Boy at school

Sometimes School Complaints Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Most children will occasionally complain about school. Every student has days when things don’t go quite right. But when complaints are frequent, and more than just “I don’t like school,” or “Math is too hard,” it may be time to listen more carefully.

There are a number of ways in which a child may be trying to express deeper problems and that he or she needs some help. Children find it hard to say “I’m confused,” or “I feel inadequate.” Preteens and teenagers especially may have trouble admitting that they’re struggling. Instead of saying, “I need help with my schoolwork,” they say, “I hate school” or “My teacher is out to get me.”

These comments, when frequent, and when combined with other behaviors, are often an indicator that serious school-related problems may exist.

Red Flag Behaviors

Such behaviors may be your child being reluctant to discuss school and suddenly exhibiting a lack of motivation or confidence. He or she may be angry and hostile in regard to homework and studying, or very defensive or afraid in regard to criticism. A child may start to be withdrawn, avoiding any school-related questions and perhaps act self-condemning by saying things like “I’m stupid” or “I just can’t do it.”

When these signs are combined with declining or failing grades, it’s a red flag that prompt action is needed. Ignoring the problem can affect a child’s total well-being as self-esteem declines and negative behaviors may begin to increase.

How to Help

A first step is to let your child know you understand and empathize with the difficulties being faced. Try talking about your own school struggles, offering academic assistance and complimenting cooperation and progress in order to rebuild confidence. If you find you can’t effectively assist with homework or studying, and many parents can’t, consider a qualified tutor to help overcome the academic problems.

You should also talk with your child’s school counselor. He or she will have seen similar situations and will have the training and experience to offer assistance on how best to help your child. They may even have alternative explanations, from the school’s perspective, on why your child is struggling.

School can and should be a positive and enjoyable experience for your student. Being alert for when a child is asking for help, even though indirectly, can bring not only better academic success, but a happier, better-balanced child.


CounselingWorks provides family Christian counseling on an affordable sliding fee scale. Contact us to schedule an appointment.


This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

Home

What is rehoming?

Rehoming is a term that you may have heard in the news. But what exactly is it? It’s not the same as adoption dissolution or adoption disruption.

Adoption dissolution

The legal termination of parental rights AFTER adoption finalization. Yes, there are cases in which adoptive parents have terminated their legal rights to adoptees. While we believe that the best scenario is for families is to stay together, every case is unique as is every family, and these parents have sought legal assistance to ensure the safety and best fit for their child.

Adoption disruption

The legal termination of placement BEFORE an adoption finalization. Every adoptee and adoptive family typically have six months prior to finalization. Disruption is when the adoption (and the child) are moved from their adoptive placement before the court finalization.

Rehoming

The underground, unregulated practice of transferring children from home to home without any oversight, vetting (such as background checks or home studies), or regulation. This is happening more and more within the adoption community, but it is also happening within the general population through pseudo/fictive kinship care. There are legal, moral, and ethical implications. This is not respite care, in fact, the parents have no intent of return and may be listed under the moniker of “respite care,” which under the legal foster definition is up to 2-4 weeks with the intent to return. If the placement ‘breaks down’, the child can be moved at a whim.

Essentially, these children are moved arbitrarily without any oversight, permanency, or consistent supports. Most of the time these children do not know the caregivers prior; the new caregivers are strangers or vague acquaintances. This is a violation of ICPC (Interstate Compact Placement Contracts) and can be considered trafficking by some, if there is a proof of exploitation or monetary exchange. There are significant concerns regarding their safety and well-being for the children moved and the children in the homes of those rehomed. This can open up an already vulnerable child to abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Many of the children rehomed are international adoptees and/or former foster children, particularly children of color.

Surprisingly, this practice is not considered illegal in Texas. The U.S. State Department has taken this seriously, and is working alongside others throughout the U.S. to push federal guidelines and legislation forward on this issue.

