When Your Kid Breaks Your Heart

I’ve found myself walking around in a daze all week–numb.  My kid made a choice that has the potential for major consequences and my heart is broken.  That simple act that lasted less than five minutes could possibly change the trajectory of his life.  It has already impacted mine.

Even though my heart is broken, I’ve not allowed myself to cry.  Oh, I’ve been on the verge of tears many times, but personally, when I get scared for one of my kids I typically go into mama bear mode attempting to console my teen as well as blame myself.  I’m ready to do battle with whoever tries to judge my child for their actions.

My mind goes into a spiral.

Why didn’t I see this coming?

Where is the disconnect between who I thought my teen was and this new decision?

What did I do wrong in my parenting?

Could I have prevented this from happening?

I beat myself up for having somehow failed.  And my heart is breaking for my teen.  The hasty decision, the lack of thought to consequences, and now the heavy weight that our family must carry.  In this particular situation there are serious financial implications for us.

Lord, how do we get through this in one piece?

I’ve been here before with my other kids.  Discovering one kid was having sex sent my husband into an emotional spiral.  As I talk with other parents dealing with shoplifting, lying, sneaking out, alcohol, cutting and a host of other things, they all ask the same question.  Where did I fail?   Why can’t I have good kids like the other parents I know?  I’m scared.

What I’ve learned in my own parenting is that it is important to think about the situation differently than the downward spiral our brain wants to go.

  1. God is writing our child’s testimony.  And sometimes testimonies are nothing like what we desire.  However, it is through the wrong choices that God will use your child to touch someone else’s life in the future. He’s writing their story to bring Him glory.  It is in these crucial moments that our kids wrestle with who they are.  It is in these circumstances that we as parents get to pour our belief system into these precious children that God has given us.  They may not accept our advice, but we know that we are doing something that God desires of us.
  2. God knows the circumstances and will walk through it with us and them.  When the situation seems unfathomable, we know that God is in it.  Who would have ever dreamed something like this would happen?  Right?  Yet, God is our refuge and strength.  He will walk through what might seem like the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ to us.  Cling to Him.  Let Him know your thoughts and fears.  And pray that He will walk before you paving the way for the future.
  3. Grieve.  Whatever is different from what you imagined, take time to acknowledge the sorrow and pain of the situation.  Be sure to ask God to use this circumstance in your child’s life as a step toward maturity and an avenue for future ministry.  
  4. Pull the teen in closer.  When we are hurting because our teen did something that hurt us deeply, the automatic reaction is to back away–especially for dads.  It is a way to self-protect.  However, what our teen really needs in these circumstances is our love and “we’re going to work through this together” attitude and support.  
  5. Make sure to pour into the rest of the family.  It’s easy to be so focused on “The Situation” that we forget that the circumstance is also affecting the teen’s siblings.  Be sure to have conversations finding out how the other family members are being affected.  How are they feeling?  How is this impacting them at school or in their social situations?  What do they need from you right now to get through this?
  6. Slow down and pray.  Times like these are when I find myself on my knees even more.  He is the only place I can find strength to do the next thing.  Allow yourself time to slow down the typical pace of life and think through the steps rather than be in react mode.  Allow God to lead where He desires and don’t be afraid to talk to “trusted friends” who’ve walked similar paths.  If you don’t have people in your life who can pray with you, feel free to reach out to me.  I know what it is like to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  I’m here to help lighten the load.

Getting through some of these life-defining moments can be tough.  Knowing where to turn and the decisions you should make can seem overwhelming.  Knowing that there is a God who sees where we are at in the moment and who loves us and won’t forsake us can give us the strength to do the next thing.

Joshua 1:9

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

Writing to myself as well as all of you.

“Let go…and Let God”,




When Kids Are Breaking the Rules and You Seem to Have No Authority

My heart breaks for parents who are struggling with their teens.  Most have us have had those fleeting thoughts of “I just wish they would move out”, but we quickly come to our senses.  Sometimes we think that it would be easier if they were gone, but we know deep down that they aren’t ready and we realize that we still have a legal and moral responsibility to our children until our teens reach the age of adulthood.  And  most of the time whatever we are experiencing is just a phase that will dissipate in a matter of time and maturity.

