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Building Bridges With Your Adult Child

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
September 1, 2022 6:00 am

Building Bridges With Your Adult Child

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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September 1, 2022 6:00 am

Brenda Garrison shares her personal parenting journey with her oldest daughter, Katie. She offers some great keys to building relationships with older children and encourages parents to build bridges of love rather than walls of resentment.


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Brenda what's one thing a mom or dad can do today to build a bridge of love to their adult child who has perhaps made a decision that they don't agree with number one thing is apologize to your child for your part.

As you probably have a part and I think that's going to help them hear you faster than anything is a heartfelt apology. Brenda Garrison is our guest on today's Focus on the Family and she brings some great perspective today as we look at parenting your adult children. I'm John Fuller and hostess focus presidents and other Jim Daly John here Focus on the Family were often talking about parent.

The young child and it's important to build a strong foundation equip your children, but I would say your children of all ages. You never stop parenting and I've seen that in her that for my own brothers and sisters who have adult children now were still on in that process and that they talk about the parenting issues that they face. Even with their children. Her 20 something thirtysomething, fortysomething, and that's just the nature of parenting doesn't stop when they turn 18 and we want to talk today with someone who has a great heart for parents who are parenting those kids that maybe have made some bad choices, Brenda Garrison, as I said is our guest and she's a popular speaker and author of a number of books including love no matter what, which shares her parenting journey with her oldest daughter named Katie and she's married to Jean they have two other adult daughters as well. Kelsey and Carrie at Brenda, let me say welcome to Focus on the Family great to be here.

Thank you for having me.

I want to pick up right where you opened up and in that apology to your child is something that I've observed and I'd love your parenting perspective on this.

The human heart seems to be made in such a way by the creator that when we express a contrite nest. When we express love to another human being. It opens the heart of that person. It's almost it seems to me almost impossible for that person who's offended to resist opening up that's how core it is who we are as human beings at responder that you think that's accurate. I do, I do know there's some cases I think where the hurt is so deep it's gonna take more than one apology to take proof of your words, but it's a great start. Whether it be a written word or face-to-face.

Of course be best but I really do because I think kids often think parents think they're always right and were not always right.

I need to let our kids know that yeah you know there is rightness and we as parents need to be expressing that so often. I think we as Christians we want to adhere to the rules we want to abide by those things. God told us to abide by its important to us, and rightfully so. And then we want our children to do likewise.

That can create great tension because they're on their own journey.

They need parental boundaries. Don't mishear me that something Jean are very strong about, but at same time at the core the foundation they need to know that you love them, definitely, definitely, I would say though, unfortunately, a lot of times, especially Christian parents tend to make everything a black and white issue and everything is not a black-and-white issue. God has given us a lot of space to be our own individuals, especially with Katie. She is an artist Katie Gerald yes is our oldest.

She contributed to the block she I handed chapter after her and say Kate say whatever you want to stay here while that is brave and I said she had to be respectful but I just wanted her. The best part about because then they can can get inside the kids head and she shares what we did wrong. What we did write what she was thinking in the process, and it was very helpful as a very wonderful express for both of us to kinda have a meeting of the minds after the fact.

It was very healing. Yeah, let me ask you this. You talk about parenting as you went into it.

Katie being your firstborn you thought it would be kind of a simple plan, you were raised by parents that had a pretty good plan.

You felt good about what you observed in your childhood and you thought if you could apply those values and those principles. Your formula would work as well. What happened that's a good question. It didn't work. The formula I had great parents and it works for the five of us, but those things didn't necessarily transfer into my family.

We will have the same things he wanted to love each other love the Lord and all the basics but we needed a different plan to go about achieving those same things with me ask you this because some people this is the crux of the issue. Some people can defend the fact that doing the right thing. The formula it worked in your mom and dad's case, all five of your sibs, you and your siblings. You did well so they would walk away from that experience thing are parenting formula worked what you're saying. What we need to tease out here but as you can apply that same formula with different people because a personality, temperament, environment, media influence, you grew up in a different era. I mean technology is different accessibility of art.

