Friday, April 03, 2009

First Friday's with Val

"It's time now for you to take this critical step of taking off those blinders of wishful thinking or happy childhood memories. It's time for you to see your child as he really is...not as who you wish he was." Allison Bottke, Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children, pg. 83.

When I read this line last May, it was a month after my oldest daughter moved out of our family home and in with her boyfriend. The words crushed me. The reality of these words caused me so much anguish that I couldn't pick up the book again for several months. I wasn't ready to let go of the fantasy that my beautiful child, whom I poured so much love and time and attention into, would somehow how magically return to that same innocent child who never lied, who was never disobedient and rarely angry, who embraced our values and our morals with her whole heart and soul, and who totally respected and lover her whole family.

The happy childhood memories will always remain the same. But the child within those memories had so drastically changed that I didn't recognize her anymore.

We did everything "right." I was a stay-at-home mom, who worked only part-time (10 hours a week) so that my kids would only be in daycare for four hours twice a week. We sent the kids to private schools. We went to church every Sunday. The girls went through all of the sacraments--baptism, reconciliation, First Communion, confirmation--and they participated in youth groups and community service projects. Brownie Scouts, dance lessons, music lessons, sports--all of those activities which are supposed to develop character and discipline. For the most part, my girls were a breeze to parent, going through the typical stages with minor disruptions. God was central to our family life.

The changes began after my daughter survived a severe episode of lupus nephritis. She was gravely ill for quite some time, and came close to death in November of 2005. However, a miracle saved her--and soon after, her lupus went into remission. But just a month later, my daughter began new patterns of behavior which caused her to slide downhill into the abyss of rebellion and rejection of her Christian life.

The whole family went down that hill with her--trying to pull her back up and back into the safety of our loving home. However, she fought us every step of the way, dragging herself and us deeper and deeper into that quagmire of anguish and pain. Crisis and chaos became the new "norm" for our life--so drastically different that what our family had ever been through before. Her physical illness was "easier" to go through than this emotional and spiritual attack we were experiencing.

We finally "let go" a few months ago. I'd like to say it was easy to do, but it was not. However, the chaos has been replaced by peace. Granted, there are days where I still miss my daughter incredibly--but I miss the little girl with the smile which would take your breath away, not the angry young woman who threw everything we ever taught her back into our faces with venom and spit. God has been with me every step of the way--with His strength, His comfort, His guidance, and His gentle and tender presence. As Allison book advises--one has to YIELD everything to God in order to regain SANITY.

If you have any questions or comments for me, please feel free to do so. As time goes on, I will continue to share more of my story and how Allison's book helped me to set those boundaries necessary for me to let go and let my daughter experience the consequences of her behaviors.


Thank you to our guest blogger, Val, as she continues to minister to our hearts each "First Fridays with Val."

Please leave a comment or question for Val, who brings not only a Professional expertise to the issues we struggle with, but a very touching and personal experience. She is a sojourner!


Dawn said...

Been there! It is so hard to look at the pictures of the blonde, blue-eyed innocence and reconcile it with the angry rebellion, or the lies and manipulation that we experienced. Thank you for this and I look forward to more of the story. Our angry rebellious daughter is raising four beautiful little girls by herself, when the truth finally came to her again - the consequences of the rebellion will live with all of us forever. But I thank God for the changes.

sharongsign said...

I AM there now and my soul grieves. I am trusting God to help me put one foot in front of the other, although each day gets better even with the setbacks. I need to learn to take care of myself.

I have ordered the book but they are out of stock at Amazon. I am here in Florida and there are no groups as of yet.

I appreciate you sharing your story, Val as it comforts me in some ways knowing that I am not alone. You and others with you are laying the path for others to follow out of the insanity and into peace that God wants for all his children.

Valrie said...

Dawn - For months, I had to put away all the pictures of my daughter, including family pictures, because it was just too painful for me to look at her. I'm glad to hear about your daughter - it brings me hope!

Sharon - You are NOT alone. Please feel free to email me at if you should ever need to talk. Taking care of yourself is critical, believe me. I shall keep you in my prayers.

