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. 









Am I Too Involved?

Being involved with our kids is a good thing, right?  After all, we want to have relationship with them.  We want to have influence over situations that our kids get themselves into that we know won’t turn out so well.  And, naturally, we want our kids to be successful.

But can we be too involved?

I’ll admit that I have been that mom at times.

I remember the days when I would make sure that I looked at their class syllabus at the beginning of each school year.  After all, I reasoned, I might need to remind them of their test or project due date.  I wanted to make sure that I could lovingly nag them enough to start early so that school didn’t interfere with extra-curricular activities.  “Better to start that project on Monday rather than wait until the last minute.”

And then there was the electronic grade system that gave me play-by-play updates on how my kid was doing any hour of the day.  And, of course, the feature where I could easily direct email the teacher sometimes came in handy.

Don’t get me wrong, we do need to be involved in our kids’ lives; however, we also need to figure out when we need to start backing off.

I remember a mom who sent her kid to college for the first time and had a tracker on his phone.  Throughout the day, she would “see” where her son was physically located on campus.  Was he in class?  In the cafeteria?  Or heaven forbid off campus?

Unfortunately technology allows us to keep close tabs on almost everything our kid has going on in his life.  It makes it easy to be that helicopter parent without even trying.  It also means that we can easily assume responsibility for the very things that our teen needs to be learning for himself.

Turning 13, or 16, or 19 means that we should be out of the coaching phase of parenting having moved to the role of consultant.  Being a consultant means that if our kids need help, they can come to us.  Sure we might ask at the beginning of the school year if there is anything they need.  We could even take time to help them get a system in place.  And then, let your child know that you believe in them.  This is the opportune time to let them know that you respect that they are starting to grow up and become responsible for themselves.

By letting our kids go, it allows us to focus on what God has for us.  Rather than worrying about every move our kids make, setting them up for what we consider success, why not figure out what God has for you during this phase of life?  Our kids need to see that we have a life too–one that is not always focused on them.

And if school has already started and you’ve already started being “overly helpful”, why not have a conversation now.  Maybe you could try something like this:

Hey, Honey, now that we’ve gotten you set up for the school year, let’s talk about how it should play out from here.  I want you to learn to be successful on your own with minimal involvement from me.  Part of growing up is owning what is yours to own.  Part of the process of you being a (teenager, high schooler, college student) is trying to become more independent and I want to respect that.  Another thing is that sometimes I become so invested in your success that I start to take the reigns when I should really allow you to be in charge of you.  I’m thinking that this year, you should be responsible for __________.  If you see me starting to step in by nagging or telling you what to do, feel free to tell me that I need to own what is mine to own and let you own what is yours to own.  I love you and want to respect that you are growing up and moving toward adulthood.  I’ll be available if you need to consult with me anytime.  I’m not going to stop being Mom, I just want to give you the opportunity to discover who God created you to be without me pushing you.”

Galatians 6:5

For each will have to bear his own load.

1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

“Let Go…and Let God”,






Should I Let My Kid______?

It was a cold spring afternoon when my son asked if he could drive an hour the next day to visit his friend. Fairly new behind the wheel of a car, I hesitated. There were a million and one reasons to say “no” rolling around in my head and a few that said “it might be good for him”.

Luckily I had the where-with-all to stall. “Honey, that is a decision that your dad and I will have to talk about. I’ll let you know in a couple of hours.”

I know he was wanting an immediate “yes”. After all, that’s what most teens do. They see the world as opportunity and want to seize every moment regardless of the impact on others or possibly themselves.

Before talking with my husband I thought about the decision as I knew it was a crucial one. It would set a precedent for him and his younger siblings. My first thought was to go through my typical laundry list of questions.

  1. Do I trust him?
  2. Is the timing right?
  3. Is it safe and am I willing to take the risk?
  4. Are there things I’ve asked him to do where he is not fulfilling his responsibility well?
  5. Are there areas that I could/should tie this opportunity to for growth?
  6. Am I saying “yes” to make him happy or give him more responsibility?
  7. Would I be saying “yes” to make my life easier?
  8. Am I saying “no” out of fear?
  9. Given the circumstances which decision will bring about more maturity?