12 1314-year-olds to world data is just a different environment and, therefore, that formula may not work the same way got to do differently but talk about that conflict, where in one family. It worked well and another family doesn't work so well. And even between kids and family. We did with Katie. We did differently was Kelsey, and differently with Carrie and that's why parents need to really lean into the Lord and say what is it with this child.

What is the best way to parent. This child, and I often pray. God help me be the mom. This child needs because it's good to be different with each kid that some people are going to hear different application of principle you not saying that now what are you saying that's different princesses Katie she said she's an artist and that really defines her as a person and I did have a clue what that was about. What does that mean to us that don't know Katie that express.

That means she likes messy.

She doesn't like black and white lines okay. She likes to just come and go, and color outside the lines on my work.

There are no lights yes definitely, definitely, and so we on Saturday was cleaning day. So we divided the house and of course we all clean and the kids are gone much announces me, but there's some fights in there right yes because she didn't want to do it exactly how I wanted so what I needed to do was let up on her room and let her room be her messy place. And of course she had to get the food scraps out of there and and all that but just she could have clothes on the floor. She could have art supplies when she was in college and her undergrad went to visit her in her studio apartment and we had moved her and we knew what the apartment look like. We went to visit she knew we were coming we got in the door and literally walked through a maze in this tiny tiny studio apartment because it was covered with art projects, art supplies, it was a place to set she was beaming because this was her world that she create all of her art was hanging it was sitting on the kitchen chairs is laying on the kitchen table was on the sofa. She was beaming. This was her world and in that moment, it occurred to me I had been stepping on her oxygen. I haven't been on what makes her feel like Katie because I insisted that she fit into my mold neat and orderly. Brenda, let me ask you this. I love the description of that stepping on the oxygen hose said that in marriage broadcast John, but in the parenting concept. Some might see that as weakness in your parenting approach that the lack of discipline they see cleanliness next to godliness. I'm amazing when you hear the late-night shows from time this show little snippets thereon during the street interviews and I think one time I saw Jay Leno maybe and he was asking that question is cleanliness next to godliness in the Bible and everybody said yes. What's actually not there is there's no Scripture that says that but but talk about how we convolute these things and create one of the extracurricular rules that maybe God isn't that concerned about. I don't really think yes.

The thing is we have to give our kids a place to be who they are, it was out somewhere and if we can give them a space to be who they are with a messy bedroom say they are going to be way more apt to follow some other rules such as curfew, such as our rules with the Internet they need a place to say who they are. You have a place to say who you are. Why can't we give our kids a place to be who they are, then their way more willing to come back and here we had to say. We know were listening to the guidelines that you apply to that because some things it's right for parents to say these are the rules and in the parameters when it comes to electronics you're going to do it.

Sure sure for so many hours a week, or whatever, or just on the weekend, something we do in our house but how do you know what's a principal and what's expression we have our core values at home. Safety always was test with three girls want to be safe. We want to to learn how to work hard.

We want to be responsible. We want them to be moral so we would make our decisions based on these core principles. These core values and for every family. I think it would be different on what that's gonna look like, but you know what your kids need and how much influence they can take from the outside world.

How much time they needed home. We used to keep Sunday night sacred. We don't go anywhere, even church. It's our time to regroup to spend time together maybe have a hot dog roast in the night Sunday night. That was our time. We rebuilt family. We refreshed ourselves for the week that was us, and so I think parents need willing to say what is important to us and how is it going look for our family and then be willing to say no to the things that don't really matter.

Brenda you talking your book love no matter what you talk about your oldest being 18 coming home and kind and giving you and your husband's devastating news.

