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Being Kind to Adult Children

“I try being kind to her but she is so mean spirited!”

“Everything I do backfires!”

“Until he learns how to behave as an adult I don’t think he deserves my kindness.”

Parents of Adult Children trying to understand how to be kind to their AC

Donna Cameron in A Year of Living Kindly declares the benefits of behaving kindly toward others including increased oxytocin and serotonin, decreased inflamation, more joy and happiness. She explains the “this answers the “what’s in it for me question.”

But is that all? Recently, I did some research of my own. I asked my adult children, “If you told your spouse ‘ wow, my mom was just really kind to me!’ What would that look like? What are some of the things I might have done?”

Curiosity defines my life these days! I want to know what kindness looks like to EACH of my adult children INDIVIDUALLY. Similar to love languages, acts of kindness might go unnoticed or even act as irritants or aggravants to another kid. Take for example, the gift of a phone call. Two of my kids and a couple of their spouses LOVE a long phone conversation about life that goes down rabbit trails about their daily life. One is a truck driver and the diversion makes long road trips enjoyable. However, my daughter-in-love with two young children and a thriving business believes kindness is a NOT keeping her tied to a phone when she has so much on her plate!

For most of our adult children acts of service: running an errand, sending dinner, providing child care, taking car pool duty, helping with kids’ homework, staying with a sick baby, helping throw a birthday party, all speak KINDNESS.

WHY is that true? Our adult children live in a busy overwhelming season of life. If they are in college they have classes, jobs, and friends to juggle. If they have spouses and children they have relationship mazes to throw into the mix. Usually during this season our children are growing their careers as they are growing their families. Even with no disasters such as illness, flood, fire, or job loss, our adult children have daily and annual challenges. They need kindness in large doses.

In conversations with my adult children, the connection between love language and how they understood kindness was clear. Each adult child saw kindness in the love language they spoke. Most saw kindness in acts of service because they NEED help with their busy lives. Words of affirmation ALWAYS speak volumes of kindness to the ones who are

S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G to achieve personal and career goals.

However, I believe the “golden ticket” came when when one of my daughters explained why kindness looked like words of affirmation. “When you affirm me in what I am doing you are affirming that my work is worth it. That means that my choices are right. All this extra effort is worth it and ultimately…I am worth it. It always goes back to that, doesn’t it? We always need our Momma to tell us we are worth it!”

They are ALWAYS WORTH IT. How do you show kindness to your Adult Children? I would love to hear from you.

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Choosing JOY with our Adult Children

Choosing joy is more than just a cliche to hang on your office wall. JOY is a daily practice for parents who want to attract friends, include their adult children.

“It is obvious I have disappointed her. She is just so hard to be around.”

“We love to go my husband’s parents house because his Dad is positive and great to be around!”

“Cari’s mother always finds a way to make the best of every situation. That is why I go to her for advice.” 

With your adult children are you a hunter or a fisherman? 

When they come to visit do they feel like they have a target on their back reminding them of all the ways they have disappointed you in the past 10 years? Do they run from you because of the constant parenting advise? Does the look in your eye say, “not again?” Are you hunting them down to conquer and hold them captive for their previous failures?

OR 

When your adult kids come over do they find their biggest fan? Do they find someone waiting to see them interested in THEIR interests and THEIR careers? When they arrive are their parents willing to STOP and LISTEN? Is the home of the parents of your adult child ATTRACTIVE to those kids? Is that home a place they want to return to? 

One “bait” to attract adult children (or ANYONE for that matter) IS JOY!!! 

JOY is contagious. 

In every home decor store today we see the cliche plaque, “CHOOSE JOY!” 

In the dark season of my parenting, I always thought, “That is easy for you to say! You are not living through what I am living through!” 

Regardless of what DARK NIGHT you are living through—you owe it to yourself and those you love to find the JOY. It won’t be easy. It is not a three-step process or a cliche you can hang on your wall. 

It is not even one prayer or one meditation. It might take more than one season of yoga or more than 15 therapy sessions. 

It is a thousand choices EVERY DAY. 

Some of my choices looked like this:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. Every day write down three things I am grateful for. Start with…BREATH…
  2. Take colored index cards and write down happy memories beginning with my childhood and hide them all around my house so that I found them when I was doing daily tasks
  3. Recognize and name my feelings, “This is sorrow—not anger.” “This is what anxiety feels like.” 
  4. Allow myself to feel the pain for a time. Set a time that I would analyze the feeling and write down how this felt so I could examine this pain with a clearer head later.
  5. Investigate the feelings through reading books, talking to others, seeking advice. Seeking my own feelings in my own body (does this hurt in my head, my gut, make my back hurt?)
  6. Non-identification—I never said, “I am a depressed person.” I always said, “I feel depressed.” Don’t let yourself be identified with the negative feelings. *
  7. Writing one good thing that happened that day at the end of every day
  8. Smile in the mirror
  9. Say to my spouse, “Let’s make today a GREAT DAY” every day even when I didn’t know how I could swing that.
  10. Go for a walk outside
  11. Visit a new place even if it is just a new neighbor
  12. Try something for the first time, maybe a recipe
  13. Have a snow cone
  14. Do something that makes you look silly
  15. Read fiction
  16. Tell your kids a story about your childhood-especially if it embarrassing
  17. Tell your grandkids a story about your kids’ childhood especially if it is embarrassing
  18. Tell a joke—even if you are terrible at jokes
  19. Watch a funny movie
  20. Laugh out loud
  • Numbers 3-6 Are known as the RAIN process first introduced by Michele McDonald as RAIN: A Mindful Approach to Working through Difficult Emotions

Although every parents journey to JOY is unique, attraction to JOY is universal. Attempt JOY today. Go FISHING… Stop the hunting.

How do you set the bait for your Adult Children to engage with you? I would love to hear from you? 

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Becoming a Ladder Builder for My Adult Kids

Becoming a Ladder Builder for My Adult Kids means seeking the shadow instead of the spotlight. Being comfortable in the shadow becomes the superpower of parents of adult children when we learn to connect in authentic relationships.

“I want her to stand on my shoulders so she can be better at this than I am!”

“When he tells us what he is studying we smile and nod like we understand it!”

“We are grateful to hold the ladder for her to climb!”

Even if your adult child doesn’t desire to achieve success in the same field of work as you did, you can hold the ladder for her success! Often we build a business or a career and love it so much, we are sure our kids will follow in our footsteps only to be disappointed when they choose a completely different path.

Sometimes our disappointment stems from unrealized dreams of our own, or it could be something else–maybe you are thinking, “I know NOTHING about that field! How can I possibly help her or be involved in her life anymore?” Fear of being left out of our adult child’s life often drives us to frustration or a spirit of that hinders instead of helps our adult child. What can we do if our adult child has chosen to excel in a direction we KNOW nothing about but we want to BUILD A LADDER (as John Maxwell or Sam Chand would say) for her to succeed?

