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. 









Does My Teen Really Need Me Anymore?

Several years ago, as a Human Resource Manager for a large engineering firm, one of my jobs was to interview employees who decided to leave the company. At the time, I was pregnant with my first, so I didn’t fully grasp the concept of total commitment to parenting. As this employee told me that she was choosing to stay home with her children, I asked, “Aren’t your children in their teens?”

She shook her head affirming my question.

“You are such a valued employee and could actually retire in a few years. If your children are almost grown, then why would you decide to stay home NOW?” I naively inquired.

The look on her face said it all. She was trying hard not to share the story with a “too young to possibly understand and never been a mother” co-worker.

“My children need me and tomorrow will be my last day,” she stated in a matter of fact tone.

I later asked her manager if he knew why she was choosing to leave. My immaturity left me totally baffled and I wanted to fully understand. “Her son is in trouble. She thinks if she is home, she can help turn things around.”

“What an awful situation to be in,” I pondered as I now had at least a little insight into what this woman was facing and why she was leaving a job she obviously enjoyed.

Psalm 127:3

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

As I ponder this story now, I know exactly what this woman was feeling. She treasured her children. As a mother, she was willing to give up a job she loved to get her son the help he needed.

Unfortunately, it usually takes a time of crisis before we really remember the treasure that is living under our roof.

It’s easy to remember that children are a gift from the Lord when they fit in the crook of our arm, nurse at our breast, or bring those weed/flowers from the backyard as a tender gesture of love. But then they get to the size where they can wear our shoes, our clothes, and are almost as tall as we are, and they start exercising their independence in ways that are foreign to us. We forget that we need to be doing everything in our power to maintain relationship with these tweens and teens even though they are pushing our buttons.

Sometimes we also forget that our children have to learn life lessons. They will make mistakes, but through them they will grow to be mature adults. My dare to you today is to remember that even when your tweens and teens are making life difficult for you and pushing the limits, they are still your treasure. You are at a time in your life when they do still need you.

Dare you to give up something today to spend time with those you treasure and encourage them in the process.  After all, “whatever we pay attention to grows”.

“Let go…and let God,”

Does Fear Drive You to Control?

Sitting in the driver’s seat of our son’s 1996 Camry in rush hour traffic, I could feel the shift of the engine revving up.  I was sitting on an exit ramp with nowhere to go.  Even with my foot on the brake, the minute I let up to inch forward I could feel the car begin to speed up way too fast.  I did what most anyone would do, I held on for dear life praying that I wouldn’t hit the car in front of me.  My calf was stinging from the force with which I was pushing on the brake pedal.

As soon as there was a berm wide enough on the side of the interstate, I had no choice but to pull to the side of the road as I proceeded to shove the gear shift into park.  My breathing was labored and my hands were shaking.  I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I knew it wasn’t good.

The first thing out of my son’s mouth was “Mom, let me drive.  I’m stronger than you.  I can hold the brake pedal down.  I’ll get us home.”

Of course, I wanted to say a few things to him like, “Over my dead body.  You’ll get us killed.  I’ve been driving for a lot longer than you have.”  And my brain kept churning.

“No, no, no,” I wanted to shout.

Luckily I did what we train others to do.  I paused.

Parenting can be that way sometimes.  Things can be fine one minute while the next it feels like they are revving up — out of control.  We don’t know what to do in the middle of the situation.  But the adrenaline kicks in and we know we have to do something.  And just like the situation with the car and my son in the passenger seat, we want to be in control.

And what happened next is also a typical phenomenon with most parents.  Our brain goes to the worst case scenario.

My brain told me that if I didn’t remain in control of the situation, we would both die.

Okay, I’m sure it seems like I’m being melodramatic, but that is how it felt.  That’s how our brains work.  When we’re in hyper alert mode out of fear we swing the pendulum as far as it can go thinking the worst.  That’s where I was.

I talk to moms regularly that get in these type of situations with their teens.  Their kid isn’t responding the way we think they should.  The teen is doing something that sets us off and we want to control it so badly that the adrenaline kicks in and we become melodramatic.  We scream, we pull a plug out of the wall, we grab a phone and throw it, or we do something so irrational that we can’t believe we did what we did.  And then…

We justify it.

