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Healing Parent and Adult Child Relationships (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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November 24, 2021 5:00 am

Healing Parent and Adult Child Relationships (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 24, 2021 5:00 am

Dr. John Townsend offers parents guidance and encouragement for resolving a strained relationship with their adult children. (Part 2 of 2)

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Jennifer had a lot of anger from her past and unfortunately she was passing that on to her kids but she found something better told that I needed to nurture my children rather than recognition. Growing up, I'm Jim Daly the season help us give families hope and when you get today.

Your donation will be double donated we've had these talks about values or money or if I'm right or whatever and I want, put to bed and say either. I want to change my opinion here for you change your opinion here only lovingly agree to disagree. Have a great game of pickle ball there's room for that for adults. Dr. John Townsend is back with us for second day on Focus on the Family offering words of wisdom and insight about estrangement between parents and their adult children. They may need to hear this discussion now more than ever before, and were glad you're with us your hostess focus president and author. Jim Daly and John felt John we spoke last time about some of the contributing factors in the strangulation ship between parents and adult children and why healthy boundaries are so critical in families and other relationships. This is a deeply felt need in fact, one of the top issues that our counselors are hearing about every day. Last time we talked about control and manipulation and irresponsibility. Some of the sin that causes families to fight or stop talking altogether today will go deeper into the topic and look for godly solutions and healing for those broken relationships, so stay with us. Dr. John Townsend is a well-known psychologist, author and speaker, along with Dr. Henry cloud wrote the best-selling book boundaries which is now been updated and expanded.

John is the founder of the Townsend Institute for leadership and counseling. He and his wife have two adult children. John welcome back to Focus on the Family. Thanks. Hey, we touched on yesterday that setting a firm boundary with an adult child or parent is necessary for spiritual and emotional well-being. But why is it hard for us to set those boundaries let me what's working against this is logical, it makes sense and so hard to do.

It is so hard to do and has nothing to do with logic of making sense. There are three reasons that we have adult children or just anybody have a hard time with boundaries. The first one is because of the risk of loss of relationship that somebody will say I'm taking my ball going home from this relationship mental distance from you will shut down, don't do what the Gottman's other random researchers call stonewalling. I want my friends and the people I love and my kids in my family to withdraw from me so we say and I'll just wait another day or I'll I'll pick my battles or my favorite is kick the can down the road thinking it will get better and it never does, with the first one is loss of relationship. The second one is fear of conflict.

Note, a lot of us are built and got good training and conflict always tell people think about when you're a kid seven years old on Sunday night that the Sunday dinner. What did you learn about conflict over the rules you learn there probably were very healthy rules, but there were several's what you guys learn to blow up and express and then walk away. There is all better. There is a rule eat fast and and so most of them get great rules about that and so they get really afraid that what I'll do with her anger and feel better. They can escalate at me. So we get afraid of loss of love and relationship we get afraid of conflict. The third window is we get afraid of our guilt.

You know, we don't hurt people, and I think about my adult child. If I say this to me of the gonna feel bad about themselves is going to affect their self-image will discourage them will damage them in some way so you have to work through those three fears have good boundaries and I guess the natural follow-up is why is it worth to set those boundaries. What's the payoff. Only the child's future. That's I got while and I mean that not in a funny way is when you look at the research longitudinal studies. I stood letter research. The longitudinal studies of parenting about you know if parenting is the oven produces think of an adult. Over time, they measured you know now that some lies in their 20s and their autonomous on their own.

What were the factors that made them that way the cold. The meta-study. Studies of studies right Austin in the two factors. One was more did you get down there level. Did you listen to, to love, did you kinda like connect with warmth and relationship, and the second was appropriate strictness appropriate strictness that there's gotta be structure. There's gotta be rules.

