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Should We Help Our Adult Children? Parenting Tip #44

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?

Should we help our adult children? {Mom of Many)

                  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.

Four Roads

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.”

*Buzzer sound*

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.

  1. Is your SHAKY GROUND adult child really on the right road or are they just asking for help because they are in a crisis?
  2. What road are you on as a parent? Are you on STABLE STREET or PROSPERITY LANE where you have the resources to help them?
  3. Are you sure that if you help them you won’t be thrown onto SHAKY GROUND or the ROAD TO DESTRUCTION?
  4. 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.
  5. Are they in your CIRCLE?
  6. 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?
  7. 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.

Come back tomorrow for more…

Val @ Mom of Many

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

#1 in This Series  (you are here)

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Adoption Challenges Family Parenting tips

Stop Apologizing! Parenting Tip #42

 

True Story…

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,

parenting tips {Mom of Many}
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

discipline
dis·ci·pline ˈdisəplən/noun
the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior,
using punishment to correct disobedience.
“a lack of proper parental and school discipline”
synonyms: control, training, teaching, instruction, regulation,
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.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

We believed that to waiver is to fail.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

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.”

WHAT?

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.

All kids have potential {Mom of Many}

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.

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.”

Val @ Mom of Many

Join Mom of Many to be invited to our secret/closed M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff. If you need support, a strong shoulder or a listening ear – M.O.M. is here. If you’re interested, let me know!

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

 

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When Your Child Publicly Hates You – Parenting tip #40 (Part 2)

I ended Parenting Tip #40 (Part 1) like this…

Next I will tell you how we handle the publicly declared accusations and hate mail as siblings and parents. God speed and until next time…

Public hatred {Mom of Many}
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So how do we deal with public jabs, attacks and innuendos?

How should we react or address twisting of the truth, stretching, shading or outright lies? Should we react at all?

Should we counter lies with the truth? Should we acknowledge any accusations, stories or public defamation?

This is tough because such public attacks are not only hurtful, but they undermine the entire family dynamic. When a child publicly lashes out, other family members and friends who read it are affected. This type of bitterness damages relationships, casts shadows, and breaks down communication within a family and has no value.

Let’s first look at the WHY.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

Why does the adult child publicize their hatred of the parent? Is there any benefit to them?

  • They have bitterness in their heart that must get out. Bitterness not only blackens the heart of those who carry it, but it must fling it’s slimy sludge all over anyone within arms length and with the Internet, it no longer is limited to arms length.
  • With the lack of maturity that is needed to deal with and eradicate bitterness, those wallowing in dark thoughts think it will make them feel better to lash out at those that they think are the cause. They are mistaken. It will only grow the more they feed it.
  • Bitter people don’t want to suffer alone – they must make everyone else suffer as well. Those who listen to and believe the bitter person’s irrational accusations have a propensity for the darkness as well. Misery loves company, so we should not be surprised when those we thought were friends pat the offender on the head and say, “You poor baby.” It speaks to their hidden darkness and draws it out.
  • Bitterness is poison that needs to grow and destroy by its very nature. Just like happy people who must share their good news, bitter people feel the compulsion to share their misery.
  • Those who are bitter often have a difficult time identifying the root cause because of pride. When there is mental or emotional damage, their pride (self protection and narcissism) takes over and common sense and understanding are not present. “I must feel rotten, and it can’t be anything I did, so it must be “such and such’s” fault. (which usually, MOM = Such and Such)
  • To publicize their bitter thoughts, they are seeking approval. Since there will always be others with emotional issues, they will always find someone to “like” their words. People who are immature, gullible, bitter themselves or given to gossip and disloyalty are their best allies.
  • Those who are hurt often want to hurt others. It is a tough cycle to break.

 

How Should We Respond?

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

So what do we do as parents of these kids? Should we do anything?

It is very hard on a parent when they love a bitter child who is caught up in their own foolishness. Unrequited love is painful but when you add foolish behavior a desire hurt others, the whole enchilada is difficult to digest.

