Identity Crisis?

One of our jobs as parents is to nurture our kid’s sense of identity.  Through the time we spend with them our kids learn who they are, what they’re good at, as well as our family’s belief system.  They develop a mental image of who they are as they receive feedback from the world around them.  It is through rejection, mistakes, and failure that our kid’s learn to train their brain to think differently and manage their emotions.  Hopefully, we have within us as parents to provide refuge and acceptance that our kids learn that no matter what they do, they’ll always be accepted by family.

It’s called unconditional love.

As our kids start moving into the tween and teen years, their desire is to fit in and be accepted by their peers.  These years become critical as they want to be part of the popular group or known for their prowess on the soccer field or in the classroom.  Most kids want to be more than “average” and our job as parents is to actually help our kids to find their place in this world even though culture would tell us that we need to be pushing for “the top of the class” or the “most valuable player.”

After all, the majority of all of us are just that.  Average.  Sure, we might excel in one area or another.  But in reality, God created us by His design to do what He has called us to do.

Most of us continue to tell our kids “You can be anything you want to be”.  But is that really true?  And is that the message we want to send?

I’m guessing a lot of the kids who have graduated from college in the last few years have gotten a dose of reality that everyone can’t be anything they want, especially given the recent job market.  I’ve watched college grads take jobs they are overqualified for and parents saddled with college debt their kids can’t pay back.

I’ve watched as we as parents have become a generation so involved in helping our kids reach their potential that we forget what belongs to our child and what is ours to own.

Maybe we are the ones with the identity crisis.

Is our identity wrapped up in our kid’s activities?  In their behavior?

What will happen to us as moms when our kids leave our home?

Our kids are the most precious thing that we have.  But are they ours?

I had someone in our With All Due Respect eCourse say it best, “As moms we are the steward, not the owner.”  If only we could remember that as we choose to not wrap our identity up in our kids.  It’s our job to help our kids see who God created them to be and  to show our kids that God has purpose for us as individuals.  Our teen needs to see us as separate from them. And while we will always want relationship with them, our job is to launch.

If we are two separate beings that God created to serve two different purposes, what are you as a mom doing to help your child see your sense of identity outside of being a mother?  Yes, we are to nurture, train, encourage, clothe, feed, and do all the things that mothers do.  But who are we outside of that role?

Are we so focused on them, that we forget about us?  How can we give them a sense of identity (strengths, God given design for that child, and a reality of who God created them to be) if we are focused on pushing them toward success while we’ve forgotten who we are outside of being mom and making our child be all that we think he should be?

Ephesians 2:10

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

Philippians 1:6

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Dare you to have a conversation with your tweens and teens to talk about identity.  How do they see themselves?  How do they see you?  Once you’ve had time to consider the conversation, start a spiritual dialogue about their identity in Christ and who He wants them to be.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Communication is key in all our relationships.  And learning to reduce the conflict and stress in our homes is paramount.  Wouldn’t you like to have a more peaceful home where the stress of the day to day interactions can calmly be resolved?  Knowing our kids, anticipating ahead, and making small changes in our communication can have a huge impact with our tweens, teens, and our 20-somethings.  

If you’d like to learn more about how to have a peaceful home, contact me at and we’ll set up a time to talk. 









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”,




Has Your Kid Launched an F-Bomb?

F-You,” came the shocking words flung in anger from her 12 year old son.  It was the first time his mom had heard words like that come out of his mouth. Read more

5 Actions to Take When You Can’t Believe Who Your Kids Are Hanging Out With!

It’s tough as a parent when our kids choose to hang out with what we might refer to as “unsavory” characters.  Whether it is the need to feel included or a desire to test the waters of independence, most kids are more likely than not to choose friends that are not necessarily a good influence on them at some point in their teen years.  I’ll admit there have been times I’ve not wanted my kids to hang out with other “church kids” for fear that the behaviors I saw would influence my teen’s character.  After all, research says that you become the average of the five people with whom you hang out.

Oh my, what a scary thought!

So how do we handle these situations?  Do we lay down the law or move heaven and earth to keep them away from each other?

And, of course, the answer depends on your particular situation. 

I’ve known parents who were in such dire situations with their kid that they chose to move the entire family in order to push the reset button hoping for a new start.  By all means, if this is your circumstance, I would encourage you to seek wisdom and counsel from professionals as you move forward to save your teen.  As you make this difficult decision, know that it will have a huge effect on all of you as a family.  I would know.  We made that decision at one point in our teen’s life.

