Ponderings

(This was posted in May of 2012, when I still hadn’t figured out how to publicize. I just read it over, and I have to say, I wouldn’t change a word of it. I remember that spoiled, self-centered young man very well, even after nine years and hundreds of other clients. He provided me with my first major challenge to show the love of God to him, while I found him utterly unloveable to me. There are parents out there who say things like, “My child would never lie to me.” Let me assure you that he most certainly would, and the sooner you realize it the better off both you and your child will be. We are born with the heart to lie, deceive, get our own way. It is the job of the parents to lead the child to Jesus, and show him how NOT to be a liar, cheat, and misery to all around him.

I don’t remember for sure, but this post may have been what triggered me to start a long series called Friday Counseling Issues. You can find them on the right side of this page, with all the many categories on which I wrote, under Counseling Issues.

So.  It’s been a busy workweek, leaving me no time to post.  Tomorrow I should be able to get back to Thessalonians.  In the meantime, I have a little free  time, but this afternoon I have a session I’m really not looking forward to.  I have to be a “good counselor” and listen patiently, when what I really want to do is grab this poor unfortunate soul by the cheeks, make him look at me, shut up, and listen!  I really don’t care how he feels about much of anything, because his emotions are all centered on himself.  That kind of focus will surely lead to depression and other miseries, which he will then blame on all the people around him who don’t understand (read “agree with”) how he feels about the way he’s being treated.  Which, by the way, is with a great deal more patience and forbearance than he would get if he lived in my house!

So I’ve been thinking about what this young man really needs to hear.  This is my list:

1.  No one died and made you the sheriff of the whole world.

2.  No, the universe does NOT revolve around you.

3.  You need, more than anything, to just get over yourself.

4.  You need to apologize to your family for what you’re putting them through with your obsession with yourself, your feelings, your desires, and what you consider to be your rights.

5.  No, an iPhone is NOT a right.  It is a privilege.  You lost it because of your 3D personality.

6.  What’s 3D personality?  Disobedient, Disrespectful, Dishonest.  These behaviors come packaged together, with a neat little Buy One Get Two Free label.

Parents, I wish I could speak with every one of you because if you have one of these entitled, self-important people living in your house, you need to understand that we do indeed teach people how to treat us. They behave the way they do because it works for them.  Parents have given up their power to try to appease these little ghouls who feed off the guilt and psychobabble that parents have absorbed in their efforts to make sure the child is never unhappy.  These kids can’t ever hear “NO!”  or they may feel bad about themselves.

I wish more of them DID feel bad about themselves, because they ARE bad!  We’re so messed up in this ridiculous child-centered society.  Don’t you understand that you never have to teach a child to be selfish, throw a tantrum, lie, or be otherwise horrible?  They already know how to do all those things.  Our job is to teach them to think of others, to control their angst, to behave with courtesy and respect to the other members of their families.  These are traits we all admire, but we seem to feel helpless to demand them from our kids.  We work our fingers to the bone to provide them with everything they think they need, and then when they turn on us and snarl and snap, we’re just shocked and hurt.  After all, look at all we’ve done for them!

The problem is, we’ve missed the boat. Instead of training their character to be upright, outwardly focused, and godly we’ve taught them that they deserve anything they want, and that parents are a temporary inconvenience they have to put up with until they can leave the nest and REALLY start to live.  And do you know what happens when these benighted youngsters do leave?  Yup, you got it–they come back.  They come back because the boss didn’t appreciate how valuable they were, and now they don’t have a paycheck.  Or they come back because the school they attend expected them to actually DO something about getting their grades, and they just can’t tolerate having anything expected of them.

Yes, I understand that in today’s economy they may have no other place to go, blahblahblah. But you know what?  If they didn’t have the safety net of mom and pop, whose lives become one long misery when Junior plops his laundry back in Mom’s lap, they’d figure out something else.  Maybe they’d go on the dole, which is a whole ‘nother topic for a rant.