Have you ever read the verses, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” (Prov. 26:4)

Uh huh. With foolishness, you CAN.NOT.WIN. God said so.

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

But we are to warn the unruly, and comfort those who struggle mentally, being as patient as possible. It is our responsibility as friends or family to warn or loved ones when they are on a destructive path, but not to be surprised if our warnings go unheeded. It’s the combination of pride, foolishness and bitterness that builds the impenetrable wall.

Lose the Old Habits

I used to think that if I could just talk to them, explain, make them remember what really happened, remind them of what they were like to live with, what they did, why we did what we did…that it would all be better. Um. No. It doesn’t work. You can talk all day until you are blue in the face and you will NEVER change them.

Now I only give advice when asked and don’t spend a lot of time doing it – that way I know that I have taken care of my responsibility (but I don’t expect change).

Dump Them into God’s Lap

Only life’s consequences and God’s hand can change them. Period.

I used to spend hours on the phone with some of my kids trying to talk sense into them. They would hang up and go right back to the same behavior, belief system and bitter living. I would stress over our conversation for hours or even days – long after they had already forgotten about everything that I said.

It was a waste of time and only caused me to be emotionally drained and sometimes even discouraged.

I don’t do it any more.

I sleep much better.

Dealing with Hate {Mom of Many}
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Learn to Ignore

I do my best to ignore it all (once the kids grow and go) and focus on the kids who are good to me – the kids who love me and bring me joy.

And I wait. I wait for the others to come around. I wait for life to throw them enough curve balls that they finally remember, that they finally realize that all the things that drive their bitterness are not real or at least had nothing to do with us, those of us who tried their best to do what was best for them (and were trying to survive). I wait for God to get a hold of their heart.

Guard Your Heart

Does it hurt? Yes. But I do my best to set it aside. I’m getting pretty good at it after years of practice.

The fact that I’ve seen radical changes in many of my kids makes all the difference – I’m seriously blessed to see the maturity and loving nature of most of my kids who have had so much to overcome. This progress has filled in the holes created by past and present hate and bitterness.

Find Your Happy Place

The fact that I’ve had an armful of kids and grandkids (and a DH) that have ALWAYS loved me has carried me along and kept me whole (kept me from the depths of despair and maintained my sanity, for the most part).

Family Selfie {Mom of Many}

  1. We know God has endured pain and hurt from His people and still has remained faithful and loving, giving us a great example of what his power can do to help us achieve or endure.
  2. We need to cling to the good things/people in our life. To feel fortunate gives us the fuel to get through the tough times.
  3. The children who know and express the love of God make it worth enduring the ones who do not.
  4. To not go on the defensive and counter the attacks allows the door to our home to stay open – we need to maintain our hope that they will one day walk through it. Hope goes a long way.

Hang tight. Patiently wait. Pray God will work. Watch out the window. Keep the door open. Accept them when they do finally walk through. Reassure them you love them. Keep the lines of communication open. If they make things right, start new. Remember we are all imperfect and forgiveness should be immediate when asked for. Hope. Always hope.

SUGGESTIONS:

  1. Buy the book Boundaries by Townsend. Learn to set boundaries that set you free of the pain.
  2. Join the Mom of Many mailing list and be invited to our exclusive M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff. If you need support, a strong shoulder or a listening ear – M.O.M. is here.

Have you ever been hurt by your kids? What did you do about it? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

 

Val @ Mom of Many

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

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Do you make your kids share? Parenting Tip #36

Sharing a Different Perspective

If you practice the typical parental sharing rule among your children, you may be creating bitterness, a selfish heart and a self centered mindset.

I know. Parenting can be a scary thing when you consider you might be causing the very behavior you are trying to avoid.

Sharing - Parenting Tip #36 {Mom of Many}A Parenting Mistake

Little Johnny gets a new Lego Bug Obliterater set and he spends hours putting it together. He sits back on his heels and admires his work as his little brother comes from behind and grabs the mega bug and rips off the wings and runs off with his Lego guy.

