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.
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!
When we adopted our sib group of four, the two youngers were together in one foster home and the two older ones were together in another home. This type of arrangement can be most difficult on the oldest because they feel a need to protect their younger siblings. How do they do that when they don’t live together and only see each other at weekly visits? This was the case with our kids.
The oldest was 9 years old and very aware of his family situation. Not only did it affect his outlook on life, but having three younger siblings also in a temporary family situation was a huge stressor for him.
It’s important to learn all you can about the time before you take them into your home because their prior experiences will affect how they adjust to your family. In our case, the younger two had spent most of their lives in foster care, so they had a predisposed thought process that would follow them for months.
Those two thought family was temporary.
They were 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 when they moved in – from foster care. The first time we went to visit them in the foster care workers meeting room, I came home totally freaked out because of their hyper, out of control behavior during the visit. I was wondering if we were biting off more than we could chew. I was scared to death of a two and three year old!
Once they moved in we had bouts of screaming, fighting and hitting. BUT, they were also adorable, sweet and smart!
We were at a store just after they moved in and the three year old hit our 10 year old son in the stomach causing him to drop to his knees – he had knocked the wind out of him! We later found out the foster mom had taught the little boys to box because she feared they might one day have to move back home and she wanted them to be able to defend themselves. We had a three year old Muhammed Ali!
Understanding and coping with behavior.
Within a day or so we had to stand the three year old in the corner for a time out because he was being a bully to the other kids. He stood there and screamed “I’m so maaaad!” His 9 year old brother came out and stood there watching to see how I would respond – he was in big brother protection mode. If I had not known the 3 year old’s “therapist” had taught him to express himself in words, “I’m so maaaad!” I would have been concerned about his temper. But since I knew a bit about them and their past experiences, I knew hoped that eventually we’d win them over and be able to redirect them, teaching them self control, kindness and patience. We also realized that the older brother was exhibiting concern for how I might react – based on past experiences with the adults in his life. Once he was confident that I deal with his little bro fairly and kindly, he was able trust me enough to go on about his playing without concern for his younger siblings.
A Forever Family
These kids have had experiences very different from us and had developed a distrust and fear of adults. The two youngers had moved foster homes every six months so when our six month anniversary for their move in to our home came around, they asked for a suitcase and wanted to know where they would live next. No, they didn’t have a calendar that they checked off and counted the days, they just had an internal clock that told them to prepare to move on. I could not convince them that they were staying with us forever.
They didn’t understand the concept of staying with the same mom and dad more than 6 months. They hadn’t experienced what it meant to belong to a family. Their internal clock took them over and told them it was time to move on.
When dealing with kids who have had a background different from ours, we need to find out as much as possible and use that information to temper our expectations.
Where are all my forks?
The first week the four were in our home we discovered some of our silverware was missing. It took us a few days to figure out what happened to them. The two younger boys were throwing them away because they’d never had metal silverware – they always had plastic ware and threw them away after each meal. The smallest things can be a real eye opener.
We need to be the light in their darkness.
Every day living shapes kids’ minds – not every child has been fortunate enough to start out in a stable living situation. Can you imagine how abuse and neglect can plant negative thoughts into a kids’ mind growing up? How does a child understand, trust or even desire to have a mom and dad if they’ve never had one? To some, the adults that are in charge are their enemy.
It wasn’t until years after we adopted some of our kids that we found out about the abuse that went on prior to adoption. It’s no wonder they mistrusted and even hated us. Some still do because they never learned to love or trust. We tried our best to instill the love of family, but some never got it, though we hope that one day God will change their hearts.
It’s not that simple.
When dealing with their out of control behavior, it’s very difficult to win their hearts. When our sibship of 3 moved in at ages 1 1/2, 2 1/2, and 3 1/2 as foster kids, (adopted 3 years later) I kept a record one day of how often I had to intervene or correct them. It averaged out to every 3 minutes. It can be very challenging to insert warm, loving moments into a day like that!
Add eating disorders, learning difficulties, nightmares and fears, oppositional behavior, etc. and you have issues that can make bonding very difficult for the child AND parent.
Understand but Don’t Excuse
We tried to be understanding and adjust our expectations based on our kids’ experiences before adoption, but we never allowed that to be used as an excuse for misbehavior either. We taught them and insisted on a better way and even if they didn’t accept our way of thinking and were disobedient or oppositional, at least they knew what was right and would know where to find the light when they were tired of living in the darkness.
You can’t always control a child’s actions or reactions, to always be obedient and respectful, but you can make them regret their choices. Each parent must get to know their child and tailor their teaching and discipline to meet their needs. They have a need to learn to respect authority, prefer others, and learn proper behavior. As parents, we do what is necessary to show them the light and be the example they can draw from when they do desire to live properly.
