How to Let Your Parents Grow Up

1 Sep

There is an imbalance between ACoNs* and their parents. ACoNs have high levels of empathy and their parents usually have extremely low levels. One man explained it this way—“My father can only feel concern for other people if they are suffering in the same way he has suffered. He can relate to the bum in the gutter because he is often drunk and out of work, but he cannot relate to the pain he caused me when he beat me.”

The Empathy Trap Book gives an explanation of how some sociopathic and narcissistic parents might groom and use their most empathetic children to fill their needs. Of course no parent wants to admit this so narcissistic parents will deny it and accuse their children of lying and do everything they can to ruin the child’s reputation to save their own–which of course is once again putting themselves over their children.

Dr. Henry Cloud in his book Changes That Heal explains the growing up process. How children start by looking up to adults and end by becoming equals with adults. Narcissistic parents do not want this to happen so they try to keep their kids one down even after they become adults.


Some ways that parents try to keep their adult children in the one down position include using criticism, shame and guilt. I firmly believe criticism has stunted as many lives as careless gun play. It’s a slower death, but many adult children are crippled by the criticism of their parents to the point they never finish school or stick with a project to completion. The only healthy direction you can go with a critical parent is to move farther away.

Others will try to shame you by saying things like “I sure wish you wouldn’t do this” or “Why did you have to go and do that?” This is usually a manipulation to get you to do things their way. Once again run far away. You are an adult now and should be able to both own your choices and not allow others to dictate how you will live your life.

Parents who try to make their adult children feel guilty are some of the most sinister because only God can judge and tell each of us what is right for us. God Himself doesn’t manipulate us into being good, so why allow your parents (or church busybodies) to do what God Himself doesn’t do?

To try to shame or guilt or criticize their adult children is a parents’ attempt to stay in control, but it is also an indicator that their own life is out of control. When people are in control of their own lives, they can afford to allow others to make their own choices and even mistakes.

So how do you tell your parents to grow up? Writing a letter is useless. Most narcissistic parents will either ignore your letter or write a nastier one. You might be inspired to write the letter because you have had this stuff on your heart for years but trust me, your parents do not want to hear it. If they wanted to hear it they would have paid more attention to how you reacted years ago.

So here it is—the best way to let your parents grow up is to grow up yourself and stand in your dignity. Stop allowing them to dictate what your style of clothing or religious beliefs should be. Don’t let them criticize your spouse. Inform them talking down to you or your special someone will cause you to leave and that will be it (and make sure you leave.)

And don’t look back—unless they call with a true apology. You can forgive them from a distance. You can wish them well from a distance. You can send them a birthday card from a distance, but you cannot allow them to manipulate your life choices anymore.

And that means don’t let them make you feel sorry for not meeting their needs. One woman wrote to me and said, I can’t stop feeling sorry for my parents. This was after they did all number of abusive things to her and tried to ruin her relationships with her entire family. I told her my story. One day I realized that if my grandparents had done to my mom what my parents did to me, she would have quit speaking to them, but because I was an empathetic person, I kept trying to get them to meet me halfway and it never happened.

Don’t let them make you feel sorry because they feel so bad when you explain how they hurt you in the first place. It’s ironic how narcissistic parents don’t want to admit their mistakes but they want to take over your conscience and tell you how to live your life. People who abuse us are not in the position to speak into our lives. Just say no.

And don’t let them send the Flying Monkeys in either because you don’t have room in your life for Flying Monkeys. If people want to talk to you let it be from their own hearts not from a third party’s manipulations.

So you took a stand and now your parent is playing the victim. Victim or not, they have choices.

1. They can apologize and rebuild their relationship with you.
2. They can ignore your choices and move on without you.
3. They can slander you and tell everyone how mean you are.

Chances are they will do the last option, but don’t worry, this will be your opportunity to grow up and let them do whatever they want while you actually live a life. Carpe Diem.

*ACoNs-Adult Children of Narcissists

In the Valley of the Shadow

29 Aug Through-the-Valley-WM

Many ACoNs* feel abandoned. They were raised by parents who were consumed with their own needs, so they find it hard to trust anyone–let alone their Father in heaven. But no matter what has happened in your life, the gentle Shepherd cares and will make a path through the wilderness for you.

Some people think this verse refers to being seriously ill and while health trials can seem like a very dark shadow at times, the Shepherd longs to brings comfort and healing into all of our darkness.

When people are depressed they often speak of a dark valley. At such times the Shepherd guides us through our despair and offers the light of hope to bring us out of such darkness. Often those who walk and breathe are spiritually dying inside while they are barely aware of their condition. This is when the Shepherd gently wakes them up.