But what about the other times when  fear creeps in?  How do we interact with our child knowing he is not hanging out with kids who are embracing the same character qualities we want to see in our teen?

  1. Resist the urge to always say “no” even though everything in your brain is seeing danger.  Our kids are wired to push back as they enter the tween  and teen years.  The last thing we want to do is set our relationship up to be antagonistic.
  2. Be welcoming.  When your kid wants to “hang out” with the friend, create a warm inviting atmosphere in your own home where the kids can hang out.  Encourage them to meet on “your turf” and provide opportunities for you to drop in on them.  Not many kids can resist warm cookies or a mug of hot chocolate.  This is your opportunity to share the love of Christ.
  3. Have positive conversations with your teen about their friend.  I know this seems difficult to do when you are so opposed to their choice, but hang with me here.  Ask questions and listen.  
    1. Why is this friendship so important to your child?  
    2. What is it about this person that your teen really likes?
    3. Let your child see that you agree with their analysis of their friend wherever possible.
    4. Then, as situations randomly arise, continue to ask questions.  What do you think (friend) would think/react in this situation?
    5. Share stories about your friendships and what you’ve learned over the years.
  4. Once you’ve created safety over time with your teen, begin to offer a comparison to their friend’s values versus your family values in a non-threatening way.
  5. Encourage your child to broaden their friendships to include kids with similar family values.

One of my kids always liked to push the envelope by hanging with people who were  directly opposite to our family’s value system.  I’ve found myself squeezed to the point of learning to love like Jesus loved even though it didn’t come naturally and it took everything in my power to choose that path to have a relationship with my child.

Sometimes as parents we need to be the role model for our kids to show them that Jesus hung out with sinners with purpose and intent.  Because of my teen’s choices I’ve been forced to love people who have chosen transgender lifestyles, homosexuality, a life of theft, and drug addiction.  These people have been in my home.  Sometimes, by the grace of God, they’ve joined our family at church.  We’ve been able to have spiritual discussions. Know that it was when I felt backed into a corner and knew that God wanted me to show love to my child by accepting her friends, that He began to weave a story that I had to release to Him.   

Mark 2:17

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

Kids need to be able to figure out on their own how to develop true, meaningful friendships.  And it is much better if they can learn from us while they are under our roof where we can coach them through the process.  Parenting out of fear in these situations can easily drive our kids toward the very people we so desperately want to shield them from.

Dare you to encourage your kids to have healthy relationships that make them better people like Proverbs 27:17 friendship and engage with those of questionable character with purpose and intent of showing them the love of Christ.

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Double Dare you to enter the fight for your kid’s life choices in a way that deflates their defensiveness and woos them to good choices.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Navigating our kids’ friendships can be a scary thing.  Our actions as a mom in these fearful moments of parenting can build walls that are difficult to tear down.  That’s why we’ve created our Deflating Defensiveness Training Retreat.  Let us help you reinforce the relationship before the walls go up, or if you are already there, we can help you rebuild the relationship in a way that will help tear the walls down.  If you feel that you are losing your tween, teen, or 20-something, this course if for you!  Conflict abounds as you parent and we can help you navigate it in a way that actually builds a stronger relationship.

If this is you, we hope you will join us May 30-June 3, 2018 near Cincinnati, Ohio.  Join other women who want to learn the skills to create stronger relationships with their kids, their husbands, and other people.  Pricing includes:  4 nights in a private room in a beautiful retreat setting, 10 meals, and interactive training with professional trainers who love the Lord and what to help women grow in their relationship with God and others.  Not only will you have opportunity to learn and practice new skills in an encouraging environment, but you’ll have an opportunity for private reflection as you develop an action plan to help you get started.  



What Can I Do About Bullying?

A common theme that seems to resonate in our groups who are doing the book With All Due Respect centers around the bullying that most teens and tweens experience at some point in their lives.  As moms we question how we can help our kids through the ordeal and most of us wonder if we should get involved.

The good news is that you know about the bullying.  That says that you’ve earned your child’s trust enough for him to come to you.  It’s sad how many kids have endured horrific ordeals or taken their own life just because they felt that there was no one to turn to.  

So if you know about it, pat yourself on the back and be sure to give your kid a hug for sharing his/her dilemma with you.

