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August 17, 2020 1:02 am
Kids are like kites – struggling to become airborne, yet needing the stability of a string. June Hunt says that God designed parents to prepare their “kites” for flight, but some parenting styles can be detrimental to the child’s future. Listen as she gives us biblical hope and help for letting go of harmful parenting practices.
I'm calling about my 28 year old son. Moved out. He said if I was with my mother, I can't be a man. He's my only child.
And I need him to do things with me. But I need him mostly just to be with me because I love him dearly and he loves me, too. But he keeps withdrawing. There seems to be getting resentful about something.
I don't know what to do for my son so he can feel like he's complete. He's a grown man. I just don't know what to do. I'm flabbergasted.
Well, we'll hear more of this conversation today here on Hope for the Heart. You know, as I reflect on how my parents raised me and watched my friends raise their children, I see how they try to shape the minds and hearts of their kids. They help them navigate relationships, make good decisions and so much more. But June says that some parenting styles can be detrimental to a child's future. She shared this with a live audience a while back, and she played this prerecorded phone conversation to help illustrate the point. Let's listen.
When you think about your own life, what do you do when your children grow older?
They're no longer little children.
They're no longer teenagers. I have a niece who was so pushing away from her mom. She was getting a master's degree out of a university in Canada. And she was upset because her mother and father wanted her to be in contact once a week. This niece knew I loved her, so she said they're just imposing on me. She's I just think it's excessive. And I said, oh, OK. Let me understand. Are you paying for your education? No.
Are you earning your own room board?
Everything in Canada? No. OK. So you are living as a dependent. In other words, they have a right to be in contact with you and for you to be in contact with them. She was all stunned. She thought I was going to take her side. I said, no, it's respectful. It's what you need to do. And she had her reasons. She didn't want to. I said, but you are living dependently still on them. Now you have the right. If there is nothing that you're receiving from them at some point to do what you want to do. But in truth, you are receiving much from them. So be aware that they have a right to hear from you. They are investing in you and you are allowing that. And that's actually good that they're investing. It's good that you be in communication with them. Well, she didn't want to hear it, but she did it. Now, today, it's a whole different story. But she was pushing away as much as she could without totally rebelling. Think of kids like kites. Kids are like kites. Your role as time goes on is to give more and more rope, give more and more string. So that one day your child will be able to live independent of you successfully. You are to be a stabilizing force within the life of your child. I thought maybe I would give an illustration to you of one of the four problem parenting styles, and as we go along, I'll just ask you, what do you think this particular mom? What would she represent of these four types? Dependent, domineering, doting and detached?
I'm calling about my 28 year old son. From the time he was four, I raised him alone because his fathers divorced me and moved away. And so my son got to see that every six months to a year. When he was 12, his dad quit visiting. And my son grieves over him and he's on this. But he has excelled in every way. But honorably, he's crushed. He even cries sometimes at 28 years old, if I mention his father. I don't want him around his dad, who lives at the other end of the state from us because his father's not saved. And he smokes and drinks and does things I don't want him to do. Uses bad language and I don't want my son to be like that after I worked so hard to raise a Christian young man. But my son feels empty. He tells me he's a little boy. He's not really a man. And he says he can't feel like a man. And now he's starting to withdraw from me. He moved out. He said, if I live with my mother, I can't be a man. He's my only child. And I need him to do things with me that I need him mostly just to be with me because I love him dearly and he loves me, too. But he keeps withdrawing. He seems to be getting resentful about something.
I don't know what to do for my son so he can feel like he's complete. He's a grown man. I just don't know what to do. I'm flabbergasted.
Wow. She's flabbergasted. Now he's how old? Twenty eight. If I live at home with my mother, I can't be a man. Those are his words. His mom is concerned about what being around his father and being influenced by learned about being around his father. Yet he's hell. Twenty eight. Twenty eight. What is the goal for grown children? What should the relationship be between grown children and parents? What do you think? Adult to adult. Adult to adult. What would that look like?