Sometimes when we’ve been focusing on ourselves for too long we discover we have gone to a very dark place–much darker than we ever intended to go. It’s at times like these the Shepherd calls us by name. He will keep calling until we hear Him and reach for His help.

The gentle Shepherd passes no judgment. He simply offers a lifeline. He holds up the lantern of truth to guide us up through the brambles, out of the ravine and over the pass to bring us safely home. Throughout all of our valleys, the Shepherd offers comfort.

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
-Psalm 23:4

*ACoNs–Adult Children of Narcissists

As a long time Newsboys fan, I just have to add Peter Furler’s Psalm 23. Enjoy!

Art 101 Week 8

22 Aug

This series, Little Red 23rd, is one of my all time favorite projects because it was personal. I love the 23rd Psalm and I often pray my way through it as I am drifting off to sleep because it fills me with peace.

So why do a series of Little Red 23rd? Because Little Red represents survivors and survivors can benefit from the promises in the 23rd Psalm.

Growing up with narcissistic parents or religious abuse, has caused many of us to distrust our Father in heaven. Perhaps we fear God is like our abusers. The kind and gentle Shepherd of the 23rd Psalm brings comfort by modeling the ways God loves us tenderly like a shepherd. King David who wrote this Psalm was well acquainted with the way a shepherd provides, protects and rescues his sheep.

For Little Red, who no longer can trust her parents, understanding that God is like a kind shepherd instead of a controlling and violent parent makes it easier to trust God.

Little Red 23rd–He Supplies My Needs


Little Red 23rd–He Walks With Me Through the Valley of the Shadow


Little Red 23rd–He Prepares a Table in Front of My Enemies


Little Red 23rd–He Anoints My Head With Oil


Little Red 23rd–He makes My Cup Overflow


Little Red 23rd–His Kindness Follows Me All the Days of My Life


For the seventh painting this week, I made a word reminder.


Obviously I am behind in posting my art. Between working on a book and projects for a few friends, I have been busy. It seems like it takes a lot of effort to collect all the pieces and scan them and post them, but so I will try to catch up before the challenge ends. We’ll see if I make it. Either way, my life has been changed by this challenge. I am no longer afraid of making bad art, because there is always more art to do tomorrow. When one gets in such a habit, it makes it much easier to check the ego at the door.

So I hope someone else takes courage to remember we don’t have to follow anyone’s schedule, but just commit to making art on a regular basis. That alone is enough to change our lives. Have a great weekend!

I Stand For Love

8 Aug

Today August 8 is I Stand for Love Day.



I have decided to stand for love whether people approve or not.

I stand for loving atheists by honoring their right to NOT believe.

I stand for loving the homeless even if they should get a job. God’s grace falls on all of us.

I stand for loving those who are gay or bi or transgendered. God loves them, why shouldn’t I?

I stand for loving children enough to help them know their parents–even after divorce because all kids deserve to know both parents.

I stand for loving people who have divorced my family members because there is no reason for contempt and hate.

I stand for loving victims of abuse by speaking out against those who abuse others.

I stand for loving women and men with equality because God created us equal.

I stand for loving those who need an extra hand in hard times.

I stand for loving people by telling the truth even if I am shunned and lied about by my own family.

I stand for love, because LOVE (Jesus) stood for me.

How will you stand for love?


Freedom–Nothing Left to Lose

6 Aug

How do you define freedom? If you grew up with controlling parents, it could be something as small as the music you listen to and the foods you eat, but chances are it is the bigger things like the way you vote, worship and the lifestyle you have chosen. Many ACONs* are frustrated because their parents still want to control how they vote. If this is true, perhaps it is time to remind your parents they don’t get to vote in your life.

An ACON wrote to me the other day to say her parents don’t understand her healing process and because she doesn’t want to hurt them, she is caught in between her need to be herself and her need to please her parents. This is actually a lose-lose situation. Her parents will never be satisfied and she will continue to waste her life trying to please them, but she will never get the blessing.


I don’t think any narcissistic parent will ever understand their child’s healing process. Toxic narcissism is basically a lack of empathy and those who lack empathy are not able to put themselves in their children’s shoes.

The only cure for narcissism seems to be empathy, but no one knows how to create empathy in people consumed with their own needs. This is why we must reach for our own healing and not try to explain everything to our parents. They controlled our lives for long enough, it’s time to make our own choices. We can only find freedom when we are willing to accept the apology we never got and give ourselves the blessing we deserve.