Johnny hollers, “Moooommmmm! Buster (which is a good name for the little guy since he is Destructo in the flesh) just broke my Lego bug and took my star strider!”

And then how does mom respond? “Johnny, share with your brother!”

What??? Really?

Johnny’s Emotional Response

  1. He now KNOWS his mom won’t protect his things from others. (fear)
  2. His brother becomes the enemy. He decides he must watch for invaders in his personal space. (self protection)
  3. He decides that if mom isn’t his ally, then he must look within and only trust himself. (feelings of abandonment)
  4. Things become more important than the people around him because he begins to fear loss. (materialism)
  5. A little seed of bitterness and resentment begins to grow. (anger)

Sharing - Parenting Tip #36 {Mom of Many}

A Better Parental Response

Johnny hollers, “Moooommmmm! Buster (which is a good name for the little guy since he is Destructo in the flesh) just broke my Lego bug and took my star strider!”

Mom responds: “Buster, you know that belongs to Johnny. You are free to watch him play and maybe he’ll invite you to play with him. But it’s up to him. Johnny, maybe you can build him something to play with?”

Johnny now believes:

  1. His mom respects him and what belongs to him. (security)
  2. Mom considers him to be as important as Buster. (value)
  3. Family can play and work together and be considerate. (courtesy)
  4. Boundaries foster good relationships. (respect)
  5. Buster will learn to play nice or he won’t get what he wants. (cause and effect)
  6. He can share with Buster out of love, not obligation. (love)

“Teach your kids to share,” is not a mandate to make them give up their things. Evaluate each situation and guage your parental response according to what is best.

Do we not protect our possessions? As adults, we hate taxes. We’d much rather give out of a heart of love or concern for others than have things taken from us without our consent. Remember the Boston Tea Party?  Are you against socialism? Do we not lock our doors to protect what is ours?

If your children fear loss, they will put up barriers and self protect. Rather than teaching them to fear, teach them to prefer others and learn to love in practical ways. Lead by example. Let them see you are a giving person. Let giving and sharing be by their choice.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

You don’t teach your kids to GIVE by TAKING AWAY from them.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

Do you make your kids share?

Val @ Mom of Many

Join the Mom of Many mailing list and be invited to our exclusive M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff.

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Are you an overprotective mama? 10 Ways to Know for Sure – Parenting Tip #35

Are you an overprotective mom? {Mom of Many}Let’s take the umbrella test…

  1. Do you know your child WELL?
  2. Do you have their best interests at heart – are they your priority?
  3. Do you take the time to get to know your kids’ friends?
  4. Are you a good example?
  5. Are you involved in EVERY part of your kids’ lives – school, faith (church), home, outside activities, hobbies, friends, etc.?
  6. Do you know the adults WELL that are responsible for supervision when you are not around?
  7. Do you pay attention to what is going on in your family, with your kids, and those they spend time with?
  8. Do you talk to your kids – and listen?
  9. Do you supervise well and watch for issues that need to be addressed?
  10. Are you consistent, available and faithful?

If you answer “Yes” to these questions then I’d say you can trust your mama instincts. Too many times I let others’ opinions influence my decisions negatively. It took me years to shut out the whisperings and follow my own mama bear instincts. If you have no one to support you, and you believe your are doing the best you can, then go find someone that you respect, has experience, and can get in your corner.

Stick to your guns.

We don’t like it when people criticize our parenting. But then we stress over their “advice”. We know that if others criticize us then we must be doing something wrong – um, no. Not necessarily. We need to confidently hold our own if we truly feel we are doing what God has appointed us to do. We need to reek of confidence when we deal with our kids too. Why do we cave when our kids throw a fit over our parenting? We need to drip of confidence in order to get our kids to take us seriously and have reason to trust us.

You are not your kids’ friend.

