Featured

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! 
Featured

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. 

 

 

 

 

Love Languages of our Adult Children: Acts of Service

This blog is one in a series of six addressing the topic of SPEAKING YOUR ADULT CHILD’S LOVE LANGUAGE.   We may have done this when they were young and now believe that speaking the love language of my adult child is not as important. But nothing is further from the truth.  The first blog in the series Speaking Your Child’s Language explains why. 
The test to determine what your child’s love language might be can be found at www.5lovelanguages.com
Kate, Nikki, and Terah love their friends and family WELL through ACTS OF SERVICE–their primary love language.
My three girls who feel most loved by Acts of Service are TRUE servants. A friend of mine recently told me that the love language that fills her OWN tank signifies asWords of Affirmationbut she loves toSHOW love through ACTS OF SERVICE.Is it true that some people prefer toPERFORM acts of servicebut can’t accept them? SURE! Those servants who have been serving folks for a long time (in long time marriages, grew up with lots of siblings to serve) have concrete thoughts on what service looks and feels like.
Often EXCELLENT servants can teach the rest of us a thing or two about exactlyhowto place the napkin around the birthday plate to make the honoree feel loved!
The love tanks of Kate, Nikki, and Terah fill up when they receive acts of service. Here are some ideas from them and me…

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Kate bought us ‘matchy’ scarves for the 4th of July…I loved it so much I even took this picture with no make up!
Kate has two “goofball boys” (this is not name calling but loving nicknames!) whom she serves every day. Below one act of service was working on a rocket that one brother received for his birthday. The rocket performed on point and the Goofball Brother experienced a memory he will never forget.
Kate works as a lobbyist and realizes what a PREMIUM time is for all of us. Spending a few hours privately with her (and her husband, even when he and Ted are SO tired they fall asleep on us!) fills her love tank when we get to see each other.
Through texts, email, Marco Polo, or whatever fun device of communication we currently use I keep Kate updated on this CRAZY BUSY family. She may be 1,200 miles away but when she steps off the plane, I want her to feel like she is IN THE LOOP.

 

One way Kate and Harris fill each other’s tank is through allowing the other to have some personal rec time. Kate encourages Harris to play golf and Harris makes a way for her to enjoy yoga every week. ACTS OF SERVICE are usually spelled TIME!

I have said before—serving my kids is serving me.

When Kate and Harris came for a visit I filled their tanks by taking the GoofBall Brothers for a morning while Kate and Harris went to the golf course—
SPOILER: I adore those boys and needed a little one-to-two time . ACTS OF SERVICE don’t have to be painful or marytdom!

NIKKI

 

Nikki throws a GREAT party! This one-year old party for Alana not only served her baby girl but ALL the family ad friends that fit in the house…and pool.

“I think that my needs for ACTS OF SERVICE right now is because of this season of life. I just need so much help!”  So spoike by sweet Nikki, mother of three BEAUTIFUL baby girls, five and under. Every day is a HUGE act of service to her family.
Last year Nikki taught English at the university model school which I founded. Every week as she entered the room to teach I took her baby and held Alana while she taught.OK—busted. This was NOT a hardship on the Grandmommy who held the baby each week till her mommy finished teaching.
Recently I really failed to support Nikki in a situation none of us expected to occur. I did not anticipate that as Rachelle says, “We needed to put out the Bat Light.” The next day, when a phone call of reassurance would have served, her dad and I got in the car and drove over an hour to look her in the eye and assure her that would never happen again.
Ever.

 

Nikki is a ‘daddy’s girl’ so when he give her of his time and attention her love tank fills in a hurry!

Sometimes an act of service to your adult children takes a little more time than it took in making a pop-tart when they were small. But the time is such a GREAT investment in ACTING in SERVICE to them.

TERAH

Terah loves the outdoors and nature. She recently visited the Lavender Farm in Utah of Young Living. Another way she serves others–good health!
Terah works as a nanny and also plays SUPER aunt to lots of nieces and nephews! Likewise she  serves her hard-working husband who works construction with another son-in-love.

 

Terah’s weekly acts help her sister Rachelle fulfill her calling of studying to be a midwife and work with her hubby in the construction industry.

