Change Around the Corner?

Graduation time always has me thinking of transitions.  I coined a phrase from a friend who was talking about the changes with her daughter.  She calls them her “happy/sad” moments.  I don’t know about you, but that phrase conjures up a lot of emotional images for me.  I find it awesome that she takes time to notice her feelings of these moment-in-time changes as she goes through the parenting process.  There are SO many of these times to recall as our kids start gaining more freedom.

  • Happy that your child is off having fun with friends; sad that she doesn’t need you as much.
  • Happy that your teen is starting to see success in several areas of his life; sad that he doesn’t share as much with you.
  • Happy that your teen is graduating; sad that you’ll miss her when she goes away to college.

We’ve all been there through each change, sometimes happy for the passage from one phase into the next, but a bit of sadness of the unknown. 

As I write, my daughter-in-law left her 17 month old for the first time this past week.  I watched as she quickly made her flight reservations excited for a break.  As she neared the airport, I watched the tears flow.  Happy/sad indeed.

“Happy/sad” moments are a clue that we need to change our parenting especially during the teen years.  If we watch for them, we’ll know what the next step should be.

Unfortunately, by the time our tweens and teens are in middle and high school, we’ve sometimes become so accustom to these “happy/sad” moments that we almost forget to take notice of our emotion.  We get trapped in the norm of change and forget that  we need to start parenting differently.

I loved it last week when my friend sent me a text.  “Happy/sad.  My daughter got her license last week and now drives herself to work.  Excited Megan has more freedom and I have more time. Missing our long talks together in the car.  How do I get my daily time back with her?”

Each of the “happy/sad” situations we encounter typically means less interaction with our kids.  So it means we have to be more intentional in connecting with them.  We need to be an initiator in the relationship.  The hard part to the equation is that as our kids get these new freedoms, they have more things they can do and more people to interact with that can keep them entertained.  They no longer need us.

Or so they think.

So what can we do?

  • Engage with them intentionally.  What fun things do you both enjoy?  Sports?  Hobbies? Food usually works, especially Starbucks.
  • Take note of what they like to do and schedule a date with them.  Don’t forget to remind them as the date gets close.
  • Let them know that you miss your time with them.  “Honey, I’m excited that you have your license and are becoming an adult.  I want you to know that I miss our talk time in the car.  I don’t want to lose our connection since you’ve only got a couple of years left here at home.  What kind of things could we do?”

As your kids move through their milestones toward freedom, we have to become more deliberate in connecting with them and also make sure that we don’t become someone who is overly needy of their time.  Learning to let go sometimes means that we need to find other people or projects to fill the void of time we are typically with our child.  Try to remember that you are learning to walk a tightrope balancing life so that your tween and teen feel free to grow and explore and will know that you’ll be just fine when they do leave.

Isaiah 43:18-19

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Each new phase we enter with our children gives us a new opportunity for growth.  “Letting go” means we have to trust God more and more with those we love and if we do it well, we’ll reap the benefits of growing closer to Him in the process.

Glad you’re on the journey with me.  If you have a new graduate, celebrate the happy/sad moments.

“Let go…and let God”,



So what “happy/sad” moments are you currently wrestling with?

Are You Thinking of the Next Stage in Parenting?

My husband and I did something totally out of the ordinary last weekend.  We went to a retirement symposium.  Even though we aren’t ready to retire quite yet, we are “thinking” about it. 

Of course, the main focus of the seminar was all about financial stability and being able to have our dream retirement.  But one workshop that day had me thinking totally different.  It wasn’t “Can I retire?” It was “What will I do when I retire?”

So how does this apply to parenting?

Let’s face it, parenting is full of different stages and if we aren’t careful, the times when we should transition will sneak up on us and we won’t be prepared.  That’s why we need to be “thinking” before the next stage so that we have a plan for what we will do.

Take Kara for example.  She had a great kid through the late elementary years.  She thought life kept getting better with her daughter.  Whatever she asked her daughter to do, it was usually met with compliance.  As her daughter moved to middle school she started having an attitude by refusing to comply with her mother’s wishes.  The more Kara tried to direct her, the more defiant Ava seemed to become.  Thankfully, Kara knew the signs of adolescence and had been thinking about the transition.  She knew it was time to start coaching toward adulthood rather than directing her daughter’s day.  With time and patience she started to see Ava soften toward her again.  “Not quite like the elementary years,” she mentioned.  “But good.”

While Kara had been thinking about the transition with Ava, she hadn’t thought about her own transition.  In the past she did a lot of volunteer work at Ava’s school and Ava and Kara would hang out a lot in the evenings.  As Ava started having more autonomy and volunteer opportunities didn’t seem to be a good fit since Ava wanted to be more independent from her mom, Kara didn’t know quite what to do with her extra time.  Kara started noticing that she was snacking more throughout her day and spending more time on her phone.  She wasn’t ready to get a job because she wanted to be at home when Ava came home from school, and she admitted feeling a little bit like I’m not needed anymore.

Most women I talk with have mentioned a feelings of restlessness when parenting transitions occur.  It’s as if we have lost our sense of purpose, especially if we are a stay-at-home mom. 

