Four Truths for Parents in Pain

Grief is a painful emotion. It’s usually connected with the death of someone we love or with someone we have enjoyed a close relationship with.Grieving

Grief can also be connected to those we love or have a close relationship with who are still alive  It’s a common emotion deep within a parent’s heart when their child is making destructive decisions.

This shouldn’t surprise us but it seems to take us off guard when we first experience it. We can’t figure out what’s going on until someone suggests that we’re grieving the loss of several things regarding our child. Here are just a few:

The loss of hopes or expectations of what we anticipated their lives becoming as they grow and mature.
The loss of a close relationship we once enjoyed.
Times of laughter or meaningful conversations.
Fond memories of special occasions or milestones in their lives.

Lately I rediscovered a passage of scripture that put a new perspective on my grief.

“The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” Genesis 6:5-6   NIV

God grieves deep in his heart at the rebellion and destructive decisions of each one of us.  The Bible teaches, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  What I failed to realize was not only have I sinned but I have caused considerable pain in  God’s heart.

Another passage I pass over without giving it a second thought is:
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  Ephesians 4:30 NIV

When I sin, I cause God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit grief and pain. This pain is no less than what my own heart feels when my child makes destructive decisions. This pain goes deep, to the very core of our being.

As I turned these truths over in my mind I made a few other connections:

1. God feels the grief and pain that I feel in my heart with my child’s destructive and rebellious decisions and behaviors. However, it’s a far deeper pain than I can imagine.
2. I am not alone in my pain.  
3. I have an opportunity to know more intimately the heart of God for His children.
4. I can turn my focus from my child to focus on my relationship with God. What are the ways I hurt Him by my various choices to disobey, neglect or harden myself toward Him?

God, use my pain to remind me how I hurt you when I disobey, rebel, neglect or take your loving kindness for granted. May I learn more of your heart for broken and hurting people.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Great Book for Brokenhearted Parents

brokenhearted1My husband and I have had our hearts broken many times over one of our children. Being parents of a daughter who struggles with addiction, mental health issues and suicidal tendencies, we’re passionate about helping other parents discover resources.

They aren’t easy to find.

Parents like us need all the help we can get on this grueling journey. Over the last ten years we’ve discovered some great books. They have been a huge help. Our library has taken a long time to build.

We’re going to start doing book reviews of our favorites to encourage you in your journey from pain to peace. Please share yours with us, too.

Today’s book is: Parents With Broken Hearts by Bill Coleman

Coleman addresses the topics I needed to hear someone talk about from a Christian perspective. I like how the author sprinkles trust in God and Scriptures throughout the book. Some of the topics are: denial, shock, loss, letting go, guilt, coping with holidays, marriage damage, problems with siblings and the common questions hurting parents ask.

Several of the last chapters include what other parents said they gained from their painful experience and what advice they’d give. Input came from dozens of moms and dads.

I found Bill Coleman’s writing style honest, concise and practical. He’s direct, yet not harsh. Chapters are short and easy to read. He also makes me laugh at myself. What a welcome relief.

 

A few unusual chapter titles are:

  • Why Children Hurt Parents
  • Secrets of Imperfect Families
  • The Limits of Pain
  • Making Pudding Pies

The last chapter is titled, Looking for Purpose. It made a huge impression on me. On page 137 it says, “The message isn’t Forget your child and get on with your life. The better message is, Accept pain for what it is and rise up to make something good happen.”

If you’re like me you probably need to read that several times.

One mom I know loves this book so much she bought them in bulk and began giving then away to every hurting parent she knew. She even donated a few to our lending library.

Here are a two recommendations from the inside cover:

“Bill Coleman not only helps parents understand what breaks their hearts, he also shares wisdom to help in the process of mending them.” -Tim Robbins, Counselor

“Bill Coleman, like his Lord, is close to the brokenhearted. This book is emotionally freeing and spiritually energizing. Readers will find healing and personal meaning as they put into practice the fresh ideas and clear choices that shine from these pages. They will also discover some ways to help others who are hurting.”  -Dr. Paul Welter

If you decide to read Parents with Broken Hearts you just might find that Jesus, who is able to “bind up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1) will begin to do that for you.