As parents most of us realize that the implications of long-term effects of bullying can be carried into every phase of life for decades to come.  Not only does bullying derail our kid’s self-esteem in a way that can make them either retreat to their own cocoon or lash out with behaviors that we’d prefer our kid not engage in, but research shows that it can become a trigger for similar behaviors that remind our kids of the same feelings of shame or frustration at any point in time.

The thing we need to know as parents is the best way to help our kids deal with the situation. It is imperative that we help them create healthy relationships that will boost their self-esteem and give them confidence.  We can do that by making sure they realize who they are.

So what are some ways we can boost their confidence and help them understand their true identity?

  1. Make sure they understand their value in your family.  Encourage them, hug them, be there for them, listen, and give them family responsibilities.  While there are more, know that these things will give them a sense of belonging.
  2. Help them find identity with a group.  Kids this age need to connect outside the family.  Whether it is through sports, dance, art, or youth activities, our kids need to identify with a group.  It not only helps them feel good about themselves but gives them strong friendships.
  3. Let you kids know who they are in Christ.  Help your child understand that God created them uniquely and allows difficulties in their lives to make them stronger.  Pray with your kids often.
  4. Give them opportunities to produce.  My husband Dave and I were talking about this earlier today.  In today’s society it is not uncommon for mom and dad to just do everything for their kids or to give them step by step instructions looking over their shoulder as they do the work.  Sometimes confidence is better achieved by giving our kids a task and letting them figure it out on their own.  Regardless of the outcome of the project (good or bad results), just thank them for doing the work and move on.

If your child has a strong sense of confidence and identity and is still being bullied, perhaps what he needs is a set of skills to help him work through the situation.  One good website is Keep in mind that unless this is a situation of life and death for your child, he will gain more confidence if he takes the lead without you stepping into the middle of it.  

Here are some things you can do as a parent.

  1. Coach your child through the process daily until it is resolved. Spend time strategizing what might work and allow them to role play with you to determine how they will handle the situation.  It will help build confidence.
  2. Help your child enlist the help of his friends.  Encourage your child to share the situation with his friends.  If he can do that while his friends are visiting in your home it might allow you to reinforce the severity of the situation and develop a strategy with all of them.
  3. Be sure to also give your child lots of grace during this difficult season.  Know that emotionally he might not be as engaged with school work or chores and might tend to be more moody or volitile.  Understanding on your part will go a long way.
  4.  Encourage you child to PRAY for the bully and FORGIVE him/her.  God can do an amazing work in our kid’s life when they learn to forgive.  Social norms tell our kids to get even, but forgiveness can help our child learn to importance of surrendering to God’s role as judge.  Verses like 1 Peter 2:23 and Luke 23:32-34 might help.

1 Peter 2:23

who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

Luke 23:34

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Parenting in the midst of our child’s difficulties can give opportunity for you and your child to look at true injustice in the world in which we live.  Even though as a parent you might want to take action–and we should if the situation is life or death–it’s better to walk beside our child in the midst of these type of struggles giving opportunity to teach our kids what mature behavior can look like during trials and our need for dependence on God.

Dare you to not only walk with your child when faced with bullying, but to also help them discover their true identity a child of the King.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Why not grab a few moms with kids ages 9-24  and go through With All Due Respect together?  Those who have told us that it has been life-changing!  Just last week I got an email from a woman who said that during her group study she got a call from the principal at her son’s school.  Having worked through the book she knew exactly how to handle the situation with the principal and her son.  We’ve been told it’s like having a parenting manual that makes an impact in times of parenting difficulties.


Are You Demanding Respect?

Often I get questions from moms asking how to get their kids to respect them.  I hear the anguish in their voice as they talk about the disobedience, the yelling, the consequence, and then more yelling.  I absolutely can relate.  I’ve been there too many times myself wishing things had not gotten so out of control.  Wondering what I could have done differently.

After all, in the heat of the moment, what’s a mother to do?

Let’s take a moment and unpack a typical scenario so you can think of how to respond rather than react. 

Sam comes in from school with plans to go hang out with his friends.  Mom was in the basement earlier today and noticed that it was a mess.  Sam had promised to clean it if some of his buddies could come hang out last Friday night.  Friends came, but the basement now looked as if a tornado had blown through.  

How do you respond when Sam comes through the door saying, “Hi, Mom.  Practice was canceled today.  I’m heading over to Bobby’s for a few hours.”

