Emotionally Supporting Our Kids

I remember it well.  The phone call, I mean.  Mrs. Hitchcock, this is Sargent (whatever his name) from the police department.  I’ll admit, I’m not sure at that moment if I caught all the details.  All I remember was the pause after I hung up with him.

My husband was standing nearby and must have seen the look of shock on my face.  “What is it?” he asked.

I couldn’t speak.

“What’s wrong?” he asked again.  “Talk to me.”

And that’s when I knew that I had moved forward in my ability to contain my emotion.  I looked at him calmly even though my heart was pounding out of control inside my chest, held up my hand to let him know I needed a second to think, and took a deep breath.  “Everything will be alright.  God’s got this. I whispered to myself.

With that I collected my thoughts and explained what I remembered from the phone conversation.  As my husband began to process, I could sense his heightened emotions and mind reeling out of control.  “Honey, it’s going to be okay.  I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here, but we need to remember that God is in the middle of it.  He’ll help us work through it.  We just need to be strong for our kid.” I calmly cautioned.

The truth is our kids will make mistakes.  We might not get a call from the police, but what about the school?  Or another parent or coach?  A boss?  A youth leader?

And how will you respond?

Will you have taken the time to get your own emotions under control before engaging with your teen? 

Or will you launch a dynamite explosion screaming at them for being so stupid? 

Or maybe you will become so agitated and frustrated at the situation that you’ll disconnect from them as if it is all their problem to fix because you don’t want to deal with it?

What our kid really needs in moments like these are calm and emotionally supportive parents.  They need to see an adult (with adult like behaviors) who is there to walk beside them regardless of the mess they have gotten into.  This is an opportune time to be their “solid rock” who will walk with them as they navigate the jams they find themselves in.

One of the things I’ve learned to do in my parenting is to discern the situation and try to see both sides.  Too often when my kids were younger, I would typically take the adult’s view of the situation as truth over my child’s perspective.  After all, we think that an adult perspective is the mature view.  Right?

Oh, how many times I have discovered that not to be the case.

Let me explain.

I remember a situation that involved one of my sons and another adult.  On the surface, I understood why the adult thought my son was guilty; however, I knew he didn’t have all the facts.  On my first encounter, I supported this man rather than my son.  After all, this man was an authority figure in my son’s life and had strong christian moral values.

What I didn’t realize at the time (but it became obvious on the second encounter) was that this man had a flawed perspective with students.  His moral compass said “guilty until proven innocent”.  Rather than talking with the student, understanding the student’s thought processes that led to the action, and deciding the consequences based on the student’s heart, he issued punitive edicts that affected my son’s ability to learn in the classroom.  He took learning opportunities away instead of being supportive.  There was no doubt in my mind this adult in my son’s life had put him in a box and labeled him “problem child”.  Rather than walk beside him, this man became my son’s judge and jury communicating that he (not his behaviors) was unacceptable.

So how can you walk beside your teen in these type situations?

  1. Assume a neutral position until all the facts are in.  Don’t necessarily assume your child is guilty.  Even if all the facts say they are guilty, be the person in their life that shows compassion and treats “mistakes” as “learning opportunities”.
  2. Ask open ended questions and then listen.  When our kids are accused of something by an adult, a simple question like, “So what happened?”, without a tone of accusation, may be all you need to hear your teen’s heart and thought process.  We all see things through a different lens and while our teens don’t typically have a full grasp of everything involved, neither do most adults.
  3. Discern the situation.  Many times as parents we react based on our emotions.  When our teen is accused of something, it impacts us in some way.  Take those feelings and the circumstances and pray about it asking God for discernment.  Ask him to show you perspective from both sides.
  4. Teach.  Take the opportunity to ask your teen to think through the situation from the adult’s point of view.  What was right in the way the adult saw the situation?  What information does the adult not have?  What could your child have done differently to avoid the situation?  Share your perspective of their wrongdoing.  And be sure to normalize the situation offering understanding as to why your teen did what they did.
  5. Encourage apology and reconciliation.  Regardless of the circumstance, teaching our teens to restore the relationship is important.  It doesn’t mean that the other person is right.  It just means that the relationship is broken.  Teaching our children that their actions do affect other people helps them realize that they don’t live in a vacuum.
  6. Love your teen regardless of the situation.  When our teens hurt us with their actions and impact other relationships that are important to us and them, our teens need to know that we always choose them.

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

1 Thessalonians 5:11 

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Emotionally supporting our kids when their world is falling apart will give them the hope to trust God in all things.

“Let go…and Let God”,











What’s Your Parenting Fear?

