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!

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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!

Staying Focus: Having Joy in Spite Of

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I feel like I’ve learned so many little lessons from not only this Joy study itself, but the many different things in my life during this time.  It’s amazing to experience God’s peace and joy, even in the midst of things that would seem negative, things that normally would rob one of joy or happiness or peace.

This week, we’ve been learning how to practice having joy in spite of difficult or less than desirable circumstances.  This journey over the past few months has truly grown me and stretched me, to where I’m not even the same person I was a few months ago.  I’ve heard so many messages now on what God was pressing on my heart – Staying Focus – and so many gifts of wisdom from people in my life on how to respond in better, more Christ-like ways to attacks and accusations.

I don’t retaliate anymore when I’m tempted to.  I don’t try to fight back in ways that only make matters worse.  I don’t give in to feeling ashamed when Satan uses people to bring up my past failures, things I’ve already apologized for and reconciled with them about.  I know God’s used my past failures to help me learn how to respond better in my life, and that I’m fully covered in His grace.  There is no more condemnation for my past failings.  And I know how to spot Satan’s attempts at stealing my joy – they don’t even work anymore – when he tries to condemn me for things I’ve already been forgiven for.  I know I’m covered in God’s grace, and feel no condemnation!  I still have joy 🙂

Now I actually celebrate and am actually a little excited to see insults and slander, not because of it or the pain it does cause me, but because I have the renewed chance to respond the right way this time.  To do things right.  Even last night, I decided to pray for someone that was obviously acting without self-control… again, and trying to cause harm by what she thought was a good plan at retaliation at feeling wronged.  It was exciting for me to know and decide right then at that moment, that I would not retaliate, and that I would pass that test God was giving me to learn how to deal better with sinful people.

I decided not to retaliate with insults or accusations of her past wrongs, or attacks like the last time I failed this test.  I decided I was going to forgive her, again, pray for her, and thank God for what she was doing and saying.  Sometimes we have to forgive people multiple times because they keep allowing Satan to use them.  But my reaction last night, is a far cry from what I would have done just a few months ago.  And that’s amazing!

It’s something to celebrate!  So I’m celebrating this week, for doing something I never would have been able to do with such grace this time last year.  I’m celebrating for the progress and maturity this means for me.  I’m celebrating because in passing this test, I’ll be able to move to the next level with God and be ready for whatever He has for me there.

So be encouraged readers!!  Have joy – joy in spite of.

The One Thing I Hope My Son Learns From Us As Parents: How to Apologize & How to Forgive

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I’ve been reflecting a lot on the dynamics of healthy relationships, and how you want your kids to grow up – who you want them to be as they watch and learn from you.  We send our children messages whether we’re aware of it or not, messages of adults always being right, never having to admit making a mistake, or maybe even refusing to ever humble themselves enough to make an apology when one is crucially needed.

I think… the absolute worst thing for my son, would be for him to grow into a man who cannot admit when he’s wrong or apologize when he knows he’s offended or hurt someone.  Paired with this, would be the inability for him to truly learn what forgiveness looks like – or to gain an unhealthy victim attitude of, “accept all trespassers back into your life, even if they make no effort to change or meet you half-way in reconciliation.”  The effects of these two important life lessons on my son as he grows up and has his own family, will either make his own family stronger & healthier, or spiral into a darkness of devastation, anger, and destruction of relationships.  I’ve seen both firsthand in my husband’s and my family trees… they are examples we will (and have) used to teach our son what apologizing, forgiveness, and reconciliation truly means.

In our family, in our home, we are working on a family mission statement – part of it includes being people who admit when we’re wrong, and are quick to apologize to one another when we know their feelings have been hurt.  We also are teaching  our son the importance of accepting an apology, and whole-heartedly forgiving someone.

I truly don’t undstand how people can go on living life without living out these basic principles.  The only way to live in God’s beauty of joy and happiness (& definitely peace of mind), is to be this kind of person.