Please let us know how you like this book if you pick up a copy.

The Three A’s of Difficult Parenting

chaosHave you wondered what to do about your son or daughter? Are they driving you crazy with their behaviors and choices? Do you feel like you’re always off-balance trying to keep up with the next outburst or crisis?

Maybe you know they’re flirting with danger – alcohol, drugs, disordered eating, self-injury, promiscuity to name a few. Maybe they are struggling with depression, bipolar, suicidal thoughts or another mental illness. Maybe they told you they’re gay.

What can you do? Here are three A’s you could follow. I did and they were the key to regaining sanity and wellness.

Admit.  Acknowledge that there is a problem and that you’re powerless over it.This is where you begin.  Open your eyes.Wake up.Stop denying.Face the truth. Yes, it’s scary, but you can do it.

Act.  Take action to get help for yourself and for your child (if they’re under 18). No matter how old they are learn all you can about their “issues”. Become an expert.Seek out a professional (counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, etc.) or take them to one.Go to the library or bookstore and do research on the internet.Find a support group and start going.Don’t just sit there, do something.  Don’t let the shock and pain you’re in paralyze you.Don’t isolate.  Instead, reach out for help. Take care of yourself and get strong. There’s a lot of help available.

Accept.  Face the situation.It is what it is.You can’t make it go away.You can’t change or fix your child.Take one day at a time.Give your child back to God and trust Him with their life.Let go and let Him work.Stop enabling.Detach with love.It takes a lot of courage.

It’s not easy, but with God’s help and the support of others you can do these things. If I did, you can, too. Start small with baby steps and keep going. Before you know it sanity and wholeness will return.

 This Scripture verse has encouraged me many times:

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” (Psalms 29:11)

A book that has helped me on my journey is Parents With broken Hearts by William Coleman

8 Things You Can Do to Guard Your Marriage in Times of Crisis

Crisis of any kind can put a marriage at risk. It is a treasure that must be carefully guarded.GuardCrisis comes to parents in many forms. Our biggest one was when our daughter began getting in trouble with alcohol and drugs in high school. Our painful journey continued for years. It would include self-injury, mental illness, sexual assault, suicide attempts and rehabs – the perfect storm for marriage trouble.

In situations like these, disagreements and conflicts increase. Irritability, misunderstandings and blame occur. Grief, confusion and helplessness consume.  My husband had heard these words of wisdom years earlier in a college class. He remembered them when we needed it most and took them to heart.

What can you do to guard your marriage when you have a rebellious child?

We determined we would be more intentional about our relationship by doing these 8 things:

·         1. Make time for fun. Plan a weekly date. Declare it a “no prodigal zone” not talking about your child.

·        2. Take turns being the bad guy. Don’t let one parent always give discipline or have the hard conversations.

·         3. Put your marriage first, not you child. One day they will move on and you will be left with one another.

·        4.  Memorize and practice these statements. “You may be right.” “What do you need from me right now?”  “I’m not the enemy.”

·        5.  Divorce is not an option. Remove the word from your vocabulary and never threaten it in the heat of the moment.  This gives security.

·         6. Forgive each other for mistakes and failures.  No one is perfect.  Give grace. We both need it – a lot.

·         7.   Be a united front. Don’t disagree in your child’s presence. Work out differences privately ahead of time so they can’t drive a wedge between you or play you against each other.

·         8. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to “fix” each other. When sharing feelings, offer a listening ear and an understanding heart.

 Which one of these will you to start doing?

These Scriptures encouraged us:

“Two are better than one . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13:4-8

Parents: When Valentine’s Day Hurts

Holidays hurt when you don’t receive the love you long for from someone you care about. For parents of rebellious, wayward children, theywounds can be dreaded occasions. You’ve been feeling like your child died. The sense of loss is overwhelming. The pain cuts deep. Stabbing. Searing. Crushing wounds. Maybe you have even lost your ability to find pleasure in anything.

You wonder if you’ll ever laugh again.

These feelings can worsen to the point of  losing your will to live.  Withdrawing and no longer socializing,  every significant relationship has been effected – your marriage, your relationship with your other children and friendships. If you’re not careful, you can become obsessed with trying to control or fix your child. Life becomes pretty miserable.