Mentorship

If I can’t mentor my girl in her chosen profession, alternately I can find her a mentor in her field. Or, as Maxwell mentions in his book Leadershift, I might find her a mentor in the fields of relationships, attitude, leadership, communication, technology, health and wellness, or spiritual development. Even though we won’t share professional insights and stories, we will always share life! I can always hold the ladder for her to excel in all areas of her personal growth!

Whatever she feels she needs I can seek to supply a mentor–other than myself!!

Don’t Forget the Goal!

Often as parents of Adult Children we forget that the goal is to stay connected in an authentic and connected way. We want to be part of their lives in a meaningful way that build authentic transparent relationships.

Our goal is not to promote our agenda or to complete what we may feel we did not finalize as part of our parenting career.

Being in relationships with our adult children means treating them the way we would want a friend to treat us and the way we want to treat our other friends.

Start by asking yourself a few hard questions:

  • Do you see your kids as adults who are growing and becoming better every day?
  • How can you get out of the way for your kids to thrive?
  • Is it hard for you to move out of the way for your kids to succeed or to fail?
  • Can they always apply what I say to their life in their own way? Do I sometimes give them advice that I feel I needed to say to make myself feel better?
  • How can I hold the ladder in an area that HAS NOTHING to do with me or my agenda but ONLY for building them up?

How are you holding the ladder for your adult Children this week? I would love to hear your insight and opinions.

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Changing addiction, anxiety, and depression through connecting

“I know I can quit when I want to. I am just not ready to quit yet…”

“I feel so ashamed of what I have become. I can’t go home for Christmas this year. I am going to tell my family I have to work…”

“I am not sure when it got so crazy. It has been a long time since I felt in control of my own life…”

Young adults trying to stay ahead of their addictions and anxieties

It’s All About Grace

For years I have struggled to understand addiction. I couldn’t get it. So many live in the shame/blame game of constant hiding and guilt and repeated cycles. To me it seemed the addict would DO ANYTHING to escape that life…SO WHY????

Many theories of addiction exist. Most believe addiction is merely a disease we treat clinically. Timothy McMahan King in his insightful book Addiction Nation: What the Opioid Crisis Reveals About Us details how addiction is disease, culture, context, and pervasive in American society.

Putting it bluntly, Gerald May in Addiction and Grace states, “All people are addicts…To be alive is to be addicted, and to be alive and addicted is to stand in need of grace.”

STANDING IN NEED OF GRACE…this I can wrap my mind around. OF COURSE…

Just like Paul, I constantly do the thing I don’t want to do and it makes me feel miserable. And the very acts I LONG TO DO…promote kindness and selflessness…I fail to do every day. My quick tongue is ALWAYS ahead of my logical thinking brain! I NEED SOME GRACE. ADDICTED TO SARCASM and RUDENESS. And it does bring me anxiety and depression…

So what is the answer?

Quit the Shame Game

Like all addictions, the natural response is SHAME. When I want to hide that is when shame has its most power. When my mouth threatens to tear apart a relationship, just like a drug or alcohol can do, instead of running away I must run TO my home and community of support.

Obviously, connection to community unites when relationships were smashed open through harsh words. But where is the data which concludes that healing could occur when relationships have been pulled asunder through drugs and alcohol through HOME AND COMMUNITY.

DOES IT EXIST…

Yes.

When soldiers returned from the Vietnam War, 43 % reported that they had been using heroin on a regular basis while away. Of the reported users 20% considered themselves addicted to the drug. Believing The United States was entering a new era of addiction crisis, the US government prepared for follow up treatments and regular drug testing for all returning military men. However, after six months home, the new veterans were reported to have returned to their former abstinence of drugs or their former level of drug use before their deployment.

In other words, once home, the heroin did not have the addiction effect it had while in Viet Nam. CONTEXT WAS KEY. The government concluded, “We need to look for at addiction from an angle for which the disease model does not occur.”

There’s No Place Like Home

Researchers like Neil Levy and Bruce Alexander state that addiction is “embedded in a social context.” Rather than a reflection of an aberrant individual, addiction occurs as a response to an untenable situation. Wouldn’t this account for the Vietnam Vets addiction and their ability to quit their heroin use when they returned to their loving environments?

King records several other historical and longitudinal studies which reveal patterns of displacement and cultural disintegration precede substance abuse. What happens when the displacement and disintegration are reversed? OFTEN SO ARE THE ADDICTIONS AND ABUSES…

King, in Addition Nation discusses “a place to call home is a powerful prerequisite in helping people recover.” Home is a place to unpack our past and connect.

Alexander tells the story of the Alkali Lake Band in British Columbia where alcoholism went from nearly 100% to a 98% sobriety rate in seven short years. The culture of the tribe changed when the Chief and his wife and local police committed to principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, reinstituted prohibition on the island, increased access to treatment and committed themselves to old cultural practices in the community. These cultural practices bound the culture together through their uniqueness and identity. Their motto, “culture is treatment” rings true in homes and communities dedicated to openness with unity instead of shame or blame.

What about those who are never able to “return home” to their safe place?

Most adults have two homes: the home we come from and the home we make. Our adult children may struggle to make their own homes safe from stress and trauma. Perhaps this is because they need help in understanding the home they emerged from. Can they distinguish when the confrontations where necessary and where they were emotionally “over the top?” Do they need us to LISTEN to their perspective on those memories?

We can connect to our adult children through authentic revelation of the home they grew up in. Imperfection, doubt, mistakes make up the fabric of our children’s formative years as much as birthday parties, summer camp, and winter vacations. Own the joy and the sorrow. Speak openly about your pain and your glory.

Build a unique identity within your own family. The place called home equates to a place of healing where all members are open to growth and let go of shame and blame. Hear the stories of your adult children… build openness and connection.

Next Week Part Five:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world: How far can the revolution go?

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Change the world of distorted body image, abuse, and abortion

“I don’t see why my parents make such a big deal about my partying now. I’m young! My body will recover when I am older…”

“Why didn’t someone tell me that I would live with the choices I made about my body in my early twenties? Now I have nightmares and can never have children…”

“I guess it boils down to the fact that I think my body carries a moral message–I am a man. End of story”.

Applications from Love thy Body by Nancy Pearcey

As I said last week, we can’t change every situation between every parent and his adult children. No army can win every battle. No team wins every game.

However, this movement of parents of adult children seeking to connect for the sake of unity and authenticity can change MANY disconnections between parents and their adults kids. Parents who actively seek to understand the mystery of body disorientation, physical abuse, abortion, and gender confusion may ask significant questions relating to their young adults who may be probing for answers.