What was that she said on the weekend. This was during the middle the week. She said on Saturday she was moving out to an apartment. She worked part-time with Ben Wade she didn't have enough money to live. She was going to be's sacrificing her college money to do so and she had a boyfriend in the shadows we didn't trust him to not take advantage of the situation is we don't want girls to be independent. We do she was leaving with a bad attitude, throwing college to the side just for the sake of getting out of the house because she thought she just couldn't take it anymore. Tell us now with Katie. What was she expressing. There are many, many parents listening that have no 15 to 23-year-old is that there are acting as Katie was acting there tired of being restricted kind of the schedule, the expectations they want to break loose from it and John, I think it's healthy for us to talk about this because as I meet many of the families that support Focus on the Family. I would say maybe 20% have had a pretty good parenting experience. Their kids did well there launched and there healthy in every way.

And that's a great thing I want to give some sympathy to the other 80% that I may have at least one child that is had some difficulty and that's what you're expressing today that is the reality of probably 7080% of Christian homes where the formula has not worked where the kids are doing things differently.

It's creating great friction in the home.

This is right where you're at Katie or €18 and I want to move out. I'm tired of it in so many ways you and your husband are dealing with it. She moves out. What's the behavior that she then begins to express what she's left the home is she now a budding flower is your relationship turned roses know it took a while. Yeah she had some crashes and burns along the way.

Basically like that she wanted to get out because she just didn't like the rules. She just wanted to be on around and nothing was to make her happy until she was she, yes, she hasn't? She went through a period where she can go to work and we didn't know she wasn't going to work until her bosses like I don't know where she is.

I want her to be safe. And so we had go over and see what was going on she did eventually move in with boyfriend that was lurking in the shadows, which we weren't happy about that will mean that is. I love the disclosure of the lemming that had to be a crushing blow genuine who said choices and you we got to the point. I think she got there before I did, but that your husband yes yes got to the point where nothing surprised us. We've adopted this little model that said, it is what it is and now it's hard to deal with.

So we just kind of you brace yourself. When you get the phone call she always had that tone of voice that you knew something was coming and you just brace yourself as like this is our reality now and how we going to live with it, and grieving. What we thought was going to be our future and just saying this is what were dealing with and how are we going to have relationship with her in the mist of the life that she's living because that's the most important thing Brenda that grieving I want to talk about because the grieving process. People wouldn't recognize necessarily, is that that is exactly what it is you're grieving the loss of an expectation that you thought would be fulfilled sure that can play with people in a variety ways. How did you and Jean in your marriage manage that because usually there's conflict there with the parents between them. The conflict with the child is obvious, but it's laying in bed at night. Having this talk and it can be. You have failed her or you have failed her to begin to incriminate one another about your lack of parenting skills are what you didn't do did you and Jean have any of that we didn't however we we kept the conversation going.

We've always been like daily talkers that mean just always keeping up with each other daily and we were encouraging to each other and then as God started to show me what I was doing wrong with her and how I needed to change my parenting style because obviously it wasn't working. I was relating to her. She wasn't feeling like I cared for her as I started opening up to Jean and shared okay this is what I'm thinking this is what I'm thinking he's like okay and he very graciously and gently set. Yes, you could try this or the next time you use that tone then maybe you could use a different town and help me along, and that without being condemning. Did you see a different relationship Jean had with your daughter Katie that you had all my work yes all my work is so easy and he just sit back in the chair and chat that make you angry. Angry yes and address things that were like stirring in me and again personalities he's weight. He's more laid-back. He's the more the introvert, the extrovert, I more you know type A and is like you, we can be happy as a family to we deal with this and I think too many parents take that we can be happy as a family until everybody's doing what they should do. Brenda, if you were to wind the clock back to you and Jean getting married Katie's on the way. Katie is now 345-789-1213 14 what would you have done differently is a good question because some of what she was going through. I had no clue. I tell a story in the book when Katie is 23 and she gets together with one of her childhood friends. They'd been friends since school and they stayed friends all through school and the friend tells her of the story of when they were in junior high and a couple of the good Christian girls at school took her friend out to the edge of the playground past where the playground supervisors were and told her nobody likes you, you have no friends and the little girl was devastated and then Katie tells her friend they did the same thing to me, and neither girl spoke of it to anyone. Katie didn't tell me her friend didn't tell anyone until they were 23 years old and no wonder she would come home in a storm cloud school was tough and so some of the things you don't appear you don't know what your kids are going to you don't know what they're dealing with. And you need to show them love and understanding. Yes, they cannot come home and start kicking the dog and and hitting the little brother that's not allowed. You can give them time to go in the room and decompress.