But I too know that sometimes parents get to a place where they feel like they are just biding their time and being held hostage until they can kick their teens out.  These are the tough parenting trenches where it feels like hope is lost and we can’t seem to find our way.  This is when we’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work.  Defiance, wrong choices, broken rules, and an attitude of “you can’t tell me what to do” can bring parents to a breaking point and destroy a family.

I’ve been asked many times how to discern if the time is right to actually pull the trigger and push them out of the nest.


Because I have been there.

Trust me when I say that making that decision is not trivial.  It needs to be prayerfully considered not based on what we feel but based on what is right for the entire family.  Know that it can have potential to affect your relationship for a lifetime and should be well executed and not done in the heat of a battle.  How our kids perceive our action can have negative consequences that can affect their future in many ways.  It can also have lasting impact on siblings and even ourselves if not handled in a well thought out and respectful way.

For us personally, thankfully, we had the coaching of a wise counselor who walked us through the process when we were at the end of our rope.  We were careful to make the process a choice rather than an action foisted upon our wayward teen.  It took time, thought, and deep introspection on our part as to whether or not we could or should go through with it.  In the end, the execution of the action resulted in a decision with which we could all live–not just my husband and I, but each member of our family.

So what are some questions you and your spouse might want to ask yourselves to see if this is really a path you should even consider heading down?

  1. How old is your child and how long would you have to endure until they are ready to function as an adult on their own?  Our counselor told us that for most kids that would be somewhere between the ages of 18 and 21 based on maturity, whether they could keep a job, and their potential of finding a place to live.
  2. What impact is this teen’s actions having on siblings?  Perhaps there is bullying involved, or sharing of too much information on more mature topics such as sex, drugs, stealing, or other inappropriate character issues.  Is this teen dragging siblings down the wrong path with them?  If so, the future of younger siblings could potentially be in danger.
  3. Are you and your spouse on the same page?  If not, don’t do it. And here’s why.  If the two of you are at odds with an action that involves your teen, then maybe you should be focusing on your marriage.  I know that might seem like a harsh statement; however, taking such a strong stance without your spouse’s buy-in will most likely lead to more marital stress and distrust.  If something goes wrong, it will be natural to blame the other person.
  4. Are there drugs or alcohol involved that are impacting the teens reasoning?  As parents we have the authority to help our kids through counseling and even inpatient programs.  This should be our first step prior to any thought of kicking our kids out.
  5. Have you tried counseling or intervention?  Sometimes an outside perspective can help both your teen and you.  Our counselor refused to see our teen without seeing my husband and I together.  This gave him a more objective view and he was able to open our eyes to things we weren’t seeing.  Some counselors work in pairs.  One counselor works with the teen while another counselor works with the parent and these counselors work in tandem on a weekly basis to move the family forward.
  6. Does the situation and the potential risk of not moving the teen out of your home outweigh the potential consequences and fallout from the action?  In other words, is there more potential for harm to your other kids and you if you don’t take this action?
  7. Can you live with the potential consequences?  Kicking our kids out of the house has emotional baggage for our kids and for us.  Ask yourself:  How would I feel if this child never spoke to me again?  How would I feel if this child was living on the streets?  How would I feel if for some reason this child died?  Could I live with myself if something horrific happened as a result of my action?

I know that this is a heavy subject for most parents, but it seems that the questions are coming up more and more.  If you are wondering what you can possibly do to move your teen forward, feel free to reach out.  I’ve been coaching parents through the process for several years.  And I’m happy to say, that as of today, not one parent has actually had to kick their kid out.

There is hope.

1 Thessalonians 5:21

  But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good

Next week I’ll walk you through a process that will ease your mind if you determine that it is time to change the locks and force your child to grow up.  Until then, know that I’m praying for those that are facing these decisions of heartache.  I’m here if you need me.

“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”,
















Learning to Anticipate What’s Next

I spoke to a mom of a new college student just a few weeks ago.  Her daughter had just come home from college for Christmas break for the first time.  The mom was joy-filled at getting to see her daughter for a couple of weeks, but she talked about how stressful it was on the entire family.  “I’m kind of hoping she’ll decide to get an internship or something for the summer,” she admitted.  “Does that mean I’m a bad mom?”

Most of us don’t know what to expect for those “firsts” that our kids encounter or do we?

Whether it is a driver’s license, a first date, a serious boyfriend, or a holiday home from college, most of us haven’t anticipated our what comes next.  That’s what Dare 23 is all about.  If we are having a sex talk with our daughter after we’ve found out that she’s already been intimate with her boyfriend, that’s when we discover that we haven’t planned far enough ahead.

