Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

mother and childIn your head you keep a constant ledger and running total of all the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  You carefully check the ledger daily to ensure that your kids are all getting equal time, attention, and punishment as the thought you might be unfair to one child is extremely painful.  It may sound exhausting, but the alternative of appearing to favor one child over the other is far worse than having to maintain the ledger.

You are a Bookkeeper Parent.  As a bookkeeper parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “How”.  How are you going to do that?  How do you feel?  How are you doing?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting especially when accused of being unfair, undiplomatic and disloyal.  If your child is like you, they appreciate your fairness and see such an act as love.

The Good.  Because you pay attention to all of the little signs, the hurt feelings, and body language of your child, you really don’t miss an opportunity to show compassion, love and tenderness.  You are a gentle parent who tries hard to see things from your child’s perspective and given a choice you will side with your child over nearly anyone else including your spouse.  You really do care about your child’s struggles and you go out of your way to be understanding.

The Bad.  Rules are sometimes too flexible as you are more interested in understanding how your child could do such a thing rather than punishing them for violating a rule.  This can cause confusion for your child who quickly learns that by shedding a couple of tears they can win you over and reduce their punishment.  One comment from your child of “you are being unfair” is likely to send you in a tail spin as you examine your ledgers.  This becomes a great distraction from the real issue at hand and your child escapes without punishment.

The Ugly.  Your child will learn how to manipulate you and as an adult will manipulate others by using a person’s sensitivity against them.  They may even become uncaring to the point of ignoring the feelings of others all together because they see feeling driven people as manipulative.  This creates an unhealthy environment for their children who are likely to be more like you and less like their parent.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, bookkeeper parents are fair so be fair and minimize the hurt feelings.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting?  Begin with You

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

Struggling with Parenting?  Cautious Parents are Aware

Struggling with Parenting? Direct Parents are Motivating

Why Some People Feel Guilty Over Everything

You have met the guilty type: the person who feels bad over things they have no control over, the person who takes responsibility for other’s mistakes, or the person who can’t seem to rest because there is so much to do.  Yes, you have met this person and they may be staring back at you in the mirror.  Frequently thoughts such as “I should not have”, “I can’t believe I did this”, “I feel so bad”, or “I wish I could” plague their mind as they actually believe that everyone else thinks this way too.  These thoughts often paralyze them into hours or days of inactivity or worse senseless busyness.  But there is a better way.

The third stage of Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Development is Initiative vs. Guilt which occurs during the delicate years of four to six.  Taking initiative is the ability to formulate a plan, an idea, or a scheme and then begin the process.  It does not necessarily mean completing it however, this is a different stage of development.  Guilt is an emotion where a person feels responsible, takes blame, feels shame or remorse for something that has happened.  Although, it does not necessarily mean that the person committed the action.

The Psychology.  These years are associated with the preschool and kindergarten years for a child when they either learn to take initiative or to feel guilty when they don’t.  During this time, they are very interactive with play usually creating some type of random game or imaginary scenario to reenact.  If a child is allowed the freedom to play their own game or be imaginative without criticism, they learn to take initiative.  If not, they feel guilty because their idea was not good enough or was done the wrong way.

The Child.  As the child progresses, if they have learned to take initiative they will naturally take responsibility in other areas of their life as well.  They will want to learn and become more involved in their own basic care such as learning to cook (easy things), hygiene, academics, and sports.  If they have not learned to take initiative, they may be uncharacteristically shy about trying new things without constant approval from others, they may be afraid to share ideas for fear of criticism, and often refuse any leadership opportunities.

The Adult.  An adult who has learned to take initiative will handle change relatively well with an ability to formulate new plans as needed.  They have learned to manage themselves and maintain a sense of self-control.  However, the adult plagued by thoughts of guilt often takes on too much responsibility to mask their irresponsibility in other areas of their life.  They constantly feel bad for others and try to “help” others even to their own detriment.  Sadly, they are more than willing to subordinate their plans to others because their plan is never good enough.

The Cure.  Recognizing the guilty thoughts and calling it guilt is half of the battle.  The other half is counter-acting the thoughts with truth.  For instance, if a person feels guilty because they got a promotion over a coworker, they need to stop and recognize that they are not responsible for the decision, a manager is.  Moreover, perhaps the reality is that the guilty person, not the coworker, actually works harder and does deserve a promotion.  As long as the guilty person did not jeopardize their coworker’s chance at the promotion, there is nothing to feel guilty over.

The only time God uses guilt is to convict us of a sin.  All of the other times a person feels guilty, they are actually taking on more than their responsibility and risking their health and welfare in the process.  Realizing that Jesus Christ already bore the price for sin and He has already taken on the responsibility, eliminates the need for anyone to take on the sins of others.  Instead, the guilty adult must learn to shed the unnecessary guilt and begin to take initiative for the things they are responsible for handling.

For more information, watch this video. 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

When You Are Parenting Your Parent

There is a strange occurrence in the parent / child relationship when the parent begins to act more like the child and the child (now an adult) begins to act more like the parent.  This can happen at almost any age, even when the child is still a child, but it most definitely happens as the parent ages.  As the adult child, you eventually find yourself reversing roles with your parent and suddenly parenting him or her.