After asking God to bring wisdom into the decision and talking with my husband, we decided the answer was “no”. And knowing how the emotional brain kicks in when we tell our kids “no”, I braced myself for my son’s response.

He responded like most teens who could use some maturity. “You never” and “My friend gets to” and the “It will give me experience” came flying from his lips. Obviously upset my heart wanted to hug him and honor his request in spite of our reservations. After all, he did have some good points.

However, my husband and I stood our ground in spite of his attempts to pull on our heartstrings.

Three days later our son was still in a huff. We had done the circle discussion over and over with him as he continued to walk away frustrated with the decision as we stood firm.  Little jabs were flowing from his mouth. I could tell he was trying to wear us down for the big request for the following weekend. I ignored the jabs at times and asked him to stop at others. I let him know that his behavior was not doing him any favors in showing his maturity.

One evening at the dinner table it started again. I’ll admit that I wanted to walk away and not deal with the onslaught of comments; however, our son needed to know that we were firm on our stance and that he couldn’t bully us into changing our mind for the next weekend.

Matthew 5:37

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.


My husband spoke in an even tone, calmly, but in a matter of fact manner that would let our son know that the discussion was over. He stated the facts from our position.

“Son, you have no experience driving in the city and you just got your license. We’ve told you that you need to be behind the wheel with us in the car  for a while unless it is close to home. We are not willing to take the risk with you that far away at this point in time. It is for your safety and the potential of financial impact on this family.”  And then with a little more feeling he continued, “You are precious to us and we don’t want to put you in a situation you aren’t ready to handle.”

He paused to let it sink in before he continued.

“We are also looking for you to step up and take more responsibility on your chores and personal things you should be doing. We see your dishes in the sink rather than you having put them in the dishwasher like we’ve asked, you leave wet towels on the floor for your mother to pick up, and the little things that would show us maturity like doing your chores without being asked before heading to play video games seems to fall on deaf ears. Getting adult privileges like driving an hour away means that you are showing responsibility in other areas.”

We watched as our son worked to get his emotions and disappointment under control.

“I know you are not happy with our decision, but the decision is ours to make. We would love to be able to say ‘yes’ because we know how important your relationship with Josh is and how much you miss him since he moved away.  Maybe one weekend soon your mom and I can drive with you up there so you can go see him.  Let’s see how you are doing on taking your responsibilities here at home seriously, and we’ll see if we can work something out.”

Parenting decisions aren’t always easy and typically they are a judgment calls based on where we are in the moment.  Do we want to be the fun parent?  The yes parent?  Are we making decisions so that our kids will be happy?  Or are we making decisions that will help our kids mature in a way that lets them see how authority, boundaries, and responsibility can affect their world?  

Are we parenting toward a successful launch?

Proverbs 31:25

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.


Dear Lord,

So many times I make a decision out of my emotions in the moment rather than analyzing how this decision can impact my teen in a healthy way.  I want my kids to think that I’m the cool parent.  I want to be loved and I want to say yes as much as I can. 

Then there are times, Lord, when I say no out of fear instead of thinking about what is best for my child.  I forget that you love my kid more than I do and that they are always under your watchful eye.  Anything that can or does happen to my teen you have allowed.  

As I make decisions in my parenting, help me to do so with maturity, growth, and responsibility in mind.  I want my kids to be successful in the adult world.  I need to teach them responsibility and ownership of the things around them so they one day will be good citizens and good parents for their own children.  Once I’ve made a decision, help me to not waffle as my teen tries to wear me down.  Help me to be strong and courageous in this role you have blessed me with.  May I always come to You for wisdom in every decision with my kids.

In Your Son’s name.  Amen.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Saying ‘no’ to our kids can be difficult and raise the conflict in our homes.  That’s why we at Greater Impact have designed a two day retreat called Deflating Defensiveness Training.  The skills and methods we teach will help you turn conflict into connection with your kids and it will give you the skills to help settle your own emotion when your kids push back and try to lay a guilt trip on you.  This experiential workshop will give you the confidence to parent with Strength and Dignity as God intended.

Check it out!  You’ll meet other Christian moms who come back time and time again because of the exponential growth experience and the impact it has had in their marriages and with their kids.




