QUESTION: When my daughter, who is now 43, was 4 years old, I married a man, a widower with two girls who were 6 and 8 at the time. While we were dating, my daughter seemed okay with the relationship, but when we married and my husband and the girls came to live with us, she told them to leave.
Eventually she seemed to get used to the idea of us being a family and played well with her stepsisters. Then we moved to the community where my husband grew up. My parents were angry that we moved and took their granddaughter “away from them.” They visited often and took her on trips with them, and in my opinion spoiled her. When she was with them, she always got her own way, regardless. When she returned home discipline was a problem. She was a difficult child to raise.
Several years ago, she moved out of state and three years ago, I couldn’t reach her for about a week, so I called the police to check on her. She was very angry that I called the police and hasn’t spoken to me since. I love my daughter and want to have a good relationship with her, but I don’t know what to do.
Dear Sad Mom,
Nothing tugs at the heart of a mother more than the sense of separation from her child. A mother’s love runs deep – right, wrong, or indifferent, it is an indelible love. The need to know that our children are safe and secure can be a powerful driving force. Regardless of what past actions may have caused or contributed to the current situation with your daughter, forward motion in our lives is really the only directional option any of us has – and how we choose to move forward in our lives can make a huge difference to all involved.
Hard boundaries seem to have been set by your daughter but the good news is that love knows no boundaries! Love is the most powerful influence in the universe. It cannot be stopped. The most powerful outlet for love is prayer for by its very nature it causes a forward uplifting motion on both sides. Prayer respects her space and yet touches the heart in powerfully subtle ways – her heart and yours.
Without trying to force a reconciliation you might reach out to her in a gently unobtrusive way such as a birthday card and holiday messages that demonstrate that no matter what, she is always in your thoughts, heart and prayers. Nothing can ever change that.
Life is always teaching us something about ourselves, and once we realize the gift of personal insight regarding this situation, it will naturally gravitate towards a greater good.
RScP (Religious Science Practitioner)
Center for Spiritual Living – La Crescenta
Dear Sad Mom,
I applaud you for trying to be a loving and caring mother despite the obvious challenges you had to address. It takes a herculean effort to raise a child, and becomes even more challenging when difficulties arise. However, it is important to realize that nobody is perfect and we all have our faults. In my view, the situation you’re currently experiencing is a combination of misunderstanding caused by both you and your daughter.
I see two distinct issues here. The first is your daughter’s perception of her upbringing and her negating the fact that you tried your best to be a good mom for her and her siblings. Children often don’t realize the daily sacrifice and difficulties parents face, both emotionally and financially, to raise a child. Many times offspring don’t fully understand this reality until they have children of their own. In this respect, your daughter should feel deeply grateful and should offer a resounding “thank you.”
The second issue is a common dilemma that parents face: namely, when to “let go.” As children mature into adults, it becomes incumbent upon us to let them grow wings and fly on their own. A central element of a healthy relationship between a parent and grown-up child is giving them the space they need. Parents need to realize that their kids, when adults, often just need to be left alone.
If you feel that your child may be in danger, that’s a separate story. But in your case she was just not communicating with you for a week before you called the police. I suspect it was scary for you, but perhaps she just wanted some “breathing space.” I feel that a more appropriate approach would’ve been to call a neighbor or friend to check up on her. Calling the police took this to a new level, and was probably perceived by her as an extremely unnecessary and embarrassing intrusion on her privacy.
Since years have passed since this incident, your daughter has certainly had ample time to “air it all out” and calm down. I suggest that you reach out to her now via e-mail or snail-mail (yes, it still exists) and tell her that you’re truly sorry about the intrusion and will try not to do it again. Tell her how important to you a relationship with her is, and let her know how much you really love her. Even if you don’t receive an immediate response, you can hope for things to improve as your gesture takes hold and time continues its healing process.
QUESTION: How do you deal with life’s challenges when they seem to happen one after another? We’re scrambling to hold it together financially, but we’re more than tired with recent events: even though we keep up the maintenance on our car, it needed expensive repairs; my husband had a major dental problem; our house needs a new roof; and several of my family members want to visit for a week, which requires running them around to all of the California attractions.
We’re grateful for what we have and we believe in God, but sometimes we wonder if He even knows we exist. How is it that some folks seem blessed with easy lives and others are not?
– Perplexed Believer
Dear Perplexed Believer,
A grateful approach to your predicament is a good start: gratitude for things, house, education, family, location (La Crescenta, USA). We know that so many people do not have all of these – or any of them. And in this economy, many folks who used to feel secure and “blessed” now find themselves in your good company, struggling to stay afloat – not because they don’t work hard or pray hard, but because we have all allowed the few to profit at the expense of the many. It has become pretty clear that prosperity is not a predictable outcome of faith in God. You will find peace as you set aside that expectation and stop comparing yourself to those around you.
I hope that we will all be able to set aside the private shame that we feel we must endure for falling behind economically. As a believer, you know the grace that comes with humility. When we say to our kids, friends, or visiting family, “We just can’t do that right now,” we are more likely to find a shared sense of relief than shame or judgment.
God is present with us as we re-emerge from the individuality of our pursuits and reconnect in communities of mutual care and support. Beyond that, sometimes in our suffering we find that we are being nudged to redirect and redefine our lives toward a new dream or calling. It is possible that God is offering you a more specific opportunity to rethink your life’s direction.
Dear Perplexed Believer,
I too feel life’s constant scramble, but I have to remind myself of some things that you likely already know, but perhaps need to hear from another one such as yourself. The fact that you have a house to worry about, a car requiring upkeep, and relatives that love you and want to make memories of Disneyland (and whatever else they’ll experience with you) is a blessing.
I just spent last week in Colorado. I personally spoke to people that ran screaming from the Century 16 Theater in this recent massacre. Suffice it to say, the dead have no worries like ours, and their families only wish root canals and tight budgets were their big issues today.
Some people do seem to slide through life unscathed, and especially the ungodly. Thing is, you and I have only this life to prove faithful; to learn from struggles and respond accordingly. How will we fare? You must know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and in more ways than just that final one. You’ll weather this current malaise, and you’ll become more Christ-like depending on how much you trusted Him.
Jesus promised to be with you always, and He doesn’t lie. Do you truly believe Him? Consider His Word: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children,” and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb 12:7, 13:5 NIV). The Word of the Lord…
Rev. Bryan Griem
Montrose Community Church