#RelationshipTools #relationship #relationshipbuilding #BuildingBridges #Harmony #vengeance #prodigal #prodigalchildren #woundedparents #observer #revenge #forgiveness #prodigalyoungadult #ConflictManagement #pain #StopPain #criticalfactors #episode12 #judgement #judge #stories #reconcilation #truestory #restoration #redemption #innerhealing #healing #newyearresolutions #year2023 #fixingyou #fixingme #fixingus #abortion #drugaddiction #teenpregnancy #moralkidnapping
Friday, January 13th, 2023
Otakada.org Content Count 2,220,788
Full video – YouTube link:
Episode 12 – Fixing You is Killing Me! Find out more from two life stories – Firstly, A Pastor and their unmarried pregnant daughter, and Secondly, an addicted son and His Christian Parent – In Christian Parent and young adult relationship.
Hello Friends, I welcome you to episode 12. We are half way to the end of this relationship series. We have a 2 weeks recess for retreat in prayer and fasting. When we are pack, we will continue with episode 13.
Today, we bring you two stories – Firstly, A Pastor – Rev Wallace and Mrs Betsy and their unmarried pregnant daughter, Susan, who ran away from home and returned pregnant and Secondly, an addict son, Jeff, and His Christian Parent, Phil and Constance Fisher – In Christian Parent and young adult relationship.
How was this relationship managed? What were their mistakes that you can avoid and what worked, that you can deploy in your own life journey or someone who might be going through same or similar circumstances and you might use the learning from this story to help them navigate the path. We have a set of questions at the end of each life story to help you in application in life scenarios where necessary.
Last week, we explored Episode 11 Be Observers and not Judges – Two True life stories – Two Wounded judgmental Parents and their unruly, prodigal children – Chris, Jenny and Jack – Parent and child relationship.
As we target unity in our churches, We are focusing on family because a Christian family is a church unit and when you take out the family unit, you don’t have a church. A big church organization is a collection of smaller families – churches or fellowships. If the bigger church shuts down as a result of some internal conflict or persecution from the outside, or a church split as a result of disagreement on doctrinal issues, everyone will return to their individual families and continue church as usual. That was how the church in the book of acts started and was sustained through the intense persecution they faced in their time, the smaller and scattered you are, the more difficult it is to silence the church and as we race towards the end, that model will be what we stand the test of time because of the increase of persecution that will come against the organized church unit..and so, if there is no unity within family, going to church to have unity is pure hypocrisy – pure and and simple. Infact, the early apostles never picked any leader whose home is not together. That is how important the family unit is in the scene of God.. Read 1 Timothy 3:5 to see the early church pattern…
Today, we are building franchise churches with leaders who have not gone through life storms, through the fiery line of raising families with all that comes along with family troubles. I am not saying it is wrong to appoint young unmarried pastors to church leadership. What I am saying is that Pastoring is a call and not a vocation. We must enquire from the Lord before we start posting people all over the place on the altar of expansion of branches or parishes.
How can an inexperienced and an uncalled pastor keep the church together when conflict arise if they are not called to that office? Conflict will always occur, no matter how small the grouping. May God grant us all wisdom in the selection process of leaders in our modern day church organizations in Jesus name, amen.
Before I share the story of these two wounded families, I would like us to discuss the main title in Episode 12 today, which is, Fixing you is killing me! To give us some groundwork to walk on.
“Finding fault is the product of fear, low self-worth, and anger.”
And why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own? Should you say, “Friend, let me help you get that speck out of your eye,” when you can’t even see because of the board in your own? Hypocrite! First get rid of the board. Then you can see to help your brother.
-Matthew 7:3-5 TLB
Pain would have no opportunity in our lives if we lived in harmony with one another. As social, emotional, relationship-oriented beings, we have no greater need in our lives than that of harmonious, loving relationships. Yet relationship skills are emphasized very little in the church or the secular world. As people develop intellectually, they seem to fall further and further behind in their relational skills. Much of the emptiness in our society is the result of this tragic neglect. Money, entertainment, and technology can never replace the needs of relationship.
How to Help without “Fixing”
A major turning point in my life came when I realized I needed to live at peace with people. For many years I had mis-
guided compassion. I cared about people and wanted to help them. But my definition of helping people was to fix them. In my misguided attempts to help, I created much pain and conflict in
my life and in the lives of others. I wanted peace, but I thought love fixed people. I soon found out that peace and fixing cannot coexist.
