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Parenting Young Adults

Dear Helen,

I was a long time subscriber to The Motherís Companion, and really enjoyed each issue. Youíll never know how much your encouragement and inspiration meant to me.

I am going through one of the most difficult experiences of my life right now, with a 19-year-old daughter who is rebelling against everything sheís been taught. She is loved dearly, was home schooled from K-12, and taught all the godly principles we knew to teach her. Iím so very discouraged. My heart is breaking, and just getting through each day is so very difficult.

I have six other children at home, and Iím trying so hard to stay focused on them and their needs, but I feel like Iím living with a knife in my chest. I am in desperate need of a godly Christian mother to talk to. Would you be willing to correspond with me for a while and give me some advice on what to do?

I pray and pray daily and during the night, because right now Iím not sleeping very much at all. I just donít know what else to do. I donít know of anyone else with our values who has home schooled and whom I would feel comfortable taking advice from. If youíre too busy, I understand. My thoughts keep coming back to you, so I wanted to write to you and see if you could help me.

Thank you so much.
Constance



Dear Constance,

Thank you for your kind words. I am just the clay pot and God the potter.

My heart breaks for you as you deal with your daughterís rebellion. I am praying for you now as I type, that God will comfort you and give you peace.

I am happy to advise you in any way that I can.

I need more details. When did this start? Was she passively rebellious in her early teens and onward? (Passive rebellion is when they donít actually say or do anything ďbadĒ they just slam doors, and have generally bad attitudes. It is still rebellion and often becomes active rebellion when they become older and leave the nest.)

What exactly is she doing now? You must be completely honest with me. Is your daughter involved with a guy? Is she causing trouble with the younger children by her behavior or does she hide it from them? Is it causing your other children to follow her bad behavior?

This correspondence may take some back and forth before I can offer you any advice, since I really need to understand what is happening first.

Blessings,
Helen



Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for agreeing to correspond with me. And thank you also for the prayers. Comfort and peace is exactly what I need right now.

Emma was definitely passively rebellious during her early teen years and even earlier than that. Out of all my children, she was definitely the most difficult to raise. She has always had a mind of her own, and tried things with us that the others would never dream of doing. We didnít always know how to handle her, but we certainly did our very best and spent much time in prayer. In spite of that, she could also be very loving and sweet at times. She was diagnosed with Asburgers at an early age, and despite many concerns, we tried medicine with her and it has always worked extremely well. With it, she could focus on her school work and listened and obeyed quite well. Without it, she could not do any school work, pestered her brothers until they cried, and paced the floor. As she got into her teens, she was able to cut back on the medicine and take it as she felt she needed it. It had a short term effect and could be taken as needed. Some days she would be fine, and other days she would come to me and tell me she needed to take it, because she couldnít concentrate on her work, because her mind was in fifteen different directions. She refuses to take it at all now.

In spite of the difficulties at times, she grew into a wonderful young lady. I was so proud of her when she graduated in 2009. She had such a bright future. She was attending college to become a special education teacher. She had a wonderful job working with special needs kids. It was an ideal job for the field she was going into. The supervisor was so impressed with her, that after she was hired, the supervisor told her they had changed their policy, just so they could hire her. They normally donít hire anyone under 21, but because they felt she was ideal for the position, they changed their age requirement to 18. While she was waiting and hoping for this job to work out, she began working at Burger King to help pay for her car insurance. I feel like things went downhill from there, and I have been beating myself up ever since for letting her work there.

During her graduation speech, I spoke of how we kept her at home to teach her how to follow God and to teach her to look at the world through the eyes of a Christian, and that now she was ready to be let go, and that she knew to always seek Godís will in each circumstance and to put God first. (I donít remember exactly how I worded it all, but this is the gist of things) Ever since then, I feel that I couldnít have been more wrong. She wasnít ready. At least thatís how it seems to me. I feel we really missed something important, but I know we did the very best we knew how.

When she first started working at Burger King, she came home appalled at the language that was being used at work. We talked to her a lot about it and she was so upset after the first few weeks, that we told her maybe she should just quit until this other job came through. She didnít want to quit, and hoped to witness to the other people at work. I told her, ďjust donít let them rub off on youĒ. I was so worried. It was shortly after that, that she got a new supervisor. He was 30 years old. Long story short, despite our protests and concerns, she began dating him, and within a few months had moved in with him and his mother. We were horrified. This happened in May, 2010. At the same time that this was happening, we were trying to understand what had just happened and how it could happen so quickly. We wanted desperately to put some of the blame on him, but most of the things sheís doing seems to be all her.

