Today’s content is based on a message by Ben Markham, our church’s youth minister. His wisdom and insights can help hurting parents whose children (teens or adults) make dangerous choices; who face troubling situations of all kinds. My journey as a mom hasn’t turned out as I expected. Has yours?
In John 1:29 – 34, John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus a hard question, “Are you the one who was to come?” Didn’t he know? John had endured a year or so in prison and now he was beginning to doubt. He was suffering. There was no end in sight. He’d heard about what his cousin Jesus was doing and his expectations weren’t being met—the kingdom hadn’t been restored to the Jews. They were still under Roman rule. Is this how things are supposed to be, Jesus . . . really? It wasn’t what John thought would happen.
My journey as a parent hasn’t been what I expected, either. Lord, you’ve allowed so much pain and suffering. I never thought this would happen to me . . . I don’t understand.
Sometimes we have faulty expectations of God – they apply to our parenting. Here are five of the most common ones.
Five Faulty Expectations of God:
- He’ll keep his promises in our time frame.
My guest blogger today is Val Bush, our teammate at Hope for Hurting Parents. Be sure to read more about her and see her pretty smile at the end of the blog.
Change? Are you kidding me? You want me to change? After all I’ve been going through? Have you seen my child, Lord? He’s the one who needs to change! Not me. I’m a law-abiding citizen. People describe me as trustworthy and dependable. And I’m a strong Christian! (Mic drop)
A tree in our neighborhood has seen better days. One of its branches (still full of leaves) broke under the weight of a heavy October snow. Now, months later, the rest of the tree’s leaves are gone, with the exception of those on the broken branch. That branch retained all its leaves, although they, too, are brown and dead. They remain attached, as if exempted from nature’s seasonal cycle.
This spring, the tree will produce signs of new, healthy life. Dead leaves, however, will remain on the broken limb in stark contrast to the green buds surrounding it. Certainly an eyesore, the decaying limb will also threaten the rest of the tree by potentially harboring pests and disease.
Throughout the fall and now winter, this unappealing tree branch reflects the equally unappealing topic of change. This has been the focus of both my daily devotions and recent messages at church. (Isn’t this often God’s way of teaching us something? He brings it up everywhere we turn!)
Today is New Year’s Day 2018. If you’re a parent in pain due to the behaviors and choices of your son or daughter, this might not be a good day, so I have something special for you. It’s the true story of God’s faithfulness in his pursuit of a wayward son. A former prodigal and his mom got together wrote it (I’ve made only a few grammar edits). They gave me permission to share with others to encourage them. This is for parents far and wide; a vision of what God could do in your child’s life – a gift of hope.
Let me tell you about John. You may see similarities here to your own child. John is the son of Christian missionaries. He made a decision for Christ when he was five-years-old. He rededicated his life at age twelve and was baptized at seventeen. However, when he was eighteen, he decided to live life his way. He chose to deny God to justify his choices.
Tomorrow is Christmas, a hard day for many people, especially parents who are hurting over the destructive choices and behaviors of their teen to adult children. In my last post on December 11th, I told you about the idea of a “God Box”. This is not my original concept. I heard about it in an Al-Anon meeting.
Using a God box has been a great strategy to help me deal with my raw emotions of fear, worry, and anxiety. It is my prayer that this could help you, too.
Here’s how to use a God Box:
As the mother of a daughter who has wrestled with addictions, self-injury, mental illness, and suicidal tendencies my wants during the holidays are few.
If I could be a child again I’d climb up on Santa’s lap and have a very different kind of wish list to share with him.
Material things mean nothing when one of our children is suffering.
We’ll never be the same.
What do we really want for Christmas? Nothing money can buy. Your list is probably a lot like mine. It’s more like a prayer.
All I want for Christmas is:
1) A “do-over” for my daughter.
“… Into the middle of impossible messes — comes the Messiah who makes the miracles possible.” (Ann Voskamp)
Does your child’s life look like an impossible mess this Christmas season?