If these parents have read and researched they will be better equipped to deal with the answers that may have previously frightened or even shocked them.

Desiring attachment to their children, parents of adult children pray about situations which wave red flags of body distortion. If we want to be strategically effective engaging our adult children we cannot hide from weighty discussion behind platitudes or ignorance. As C. S. Lewis said, “We must engage about the nature and significance of life itself.”

As parents of adults, don’t be afraid of hard conversations. Listen. Ask questions. As always, explore where your adult children are struggling and don’t be afraid when you are out of your depth.

Honest engagement in discussing our identity with our bodies needs to begin with a worldview or philosophy of what we believe about our bodies. My sounds something like: I am an eternal soul living in a human body which I must nurture and hold sacred because it is a temple created with a Divine purpose. Of course, I am not gonna preach this to my kid, but I must be solid on what I BELIEVE then I can begin questioning what the worldview of a body created for Divine Purposes means TO ME:

  • How does this idea affect MY STANCE on abortion? If bodies are created for purposes then I have no right to destroy a body (mine or anyone else’s because that is destroying something created for God’s purpose).
  • How does the idea of a DIVINE purpose affect MY STANCE on physical abuse in dating relationships? Marriages? Families? Physical abuse injures the instrument created by God to bring about His Divine Purposes. I can never condone physical abuse of any kind. My behavior must always be to TALK, LISTEN, DISCUSS, ENCOURAGE, and find out why someone in my children’s home would feel the need for physical abuse of another human. IT IS NOT MY PLACE TO CONDEMN–it is my place to heal and help. It is my place to be present.
  • How does this idea affect MY STANCE on gender identity? As the mature parent I must determine my worldview on the biblical roles of man and woman and what the roles mean in today’s culture. I must be thoroughly immersed in the biblical worldview which most closely identifies with my spiritual priorities. This might be yours: The biblical teaching that we are created in the image of God means that even though humans are part of nature, we do not find our full identity in nature. We cannot be reduced to merely part of the natural world. Even the features we share with other organisms, such as our sexuality, cannot be fully understood in merely biological terms. Sex is not only about biological drives and needs, whether for pleasure or reproduction, but also about the communion of persons. The communion of male and female is meant to mirror the communion of divine persons within the Trinity. ~Nancy Pearcey Love Thy Body p. 139

In order to change the world in the areas concerning the body, parents of adult children MUST identify what we believe about the BODY… this is not often a topic we discuss…but we SHOULD. These are not topics we should leave off when our kids leave puberty–often they are just beginning to sort out WHO THEY ARE AS SEXUAL BEINGS. BE OPEN TO HEAR AND DISCUSS THESE IDEAS!

Since my children were small children, we have been pro-life advocates. They all grew up knowing my views about life. However, many conversations we could not practice because I could not anticipate. Working backward from the stance of “abortion would be the ultimate physical abuse because it is physical murder of the body,” I could open a dialogue about “where would that start in an idea of the body?”

Where could your dialogue of the body begin in an open honest curious dialogue? Be honest, true, and authentic.

Dogma is NOT the goal here. Opinions, research, ideas, and experiences come into plays in developing the conversations. The more we understand about ALL sides of these issues the better we can relate and connect to our grow-up kids.

You can change the world through the discussion with your adult children. But you have to begin the discussion.

I would love to hear from you concerning books, podcasts, authors, on these important topics.

Coming Next week:

Part Four:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world of addiction, anxiety, and depression

Part Five:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world: How far can the revolution go?

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Change the world of divorce and poverty

If only I had someone to talk to. My mom hated my husband and she probably thinks I deserved it when he left me…

“If my Dad stood beside me during this I might know how to navigate marriage counseling. I feel so alone…”

“Without any family, I have to settle for a minimum wage job to support my three boys…”

Moms alone during a nightmare they never saw coming

Parents of adult children certainly don’t have all the answers to selfish- hearted people. They can’t solve all the answers to marriage problems. Many marriages end in divorce before the marriage has any possibility of reconciliation…but NOT all marriages have no hope. Many could be saved if only…

Moms and Dads can’t save ALL the marriages of their adult children–but they CAN be part of the lives of their adult children IF the kids ARE WILLING TO work through the suffering and pain.

Often couples need parents who LISTEN without judgement to their complications in marriage. Parents of adult children should LISTEN TEN TIMES more often than we give advice. Frequently, we reverse that formula. No wonder they run from us!

Once our adult children learn that we are good listeners they are more open to any wise counsel we might offer. However, usually our wise adult kids can figure out their marriage issues on their own as they hear their own words spoken out loud. They NEED to talk it out. Through our coaching and questioning we can HELP them figure out their own answers.

Do you have the discipline and self-control to ask the questions, listen, and wait for your adult child to figure a way through the mire of the marriage? The suffering often brings the best of the marriage.

However, when the marriage is NOT salvaged, it is the wife and children that suffer the most and this often leads to poverty in America. I am NOT being overly dramatic.

According to many researchers across America from 2008 to 2017, women with children who divorce are 2.83 more likely than men to fall to the poverty line when they divorce.

Huffington Post; Center for American Progress.

None of us desire our daughters and grandchildren to live in poverty, yet we often say, “I don’t want to get involved in their business. Their marriage is not any of my business.”

I agree! I do not think I should be a busy-body mother or mother-in-law asking about their bedroom or their budget. However, if RED FLAGS are waving I need to open the door for transparent vulnerable conversations.

Our daughters and grandchildren living in poverty will become our issue if we do not take steps to prevent this tragedy. We CAN take steps to prevent the tragedy of the broken hearts, shattered dreams, and lives that will never be the same.

Be brave. Open the door to a listening conversation.

Some good opening lines might be,

I am curious, would you like me to take the kids for a few a days while you and Joe go away and spend some time together?

What’s the one thing I could do for you that would help the most this week?

I hear some anxiety in your voice, is there anything I can do?

Some of my friends are mentors and counselors, do you want me to see if one would talk to you? You sound like you need to let off some steam…

Truly, just opening a conversation with your adult son or daughter about a difficult marriage is a huge step.

As likely as not, your adult child longs for a way to speak freely about this troublesome situation.

In the headline, I challenged all of us to change the world of divorce and poverty. Just one less divorce and one less single mom with children living in poverty changes the world. It changes the world for them.

It is uncomfortable. It is awkward.

It is scary.

But it is worth it to speak to our adult children about their marriages and how they can save their home.

What are your thoughts on connecting with your adult children about the REALLY important areas of their life? Next week more important topics and how we can change the world…one connection at a time.

Part Three:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world of body image, abuse, and abortion

Part Four:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world of addiction, anxiety, and depression

Part Five:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world: How far can the revolution go?

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Change the World: Parenting Adult Children Can do That!

Parents attempt connection  with their adult children out of love and devotion and sometimes out of loneliness and loss.

