Can Parents in Pain Really Celebrate the Holidays?

Focus on This

rockwellCan you remember when a special event was ruined for you because of something bad that happened? Maybe it was your birthday. Maybe it was Christmas.

I remember when this happened to me. It was Thanksgiving day in 1997 – a sunny, cold fall day in central Illinois. I was up early to prepare my family’s special breakfast before we watched Macy’s Christmas parade. I look forward to it all year. The house was full of cheerful anticipation as tasty aromas wafted through the house.

Suddenly the phone rang. My world was about to come crashing down.

“Hello?” I answered, expecting it to be one of our parents wishing us a happy day, but it was rather early for them to call.

“Dena, honey,” I heard my dad’s quivering, emotional sounding voice on the other end of the hard, plastic receiver. My stomach began to sink. Something’s wrong.

My mom was doing so much better after an eight month-long illness. She was finally going home later today. I couldn’t wait to talk with her. What a wonderful day it would be.

“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this . . . but I just got a call from the nursing facility . . . and it’s about your mom . . . honey, she passed away early this morning while they were helping her get dressed.” Nooooo!!!!

Thanksgiving has never been the same. Her visitation would be on my birthday. I didn’t want to celebrate anything that year. Not Thanksgiving, my birthday or Christmas. I didn’t care.

Have you had a similar experience with one of your children? You’ve been so hurt, wounded, rejected, shocked, and disappointed that now you could care less about the holidays. No Norman Rockwell Christmas for you.

Thankful for Thorns?

A Short Story For Broken Hearts onThanksgiving

The following short story was penned by George Matheson ~ late 19th century Scottish minister and hymn writer.
Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a

D-Thorn.com photo cred.

D-Thorn.com photo cred.

November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son.

She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer? Had she lost a child? No! “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? “Thankful for what?” she

Can Parents in Pain be Thankful?

Thanksgiving Doesn't Have to be Horrible

photo cred. Joshua Earle

photo cred. Joshua Earle

Are you a parent in pain? Be honest. Do you feel thankful? On my darkest days, I didn’t.

Does the mention of the word thankful make you want to run and hide? When your heart’s been broken by your beloved son or daughter, the last thing you feel like doing is being thankful. The truth is, it feels like Thanksgiving Day will be horrible.

If they’re incarcerated, have AIDS, are slowly killing themselves with alcohol or drugs (or maybe an eating disorder), suffer with mental illness, threaten suicide repeatedly or self-injure continually but refuse help, you want the world to go away.

I felt that way when my daughter wasn’t doing well close to Thanksgiving.

But wait – there’s so much to be grateful for, even when you’re in pain. You may say, as  I once did, “Shut up and don’t talk to me. It’s just not happening. How can I? There’s nothing to be thankful for! ”

I know,  I know . . . it’s so easy to get stuck

5 Tips to Help Hurting Parents Survive the Holidays

When Holidays are Hard

turkeyHolidays 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. It may be from any number of things: alcohol, drugs, porn, self-injury, mental illness, eating disorders, trouble with the law, same-sexual identity issues and more.

Sometimes we wish we could skip the holidays altogether. We certainly don’t feel like being thankful or festive.  All we can think about is the last trauma or the next one. We wonder where God is and how we’ll survive this so-called happy season?

Gratitude for a Grievous Gift

From a Mom Who Adopted her Son

Welcome Judy Douglass, today’s guest blogger.pain

My phone rang at 2 a.m., jarring me awake. I had been asleep for two hours in my hotel room, 1,000 miles from home. Not again, I thought. Which will this be—hospital or jail?

It was jail. My son was calling to tell me it was all a mistake; he shouldn’t have been taken to jail and could I help him with bail. And so I faced one more event in a long and challenging journey.

Ten years before we opened our home as a foster shelter to a 9-year-old boy who had been taken from his alcoholic, drug-addict mother.  With slight trepidation, we were excited about the privilege God was entrusting to us. We were sure this boy was a gift from God.

The next years were not easy. The neglect and abuse he had experienced overshadowed everything we did for him.

8 Ways for Parents in Pain to Be Emotionally Healthy

Are Trauma and Stress Choking the Life out of You?