At this point, they are engaged to be married on January 1, 2011 of this year. He has been attending church with her for a long time and wants to be baptized. We just hope heís sincere. We are also concerned about their financial status. She has quit college, and got fired from the special needs job for missing work. He seems to be a nice person, and treats her well, but he seems to have no ambition. He makes minimum wage working at Burger King and seems quite satisfied with that. She hates living with his mother, but thatís where they will probably live the rest of their lives, because they wonít be able to afford anything else.

Also, she is smoking and told my brother that she would like to drink, but that Richard,(her fiancť), wonít let her.

Her biological father walked out on us when she was three years old. He gave up his parental rights to her shortly after that, because he wanted nothing to do with either of us. Two years later, I remarried and my husband adopted her and raised her as his own. Together we have five boys, almost 15, 11, and 7 and 5 and 3.

So, just when I thought things couldnít get worse, she just told me this weekend that she has made contact with her biological father through Facebook and that they talked for 2-3 hours on the phone the other night, and she was supposed to go meet him last night. He is a scary, horrible person who mistreated me and it was a blessing when he left. Right now, heís telling her all the things he knows she would want to hear, like how sorry he is, and how much he loves her, and how he canít wait to see her. That is a really long story in itself. It just strikes terror into my heart to think of her having a relationship with him at this point in her life. I know that wanting to meet him is a perfectly normal thing, but she wants a relationship with him. She keeps telling me how much heís changed, but she doesnít understand/care about what type of person he was and how much trouble he is capable of bringing into her life. I have not been in touch with him since he left, but I have friends that see him around and know his family, and they tell me he hasnít changed. He drinks, and if she wanted to drink with him, he would let her, no matter if sheís under-aged.

As hard as all this is, the hardest part is how she is treating me and her step-father. She truly acts as if she hates us. I have offered several times to help her with her wedding, just to let me know what she needs, but she wonít let me. She is going shopping and doing all the planning with her fiance's mother. She acts like we donít exist. The other kids miss her so much. And so do we, of course. I feel like Iím grieving for the daughter I used to know. She told me she is wanting to have a relationship with her biological father and the children he has, who are her half-brother and half-sisters. And I feel as if we are getting ready to be replaced by him and his family. He wasnít there for her, and didnít want any responsibility for her.

I just canít believe how quickly this all happened. I know we donít have any control anymore over what she does, all we can do is pray. But how do I act, what do I say? Iím so uncomfortable around her, because everything/anything I say seems to make her mad.

You asked about the other kids, and they are great. The two older boys are very mature for their ages and are truly a joy to raise. Our youngest child is just delightful. The boys are concerned for their sister and know sheís living with Richard and smoking and they help us pray for her. She does not try to hide anything from anyone and seems quite proud of how sheís living her life.

I feel like this is a rambling letter. Thereís just so much going on and so much thatís happened itís hard to get it all written down. I guess the thing that has me most confused is how she is treating us. We love her so much and always have and I just donít understand it.

Thank you so much for listening,
Constance





Dear Constance,

My heart goes out to you. God knows and cares. He feels your pain. He understands.

I donít think there is any greater pain for a mother than this. It can feel worse than death. You are not alone in this pain. My mailbox is full of your kind of letters. Satan is attacking Christian homes in full force, doing what He can to ruin this next generation of children who come from strong spiritual homes just like yours.

Kids who show passive rebellion during their teens and throughout their teens, often continue to do so as adults. Satan goes goes after them big time as they become more independent and it often becomes active rebellion. It becomes active because they know that they wonít have to face the consequences with you anymore---they are too old and usually on the way out of the nest, or already out. They use mean words, are often bitter and angry and they let everyone know it. It shocks parents, especially if it is the oldest and this is a whole new experience for them---it seems totally unexpected, unfair and undeserved.

But the problem of rebellion has often been there all along, often for years. It is nigh to impossible to change a childís heart. You can discipline, teach, preach, exhort, but the child must choose if they are going to follow the Lord or not. You canít make them anymore than God can make us ďget savedĒ or follow Him with all of our hearts. We must choose. God canít choose for us.