There's gotta be appropriate consequences and that's if you want your house to be baking a thing called good human you have to have this in place and so when people say what is it worth it also you only the future of your adult child's world. In that regard, John. I mean, the idea of I guess legalistic parenting could label it that were may be it's in the right direction, but it's just taken too far like a formula well formula, but also issues not everything is a mountain of too harsh, to harsh overreacting and that everything you know that the mountain out of a mole hill kind of thing another metaphor, people might use his pick your battles wisely. Speak to that intuitive line is apparent not to be just about the rules and then create lots of rules. Knowing when it's okay for the child to know the okay I have some principles that really help them to think through that because it's so varied these days. One is what would you wanted Jesus love empathy treated others usually be treated thank about what you would've wanted in your mid-20s and how would you like betrayed about your parents back the day in what would work at the love, empathy helps a lot. Jesus love empathy of trade others that the second thing is, is it at one time event or is a pattern now. I don't think we should do boundary from one-time events in Lexus like robbing a bank or something because of a passage in the Bible.

In Proverbs it says gives a glory to a person to overlook an offense or offenses one-time in my book of patterns three times and not after all one time or so keep that in mind.

The third thing is with the boundary. This gotta be a consequence and the consequence is going matter is got to be either they are losing something they want or their gaining something that I don't like now if the kids are at home then you gotta clean up the dog poop all next week because your sister was going to do it. That's getting some they want or lose it. They love would be social media with your adult children. You don't have a lot of that because you don't have a live respectively living on their own so that's when it changes from I can do a lot of consequences with you to relationship, relationship, relationship yeah and in regards to that essence of relationship being the key. I have seen some parents that actually withdraw the relationship because they've done what you've talked about.

They set up Dr. Townsend boundaries and has worked with their adult child and they don't have that leverage and so they just feel like okay well I'm not to have a relationship with you because I think with the child hears is because you're not pleasing enough to me. That's what child experiences and often John is not the intent of the parent. I think that they just feel helpless and they feel like nothing's working as the soul of God and what I tell this appearance is this is when you do, you do have the heart talk and you say were going to agree to disagree.

I guess about six or work ethic or you know bad behavior.

What will agree to disagree, but I want to enjoy all the rest of the relationship with you and I want to be. There's much I can't soak you know that I'm different from you and I'm not a preacher just told you clearly have told you what I thought about it and always praying for you and if you're going talk about it. That's great, but there's so many other things in our life to talk about that I want to connect with you and jump you really getting back to the control factor. It sounds like that we covered last time that the parents of adult children. Again, this is your 25-year-old son or daughter 30-year-old son or daughter you don't have that leverage your no longer the parent in that context of them living at home with you.

You can control their environment. You can control certain aspects of their lives. This this is now transitioning. I think a helpful thing for us to hear I'm living it right now I've got 21-year-old and 19-year-old, and one of those mental things that we as the parent need to do to treat this differently and to really act on that different thinking.

The first one is, there is a type of leverage. I think in is the leverage of love. There's tremendous power in not just saying I love you but passing reaching into the heart asking how life was, how's work going house dating going how's your friends how do you feel about things. Your course adult child's going to say… That's fine but there's a part that wants to know it and just to keep asking good questions about what's it like, how's it feel and sit or lay the goat they were no more preach to me. So the leverage of love that they really get me is very powerful than the think maybe I need to open them up to the otherwise the second one is I do believe there are boundaries we can set within the confines of what we you know Galatians 5 the fruits of the Spirit says is the fruit of self-control.

It never says other control.

Interesting so I can't control what they're doing in their homes and their lives. But if they're in my house like so many people to live in home for whatever reasons I can say look, you have to believe what I believe or agree what I agree with but this is my home so there's gonna be behavior that's required and these are my house rules and I'd like you to respect those and those you can say and I think it's good for them and good for us of those are boundaries because that's our self-control, part one appreciate that John because that mean again I'm living it so it's good to experience these things. I love Trent the other night said to me, is that what I really appreciate right now is I'm thinking of us developing our friendship for the rest of our lives. While I thought we hiked out how this person something is going right. You know the that that's what he's looking forward to. And frankly, that's what I'm looking forward to because it's hard work to parent.

It's a little easier to be the friend I tell parents when you retire and maybe it be fun like how I retired from my functions with my children there out there on their own, and I told him that I said no, come to me for advice, but I'm not want to go to you and say here's your advice for the day.