As I talk with women across the country about parenting issues and we talk about our kids, the same theme seems to surface.  As moms we’re afraid for our kids.  Whether it be a school shooting, falling in with the wrong crowd, cutting, or drinking and drugs, pregnancy, or a failing test score, we have fears that can hijack our brain in a nanosecond.  We hear something and we’re automatically on high alert wondering if “it” could happen to our kid or if our kid won’t live up to the dream that we have for them.

We put tracker’s on our kid’s phone and their cars to monitor their every move.  In China there is a movement in the schools to track a student’s attention by a brain monitoring device that alerts the teacher and the parent when a kid is not fully engaged.  The hypervigilance in our parenting isn’t healthy for us or for our kids.  That isn’t what God wants for us.

Think about it for a minute, and I hope you’ll dig deep.

What are your fears for your child?

Would you take a few minutes and list them?  Really think through them.  And I want to encourage you to put them on paper.

What are you afraid of for your kid?  It doesn’t matter if our kids are 6, 16, or 26, we’re bound to have some fear–an expectation that might never materialize or a hope that might be taken away.

Sit tight with that list as I share a story.

Over a decade ago, I had a long list of fears for one of my kids.  That list seemed to grow year by year as I watched the transition from elementary to junior high and then into high school.  I became overtly watchful as behaviors surfaced over which I seemed to have no influence.  I watched as this teen struggled with acceptance from classmates even though she could be outgoing and personable.  She was intelligent enough to grasp concepts that other students didn’t quite understand, yet seemed to be in a constant state of flux from motivated to uncaring in her academics.  She struggled with the nuance of relationships wanting to be seen for who she really was–a gifted individual–yet at times lacked the confidence to really shine.

And as a mom, I saw who she could be yet she didn’t seem to want to embrace it.

And I worried.

Fear had a grip on me when it came to this child.  And I didn’t quite know what to do with it. 

Yes, I would take it to the Lord.  Yes, I would pour out my heart to Him.  Yet I couldn’t move from that state of worry and fear.  I was always waiting for the next phone call or the next email from a teacher or parent.  At times I felt as if I could somehow see a dark future yet didn’t have any control over it.  Just when I thought things were getting better and I could breathe the next difficulty would surface throwing me into a state of stress. 

Instead of being focused on God, I was focused the circumstances of what could happen next.  After all, that is what worry and fear is all about.

Fear is about the future–what might happen.

Today, a mom read a scripture verse that she felt God was speaking to her through.  And I went, “That’s it!”  That’s exactly what we need in our parenting when we have those times of fear.

Psalm 112:7-8

He (the righteous) will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is secure, he will have no fear…

I don’t know about you, but that is what I want in my parenting.  I want to have no fear of bad news.  That will only happen if I am always trusting that He knows what He is doing in my child’s life.  My heart has to be steadfast on Him.  If we are secure in our hope in the Lord, then we have no reason to fear.

God is writing each and every one of our kids’ testimonies and it might not be what we would write.  We need to remember that God goes where we go (Joshua 1:9) and that He will comfort us (Isaiah 51:12-13) regardless of the outcome.

So now that you’ve heard a piece of my story, I hope that you will take your list of fears and offer them up to God as you confess your doubt and worry.  He is our Rock where we can take refuge (2 Samuel 22).  By turning them over to Him (which may need to be done on a daily basis), we will have peace that He is with us regardless of the situation.  

We may want certain outcomes for our kids’ futures, yet God is the one writing the story.  We don’t know the purpose of our child’s future from God’s perspective.  

So what about that child that I worried over?  What did the future look like for her?

All my fears became truths.  Worrying about them didn’t change them.  Yet God used them in a powerful way.  God used her to change me.  God had her ministering to people that I would never have been in contact with were it not for the friend group that she chose.  And God showed me that His ways are not our ways and I can always trust that He knows what is best to bring Him glory.

“Let go…and Let God”,











Does Your Teen or 20-Something Know Their Purpose?

As I spent time with a friend today we started talking about helping our kids become motivated.  The more we talked I was hit with an a-ha.

“Do you think your son knows what his purpose is?” I asked.

There was a long pause.

And for both of us it was as if the dawning of what I had just spoken took root.  In fact, as I look back to when one of my kids was in middle school, I wish I had understood the power of purpose better.

One of the things our kids need to discover and learn is how life fits together for them.

  • Where do they fit within their family?
  • Who among their friends have similar interests?
  • What strengths and gifting do they possess?
  • What do they enjoy doing outside of having fun?

Having our kids explore their dreams and passions allows them to examine what will motivate them and it helps them discover who God created them to be.

Fitting in the family is where we connect and feel included.  We all need to have responsibilities within the family unit.  Knowing the expectations and boundaries within the family gives all of us a sense of security in knowing how we all fit together.

