Doing Life Together

2 codBrian isn’t doing too well with his parents’ divorce. Lately he’s showing more aggressive behavior. His divorced parents, Sam and Sue, are concerned about his behavior and seek help. The therapist tells them that their unresolved conflict is causing Brian problems. They have difficulty talking about their son without blaming and fighting each other. They can’t parent because they are too busy demolishing one another’s character.

Divorce didn’t solve their conflicts and Brian is still caught in the crossfire of two people who haven’t learned be civil to one another despite their differences. Brian’s behavior is a response to their constant fighting.

Most of you are concerned about the effects of divorce, separation and remarriage on the adjustment of your children. You want to do whatever possible to help them adjust. You already feel guilty about putting children through the ordeal of divorce.

A good place to start is to reduce the conflict between you and your ex-spouse. I know you are thinking, “ If I could do this, I wouldn’t be divorced!” Possibly, but you still have to work on it for the sake of your kids.

So how do you work on conflict reduction with a difficult parent partner?

1) Both agree that your unresolved feelings for each other must get resolved. If this means you need to see someone in therapy, do it. Your child’s adjustment is at stake.

The surprise for many couples is that divorce didn’t make all those negative feelings go away. The feelings stayed. You just left. Conflict between you and your ex must be resolved because it affects your ability to parent. It is very difficult to make rational decisions concerning your child when you feel negatively towards your ex-spouse. It is no secret that parents unconsciously fight with each other through their kids despite knowing they shouldn’t do this.

My suggestion: Work in therapy with a marital therapist who will help you exercise grace and forgiveness towards your ex. It’s time to bury the multiple hatchets. It doesn’t matter how wrong you’ve been treated. God tells us to forgive and let go. He forgives you when you don’t deserve it. Now do the same with your ex.

2) Remind yourself that no matter how you feel about your ex, he/she is your child’s parent. That fact doesn’t change. Help your child see you can have positive exchanges around parenting issues.  It will help build positive feelings in the child as well.

3) Always keep in mind that you are doing this to please God and help your children. Your walk with the Lord is of utmost importance. If you hold on to old stuff, you’ll create roadblocks in your intimate relationship with God and others.

4) Humility is often needed. Putting your needs aside for the sake of your children may require sacrifice. With God’s help, you can do it.

June 14  is Flag day–not a day most people think to remember, but I do. It was the day we buried my oldest brother who was killed by a bomb on an airplane. He was an army officer and father of a two-year-old and a baby on the way. It was a sad season in the life of our family. And not having your dad is a tough thing.

So I want to honor the importance of dads, especially on the eve of this Father’s Day weekend.

Dads are more than second adults who grace our homes. Dads bring benefits to children and families and serve important roles. Despite the mockery of dads in sit coms and the movies, dads are vital to the healthy development of kids.

Here are 10 reasons dads are important:

1) Fathers who have good relationships with mothers spend more time with their kids and bring psychological and emotional health to their children.

2) Fathers tend to push achievement and intellectual development in their children and greatly influence academic success. They have children who get As in school more often and are less likely to repeat grades.

3) Fathers promote independence, moms tend to be more protective and nurturing.

4) Fathers play differently with their children than moms. They stimulate more one-on-one play with their babies and toddlers and help them deal with their aggressive impulses and lessen the frustration of toddlers which spills over to the adolescent years.

5) Involved fathers have children who are more social and popular according to studies (Pruett, K. 2000).

6) Involved fathers have children who are socially better connected with their peers.

7) Involved fathers provide emotional security to children.

8) Fathers who treat mothers with respect, raise boys who respect women and girls who are respected, making them less likely to be involved in violent relationships

9) Fathers who resolve conflict with mothers model this skill for their children.

10) Involved fathers provide an all important spiritual leadership role that models faith in action.

This Sunday, find a way to honor your father!

Happy Father’s Day to my 92-year-old father who was, and still is the best! And to my husband, the father of my children, you are so important to our family. Thank you for all you do.


Apparently, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, is reacting to all the negative press about his remarks to exclude uncool teens and unattractive people from his clothing line. Even late night television picked up the bullying behavior and did a spoof on Jeffries remarks. His comments sounded like a grown up bully–you can’t be part of our club because you are not cool enough. This, from a 60 something man!