If you had done your homework…  If you had come when I called…  If you had not been on your phone…  If you had been more reasonable…  Then I wouldn’t have done what I did in response.

Think about that for a minute.

In reality what we are saying to ourselves is “If you had acted like I wanted you to act, then I would have been able to keep my behavior under control.”

Let me ask a question.  When we respond in an out-of-control manner, where is the adult in the room?

Yes.  I said that out loud.

Adults are supposed to be mature enough to have self-control even when their kids are out of control.

If only we could always do that.

Trust me when I say most of us have been that out-of-control mom at times.  Me included.

And when our behavior is out of control, especially with our children that we love so deeply, it’s time to start looking within.  It’s a signal that we need to start working on us and grow to the maturity that God has for us rather than justifying our actions.

Trust me when I say that it takes hard work.

But the growth we see in our kids when we work on us is unbelievable.

That’s what I can help you do as a coach.  Becoming self-aware in your parenting in a gentle way through introspection that develops a win-win for you and your child sets the stage for change and mutual respect in your relationships.

Proverbs 16:32

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

So how did that growth play out as I was sitting on the berm of the road, smelling rubber, with my son in the passenger seat and me shaking and thinking I was going to die?

My son gently touched my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Mom, I know you are scared.  I am too.  I know you don’t want me to drive because of the number of times you’ve been in an accident with someone else driving.  What would you tell other moms to do in this situation?”

Yes, he had my attention with that last question.  I paused long enough to engage my brain from the over-the-top emotion.

In the quiet of the moment, God’s still small voice spoke truth to me.  “You’d tell another mom that sometimes it’s important to let your boys be men.”

Oh my.  Could I really give up control in this moment and let my son attempt to drive us home?

At that exact moment, my son held out his hand and said, “Mom, can we pray?”  I took his hand, still trembling.  And I witnessed the most precious prayer.

“Lord, we need you in this moment.  We’re both scared.  We need to get home and my mom is having a hard time letting me drive.  Will you give her strength to let me do this and will you keep us safe?”

He then looked at me.  “Can I do this for us, Mom?  I know the car better than you do.  I’ll go slow.”

And with that, I moved to the passenger seat.  I gave up my control.

My son became the adult in the room (or the car in this case).

That’s what changing us does for our kids.  When we learn to change our behaviors and give up control, the things we model for our kids are adult-like behaviors.  Then, the blessings trickle down to the next generation.

Dare you to think about the things you are trying to control.

“Let go…and Let God”,


What about you?  When have you seen a blessing when you gave up control?  We’d love for you to share what God is doing in your life.













When Your Kids Are Angry at You

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my kid was still angry at me.  Sitting at the breakfast table there was no small-talk to be had.  Focused on the food in front of her, I sensed the “I’m not going to acknowledge you” communication.

It had all started innocently, but had become a landmine–a wedge between the two of us.  I had crossed a line in the trust department.  Yes, it was me.  My just-hit-the-adult-stage daughter had given me permission to go through her email to find something that she knew was there but didn’t have time to look for.  While I was perusing the subject lines something caught my attention.  A not-so-good subject line.

And without even thinking I opened and read it.

And my heart sank.

This was not what I had taught her.  There could be lots of hard lessons from this email.  Note could.  And fear overwhelmed me.

And then I had a decision to make.  Would I have the conversation or choose to be silent?

And those of you who know me know that I’m willing to walk into even those difficult conversations.  I’m willing to take a risk for what I think are all the right reasons.

So I approached her with what I thought was a “trying to get her to think” conversation, but she took it as accusatory.  And then I found myself back-peddling as I realized that her private world felt invaded–by me.  She trusted me enough to invite me into her private space and I blew it. 

As I look back now at the situation, there could have been so many different ways I could have handled it without going head-on into the situation.  If I could take it back I would have either consciously made the choice to not get into her private space (meaning choosing not to open the email) or I would have read it and prayed for discernment and an opportunity to have the conversation if God opened the door.

Yes, I made a mess of this one.

But how do we make the relationship repair? 