When I asked Terah how I could show her I loved her she replied, “Come do my laundry or wash my dishes!” She might not have been kidding!
When she was engaged to be married, she confided in me that all the married kids got out of doing the dishes for the big family gatherings and she was looking forward to that!
One year, for Christmas Terah sent all of us “date boxes” so we could put on a special date for our spouses. Obviously, she adores DOING for others. At a recent family gathering she made a banana pudding that must have taken all day!Real meringue for a HUGE crew that would have consumed boxed brownies if she made them!
Ted and I adopted Terah when she was nine-weeks-old. Much of her birth history has been a mystery to us. Recently she did 23&Me to find out more about her pre-adoption past. When she got the results I compiled as much as I could of her adoption records, first birth certificate, and hospital records. We had a great breakfast looking through all the papers and details on the app to figure out as much as we could about her history. It was a sweet day neither of us will forget.

 

Terah spent time honoring Emma on her 12th birthday as we all helped Emma make the “journey” to womanhood.

Feeding your hungry brood every evening does not ACTUALLY count as an ACT OF SERVICE, since EATING if REQUIRED for living.
But a SPECIAL meal for a birthday or any day COUNTS to fill their love tanks because these gals are servants themselves and they KNOW what it takes to make a beautiful meal.
When you are performing ACTS OF SERVICE just ask, “what would make this special? A little music? A bow? An extra gift? Merangue?”

Although they don’t live in our home, our Adult Servers need us to help fill their love tanks!

5 Love Languages of Adult Children: Quality Time

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It doesn’t get much more quality time than these cousins getting to spend time together!
This blog is one in a series of six addressing the topic of SPEAKING YOUR ADULT CHILD’S LOVE LANGUAGE.   We may have done this when they were young and now believe that speaking the love language of my adult child is not as important. But nothing is further from the truth.  The first blog in the series Speaking Your Child’s Language explains why. 
The test to determine what your child’s love language might be can be found at www.5lovelanguages.com

We never seem to have enough time to do the things we really wanna do once we find them….

Jim Croce, Time in a Bottle

All adults enjoys spending FUN, HAPPY,  ENJOYABLE time with family participating in activities that they want to engage in! DUH!
But some of our adult children THRIVE on time with us and other members of their family EVEN doing activities they don’t care for! My personal love language is quality time. For years I rode in a golf cart just to be with Ted while he swung clubs at a tiny white ball that had not offended him in the least.  I even swung a few of the clubs myself until I realized my love language was not GOLF…it was the time it took us to go from the first hole to the club house.
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Ted and I spend lots of quality time together. The annual Cousins’ Camp is a great time to fill the love tanks of the kids and grandkids!
Currently, Ted and I ride our bikes to the lake every night that we are both home and watch the sun go down. The ride is only about a mile so we aren’t really allowed to count this as exercise, but it COUNTS big toward filling my love tank every night as we talk about the day before we ride home.
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Time with ALL the ones she loves fills the LOVE TANK of Rachelle.
If your adult child’s love language is quality time, the time, not the activity  COUNTS. Three of my adult children and two of their spouses have quality time as their love language.  This means it is VERY important I learn to speak this language. Here are some ways I fill Rachelle’s love tanks:
  • Schedule a mani/pedi (we recently did this and I had to bail because Ted took me away for a few days to the beach…. Thinking that he was filling my tank with quality time! It is a nice ‘almost win’ but it really doesn’t fill the tank if it doesn’t happen).
  • When we have a conversation, I do not play on my phone or get distracted. I look her in the eye.
  • Even if I can’t be present, I have video chat conversations about events in her life.
  • Schedule a common place to meet for dinner—even if it is on the fly and on our way to other meetings,
  • Make time for her to have time with  her hubby and others who can fill her tank.
  • Plan to come early and help set up for a family event so we can chat.

