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!






How Important Is It That My Teens Clean Their Room?

Whether or not to make a teen clean their room is a topic that almost always comes to the surface whenever I lead parenting groups.  There are usually parents in both camps–‘it’s not a hill worth dying on’ versus the ‘I can’t stand the mess’ moms.

Do you just close the door and hope that someone doesn’t show up to declare that part of the house condemned?

Do you break down and clean it yourself when your kid isn’t home claiming that it is the last time you are going to do it?  

Or do you stand firm letting your kids know that there will be no freedom until the room is clean?  No ifs, ands, or buts allowed.

Yes, it is quite the dilemma.

We want to have relationship with our kids and don’t want the battle of cleanliness to come between us, yet we struggle with what their messiness will mean for their future.  We make rules like “no food in your room” or “if clothes are not in the laundry, they won’t get washed”, yet we’re frustrated when the rules aren’t followed. 

So what can we do to solve the issue?  Where should we draw the line?  And how can we make sure we don’t pendulum swing (meaning you can get by with it this week, but next week I’ll probably be yelling at you for not cleaning it)?  Or better yet, why is it even important?

Believe it or not, the task of keeping their room clean can build an inner strength that we as parents might not even think about.

  • It forces our kids to persevere through to accomplishment–the room needs to be completely clean before I leave.
  • It teaches self-control–maybe I should put the trash in the garbage can and pick up my clothes daily so I don’t have the mess at the end of the week.
  • It teaches our kids to resist distractions–I’ll turn my phone off until I get this finished.
  • It helps them learn to stick to their decisions–I’ll do it after school or on Saturday.
  • It helps them decide what is necessary and what is not–I don’t need this gadget any more or I don’t like these pants so I’ll get rid of them.

One of the things that has blown me away over the last few years while I have been in more college dorm halls than any mother should have to endure is the amount of “stuff”.  Our kids have grown up with the attitude that more is better.  

Does a college student really need a 50 inch TV in a less than 130 square feet space?  Do they really need to bring all their clothes and makeup and 15 pair of shoes?  What are we really teaching our kids by allowing it? 

Maybe it’s too hard to keep their room clean because there is too much that is truly unnecessary.

Another question I usually ask in these parenting groups is what the kids’ schedules look like.  Are they so busy that they don’t have time to keep their room clean?  

What does the family schedule look like?  Are we encouraging fun instead of responsibility?  Yes, we want them to have friends and the teamwork they learn in sports or other activities can be really good.  A part-time job can teach responsibility and how to handle money.  Again, good.  But is it too much?  And too unstructured?

Is the schedule so jam-packed with the emphasis on friends, fun, and accomplishment that basic skills are being put on the back burner and seen as irrelevant?

The other thing we talk about in these groups is consistency.  

Whatever the rule is regarding the level of cleanliness for our teen’s room, do we breed consistency in a way that turns the chore into an automatic execution?  

Shaunti Felhahn and Lisa Rice share some insight in their book For Parents Only with regard to rules in our homes.  Seventy-seven percent of the teens said they wanted parents who not only set the rules but followed up to make sure they were executed.  

Think about that.  How many times do we tell our teen to go clean their room and then we never inspect it afterword?  It means we aren’t holding them accountable nor are we being consistent in allowing them to go do the next thing if we just assume they’ve completed what we ask.  Yes, it means we are breeding inconsistency and a lack of follow-through.  And I’ll admit to being that parent at times.

A wise counselor had a great idea that we chose to adopt when it came to our teens keeping their rooms clean.  Choose a consistent day each week that will be “inspection” day–say Thursday at 2:00.  If the room is clean and meets the family standard, then they can have fun on the weekend.  If it doesn’t meet the standard, the parent will tell them what still needs to be done. Then they have “grace” until  2:00 on Friday or another chosen time.  At 2:00 Friday there will be a second inspection if needed.  At that time it either meets the criteria or the teen is home for the weekend.  If the second inspection requires Mom to intervene and clean, then any mess goes into a tub and is not available until the teen earns it back by a certain number of “clean” inspections.