Respecting each other's opinions. Needs, wants, likes. You don't have to agree with it. Which tried to put it down, allow them to be who they are and they allow you to be who you are without finding fault. OK.
All right. Let's go on and listen to this mom. Obviously, she loves her son and felt pain when this husband left. And so there's this mix.
Did he ever go through the phase of teenage rebellion? Did a lot of kids go through?
No, and I think he's doing it now. Even though he's gonna be 29 in a couple of weeks, he's always been late with everything socially.
OK. Well, I sense from what you said, mother, I used to be a youth director. I saw kids that came in like little kittens, seventh grade and you moved to ninth grade and some of them just had huge changes. I saw kids pushing away from their parents and the pain that that caused the parents. Now, it is vital that you not personalize this. And I wouldn't give you a hundred dollar word individuation. All that means is kids are programed by God to become independent. And the reason it's so hard for the parent is their child starts out 100 percent dependent. That baby cannot exist without a loved one. Who's taking care of the baby. Right. So what the parent has to do is more and more and more let go.
That's exactly what my son says. He's always telling me you need to let go. And I said, well, you moved out. You've got your own life. But my son thinks it's normal for him to visit me once a month. I can't stand that. I want to see him every week. What a cook for him and still iron for him even though he has his own apartment. He was 10 miles down the road. But to me, it feels like 100 miles.
Well, I will tell you that if you push, then it's just going to take longer.
What did I mean when I said going to take longer? Why am I using that kind of phraseology? What's going to take longer, OK, longer for him to become independent? What is his son crying for? What does he said? He wants her to what? Her son is trying to become his own person and her need is inhibiting him in doing that. And she's hanging on for dear life. OK. She's very overly mothering. He wants her to let go. There's something that's not whole. When someone is of what kind of mom are you thinking that she might be of all these? We said the dependent. Debbie. The domineering. Dan doting Dorthy and detached Don. Which one would you say that she might be? You know, I'm just hearing kind of a combination. She's dependent. And we know she's not detached. Kate, I was hearing doting. Let's see if you can figure out. All right. Where is she in her life?
Well, go on. I want you to imagine you're needing a little space. Have you ever had a friend who's just pushing, pushing, pushing?
Yeah, I kind of tend to be that way with some people. If I really like them, I want to be around them. Tend to be that way.
OK. So let's say somebody else is doing that to you. You want to be a friend, but there's no room for you to move forward because that person's right in your face. You can't move toward them. So what is needful is the separation so that when you choose to do so, you can reach out to that person.
Well, once a month seems like he's punishing me. He has one friend and one of his roommates in college. My son calls him and talks for at least three hours and it blows me away. My son can't talk to me that long, but he can talk to this very special young man. Is good buddy. And they talk and laugh for hours time and they take turns calling each other and I'll call my son. And after ten minutes, he's acting anxious to get off the phone. OK.
Sometimes when I know he told me you didn't even answer his phone.
So I call him at work because he is trying to cut the apron strings right now. It's too much for him. He's saying he doesn't feel like a man. OK.
I had asked her how old she was. 58. And he's 28. Who's going to outlive who? He's going to outlive her statistically if he's struggling to feel like a man now, don't you think it's time for him to learn how to live independently of her? Not that we're talking about death wanting her dead, but, you know, she's 30 years older than him. We're talking about if she is to present in his life, she has the strong identity of meeting all the needs and he instead he loses his identity. You think about what could help if you're on the phone with somebody like this. What can help? Because in this case, her help is not what helpful. Her help is not helpful. So think about what is the goal of parenting anyway?
Is it to meet all the parents emotional needs? It should be to allow their kite. Kids are like kites to let the kite fly, ultimately to soar.