Most of us are already doing this for the day-to-day of life as a family.  Whether it’s assigned chores or rules that we’ve set in our home with appropriate consequences, we see a need and we put a plan in place to take care of the problem.  You have the skills.  And we know what it takes to get things back on track.

What I’m talking about here are those monumental milestones where things will be different.  It’s anticipating all the conflict that can arise when things are different in your home.  With freedom, our kids will most likely pendulum swing to the far extreme of their grandiose idea of “total freedom” instead of what we as parent’s intended as gradual freedom.

Take my friend, for example.  Her daughter comes home from college with the plan to see all her high school friends.  Late nights (after all, she doesn’t have to study), sleepovers, shopping, a come-and-go-as I please mentality just like she had at college. Meanwhile mom was dreaming of time to bake cookies together and fun trips out–just the two of them–like old times.

Two totally different plans for what Christmas break was going to be like.

The reality was that dad still needed to get up for work every day even though the garage door was opened at 2 am by their unthinking daughter.  The girl’s brother was still in school and trying to study for exams.  With the daughter bringing friends home, the laughing and giggling was making it hard for her son to concentrate.  And mom was frustrated and disappointed that her dreams and expectations from her daughter weren’t turning out as she planned.

Dare 23 is all about the up-front dialogue; planning ahead and anticipating the potential pitfalls.

It’s all about communication — in advance.

My experience with moms is that most of us don’t know what we don’t know so we just let things happen and then deal with the conflict later.  Another thing we fail to do is get dad involved in these monumental decisions and plan together.

Several years ago I was talking to a mom while I was getting my hair cut.  Her first daughter was getting ready to graduate from high school.  This mom announced, “I’ve told my girls that I pay for things until they are 18.  College is on them.  My husband and I have paid for the best private school in the area to help them be successful in life.  What they do with that is up to them.”

Whether you agree with their decision to pay for college or not isn’t the point.  What is important here is that both parents had agreed on a plan up front, they put the plan for college in motion before the girls even took their first step into the halls of the high school, and communication was on-going with every choice the girls made with regard to their college selection.

That’s parenting ahead.

Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 21:5

The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless certainly becomes poor.

Proverbs 21:5 can apply to relationships as well as money.  Our relationships will blossom with our kids if we can anticipate conflict before it happens and begin the communication process early.

Dare you to anticipate the next big milestone with your teens and tweens.  Start the communication process now so they will know what to expect.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Communication is key in all our relationships.  And learning to deflate the defensiveness with our kids and 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.  

We’ve put together a training retreat where in three days  you can learn the skills that will radically transform your home.  Not only will we teach you how to implement these new skills, but you’ll have an opportunity to practice them in an encouraging environment away from judgment.  You’ll have time to refresh your soul in a park-like setting where you will be encouraged to unpack the “now” you are in and learn how to start over with a different perspective.

Here’s what women are saying about our Deflating Defensive Training Retreat:

“It was like the light-bulb finally went off! I’ve read a mountain of books, but this approach is different. Learning in-person from the trainers made all the difference.   I wasn’t able to understand until they modeled it for me and gave me someone to mirror. That’s the thing that was life-changing for me!”

“The retreat taught me how to interact positively with family members who have a history of attacking me verbally… I learned the tools to use when this happens. And it worked when a recurring irritant happened just days ago with an important person in my life!”

“I’ve already encouraged my sister to come with me to the next one.” 

We hope you’ll consider joining us this year!  We promise your relationships will grow in ways you never thought possible.


Parenting Focus – Integrating Heart and Mind

I’m in the middle of three books which, if you know me, is highly unusual for this linear thinker.  The thing for me is that none of them are remotely connected–or so I thought.

Today, I had the A-ha that God has me focused here for a reason.  Each of these books is focused on the mind.  One goal I have for myself is to have the mind of Christ as I parent.  I want to see the world as He sees it.  I want to be focused on His will, His priorities, and His values.  Isn’t that what we want for our children as well?

As I think about the christian parenting books that I’ve read through the years, most of them talk about capturing the child’s heart. Know that love and a desire to obey have to come from the heart.

 Luke 6:45

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

When our hearts are in the right place, a place of humility in reverence to God, we can parent with grace.