I'm done with that because you are an adult.

But I want to be a loving friend who has some wisdom. Hopefully, that you would go to and that we have incredible history behind us, but that's what I want to be with you, and we pulled out off this really healthy and it is fun yet something if you can enjoy each other. In that context, not trying to manipulate or control each other.

That's fun.

Let me move to bigger kind of broader family dynamics you have something that you call triangulation.

I start laughing when I was reading this early this morning actually. And I was talking to my wife Jean about it because it's such a normal, not healthy but normal dynamic in this triangulation were sibling a talks to sibling see about sibling be described as complicated.

Done well it is but it's so typical of what we do is human thing and it's unfortunately so destructive a deficit. The way God created the communication was if you love someone, you see it say it right. And if somebody bothers you. You spoke to go to go to your brother or your sister and triangulation is the opposite's they made you upset. So instead of going to a your be you go to see if they can believe what they did pray for them because they are just a lunatic and so they never gets the benefit of the feedback so they can change their behavior and see sit in their existing one of my like a doctor for everything you know like in life and it gets better when C disappoints me.

And guess what B does your rose no calls DOD this is so unlucky, you know, a disappointing and then ceded to and I hope you want and they go through life like church hopping you know it's true. And Anna always tell people you know this is call triangulation. Clinically, the Bible called gossip and is never good for anybody. Okay so the right question is how do you break that cycle. Those four siblings.

ABCD what you do a timeout.

I want to call a family meeting. Let's get this out on the table is is that the right thing to get used in leadership services called positive disruption in heap you see that in your family then you just tell them. Not all at one time because they gonna do whatever they doing site and I go to the one that doesn't the mouse to kinda start everything in sight understand their feelings, but I need to know why you don't go to them because this is kinda cut everybody up here and I'll have a bunch of excuses and say I'd like to request that and I'll moderate it or I'll get a counselor for your whatever but I want you to go to them that there an adult child. I can certainly say no but you gave them the option you know in the work circles like in business, you can say you need to talk to that person or something happens in HR but you don't have the authority and so in relationship with all she just saved is not good for us to be together were not having fun of people not feel trusting in can you kinda be the person that breaks that chain and you go to the person that uses that tool must that's kind of humorous actually think of a family review written that you don't straighten out that doesn't work so well in the family HR department but don't do a group until everybody has gotten the skill don't do a group because it can be chaos and what we've got. Dr. John Townsend with us today on Focus on the Family and we encourage you to look for his book boundaries. It is a best-selling book that has all sorts of great insight with a variety of family dynamics, including that relationship you have with your adult child, we've got copies of that here at Focus on the Family.

Click the link in the episode notes or call 800 K in the word family, John.

I want to touch on forgiveness because that's critical obviously it's a it's the way we human beings reconcile things but as Christians we are called to forgive. How do we forgive our family member who is so deeply wounded us what was it functionally look like some people bury it. I tend I think I can tend to be that person that forgiven him, but I don't know that I really have. I just, whatever you this really, Jim, and what we found out is that we always think yeah it's just a cognitive intellectual rational process and canceling the debt, which is what the Bible says the definitions I'm canceling the debt, but if we don't bring the emotions and the hurt in their it's half the thing you know God gave us with that (which is the rational, intellectual feedback driven, data driven part and then there's an emotional relationship on the right side and so that's why now the smart people come up with stages for this. The first one is to identify that I've been hurt and let yourself feel it.

You know you you abuse me or you left me or you judged me or you dismissed me, and that hurt as opposed to what that was wrong. Biblically, no less, more intellectual. It hurt and that's why sometimes takes a person to help you draw that out but the second thing is you go through protest and what was wrong is not okay and you don't say something was wrong right when it was wrong so you get your day in court. The third thing is you look at your part that I have a part to play this now. Most the time to something I did to and if you drive along somebody T-boned in a car that never was your fault.

Most of family.and he's got site that I contribute was that happened that have a bad attitude or whatever, but in the next thing is you move into the actual stage of what they called the grief process is.

