Are You Coasting As a Parent?

I was listening to a podcast this week about setting goals for 2019.  I don’t know about you, but when I think of goal setting, I typically think of my career, my finances, my health, and other areas that I can quantify.  I’ll admit that becoming a better parent is on my list, but it usually stops there.  I don’t take the time to think about what being a better parent really means to each of my kids.

There was something else the Kelly Thorne Gore said in her podcast that had me thinking. 

“There are five weeks left in the year.  Are you coasting until the end of the year?  Please know that a lot of things can unravel during those five weeks when we coast.”

Hmm…an unraveling of the goals we’ve set because we are coasting.  As I contemplated further that idea of coasting I realized that it means we’re going downhill and things seem easy.  What happens when we reach the bottom of the hill?

There were seasons in my own parenting that I’ll admit I was coasting.  These were the times when life was good and I would relish the season, take a deep breath, and relax a little in my focus.  After all, my kids seemed to be doing the right things and there were no major family hiccups or push backs.

However, just about the time I was ready to deem my child mature, something catastrophic would happen that would send me spinning as a parent.  “What was I doing wrong?  Why the sudden change in their choices?  I can’t believe I’m having to deal with this,” consumed my thinking.  These are the times my heart would race, my frustration would flare, and I found myself grasping at anything that would put my teen back on the path toward maturity.

And the pattern I uncovered as I thought through the “how did we get here?” was that these were the times when I realized that I had taken my eye off the goal.  I truly was coasting without any sense of urgency or intentional focus.

Being intentional in our parenting means we have a vision for the future.  What are we really hoping for as our teen becomes an adult? 

Are we focused on behavior, attitudes, faith, friends, or accomplishment?  Is their happiness our ultimate goal?

Or are we encouraging them to become who God wants them to be with appropriate guardrails and boundaries in place while we solidify a healthy relationship?

So with five weeks left in 2018, I want to challenge you to set some parenting goals for yourself.  Not the new year’s resolution type that will be forgotten in less than a month, but the kind of goals that will propel you into the future with intent.  Goals for your parenting that will be quantifiable so that when your world does get hit with a calamity, you’ll know how to quickly get back on track.

Here’s a place you might start:

  1. What is going well right now with my teen?  What are the areas my teen needs to grow in?
  2. What is going well in our relationship?  Are there areas where I am too lenient, too strict, too involved, or too complacent?
  3. Am I in a place of influence in my teen’s life?  If not, what steps can I take to make it safe for my teen to seek my advice?
  4. Am I spending enough time with my teen?  What do we do when we are together?  What changes, if any, should I make in this area?
  5. Am I gentle and kind or am I constantly nagging?  If necessary, what can I do differently in this area?
  6. What else needs to change?

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Dare you to spend the next few weeks with God asking Him to help set you on the right path in your parenting.

“Let go…and Let God”,

If you know someone with kids 9-29, maybe a great gift idea for this holiday season might be a copy of With All Due Respect:  40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tween.  A companion option might be our online eCourse that accompanies the book where they will have opportunity to learn from moms who have been there.

And we continue to get positive feedback from teachers who have read it. Why not make your teacher gift giving easy this year?

Have a blessed day of gratitude!






4 Questions to Ask Yourself When Conflict is Inevitable

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship.  And when the conflict happens with those we love, the emotional impact can be devastating and tear us apart leaving us fragmented and wounded.  Many times this pain and anguish can last for decades.  Not only that, but it can impact how we behave in other relationships.

Sometimes it makes us dread the holidays.

We anticipate being in the room or around the dinner table with the person who hurt us and our anxiety begins to build.   For some, the feeling of apprehension can consume us knowing that our kids will be under foot for almost two whole weeks or our spouse will be home during the holidays adding to the stress of too many hours in the same space where emotions can destroy the festive season.

And sometimes during these times hope and fear can kick in–hope that the conflict can be resolved and fear that the other person will misunderstand our goodwill intent not hearing our true heart’s desire to resolve the issue in a win/win for both of us.

So what are some things we can do to make sure that conflict is resolved well during the holiday season?  First, understand that conflict takes two people.  And next, think about what you might do differently to change the season from one of apprehension into a time of rejoicing in being with those you love?

