When Change Ruins a Parent’s Dreams

depression20Change. There’s good change and then there’s bad change. For a parent, bad change means pain and disappointment.

More heartache.

More bad news.

More brokenness.

The source may be alcohol. Marijuana. Drugs. Breaking rules. Disrespect. Mental Illness. Self-harm. Same-sex relationships.

It might include illegal activity, time in jail, prison or probation.

Too much of too many things that ruined dreams.

Yours. And theirs.

I’m moving this week. I’ve been preparing myself for the changes it will bring into my life. Some are easy, bring joy and encouragement. Others are harder, bring sadness and discouragement.

Maybe your child has brought hard, painful changes into your life that have discouraged you. There was no way you could prepare yourself for them. They took your breath away – broke your heart – dashed your hopes.

How do you go on?

How do you live with the bitter disappointment of ruined dreams?

You take one day at a time – one step at a time.

You bring the pieces to the One who gave them to you.

You turn to Him, the God of all, for courage to not enable and strength to keep going.

You lift up your head toward heaven, to your Maker, who alone can help you cope – even if things never change – even if things never get better.

You take Him by the hand and never give up – no matter how hopeless you feel.

You receive His peace to accept the disappointments.let go3

You seek His wisdom to take care of yourself.

I want to ask you a question: What does taking care of yourself look like? For me it means going to support group meetings, reading things that keep me strong (The Bible and books for hurting parents), exercising, nurturing healthy relationships, not enabling, pursuing a hobby and helping others.

I encourage you to make your own list. What do you want on it? Write it out and put it up where you can see it everyday. Be sure you’re being intentional about incorporating those things into your life. I think you’ll be glad you did.

When your child’s choices and struggles bring changes that ruin the dreams you had for them, it doesn’t have to ruin your life, too. It feels like it will, but don’t let it. Your son or daughter made choices. You get to choose how you let it affect you.

How will you respond to those painful changes?

God who never changes, I thank you that you never change. You’re the Constant One who’s able to show us how to live when unexpected changes ruin the dreams we had for our children. Teach us to care for ourselves so we can stay strong. We need you today and every day. 


Something Disillusioned Parents Need

Have you had days in your parenting when you felt disillusioned? To be honest, I didn’t like the person my nineteen year old daughter had lovebecome. She was rude, disrespectful, lazy, selfish, deceitful, and even downright hateful towards her dad and I. Suddenly I was the bad guy, the enemy.  Alcohol and drug abuse changed her. Depression changed her. Being taken advantage of sexually changed her. Does this sound a little like your story?

When You’re a Parent Who’s Given Up

I was putting away the dishes after dinner one evening when suddenly a plate slipped out of my hands. It crashed to brokenthe floor and shattered into hundreds of little pieces. I was stunned. For a few moments I just stood there looking at the mess, wondering how it happened. I wasn’t sure what to do first to clean it up. Then I moaned about the work I knew was ahead. I’d broken a plate before. I knew what it meant.

When my daughter, Renee, began to struggle with mental illness, then fell into addiction and self-injury as a way of coping, I was stunned, too. Those discoveries took my breath away. I was speechless as I observed the wreckage it brought into our lives. And I wondered, “How in the world did this happen?” There were no answers. I was clueless as to what I needed to do to clean up this mess.

After a couple of years and several rehabs I was close to giving up.

Could Renee ever be fixed?

What I Didn’t Know I needed: From the Mother of an addict with Dual Diagnosis

Are you a mom or dad who thought you’d lose your mind from fear and worry over your beloved child?  You stood reunitedby, powerless, while they began to go down the wrong road of drugs, alcohol, and self-injury. At some point along the way came the diagnosis of a mental illness: Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, bipolar, PTSD, or some other brain disorder. Now they’re dealing with a dual diagnosis. This translates into: Double the agony for you. Your heart was crushed.

But shhh – don’t tell anyone. They’ll never understand. They might think less of you.

Or maybe your heart broke when your child revealed  a struggle with same-sex attraction or you discovered they were living a gay lifestyle – they may even have married their partner. You isolated from the guilt and the pain of shattered dreams.

Your heart might have been broken due to their incarceration and ongoing trouble with the law. Hide, withdraw, keep it a secret.

Alone is not good on this journey.

Natural instinct says, “Keep this to yourself”. But isolation is the enemy of emotional and spiritual health. Withdrawing only results in an increase of suffering. We hurt more in the end.

I want to tell you about something that can make a huge difference. It did for me and it came as big surprise. 