 

 

John testifying before Senate hearing
My son John’s love language is also quality time. He has a CRAZY busy schedule working as a legislative director for a great organization so having time together is tricky. He and his beautiful family live three hours away so spontaneity is out of the question. Some of the ways I attempt to show him love are:
  • Calling and asking questions about work and his projects.
  • Going to his town to hear him preach.
  • Sitting on the sofa and listening to stories of his latest escapades.
  • Going to the capitol and listening to him testify before a Senate hearing and other big events.
Once, at a big event I introduced myself as “John’s mother.” The listener responded, “I knew you were his mom from the look on your face while he was talking.” BE PRESENT IN EVERY WAY.
BIG EVENT!!! 
One event that I do every year that fills the tank of ALL the kids occurs over Thanksgiving Weekend. On Black Friday, the girls (that is ALL the daughters, daughters-in-love, and granddaughters) and I go for mani-pedis. We chat and laugh and spend a couple of hours sharing girl talk that is always WAY overdue. Then we go for lunch and a grocery run (with eight adult children, plus their spouses, and 16 grandchildren we ALWAYS need a grocery run!) and head home for the adults to pack.
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Ready to head to SIBLINGS’ WEEKEND!

 

My kids and their spouses pack up and head to a resort or local hotel to spend the next two days sharing sibling stories and making memories. The grandkids and my husband, Ted and I, start the PARTY! We have a scavenger hunt, obstacle course, eat too much sugar, and watch movies past EVERYONE’s bedtime.

 

The time flies by and the parents arrive to cousins who (although EXHAUSTED) did not miss them (much!).

This annual event shows how I scheduled out time so that their love tanks can be filled by the other siblings and spouses as well as myself.  Since a couple of my kids’ love language is quality time, I realize that I don’t have to be the one to fill the tank—I just need to make sure the tank is always topped off! 

Love Languages for Adult Children: Physical Touch

This blog is one in a series of six addressing the topic of SPEAKING YOUR ADULT CHILD’S LOVE LANGUAGE.   We may have done this when they were young and now believe that speaking the love language of our adult child is not as important. But nothing is further from the truth.  The first blog in the series Speaking Your Child’s Language explains why. 
The test to determine what your child’s love language might be can be found at www.5lovelanguages.com
He was always my hugger as a little boy.
We snuggled on the couch for hours. 
I miss having my kids sit in my lap and look into my eyes. Is that weird? 

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Parents of adult children can have a tough time figuring out how to speak love into their adult kids.

You may be struggling with communicating love to your adult child— especially if your 20-something or 30-something adult child’s  love language is physical touch. Infancy and toddlerhood demand physical touch—all the bathing and kissing boo-boos filled our days when our kids were young. The necessity of physical touch in the early years diminishes as children walk, run, and then DRIVE without our assistance. But that does not stop the need for physical touch.
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Despite the fact that our adult children have spouses and perhaps even children of their own—they still need our literal physical touch. If your adult child’s love language is one of the other four languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, or quality time, that human STILL needs physical touch. Physical touch is an activator for the other love languages.  Physical touch speaks to a person by saying, “Hey look! I see you there. I am present with you.” 
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Obviously, there is no more lap-sitting and snuggling with your  grown-up child. But, if that kid has a love language of physical touch you are NOT out of options:
  • Pat her on the back
  • Welcome him with a hug
  • Make direct eye contact when she is speaking to you
  • Stand shoulder to shoulder when making a meal
  • Put your arm around him when taking a picture
  • Sandwich her hands in both of yours when you give her a compliment
  • Touch his arm as he is saying good-bye
  • Encourage touch football, wrestling, or sports with all the adult kids
  • Hold, hug, cuddle their little ones—when you have done it for their children you have done it for them (but you knew that!)

 

 

