Practically Speaking Mom: Intentional Mom, Strong Family

199. Guest Angela Startz: Family Peace pt 2

September 07, 2023 Val Harrison, The Practically Speaking MOM Season 4 Episode 199
Practically Speaking Mom: Intentional Mom, Strong Family
199. Guest Angela Startz: Family Peace pt 2
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Navigating the tumultuous waves of parenthood, especially during trying times such as a high-conflict marriage or divorce, often feels like a daunting voyage. We're joined this week by Angela, a beacon of empathy and wisdom from Hope Works Counseling, helping us chart our course with invaluable guidance. Angela stresses the importance of forging supportive anchors outside our children, reminding us to avoid burdening them with our adult struggles. She also underscores the significance of our words when talking about the other parent and the detrimental effect of negative speech.

As we continue our journey, we learn that honoring our children's other parent is a critical aspect of their emotional well-being, irrespective of our personal sentiments or the status of our relationship. Angela lends her expertise on erecting healthy, Godly boundaries that are deeply rooted in love, serving as protective barriers for ourselves and our children against potential conflicts. Furthermore, she emphasizes the need for self-care as parents, equipping us to offer our children the requisite emotional support they require. With Angela's guidance, we aim to step up our parenting game by becoming more intentional and loving, thereby nurturing a healthier family dynamic.

Helpful links from this episode:
Called2Rise.com
Hopeworks Counseling
Coparenting International

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"May the Words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord, my Roc...

val harrison:

THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS GENERATED AUTOMATICALLY AND HAS NOT BEEN EDITED. Hi, I'm Val Harrison, the Practically Speaking Mom, and you're listening to the podcast for intentional moms to build strong families. Welcome to our second episode with Angela. Start from Hope Works Counseling. She is here to help us when our parenthood gets difficult. So we're going to jump right back in to the middle of our conversation with Angela, so let's go. You're listening to the Practically Speaking Mom podcast. I'm Val Harrison, mom to seven.

val harrison:

I'm also a mother-in-law and a grandma too, God has given me a passion for encouraging and equipping moms in this worthy journey of motherhood. For the past 20 years, at parenting events and moms groups, I've been privileged to meet many mamas who are doing their best to be intentional in loving their kids, preparing them for life and loving the Lord too. It's my honor to bring you tools for the journey every week. You can find lots more resources on my website PracticallySpeakingMomcom. Intentional moms. Let's get started with building stronger families right now. We have been talking about learning to set aside our feelings as necessary when making decisions about our kids, especially in co-parenting situations. So you just take it away with what you're doing Okay.

angela startz:

So we've talked a little bit about mom self-care when we have been through a trauma such as divorce or a high-conflict marriage.

angela startz:

We really have to learn to take care of ourselves so that we can be there and function most optimally for our kids, and so having a support system is paramount, whether that is a prayer group, a Bible study, girlfriends from work that you can have coffee with. You've got to be able to have a place to process some of those really tough emotions outside the earshot of your child, because they have such big ears and a lot of times I'll have kids that will come in and say all of these amazingly horrific things that they've heard their parents say about the other parents. And I said they said that to you. No, no, no, they had friends over. I was in the other room.

angela startz:

Well, it's not just out of sight, out of mind, because those kids can still hear. So you literally need to be like off the premises and you need to be in a safe place where you can express your emotion with people who care enough about you that they're not just going to keep your emotions stirred up. Right, because we can have those people that get angry on our behalf. And then another thing, and they stir up our emotions more than they allow us to just process them through and then walk away feeling better. So be very aware of your friends. Who do I spend time with? That makes me feel worse, and who do I spend time with that makes me feel better, who is safe to share with and who is not.

angela startz:

Because, first and foremost, your kids cannot be your counselors. It is profoundly unfair for you to give them an adult burden that you're struggling to cope with and pass it off to a child who has even fewer resources than you do, and sometimes we do that very inadvertently. We do that by speaking where they can hear, even if we're not speaking to them. We do that by trying to justify some of our choices and our decisions so that we don't look like the bad guy and we paint their father as the bad guy, and that's very dangerous, because when we speak about the other parent, it always needs to be positive.

