How to stay emotionally healthy despite others choices
You Really Can’t Control The Driver

Are you ever been tempted to figuratively,  drive someone’s boat for them? 

Have you ever wanted to take over the steering wheel when you see someone you care about, who’s going to crash into the rocks, or head for dangerous waters?
Do you ever feel like you are a water skier behind the boat of a loved one?
Does it seem that you are shouting out warnings while trying to jump the wakes, and avoid obstacles, hoping you can stay with them?
The question is: How well do YOU Water Ski?
Raising a family, or even being a part of one, has never been, nor will it ever be for the faint of heart.
Let’s begin with a small child.
They happily ride in the boat with you.  You tutor and guide as you safely drive slowly around the lake, showing the sites along the way. Everyone is happy.  The child is ecstatic at experiencing so many new joys for the first time.
The child grows and becomes a little older.
He, or she, is now able to ride on a tube, or large flotation device which you pull at a slower speed behind the boat.  
You are a little uneasy as you maneuver the wheel gently from side to side; however, you have significant sway of the situation which gives you comfort.  This is an important time to teach them balance and moderation, so they realize the advantages of restraint, morals and self-control. It’s your opportunity to reason and train as you drive, talk and vigilantly watch- protecting from weather and other risky influences.
Next the teen advances to water skiing behind the boat, with you still driving.
You watch for dangers, and guard from hazards in the water as best you can, to help them be successful as they learn to stand on their own with wobbly legs.  Thei new found freedom is exhilarating to them, and a little worrisome to you as there is only a rope keeping you attached.
At times you nervously navigate the waves and unseen forces under the currents that could cause them harm.  You may even say a prayer or two that they will hold to the ethics and values you so carefully taught,. as they seem to try jumps and tricks that are obviously precarious.
You are now a coach in their life, continually give an encouraging ‘thumbs up’ as these years are hard for everyone. You hope they are listening well and know you are only looking out for their well-being. 
Before you know it, the child is grown, and now he, or she, is driving the boat, and you find yourself……as……the water skier.
You do your best to give guidance.
However, oftentimes you are shouting above the roar of the engine of the boat – life; the noise of their friends or others who may not respect or care about your values or opinion.
You don’t give up.
Your hope is that they will avoid the sand bars, as you focus on jumping the wakes and waves of the tumultuous swirling water.
If possible, you remain with them physically. If not, your heart is always longing for their safe return. They are your child and always will be a part of you.
You love unconditionally, and pray nonstop.

Tumultuous Waters

What if you experience a ‘driver’ who pulls away and takes you to places unknown?

Sometimes our children, or even our loved ones, take us in directions we had no intention, or desire, of going. 

A Mother's Shadow
Your driver is now drawing, tugging you, them-self and others to unsafe areas.  The water is churning and frightening.
You’ve warned, but the boat is heading for heartbreak or even danger.
What if there are innocent passengers in the boat? What do we do?
We have to remember the most important God-given gift we are blessed with; and that is agency to choose for our self. We cannot control another’s decisions after a certain point. That is why we naturally, and without choice, move from being the driver, to being the water skier.
If you are in this situation, my sincere grief goes to you.  I hope to comfort you some. I know the heart-break and the gut-wrenching sorrow that comes from these decisions. It hurts in a way that no physical pain can compare with.

