Launching Young Adults from the Nest

At the end of many counseling sessions, I can tell that my clients are happier than when they walked in and they have a renewed sense of hope to face the challenges of life. These clients eagerly make another appointment and wave fondly as they leave my office. Ahhh…I love my job. However, there are those “other” sessions that happen from time to time. The client may not like my perspective on a particular course of action they are taking. One such session occurred a few years ago in which I told a young adult that he needed to immediately get off his parents couch and stop being a moocher. He glared at me while sitting with his arms folded and a scowl on his face. Ironically, his parents were there with us during the session and they were both smiling broadly. Funny how perspective makes all the difference. I assure you I wasn’t unprofessional with this young man; just honest. He had taken advantage of his parents generosity long enough and needed a reality check in which I was more than happy to provide. He was a talented, educated young man with gifting from the Lord. Just no internal motivation to get the ball of his life rolling.

Launching young adults into the world is a tricky parenting challenge. Parents want to provide as much support as possible, but they need to do it without crippling the young adult’s ability to think for themselves. All my clients repeatedly hear me talk about “internal motivation.” It is truly the driving force for all our actions. Internal motivation drives our relationship with God, our work ethics, how we treat our spouses, parent our children and all other factors of life.

I encourage parents to support their children spiritually, emotionally and financially to the best of their ability BUT never do so to the point that the spark of internal motivation is darkened. It can be difficult, although not impossible, to relight once it’s dimmed.

Living with Regret

Regret. It’s a terrible emotion. It can take hold of your heart and soul. You hardly think of much else but that one thing you wish you had done, you had not done, wish you had said or not said. You replay the scenario again and again in your head and wish you had done things differently. Regret. It is such a waste of time but yet the pain of regret can be soul piercing.

If regret is so awful, how can it be avoided? After working with many clients who have dealt with this emotion, I have seen a pattern of behavior that often leads to regret. One of the most common factors of feeling regretful happens when you take action based on what other people say you should do. If you follow through on advice that you are not completely in favor of, you run the risk of experiencing regret once the dust settles on the decision.

What are you to do if you are living with regret? The first step is to do everything possible to correct the situation. Try to regain what was lost. Take whatever steps you can to bring restoration. If it is not possible, then you have no choice but to move on. How? The first step is to be very honest about your feelings of regret. The next step is forgiving yourself for your mistakes. This is probably the hardest part. It’s hard to move forward sometimes when you see that your own actions have brought pain.

The best way to avoid the pain of regret is to always seek God’s wisdom before making any decision. Never allow other people to influence you into a decision that does not settle well within your own spirit.

Domestic Violence and Teenagers

Domestic violence is an issue that many people believe only happens within adult relationships, but sadly it frequently occurs in relationships involving teens. The issues of power, control and manipulation are not restricted to adults. I was reminded this week that the lasting affects of teen violence is that it produces young women who believe lies about themselves, men and utlimately about God as well. Teaching young women how to live balanced lives is a very important step in equipping them to resist violence in their relationships.

As adult women, we need to be positive role models of not allowing our romantic relationships to become all consuming of our time and attention. We need to show young women how to have healthy girlfriend relationships, how to spend quality time alone and how to hunger after God’s will for our lives. Teen girls that tolerate violence in their relationships have often made a boyfriend their primary social support. They isolate from their girlfriends, spend less time with family members and stop particpating in hobbies that they once enjoyed. Their world revolves around their boyfriend and that is where trouble can begin. As parents, let us be sure that our daugthers understand what a balanced life should look like and help her to attain that for herself – even if she resists.

Surrending to Setbacks

I am currently doing one of my least favorite things in all of creations – riding in a car for an extended period of time. I can’t stand road trips. I know, it’s a very un-American statement. Hollywood has given us many iconic movies about the adventure and wonders of road trips. All their messages have fallen on deaf ears with me.

The beauty of road trips is that you set out on the open highway with many sights and sounds to be experienced. That all sounds very nice. But as anyone who has gone on a road trip can tell you, not all goes as planned. Roads are closed, cars break down, kids have “protein spills” in the back seats, etc. The sheer number of potential diversions and mishaps that could occur is endless! There in point is the root of my issue with road trips. I don’t like unscheduled setbacks. Hilarious as it might be because life is full of setbacks and 100% are unscheduled. I seem to have more grace for setbacks not involving car rides though.

So the life lesson for me on this trip can be summed up in one word; surrender. I need to take all my expectations and hand them to Jesus. I need to surrender to the joys of traveling with my family and a group of friends for a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I need to trust that the setbacks we will experience will not be out of the sight of my wonderful Lord who has it all planned out perfectly. Wishing you a wonderfully surrendered Labor Day weekend.

Letting Go

There is a phenomenon in counseling that is very real and hard to understand how it happens. For years, I and other therapists, have noticed that we will often have a cluster of new clients that all come in with a very similar concern that they want to work on. The issue could be marriage, parenting, grief/loss or any number of other concerns. My most recent cluster have come in to talk about and work through the process of letting go of something.

Letting go of a job that is no longer, letting go of a life dream that has not worked out or letting go of someone special in their lives. The theme of letting go has been very present within the office lately. Why is letting go so hard? Even when we know something has changed, reshaped and transformed itself, why do we have such trouble allowing it to happen and then moving on?

I think one of the main stumbling blocks to letting go of something is that we remember the best of something. We want to regain the “glory years” if you will of when we remember being most succcessful at our job or enjoying a special closeness and connection within a relationship. We want what once was but may never be again. There is a death of sorts that occurs when we lose something very special to us and we have no way of resurrecting it.

How do we let go and move on when the circumstances require us to do so? We become very honest; atleast with ourselves if no one else. We honestly take an inventory of our feelings and emotions related to the loss. We allow ourselves to be completely transparent with God about our feelings. He knows them anyways and wants us to be real with Him. We allow ourselves to grieve as if a real death did occur. We cry, we pray, we thank God for what is good in our lives and we allow Him to heal us over time. We are not surprised by the depth of our saddness but look for things to be grateful for in the middle of the loss. We also do what God has commanded us to; which is to live one day at a time. So for today we can try to let go and pray for God’s help to wait expectedly to see what He has planned for us next.