Tag Archive | dysfunction

Pleasing Wanted

A young woman named Pleasing gave birth to a child she named Wanted. Pleasing’s goal in life was to make sure Wanted was always happy. Pleasing’s childhood was fraught with sadness and she wanted a different life for her child.

She fed Wanted only the foods that made him happy. She let him pull the dog’s tail and bite the neighbor kid because it brought Wanted joy. As Wanted grew older, Pleasing made sure to attend to his every need so that he would remain happy. She did all the household chores and protested when his teachers admonished him for not turning in his homework. Schoolwork made Wanted feel stifled and kept him from what really made him happy: sleeping in late and playing video games. When Wanted became an adult, Pleasing made sure he had the money he needed for dates and gasoline for his car. She continued to clean his room, cooked his meals and did his laundry. These things made Wanted happy.

In middle age, Pleasing had gone bankrupt and was weary after all the years of making Wanted happy. She couldn’t figure out why other mothers in the neighborhood had the energy to do fun things and why their children seemed self-sufficient. They had all started careers and families of their own. Wanted, on the other hand, was still living at home, had become overweight, unhealthy, dependant on others and had no friends. Pleasing couldn’t figure out why Wanted felt so empty and depressed.

Hadn’t she done everything to make him happy? Pleasing wondered.

My sweet mother, this is a fictional story of course.  Nevertheless, through it, I pause to think about my role as parent. Perhaps you can relate on some level with Pleasing. She wanted to save her child from the unhappiness she innocently experienced as a child. Perhaps you too want your children to experience a happiness you never knew. While there is nothing wrong with being happy, can I persuade you to think about wholeness over happiness? What you needed as a child and what your children need is a wholeness that comes with proper perspective. What makes a child whole are love and nurture, but also teaching and discipline. That means our children will not always be happy. They will not like us sometimes. But that’s just fine because what we want them to have is something better: the joy and confidence that comes with a personal character that is in alignment with God’s design.

Scriptures: The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice. Proverbs 23: 24-25

The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. Proverbs 29:15

Prayer: Lord, please help me to raise my children in the way you have lovingly directed. Please help me to teach and discipline them and not grow weary. Help me to see the big picture of their lives and not give in to their unhealthy wants today.

Photo compliments of Wikipedia

Imperfectly Different

Image courtesy Microsoft Images

I remember when I was in the fourth grade our teacher had us draw mountains. Most of my classmates colored their mountains brown. A few colored theirs purple. I wanted my mountains to look different from anyone else’s so I peeked at their drawings and chose colors they hadn’t used. My turquoise mountains were pretty but looked nothing like the real thing.
When you became a mother, dear one, you vowed to do things differently than the adults in your childhood. Maybe your dad was never home for dinner or went missing for days. Maybe you left for school in the morning with no breakfast and no prospects for lunch. So as an adult running your own home, you threaten your husband if he’s not home by 6:00 pm and you pack a lunch box for your child big enough to feed the entire fifth grade class.
While deciding not to repeat dysfunction from our childhoods, we can go so overboard that our homes take on a Stepford Wives feel rather than an authentic one with natural imperfections. Striving so hard to do things differently can take on obsessive tones that drive the family nuts. Certainly improve upon the past dear one. This is an admirable goal. But leave room for spontaneity and the sweet surprises that result. Your children won’t be damaged if dad arrives home after dinner or if little Ashley eats lunch in the cafeteria. Relax.
Scripture: To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless. Psalm 119:96

Showers of Blessings

“I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.” (Ezekiel 34:26)

Have you noticed the stillness before the rain—when all the oaks and daffodils wait expectantly for the promised shower? When the clouds release their blessing, every green thing lifts up their hands in thankfulness, receiving the blessing they knew would come.

Are you waiting in stillness for God’s blessing? Or are you running around in angst, doing rain dances, trying to pull the blessings down? Maybe you’re not accustomed to trusting promises. Maybe you’ve been disappointed one time too many.

Trusting in God and his promises is much different from trusting in the promises of man. People make promises to us and we to them. And despite our best intentions, promises do get broken because they are made by imperfect people. But when God says “trust me”, He is making a promise to you that will be delivered. He is perfect, truthful and faithful. So when you read scriptures such as; “All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace. . .This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 54:13,17); know that God is a Promise Keeper and you can wait for his blessings in quiet and confident stillness.

Photo courtesy Microsoft Images

What’s Your Handle?

Photo courtesy Microsoft Images

 

Eric Blair, who wrote under the pen name, George Orwell, tells the story of his childhood in an English boarding school. In his short story, Such, Such Were the Joys, he recounts the cruelty he endured at the hand of his Head Master at Crossgates, a preparatory school. When he arrived at Crossgates—“an expensive and snobbish school”— at eight years old, he began wetting the bed as children sometimes do when they experience trauma or significant change. Considered an intentional and rebellious act in the early 1900s, bedwetting sometimes resulted in physical punishment. Hence, his Head Master would beat him with a riding crop. On one occasion, the bone handle of the crop broke off during the beating and even for this, the Head Master blamed the young boy. And the young boy believed the lie.