I was a mess. My daughter was living on the streets, sleeping in parks and friend’s cars, out of control in her alcohol and drug abuse. Angry and grief-stricken, embarrassed and ashamed, my heart was full of guilt and fear. Unable to sleep or eat much, the stress was getting to me. My emotional health was seriously compromised.

One day I heard someone liken our hearts to a garden. Following that analogy, for websiteI realized mine was full of weeds and thorns. Major work needed to be done to keep my heart-garden from having the life choked out of it. If neglected it any longer, it would dry up altogether. Nothing healthy or attractive would remain.

Can you relate? Does it feel like trauma and stress are choking the life out of you?

Halloween: 5 Tips to Help Parents of Teens

How Will You Cope with the Stress?

Halloween. Do you enjoy it? Maybe you did when your kids were young, but now . . . everything’s different. Your son uses it for an excuse to go out and drink with his friends – or worse. Your daughter plans to sneak off and meet up with that boy you know is bad news, or smoke pot with her friends while they’re out trick or treating.

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Now you dread the night. If you’re child is a minor, you feel like you have to be the police or the bad guy – again. Your child will treat you that way when you have to ask those annoying, oh-so-hard questions: “Who’s going? Where are you planning to go? Are you going dressed like that? When will you be home? Who is __________?”

Then there’s the oh-so-tough boundaries you have to remind them of and enforce, even if you don’t feel like it: “No, you can’t go there. I’d rather you not go with them. No, you can’t ride in their car. You can do this . . . but you can’t do that. This isn’t the best idea . . . that sounds risky . . . work on making another plan, please.” Ugh.

Be sure your rules, expectations, and consequences are clear and mutually understood. A good idea is to write them down and agree on them ahead of time.

It’s because you love them that you do these things. You want to keep them safe. If only you could.

You do everything you can think of or that you’ve heard others have done. Sometimes it works. Other times it doesn’t. It’s a crap shoot.

Will something happen? Will your phone ring late in the night when they don’t come home on time? Could there be bad news on the other end? We never know.

An older, wiser parent once told me, “Our kids are so smart. One way or the other, if they want to badly enough, they’ll find a way to do that thing you’re trying so hard to protect them from.”

Thanks a lot. That’s not what I wanted to hear.

chaosHow will you cope with the stress of the evening and other similar nights? With the worry? The anxiety?

Here are 5 tips that helped me:

Rest for Tired Parents

The Hardest Job in the World

What’s the hardest job in the world? Being a parent. At times it can be the

photo cred. Jordan McQueen

photo cred. Jordan McQueen

most wonderful and at others, utterly grueling. Some parents are beyond exhausted; not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Bone tired. They’ve had their hearts broken over and over again. Hopes and dreams lay shattered at their feet because of poor choices and behaviors. They never thought it could happen to them. It’s devastating.

Moms Speak Up About Bullying

Resources to Help Parents

Were you bullied as a child or teenager? If you were, then you remember whatbullying1 it felt like. You know how damaging it can be. Do you now find yourself as a parent who suspects your child is the victim of a bully?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA) Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. It can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle action.

Psychology Today claims that bullying is a distinctive pattern of deliberately harming and humiliating others. It’s a very durable behavioral style, largely because bullies get what they want—at least at first.

Some victims become so despondent they lose the will to live. A child or young teen might say, “I just wish I could go away and never come back”.

Completed suicides directly related to being bullied are on the rise. You’ve probably seen reports on the news. What a tragedy.

Our Stealth American Plague

An Important Message to Parents of Teens Who Appear Addicted to Digital Technology

I’d like to welcome guest blogger, Trace Embry. Take a look at his bio at the end of this post and you’ll see why he knows what he’s talking about in this article.

If you’re pulling your hair out because communication2your adolescent is glued to technology or an electronic screen of some sort, then this is for you. It will open your eyes to what’s really going on.

“Have you ever wondered why kids, today, are so easily bored? Why they can’t walk across the street or do homework without headphones? Why they appear to be addicted to anything with a screen or keyboard?

And, if you’ve wondered how and why America has gone from 1st to 26th in education compared to other countries around the world in just a generation, then you may want to read the rest of this article.