Occasionally parents connect to adult children because of previous shortcomings, failure, shame, and hurt. But, in all these cases, parents connecting to their adult children creates a world that is a more authentic and safer place to grow for both the parent and the child.

Regardless of motive: connection heals.

Parents aim for mutually beneficial relationships for themselves and their adult children. Don’t we all desire unity in our homes? If that is true of us, can we believe it is true of all Americans? 

Through our attempts to establish relationships of love and connections between parents and their adult children, we must believe that we can unify all of America starting with just one strategic home: our own. The unity in our home spreads to our church.

The authenticity of our church represents many unified families of adult children and parents. Then, that connected church influences our authentic connected community. Our vulnerable and open community influences our transformative city and, before you know it, we have a wave of unity, connectedness, and authenticity, instead of alienation, separation, and division.

Today we hear from both political parties how America remains a nation divided. They attribute our problems of poverty, racism, abuse, sex trafficking, and suicide to this deviousness. But what if we as Moms of Adult Children, not a political party, own the power to change that?

 We need not identify ourselves as identical to our adult children. 

As a matter of fact, we must embrace the diversity of our culture; we need our own ideas, our own opinions. Our adult children must create their own philosophies and theories. How will society improve without new ideas and creativity? 

However, we sincerely need the unity of our love, our acceptance, our belonging. I truly believe that culture begins in our homes, spreads out like a wave of influence as families become more unified. This wave grows in volume and influence and soon several waves connect, as they spread across the state and the nation. 

You see, adult children desire to be reconnected to their families. Families desire to be connected to other families. Communities long to connect to other communities. We were created to belong in community.

Reach out. Learn to communicate in ways that speak care and candor, love and truth. Learn to live in the hard of living with the hope of living. 

Don’t be afraid to tell your adult children: ” You belong to me. You are not me, I don’t want you to be me. I see you for who you are, and I am proud of you.” 

Tell your adult children, “you be you, while you allow me to be me. And, while we are being ourselves—let us truly learn LISTEN to each other. Let’s get to know each other. We might have known each other as mother and child… but let me hear your adult voice.” 

My name is Johnnie Seago and this is my mission:  I want to change the world, by connecting one family of adult children at a time. Whose job is it to connect the child to the parent?

It is MY job—I am the mom and I am out to change the world.

What are your thoughts on this world changing goal?

Upcoming articles in the series:

Part Two:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world of divorce and poverty

Part Three:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world of body image, abuse, and abortion

Part Four:

How changing the world through connecting adult children to their parents changes the world of addiction, anxiety, and depression

Part Five:

The world: How far can the revolution go?

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Great Moments in the Lives of Adult Children

Great moments in the lives of our adult children serve as markers of remembrance not flags of defeatism.

“Nothing really changes when they grow up…”

“Everything changes when they move out…”

“It seems they are just the same as when they were young…”

“It seems they are complete strangers now that they are grown…”

The same parent of adult children…on different days

Proverbs says, “the memory of the righteous is a blessing.” As parents to adults we often find a trophy, a picture, a card lost among the relics of forgotten treasures. Lingering over the images, we are transported to a distant place and time. We remember. Football games, dance recitals, kindergarten graduations.

We remember.

Why? Is the trudge down memory lane too painful in a quiet house? Is looking at old photos self-inflicted torture on a day of loneliness?

How can the knives inflicting the wounds of loneliness become the scalpels cutting away the waste of self-pity? How can these become stones of remembrance?

When Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River he told them to set up altars by building “stones of remembrance.” These altars were to remind their children of what God had done for them in the past.

What dry ground did God provide for your family? Did He make a way for your Adult Children to go to college? Is that why you are staring at that graduation picture? Are you looking at a baby picture of your first born remembering years of infertility? Then, that picture is your stone of remembrance.

Reviewing our photos albums this weekend over Father’s Day should be a celebration of all the GREAT EVENTS in our adult children’s lives–because we did not do it alone–as we review those stones of remembrance.

What are the great events in the lives of your adult children you need to remember this weekend? I would love to hear from you!

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The Hardest Part of the Story

But what happened then?

When did it all change?

How was he turned around?

Where did the circumstances change?

What stories about your past do you like to tell?

What stories about your children do you enjoy over and over?

We learned in high school that most stories include three parts: a shiny beginning, a messy middle, and a concluding ending.

Our shiny beginnings might begin with a glance across a crowded room or the first day of college. A not-so-shiny beginning might begin with the longing for a baby or a lonely daughter away at college.

As we jump to the happily-ever-after of those beginnings we see a ring, a diploma, a birth announcement, and a great group of girlfriends backpacking across Europe together. WOW! Super stories!

But wait! Aren’t we missing the best part?

I love telling how our first born daughter and I are “Me and Mini-Me.” Although we live several hours apart and do not talk or text each other every day we are ALWAYS there for each other. She is back in school to become a midwife, running a construction company, and rearing six children. I am publishing a book, directing a nonprofit, and mentoring lots of women. Yet, if either of us “puts out the Bat-light” we drop all obligations to be there for each other. Happily ever after, right?

But did I mention that when she was 11 she had to sleep on my floor for six weeks and be “glued to my side” because I could not trust her out of my sight? She had lost all privileges to self monitor. Honestly, I wanted to lock her in a closet till she turned 16. She wanted to BE in a closet till she turned 16 just to escape me. Obviously, there was nothing else to do but be inseparable until we learned to live with and love each other again. Makes perfect sense, right? Not at all. Most good stories don’t make sense in the “messy middle.” But in the happily-ever-after she saw that she couldn’t run me off and I saw that she needed Momma especially when she didn’t want one.

The messy middle was the best part of the story.

Brene Brown calls the conversation we often embrace in the Messy Middle, “The Rumble.” Recently, I have been involved in two different Rumbles. I initiated one and one was initiated with me.

John Maxwell, in his book Leadershift, instructs us that when it is time to have a difficult conversation, you might start with, “Are you aware…?” That seemed to work well with my rumble with a son who really did not realize how far off the path of his goals he had strayed.

Brown’s favorite line is, “The story I am telling myself is…” which is the line I used to explain to my husband how I felt when he started a rumble about our drifting and failing communication.

Whatever word, phrase, story or cue we need to use to get into the “let’s get messy and WORK THIS OUT!” the happy ending is worth the messy middle.

Where is the messy middle with your adult children right now? How can you work through it? What trick would help you?

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Telling Their Story

The stories of their past affirm their present. Tell their stories!

Tell me a story about when I was a baby.

Tell me about the time you stayed up all night because I wouldn’t sleep.

Tell me how I was the prettiest baby you ever saw.

When our kids were little they never got tired of stories about themselves. They were the hero of every story we told. They still can be!

