Clergy Corner: Transitioning from dysfunctional to functional with God’s help

Courtesy Hemet Valley Christian Church
Pastor Rick Puls.

■ By Rick Puls / Contributed

My mother passed away on May 7, after a year-long battle with cancer. It was hard to watch her suffering, but it was also difficult to see her go. A few days after she died, family and friends gathered for a memorial service. We shed tears together as we remembered her life and rejoiced together with the assurance that as a follower of Jesus Christ, she now enjoys a trouble-free existence in the presence of her Lord and Savior.
My wife, Beth, and I have four adult children who are all married, and we have a total of twelve grandchildren. We planned the memorial service so that everyone could attend. Several shared memories, read scripture, and sang songs that my mother enjoyed. We cried and laughed as a family as we shared our experiences of the times we had with my mother. When several family members were sitting at my mother’s bedside as she transitioned from this world into heaven, tears came to my eyes as I read a passage of scripture. One of my teenage granddaughters walked over behind my chair and put her arms around me. Her demonstration of compassion overwhelmed me. Both Beth and I consider ourselves very blessed to have such great relationships with our children, children-in-law, and grandchildren.
I know that often parents and their adult children have very strained, if not completely broken relationships. This can result from misunderstood intentions, actions taken out of context, or the inflicting of serious emotional injury. The results can be painful for everyone involved. Proverbs 11:29 says, “Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.”
In her book, Dysfunctional Family: Making Peace with Your Past, author June Hunt defines a dysfunctional family as “one in which improper and immature behavior of at least one parent damages the growth of individuality and development of healthy relational skills among family members…family members are impaired emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.” In contrast, Hunt states that “a functional family is one in which individual family members cultivate the ability to face problematic situations specific to them with personal confidence in God and self and with the general support of other family members.” It is possible to transition from dysfunctional to functional with God’s help.
You may not shoulder the entire blame for the conflict, yet you may need to initiate reconciliation with your adult children. Remember that you are dealing with an adult and you need to admit your contribution to the problems, while approaching the situation with love. Don’t criticize all that you see wrong with your adult children or you will drive them further away. Stick to the issues at hand. Above all, prepare yourself with thoughtful prayer for God’s guidance. 1 Thessalonians 3:16 says, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”
For more help in repairing relationships with adult children, please join us for a workshop on this issue at 10 a.m. on June 1, at Hemet Valley Christian Church.

Dr. Rick Puls is pastor of the Hemet Valley Christian Church, 330 S. Franklin St., Hemet 92543, phone 951-925-7212.

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