Perhaps your parent is refusing to take medication that would help them, driving when they can no longer see correctly, spending ridiculous amounts of money on late night TV ads, forgetting relatives or close friends, becoming angry for no apparent reason, and alienating themselves from others.  When confronted about their struggles, your parent acts more like a two-year old that has been told “no” then an adult.  Frustrated, you respond in a controlling manner which in turn is met with more frustration from your parent, tempers mount and unnecessary words are exchanged.  But there is a better way and it begins with you.

Honor your parent.  The reason this is one of the Ten Commandments is because this often becomes difficult to do at some point.  Honoring your parents means showing them respect for the years they provided for you, listening to their point of view without condemnation, and lifting them up to a place of high esteem in your household.  The difficulty comes when your parents have not or do not behave in a manner in which deserves honor.  Yet we are commanded to show honor even when they do not deserve it.  This is not about gaining the upper hand or manipulating control, rather it is a change in your heart and attitude as to how you will approach your parent.

Forgive your parent.  Once you decide to have an attitude of honor towards your parent, choosing to forgive them for past behaviors becomes next in the process.  At some point, your parent will no longer be able to clearly communicate, think thoroughly, or positively process the circumstances of their life.  Past hurts can no longer be addressed simply because your parent is unable to fully comprehend all you are saying.  Your choice is to harbor bitterness towards them for past behaviors or to forgive.

Love your parent.  What?  Of course you love your parent but do you love the person that they have become or do you love the person that they once were?  Loving your parent unconditionally means accepting who they have become in light of who they once were and choosing to love them regardless of the outcome.  They may act unloving but you can still make the choice to love them just as you hope that someone will do for you.

Parenting your parent can become difficult but if you remember to honor, forgive and love in spite of the circumstances and their behavior, you will find peace.  While the role reversal may frustrate the old patterns of your relationship, use this opportunity to rebuild your relationship into a healthy one instead of the old dysfunctional patterns.  In the end, you will be the one who benefits from the change in the relationship.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to properly balance parents’ and spouse’s opinions

A common issue among Christians is defining the proper balance between their parents’ expectations and opinions and their spouse’s expectations and opinions.  Too often, Christians carry into their marriage the idea that they must continue to obey their parents long after they have reached adulthood because Scripture tells them to honor their parents.  However, there is a huge difference between obeying parents and honoring parents although both are right depending on the maturity of the individual.  The desire to honor parents is right but sometimes contrasts with their spouse’s opinion.  This produces tension frequently resulting in an argument or worse in unspoken frustration.  The unresolved issue can then potentially give seed to resentment which can in turn devastate a marriage.

It does not have to be this way.  By understanding the meaning and application of the Scripture for obeying your parents, honoring your parents and cleaving to your spouse, many Christian marriages can become stronger rather than weaker.  God’s perfect design for how to treat each other in our relationships improves those relationships while increasing our desire to learn more about Him. Applying the truths behind these concepts can also improve your relationship at the most fundamental level.

Obeying your parents.  Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.”  Notice the opening of the verse; it is addressed to children, not adults.  Children are to obey their parents.  To obey means to submit to someone in a position of authority.  Repeatedly we are told to obey God’s commandments but nowhere in Scripture are we told as adults to obey our parents.  Yet many couples do this well after marriage concerning themselves with the expectations and opinions of their parents over their spouse.  This becomes apparent when a spouse goes to their parents with problems (usually money) before ever discussing it with their spouse.  It is worsened when the spouse follows the direction of the parents, obeying them as if they were still a child, and then either never informs their spouse of the discussion or does so after the fact.  This is destructive to a marriage and not consistent with God’s expectations of us.

Honoring your parents.  Ephesians 6:2-3 then goes on to say, “’Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise.  If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.’”  To honor means to esteem with high regard.  Think for a moment of the people in life with the title of “Honorable”.  They are judges, diplomats, elected officials, and others who have already earned respect and whose opinion is considered valuable.  This is how parents should be treated once maturity is reached, as people for whom their opinion is valuable.  As in the example above, if a spouse sought the opinion of their parents without following the direction until consensus was reached with their spouse, this would be honoring.  But there is still an even better way.

Cleaving to your spouse.  Genesis 2:24 says, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”  Cleaving to your spouse means to unite or to adhere to closely.  It is a bond that should not be broken even by a person’s father or mother.  This bond defines marriage in the Christian church and should not be taken lightly.  Ecclesiastes 4:9 states, “Two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”  This is God’s design for marriage for two to be united as one so they can support and help each other in life.  Marriage is meant to help spouses through life, not tear each other apart.  Looking one more time at the above example and it becomes apparent that the right view-point is for both spouses in a marriage to agree to seek the opinion of their parents first.  Then to listen to their parent’s opinions with respect and finally to decide together (without the parents) if the opinion is one they will follow.

By understanding God’s principles and how to apply them to everyday living, marriages can be strengthened.  God knows that relationships with parents and spouses are important which is why it is clearly addressed in His word and why He established proper balances for living well.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.