You Talk Too Much!

you_talk_too_muchOur children, with the exception of one, are very outgoing. They talk easily amongst their friends, family, and even with new acquaintances. Even the one who is seriously shy often opens up after a few moments. They like to talk about what they are learning and ask others what they are being taught. Our children will generally carry on a conversation with just about anyone, anywhere, on almost any topic. While we encourage our children to share, it’s also important they learn to listen.

One of the subtle arts of parenting is teaching our children proper communication. Yes, to share. But also to listen. Learning when to speak and when to remain silent can be a challenge. One some of us adults – myself included – are still learning to master. Perhaps we could all use a refresh in this area?

Learning to Listen First – Speaking is the easy part. Speaking well harder. Not talking and listening would be the biggest challenge. Listening not for an opening during which we can finally speak, but genuinely caring what the other person is saying and giving them the entirely of our mind. Oh, to perfect this step alone would be a dream.

Learning to Ask Questions  Often the best way to open doors of communication is not by telling, but by asking. By seeking information from others we encourage them to talk with us and share their lives.

Learning to Identify Those Who Will Receive – Let’s face it, not everyone wants the entirety of our plans for summer vacation. Nor should they. Some are not ready to hear our fantastic homeschool adventures. And not every possible debate needs our input. We need to weigh our words; identifying what should be shared when, and with whom. It’s not a matter of other people not caring, as much as our caring to give people what God has directed in His timing.

Learning When to Speak – Equally challenging is knowing when to finally open our mouths. May the Lord give us wisdom and grace!

Learning How to Speak – Sometimes sharing can be done with pride, a smug attitude, or a sense of “knowing all about it”. It can also be harsh or bitter. We want our words to be kind and humble always.

Learning When Someone Wants Help – Confession. I like to help. It’s taken me some time to realize not everyone who is expressing frustration or anxiety really wants constructive input. Sometimes they just need a listening ear. May we be that which is needed most.

Thank God for close friends who make communication easy. We are incredibly blessed by those few who allow us to vent when needed, either when upset or ridiculously excited. We never have to weigh my words, calculate if we’ve spoken too much, or worry about interrupting. And our friends know they can count on us, too!

When addressing the rest of the world, may we err on the side of caution more than not; choosing our few words with care and giving those we meet Jesus. It’s more important they see Him and hear of His good deeds than anything we could possibly offer. When in doubt, we follow this sage advice, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;…”

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
~ Proverbs 10:19

Your Turn!: This does beg the question… How much talking is too much?

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My Child Isn’t Talking to Me

My_Child_Isn't_Talking_to_MeBeing a teenager can’t be easy. I vaguely remember being there and it wasn’t always a walk in the park. However being the parent of a teen isn’t a breeze either, and this is completely new territory for me. There are days when we’re all laughing and having a blast. Then there are other days when nothing I say can bring a smile to their face and all I get are grumbles. Today is one of the hard ones. For whatever reason, my child isn’t talking to me.

I know what you’re probably thinking. In theory, this seems a simple problem to solve. We sit down, talk with our kid, they answer our questions, and we move forward together after a quick pep talk and a hug. In reality, this can be quite a challenge. Often, our child doesn’t wish to talk. Talking is out of the question. This makes figuring out the issue significantly more difficult. In fact, sometimes trying to force our children to talk can create even bigger issues. Our children become more grumpy, mean, and feel pressured. They just want space and we’re invading. What then? How do we deal with their lack of desire to communicate or even be pleasant?

Prayer – You’ve heard it before. You’ll hear it again. From now till kingdom come. Prayer first. I can do nothing. I cannot change this little person’s heart. But God can. I need prayer. Prayer for me; prayer for my child; prayer for the situation. I pray and keep on praying until the Lord resolves the issue. And then pray He help us continue on in peace.

Set Aside Emotion – This hurts, I’m not going to lie. I haven’t done anything wrong. We’ve even made a point of reaching out to our child. Their harsh words and actions slice us to the core, bringing pain. As much as this cuts, we need to push our feelings to the side and handle the situation maturely. This isn’t about how our child makes us feel; this is about our children being separated from us and probably God. This is about much-needed restoration.

Evaluate – So let’s be honest with ourselves. I might not think I’ve done something wrong, but perhaps I’ve done something which unknowingly bothered my child. This doesn’t justify their actions, but might contribute to the current situation. On the other hand, maybe this has nothing to do with me and my child has a physical need. This might be a spiritual battle. Here’s a tough one… It might be that my child’s personal choices during free time are affecting them. What are they watching, listening to, and reading? To the best of my ability, I need to evaluate what’s been going on and try to get to the bottom of it.