The fixer always finds himself being misunderstood. As fixers, we have all these good intentions. After all, we’re doing it for their good, right? Yet we are not valued and appreciated.
Why? Jesus said, in the passage quoted above that our attempts to fix others would be appreciated as much as our blindly sticking our fingers in a person’s eye would be. Regardless of our motive, we will simply cause pain.
Jesus warned of the temptation to focus on the problems of others in Matthew 7:3-5 above. The best thing I can do for you and your problems is to take care of me and my problems. This is not a self-centered statement! You see, if I take care of me-if I develop my heart to walk in love, if I am able to bring the love of God to you in your time of trouble-then I have provided you with a great service.
The moment I come to the place where I feel I can see your faults more clearly than I can see my own, I have become a hypocrite. Strong’s Concordance defines this word for hypocrite as
“an actor under an assumed character; a stage-player” (#G5273).In this scenario, it seems the role we are playing is God’s.
Love compels us to be vigilant and sensitive to the needs in the lives of others. But, with a subtle twist of motivation, we can become more sensitive to the fault than to the need You see, needs are usually manifested through faults. Children say they
are afraid by expressing their need. They usually manifest their fears by some negative behavior. Too often we see the negativee Behavior and never recognize the need that is generating the behavior Singer Dottie Rambo said of Jesus, “He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.”
Our warped definitions of love and “ministry compel us to get the splinter out of their eye.” I don’t know about you but i don’t want a blind person attempting to get anything out of my
eye. I am afraid that in the process, he or she would render me blind as well! That is exactly what happens when we attempt to fix others. We create pain in their lives, and then they create pain
in owes. Thus the cycle of pain and conflict is reinforced in yet another area of our lives.
It is never our job to fix anyone. It is, however, our job to facilitate an environment in which God and people can work together to heal their every pain and thereby solve their every problem. In an environment of love and acceptance, people feel safe enough
to address their issues. Our attempts to fix people usually put them in a defensive mode that lessens the likelihood that even God will be able to work in their lives.
Focus on Jesus, Not Faults
How did we get into this cycle in the first place? It all comes down to what we believe about God. It is our warped concept of God that justifies our hypocritical attempts to fix people.
For example, we assume that God helps us by showing us our faults. But in Jeremiah 31:34 God says, “I will forgive their iniuity, and I will remember their sin no more. “If God remembers our sins no more, then why and how would He remind us of them?
When the Scriptures describe the work of the Holy Spirit they say that He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). In the next few verses, we discover what
In regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
(John 16:9-11 NIV)
Not one time do the Scriptures say that He will point out our faults.
Finding fault is not a work of the Holy Spirit. It is not a spiritual gift. It is neither inspired by God nor led by God. Finding
fault is the product of fear, low self-worth, and anger. It is a vain attempt to end pain by controlling and forcing others to change.
It is the source of more conflict and lost love than almost any other factor. Our attempts to fix each other are killing us! The proof is obvious. Our attempts never work, but we refuse to consider the board in our own eye and continue to search for the sawdust in the eyes of others.
Even when change truly is needed, transformation doesn’t happen by focusing on what is wrong. Everything we know about human behavior tells us that people are transformed into
whatever holds their attention. People who are focused on their faults never escape those faults. God wants you to know that the sin problem, was settled by the finished work of Jesus. He wants
you to know that, through faith in that finished work, you can be empowered in God’s righteousness to be who God says you are.
Our call to follow Jesus is a call to a life that is focused on Him, what He is doing and where He is going. He should become the center of our entire lives. His love, acceptance, and stability- should make us the most confident, stable people in the world. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus promised that if we would “yoke up with Him,” we would have a life that is easy and light.
To “yoke up” requires sensitivity. It means we have to be sensitive and responsive to how Jesus is moving If our attention is on our problems or on the problems of others, we will not be aware of how He desires to move in our lives When He is not the focus. He is no longer the influence. At this point, we do not move with Him. Instead, we often move against Him. When we attempt to fix people, we become the main obstacle blocking God’s working in their lives.
Despite all that God is doing to get us to see ourselves as new creations, made righteous by the blood of Jesus free from fear of wrath and judgment we insist on keeping people focused on their faults. We insist that we can fix them. When we insist on these things, we are actually asking people to give us the place
in their lives that belongs only to God.
