When Your Kids Say, “It’s Not Fair”

If you are a parent, you’ve most likely heard your kids utter the words, “It’s not fair”.  That sinful nature comes out without a thought as if it is an automatic response ingrained in their being.  After all, so much of what we learn about ourselves and others is a result of looking at what others say and do.  It is natural to compare. 

Our culture encourages comparison.  Watch commercials and you know that the item they are touting is by far the best.  In the competitive world of education our kids understand that being the smartest or the best at something get’s them the prize of recognition, status, or special treatment.  Even in the world of work  we understand that competition will make or break a career or a company.  

So how do we as parents “turn off” that voice that says our kids aren’t stacking up to the neighbor’s kid?  Or stop our kids from looking at what their friends “have” expecting the same in return?  And are we fostering that competitive edge that forces our kids to look side-to-side comparing themselves to others?

A couple of years ago I spent the week visiting with my 82 year old mother.  As we talked and reminisced about the past, she would share stories about how she made sure we were all treated “equally”.   It was important to her that all six of us felt as if we were the same–even as a blended family.  She didn’t want any of us to compare our situation to that of our siblings and feel slighted in any way.  

As I thought about my mother’s strategy of making sure we were all given “the same”, it occurred to me that for over five decades my mother had been trying to even the score.  As a parent that feels like such a burden to carry.   

As kids or adults, the scales can’t always be in balance.  God didn’t create any of us to be the same or experience the same situations. 

When we compare, one becomes the winner and the other the loser.  Or as I’ve heard my kids say, “Even if you come in second, it means you are the first loser.”  And if we take my mother’s strategy and are constantly trying to level the playing field, then kids don’t have a true sense of reality as they enter the adult world.

As I was thinking about the problem with comparison, I ran across this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

Comparison is the thief of joy   

Wow.  As parents we need to encourage our kids to go for the prize that God has set for them.  That’s where the real joy comes from.  God doesn’t give all of us the same calling.  He created each of us uniquely different.  I want my kids to know that their competition is with themselves–not others.

My kids grew up swimming on a competitive team.  The staff philosophy was simple, “Life Time Best”.  “All I want from you”, Ms. Suzie would say at the beginning of each race, “is an LTB–Life Time Best.  Your job is to go for the wall.”

Isn’t that what we want for each of our kids–their Life Time Best?  With each project, with each exam, with each sport, or with each activity–just strive to do a little better this time than you did the last.

If our competition is with ourselves, and we teach our kids to compete with themselves, we’ll resist the temptation to compare setting our kids and ourselves up for feeling “less than” or “more than” those whom we are called to love.  We’ll be teaching them that they can have real joy.

Galatians 6:4-5

Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.  Assume your own responsibility.

Dare you to think about the message you might be sending to your kids about comparing ourselves to others.  Instead, teach them that real joy comes from striving toward the goal that God has set within us to be what He wants us to be.

“Let go…and Let God”,




Are You Helping Your Kids Too Much?

Most of us would do anything for our kids.  We want them to be happy.  We want them to say we were always there for them.  We want them to be successful in school, in sports, and in relationships.  Our desire is for our kids to be the best they can be and compete at the highest level.  Yet, I wonder if instead of helping we are stunting their growth.  Are we enabling them to not take care of themselves because they know that we will be there to provide for them no matter what?

What is our real desire for our kids for their future?

And how do we raise kids who become mature adults who can think for themselves, solve their own problems, and have a desire to get ahead in life?

A couple of years ago there was a video on Facebook that was priceless and I think could teach all of us a thing or two about parenting.  A baby elephant had slid into a stream and struggled over and over to pull himself up onto flat land.  The problem was that the ground where he was trying to get out had become so wet and muddy that it became a slide that would not allow him a firm grip.  Over and over he slid back into the stream.  At one point you could tell he seemed to be getting tired.  He quit trying.  He paced back and forth as if he was doing some self-talk. Frustrated at his circumstance he kept circling lowering his trunk into the water.

He paused.  

Then he decided to try again. 

This time as the camera panned out we could see his mother from a distance coaxing him to try harder.  After much time she slowly walked toward him and seemed to hug him as she took her trunk and wrapped it with his.  Knowing nothing about elephants I wondered if she would try to pull him out with her strong trunk.  

But she didn’t.  She actually backed away several feet.

I could almost hear her.  “You can to this.  Come on.  Try again.”

After a few more rounds of slipping, mama elephant slid into the water, encouraged him to try again, and then behind him proceeded to give him a little nudge.  With that, he made it to higher ground.