Not everyone will understand or agree.
You will find some who are critical and accuse you of not being fair to your kids, but you still must decide what is right and follow through. They won’t have to answer for your parenting, you will. So do your best to train them, meet their needs and tailor your discipline to their personality and abilities. You might even have children who think you were abusive or evil because you insisted on proper behavior and disciplined them for disobedience. They only remember the pain of the discipline, not what they did to warrant it.
To be able to pillow your head at night and have no regrets, you need to decide what is best and follow through. Parenting isn’t a popularity contest – with others outside your family or your kids. Parenting is deciding what is best for your kids and insisting on it.
If you don’t, they will not learn how to live in society or hear God’s voice. Both are paramount to a successful life.
God calls us to be faithful and that is what we must do – regardless. Then we let Him deal with the rest.
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…
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.
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?
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.
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).
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.
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.
The children who know and express the love of God make it worth enduring the ones who do not.
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.
Buy the book Boundariesby Townsend. Learn to set boundaries that set you free of the pain.
Wash the clothes, sweep the floor, change the bedding, do the dishes, and on and on.
Moms are probably the busiest people in the world, and the most under appreciated. Unless you’re a mom, you have no clue. Seriously. Even after all the kids leave the nest, Momhood doesn’t end.
Though our nest is empty, I still interact with my kids. Being a mom cannot be described as a full-time job. It doesn’t end at 5:00pm nor does it end when they turn 18 when the world says our job is officially done.
Basically, by having kids, whether by birth or adoption, we are lifers.
Add to that church stuff, work stuff, home stuff…the list goes on – our TO DO LIST grows exponentially as we meet the needs of our family and interact with the world.
The TO DO LIST
For January, I put together MOMentum Calendar to encourage our M.O.M.s group. Each day there is something to do that we often put off because we are so busy. A surprising thing has happened for me as I have accomplished each daily challenge.
Halfway in I stopped stressing about my lengthy TO DO LIST. For about 2 years I’ve stressed every day because my list has gotten so long and my available time to squeeze in extra stuff has all but vanished. I have no margin and it has caught up with me.
Nearly everyone in our M.O.M. group felt the same way.
I created a January challenge to encourage my M.O.M.s and it ended up encouraging me. Because I accomplish something extra every day that isn’t on my list (like cleaning out a junk drawer), I feel accomplished, have stopped stressing about my TO DO LIST and have finally accepted that I can only do what I can do.
TO DO List Vs. Goal Setting
Have you ever set big goals and then not meet them?
How often have you thought: “I JUST NEED TO GET THROUGH THIS DAY”?
We assume the goals have to be big and life changing to really matter. But the big life changing goals often get set aside because life happens.
Instead of only setting huge goals, we need to set little daily goals too. As the month progresses, the feeling of accomplishment replaces defeat and we become hopeful and less stressed. By setting little daily goals, we work toward meeting our big goals. This is where our TO DO LIST and our goal setting meet. our TO DO LIST basically is really a daily goal planner.
I know. Weirdly simple, right?
So now, realizing that little written down goals are foundational to the larger, I’m designing a multi page M.O.M. planner. I am offering it free to our M.O.M.s FB group. I’m giving you a one page weekly planner sheet today to show you what I’m working on. Just click on it and I will send it to you via email. If you want to receive more pages as they are designed, join our M.O.M. Facebook group.
We need to realize that our TO DO LIST is a tool, not a prison of our own making. We manage IT – IT doesn’t manage us.
We are faithful. We do our best. We just need to see it – every single day.
So we start now. Step by step we move forward – not by beating ourselves up over what we didn’t get accomplished but to celebrate each small success. We are not defined by how or if we complete our lists; we are defined by who we are and our part in bringing light to the world.
Just Click to Commit
<<< Just “click the pic” if you want to do some mini personal goal setting and commit to de-stressing your TO DO LIST by looking at it in a new light. You can fill it out to set your own goals for the week. If you are interested in taking a look at our other M.O.M. planner sheets like a password log, weekly cleaning check list, etc., join our M.O.M. Facebook group. You will have access to all of my planner sheets as I make them – FREE because you are a part of our M.O.M. group.
If you would like to join us in using the monthly MOMentum calendars, click the one above and then watch for the February MOMentum calendar. If you’d like to suggest daily goals for our calendars, email me from the contact page above or join our M.O.M. group and post your ideas.
I looked for years for support and didn’t find it. Join us and find other moms just like you.
