. If they walk away, just stay put till they come back. Don’t compromise to gain their favor.
Wait and pray and always – always, watch out the window for when they come back and meet them on the porch with a hug and a “Welcome home, we’ve missed you.”