Consider how you and the other person fight:

  1. Do you or the other person attack rather than communicate in a loving manner?  The litmus test for answering this question is the use of the word “you” and accusations like “always” or “never”.   “If you hadn’t made me…” or “You always…” may be true; however, if these words are coming from your lips, the receiver will most likely feel attacked and become defensive.  Try communicating what you are feeling by using “I feel” language.  If you are on the receiving end of these words, try something like, “I understand that you feel like I’m at fault here.  However, it is hard to listen right now because I’m starting to feel defensive.  I want to hear you.  Would you mind telling me me how you are feeling by using “I” language rather than “you” language?”
  2. Do either you or the other person avoid resolving the issue?  I’ve had several of these people in my life over the years and I’ll admit it drives me crazy.  Resolving conflict means that you work through the issue.  Avoiders tend to say or think, “Ok, I’m the bad guy” or “There’s no changing you”.  Either way, they just want to move on and choose not to get to the root of the issue.  The problem is that if you never understand the issue and truly work through the conflict, a piece of the relationship is chipped away and it is hard to return to the level of intimacy that used to exist.  Sometimes having a neutral person in the room to help steer the conversation by listening, refocusing, and re-framing can have a positive impact.
  3. Can you rethink how you view the relationship?  When we’ve been hurt over and over by someone, it’s sometimes hard to stay in the relationship arena.  We want to protect ourselves from the pain again.  What if you began to look at the other person with compassion?  Do you think they are intentionally hurting you or is the pain inflicted out of immaturity in how they view relationships?  It’s usually easier to resolve an issue with our kids because we recognize that they are still learning and that it is our job to teach them how to respond in the middle of conflict.  If we are dealing with our spouse or another adult, it’s not so easy.  Try thinking of them with tenderness realizing their emotional capacity might be stunted.  Can we give them more grace?
  4. Can you recognize that for a relationship to change, one person needs to change?  Maybe you remember your sister as being your best-est buddy growing up and now you don’t even understand her.  One thing I’ve learned is that typically both people are trying to control.  When I feel like I’m being controlled, I ask myself if I’m trying to control the same thing.  If so, am I willing to lay down what I am trying to control in order to mend the relationship?  Are there topics in the relationship that need to be off limits?  Are there boundaries that need to be put in place that help each of you recognize acceptable behavior?

Sometimes we reach a place where we need to let go of the fear and hope for the best while recognizing that what we want might not be the relationship the other person desires or can give us.

Years ago I was in a relationship that seemed to put us in the crazy cycle on a regular basis.  I would unknowingly do something that would trigger the other person.  I would respond in what I thought was a loving, gentle way and would get to a place where I thought we had resolved the issue.  Then I would step on what seemed to be another landmine, and the cycle repeated again and again.  After a while fear kicked in for me.  I was afraid to be hurt yet again so I backed away.  I seemed to trigger this person for no apparent reason and their response would feel like an attack.  Every time we would be together I would hope for the best but the behaviors of the other person would randomly surface.

One day the light bulb came on.  I needed to try new skills to interrupt the crazy cycle.  I needed to hope that my new behaviors would change her as I interacted differently.  If we had a good day, I celebrated.  If we had a bad interaction, I’d try something different the next time.  Eventually, I stumbled on what worked.

Was the relationship what I so desired?  No, but I  learned to accept that God might not be giving me what I wanted but He was giving me what I needed to change me.

Hebrews 12:14-15

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

Dare you to try some new behaviors during your disagreements this holiday season as you share in His bounty with thankful hearts.

“Let go…and Let God”,

If you know someone with kids 9-29, maybe a great gift idea for this holiday season might be a copy of With All Due Respect:  40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tween.  A companion option might be our online eCourse that accompanies the book where they will have opportunity to learn from moms who have been there.  

And we continue to get positive feedback from teachers who have read it. Why not make your teacher gift giving easy this year?

Have a blessed day of gratitude!






Time for a Different Strategy?