  1. Pray for discernment.  Pour out your heart to God and ask him make your heart sensitive to your child’s hurt.
  2. Attempt an apology.  Don’t justify the action.  Just apologize and state your wrong-doing.  Be sincere.
  3. Create safety.  Allow your teen to vent their frustration.  Don’t be surprised if you get a list of all the sins they think you’ve committed against them in the past.  Don’t react.  Just listen.
  4. Respect their timetable.  My daughter needed time to process her anger.  I just wanted to talk and move beyond it.  It was time to meet her in her space.  I needed to wait until she was ready to talk.
  5. Avoid the subject and still maintain relationship.  Be sure to interact with your teen as you typically do.  If they are willing to do something fun, by all means use anything you can to rebuild the relationship.
  6. Re-engage in the conversation.   Again, pray for discernment and attempt an apology once the emotion is past and some time has lapsed.  It might take several hours, several days, and sometimes it could take weeks.  Acknowledge and validate their feelings.  And be sure to promise not to do it again.

Philippians 1:9-10

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

Being a parent is difficult.  And we all will make difficult decisions that sometimes lead to friction in the relationship.  Giving your teen and yourself grace, letting them have time to process their emotions, and working to rebuilt trust is an ongoing process that will often need to be repeated.  One of the best things God does is use our parenting mistakes and the resulting conflict to draw us closer to Him.

“Let go…and Let God”,


Do You Discipline Your Teen Too Quickly?

I tend to be an observer of relationship interactions and the event gave me plenty to ponder.  I saw it happening and wanted to call a halt in the middle of it, but it certainly wasn’t my place.  I turned away–embarrassed for this young man and embarrassed for his father.  

It was intermission and Dad was obviously upset.  Oblivious to where they were and unaware of who could overhear them as others milled around getting snacks and drinks, Dad decided to have a heated conversation with his teen–in public.  It seemed his son’s every word had been scrutinized.

“What you said wasn’t  true.  You lied.” His father bellowed as they walked away from interacting with a teacher.

“Dad, I just answered the question.”

“But it was a lie.”

“Dad, I was caught off guard.  I wasn’t sure how to respond.  I didn’t lie intentionally.  I answered the question.”

“You lied.  You left your teacher to believe one thing but it’s not the full story.”

And the conversation continued–in public–with emotions spinning out of control.

The son walked off with what seemed like hurt and anger welling up inside.  Dad stared in disbelief.

Let’s face it.  We’ve all witnessed behaviors from our kids that we want to eradicate.  You know, those times when they roll their eyes, tell a lie, or ignore an adult because they are engrossed in their phones.  We want them to behave differently and we think they won’t get it unless we call their attention to it immediately

But is that the right approach?

One of the things that I’ve been encouraging parents to do for years is pause.

Unless there is blood or death is imminent, nothing has to be handled immediately.

And sometimes the wise thing to do is wait.

First of all, having an audience to a heated interaction between father and son has to be humiliating for at least one person.  Whether it is an out-of-control teen yelling at Dad or an out-of-control Dad correcting his son in a place where others can see and hear, one of you will most likely wish the floor would open up and let you fall through.  It’s not a fun place to be.  Pressing the pause button allows both of you to walk away with a sense of dignity.

Most parents don’t think about giving the Holy Spirit time to work in their teen’s life.  If we’ve taught them well and our kid has a conscience of typically doing the right thing, we need to let God work.  Let’s assume that the dad is right and his son intentionally lied to the teacher.  Given time to ponder the interaction, maybe the teen will reach the same conclusion that Dad did and seek forgiveness.  

If Dad had waited to talk to his son after they were in the privacy of their home or even in the car on the way home, the conversation could have started something like this:  “Son, something bothered me tonight as I overheard your conversation with your teacher.  It felt like you lied to her.  What happened?  That’s not like you.”

That simple “What happened?” let’s your teen take time to really think about his actions and put them into words.  It helps him think on a deeper level.  The “that’s not like you” says, I believe you are a good person.  I believe you know better.  I don’t understand, but I want to be “for” you.