ChristianWorks is dedicated to helping prevent this practice as well as serve the children and families already impacted. ChristianWorks does not support, condone, or desire to be complicit in rehoming of any kind. We will walk with families who are brave enough to come to us for help regarding an adoptive placement in jeopardy or even considering disruption or dissolution, so we can sit down and give informed consent to prevent rehoming.


ChristianWorks provides post-adoption counseling services on an affordable sliding fee scale. For more information, visit our CounselingWorks web page or contact us to talk with a post-adoption specialist.

Happy little girl

Allowing Our Children To Be Children

It seems obvious that, “Children are not little adults.” But we often forget that simple truism in interacting with our children, resulting in unnecessary frustration for both us and them. The world appears very differently to children than it does to adults. Children do, in fact, exist in their “own little worlds.” They usually can’t react to life the way adults do simply because they haven’t yet had the life experiences we’ve had. The following examples of adult expectations illustrate how far apart we and our children often are in how we view the world.

“Don’t be so messy!”

A messy house might embarrass Mom, but not her kids. An adult with muddy slacks might constantly apologize for his appearance; your son with muddy jeans only wants to tell you how it happened stealing second base.

“Realize how busy I am and what pressure I’m under!”

Young people aren’t yet experiencing stress and time pressure. What they hear you saying is that they’re only allowed to have feelings or need help when it’s convenient for you, when the outside world isn’t more important.

“Be aware of how dangerous the world is!”

While we want our kids to be safe, instilling unreal fears or passing on our own anxieties doesn’t make that happen. We may be unintentionally making the world feel unsafe and scary.

“There’s so much to do and so little time!”

Young people don’t fill their days with 101 things to do. They usually don’t have the urgent commitments adults face. They gauge time by whether it’s light or dark, or when they have slept and woken up. Children like wearing watches because the watch is “cool,” not because they care what time it is.

There’s a real benefit in remembering that children are really just children, not smaller adults, and in letting them enjoy that childhood. We shouldn’t expect them to live up to our dreams, understand our problems, or want to spend “quality time” with adults rather than hanging out with friends.

As adults, we sometimes have to impose rules and actions that our children simply don’t understand or relate to (like cleaning up that room before it’s a health issue). But realizing why they don’t understand, even though they may be doing what is asked, can avoid needless fights and frustration for both parent and child.


CounselingWorks offers family, couple and individual Christian counseling on an affordable sliding scale fee. 


This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

people-1492052_1920

Guilt, Shame and Regret

Self-evaluation and reflection on our past are healthy because we can learn from our life experiences and mistakes.

It is healthy to ask:

  • Could I have done better?
  • Could I have made better choices?
  • Would things be better if I had only done things differently?

The results of reviewing and evaluating past decisions and behavior can bring us feelings of guilt, regret and shame for what we did or did not do. These feelings can be the result of bad choices and/or sinful behavior, but not always. Sometimes the feelings we experience are false guilt, false shame or unnecessary regrets. These “false” feelings can be the result of faulty thinking and the unreasonable expectations that we and other people place upon us.

Dwelling on past behavior and the resulting emotions of guilt, shame and regret keeps many people from living and enjoying abundant lives now.

Defining Guilt, Shame and Regret

Guilt is the emotion or belief that one has done something wrong. Guilt can be either real or imagined (false guilt). False guilt is the result of a perceived wrong that is not founded in reality.

Shame is the feeling or awareness of dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation. Genuine shame is associated with genuine dishonor, disgrace, or condemnation. False shame is associated with imagined dishonor, disgrace or condemnation by our expectations or the perceived expectations of others.

Regret is an intelligent and/or emotional dislike for personal past acts and behaviors. Regret is often felt when someone feels sadness, shame or guilt after committing an action or actions that the person later wishes that he/she had not done. Regret also describes a dislike for action not taken or avoided.

A Myth About Guilt

When you experience guilt, regret or shame, there is always some sin or offense against others that you have committed. This myth is often used by others to guilt or shame us into doing what they want. That’s commonly referred to as placing a “guilt trip” on a person.

