You Don’t Understand Me

“You don’t understand me,” my mom said as she began to cry. The words stung. I knew they held some truth in them. I want to be gentle with her – and be lovingly compassionate with her. I can do that most of the time, but then there are those times – when she begins to accuse me falsely or when she goes into a complaining mode – that I get worn down and snap at her. Rather than seeking to understand, I react to the words that spill out of her mouth. If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13 I read these words the other day and immediately knew they were meant for me. Sometimes I am too quick to answer before I hear what another person is really saying. Because of Alzheimer’s my mom struggles to retrieve words. Often what she says is not really what she means at all. Thus, I am getting lots of opportunities to practice listening to her intentions rather than her words. She may want butter and ask for cream. She’ll say her glasses are foggy when she feels dizzy. She’ll say she does not need to shower when what she is expressing is that she needs help in the process. Living with my mom grants me many opportunities to grow in listening to the meaning behind words. When I do that, my responses connect with what she really is trying to express rather than what bubbles up out of her mouth. Conflict between any individuals is best addressed by sincerely trying to...

Mini Blog #14: Neither Condemn Nor Condone.

The moment “You idiot!” spewed out of my mouth, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I watched my brother’s face tighten up as he defensively replied, “Don’t call me that, Ellen.” How many times had I heard my dad shout these same hurtful words at us. My anger had gotten the best of me. Stepping away from the situation, I silently purposed to calm down. I knew that calling my autistic brother an idiot was cruel. Still, I remained profoundly upset with him. Once again, he had found mom’s hidden pouch of cash, and gambled a large sum away at area slot machines. Afraid of the ensuing conflict, once again my mom, who at 88 struggles with alzheimer’s, came to his rescue. “It’s OK. He will pay me back. He will never do that again.” “See Ellen, mom doesn’t care,” Mike chimed in. My angry, insulting retort had turned the focus off Mike’s actions onto me. I was now on the hot seat. And it was mom and Mike against me. Alzheimer’s and autism joined forces and grew determined to put me in my place. “Don’t get so angry Ellen. You can’t control us. It’s our money. We are fine. Mike has never taken money from me before and he won’t do it again. He is a good boy.”  This “good boy” was now 51. Years of this same pattern, repeated over and over,  told me it would be only a matter of time before the cycle would repeat again. He would figure out where mom hid her money and go gambling when she was away. He would apologize...

Mini Blog # 6: Say Goodbye to Whining and Complaining

Kids will whine and complain for silly reasons. My granddaughters happily produce all sorts of artwork, but when asked to clean up and put away their supplies, their joy can instantly melt into grumbling and complaining. Suddenly they have no skills at all and instead find a myriad of excuses for why they can’t, and shouldn’t have to, clean up. To be honest, sometimes it’s tempting to give in rather than face the commotion. “Just 10 more minutes…I just have to finish this game,” your son whines after you remind him again that his time on the iPad is up. You silently rationalize, “What’s ten more minutes? At least I will be able to fix dinner in peace.” It’s appealing to put a temporary end to our kid’s whining and complaining by giving in, isn’t it! Why do kids whine and complain? Because it works! They know it is annoying enough to actually cause parents to expect less or back down. In addition, some kids see it as a means to control their parents, because it is a surefire way to get them to react emotionally – which only reinforces and even fuels the misbehavior. What can you do instead? You can begin to consistently enforce a simple standard that sounds like this: when you whine about work, you get more work; when you whine about a privilege (playing with the iPad, getting more dessert, etc.) you lose the privilege. Set the standard and then, when your child begins to whine or complain, regardless of what it’s about, simply ask the question, “Are you whining/complaining?” They will soon learn...

How Would Jesus Parent Your Children?

  Writing Free to Parent has made me ponder what it would look like if Jesus were to parent children in today’s world. His heart for children is clearly seen in the following verses, although the culture in His day granted little importance or respect to children: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:3-6  “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples  rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:13-16  And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he...