So when a holiday comes, like Valentine’s Day, the hurt intensifies. These special days shine a spotlight on your broken heart. You want them to go away — to hurry up and be over.

Can you relate? Is your pain increasing with Valentine’s Day right around the corner? Does it only remind you of your lost hopes and dreams? There are some things you can do to lessen your pain.

When Your Child Is The Victim of Bullying

frustrationBullying is a major problem in schools today. It’s huge. And now cyber-bullying is on the increase. This past week I listened to the tragic story on the evening news about a teen who committed suicide because of how cyber-bullying devastated them. How awful.

As parents we want to protect our children from every kind of pain. We’ll do anything in our power to shield them from the hurts of life. We’d rather be the one to suffer instead of them. If we could, we’d take their place.

If only we could.

According to a 2009 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), “almost half of tweens and teens report suffering from stress symptoms related to being bullied — headaches, problems sleeping and eating disorders are a few. Bullying may be the most prevalent form of violence in the schools and likely to affect the greatest number of students.”

It’s not surprising to hear that bullying also leads to abusive behavior for the victim, high levels of frustration, anger, sadness and personal suffering, addictions of all kinds and physical disease. I had no idea it could do so much damage to a person. I’m not alone. Only ten percent of parents are aware their child is being bullied or that this is the cause of their symptoms. That breaks my heart.

If they never get any professional help, reports show individuals can suffer in the following ways into their adult years:

  • Problem-solving
  • critical-thinking
  • effective communication
  • creativity
  • confidence

My daughter was a victim of bullying in elementary school. I never knew it. She suffered in silence. Common to most victims of bullies, she believed it wouldn’t do any good to ask for help. She was sure it would only make things worse. Eventually, she suffered many of these symptoms and long-lasting affects.

But don’t despair. There’s hope for anyone who wants it.

If you suspect your child is being bullied or was in the past, seek out the help of a counselor.  They may not open up right away, but encourage them to give it a try. It can’t hurt anything. The sooner they get help, the better.

Not sure what else you can do? Here’s an excellent source of information to help stop bullying for both parents and schools.

The Bully Project

The BULLY Project is the social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film BULLY. We’ve sparked a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action.  The power of our work lies in the participation of individuals like you and the remarkable list of partners we’ve gathered who collectively work to create safe, caring, and respectful schools and communities. Our goal is to reach 10 million kids or more, causing a tipping point that ends bullying in America. 

Dear God, please protect those who are being bullied today. Convince them they need to let someone know, that others really do care and that they shouldn’t stay silent. Then give the person they go to courage and determination to get involved. Give them wisdom to know how to help. Equip parents, school personnel and fellow students to defend and come to the aid of those who are being hurt in this way.  Amen.

 

A Parent’s Letter to Their Daughter’s Rapist

She said “NO.” But you didn’t listen. water of life

You selfish, egotistical punk.

You took advantage of an intoxicated girl.

Like a lion in wait for its prey.

Evil personified, a ravenous beast.

I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU.

 She couldn’t fight you off.

Couldn’t get away

 You overpowered her weakness,

Took what you wanted, used her up,

Then threw her away.

You thief, you predator.

Destroyer of life.

You’re a MURDERER.

A helpless victim

When you ravaged her body, you killed her soul.

Your treachery stole her from those who loved her most.

She was never the same again.

WHERE DID MY DAUGHTER GO?

Invisible wounds –unseen to naked eyes.

“Damaged goods”, she believed the lie

Said to herself, “Who will want me now?”

I wanted you to suffer

Agony like you caused her.

What if you were raped, you vile fiend?

SEE HOW YOU LIKE THAT.

And yet, it would never be enough,

Never satisfy, because the truth is —

I wanted you to DIE.

Wouldn’t that make it better — your death, a just reward?

I dreamed it night after night. My private agony.

The raping of my soul.

Then I realized

I HAVE TO LET THIS GO. I HAVE TO LET THIS GO.

This need for you to hurt and bleed

But how?

There would be no justice. None in this world.

No, not here, but definitely there – in heaven it would come.

Christ’s example showed the way.

I would follow His lead.