The question that most of us need to ask ourselves is “At what point do we intervene with our kids and how much assistance do we give?”  Intervening too quickly and and with too much assistance moves us from helper to enabler.   

Sometimes we need to allow our kids to fail so they can actually learn to keep trying.

Enabling allows our kids be irresponsible.  We intervene so they won’t suffer the consequences of their choices.   Sometimes we think we are showing our kids love by helping with homework or picking up after them or giving them money rather than encouraging them to get a job, but will that well-intended help cause them to realize that someone will always be there to bail them out?  What will be the consequences of our actions for their future mate? Will they be looking for a mom-figure who they think should fix the situation causing marital conflict for their future?

If you are a mom who likes to help your kid, maybe it is time to do some soul searching.  What is the driving force behind the extra help that you give your kids?  If your kid is successful have you bought into the lie that it means you are a good mom?  Is the extra help because you don’t believe your kid can do it on his own?  Or maybe you aren’t willing to trust God with your child? 

This isn’t an attempt at condemnation.  It is an honest assessment by you about you.  And this goes for me as well.

Just this week I had my own time of contemplation.  Having had a 26 year old in chronic pain for more than seven years, I’ve been chief caregiver through several surgeries.  It’s natural for me to be involved in his medical situation with doctors.  Yet, I made a phone call this week to ask a question and the nurse who answered the phone caught me by surprise.  He seemed to be a little shocked at my call and said, “Oh, I’m surprised he had you to call.  We only have adult patients.”

Oh my, I thought.  I’m doing exactly what I’m trying to encourage other parents not to do. 

And I realized how easy it is to fall into the trap. 


A harsh truth.

And a wake-up call for me.

Is it time to let your kid be more responsible for his stuff.  Is he the owner of his to-do list or are you owning it?  

I know.  

I’m with you even in my reality of my son’s chronic pain.

And, yes, oh that realization hurts.  OUCH!  But sometimes painful self-assessment can push us to do things differently.

Here are 4 ways to move from enabling to helping:

  • Assess where you might be enabling and make a choice to back off.  Be sure to communicate with your teen, or in my case, twenty-something that you feel like you might be hindering their future and that you want to help them mature.  Let them know when this will go into affect.
  • Ease your child into their new reality.  Too many times parents see that they are doing too much for their kids and make a statement that they are no longer going to do XYZ to help. It can come off as harsh and shuts down the relationship. Sometimes it is better to take baby steps as we try to wean our kids into their new mature behavior.
  • Be their cheerleader.  Send them a text, cheer them on, give them a hug, and let them know you think they can be successful.  It is important to remember that cheerleaders don’t take the ball and try to score.  Once you’ve communicated that it is their game, don’t take the ball back.  If they lose the first game, there is always another opportunity.
  • When they are stuck, give them a nudge from behind (that’s elephant speak).  If you see your kid floundering, offer suggestions, and be ready to get in their space to give a nudge in the right direction.  

I was talking to a mom recently about her kid that she used to bail out because he would get behind on homework assignments and everything would be due at the same time.  When I asked her how things were going, she told me “great”.  “He seems to finally be grasping where my boundary is in how I’m willing to help.  When he comes in needing help with schoolwork, I ask him to take a calendar and decide when he is going to do each assignment.  It is forcing him to make some tough choices between fun activities and grades.”

Whether it is doling out money or giving our kids a ride to school when they could be taking the bus or helping with homework, our kids need to be learning that we’re here to help them be successful not make their life easy.

If we aren’t careful we will believe the lie from the enemy that our job as parents is to pave the way for our kids such that they don’t stumble or experience frustration or pain.  

Galatians 6:5 

For each will have to bear his own load.

2 Thessalonians 3:10

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

Dare you to assess if you are more an enabler than helper and choose to nudge your teen toward adulthood. 

“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”,
















Do Your Kids Skin Their Knees Enough?

I well remember when my kids were little.  They would skin their knee and I would kiss their boo boo, give them a hug, and help wipe their tears away.  These were tender moments of connection letting my child know that I would always be there for them when things hurt.  And then they’d go out to play again and I knew that sometime in the future, they’d be hurt again and the cycle would repeat itself.

And I’m wondering if we have lost sight of those tender moments after the skinned knee.

Do we interject ourselves into their lives so much that they can’t fall down?

Let me explain.

As my kids got older there was more at stake in letting go. With more freedom comes a responsibility that shifts to our kids.  And we make decisions on whether or not we will let them skin their knees.

We wonder:  Will they make the right choice?  Say the right thing?  Embarrass us?  Do something stupid that could jeopardize their future? 