And regardless of the reasons as to why your son responded to his teacher as he did, we need to coach him through formulating a plan for the next step.  

Does he need to apologize to the teacher?

Does he need to explain the whole scenario?

What needs to happen to clear his name of any wrongdoing?

The bottom line we as parents need to be focused on in these situations is our teen’s heart.  Did this young man have a heart of deceit or was he just caught off guard and didn’t know quite how to answer the question?  Were his motives pure? 

Proverbs 21:2

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.

Depending on whether you are a parent who thinks in the black or white, right or wrong, or if you can expand your thinking to the entire circumstance, choosing the right time will make a huge difference as you interact in difficult situations with your kid.

Regardless, I encourage you to pause and ask questions when no one else is around.  If you come from a place of curiosity rather than judgment, you are more likely to get to a clear understanding of why your teen did what they did and your relationship will be strengthened.

“Let go…and Let God”,







Learning to Listen Our Kid’s Way

Several years ago I remember a distinct day of listening and trying to walk beside two of my kids in a way that they needed.  What I discovered as I interacted with my 20-somethings that they both needed me in different ways.  What worked for one didn’t work for the other.

I caught myself opening my mouth when I should have been silent. “Just listen,” I kept telling myself. “Don’t offer advice; don’t ask too many questions.”

My son had gone into his silent mode, yet again. Right in the middle of his story, he just stopped talking. He was annoyed with me. It was his way of getting my attention.

The silence remained…

It became deafening as we sped down the highway.

“I know,” I ventured. “I asked a question and you were getting there. You don’t like me to interrupt your stories with questions. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I’m trying real hard to break the habit. It’s just that I’m used to talking with females. That’s how we communicate. It’s how we know that the other person is engaged. I know that it annoys you, but know that I am trying. Please finish your story. I’d love to hear the rest.”

It took my son a while, but he did start his story again.

“Whew, I salvaged it,” I rejoiced to herself. I continued to listen. Even when I was tempted to chime in, I bit my lip and said nothing. I knew this was the way I could communicate respect to my adult son.

Later that afternoon my 27 year old daughter dropped by to do a few loads of laundry since her apartment’s washer was on the fritz. I knew that times like these would become counseling sessions.

Being single was hard for my daughter. She struggled to make the money stretch far enough even though she had a good job. There always seemed to be something that was going wrong in her life and she needed someone to work through it with her. Since I knew my tendency was to try to fix my kids’ problems, I recognized that I needed to  shift gears in order to allow my kids to be fully independent. I wanted to be there for them, but not be enabling.

As my daughter continued with her most recent frustration, I knew from experience that she was someone who needed to verbalize every detail and feel heard.

“Mom, I just don’t know what to do. There just doesn’t seem to be anyway out. The noise level is ridiculous in that apartment complex. It is so hard to come home from work at 10:00 with the TV blaring next door. I got woken up twice the other night with those two love birds having a screaming match out in the hallway. I’ve just about had it.”

As I watched my daughter get more agitated about her circumstances, I started asking pertinent questions as I engaged in her story.

“Wow, how did you handle it?”

“Did anyone call the cops?”

“You must have found it really difficult to go to work the next day.”

And the conversation continued for what what seemed like eternity as I listened to every minute detail.  Finally she said, “Mom, what am I going to do?”

This was my moment of truth.  Would I give her my honest opinion on what she should do?  And that is when I threw the ball back in her court to solve her own problem.

And I started asking questions again. “What do you think your options are?”

“How do you think you should handle it?”

As my daughter continued to think through her options, thankfully I was able to say, “Sounds like you’ve solved your own problem.”

“Mom, thanks for listening and helping me figure it out. I got my laundry done and have an action plan for solving the problem at the apartment. You’re the greatest.”

Communicating with our 20-somethings can be so different. Figuring out how they like to be communicated with and adapting our style to theirs allows them to feel the respect and love they need. Listening can mean two totally different things depending on their bent. My son wanted to tell his story–his whole story–without interruption. My daughter needed lots of dialogue with questions that made her think.

If we want to build relationship, we need to adapt to their needs in order to communicate in the way our 20-something can feel connected.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

“Let go…and let God,”