During the teen years, they often totter between following the Lord or following the world and Satan. That is why they appear good and then appear bad. They feel pressure from the home front to stay good, because the atmosphere is good and holy, but then Satan gets in there and attacks, and they swing the other way. It is the same with us as well, even as adults. We swing between good and evil all the time.

Her rebellion is against God not you. Her battle is with the Lord, not you. Satan would have her think its cool, grown up and all of that, to be rebellious against parents, but it is truly a spiritual battle between her, God and Satan. Let her know that, and tell her you are stepping out of the way and handing her over to God and letting God deal with her in His way and in His time and that she must decide who is going to win this spiritual battle in her life.

Donít fight with her---donít let her drag you into arguments. Donít let her manipulate your feelings, hoping to get an angry response from you so she can continue to justify her behavior towards you. If she can make you look bad, she feels good about herself and can justify her own bad behavior because after all, it is all your fault. You canít be reasoned with, as far as she is concerned. Donít preach to her. Donít vent your bitterness and anger towards her. Yes, you feel betrayed, angry, and bitter. That is normal. Take it to the Lord, not out on her. If she gets you upset, keep your words few, head to the laundry room or bathroom, change the subject, but DONíT let her manipulate you. She is hoping for a reaction, that is why she is doing and saying those things to you. Donít reward her bad behavior. Donít forget, you have to be the mature one.

Ask the Lord to take your bitterness away and fill your heart with compassion. When you feel betrayed and hurt and remember all you did for her, that you donít deserve this treatment, and on and on, ask God to remove it, purge it and then go do a loving deed for someone else.

Emma wanting to meet her blood father is normal. You see all the pitfalls. She is young, idealistic and naÔve, as we all were at that age. It is a bitter pill for you to swallow and she may very well be using it to hurt you. You need to let her go and live her own life. She is NOT asking for your advice. If she is not asking, you are unwise to offer any. Let her plan her own wedding. Donít butt in. Swallow the pain, take it to the cross, bear under this affliction. Donít run her life. It will only create ill will. She is unwise, yes, and the type that learn from life not from wisdom from elders. It is so painful to watch these kids learn the hard way. Let her learn about her dad, her other siblings, etc. She has seen your family in action. She knows good when she sees it. She may also see the bad as well when she sees it. It may take years, but she knows the right way. If she doesnít take her medicine, that is her choice. Donít ask her about it. Donít discuss it. She is a big girl now. Foolish maybe yes, but she has a right to live her life as she chooses.

It is just like God with us. How we break His heart as we go our own way. He watches but He is a true gentleman. He wonít butt in.

Emma is now an adult and must face the consequences of her own choices. You have done your job----it is over now. All parents make mistakes. We all wish we hadnít done this or that. We arenít perfect. We learn as we go and make prudent changes as the next ones grow up and face adulthood.

STOP BLAMING YOURSELF. YOU DID A GOOD JOB. YOU WERE THERE FOR HER. YOU TRAINED HER RIGHT. Ask God to take away the false guilt that you feel. Satan wants to drag you down with all of this---keep you from mothering your other kids, hurt your marriage by this, make as much havoc with this mess as he can. Donít let Satan have the victory in your own life or home. Stop the damage Satan is doing, NOW.

You must now concentrate on your younger children. They need you. Donít get so swallowed up in your own pain that you forget theirs. This is a terrible pain for them too. Let them grieve in their own way too, but donít make it to be a constant absorption that you canít get past. Your kids at home will resent you for it. They will feel that all that really matters is Emma, and that you donít care about their hurts and pains. Give them joy. Go do something fun and donít mention Emma. Try to normalize your days. You pray for her, yes, as a family, you show unconditional love and kindness to Emma, yes, but your life no longer revolves around her. She has made her choices. You can use her as an example of what happens when one decides not to follow the Lord---the heartbreak and trouble that results, how Satan wins etc. But donít rant and rave about it.

DO NOT LET EMMA SET A BAD EXAMPLE AND ENCOURAGE YOUR OTHER CHILDREN TO REBEL. Emma can have a tremendous impact on their lives, for good or bad, and at this point, it is not for good. She should not be allowed alone with any of them, ever. No shopping trips, no overnights, etc. You donít have to make a big announcement about it. Just donít allow it the next time it comes up. No explanations needed. If she pushes for why, just say that until she (Emma) starts following the Lord, she will lose the privilege of being a big sister and having special times with them. ďThat is the choice you are making Emma, by not choosing to follow the Lord right now in your life. We all hope that changes someday, but for now, that is a consequence of your choosing.Ē, etc. You are not angry, or upset, just matter of fact, and then move on, take out the trash, make a phone call, leave the scene if it gets nasty etc. Show your younger children and her, that you are in control, that you mature and handling all of this, even as your insides quake! Keep your words few if you feel like you are going to blow up or donít know what to say. We rarely regret what we donít say. Ask her to leave if she canít be properly honoring and respectful of you as her mother. You DO have that right and you need to protect your other children from her negative influence.