Understanding how we connect to friends along with our interests, strengths, and gifting helps us know where we fit  within the outside world.  Enjoyment for mere pleasure is different than enjoyment in terms of adding value to other’s lives.  All of us need to feel a sense of belonging such that our part helps someone else do what they do better for the greater good.

Our kids are no different.  They need to understand where they fit in to serve not to be served.

There is no purpose in being or taking.

Our purpose is in doing for others.  It is the key to motivation.  It impacts us on the soul level.

So how can we give our kids a sense of purpose?

Give them responsibility that they can get excited about.  Now don’t get me wrong, kids do need to have responsibility for things that they don’t enjoy.  Homework, cleaning their room, emptying the dishwasher, and taking out the trash are certainly not things that most kids enjoy, but they are character building and do teach responsibility.

What I’m talking about are things that move them closer to their dreams of the future.  The things that bring them soul excitement.

When it comes to our unmotivated 20-somethings, I wonder if it is because they haven’t discovered their purpose.  Stuck in sometimes dead-end jobs, are they discouraged because they don’t see hope of a better future?  Yes, they are earning money for survival, but are they wondering if this is all there is to life?  Maybe they are disheartened at where life seems to be taking them rather than pursuing the undiscovered passion that is deep within. 

A while back I had what I will call an unmotivated 20-something.  Doom and gloom would at times surround him like a heavy cloud of darkness.  He just couldn’t see the future in any positive light.  Then several things happened that changed his outlook.

  1. He made a new friend who gave him a glimpse of what his life could look like.
  2. We started talking about his future.  What could life look like in 2-3 years that would seem exciting?
  3. We talked about different steps to get there and the likelihood that all of them might not be fun.
  4. And I asked him to take one step toward his future.

And it was amazing the change I began to see.  He took one step and saw success.  Then he took another and another.  Rather than feeling discouragement and frustration, he began to see the possibilities and embraced them as his own.

He saw his future.

He saw how it fit together.

As he made mistakes or failed, we talked about the learning that was occurring in terms of maturity and I reminded Him of the successes.

And he knew his life had purpose.  He had purpose.

He began to embrace his dream with a new passion.

If we truly believe that God is in charge of our lives and He created each and every one of us for His purpose, then helping our kids discover what their purpose is points them back to their creator and will motivate them toward the deeds He set for them before the beginning of time.

Proverbs 20:5

 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
“Let Go…and Let God”,



Do You Offer Hope to Your Teens?

My husband has a saying, “Every teen we come in contact with needs someone to take them seriously.”  

Just the other day, I discovered how true that is as I was sitting in a room of women.  A fifty something woman literally glowed as she spoke, “You’ll never guess what happened this week.  My mother called and told me what a good job I did on _______ and that she was proud of me.  I’ve never heard those words from her.  I guess maybe I have a little bit to offer the world after all.”

The irony of that story wasn’t lost on me.  Through my lens, this woman is extremely talented and way above the norm when it comes to accomplishment.  She is someone I personally have always looked up to–someone I view as a role model–someone to emulate.

Yet, those words from her mother meant so much to her.  She always wondered, “What does Mom think of me?” 

It is natural to want the approval of others. Yet, imagine the power of approval from our mother.

That’s exactly what my husband means.  By “taking our teens seriously” we are letting our kids know that we respect them, that we give credibility to who they are and how they think, that we approve of who they are becoming.  Even when they mess up, we assure them that we will always stand beside them.

  • They are worth it.
  • We believe in them.
  • We know that God has great plans for them.

What if, by taking our kids seriously, we offered our kids hope for their future. 

  • They would never have to doubt if they are good enough. 
  • They would never wonder if Mom and Dad will still be there for them if they make a mistake. 
  • They will be able to bounce back when life gets tough because they believe in themselves. After all, they’ve been given the hope from their parents that they can overcome any obstacle. 
  • They wouldn’t have to wait until they are 50 years old to hear the words from their mother’s mouth that you are proud of them.

So how do we take our kids seriously?  How do we offer them hope that will last a lifetime?

  1. Listen, listen, and continue to listen.
  2. Find areas where you can agree and focus your energy there.
  3. Find the good in what they do and say.
  4. Encourage rather than criticize.
  5. Let them know that when they mess up that you’ll never give up on them.
  6. Offer them a faith that says ‘God is for them and wants the best for them’.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Regardless of where you are in your parenting journey, my prayer is that the God of Hope will flow through to you so that you too may offer hope to the next generation.

“Let go…and Let God”,

If you would like to offer a parent hope during this season of life, why not give them a copy of With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship With Your Teens & Tweens?  Parents tell us that for the first time they have a different perspective on their role as a parent.  It’s not only life changing–it’s changing families. 