Scenario 1

“You aren’t going anywhere, son, until you clean the basement!”

Scenario 2

“Sounds like fun.  Just be home in time for dinner.”

Scenario 3

“I know you enjoy spending time with your friends.  I think we could use to talk before you leave.  Why don’t you run your books up to your room and I’ll make us some hot chocolate.

Some of you are laughing at the responses because you can already pick out your own.  

If you would respond similar to Scenario 1, you are like most parents.  You are already upset before Sam even walks in the door.  This response is one of a need for control.  When we have uncontrolled anger and a need to control a given situation, it means that our identity is tied up in something else.  In the scenario with Sam, could it be the need for full, absolute obedience from our kids at all times?  Could it be the need to have a perfectly clean house?   Could it be a need to have our kids always follow through in whatever they commit to?  Is it perfectionism–perfect kids + perfect house = perfect mom?

Hmm…something to think about.

If you are the Scenario 2 mom, you probably have a “I just want my kids to be happy” attitude.  If I don’t rock the boat, all will be calm.   Maybe you’ve already cleaned up the basement because Sam wouldn’t clean it as well as you do anyway.  After all you’re just glad he has such good friends.  My question to you is, “How does Sam learn to keep his commitments?  Is Sam learning that someone will always clean up after him?  What will that mean for his future wife? ”  Now a question about you, “Is your identity wrapped up in allowing your kids to have a ‘perfect’ childhood.  Are you modeling boundaries which will make them stronger adults?”

Typically when I mention Scenario 3, the first response is, “How can I be calm enough to respond that way?”

Think friend.

Think respect.

Think relationship.

Now, mind you, I am not saying that your job is to be your child’s best friend.  But if you are like most parents, you want a healthy relationship with your kid that will last a lifetime.  I’m suggesting that the best way to teach our kids respect is to be respectful in our responses to them teaching them to own what is theirs to own.  By responding in that manner we will help our kids feel respected and in turn they will learn to respect us.  If we are secure in who we are as parents, and our identity is based on our relationship with God and not wrapped up in something else, then we can calmly work out a win-win scenario for both us and our child.  

Let’s take Scenario 3  to the next step.  Now I’m fully aware that it won’t always result in the same calmness that it will show up in print, but I am suggesting that if you choose your words carefully and instill a sense of affection toward your teen, tempers are less likely to escalate and respect can be achieved.

Scenario 3 continued

“I love a good cup of hot chocolate!  Thanks for giving me an excuse for making it.  I love spending one-on-one time with you.  So you and Bobby are planning to hang out this afternoon.  What do you think you’ll do?”

Then your job is to listen–really listen.  Ask questions.  Show interest.  Let Sam know that you realize how important Bobby’s friendship is to him.

“I know that you are planning to spend time with Bobby, but I have a problem I need to solve.  (Notice it is your problem and not Sam’s.  Wording is everything.)  You had your friends over on Friday night and if I remember right, you agreed to clean up when they left.  Is that right?”

Again, listen to his response.  If he whines and complains that you don’t want him to go.  Just listen and don’t react.  When he’s through then it is time to calmly reply.

“You know that it is important to say what you mean, mean what you say, and keep your commitments don’t you?  I would really like you to keep your commitment about cleaning up the basement.  I allowed you to have your friends over and I need to know when you are going to fulfill your end of the agreement.”

Here’s where you remain calm and listen to his ideas of when he will clean the basement.  Negotiate if you want to.  Give him an “I need to have it finished by ________ time” that is within reason if necessary if it comes to that.

But respect Sam enough to let him be part of the “when” for the cleanup.

When kids see that we respect them by not trying to control the situation, and respect ourselves as parents in holding them accountable rather than letting them off the hook, maturity and respect will blossom.

Colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer everyone.

Dare you to check to see if you are trying to demand respect with your teens. If so, is there something your identity is tied to that might be impacting the respect that you want?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Message me and we’ll chat.

“Let go…and let God,”

Want to learn more ways to build relationship during the tween and teen years?  Why not join other women as we go through With All Due Respect – 40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens.

By starting now, you’ll have the opportunity to start the new year off right focusing on one of the most important relationships you have–your kids!  By clicking here wadr-logo and entering the code daretorespect, you’ll get $40 off for a limited time.  That’s 50% off the regular price.

Dare you to join me and others as we laugh, cry, and pray together on the journey of parenting our tweens and teens.