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Even if you are living a distance from the child and  mainly communicate by phone, try Google Hangout or FaceTime or some other way to actually make CONTACT with them. A virtual hug outranks no hug for your physical touchers. This is a great idea for ALL your kids. 
We have tried LOTS of video chat ideas. Currently our guys are using Marco Polo because their crazy schedules (and different time zones) don’t always allow us to LIVE chat. While this is NOT optimal, it is better than giving up the eye contact and desire to be there.
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WARNING: for our physical touchers any hurtful touch is ESPECIALLY damaging.  If your physical toucher has a tendency to get loud and pick a fight during a particularly difficult time in his/her life PHYSICALLY MOVE AWAY FROM HIM/HER. Avoid the situation where an adult child might become physical. Obviously, this is important for a child with ANY love language but a child with physical touch as a love language feels terrible condemnation and shame if he hits a person he loves. This is why a physical toucher is repulsed by the idea of spanking a child, or anything physically hurtful.
As a parent of adults whose love language is physical touch you may need to ask for forgiveness for a physical punishment performed in their childhood or adolescence. Some adults carry deep wounds from being physically reprimanded as older children or teens. These wounds present themselves in the form of aggression to parents from the adult children or long absences or excuses to not attend family events.
If your adult child exhibits signs of aggression or disconnect toward you, ASK the child. You may feel you are opening a can of worms concerning their growing up, but there is no other way to find out where the lack of love and closeness originate.

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What happens when you find out you have injured this child? You know that answer also: lovingly apologize. You may not even remember the event, but the feeling of lovelessness is REAL to the child—and you love the child more than your own pride. I know you do.

Speaking Your Child’s Love Language

We love our adult children.

We care for their welfare.

We want only the best for them.

Sometimes, when we often try to express that love, our words and actions come off as nagging, patronizing, cajoling, or bribing instead of loving our dear ones.

HOW CAN THAT HAPPEN? WE ARE PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL ATTEMPTING TO COMMUNICATE OUR LOVE TO YOUNGER ADULTS OF GOOD WILL.
Gary Chapman in his famous The 5 Love Languages instructs folks to speak our love to our spouses and children in their own primary love language.

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When we love folks and attempt to express that love in some way other than their love language, the exercise simulates speaking our love to them in Chinese.  They hear it but they don’t understand it. They cannot interpret our words of affirmation, our physical touch, our quality time, our acts of service or our giving of gifts as loving acts. They may instead actually interpret them as flattery, smothering, helicoptering, or even attempting to buy their love and affection.
We can speak it louder, longer, with more words or actions but if we are speaking in the WRONG love language our messages of love will not get through. 
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Do you know what your child’s love language is? I STRONGLY suggest that you take the Five Love Language test on www.5lovelanguages.com.
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According to Chapman, we all have a ‘native tongue’ which communicates love to us. If we go as ambassadors to a foreign country naturally, we would take the time to learn at least some of the language. We would want to make sure that we are communicating LOUD AND CLEAR so our message is understood. 
As the parents of adult children we may have been duped into believing that our kids do not need this specific love language anymore. We act as if they are now suppose to be fluent in every dialect of “I love you” known to man.
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Nothing is further from the truth. Obviously as adults they can RATIONALLY say, “Of course, my parents love me.” And as 20-somethings and 30-somethings they may not be as prone to throwing tantrums which ends in door slamming and yells of “You don’t even love me.”
But, not for one minute should we forget that they need to FEEL the love that we have for them.
Feeling loved becomes even more important in the ADULTHOOD of our children. Why?
  1. They are being asked to fill the love tanks of others now—their spouses, significant others, and possibly our GRANDCHILDREN, AKA their kids.
  2. They are living BUSY adult lives and are not as free to spend time and resources cultivating the love relationships they once had with us as their parents or their spouse—the two tiers of folks who are most RESPONSIBLE to fill up their love tanks.

 

THEREFORE
they  NEED to give away more love (and fill others love tanks) even while having less time, resources, and emotional power to cultivate their own love tanks.
All my adult children are filling the love tanks of others.  Who is filling theirs? (My sweet granddaughter  Alana just turned one year old.  Looking at her fills my tank!)
This is why SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE IN A DIALECT THEY UNDERSTAND IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG. 
 
Do yourself a favor— get them to take the test and learn their love language. 

The next five weeks will be about each of the languages and how we can SPEAK that LANGUAGE to our adult children. 

Speak Life into Your Adult Kids

“Sticks and stones may break my bones…but words will break my heart.”

 

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The power of life and death is in the tongue.