So what would I encourage you to do?

  1. Talk to parents with older kids.  Find out how they made the transitions and when they moved from directing to coaching.
  2. Put a transition plan in place for your tween and teen and discuss it with your spouse.  What freedoms will you give and when?  Then communicate it with your kids.
  3. Put a plan in place for you.  When your kids start being more autonomous what will you spend time doing that is separate from them?  Think hobbies, volunteer work, maybe part-time or full-time work. 
  4. As God to help you define your next step.  

Remember that transitions occur more often as our kids get older — high school graduation, off to college, summer breaks, graduation from college, young single life, married life, grand kids, career moves and ultimately retirement.  These will disrupt our normal and send us back to the drawing board with our plans.

For the record, this is where I’m at in my own life with huge transitions taking place. 

  • My oldest is moving to Switzerland within the next few months taking his wife and our only grandson.  While it is an exciting career opportunity for them, I know that I’ll go through a period of loss through the transition.  Several weeks ago we transitioned to having our 16 month old grandson under our roof and in a few months we’ll notice the silence.  I’m asking myself, “How will I combat the silence and fill my days?”
  • As many of you know, my youngest has had some major medical issues and has been at home for the last two years with me being his major source of transportation and emotional support.  He had his last surgery in December and is starting to move forward in his life.  Thankfully he started a part-time job last week and is hoping to return to college in the fall.  And I’m asking myself, “What’s next God?”  

Asking God to help us in these transitions is important in helping our kids become more mature and determining what God has purposed us to do in the next phase of our life.  Our next job is to listen for His still small voice to make sure we’re on the right track.

God has purpose for all of us and these transitions not only help our children develop maturity but they also grow us. 

Proverbs 22:3

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Dare you to start thinking about the next stage of parenting and start planning for both your teen and you.

“Let go…and Let God”,







Are You Coaching Toward Adulthood?

A friend of mine sent me a text this week –“She is crazy in love with the baby, but slow on the ‘adulting’.”

A 20-something shows up at my house with no socks for the weekend, “Oh, I haven’t done laundry for over a month.”

And a high school junior looks at mom and says, “I’m hungry.  Will you fix me a snack?”

So how do we get our kids to start thinking like adults?

Our natural tendency is to jump right in and do whatever our kids ask or need.  In fact, sometimes we offer what we think they need before they even ask.

Don’t get me wrong, we do it for all the right reasons.  We want our kids to know that we love them.  We don’t want our kids to suffer in any way.  We think it is just a little thing that we do out of the goodness of our heart to help make life better.  

But are we handicapping our kids?  Are we keeping them from becoming adults?

Do we think for them so they don’t have to think?  Do we do for them so they don’t have to do?

I’ll admit that many times I’ve looked at my kids as they were walking out the door and said, “Did you remember the ______?”

And under some circumstances that might be okay.  But we are hampering their maturity if we are constantly reminding them of the basics of life.  In other words, are we doing the thinking so they don’t learn to?

I remember a time when my son was 16 and I was one of those moms.  Maybe you can relate.

“Honey, don’t you need to get to work soon?  There will be a lot of traffic.”  Going through my mind is–I want him to do well at his job and I don’t want him to lose it by being late.   

“I’m getting ready now.  You haven’t seen my keys have you? I can’t find them.”

Going through my mind is–He’s going to be late.  I don’t want him to lose this job.  I’d better help him find the keys.

And I drop what I’m doing frantically going through the house in search of his keys.

Ten minutes later, I find the keys in a sweaty pair of shorts he left on the floor in his room.  And off he goes as I wonder — Will he ever grow up?

Truth be told, he won’t grow up if I don’t let him.

What did I teach my son?

1) Mom is always there to remind you.  2) Mom will drop anything to help you out of a jam.  3) There is no need to care about your job because Mom will do that for you as well.

Let’s replay the scenario as if we are coaching toward adulthood.  What might it look like?  In other words, what do I wish I had done differently based on what I know now?  

Let’s start where I left off.  Let’s assume it played out exactly as I stated, but now I want to think differently about parenting and the coaching process.

  1. That evening, when my son came home from work, I should have had this conversation.  “Son, I’ve been thinking about what happened with me looking for your keys before you went to work this afternoon.  I realized that I’ve been doing you a disservice.  I want to help you think like an adult.  I can’t believe you are going to be 18 in a year!  I think I’ve been taking emotional responsibility for things that I know you are capable of handling on your own.  Starting now, I am passing the baton to you so that you will learn to own the things for which you are responsible.”  I would have then laid out a plan with him by asking questions.  What do you think would insure you get to work on time?  How could you make sure you had your keys and wallet?  And then I might make suggestions to tweak his plan.
  2. The next time he goes to work I would not say anything unless he is already running a little late (And I’d coach him to hurry up.) “Honey, did you tell me you had to be at work at 4:00?”  I would then leave the room.  Making it a question rather than a statement allows him to pause for the answer and not feel indicted for messing up.
  3. If he asks about the keys, I would respond with something like, “I don’t know, honey.  When did you last see them?”  And then I would continue to do whatever I was doing.
  4. If needed, I would have another ‘how can you help yourself be successful here’ conversation after he gets home from work.

