Are You a Peaceful Mom?

It took me over two and a half decades to become a peaceful mom. And I’ll admit, that some days I still fail.  

But what is interesting to me is that many of my peers who have kids well in their 20’s and 30’s are not what I would term as peaceful moms.  Instead of releasing their young adults to a God who loves them dearly, I see them still telling their kids what to do–often over-involved in their adult children’s lives.  These moms still worry and fret over what might happen and willingly use their matriarchal position as one of control. 

I used to be one of these women but I’m getting better.  It’s so freeing!  From the moment I gave birth to my first, I was driven to make sure my child was everything that I thought he was supposed to be.  I’m sure he would tell you I was the nagging mother who always took charge of his life rather than letting him fail so that he could learn from his mistakes. 

As I look back at pictures of my children growing up, I see the excess.  Too many toys, gadgets, and activities stole our peace.  There was no down-time for quiet reflection or calm.  Every aspect of our lives was constant motion.

But I’ve let go.  I’ve come to recognize that peace comes from letting God be God rather than me trying to make sure that my kids have every opportunity that I can afford and are perfect in all things.

I look at the contrast of my daughter-in-law’s approach to parenting to the way I parented.  She exudes such peace in words and responses to her crying infant.  The gentleness in the way she interacts as she soothes and comforts him are unlike anything I’ve witnessed before.  And “things” are not a priority.  She wants her son to enjoy the simple things in life without the over-stimulation.

Becoming a peaceful mom is more than just a mindset.  It’s an examination of our heart.  Are we building a healthy foundation within ourselves such that we see Christ as Lord?  I love how April Cassidy puts it, “We have to examine the throne of our heart.”

Mindset says, “Worry is love, I have to figure everything out, control means protection, I am always right…”  Allowing God to sit on the throne means that I am willing to examine my heart to probe my motives and priorities during my time with Him.  It means that I recognize that my behaviors are attached to my fears, dreams, and feelings.  It means that I’m willing to look at myself and examine my prideful objective.  

Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Are you feeling an “ouch” like I am?

No one said that becoming a peaceful mom was going to be easy.  God will use the context of our parenting to get our attention to who we truly are as our kids have a way of bringing out our worst.  It is when we see that we’ve become the person that we never wanted to be or that our children are turning to the very things we most feared that we are then willing to examine our hearts. 

We have to understand that when our emotions are churning and our thoughts are in turmoil and we would do anything to control the circumstance, being at peace means that we accept that God needs to be God in the lives of our children.  It means we have to get “self” out of the way so that God will parent our children through our words and actions.  It is letting our “Jesus” show to our kids even in difficult circumstances and times of conflict.

April says it so well in her book, The Peaceful Mom, “When my trust is 100 percent in the Lord, His goodness, and sovereignty, I can face even the most difficult trials with the supernatural peace of God flooding my soul.  If I truly believe He knows best and I rest in His promises, I can entrust Him with sickness, hardships, suffering, and even death.”

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

Parenting can be a challenging road for all of us as moms.  Even on our best days, we don’t always get it right.  But if you are like most of us, you want to be a great mom to your kids.  As April so eloquently writes, “We want to model healthy ways of relating and living for our children in every area of our lives.  We long for tranquility, harmony, and joy in our families.”

Yes, that is what I want!

If you want to become your very best for your family, I want to encourage you to read April Cassidy’s new book, The Peaceful Mom. There you will find real-life stories and opportunity for  introspection as you look at how you parent based on scripture.  If you are like most of us who struggle with living vicariously through our kids’ lives, this book will help you put life back into balance.

Regardless of whether you have a three-month old or a 30 year old, The Peaceful Mom offers insight into our struggles that will facilitate growth in us if we are willing to look deep within.  Even on our toughest day as a parent, April gives us a prescription for finding His peace.

2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

“Let go…and Let God”,

If you are specifically struggling with tweens and teens, With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens will help you examine the very things April talks about in her book.  The peace we all want as moms comes with introspection.  If you want growth as a mom and are longing for that tranquility, harmony, and joy in your home, instead of the conflict and struggles, we’re here to walk through the difficulties of parenting with you.  This book is practical.  It gives you the “what to say and how to say it” in a way that brings encouragement to your teens.

Why not grab a few friends and go through the book together?  It makes a great Bible Study where you can invite your non-christian friends and it won’t feel threatening. 

Or, if you prefer, we offer an on-line community where you’ll make new friends who are going through the book.  There you will find video teaching and encouragement.  I’m in there daily to answer questions and will coach you through your specific struggles in your parenting.  It’s like having women who have already been there take your hand and walk beside you.  Hope you’ll join us!