This compulsion to pull the splinter out of everyone else’s eye is based on our judgment. Since we know why people are the way they are, we are the ones who can see clearly to fix the problem. It is that very judgment that blinds us to reality and renders us unfit to be of any help to those who are hurting and
struggling. It is this very mentality that causes us to inflict pain on others and provoke them into bringing pain and retaliation into our lives.
Your life is influenced by what you focus your attention on. If you will renew your mind to the truth of what God says about
you, you will not focus on the splinter in another’s eye. Instead, you will be removing the board from your own! The greatest service you can give to others is to take care of yourself. When you can see things clearly from God’s perspective, you will always see that loving, accepting, encouraging and nurturing are far superior to finding fault, condemning, and fixing.
Let’s now look at our two stories today. to help solidify our learning. The scripture says, “Out of the mouth of two witnesses is the truth or the word established for implementation in our own lives.”
First story – The pastors pregnant unmarried daughter – Rev Wallace and Mrs Betsy and their daughter Susan
When Your Child
We Parents can sometimes be incredibly ignorant about what goes on in the minds and lives of our children.
There is a tendency for some parents to think that all is well, there are no problems, and the family is fine, when in reality things are not going well at all. A child can leave a family and still be at home. The break can be moral or spiritual rather than physical.
The Shock of Discovery
The Wallace family was moving from Arkansas to Colorado. The father, the Rev. Arthur Wallace, had been invited
to become the pastor of a young church in a fast-growing suburban community. The Wallaces were traveling in two
automobiles, hoping to arrive at their new home just before the moving van would pull into their neighborhood.
Rev. Wallace was driving the lead car, accompanied by their fifteen-year-old son Roger. Mrs. Wallace (Betsy) was
driving the second car, with their eighteen-year-old daughter, Susan, a recent high-school graduate.
For several days, Betsy knew that Susan was troubled about something. The excitement of a new home in a beautiful state and a challenging church for Dad made no difference. Susan had looked obviously depressed for several days. Moreover, she had been nauseated occasionally during the past few weeks and was not eating well. Her response to Betsy’s questions was, “Oh, it’s nothing.” Betsy had assumed Susan’s problem was that she had to leave her friends behind, especially Chuck, her boyfriend.
However, halfway between Arkansas and Colorado, Susan decided she had to tell her mother the apparent truth: she
was pregnant. She knew she could not hide her problem indefinitely. Betsy and Susan were driving just outside of
Oklahoma City when Susan told her story. She and Chuck had been intimately involved for at least four months. She
was probably two months pregnant.
For the next several miles Betsy was frozen in the shock of a staggering discovery. Questions flooded her mind: “How can I help my daughter? Will she let me? How and when will I tell her father? What will Roger think? How will
Susan’s grandparents react, or should they know?” Then came a big question: “How will we face a new congre-
gation?” Before long the emotions flooded: anger, fear, resentment, pain, compassion, self-pity, embarrassment,
Such situations happen more often than we realize-even to Christian parents. The situations and problems vary with
each case. In one family the situation may involve drug abuse; in another, a misdemeanor or felony theft; in another,
alcohol use or abuse; in another, homosexuality or premarital sexual relations; in another, arrest, and possibly jail or prison; in another, chronic dishonesty. Or a runaway son or
daughter throws the family into the crisis of not knowing for weeks or months where he or she might be. Other parents face a situation in which the son or daughter gradually stops
attending church and starts associating with “the wrong crowd.”
When parents discover that their child has gone morally or spiritually astray, that discovery comes as an emotional
injury, an injury that is often deep and painful.
Taken by Surprise
For parents who have been loyal to what they consider to be the highest moral and religious values, the discovery that one of their children has decided to break with one or more of those family values may come as a total surprise. Susan
Wallace had been extremely active in her church’s youth program, Sunday school, youth choir, and training classes.
She appeared to be a model pastor’s daughter, giving her parents very little trouble through her teen years.
Susan was known as a fine, beautiful Christian girl. But Susan was also good at keeping secrets. She told her parents
only what she wanted them to know. Her relationship with Chuck had been her first intense romance. She didn’t want
to lose him. But Chuck was not active in church. Consequently, her relationship with him was only casual as far as
her parents knew. The Wallaces never imagined Susan would be sexually involved with this boy. There was a lot they did not know.
When the complete story came out, Arthur and Betsy were taken by surprise. They were stunned and in a state of shock for the next week. It is often the case for parents to assume naïvely that such things do not happen to Christian families.
The Wallaces felt that Susan had been morally kidnaped. They had not reared their daughter to behave immorally.