Donít drop everything for Emma whenever she comes around or she calls on the phone, giving her hours of your time. Start cutting the apron strings more and more. Let your other children see they are important to you too. You are kind with Emma but firm. Donít cater to her, feeling that if you just do this or that, she will change. There is nothing you can do to change her. Only God can change her. You arenít mean, or hateful, just loving but firm.

Start emotionally distancing yourself from Emma. That sounds mean, but it isnít. It is called survival. You canít function if you are crying all the time and losing sleep. Ask God to move you past this awful place you are in, grieve yes, but do start moving on by giving all the emotional upset to the Lord and asking him to turn it all into positive love for your other children and husband. If you feel yourself loosing your grip, head to the bathroom, have a cry, wash your face, and go bake your husband his favorite dessert.

Donít use your other kids as a leaning post, dumping all your hurt and bitterness on them regarding Emma. It isnít fair to them. They need a normal childhood, not one that needs to be supporting their mom with all her heartbreaks. They canít really relate. They donít understand the depth of your pain. It is too big for children to bear. You donít want Satan to use this in their lives to cause them to become bitter and rebellious against you.

At the same time, your interactions with her fiancť should be pleasant and kind. Donít blame him. She is choosing---it isnít his fault. Put your own pain down. Show him what a Christian is, how they love, how they live, how to give and share. This will be very hard, but with Godís grace, you can do it. If you feel at a loss for words, keep them few. Keep the door open---they are going to need all the help they can get.

BUT, always keep foremost in your mind that the other kids at home come first. Emma had your full attention and you are done with raising her. Give your other kids what they need and then reach out if you are able to Emma and her fiancť.

ALSO, if Emma continues to be out of control and most of your interaction with her are dishonoring and disrespectful, you may have to ask her to not be a part of your life until she can apologize, repent and then begin to honor and respect you. This should be done prayerfully, and carefully, with written communication so it is clear to all what you are requesting, and can be referred back to for needed clarification. This is not done out of bitterness, but out of real love for Emma. What is real love? Real love does what is in the other personís best interest. (This is my husbandís definition and a good one.)

What is in Emmaís best interest? She needs to turn her life over to the Lord and she needs to follow Godís commands to honor and respect you. She needs to realize that there are consequences of her behavior and the sooner she faces the consequences the sooner God can get her attention. This is tough love in action. Tough love draws the line and wonít let the whole family sink because of one personís disobedience. This is a very heartbreaking thing for parents to do, but in some cases the right thing to do.

You probably are already aware of this, but as far as making changes with the other kids, when they get to that young adult stage---you want to surround them with Christian kids. What happens with teens and young adults is that they fall in love with the kids they are around. They adjust and adapt to their surroundings. We have tried to steer our kids in the direction of a Christian college for this reason, but of course, we had other reasons too. But once they turn 18, they can legally do as they please. But for the most part, they usually head there without too many other options present. Once they get into the world, they slip easily and it is VERY difficult to stay true to their principles. We try to keep our kids out of a secular environment and move them onto the Christian college scene without ever having had them exposed to the world in the secular workplace.

Remember that we mother and give our lives for our children because God calls us to do this whether or not we get the results we want. It is easy to let Satan get us discouraged. A + B in parenting does not make C. The children are the wild cards and can choose. You have to add that to the mix. Just like any Pastor or missionary who is called to work full time for the Lord, so are we as mothers. Pastors preach Sunday after Sunday, often without results. Yet they are faithful to the task regardless and someday they will get their reward, if not on earth, surely in Heaven. So we as mothers do our work, faithfully and to the best of our ability, and we leave the results to the Lord. Someday you will reap your reward.

Do write again if I can help you further in anyway, for what ever reason.

