What would you say to the wife who says, “I have forgiven him, but I am deeply pained when I remember what he did.”? Would you quote Hebrews 10:17 where God says, “And their sins I will remember no more.”? Would you tell her that if she has not forgotten, then she has not forgiven? I hope not. Forgiveness does not destroy our memory. Our brain records every event we experience. Memory may bring back the feeling of hurt. But forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a promise. Forgiveness says, “I will no longer hold that against you.” When the memory comes back and the pain returns, take it to God and say, “Father, thank You, that is forgiven.” Don’t allow the memory of the past to destroy your day.
Q:“My son has recently told us that he is gay. I’m having a very hard time dealing with it. How can I help him with this and still show love?”
Gary Chapman: Disappointment is a common emotion when a parent hears one of their children indicate that he/she is gay. Men and women are made for each other—it is God’s design. Anything other than that is outside of that primary design of God. Now I’m not going to try explain all the ins and outs of homosexuality, but what I will say is this—we love our children no matter what. Express your disappointment and/or your lack of understanding, but make it clear that you love them and that you will continue to love them no matter what. I would also encourage you to ask your child to do some serious reading and/or talk to a counselor to try to understand him/herself better while continuing to affirm your love.
A few years ago, I teamed up with Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist whom I greatly admire, and wrote a book called The5 Love Languages of Children. In that book, Dr. Campbell made the point that “during the preadolescence stage, girls have a particular need for expressions of love from their fathers. At the same time, fathers often withdraw from hugging and kissing their daughters, feeling it is inappropriate at this stage.” In reality, the daughter needs the hugs and kisses of her father; and if he withdraws, she will likely seek physical touch from another male and often in an unwholesome manner. Certainly there is no place for sexual exploitation, but your daughter deeply needs your loving and affirming touches.
A common question I hear in my office is this: “I want to honor my parents, but they are constantly trying to give us advice. How do I let them know that we need to make our own decisions?” Three things are important when you are dealing with parents who give advice too freely. First, you must understand that their intentions are good. Second, there is a good chance that your parents have more wisdom than you. Third, it is true that your parents should not control your life after you are married. So, I have four suggestions: (1) ask for your parent’s advice before they give it. (2) Give consideration to what they say. (3) Pray for God’s wisdom. (4) Make the decision that you and your spouse think is best. This is honoring parents, but not being controlled by them.
When Dr. Ross Campbell and I were writing our book: How To Really Love Your Adult Child, we discovered research data that indicated that when single adults, ages 20-30 were asked to describe the kind of marriage they would like, 87 percent said, “I want to have one marriage that will last a lifetime.” They have seen their parents divorce and that is not what they want. However, many of them have no idea how to have a life-long marriage. I’d like to suggest that it begins by viewing marriage as a covenant, not simply a contract. A covenant is initiated for the benefit of the other person. “I love you so much, and I believe that I can enrich your life.” That is covenant language.
One mother said, “Our son needs our help. He is not capable of making it on his own. But my husband wants to kick him out. I just can’t do that.” Both the mother and the father want what is best for the child. They just happen to disagree on what is best. Both of their thoughts are legitimate. The child probably does need help, but the child also needs to be moving toward independence. Therefore, whatever help you give should lead to greater independence. Support a child financially as long as he/she is getting training for a better job.
What do you do when your young adult children want to keep living with you? The best thing you can do is call a family conference. Let’s find out why they want to continue living at home. Is it so they can save money while attending college? Is it because they are lazy and don’t want to work. Is it because they need a little extra time to emotionally prepare for the real world? Let’s make sure the reason for staying at home has purpose. Secondly, let’s get a plan for moving the child toward independence. No young adults will ultimately be happy with themselves if they don’t see a future. If they are physically or mentally incapable of living independently, that’s another matter. Love encourages independence.