When Rachelle was five-years old she had a tyrant for a gymnastics coach. I was afraid of her! You see, my first born daughter could charm me into letting her off from doing almost anything, but she could not charm Miss Lorna. Miss Lorna, the world’s hardest coach, declared to the entire dance studio that Rachelle was going to perform a back flip at the recital. Rachelle couldn’t back-flip. She fell every time. She cried when she fell. I cried when she fell. We wanted Rachelle to quit the back-flip.

Ironically, at the time, I had a rather successful job in sales. As we were headed to the gym to quit the back-flip and Miss Lorna, my car stereo played my weekly motivational message:


Attributed to Dr. D. H. Groberg

Whenever I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face, 
    my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race. 
A children’s race, young boys, young men; how I remember well, 
    excitement sure, but also fear, it wasn’t hard to tell. 
They all lined up so full of hope, each thought to win that race 
    or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place. 
Their parents watched from off the side, each cheering for their son, 
    and each boy hoped to show his folks that he would be the one.
The whistle blew and off they flew, like chariots of fire, 
    to win, to be the hero there, was each young boy’s desire. 
One boy in particular, whose dad was in the crowd, 
    was running in the lead and thought “My dad will be so proud.” 
But as he speeded down the field and crossed a shallow dip, 
    the little boy who thought he’d win, lost his step and slipped. 
Trying hard to catch himself, his arms flew everyplace, 
    and midst the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face. 
As he fell, his hope fell too; he couldn’t win it now. 
    Humiliated, he just wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell his dad stood up and showed his anxious face, 
    which to the boy so clearly said, “Get up and win that race!” 
He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that’s all, 
    and ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall. 
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win, 
    his mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again. 
He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace. 
    “I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”
But through the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face 
    with a steady look that said again, “Get up and win that race!” 
So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last. 
    “If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!” 
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight, then ten… 
    but trying hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again. 
Defeat! He lay there silently. A tear dropped from his eye. 
    “There’s no sense running anymore! Three strikes I’m out! Why try? 
I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought. “I’ll live with my disgrace.” 
    But then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.
“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “you haven’t lost at all, 
    for all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall. 
Get up!” the echo urged him on, “Get up and take your place! 
    You were not meant for failure here! Get up and win that race!” 
So, up he rose to run once more, refusing to forfeit, 
    and he resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit. 
So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been, 
    still he gave it all he had and ran like he could win. 
Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again. 
    Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.
They cheered another boy who crossed the line and won first place, 
    head high and proud and happy — no falling, no disgrace. 
But, when the fallen youngster crossed the line, in last place, 
    the crowd gave him a greater cheer for finishing the race. 
And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud, 
    you would have thought he’d won the race, to listen to the crowd. 
And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.” 
    “To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”
And now when things seem dark and bleak and difficult to face, 
    the memory of that little boy helps me in my own race. 
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all. 
    And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall. 
And when depression and despair shout loudly in my face, 
    another voice within me says, “Get up and win that race!”

From the back seat my tiny girl stated, “Momma, I’m gonna do a back-flip.”

She didn’t nail the back flip at the gym that day. She didn’t quite finish it off at the gym the day after that either. But she did do it at the recital.

As Rachelle ran off that stage into Miss Lorna’s arms, even the drill sergeant had a tear.

You know the best thing about that story? As I retold it to her this week… my baby girl (who has six kids of her own) REALLY needed to remember it this week.

What stories do your kids need to remember? Dig ’em up!

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Belonging…not Adapting

Can you accept your kids and allow them to belong without asking them to change?

Why can’t I just be myself?

I am an adult. You have to accept me like this.

Even as an adult, I am not accepted by my parent for who I am.

When do our kids get to be themselves? When do they get to grow out of being “our little man” or “our baby girl?”

If we are honest, we admit that none of our adult children are EXACTLY as we pictured they would be when they were young. We KNEW they would be the first woman president; first black astronaut; first 15-year-old Nobel prize winner. Then, life happened. We ran late for soccer. The washer broke. Dad lost his job. We moved. We adjusted.

Honestly, so much about my kids childhood roars TERRIFIC than I ever expected. I yawned in as a mediocre kid at best. My adulthood…50/50. But my kids…Oh wow!

But living in a family of superheroes tags in as hard. It can be difficult not to compare super powers at the breakfast table during family gatherings. If some kid decided not to go to college until after children…or EVER…that has to be OK with us. They have to BELONG to us, not just be TOLERATED by us.

A friend of mine recently told me she declined attending her family event because, “I am going where I am celebrated not tolerated.”

“Hey Mom! I want you to know that I am joining this program not because you need me to do better but because I WANT to do better!”

My child’s desire to improve in her body, mind, spiritual development never necessitates my approval. My approval is a GIVEN… given at birth or adoption. I accept. I approve. You belong to me.

She belongs to me. Her belonging never changes. Her acceptances is understood. Her growth is her decision.

How about you? Do your adult children grow at their own rate? Can you encourage their growth and love their progress?

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RITUALS for GROWTH

Families need rituals to ensure stability and security.

Remember when your kids cried in the night, but tucking them in nice and tight sent the monsters running from the room?

Remember how a warm cup of milk and a band-aid made bleeding stop and boo-boos heal instantly?

Remember when you heard the catch in her voice stop the avalanche of tears in her throat and she decided to stay at summer camp just because you said you would come get her?

Remember how you drove all the way across town to take back the baby doll to your sister’s house so your baby girl would stay at the sleep-over?

These are the memories of our rituals…these are rituals that made the memories.




We never outgrow rituals. 

After I married, we gathered at my Dad’s house every Friday night to grill steaks, debate politics and religion, and catch up. For ten years we never missed Friday night if we were in town. When I was in the throws of terrible moral decisions in my life, I called my Dad and said, “Hey Dad, I am gonna pass on steaks tonight. The kids and I are exhausted so we are gonna stay home.” He didn’t buy it. 

“Johnnie, there are only a few reasons you would miss Friday night and none of them are good. I’ll see you at six.” 

He wasn’t wrong. I brought dessert. 

It’s worth all the trouble to get your brood together to look each other in the eye and say, “I see you. I know you. I love you.”

Rituals might not be all that is needed to save our life.

But they might keep our children, adult or younger, on the path. Rituals make us feel seen. Rituals make us feel known. Rituals make us feel loved. What could be better?

What are the rituals you keep or could build in your adult children to keep them on the path of stability and wholeness? 

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How Stories Build Character

Everyone has a story. Share yours with your kids–young and old! They need to know WHO THEY ARE!

” Every point needs a story and every story needs a point,” so Roddy Gilbraith of the John Maxwell Team taught me. How fortunate for me! My Dad told me stories every day of his life. I heard LOTS of stories! He told me stories from the Bible, Aesop Fables, Fairy Tales, but mostly he shared family folklore.