What is important is the upfront communication if you decide to do something like this.

  1. “Honey, I know that you seem to really be struggling with keeping your room clean on a regular basis.  Why do you think that is?  Then listen.  Maybe your teen can identify the problem and offer suggestions.
  2. “One of my jobs as a parent is to help you mature into a responsible adult.  Cleaning up after yourself is something you will always need to be responsible for.  I’m sure your spouse won’t want to pick up after you all the time–and I guarantee your college roommate won’t do it.”  This is where laughter comes in handy.
  3. “Your dad and I have been talking about how we’ve not been consistent in following through and helping you mature in this area.  I’m sorry for that and want to get it right.  I want to help you learn these skills now so they will be automatic when you move out.”  Apology says we are taking ownership for our part and helps us not play the blame game.  Using “I” language here is important.
  4. “What your dad and I have decided might help.”  Explain the plan and expect opposition.
  5. “Honey, you want to have freedom right?  With freedom comes responsibility.  These are skills you will need when you go into the workforce.  Yes, cleaning your room might be boring, but it breeds organizational skills and perseverance.  It teaches you to stay focused on a task to completion.”
  6. “Think about the process we’re planning to use.  If you think checking on Wednesday is better than Thursday, then we might be open to that.  I want this to be win/win for both of us. Nagging you to clean your room is not the relationship I want to foster.  I want you to like me when you move out.”  Again, laughter.

Two things are really important here:  1) timing for the discussion you are going to have — maybe do it over a trip to the local coffee shop? and 2) make sure you follow up on when you will start implementing.  Listen to their ideas on the when and how it will be done and accommodate their requests if possible.

Remember that our job as parents is to equip our kids to become mature adults while maintaining the relationship.  While it isn’t always an easy endeavor, if we can think through our typical battles, we’ll find ways to strengthen our relationship in what can be the difficult years of parenting.

Proverbs 3:1-4

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 
“Let go…and Let God”,
Learning to communicate with our kids in a way that strengthens the relationship isn’t always easy.  If you like the ideas in my blog, why not join me in the With All Due Respect eCourse offered by Greater Impact Ministries?  There you will find video teaching and other moms to support you in your parenting journey.  We have a private Facebook community where we go through the dares and talk through each of the participants’ parenting issues.  You’ll learn from each other and from the moms who have gone before you.  Women tell me all the time how much they grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ as they go through the book.  It will help you in your relationship with Him, with your spouse, and with your kids.  Dare ya!








6 Things You Can Do When Your Teens Don’t Listen

Do you ever feel stuck with your kids?  Are you tired of hounding them to do something only to find that you have become the barbaric person you swore you would never be?  The volume in the room raises, your voice takes on a gruff “I mean it” tone, your hands are on your hips in a power stance, and then you start with the ultimatums.  “If you don’t take care of this right now I’m taking away your phone for a month.”  By this time you are practically screaming at your kid and most likely he is screaming back.

You get the picture.

Or, maybe a slightly different scenario plays out in your home.  You tell your kid to do something.

Nothing happens.

You repeat yourself and nothing happens.

This goes on for several days and you do one of two things.  You either take care of it yourself or you choose to drop it — and life goes on as if nothing happened.  You’ve chosen to not fight the battle because it is too hard, your tired of it, and you aren’t getting anywhere anyway so why bother.

Either outcome is a losing proposition.  Loss for you and loss for your child.  Both can significantly damage your relationship.

In the first scenario, we lose credibility as an adult.  After all, we certainly aren’t acting like an adult who is in control of our emotions and at times our words.  What we are modeling for our kids is that when I don’t get what I want I’ll get angry and exercise my authority over you to get it.  I’ll take the things away that you love and hopefully you’ll realize that you have nothing and will start doing what I ask you to do.  In other words, we exercise control and they respond out of fear.

