Are You Keeping Your Kid From Pain?

Years ago I found myself in the middle of a decision.  And I agonized over it. Would I say ‘yes’ to an opportunity that would only happen once in a lifetime or stay home with my tween who had a birthday that weekend?

Today, I find myself in a similar situation.  This time my kid is a 20-something who will have just had major surgery a week prior.  Do I dare go on the learning opportunity trip that is already paid for or should I stay home to take care of him? 

And, of course, I’m feeling the weight of my decision.  After all, I’m a mom.  Being there for my kid is my calling in life. 

Yet, I want to go on my trip.  Isn’t it good for me to go be my own person?  Aren’t my needs important too?

For me, it’s a battle of wanting to take care of my son while also wanting to take care of me.  And I fret over these decisions.  Neither answer gives me everything I want.  

This past week I was on a call with my life coach.  He’s helping me be a better version of me.  Taking the time to help me figure out what my calling in life truly is, my coach will sometimes ask me the hard questions.  His question hit the bulls-eye making me pause.

“Why is it that you don’t want your son to have any pain in his life?”

Talk about feeling like my heart was being shattered into a million pieces.  Is that really what my actions said to the world? 

The silence in answering my coach was deafening as I pondered my response.  I had to deeply consider my thoughts and the choices I was making.

Is it true that I don’t want my son to have any pain in his life? 

At surface level, my first reaction was, “of course I don’t want pain in his life”.  No one wants to endure pain or see someone they love in pain. 

Yet, is that the way God parents us?  Is that a realistic way to live?

If we want our kids to grow, mature, and become over-comers, they need to learn to deal with pain.  It’s part of life.

And the more pain we endure, the stronger we become once we’re on the other side of it.  It is through our pain and disappointments in life that we become more compassionate toward others who are dealing with difficult situations.  

I’m reminded of the parent who takes away a child’s toy because he hit his sister with it.  And then the mom feels guilty for taking away the toy, so she offers up ice cream to soothe the tears.  With that, she is trying to make up for the pain she’s inflicted. 

And as I ponder that scenario, I wonder if I’m the person who feels the pain most?  Have I been the one who hasn’t gotten over painful things in my past that I just assume that my tween, teen, or 20-something will feel what I’ve felt?  Are my parenting actions and need to be there for my child more about me than the circumstance?

Is it that I feel the need to control every potential happening so that my teen won’t endure heartache, pain, or disappointment?

And if I am always there to ease the pain, will my child fail to depend on God in these situations?

Sometimes pondering the difficult questions will make us stronger as a parent.  When we react and make decisions based on  trying to ease potential pain in our kid’s life, we may be standing in God’s path for our child’s maturity. 

Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
1 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Dare you to take inventory of how you make decisions in your parenting.  Instead of trying to ease our child’s pain, try walking with him through the experience by acknowledging and validating his feelings.
Learning right along side you.
“Let go…and Let God,”





Is Your Worry Hurting Your Kids?

Most of us will agree; there are times we worry about our kids.  It’s natural to want the best for those that we love so dearly.  We want our kids to succeed in life with the fewest scrapes on their knees.  We want their happiness, their success, good grades, deep friendships, and college scholarships.  We want them to put their best foot forward, to treat others with kindness, or whatever other things we value most.

So we worry when we think things aren’t going as we think they should.

Our concerns can overwhelm us at times.  Our emotions take hold and the worry can morph into something much bigger than we are currently experiencing.

And we react.  Instead of focusing on the NOW we’re in and doing the next right thing, we start thinking about the future with gloom.

We say things to our kids that communicate our doubts about their future.  And we can become more anxious and judgmental scrutinizing everything they do.

Our worry becomes fear so overpowering that we can’t help but project those thoughts and words into every situation and it clouds rational thinking when it comes to their future.

Let me explain.

There was a time when one of my kids had little interest in school.  He dawdled.  He didn’t do his best work.  Getting him focused seemed insurmountable.  And of course, I worried.  What would his future be?  I remember signing him up for an on-line video course his senior year that would substitute for a required government class.  As luck would have it, he complained and gave me grief the entire semester.

And then his ACT scores were not as high as all his peers.  

So I worried.

Yes, he got into college and then he kept changing his major.

And I worried more sometimes verbalizing my fears that he might never graduate.

As I look back at all my fears for this kid, I can see how much energy I wasted. 

My son found his niche.  He not only graduated from college, but got a masters from a well-known university.  He holds a national license to practice his trade.  He’s found a place where he can be successful.