When I was a young child, he told me the story of how my Grandmother left him, his two younger brothers, and baby sister in their pick up truck as she went into the hardware store to buy nails. Louise, (my Auntie at the time of the telling of the story) started to cry as the boys tried everything they could to entertain their baby sister. Louise, being the youngest and only girl, usually got her way. Those boys knew “if Louise was upset somebody was gettin’ a whoopin’.” As one brother blamed the other, elbows flew and CRACK… the windshield of the pick up truck came crashing in on the motley crew. The rest of the story grew fuzzy with who blamed whom, who got the worst of the spankings, and who went to bed with no supper.

The point: always keep the baby happy and keep your hands to yourself.

I don’t want to be morbid here, but my favorite stories were the ones my Dad told me as we walked through the family’s eternal resting place. We owned a large family cemetery (from some of the previous dairy farm land) where great-grandparents, great-uncles and aunts, and hundreds of third and fourth cousins from the past 80 years lay to rest. My Dad knew all the stories and all the relationships and shared all of them with me every time we went to put fresh flowers on his parents’ graves. We walked through the graves and he pointed to the names and told me the stories of the bankers and store owners. He told me of men who died during the Depression, about my Grandfather and Great Uncles who went to work on Spindletop, the oil well that put Beaumont, Texas on the map. He sidestepped some that must have been bootleggers in Prohibition and let me walk past the tiny graves of infants with few comments.

“Dad, why do you always tell me those stories over and over again?” I asked when I was fourteen.

“I want you to know who you are.”

“But you aren’t telling me stories of me. You are telling me stories of dead people I never met.”

“But Johnnie Katherine, (in the South you always get two names) you are who you are because of these people. You are smart because you come from a long time of thinkers, the Wilkinsons. You work hard because the Callahans worked hard. You are good with people because the Perrys never forgot a name or a face. You are good with money because the Pevetos know how to invest and make a profit. You are a part of all those people and they will always be part of you.”

This sounds a little “circle of life”-ish now, but these stories were WAY before the Lion King movie.

My Dad instilled in me that I had a heritage and he required me to leave a legacy.

I haven’t lived up to all those dreams of my Dad. I am not good with money and I forget names pretty often. But I am who I am because my Dad told me stories of the past and always made the point of relating the character lesson of the story, as well as the humor.

Wait! I have to tell you about Grandpa Moses. Lived to be 104 years old and died sitting on his mule. The point of this story? People who stay off the freeway and ride mules live longer.

What stories of strength and character do you need to tell your small AND ADULT CHILDREN today?

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Our Stories of REAL SAFETY

Authentic communication can change our culture! Be authentic and change your culture.

I just don’t know if I can trust you anymore.

Remember back when you told me everything?

You can be authentic or you can be safe with me, what’s it gonna be?

If you remember having those words with your adult (or nearly adult) child you recognize the need for SAFETY and AUTHENTICITY.

We want our adult kids to trust us completely. We want them to tell us what they NEED and what they WANT. We don’t want to get the “published version” of a difficulty they are having or a struggle they are going through. We want them to feel safe telling us their stories.

The ultimate goal in building the relationships with our adult children is for their benefit and the benefit of the culture we live in. Modeling authentic safety in relationships teaches those around us that the world CAN be a SAFE place!

“No politician on earth can be trusted.”

“People will find a way to stab you in the back.”

“My boss says I am doing a good job…but I feel the next layoff will be ME!”

It is obvious that our world is bankrupt of trust. Integrity–doing what you say you will do–is not only in short supply, but often overlooked as a needless waste of time. If you shortcut, quit early, don’t deliver on a promise, few people will call you out. But you will know. Your kids will know. Your credibility with your adult children builds their trust in the WORLD…if you show integrity, then they can believe just a little longer and a little deeper.

Do I believe building relationships with our Adult Children will change the world? Yes. With love, grace, and acceptance that comes through the power of the cross, I believe we can show the world what a loving Christian community can do. One family at time, we can become a loving Christian culture.

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Connecting Through Your Story

So what is YOUR family story?

What defines our family?

I am not talking about a family mission statement (although that is nice!). I am asking about your STORY! What makes YOUR FAMILY totally unique from the rest of world?

We have five adopted kids and a couple of adopted grandkids…but lots of people adopt.

Our family almost died when Ted and I had only been married 10 years with two children… how about yours? Had a “near death” experience in your marriage? Ours wasn’t slowly dying. Ted and I were beating it to death. Then…God.

Do your kids know of the struggles in your marriage? Do they know how HARD you have worked to build a family for them? They should!

One of our girls became our daughter when she was handed to us through a car window. She now is the proud owner of our hearts.

Do all your kids know their origin story? Do they know that you labored three days…or three years to get them here? Origin stories build their stability and security. Rehearse how they came into your family.

When he was five years old, someone asked one of our sons what he wanted to be when he grew up. “A lion,” he replied. He wasn’t far off. As a former Marine, Scott has lots of “conquering hero” stories worthy of a lion.

Another son wore a hat emblazoned with bugs for a solid year. This “wild child” of a boy grew to be a teen who, along with two other friends, stopped a would-be street fight in Italy where we were traveling one year. That was precursor his job of ending the violence performed against women.

Do you let your grown-up kids know that the seeds of their greatness could be seen when they were young? Let them know you ALWAYS knew they would be AMAZING!

The daughter that owns her Daddy’s heart came to us in a white pick up truck full of her worldly possessions when she was too young to drive that truck…but that is all the story I can tell you. She owns the rest of the narrative.

One daughter didn’t speak to us for nearly seven years. Then a national disaster, the Boston Marathon bombing, brought us close. Jesus made us a family again.

At six-years old, a son was almost hit by a car. Then the husband of the driver of the car came over and yelled at my husband for letting our kid ride his bike in the street in front of our house! Yes, for real. I can’t make this stuff up.

Do your kids get to talk about “the hard stories?” Our family history is not all rainbows and unicorns. Some of our stories still make us cry. These are our family love stories.

Telling your family stories to each other builds bridges that you can always cross to each other…and shows the world they can build those bridges too.

What are your family stories? Can you share them with us?

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Why is it hard to parent Adult Children?

“I guess I thought by now I would be finished parenting.”

“When I went off to college I was on my own. My parents never bailed me out financially or socially–why do I think I need to do that with my adult children?”

“Am I helicoptering him even though he is 21?”

“I expected to be less needed when they married–but I didn’t expect to be kicked aside!”

One of the main reasons parenting of adult children is difficult is because this journey is full of unknowns and different ways to approach situations. When we brought them home from the hospital we had options: breast or bottle feeding? cloth or disposable diapers? sleeping in bed with us or crib? Since we knew the QUESTIONS, we knew we could come up with different answers based on our preferences. Not so with parenting adults!

