Have you ever realized that the most impactful influence on your children’s marriage—whether they are two years old and barely able to say “da-da” or twenty-two and about to walk down the aisle—is your marriage? Yes, you!
Your marriage to their mom or dad teaches them both directly and indirectly how a married couple works together.
This certainly includes the way you love and respect each other. Your kids may not yet have learned the biblical emphasis on love and respect or even be old enough to know what “respect” means, but they are learning all about it nonetheless . . . from you!
The Bible commands us to give thanks as a sacrifice of praise.
The writer of Hebrews penned, “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name . . . for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:15–16).
When our prayers are answered, when healing comes, when financial blessings rain down upon us, most of us are liberal to give thanks and praise to God (as we certainly should). But that is not what is meant by a “sacrifice of praise.” Hopefully, it is not much of a sacrifice to give praise for the great things in your life.
But how do we respond when our prayers are not answered as we had hoped, when healing does not come, and when we are let go from yet another job? When we give thanks in the face of things we do not understand, we affect God’s heart.
“God is pleased,” as Hebrews says.
On Mother’s Day, as a mother you can find comfort in looking to God to help you in your parenting.
How reassuring it is for us that Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as our Helper (John 14:16). I love His description. He is the Helper because we need help. How simple is that? And, it is okay to need help. It is most appropriate to echo the psalmist, “Let Your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen Your precepts” (Psalm 119:173).
Will you ask God to help you because you have chosen to follow the precepts He reveals to you as a parent?
Every mother wishes to connect emotionally with her adult son.
However, sons can be a bit more independent and distant than daughters, who stay more connected with their moms and not infrequently wish to live near their mothers or talk regularly with their moms. An adult son typically moves out and intends to start a family with a wife, and generally is more autonomous. Jesus said, “a man shall leave his father and mother” (Mark 10:7). This is normal for a young man to do.
However, this independence can cause some moms to wonder if she has done something to offend him or push him away when she does not hear from him or he doesn’t engage her at an emotional level when he is around.
Again, some of this is normal and mom has done nothing wrong. On the other hand, she may have unintendedly offended him. As I highlight in my book Mother and Son: The Respect Effect, the culture has shifted in its attitude toward boys as though there is something inherently wrong with males because they are not girls.
In my book Mother & Son: The Respect Effect, I share the need for not only your husband to feel and hear your respect, but your son as well, no matter his age. Even your preschooler has a “man inside the boy” who naturally responds to words of respect, as little Samuel’s mother learned and applied in her relationship with her son.
Read about her experience with using Respect-Talk and ask yourself how you might begin applying the same with your son:
Dear Dr. Emerson,
Applying respect talk on my son changed the world for me COMPLETELY. My son Samuel is four and seems to be a 100% duplicate of his dad. As a mom I have felt so very frustrated in my attempts to get through to him when he acted up, whereas my husband got along with him just fine. Being a very feeling, sentimental, sensitive person myself, I couldn’t relate to his personality at all. His main goal in life is to be a hero. To be brave, not to cry, to save the suffering, to be strong, to protect, to guard, to prove he can outdo everybody else.
A person who modeled thinking before speaking what was unnecessary was my mom. My parents divorced when I was one, remarried, then separated again for five years. Even though Mom could’ve thrown Dad under the bus while raising me on her own, I appreciate that she abstained from doing so. She expressed later in her life that it was unnecessary for me to hear such things.
Mom was other-focused. Because of her heart of love for me, she sought to serve my needs with her words. She was not careless in her words because she cared. She pulled back from communicating information that I didn’t need to hear, even though she may have felt better after having done it.
As I have reflected on my mom, who is in Heaven now, I do not recall my mom doing any of the following. She had a sense about what was necessary and what wasn’t. She wasn’t perfect but she was mature.
The Bible says, “It’s harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars” (Proverbs 18:19 NLT).
According to this Proverb, if you have offended each other, will healing easily come to your marriage if you express words of love or respect? Why?
Though a wife wounded her husband with disrespect (most often unintentionally) and though a husband wounded his wife with lack of love (most often unintentionally), why can a sincere apology speed up healing?
In part 2, we discussed the need to focus on the tangible things that we do have instead of on what we do not, in order to help develop a more grateful heart. But there is one more suggestion on what our focus should center in on.
Two, focus on the intangible things that we do have instead of fixating on the tangibles we do not have.
Those of us who lack material goods could whine, “Well, I cannot be grateful for tangible blessings since I have so few.”
We have good news on this front. The Bible declares a set of truths that ought to refresh all of us and engender gratefulness.
In part 1 of this Thanksgiving-themed article, we discussed the idea of being like a parrot in our giving thanks: we say the words with our mouth but have no heartfelt understanding behind the words and do not truly have a grateful heart. But I have two suggestions for you on how to live your life more with a grateful heart.
One, focus on the tangible things that we do have instead of fixating on what we do not have.