Karen said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I just finished reading Allison's book last month. We "let go" of our adult son right after Thanksgiving this past year. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but the peace I felt in my heart after the initial feeling of doubt and confusion, has sustained me these last several months. I am looking forward to reading more of your testimony.

Diane @ Partners in Prayer said...

Dear sharongsign, is out of stock?

The good news? SANITY is making a comeback!

The bad news? I hate waiting!

Have you tried

Bless you as you put one foot in front of the other and continue your journey to SANITY.

It is difficult, it painful; I pray that you will continue to find comfort, peace, and hope here at Partners in Prayer for Our Prodigals!

Lastly, if I can help you in any way finding a SANITY Support Group, please let me know. I have led two SANITY Support Groups here in Minnesota (with a 3rd one starting this month)...and I can tell you first hand--the 6 Steps to SANITY and 12 Weeks to Freedom program is powerful!

Let's talk--o.k?

Valerie said...

Karen - Yes, the letting go is very difficult; but somehow, God is right there to comfort and strengthen us as we go through this journey. Thank you for your kind words.

Allison - Thanks again for letting me share a bit of my experience in order to minster to others.

staceyhoff said...

I am here with my oldest son today. The manipulation, rebellion and betrayal (feels like that to me) are horrible, and yes he rejects his Christian upbringing- even a loving God who is there to help him, whom he see's as just one more rule he has been told to obey. What Dawn said is exactly what I am afraid of, that the consequences of his rebellion will live with all of us forever. I have spent three years trying to appeal to him, and I cannot. I pray and pray. God tells me that either he will let Him into his heart, or he won't. But I can't control it. I can't feel guilt about it, either. I, too, cannot be fairly called a failure as a parent. My husband and I have also sacrificed for our kids and I have devoted my life to raising them. My other kids are, so far, not rebellious. This child cannot be reached by me or his father. Only God can do the work! God is trying to get me to *live* in the peace He has given me upon salvation, in order to do that I have to let go of the idol that is my son. Even as I type this, I break down inside. I keep letting him go, and taking him back. The more I try and teach him (he calls it control him) the more he hates me, so I know my way won't work- even if I didn't have faith in God and have Him saying that to me, I would still see that. Yet I long for him with that terrible, mournful longing that only you other mothers know. I want to obey God, thanks for laying the path, Val- as sharongsign said. God is showing me the way, but I am still willing to life the dead patches that will not grow in the garden, at least not now. God always has a better plan than grieving. I need to have more faith. I will be back here. Thank you, all of you.

staceyhoff said...

Diane and Allison, I meant to thank you, too. Your blog has been on my bloglist for a long time now, Diane. Your doing the good work of the Lord here.

Heidi Pocketbook said...

I can so identify with this post. I could have written almost everything in it. And it was last May that it was evident that our dd was indeed a prodigal-as soon as she graduated from college.

We've not had any problems with setting boundaries, as she's just dropped out of our lives, her extended families lives and the lives of her former friends, period. I haven't seen her since last May, or talked with her since last October. We learned of the lies and deceit shortly before that time and I confronted her with that just prior to her shutting us out. We have tried to keep communications open but we are met with silence (in the form of ignored snail mails or voice mails).

I have a hard time looking at pictures of her and at this point, don't have any framed photos of her out since it's just too painful. She moved in with a guy last May, but what is worse is that we have reason to believe she has become involved with the occult--which grieves us the very most.

I can't tell you how much God has pruned me over this past year. I always thought things like this only happened to "other people's kids" ! I hate that anyone else has to go through this, but I'm glad to have now found other moms besides myself! I hope to get the book you are referring to soon.

Are holidays especially hard for anyone? I really struggled through Christmas, and Easter isn't seeming to be any easier....

Valerie said...

