It’s my pleasure to welcome author, speaker, and licensed mental health counselor Brenda L. Yoder today, with a guest post on five truths about home.
The encouragement and advice that Brenda shares from her own experience helped me to see the importance of these final years before my kids leave the home. Fledge nudged me to re-evaluate my heart and my priorities, and to be more intentional about the way I treat my kids now, while they’re still under my roof.
If you have teenagers in the home, you’re going to want to get your hands on this book.
And guess what? You have an opportunity to win a copy at the end of this post! That’s right . . . after you read Brenda’s wisdom below, enter to win a copy of her book.
By the way, affiliate links have been used in this post. That means that if you choose to click through and make a purchase, I’ll receive a few pennies in commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your support!
Brenda’s post about home is part of the series, Heading Home Together — a series of guest posts on topics related to home, eternity, longing, and belonging.
To read more posts in this series, visit the Heading Home Together contents page.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1
“Draw it again,” I asked my third grader. I was investigating the House-Tree-Person test I was learning in graduate school for counseling. Supposedly you can find out things from a person’s psyche, especially children, when they draw a house. My son was my guinea pig.
Ethan drew a two-story house with pane windows, a sidewalk, and a barn similar to ours. As I searched for the meaning of the symbols, I panicked because there wasn’t a chimney on his house. According to the testing symbols, a chimney (with smoke) meant a loving and nurturing home.
“Your children do not feel loved. You messed them up,” my internal Freud screamed.
I followed Ethan around, asking him three or four times to draw another house (yes, I really did.). Each time, there was a similar house as the one before–without a chimney.
The missing chimney haunted me because I had made a mess of our home in the years prior. Raising four children from toddlers to teenagers while teaching 180 high school students had pulled me in all directions. I was stressed out and physically and emotionally exhausted. I was an irritable, reactionary, and angry mom most of the time. I’d yell at whoever was the snarkiest and conflict rolled down the family food chain. Our home was fill with pain, not peace.
The summer before my firstborn’s sophomore year in high school, I realized there were only three more years with all four of our children home. If something didn’t change, conflict and a contentious mom would be the memories my kids would have of home. I pared down my responsibilities as much as I could, but life still pressed. The climate of home before our first child fledged was more important than pushing through the status quo.
I left the teaching profession and went to graduate school for clinical and school counseling so I could have more professional options where papers and lesson plans didn’t follow me home.
In my own efforts, I was ruining our home. Psalm 127 says unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. We parents can damage to our children when we parent out of rights, reaction, and our own hurts. As my firstborn went through early adolescence, I faced my own insecurities, hurts, and fears that were projected on to my children. Added stress caused me to turn our home into a battle zone. I had to turn over the blue prints of our family to God.
God transformed our home in the remaining years before our firstborn left. In the decade since, we’ve fledged two more of our four children.
Here are five things I’ve learned about the home during the fledging season:
1. Your family climate is built during the years your children are home. When the family climate is unhealthy, it’s important to be proactive about what can be changed, no matter how old or young your kids are.
2. Your family culture impacts who your children become as young adults. It’s beautiful to watch your children fledge the nest and develop their own thoughts and beliefs. But young adults process the healthy and unhealthy aspects of the family culture. Investing in a healthy, cohesive family unit is foundational for how your kids will process what home means to them as they leave the nest.
3. Hypocrisy destroys a home. Kids hate hypocrisy. During those angry years, God convicted me to live honestly in front of my kids. Asking for forgiveness and being honest with each other transformed our family. Had I continued to speak one way about God but live another, our home would have been destroyed. God became real in our home because we desperately needed Him.
4. Sibling relationships are important. Two of our four children call other places home now: one is a missionary and another is married with a home of his own. We are not home together much in one year. However, seeing my children’s genuine sibling relationships has taught me that the love they have for one another is what I desire most. When God builds the home, he builds eternal relationships among the people in it.
5. God heals hurting homes. Within two weeks after I resigned, my teen and I had a conversation void of any arguing or strife. God’s presence was so powerful in that moment, I knew He was with us and things were going to be okay. It’s been a long journey, but if God can heal my family, he can heal yours.
When I finally asked Ethan why there was no chimney in his picture of home, he said, “Mom, our house doesn’t have one.” It was that simple. God dismissed my fears and reminded me that He was building and healing our home.
Are there areas in your family life that need to be turned over to God? Are you striving to create a home void of God’s leadership? Are you parenting in your rights rather than relinquishing them to God? Join me by allowing God to transform your home.
For much more about home and family during the fledging stage of life—get Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind.
Jim Daly of Focus on the Family says it’s filled with “sensitive, biblical wisdom for moms who want to help their children launch well.” It’s available online and at major retailers.
Brenda Yoder is a national speaker, author, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and life coach whose passion is encouraging others when life doesn’t fit the storybook image. Authentic and humorous, Brenda connects with women and moms in a way that will have you laughing and crying all at the same time.
Her new book, Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind is a personal handbook for parents in the season of raising and releasing kids. Brenda’s been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul books: Reboot Your Life and Confident and Curvy; the Washington Post, and For Every Mom. Her first book for busy moms, Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All released in 2015.
Brenda is also former teacher and school counselor and was twice awarded the Touchstone Award for teachers. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, is found at brendayoder.com where she writes about faith, life, and family beyond the storybook image. Brenda is a wife and mom of four children, ranging from teens to adults, and lives on a farm in Indiana. You can connect with Brenda on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Join her Facebook page to follow the new Fledge Parent Forum for moms releasing their kids.
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