Now the CEO bully is offering an anti-bully college scholarship to a high schooler who has maintained high achievement in  the face of being bullied. I wonder if the winner will also qualify to wear Abercrombie’s clothing as well.

Call me skeptical, but it feels like a reactionary move to critics rather than a genuine commitment to change. Jeffries has admitted that he is exclusionary when it comes to his clothing. He has been highly focused on image, touting thin and beautiful as the way to be in and current.

But maybe the public outcry gave him pause, at least from a business perspective.

This story is about what is in the heart. Matthew 12:34 tells us that out of the heart, the mouth speaks. What Jeffries originally said was what was in his heart. Only when there was a public outcry did he try to undo his words.

So is that a bad thing?

NO. Public outcry can cause us to reexamine our hearts. King David did this when he was “caught” by the prophet Nathan. He was in sin, caught, but repented and turned from his sinful way.

We all hold unkind things in our hearts that aren’t always exposed. But when we speak and the heart is revealed, it can be a window into our inner thoughts. If we truly see our sin (pride, bullying, thinking more highly of ourselves than others, etc)  and repent of it, asking God to forgive us, we can grow and behave in better ways. God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins when we confess them.

We can’t judge the heart of Mike Jeffries. We don’t know if he was driven to provide this scholarship in order to clean up his image and regain lost market share. Or maybe, and we can always hope this, the public outcry caused him to re-examine his own heart and make a change. Only God and the people who know him best, know what is really in his heart.

The positive side of this publicity stunt or true change is that one teen will benefit from bullying behavior!

The spiritual lesson is that even if you are caught doing something wrong, you can repent and make changes. That gives hope to all of us.

True change can be measured by consistent action in a positive direction.

Let’s see how Jeffries does.  Behavior follows repentance.



teen girl upsetWhy is it that if you oppose a health care position, you are labeled anti-women?

Let me explain. I’m reading this story in USA Today  about the feds dropping the appeal over the morning after pill. A court has ordered the Department of Justice to comply with the sale of the morning-after pill to girls of any age without a prescription. Once the FDA receives the new drug application from the makers of the pill, it plans to approve it promptly.

Whether you agree or disagree with this decision, it is the language involved in reporting that really bothers me. If you agree that young girls should have access to the pill at any age without parental notice,  you are an advocate for girls and women. And if you think young girls should involve their parents in their medical care, you oppose “reproductive justice.”

Supporters of all access for the pill cry out for “absolute rights” for all women.

So, do school children have “absolute rights” to refuse vaccinations required by law to attend public schools? What if those girls don’t want a doctor controlling their body by giving them a shot? And if my minor child decides she wants breast implants, should she have an “absolute right” to have that procedure without parent permission? I know that sounds absurd, but so do these arguments.

For most parents, the issue is about knowing what is happening to their child’s health for whom they are responsible. This is common sense, not politics!

I would never want my minor daughter involved in any medical procedure or medication without my guidance. She is still under my care, and I am responsibility for her health care. If something goes wrong or there is a side effect, is the federal government going to come to the clinic and provide her care? No, it will be the parents who are expected to deal with the fall out, but have none of the information. If I neglect my daughter’s health care, I can be hauled into court. Honestly, I see allowing girls to get over the counter prescriptions as a form of neglect. No physician is overseeing their care and this is not a best practice. No one is attending to the emotional issues involved in having sex, becoming pregnant and making decisions about the life of a child–this is neglect of the mental health of a person. And you can’t tell me otherwise because I have treated far too many women who made these type of decisions at a young age and admit they wished they had guidance, someone to talk to about their decisions (not a clinic), and more realistic options.

Bottom line, people are not opposing women just because they want some supervision over the health care of minor children. Stop turning these decisions into some kind of political agenda about womens’ rights! How about if we get really radical and consider the health of our children! Just once, I would like to read about an issue where the medical facts, the psychological and spiritual implications are presented without over the top rhetoric. There is no real dialogue about issues like this because the opposition is vilified.

Ann Higgins, director of the councils’ Center for Human Dignity, responded to the lifting of the appeal by saying this was a good move because it put the health and safety of women over politics. I couldn’t disagree more. Involving parents and physicians is putting the health and safety of young girls first and is NOT a political issue–it’s a health and safety issue.

But if the health and safety issue comes down on the wrong side of the political argument, get ready, you are labeled anti-women!


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