Hi Sue,

My name is ______ and I just read your article you wrote about Dr. Laura. I just have to tell you, I am a Jew born anew (but I have been backslidden for years now). Maybe God led me to your article. I couldn’t agree more with you. Dr. Laura just doesn’t understand because she is still blinded like I was. And I was an example like the apostle Paul. One second I thought Jesus was a good man, the next minute, all I did was whisper his name in a moment of deep despair, and I knew he was the son of God and I believed.

The reason I decided to drop you a line is about my two boys who are 21 and 19. Trying to live on their own. I haven’t been able to see them for 2 years now because I couldn’t afford it after a bad divorce after 18 years of marriage.

I actually was going to write Dr. Laura, than I saw your article and I thought maybe you could give me some insight. I am now remarried, neither of us are living for the Lord but I did just buy a Bible because my husband is interested in all the scripture I do discuss with him.

The dilemma is, my boys just can’t seem to buckle down and keep jobs and take on responsibility. They have no choice but to make their own way in this world, buy I still feel like I owe them even though I don’t make much money. My husband and I got them started in their apartment and we told them now you work and pay for all the things you need, however, the youngest I think has gotten into drugs and hardly works, so the older brother was feeding him and paying all the bills. Of course this is ridiculous but he now feels responsible. To make matters worse, the older son just called me to let me know he got fired from his good job in the computer field. He said something about missing a meeting due to oversleeping. I don’t believe he is telling the whole truth. They want to move closer to me but of course they don’t have hardly a dime to their name. I am in such a despair because I desperately want to see my kids, yet I know I have to believe in a tough love belief if I want them to grasp reality. We cannot support them and we shouldn’t have to. What does God’s word say about situations like this? I am a little afraid to find out because I do feel like I failed as a mom and as a Christian.

Is there any hope for me? or for my kids?

P.S. I won’t be mad if you do not respond. This is a little freaky that I am even asking a complete stranger for help, but I don’t have a church home and I would like a Christian perspective. Thank you!

Dear ______,

First of all, I’m so glad to meet a sister in Christ who has deep-deep-DEEP roots in Judaism!!! 🙂

Secondly, my two boys are 19 and 21 also, and I understand COMPLETELY where you’re coming from. I think huge numbers of kids/young adults struggle, because of our surrounding culture that says adolescence means you’re entitled to privileges without responsibilities. But, of course, real life doesn’t work that way.

:::::::::Putting my “Dr. Laura” hat on here:::::::::::::

May I suggest that the feeling that you “owe your kids” is misguided? You’ve done your best and now they’re adults. (I know, 19 and 21 doesn’t LOOK like adulthood as it did when we were that age.) You gave them the huge boost of putting them into an apartment, which is more than many parents could or would do, and said, “You are now responsible for maintaining this. You are adults, now act like it.” And they responded, it seems, by saying, “Don’t wanna be an adult. I’m going to do whatever I want and not think about the consequences.”

If you bail them out now you will be teaching them that someone else (YOU!!) will pay the consequences for their foolish and self-centered choices. And what do you think that will mean the next time? You can be sure they won’t make MORE responsible choices!

Dr. Kevin Leman wrote a great book on child-rearing called How to Make Children Mind Without Losing Yours. It’s really a book on “reality discipline.” The whole concept is to use natural consequences–which is the way God set up the world, right? Consider His command: “If one will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Those are natural consequences. Sounds like it’s in the same ballpark as, “If one chooses sleep over work, let him have to settle for a less-satisfying job.” Or, “If one will not work but takes drugs instead, let him discover there is no physical or financial support for that kind of selfish, immature mindset.”

You say they want to move closer to you but they don’t have money to do that. (And why not? Because of the choices they made?!) Well, guess what. In the real world, if we don’t have money, that limits our options. Why do you think they want to move closer to you? So you can give them money and pretend they’re little boys again! Not a good thing.

The book of Proverbs has LOTS to say about this issue, and I’m going to give you the privilege of digging out what applies to your situation. Look at it as a treasure hunt! <smile>

It’s okay to strengthen your spine, Mom. Your kids will be better off for it, and so will you. It’s okay to bite your tongue and not be “Mommy to the rescue.” It will help them accept responsibility for themselves if no one else will. And no one else should–they’re adults now!

I do hope this helps. You are SO RIGHT about needing to adopt a “tough love” stance. Everybody will be better off for it down the road; your part is to trust in the Lord’s strength and not your own as you take that position of loving your kids wisely by helping them grow into their adult responsibilities by letting them feel the full consequences of their choices.


Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries

Sue Bohlin is an associate speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries. She attended the University of Illinois, and has been a Bible teacher and conference speaker for over 40 years. She is a speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Connections), and serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered outreach to those dealing with unwanted homosexuality. Sue is on the Bible.org Women's Leadership Team and is a regular contributor to Bible.org's Engage Blog. In addition to being a professional calligrapher, she is the wife of Probe's Dr. Ray Bohlin and the mother of their two grown sons. Her personal website is suebohlin.com.

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.

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