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Posts Tagged ‘guilt’

come1You’ve been a good, loving, conscientious parent. You did the best you could. You thought you did it all right, you even took your child to church so they would believe in God and know right from wrong. You provided everything you thought was necessary for them to have a great life. But, somehow, you find yourself facing terribly painful situations with them that you never saw coming and you beat yourself up about it. You’re so hard on yourself, convinced it’s all your fault.

Your son or daughter has developed an addiction. They smoke pot every day. They need alcohol to function. They’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness (brain disorder) and either refuse treatment or can’t find the right medications. They’ve attempted suicide and been hopeless many times. Your daughter’s pregnant, or your son (more…)

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praying2As I have journeyed down the road of being the mom of a child with addictions, self-injury, mental health issues, sexual trauma and suicide attempts most of the tine I traveled alone, in isolation. It’s a horrible time to withdraw, but that’s what we tend to do. Three things that cause us to stay to ourselves are embarrassment, shame and guilt. We can’t bear for anyone to know the truth. What would they think of us? Of our parenting? What would they think of our son or daughter? We want to protect ourselves. We want to protect them. We want to run and hide. We want to keep it all a secret. Shhhhh!!!!!! Don’t let it slip out!

Keep pretending your fine. But the truth is you’re dying inside. “Secrets keep us sick”. And alone. (more…)

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In my last post I promised that I would share a sample of one of the daily emails I send out. The one I chose is from this past fall. I hope it will help you decide if you want to sign up to receive my emails.

Do you struggle with guilt? I used to struggle with it a lot. I still do at times. It can be a monkey on your back that won’t let gomonkey on back until you take it before God and deal with it. Only He can remove it completely.

Here are a few thoughts on the subject from one of our support group sessions:

We tend to examine our parenting record, looking for that moment, that mistake that flipped the switch on our relationship. Why? Because guilt is one of the biggest tricks in the devil’s arsenal. (more…)

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I can easily get caught up in feelings of guilt over my parenting. I feel guilty over what I did and should not have done. I feel guilty over what I did not do and should have done. I feel guilty over the quality and quantity of the good I did do. Was it enough? IF ONLY I had . . .

Then I found a song that helped me. (more…)

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wildflowersParents long to have a special relationship with their children. We have a deep emotional attachment along with a strong sense of responsibility. When we bring children into the world we eagerly watch them grow under our loving guidance.

Then one day we realize something’s very wrong. Our child has a problem — it may be with drugs, alcohol, self harm, an eating disorder,  pornography, same sex identity issues, or a  mental illness. We wonder how we can live with this unsolved problem that’s breaking our heart. That described me. Does it you, too?

We try everything in our power to stop their behaviors. We forgive, make excuses, cover up, smooth out &  believe everything they tell us. When our first attempts at changing their behaviors don’t work, we try demanding or controlling them. But nothing we say or do works.

If they live at home we’re sickened by the daily experience of putting up with unacceptable behavior. We listen anxiously for them to come in at night, or sneak out at night. We fear the phone ringing in the middle of the night. We’re  afraid of all the what-ifs. We’re angry at them, their friends, and ourselves. We’re full of guilt and shame. We torture ourselves asking: “What did I do wrong?”  “How could I have prevented this?” “What should I do now?” “How can I help them?” Sadness over all that’s lost never leaves. We become so obsessed with them we tend to neglect our other relationships, including ourselves.

Are we supposed to stop caring? Impossible. How can we live with this unsolved problem?

I’ve struggled with all of these. These are four things that can help you. They helped me:

1. We can stop our enabling, nagging and criticizing, controlling and protecting, making their problems ours.

2. We can practice courageous love. We can learn to let go and let God, allowing our children to become responsible for their own problems.

3. We can trust God and take one day at a time. Learning to trust more is the key to worrying less. We find relief. We don’t have to be chained to the despair we’ve known. We can know that whatever happens – whether our child is ever okay or not – we will be alright. We find peace.

4. We can join a support group. They offer a safe place to process your feelings with others who understand.  Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and Celebrate Recovery are great. You can google them to find  a group near you. They’re also online.

By doing these four things, hurting parents can learn to live with an unsolved problem. No matter what happens they can know that  God will use it to bring good in their children’s lives and in theirs.

The Serenity Prayer is  perfect for us:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

And wisdom to know the difference.

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Are you a parent who wishes there was a fail-proof formula for raising children that would guarantee the results you were aiming? How I wish bridal shower 6there was a formula to follow that would assure your children would never abuse alcohol, never have a drug problem, never self injure, suffer from a mental illness, become suicidal, be arrested, have an eating disorder or be confused about their sexual orientation. Where is the book to read? What seminar will make us this promise? If someone could write it or produce it they could become rich. Parents would line up to buy the book or sign up for the seminar.

Stop looking. No such thing exists.