They don't have to come right home and start talking to you. They may just need some time. Katie shares often in the book.

I didn't know what I was feeling. I didn't know how to process what I was feeling I was just all stirred up so going back. I think I wish I would have had a clue that Katie was a different personality than mine, and then finding a mentor or advisor with that personality to help me.

Can you say you know what this is how your daughters in a deal with this and this is where she is. I think you address this in the book Brenda did she feel that she just wasn't safe in ensuring some of these emotions with you or you just boxing her into behaviors without really understanding her heart, then I think so. I and I think again, Katie didn't know I I figure things out when I'm feeling it.

I figured out I talk about a lot and Katie doesn't process that way. It takes a while to figure it out and then she doesn't want to talk about a lot and I was always thinking I could just talk to her.

I can ask her questions. I can pull it out of her and that made her want to to withdraw even more.

I needed to give her time to to process things and to come out and to talk to me instead of trying to pull out of her and and make everything better because you just can't they come home. They're upset. And sometimes you just can't make it better.

And in the first five minutes Brenda I would think that when you look at it to. There can be a lot of guilt in that process at different stages for different reasons and maybe you talk about your daughter Katie being told people like on the playground.

She did show that I would think for you. Perhaps as a parent. I'm just guessing.

Did you feel some guilt that you maybe didn't even share with Jean about your relationship with Kate every did you have your own secret guilt that was going on. I had a lot of guilt. I because she class with more than anybody me because like that Jean and and she had a better relationship.

He was more laid-back than I was and I was that she would fight with her sisters but the major storms happened with me, so I carried a lot of guilt into her adult years and then finally I also then every decision that she made.

It was like okay this is because you mother mother have cornered you into a bad decision or haven't loved her well enough or whatever. And finally one day got really made it clear to me. Katie's making this decision on her own. This is not your fault and that was that was huge for me. I still have a part to play.

I still had to build relationship with her and not give her reasons to push me away and and to be challenged or whatever, but she was making these decisions on her own. She knew she had choices for and it's really important for a parent to know how to ratchet down.

I think it's very hard to do obviously reading the word, trusting in the Lord. Praying for that child are all right spiritual things to do, but practically speaking, then you're doing all that the Lord getting a hold of your tongue in your heart talk to us for a minute about that and how over time you became better at it because I would think for most parents. That's the core problem is you just speak as quickly as it comes to you without thinking about the shame you might be giving your child the message of inadequacy that you're giving your child and you in the attempt to help them better decision-makers are actually loading on more obstacles for them to be able to make those decisions because they secretly now are walking away in their heart her singing, maybe mom's right leg.

I'm not that good. Maybe I don't know what I'm doing.

Maybe I don't have that wisdom so they begin that self them.

Where did God really work on you to come to get a hold of that responsiveness. At first it goes back to the one-liner without relationship. You have nothing. He shall be without relationship. I have no influence. I have no voice. I'm just background noise in her life.

I have to pursue relationship first before rules before anything else.

And so in the midst of that. I just let God slowly teach me how does this sound, you know, is this, be encouraging to her.

I tell a story about how she would come home from whichever apartment she was living and to spend the weekend and dump all of her stuff at the end of the breakfast bar just kind of in the traffic area talking computer art supplies dirty laundry everything you can think up, and instead of making a big deal about that. I finally stopped talking about it and I just picked up her stuff and moved it because is it more important that the kitchen be neat and tidy, or is it more important for me that Katie come home feel loved and stay longer and come home more often because she feels loved such as deciding what is important dirty laundry in my kitchen. Not a big deal. I know where to get rid of it very quickly. It's more important to have that relationship and to give up the things that I thought were important or not there's one thing that's important. My daughter and her knowing God Brenda. We talked a lot about how you and your husband Jean and Katie have worked out the issues.