“. . . .I accepted the broken riding crop as my own crime. I can still recall my feeling as I saw the handle lying on the carpet—the feeling of having done an ill-bred and clumsy thing, and ruined an expensive object. I had broken it: so Sim told me, and so I believed. This acceptance of guilt lay unnoticed in my memory for twenty or thirty years.”

My beloved sister: What guilt are you carrying from the past? Are there things you still hold on to that were not your fault? This question is important because guilt can be a vile and clutching monster that latches onto to the human soul, holding us from being the best that we can be, including mothering in freedom.

Whether you feel guilt for something that wasn’t (or was) your fault, take it to God in prayer. Go confidently with full expectation of God’s permanent forgiveness. Go boldly, knowing that He has already ripped the putrid monster of guilt from your back. And if you begin to feel eerie remembrances of guilt’s disgusting presence, remember that these are feelings, not reality.

Scripture: He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Scripture: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Scripture: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

It’s Understandable

If you are an adult child of an alcoholic, addict or a dysfunctional parent, it is understandable if parenting scares you to death. Growing up in a chaotic and unpredictable environment would make most of us feel unsure and frightened. And these feelings don’t go away just because we grow up. Becoming a mother can even magnify those fears. You may wonder, “I don’t know what normal looks like. How do I show my love for my children? How can I raise a child when I don’t know the answers?”

Few mothers delve into parenting knowing exactly what to do. Much of our mothering, especially in the early years, comes from instinct. Don’t underestimate it. The rest comes by way of learning from others and old-fashioned trial and error. But most important is our reliance upon God who promises to give us wisdom and guidance.

Despite your unsure or fearful feelings, you can do this job well–not perfectly, because that’s impossible–but well.

Take advantage of the help that is available through organizations such as MOPS International and Moms In Prayer (formerly Moms In Touch).

God’s promises:

Isaiah 54:13

James 1:5

Photo courtesy Google Free Images

Inside Beautiful You

We want someone to know us, really know us—deeply. Not just as a mom but as a person. However, for those raised in alcoholic, addicted or dysfunctional homes, so many thick layers of protection enfold our wounds that staying cocooned seems a lot easier than the pain of exposure. What will people think if they knew from whence I came? But the truth is you are not your past. You are not your addicted or dysfunctional parent. They birthed you but they didn’t create you. You are beautiful you, created by a God who is in love with you—who has a marvelous plan for your life as a mother and a unique, multifaceted woman. Here’s what God says about you:
1. I am a child of promise – Rom 9:8; Gal 3:14
2. I am free from condemnation – Rom 8:1
3. I’ve been justified – made righteous – Rom 5:1
4. I have received the Spirit of God -1 Cor 2:12
5. I have been given the mind of Christ – 1 Cor 2:16
6. I am God’s workmanship – Eph 2:10
7. I’m chosen and appointed to bear fruit – Jn 15:16
8. I am a partaker of a heavenly calling – Heb 3:1
9. I am a child of light, not darkness – 1 Thess 5:5
10. I’ve been rescued from Satan’s domain – Col 1:13
11. I am a citizen of heaven – Phil 3:20
12. I have direct access to God – Eph 2:18
13. I am a fellow citizen in God’s kingdom – Eph 2:19
14. I am a saint – Eph 1:1; 1 Cor 1:2; Phil 1:1

Lay Down Your Weapons

If you grew up in a home where one or both of your parents were alcoholics or addicts, you developed ways to cope in order to survive. Some of you did everything you could to please your addicted parent. By making them happy, maybe you could get them to love you more or at least stop them from using.
Perhaps there were times when you had to parent your parent even though you were just a child. Of course, there is no way you could have filled this impossible role. You were just a child. As a result, you naturally developed coping mechanisms that became a part of how you function in the world as an adult.

These coping skills have a good side. You became  self-sufficient, hardworking, high achieving—an employer’s dream. However, while these traits work well on the job, they don’t translate well to parenting. Our skills are often hyper-developed as the adult children of addicts. Therefore, what is successful project management on the job could look more like dictatorship in the home.

For you it may be a tendency to over protect your children, a lingering habit from a time when you had to parent your addicted parent. For another mother it is perfectionism–trying to make up for the shame of the past–never a dirty window or snotty nose in her house!
I imagine many mothers struggle with control and perfectionist tendencies. But adult children of addicts magnify and stretch these traits out of proportion.

But what I’ve learned over these years of mothering is that God is a God of renewal. He can take all the old weapons that you formed out of the metal of dysfunction and turn them into tools for joyful mothering. He can start a new generation with you and your children. Ask Him. Trust Him. It is possible.
Read Matthew 19:26