I'm sad I'm sad because I got hurt and that we have a relationship and I want to get back and grief is very essential to forgiveness, allowing themselves to grief and grief. What happened in the past and making a commitment to do better in the future. I don't know that we then again, maybe I'm just projecting my own experience.

I don't know that we grieve well, that went well how to grieve were awful.

And yet it says in Isaiah that is says that we have a Savior who was well acquainted with grief. So if the leader of leaders in the model of modelers that he was well acquainted, meaning he may embrace grief.

We need to learn that it's just hard to go there will most people's because we feel weak and we don't like to feel weak and others because all this like energy and movement.

I like to get things done.

You like to get things done. You know would like to go change things and grace this don't climb the mountain right now, stop and feel this and it's no energy, there is no movement, and we don't like that. But if allow ourselves to have the grief and say I need to talk to somebody just let them know I'm sad about that business opportunity that disenfranchise child of this marriage thing and inch need to process my tears it goes away.

If it doesn't, it never leaves. Grief is a temporary thing. When Henry cloud and Rhoda got Mike away. We say that grief is the pain that cures most other pains in psychological emotional circles the end of the therapy process is generally grieving well and grieving healthfully. And then you're free. You do feel set free feel separated. I have experience that let me move to a clip that we have of kind of rebuilding relationships. The need to do that mean again. It definitely includes forgiveness. But let's listen to this clip and have you respond to Karen again Harry and I change my daughter Anna not Garrett filed and my question for you is how can you forward to try and call the boundaries of what you think that that would highlight you hearing not always walking on eggshells and also comfort with opening my heart and not feeling hurt again is a lot in that question.

There is a lot in the question. In all too common. Y'all get those letters I get those letters and I wanted to make a simple process so that it's easy to follow, but first I want to say here's what not to do. Don't continue walking on eggshells by trying to read her mind. My thinking.

Can I say this is is okay that is not okay because we can't read their money might trigger something and then there's a big blowup Sosa conversation you have with your daughter with anybody that has someone is back in the relationship, but it still feels fragile and you say, I'm so glad were reconnected and I want to stay this way. I need some ground rules from you and I've got some to some brownies. What's okay and what's not okay go there. Don't go there and I got a few to as the older adult always have less than they have right that's called wisdom. Discuss with them and so they might save.

I don't like it when you tell me to go to church site. Okay, I told you once I do believe it. I'm done with that and then all of a sudden you say, what else, and what you won't need it will ask me how I'm doing my pet allow do that or whatever. And now you have the conversation and when you have the conversations as when you say it. It always makes it less intense when it keeps in your head to gets crazier because we built relationship. So now the Del Taco's have the talk and now they know clearly what's okay with me was not make them part of the process that is really good and helps John let me for the sake of the person who's going.

You know what I read boundaries. I applied it to my adult child it's been a while. We have not reconciled. I'm actually going to the process of grieving the loss of the relationship and I don't know if it'll ever come back and maybe they're not even talking to each other and then there's a second one where were still engaged but man it's firework is file the time and it's not healthy.

And so, address those two environments well, let's go.

The first one next arrangement. I was hoping once it will have read the book and I've done everything I said. I wrote it and I haven't done it again because you know as we grow were like an onion skin.

We get deeper and deeper with the offer got this. Or maybe I was too harsh, they are a preach there. I wasn't consistent. It go through it again, especially the 10 laws and you pick up something you can do better. But let's suppose you're that one human being that I never met this done everything and you really feel good about you gotten feedback from your pastor and your friends and your counselors and that's when I would say on a regular basis. It might be once 1/4 sent in that email letter text to say I love you just want let you know is thinking about you what's important. There is don't give up.

Yes, don't give up. Don't give up. God always reminds us, I'm still here. Okay that's good that's good advice and because there's always hope.

Well, and the hope is if their life is really upside down the things you're concerned about.

Guess what they're going to suffer. Let's read Luke 15 the prodigal son well the father you have any passages were says and the father you know reminded him of all his sins and the father went and visited him.