And the very things I worried about, didn’t happen.  We laugh when we talk about the on-line constitutional law video course that I signed him up for his senior year.  He thinks that was the best class he has ever taken. 

And I worried about it for nothing.

So what did I learn as I think about my worries as a parent?

  1. Focus only on your concerns in the present.   If your kid is struggling with math, get a math tutor.  Make a plan for the present and don’t worry about all the what if’s of the future.
  2. Take your thoughts captive.  If you find yourself thinking about all the issues that could happen in the future, try to reel back to the present.  Ask God to help you focus on today.
  3. Remember God in the equation.  When we worry about our teen’s future we are forgetting that God has a plan for our child.  God created each of us for purpose and He is orchestrating the path.  Worry zaps our energy and keeps us focused on things other than God.
  4. Pray unceasingly when things are overwhelming.  There will be things in our kid’s life that we can’t change.  Pouring out our heart to Him is much more effective than verbalizing our fears to our kid or projecting doom on their future.

We need to remember that our kids will change.  The things they struggle with in junior high and high school will most likely be long forgotten as they mature into adults.  If we can focus on the positives we see in our kids and turn our worries over to a God who loves our kids even more than we do, then we’ll be better able to love our kids in the NOW they are in.

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Philippians 4:6.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” 

  Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

“Let go…and Let God”,


Do You Discipline Your Teen Too Quickly?

I tend to be an observer of relationship interactions and the event gave me plenty to ponder.  I saw it happening and wanted to call a halt in the middle of it, but it certainly wasn’t my place.  I turned away–embarrassed for this young man and embarrassed for his father.  

It was intermission and Dad was obviously upset.  Oblivious to where they were and unaware of who could overhear them as others milled around getting snacks and drinks, Dad decided to have a heated conversation with his teen–in public.  It seemed his son’s every word had been scrutinized.

“What you said wasn’t  true.  You lied.” His father bellowed as they walked away from interacting with a teacher.

“Dad, I just answered the question.”

“But it was a lie.”

“Dad, I was caught off guard.  I wasn’t sure how to respond.  I didn’t lie intentionally.  I answered the question.”

“You lied.  You left your teacher to believe one thing but it’s not the full story.”

And the conversation continued–in public–with emotions spinning out of control.

The son walked off with what seemed like hurt and anger welling up inside.  Dad stared in disbelief.

Let’s face it.  We’ve all witnessed behaviors from our kids that we want to eradicate.  You know, those times when they roll their eyes, tell a lie, or ignore an adult because they are engrossed in their phones.  We want them to behave differently and we think they won’t get it unless we call their attention to it immediately

But is that the right approach?

One of the things that I’ve been encouraging parents to do for years is pause.

Unless there is blood or death is imminent, nothing has to be handled immediately.

And sometimes the wise thing to do is wait.

First of all, having an audience to a heated interaction between father and son has to be humiliating for at least one person.  Whether it is an out-of-control teen yelling at Dad or an out-of-control Dad correcting his son in a place where others can see and hear, one of you will most likely wish the floor would open up and let you fall through.  It’s not a fun place to be.  Pressing the pause button allows both of you to walk away with a sense of dignity.

Most parents don’t think about giving the Holy Spirit time to work in their teen’s life.  If we’ve taught them well and our kid has a conscience of typically doing the right thing, we need to let God work.  Let’s assume that the dad is right and his son intentionally lied to the teacher.  Given time to ponder the interaction, maybe the teen will reach the same conclusion that Dad did and seek forgiveness.  

If Dad had waited to talk to his son after they were in the privacy of their home or even in the car on the way home, the conversation could have started something like this:  “Son, something bothered me tonight as I overheard your conversation with your teacher.  It felt like you lied to her.  What happened?  That’s not like you.”

That simple “What happened?” let’s your teen take time to really think about his actions and put them into words.  It helps him think on a deeper level.  The “that’s not like you” says, I believe you are a good person.  I believe you know better.  I don’t understand, but I want to be “for” you.

And regardless of the reasons as to why your son responded to his teacher as he did, we need to coach him through formulating a plan for the next step.  

Does he need to apologize to the teacher?

Does he need to explain the whole scenario?

What needs to happen to clear his name of any wrongdoing?

The bottom line we as parents need to be focused on in these situations is our teen’s heart.  Did this young man have a heart of deceit or was he just caught off guard and didn’t know quite how to answer the question?  Were his motives pure? 

Proverbs 21:2

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.

Depending on whether you are a parent who thinks in the black or white, right or wrong, or if you can expand your thinking to the entire circumstance, choosing the right time will make a huge difference as you interact in difficult situations with your kid.