Although sex was rarely discussed at home, the Wallaces had assumed that Susan would “know better” than to have
sexual relations outside of marriage. After all, the church took this position (in some of its published literature, some-
where!), and Arthur had even alluded to Christian sexual values in some sermons. Wasn’t Susan listening?
The enemy was “out there” somewhere. Immediately and directly, the enemy was Chuck. After all, wasn’t he respon-
sible for Susan’s pregnancy? Other segments of “enemy territory” included the high school Susan attended, and especially her peer group. The entire youth subculture tended to be sexually permissive. “They” kidnaped Susan.
Parents may carelessly blame others outside the home or the environment when their child goes astray. It is so easy,
and certainly less painful, to see the cause of the problem as an invasion from without. Nevertheless, having a child
go astray creates a helpless feeling. It is like having a child kidnaped. How do you get him or her back?
Fighting for Recovery
Shortly after the Wallaces moved into their new home, a physician confirmed Susan’s pregnancy. She decided
immediately to have an abortion. This would solve the problem for everyone, she thought, not realizing that one moral
problem is compounded by another.
By a long-distance telephone call, Chuck begged Susan not to abort the child but to come back. Then, as soon as he could “afford it,” he would marry her. However, Susan desperately wanted to attend college, and a baby would be
Arthur and Betsy tried to advise Susan of her options: she could bear the baby to rear herself, with or without Chuck;
she could bear the baby to place for adoption; her parents could adopt the child; or she could have an abortion. Any
one of these options entailed serious emotional consequences. The Wallaces left the decision to Susan. – Learn from that.
Susan insisted on an abortion. In that case, Arthur felt she should handle the expenses from her own savings. This
was one decision from which he would not bail her out. In a few days Susan entered the hospital and had the abortion.
Since Chuck kept calling and pleading with Susan to return to him, Arthur decided to find out more about this young man. An investigation revealed that Chuck was on probation for a felony theft. He had been in trouble with the
police several times. Susan refused to believe that this mattered.
Also, Chuck was supposedly enrolled in a state college. His parents believed he was enrolled, and regularly sent him money which was his main support. Further investigation revealed he was not a student, but only lived near the campus.
During the weeks after the abortion, Susan and Chuck rekindled their romance with almost-daily letters and long, expensive phone calls. Arthur and Betsy spent hours trying to persuade Susan not to return to Chuck. They did not know him, and what they knew of him they did not like. He was not a Christian, and lived by anything but Christian standards. Arthur became desperate to morally recover his “kidnaped” daughter. He tried to destroy Chuck’s letters before she could see them. He made every effort to stop the
phone calls. – Wrong move indeed!
One evening Arthur took the phone away from Susan while she was talking to Chuck and verbally blasted the “no-good
bum” for all he had done to Susan and the Wallace family. – Very wrong move!
Susan became hysterical, threatening suicide as she ran out the front door and down the street in a driving rain. Arthur
went after her and brought her home in a most depressed state of mind.
In fighting for the recovery of their daughter from “moral kidnaping,” Arthur’s and Betsy’s tactics of desperation actually drove Susan to leave home and return to Arkansas.
For the next two months Susan lived with Chuck at his apartment near the college campus. However, all did not go
well with them. As soon as Chuck’s money from home proved inadequate for two people, he told Susan go back to her parents, and that as soon as he could get a job, he would call for her to rejoin him. Susan returned home in disgrace, and she never heard from Chuck again.
It took Susan almost two years to get over Chuck’s rejection. The scars still remain.
The Initial Cover-up
The Wallaces’ first reaction to the news of Susan’s pregnancy was to keep it a family secret. But this was impossible. A member of Arthur’s parish was a nurse on duty in the hospital where Susan had the abortion. Another church member was a physician, in the same hospital, who saw Susan’s records.
What the Wallaces didn’t know at the time was that both the nurse and the physician had had similar experiences
with their own children.
Cover-ups usually close the door on sympathetic understanding and emotional support in such times of distress.
When it was obvious to the Wallaces that trying to keep their problems secret wouldn’t really work, they chose to
share their problem with a small circle of church leaders and their wives. The response was one of genuine care and
support. Some of the deacons had had similar, if not worse, difficulties with their children. Sharing the pain brought
Resenting the Peer Group’s Victory
On reflection, the Wallaces could see that Susan had begun to drift away from the family’s Christian values during high
school, when she chose a peer group outside her circle of friends from church. Gradually, this group of five girls became the most influential force in her life. Susan earnestly wanted to belong to a popular group of peers. In order to be
accepted by these girls, she conformed to their moral standards, which represented a thoroughly secular lifestyle. Sex, profanity, alcohol, and excitement were the four major
ingredients in their lifestyle.