Make it clear that you are the Mom and you will make hard decisions when needed. Let them know that no matter what, you will always look out for them and choose what is best, ALWAYS – even when they don’t agree. If you are a good mom, and if you are reading this I’ll bet you are a stellar mom, then trust your intuition. Ask God for guidance and then do what you think is best – even if others disagree – even if your kids throw a fit.

Learn, grow, ask questions, seek advice.

Keep your eyes peeled, consider, evaluate, follow through. Your kids are counting on you and if they don’t agree, do your mama thing anyway. I do believe we ought to listen to them and consider their wishes, if they present it properly. But remember: they need your guidance even if they don’t want it or appreciate it.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)God is your umbrella and you are theirs.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.”
~Erma Bombeck

Val @ Mom of Many

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Do you have a saboteur? When Kids Enjoy Trouble – Parenting Tip #31

Definition of SABOTAGE

1: destruction of an employer’s property (as tools or materials) or the hindering of manufacturing by discontented workers
2: destructive or obstructive action carried on by a civilian or enemy agent to hinder a nation’s war effort
3a: an act or process tending to hamper or hurt   b: deliberate subversion

 

Sound familiar? Do you have a saboteur in the house?

This is a very specific issue. A saboteur isn’t the child who is just struggling – it’s for the child who is deliberately choosing to inflict pain or daring his parents in a “see if I care” sort of way.

It can be very discouraging to a mom when a child seems to enjoy trouble, does the opposite of what they are told and repeats the cycle of disobedience in a way that makes you suspect they are purposely trying to hurt the family.

Hopefully they aren’t plotting a planning their own or your destruction (though some of mine tried).

Often this type of behavior is a response to some sort of painful memory or behavioral pattern established from trauma in the past. Self destructive behavior can affect the entire family. They often realize they are doing it – some want to quit but aren’t sure how and others enjoy inflicting pain because they think it makes them feel better – a sort of whacked, “pain loves company” mental state.

One of our kids was sure he would eventually be abandoned or kicked out so he set up scenarios where he would do something that he thought would ensure it or he would decide on his own that he was leaving. Even when we sat down and explored his options (running away meant no home, no food, no family and staying and working out problems meant family support, warm tasty meals, a warm bed, etc.) he still chose to run.

Of course we would veto such decisions but couldn’t always keep a close enough eye on him that he couldn’t slip out. We always got him to come back but eventually moved him into a children’s home. That’s a long story and I won’t go into that now. Just realize that sometimes reason doesn’t work.

Sometimes Discipline Will Work

BUT, in my experience practical parenting must coincide to form new habits and mindsets. In Parenting Tip #21, I talk about supervision. You start there. If you aren’t keeping a good eye on your kids there will be more room for sabotage. Idle hands and minds can get very creative in a short time!

Positive Reinforcement?

See Parenting Tip #22. A mind set of messing with you won’t be easily changed. You’ve got to show them it is in their best interest to follow your rules, be respectful of the family and compliant.

The Big Guns Come in Parenting Tip #6

I give you some practical steps to take with teenagers who bully Mom (usually doesn’t happen to Dad). Some of the bullying is natural growth done the wrong way and it’s up to others to step in and show them how to become a man without stepping all over mom. It’s hard when there’s one parent, especially if it’s a mom. At that point it would help to have the support of a male role model. It could be someone like an uncle, older brother, neighbor, friend, husband of a friend or your pastor.

Let me encourage you.

These kids can wear you down and even make you think the problem is YOU making you think:

  • You don’t love them enough
  • You aren’t meeting his needs
  • You are not patient enough…maybe you need to give them more space
  • You just don’t understand
  • You don’t do enough for them

Um. No. It’s not you. It’s them. Get a grip on these false feelings. Gather your courage around you like a flak jacket and arm yourself with some butt kicking confidence and attack this issue head on. The sooner you are confident, the sooner you will see progress.