Have you ever spoken a word in anger or frustration to your kids and wished that you could swallow the words back? Or that a hole would swallow you up?
Our words have power. Our words can build up or destroy our children. 
The age of our kids’ doesn’t determine the level of damage we can cause—words can hurt,.
Even with age and thicker skin our kids feel the pain of words spoken in frustration or anger…or more often, just insensitivity. And it is not just OUR words that can wound our kids–it is the words of our other kids (their brothers and sisters) that can harm.
With families of their own, our adult children often forget how a “joke” might sound on the receiving end.  The receiver might forget that his/her brother/sister is a person of good intentions… Since there is much more time between interactions the barb can take root and become a huge fence built between us and our adult kids. Or between them and their siblings.  What to do?

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When our children were young and they started squabbling and bickering we had a rule: if you can’t learn to be friends with your brother and sister you won’t be allowed to make friends with anyone else. 

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It was a vain threat until we were called to enforce it one week when NO ONE went ANYWHERE without a sibling.
#missionaccomplished
That was all well and good when they were ten and younger—but now the practicality of asking them to all sit in one room for a week and “be friends” doesn’t work out as well.

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As parents of adults, we have two courses of action when we know that one child has been hurt by another:

 

  1. Continue (as we should be practicing every week) to affirm and support ALL the kids. 

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Ted is so great about this. Every Friday he writes “love texts” to one or several of the kids or their spouses.  This simple encouragement reminds them that they are LOVED, RESPECTED, WORTHY of AFFIRMATION. 
ALWAYS speak words of life into your children.  Practice speaking of their best characteristics and AFFIRM their strengths.
  1. Nurture and support the one who is wounded through affirming words, texts, cards, and notes. 

Just as words can hurt, they can also heal—but it takes longer! Keep encouraging through words and actions.

Be there for your hurting child.

Celebrate when your child has a victory!

Speak LIFE.

It is JUST as important now as when they were young!

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WARNING: As tempting as this is, there is ONLY ONE thing you CANNOT DO when one of your adult children hurts another through words — you cannot be the middle man and ask the offender to apologize or even let that sibling know there is a problem.  This is not YOUR story. Making your kids apologize might have worked at 6 and 10—but now, as adults, they have to take ownership of their actions and make their own amends. This is their life and their story.
If you don’t follow this warning, you will end up in the middle of two adults who may eventually make up and turn on you—helicopter parenting is not just out of style—it is dangerous.

Loyalty to our Adult Children

She is your idol.

You don’t think your kids do any wrong.

You always take the side of your kids.

 

These and other remarks that were meant to hurt me still remind me of a cardinal rule of parenting adult children:
BE LOYAL TO THEM

 

 

Be assured that
* They will mess up
* They will embarrass you
* They will fail to pay you back the money you loaned them
* They will hurt a sibling or close friend
* They will revert (hopefully temporarily) to their teen years and humiliate you
* They will make HUGE mistakes and EPIC FAILS
* They might lie about the huge mistakes and epic fails

They may do all these things on the SAME DAY

But one thing is SURE:
They will do these things less and recover quicker if they know you have their back.

Will they deserve your loyalty?
Did they have to earn your love?

The answer to both of those questions should be a LOUD “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

When I was growing up we had a phone on the wall (ANCIENT HISTORY LESSON FOR THE DAY…yep, a real life artifact of a lost culture) and next to the phone a sign read, “People need love the most when they deserve it the least.”

 

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As a ‘good girl teenager’ I thought that was outrageous! I thought when my brothers deserved love the least they needed a spanking—not love. I was wrong about a lot of things back then…including what my brothers needed from my folks.

I could never understand how my mom and dad loved my misguided siblings even more when they showed their misguided ways to the world.

 

Then I became a mom and it all made more sense.

Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.
Woodrow T. Wilson

Does it cost us to be loyal to our adult children? Absolutely.

As I was writing this I thought of so many stories when one of my friends (or a friend of my adult children) questioned why I had made a certain decision about one of my kids. These well-meaning, good-willed persons wanted me to throw my kids under the bus—although that was not the language they used. They simply wanted “some clarity” or “a little more understanding” about a situation my kids were involved in.

Honestly, I started writing three different stories that showed how loyalty to my kids had cost me some friendship credit with my girlfriends. But then, I deleted them.