Your tree has your opened gifts still under it. You pass by and feel grateful for the family and friends who remembered you this Christmas, showing their love with a gift. This attitude of gratitude has grown over the years because of your experiences and matured sense of appreciation and it is a blessing.
But what about your kids’ gift gratitude?
Do they get that warm fuzzy feeling when they play with their new toy from Meemaw or wear that glittery jeans jacket from Auntie Em? How do you foster your kid’s gratitude?
Instilling Gratitude Tips
At gift opening, teach them to open the card first. It’s is at that time that you have them thank the giver by looking them in the eye and smiling a “thanks.” I learned this from attending baby showers. When the new mom opened the card, she searched the crowd for the gift giver to make sure they knew she was opening their gift – it’s a way of pre-thanking them and letting them know they are a part of an intimate moment.
As they open the gift and get that sparkly look in their eyes that every gift giver looks for, teach them to thank the giver again (those sparkles go a long way!) Gift givers want to know that they have made a difference in people’s lives. One moment of eye contact with a grateful eye will float their boat – and you definitely want their boat to float!
This is the face that won my gift giving heart back in 2007.
When the gift giver leaves, have your child thank them again and if appropriate, give them a hug. This is the fuel the gift givers need and will strengthen the bond between the two. Every child needs to know that others besides Mom and Dad love them. Mom and Dad are required and expected to love them. Others are the gravy on their potatoes.
When the child plays with the toy or wears the gift the first few times, ask them if they remember who gifted it to them. Not only does this create an attitude of gratitude, it also strengthens the bond between your child and the gifter. (Only do this if a bond IS what you want to create!) When ever I go over to my grandkids house and see them playing with a toy that I gave them or wearing something gifted to them from me, I ask them, “What wonderful person gave you that?” They’ve heard it so much that they know enough to say, “You, Grammie!” This is my way of not only getting them to remember that I love them enough to give them things, but to implant in their minds that I am a permanent fixture in their lives (as long as God allows).
Toys and such come and go, but to realize that these things are gifts of love will last a life time.
I tend to attach sentimental value to “things” because they invoke good memories. I constantly fight the “hoarder mentality” because many of my things bring those I love to mind. I want them around me to remind me I have value. Of course, because I belong to God, I have value. But to know someone with skin on values me brings it very close to home.
To value those around us is the greatest gift.
Do your kids know they are valuable? We can foster this by teaching some creative gift receiving habits that will last a lifetime. We realize this grateful gift receiving benefits the gift giver, but realize too that it benefits the receiver much more.
The delight on a child’s face is priceless.
Doesn’t it just make you want to experience it over and over and be the reason for the delight?
This is my grandson, Isaac at age 2. His grateful heart has grown even more these past 8 years.
I love giving him and his siblings gifts! Their delight is my delight.
What do you do to teach gratefulness?
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Do you have their best interests at heart – are they your priority?
Do you take the time to get to know your kids’ friends?
Are you a good example?
Are you involved in EVERY part of your kids’ lives – school, faith (church), home, outside activities, hobbies, friends, etc.?
Do you know the adults WELL that are responsible for supervision when you are not around?
Do you pay attention to what is going on in your family, with your kids, and those they spend time with?
Do you talk to your kids – and listen?
Do you supervise well and watch for issues that need to be addressed?
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.
God is your umbrella and you are theirs.
“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.”
There was a time about 10 years ago that I couldn’t shake the morning blues.
I’d wake up discouraged even before the day started.
Before I explain how I overcame them, you need to know something. My foundation is not made of concrete or brick – rather, it’s made of rock – The Rock. Since I claim Christ as my Rock, everything that happens to me, in me, and around me is in His control.
Existing. Discouraged. Defeated.
Just trying to get through the day? Yep. That was me.
For believers, there is a solution.
Every night before I went to bed for about two weeks I prayed that in the morning, God would give me an uplifted spirit ready for the day’s challenges – no more dreading the day – no more morning blues.
The fog was lifted the first morning.
The dark clouds that hung over my head were completely gone. Whoa. Months of sadness gone just like that. I didn’t do anything different other than ask God to do it for me.
Duh. Why didn’t I ask Him before?
The cloud was gone. No more morning blues. I’d never thought of it. I had just prayed that things would get better, but they didn’t and I was stuck in discouragement because I’d not thought to ask him to change ME. My thoughts. My outlook.
We can’t always control our circumstances, especially when you’re a mom and all of your circumstances revolve around little sinners who are not led by the Spirit and have no concept of tomorrow, or have any idea of the effects of their actions on others.
I’ve since asked for help in other type of circumstances with 100% success. Good stuff.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 arechildren’s homes and residential facilitiesequipped 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.
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.