angela startz:

Kids inherently know that they came from us, and so if we're talking bad about their dad, the children internalize it and it becomes part of how they see themselves, and so that is something we never want to do, as also tends to be the beginning stages of the parental alienation and the triangulation.

angela startz:

So you need to be really careful that you don't inadvertently do that. You need to be on guard for little boys, because little boys I think this comes from God's wiring. He has this amazing plan of men being protectors and providers and when the father is no longer either functioning in that role or there's a divorce happening, that little boy is going to step up and try to be the man of the house and he's going to put burdens on himself, whether you do or not. So you have to be very cautious of that, very cognizant of what's happening and where your son is, and let him know and reassure him that you're the adult and you're the caretaker and you love him and appreciate him and that one day he will be the man of the house. But it's not now.

val harrison:

I want to add with that. Rich and I used to lead a parenting group called powerhouse and they had four commitments they had to keep to be a part of that and one of those commitments was I will honor my child's other parent and we can be honoring, no matter how that other parent is. It doesn't mean that we accept them, it doesn't mean we don't have boundaries with them. It doesn't mean we agree with them. It means that what you said that they are an extension of that child and to dishonor the parent is to dishonor our child and make our child very confused. So that was one of the commitments. They had to have to be a part of that.

val harrison:

And I love what you're saying about not putting adult burdens on our kids. I mean I can only guess how very tempting it would be to do that as a single mom. I mean I totally get it. One thing that I've learned about the traumas that I've had in my life is if I wait until my kids are teenagers to share those with them. It is this amazing bonding thing that happens and it is like an instant. They're letting me inside of their really big problems because my mom gets it and they're shocked that I went through life without telling them about that, and I don't mean that from a. I just really wanted to protect them from having to carry that.

val harrison:

Children deserve a childhood. They deserve a childhood and they are going to need that information at a later time, in older teenage years. And if we save that hard stuff till then, then it's going to be effective tools and connection at that time. But if we give it to the kids when they're little, then these are not tools, they're burdens. If, but if we can wait till they're actually capable of comprehending the complexity and messiness, then we're able to actually look at it together in ways that builds them. So anyway, I just wanted to agree with you.

angela startz:

Yes, I think the self control and waiting also gives you time for healing so that when you share, it's for the benefit of your child, it's giving them information, it's giving them tools. The part that makes it a burden when they're younger is that, a they're too young to handle it and, b you're still walking in the woundedness and it's not coming across as a learning, teachable moment, a learning lesson. It's coming across as the trauma that it currently is and therefore you're just sort of spreading that around and part of the. You know children deserve a childhood. One of the reasons I'm so incredibly passionate about that is my older sister.

angela startz:

At six she was responsible for taking care of me at two and I never really thought about it. I actually resented her a lot because she was always telling me what to do and I didn't realize it was because, like, it was sort of her lot in life, you know. And as an adult I went back and I looked through pictures and I saw her kindergarten picture where she was just as bright-eyed, beautiful, amazing, wonderful child. And I looked at her first grade picture, when she was six and responsible for taking care of me, and that was an old soul staring back at me. That's heartbreaking. I'm getting to and I'm not a big crier, but picturing that in my mind it's the. It was a visual representation of the weight that my sister carried and taking care of me and she was six, you know, and that Nobody's fault.

angela startz:

Everyone's doing the best that they can. But when you know better, you do better, and so that is the heart behind me wanting to educate people and me wanting to support people. It's not judgment at all. It comes from a place of extreme empathy and that I understand how these things happen. I understand how sometimes it's natural. Sometimes these kids are mature, they act like they can handle it, they feel like you respect them because you're sharing with them and treating them like an adult, but at the same time, that is not what's best for them, and so what's best for them is for mom to take care of mom, so that she can take care of them and they get to have a childhood and they get to experience things in an age-appropriate manner. And then, to your point, mom is there, coming from a healed and a healthy place, sharing an experience, not an act of trauma and able to relate to them and help them through what it is they're struggling with in their teen years? Absolutely.