In the second story-line, we also lose credibility as an adult but in a different way.  We teach our kids that they can manipulate us and our words mean nothing.  We give them all the power because it’s just easier to throw in the towel to keep peace.  The real problem here is that our kids don’t learn to do the chore or follow through with responsibility.  They don’t learn to own what is theirs to own.

I don’t know about you but I’ve found myself in both of these situations from time to time.  Think of these scenes as two extremes on a pendulum.  One extreme is “I will control at all cost and you will do what I ask you to do or else”.  The other extreme is “I’m tired of the fight and I recognize that you have more stamina than I do so I give up.”.

So what are the ways we can get beyond these extremes?  How can we move toward a home where we don’t have these standoff escapades that damage the relationship?  After all, we do want influence over our kids.

Start with respect.  Respect for yourself and respect for your teen.

So what does that look like?

  1. Focus on the relationship before the problem.  Talk about the issue with a win/win mentality.  Make sure that your child understands that you are both on the same team.  You aren’t asking them to clean up their room for you.  You are asking them to clean up the room for themselves and for the good of “team family”.  One way to start the conversation might go like this:  “It won’t be long until you’ll be on your own.  One of my jobs as a parent is to help you become successful in the role of an adult.  You want that too don’t you?”  Camp out here for a little while.  Maybe find out what they think being an adult means.  Rather than launching into the fact that they need to keep their room clean, you say something like “Why don’t you and I take some time to think about what taking on a more adult role in this family might look like and let’s talk about it next week.  One of the things I see with adults is that they have responsibility but they also get freedom with that responsibility.  What might  that look like as you think about the next few years you have here at home?  Maybe we’ll go out for ice cream next week to talk about it.  Would you like that?”
  2. Apologize and admit your struggle in being a parent.  If you’ve been a pendulum swinger (like the two scenarios I mentioned), apologize.  We don’t always get it right.  After all, we didn’t get a parenting manual when our kids were born.  We didn’t know what we didn’t know and now its time to push the reset button in how we’ve approached parenting.  Let your teen know that you are learning some new skills and that you want to try to be better at respecting them.  Let them know that you want to work harder at helping them become adults.
  3. Listen and validate.  My guess is that if you go get that ice cream with your teen you’ll hear all about the “freedom” your kid wants and very little of the responsibility.  That’s okay!  Just listen, validate their ideas and desires, share stories of when you were their age and wanted those same freedoms.  Again, camp out in their world of talk about adulthood.  AND be sure to not use the word “but” while they are talking.  As parents we often want to discount what they say or make them realize that their ideas are not where we are.  “But” says I’m not listening.  “But” says I’m right and you are wrong.  “But” says I don’t respect your ideas.
  4. Ask permission to share how you see adulthood.  Here’s your chance to finally communicate what you need from your child.  If you need them to clean their room, then let them know why that skill is important in becoming an adult.  Here are a few things you might want to share:  adulthood means that they can take care of themselves and own what is theirs to own; it means that they are part of the team that needs to be responsible for their chores (by the way, if Dad isn’t pitching in somewhere this might be a tough sell).  It means when they move to college that they aren’t fighting with their roommate over the mess they’ve made.  It means when they get married they don’t expect their spouse to pick up after them.  This is their practice time for the future.
  5. Get buy in.  Help your teen understand that with responsibility comes freedom.  This is the part they will love.  What freedom are they trying to earn? (You probably heard all about it while you were listening to them talk.)  If it is something you can give in response to them doing their chores, offer it up.  In the room example say something like, “If I see that you are taking responsibility over keeping your room clean, maybe we’ll look at letting you have some friends over on Friday nights to play games (or whatever freedom you want to give).  Let’s give it a month or so and see what happens.  It’s September now.  If by mid-November you are keeping up your end of the bargain, come see me and we’ll talk about it.”
  6. Pay attention.  The hard part of parenting is sometimes taking notice and giving feedback in the interim phase.  Give them a high-five when you notice their room is picked up or tell them “good job” on the room.  If the room isn’t clean say something like, “I see you are struggling with keeping your room clean, what can I do to help you be successful?”  This communicates “I’m here for you.  I’m on your team.  We both want the same thing–mature adult.”  If they are successful over time, be sure to give them their freedom.  If not, don’t let them off the hook.  Set up another time-bound opportunity and tell them you’ll re-evaluate again in a month.  Remember, the goal is their success!

