Happy Monday everyone!
I have been busy all weekend working on a new presentation I am giving this week at the American Association of Christian Counselors conference in Branson, Missouri on The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. I hear almost weekly from people who have found inadequate counsel when struggling with these difficult and destructive relationship problems. Please pray for me as I have the opportunity to train Christian pastors, leaders and counselors in this very important issue. I will be speaking Friday afternoon, at 1:30.
The more I read, the more I study, the more I pray, the more I am convinced that God wants to deal with this sin in the body of Christ. I am humbled that he has given me a voice. Please hold up my arms as Aaron and Hur did for Moses (Exodus 17:11). Sometimes the battle gets too much for me and I’m tempted to give up. But if there is one cause, one passion that I want to pour my heart into it is how to have healthy relationships and identifying abusive and destructive ones.
This week’s question: I am the mother of 4 children. My 2nd child is almost 19, and we have always had a conflicted relationship. Indeed, she has negative personality traits which inhibit many of her relationships. Looking back, I believe (know) that I suffered with depression when she was less than two, and I believe it significantly impacted her personality development. When she was 9 months old, her dad and I separated. I was pregnant again and my father died.
How do I help her? I believe there was insecure attachment that I failed to recognize and now I see the results.
Answer: It can be very painful to recognize things in ourselves that we wished we had done differently and see the consequences falling on our children. I think every parent has some regrets but it sounds as if you are feeling totally responsible for the person your daughter has become and are now wondering what you can to do help her heal, change and grow.
Probably the biggest question that I have for you is does your daughter recognize her problems and want to heal, change and grow? This may sound like an insane question but no matter how much you regret what happened when she was a kid or how much work you’re willing to do to help her, she has to now assume the responsibility for the actual changes.
Sometimes I find those who have been wounded in childhood stuck in the blame cycle. If only my mom had stayed with my dad. Or, if only she wasn’t depressed………. You know where that goes. Nowhere! You can’t change the past however much you regret it. But you can learn and grow from it as you are attempting to do. But your daughter will need to play an important role in her own healing process if she actually wants to change.
When Jesus asked the man who was paralyzed for 38 years, “Do you want to get well?” it seems like a crazy question (John 5). Who wouldn’t want to walk again? Who wouldn’t want to be whole and healed instead of lame and dependent on others to care for him. Yet I think Jesus knew that healing this man’s legs would only be the beginning of a total life-style change. Was he willing? From now on, he would have to be responsible for himself. He’d be required to work to earn a living instead of beg. He would need to interact with others face to face instead of from on the ground. What other changes would healing bring to his life and his relationships?
So here is what you can do to help your daughter. Have a heart to heart talk with her. Pick a good time and place and share from your heart what you have learned about yourself and observed in her. Tell her how sorry you are for things that you did or didn’t do and what you wish you would have done differently, https://neurofitnessfoundation.org/ambien-zolpidem/.
But, and this is a big BUT…however much you are sorry and are willing to help her, you must help empower her to take responsibility for where she is now. It is HER life and much of how she lives her life will be up to her. So, in this heart to heart talk you can offer to pay for her therapy. You can offer to go to sessions with her if she needs to deal with some hurts with you in a safe way. You can give her some books to read that will help her understand her issues. But ultimately, you cannot make her relationship style change, you cannot change the way she sees things or help her feel any differently inside. Those changes will be up to her and the hard work she is willing to do.
I would encourage you to do your own work so that you do not continue to engage in the conflictual relationship style that you described. Sometimes doing your part encourages and invites the other person to also do the work needed to make relationship improvements.
A book that I’d recommend on the whole attachment issue is called Attachments: Why you love, feel and act the way you do, by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Gary Sibcy
Another good book is Changes that Heal: How to understand the past to ensure a healthier future by Dr. Henry Cloud.
But ultimately all of us have hurts and wounds from others that affect our lives – both in good ways and bad ways. Elizabeth Edwards (wife of Senator John Edwards) quotes the Leonard Cohen song “Anthem” in her new book, Resilience.
Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.
No one escapes childhood without a few scars. Your daughter can find and develop her strengths and work on her weaknesses. But she will never get to a place where she doesn’t have any. Yet, Paul reminds us that when we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). His light shines brightest through our cracks.