Tag Archives: how to tolerate differences

Perspective on Parents and Parenting

I think I’ve said before that vacations are always an education. This one was no different, except that I am understanding more clearly than ever how little power I have to influence change. That’s good. Someday I may even be able to visit my kids without making them uncomfortable.

They all have their struggles. Thank God I am down the road a piece. In one household I tiptoe around for fear I’ll get dirty. In the other two I tiptoe around for fear I’ll get something dirty.

It makes me thankful that my husband and I have grown together, and at least are in synch about how to keep house. It’s not a pig-sty, but I don’t feel bad if the baseboards aren’t dusted or the windows haven’t been cleaned…Uh oh, now I’ve caught myself–I just felt bad a couple of weeks ago that my windows didn’t get cleaned before I had company. But it had been a while and I didn’t feel too bad.

I couldn’t comfortably live with either of my daughters. But how can they be so different when I raised both of them? Different genetics? One is biological, one is adopted. The crazy part is I keep seeing more of myself in both of them. And it’s usually the things I want to “correct” in them!

I am getting better about telling them what they should do. I guess I thought mothers were supposed to do that. That was my modeling. But they don’t like it any more than I did at 30! Imagine that!

At least I’m closer to them than I was to my mother. I never doubted her love, I just never felt her approval. She still corrected the way I dusted her furniture when I was in my 40’s. No wonder I’ve never liked dusting!

And yes, there are still some things I can’t keep my mouth shut about. Mostly about parenting and relationships. I’m supposed to be an expert so I feel a little less like it’s coming across just as my opinionated interference. And I am trying to be more loving in the way I express it. But two things, at least, will always pop my cork, one of them being a parent, and the other not being a victim.

Making wise decisions for your children instead of expecting them to raise themselves and know what’s good for them, really sets me off. If they were born knowing, why would they need us? Yet so many people don’t want to fight with their kids, or make boundaries and hold them with consequences! So many want to make their kids happy instead of making them wise, respectful, and responsible. And it is SO wrong! They don’t want to hurt them so they do nothing. But it does hurt.

The kids are the ones who suffer from poor parenting. And many times they don’t even know it. They don’t learn how to eat, they don’t learn how to treat others, they don’t learn how to work or take care of things or themselves because no one taught them. They suffer. Society suffers.

And of course there’s the other side where all the parents ever do is yell and the kids don’t learn anything except fear and victimization. There’s no expressed love, no education, no time spent. Parents are wrapped up in trying to be happy. Very often the parents were victimized and are in such a bad relationship that they are consumed by it because they never learned how to be close and communicate from their parents.

After 25 years as a family therapist, and 35 years as a parent, and 30 as a step parent, I have to be amazed and simply thank God that He can somehow love us, and accept us, and parent us, and make us whole, even as wretched and ignorant and fearful and miserable and unparented and un-insightful and unaware and un-self-aware and different (and opinionated) as we are. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

 

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Filed under Living well, Loved, Parenting, suffering, Uncategorized, What is God like?

Graciousness is for Growth

Wonder why you’re conflicted? Actually, I think it’s a sign of growth.

It starts when we are little–about 18 months old–and we realize we can go away from Mommy. I am separate. I am another person!

And I run away–into the other room even. And sometimes I can stay away a whole 30 minutes before I have to run back and make sure Mommy is still there where I left her. If I come back and can’t find her, I start to get panicky.

Individuation, as it’s called, is a life-long process. We have to separate from our parents, our family, and our system to grow up. Becoming autonomous is very important to maturity–the opposite of codependency: What do I think? What do I believe? as opposed to, What do they think?

And herein lies conflict. We have a developmental task to become us–autonomous, separate, individual, and so it should be, no two of us are the same. But then we grow up to discover that we are completely dependent on God for life!

A fact that’s hard for some of us to believe and accept. And yet if you pull back the curtain and don’t doctor history, it isn’t hard to see. We are part of entropy. We tend toward disorganization and decay, even though we fight it. We are all dying–some of us faster than others. So unless God calls us friend, and rescues us from it, it’s over when your heart stops.

Even if we don’t fight each other (which we most always do), we’re fighting dependency. Am I strong enough to disagree? Will there be a fight? Will they retaliate? Will they leave if I say what I think? Will they still like me? love me? Maybe it’s safer to keep quiet.

Or the other side: Can I love you when you are so different from me? When you disagree with me? When you don’t honor my point-of-view? won’t even hear it? possibly can’t?

What do you do with that? How can you reconcile such disparate and conflicting needs? You can’t just take on other people’s beliefs and grow.

We are never going to think the same about everything. We aren’t built that way.  We don’t do well in isolation either; we need each other.

But we can learn to accept that we are all broken–all mistake makers–all dependent on God first, for love and security. And we can carry on learning to listen, respect, and disagree graciously.

But doesn’t God demand compliance? Don’t we have to agree with Him on everything if we are His friend?

No! He only insists on two things: that you love love (as opposed to hate and destruction) and that you agree He is God and you are not. Inside of that you will never run out of possibilities for differences.

If no two people are alike, or think alike, what are the chances that God is threatened by differences? I don’t think there is any chance.

I believe God wants us to grow up–and that means differences. He obviously loves variety.

If you subscribe, as I do, to the belief that God is NOT both good and evil, but that He is all good, then force is not part of His character. He can love you wildly, and still honor your choice to walk away forever–even knowing you will lose everything…

So sometimes He allows evil to show us it’s true nature to let us know choices are important.

He does, however insist on graciousness, even when setting firm boundaries. It’s how He can tolerate so much difference. As long as you aren’t supporting death and destruction, you’re good, and your differences are all good and welcome. He will listen.

He will even teach us how to be gracious so we can allow differences without wanting to kill each other.

But that might be why He set the lifespan at 120! For some, it might take that long.

 

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Filed under Becoming real, Love ed, Loved, Mental Health, Respect and disrespect, Uncategorized, What is God like?