How Emotionally Mature Are You?

How emotionally mature are you? What if someone treated you the way you treat others? Would you feel happy, angry, disappointed, important or encouraged? Have you had someone hurt you by their careless remark or act?  Have you considered that your words and actions have a powerful effect on others? This is especially true with your child. To a large degree your child’s sense of himself comes from his interpretation of your words and actions toward him.

No one can be perfect, we all make mistakes. However, being mindful of  the power of our influence should cause us to use great care about our words and actions.You may have great difficulty controlling your emotions and say and do careless and hurtful things, things not easily forgotten by your child. 

The problem I have encountered is that some of us are hardly more emotionally mature than children. They are physically grown but emotionally stuck in a childish or adolescent emotional pattern. They pout and sulk when they don’t get their way. They explode or withdraw when they get angry. The children of this immature, childish kind of  parent are often damaged by this emotionally toxic environment. Solution: grow up. Get help.

An important part of being emotionally mature is to acknowledge your mistakes and hold yourself responsible for your actions. It is important to understand a few basic principles about being responsible: First, your child (or anyone else) doesn’t make you angry. Anger is your choice. You own it and it is yours. Second, what you do with your emotions is your responsibility. You are accountable for how you act and what you say. Third, to change irresponsible behavior you must acknowledge your wrong and fix it with the other person. After a sincere apology or two you may begin to discover how distasteful your behavior is and discipline yourself in order to change it.

Emotionally mature love seeks to do what is in the best interest of the other person. The way you handle your frustrations with him will go a long way in building positive relationships.

Whose Dream Is It?

What dream or expectations do you have for your kid? Caution. You are probably well-meaning and only want the best for your child but be sure you know if you are imposing your dream on your child. When you put you child in a position to repeat your accomplishments or to accomplish something you did not you may be using him for your own end. This is unhealthy love. Please allow me to share with you a very common way in which this can happen.

Healthy love does not attempt to fulfill your dream through your child. It is easy to understand how a parent might unconsciously try to live his life through his child. Most parents want the best for their child. Many want their children to have life as good as or better than they did growing up. They want them to have opportunities for education and success that they may have struggled for. The bottom line is they often want life to be easy for their child.

There is nothing wrong with wanting good things and success for your child. But, you may need to think hard about your definition of success and what is involved in accomplishing it. Parents tend to define success according to our own struggles and experiences. This can be a real trap as we think about dreams for our child. This can set us up to try to live out our dreams, accomplish things we didn’t do, and build a name for our self through our child.

Here are some reminders which may help you avoid trying to fulfill your dreams through your child.

First, true and lasting success is found only in our relationships with God, our self and others ( Matthew 22:34-40).Does this biblical concept guide your understanding of real success?

Second, your child is a gift to you. He is not your property or an instrument you can use to fulfill your dreams or make up for your disappointments in life. He belongs to God and to himself.

Third, God has a plan for your child and has chosen you as his parent to help him become all God intended him to be.

Many children grow old striving to fix that deficit in their parent’s life but never receive the sense of approval and acceptance they so desperately seek. A child needs acceptance and the right to be himself and pursue his own dreams rather than to feel obligated to fix the disappointments or fulfill dreams of his parent. To attempt to live for a parent is an emotional dead-end street.

Your Child’s “Best Friend”?

Is it healthy to be your child’s “best friend”? If you want to love your child in a way that is good for him you need to avoid things that may harm him. Being his “best friend” is one of those things you need to avoid. 

Being your child’s “best friend” is not a part of healthy love. Your child needs you to be his parent. You are not equals. You are the authority for your child and both of you should always understand that boundary. One day you may become your child’s “best friend” but this is reserved for a time when you are both grown and they are no longer under your authority.

This may sound harsh but it is for your child’s good that you not make decisions based on whether or not he/she will agree with or like you for what you do. Your love for your child should have a balance of friendliness and firmness. Going too far in either direction,crossing either of those boundaries creates problems for your child.

Your child may be very winsome and adorable. However, they do not generally look out for their own best interest. No, they learn how to charm and manipulate rather early in order to get what they want when they want it. Don’t take seriously their promise to” be your best friend” if you will let them have what they want. They’re not capable of being a real friend to you. Neither are they very capable of judging what is healthy for them.

If you are somehow wanting your child to be your best friend you may want to ask this question: “What is this about?” There could be many answers to this. You may be divorced or in a lonely marriage. You may not like to deal with confrontation with your child. You may feel it’s your role to make your child happy. Remember, trying to make your child happy with you may ultimately lead to their ruin.

Keep the lines clear as to who is the parent and who is the child. Your job is to be an adult and to assist your child to grow to be as healthy and functional as possible. Sometimes this will mean your child won’t like your decisions and will not claim you as their friend or parent. You must be emotionally mature enough to deal with their displeasure without giving in to their threats and demands. If you want to be your child’s “real” best friend, concentrate on being his parent.

