Remember that you are an adult now.
There is a simple reminder tucked away in I Corinthians 13 (the love chapter).
When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
I Corinthians 13:11 ESV
1. As an adult child of your parents, you don’t need to respond to them as you did when you were a child.
It can apply here. As an adult child of your parents, you don’t need to respond to them as you did when you were a child. When the truth of this dawned on me, I think I was in my 40’s! It didn’t just happen. It was pointed out to me!As an adult child of your parents, you don't need to respond to them as you did when you were a child. Click To Tweet
Just because you relate to your parents as you did when you were a child, (and not everyone does) doesn’t mean they think of you as a child…at all! I still remember the day that I said, “No, I will not (or can not) do that.” to my mother. I expected it to be a huge event. Instead, the world stayed on its axis and she simply replied, “OK.” I was stunned. Truly!
When I started relating to her as an adult, and not as a timid child, it revolutionized our relationship. I was able to tell her, respectfully, when I disagreed and why…just as I did with friends. It changed the dynamic of so many of our conversations. I didn’t have to wait until my anger was boiling over and I exploded or I was depressed in a corner and withdrawn from the relationship. I was able to simply agree or disagree and not make a big deal over it.
I can’t guarantee the response for you will be the same. But I see so many people responding to their parents as if they were children rather than adults. Stop and think about how you relate to your parents (if you struggle in the relationship.)
2. This also means that you don’t have to relate to them in a childish way in the sense that you can behave in a mature way toward your parents.
This also means that you don’t have to relate to them in a childish way. You can behave in a mature way toward your parents. Hopefully, you have a spouse who can help you see your parents, even those who are difficult, through mature eyes. It may be true that they have gaping flaws, but do they have strengths that you have been unable to appreciate? Don’t wait until you are writing an obituary to find yourself being aware of their true strengths.
All of us have strengths and weaknesses. Often, in certain settings, our strengths tend to stand out, while in other settings they show up more as weaknesses. It isn’t unusual for our strengths to be the positive side of our weaknesses.
We all relate to people that are mixed in terms of strengths and weaknesses…and we love many of them. But sometimes, we find that the weakness of our parents can be unforgivable. Sometimes, it is because we see some of those weakness in ourselves. But remember that very frequently, our weaknesses are our strengths gone too far to an extreme. That can often be difficult to observe…either in ourselves or our family. The results of living with the results of our parents’ weaknesses can often be more irritating to us than we can stand. And we definitely don’t want to consider that we could possibly pass those same things on to another generation.All of us have strengths and weaknesses. Often, in certain settings, our strengths tend to stand out, while in other settings they show up more as weaknesses. Click To Tweet
Here is an example: someone who lies is often creative, can be seen to make up fiction, good at story-telling, etc. Of course, you don’t want to excuse the lying, but it helps you see the strength that is there rather than labeling them as a liar. Deal with the problem of lying, but also look at the strength that is hidden. Find ways to encourage that strength.
3. Another aspect of dealing with parents, and other relatives that can be irritating, is that when they respond to a situation in a way we don’t understand, we make a judgement about them that may be false.
Another aspect of dealing with parents, and other relatives that can be irritating, is that when they respond to a situation in a way we don’t understand, we make a judgement about them that may be false. That is another aspect of relating to them like a child. An adult would go to them and ask them about why they responded that way, but because they are our parents, we find it more difficult. Besides, we have seen them behave that way for years. We think we already know why they behave that way. We think we know! The truth is, we may have no idea!
It is only as we get older that we start to understand what it is like to parent through the whole spectrum of life. First, as our children are babies, then toddlers, then teens. Then, all of a sudden, they are grown and gone. And the years after that seem to fly! I wanted to be involved in the everyday lives of my grandchildren. But it didn’t happen that way. We lived far away. Once we moved here, we were for awhile, but after Ron’s stroke, it has been less. That has been largely a failure on my side, but not intentional. And that is what happens in so many of our relationships!
The lessening of energy after age 70 has been surprising. Moving didn’t help…nor did my husband’s illness. Your parents may have been dealing with something different. Maybe you are too. But all those things that pop up do affect us. The physical, emotional, spiritual changes that happen to us affect how we view life and our relationships.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
bearing with one another and,
if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And above all these put on love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:12-14 ESV
Call to Action: What struggles do you have in relationships with family members, particularly older ones? In our times together, it is always busy. There is never enough time to stop and discuss the hard topics that need to be talked about. Make some time to bite off a piece of one of your hard topics this year to discuss privately over coffee or with a loving family member to mediate (if needed.) If that is too difficult to work out, pray about the relationship and ask GOD to work out a way to discuss what needs to be talked about.
Think about ways you can build up your loved one. Write down your thoughts so you can say what needs to be said briefly as well as put in positive comments. Ask GOD to give you a humble, forgiving spirit when talking together, whenever He orchestrates it. Don’t expect to resolve all issues in one sitting. Think in terms of little pieces. This is another reason why it is important to write down your thoughts and priorities. Don’t have this discussion when either of you are upset. You need to be calm so you can both think clearly and not overreact to what is being said.
There are times to speak up and times to listen. Ask GOD for the grace needed to be loving no matter what is needed for the present time.