One mom recently told me, “I never expected to have to train my daughter in how to love her child. I thought that came naturally. Now, I am trying to teach her behaviors that are foreign to her for some reason; and these lessons are all foreign to me because I never had to learn this.”

Another parent asked me, “What do I do when my son has completely different memories of his childhood than I do? I am not calling him a liar but I cannot believe I did some of the things he is now accusing me of doing.”

In anguish a mom of a grieving son told me, “I just lost a granddaughter, but my son lost his little girl. How can I help him through that? I have never lost anyone myself before now. But, it kills me to see him suffer like this.”

These were not even ideas on our radar about living with our adult children–we couldn’t anticipate the answers because we couldn’t anticipate the questions.

At an information conference an educator told me, “We have to train our students to use technology that has not been invented for jobs that have yet to be created.”

It’s not just us…it’s the world we live in.

In order to maintain relationships with our adult children we must LEARN TO LEARN. We must work to continually communicate our respect and admiration for them. We must endeavor to maintain open lines of affection, even when we are miles and weeks apart.

New day, new challenge. But we have more information at our fingertips than our parents did. We have more ways to communicate than ever before. Often, we must communicate, “I have no idea what you are going through. I have never been through that. But I believe in you and I will walk this with you.”

Supporting someone we love in a journey we have never traveled might seem scary. It IS hard to parent adult children–but that’s why we do it. My dad always told me, “If this job was easier, someone less competent would do it.”

What are the hardest tasks in parenting your adult children right now? I would love to hear from you.

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Setting Boundaries: Conversation

There are so many things I want to say…when is it right to speak?

She once wanted my advice, now I feel shut out. What can I do?

He wants to tell me all the dirty laundry about his wife and I am uncomfortable with that. What can I say?

How do I start the HARD conversation?

She is on the road she can’t return from. How can I tell her?

She is grieving and I want to help…but how do I start?

He is asking about something that happened when he was young, but we were different people then. I have apologized. Am I required to relive all that so he can “get it off his chest?”

Setting boundaries concerning conversations must happen when your children become adults.

When they were little we had hard and fast rules on words.

Mom, Scott called me stup-I-D, and told me to SHUT U-P, ” my five-year old Terah spelled out. NEVER would she say STUPID or SHUT UP! So, she had to spell the last few letters. Yep, words had impact. There were definitely off limit words.

How about you? Could they say, “I hate you!” Where were the limits to what your kids could say when they were young? Do you still have limits on their speech now as adults? Are the boundaries spoken or unspoken?

Avoiding hard conversations tells your adult child, “You don’t mean enough to me for me to be uncomfortable. My comfort is more important than your growth.” That is NOT the message we want to send.

Start, and hang in there for, the conversations that MUST happen with your adult children.

Letting your child know that you are embarking on a topic that might be uncomfortable validates their thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

Recently I had a concern about the health and development of one of our granddaughters. I told Nikki ahead of time I wanted to talk about her baby’s development. I listened as my granddaughter’s mom attempted to blow off what might or might not have been a health concern.

“Can I say something about this or do you want me to mind my own business?” I asked.

“I want you to tell me what you think I should do.”

I suggested she take the baby to the doctor, which she did. Yep, I was dead wrong–nothing whatsoever was wrong with the baby. Am I sorry I stepped out ? Not at all. Because a few weeks later that conversation was the case-in-point in another conversation we were having. Nikki was talking about how hard it is to give or receive parenting advice. she knew I wouldn’t shy away from parenting advice just because I had over reacted before. “I know that if I was doing something wrong with my kids you would tell me! And I would listen,” she assured me.

Once one of our adult kids and her significant other insinuated that we had lied about something. Drop the mic. Nope. Over the line. “Are you saying you think I lied to you? Because that wouldn’t be OK, ” my husband asked. Don’t be afraid to change the tone of the conversation. The worst boundary we can have with our adult children is an invisible boundary. Make sure the lines are clear. When one of your adult children steps over, don’t yell, become angry, or get offended. Simply restate the boundary in clear nonnegotiable terms.

Always be the adult in the conversation. No matter how uncomfortable you become stay calm and keep ASKING QUESTIONS. Get crystal clear on what the challenge is and what your options are in the situation.

A friend of mine asks her Adult Child, “Are you just venting or do you want us to work this out?” I like that. Our children DO need space to vent–but we do not have to be a whipping post taking body blows to fill their need.

What ARE your clear boundaries in talking with your adult children? How have you communicated that you want to be open and honest–but not abused?

Do you know what subjects are off limits in talking to your adult children?

Have you approached your adult children with difficult topics? What has worked and what hasn’t?

I would love to hear from you!

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Setting Relationship Goals with your Adult Children

Do you set New Year’s goals?

Gonna lose weight?

Gonna earn more money?

Set a goal to improve your relationship with your adult children. Here are four simple tips: 

  • Setting relationship goals with our adult children is not a one size fits all proposition. The way I treat my eldest son is very different from the way I treat my youngest daughter. However, I can improve both relationships. I need to set goals to connect with both of them in 2019. Thinking of their love languages helps me connect uniquely with that adult child. 
    • We often speak our own love language to our adult children and can’t figure out why don’t feel loved. Be curious in knowing their love language. (See my previous blog posts on that topic explaining each love language and how to speak it to your adult child!)
    • As parents to adult children we leave the past in the past. Regardless of how rebellious they were as teens or the crazy antics they performed as adolescents–we approach them as adults now.
  • Time ALONE with our adult children pays big dividends in terms of insight and info. Although as teens they may have run from us, while pursuing other relationships, as they mature they want more time with us. And what do we do with the time? We listen–more curiosity needed. We remove the judgmental filters that cause us to think, “Well, that’s dumb. Why do you think that?” I often told my teen daughters, “You are not held accountable for what you DO NOT SAY!” I take my own advice often now.
  • Can you be interested in what they are interested in? Can you listen to them talking about what they are engaged with now? One of our daughters is in school so Ted and I are back in school. One son loves to talk about cars–so we listen about cars.  Building a relationship means building interest in their interest.
    • We tune in to their intellectual and emotional wavelength. We engage them in THEIR LIFE not ours. We must get to know THEM.  Recently someone gave me the great compliment, “You are a student of your kids.” Yep, I work at knowing them. 
  • Noah St. John suggests, we ask to improve the relationship with two questions, “On the scale of one to ten where do you see our relationship?” When the person answers anything less than 10 your next question is, “What can I do to make our relationship a 10?” Then LISTEN and take action on what your adult child suggests.

We CAN improve our relationship with our adult children. Like ALL goals this one will take a PLAN and WORK! But what is more important? As we all know, the most important things in life are not things at all. 

Happy New Year.

