This is Us

One of my sons recommended a TV program called “This Is Us.” He thought I’d like it. He was right. I actually binge-watched it over the weekend. Don’t judge me.

Many of the episodes brought up memories of rearing my own children.  A new baby does not come with a how-to handbook. A teen-ager needs to come with one. Sometimes decisions and actions are trial and error until you find the thing that works . . . and you may never find that thing.

A good mom for my three sons . . . that was my goal. I worked full-time, took care of the home, and was involved in church ministry. Did my kids fall through the cracks? When they were young, I sometimes felt like I failed more than I succeeded.

I’m a senior and my boys are grown, but at times I still have that nagging feeling of having failed all three of them at one time or another. Can you moms relate?

Have you ever said one thing, and your kid hears something completely different? Watching “This Is Us,” I saw the mother make totally innocent remarks that her kids, when little and grown, perceived in a completely different way. It caused anger and misunderstanding, and sometimes resentment.

Memory:  Driving down the road one day, I told my tween son that I felt like God had a special calling of some kind for him, and he would help people. Years later, I learned that what he heard was “God is calling you to preach.” I think it wigged him out. Perhaps it put pressure and guilt on him when he didn’t hear that “call,” because he always aimed to please.

Well, my son went through addiction hell for years. He just celebrated his 11th anniversary of sobriety. He has worked for the last nine years as program manager for half-way houses, helping people to achieve their own sobriety. He does his job from the heart. He has helped save many lives, as witnessed to me by many of the parents whose sons he helped. That is his calling. I wish I had been clearer all those years ago. Preaching is not God’s only calling. He lays many different callings on people’s hearts. He gives us all personal talents to use for His glory. Although he never said it, in hindsight, I think it would have saved him some worry and perhaps some resentment towards me. “A preacher? Really, mom?”

So how do we teach our children and grandchildren the things we think they should know . . . the things that will encourage them . . . without having those misunderstood moments?

I told my oldest son from the time he was born how smart and handsome and full of fun he was. I think all he heard was “blah, blah, blah, I love you, sweetie.” It took him until young adulthood to finally appreciate his own qualities . . . and that came mainly because some university professors and new friends helped him see himself in the good light in which I had always seen him. Of course, that’s my perception. His may be different.

Most of the times I butted heads with my youngest son was because he perceived from a very early age that what was mom and dad’s was his, too.  Our perception was different. It caused a few problems along the way. When he got married and started giving us grandchildren though, all was forgiven!

My sons still come to me for advice from time to time or just because they need a safe place to vent. We still have very different perspectives about many things. But I’ve learned over the years that all I can say to them is what is in my heart. I’ve always prayed for my children, but the prayers have increased as they’ve grown older . . . because life becomes more complicated as we grow older. The only thing I know to do is pray for God’s wisdom when they ask for my advice and listen when they need to talk.

I still tell all three of them how handsome and smart and funny they are . . . how proud I am of them. And sometimes I think all they hear is “blah, blah, blah, I love you.” As long as they know I love them . . .

If you are discouraged about your relationship with your children or the direction they are going in life, I encourage you to give it all to Jesus. Pray for them. Be there for them. But above all, love them unconditionally. Look to God for the help you need and for the help they need. He loves our kids even more than we do. He is the only one who can truly change lives and relationships for the better.

You know, I think every family could say (take us or leave us) . . . this is us!

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

“…love one another with a pure heart, fervently.” – 1 Peter 1:22

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