How you deal with guilt, shame or regret depends upon:

  • The source or cause of the feeling (who/what is causing the guilt?)
  • The validity of the feeling (is the feeling based in truth or imagined?)

As Christians, all of us sin or commit offenses against others, and we can experience either Godly sorrow or worldly sorrow: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”(2 Corinthians 7:10)

What is Worldly Sorrow?

We can simply regret what we have done, and then move on—many times doing the same wrongs against God and others. That’s worldly sorrow. In worldly sorrow, the focus is on self, regretting being caught and the consequences rather than feeling guilt and shame for committing a sin against God and others.

What is Godly Sorrow?

Godly sorrow is when we know that we have offended God, bring our confessions to Him and others and repent (turn completely away from the offending behavior). In Godly sorrow the focus is on the wrong we have committed against God and others.

Seeking Help

Whether your guilt, shame and regret are real or false, dwelling on past mistakes or omissions can rob your life of the abundant joy that could be yours, your family’s and your friends’. When worries about the past become overwhelming, it is time to seek help from others.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT


If you would like to talk with a Christian counselor about the guilt, shame and regret in your life, call CounselingWorks at 972-960-9981 or fill out our contact form.

 

conflict-resolution

Understanding Conflict Management: Six Important Skills

There are discreet skills and attitudes, habits if you will, that can elevate your conflict practice to a new level. These six habits and attitudes can transform a good conflict resolver into a highly effective one – someone who facilitates productive, meaningful discussion between others that results in deeper self-awareness, mutual understanding and workable solutions.

We use the term ‘conflict resolver’ intentionally to reinforce the idea that we all can be instrumental in ending disputes, regardless of whether we are also mediators. These conflict management techniques are life skills that are useful in whatever setting you find yourself. With these skills, you can create environments that are respectful, collaborative and conducive to problem-solving. And, you’ll teach others to be proactive, by modeling successful conflict management behaviors.

  1. Undertand Everyone’s Needs
  2. It’s natural for anyone involved in a dispute to jump in to handle conflict. When someone visits you to discuss a personality conflict, you assess a situation, determine the next steps and proceed until the problem is solved. But is that helpful?

    When you take charge, the people in the conflict are relieved of their responsibility to find a solution. That leaves you to do the work around finding alternatives. And while you want to do what’s best for this person and everyone involved, it’s important to ask what everyone wants first – whether it’s to vent, brainstorm solutions or get some coaching.

    Understand what the person coming to you wants by asking questions:

    •  How can I be most helpful to you?
    •  What are you hoping I will do?
    • What do you see my role as in this matter?

  3. Engage in Collaborative Listening
  4. Collaborative Listening takes those active listening or reflective listening skills one step further. It recognizes that in listening each person has a job that supports the needs and wants of the other. The speaker’s job is to clearly express his or her thoughts, feelings and goals. The listener’s job is facilitating clarity and understanding and make each person in the conflict feel heard.

    So what’s the difference? The distinction is acknowledgement. Your role can be to help each person gain a deeper understanding of everyone’s interests and needs, to define concepts and words in a way that expresses their values (i.e. respect means something different to each one of us), and to make each person feel acknowledged — someone sees things from all points of view.

    Making an acknowledgement is tricky in group settings. Understandably, you want to help each person in the conflict but are mindful of the issues of the whole group. You can acknowledge each person’s needs even while safeguarding the needs of the group as a whole. Simply put, acknowledgement does not mean agreement. It means letting everyone know that you can see how they got to their viewpoint or opinion. It doesn’t mean taking sides with someone or abandoning your responsibilities to the group. Acknowledgement can be the bridge across misperceptions.

    Engage in Collaborative Listening by:

    • Helping each person explore and be clear about their interests and goals
    • Acknowledging their perspective by saying phrases like:
      • I can see how you might see it that way. That must be difficult for you.
      • I understand that you feel _______ about this.
    • Asking questions that probe for deeper understanding on both your parts:
      • When you said x, what did you mean by that?
      • If ______ happens, what’s significant about that for you? What am I missing in understanding this from your perspective?