As we let go of people pleasing and codependency, we discover a new hope and freedom. This freedom only comes when we realize our parents will never love us unconditionally–when we finally hit the point where we realize we have nothing left to lose, we find freedom.

Even Jesus lets go and teaches us to let go too. We don’t have to stop loving our parents, but we can stop expecting them to meet our needs. In this letting go, we accept ourselves for who we are and accept our parents as they are. This is freedom and if you can pull it off it is a win-win situation for all.

PS for those who are struggling and need a little incentive here is one of my favs from the eighties–gotta hand it to Billy Joel.

*ACON Adult Child of Narcissists

Art 101 Week Four

1 Jul Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.  -Brene Brown

Week four was a very busy week for me, I celebrate my 24th wedding anniversary and my hubby’s birthday so getting stuff done was a challenge. As a result I am now one piece of art behind. Remember I said I wanted to do something different. Well I posted this in the middle of last week and told how I made my first piece of art which took four days with what seemed like multiple moving parts. If you want to know how to make one for yourself, you can read about it here. This is the picture of the finished product.


I also made a couple more mantra girls to add to my collection and I also put up a gallery for them on the side bar to the right.

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.  -Brene Brown

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. -Brene Brown


You get what you tolerate. -Henry Cloud

You get what you tolerate. -Henry Cloud

I plan to keep doing this and catch up my one day but right now I will be on a break for a week so that will put me behind even more, however I love doing this and I will be back in week! I hope everyone else in Art 101 is enjoying the process and going at their own pace as well. Have a good week!

Art: Mission Statement Wall Hanging

27 Jun In-this-house-1000-WM

For over ten years, my husband and I have been discussing various mission statements for our home. This past week we celebrated 24 years of marriage. I decided if we haven’t figure it out what this marriage thing is about by now, we might as well give up, so my anniversary gift to him was this wall hanging. And he loves it. We both do, but it was a lot of work and the worst of it was that I lost the wooden panel canvas I wanted to use.

I woke up one day thinking I could do this project while he was at work and surprise him. But the only surprise was that I turned our entire house up-side-down. (I’m sure he was thrilled to come home to chaos.) The next day I reorganized and cleaned my studio because after doing art everyday for a month things were getting out of hand. Even after a thorough cleaning, I still found no canvas. We are not the kind of people who have a cluttered home–we like to see the walls. My hubby searched for it while he was home, but neither of us could figure out how such a big canvass could get lost in such a clean house. It was extremely frustrating and I even questioned if I dreamed it all up and never actually ordered it, but he remembered it too.

One thing we have learned in all our years together is that life is unpredictable, so neither of us got bent out of shape about it, but it was really weird. The next morning I temporarily lost my drive to do art so I got lazy and decided to sleep in. When I got up and came out into the family room, the canvas was sitting there waiting for me. After pinching myself, I texted hubby and sure enough he had found it in the garage in a box marked for guess what? Good Will–yikes!

Day One

So I cheerfully began the process of turning the canvas into a home mission statement. It took a whole day to write out the statement and stamp it on the board to make sure the letters would fit. After all these years, I basically knew what we wanted it to say, but to make it fit succinctly was key.

I found letter stamping rather tedious because I knew I was going to cover it all over with paper anyway, but it was a necessary step to make sure what I wanted to say would fit on the canvas and it’s a good thing I did, because I had too many words. I pared down my original statement several times to make it fit.

Another issue was finding letters that were actually the right size. I have lots of stamps (thanks to my hubby who faithfully supports the arts through buying my supplies.) Even with seven or eight different types I still struggled to find the right fit. And no, sorry local friends, I cannot share my stamps because they are organized in a way that only I can figure out.

Looking at the finished product for day one, you might notice I misspelled one word because looking at letters backwards while breathing in ink fumes causes a headache. After this, I called it a day.

End of Day One


Day Two

For the second day, I used watercolor paper and gouache to make some little flowers and bigger flower shapes to add to the finish product. It might not seem like much, but these little details reflect the history of our lives. We have owned seven cats and treasured every one, so cats were naturally on the top of my list. We love the ocean and had our first kiss in New Zealand on a gorgeous beach and we honeymooned at and have lived on the Oregon Coast, so I added a couple starfish (and yes there really are purple ones.) We both love to read so a book is a must. The bluebird of happiness is always welcome in my art. And two hearts beating individually, but in time with each other is symbolic of our union.

By the time I was finished dreaming up stuff to paint and cutting them out, I was done for the day.