Here are some things I learned along the way:

  1. Exude confidence. You must leave off all emotion when dealing with saboteurs. Act like a cop. No crying, begging or upset faces allowed, mom. A matter-of-face face is scary to teens. Scare them with your courage.
  2. Decide ahead of time what consequences will be for each particular behavior, write it down and post it on the fridge. A heads up for the transgressor will squelch many a misdeed. These kids are smart and very much into self protection.
  3. Find their hot button. Do they like computer games, have a fave show or does money speak to them? Get creative and remove or reward behavior. Sometimes rewarding others and leaving the offender out speaks volumes. “Hey kids, let’s stop for fries on the way home! Sorry, Joe, not you this time. Maybe you can reconsider the attitude while we eat our fries.”
  4. Research food allergies – sometimes in extreme instances allergies can create manic behavior. We had a son who went bonkers if he ate corn or in a corn field. Go figure.
  5. Provide a united front. Explain the issues. Clue everyone in. Let the whole family know what you plan to do and ask who is on board. We occasionally had family meetings where we asked for a show of hands. Draw the line in the sand and ask who wants to be on your side. This is serious stuff and you need to let everyone know “I GOT THIS.”
  6. Try to get a handle on their issues. When I discovered one of my sons had Asperger’s all made sense and I totally changed my approach. Do research. RAD is a serious issue that you might be dealing with.
  7. Don’t deal with this alone. We had little support and had to find our way with little help. Find a friend and share your issues – it always helps to have someone who knows and will support you if something goes wrong.
  8. Keep a journal of all happenings – EVERY DAY. You must protect yourself and journals help establish a timeline and important information that might be needed later. See Tip #12.
  9. There may come a time where their behavior is too intense for your family and you must separate them for the safety of all, including them. There are children’s homes and residential facilities equipped for the most difficult cases. This was always our last resort, but we did find the need for some of our kids. Safety is a common issue with RAD kids.

I’m sure there are tons more ideas that would help – let me know if you have any tips to add. We are in this together and no one should ever feel alone or abandoned.

YOU GOT THIS! {Mom of Many}

NOTE: I am happy to say that all my kids have grown to adulthood and have carved out a life for themselves. I am proud of all of them and have a good relationship with most of them. We are hopeful that the others will come around and come back – for they all are valued, no matter what. Our kids have grown tremendously. When you consider how much some of them have had to overcome, you are in awe of their strength. Never give up on them. They are worth every effort.

Leave a comment if you have any to add. If you need support join our M.O.M. group. We get it.

Val @ Mom of Many

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Adoption Family Parenting tips

When You are Criticized as a Parent – Parenting Tip #27

Have you ever been criticized as a parent?

This is a tough subject to deal with because I have all sorts of readers – some are mature and tested, others are inexperienced or clueless.  Everyone else is in-between – mostly just trying to figure out this parenting thing as they go along. We are all different with varying levels of expertise.

Criticism can be valid, but the way it’s delivered matters.

Some never really get a handle on parenting, feeling responsible for everything that goes wrong. Some judge other parents because they think they had all the answers and did everything perfectly when in reality they just had children who were easy to raise.

Others are supportive and compassionate knowing it’s a hard job and nobody is perfect or has all the answers. They just feel blessed when their kids enter adulthood ready and able in spite of all their parenting mistakes.

Some had easy children who respected their position as parents and complied throughout. Others had strong willed children who required patience and creative parenting.

Parental Criticism {Mom of Many}

Regardless of your parenting situation – we ALL had criticism.

Here are a few that we heard throughout the years:

  • You are too easy on them.
  • You are too hard on them.
  • You need to trust them more – they will never learn responsibility if you don’t let them go.
  • You should never trust them – they are little wicked sinners looking for trouble.
  • Give them space to make mistakes – they learn from their mistakes.
  • Don’t give them an inch – they will take a mile.
  • You should never treat them all the same – they are individuals.
  • You should treat them all the same – parenting favoritism will cause bitterness.
  • You should spank them.
  • Never spank them.
  • Establish your authority early on through rules and consequences.
  • Authoritarian parental figures cause children to rebel.
  • Always address rebellion from the git-go or you will have trouble when they are teens.
  • Teenage rebellion is natural – don’t stress over it, they will grow out of it.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff – pick your battles.
  • Don’t let anything go – be consistent and address everything.

