Thursday, February 10, 2011

SPIRITUAL - Delight in the Suffering of Parenting

I recently received a note from a mom in anguish over her son’s approach to unresolved issues in their relationship. Certain that there are many parents who can identify with this situation, it is my prayer that sharing her note and my response will be helpful to others.

Mom: I received a very painful letter from my son. I don't know what to do or how to answer. I seriously don't remember half the things that he referred to, but, for the most part, he's writing about his life growing up and how it’s my fault that he has issues now.

I've asked God to lead me and to help my son. I know that he's not unfounded about some things, but he's not correct about them a1l. It’s unfair of him to beat me up with words for the rest of my life. I made mistakes that I can't change. I'm beside myself and really need Jesus. I've had a multitude of bad in my life. I’m not seeking sympathy, but I do demand respect. I don't disrespect him for his mistakes. Just me searching for answers.

Me: Hearing your pain hurts my heart! I’m so sorry!

Although I don’t know all the details,
it sounds like your son has unresolved hurt and anger
and is trying to express those emotions in the best way he knows
….as unhealthy as that may be.

Obviously, your desire is to establish healthy communication with him. As painful as his letter is, it very well may be the beginning of this. Your careful response is very important.

May I suggest a number of things that I believe would be helpful to express to him:
• His words obviously hurt you, but you are thankful that he felt safe enough to share with you.
• Hearing his heart has helped you to know and understand him better and this is important to you.
• Although your perspective is different than his, you do realize that “he's not unfounded about some things.”
• Out of your wounded heart and sinful nature, you’ve made mistakes which have hurt him and you are sorry.
• Ask him in a “yes” or “no” question if he can forgive you.

As much as it hurts and seems unfair,
this isn’t the time for you to defend yourself or point out his mistakes.
This is a time to be willing to hear his heart.
Pray for more appropriate opportunities to help him see his unhealthy approach.

You made the statement, “I demand respect.” While I understand your desire, this statement may add more fuel to the fire. We can demand respect until the cows come home, but we can’t force others to respect us. If we approach relationships with this expectation, we will certainly be disappointed! Even if it were possible to do everything to earn respect, whether or not a person demonstrates respect is dependent upon the condition of his heart. Having another person’s respect is ultimately neither here nor there. It is Jesus whom we desire to please. As we learn to walk more closely to Him there will be people, including family, who not only don’t respect us, they will likely think we are “whacked out” and treat us so!

Writing what you want to say to your son gives the opportunity for careful wording while not getting distracted by his reaction. Even if you’d rather talk to him, I suggest writing it out first in order to think through what and how you want to speak. If you and/or your son tend to react rather than listen, I’d strongly suggest that you write to him! What you write can also be reread by both of you which is often helpful.

Father, thank You for Your presence in my friend’s life. Comfort her with an assurance of Your love. Teach her to delight even in the suffering, for it is necessary in answering her prayer to know and be drawn nearer to You. Use this to strengthen her dependence upon You. As her relationship with You develops, may she be a reflection of You in her son’s life. Lead her to respond to him according to your plan. Give her the exact words and show her Your perfect timing. Prepare her son’s heart to genuinely hear and respond according to Your wisdom. May Jesus be glorified!


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