Blessings,
Helen





Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for your sound advice, and for taking the time to help me. I have read and reread your letter so many times over the past few days. It really helps to know you understand how this could make me feel as her mother. It CAN feel worse than death. I have tried to seek out a few older Christian mothers to talk to, but no one else seems to understand the depth of the love I feel for my child. I have every one of the Motherís Companions and I couldnít tell you how many times I have read them. I knew that you would understand.

I know that I have to let her go, and I knew it would be hard, but I had been preparing myself for years to do just that. I didnít want to be a clingy mother or a demanding one. I also prepared myself and did a lot of thinking over the years, about the kind of mother-in-law I wanted to be. After watching my own mother make several daughters-in-law miserable, I knew I didnít want to be that way, so I have been trying really hard to be supportive and not overbearing, and have been very careful to make Richard and his mother feel very welcome in our home. Unfortunately, what I didnít anticipate was the hard feelings coming from my own daughter. I WASNíT prepared for that, and just did not know how to handle it. Your letter has helped me so much.

Iím so glad you addressed the issue about not dropping everything for her when she calls or comes over. That is something I was struggling with, because I wanted to do the right thing, but I didnít know what the right thing was. There have been several times that she has called or come by, upset or mad over some injustice that has been done to her by Richard's mother or at her new job at McDonalds. Sometimes I would be in the middle of home schooling, and I would tell her that I would have to talk to her later, but I wasnít sure if I was doing the right thing. Of course, I wanted to be there for her, but I felt the little kids should come first. She has become such a master at throwing guilt trips, that it had me second-guessing myself.

I also loved the idea you gave me of having a cry when I needed to, and then baking my husband his favorite dessert. (He loved that idea, too, when I read the letter to him) I find that when Iím totally concentrating on school, or fixing supper for everyone, that I donít worry so much. It does make me feel better.

Right now, we are dealing with Emma asking for money. We would never mind loaning money to one of our grown children, as long as they were responsible and paid back the loan. She is not being responsible at all. When she first started working and bought her first car, we made a deal with her that we would loan her the money for a small used car, in order to save her from having to pay interest on a loan. We set up reasonable monthly payments that she would pay to us with the money she earned at her job. At the time that we did this, she was working hard and was such a different person. She began faithfully making the payments on her car, and got the loan down to $400. But now, instead of continuing to pay us back, she says things like, ďI canít make the car payment this month, because I have a doctorís bill I have to payĒ. Or once I asked her if she had her cell phone with her, because she was feeling dizzy and was planning to drive herself home. She said, ďI donít have any minutes on my phone. I canít afford to buy them, because I have to pay you back for the car.Ē Again, trying to throw a guilt trip on us. And might I add that they eat out all the time. And I know things will just get worse when they have their own place. Right now they both live with his mother, but they are moving into their own place after the wedding. So, my question is, ďWhat do we do now?Ē Weíve never had to deal with this type of thing before either, and my husband and I are trying to decide what to do. He has been thinking about telling her if she doesnít make the payments, we will sell the car, (which is in both her name and my husbandís name), and then we will take the $400 that is owed to us, and then whatever is left over belongs to her. Does this sound right? Or do you have another suggestion? My husband knows I am corresponding with you, and approves of me asking for your advice.

Also, there is another money situation that Iím not sure I handled correctly at all, but it caught me off guard. On Thursday, she came by our house on her way home from work. She said she stopped in because she didnít have enough gas to get home. Now, at this point, let me say that with the way sheís acting, I dreaded the thought of her staying at the house all day, but determined not to give her any money, I told her she would just have to wait at our house until Richard got off work and then he could bring some money for gas. She said, ďHe doesnít have any money, and he doesnít get paid until next week. I get paid on Friday, and if you let me borrow the money, Iíll pay you back on Saturday.Ē I didnít have any money to give her, and again, not wanting her to stay at the house all day, my oldest son loaned her $10, and I warned her that it HAD to be paid back on Saturday. Well, of course she didnít pay it back. We will keep after her until she does however. Anyway, how should I have handled that?

Saturday afternoon, my husbandís family had a bridal shower for her. She was sick with a cold, and complained to everyone at the shower about how it was working the drive thru at work that made her sick. (And when I say complaining, I mean REALLY making a big deal out of it) Never mind the fact that on Thursday, when she came by, it was 38 degrees and pouring rain, and she walked barefoot though the yard and the puddles. She just will not take any responsibility for her actions. EVERYTHING is always some elseís fault. Then she proceeded to pitch a fit, because my mother was having a Valentineís party for the grandchildren and didnít invite her. I told her, ďYou know itís just for the little kids. Youíre getting ready to get married!Ē Itís just so bizarre to me, why anyone would act that way.