Six Reasons Parents Should Never Give Up

Thirteen years ago I was struggling as a parent.  I grew up with the lie that every problem could be solved and if it impacted me then it was my problem to fix.  The reality that I wasn’t supermom hit hard and shattered me to the core.

I wish I had known my new friend Dena Yohe during that period of time.  She has such wisdom as the parent of a struggling child.  As I read her book, You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids, I felt like I was reading my own story.  I knew that she would be a “safe” person to share my pain.  I love how she can see God in the midst of the struggle.

Dena is co-founder of Hope For Hurting Parents.com; blogger, former pastor’s wife, and CRU affiliate staff. She and her husband Tom have been guests on Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, Family Life with Dennis Rainey, and Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. She’s the proud mom of three adult children and loves being Mimi to her grandchildren.

If you are a hurting parent, I hope this will bring you hope.  

Here are words from Dena:

“I give up. I can’t do this. It’s too hard! I’m not strong enough. It’s beyond me. I need help!” This was how I felt about the weeds and plants behind our screened in patio. They’d taken over. They had to go. But I didn’t have the ability to remove them myself. Their roots were too strong and too deep for me to dig up. I couldn’t manage it. I tried hard—so did my husband. Neither of us could tackle the job. We were exasperated.

To be honest, this is how I felt about one of my children. I’ve said many of these things to myself about her. You may have felt this way about one of yours. Maybe today you’ve almost given up.

It’s awful to admit we feel this way about our own flesh and blood, but sometimes we do. When they abuse drugs or alcohol, steal from us, lie to us, disrespect us, can’t stop hurting themselves, have a mental illness but refuse help, make repeated suicide attempts, break the law or are involved in a same-sex relationship, it’s hard not to despair.

Over time, anger builds up. For some of us cruel words have been spoken on both sides. We’re guilty of hurting one another. Our other children can become bitter and resentful. Their troubled brother or sister took us away from them. They feel robbed. It’s not fair—although they may never tell us. They don’t want to cause us more pain. But they’re right. It wasn’t fair.

We’ve tried repeatedly to help our child, draining the family’s financial resources. We’ve also invested large amounts of time and energy attempting to save them.

Yet nothing has worked.    

It’s understandable to want to give up. But how can we? This is our child!

These are the 6 reasons I never gave up:

  1. Because God is a big God—bigger and greater than our child’s problems. He’s the Sovereign King of the universe who’s in complete control of all things. Nothing is impossible for Him.
  2. Because God cares and understands—more than we can comprehend. He cared enough to give his son, Jesus, to die for them.
  3. Because God is all-powerful—it’s never too late for them to change. They can get better and recover. They can stop their addictive behavior; the stealing and deceiving. They can get help and find their way back to wholeness, to a healthy relationship with you and most of all, with their Creator.
  4. Because nothing is too hard for God—He can do what no man, no counselor, no psychiatrist or rehab can do. He can transform a sinner into a saint; the lost into the found. The sick can be healed. Hard hearts can be softened. Stubborn souls can surrender. The dead can be raised to life. If God resurrected Jesus to give us eternal life, then what can he not do?
  5. Because God loves your child with an everlasting love—even more than you. He’s crazy about them and will do whatever it takes to reach them. But he won’t force them to respond.
  6. Because God wants you to trust Him—even though things may look hopeless at this moment. As you bring your child to Him, He can bring something very, very good out of something very, very bad. He’s still with them. He’ll never leave.

At my lowest point, I received an astonishing phone call. My daughter had finally agreed to go into rehab! I never thought it would happen. I’d almost given up. In moments of despair, a dear friend would often encourage me with these words,

 “As long as your child is still breathing, there is still hope.”

  Yes, dear parent, there is.

“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help . . . and grant you support . . .  may he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed . . . may the Lord grant all your requests . .  . Some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God . . . we rise up and stand firm” (Psalm 20:1-5, 7).

Great and loving God, when I feel like giving up, help me remember these things and keep trusting you with my child. I’ll hold on to hope because of who you are.

In your life-giving name. Amen.

Write down these six things on a piece of paper or print them out. Put it where you can see them the next time you feel tempted to give up and stand firm in the Lord!

Dena sums it up well.

“Let go…and Let God”,

If your teen is just starting to dabble in the areas Dena mentions, I would encourage you to start with our book With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens and Tweens.  In the book you will have opportunity to take a parenting assessment and find ways to rebuild the relationship with your difficult teen.  If your teen needs intervention, Tom and Dena provide hope for parents who need to make difficult choices.  Be sure to check out their website.