Rules and Rebellion

A dad was frustrated over his stepson’s refusal to take out the trash. He saw it as a personal affront and it became a no-win situation. Here are a few tips on balanced parent/teen rules and rebellion.

1. It’s all about relationship. Think back to where your relationship began to unravel. Ask yourself some tough questions and be honest with the answers. How have I contributed to the breach? Do I demand? What is my tone of voice? When the task is completed, do I say “Thank you” or do I withhold my appreciation as a form of punishment.

2. Respect is more an attitude than a behavior. Make amends and move forward with a new attitude. Respect is denoted through tone of voice more than words used. Do not be put off by the teens off-putting. “Treat others the way you want to be treated” still works.

3. Pass it on. The parent must help the teen to grow into a responsible adult. Often we expect them to become responsible individuals without training. Realize it is a good thing for the child to break away and form his own independence.

4. Training is more caught than taught. Training is to “stimulate the appetite for.” It is show and tell. Give guidelines, state reasonable expectations and do gentle follow-up. Do not excuse your faults while accusing his. Excusing you sounds like, “ I can’t help it, that is just the way I am!” Accusing sounds like, “Why don’t you…” or “If only you would…”

5. There is no par for the course. Do not keep score. Through force or manipulation, you may “make” the person perform the task. That is not winning, it is bullying. It may be a quick fix in that the chore is done, but the relationship is compromised and the rebellion in both parties is strengthened.

6. Keep things in perspective. Do not see the trash not being taken out as an act of rebellion. It may be juvenile irresponsibility. You can be so right you are wrong. You did everything right from whose perspective? Your perspective may be too shortsighted. The power behind self-evaluation is a healthy dose of self-doubt. Am I being critical? Do I have an attitude? Am I willing to see another point of view? How much grace am I giving? Does it need to be my way or my way? Even if you are right, right is all you get to be. You do not get to be superior.

7. This too shall pass. The fact remains that you cannot change another. Set an environment in which he is willing to change. Do not wallow in frustration. Feel the pain and move on. Instead of seeing it as something to drive you crazy, see it as a humorous quirk.

As the relationship between the dad and stepson improved, they went to ballgames and shared fun times. The kid took out the trash most of the time. If not, dad gently reminded him.


Moving Big Walker

This article was published in the Anchor News January, 2004.

“Whoever shall say to this mountain, remove yourself and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes what he has said, it will surely come to pass.” Mark 11:13
There are so many juicy truths in this simple verse. First, “whoever shall say...” God is not capricious. He responds to faith, not personality or accolades. Second, if only we could fully understand the power of our spoken word, for good or for bad. Third, speak “to this mountain.” It is necessary to be specific. Faith does not work in generalities, but in specifics. If you are not specific, how will you know when the mountain is gone?

Fourth, we think in pictures; if we do not get the picture, we do not get the concept. Not only do you speak to the specific mountain, but you also picture it being removed and being drowned, never to rise again. Fifth, you do heart surgery and get rid of doubt. You give no place to the possibility of failure. Sixth, it will surely come to pass. Faith is not necessarily instant. Keep on eradicating doubt, keep on believing, and it will happen.

When Joshua scouted out the Promised Land, he found a specific mountain he wanted as his inheritance and said to Moses, “Give me this mountain.” (Joshua 14:12) It took time; it took crossing the Jordan River and fighting the enemy, but the mountain eventually became him.
I have a vivid imagination and I also like quick results. So in picturing this mountain being cast into the sea, I see the mountain come alive like a cartoon character, flutter her eyelashes, daintily heist her antebellum skirt, quickly tiptoe to the ocean edge, and dive in. My faith walk has proven that it does not happen that fast. Often the Scriptures proclaim, “In the fullness of time”.

I am from West Virginia. In the 60’s my father moved the family to Texas and each of the four siblings married a Texan. All of the mountains in West Virginia are scary to foreigners, but Big Walker is particularly ominous. It has become tradition that anytime we take a Texan back home for the first time, we intentionally go out of the way so we can traverse Big Walker.
Imagine my disappointment when I took my husband, and Big Walker was being reduced to more like a molehill. Traffic was delayed as we waited for mountain moving equipment to load trucks for excavation. It was not an easy mountain to cut down to size. It took over a year of construction, much dynamite, and many workers.

My picture of a quick-sprint-of-mountain-Olympics has been replaced with the Big-Walker- marathon. In the process my faith has grown tremendously, and my patience has greatly increased. In believing and waiting, I have developed a calm assurance that God really is in control, even though he allows me to participate in the miracle.

Moses told the Israelites what would await them when entering Canaan. It would be a slow conquest. The reason was so the Israelites would grow in number, in abilities, and in wisdom. If success comes too quickly, we can become cocky and useless. Too much self-confidence can be a liability. The wait time is developing character in us.

Perhaps that is the biggest mountain to move.


How Do You Make Choices?

ASK MONA: Insights into perplexing questions

Dear Mona,

How do you make choices?


Dear Rodney,

That is a broad subject and a difficult topic. Let me see if I can give you a few guidelines that will cover a wide array of circumstances.

First, you need to determine what you value and what your priorities are, as this acts as your compass for life. Next, take a pad and pen and make a list of pros and cons. Be specific and be honest. Weigh the pros and cons independently, not necessarily against each other.

After thoughtful evaluation, make a decision and go with it for a few days or weeks, giving it your all. After a period of time, re-evaluate by revisiting your options and choices. Does the choice need to be continued, dropped or revamped? If the choice results in inner peace, improved relationships and increased success that is a pretty good indication you are on the right track.

Happy decision making,