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Faithlink - Parent Zone :: March 2008
By Alan S.L. Wong

My teenage child bears resentment against me for having scolded and punished her when young for being disobedient. How can I mend our relationship and how can I deal with the hurt inflicted?

You have chosen the right first step … to mend the relationship with your daughter.

Jesus said

23 … if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
Matthew 5:23-24

Emotionally, your daughter’s resentment towards you will probably cloud her interpretation of all your words and actions. Her negative attitude and feelings towards you will interfere in the communication process so much so that the message she decodes and receives is NOT the message you send. Therefore, it is important that an attempt is made to dissolve this emotional block before any real communication can take place.

  1. Plan what you want to say to your daughter then mentally rehearse how you would say what you want to say.

  2. Choose a time when both of you have sufficient time to talk and a place where you would not be interrupted. A lunch date at a restaurant would be good.

  3. Now say what you planned to say.

    Feelings are neither right nor wrong. Acknowledge your daughter's feelings and ask her for the reason(s).

  4. Listen attentively and seek to understand her perspective of the problem.

  5. Respond only after she has said all that she wants to say.

    Without knowing the nature and details of the problem, it is hard for me to tell you how to respond. Nevertheless, I can think of two possibilities …two possible conclusions based on what your daughter tells you.

    1. You actually did her "injustice" i.e., you had dealt with her unfairly and her anger is justified.

      Apologize to her. If she forgives you … good. If she doesn’t then give her time to let go of her resentment and hurt. In your quiet moments, pray for her and ask the Lord to heal your relationship with your daughter. Continue to show care and concern for her.

      Do not beat your head over what had happened … do not wallow in guilt. I too had exasperated my sons … jumped to conclusions, dealt with them unfairly and responded in anger. As parents, we discipline our children according to what seem best to us (Heb 12:10) but we are fallible and we make mistakes. Learn from our mistakes and move on. Claim God’s promise of forgiveness in 1 John 1:9 which says,

      If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
      1 John 1:9

      When your daughter says "No" to you ... is this a reflection of her rebellious sin nature?

      While it is true that every child is born a sinner (Psa. 51:5 and Rom. 5:12), your daughter is also wonderfully made in the image of God (Psa. 139:13-16 and Gen. 1:26-27) with a free will to choose. Exercising her will (independence) is an essential part of her development.

      She needs to learn to say "No" ... even to her parents ... if she is to stand up to peer pressure later in life. Therefore, it is important for parents to distinguish between wilful defiance against parental authority and a bid for autonomy. Learn to respect her wishes and desires whenever they do not impinge on the Word of God.

      When your daughter sees that you are no longer trying to control her, that there is genuine respect and acceptance in the relationship and willingness to allow for differences in preferences, I believe the healing process will begin.

      However, respecting her does not mean giving in to all her wishes and desires.

      The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
      Proverbs 29:15

    2. You had dealt with her fairly but she is angry because you scolded and punished her.

      First of all, you need to recognize that her response is natural … nobody likes to be scolded and punished!

      All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness
      Hebrews 12:11

      She may not accept it nevertheless explain why you did what you did … that you discipline her because she is your daughter and that you love her. Express your commitment to her.

      7 It is for discipline that you endure;
      God deals with you as with sons;
      for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

      8 But if you are without discipline,
      of which all have become partakers,
      then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
      Hebrews 12:7-8
You said that your daughter's resentment towards you arose from a discipline situation when she was young and now she is a teenager. Do you mean that she has held onto her resentment for quite a while? If so then it would be good that one of our Tackle Box (youth) ministry leaders have a chat with her.

I prayed for you and your daughter. Like to share Isaiah 26:3-4 with you …

3 The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
4 Trust in the LORD forever,
For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.

Is it healthy for our toddler to sleep in our room with us? We are concerned about child safety when he is left to sleep alone in another room.

You were not specific in describing the sleeping arrangement. Does your toddler sleep in the same bed with you and your spouse? Or does he sleep in the same room but on his own bed or mattress?

Debate is more focused on the former … a child co-sleeping with parents on the same bed. Some questions raised (with respect to the child) are

  • Does co-sleeping make the child to be too attached, dependent and fearful?

  • Does co-sleeping teach the child to disregard boundaries … not to have a sense of respect for another person's personal space?
No one knows the answers to these questions. Sure, many of us have opinions based on our cultural and lifestyle background, our own experiences and those of our friends and relatives but the plain truth is that none of us really know for sure.

Children in the same family and brought up in similar ways can be very different … one more independent and outgoing, another more comfortable with intimacy and the opposite sex. There are many factors affecting the growth and development of a child and it is hard to isolate and attribute the cause to any one factor including co-sleeping.

Another question to ask, "Is co-sleeping healthy for your spouse?" "Is he/she comfortable with the present sleeping arrangement?"

Children have a detrimental effect on marital satisfaction. Once your spouse had you all to himself/herself but now has to share you with the children. Children scream for attention and they get it while your spouse is neglected and suffers in silence.

If your spouse is happy with the sleeping arrangement and both of you have a healthy relationship then carry on and let your toddler sleep with both of you. The only exception is when one or both of you are sick!

You know that later on you would have to transit your son to his own room. Take steps to address the safety issues e.g., sleeping on a mattress on the floor instead of a bed, a baby monitor to pick up sounds in his room, a night light, etc

Sweet dreams! Oh, if you like more information such as advantages of co-sleeping, visit The University of Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory.