When Fixing it is Not the Answer

How to support the people you love

It’s hard to believe we have lived in New Mexico for almost five years, and that my second child is graduating from High School in four weeks.  When we first moved here it was hard for my kids to adjust.  I remember vividly many days of sorrow, and each of them having their “moments.”  As Mom, the tears and frustration were difficult to watch and know how to handle.

I learned then that it was best to affirm their feelings, and not attempt to fix the problem.  In this case, I couldn’t fix it anyway.  We couldn’t move back to Minnesota and all that was familiar. We had a new job, house, school, and life to live here.  And although I knew I couldn’t change it, it didn’t make it any easier to watch my kids mourn their old life.

Fast forward.

We’ve adapted and thrived in our new state and life.  We’ve all made treasured friends, we’ve found lots to love about living in the Southwest, and we’ve grown closer as a family.  My three have experienced “the other side” of significant life change and are better for it.  They have learned when things are hard we can’t go around it, over it or under it. It was something we had to go THROUGH.

Old Dog, Same Trick.

Nowadays the problems may be different, but I’m reminding myself of this same lesson as my people grow into their teens and twenties!  Several of my kids have had major life challenges in the last few months, and my first instinct is to jump into “mommy-fix-it-mode.” But I not only can’t always fix what’s wrong—I shouldn’t!

This is when I can embrace them in their tears, instead of making them feel like they shouldn’t have them, and validate their feelings. And that’s all they really want in the end.  (Just like I do.)

Love and support doesn’t have to come with a solution.

Listening is a valuable something.

I know firsthand how frustrating it is to be “fixed” when I just want to vent.  Rarely do I want to be directed, “fixed” or corrected in the midst of a crisis.  I’d much rather be listened to.

Can you relate?

Because I’ve been on the receiving end of the fix-it mentality, I try my best to be a good listener for others.  Whether it’s my kids, my hubby or a friend in need, providing comfort and an attentive ear goes a long way.

Yet, we fail to recognize listening is a valuable something we can do.  We’d rather choose options that involve action.  But we can communicate empathy and show we care without ever uttering a word.

So the next time your child, friend, spouse, co-worker or family member come to you with a problem, try to listen well and comfort without offering a solution. And let them know you’re in this together.

Question: Where is God asking you to just listen right now? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

For more ideas on how to love your friends or family in the rough patches of life, order Sarah’s book, Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial from your favorite bookseller.

Sarah Beckman inspires people from the stage and on the page. She is the bestselling author of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial, which is filled with practical tools to love people well in the rough patches of life. Sarah speaks to audiences across the country on topics such as loving your neighbor, sharing your faith, safeguarding your marriage and digging up your talents.

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2 thoughts on “When Fixing it is Not the Answer

  1. He is calling e to listen to my adult children. He is teaching me that listening does NOT equal saving the day or jumping in like super mom to fix this and that and everything under the sun because we all know that means we are hijacking their life lessons. Loving from a distance is powerful. He does it and it’s pretty darn effective in our lives, right?

    • Deanna, SO TRUE! I just wrote that post last night and this morning my 18y/o had a huge crisis. She’s been facing some hard stuff for about 7 days. Today fixing it would have meant letting her “get out of” the thing she has to do. Instead, I listened, advised and came alongside by helping her to get to the place she needed to go. I didn’t say much (very hard) and I didn’t bail her out (very hard) but I did show up for her today. My nature is not to be quiet! (LOL) but today it was a quiet, sacrificial (changed my schedule) support. And she rallied and made it through today. Praying each day gets better, but my,oh my, this is tough stuff! Thanks for your reminder – this is what God does for us right? AMEN.