What are some goals you have for your relationship with your adult children this year? I would love to hear them! Drop them in the comments below!

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A Habit of Gratitude

It is impossible to overstate the importance of developing good habits. In children, good habits develop their character. 
 
Parents of young kids work on teaching the habits of hygiene and good manners.
But perhaps the most important habit we can teach our children is the habit of gratitude. Gratitude enlarges the brain and develops empathy for others. Gratitude reflects a heart of understanding towards others. Gratitude enlarges the number of friends one has—because grateful people are happy people. In his book The Happiness Advantage Shawn Achor recommends that folks keep a gratitude journal. Achor is one of more than a dozen authors who recommend this practice for keeping us on track with a grateful heart. Today book stores and office supply stores stock a variety of cute gratitude journals—but what other ways can we model gratitude for our kids and others in our lives?
When my children were small one ‘game’ we played was a “go-around” in the car while everyone yelled one thing they were grateful for that day. We started the list with ‘A’ and tried to keep it going till we got to ‘Z’ and someone had to be grateful for the ever- present zebra.
Did this one habit change the lives of my adult children? Well, it helped! I can safely affirm that claim. While some sour-faced toddlers grew into temperamental preteens and moody adolescents, my clan— for the most part— learned to handle emotions with a more steady and calm assurance that
situations change and generally, with work, circumstances improve. 
When we first moved to Houston, Ted was pursuing a doctorate.  Times were tight. Our daughter was going to public school which meant LUNCH MONEY!!! Naturally, before sending our first grader off to school we often had to play “find the change in the couch cushions.” Not only was this a great way to avoid negative thinking during that time but it taught her that there could be FUN in the hard times! A side benefit: now that she is a mom of six children, she has mastered that game with her own kiddos years later!
Did we accomplish this grateful thinking 100% of the time— no. I lean toward the pessimistic side of the street while Ted resides permanently on the sunny side of life.
GRATITUDE IS WORK FOR ME—ESPECIALLY IF I HAVE MY FOCUS ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES. But this was the big lesson for our kids:
DO NOT FOCUS ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES
Reaping the benefits of gratitude today, I see my happy grandchildren often writing “thank you” notes in whatever imaginary handwriting they employ for the day.  They have been thankful for snails, frisbees, friends, and chocolate chips.  A recent conversation went like this…
Me, “ Thank you for the sweet note. Can you read it to me?”
Darling grandchild, “This says thank you for the cookie.”
Me, “What cookie?”
“The one you are going to give me, Silly.”
Gratitude has its pay off! 
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Why Do I Have to Practice Parenting?

We practice law. We practice medicine. Who practices parenting?

We practice law. We practice medicine. Shouldn’t we practice parenting?

FamilyEaster2017Practice parenting. That is what you are going to go with?”

My poor husband was baffled. After 15 months of talking about reopening my blog to discuss the phenomenon of being the parent to ALL adult children he was sure I would have a better title that PRACTICE!!

“Why do you have to practice this? You have been a mom for almost 40 years. Aren’t you a pro already?”

As a matter of fact, I am a pro. Dictionary.com defines  a professional is someone who is engaged in a profession. (Don’t you love when the definition tells you nothing?) But the word profession is defined as an occupation, especially one that requires PROLONGED training! (Emphasis all mine!).

I have been a parent over three decades and I have been ‘in training’ every day.

Check that one! I am a pro!

But the word practice is used to mean the carrying out or exercise of a profession. Of course you have most often heard this in the use of a law practice of the practice of medicine. Obviously we would all love to read a physician’s post after 35 years of treating the common cold on how to avoid the germs and make the illness pass more quickly, right? If an attorney who have been practicing a quarter of a century posts on how to draw up the unbreakable contract you would read that, right? Sure! 

So here I am: professional parent (because of the INTENSE and EXTENSIVE  training) and I am putting out my shingle to say: Welcome to my practice! 

Lots of us think we are still in the business of practicing— like Little League baseball: show up every day from 3-5 and take a swing and a miss until you get it right. Hence, my tagline: everything worth doing is worth practicing. That should let the readier know: I am still swinging and missing at being a parent to adults…but I am willing for you to grab a seat and watch me swing.

What I REALLY want from the readership is a lot of armchair coaches who can comment on how to better swing at how to celebrate your grown kids when they do something GREAT, like have a birthday! I hope to get coaching advice on posts about when to give advice to your kids and when to take the advice they are giving you.

My goal is that PRACTICE PARENTING can be both a sounding board for when we royally mess this up and an advice column when we truly want and need help. 

 

 

 

 

Credibility with Adult Children

“A leader’s credibility begins with personal success . . . To gain credibility, you must consistently demonstrate three things: initiative, sacrifice and maturity.”

Parents are leaders of our home. Like it or not, our kids follow us. They repeat our words when we are angry as often as they repeat our advice when we are wise–probably more often when we are angry. LIFE ISN’T FAIR.

As a mom-leader, I always thought I needed to take the initiative in showing my kids how to work hard(my chores were accomplished along with everyone else), study hard (I got my doctorate when the youngest two were in high school), and play hard (nobody will ever forget mom’s water skiing accident that dislocated her hip!). Waiting around for my teenagers to do their homework and whining when they didn’t follow through on their assignments seemed crazy to me, even when I heard my friends do it. “Take the initiative!” my Mom told me as a little girl, “don’t let the grass grow under your feet.” I never understood what that phrase meant but I knew it meant I had to keep moving!

Parenting equals sacrifice. From the time they are born we sacrifice. We are always the last one to eat. Why is it that the sleeping baby cannot be roused from slumber until the hot meal is set on the table and then the little darling can’t wait another MINUTE to eat? A mom starts sacrificing sleep before the baby is even born. Dads take second jobs and learn to coach sports they swore they would never touch again just so their little athletes can play. Sacrifice is the middle name of parenting.

Then comes maturity. One of my least-finest (is that a term?) parenting moments came the day before my first born daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner. I have NO IDEA what we were fighting about but I am sure it was insignificant. However, I was done with the fight and told her so. “I am going to my room! Do not follow me!” Um…I said that. I am the mother. I am the mature one here. I ran up the stairs and yelled for her not to follow me! I slammed the door to my bedroom (A HUGE NO-NO IN OUR HOUSE!) and forgot to lock the door. “I said don’t follow me!” I yelled as Rachelle burst through my door way.

“Mom, you have to talk to me. I am your kid. I am getting married, and you are the mother.”

We both burst into tears and fell into each others’ arms. I sure was gonna miss my girl.

So it wasn’t my most mature moment, but the moments that followed were pretty sweet. Despite my immaturity, my credibility remained in tact: I will be there when you need me- even if you have to chase me up the stairs.

How do you build credibility with your adult children? I would love to hear from you.