Reach Out – Even if my child responds unfavorably, I need to make an attempt at showing love and letting them know I’m here for them. It might be a hug, a kind word, a smile, or a note to say I care. I will continue to act gently towards them so the doors of communication are left open. I’m here, ready when they are.

Keep Trying – It would be grand if my child immediately apologized and everything was restored after a smile from me and a few well-placed words. How I wish this happened more often. Instead, we try. We try again. And we keep trying. We ask the Lord to show us when to speak and when to remain silent; allowing Him to reach their hearts. No matter what, we don’t give up.

Allow for Space – As just mentioned, sometimes the Lord needs us to remain silent. We let our child know we’re here for them. We smile often and ask them to join in. Then, we step back and let the Lord work. God wants this relationship restored even more than I do. I need to trust He is doing the work and be open to His leading.

Be Chill – When our child finally does wish to talk, or of their own accord involves themselves in an activity, we need to not make a big deal of it. For my kids, this tends to draw attention to the child who simply wishes to fly under the radar. Instead we act calmly and, afterwards, gently – privately – thank them for joining in or let them know how much we had fun with them. Inwardly, I’m soaring and feel like dancing. But on the outside I’m chill.

By nature I’m a people-pleaser. So when my child isn’t happy I take it personally. I evaluate and re-evaluate what I did wrong. Then I get angry when I come to the conclusion I haven’t done anything wrong and my child is just unhappy with me. These are natural reactions, but neither are helpful or healing. Through the leading of Christ, I am reminded to pray, set aside my personal feelings, and focus on the needs of my child. In Him will this relationship be restored and my kiddo once again made whole.

Being a teen isn’t easy. They have a lot going on both mentally and physically. Being the parent of a teen can feel like a struggle. It helps to remember this is just one day of many. By the grace of God we will see this through and come out to the other side.

“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
~ Isaiah 54:13

Your Turn!: Sometimes I feel alone in this struggle. How do you handle difficult parenting days?

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Will Someone Help Me, Please?

Will Someone Help Me, Please?I had gotten myself into this mess. Needing help but not asking for it. No one else was to blame for me standing in a kitchen by my lonesome, washing dishes, staring at a dirty floor, and thinking on the multitude of tasks I still had to finish before getting to relax for the night. I wanted to scream out, “Will Someone Help Me, Please?” Instead, I stood in my kitchen stewing and that can only lead to trouble.

I do this to myself far too often. For a myriad of reasons, I allow myself to become overwhelmed by responsibility, then look for somewhere to cast the blame when I should be reorienting my thinking and asking the Lord for help.

Praying About My Perspective – I am reminded of Pastor Lusko’s words of wisdom. We should not pray for what we will not pay for. In other words, I shouldn’t pray for God to use me, then complain about feeling used. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by the cares and responsibilities of this world, this is the perfect time to pray. God knows what I can handle and how to help me move forward. I only need to reach out and ask for wisdom.

p.s. I also need to be on the lookout for those pesky messages the enemy will send my way as means of attack. He wants me to feel used, abused, and overlooked. He wants me to think of myself as undervalued; for my pride to take over and anger to take hold. Why should I give in to his foolishness and let him win?

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew – Truth be told, I often find myself in this situation because I have overstepped my bounds and gone outside of God’s will. I said, “Yes” far too often or added more to my to-do list than anyone asked of me. I need to learn to say, “No” and/or limit my tasks for a given day. I am not Superwoman.

Swallowing My Pride – Because of that Superwoman tag, I often fail to reach out due to my own silly pride. Somewhere along the line, I got it into my silly head seeking assistance was weak. I can do it on my own. This is my job, after all. If I ask for help, I’m not earning my keep. Unfortunately, I buy into this lie far too often. This is pride talking, and it needs to be quiet.

Asking For Help – Why am I in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room… by myself? I didn’t ask for help! Instead of making this a fun, family time – one where we can laugh over chores together, while making memories – I pridefully told everyone I could do this by myself. Now, my family is off enjoying a game and I’m all alone working. Together we could have had fun and gotten the job done faster. Together we could be playing after the satisfaction of cleaning up. But, it starts with me and a simple question.

If I’m feeling as if I’m overworked and needing aid, it’s more than likely because I allowed myself to fall into this trap. There is danger in thinking I can do everything by myself; that I don’t need help. It can also be a problem if I am unable to ask for help, either due to pride or embarrassment. I need to be open to receiving help, communicate my need for assistance, understand this doesn’t make me week, and graciously accept an offer of help.

Through God’s leading and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I am learning to swallow my pride and ask for support. In prayer, I will bow my head, asking to be reminded of the true heart of ministry and help to keep my eyes focused on His vision for my family. Will someone help me? Yes; if only I ask!

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
~ John 14:13-14

Your Turn!: Do you have trouble asking for help?

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