This has been a busy and emotional week for me–two marriages in trouble with people whom I love and want to support, a friend’s  husband ready for hospice care with a funeral to plan (she knows I’ve planned a funeral), and a mom and dad who want to help their recovering addict mature to independence (I’ve been there too).

Sometimes life gets hard and relationships and situations can derail our hopes and dreams.

We can get stuck in the quagmire not knowing which step to take.  It’s like standing in the middle of a forest where you can’t see the way out.  And we can get so bogged down with which way to turn that we just do the same thing over and over as if we are spinning on a gerbil wheel.

We go nowhere.

I’ve been reading a book by Michael Hyatt, Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals.  And as I’m reading it (know that I’m only in Chapter 4), I keep thinking about the places where we get stuck emotionally in our relationships.

What if we had a different strategy to become unstuck?

Hyatt classifies people into two categories, scarcity thinkers and abundance thinkers (pg. 37-39) as he talks about those who fulfill their dreams and those who don’t.  Imagine if we had the perspective of abundance thinking in our relationships with those we love?  What if we were able to look at life through the lens of possibility?

  • We’d be thankful rather than fearful.
  • We’d be more compassionate.
  • We’d assume that the people around us can learn and grow to a more mature way of thinking.
  • Our default would be set to openness and trust rather than suspicion.
  • We would be optimistic about the future of our relationship rather than pessimistic that things will never change.
  • We would see the conflict we encounter in the relationship as opportunities rather than obstacles.

Another thing Hyatt talks about is how we limit our beliefs about the people we love.  We can begin to think our husbands will always respond in a negative way, or the recovering addict will never overcome the addiction, or that out teens will never grow to healthy maturity.  These thoughts are what he calls “half-truths at best”.  Our thinking becomes a roadblock in our relationships.

These limiting beliefs impact our behavior as we interact with the people we love the most.  It’s how we see the world.

What if we shifted our thinking to that of an abundance thinker?

Trust me when I say that I fully understand the thinking of a parent who wants her teen to mature in different areas.  We think we can guilt them into making changes, or nag them over and over, or maybe we go the opposite direction and just overlook it.  And when we run into the same situations time and time again, it is easy to be pessimistic and think they will never grow up or change.

That’s where I encourage parents to figure out what is lacking in their kid and in the relationship.  What can you as a parent do to potentially turn it around?

We have the power to shape the future for our kids or our marriage if we are willing to put a plan in place with steps where we are working toward the goal we so desire.  Many have found that we have to set a different course, respond differently to the situation, and develop a strategy that will get us to the end we so desire.

And it won’t always be easy.

But don’t you want to see the success of your marriage or the future for your kids?

My husband is currently mentoring a young man barely out of his teens.  This individual is struggling, yet he’ll call my husband to talk.  My husband has told this recovering addict that he will do three things:  1) tell him he loves him, 2) tell him how proud of him he is, and 3) acknowledge to him what he is good at and encourage  him to grow in that area.  Then they talk about his strategy to get there.

This kid seems to be staying on the path.  He’s making progress.  As of now, he is working toward a year of being clean.  And they celebrate the milestones over lunch.

As parents we need to help our kids figure out what their hopes and dreams are and then help set them on a path to reach it.   We need to help them identify their strengths so they can grow and mature.  And we can put together a strategy to help them get there.

Romans 12:10

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Dare you to check to see if your new strategy is full of love and encouragement toward growth.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Helping our kids grow to a healthy maturity means we look at parenting through a lens of abundance.  After all, isn’t that what God gives us–abundant life?

If you are looking for that abundant thinking in your own life and the life of your kids, why not join us in our With All Due Respect eCourse?  We hope you will grab the book and join us.



Doing Life From the Platform of Respect

A number of years ago my husband taught a junior high boys small group.  One of the topics that would always come up was how to treat members of the opposite sex.  I remember one of his lines well: “Remember, you don’t know whose wife you are dating.  Treat your girlfriend the way you hope your future wife to being treated now by the guy she is dating.”

As the conversation progressed, they would talk about holding hands, hugging, kissing, and the list would continue.

While the talks always centered around abstinence, the underlying theme was respect

Sometimes as I talk with parents now, it is like the light bulb begins to brighten.