Now, just one more question about the wedding. Sheís not prepared at all for the wedding and Iím really concerned whatís going to actually happen. Itís in two weeks time. I know whatís really bothering me is the fact that Iím going to feel embarrassed. I know that sounds prideful, but itís how Iím feeling right now. My husband and I had a very small, but beautiful wedding. Itís not extravagance that we believe in at all, but I AM concerned that she still doesnít have anyone to do the music, no decorations, etc. and the wedding is only a week away. Sheís invited 100 families. I guess Iím worried how this is going to reflect on me as the mother of the bride. I know. That probably sounds bad. I have a feeling that you will tell me to swallow my pride and let her live with the consequences. Under normal circumstances, we would have given them some money to help with the wedding, but with both of their irresponsibility when it comes to working, and my husband being layed off since mid-November, we decided not to. Anyway, I know that if we offer to help financially with the decorations and all, that she will take us up on that offer, and maybe the wedding will be halfway decent, thereby resulting in less embarrassment for me. But the lesson learned for her, may make my embarrassment worth it. I hope. What do you think?

Thank you so very much,
Constance



Dear Constance,

ONE LEARNS MUCH ABOUT MOTHERING AS WE BEGIN TO RAISE YOUNG ADULTS. IT DOES THROW YOU FOR A LOOP WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU THE FIRST TIME. IT IS EASY TO THINK THIS IS JUST STUFF THAT HAPPENED TO OTHER BAD MOTHERS, NOT GOOD MOTHERS.

BASICALLY YOU GET PAST THE SELF-PITY BY GIVING TO OTHERS. IT RAISES THE SPIRITS OF ALL INVOLVED. IT GROWS YOU UP. LOVE IS AN ACTION. SATAN WANTS US TO DROWN IN OUR OWN SORROWS AND DRAG EVERYONE ELSE DOWN ALONG THE WAY THAT HE CAN.

I THINK SHE SHOULD BE WARNED THAT SELLING THE CAR WILL HAPPEN IF SHE CANíT PAY UP. GIVE HER SAY TWO MONTHS TO PAY EVERY DEBT SHE OWES. DONíT GIVE IN TO HER AND CHANGE THE DEADLINE. I BELIEVE THAT SHE IS TRYING TO GET MONEY OUT OF YOU, WHEN SHE HAS IT HERSELF. SHE NEEDS TO LEARN TO GROW UP AND FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF HER BAD BEHAVIOUR. IF YOU BAIL HER OUT, SHE WILL NEVER GROW UP. IT IS THE KIND THING TO DO.

I THINK I WOULD HAVE TOLD HER THAT IF HER FIANCE CANíT PICK HER UP RIGHT AWAY AND GET HER SOME MONEY, THEN SHE WOULD JUST HAVE TO WAIT IN THE CAR UNTIL HE CAME AFTER WORK AND GOT HER. (I BET SHE WOULD HAVE FIGURED OUT HOW TO GET OUT OF THERE.) MAKE HER REALIZE THAT YOU ARENíT GOING TO SOLVE ALL OF HER PROBLEMS ANYMORE AND THAT SHE IS AN ADULT NOW.

SHE IS A MASTER AT MANIPULATING YOU. ONE OF THE PAINFUL THINGS WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH WITH OUR GROWN CHILDREN IS THAT THEY ARE SINNERS, AND THEIR HEARTS ARE BENT TOWARD EVIL JUST LIKE US. BUT WHEN THEY BEGIN TO PROVE THAT THEY LIE AND DONíT KEEP PROMISES, THAT THEY DISHONOR AND SLANDER YOU, THE TRUST THEN IS SHATTERED AND YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU NO LONGER CAN BELIEVE A WORD SHE SAYS. SHE HAS BETRAYED YOU AND BROKEN A PRECIOUS RELATIONSHIP THAT WILL TAKE YEARS TO HEAL AND YEARS TO REGAIN YOUR TRUST. LIKE YOU SAID, THEY EAT OUT ALL THE TIME. DONíT PREACH, JUST DONíT BELIEVE HER AND DONíT LEND HER ANOTHER DIME AND DONíT ALLOW THE OTHERS IN THE FAMILY TO DO SO. YOU ARE NOW PAST NAŌVE. IT IS CALLED A MATURE, WISE WOMAN.

