Q: I'm a mom. And a wife. And I work full-time. I love my family and I love being busy. But I feel a little ... resentful, I guess, and afraid that I'm going to fail somehow. What can I do?
Jim: For most moms, the job description seems to be something like this: You hit the floor running in the morning, and you don't stop until you collapse into bed exhausted late at night. Then you get up and do it all over -- and usually, you really do love it.
But your busy schedule is what I'd want to ask you about. Do you know how to care for your inner world as well as you do your outer world? We're all like pressure cookers. We can only handle so much stress. Sooner or later, we need a way to release it all.
You're probably thinking, "If I stop or cut back, who will get things done?" Or, "I can't do it all, but I feel like I have to." If you feel like you're barely holding your world together, you could be one crisis away from life spinning out of your control.
You really only have two choices. You can go through a crisis and discover that you MUST stop. Or you can head off a crisis by believing that you CAN stop. You won't find inner peace by controlling a crazy outer world, but by creating calm within your crazy.
Maybe you can find a few minutes to sit and be quiet. Or to enjoy lunch in the park, or a bubble bath after everyone else has gone to bed. There are a million options. Find a few that create physical and spiritual space. You deserve it. And you need it if you hope to refresh your mind, body and soul.
Q: How should we respond to our teenager when he claims that we don't care about what he has to say? We do try to give him our full attention whenever he talks to us, so we don't think his accusations are fair. But we also want him to know that we take him seriously.
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: When a teenager brings this up, many times it is about the accumulation of multiple things emotionally. First, seek to understand where that thought is coming from. Ask questions to seek clarification. You can say, "Help me understand why you think we don't care about what you have to say," or "What is it that you need for us to understand that we are not understanding?" or "What have we missed?"
Don't let yourself get defensive. Your goal is to get to a rational and relational conversation while avoiding getting stuck in an emotionally charged exchange.
The second thing you want to do in response to this desire to be heard is to set up some one-on-one connection times. Invest time for trust and relationship to be built. The one-on-ones can be short moments of daily connection and somewhat longer times once each week.
Also, keep in mind that when a teen says he does not feel understood or heard, sometimes this may mean he doesn't think you are willing to let him get his way or what he wants. This might be a case of your teen getting stuck on what your response SHOULD be (in his mind) instead of what it COULD be. What is your son expecting as your response? He may be unhappy with a consistent boundary; that is OK. You are not his parent to make him happy, but to understand and guide him toward growth, including healthy maturity and healthy relationships.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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