Dear Stacey and Heidi - The pain and anguish are all too familiar for me. And the holidays are very difficult because they are a vivid reminder of how things used to be within my family. I think the more I let God in and the more I let go of this situation (and that doesn't mean I'm letting go of the love for my daughter or the hope that she will return), the more at peace I am. By "at peace" I mean that I am able to FUNCTION on a daily level without being totally consumed by the uncertainty and the pain, and it means that I feel God's comfort and strength to help me get through the day. Yes, I still cry on a daily basis. Yes, the pain is at times the gut-wrenching take-your-breath-away kind. But I try to center myself back into God's presence during those times when the pain is overwhelming, and He hasn't failed me yet. Today marks the one year anniversary of my daughter's leaving. I decided that today is the day I am closing the chapter on being controlled by her loss, and opening the chapter of possiblities to helping others through their loss so that something good and productive can come out of my pain. Thanks for all of your comments - it helps to know that I am touching a few lives out there.

Anonymous said...

My blinders are off after three years of intense "scraping the wounds". I let my daugher go, along with her son (a baby at the time) with what turned out to be a very abusive man. She kept going back. I picked up the pieces and financially have been devastated. I supported her her last trimester and then for 4 months so she could stay at home. I now know I did not help, but enable a monster. Finally, when my grandson was caught in the crossfire (at 16 months old), I stepped in legally to protect him. It's been over a year now, and I have temporary custody. She continues to think he needs his dad and is mad that I think the father should be gone. Now my daughter more than ever hates me and continues to humiliate, harrass and belittle me. She has every other weekend with him. She moved out of state, left him, her horse to starve (my husband and I had to legally gain ownership to put him out of his misery due to deep infection in his leg). It was the humaine thing to do. Now she wants him back. I had to call the police on her last night so she would quit harrassing me by telephone and threatening me.

She doesn't "get" that she would have been in court with either myself or social services. Now I am starting for fear for our property, our horses and our health & safety.

If the judge decides to give me full custody, at least we are prepared to raise the boy, but I want her to be OUT OF MY LIFE. I want her to leave me alone.

I believe that the Lord has used me to help my grandson and I believe he will protect me - my heart toward her is now hardened, but I don't like the way I feel - scared for her retaliation toward me. I've order books from two different sources (both are backordered). I know the Lord is the ultimate protector, and whatever happens with the Judge on final orders is God's will, but geezzz this has been over three years of turmoil. I don't know how much more I can handle. With all the crazy shootings and family quarrels that go bad, I need some encouragement!

Valerie said...

Dear Anonymous -

You have done so much for your daughter! Thank you for protecting her precious son. It is now time to protect yourself from you, and probably the only way you can do this is to place a restraining order against her so that she is forbidden to come in contact with you. You can also petition the court for her to only have supervised visitation for your grandchild with her - so that she doesn't take him out of state with her, and so that you can drop him off at a safe enviroment where you don't even have to have any contact with her whatsoever. Any further communication between you and your daughter should be mediated by Children's Services; and, because of that, you should change all of your phone numbers so that the only way she can get in touch with you is through the caseworker at Children's Services.

It is my hope and prayer that you are able to read Allison's book and get some additiona insight, advice, and guidance for your problem. See if you can find a support group in your area. Keep in touch with me via this blog, or I can find a way to give you my email address.

You are probably emotionally, physically, psychologically, financially, and spiritually drained by now. The only thing you can do now is to find SANITY by letting go, and letting God. Continue to pray for your daughter, but that is all you can do for her. But you are doing a wonderful thing by providing a safe and stable home for her son, and there will be a special place in heaven for you for doing that!

Take care, and God bless. Please keep us informed about how things are going for you!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the post and the encouragement. Here is an update. I ordered the Dr. Dobson radio broadcast that came just in time to listen as I travelled to a horse show. I cried and listened again. I've questioned myself about taking the legal route with my daughter and grandson; I did the unthinkable and turned my daughter in to Social Services. They couldn't do anything, as she moved out of county at the time. I hired a private investigater to track her and that ended no where. I set up a whole bust for the restraining order violation, and the city cops would not honor the 911 call. I've tried to bust them and all for not.