Are they so trapped in addictive behaviors and destructive relationships that it looks like there’s no way out?
Are drugs and alcohol, self-injury, an eating disorder, mental illness, jail sentences, a same-sex relationship or pornography holding them in bondage?
If all you see is impossibilities – in their lives and in yours – then you need a miracle.
Can you remember when a special event was ruined because of something bad that happened? Maybe it was your birthday or maybe it was Christmas. For me, it was Thanksgiving Day 1997. We were living in Illinois. The morning was cold and sunny. I was up early to prepare our family’s special breakfast before we watched the Macy’s Christmas parade. I looked forward to this day all year. Our home was full of cheerful anticipation as pleasing aromas drifted in through the house.
An Unwelcomed Surprise
Suddenly, the phone rang around 8 am. It’s really early to get a phone call on Thanksgiving Day. My world was about to come crashing down.
“Hello?” I answered, expecting to hear the voice of one of our parents wishing us a happy day.
“Dena . . . honey,” My dad’s shaky voice stammered. My stomach sank. Uh oh. Something’s wrong.
After an eight-month-long illness, my mom had finally made enough progress to go home. Today was the day! I couldn’t wait to talk to her for the first time in months. How wonderful that would be.
“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but I just got a call from the nursing facility. It’s about your mom . . . honey, she passed away early this morning while they were helping her get dressed.” Nooooo!!!! It can’t be!
Thanksgiving has never been the same. I caught a flight out the next day. Her visitation was on my birthday. I didn’t want to celebrate anything that year. Thanksgiving. My birthday. Christmas. Who cares. I didn’t.
Have you had a similar experience with one of your children? You’ve been profoundly hurt, rejected, shocked, disappointed, and grief-stricken. You could care less about the holidays. There will be no Norman Rockwell Christmas for you.
Holidays are the most difficult time of the year for anyone in emotional pain, especially hurting parents.
I’ve been one. Our hearts are full of pain and sadness over our child’s struggles and destructive choices. This pain might be from any number of issues: alcohol, drugs, self-injury, mental illness, and more. We’re not in a festive mood. All we can think about is the last trauma or what the next one might be. We wonder, where is God and how can I survive this so-called happy season?
This Thursday is Thanksgiving, the official start of the holiday season, but many people aren’t looking forward to it.
For parents whose children are ruining their lives with drugs or alcohol, struggle with a mental illness or self-injury, have an eating disorder, struggle with their sexual orientation, are in trouble with the law (in prison) or can’t stop gambling or looking at porn, the holidays can be a brutal time of year. They don’t look forward to Thanksgiving – much less the Christmas season.
I remember when my daughter was young and innocent. She’d curl up on my lap, giddy with excitement to watch the parade. Happy sounds filled our home. After the big meal, she would join in pulling on the turkey’s wishbone, smiling and laughing, hoping her wish would come true.
Years later, when my daughter was in full-blown addiction, the holidays changed for me. I became desperate for my wishes to come true.
What I once looked forward to, I dreaded. What previously brought joy, brought increased pain and sadness, regret and longing. I didn’t know how to cope.
What about you, dear mom or dad? Do you know how to cope? Do you yearn for your wishes come true – for your child to be restored? Would you be giddy with excitement just to have them back, healthy and whole? If only things were as easy as pulling on a turkey bone and making a wish.
My wife and I were clueless when we began our journey of parenting a rebellious teen.
We found an endless amount of information on how to raise a great kid, but little help when it came to hard issues … like what we were facing: alcohol and drugs, mental illness, and self-injury and more. We had never even heard of cutting prior to discovering the marks on our daughter’s arms.
While I don’t cherish my time spent on that difficult road, the lessons I learned there have become treasures—similar to panning in a river for gold and finding something of great value.
Last Monday (Nov. 6th) I shared two golden nuggets of truth I found. Today I’m sharing two more truths I gleaned on my difficult parenting journey:
3. Set Reasonable Boundaries