Now you're down the line. Katie's help you write this book and that influences really important because it I think it makes the book more real.

But how are you doing today has Katie how is your relationship where you were doing great that kids are all home this past weekend, so we had carried a summary youngest with her fiancé Katie was home with her fiancé and Kelsey and Caleb at Kelsey and Caleb will be her husband were in and out, and Sunday is the last day we had a branch before everybody had backing Katie came to me in the kitchen just up to my face and said mom I want to thank you for everything you've done and she listed cleaning, cooking, and she's she's an adult, she knows how much work it is. And so Katie is now a grad student in Indiana pursuing her Masters of fine arts. She will graduate in another year now exists is now engaged.

She's doing great. She's happy and we best of all, we have a great relationship. The whole family does not backing off and concentrating on loving Katie worked. It really did you know I've gone to stay with her in her apartment in Indiana and its needs a pin is really only I see it keeps a very neat yeah talk about the why of that that she was she trying to get your goat as we say we are in fact she put that little piece in the book. She said she said she noticed when I stop making a big deal about all the stuff she dropped at the end of the bar in the kitchen and she said when my mom stopped making a big deal about it.

I stopped having to make a big deal about it and so she would just come in the house and go take her things to her room. Go take the dirty laundry to the laundry room without just seeing if she could bait me by leaving stuff there. So often you Dr. Kevin Lehman is been at that very microphone telling us when you stop making it about control actually begin to win and that's what you're expressing their exactly back off on the small stuff concentrate on the big stuff that really there's nothing bigger than loving your child no matter what up so often.

I'm thinking spiritually that the Lord has bunch of teenagers in us is a true, think of the parody. I think the Lord the simplicity of it is on the make it so obvious that I'm here. There is that kind of relationship between him and us is definitely in fact I have grown to better appreciate what Christ has done for me and how well he loves me through this whole expensive Katie is like, how would Jesus show her level. What was he have to forgive me thousand times a day. I try to help parents see that you know what you're so perfect either. You have plenty of issues and God's giving you space to work out your issues and time how many years have we been working on some of these things and he's giving you space to do it. Can we not do that for our kids and so yeah, I think we just need to look at that parent child relationship with God will as well. This is great stuff Brenda Garrison book love no matter what I believe in that message. I really do. I think we can apply it not only in our parenting in our marriages but also in the culture at large. I think it's exactly what Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself, because he knows the secret of our hearts, and that is when we feel loved and respected by people we open up to them. We typically end up calling them our best and thanks for being great to be here think is apparent. I'm sure you can relate to the journey that Brenda has been on in.

That's part of the path of life that God has for you, you're bound to experience a lot of joys and some struggles along the way as a mom or dad if you're at that stage of life, when your children are starting to express maybe even exert their independence.

Brenda's book is a terrific help is called love no matter what when your kids make decisions you don't agree with and this is a great resource for parents who are seeking to bridge the gap in the relationship with their children. Maybe that's you make a donation today of any amount either monthly pledge or one-time gift to Focus on the Family and will say thanks for joining us in ministry by sending the book to you. Also, let me mention that we do have a team of caring Christian counselors. If you need someone to talk with.

It might be that what Brenda shared has resonated with you in a really deep way.

Please know that we can set up a free phone consultation or counselors can hear your struggles and point you toward some further help to leave and pray with you if you'd like to make a donation request Brenda's book and also get in touch with one of our counselors when you call 800 K and the word for 800-232-6459 or stop by the show notes for the links when you requested book from Focus on the Family by the way, you'll get a free audio download of the entire conversation and some additional content that we could include on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back and help you and your family thrive in Christ. Couples who pray together grow together spiritually, emotionally and physically. Even more, they grow closer to the one who wants to bless and strengthen their marriage. Focus on the Family's 10 day couples prayer challenge will help you find deeper spiritual intimacy with your spouse and help you connect at a soul text.

Prayer 232728 to get started that's prayer 232728


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