Regardless, I encourage you to pause and ask questions when no one else is around.  If you come from a place of curiosity rather than judgment, you are more likely to get to a clear understanding of why your teen did what they did and your relationship will be strengthened.

“Let go…and Let God”,







Does Your Church Youth Group Offer Acceptance or Judgment?

Keeping our kids in church through the teen and twenty-something years requires many factors.  Peer friendships, adult community, and relevance to our teen’s world being several pieces to the pie.

Finding an accepting environment is also critical in the process.

Shaunti Feldhaun’s research  attempted to get into our teen’s head to understand them better.  The information she gathered indicates that kids at this age are insecure and are fearful of rejection. They want people to accept them for who they are and to be seen as a significant person within the group.  This is especially important as the child moves from junior high to high school.  Typically the freshman year is where the big shift in acceptance is made.  Still immature in their relationships, 14 year olds sometimes struggle with who they are because they are now at the bottom of the rung in age range with the shift in peers.  It’s as if they are suddenly found swimming in a pit with bigger, stronger, faster, prettier 15-18 year olds.

The problem is that clicks can easily form in any youth group, especially in churches where kids have grown up together. New faces might not be readily accepted or worse, be totally ostracized or go unnoticed.

Kids can sometimes be harsh in their “who’s in – who’s out” mentality.  While parents might not see it, kids typically identify rejection quickly.  While it is easy to think that our kids are not trying to connect, it is important for parents to see what “truth” is for the teen and encourage ways to get involved.

Keep in mind that this acceptance needs to also come from the adult youth workers.  I can’t say this strongly enough.  As parents we want to think that youth workers or pastors will connect and treat all the kids the same.  However, truth is that they are human just like us and some kids will naturally become favorites.

Every youth pastor and adult volunteer is serving in that capacity for a reason—and it may not necessarily be for the reason you want.  For some it is ministry and they want to connect with your child and love them unconditionally.  If that’s the case for your youth group, you’ve probably found the right church.  Just know that for others it is a job, not necessarily a calling.

Volunteers are often there because their child is part of the group and they want to protect their child or be part of their child’s world or they’ve been coerced by someone to get involved even though their goal isn’t necessarily to love the kids where they are at.  Maybe the adult leader is a big kid at heart and loves teenagers and enjoys the energy they breed, but doesn’t have the maturity to pour into your child in a healthy adult-like way.

Youth workers also have varying degrees of experience working with kids and parents.  Knowing who these people really are and their true heart’s calling can have a huge impact if your teen starts complaining about attending.

This played out with a friend of mine whose daughter attended an out of town youth conference.

Running a little behind to get to the arena, my friend’s daughter Rachel (name changed) rushed out of the hotel room to catch up with the other girls.  As luck would have it Rachel ran into one of the adult youth workers and was not only ordered on the spot to change her top but received a tongue lashing for breaking the rules for dress code.

Seems reasonable, right?  Depending on the amount of tongue lashing?

Here’s the rest of the story.

It turns out that Rachel who was 14 was sharing a hotel room with three older girls.  The four girls had gone shopping earlier in the day and one of them had suggested they buy matching tops to wear to the conference that night.  Rachel had bravely spoken up and told the girls that the tops they had chosen didn’t meet dress code.  However, the older girls told her that because it was so hot outside no one would question it.  She gave in wanting to be accepted into the group.

Truth is that all the girls wore the same top that night.  Only the 14 year old was reprimanded.  When Rachel questioned why she was the only one made to change she was told “The others just didn’t get caught; besides you have more to show than the rest of the girls.”

When the mother heard what had been said to her daughter, she invited the youth worker to lunch to apologize for her daughter’s behavior and to also try to connect with this woman and understand what really happened.   At lunch the youth worker responded with, “You know our job is to play traffic cop for these events.  If we see them break the rule, we nail them.”

No compassion. No apology. No pulling all the girls together to talk about the reason behind the dress code and make a heart connection — just judgment and sentencing.

Let’s face it, mistakes happen, relationships need to be mended, and hopefully our teens can learn from those experiences.  But sometimes when those difficult people in our teens’ lives are part of the church they can have a negative impact on our kid’s spiritual life.

When these things happen get involved.  Once you’ve had opportunity to assess the situation, use it as a launching pad for a spiritual conversation with your teen.  Talk about adults not always getting it right, forgiveness, and her mistakes in the situation.  Then decide for yourself if judgment is a congregation mindset or just a problem for the adult involved.  

If it is pervasive, find an environment where your child will be accepted and cherished.  You’ll be glad you did.

“Let go…and let God”,