THEY ACT THAT WAY BECAUSE NOTHING IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM. IF YOU SAY BLACK THEY SAY WHITE. IF YOU SAY WHITE, THEY SAY BLACK. YOU CANíT WIN. DONíT EVEN TRY. THAT IS CHILDISH BEHAVIOUR AND SHOWS THAT GOD DOES NOT SIT ON THE THRONE OF HER LIFE. LIFE IS GOING TO TEACH HER SOME HARSH LESSONS, IíM AFRAID. WATCHING SUCH CRASH AND BURN BEHAVIOUR IS ONE OF BIGGEST HEART BREAKS A MOTHER CAN EXPERIENCE.

I AGREE WITH YOUR SENTIMENTS HERE. SHE IS ON HER OWN. SHE WANTS TO DO THINGS HER WAY. THEN LET HER. SHE SHOULD HAVE PLENTY OF MONEY TO PAY FOR HER OWN WEDDING. YOU ARE IN NO POSITION TO PAY FOR HER IRRESPONSBILITY AND RISK YOUR OWN CHILDREN AT HOME. IT JUST ISNíT FAIR. EVEN IF YOU DID HAVE THE MONEY, I DONíT THINK I WOULD SUPPORT HER CHOICES.

BEING A PARENT IS OFTEN ABOUT EATING HUMBLE PIE. IT WILL BE HARD FOR YOU AT THE WEDDING. BUT SMILE, BE SWEET, ASK GOD FOR SUPER GRACE, KEEP YOUR WORDS FEW. IT WILL BE HARD FOR THE DAY, AND IT MAY RAISE A FEW EYEBROWS AT THE TIME, BUT MOST PEOPLE AFTER THE DAY IS OVER WILL NOT THINK TWICE ABOUT IT AND LIFE MOVES FORWARD. DURING THE HARD PARTS OF THE WEDDING, TRY TO DISTANCE YOURSELF EMOTIONALLY JUST TO GET THROUGH IT. MOST PEOPLE CLOSE TO YOU WILL KNOW YOU HAD NO PART OF THIS WEDDING, EVEN IF YOU DONíT SAY ANYTHING AT ALL. GOD RESISTS THE PROUD AND GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. YOU ARE DOING THIS BECAUSE IT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF EMMA, NOT TO BE MEAN. IT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE TO GIVE HER A SMALL GIFT ($50), SOMETHING SHE MAY NEED FOR THE HOUSE. DONíT GIVE HER MONEY.

IíLL BE PRAYING FOR YOU ON THE WEDDING DAY. VIEW THIS AS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GOD DO A GREAT WORK IN YOU.

LOVE,
HELEN





Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for your response and your prayers. Iím so relieved the wedding is over. We had planned to give them $100 in cash as their wedding gift, but after receiving your advice, we cut it in half. If I had had time, I would have bought them a gift instead, as you suggested. I should have thought of that. Itís so hard to know how to approach these different matters.

The wedding went better than I expected. I didnít want to cry during the ceremony. I knew other people might think I was crying because thatís what mothers do at their daughterís weddings, but I would be crying for other reasons. So I used your advice to ďemotionally distanceĒ myself and that helped me to get through the ceremony.

Richardís uncle approached my brother, not knowing who he was, and told him what a shame it is that ďEmmaís familyĒ has not supported and helped her with this wedding. If he only knew how things really are.

I guess weíll see how it goes from here. She called me three times this past week, while they were on their honeymoon. The last time she called, she told me that they were almost out of cash and only had a quarter of a tank of gas left. (We live in NC, and they were in TN.) I told her, ďThatís too bad. I hope you can figure something out.Ē They were supposed to come back today, and I didnít know if they would make it or not. She called me this afternoon, and told me they put their Wal-mart gift cards they received on an American Express card and were using that for gas.

She also told me theyíre planning to have a baby right away. I have dreamed of grandbabies for years, but I shudder to think of her having a baby now, while sheís being so irresponsible.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Well, Iíd better be off to bed. We took last week off school and just enjoyed being together and winding down after the wedding. We had several mild days here, and we enjoyed spending time outside and grilling out over the weekend, but itís back to school tomorrow.

I hope your family is all doing well.