Parental Criticism {Mom of Many}I could go on, but you get the picture. You will never find anyone who agrees 100% with your parenting. Goodness, there are a lot of parents who don’t agree with each other.

One word of caution here: if you and your spouse don’t agree on parenting issues, you still need to present a united front. ALWAYS support each other. That doesn’t mean you cover up or encourage abuse, that “ALWAYS support each other” comes with an asterisk.

YOU GOT THIS! {Mom of Many}

So what do you do when you or your parenting are criticized?

I have a couple of come backs that you need to memorize and apply at the proper time (or you can just smile and walk away):

  • Thanks for your suggestion – I will consider it.
  • I appreciate that you want to help, I’ll take it from here.
  • I will deal with it at home, but thanks for your concern.
  • I’m sure you mean to be helpful but your comments sound critical.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

I have a couple of snarky responses that I got from my survey today.

Sometimes people step in and don’t handle your kids correctly. A well placed few words can drive home a point where a generic response would just leave you looking incompetent. Some people just don’t get it and will continue to pick at you and your kids unless you make it clear they are to back off.

  • How’s that working out for you?
  • Was that for your benefit or theirs?
  • And you have experience in this area how?
  • Your point is?
  • Aaaannnnndddd???? (This puts them in the hot seat) Just keep saying it till they walk away.

Before you judge me to be insensitive or  accuse me of not having a Christ-like attitude, realize this: The kids are more important than the adults and sometimes people can abuse you and your children with their words. Some just don’t understand a polite, “Thank you I’ve got this covered.”

If you’ve never experienced someone lashing you with their parenting advice tongue, then I’m glad for you. But I have and it ain’t pretty. Often I let them verbally abuse me because I never gave myself permission to go into a verbal battle for my kids.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I don’t agree thaParental Criticism {Mom of Many}t you must always be polite, though that should be our first rule of Christian conduct. When raising my kids, my rule was “always be polite no matter what” and I think that was a mistake. Sometimes the mama bear needs to come out!

I was quite beat up by the time all my kids were raised – and I’m not referring to my kids. Adults who thought they knew everything (but were very deceived in their own minds) caused a lot of bitterness and anger in my kids and left me feeling defeated.

I did get some funny responses to my survey – please don’t use these, but read them anyway. They will give you a laugh:

  • If I throw a stick will you go chase it?
  • Look at them and smile and start waving at them. And then mutter (so they can hear) “Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.” (From the Penguins of Madagascar)
  • I’m busy now, can I ignore you later?
  • Shush, the adults are talking.
  • How very Ghandi of you…

These comments came from friends of mine who has raised special needs kids:

  • Most times I am pleasant and say thank you and walk away. If the people are persistent I tell them they have no clue and depending on the situation I might explain. I have told people if they think they can do better, go adopt a child with baggage and special needs and do a better job then me. I wonder if anyone ever has. If they have I would like to see them today and see if they are now more understanding or on the psych ward recovering.
  • There are those that truly think they are being helpful and then you have inconsiderate clods that probably should mind their own business. To the latter, I would be respectful but firm in my response. Don’t be bullied by rude people.

I will leave you with this one thought.

If you are criticized, listen to what they say and if what they say is true, then change. If it isn’t, then ignore it and move on. Only you can know for sure what your kids need. Trust your instincts and if you have any questions, find someone you trust and is wise and ask for help. Read parenting books, but don’t raise your kids by them. Godly friends and God’s Word were our most trusted sources back when we couldn’t find any one with answers.

Now go out and be amazing.

Val @ Mom of Many

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Adoption Family Parenting tips

Are you afraid of failure? Parenting Tip #24

Don't fear your kids' futures - God's God This {Mom of Many}

It’s not what you think.

I’m not about to talk about parental failure. I’m talking about our kids and their choices in life.

They might turn your world upside down – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing…

Considering all the work we put into our kids, it’s natural to think that they might consider us when making their choices.

