We can’t change the past with its irrefutable consequences: but we can frame how we talk about their failings—just as we would want them to do for us.
“I have forgiven him for 15 years for this behavior. Now, I am through. We are not inviting him to any more holidays until he dates better women!”
“He settled for this career. He should have been a doctor or at least a dentist. He had so much potential.”
“She deserted the family when she went to California. Now she is lonely and it is her own fault.”
Often not holding past offenses against our adult children proves difficult. Like their parents, our children make mistakes. All mistakes have consequences. Some mistakes have larger consequences than others.
We can’t change the past with its irrefutable consequences, but we can frame how we talk about their failings—just as we would want them to do for us. If nothing can be done to undo a bad decision, such as an accident while driving drunk, then we file that knowledge and act accordingly: without harassing the person who made the mistake once s/he acknowledges the error.
How do we move forward? What can we do to prevent future decisions that cost our kids their potential?
Start with RESPECT. We have to pray for our emotions and feelings. We then let our actions guide our emotions and thoughts. We ACT out of RESPECT. We move toward them with RESPECT.
The phrase “people do what people see” advises us to RESPECT our kids so they can RESPECT themselves and act out of RESPECT for others.
It begins with us. Do we:
R — Respect our kids and exhibit self-respect. Instead of asking for respect, do we give it and earn it?
E — Exceed the expectations of others. Do I set the the bar higher for myself than anybody else sets it for me?
S — Stand firm on convictions and values?
P — Possess maturity and demonstrate it by responding like an adult?
E — Experience a healthy family life by encouraging others and remaining positive?
C — Contribute to the success of others? Are we their biggest fan?
T — Think ahead of others. Are we pro-active in our relationships? Do we anticipate our response and improve upon it or do we simply react and let the chips fall where they may?
There is no easy way to continually respond with respect toward our adult children. We have to accept that we have done it imperfectly in the past.
As psychologist Carl Rogers remarked,
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
Being who I really am is the first step in becoming better than I am.
Johnnie Seago is a national conference speaker who is passionate about building leadership in families. As the mother to eight adult children, she desires families to learn to connect and communicate to build a community of support. She extends her leadership and team building experience to schools, businesses, and civic groups.
Johnnie’s messages equip leaders to:
Find their strength in the design God used to create them
Find their purpose for which God created them
Partner with others for support in reaching goals
Commit to the dreams God has placed on their heart
Become accountable for their success as leaders
Johnnie’s ministry to families includes:
Helping families transition from childhood to adulthood
Teaching parents to communicate with their adult children
Working through difficult situations as teens become adults
Providing resources and ideas for productive grand-parenting
Johnnie and her husband, Ted has been married for 40 years. They live in the suburbs of Houston, Texas on a lake where they enjoy boating and water sports and the occasional day of floating and reading.
View all posts by Dr. Johnnie K. Seago