She moved out of state and the court ordered unsupervised visitation even after the Child Family Investigator that we hired testified that it was not in the child's best interest to be with his mother unsupervised. She still get's to take him every other weekend. There is even more that I cannot reveal at this time, but I truly believe she has endangered my grandson since the ruling in January with his natural father by the incriminating pictures on his myspace account and the other grandmother by her myspace account (very irresponsible for a school principle in her 50's I might add).

I know this is all God's will. The small battles lost are overshadowed by our having temporary custody at least for a time. All is good in the bigger scheme of things, most days anyway.

Now, D-day is scheduled May 15 at 11:00 am MST. A decision will be made whether he goes back to his mother, or comes to live with us for good. I am asking for all those readers to PLEASE PRAY FOR GOD's WILL and his personal safety. I understand that on one hand, this is second time around raising kids for me and I feel I have so much more to learn and for another 16+ years now (he's 3). If he goes with his mother, I have to understand it is God's will and I've done everything I can do. But he will then become a pawn between the parents and realistically, a human sacrifice at the hands of unresponsible, dysfunctional and destructive parents. The sad thing is, how many more thousands of young, innocent children are in the same situation across the country? It grieves me, but I've learned to live with grief (I've been blessed with a life of horses and that is very healing for me)!

I appreciate everyone listening and thank you in advance for your prayers for the young little cowboy that just wants to ride his horse and play with tractors. He and I both started showing horses for the very first time in both our lives at the same horse show in February 2009. (His event was lead line where kids 3-8 are lead in a show ring by an adult as they ride, hold reins and back the horse! It is the BEST class in every horse show and it brings tears to your eyes it's so cute!) Anyway, you have to find the joy in the small things so we don't let all this overwhelm us!

I hope this is helpful for other parents, grandparents, siblings and others that no matter what your age, financial status, etc. etc. This is so heartbreaking with grandchildren caught in the middle. I appreciate Allison's advice to take the legal route and perhaps our story (regardless of outcome) will help pave the way for others.

After the 15th, I will reveal my identity and be in a better position to help others protect their grandchildren. After reading some of the book (I've skipped around), but I realize more and more my role in this scenario. I also realize we are almost through the worst part of the "legal road".

Thank you all again.

Valerie said...

Dear Anonymous - Thank you for your follow-up post. You are an amazing and courageous woman, and thank God you are an advocate for your grandson! I look forward to hearing back from you on May 15th, and in the meantime, I shall keep all of you in my prayers!

Debi said...

Hello everyone,
It is only by God's direction that I have found you, His way of letting me know that I am not on this journey alone. I was also thrilled to see that Dianne is from MPLS, not far from here in WI at all so I hope I can meet her sometime & possibly some of you! My heart goes out to each of you as I know only too well the pain of which you each talk about. It's been a 3 yr battle with my son, it seemed to happen overnight & now that he is 18, he has moved out & told me that I need to "let go, just let go mom"! To go back 3 yrs, it started with partying,smoking pot, prescription drugs, huffing, then school, dropping grades, truancy, out patient, intreatment, 2 suicide attempts, counseling, court hearings, over & over again, I felt like we were in the midst of a tornado, it all happened so fast & we were so unaware.
I have Allison's book & also Judy Hamptons, Ready, Set, Go, letting go of Your Prodigal. They have both helped me in so many ways but only recently, I think because after trying EVERYTHING, I realized I could not "fix" him, ONLY God can do that. I'm a single parent but his dad is still involved in his life & we have tried everything together & he has shunned us both.
Everyday I let go & give him to God & I do feel a sense of peace as I know that God is in control of his life. He had my son's life all planned out before he was even born so I know my son is in the BEST hands!I have wanted to find a support group & I believe that God placed it on my heart that I start one here, I even have a name for it, "Praying Parents of Prodigals" & then I find all of you & even a training series for starting a SANITY support group, I can't wait to share it with my church.
I can't put the pictures away of my son, even though it is painful to see them as I so miss those times together & how close we were, he doesn't seem to want anything to do with me now.
Tell me if I'm wrong for doing this but I created a space in his bedroom for me to read & pray for him & added some of my most favorite pictures of him. His bedroom is a place where he once said that he did alot of his "drugging", there's alot of painful memories there for me & I wasn't able to go in there for quite awhile. But with doing this I feel God's presence is there & that is exactly what that room needed.
Thank you all for sharing from the heart, a broken heart that only God can heal. I believe we are all blessed by our sharing.
My prayers reach out to all of you & your prodigals, may God bring each of them safely home.

