Tag Archive for: conflict

Tired of the Conflict with Your Tweens, Teens, & 20-Somethings?

Sitting in his second floor home office, my husband, Dave, heard the scurry of feet with the rolling of what could only be walnuts across the attic floor.  Not wanting to hurt what had to be a pesky squirrel storing his winter stash, my husband did a humane thing.  He bought a trap that would catch the creature live so that he could remove him from the attic.

Three days that cage sat on the attic floor.  The only thing that happened was that the squirrel moved to the other corner of the house above my son’s back bedroom.  Drats!  

The next day, my husband moved the cage out onto the roof beside his office window and watched as the squirrel took his bushy tail, slung it over his head, and backed into the small space where flashing was missing from the attic siding.  It was as if the squirrel was saying, “I’m too smart for you.  You can’t catch me.”

This game went on for almost a week.  The squirrel would even look over the side of the roof into the office window to let Dave know that a squirrel could outsmart a human.  We laughed all week at the shenanigans this squirrel would pull.  At one point we found him with three of his friends perched outside the cage–my husband’s fresh walnut bait missing.

Finally the day arrived.  With one squirrel caged, my husband threw the trap into the car and carted him off to the local park for release.  Off the squirrel ran.

That afternoon Dave trapped two more.  Each release was similar.  He’d open the cage and off the squirrel would run to go find his friends. My husband’s sense of success was showing and I knew he had visions of finally being able to repair the roof flashing.  He had finally outsmarted these rascals.

The next morning, squirrel number four had met his fate.  Caged and carted to the park, my husband released the squirrel just like the rest.  But this squirrel was different.  He didn’t run off thrilled at the sight of freedom.  This squirrel slowly sauntered out of the cage, turned and stood on his hind legs as he barked at my husband for several minutes. 

Dave froze.  

“Oh, my,” was going through my husband’s mind.  “What do I do if he attacks?  I should have planned better for an exit strategy!”

Sometimes our conflict with teens can be similar to the one Dave had with the squirrels.  Our kids have an idea that doesn’t match up with ours.  We try to do the humane thing and reason with them, but just like squirrels, our teens don’t think like we do.

Then comes what I call the ‘ganging up’.  If you’ve got tweens and teens you know what I’m talking about.  The “but EVERYONE is going” card that is played can make us feel as if we are the only parent on the planet that is thinking that the answer should be “no”. 

Do you know how to handle those situations in a way that will deflate the anger and frustration with your kid?

And then there is that ‘screaming squirrel’ or difficult kid that will bark at us when he’s angry and not getting his way.  These are the kids that force us into the freeze position.  It’s where we don’t want to make a move for fear of what will happen if we make the wrong decision. 

If you are like me, sometimes you’ve found yourself in any of these positions.  We want a relationship.  We think we are being reasonable.  Yet, our kids don’t see things the same way.  As conflict brews we need to have a strategy–a plan to move through the defensive behavior while still maintaining the relationship.  We also need to be able to maintain a sense of humor in the situation.  After all, yes, our kids might pull some shenanigans, but we are still the parents.

Dare 22 in With All Due Respect has a strategy for dealing with sibling conflict.  How did they learn it?  It’s obvious that Mom had put a plan in place before the conflict occurred.  She modeled what healthy conflict looked like and was there to coach through the situation.

Do you know how to navigate conflict well?  Do your relationships deepen as you work to resolve your differences?  

If you are like most of us, it’s a struggle.  Just like parenting, conflict resolution is not one of the things that we’re taught in school.  If your parents didn’t resolve conflict well, then most likely you’ve not been given the skills to help your kids.

God has given each of us a mission field when it comes to our kids.  And if you are like me, you want most to hear Him say “Well done my good and faithful servant”.  I would encourage you to pray about sharpening your conflict resolution skills–for you and for the legacy you will leave for your kids.

I have two opportunities for you. 

Our With All Due Respect on-line eCourse runs January 8 through March 28, 2018.  There you can join other moms from the convenience of your home computer as we go through the book.  You can set your own schedule as to when you access the videos and other training materials.  I’ll be there along with our mentor, Sandi Winnen.  We promise you encouragement as you put your parenting strategy in place for dealing with your tweens, teens, and 20-somethings.  Iron sharpens iron and as parents we need other like-minded people walking beside us. If your kids are between the ages of 9-29, this group is for you.

Proverbs 15:22

Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.

If you want to forge the relationship with your kids and get more in-depth learning in how to better deal with conflict and handle difficult relationships more effectively, we have a Deflating Defensiveness Training Retreat coming up May 30-June 3, 2018 near Cincinnati, Ohio.  This is an opportunity for you to learn, practice, and put a plan in place for strengthening the relationships with the “challenging people” in your life.  I found out Friday that the early-bird pricing has been extended until January 31, so grab your spot early since our private rooms are limited. 

Proverbs 16:3 

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.

I hope that whether you choose to join us or not that you will think about the conflict in your home.  Put together a plan that will help you resolve it well.

“Let go…and Let God”,






How Do You Handle Your Teen’s Frustration With People in the Church?

young music player and band friends have training in home garage

Let’s be honest.  There is no perfect church.  Any time there are people involved human nature will play out and conflicting opinions will surface.  Part of life for us as parents is to navigate those difficult waters with our kids so that it doesn’t trample their desire to be part of the church and to follow Christ.

I love what Benjamin L. Corey says in his blog, “The Church of all places should look like Jesus!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if the church was filled with authentic people who were others  focused and conflict was worked through and resolved.  Truth is that everyone we come in contact with is on a journey and not everyone is at the same place of maturity in their faith.

So what do we do as parents when problems arise for our teens and they are hurt by people in the church?

Shaunti Feldhaun’s research in For Parents Only says that teens tend to stop talking because parents don’t listen. They want to feel heard.

It is only natural when we as parents feel strongly about our Faith that we would want to defend our decision as parents to attend a particular church.  After all, we want our kids to not only take on our faith and live it out in their lives but we also want them to see the value in being part of a church body.  All too often parents tend to freak out because of the emotion involved when our kids decide they don’t want to attend church any more which can turn the situation into a downward spiral.

When your kid tells you they no longer want to go to youth group or they don’t want to go to church anymore, take the time to listen and understand.  Don’t dish out judgment, condemnation, or threats.

LISTEN and problem solve. 

Here’s some suggestions:

  • Listen with ears to understand. Watch your body language and tone in the conversation.
  • Ask probing questions that lead to further understanding.
  • Once you’ve identified what you think the problem is, ask your child for time to look into it further and seek information from other trusted adults.
  • Don’t panic. What was a problem one week might totally blow away by the next week.  If it persists, continue investigating.
  • Know that sometimes a persistent problem may have been going on for some time and your child is just now telling you about it. Be aware that the wounds from the offense might be deeper than you think.
  • Be honest with your child about your concern that a situation could taint his view of God and the church.  Talk about it.
  • Work out a win-win for your child and you. Offer up options to solve the problem and try to do so, but know that in the end the goal is to make sure your child knows that you are on their team.

Several years ago one of my kids signed up to play keyboard on a rotating youth worship team.  He was so excited.  As a freshman, he would be playing with a group of mostly juniors and seniors who had been leading worship for several years.  I knew the kids and their parents.  They were awesome kids so I thought it would be a great experience for him.

I also had met the adult leader who had responsibility for the group.  She loved music and she loved the kids.  Another big plus and reason to believe it was a perfect situation.

His excitement was high initially.  Even though the youth group had a keyboard, it was marginal at best.  My husband went out and bought a case for my son’s keyboard so that he could be more successful.  We ended up hauling it back and forth for practices and Sunday worship—a huge commitment on our part.

About five months into the experience I sensed something might be going on.  I would cart my son and the keyboard to practice and sit in the parking lot only to find out that practice had been rescheduled but my son hadn’t been notified.  About a month later, my son started complaining that he didn’t think the other kids liked him.  Soon after he had not only quit the team but refused to go back to youth group.

What I discovered was that the older kids were leading the band.  The adult leader saw her job as supervisor only to make sure the kids didn’t do something stupid while they were in the building and to make sure they had a set list put together for Sunday morning.  She didn’t involve herself in the practice at all.  She was strictly in the building.

These kids didn’t have the experience of working with a keyboard player nor were they quite mature enough to lead a group of varying instruments.  I knew my son had the skill set to play well.  I heard him when he practiced regularly at home.  However, the kids didn’t realize that it is much more difficult to change keys for voice range on a keyboard than it was on a guitar.  So when they were giving my son the music, he was playing it in the key that it was written while the guitar players were using their capos to play it in the key they wanted.

The teen leader’s solution was to turn off the keyboard from the sound booth on Sunday morning.  This left my son frustrated because he didn’t understand the problem.  No one was invested enough in what was going on to try to hear the issue, let alone solve it.  My son’s solution was to leave the youth group because he felt excluded and humiliated.

After trying to fully understand the issue, I realized that it truly wasn’t anyone’s  malicious intent to exclude my son.  They were each trying to do the best they knew how in having teens lead in their sphere of influence.  My son’s feelings were a result of insufficiently skilled people doing the best they could do given what they knew.

Was my son hurt?  Absolutely!  Was my son justified in wanting to quit the team?  Absolutely!  Did I try to explain what was really happening and how sorry I was that he had been hurt?  You bet!

After a year of sitting in the main church service with us, I asked my son if he would be interested in trying the youth group again.  I even agreed to volunteer to work with the youth for the year if he wanted me to.  He said ‘yes’.

Luckily the next two years were a success for him.  He even played on the worship team that was now under the direction of someone who understood and worked the music issues.

As parents, our job is not to defend the church, but to defend our kids.  For that, we need to listen and help solve the problems or at least give them context for the imperfection of other humans.  The only way our kids will stay involved in the church as they mature is if the can come to realize that the church isn’t perfect but the benefits outweigh the difficulties.

“Let go…and let God”,


Sign up for our on-line eCourse which starts September 26, 2016.  You’ll have an opportunity to go through the new book With All Due Respect:40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens with me and a group of moms just like yourself.  Learn and interact while gaining new communication skills. Be sure to get in on the discounted price while it lasts.  I’ll be available for personal interaction in the class.  Hope you’ll join me.  Click here for more information.

5 Things You Can Ask Yourself if You Have an Angry Teen

Despair Or Hope Directions On A Metal Signpost

Sitting in the counselor’s office with her husband, Renee wondered how they had gotten to the place where they were. Their 13 year old son was filled with anger and resentment and it seemed hopeless that things would change. “Maybe the counselor can give us answers,” she had whispered hopefully to Jason as they were on the way to the appointment.

Listening to the psychologist’s interpretation of their son, his test scores, and his view of his life, made Renee’s heart pound. There was nothing new that the counselor was telling them. They were things Renee already knew about her son Brett. She just needed to know how to fix it!

As the session continued, the counselor was more interested in how she and Jason parented. What was life like at home? What were the relationships between Brett and his siblings? How was school? What was he like when he was younger? When was the change? What were the family rules?

Renee shared everything in an open fashion. She wanted her real son back. The one she remembered as a little boy.


Always happy.

She certainly had nothing to hide.

All she wanted was answers. How could she “fix” the situation?

As they left the office, it was obvious; this was going to take some time to sort through. But something from the conversation kept resonating in Renee’s mind.

“Renee, what could you and Jason do differently as you parent Brett? Think about that over the next few weeks and we’ll talk again at your next appointment.”

As parents, none of us is perfect. We sometimes get so caught up in responding to life circumstances that we forget to be proactive in assessing our own shortcomings. Unfortunately, it isn’t until life is off-kilter and our kids start responding in ways that we don’t understand, that we finally starting doing our own personal assessment.

Matthew 7:5

…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Understanding what is causing your teen to respond with inappropriate behaviors that cause breakdown in relationships is something that we all need to do from time to time. I’ll admit, sometimes I’m much better at blaming my kid and dishing out consequences rather than looking at what I might have done to cause his reaction…or even more so, what I haven’t done to build our relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that all teenage inappropriate responses are due to our inability to get the parenting thing right. What I am saying is that sometimes our kids model our responses to them and we aren’t looking in the mirror to see reality.

So today, I’m asking you to take a personal inventory of your parenting. Don’t look at this as an opportunity for condemnation, but look at it as an opportunity for growth.  Parenting can be one of the most difficult places for our love to shine. We feel responsible to get it right. But we also live in such close proximity to these kids that God has blessed us with that we don’t pause long enough before we react in most situations.

So what about you? 

Dare you to answer these questions or better yet, take your teen out to lunch and ask them these questions about you.  

  • Do I apologize and seek forgiveness from my teen when I am wrong?
  • Am I considered a good listener?
  • Does my teen perceive me as a positive person more than a complainer?
  • Am I connected to my teen’s other parent in a healthy relationship?
  • Do my teens trust me?

I don’t know about you, but some of these make me pause for contemplation. My prayer is that you will boldly take inventory asking God to help you make changes to model relationship well.  If you have dialogue with your teen, you’ll have opportunity to not only look in the mirror and get some honest feedback, but you’ll have opportunity to make amends and move forward in your relationship.

Above all else…

“Let go…and let God,”


5 Steps to Take When Teens Don’t Respond to Requests

As Beth entered the kitchen area with bags of groceries, she quickly recognized that her son was already home from school. His backpack had landed in the family room chair, his computer set up on the kitchen table with chips and a drink, and papers were in disarray next to the computer. What a mess, she thought. How many times do I have to ask him to work upstairs on the desk we put in his room?  He knows I’ll have to make him move before dinner anyway.

The tennis match must have been cancelled.  

Her thoughts continued as she hoisted the bags of groceries onto the kitchen counter.  Frustrated that she was behind schedule in getting dinner started and now with the mess on the kitchen table she had limited space to set the rest of  the groceries.

Beth hollered up the stairs. “Josh, can you come and help me carry in the groceries?”

“Give me a few minutes, Mom,” was the reply.

On her third return trip to the car, she could feel her frustration start to rise. How dare that kid not come down to help me! He’s probably upstairs in the middle of a video game and here I am having to carry in all these groceries in this heat.

She decided to just bring in the groceries that needed to be kept cold and leave the rest for Josh. Feeling her frustration start to turn to anger at the situation, she started putting the groceries in the fridge with a little more force than was necessary. Maybe I should just go upstairs and turn that game off. He needs to respond when I ask him to do something!

As she went to close the refrigerator door, a container of fresh blueberries tipped off the shelf and fell to the floor. As the lid sprung open, blueberries began rolling in every direction, even under the fridge. Anger mounting, down on hands and knees she began chasing the berries to return to the container. As she crawled on the floor, she started thinking of how she couldn’t wait for Josh to go away to college next year. Six months.  Then life will be so much easier.

Just then, he bounded down the stairs. “Sorry for taking so long,” he yelled from the entryway. “I’ll go bring the groceries in.”

As he entered the room, Josh saw his mom on the floor picking up the blueberries. “Here, Mom. Let me help you.”

Offering his hand to pull her up off the floor, Josh quickly gathered the rest of the blueberries. Handing her the container, he headed out to the car to bring in the other bags.

Feeling guilty at her earlier thoughts, Beth held her tongue as she watched Josh start to unload the bags for her. As they finished putting things away, the only words she could muster were “Thanks, Josh.”


It is so easy as parents to lose control of our thoughts and emotions when our kids aren’t doing things fast enough for our timetable.  Our thoughts and emotions quickly spiral to the negative.  Sometimes those thoughts are valid if we have repeated offence by a child but we need to remember that our job is to train our kids to desired behavior — not to take our frustrations out on them.


Something that might surprise you is that  the emotions we feel in the moment directly affect our perception of time. Negative emotions in particular seem to bring time to people’s attention and so make it seem longer. (10 Ways Our Brain Warps Time, June 2011)

1 Peter 1:13

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

So what are some of the steps we can take when we’re frustrated and our kids aren’t responding in what we feel is a timely fashion?

  1. Pause long enough to see how much time has transpired.
  2. Take notice of why you are upset at your kid.  Is the time frustration justified?  Are your emotions due to their current behavior or are other circumstances in play that have you on edge?
  3. Calm yourself before you engage.  
  4. Ask yourself these questions.  Is this a hill worth taking right now?  Can I make it a teachable moment without getting upset?  
  5. Engage with respect.

One way to engage with respect when your child doesn’t respond to your request is to seek him out.  Many times our kids are engaged with something that is important to them.  Hence, their brain is probably warping time as well.  

  • Calmly tell them that you’ve been waiting.
  • Assess if what they are engaged in is more important than your request.
  • Gently ask again.

Dare you to hold your emotions in check and count to 10 before engaging with your teens.  By doing so your relationships will be filled with better communication and less regret.

“Let go…and let God,”

2 Things to Consider in Trying to Resolve Conflict

happysad moments

Let’s face it, there are always times when we will struggle with our relationship with our tweens and teens.  Attitudes of defiance or simply overlooking our simple requests can drive us up a wall. Read more

Detours That Need Repair?

2014-06-05 16.43.44As a parent I have been known to take detours that lead me down a path that is in desperate need of repair.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  Maybe there is a rule in your home where you’ve outlined a consequence, and just once you forgot to enforce it.  What happens?  The whining begins, “Last time you said it was okay!” and the debate is on.  What’s your next step?  Do you enforce the old consequence again or let it slide? Read more