Building Family Relationships in the Middle of Conflict

A dear friend called me a few days ago asking for prayer.  Her husband and daughter were fighting again.  The previous night had been a standoff shouting match with words that should have never been spoken coming from their daughter’s mouth. 

“Oh my,” I responded.  “How did you handle it?”

“I quietly stepped in and suggested that they both have a cooling off period.

“How did that go?” I asked.

“Well, I think.  We agreed to get together tonight for another try at the conversation.”

This wise mother (I’ll call her Shannon) then told me what else she had done.  

She chose to become a relationship architect.

Sometimes we forget that as moms we have the power to intercede in a way to bring healing to the relationships in our home.  Rather than sit on the sidelines watching things unfold in a way that will most likely bring disaster, we can help soothe the relationships with the ones we love.

It takes time and requires us to tread lightly so that we don’t become an arbitrator or the third person in a triangle of “he said, she said”.  But if we engage in a way that encourages reconciliation from both sides, the family can become much stronger and be able to resolve future disagreements better as well. 

It is natural for most women to see both sides of an argument and to understand each person’s perspective.  Because of the way most men’s brains are wired, relationships don’t always come naturally.  Men are focused on fixing a problem and don’t necessarily see the full picture.  That’s why it is important that we help them in a way that can bridge the gap between Dad and his kids.  Let’s face it, most dads are super busy and don’t have time to focus on some of the sometimes petty things that our teens may want.  Since we typically spend more time with our kids, we might better understand the underlying reason for our teen’s request.

That’s where we can help bring reconciliation to the conflict. 

Shannon took time to talk with her daughter that night after the shouting match once things had quieted down.  She wanted to better understand her daughter’s request to borrow money.  Not only did Shannon listen to her daughter, but she was able to shed light on Dad’s perspective.  She helped calm the storm that was brewing in her daughter’s heart before they would meet the next evening.

As I was talking to Shannon she was agonizing over the fact that she wouldn’t be able to talk with her husband before the meeting.  “I did send him an email though.  Here, let me read it to you.”   

Honey, I was hoping we could talk before our meeting tonight, but I know you’re busy.  I understand how you feel in wishing Ava were more mature.  You are right.  She does need to dose of reality at times.  I’m just wondering if this is the hill we should die on?  I know that you love her dearly and want what is best for her.  I’m just wondering if rather than saying “no” in this situation if it might not be an opportunity to teach her some responsibility.  I was thinking if we ask her to do ____, _____, and _____, that we could see if she might take some initiative and show us that she can be responsible.   We could also tell her that if she doesn’t follow through then we will not be giving her money in the future.  That way we’ve given her advance notice of what is to come if she doesn’t do what we’ve asked of her.  I know that this is between the two of you, but I wanted to share a different perspective.  I’m praying that God will give you wisdom to move forward with her tonight.  Love, Shannon.

All I could say to this woman was, “Wow!”

Talk about getting it right! 

I realized later that Shannon had enlisted quite a few women to pray during the meeting time with her daughter.

Shannon did everything she could possibly do to bring reconciliation to this father/daughter relationship. 

When I asked her how it went her response was, “Praise God.  It went better than I ever expected.”  

What about you?  Are you willing to step in to engage as a relationship architect in your home and do you surround yourself with prayer warriors?

Matthew 5:9

“How blessed are those who make peace, because it is they who will be called God’s children! 

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Dare you to be a relationship architect in the next conflict that brews between your husband and one of your kids.

“Let go…and let God”,






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

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

You get the picture.

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

Nothing happens.

You repeat yourself and nothing happens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what does that look like?

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

2 Timothy 1:7

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

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

“Let go…and Let God”,

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

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



Do Your Kids Understand Compassion–Especially Your Boys?


Sending out an email to the neighborhood watch list for our missing cat, I hoped someone would help us find Sniper soon.  Typically this  sit-by-the-corner-of-the-house-waiting-for-someone-to-open-the-door critter didn’t stray far from home.  Most of the time she’d sit on the steps waiting for the birds to swoop into our backyard for a game of chase then she’d hop to the kitchen windowsill waiting to be let in.  This time I’ll admit I was getting concerned.  Three days missing was a rare event, especially as the temperature was dropping.  Surely someone in the neighborhood would spot her. Read more