Tag Archives: Parenting

Let God Fill the Gap

puzzle

When children come into the world their primary emotional need is the love and affection of their caregivers, their mother and father. Unfortunately, all too often in my counseling career, when sitting down with a young man, one scenario repeats itself. When I ask “Did your father love you?” they look quizzical as they contemplate the question. “Well, sure. My dad always made sure that we had a roof over our heads. Gosh, he worked all the time. I wish he’d had more time to go to my baseball games, but he did what he needed to do. We never went wanting. Yeah, it would have been nice if he had been home more often, but, hey, what are you going to do? You can’t have everything, right?”

I repeat the question. “Take a minute, there is no rush to answer. I asked you if your dad loved you.” The pause that occurs as they contemplate the question for a second time is quite telling. All too often the response cycle goes something like this. A look of confusion, as if to wonder why I asked the question again. They often look down for a moment. The message is sinking deeper. A look of slight anger registers on their face; next comes sadness, then the realization. Now they really understand the question.

I’ve gone through years of psychology classes. I understand the theory. I know why counselors and therapists are told to maintain a healthy distance from those they counsel—I get that. As the tears of realization flow from the eyes of the biggest, proudest, toughest guys you might imagine, I am not worried about containing myself. They need to understand that I understand, and more importantly that God understands. On many occasions I share in the grief and loss they experience in that moment of time—the moment they recognize that the need for love was never met. At which point my goal is to get them realigned with the Father who never ignored them, nor left them.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.          -John 3:16

What is evidenced in that scripture is this: God loves you and wants nothing more than to spend eternity with you!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

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Filed under Family of Origin, Grief, Parenting, Restoration

“I Just Want to Be Heard!”

Listening

Just as important as what you say to your children is how you listen to them.  Give your children your undivided attention when they are sharing with you.  Turn off the television, put away the paperwork, get off the computer, just listen.  Acknowledge what they say and hear them out.  Your job is to be approachable when they need you. Understand that they are children and may not express as effectively as you do, but let them try.  This is not the time to correct them or critique their verbal skills.  Just like your spouse, they want to be heard.   Oftentimes whether they are heard or not has a greater impact on their esteem than whether they get their way.

A mother brought in her son, a young man about sixteen.  She wanted someone to talk to him because he wouldn’t open up at home, and he seemed to be carrying a great deal of anger. When he entered the office it was apparent things were going to get interesting.  The first thing he did was sit in the chair in front of the desk, raise his leg to the desk, and push his chair back about four feet from it.  Arms folded, body rigid in the chair, he was very direct in his communication: “I don’t have a f—in’ thing to say to you.”

It was obvious what he was expecting.  This coarse phrase would elicit a reaction and get him thrown out of the office. Ah, he would have to do better than that!  I calmly told the young man, “That’s entirely up to you.  But if you want to chat, I’d love to hear what you have to say.” He was very confused, and when he realized my response was sincere, no one could keep this guy from talking!  He was thrilled to have a venue to be heard. As he talked more and more, his entire demeanor changed and his body language loosened up.  He was able to be direct in areas where his behavior was not serving him productively, and he was eager to listen to what I said.

In the end, after speaking with his mother, it was apparent that his father didn’t really connect with him because they never talked.  The son never had a voice in the house, and when he was bold enough to speak, his father shut him down immediately.  His behavior issues were simply symptoms of a much greater problem: poor communication in the home.

Consider your own home.  In what ways do you frustrate your child by not providing them a venue to share with you?  How might the behaviors and communication we, as parents, demonstrate to our children play out in their lives as they become adults and parents?

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Communication, Parenting, Respect

A Unified Front!

Unity

Parenting is a growing process that is in continual motion, the demand for unity is ever increasing as your children grow. The importance of unity is amplified in Jesus’ statement in Matthew 12:25 when he states, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” The selfishness of children will run rampant if the mother and father are not on the same page in raising them. Children are far more observant and intuitive than we give them credit for. They have an amazing gift for manipulation. Parents already know that. This gift for manipulation is fostered in a household where there is no unity between the parents.

When the boys were younger and my wife and I would be out shopping with them it was not unusual for them to ask me if they could buy a toy. Often, I would respond, “No, not on this trip, we are here to buy diapers or some such item.” That is not the answer they wanted to hear. They would wait for a few minutes, thinking that I am absorbed in my shopping and not paying attention, then go to their mother and ever so sweetly, blinking those big, beautiful eyes, say, “Mommy, we love you. Do you think it would be okay if we got a toy?” My sons’ daddy didn’t raise no fool. Needless to say, without a united front we would end up with a shopping cart full of toys every trip if that were the case!

Would you say that you and your spouse are “on the same page”? What has been preventing the two of you from becoming a united front? In what ways do you see your children taking advantage of your “house divided”? Come up with some practical ways to come together and present the team that you want your children to see.