This is Hope for the Heart with June Hunt. And you can find more hope and help for parenting and hope for the heart, dawg. Right now, let's hear more from this prerecorded phone conversation Jun had with a mother. This mom says that the more she tries to love her son, the more he tries to get away from her. June is helping her with a new perspective.
Think about a kite as an adult. Your role is more and more to give string more and more to the kite, to the kite, to fly. The objective of a parent is that the grown child can live successfully independent of a parent.
My son and I are arguing now over whether he'll let me do his irony. Don't a business man attacked man and he has to look proper and he wants to wear his wrinkled shirts to work. And I said, no, that will never do. I said, I'll wear them. I even deliver stuff 10 miles down the road. I cook for him, take him food. He doesn't ask for a thing. Think about what he needs.
Grocery is always breaking my heart. I try to love him the more he tries to get away from me. OK. What I can't understand now is to me, he has his independence. I see him as a man. I can't understand why as I try to get close and love him and do things for him.
He gets angry now and he's going to his see, because you said he only calls me about once a month. But you're doing all these other things for him with the food ironing, and he's not wanting you to do that. He's got to be able to feel that he can survive without you. And that doesn't mean that you are out of his heart. But he feels still very mothered when he's 28. Probably none of his friends have mothers that are doing all these things. The issue isn't that he doesn't love you. He is needing to cut the apron strings and you need to help him. This is part of your role. Just realize the parents role is to release, release, release, release. Now, this is another way you're going to need to give. You're going to give him freedom. I say please. No, it is not that he doesn't love you. It's that he needs to feel like he can be whole so that he can function without you, so that he can go to work with a totally crumpled shirt. And if it's important to the boss, the boss will tell him you really need to look more presentable. Yeah, but let the boss do that. Not Mama.
OK. Do you think she's getting this? She said okay. Couple times.
I think as a guy, my mother treated me that way and it'd be embarrassing. My mom would be embarrassing, just the controlling influence. And I suspect his friends and peers probably see what's going on. You know, his mom's looking after him still. And he's a grown man.
Twenty eight. What's going on with 28 year olds?
I suspect his brain dating, looking for a wife. The relationship with his mom probably limits.
Okay, so they're trying to establish an adult identity in the 20s because this is a new era. What does this 28 year old son need?
One of the first things I would want for him is a mentor. He's struggling to become a man and his mom is never going to be able to teach him that well. But God can send someone into his life who replaces the being that he experienced before.
That's superb. That's one thing that mom to do is start praying that he, her beloved son, would have a male mentor. Yes. Thank you. That's very concrete because we see the difference that mentors can make in life. Now, whose need is she really focused on, in your opinion, her own need? There needs to be a shift. Let's go on with the call.
We'll get joy out of any thing I can do for him.
Right. And that's what he's not needing now. What he's needing now is the reverse. Right now, he needs the independence to be an individual not tied to you, not tied to the classic apron strings. This is going to be a gift and it's a gift he wants. If you say, well, why haven't you called me? I can promise you it's gonna not produce the results that you want. Don't make him feel guilty. That's the kiss of death. That will drive him much farther away.
Well, I wonder, his birthday is coming up in two weeks. And I had some secret plans that I was going to sneak into his office because he comes in an hour later than the boss. I was going to decorate my son's office for him and then sneak back out before he got there, a balloon for him and leave a pizza in the fridge and and put snacks around his office. And all his boss gave me permission to come in and do that. But my son doesn't know about it. I'm wondering if my son will only get resentful instead of appreciating me, wanting to make sure he has a happy birthday.
You know what? If it were friends doing it, if it were coworkers doing it. It'd be great. Not momma. I see. It's because he's needing to have his own identity after he feels more secure and whole within himself. I think then you will have earned the potential for him to come to you. But if you keep doing things for him, he's going to feel like you're pushing.
He tells me I'm too grabby. I'm only trying to give him a hug and everything he tells me. Well, there's another word he uses, like I smother em or something.
That's called a smother mother.