Looking back, the Wallaces realized that Susan’s peer group had successfully converted her to its secular way of life. Susan’s parents’ initial reaction was to deeply resent this group. How is it possible for a small group of teen-agers to undo in a few months what parents take years to build?
Where does a peer group get its power to reverse a youth’s value system? For the Wallaces, Susan’s peer group had
become the “enemy,” almost without the Wallaces knowing it at the time, and the “enemy” had won.
Baffled and Confused
When parents lose a son or daughter to a moral lifestyle that opposes their own, the initial response is usually bafflement and confusion. Arthur and Betsy kept asking each other, “How could this happen to us? What would make
Susan do a thing like this? Where did we go wrong?”
Parents often feel that they are doing their best under the circumstances when they rear their children. It isn’t easy
being parents today. It seems that previous generations knew more about how to rear their children than this generation does. The roles were clear-cut and definite. Everyone knew what was expected of them. Today this is not so.
In recent decades parents have been offered a dozen different ways to rear children. There is general confusion as
to which method is best. Most of us choose an approach that seems best for us, which is usually similar to the way we were reared. Even then we often fail, or so it seems.
Why? Were we blindly inconsistent? Did we say one thing and do another? Were we short on love, short on discipline,
short on communicating our values and religious convictions? In the midst of defeat, we rarely have the insight to
know. All we know is that we’re confused, puzzled, and have no solid answers. Maybe there aren’t any. What difference, we reason, would those answers make now?
Where Was God?
For Christian parents, some of the disturbing yet inevitable questions are, “Where was God? Why did He let this
happen to us? Why did He let us down?”
Parents who have honestly tried to rear their children in a Christian home where church involvement is considered
natural, where Bible reading and prayer are as much a part of family behavior as eating and sleeping, where love and
discipline are fairly well balanced-such parents have a difficult time when one of the children decides in both words
and actions to leave the Christian faith. These parents truly feel “betrayed” by God.
It was not easy for Arthur Wallace to preach his first sermon in his new church because it was the first time to preach after he learned about Susan’s pregnancy. What message did he have from God, a God who let him down? The only comforting thought he could muster was a statement he recalled from a seminary professor’s lecture many years
before, a question from a father who lost a son in battle:
“Where was God when my boy was killed?” A friend was quoted as responding, “He was where He was when His Son died on the cross.
It was then that Arthur hoped that something redemptive and beneficial would come out of Susan’s situation. At that time, however, the possibility did not seem likely. The questions still lingered. Where was God? Isn’t God supposed to save us from such experiences?
Asking for Help
When your son or daughter has gone astray, one of the worst things you can do is pull into your shell and hurt.
Many of us believe that such problems are so personal that they aren’t anyone else’s business. We think that in time we
can handle our own problems. We learn from our culture that we are supposed to be able to stand on our own two feet.
This attitude may be called the Superman or Wonder Woman complex. What is wrong with this is that such an
attitude is based on an unrealistic view of oneself, and it’s stupid. There are no superpeople, including Christians.
When you feel your family has been torpedoed, you need help. Asking for help, although at first a difficult step for
many, can be the first movement toward recovery. The Wallaces turned to an inner circle of two deacons and their
wives. These couples had had similar experiences with their children and functioned as an understanding support group.
In addition, the Wallaces turned to a fellow pastor in another state, who knew the family well. A three-day visit with him and his wife helped to put matters into proper perspective. Since Susan knew and trusted him, she was able to tell things to this friend which she could not tell her parents at the time.
To ask for help is not only to acknowledge our humanity but also to begin the desired healing process. God uses other people to assist in healing in the emotional realm, just as He does in the physical realm.
The Need for Patience
The Wallaces had a long road ahead of them in regard to their relationship to Susan. It took several months to see
any significant changes take place either in Susan or in themselves. Sudden recovery, instant healing, or quick solutions are rare in the areas of value differences and relationships. Such matters take time.
A particularly serious mistake made by many parents whose children go astray is the expressed lack of patience.
We so often want everything to work out right immediately, or at least by the first of the month! But the reality of most
situations works against this.