There’s no secret recipe to follow that will guarantee a certain outcome. X, Y, Z ingredients mixed and beaten together in the right proportions, in the right way do not a formula make for the perfect son or daughter. In cooking yes, in parenting, not so much. God didn’t even get this and he is the perfect parent. Read the third chapter of Genesis. God’s first two children didn’t even turn out right! If there was a formula wouldn’t he have followed it?

It’s not all your fault. If you think it is, you are wrong.

There are many good principles to follow in child rearing, but it doesn’t guarantee a trouble-free adult in the end.

These are five things I learned about parenting from cooking?

1. There’s no magic, fool-proof recipe for raising the perfect child. Even though you do you best, sometimes you don’t get the results you expected.

2. You must be willing to alter your recipe when dealing with problem behaviors to take into account each of your children’s personalities. Adapt the recipe where it’s needed.

3. If your meal is a flop –you end up with a troubled child who is determined to make destructive choices — it’s not all your fault. Your son or daughter has a free will, just like Adam and Eve. Their choices are not a reflection on your parenting, but on them. They are the one with a problem.

4. When you encounter situations you can’t handle on your own turn to others for help. Go to cooking school if needed. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Maybe you even need the help of a professional. After all, the best chefs go to culinary arts school and learn from the best, don’t they? We don’t get the benefit of training before we become parents. We did the best we could and sometimes we need a little help.

5. Stop criticizing yourself. So you weren’t the greatest cook on the block — we can’t all be Paula Dean. Accept your faults, ask forgiveness where appropriate for your mistakes and move forward. Let it go and give it to God. Ask him for help and get busy learning how to do better, then trust God for your next steps. Trust him to work in your child’s life where you cannot.

You still may not be the best “cook” in the world, but you can have peace knowing you did your best. You can rest in God and find comfort in Him.

Scripture to chew on:

Our help is in the name of the Lord our God, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

When I pray you answer me, you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.  (Psalm 138:3)

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loveAs a parent whose heart has been broken by their son or daughter it’s easy to end up in emotional bondage. I discovered I could be set free through the power of forgiveness.

How do you define “forgiveness”? Do we have to feel forgiving in order to offer it to our child? Do they need to deserve it or ask for it first?

Forgiveness is not just for the person who needs forgiving. It’s also for us, the “forgiver”.

Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free. (Al-Anon)

Forgiveness isn’t condoning or excusing the actions or behaviors of others. It’s releasing that person to their Maker to let him deal with them, so that we can be set free. For parents whose children are abusing alcohol or drugs, involved in a same-sex relationship, in jail or prison, engaged in self harm, involved with pornography, have had a child out of wed-lock, and the list goes on and on, forgiveness is part of the process of gaining back their lives.

Some are not likely to even know they need forgiving, or remember the offense. Therefore one reason to forgive is for our own sake and for our own health. “If we hold on to our anger, we stop growing and our souls begin to shrivel.”  – M. Scott Peck

Our child may have made decisions and choices that inflicted deep wounds in our hearts and cost us a lot: Loss of health, sleep, time at work, finances spent trying to help them or ourselves; loss of or damaged relationships – with them, our spouse, other children, other family members and even friends; loss of our mental and emotional well-being. Our faith can be weakened or we may even walk away from our faith in disappointment and confusion. There is a way to be free. It’s found in the four steps below.

We need to:

1)       Forgive our child – for hurting us. We may feel very angry and resentful over how we’ve been treated. We don’t trust them, can’t believe them, don’t even know them anymore. We also feel angry at what they’re doing to themselves. We must forgive even if they don’t ask us to. Jesus said, “forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

2)       Forgive ourselves – for not being the perfect parent. Oh wait, there isn’t one. Even though we did our best, we still tend to feel a lot of guilt over any part we may have played. If we don’t forgive ourselves we’ll end up living under the weight of guilt, blame, shame and a host of other feelings that God never intended. He gave our children a free will to make their own choices. Don’t forget what happened in the Garden of Eden to the only Perfect Parent (Genesis 2).

3)       Forgive others – for hurting our child. This includes those who influenced them negatively, encouraged their destructive choices, took advantage of them, or didn’t help them when they could have.

               4)       Forgive God – reconciling his power and Sovereignty with free-will; for allowing our child to go astray; for not answering our prayers to keep this from happening or protecting them. He doesn’t need to be forgiven. He didn’t do anything to them. In reality,WE need to be forgiven if we’ve begun to blame him, allowing resentment to build up in our hearts – maybe without even realizing it.

Forgiveness. We need to offer it. If we don’t, it will only lead to bitterness. It’s the only way to lance our wounds before they begin to fester.

Jesus is my role model. I forgive out of obedience to him because he forgave me.

He is the How and the Why of forgiving.

It’s a long, slow process, but if you choose to do it, you can be set free.

This is a great Scripture verse on forgiveness:

“Be kind and compassionate to each other, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  (Ephesians 4:32)

Dear God,

Help us forgive because of your example. Holding onto anger, resentment, guilt and bitterness are wearing us out. On our own we can’t do this, but we’re willing, so please show us how.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

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