January 6, 2015
Parents often find themselves in conflict with their young adult children. Sometimes these conflicts focus on religion. They become involved in a different religion or a cult. How is the Christian parent to respond?
First, let me remind you that the greatest influence you have on your children’s religious beliefs happens in the first eighteen years of their lives. They have heard you and watched you for many years. The closer your practice is to your preaching, the more they respect your beliefs. If you have failed, it’s time to repent and apologize. Then, it’s time to listen and dialogue. The days for preaching are over. They are young adults and you must respect their freedom. It’s the same freedom that God gives to all of us.
September 29, 2014
Q: My husband spends a lot of time with his parents and not with me. What can I do about it?
Gary: This is a question that many young couples can identify with if you live in the same town as your parents. The scriptures say that we are to leave our parents and to be joined to each other. What that looks like may differ with each couple, but the principle is clear. It appears to me that you think he’s spending too much time with his parents, and that may be true. What I’d like to know is what is he doing when he goes to see his parents? What motivates him to go there? Is his mother demanding that he come to see them? That’s unhealthy. Or is he helping his father with a work project? That’s different. Is he sharing his marital problems with his parents? That’s not good. Find out the motivation, and then seek a pattern that demonstrates that the marriage is priority.
April 1, 2014
“I don’t ever do anything right.” Those are not the words of a child, but of a 35-year-old single daughter who has never felt loved by her mother. “I could never please my Mom,” she said. “Whatever I did it was never good enough for her. I just wish that once I could hear her say, ‘I’m proud of you.’” This daughter’s love language is “word of affirmation,” but she never received them from her mother. Does the mother love the daughter? My guess is ‘yes.’ How tragic that she never learned to communicate her love in a language her daughter could understand. Dr. Ross Campbell and I wrote the book: The 5 Love languages of Children with the prayer that it would help thousands of parents learn to effectively love their children. Do you know the ‘love language’ of your child?
December 5, 2013
What is the loving thing to do when your adult child moves back home? Let me give you three suggestions:
1. Establish a time limit for their stay. Everyone will feel more relaxed if you have some idea of how long this return stay is going to last.
2. Formulate a financial agreement. In the rare event that your child cannot make any financial contribution, then assign tasks such as cleaning, yard work, or repairs. They will feel better if they are making a contribution.
3. Respect the need for privacy. This involves not only living space, but the use of phone, possessions, and noise level. Make life as pleasant as possible. Try to avoid becoming a war zone.
December 3, 2013
When Psychiatrist Ross Campbell and I teamed up and wrote our book: How to Really Love Your Adult Child, we discovered that most parents are greatly frustrated when their children move back home. In reality, it gives the parents another opportunity to parent their children. Some adults are simply not ready for the real world. They have tried and failed. Now, they may be more open to your wisdom than when they were teenagers. Call a family conference. Find out what your adult child is thinking. Do they have plans? Or, do they just want to ‘hang out’? Hanging out may be okay for a week or two, but you and your child need plans on how to move toward some obtainable goal. Even a small goal is better than no goal.
November 28, 2013
Have you seen the T-Shirt that says, “It’s not an empty nest until they get their stuff out of the attic.” For you, that may not seem even remotely funny. You aren’t thinking about emptying the attic, but about what you are going to do now that your adult child has moved back into your house. They are called the boomerang generation. They leave, but they come back. Certainly you love them, but you had not anticipated this. It has thrown your life and perhaps your marriage into a tail spin. The most common problem is that you and your spouse disagree over how to treat the boomerang child. Let me challenge you to make a fundamental decision. Reach out for help: a book, a pastor, a friend are all good resources. Take advantage of what others have learned.
September 19, 2013
Did you know that 70 years ago, teenagers did not exist? That is, as a separate cultural group. Before the industrial age, teens worked on their parents’ farms until they got married. With industrialization, teens had a choice. They could be a weaver, a cobbler, or a machinist. But they still lived with their parents until they got married; usually in the late teens. In the modern world, young people have high school, college, and often graduate school before they get married. So they are with parents much longer. This is good news, because it gives greater opportunity to influence their lives for good. Remember, the quality of your marriage is your greatest means of influence. They will remember your model long after they have forgotten your words.