Will the mistake they make be something we can’t fix with a band-aid?

And instead of sending them back out to play, we intervene so they don’t skin their knees again.  We worry about their grades, their achievements, their future and we don’t want them to hurt.  We want them to feel that they are as good or better than those around them.  We want them to be at the top.  But we forget that the struggles are what bring about emotional maturity.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “That which does not kill us, will make us stronger’.  And his statement has been proven true by brain research and the many situations where kids have survived against all odds.

And I’m wondering what we are so afraid of that we can’t let out kids fail.  Does it have something to do with us?

I’ve seen parents who are doing their kid’s homework, paying for never ending lessons and sports, trying to make sure that their kids can be the best they can be and intervening when they aren’t the one chosen.  We clean their rooms, do their chores, and give them whatever they want because we don’t want them to experience life struggles or we don’t want to take the time to have to help them pick up the pieces when they mess things up.

We don’t want our kids to experience painful experiences like we did as a child so we intervene rather than provide growing opportunities where our job should be to sit back and provide love and emotional support.

By the time these kids are adults, when something goes wrong, many young adults don’t know how to learn from their mistakes, pick themselves up, soothe themselves, or tell themselves that everything will be alright.  After all, that’s mom’s job.

Just the other day I heard a story that made me incredibly sad.  A mom was on vacation and kept getting calls from her 30-something daughter.  “Mom, you have to come home.  I need you.  I can’t do this without you.”

Like always, this mother came to the rescue.  What was supposed to be a two week vacation turned into a two day vacation.  She went home to help her daughter.  What this 30-something daughter wanted was for Mom to talk to her boss because she was about to be fired.

In essence, “Mom, get me out of this jam I’ve gotten myself into.”

And supermom puts on her red cape and soars in to do a rescue.

I hear stories of mothers who are going to their adult children’s houses to clean, bailing them out of financial situations, and letting them continue to live at home rather than booting them out of the nest.  I’ve talked to a host of parents who feel like they are being held hostage by their adult children who always seem to need something from them.

Oh my, what are we doing to ourselves all in the name of “helping” our children?

And my question is, “Have we let them skin their knees enough in the little things of life so that they can handle the bigger things as our kids get older?”

Think about lifting weights, or training for a marathon, or even trying to lose weight.  We wouldn’t go into the situation trying to lift the heaviest weights or go out and run over 26 miles the first day.  We wouldn’t try to change our diet restricting calories in a way that would set us up for failure.  

So why do we do this with our kids?

When we are working toward a goal, we work slowly seeing little successes so that we learn what works and what doesn’t.  We celebrate the achievement to spur us on to the next level.

We should be doing the same thing as we set the goal of raising emotionally mature adults.  When our kids skin their knee and struggle through life’s problems, it really hurts the first time.  But over time they can learn to shake it off as it happens over and over, knowing they’ll be able to overcome the feelings of inadequacy as we stand by and offer emotional support instead of doing things for them.

By seeing their success and failures, our kids build up resilience.  They find success.  They discover who they are and who God created them to be.

When our kids fail in the little things, we can be there to put on a band-aid of encouragement and dry their tears by listening, showing empathy, and helping them think through what they could have done differently to have a better outcome.  If we are there in the little things of life, then we should be able to fully launch them into adulthood rather than having to still be there to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.

Failure on a test or detention for not doing homework is much easier to work through than having to deal with the potential job loss as a 30-something.  By working through pain in little chucks, our kids will be more able to handle the bigger knocks of life.

When we are there to support our kids in the inevitable mistakes and failures of life, emotionally offering a tender moment of support just like when we kiss their boo boo and encourage them to go out and play again, our kids are easier to launch in a healthy way.  Not only that, but it bonds us.  By being there after our kids fall down, we get the awesome job of wiping their tears away and offering encouragement.

James 1:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Dear Lord,

Help me to know when I’m doing too much for my kids.  Help me to see when I’m taking the reigns and doing for them when they should be doing for themselves.  Lord, I see my child’s potential when he doesn’t.  I want what is best for him and I also want him to succeed. 

Competition in life can be fierce at times and my natural tendency as a mother is to protect.  I want my child to soar to the top, but I need to remember that you have created him for purpose.  My job is to stay out of Your way and let him undergo the trials you have ordained for him.  I need to remember You are writing his story and it may be different than the one I desire. 

Please help me to let go so that my child will grow and mature in a healthy way.  Help me create an atmosphere in my home that when my child fails, I’m here to offer love, support, and guidance encouraging him to stand up and go back into the arena.