Anonymous said...

Good morning!

Today is the 15th - the court has vacated the hearing today and has reset for next week. For those that are going through the legal process, or thinking about it, this is God's way of teaching patience and learning the true meaning of "God's Timing".

Ditto with the comments from Debi above regarding finding this site, the books that help us and for me, this is my secret venting place. I'm finding that we all need our "rituals" to help us cope.

Debi, I don't think that "your wrong" if it helps you to work through your healing by pictures, a special place in your prodigal's room, etc. Some of us need nature and the wide open spaces, the early morning smell of horses munching, or a "safe corner of a room" to be still and know God. This is just my opinion, but grief I've learned through grief that you can and will move on. Where you are today is temporary! The blessing in all of these challenges is that we are coming together and sharing our stories and none of us are alone. Our situations differ, but the underlying pain, brings us all together.

In rereading my original post a few weeks ago, I can tell you I was really angry and that is when I sought help, which is how I found this site. In contrast, last weekend as I passed my grandson to his mother (court ordered every other weekend visitation) I as I saw her from afar as she talked on her cell phone, I felt that excited feeling that I used to when my girls were younger (kind of like a new date). I miss the "old" personality. Since it was mother's day when I got him back, I did hug her and told her I missed her. I don't expect any big miracle from this immediately, but now I'm just praying that no matter how the court goes with all of this, I pray for a peaceful restoration at some point. Even if it takes until my grandson is 18 (he's 3 now), I'm finally to the point that it's okay (still not 40 years wondering in a desert!).

On another note, my sister lost her 16 year old son from what we know as a "first time experiment" of a prescription drug in March.
She found him on her couch. She and I have never had a relationship our entire adult life. Now, I call her almost every day and she's moving from out of state with her husband into my rental house so we can get to know one another as adults (we lost our youngest sister to breast cancer 10 years ago).

Moral of the story - we don't know how things will turn out, but pain does bring unexpected blessings. Keep the faith. Thanks for this site and a place to help lift one another and prayers!

Anonymous said...

Doesn't look like anyone is posting any longer - but here's the lastest news. We DID get custody at the end of May. YEAH. I want to thank all those prayers from people I don't even know. Thanks and bless you all!

Valerie said...

Anonymous - I've been thinking about you, though, and I'm so glad you've followed up with letting us know that you have obtained custody. Prayers in that regard have been answered! Please continue to keep us posted, and I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

It's now almost Christmas. I've been very generous with letter our grandson visit his mother and spend time with her as she seemed to be getting her act together. Now she is going to have another child in February. We were all getting along very well, but now she's hired an attorney and is now asking for full custody again! I don't have the funds to hire an attorney again (I still owe over $5,000 for the last round). They are asking for him back full time because now they are a family (although not married) and supposedly I'm trying to keep their family apart and going back and forth is confusing and they say I'm adding to the confusion by not letting him go back.

On the flip side, I know they have violated the permanent protection order of his natural father no one changes in 5 months permanently. I proposed we wait to do anything until after the baby is born, but they are pressing the issue now. By the time we have a court date, it will be springtime anyway.

I want to do God's will and I am trying to be very humble in this. He's not my child - he's God's. I want to do what he wants me to do, but emotionally, there are times I feel like handing him over (but how do I will never know what is right or what is wrong in this situation). I need prayers and some professional guidance. I think my daughter is playing my heartstrings and also manipulating me and it doesn't feel right. I'm getting very angry at her for not doing the right thing.

I don't think I'm keeping him from her, but I don't think her irresponsibility and continual lying can be tolerated either!