val harrison:

You know, when we're going through something we don't necessarily have the best way. But once we've gone through something and we've conquered not everybody who goes through something does conquer but if we've gone through something and we get to the place where we've conquered or we've healed, we have become healthy, then we have this great, encouraging, hopeful help that we can provide for our kids. But to be expecting them to walk with us through all of that stuff at the time we're actually teaching them all this unhealthy stuff.

angela startz:

Yes, exactly. So we're creating neural networks that are based on trauma, which?

angela startz:

is not the plan. I do want to circle back a little bit about speaking about the other parents. Father specifically, one of the things that it's almost like a slur oh, you're just like your father, and it's used as sort of a slur. That statement should always be followed by something positive and it should be generously applied. In other words, my ex-husband is highly intelligent and incredibly intelligent and incredibly mechanically inclined.

angela startz:

The man can fix anything, and so when my son was struggling with something, I would say, oh my goodness, you're so smart, you're just like your dad, you're going to be able to figure that out If he wanted to build something. Oh, your dad's really mechanically inclined. I bet it's genetic. Give it a shot, kind of giving those things, because it sets up a dynamic where Dad's not the enemy, it's not my enemy and you can be like your dad and it's not going to be offensive to me because they know inherently they are right. I mean, we come from our parents and so I do wanna say that it's one of those things that helps teach our kids and model for our kids honoring the other parents, and one of my biggest prayers has always been you know, help me to make it easy for my son to honor his mother and his father, because it is the only commandment with a promise attached, and I don't want my son to miss out on a single blessing because he wasn't able to honor his mother and his father because of something I did.

val harrison:

That's awesome. I don't care married or not, status of marriage or not. Moms need to be careful with that. You just gave us an accountability statement that we need to use. Am I building in my kids, Am I helping them to honor their other parents, or am I making it more difficult for them to honor their other parents?

angela startz:

I think the most important thing to remember and this again is single parenting or married. Satan hates marriage, he hates families, right, and so his goal is to help you see the other person as your enemy. And you have to be really clear on who your enemy is. And it is not your husband or your ex-husband or your child's step-parent. It is our enemy himself. And so if we get really clear on that and we ask God to help us to engage with the other parent whether it's our husband, ex-husband, step-parent, step-parent to be like, however that looks like co-grandparent if we ask God, help me to see them the way that you see them and whatever is being triggered in me, heal that so that I am responding to them out of love and empathy and not out of fear or defensiveness. And even when it comes to putting in boundaries because those are necessary in every relationship boundaries should always be put in from a place of love, not from a place of punishment or fear. When boundaries are punitive or when boundaries are fear-based, those are not godly boundaries. Our boundaries need to be this is what is best for our child, this is what is best for my mental health or my emotional wellbeing, so that I can care for our child. It's not stop doing that. I don't like it right. It's more. You've really got to think about and pray through what do these boundaries look like? How can they be communicated? How can I enforce them in a way that is God honoring?

angela startz:

Because, at the end of the day, God looks at how we treat other people and takes it very, very seriously.

angela startz:

When we're bringing our gift to the altar, if we know that someone has something against us, we don't leave the gift at the altar.

angela startz:

We go make it right with our brother before we come back and make our offering. At the same time, if we're harboring unforgiveness, we go back and we make it right before, because God looks at how we relate to each other and takes it very, very seriously. And so, in knowing that we are all hurt and we are all wounded and we have all experienced trauma in some form or fashion, if we can step outside of ourselves for a moment and look at what is best for the common denominator, which is our children or our grandchildren, how do we elevate that Over how I feel about something? So, again, it comes back to submitting your feelings to godly decisions. And it's not that the feelings are invalid. It's simply they don't need to be driving the boat like you. Need to be the one that's in charge of where you're going and how, how intentional you're going to be with the other people in the lives of your children and grandchildren.

val harrison:

Yeah, yeah, to the point of that. It's really the enemy that's trying to do this, trying to divide us. In my book clash in your home, getting a game plan for cleaning up the conflict. A Concept that I bring up in there is that the enemy is trying to get us to be like two oxen Warring at each other, and the way to get to most effectively help our child is that we be two oxen who are both faced in the same direction with the same goal. Yeah, we, our goal is to effectively raise this child, to bring God glory, to help our child become who God designed them to become, which our other parent may not be on board with any of that that I just said you know, the other parent might be just about themselves.

val harrison:

You know what's comfortable to them, what makes them feel good, what doesn't interrupt to their life goals, whatever. But we at least have to be aware of the enemy's tactic, that the enemy is trying to get us separate and that we want our goal. What we need to be praying about, what we need to be setting aside our comfort for, is teamwork for the sake of the child.

angela startz:

Yes, absolutely, and I think sometimes we can lose sight of that just in our, our woundedness, and so that again, I know I keep circling the drain of taking care of yourself, mom, but it is literally the most important thing. So emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, you've got to really take care of yourself because you want to be able to interact with your kids from the best place. For me, I was having some health struggles during my divorce and I Just wasn't there physically like I needed extreme amounts of rest. I need. You know when, when my son would want to be up and wanting to talk to me, I'm falling asleep or I'm angry because I'm so tired and and I just did not have the bandwidth to deal with what he needed at the moment. I would have been better off to take a nap during the day and and be able to deal with him and give him that time.

angela startz:

But I was, I was functioning out of my own trauma, right, and I was just doing the best I could, and by the time he was available and present and ready to share. I physically couldn't. So it's it's very important, and I know the enemy will also say, oh, you're being selfish or this or that, and that's actually not true do what you need to do to be obedient, and so part of that is taking care of yourself so that you can be there ready, so that when your kids are there, if they need you physically, you're there. If they need you emotionally, you've got the bandwidth for it. If they need your help with homework, you can focus on what it is that they're struggling with. So that's just really important to take care of mom.

val harrison:

What's some final thoughts that you want these mamas that might be really hurting and feeling hopeless. What do you want to say to them?

angela startz:

I want to say to them that, as long as you have breath, there is hope. That God created you on purpose, with a plan and a purpose. That he gifted you these children, that he knew the struggles that you would have and he stands ready to stand in the gap for you. That he goes before you and stands as your rear guard, that he upholds you with his right hand, that he is there. And the reason that he gave you these children is because your work is eternal. It is of value that you are an important person in setting the tone for how they engage the world and how they are able to fulfill the purpose that he created them for. So never discount your worth or your value when you are tired and hungry and grumpy and in pain. It still all has purpose.

angela startz:

And show yourself some compassion too because none of us do this thing perfectly, and being able to forgive yourself also shows your children how to forgive themselves when they make a mistake.

val harrison:

Yeah, yeah, we are all the mistaking parents and our goal isn't to be the perfect parent, but it is to learn how to mistake. Well, because our kids are going to be mistaking parents or mistaking adults if they're never parents so we can let them see it's okay to make mistakes. What do I do with that? How do I restore? How do I take ownership? So, thank you so much. I love this and I really hope that you will come back and we will do this again with more topics, because I just love your heart and you got so much wisdom that I know these, these mamas are going to benefit from in the future too, like I know they have with these two episodes at this time. So I hope you'll come back. I would love to.

val harrison:

We have been visiting with Angela Starts from Hope Works Counseling. Today she has also agreed to join us in our Facebook group, intentional Mom, strong Family. So if you have questions for Angela or questions from what we've talked about today, I will put a post that will announce this podcast episode, so you just feel free to comment on there with your questions. There are other ways to connect with Angela and that will be in the show notes. And then I am Val Harrison, the Practically Speaking Mom, and you can connect with me both in our Facebook group or you can follow me at PracticallySpeakingMom. You can also go to my website, practicallyspeakingmomcom, to find my blog and my books. The six rooms of the Intentional Mom's home is there, which divides all kinds of mom issues into the six categories of our life, so you can check those out, and you'll find other resources there as well to help moms become more intentional as you build strong families, and I will see you right back here next time on the Practically Speaking Mom podcast.

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