2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Dare you to look at how you act when your kids don’t follow through on your requests.  If you are reacting at either extreme of the pendulum, try responding with respect for you and your teen.  Give freedom for your kid’s success in handling responsibility.  If you do, maturity will emerge and there’ll be less frustration as you parent.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Want to learn more about communicating with respect with your tweens and teens?  Grab a group of moms and go through our book With All Due Respect:  40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens or give the book as a Christmas gift to you child’s teacher.    Here’s what one mom had to say about it.

Debbie Hitchcock & Nina Roesner, I cannot thank you enough for With All Due Respect! I have decided you guys need a new target market—TEACHERS of Tweens/Teens. The teachers that don’t know how to properly communicate to teens are making it very difficult for this mama.



Team or Silo Parenting?

Parenting toward a team mentality is so much easier when our kids are small.  After all, their needs are more basic and we tend to do everything as a family.  The kids help us set the table, put away their toys, and we tend to celebrate each individual’s milestones as a family.  Birthday parties include everyone and usually extended family if they are in town.  Life is novel and there are lots of firsts–first tooth for the tooth fairy, first basketball game, first cheerleader outfit, or first time on a water slide. Everyone celebrates together! We are so much a part of our kids’ lives that at times we don’t know where we end and they begin.  We’re just together.

Usually by sixth grade or so, things begin to shift.  We trust our kids to be on their own more, they have their independent friends, and organized sports sometimes force us to create carpool opportunities so one kid can be involved in their sport while we’re doing something with another child.  

Somewhere along the way as a family we are able to fit in more and more into our busy schedules and spend time independently with each kid because we know the importance of each feeling special.  

But unfortunately as a culture we are seeing family silos as the kids get older.  In the midst of busyness we lose the family element.  Dad takes Marcus to his baseball game, Synda carpools to her track meet, Mom goes to watch Nicole’s tennis match, and Josh is hanging out with friends.  Everyone catches dinner wherever they can and the evening entails more soloing.  Mom is downstairs doing laundry, Dad is mowing the lawn, and each of the kids are doing their own thing–independent of each other.

Instead of the family unit rooting each other on, it becomes every man for himself.  

The result?

The kids think that the world revolves around them.  

They begin to think “the reason I exist is to be entertained and do the things I want to do”.

And the family/team element becomes non-existent as everyone feels that their “need to be somewhere” is more important and mom and dad become puppets to satisfy the need.  Somehow in the world of “making each kid feel special” we’ve forgotten that being part of something bigger than us is also important–a family, a team.

Please don’t misunderstand that sports aren’t important and that we don’t need to make each kid feel special.  All of those are greatly valued elements of life.

But do we get so busy making everyone happy with their thing, do we spend so much time making each kid feel special individually, do we get so involved in our own activities (work, school, ministry, work travel, insert the thing that you do) that we forget the importance of team and rooting each other on?  Are we so focused on independence that we forget about everyone being together in one place and making family choices that benefit the whole rather than just one sliver of the pie?

Maybe it’s time to take inventory of your own family to see if you operate as a team or individual silos.  

  • How often is everyone under the roof at the same time and interacting in the same space?  
  • How often do you eat a meal together as a family without technology?
  • Have you ever made a choice where you could accommodate one child’s desire but not two kids’ requests?  Was the other child able to give up his desire for the sake of the other in a healthy way? 
  • Are you always strategizing to make sure everyone gets to do what they want?
  • How often do you choose to say “no” for the sake of the family?
  • Is dad or mom traveling with work such that family interaction means that one parent is most likely missing a majority of the time?

Our kids will have plenty of opportunity to be individual silos as they go off to college or move out of our homes and start their careers.  However, at some point they will want to most likely start their own families.

And what have we modeled?