You're really feeding your need. Yeah. That's not his need. So that's why it's going to be sacrificial love giving him his freedom. And that means you let him come to you. And just don't come to me. I know he won't until you give space. So you've continued to do all the food and all these things. You need to literally cut it out. In fact, you need to just say, you know, I've been thinking about it. I realize I need to give you the sacrificial gift of zero pressure. I don't want to pressure you if you should want to call. I want you to want to call. Not because you feel guilty or because I've made you feel guilty. I don't want you to come over just because I'm warning you to just know that I will be fine. Of course, you know, I will always love you. But I see that I've been pushing too hard and I need to take hands off. That's my birthday gift to you. Listen, he'll be shot and he'll be so appreciative.
Helping her think in new terms. Do you think she saw this at all at the beginning of the conversation? What do you think she was calling about? How can I work my way closer into my son's life because I want to do all these things for him. And she does want to. She wants to give. But there are times when our help is not helpful and we cause somebody to be dependent on us instead of allowing them to be able to survive, to do well without us. You know, it's easy to have somebody to be dependent on if somebody is there, but it's not helping them be whole, obviously. Over and over in the Bible, you see all kinds of scriptures. The Lord is my light and my salvation. Who have I. In heaven. But you, Lord, you said. Well, but you have other people. Yes. But he needs to be preeminent. The closer her dependance is on the Lord himself, the less desperate she is going to be for unhealthy attachment. That's part of the problem when there is too much dependency, too much over response. But the way it feels good for a while to have somebody who's there to meet all the needs. But then after a while, if it's not healthy, it's like I need to evaluate what does my child really need? It's looking at the true needs of the child. The last thing that this son needs is mama in the office surreptitious. We hiding snacks, calling the boss. She had it all planned beautifully. Sometimes if we allow ourselves to be the one who is giving too much. It ultimately makes the other person just not feeling whole.
This is Hope for the Heart. With June Hunt and she'll be back in just a minute. I really like that illustration June shared about kids being like kites. They struggled to become airborne, yet need the stability of the string. Today, you can get a free download of a quick reference guide on parenting and other topics related to families when you go to hope for the heart, dawg. And whether you're a new parent or a seasoned parent, you'll benefit from our new keys for living on parenting. It's called Steps for Successful Parenting. You can get a digital copy or order a copy of the book and hope for the heart, dawg. Now, here again is June.
Parenting is like a divine treasure hunt as you search for the strength. God has sovereignly hardwired into your children, then as you discern their God given strengths, you can establish firm and fair boundaries to instill the self-discipline required to reach their full potential. Think about it this way. A changed mind produces a change heart and a change. Heart produces a changed life. This is the progression of how people grow and change. Romans, 12, tells us that we are to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Your goal as a parent is to help shape the minds and hearts of your children, cultivating their inner attitudes that will be reflected in their outer behavior.
Well, I really appreciate Jun sharing this insight into parenting styles. As I mentioned, our new Keys for Living series includes a guide on parenting. It's called Steps for Successful Parenting. And you can get a digital copy or order a copy of the book and hope for the heart. Gheorghe Hope for the Heart is here to help you discover what the Bible says about the hurts, the habits and the struggles in life and with all the social media, video chats and other technology. There's no reason for anyone to suffer alone. Here's more.
Taking them off my hook and placing them on to God's hook. I did just this. And my dried, hardened heart was softened. I cried to my father for mercy and forgiveness. It was a cultivating experience, a renewing of my mind and joy. I had not experienced joy for years.
Our mission this year at Hope for the Heart is to help millions on the Internet like Brenda understand how to believe, trust and apply God's truth to their life.
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Thank you for sharing. Hope by responding to this need, that Web site again is hope for the hard work for June hot time. Joe Wolf joining us on Facebook for daily access, the biblical hope and practical help. June Hunt has her own Facebook page. And there's a page for hope for the heart as well. We'll be back tomorrow. So join us right here on Hope for the Heart.