  5. Be a Good Transmitter
  6. Messages transmitted from one person to the next are very powerful. Sometimes people have to hear it ‘from the horse’s mouth.’ Other times, you’ll have to be the transmitter of good thoughts and feelings.

    Pick up those ‘gems,’ those positive messages that flow when others feel safe and heard in mediation and present them to the other person. Your progress will improve. We’re all human. You know how easy it is to hold a grudge, or assign blame. Sharing gems appropriately can help each person begin to shift their perceptions of the situation, and more importantly, of each other.

    To deliver polished gems, try to:

    • Act soon after hearing the gem
    • Paraphrase accurately so the words aren’t distorted
    • Ask the listener if this is new information and if it changes their stance
    • Avoid expecting the people involved to visibly demonstrate a ‘shift in stance’ (it happens internally and on their timetable, not ours)

  7. Recognize Power
  8. Power is a dominant factor in mediation that raises many questions: What is it? Who has it? How to do you balance power? Assumptions about who is the ‘powerful one’ are easy to make and sometimes wrong. Skillful conflict resolvers recognize power dynamics in conflicts and are mindful about how to authentically manage them.

    You can recognize power by being aware that:

    • Power is fluid and exchangeable
    • People possess power over the content and their process (think of a person’s concerns as the water flowing into and being held by the container)
    • Resolvers possess power over the mediation process (their knowledge, wisdom, experience, and commitment form the container)
    • Your roles as a conflict resolver will have a significant impact on power dynamics

  9. Be Optimistic
  10. Agreeing to participate in conflict management or resolution is an act of courage and hope. By participating, people are conveying their belief in value of the relationship. They are also expressing their trust in you to be responsive to and supportive of their efforts. A person may first communicate their anger, frustration, suffering, righteousness, or regret, not their best hopes.

    You can inspire them to continue by being optimistic:

    • Be positive about your experiences with conflict management
    • Hold their best wishes and hopes for the future
    • Encourage them to work towards their hopes

  11. Be Resilient
  12. Remember the last time you were stuck in a conflict? You probably replayed the conversation in your mind over and over, thinking about different endings and scolding yourself. The others can get stuck, too. In fact, they can become so worn down and apathetic about their conflict, especially a long-standing dispute; they’d do anything to end it. Yes, even agree with each other prematurely. Don’t let them settle. Mediation is about each person getting his or her interest met.

    • Be prepared to move yourself and the others though productive and less productive cycles of the mediation
    • Help the others see their movement and progress
    • Be mindful and appreciative of the hard work you all are doing

By Larry Barber, LPC-S, CT


If you would like to talk to a Christian Counselor individually or as a family, contact CounselingWorks at 972-960-9981 or fill out our contact form.

man talking

Learning How to Talk … Again

Words have the power to offer others around us love and security or bitterness and anxiety. Wounded people have a difficult time with relationships and communication. If we are honest, most of us are wounded. It has been said, “Hurt people hurt people” and it is likely that we respond to others as we have been taught from either experience or how we have been parented.

It takes time, determination, and re-training to break the cycle of how we relate to others. Around the age of two we learned the language spoken in our home. We may not have realized that the words we learned as a child represented many unspoken family rules. As an adult we expect others to know those same family rules and can be shocked when our “rules” are challenged. This results in judgment and assumptions based on irrational thinking which in turn impacts our relationships.

Each of us has been raised in a family of origin with specific rules of communication that have been passed down through generations. They may include ideas such as:

  • children should be seen and not heard
  • children are to obey adults without question
  • anger is bad
  • certain topics are off limits
  • do not cry
  • do not show emotion
  • don’t ask questions
  • don’t bother people

This transgenerational set of rules and styles of communication was likely passed to you by parents who were good people and trying their best. They did not realize they were also passing along their own unresolved conflicts. It is important to understand this as a starting place in therapy.