It didn’t come easy. It was a lot of hard work,

But today I can finally say,

I FORGIVE.

I. FORGIVE. YOU.

For the sake of my own soul.

For my heart’s release.

Now my comfort is this — on the Day when Christ returns — or when you leave this world —

YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU DESERVE. YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU DESERVE.

God in heaven will decree it. And we will finally see it.

And I– I will be at rest with that.

I’ll live in peace until that day

When He who sees all things will make them right,

In His time and in His way.

But now, O Lord, ’til that Day comes, please heal her heart and mine.

Convince her she’s still pure and holy – perfect in Your eyes.

That you’ve never loved her more

Than you do right now tonight.

AND SO DO I. AND SO DO I.

***From the mother of a rape victim.

These Bible verses really helped me:

  • “Forgive as the Lord forgave you”  Colossians 3:13.
  • “. . . He does not leave the guilty unpunished”  Exodus 34: 7.
  • “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”  1 Corinthians 15:57.

A Mother’s Message to Governor Creigh Deeds

hope12Governor Deeds, I want to tell you I am so sorry  about the tragedy you experienced. My heart aches for you. I cannot imagine your pain. As the mother of an adult daughter who has struggled with a mental illness, I would like to say THANK YOU for your courage to speak out and address the issue of care for the mentally ill in America.

To my readers:  I ‘m speaking about Virginia’s Governor, Creigh Deeds. Have you seen any of his recent interviews? His adult son suffered with a serious mental illness. He unexpectedly became violent,  stabbed his father, then killed himself.

To me, the bigger tragedy is that this happened the day after Deed’s son was released from the hospital for his psychiatric troubles. The governor knew his son’s problems were serious. He’d been hospitalized many times. This loving father tried to do everything he could to get help for his son. He had no idea things would become violent.

After taking time for physical and emotional healing Governor Deeds has decided it’s time to go public. His goal? Better care for the mentally ill. If you’re the parent of an adult child (or a minor) who suffers with a mental illness, you understand.

Have you had your child in an emergency room in a desperate attempt to save their life? Then the insurance company insisted they be released — maybe too soon. And released to where? To what kind of treatment? You know you can’t help them. They certainly won’t be safe alone or with their friends. They need ongoing treatment — insurance companies in many states refuse to pay or pay very little.

I live in Florida where we have the The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, also called the Baker Act. This allows a person to be evaluated by authorities — a policeman, judge, an EMT, or mental health professional — and if determined to: 1) Possibly have a mental illness,  2) Be a danger to themselves or to someone else, or 3) Be neglecting themselves — then they can be involuntarily institutionalized for a minimum of 72 hours. When necessary, this can be extended for a longer period of time.

Their problems aren’t solved, but at least they’re safe and supervised. Hopefully, by the end of 72 hours they’ll be stable enough to be released. However, the individual has the right to refuse treatment and can refuse medication. Psychiatric care professionals will try to work with family, if they have any, to come up with a plan for treatment upon discharge. Residential care is often needed. It may be voluntary or involuntary. Much depends on their financial resources.

In Florida, if the person lacks the ability to pay, the state will usually pay (when Baker Acted), or else the hospital may have to. Hospitals exhaust every other possibility before they will keep a patient who is unable to pay. If they do have to accept them, they’ll limit the stay as best they can.

Treatment isn’t cheap.

Many can’t afford it.

Without insurance care will be limited. Even with insurance, good care is hard to find.

Many fall in the cracks.

Their suffering goes on and on — so does their family’s.

Heartbreaking.

Yesterday I received an email informing me that the government is trying to pass a law that will decrease the amount of money Medicaid and Medicare will pay out for the medications of mental health patients. Are they kidding? Where do you think that will lead?

To more pain and suffering — more tragic endings.

Governor Deeds, I sincerely hope and pray you’re successful in getting the attention of decision makers. We’re long overdue for major improvements in the care that is available to the mentally ill.  Without this, I fear there will only be more problems in our country’s future.

God bless you as you fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

This Bible verse comes to my mind:  “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:28)

* Check out National Alliance on Mental Illness: nami.org   They’re working hard to make a difference. Find out what you can do.