Dr. Laura Ponderings – Holidays, Family, and Death

I don’t get to listen to Dr. Laura as much as I’d like, it’s easier to read things online in between breaks rather than listen to a podcast (plus some of her content isn’t child-appropriate).  Over the past 6 months or so though, I’ve had some opportunities to listen here and there, and I’m always amazed at how her advice is so simple, but can be elusive when it’s problems one can relate to.  It’s so hard for people to see reality at times, and I find that fascinating, especially when thinking about our own questions.

Perhaps it’s easier to solve other people’s problems when you can see the bigger  picture and they can’t, because they’re in the thick of it (or their emotions get in the way of logic and reality).  The Bible acknowledges this, telling us to get wise, godly counsel, and that with many advisers, plans succeed, etc.  We’re not supposed to figure everything out on our own 🙂 and that’s why podcasts like hers are great!

***

Question 1 – Traveling with Kids for the Holidays

A father of 5 was scared of traveling to see all the relatives they usually do because it’s so hard on the kids (and parents) to travel.  It ends up being stressful and not fun for any of them and kind of ruins the holidays in a way.

Dr. Laura frankly told him it’s insane to try to travel long distances with that many kids (LOL why is this so hard for us parents of young kids to understand?  We always try to anyway), why not just stay home and create your own traditions and invite family members you want to see to your house instead?  She went on to add thoughts on how families of young children really shouldn’t be traveling anyway for the holidays, and should put the needs of their kids and immediate family first.  Holidays shouldn’t be that stressful (beyond the normal stress I guess), but filled with joy, peace, and happiness.

I know for us our kids seem to have a very hard time sleeping when we travel to see family, which in turn, causes us to be extremely sleep deprived (one time I got 2 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period)!  This makes the holidays even more stressful and difficult when you’re operating on very little sleep (and your kids are having behavior issues related to the lack of sleep).

The family also has to be worth it to travel with little ones.  Dr. Laura always tells parents that if their family is unwelcoming, it’s ridiculous to go; you’re teaching your kids to think that’s normal and ok.  Most counselors agree the kids will be much better off spending holidays around people who truly love and accept their parents and want to see them (not just the kids).

The father of 5 was relieved to say the least, to feel like he had an, “out,” to not have to pack up his brood and trek around to various family members’ houses.  I found that call adorable.

 

Question 2 – Feeling Relief When a Relative Finally Dies

A older woman called in and was worried about how she’d feel when her mother died (background story of abuse/emotional abuse and manipulation, which led to her cutting her mother out of her life entirely).  She was worried she’d eventually feel guilt – especially after her mother passes away.

Dr. Laura frankly told her that she’ll feel RELIEF when her abusive/controlling mother dies, not guilt.  Aside from this sounding so wrong, this is something I just cannot understand at all – my parents were so loving and wonderful growing up, the only rift we had was when I got married, and even that was fixed a couple short months after and they’ve been our biggest supporters and source of comfort for 12 years now!  I was *always* very close to my parents, and even now my mom is over sometimes several times a week to help out, and goes on outings with us weekly.  My parents also adore my husband, and really go above and beyond to show him love and acceptance (which is consistent with how they were my whole life).  Feeling relief at their passing is something I just could never comprehend.

But for people who grew up with emotionally or physically abusive parents, apparently feeling relief when they pass is a normal thing (unless amends have been made).  This may explain why people who grew up in an environment like that, typically want little to do with their parents when they’re adults (and as a result, they don’t see them often, or are estranged off and on).  Their parents are a psychological burden they carry with them silently – other family members, even siblings, don’t often understand this, but a spouse does.  A spouse sees it clearly, and understands intimately where it’s coming from for them – a place of deep pain and suffering that no one else really understands.  It just sounds so harsh to say they’ll feel, “relief,” but now I can see how realistic that is.  It’s a relief of the burden they’ve carried (their parents) since early childhood!  Of course it will be nice when they just don’t exist anymore.

 

Question 3 – Estrangement and Criteria for Reconciliation

This was a more recent call my husband and I listened to together, about a woman whose family wanted to get back in her life (she’d cut them out for 7 years), and had sent letters to her regarding this.  She felt guilty, and wanted to know if she was obligated in any way, to allow these aging parents back in her life.  She claimed those 7 years without them were bliss!

Dr. Laura asked her if they’d done any of these three things first: Did they show any remorse or apologize in any of their letters to her?  Did they take any responsibility at all for their part of the problem?  And did they try to fix any of the past problems at all, in any way that she could tell?  She answered no to all three.

Dr. Laura advised her it was *insane* to allow her parents back in her life without any of those three things happening first.

I think when a person does try to reconcile, without any of those 3 criteria being met first, it just doesn’t work out, and may be detrimental for people like her parents because they never have the chance or opportunity to repent.  If God just allowed us to be reconciled to Him without the repentance and forgiveness, we’d be taking advantage of Him all the time, and never have the opportunity to grow into better human beings.  Feeling remorse, feeling the pain or suffering of separation from God (estrangement), or going through the humility of making amends or apologizing, is good for us as humans because it brings us closer to God and who He wants us to be.  It’s the exact same with human relationships.