We can look at our past for insight and make choices to heal and break the transgenerational patterns of communication that have been unhealthy. We can also look at the good things that were communicated to us and see the kind, loving interactions which have sustained us and those we wish to keep promoting.

Why is so much of our past and childhood mentioned in a discussion on communication? Our core identity or personality is formed during childhood. Although we take on a false self in order to cope with our situations, our spoken words come out of our true self. If we are wounded, we will ultimately wound others. If we cannot see the worthiness in ourselves, we cannot communicate worthiness to others. If we cannot see beauty, we will reflect what we do see. We become the object of our focus. Through a process of discovery, we can experience the healing power of God’s love and learn to love others. Our words can become words of healing and we can be encouragers. Even if we have been shamed in the past, we can become a shame lifter for others.

Styles of communication can be analyzed through theories such as transactional analysis. In this model there are three ego states: parent, adult, and child. A healthy growing person is a mixture of all three with the adult ego state in the driver’s seat. Certain life circumstances may attempt to activate a response from the child or parent ego state. This response will almost certainly be a hurtful exchange. Once the individual understands why and how they are communicating, they are able to make changes without explicit directives at their own pace and impact their circle of family and friends.

Perhaps the best positive change we can implement immediately is to begin using “I statements” to improve communications. An I statement typically consists of few words: “I feel ______when you ______.” By starting with the word “I” rather than “You,” the possibility of a defensive response is diminished. “I feel ignored when you read right up till bedtime.”

This is a direct communication that is not as threatening as, “You always read the whole night!” The latter statement communicated anger and judgment. An expected response would be, “I do not!” The person who felt ignored could take the next step to say what they would like. “I would like it if you _______.” They might insert: play a game with me, take a walk with me, talk to me for awhile, read a chapter aloud to me.

An angry confrontation can be avoided by this type of direct communication. This does take practice and understanding yourself enough to know what you are feeling and what you want. Interestingly enough, many people start a conversation without understanding what they are actually feeling and what they want from their exchange.

Mind reading and making assumptions are culprits of many hurtful exchanges. Unkind words often come from not taking time to know the reality of the other person. Asking questions can avoid many conflictive conversations. Questions that are open ended are best and show we are really interested in their answer…if of course, we really listen.

Listening is another communication skill that takes practice. Sometimes listening is enough. The problem may not need to be fixed and the person may already know the solution, but they just need to verbally process the critical event. A simple, “OK, I see,” or “Is there anything I can do for you?” might be the best response. Listening might be the most important part of communication and the part we are most likely to mess up!

Learning how to talk in a new way is life changing. It may feel uncomfortable at first but it will get easier. Sometimes we have to make ourselves uncomfortable and do things that feel strangely different to make important discoveries. We need to think about what we really want to communicate instead of parroting phrases we have heard from others. At that point we will be revealing our true self and will be opening ourselves to intimacy on a level we have not experienced before.

Written by Rita Peterson


If you would like to meet with a Christian counselor to discuss how improved communications could help you enjoy the abundant life and relationships the Lord wants you to have, please call 972-960-9981 to make an appointment at CounselingWorks or fill out our contact form and one of our counseling coordinators will be in touch with you shortly.

 

cookies-christmas-xmas-baking

Children, Grief, You and the Holidays

A young mother whose son was killed in a fire started by outdoor Christmas lights expressed her fear of the upcoming first Christmas following his death. She did not have the energy to carry on as usual, and she was getting messages from the family that they expected her to do just that. Through grief support, she was able to adapt her holidays to fit her and her surviving child’s needs. She needed permission to change the routine because she felt the old routine would be too painful. She chose to go away for the holidays and reported a surprising success of getting through them. She also gained hope that one day she might be able to enjoy the holidays again because she felt empowered to be in control of how she celebrated, if she celebrated.

Following the death of a loved one, there are many firsts. One of the most difficult firsts can be the holidays. The following are some thoughts on how to help your family cope through the holiday season.