Ok, I think I’m done for now.  Maybe I should have titled this post “Rant #2.”  I’m sure there will be more.

8 thoughts on “Ponderings

  1. Linda:
    Couldn’t agree with you more! Halfway through raising my four teenagers I resigned to the understanding that many of my peers did not see their children’s teen years the same way I did. To me, I always saw those years as a training ground for adulthood. Thus, I started even when they were 10 and 12 introducing them to the law of effort and its rewards, and the converse law of lack of effort and its consequences. And in this day and age, even many adults think that this is cruel; And that a teen’s life should revolve around having great memories of all the fun, “teen” experiences they had. I believed then, and still do, that their memories should be of milestones of responsiblities, and the pride of accomplishment and contribution they felt in those moments. Accomplishment can be “fun” too, Aye? When I was growing up we attended a small mennonite church; and the youthgroup activities consisted of two times a month: One was a “fun” activity or a retreat type event, and the other was usually some kind of outreach or service project. I think that was a great balance: It certainly contributed to my growth, I believe. Thank you for your rant!

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    1. Thanks, Julia. I know there are lots and lots of really good kids out there whose parents are doing a superb job. Obviously, they aren’t the ones I see in my office. Maybe I should have a day just for the positive results to balance out my perspective 🙂

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  2. Abby Clark

    Seems that there are more resources about dealing with this in children than trying to work with this behavior in your peers. What do you recommend when a friend or family member you care about gets into this mess? Specifically that “I’m not good enough for anything” depression. This guy kinda isolated himself from most people and seems to choose the wrong friends consistently because he feels insecure. It’s not that he is rude & disrespectful, but he is so afraid of what people think of him he is paranoid about everything. It’s like he is on an emotional rollercoaster, terrified that he will have another bad day. He is trying to fix it with things like a special diet & supplements, etc. but the more I talk with him I wonder how much can be fixed with just those things. How much is an “imbalance” and how much is a need for healthy “you need to get over yourself?”

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  3. Very important question, Abby, because there are some major differences in what you’re describing compared to what I wrote. I do have to say that the “I’m not good enough” syndrome still reflects an inward focus; self-centered people don’t all throw tantrums. Sometimes, they just think about themselves too much, and in too negative a way. Depression can be the result. Your guy sounds to me like he needs to get some good, biblically-based counseling on how to change his thinking. I’d recommend a strong dose of Philippians 4:4-8 followed up by a wonderful little book I use with great success: “Telling Yourself the Truth” by William Backus and Marie Chapian. They talk about the misbeliefs we all have; our negative self-talk (“I’m not good enough; I’m too fat/ugly/stupid/weird etc.). When we repeat these thoughts over and over, we begin to accept them as truth. The antidote is to see what the Bible has to say about our worth and value to God, and to learn to recognize our negativity and replace it with truth from God’s Word.

    If this person is someone you have frequent contact with, please ask him to get this book. If he reads it with an open heart and mind, he will experience a change in his thinking; it is what we think about that controls how we feel and how we behave.

    Thanks for your comment/question. There is, of course a possibility that he is experiencing true depression. In that case, he would still benefit from counseling, from the book, from God’s Word, and possibly some medication to help nudge him back to a healthier place so he’s actually able to change his thinking.

    I also love Jim Berg’s “Quieting a Noisy Soul” series. Good stuff.

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  4. Abby Clark

    Thanks for your reply, and I will definitely share those resources with him. Sounds like what we all experience from time to time, so it would probably be good for anyone. Do you have any recommendations for finding a good counselor? I would send him to you, but you’re kinda far away.

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    1. You can check out a couple of things. Go to http://www.aacc.com and use their locate a therapist option. Same for Focus on the Family. I am supported by both organizations. Also, you can try Newlife.com and see if they have a search option. Depending on the person’s location, you may have good success through his church, if he has one.

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  5. Abby Clark

    Great, thanks for the info. And we ordered the book you suggested. Good resources so Adrian can help him. This guy has been struggling with this for over a year and Adrian is worried about him.

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