How to Deal With An Angry Parent

On a radio interview this week the host asked me a pointed question.  “How should mom deal with the situation when Dad is yelling at the teen in an over-the-top way?  Should she step in?  Should she keep her mouth shut?”

I didn’t hesitate for a second because the question comes up all the time.  Some Dads can be hotheaded, and if we want to be honest with ourselves, as moms we can be too.  Emotional fury has no gender preference.  And unfortunately it is a common occurrence in most homes.

We feel free to “be our true selves” with the ones we most love.

Family can also be where the most emotional wounding can take place.

Feeling the wrath of another person is hard to experience let alone watch as it unfolds before our very eyes.  We’ve all been there with the hurt and pain that comes with anger and defensiveness from another person.  And we don’t want our child to feel similar pain.

Ironically, God allowed that tormenting pain to come crashing into my life this week from someone who was/is very dear and precious to me.

Notice my “was/is” statement.  I’m still trying to process our relationship.

“Does this person love me?  Or loathe me?  Does this person care about me or my feelings?  Does this person really have my best interest at heart?  Do I want to continue loving this person the way I have in the past?  Should I cut off my feelings from this person so I won’t be hurt in the future?  How should I re-define our relationship based on this new knowledge of who this person truly is?”

It’s the mind’s way of self-protection.  It’s the only way I can feel in control of my current circumstance.

It’s no different for our kids.  When they experience the anger from a parent, they might not be equipped to verbally process the pain like I am, but they feel it.

It took me a while to process my emotions over the incident this week.  You see, I wasn’t taught as a child to look at how I feel in a given situation.  I couldn’t easily put words to my emotion.

Finally, with a friend’s help, I was given a word list.  Betrayed.  Angry.  Unloved.  Violated.  All these were only the tip of the iceberg.

Taken for granted.  Not worth the effort to really be known. And more feelings continue to surface.

I want connection and a sincere apology.

The person has attempted to connect without dealing with my pain.  A “life will continue as normal” mentality has entered our relationship.  But I’m scarred.

Think about our kids.  Every interaction where there is unresolved conflict results in damage to the relationship.  We may think that things are fine, but underneath the surface something is still brewing.  Mistrust is seeping in and most likely, as a parent, we have no idea we have affected our kids.

If we stand by and say nothing when the other parent is yelling at our teen, we are communicating (non-verbally, of course) to our child that “Dad (or Mom) is right and they deserve it”.  If we enter into the shouting match taking one side over the other, then one of them is going to feel disrespected and damage that relationship.

It becomes what most of us consider a no win situation.  With either choice someone is hurt.

As I shared with the radio host, if the other parent is being verbally or physically abusive with our teen, we need to take action to stop the situation.  When emotions are high someone has to be the adult in the room and if that means stepping between our teen and the other parent or calling the police then do so.   Those are extreme circumstances and not the ones most moms deal with on a routine basis.

Most times parents just want control of a situation with their kids.  Either the parent is upset at something the teen did or didn’t do and wants their kid to “get the message”.  Or the teen is making a request that seems unreasonable and brings fear to the parent.  Either way, emotions rise, and the parent has learned that using his voice by screaming and reading a child the riot act will get the teen’s attention.

But how can we (the other parent) deescalate the situation?

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Matthew 18:15

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

  • Try walking into the room and gently putting your hand on your spouse’s shoulder.  Sometimes touch will soothe the anger and quiet the mind.
  • If the hand doesn’t work, try speaking into the situation.  “I can tell that both of you are upset.  Can we take a break to calm down and finish this conversation later this evening?”
  • Give your spouse some time to calm down and then try to have conversation about the circumstances.  “I know you are really upset about this.  It’s hard to be a parent and to know what is most important for our kids to learn.  You are a good dad and you want the best for ______.  (Continue talking in positive language).  What do you think you could do to resolve this issue without damaging the relationship?  Then talk through how to interact with the child in a more healthy manner.  (Remember, your spouse may not have had this modeled for him in a healthy way.  Give him the benefit of the doubt.  He does love your child even if he doesn’t know how to deal with the conflict or his emotions.)
  • Encourage your spouse to re-engage with an apology to your child for getting so upset.
  • If all goes well, you are on your way to healthier family relationships.

But what if  your spouse is not open to this kind of coaching and encouragement?