Not to be trite but this sage advice serves as a fitting reminder: “I complained about not having shoes until I saw a man without feet.” We have heard this but knowing it to be true and acting on this truth are not the same. All of us need the reminder to rejoice over having two feet instead of complaining that the high-heeled shoes don’t perfectly match the new outfit. Mature, grateful people never lose sight of their feet. For that matter, they do not lose sight of the fact that they were invited to a special event where they will dance as a couple, have grandparents nearby to babysit the kids, have the money to enjoy a great meal, and will be served by people who could be single mothers who have no high heels.
We can say “thanks” but not be grateful.
We can mouth words but our hearts are elsewhere. We are fixated on ourselves. I know, because I have seen this in myself. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:2 that people can be “lovers of self . . . ungrateful.”
We can even sing a song of thanks while in a worship service at church but inwardly dwell on the hurt and offense we feel toward someone who wronged us the day before.
We can be like parrots. Though parrots do not have teeth nor lips, they learn words, phrases, and songs. They have an extraordinary ability to imitate tones. With keen hearing and a complex voice box, they reproduce the sounds they hear. But that’s all they do. They parrot. They have no comprehension of the meaning of those words. There is no heartfelt understanding when saying, “Thank you.” The parrot is not grateful but merely mimicking the words even when singing Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”
I can be just like that parrot, and so can you.
A parent instructs an eight-year-old boy, “Say ‘thank you’ for the ice cream and cake.” He obeys by repeating, “Thank you.” But is his “thank you” sincere?
As an immature child, he is less than grateful and more focused on his appetites. He selfishly zeros in on the dessert to satisfy his sweet tooth. He says “thank you” to insure he’ll get his cake and ice cream. He isn’t thinking how fortunate he is compared to the rest of the world that have no refrigeration to store ice cream or ovens to bake a cake.
Emerson and Jonathan continue this important topic in part 2 this week, including adding a third component of apathy. What is the Issue? Children need to honor parents and show this in their respectful attitude and obedient actions. However, many parents do not always feel respected nor obeyed so they seek methods that will motivate the child to be respectful and obedient. How do we deal with this Issue? There are right ways of dealing with this and wrong ways.
Listen to the podcast HERE. Access it on iTunes HERE, on Stitcher HERE, and on the Love and Respect App HERE.
What is the Issue? Children need to honor parents and show this in their respectful attitude and obedient actions. However, many parents do not always feel respected nor obeyed so they seek methods that will motivate the child to be respectful and obedient. How do we deal with this Issue? There are right ways of dealing with this and wrong ways. Join Emerson and Jonathan in Part I this week as they explore this topic.
Listen to the podcast HERE. Access it on iTunes HERE, on Stitcher HERE, and on the Love and Respect App HERE.
Suppose multiple sets of parents are fighting as brothers and sisters because an inheritance was unevenly divided or something happened that created bitterness among them to the point that they are no longer really talking or spending time together as before.
The adult kids could say:
“You have been honorable parents, and in this matter of the inheritance, you have felt dishonored. Is there anything we can do as children to reestablish the sense of mutual honor everyone showed toward each other prior to this? We need your strength as parents and long for us to return to how it used to be. We see you as mature people and need your leadership to restore things.
“Can you be the one to make this happen? Can you be the one who helps the family move forward and be how it used to be? We need your wisdom. Does someone need to apologize? Does someone need to forgive? Or, is the sense of unfairness and dishonor so colossal that everyone will go to their graves bitter while watching all the kids go their separate ways because the moms and dads have been so hurt that they prefer to remain offended until death? Is it wrong for us kids to ask for the moms and dads to forgive each other as you taught us as kids to forgive each other?
When we miscommunicate, most people readily forgive us when we ask them to do so. After all, they themselves have misspoken and have little interest in throwing stones. This is especially so when they see us making an honest mistake.
What drives people nuts is when they feel that we spoke or wrote something that was designed to hurt or offend them, and we have no intentions of owning up to it, apologizing, and correcting our error.
People have a low threshold when they feel we deliberately communicate what is untrue, unkind, unnecessary, or unclear, and then act as though we have done nothing wrong. A cavalier attitude exacerbates the problem.
Solomon revealed this to us in Proverbs 6:2–3: “If you have been snared with the words of your mouth, have been caught with the words of your mouth, do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.”
Here is the four-step game plan for apologizing to others and making things right again.
A teenage boy was feeling sorry for himself, feeling as though his mother didn’t love him. He said to her, “If you don’t love me, why’d you have me?” The mother shot back, “Well, we didn’t know it was going to be you.”
All of us came into this world by way of two parents. There are no exceptions to this. Regardless, there are no perfect parents. In fact, there was once a convention held for adult children of normal parents. No one attended.
Because we have imperfect parents, not only do we have to deal with their issues but we also inherit many of them. Not a few families deal with their issues by yelling and screaming at each other, and then they feel better for a while until the next altercation. Or, some shut down and seethe in anger until it works out of their system, but they avoid ever talking about the conflict.
Whether we are talking about an outburst of anger or a total shutdown, this is not the kind, loving, and respectful way of resolving serious tensions. Unfortunately, as adults this way of dealing with conflicts and stresses in our family of origin spills over into everyday living at school, work, the YMCA, church, or wherever.