Six months before we were married, I considered moving out into an apartment that I found in the want ads. My dad found the ad and confronted me. He said that it would “kill Mom” if I moved out. I didn’t really understand, because to me it wasn’t a big deal. I just wanted to experience life out on my own before I committed to a forever home with my future DH.

But being the dutiful daughter that I was, I nixed my plan and stayed home until our wedding day, never to mention it again. To this day I don’t even know if my dad told my mom.

That was only one of many decisions that was influenced by my concern for my parents and their opinion of me.

Silly me. I thought all my kids would be the same way.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

I hate to burst your bubble.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

If you are like me, you have this pie in the sky expectations of what you think raising a family would be like.  Come on down from those clouds and visit the real world. I live there now and it’s not so bad.

To be happy and have peace as parents, realize:

  • Our happiness does not hinge on others.
  • Our adult children have their own minds – we can’t control them nor should we.
  • We should not take our kids choices personally.
  • The worst could happen and we (with the Lord’s help) will still be OK.

And…this is the biggest bullet I can give you:

  • God can use EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that happens to grow and mature our kids.

MomofMany.netDon’t be afraid of the future for your kids. Do your best to raise them properly and then when they go out on their own, give yourself permission to let go.

They may choose a completely out of the box path, pursuing a crazy life opposite of your dreams and goals, but don’t despair.

You’ve heard that saying, “Let go and let God?” It sounds so trite. But it is true in this case.

There is a time in your kids’ lives that they will step out and become their own person. There will be mistakes. They may disappoint you, hurt you, or even ditch you. They might turn your world upside down. But don’t lose hope.

I have seen the worst situations in my kids’ lives change them in a way that I never could. Real life can make such a huge impact – so don’t fear. Give yourself a break, sit back and watch God work.

As parents we think we know the road our children should travel, but God may have other plans. Trust Him.

Remember He loves your kids more than you do.

He’s got this.

God isn’t finished with them. Or you. And that’s the truth.

Val @ Mom of Many

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Adoption Family Parenting tips Things I've Learned

How well do you supervise your older kids? Parenting Tip #21

 

I hear comments occasionally from parents who think they are obligated to give their kids complete privacy…um no, I never did.

 

How well do you supervise your older kids? {Mom of Many}

They don’t:

  • look through their kids’ stuff.
  • check up on them to make sure they are where they are supposed to be.
  • find out who their friends are or who they hang with.
  • talk often with teachers and coaches.
  • require accountability with schoolwork, school and church activities or how they spend their free time.

Adding to that they:

  • give their kids phones without any accountability.
  • let them go to homes of people they don’t know.
  • allow dating at an early age.
  • allow unsupervised internet browsing.
  • allow unlimited gaming or other “fun” that could turn into time wasting or obsession.

Moms! One way we protect our kids is by supervision.

  • I knew all of my kids’ friends.
  • I knew where they were at all times (unless of course, they were sneaky about it – but I eventually found out).
  • We didn’t allow sleep overs at other homes (We learned that lesson quickly).
  • We didn’t allow them to own cell phones.
  • We often looked through their rooms.
  • There was never any Internet browsing and any computer time was limited and supervised (out in the open, never in their rooms).

Granted, I had some “interesting children” but I only went to extremes when necessary. Otherwise, we made it clear to all of our kids that as long as they were living under our roof during the years we are responsible for them, there was to be no expected privacy. (Except for obvious personal time).

We didn’t allow dating – at all.

Supervise your kids! {Mom of Many}

We did encourage good friendships. I told them you can’t necessarily control your feelings but you can control what you do about them.

One year we had a child in our home for a Christmas visit that would call our boys into the bathroom and shut the door to whisper ideas of badness. Oh boy did we had trouble with a capital “T”. It led to some pretty bad behavior and attitudes. We squelched the activity, but a little too late.

Don’t make the same mistake we did. By the time we knew something was up, it was too late.

Supervise. Supervise. S.U.P.E.R.V.I.S.E.