Jeremiah 22:3

Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed

Ezekiel 34:11-12

“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places…”

  • Let your child know that you don’t condone their father’s behavior and that you are sorry for what they had to experience.
  • After apologizing for their dad’s behavior, sit with your child’s pain.
  • Allow them to talk.  Help your teen identify their emotions.  Soothe them as best you can.
  • Normalize dad’s behavior.  “All of us have blind-spots.  Your dad was never taught how to control his feelings and at times they explode.  I’m sorry that you seem to get the brunt of those.  You know that your dad loves you, right?” (Talk about the things Dad does right and help your child see that Dad really does love him.)
  • Apologize again–this time you are sorry you can’t change Dad’s behavior.  Let your child know that you love them and you love their dad as well.
  • Talk through strategies the child could use the next time this occurs.  Teach him how to de-escalate the tension.
  • Give your teen lots of hugs and support until he has worked through the emotion.
  • Pray with your child that God will do a mighty work in his father’s heart.

May God bless you as you attempt to restore the relationships in your home.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Want to practice some of these skills in a safe environment?  Want to learn more ways to work through the shouting matches in your home and resolve conflict in a healthy way?

Join us at our Deflating Defensiveness Training Retreat May 30-June 3, 2018.  Nina Roesner and I will pair up to not only give you the skills, but help you put together a plan specific to your own personal circumstances.  You’ll be encouraged and leave with a new perspective on how relationships can be more fulfilling in your own home.








Too Busy for Relationship?

Standing in the kitchen I was focused on fixing dinner when my teen walked through the back door.  Barely looking up, I asked my son how his day went and continued pealing potatoes for the evening meal.  He sat down at the kitchen island and rambled on about all the things that had happened during the day.   With an occasional glance I would give him my half-hearted “really” as he continued his story.  I had other things on my mind–the to-do list of my evening activities.

As soon as he took a breath I interrupted.  “I need you to go get your homework finished.  Your dad and I have a commitment after dinner and I have several things to do before then.”

I could tell he was frustrated with me.  And, yes, I probably should have been more focused on his needs.  But life can’t always revolve around when my teen wants to talk, can it?

The truth was, I blew it.  It wasn’t in the fact that I ended the conversation.  It was in the how I ended the conversation.  

Matter of fact.

No consideration for his feelings.

And a “task” that I felt at the time was more important than listening to him. 

I wasn’t focused on the relationship.

As parents we all make mistakes in how we interact with our kids.  But do we make an attempt to recover from them?  Do we learn from our mistakes and think through how we should handle it next time?

As I lay in bed that night thinking through my day, I realized that I needed to apologize to my son.  I asked for his forgiveness the next day since I made my agenda for the evening more important than what he had to share.  I told him how I blew it and how I wished I could have a do-over.  I shared the specifics of what I wished I had done differently.  We talked through them setting a plan in place for the next time a similar thing occurred.

  1. Look him in the eye.  Teens want to know that we are really listening and eye contact is a mechanism to bonding.  It says they are more important than the task.
  2. Speak your truth.  “I would really like to hear about your day and I only have 10 minutes before I need to get ready for tonight’s activities.  Would it be okay if you share the highlights while I peel the potatoes and we’ll talk after your dad and I get home tonight?  I really want to hear about what is going on in your world.”  This is also where you would give any instructions about the evening.
  3. If he agrees, position yourself with your task so that there is eye contact during the conversation.
  4. When time is up, say something positive.  “I really love that you come and share your day with me.  I just wish I had more time right now.  I’ll look forward to our talk later tonight.”  

Teens have a lot to process about their world and it is important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that they are willing to talk with us.  We want to encourage them to see us as their confidant.  One of the most important things we can do to build the relationship is to be a good listener.

Colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Sometimes just sitting with our kids, listening as they talk about their day, can give us insight and opportunity to influence their decisions if we validate their feelings and show them acceptance and that they are important in our lives.

Dare you to assess whether you make your teens a priority in your life and handle your interactions with them with respect and humility.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Wish you could help Dad be more intentional in your teen’s life?  365+ Ways to Love Your Family:  Practical Tips for Dads of Tweens and Teens is an easy way to quickly help him have a positive way to have influence.  In less than a minute each day, he can put an action in place that will teach your kids the language of respect.






Are You Making Sense of Your Truth for Your Kids?

I remember a time when my kids were excited about extended family coming to our house to stay for a week.  It was an annual occurrence that would be a happy yet dreaded time of the year for me.  On the one hand, I was looking forward to the time to reconnect, but as time drew near to their imminent arrival, the noose would feel tighter.  I would feel the tension in the back of my neck and that awful pit in the stomach as I furiously cleaned every corner of my house.  I found myself yelling more at my kids as my stress level escalated because I needed to get the house in order before they arrived.  If it wasn’t perfect, I’d hear about it.

In reality I had not made sense of my own truth.  Instead I would recite bible verses to myself making sure that I hit His standard for who I was supposed to be.