Success or Failure

How does your child handle success or failure?  Is there any connection to how you handle success or failure?

Your child’s view of his performance in school, sports, music, relationships and various other pursuits affects the way he sees himself. Obviously, if your child is able to have some level of accomplishment in these areas he gains confidence and, therefore, tends to feel good about himself. Over time the ability to accomplish may lead to venturing out into more challenging pursuits. All children like to accomplish and the feelings of pride and confidence that come with it.

You can greatly aid your child in this area by involving him or her in helping around the house. Your child wants to feel big and able to do important things. Start early to teach them to be a “helper.” Teach them to fold clothes, work in the yard, load the dishwasher and do various other tasks. Second, choose tasks they are capable of doing and congratulate them when they accomplish their work.

As you involve your child in helpful activities around the house you are doing several important things in addition to helping your child’s sense of himself. You are preparing him to learn to work. You are also demonstrating that families can and need to share in the work of the family. And, you are also preparing your child for the time he will become independent of you.

Defeat is difficult for all of us to accept. However,an occasional defeat can be a good thing if handled correctly. But, I’m not concerned here with the occasional loss of a game or getting a grade in school that is less than desirable. What should concern us as parents is a pattern of defeat which discourages our child to the point they feel hopeless. Your child can play on a team that loses every game but not have a defeated attitude about life. Why? Because other aspects of his life where he feels successful and secure can counterbalance occasional losses.

But, how do we create a balance which helps our child gain confidence without becoming prideful? Emphasize the the need to be grateful and recognize God as the source of our gifts and accomplishments. This will guard against inordinate pride and the sense that our worth is based on what we can do.

Own Your Stuff

One of the greatest challenges of human relationships is to keep our personal stuff from creating unnecessary issues. In other words, we need to learn to own our stuff. For example, if you are person who always needs to be in charge, you can make others uncomfortable with your need to control or have things your way.

Refusing to recognize and deal with our “stuff”  may cause others to have little to do with us. However, our children cannot easily avoid us and may choose unhealthy behaviors to deal with our stuff.

Children often adapt unhealthy reactions to a parent’s angry tirades, abuse, anxiety or any number of other issues. One example of this is the child who becomes a “pleaser.”  This child doesn’t dare do or say anything that might create discomfort for someone even if he/she has been highly offended by their actions.

How does a child come to be this way? Most likely they learned early to stuff her feelings out of fear of setting off a parent’s explosive temper. Their “pleaser” ways may protect them from the parent’s anger but can have a big downside. They may come to believe they can’t have strong negative feelings. So, feelings are stuffed or the person can become passive aggressive.  Certainly, they can’t take the risk of expressing their feelings directly and openly. Continuing on this path of stuffing their anger may lead to avoiding all kinds of conflicts and develop very shallow relationships in life.

What do you think could happen if an angry parent becomes able to own their stuff? It would mean they could learn to apologize and the child wouldn’t have had to internalize the parent’s stuff. It would mean the child could grow up with a more balanced emotional life. 

Is there some emotional baggage you need to own? What, if any, unresolved anger or insecurity do you need to address so your kid won’t have to deal with it? If you don’t own it, it is quite likely your child, and perhaps others, will have to deal with it.

Parenting Character

Successful parenting starts with you, the parent. Your character, who you are deep inside determines what you value most and how you will live. Character also determines the kind of parent you will be.

So, who are you? What values are at the core of your being? Are you kind and gentle? Selfish, arrogant or prideful? Are you a know-it-all or are you open to learning new ways of thinking and doing things? Most importantly, does your character resemble God’s view of who he is capable of making you?

God knows each of us just as we are. He knows our secrets, strengths and weaknesses. Thankfully, He also knows our potential and wants us to continually grow toward being that person. Like a loving parent, He hopes for and dreams of the fulfillment of our greatest potential.

What is God’s view of the potential you? He sees you as becoming more and more changed into the character of Jesus, his son. Paul captures this great vision of us in Romans 8:29 ” For those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son ….”(NIV).

In the larger passage from which this statement comes, God promises to work in every circumstance in our life to promote this growth of Christ-like character in us. He is able to use all the difficulties, pain and disappointments to shape our character. Our character, formed around faith in Christ, is his greatest concern for us.

Where do you start with this change of character which will gradually transform you and the way you parent? You begin with the surrender of your life to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you haven’t already made this decision, I encourage you to begin this wonderful journey of forgiveness and grace right now.

What is Parenting About?

What is Parenting About?

Perhaps the most central question we need to ask ourselves as parents is: “What is parenting really about?” In other words, what is the main role or central purpose I, the parent, need to fulfill in relation to this child that has been entrusted to me?

Unfortunately, for some reason, this may be an area of concern which some parents never consciously consider. Many are so caught up with their personal agendas and the busyness of life that they don’t take time to talk about, much less put into action plans related to their primary role as a parent.