  1. Do your best to limit your kids’ exposure to troubled kids. Ever heard of “rebel radar?”
  2. Watch for whisperings and plotting if you have “interesting kids.”
  3. Keep a good line of communication open to get a feel for your kids’ attitude and experiences.
  4. You want your kids to know you are watching them – be ever present. Be around. Be present.
  5. Watch. See. Ponder. Ask. Be involved. Be present. Be wise. Be open and obvious.
  6. Listen to that small still inner voice – If you are a believer, it’s the Holy Spirit warning you!

This is what my DD said about our supervision during her growing up years: “Paying attention to who your kids hang out with… It annoyed me when I was younger – you paying attention to who I hung out with so much…(now she says) but good job!”

Do you supervise? Do you get criticized by others about how much you supervise? We were criticized by some saying we didn’t criticize enough (though I can’t imagine anyone supervising more than I did) and we were criticized that we supervised too much. Only you know your child best and only you can decide how much is needed. Each child is different and you have to parent differently for each child – yep, you guessed it. We were criticized for that too.

The thing is…I have complete confidence that I did all I could to bring them up right. I don’t stress over my part, don’t doubt or even look back and wish I had done more. You too can be that confident!

Until next time,

Val @ Mom of Many

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Family Parenting tips

Does cold weather make our kids sick? Parenting Tip #19

Dress Your Kids for Winter {Mom of Many}

My mom always told me that if my kids weren’t dressed warm enough they would catch a cold.

We would laugh at her because we know cold weather doesn’t produce a virus. But what does it do? Does it do anything?

We know that cold weather can affect a person with a weak immune system, but the cold in itself doesn’t cause a cold.

When my kids had some sort of lung or throat issues, I would bundle them up and have them go out in the cold and breathe deeply for a couple of minutes to let the cold attack the virus. It worked well. The coldness can kick our immune system up a notch. BUT, be careful they don’t get chilled or stay out long.

There are instances where being out in the dry cold air can open us up to illness if we breathe through our mouth.

Asthmatics can also have a bad reaction to the cold. We had to be careful to cover our asthmatic kids’ mouths when going out in the cold to help avoid the cold hitting their lungs.

Can the Cold Give You a Cold? is an interesting article that explains more. I liked it because it confirmed everything we did as parents – convenient, no?

Please follow these simple rules this winter:

  • Dress your kids like you would dress yourself. If you wear a sweater, then put one on your kids. If you wear a coat, put a coat on your kids.
  • If you have the kids wear a scarf, please tuck it into the coat. Too many strangle by getting the scarf caught!
  • If you use those cool little car seat covers for baby, make sure you don’t leave the top zipped up for long – some babies are having SIDs events.
  • If you don’t have a car seat cover, throw a blanket over your baby when going from the house to the car and from the car to the store. Rushes of cold air are upsetting to babies!
  • Consider your kids’ comfort. If it’s cold outside, have them wear hats and gloves.
  • If you have trouble getting boots over your kids’ shoes (you know, the type that are rubber and covers the shoe?), put a store bag over their foot with shoe on and it will slide right in, easy peasey. It will also help keep their feet dry if the boots leak!

Dress Your Kids for Winter {Mom of Many}Some moms say their kids object to wearing coats.

They are uncomfortable in the car or too much of a hassle to put on the coat, hat, scarf, gloves, boots, etc. Regardless of their complaints, have them dress appropriately. You can always let them take their coats off in the car, but then you’ll need to insist they put them back on when they get out of the car.

I even followed this with my teens – the boys tended to “forget” their coats. I made them crazy by insisting they go get them before we left. What can I say? I was persistent!

If you are consistent and persistent, eventually it will become habit.

They will know enough to put their stuff on when appropriate. Sometimes it’s work to be a parent, but your kids are worth it. Just do it.

I liked to follow the “better safe than sorry” approach. Go the extra mile. Put their needs ahead of their wants this winter.

Do you have anything to add to my list?

 

Val @ Mom of Many

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