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted

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Filed under Parenting, Unity

Say What You May, Marriage Still Sets the Best Example to Children

Children imitating parents

Modeling a healthy marriage is the greatest gift you can give your children, who in all likelihood will take the same journey as their parents.

Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.     – Malachi 2:15

I’ve heard the story countless times.  The marriage is struggling with countless issues, none of which ever seem to get addressed.  They continue down the same road, “Today was a pretty good day, I’ll just keep my mouth shut and not make waves.”  Tomorrow, all hell breaks loose as the verbal assaults fly with zero regard to the little ears that are taking in all of the turmoil.  The little ears that are internalizing the events and coming to only one conclusion, “I must be responsible (or at least partially) for the constant fighting that takes place between my mommy and daddy.”  Young children are very egocentric, everything revolves around their perception of the events in life.  Afterall, they only have a few years of experience to draw from.

What example are you setting in your marriage? Sons look to their fathers to learn how a man is to behave. Daughters watch their mothers very closely to determine the best ways to interact with the opposite sex. If petty bickering, infidelity, verbal abuse, and constant talk of divorce is your model, you will see the same patterns on display in their own relationships. Children learn well and will follow your example if they don’t choose to do something about it. Consider: how often do you respond based on the example that you were shown growing up? As parents, we are always being observed. Remember that!

I encourage you mom and dad, get the help you need.  Put aside the past and focus on the future.  Get a mediator who is interested less in your individual “happiness” and more on the success of your marriage, which will produce far more than a situational emotional response.  Doing the work, practicing forgiveness, and focusing on the issues that resist resolution are essential and will go far in protecting your legacy to the future.

You don’t have to do it alone.  Get a counselor who shares your values and has the best interest of you, as a couple, at heart.  Here is a great place to start!  Find a counselor in your area:

The American Association of Christian Counselors website @ http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Conflict Resolution, Divorce, Emotions, Forgiveness, Parenting, Role Modeling, Unity

“I Have Feelings Too”

children's emotions

 Your children are counting on you to have their best interests at heart. They need to know you will be available in their time of need.  That means you need to be in tune with your children. Develop a relationship that is based on good communication. It is our responsibility to teach our children to be open with their feelings. Children who do not share their feelings tend to make decisions about those feeling based on their immature perspective of the world.

Since selfishness is so prevalent in our society, it is no great leap to assume that the choices they make will be founded in that same selfishness. Do not fear your children’s emotions. For some reason many parents shut their children down when they become angry, frustrated, or sad. “Don’t do that…you shouldn’t feel like that” is a common response.

Our children have all the same God-given emotions we do, but what is often missing is the social grace in dealing with those emotions.

When the child’s behavior tied to those emotions is destructive, the parent needs to differentiate between the feelings and the behavior that is deemed unacceptable. Make sure you validate the feelings and discuss them with your children. Men (and perhaps some women), for those of you who think that emotions are for girls or sissies, it’s time to grow up. That may require you to sit down with a counselor or pastor and identify the reasons you struggle with emotional expression. Do not invalidate your child’s emotions; rather consider healthy ways to help them express those emotions. Your children are more likely to communicate with you if you allow them the freedom of verbal expression.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Communication, Emotions, Parenting, Respect

It Starts in the Mirror

image

It is essential that parents realize the impact they have on their children. Few things are as rewarding as the joy you feel when your little child runs up to you, throws their arms around your neck, and says, “I love you, Daddy!” In such moments they can do no wrong. Unfortunately, life with children is made up of many, many moments, and not all of them are like that.

In order to maneuver through the role of parenting we must first establish a foundation of trust and respect; these are imperative to growing a healthy relationship with children. Trust is established from the get-go. We receive our children as blank slates in many regards. In our hands we hold a tiny new totally dependent being that is counting on us to provide all their needs. These little beings also happen to be very egocentric, thinking everything revolves around them. Rightfully so; that’s all they know. When they want or need something, they want it now and they make no qualms about letting you know it. This can be difficult for some parents who don’t truly understand the selflessness required of a parent. I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I got married. I was used to having things a certain way, and I was never challenged in my preferences or personal goals. I was free to come and go as I liked and to spend my money on whatever I chose.

When I got married that all changed. I was in for a reality check, but this was also true of my wife. We both had to move to a place of selflessness to develop our marital relationship. At times we still struggle with our own selfishness. Well, we thought we had it down pretty well, then along came baby…and baby number two. God took us to a whole new place. We were forced to grow in ways neither of us anticipated. We learned firsthand what was meant by “life is a refining process.” Our growth is far from done, and we often find ourselves having to adapt and grow just as our children do.

Remember, training the selfishness out of our children is a journey that starts in the mirror!

In what ways do you see your own selfishness on display in your child(rens) attitudes/behavior? What areas of personal selfishness will you need to change to better the dynamics between you and your child(ren)?

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

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Filed under Behavior, Parenting, Selfishness