Caring For Grieving Children

  • Prepare children for changes in routine. It is perfectly acceptable to make changes in holiday routines, perhaps even preferable, but remember to prepare children well in advance for changes to holiday traditions.
  • Include children and teens in planning. A family meeting to decide what changes will be appropriate for celebrating the holidays can alleviate a child’s feeling of being left out.
  • If a child appears to need extra reassurance during the holidays, remember they may have feelings of sadness, guilt, etc. that they are struggling with.
  • Children may “regress” (find comfort in earlier behaviors) during the stress of the holidays.
  • Children need opportunities to express their feelings and fears. Plan a ritual for remembering your loved one around the holiday season.
  • Plan some extra time to spend one on one with your children during the holidays.
  • Don’t let the world dictate your schedule.

Caring For Yourself

  • You are the best person to know what you need to care for yourself. Be kinder to yourself than you have ever been during the holiday season.
  • There is no right or wrong way to grieve OR to spend the holidays. Choose activities or solitude based on your needs.
  • Watch out for over-commitment during the holidays. Say “no.”
  • Treat yourself.
  • Give yourself credit for accomplishing the “firsts” as they come along.
  • Be with people you want to spend time with. Say “no” to those you feel would need more energy than you have to give.

Remember Your Loved One

  • Buy a gift for your loved one. Give it to someone who needs it. You will receive twice the pleasure. (This may be too difficult for someone whose loss is recent.)
  • Donate money to a special cause in your loved one’s name or volunteer your time and/or talents.
  • Contribute a poinsettia to your church sanctuary (or to a local nursing home or school) in your loved one’s name.
  • Talk about the deceased with those you are comfortable sharing.
  • Plan a time for remembering. Set a place for them at the table, hang a stocking, retell stories of them.

Anniversary Dates

  • An anniversary of the death of a loved one can cause anxiety and stress, which are normal grief reactions.
  • Give yourself permission to feel your own feelings about the day and plan how you want to spend your time.
  • Remember that anticipation is sometimes worse than going through the actual day.
  • Don’t allow others to dictate the extent to which you observe the day.

GriefWorks is a free grief support group program for children ages five to eighteen that have experienced the death of someone close to them. Love Never Dies is a faith-based support group for adults who are grieving.

man dealing with anger

8 Ways to Cope with Anger

Anger is simply not liking how things are or wishing a life situation was different. It is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury or rage.

Anger causes your heart rate and blood pressure to go up and the body to produce more energy hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline. Over a period of time anger can cause serious health problems.

Anger can either be a direct primary emotion (resulting from external events) or a secondary emotion (produced by internal events, how you perceive or think about events or the feelings you experience).

Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats and is usually associated with aggression that makes the person experiencing it feel out of control. But people feeling anger do not have to be out of control emotionally and can choose how they deal with it. Anger can be expressed in an assertive, positive and constructive manner.

Coping with Anger: 8 Practical Suggestions

  1. Identify the reason(s) for your anger
  2. If there is something you can do to address or resolve the reason(s) for your anger, devise an action plan and follow through. If the situation is something that cannot be addressed or resolved, try reframing how you see the situation or become reconciled to it.

  3. Relax
  4. Take time out. Take deep breaths. Try counting to ten before making a decision or taking any action.

  5. Know your anger “triggers”
  6. Being aware of your pet peeves or what pushes your emotional buttons can be helpful. Try to avoid or to escape situations and people that you know can be troubling to you. If you can’t avoid or escape them, take a deep breath and try to stay calm.

  7. Go into a problem-solving mode
  8. Express your emotional energy created by the anger in a way that is positive and brings results favorable to everyone involved.

  9. Use good communications skills
  10. Be assertive, not aggressive in expressing your feelings. If one or both parties involved is experiencing extreme anger, delay communications until the emotions cool a bit. Anger can cause walls that block communications in a discussion.

  11. Use humor
  12. Don’t take yourself or the situation too seriously. Use humor that gets across your point without resorting to sarcasm or cynicism.