End of Day Two


Day Three

I did what Kelly Rae Roberts calls “unleashing our joy.” I thought of what sort of things I wanted to build into the first layer. (For those unfamiliar with this type of art, mixed media art is not just about the looks of the finished project but a journey filled with meaning and while not all layers are visible on the finished project, they have meaning to the artist.

Life is too short to spend time gluing ugly paper on a board, so I chose papers that delighted me and began gluing them down with gel gloss medium. I love gel gloss medium because it seals the surface so you can wipe off the paint if you don’t like it for future applications. Here is the first layer glued on with a top layer of gel gloss applied.

Next I wanted to add meaningful layers for our marriage. My hubby is a musician so I added a G clef. We both love the writings of George MacDonald so I ripped a page out of an antique book (bought specifically for this sort of thing) “At the Back of the North Wind,” and glued them onto the next layer.

Here is the page I glued and as you can see for people whose families were not always happy, we have often felt much like Diamond, but we also have discovered we have a choice and we do not need to make the same choices as our parents. We especially like the last part, “When heart and head go together, nothing can stand before them.” Thanks George MacDonald!


For the paint layers, I first painted the whole thing including sides with the color I must wanted to use. Then I took some bubble wrap and brushed paint on it and then placed it on the canvas for some contrast. At this point you can no longer read the George MacDonald quote and you can barely see the G clef, but hubby and I know it’s in there and that’s what matters. This is where art really is a process.

Next I added some green paint and used some stencils to add more contrasting layers and more gel gloss before masking off the edges with painter’s masking tape (which is a lot like real masking tape except it’s blue and doesn’t stick as hard or ruin the surface.) I left this picture a little bigger so you can see the details. I think it looks like a pretty painting in its own right at this point.



I learned masking with white years ago from my mentor and friend Estle Johnson who not only taught me to paint with oils, but she paid for and took me to get my GED. At the time, I was young and had no idea how she was such a gift to my life–one of those human angels God sends when we are in need.

I thought of Estle as I painted this and wished she was still alive today so I could thank her for the many things she taught me. She definitely influenced my life for the better. This love I felt for her was also poured onto the canvass with each stroke. I felt straight white would be too stark and I wanted a warmer tone so I added some medium cad yellow to the white. I’ll show you what it looked like in case you want to make one for yourself. I will also add a list of supplies at the end of the page for those interested in making their own mission statement.*


So here is what the first layer looked like.
You can still see through it easily but I wanted to make sure my letters stood out so I went for a second layer. I then added some strips on the bottom and on the top I added washi tape that looks like a measuring tape that measures hope, joy, love, laughter and says I love U on it. It felt it was appropriate because these are the fruits of a good marriage.

Next I applied my larger fonts with paint. I put the paint on the stamps with a small paint brush and pressed down. This was looking good, but it was time for a rest so I stopped here.

End of Day Three

Day Four

I got out the black dizzy ink pad and started applying letters. I found a way to keep the ink from stinking up the room in the shortest amount of time, I set out each line and prepared to stamp then opened the ink pad and as soon as that line was done, I shut it immediately. Then I prepared the next line of stamps. It was fun, but challenging to decide where to put the larger letters. All the words in larger letters stand out so I wanted them to be words that represented our core values like respect, love, freedom, etc. I also used that handy painter’s masking tape to measure and mark off each line to keep it straight.

After I had all the letters on, I added another coat of gel gloss to seal it off and started gluing on pieces of the water color art I had made. I didn’t use all of the pieces. The main idea was to have options but not overdo it. As I glued each piece on, I glued over it and then went around each with black marker for continuity. I also traced the turquoise letters with black. To finish, I put two more coats of gel gloss over the entire piece including the sides.

End of Day Four

Even though it ended up being a little late for our anniversary, I was thrilled to set it out last night and start supper. My hubby came home and made his yummy stir fry sauce and we sat and ate while we stared at it. That’s how it goes in a fun marriage. Here is one last look at the finished product hanging on the wall.



Supplies you might need if you want to make one of your own–

wood panel or canvas

paper–the stiffer the better

gel gloss medium

acrylic paints and brushes of your choice

zinc white acrylic for veiling

watercolor paper  

gouache to make small art pieces

book page or items of interest to you to incorporate into your art

bubble wrap or other texture tools help

painter’s masking tape

stencils and letter stamps of various sizes
(if you live in a small town look on Amazon)

*NOTE: Make sure you use zinc white for veiling because it’s transparent

You also might want to keep your selections to transparent colors which mix easily without looking like mud.

Here is a video I found that helps explain the advantages of transparent colors.


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