Susan not only had chosen a boyfriend from a different background; she also had chosen to experiment with a different moral lifestyle from that of her parents, and had found it “fun, exciting, and pleasurable.” In time came the anguish of an abortion, the pain of rejection by Chuck, and the anger
of her parents. Susan failed to realize that these were the results of her new lifestyle rather than the supposed poor choice of friends and behavior. Therefore, it would take time for her to see the difference.
A great need for Arthur and Betsy, consequently, was patience. God has a way of working wonders if we will give
Him the room and the time to do it His way. For most modern parents, patience comes hard. We have a low tolerance for pain. We want instant relief.
It took ten years before Arthur and Betsy saw any positive results from their patience with Susan. During these years Susan floundered morally and spiritually, bouncing in and out of colleges and from one boyfriend to another, “hitting bottom” several times, even attempting suicide on one occasion. Finally by the grace of God, Susan reversed her life direction, an answer to the many prayers of people. She returned to finish college, got a good job, and eventually met and married a wonderful man. Today she has been happily married for over four years and serves as an office manager for a professional concern. The Lord
took care of her even when she was in “the far country.”
Questions for Discussion
1. What were your emotions when you first discovered one of your children going astray?
2. If Susan Wallace had been your daughter, what would
you have done differently from what Betsy or Arthur did?
3. Can you talk about your family situation with a small circle of friends from your church? If not, why not?
4. Why does being a parent seem so difficult today?
5. Do you feel that God has failed you
your family situation? If so, can you describe your attitude?
Second story from Phil and Constance Fisher and their Son Jeff – A Parents Shattered Dreams
Our culture teaches us to dream, to plan for our children’s future. Although our dreams may be somewhat unrealistic, they are important to us and contain a degree of pleasure in the dreaming process itself. However, dreams
can be shattered on the reefs of reality. Things don’t always turn out as we had hoped. Yet we are seldom prepared for this.
Those Early Years
Phil and Constance Fisher were extremely pleased and proud when Jeff was born. Their dreams for him included
every possible ambition. They took seriously the vows they made in church the Sunday Jeff was dedicated to the Lord on parent-and-child dedication day.
Surely, they dreamed, he would grow up to become an outstanding Christian person in whatever vocation he might choose for himself. They dreamed he would one day marry a Christian woman and discover the joys of his own Christian family.
These were big dreams, covering many years. Maybe it would have been enough at first just to dream of the happy days that Jeff would experience as an infant, boy, and young man before he left home. However broad or long-range the dreams, it is normal for parents like the Fishers to aspire to noble goals for their children.
Parents always desire that their children be healthy in both body and mind and that they stay that way as they grow up. Christian parents certainly dream of the day when each child accepts Jesus Christ as his or her Savior and continues growing in the knowledge of God and the Christian way of life.
The Years of Fulfillment
In time the Fishers saw many of their dreams for Jeff come true. In his preschool years he was a pleasant child
who generally responded well to Phil and Constance. He received what most parents would have considered an
adequate amount of love and attention.
Moreover, it seemed that he responded well to the discipline of his parents.
Jeff’s grade-school years seemed fairly typical. There were a few problems at school, but nothing particularly serious
or long-standing. He seemed to get along well with the other children, and his schoolwork was above average. At age ten, Jeff made a profession of faith in his church, was baptized, and continued in all the activities that the church offered
for children his age. He would pray at home along with all the other members of the family. He knew what it meant to
own and regularly read his Bible.
By the time Jeff reached junior high school, he was well on his way to fulfilling his parents’ dreams for him. The Fishers’ expectations of Jeff were being fairly well fulfilled even by the time he reached high school. There were a few disciplinary bumps along the way but nothing serious.
Early Signs of Rebellion
Years later the Fishers could look back on Jeff’s development and see some early signs of rebellion. They could remember catching him lying about something, but this didn’t happen very often. They could recall times when he would take something that didn’t belong to him. This too was not a regular thing.
The thing that bothered the Fishers the most was Jeff’s growing independence. He had a mind of his own and could
think for himself. This especially worried Phil when Jeff would not do exactly what he was told to do. Phil’s reaction
to Jeff’s “insubordination” (Phil had been in the Marines) was often harsh and extreme. Phil used his belt quite often,
especially during Jeff’s junior-high-school years.
It seems that the Fishers failed to understand the natural process of a child growing up and cutting the cords with his or her parents. Although the cutting should be a gradual process, it does need to take place. It usually begins in the
preteen years and accelerates through adolescence.
