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parentandteenQ. My teenage daughter is so rebellious and I don't know what else to do. I've done everything I can to make her change. She sits in the back seat at church and laughs, and at home she curses at her brothers and sisters and at me. I know I'm not the best mother but she blames me for her life because I could never hug or kiss her. I try now, but it's too late – she doesn't want anything to do with me.

A. It may look like it's too late, but believe me it's not. The tricky thing about teenagers is they are so very emotional and stubborn and they do what they feel but have no idea what the root is to their behavior. When you ask them why they do what they do, the usual response is, " Idunno." Here are some facts that you cannot ignore that exist, no matter how rebellious or distant your daughter is behaving towards you:

1.She desperately needs your love and approval
2.She does not like herself at all
3.She bases her self-image on the messages that you've sent out to her
4.She feels deprived of love
5.She will carry this emptiness her entire life if it is not healed.

All her rebelliousness, her anger, her cursing, stem back to these basic facts. Imagine an empty well with parched dry ground at the bottom. To fill it back up with water would mean pouring gallons upon gallons of water on to that dry ground, just to watch it soak in and disappear before you could begin to see the water actually start to accumulate at the bottom and rise to the top.

Your daughter is that parched well. As tough as it may seem, and as useless as it may appear, you need to pour out "gallons" of love over her to make up for all that lost time. When she was little, she needed that love, but you withheld it for some reason or another. Don't expect it to come easy or to bring about immediate results. Just do what is right, pray and use your faith and before you know it you will have a transformed teenager at home.

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momanddaughterQ. Every time I look at my daughter I feel like I see a stranger. She has rejected me and mocked everything I try to do since I divorced her father. When I tell her I love her, she flies into a rage. I need to get on with my life, and get over my failed marriage, but I can't with her this way.

A. Don't doubt for a moment that your daughter doesn't want or need your love, she does, and badly. Why she is behaving like this could stem from many reasons, but most likely she feels very insecure about the divorce, and may feel that it didn't have to end this way. She could very well blame you for the fact that the family is no longer together – right or wrong, your daughter's feelings and opinions rare very important to deal with and treat as valid concerns. If you brush her off as being too emotional or too attached to her dad, if you try to point out all her dad's faults to help her understand your point of view, or expect her to move on at the same pace that you are, you will only alienate her and not help her at all. She is hurting and unhappy. You are her mother. Put your feelings to the side for now so that you can help her heal through listening, understanding and not by arguing or demanding respect. Your kindness and sensitivity to her during this time will earn you respect in her eyes automatically. As you do this, God will reveal things about yourself that will heal you too.

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lonelyQ. I just moved away from home for the first time, and even though it's so exciting to be on my own, paying my own bills and taking care of my own apartment, it can get really lonely too. I enjoy coming to church, but once the service is over and I talk to a few people, I still have to face my empty apartment. There's no way I'm going back to my mother's, but I wish there was some way to fill the empty feeling I have.

A. Taking on new responsibilities and facing challenges is a part of maturing, and sometimes it can be difficult and lonely. But also a part of the challenge is learning how to make the changes work for you. You may not be aware that there are many opportunities for you to be plugged into more groups and activities in the church where you can build better relationships and friendships if you want. Depending on your age you may still be able to be a part of our Youth Power Group, or see if you'd like to join the Sisterhood. We have evangelism groups going out around Houston every Saturday, we have our Kids Zone that is in need of child care and teachers every evening, and we are always in need of volunteers for our outreach to the elderly, called the Caleb Group. Ask around to one of our assistants the next time you come to church and they'll be more than happy to give you all the information you need. As you give more of yourself to God, He will give back to you much more than you can imagine.


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wifesuspiciousQ. My wife thinks I am cheating on her, and won't stop accusing me of staring at other women. I have never been that kind of guy and I've always been faithful to her, but because she once was married to a cheater, she's convinced I'm one too. How can I change her mind?

A. There are ways you can help alleviate her fears by being extra careful where you look and how you act in front of other women. Don't allow yourself to have friends among other women that you speak to privately, text or email. All women you have to be in contact with should be strictly on a business only basis. When you leave the house, always let her know where you're going and around what time you plan to be back, and call her while you're there if you can. Allow her to see the phone calls you make, the emails you send out and receive, and with your transparency, she'll have nothing to base her suspicions on.

That being said, she also does need some care in getting emotional freedom from the traumatic experience she had in her past. She is projecting her former marriage onto you, and if she doesn't learn to see you for who you are and begin trusting you, no amount of reassuring will work. She doesn't realize that in her desire to hold onto this marriage, she is harming it with her accusations. Encourage her to come to get some one on one counseling as soon as you can.

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woman1Q. My sister lets her boyfriend sleep over on weekends, but our mom doesn't know. He climbs in the window and I can hear them from my room. She's older than me and can be really mean so I don't bother her or say anything, mostly because my mom would scream at us both if she knew. Am I doing the wrong thing?

A. It's your mother's house, she is the parent, and you are to respect her. In short, the answer is, yes, you are doing the wrong thing. It seems that your motivation not to do the right thing is fear of being yelled at first by your sister, and then by your mom. Making choices just to save your skin are never right. Making choices because you know that God wants you to, gives you the right to ask for His wisdom and guidance, and for Him to work in the hearts and minds of everyone involved so that you are not treated unfairly. Pray against the spirits of anger and trust that God will bless you for choosing Him first. Pray also that your sister will understand that honesty and respect for your mom are more important than your personal desires.


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