I would venture to say that many parents don’t have much of a clue as to what their main purpose as a parent really is. With our society’s rapid advance toward materialism and secularism it is no wonder that we are losing our sense of what life is really about.

This secular mindset defines what many think life is really about. Consequently, they rear their children in this godless approach to life where all values are relative and human life itself is becoming less and less valuable.

What do you think is the bottom line in parenting? What is parenting about to you? My next blog, “North Star Parenting” will attempt to provide a direction for you to consider.

 

Do You Really Want to Build Trust?

Do you  really want to build trust in your marriage? If so, you need to see how things you do or do not do everyday affect your spouse’s ability to trust you.

Marriage has multiple demands that go beyond maintaining and growing the relationship with your spouse. Work, child rearing, financial management, and such things as maintaining where you live play a part in how trust is built or destroyed in your marriage. With effort a deficit of trust in any of these areas can be overcome in time. However, an unwillingness to address trust issues will lead to a growing distrust and possible destruction of your marriage.

The real issue in making your marriage work well is CHARACTER. By this I mean that people of good character really want to mature and do those things that are healthy for their marriage. They will make mistakes but will also admit them and attempt to correct them. You will not need to try to change a person with good character because they will want to change for the sake of the marriage. So, it all comes down to a couple of things: heart and head.

The “heart” part has to do with will or intention. “In my heart, do I really want to do the right thing?”This question gets at the essence of the issue. If the heart is wrong or selfish then only a deep personal change such as conversion can change this.

The “head” part has to do with knowledge or understanding. A person can have a good heart or intentions but lack knowledge. For example, you may want to live within your means but are challenged when it comes to knowing how to make a budget. This principle applies in many areas of marriage and family life. Trust grows when each of you shows yourself willing to learn new skills which are important to the overall management of family concerns. Likewise, trust in these areas deteriorates when such issues are not addressed.

Are You Too Trusting?

Are you too trusting? In the previous blog I dealt with the issue of transference and how our difficult experiences in the past can cause trust problems in our present relationships. There is a “flip side” to transference related to trusting people which we also need to be aware of because that can cause tremendous heartache also.

Let’s say you grew up in a family where you could absolutely trust the word and character of your parents. And, for argument’s sake, let’s say that you would admit to being too trusting of some people, a bit gullible or naive about relationships. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Here’s the problem. When you grow up with trusting relationships you may assume you can trust almost anyone. You trust easily and have a hard time thinking that people aren’t using you or not telling you the truth. You want friendships and that special relationship with someone of the opposite sex. However, what you may experience if you are too trusting is heartbreak and disappointment and that you simply cannot trust everyone. This is a hard and cruel lesson but it can be very helpful.

How can it be helpful to have your heart broken by a sweetheart or be betrayed by a “friend?” Hopefully, you will learn that, while you are a trusting and trustworthy person, not everyone is worthy of your trust. You will learn that true friendships are very rare and are something to be treasured and honored. And being hurt can make you a bit cautious about who you marry; not to give your trust and love to someone who can’t reciprocate in kind.

Our trust needs to be given to someone who will treat it as a sacred gift. But, for this to happen, we must first value our trust and ensure we don’t just throw it at someone out of a “romantic” infatuation and desire to be loved. Guard your trust wisely.

What is Your Trust Quotient?

What is your trust quotient? Very trusting of others? Too trusting of some people? Distrusting of almost everyone?

How did we come to be who we are when it comes to the matter of trust? Since a good marriage and other important relationships depend on trust, it’s important for us to think some about these questions.

You may not have to search any further than your family of origin to understand why you trust the way you do. If you grew up in an environment that was emotionally stable it is likely you don’t have lots of trouble trusting others. However, if you grew up uncertain of the love of your parents, feeling you might be abandoned or that you had to earn their affection, you have probably struggled with trust issues. If you were a child of divorced parents this could also cause serious problems in trusting others. Abuse and neglect are also fertile soil for distrust.

“Well,” you may ask, “How does my trust quotient possibly affect my marriage?” Let me explain what could be happening. Transference is a term which means that we are acting in or reacting to a current situation based on past experience. For example, John says to his wife, Melanie, “I’m not your father. I’ve told you the truth and you refuse to believe me because your dad always lied to you.”John is saying that Melanie is accusing him of treating her the way her father did. She is transferring feelings of distrust and anger from her experience with her dad to her husband. There may be absolutely no rational basis for her behavior.

Obviously, John will feel like he is under scrutiny a good deal of the time and any slip up will bring the accusation, “You don’t love me.” Hopefully, he will see that, although he is trustworthy, he will need to be especially patient with Melanie in order to help her build the trust which will make the marriage work. Melanie will need to get some insight into how she has developed this deficit of trust and work through the emotional damage done to her so she can live with some sense of assurance and comfort in her relationship with John.