Helping our kids mature is about us not taking ownership for the things they should own themselves.  Better to lose a $10/hour job and learn something about punctuality than to have a six digit career that goes up in flames because they can’t be counted on. 

Our kids need to learn the skills necessary to be a successful adult under our roof.  That means we teach “adulting” by not always stepping into their opportunities to respond in a mature way.  May I suggest that each time we are asked to do something for them we need to pause and ask ourselves a few questions before we respond.

  • Is this an adult skill my teen needs to learn?
  • Am I making the decision to get involved so my child won’t suffer or be viewed negatively?
  • Do I care more about the outcome of this situation than my teen does?  If so, why?

If the answer to any of the questions is yes, it might be wise to step back and let our teen potentially fail.  After all, that’s what becoming an adult is all about.  Our teens need to learn the boundaries of acceptable behavior and also the consequences when they don’t meet life’s demands.

“Adulting” means: 

  • I take care of myself. 
  • I will ask for assistance or guidance when I don’t understand. 
  • I will get myself out of bed and get to school/work on time.
  • I will not engage in so many activities that I can’t do for myself what needs to be done — laundry, fix my own snack, homework, job, and other things that impact me.
  • I will sacrifice other things to get the rest that I need.
  • And whatever you as a parent require. 

Galatians 6:5

For each will have to bear his own load.

Dare you to ask yourself if you are handicapping your teens and holding them back from becoming adults.

Double Dare you to make changes that help your teens become adults.

“Let go…and Let God”,
















Helping Our Kids Gain Perspective

Talking with a mom the other day, I smiled realizing that she needed a dose of perspective.  It was hard for her to understand the difficulty another mother was having in raising her kids.  “If only she would __________, her son wouldn’t act that way.  It’s her own fault.  As expected, this mom espoused the virtues of how her child was better equipped because she was parenting the right way.

It’s easy to think we can parent another kid better when we have tunnel vision based on only our experience with our kid.  All kids are different, just like all of our husbands are different, and our moms are different, and we are different.  Put our different ideas, thoughts, and reactions together, and only God knows how our kids will turn out when they leave the nest.

Yes, we do the best we can and have to trust God with the outcome.  Are there things we could have done differently?  Of course.  Will we regret some of our reactions?  Probably.  But do we trust that God will work all our parenting issues out for His glory?  I hope the answer is yes–even when it turns out differently than we want.

But the question for this blog post has to do with our kids’ perspective.  How do we teach our kids to not have that same tunnel vision?  How do we teach them to think of the other person’s situation with grace and empathy?  How do we teach them to be humble when others are struggling?

At the risk of sounding too simplistic, the answer comes from helping our kids see their situations from the other person’s point of view.

Let me explain through an example.

Erin comes home from school upset at how a friend Sara treated her unfairly.  You listen patiently as your daughter goes on and on about the injustice of what happened.  Once she has finally exhausted her words and her anger is starting to dissipate and you’ve shown her the empathy she needs, you might begin asking questions to get past the emotion of her judgment.

  1. I know you are really hurting.  I’m sure I’d feel the same way if I were in your shoes.  You have every right to be upset.  Would it be okay if we talk about Sara for a few minutes?
  2. What do you think might have triggered her reaction?
  3. What do you know about Sara–her personality, her home life, her friends?
  4. Do you know if there was anything that might have set her off — maybe she started her period, or had a fight with her mom or a boyfriend?
  5. Could you have accidentally done something that made her target you with her outburst?
  6. Does she have a reason to maybe be jealous of you?
  7. How have you responded to her so far?
  8. What could you do to show her grace and show her the Jesus in you?

Ephesians 4:2-4

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

Having these deep conversations with our kids can help them think outside their own box.  Perhaps by talking about the other person involved, they will begin to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and see something outside of their own idea of justice.  Hopefully, Erin will see that Sara needs some grace in the situation and if she were in Sara’s shoes, the world may look differently.

Just like the mom in the first story, maybe God gave her some great mothering instincts as a result of the parenting she received.  Or she is good at gleaning information from parenting books.  Maybe the other mother has a strong-willed child or one that keeps her up at night.  Perhaps she grew up without a nurturing mother and is having to learn the ropes of parenting without a healthy role model. 

It is easy to make snap judgments about another person until we know the whole story.  And teaching our kids to look beyond the surface of relationships and situations can help them gain perspective in how to extend grace rather than remain in their own world of injustice. 

Dare you to have some deep conversations with your teens when they are in situations where they want to judge the other person.  Maybe they’ll see that there is always more than one perspective.

“Let go..and Let God”,


Would you like a different perspective in your own parenting?  With All Due Respect is about deepening your relationship with God and your kids.  In it you’ll find real life stories about moms who have chosen to look at parenting from a different perspective.  You’ll also find questions to think through your own parenting situations. Most moms have told us that the book has stretched them in looking at parenting with the focus of a healthy launch.  Why no grab a few friends and read through the book together?  Or maybe treat you and a friend to a copy for Mother’s Day.