A Mom’s Journey to Freedom from Enabling

Today’s guest blogger is my friend Allison Bottke, author of the Boundaries Books.

enabling2When we make the decision to release our adult children to fend for themselves, it can be both freeing and frightening. For many of us, this sudden freedom to live our own lives will seem like a breath of fresh air. For others, it will bring deep foreboding and fear.

What will we do when we stop living our adult child’s life for him?

We will start living our own.

On my journey to freedom from enabling, I’ve found the following ten steps helpful.

Ten Steps to Strength for Parents in Pain:

1. Memorize the Ten Suggestions for Breaking the Enabling Cycle (found in my book, Setting Boundaries with Adult Children). You’ll need to remind yourself of these often. Having them just a thought away will be very helpful in time of need.

2. Make becoming healthy a personal goal.

Two Things Parents of Addicts Need

What are two things parents of addicts need – or parents of any child that’s causing them pain and heartache? I’m one of those parents, so I have a pretty good idea. It does’t matter what our child’s main issue is: Mental illness, an eating disorder, self-injury, same-sex attraction, incarceration, pornography, gambling, a divorce, etc. Their struggles affect us the same way. This is what I think we need: rest1Quiet and Rest.

Quiet for our mind – from guilt. From self-blame. From carrying the burden of shame. From self-hate. From believing it was our fault. From self-doubt. From questioning: What did I do wrong? Why did this happen? What if I had _______?  What if I hadn’t _______?

Please believe me when I tell you it wasn’t your fault. Your child made their own choices. I’ll never forget the day my daughter said, “Mom, it wasn’t you. It was me. I wanted to do the things I did. It was fun and it made me feel good. You didn’t do anything wrong!”

Rest for our heart – from the torment. From the fear. From the worry.  You wonder where your son is tonight? What is your daughter doing? What’s happening to them? Will they ever be the same? Will they even survive to their next birthday?

I’ve been there, in that place where you may be – in the chaos and distress over your precious offspring; in that place of anxiety and fear for their welfare; of disquiet and unrest.

It’s awful. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

On my ten year long journey I’ve discovered something. We need to stop and breathe – to make time for the quiet and rest our soul longs for. We need to create space in our day to go to a quiet place and just be. Soak in the tub. Sit in your favorite chair with the TV turned off. Lay on the couch before dinner. Take a break and listen to soothing music. Close your eyes. Take slow, deep breaths. Focus on something else for even five to fifteen minutes. Mentally set aside the baggage from your child that’s weighing you down. Detach it from your ankle so you don’t drown in the deep waters of depression and self-pity.

Be still. Let go of the thoughts that rob you of joy and peace over your troubled child.

Rest in God’s presence.

Lean back in His love.

Drink Him into the depths of your soul during times of prayer and reading His Word.

Focus on an aspect of His character – power, compassion, understanding, love, strength.

Welcome Him into your heart and mind. The quiet and rest He offers can replace your guilt and fear.

The quiet and rest of God is the remedy we need. It helps me every day. It can help you, too.


These are a few Scripture verses that bring me more quiet and rest:peace of mind1

“. . . in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30: 15b)

“. . . he leads me beside quiet waters.” (Psalm 23: 2)

“. . . he will quiet you with his love . . .” (Zephaniah 3: 17b)

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shelters him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . . learn from me . . . you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 12:28-29)


Thank you, God, for the call to come and rest. To be still and quiet. Show us the way to find it in the midst of the storm. 

A Little Encouragement for Parents with Broken Hearts

I remember how it felt when things kept going from bad to worse with my daughter. Drinking too much, abusing drugs, refusing treatment for bipolar and repeatedly punishing herself with ruthless cutting incidences, each of her hospitalizations left me weaker and weaker. There weren’t enough tears to get out all the pain. There wasn’t enough sadness to express my sense of loss.  Over the years I’ve talked to many parents who feel the same way. Maybe that’s you.

“My heart hurts so bad it feels like it will break.” “I don’t think I can take it any more.” “How will I survive if things get any worse?” “This is killing me.”  Parents with broken hearts, we think this way.  We need a break. Some relief. Something to give us a little peace. Some serenity. Beautiful photography does that for me. And soothing music.  So here are a few of my favorite photos for your heart. I hope it helps. At least a little.

Take some deep breaths and relax.

Father, Creator of all this beauty, minister some comfort to the hurting moms or dads who will look at them. May these nature scenes take them to a place of release. Give them a mini-vacation in their minds. And most of all, give then hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace

 As you trust in Him, so that you may overflow

 With hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13)

And book that can bring you more peace is: The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie. It’s full of devotionals for every day of the year written by a mom who’s suffered great loss – the death of two children.

hope17flower29beauty27beauty7be still3 - Copy