If you are like me, most of our parents tried to teach respect with negative reinforcement.  “If you ever do that again, I’ll ______________.”  I’ll let you fill in the blank with how you were parented. 🙂

As I was growing up the same methodology was used with the breaking of any rule.  Breaking the rule = punishment.   Or maybe I could talk myself out of the punishment this time.

One of the conversations that I try to have with parents as they think about trying to get the “right behavior” from their teens, is to address the behavior change through heart change.  

In other words, give them an understanding of what it means to show respect to themselves and everyone involved in a particular situation and maybe you’ll change their heart and their behavior.

A woman approached me about her college student who was living under her roof for the summer.  She was frustrated that her son would come in sometime during the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep.  While the mom always kept the light on so her son could see to get in, the garage door would wake her up.  Then she and her husband would hear the kid fumbling around in the kitchen making a snack while they were attempting to go back to sleep.  She was at the brink of saying, “If you can’t come in at a decent hour, you will need to find somewhere else to live.”

But thankfully she stopped herself.  Had she done that, most likely she was have instigated defensiveness and anger from her son tearing apart the relationship.

After we talked through her scenario, here’s what she said chose to say to her son.

“Honey, I know it’s hard to come home and have to live with our schedule.  However, I’d like to talk through what’s happening.  I know you really enjoy being with this girl.  As a matter of fact, I like her too.  I think the two of you are good for each other.  Can I put a different spin on this whole dating process and give you a different perspective of what is currently playing out?”

“Sure,” came his response.

“I know that you easily lose track of time while the two of you are together.  You seem to have a lot of fun together.  However, may I suggest that you become the leader in this relationship and show this girl how to respect herself.  She needs her rest and so do you.  You will always have more time to be together.”

“I’m also guessing that her parents will be more open to you as someone they would like their daughter to see more of if they see you as respectful.  Didn’t you tell me that they both work?”


“Well, I’m wondering if they get woken up when their daughter comes in? 

One of the ways to get others to respect you is for you to respect them.  By getting your girlfriend home at a reasonable hour, you are communicating that you respect the girl and her parents.”

“I never thought of that”, he replied.

“There is another piece to this.  I know that you don’t mean to wake your dad and me up when you come home; but the fact is, you do.  When you are getting food from the kitchen after you come it, it keeps me from getting back to sleep easily.  This is starting to make me feel disrespected and resentful.  I’m guessing that is not what you are trying to do, but you need to know that I don’t like feeling frustration towards you.  I love you and want the best for you and for everyone involved.  You have the ability to influence what people think and feel based on your interactions with them, and I’m hoping that you will work on respecting yourself by respecting the other people in this situation.  Just know that I love you and want this to work for all of us.”

“I never thought of it that way.  I do want her parents to respect me and I’m not trying to interrupt your sleep.  I’m sorry.  I’ll try to do better.”

When I asked the mom how it was going after the conversation, she was honest.

“Well, it certainly isn’t perfect yet.  However, he is better about texting me when he is going to be late.  I’ve also noticed he’s a lot quieter in the kitchen now,” she laughed.

“And the other thing is, I’m more confident in continuing to have the conversation.  I’m realizing that one time with these kids doesn’t solve the problem.  But just understanding why he’s coming home late puts my mind at ease so I’m learning to sleep better and not worry.  And I’m beginning to understand more about who he is now on a heart level rather than a behavior that is frustrating me level.”

Zechariah 8:16

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;

Ephesians 4:16

From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.


Dare you to look at life through the lens of respect as you teach your kids how to interact with others.  When kids learn self-respect, they can more easily apply it to how they can influence others in a positive way.

“Let go…and Let God”,


Do you know parents who are struggling with their tweens and teens?  Or maybe you have kids that are starting to pull away in a way that feels foreign and a bit unhealthy?

That’s why With All Due Respect was written.  

It will challenge your thinking as you parent toward the launch of your kids into the adult world.

Here’s what one mom had to say:

“I can’t believe how much this book has shifted my thinking, my behavior, and my expectations.  I had no idea how much I could do to influence my “problem” child.  Thank you for writing this book!”