I fail so many times in parenting toward the goal set before me to launch in a healthy way.  Give me the ability to make hard choices and let my child skin their knees so that he will be useful to your purpose.  Help me release my child to you so that You receive glory from his life.

In the precious name of Jesus.  Amen.

Dare you to take inventory and decide where you need to let go.  And ask God to help you be successful as you head toward the day of launch.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Do you ever wish you were more aware of the pitfalls you might be making in your parenting?  Do you wish you could talk openly with other women about parenting struggles without fear of judgment?  Many women do.  And that is why the book With All Due Respect was written.  It takes our fears and pitfalls and helps us think through what we really desire–deeper connection with our kids and successful launch.

Why not grab a copy today?  You could get a group of women together and go through it together as a group or join our on-line eCourse with women around the country.











How Do We Foster Integrity In Our Kids?

I remember one of my kids coming home feeling defeated several years ago.  It was over a Latin test that she had failed.  I knew it had to be hard switching from one school to another between Latin I and Latin II–different text books and different teacher.  But she was determined to finish, even though she had the lowest grade in the class while others seemed to be doing exceptionally well on the exams.  Of course, we hired a tutor to help her bridge the gap.

It didn’t take long for her to bring up her grade, but the day dawned when everyone in the class got an “A” except her.  Perfect scores!

Almost the entire class.

All but one.

And, of course, as a mother, I started asking questions.

What did these kids know that my daughter didn’t know?  How could all of them pull off perfect scores?

And the water bottle story came out.

Take a clear water bottle.  Put all the answers on the backside of the piece of paper and wrap it around the bottle.  Voila!  Take a drink and you have all the answers.

And we had a talk about integrity and I told her how proud I was of her. 

Then I asked another question.

Does the teacher know what’s going on?

“Yes, mom, and he doesn’t seem to care.”

How sad.

Our kids are growing up in a society where they don’t know right from wrong unless we are intentional in our parenting.  The lines are blurred.  Even adults will allow integrity to fall by the wayside if there is something in it for them.

Just this week I heard another story.  A 20-something was interviewing for a job and had made it through several levels of the interview process.  His final interview would be a group interview with the CEO and top executives.  Three days prior to the interview he received an email from the recruiter who had presented his resume to the firm.  It was marked confidential.

It read, “Please review the attached case study for your interview.”

The email was followed up by a second email.  “Here are the answers to the case study.  Please study these and we can discuss them on Monday before your interview.  By the way, don’t let anyone know that you have this.  This is the actual case study they use for their interviews.  Hope you get the job.”


Is that what our society has come to?

Let’s face it.  This is what our kids are dealing with almost on a daily basis.

Are we preparing them to stand firm in their integrity?  Are we assuring them that even if they fail the test or don’t get the job offer, that their integrity is more important?

When I did a search on scriptures that had to do with integrity, I was blown away by the number of them.  Here are just a few.

Proverbs 10:9

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.

Luke 16:10

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

And I love this one for us as parents.

Proverbs 20:7

The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!

So how do we teach integrity to a generation who will have difficulty seeing the lines?

  • Walk the talk.  Let our kids know the battles we face — with our extended family, our friends, our jobs, and, yes, even in our church families.
  • Let our kids know that integrity usually requires sacrifice.
  • Talk with your kids about their own integrity struggles.  Walk them through the process of what they could say and how to approach it.  Role play with them.
  • Emotionally be there for them when they have loss over doing the right thing.  Be the shoulder to cry on and let them know that their reward is in heaven.
  • When they do the right thing, let them know how proud you are of them.  By giving them kudos for a job well done, we are encouraging more of the behavior we want.
  • Be on the watch for integrity issues in the media.  These are great opportunities for discussion around the dinner table.

Today, I want to leave you with this verse.  The enemy wants our kids.  He wants to muddy the waters of integrity.  If they give in to the little things, he has them where he wants them–in the middle of the pack not knowing real truth.

1 Peter 5:8

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Dare you to pray about being intentional in modeling and teaching your kids to live with integrity.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Last week a woman shared With All Due Respect with a friend who was having “problems” with one of her kids.  This woman asked if her friend would pray for God to soften both her heart and the heart of her child.  After only a week, the mom has commented several times how her thinking is making a shift.

Praise God that He is working and answering her prayers!

Do you have a friend who is struggling in her parenting?  Sometimes all we need is a nudge to do a reset and move forward with our kids.  Can I ask you to share my blog, the book, and let others know that we’re here to minister to them?

After all, don’t we all want to be the best mom we can be?