  13. Change your environment
  14. Separate yourself from the situation for a while to think over calmly and logically what steps you will take next.

  15. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

When anger starts negatively affecting your life and relationships, don’t be afraid to seek advice or help from others. Pray for wisdom and discernment in making decisions and taking action.

Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT


To set an appointment and discuss with a Christian counselor how anger is hurting your life and relationships, call CounselingWorks at 972-960-9981 or fill out our contact form.

hands-woman

Spousal Abuse

Spousal abuse is a difficult behavior to define because it includes a set of symptoms that can involve both physical and emotional abuse. When it takes the form of emotional abuse, it is characterized by verbal ridicule or putdowns and patterns of neglect. Physical abuse involves the threat of physical violence and may include slapping, shoving, and deliberate physical assault.

Spousal abuse is a pattern of behavior that may be the result of a number of different factors. It may be a learned behavior that a child observes occurring between parents and later repeats in his or her adult relationships. Studies show that abusers are often motivated by feelings of powerlessness and insecurity. Spouse abuse inflates the ego and provides a false sense of control. It may be the result of a misguided sense of love that results in unhealthy possessiveness or jealousy.

Society is now becoming more aware of spouse abuse than it has been in the past. Previously, even if gross abuse was reported to the authorities, the law was reluctant to get involved. It was assumed that the man was ruler in his own home and the authorities had no business there. At best it was viewed as a misdemeanor. That view has changed. If a man or woman feels abused, there are now many organizations ready to help.

Spouse Abuse – What does the Bible say?

Nowhere in scripture do we find God sanctioning any form of spousal abuse. In Colossians 3:18-19 men are instructed to pattern their love for their wives after Jesus’ love for His church.

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

This is described as a sacrificial kind of love; the kind of love that seeks the very best for the one who is loved. Emotional and physical forms of abuse are diametrically opposed to the concept of sacrifice; such behaviors are selfish and self-seeking.

1 Corinthians 13 teaches what genuine love is all about and has much to say about what love is not.

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

According to this passage, love is not self-seeking, is not easily stirred up, and does not behave hatefully. Clearly, abuse is not a demonstration of genuine love.

Misinterpretation of Ephesians 5:22 has led some to believe that the role of submission by wives permits their husbands to abuse the of power of their position in the relationship leading to the mistreatment of their spouse.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

The true meaning of this passage is a demonstration of a husband’s role as initiator of unconditional love, which results in the wife’s role as responder, willingly placing herself under his spiritual leadership. Actually, when husbands abuse their wives, they have given up their role as spiritual leader of the home as exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ who is a spiritual leader who sacrifices for the needs of his bride, the Church. Submission is not something to be taken, but rather something to be given.

Spouse Abuse – Just How Serious is it?

Spouse abuse is a very serious form of exploitation that will escalate when left untreated. There is a cycle of violence that often begins with a pattern of verbal denigration and emotional abuse and intensifies until it manifests itself as a form of physical abuse. Verbal abuse is possibly more sinister than overt physical abuse. Long after the black and blue bruises and broken bones from physical abuse heal, verbal abuse continues to silently erode its victim’s self-worth.

The classic abuser conveys a message to his victim that she is responsible for his negative behaviors, that she is a failure in most or all of the roles she is fulfilling, and that apart from him she is helpless. Victims of abuse eventually come to believe that they are powerless and objects of shame. Statistically, reports of women being abused are more common than those of men.

Often the most effective solution to making the relationship healthy and safe again is bringing in an objective third party, such as a Christian counselor, to intervene and mediate with the wife and her husband.

Written by Heather Resneder, MA, MFT-A


If you are in a relationship in which you are being abused, verbally or physically, now is the time to take action to make your life and relationships healthier and safer. To set an appointment with a Christian counselor, call at 972-960-9981 or fill out our contact form.