There are two possible misdirections a child can go in this process of cutting the cords. One is for the cords to be cut
too soon, either by irresponsible parents or by a stubborn, rebellious child. This process would be much like a student
pilot being sent up on his first solo flight so soon that he would likely end his flying career earlier than expected.
The second possible misdirection is for parents to resist cutting the cords for as long as possible. This may produce
either a rebellious child (both nature and culture tell him or
her to cut the cord as soon as self-confidence allows) or an excessively dependent, anxious, and fearful child who has no self-confidence.
The uncut-cord people are as much a
problem to society as the rebellious ones.
The so-called early signs of rebellion may actually be expressions of the natural process of growing up: achieving
independence and self-confidence. The Fishers later admitted that they failed to recognize this in Jeff and overreacted
with harshness and anger. They felt they would lose control otherwise.
The Invasion by the Peer Group
The peer group usually emerges during the junior-high-school years, although it may appear earlier. This group of
friends of about the same age, certainly from the same grade in school, comes into a person’s life in an innocent process.
It is normal for a boy or girl to want friends. During the preteen and teen years the desire to belong becomes quite
The function of the peer group is to assist the youth to cut the cords of the family and achieve independence. The peer
group actually becomes a temporary second family, in competition with one’s family of orientation (the family into
which a person is born).
The major problem with the peer group comes when it represents values and a lifestyle sharply opposed to and in
conflict with those of one’s family. Susan Wallace chose a peer group in high school that expressed moral values
strongly in opposition to those of her family. Her peer group approved of illicit sexual relations, drinking alcoholic beverages, profanity, and a disrespectful attitude toward religion. This group’s summum bonum was pleasure in the context of a thoroughly secular (nonreligious) lifestyle.
Jeff Fisher also identified with a secular, pleasure-oriented peer group during his junior-high-school years. In time this
group of boys began experimenting with drugs. In order for Jeff to be accepted, he had to conform to the group’s behavior. One thing led to another as the pressure to belong mounted. Before long, Jeff was smoking pot and popping pills. If “everybody [the peer group] is doing it” and you’re not, then what’s wrong with you? To be accepted, you have to conform. In his efforts to achieve independence, Jeff discovered that he had become the unwitting victim of a new dependence, the peer group.
Unfortunately, neither Susan’s nor Jeff’s churches provided vital, attractive Christian peer groups. The secular, anti-Christian peer groups of the public school system had invaded the families of the Wallaces and the Fishers and had won.
It would be a mistake to conclude that the peer group was the only threat to Susan’s and Jeff’s Christian upbringing. Other counterinfluences had been at work, slowly, subtley, yet effectively.
Television is certainly a major force in the lives of today’s children and youth. It has been estimated that by the time
one reaches the age of eighteen today, he or she has been exposed to more than fifteen thousand hours of television
viewing since birth.
In our day, you might find one, two or 3 channels at most and they usually will broadcast for 6 to 8 hours at most. Not today..today, it is 24 hours and uncountable number of channels to chose from.
The effect of television on today’s youth has without doubt been tremendous. Although television is not all bad, from a
Christian perspective, it has obviously presented alternative lifestyles and values for youth to consider. Much of its secular influence has been subtle. Illicit sex, the use of alcohol, and even violence often have been presented with an attitude of approval. If parents quietly condone such presentations, youth may conclude that such practices are acceptable for them also.
Magazines, books, and movies, along with the lyrics of youth-oriented music, certainly can convey messages that
counter the Christian way of life. Many youth have accepted these secular messages as their own.
Another influence that has adversely affected some youth who have regularly attended church is certain disappoint-
ments in the life of the church. During her high-school years, Susan Wallace’s church had a youth director who became
sexually involved with one of the church’s teenagers. The exposure of his behavior played a major role in Susan’s gradual disenchantment with the church. This sort of thing happens more often than church leaders prefer to admit.
Although most youth survive such shocking news, some do not. It can be the final “push out the door” toward another
When the Dreams Begin to Disintegrate
When Constance Fisher was cleaning out fifteen-year-old Jeff’s chest of drawers one day and found a marijuana cigarette, her early dreams for Jeff began to disintegrate. Was this just a teen-age fling on Jeff’s part? Was it merely the
result of natural curiosity? Or did it signal something seriously wrong?