The father said I want to set up. You hear about the father until the boy is in the pigpen and he didn't like his life, and if there live in that, life. It's supposed to have bad fruit because it doesn't work according to God's principles and you're just checking every now that thinking about you. Love you and the goat like being lonely or not functioning are not having a good job and they're nice to me in your chance of better come back and then what about the one you're still engaged with you having pretty regular interaction with but it seems to always be the fireworks.

You and there's a lot we can do about that because we can say look, we've had these talks about values or money or if I'm right or whatever and I want, put to bed and say either.

I want to change my opinion here, you change your opinion here only lovingly agree to disagree and have a great game of pickle ball there's room for that for adults so you do what you can to say I don't want the other thing though is if you getting attacked by your adult child and some parents work on a guilt ridden will say I deserve it.

I was in there forms. I'm just gonna let money here and here and here everybody should have their day in court in my kids if I do that with me but not forever. And it comes apart. What you say.

I've heard it I understand it I change what I'm going to change.

And it's really kinda getting bad and you have to set a limit on that you have to be times when you don't take toxic assaultive behavior after while you're not doing anybody any good.

John right at the end here.

Obviously, the key to probably all this you would agree is how we take this to the Lord as Christians as believers and some people may not have that relationship with the Lord and I understand that.

I'd love to see that change, but for those that are listening that do call upon the Lord as their Savior. How do we with you know the right attitude.

How do we go to the Lord and say help me yeah and always go to Psalm 37 assisted you give the desires of your heart. If you follow him. I think what God always calls us to do is to say, like you said help.

I've always found that is not until where the end of ourselves that he begins account wants us to get in about right because they would go into position of dependent childlike faith and so if you feel like you're being too much of a demand on God.

He's got big shoulders to go with the pain go with the sorrow go over the losses go with the helpless and say I need an answer. I need your Holy Spirit. I need something for the Bible I need to get person and that's where God shows up you know if her person hasn't had that regular communication prayer to the Lord to be a little uncomfortable for people. What would you recommend that person how do you open up to God. That really is helping you yet.

I have friends like that, that coming out. How did this church talk haven't in the church like a cloudlike, yet we have a whole language don't wear it and I say talk to them like you would talk to somebody that was safe. Some adults some wise person that was very safe because he's the model for that and just say don't edit yourself just come that will what it is and I was told read David in the Psalms. He didn't edit.

You know he's going got on the King but I'm living in the cave because the go. The guys out to give me are you even there he didn't edit and got can handle what you can, but it's searcher and again.

What a great encouragement to go to the Lord first and foremost everything we talked about today and last time kind of sits on that truth that God cares for you and I love the Scripture that he's close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.

And that's how we feel about these relationships that John wonderful content. Thank you for sharing your heart your wisdom with us through Focus on the Family and I hope you as the listener are feeling it.

I mean John is speaking right to a majority of people who struggle in relationships. You want a way out of this. Get a copy of boundaries. It's right there, it's easy to understand but difficult to put into play but not impossible. And so we want to encourage you to get in touch with us. Make a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family and will send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you in joining us with ministry. Not only do you get the benefit of wisdom, but you also are giving the benefit of wisdom to others in a whole variety of ways and if you can afford it will get it into your hands were Christian organization. It's not about the dollars but it's about helping you get a hold of us and will trust others will cover the cost once again to get your copy of boundaries updated and expanded call 800 K and the word family 800-232-6459 or you can donate and get the book would get the links in the episode notes. John, as always, it's so good to have your thank you for spending time with us.

On behalf of Jim Daly, and the entire team.

Thanks for joining us today for focus on family plan to be with us tomorrow on Thanksgiving as we learn some fascinating stories about the pilgrims from Jay Milgram's can help you and your family thrive in Christ. Christmas memories making sharing stories with your family that's depicted in the play from Focus on the Family titled family traditions this story and paint by artist Morgan was a lively family kitchen scene will find a special place in your home and find out how to get a signed version of the special edition print and traditions. That's traditions

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