  • Love is patient, love is kind.  (1 Corinthians 13)  Translated: I must be patient and kind in all things this week.
  • Selfless love lays down his life for another.   (John 15:13)  Translated: I must give up my needs and wants in order to love this person while they are in my home.
  • Love one another as I have loved you.  (John 13:34)  Translated: God loves me even when I sin, so I must love this person regardless of the things this person says to me.

And the list went on. 

It was my way of making sure that I was perfect when this person came to visit.  If I was well prepared in advance, maybe this time I could avoid the hurtful comments and constant critique of where I wasn’t measuring up.

After three days of of being scolded, I was typically ready for them to leave.  Regardless of what I had done to prepare, I still wasn’t measuring up.  And let’s face it, it’s hard to be “perfect” for a whole week.  My temper would get the best of me, words would be exchanged, and my kids couldn’t quite make sense of why Mom was so angry.

It took me more than a decade to discover my truth.

The truth was there was unresolved conflict that had simmered for years.  There were family secrets that I was sworn to keep.  And someone else trying to drive my family’s activities for an entire week was enough to send my well intended scripture verse litany to the far recesses of my brain as I emotionally erupted. 

I had believed the lie that if I could be perfect for one week out of the year when this person came to visit and that I could shield my kids from the pain of my reality.  I could hide the truth about these people in my life.  And even though my desires were honorable–to hold family in high esteem–I couldn’t keep the mask on in front of my kids for an extended amount of time.

It wasn’t until my kids were in their 20’s that the family secrets came out.  One day with tears in her eyes my daughter looked at me and said, “Mom, we never understood why you got so upset when they were here.  What you told us about them and what we saw never matched up.  I’m so sorry for all your pain.  How could you have even allowed them to stay in our home?”

With those words, the light bulb went on.  It had never occurred to me that I had a choice to allow them to stay.  It didn’t dawn on me that I was trying to live a lie of that perfect family for my kids.  In my world of truth, my feelings were to be ignored and not explored.  And I was to humble myself to the point of letting others walk all over me.

Once I stared at truth from a scripture perspective I had a new dawning.

Matthew 22:37-39

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The truth was that in those moments, I was not loving myself.  I was putting more emphasis on being perfect for this person rather than for speaking my own truth and examining my worth through my relationship with Christ.  What this person thought of me was more important than what God says.  I realized I was modeling for my kids that other people have more value and their opinions of me are more important than God’s opinion or desires for me.  He is the creator of my feelings and longings.  I learned to take John 8:32 to heart.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

I had modeled that being real wasn’t safe.  Being vulnerable and authentic while speaking my truth, didn’t have merit.  It was easier to pretend than be known.

A harsh reality for a woman who wanted to be a Godly mother.

Since that day I spent with my daughter, I’ve learned that to be open and honest with my feelings is a good thing.  It brings connection and healing.  Sharing our truth with our kids (when it is age appropriate), even though they are truths that make us feel shame, can truly set us free and give our kids a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals.  Hiding our true identities out of shame and remorse says that we aren’t worthy of being who God created us to be.  It sets us up to not be truly known by those around us.

It blocks the connection that most of us desire.

The good news is that by learning to be real and authentic as I recognize who I am in Christ, I’ve worked through those fears of not being “good enough”.  Sure, they will rear their ugly head at times, but I now know that I can take my thoughts captive.  I’ve learned that being a doormat brings me nothing but frustration and pain while living in my NOW and being aware of my feelings helps me process the real truth of the moment.  By doing so, I can help my kids see that mom isn’t always perfect and it helps them recognize and accept their own imperfections.

It also helps my kids accept imperfections in others so that they can show empathy and grace to the hurting people they encounter.

Dare you to look to see what realities you are masking for your kids.  Maybe it’s time to be authentic so truth can allow your family freedom to connect on a deeper level.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Learning to be lovingly authentic with those around us takes work.  It means we need to know who we are in Christ while learning skills that will woo others rather than push them away.  Many of us tend to be pendulum swingers.  What I mean by that is that one minute we’re trying to be patient, loving, and kind and then something sets us off to where we are ready to blast a person we love because they have offended us or haven’t complied with our requests.  This applies especially to our relationship with our teens.  We love them unconditionally one minute and can’t wait til they move out the next.  We want our relationship to be really good but at other times we’ve had our fill of their behavior.

Deflating Defensiveness is a course we’ve designed to put an end to the emotional roller coaster.  You will learn how to deal with the other person’s emotion while you take care of yourself in the heat of the battle.  You’ll learn what works to draw you closer together in the moment.

May 30-June 3 we hope you’ll join us near Cincinnati, Ohio for a Conflict Resolution Training Retreat that will deepen all your relationships.