Soon after Susan began dating Chuck, Betsy Wallace had found a container of contraceptive foam in Susan’s room. In
answer to her mother’s questions, Susan pleaded ignorance about how the container got there. She speculated that one of her girl friends left it in the room as a joke. With Betsy, as with Constance, disturbing questions flooded her mind.
Is Susan telling the truth? If not, how far has she really gone with Chuck? Or is this just the result of a high-school senior’s curiosity about such things? Could it be the signal of some-thing more than just curiosity?
There’s a Lot You Don’t Know
Living with growing, active, curious, intelligent, and inquisitive teen-agers often presents a major problem of trust
versus distrust between parent and youth. Parents want to be able to trust their children. Distrust is a painful experience. Yet many youth know that in their experimentation with life, in their testing of the moral limits of their family’s values, if they tell their mothers or fathers everything they think or do, then they will be punished or restricted in their behavior.
Rather than face such consequences, youth often choose to hide the facts and keep their secrets. Besides, parents cannot monitor all the thoughts and actions of their children. The best that parents can do is to be consistent in their own behavior, as well as to trust their children to live up to the best they were taught. Even then there’s a lot you don’t know about your children’s behavior. Your only recourse is to place your children in God’s hands-God, who loves them so much more than human parents could ever love.
The Shattering and Its Trauma
When Constance and Phil received a phone call from the police that sixteen-year-old Jeff had been arrested for pos-
session of illegal drugs and was being detained at the police department, their dreams were thoroughly shattered. It was not the end of the world for the Fishers, but their dreams were broken on the hard rocks of reality.
When Betsy and Arthur learned of Susan’s pregnancy, their dreams also were shattered. In their long-laid plans to
rear a wonderful Christian girl, in their efforts to guide such plans to fulfillment, something had gone wrong. It seemed
that the whole endeavor of eighteen years had failed.
The trauma experienced by the Fishers and the Wallaces cannot be described in words. Only those couples who go through this know what it’s like. The best that can be said by way of description is this: it hurts, it’s hard, and it’s debilitating. There is no feeling quite like the feeling of parental failure.
Dare We Dream Again?
Both the Wallaces and the Fishers expected their children to grow up and be like them. Their earliest dreams were
dreams patterned after their own experiences and ambitions. Their children didn’t turn out that way. The dreams were broken. Therefore, they wondered, dare we dream again?
It is natural for parents to want the best for their children, but the fact remains that our children are going to turn outt o be what they want to be and not what we want them to be. These may be very different goals. But children have ther ight to decide for themselves what they will become. This is hard for many parents to accept. They often feel that they have the age and experience to determine the direction their children should go. Yet people like the Wallaces and Fishers are learning that their personal examples of daily living are the best they can offer their children.
If the moral values and religious beliefs of parents are in any sense superior, better, or more meaningful than those
of other people, then the children will have to discover this for themselves. This may mean discovery by way of experimental comparison of alternative lifestyles, painful as that sometimes is.
Getting Worse Before Getting Better
As you read this, you may be in the midst of a traumatic experience with your own son or daughter. You want and are seeking help. I hope these stories helps you. But I want to warn you now: things may get worse before they get better.
You are going to need a lot of patience. You may need to radically change your usual approaches to your child. He or
she may not be through testing the new and different lifestyles. Sometimes the testing has to run its course, much like a virus.
There may be days when you feel you can take it no more: a day when your son is sentenced by a court, a day when
your daughter is suspended from school in April of her senior year of high school, a day when you haven’t heard from
your runaway daughter in more than four months and don’t know whether she is dead or alive, a day when your sixteen-year-old son is visited by your church’s youth minister and your son tells the minister to “go to hell” for no apparent reason other than that he doesn’t want to attend church
Yes, your situation may get worse before it gets better.
But, believe me, it can get better.
Questions for Discussion
1. Can you describe the early hopes and dreams you had pertaining to your children’s future?
2. What were some of the early signs of your children’s rebellion?
3. Are there any uncut-cord people in your family?
4. Why is the peer group such a powerful influence? Are there any Christian peer groups in your church? If not, can they be created?
5. What would you do if you found something illegal or morally objectionable in your child’s bedroom?
6. How can parents prevent lying and distrust on the part of their children?
7. Should wounded parents dare to dream again or should
you be “realistic” and accept what comes?
This brings us to the end of today’s
Episode 12 – Fixing You is Killing Me! Find out more from two life stories – Firstly, A Pastor and their unmarried pregnant daughter, and Secondly, an addicted son and His Christian Parent – In Christian Parent and young adult relationship.