IF YOUR FAMILY IS EXPERIENCING AN EMERGENCY, PLEASE CONTACT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS TO ASSIST YOU DURING TIMES OF IMMEDIATE NEED.

  • New Beginning Center
    Individual and group counseling for adult and child victims of domestic violence. Emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children.
    www.newbeginningcenter.org
    972-276-0057 (24 hr)
  • Genesis Women’s Shelter
    Provides emergency shelter, in-house food and clothing for battered women and their children
    www.genesisshelter.org
    214-942-2998 (24 hr)
  • The Family Place
    Provides counseling and support groups for abused women
    www.familyplace.org
    214-941-1991 (24 hr)
  • Brighter Tomorrows
    Provides services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Shelter locations in Grand Prairie, DeSoto, and Irving.
    www.brightertomorrows.net
    972-262-8383 (24 hr)
  • Hope’s Door
    Provides shelter and counseling services to individuals and families affected by domestic violence.
    www.hopesdoorinc.org
    972-422-7233 (24 hr)
  • Turning Point
    Provides telephone crisis intervention, counseling and support to victims of sexual assault, their families and friends
    www.theturningpoint.org
    800-886-RAPE (24 hr)
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8 Steps to Companioning

The following was presented at the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ Bible Teachers Workshop, in the session Ministering with Compassion. The philosophy of companioning is the work of Alan Wolfelt Ph.D. and has been adapted from Dr. Wolfelt’s writings by Greg Yoder, MC, LPC, CT. Slight adaptations of Mr. Yoder’s work was done by Vicki Straughan, LMSW, for the purposes of adapting the tenets to a ministry setting.

Honor all parts of a human being, the nonphysical (the emotion, personality, spirituality, intellect) as evidenced by love of or passion for any aspect of life.

  1. Companioning is not about focusing on intellect

    • Faith, a spiritual walk, religion, philosophy
    • Love of people, relationships and work
    • Devotion to service, dedication to family
    • Sense of humor and playfulness
    • Creative gifts and interests
    • Reverence for nature
    • A hunger for learning
  2. Companioning is more about curiosity; it is less about our expertise

    • Those we support are the experts on their experience
    • Being too attached to our expertise may estrange us from those we wish to serve
    • “Teach me…”
    • Earn the right to offer advice, guidance or direction
  3. Companioning is about walking alongside; Less about leading or being led

    • Key is to “invite” others to take a step toward what might be important
    • No judgment
    • No expectation
    • No pushing or pulling to some prescribed outcome for the convenience of others
  4. Companioning is about being still; Not always about urgent movement forward

    • Finding a place of stillness inside ourselves
    • Stillness means heightened awareness, not dormancy
    • Holding the moment in anticipation that something important is developing
    • Far more important to be in relationship than to make something happen
  5. Companioning is discovering the gifts of sacred silence; not filling up every moment with talk

    • Show up without urgency or expectation
    • Practice silence in dialogue. Delay your responses on purpose.
    • Chatter may disrupt one from formulating important thoughts
    • Pay attention and be curious about your own personal discomfort with silence.
    • Watch others for signs of wanted response.
  6. Companioning is about being present to another’s emotional and spiritual pain; not taking away or fixing it

    • Challenge old definitions of “helping”
    • Emotional and spiritual pain must be allowed to flourish before it can subside
    • We stop people from grieving at our discomfort level
    • Spiritual and emotional pain is a necessary part of healing…albeit, in its most distressing guise
  7. Companioning is about respecting disorder and confusion; not imposing order and logic

    • Is life so orderly?
    • Companions can provide a point of grounding for others to tether themselves to
    • Know where to turn for help
    • Understand that some coping and healing has a chaotic look to it
    • Reality check with your support; restore your own energy
  8. Companioning is about going into the wilderness of the soul with another; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding a way out

    • Willingness to walk into regions of mystery with no answers or even clear direction
    • Willingness to sift through ashes for meaning while possibly not offering your own opinion
    • Willingness to accept whatever state of reconciliation another is able to find with their loss