Ron Deal author of The Smart Step-Family shares a scripture that I have never really thought about from a parenting perspective.

1 Peter 5:5

dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Think about that as a parent.  When we relate to our kids as if we have all the answers, they tend to push back in opposition.  However, when we give grace and approach them with humility, they are much more likely to give us grace in return.  Humility helps forge the relationship.

Working on the heart of the child means that we are developing relationship such that they want to do what is right and pleasing because they can feel our love and acceptance of them being a distinct person separate from us.  It means having more positive interactions than negative.  Focusing on the good in our child rather than always pointing out what they are doing wrong allows our kids to develop in a way that is positive and healthy.

But scripture also tells us in Matthew 22:37, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

I find it interesting that there don’t seem to be as many christian books out there that focus on developing our children’s mind.  I’m guessing that the reason might be that most of us already do so much to educate and teach our children the things that we value.  I remember when my kids were little they heard my husband say over and over, “We’re Hitchcock’s, we’re good at math, reading and tennis.”  In addition, we did an Awana program that focused on scripture memory hoping they would understand what it means to focus our minds on Christ.  As Christian parents most of us spend lots of time trying to help our kids develop their minds.

I find the latest research on brain development fascinating as it relates to how we relate to our teens.  Most know that our brains don’t fully mature until somewhere in the mid-twenties.  For parents of tweens and teens, it means we can still help our kids develop their minds while they are still under our roof and beyond. Our focus needs to make sure that we help our teens integrate both the cognitive and emotional sides of the brain.

Learning empathy, compassion, and other relationship skills (the right side of the brain) is very different from learning rote memorization of facts and the logical way to solve problems that occurs in the left.  When used in harmony both sides of the brain will help our kids develop what the Bible refers to as wisdom.

Dr. David Jeremiah in his study What Do You Think? reminds us that in the ancient Hebrew language, wisdom meant “skill”.  As we consider the use of the word in our parenting, it means our job is to help give our kids the “skills” to connect emotionally and logically in a way that will help create new pathways in the brain to forge better relationships.

Unfortunately in today’s culture, relationship skills are taking a back seat to technology communicated through text and pictures rather than face-to-face communication.  Assumptions are made without the opportunity to see a person’s body language, tone of voice, or facial expressions.  It means that our kid’s brains are being wired with shorter attention span and the inability to use both the logical and emotional sides of the brain at the same time because part of the “data” is missing from the interaction.

Bonding with our child’s heart becomes the ‘glue’ that helps connect our child to us so that we can help them develop the mind of Christ.  This means we teach them both skills that develop the emotional side of the brain as well as help them fill the cognitive side with God’s Word.  Then as we live life under the same roof we can model the empathy, compassion, and grace necessary to integrate a whole person helping them to connect words with action.

I love how Dr. Jeremiah puts it in his  What Do You Think? study, “We have to be very careful that we don’t lose sight of those things that create wisdom in our life — time, reflection, experience, correction, and meditation upon God’s Word.  We need information, but after that, we don’t need more information.  We need to allow God the opportunity to create wisdom in our life.  And it takes discipline in our digital age to turn off the electronics long enough to process the knowledge we already have.”

Dare you to become aware of whether your parenting actions line up with God’s Word.  Do you approach your tweens, teens, and 20-somethings with humility that will draw you closer together?  If you do, the relationships in your home will be more fulfilling and there will be less opposition during the teen stage of life.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Do you feel inadequate in fostering the relationship skills that you so desire with your kids?  Maybe you are just tired of parenting and the constant struggle is wearing you down.  We have two opportunities for you.

  1. Why not 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.  This book will give you the opportunity to (like Dr. Jeremiah says) create wisdom in your parenting.  It is an opportunity to spend time and reflect as you meditate upon God’s Word.  It’s a great Bible Study tool or can be used as a 40 Day Devotional.
  2. If you want to learn “skills” that help create wisdom in your kids, know that we run a once a year three day workshop that will help you deflate defensiveness in your home with the people you love.  It’s called the Titus 2 Leadership Experience.  Here’s what one participant had to say:

“I am a preacher’s daughter who was born and raised in the church. I’ve been to countless women’s retreats. This is different! I’ve never experienced Christian women and leaders be so REAL with each other. God is doing something special with this ministry. My marriage and my family are being transformed. Most importantly, God is growing me. I highly recommend that you come see and experience this amazing Boot Camp for yourself!”