The cost of my loyalty to my kids is not something I need to brag about—or even declare to the world. AND YOU DON’T NEED TO JUSTIFY YOURS EITHER.

Just like we would not have traded our toddler’s antics and fits in the middle of the restaurant for someone else’s, we wouldn’t trade our adult kids’ stories and CRAZY with anyone else either—so breathe.

The cost of my loyalty is similar to last weekend when I was taking homemade pizza to my daughter- in- love so we could spend time admiring my four-month old grandson. When she reminded me to leave the cheese off her half (baby reacts to dairy!) I remarked, “Oh, the things we give up for our kids!” Her immediate response, “Totally worth it!”

 

Giving up the high opinion of a few friends, or even (as happened to me years ago) losing a friend to stay loyal to your children… is totally worth it.

If loyalty is, and always has been, perceived as obsolete, why do we continue to praise it? Because loyalty is essential to the most basic things that make life livable. Without loyalty there can be no love. Without loyalty there can be no family. Without loyalty there can be no friendship. Without loyalty there can be no commitment to community or country. And without those things, there can be no society.
Eric Felten

When Our Adult Children Suffer

I can’t imagine how you are hurting…

I wish it were me instead of you…

If only I could take your pain…

Recently I heard  a speaker express the anguish of living through the dark journey of  mental illness in her children. For years her two daughters suffered and thus created immeasurable pain for this beautiful mama as she watched, helpless to free them from the prison of their diseases.
Our Children's Pain is Our Pain
We want to rush to alleviate our kid’s pain as quickly as possible–but is that always the best option?
She and I shared similar questions–though not as many answers— we shared the journey.
How can we support without smothering?
How can we nurture without being a nuisance?
How can we be a helper and not a hinderance when our kids are in pain? 
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Americans want to avoid pain at all cost.
We believe pain robs us of our plans for the day and often our dreams for the future. Naturally we want to help our kids avoid pain any way we can.
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The broken glass on this picture depicts the further pain Jake and Rachelle suffered. After surviving this crash and going on to build a family, their home was flooded twice last year. This photo that hung in their bedroom reminded them of God’s faithfulness–although the picture frame succumbed to the flood water.
When our daughter Rachelle and her husband were only two months married they were hit by a drunk driver who was driving a LARGE mobile home moving trailer.
The PAIN was physical (Jake received a pelvis fractured in over 20 places and a torn kidney) mental (this would delay their school and work careers) and emotional (they lost their newly conceived first baby in the wreck). The pain was unbelievable. It interrupted their lives and destroyed hopes. Watching their sorrow was excruciating.

What could we do? 

What could we say?

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When my husband, Ted, went to see the remains of this car the wrecker told him how sorry he was for Ted’s loss. “No. My daughter and her husband survived,” Ted responded.                        “Not in this car they couldn’t have,” the wise old demolition expert remarked.

 

There were no words from well-meaning friends that eased the pain. But often their presence encouraged Jake and Rachelle and therefore encouraged our hearts as well.
As adults in a cruel world we acknowledge that pain is inevitable, and when handled well, it brings growth and maturity. Pain can give needed perspective to our self-focused lives. But how can we apply all those “life lessons” to those who hold our hearts in their hands?
Timothy Keller in his best selling book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering reminds us that our response to suffering should NOT be passive! Keller states four activities we should pursue during suffering:
  • WEEP

  • PRAY

  • REORDER YOUR LOVES

  • HOPE

 

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We must weep to acknowledge the true loss and the pain we are suffering with our kids.
These are not STEPS but activities that go on simultaneously or one at a time while we grieve the pain of what is happening in our lives.
These are the same essential steps when the pain is inflicted on our adult children. We grieve. We wail. We admit the pain and the suffering. We reprioritize what is most important. And we hope.
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Knowing that the suffering produces a good work in us might comfort us AFTER the pain is gone… but during the tragedy we give ourselves permission to GRIEVE.
IT IS TRUE: PAIN is always easier to bear for ourselves than to bear while watching those we love so dearly suffer. 
 
But, as we see growth in our own lives through pain and suffering—we must long for that growth and strength in the lives of our adult children as well. 
 
Sometimes— that growth comes at a high price.