Reconciling without those 3 things happening may even embolden the family members to act worse, because they still feel no remorse for the past problems they helped to cause, and believe their adult child was the problem, and may now feel enraged at the previous estrangement.  Narcissistic parents often feel the estrangement was completely and utterly uncalled for, and therefore view the child or couple as needing to make amends to them for putting them through the estrangement!  Obviously, those kinds of emotions of deep resentment coming from parents like this causes a multitude of new problems for a couple to deal with, hence Dr. Laura’s advice in the first place.

Dr. Laura pointed out that if they haven’t changed, then the problems will just continue.  It is just very rare for people to truly change, unfortunately.

I loved this call and loved how she gave this woman freedom to do what she needs to, without any guilt, and gave her confidence to make choices that are best for her.  You just can’t fix everyone, and some things just can’t be fixed here on earth.  Accepting that, moving on with your life, and leaving things in God’s hands gives one so much peace.

Hope you readers have a great holiday season.  You can hear Dr. Laura’s, “best,” calls here , give her a call, or send her an email if you have a question about the holidays that are coming up!  I’ve always found her advice so wise and helpful!

5 thoughts on “Dr. Laura Ponderings – Holidays, Family, and Death

  1. I listened to Dr. Laura’s show every day when I was an undergraduate and grad student. I feel like she have saved me so much trouble over the years. I had no idea she was still doing shows until you started talking about her. I’m going to have to look her up!

    It seems to me that the number one reason not to travel with young kids over the holidays is they are in the process of developing a sense of home and holidays are an important part of that. Christmas should be a sacred time and an aesthetic experience for children, not something they remember as an inconvenience triggered by people who are not otherwise actively involved in their daily lives.

  2. That’s wonderful that you listened to her during your young adult years. My mom listened to her when I was growing up, so it was often on in the background. I couldn’t believe how wise she was. I wish more people knew about her, she really does help people to, “see,” the truth. And I love how she makes it so simple! People overcomplicate matters, but she always seems to cut right to the chase.

  3. Perhaps it’s easier to solve other people’s problems when you can see the bigger picture and they can’t, because they’re in the thick of it (or their emotions get in the way of logic and reality). The Bible acknowledges this, telling us to get wise, godly counsel, and that with many advisers, plans succeed, etc. We’re not supposed to figure everything out on our own 🙂 and that’s why podcasts like hers are great!

    truth 🙂

    Dr. Laura frankly told him it’s insane to try to travel long distances with that many kids (LOL why is this so hard for us parents of young kids to understand? We always try to anyway), why not just stay home and create your own traditions and invite family members you want to see to your house instead? She went on to add thoughts on how families of young children really shouldn’t be traveling anyway for the holidays, and should put the needs of their kids and immediate family first. Holidays shouldn’t be that stressful (beyond the normal stress I guess), but filled with joy, peace, and happiness.

    yes!

    Dr. Laura frankly told her that she’ll feel RELIEF when her abusive/controlling mother dies, not guilt.

    i have no doubt. the irony in this is that my mother said once that she felt great relief when her own mother died, who abused her. sadly, short of a miracle of repentance, i will feel the same when she dies someday.

    Dr. Laura asked her if they’d done any of these three things first: Did they show any remorse or apologize in any of their letters to her? Did they take any responsibility at all for their part of the problem? And did they try to fix any of the past problems at all, in any way that she could tell? She answered no to all three.

    Dr. Laura advised her it was *insane* to allow her parents back in her life without any of those three things happening first.

    when i was in therapy all those years ago, my counselor taught me to look for opportunities to reconcile IF possible and IF safe. so i’ve tested those waters occasionally over the years. as Stephanie knows, this past summer i was able to reconcile with my dad, which was a huge shock as well as has been a huge blessing. he apologized to me in tears. it wasn’t a detailed apology (thankfully), but it was sincere. i had tested him a few months before that several times before that opportunity for him to apologize presented itself, so i believed his repentance was legit. there is still a part of me that fears it is not legit, and i will probably always subconsciously look for that as he’s not always been consistent in his life. however, he continues to prove himself.

    had he not proven himself and apologized, i would not believe him at all.

    – – – – –

    i think counsel like Dr Laura’s is so important b/c sometimes we simply need both the knowledge that we *can* do these things as well as the *permission.*

  4. on an abusive parent dying …

    there is another side to that. my daughters lost their dad at 14 and 16 years old, and while we were all grateful he could no longer hurt them (and he was hurting them terribly), the opportunity for reconciliation was now gone. also, there is a deep sadness. every one wants a Mommy and a Daddy, and everyone wants their own Mommy and Daddy, and everyone wants their own Mommy and Daddy to love them and care for them. once they die, hope dies with them.

    their dad had two sides – a good side and a really bad side. they miss the good side every minute of every day, but they are relieved the really bad side is gone every minute of every day.

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