Therapy Funds

By Sharon Swing

By Sharon Swing, Co-Author Listen to My Life

There are times as parents, my husband, Tom, and I are quite sure we need to make a deposit in our son’s therapy fund.  We’re sure we are doing damage of some sort that will land him in a counselor’s office at some point down the road.  Some events are more clearly therapy-fund-worthy than others.  Some are more humorous than others, too.

For example, there’s the time that Matthew, then 9, and a friend decided to test whether or not a tongue really would stick to a frozen pole.  Combining knowledge gained from “A Christmas Story” and “Myth Busters,” they devised a plan.  After Matthew and his friend, Bobby, made a pact that both would try it, Bobby extended his tongue toward the pole, with the very tip making contact and sticking.  After pulling a bit of skin off his tongue to disengage from the pole, Matthew lapped the pole like a dog.  A quarter-sized piece of skin remained on the pole after his brief bondage.

Matthew entered the house crying, with his tongue hanging out of his mouth slurring,  “Moooom!  I did som-ting weawy thupid!”  I sprung to my feet to see how badly my son is hurt.  With a quick assessment, I knew there was no irreversible damage.  I looked my son’s contorted face, with raw tongue extended, and could not suppress a laugh.  Then I helped him find comfort for his ailment and couldn’t help but ask, “What were you thinking?”

The good news is that Matthew has a great sense of humor and now laughs at the situation, too.

I seriously wonder if other episodes of maternal inadequacy have the potential to land him on a therapist’s couch.  Most suspect are those ways I try to manipulate my son’s behavior or preferences.  When my story and my parenting choices intersect, I can see that there are at least two primary ways that I’m prone to mess up:

  1. When I wish that Matthew were more like me (in positive ways), and had more of my preferences
  2. When I’m afraid that Matthew is too much like me (in negative ways) and might pick up my bad habits or make the same bad choices I made along the way

It seems that these are the things that cause me the most frustration.  I want him to be like me, or I don’t want him to be like me.  I want him to learn all the lessons I’ve learned, in order to avoid the pain of him having to learn them on his own.  That’s a recipe for crazy-making for the whole family.

I’m becoming clearer on the fact that it is not my job to mold my child , or anyone else in my life, into who I want him to be, but it is my job to help Matthew make choices that are wise and loving; the kind that turn him toward God, the kind of choices that help him discover who he was made to be and what kind of adventure story he might co-author with God.

I need be constantly reminded of the grace that I’ve been given so I can pass that grace along to my son.  And hopefully, he’ll pass some back my way, too,  ‘cause I need that.



When David's time to die approached, he charged his son Solomon, saying, "I'm about to go the way of all the earth, but you—be strong; show what you're made of! Do what God tells you. Walk in the paths he shows you: Follow the life-map absolutely, keep an eye out for the signposts, his course for life set out in the revelation to Moses; then you'll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go. 1 Kings 2: 1-4



Is there anyone in my life whom I may be trying to mold (read ‘manipulate’) into becoming more like me or less like me?

  • What does it look like when it happens?
  • What are the implications of those intentions?
  • Is there anything I intend to change?



Dear Father,

Please open my heart, mind and soul to whatever you want to teach me from my life story.  But please keep me from imposing my preferences on others rather than helping point people toward who you have made them to become.  Amen

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3 comments on “Therapy Funds”

  1. Sharon, thanks so much for being open and transparent about the failings we all share as mothers. I was needing this encouragement and clarification today. What better words to share with my kids from 1Kings 2 (...better than the manipulative criticisms that come to my mind when I'm feeling like their behavior is reflecting badly on me) "Be strong; show what you’re made of! Do what God tells you. Walk in the paths he shows you." Thanks for lovingly reminding me that it's not all about me. ; )

  2. Sharon,
    Matthew is just the right blend of you and Tom and he loves the Lord! He has the greatest sense of humor (from his parents). How can you get any better than that? I'm not biased either, since I am his aunt! Thanks for the great article. I've heard you talk of the "Therapy Fund" for years. You finally put it in print to bless so many others. Thanks, sis!

  3. I've been pondering this as well this week. For me the difference between parenting under the law or under grace has emerged. Under the law, I have a list of rules that I want my son Matt to live by. I am tempted to think that I just want Matt to learn the "rules of life" and follow them. I don't have time to explain them or argue over them. Just do it! I don't always take this approach, but much more than I'd really enjoy admitting. The Lord has been showing me that there is a different way. There is the way of love. For me that means taking time to tell Matt my stories, to explain to Matt why I'm reacting the way I'm reacting. To explain it's not really about behaving according to a list of rules, but realizing that we need the Lord's help to live a life of wisdom and love. To risk being honest with Matt and as you said not controlling of him. What a journey! It is always good to know you are not the only one sorting all this parenting stuff out!

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