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What Can I Do When My Kids Are Struggling?

Mom hugging her son who is leaving for Bolivia

This is 10 months ago. The last time I saw my son.

He is in Bolivia today.

If you haven't heard, Bolivia is in a state of civil unrest.

There is a huge disagreement about who is going to govern the country right now and the different sides are rioting, vying to be heard and acknowledged.

Can I just tell you how helpless that can feel as a mother knowing that my son who is 19 years old is completely away from my protection?

I spent the first 18 years of his life making sure this kid lived to see the next day. He climbed 20 feet into a tree....naked I might add, when he was 2.

He and his brother were the reasons I had to lock my knitting needles in the gun safe, couldn't take naps for the first 12 years of his life for fear of waking to them playing tag with bows and arrows and throwing yard implements at hornets nests.


And now I'm relying on others to keep this precious boy of mine safe.

Something I wouldn't trust even a babysitter to do back in the day.

As a coach, in the last 2 weeks I have heard from 5 moms coping with the same issues as each other.

Their kids are struggling.

These moms are terrified that their precious children that they have poured every ounce of love, blood, sweat, and tears into are beyond their help.

I've heard it....suicide, failing school, sleeping with strangers, self-injury, self-hate, depression, eating disorders and my heart fills up for them.

What kind of an out-of-control feeling is that??


And moms often take the responsibility and guilt and weight just to feel like it may spare their children some of the agony that is coming at them.

I know that having a child in another country is not the same thing as having a suicidal child, but I have found myself coaching my way to a mindset that I need in order to be a mom that is at the ready.

Ready to help my child the second I can.

And don't get me wrong.

I am THAT mom that would strap on a parachute to lead an operation to infiltrate an enemy facility if it meant freeing my son, but for now that isn't what is needed.

Right now I don't know what is needed.


The minute I allow my mind to begin doubting my son, myself, or the world I have lost the ability to be aware of creative and inspired solutions.

Something I think is critical if I want to show up as a mom.

I want to be the mom who takes care of her own stuff.

I want to be the mom who will approach a problem with inspiration and intuition.

I want to be the mom who can be creative in a crisis.

I want to be the mom who is AT THE READY the second I hear God whisper in my ear.

I can't do that if I am completely engulfed in fear.

Fear cuts off my outlets to creativity.

When we are afraid we go into default mode. Safe mode. The way we deal with danger in the fight-or-flight mode.

In our minds we have two camps.

We have the one that can think creatively and analyze scenarios.

It is intuitive and observes details closely.

It is governed by the pre-frontal cortex with gives us judgement.

The other camp is our primal brain that is meant to keep us alive.

When our kids are in danger it will automatically assume we are in danger and put us into fight-or-flight mode.

We will act like we always do, or our parents did, to ensure survival.

It will pull out the stops to be as effective as possible regardless of harm to things like relationships and communication and modeling healthy behavior.

This is survival! War!

When we strive to have peace in our hearts and our minds when our kids are struggling or in danger...

Our minds are on fire.

The two camps are rioting, vying for attention and acknowledgement and the preference to be heard.

If we aren't intentional about what we choose to think...we go to default mode.


Often winning the battle to lose the war.


As I struggle to be intentional, and I assure you it is a struggle. (Feeling panicked sometimes FEELS VERY important) I have noticed how important it is to focus on these three beliefs.

We are raised to believe that "belief" means "truth". But a belief is simply a thought we have thought over and over and over.

I can change that by thinking something different over and over and over that helps me show up as the mom I know I need to be to actually be of some use in this situation.