Will they want to still be part of a team with family interacting as our grandchildren come along?  Or will they only remember the silos and still be striving to be the center of our universe passing what we’ve modeled on to the next generation?

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 take inventory of your family and make adjustments as necessary.  Let your kids recognize that they are part of a bigger team where people love, learn, and make concessions for the whole so they can grow to full maturity.

“Let go…and let God”,

Does it feel like your kids don’t listen when you’re talking? Or maybe you don’t feel like your kids respect you?  Get the skills you need to connect with your kids! Click here to receive our new free 5-session email course.




Frantic with Last Minute Christmas Shopping?

My guess is that even with Christmas less than a week away, many of us are still frantic trying to make sure we get those last minute gifts for our tweens and teens.  If your kids are anything like mine, something seems to happen in our teens’ brains the week before Christmas.  Those synapses that didn’t seem to be fully functioning as the semester came to a close suddenly switch into high gear. Without prompting, it’s as if a whole new Christmas list begins to  emerge.

Just when I think my shopping is done, I sometimes find out that what I’ve already purchased is no longer on the Christmas list.  Things that have never before been mentioned become all they want under the tree.

And we question our purchases and run back out to the store to get the “special” gift.  After all, most of us don’t want our kids to be disappointed on Christmas day.

Last week my son and I were in the car together talking about what he might get his siblings for Christmas.  Of course, the conversation turned to what he was hoping would be under the tree for him.  I listened in disbelief as he told me that all he wanted was two items.  The crazy part for me was that I had no idea those two things were even on his list even though he assured me he had mentioned them several times.

So I do what most parents do.  I debate with myself.  Do I take back an item and replace it with the new wish or do I just add to my Christmas budget rationalizing that Christmas only comes once a year?

And then a Christmas memory surfaces from when my kids were teens.  The latest requested gift was not under the tree.  Some of you might remember the video game Rock Band that was out several years ago.  It came with electronic drums, a guitar, and a microphone.  Yes, there was some disappointment that it wasn’t under the tree, but then something amazing happened.

I think for the first time in history all of my kids agreed on something.  They agreed they needed Rock Band.  Then they devised their own plan.  They pooled their money (not equally, but as each one could afford), and they decided together to purchase the game.  My husband and I had no part in the discussion.  They worked it all out on their own and they had the most awesome Christmas break ever!  They took turns playing guitar, drums, or doing vocals and they laughed like I’d never seen before.

It made me realize what we would have missed if we had put the game under the tree.

Almost a decade later, if we talk about Christmas memories, that one is the first to surface.  They learned some valuable lessons that year.  

  • They learned that Mom and Dad are not always going to supply every want under the tree.
  • They learned to deal with disappointment on Christmas day.
  • They learned problem solving and negotiation skills.

And most of all–they created an awesome memory that will be remembered for a lifetime.

We all know that Christmas is not about the gifts–but is that how we parent?  Are we more focused on giving our kids exactly what they want at that moment in time or are we focused on the memories that will remain even after the gift has lost its appeal?

Many of you have probably seen the IKEA video that went viral on Facebook.  While the kids in the video are certainly younger than  tweens and teens, I’m guessing that in reality if that experiment was done with our kids, we’d see similar results.  

Dare you to contemplate what memories you want your kids to have on Christmas morning or throughout the holiday season and decide if the frantic trip to the mall might be sending the wrong message.

Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends!

“Let go…and let God”,

Have you gotten your copy of With All Due Respect yet?  The Kindle Version is only $1.99 through the end of the year.  It’s parenting self-discovery training in book form and a great way to start off the new year.  If you want to start a group, email me at and I’ll send you a draft of the small group leader’s guide for free.  If you’d like someone to walk beside you in your parenting, you can also join us for the With All Due Respect e-Course.   You’ll be encouraged in your parenting and have opportunity to ask questions.  I’ll be joining you on the journey and can’t wait to meet you.  To take advantage of the discount, click here and enter in the code daretoconnect for a $40 savings for a limited time only.

Also, be sure to sign up for your free Parenting Tips!