Have faith. Don’t  give up or despair.  Christ calmed the sea and He can calm your troubled soul too.
A Mother's Shadow
So what can we do?
  • Is there anything that can change the direction of the the driver?
  • Are we able to affect their choice?  
  • Can we help without taking their agency?
  • How can we help ourselves?
Ideas of what we CAN do:
1- Continually let them know you love them. Always be ready with the door open (so they change) and remind them they are an important part of your family. (If they are toxic or dangerous to you, or the family, you will need to seek professional advice about maintaining a relationship).
2- Daily pray sincerely for guidance, listen to Him, and then act.
3- Daily be more like Christ. Read the scriptures and learn of God. Remember the woman who stretched and reached for Christs robe to be healed?  She had to have the faith and be prepared spiritually for inspiration and guidance.  It’s not easy, but we can do it – we must for our sake and our loved ones. 
4- Better yourself – I know from personal experience that as we work on our own life, well being and self development, it helps everyone involved. Learn a hobby, skill, etc. Get on with life!!!
5- Serve, help and find ways to benefit others. This brings an entirely new focus on life, as well as lifting the burden you feel; I promise! You can learn more about it HERE
6- Focus on the other members of the family and do not be consumed with the one who is driving the boat.  The others are there, and want you in their life. Have fun with them, be joyful and allow them to be happy with you too!
7- Keep A Gratitude Journal. It will keep a balance in your attitude as you remember all the good you have.  As you write down the blessings and mercies you are given every single day, the burden you carry, is lifted. This is critical to your situation. It’s as simple as jotting down in a notepad at the end of the day, one thing that you are grateful for. 
8- Get counseling, take a course (in person or on-line), read self-help books*, address any habits or behaviors that are adversely affecting your relationships with your family. No deflecting to the other person(s) in the situation if you have your own problems to take care of.  Remember, YOU can only control YOU. As you BECOME better, you will positively and constructively influence those around you now; as well as your posterity to come.
A MUST – no Question here!!! Allow consequences!
If punishments, apologies, or whatever is necessary to make things right, stand by as support, but don’t take the blame for their bad decisions.
This is how growth comes. Painful and hard, but change is what we want.
It is a crucial step to bring the boat into calm, clear waters for a beautiful and safe ride in the future. Otherwise, the process is repeated over and over again because there was not discomfort, sorrow or realizing the affect it took on others and how they felt.  
True, deep sorrow for how one’s actions affected others and wanting to only to good from now on – then acting on that, and proving it to regain trust – that is how you know someone (or yourself) has changed. When you care how your decisions and words have altered others life in a negative way over your own short-sighted ‘joy-ride’, and not due to ‘being caught’ or for other selfish reasons, but because of sincere regret for how they have suffered and now leave that old way behind forever, that is change, repentance, a new person!

 WHY is this happening?
Some of the reasons our loved ones are making the poor choices:
  • Lack of responsibility, or not wanting to take it on
  • Not wanting to face fears
  • Not wanting to be alone 
  • Not wanting to be accountable for their own decisions -it will always be someone else’s fault as they continue down this path
  • Laziness for one reason or another
So, if you have a loved one, who is driving a boat into unsafe territory, and you are the skier holding on for dear life…..
If you are wondering if the boat will crash or where it will finally stop……
Do not be fearful or lose hope!
Hold onto the rope! Do your very best. Pray continually and leave it to God.
A Mother's Shadow
He loves THEM!
He knows them and cares about them more than we possibly can imagine. No matter their age, He always has, and always will love them in a deeper way then we possibly can. 
His help in this process is critical. 
A Mother's Shadow
Realize that He loves YOU.

Your great asset, the way to help your straying, or rebellious loved one, is to take courage in your value as a human being.

YOU also are a greatest crowning achievement of God!

As you understand and grasp your own profound divine value, you will change, and so will your situation.  
Let me explain what I mean.
To begin with, do not let another’s choices and actions determine your destination and attitude.  
This is essential, because if you hold strong and to your ethics, values and honor; your children and family will change for the better.  
As you comprehend your worth to God, your family members will begin to see that in themselves also.  It will flow like the ripples in the water when you toss a rock into a pond.  
If you know WHO you are, WHY you are significant, then you can endure all that comes along with dignity and integrity.
Everyone who is watching, will then begin to understand, or remember, their own value and worth in God’s eyes also as they watch your example. This is particularly true of the one you are skiing behind and why it is so critical for both of you.

Consider this: YOU are a Child Of God, just as they are.
When a family member makes a wrong choice, it could, (it probably will) cause you: embarrassment, misery, pain, worry, and a multitude of other emotions. Regardless of their choices, your worth as a Child of God doesn’t change! Their decisions and actions do NOT affect your standing with God, His love, or your value in His eyes.
  • The most important thing you can do, is to work on your relationship with your Heavenly Father.
  • Be better every day, try, realize we all fail, get up and keep going.
  • Be a guide and model as you have to cross these violent storms and dark times.
Your family, and others watching you, will have their own hardships to bear.  They will look to you, and need your example, your faith and your ‘shadow’** to follow.
May I suggest, you set out  to make a plan from the suggestions above after earnest prayer and choose possibly two ideas. Not including prayer and scriptures, they are a must, in my opinion, and then DO THEM. Act!  Not just think, oh that’s a good idea, but put two choices into motion.  You are priceless, as is one who is straying and so are all of your family!
Add more when you feel confident, or when you feel impressed to act on something that comes to your mind that will bring peace, calm and happiness. DO IT!
You will feel the weight of the burden you carry lifted off of your shoulders, as you focus on your relationship with God. That has been my experience, and I believe it will be yours. May God be with you and your family always, through rough and calm waters, is my prayer for you.
Friends and my blessing,

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, revised 2017

Read About A Shadow HERE**

A Mother’s Shadow, the novel HERE

pictures courtesy of