Thank you so much for your prayers for my week away and the speaking event this past weekend at Cowgirls of Faith in Texas. It was a great time of fellowship and ministry and I felt your prayers throughout my speaking times. God is good. Here is a picture of the wonderful music that blessed the event as well as me with Michelle Carson, the coordinator of the entire weekend.
I am so blessed to have the wonderful privilege of sharing some of the things he is teaching me to a wider audience. This week is a heavy writing week. I have several projects due next Monday and I need to have good flow to finish my obligations. Please pray that I receive that special Holy Spirit anointing.
Today’s Question: What can I do about grown children 33 and 36, who get mad at me and are verbally abusive toward me? I’ve always been there for them. I have helped them move numerous times. I’ve listened when they were down. I babysit their children all of the time. When they had no food in the house, I brought them necessities. I took care of them after surgery.
When one of them divorced, I made a point of inviting her out to dinner so she could get out. Not that it matters, but we are upper middle class. We do not curse; we did not physically or verbally abuse our kids. They just lash out verbally if and when they get mad, mainly at me.
I have a neurological disease that affects my eyesight and speaking voice and ability to get my breath as well as a minor heart condition. These two children I’m talking about are my youngest daughters. We also have an older son and daughter. We have no problems with our son and our older daughter went through a “blaming” period in her life, but has matured and knows that her life is the result of decisions she has made.
What can I do about these two girls that cut my heart out with their words?
Answer: It is so painful to see our adult children sin, especially when it is against us, their parents, who would give our very lives for these children. Sadly there is nothing you can do to change your girls. But, there ARE some things that you can do about how they are treating you that may begin to influence and invite your girls to change themselves. You do not HAVE to let yourself be abused.
When we are a repeated victim of mistreatment by someone we’re in relationship with, we must stop and ask ourselves what is our part? Please don’t misunderstand me. Taking a hard look at your part does not mean you are at fault for the mistreatment. But you must ask yourself why you have allowed yourself to continuously be mistreated and verbally abused by your own children without protest or consequence?
My guess is that you fear that if you put your foot down and say “I’ve had enough of this!” you fear losing your relationship with your daughters. It’s true that they may respond poorly and not call you for a while because you’ve stopped putting up with their abuse. But my guess is that over time they will come to their senses and realize that you love them and they were wrong for the way they have treated you.
But if that doesn’t happen, let me ask you what kind of relationship do you really have with them? It’s time to gather up your courage and put your foot down with your daughters. The next time one of them goes off on you and is abusive, I want you to say this:
“I’ve decided I can no longer allow myself to be treated this way. I’d be happy to discuss what you’re angry about with me, but I will not allow myself to be yelled at, cursed at, or abused (or whatever specifically they are doing in that moment).”
Then stop and wait to see how they respond. If they mock you or continue the verbal tirade, simply say, “ I guess you didn’t understand. I’m not going to allow myself to be treated this way. I’m going to hang up now.” And then do it!
That shift in your behavior will shock them. They probably will call back, ream you out if you answer, if you don’t, they will do it on the answering machine. Don’t call them back, don’t engage, don’t argue with them or get into a verbal war over this simple request for them to communicate with you in a respectful way, even when they’re angry.
I want you to sound like a broken record, saying the same few phrases over and over and over again, “I will not allow myself to be treated this way any longer. If you’re upset with me and want to talk with me, you’ll have to do it without (screaming, cursing) at me.” Be specific here as to what the specific abuse is.
If they refuse to comply, hang up. Your part is to keep repeating these same phrases again and again and again until they get it. They don’t receive the privilege of your attention or your company when they are abusive toward you. If they stop their behaviors, you are all ears and willing to engage.
Sound like a plan? Try it and let us know how it goes. Don’t give up or get discouraged if they don’t respond positively right away. Stick with it. Change doesn’t happen overnight and your daughters are in some bad habits that they probably aren’t even conscious of. But as you set your boundaries and firm your resolve not to be abused any longer, I believe that your daughters will begin to be more self-controlled and learn to express their anger or hurt in a much more constructive way. That is a win-win for everyone in the family.