We so wish that the once-cutie smile of our children will never turn to a sneer. If you will ever wonder. What will make a loving child, who once look up to you as his knight and shining king, turn his back on you and tell you right on your face, “I will not apologize.” Your first emotional reaction is disdain. You feel the knot in your tummy as you respond back to your child, “Who do you think you are?”

Days passed and that erring child disappears in your life until one day, he needs your help. It could be a very simple request of a file he needs for his college application or some of his personal stuff that he left in your house. The point is, he needs something from you.

You never stop being a parent just because a child grew up and he tests his wings on you. You still need to say something to correct a wrong. But, whether a child will be “obedient” is his free will. If he chooses not to apologize, it is not the end of the world. It simple means “Boy, he needs lots of prayers.”

What does it mean to forgive? Does it mean you let the child do what he wants to do because he is now an adult? If he does something against your wishes just because he is an adult, do you pretend he did not hurt you? Do you let go of the hurt and pretend nothing happened and you are best buddies again? Do you push it aside, let the bitterness develop and act like everything is normal?

Your adult son put a “hole in your fence” and because he can now afford his own house, food and his lifestyle, he feels powerful to tell his old man that he is not running his household in the way it should be.

Communication breaks down when the adult son does not understand that his words put a “hole in his father’s fence”. He continues to busy himself with the daily routine of his adult life – work, love life, etc. He refuses to acknowledge that just as his old man could have done things better, he could have said things better too. Unlike a few years ago, when he was still a child, there was an excuse for his disrespect. But, when he plays the “I’m 18 card” on you, is it best to be dumb and mute about it?

In the self-centered nature of our adult children, we really cannot be silent. Truth must be brought up to their face so they will have ample opportunity to think about it. Nagging is different. You keep bringing old wounds in the past to put a person down. When you use different ways to communicate to your adult child what he has done wrong, then you become consistent for him. You become a pillar of strength for him because he knows he can count on you to teach him what is right and what is wrong. When you eventually patch things up, he has learned that there are “words” that can put “holes in your fence and permanently damage the structure if not stain it ugly.” Often times parents retreat, harbor bitterness and “act not hurt” hoping time heals the pain. But, it doesn’t. The parent must develop communication skills that will not hurt but teach. Otherwise you adult son will never learn what it means to be “faithful” to the ideals you hold high in your list. They will be confused because if respect is important for you, then you will need to define the boundaries that constitute respect. You cannot assume that just because he is an adult, he truly understands it. The values of “respect” for your elders or your parents is teachable. However, we think “respect” is tolerance.

Read this anonymous poem about “Holes in the Fence”.


There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him

a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must

hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had

driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned

to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually

dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to

drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He

told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out

one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father

that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led

him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the

holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say

things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put

a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you

say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.

Just one more thing…

Please forgive me if I have ever left a hole in your fence!

~ author unknown ~

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