Love,
Constance



Dear Constance,

I know the relief you must feel about the wedding. These kinds of things can really weigh you down thinking about them ahead of time. How sad it has to be this way, but remember Emma has chosen this way, not you. Every Mom dreams of her daughterís wedding day and this is a death of a dream for you. You must accept this and with acceptance comes release and even joy.

I imagine your heart pains when you heard what Richardís uncle said. But God knows and ultimately that is all that really matters in the long run. Your heart is clean before Him and He knows you love Emma and would have gladly supported this wedding if she were making godly choices. It does make us realize that sometimes we too are judgmental and say things that are mean and cruel, when we really donít have all the facts. It may look one way to us, and yet we could be completely wrong and often are. It should give us pause to keep our words few and mind our own business. Or if it is our business, get to the source and find out the truth. Most often, it is not our business.

I wouldnít worry too much about money and Emma. She may be unwise, be I doubt they went on their honeymoon without enough gas money to get home. One of the things my husband said when I told him about Emma coming to your place and saying she had no money and needed gas money to get home. He said he would have gone out and looked at the gas gauge. ďTrust but verifyĒ is what Ronald Reagan used to say. If not empty, well...what is going on here Emma? If empty......well, Emma, you are going to have to be more responsible, etc. and sorry, we are strapped for money too and canít help you, choices have consequences, etc.

Unless God gets a hold of her life, I donít see much hope for this marriage for the long term. Babies really complicate things. But, if she does have a baby, you have a chance to play a very important role in this childís life. This child will need all the stability it can get. But take one day at a time and donít let your thoughts run wild, like my husband says to me sometimes.

Good for you for taking time off and enjoying your home and family. That was exactly the right thing to do. And it helps heal the pain in your heart and fills it with joy and love for others. There are many, many people that will soak up your love and give it back it return.

Write anytime.

Love,
Helen





Dear Helen,

Iím feeling pretty discouraged this evening, and just needed to talk to you. Emma came by today, and while she was here she asked to borrow a video of ours. Iíve been extremely careful about what we lend to her, because if we donít keep after her about it, we never see it again. She still has a glue gun, a shirt, and a suitcase that she needs to return. Iíve already told her several times that I will not loan her videos, because she doesnít take care of them and wonít return them. Weíve learned from experience. So the past few times she has asked to borrow a video, Iíve told her she can come over and weíll have a movie night, but she canít take it with her. Usually she gets mad, and then just drops the subject, but today it wasnít pretty.

When I told her no, she became extremely hateful. I finally told her that if she was going to speak to me that way, she would have to leave. So she left. She angrily stomped out, slammed the door, and tore out of the driveway. I just feel so sad. I canít believe my sweet daughter whom I was once so close to, has turned into this person that I donít know anymore. Itís such a silly thing to get angry over, and itís her own fault for not taking care of things. Again, it just makes me so sad. I see my sisterís daughter who is only 14, and so mature. I see my sister-in-lawís daughter who is 16 and again, so mature. (A bit of coveting here?) I enjoy both of my nieces so much. It just makes my heart ache, because I want to be able to talk with my daughter the way they can talk with theirs. Emma has always seemed a few years behind her age in maturity, but it seems like she just reached a certain level, and stopped maturing at all. My husband says he feels she has went backwards. Sheís acting so childish.

Okay. Iím done complaining now. The kids are all outside with my husband. Iíve had my cry. And now Iím going to go fix supper and fold some laundry. Thank you so much for listening.

Love,
Constance



Hi Constance,

Thanks for sharing. Iím here anytime.

You did the right thing, even though your heart is breaking, Iím sure. You have to come to expect this so that you arenít disappointed. Until God changes her heart, this is the way it will be. Donít preach. Donít nag. Just continue to tell her to leave if she canít behave herself. Eventually she will come to understand that you wonít let her Do this to herself and others in your home. That will probably mean she will come over less and less because she canít get what she came for. Prepare yourself for this reality.

I know what you mean about watching other peopleís children and feeling like you wish your child would act that way. Rejoice with those who rejoice is a Christian grace and a sign of maturity. We arenít perfect. We all covet what others have from time to time. At least you are coveting something of value rather than their car or home. But, it is a form of self-pity and pity comes from the pit like Elisabeth Elliot says. This is sin and recognize it for what it is and confess it and move on.

Pour your heart and life into your children and husband at home. Pray for Emma, stay firm and resolute, donít get bitter, love unconditionally and let God do His work in her life.

Love,
Helen





To be continued........



            

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