Category: Parenting

Ladies, Trying to Control Everything Might Actually be Hurting You

Trying to Control Everything May Actually be Hurting You

Calling all busy moms and wives trying to do it all. Do you find yourself exhausted? Worn out? If your answer is yes, let me say. Stop, sit down, take a deep long slow breath in, hold it, then let it out. Take a few minutes to just be fully present in this moment. I have been where you are and I am hoping to bring you good news!! Get comfortable and take five minutes to yourself, to keep reading.

Back to how tired you are. I have a few more questions. Is your fatigue because of all you have to do OR is it because of a very busy mind. Caring for others comes with worry. Worry leads to control because if we are in control then we don’t have to worry. This brings chaos.

What? That makes no sense. Control keeps things in order, in place and helps me protect my family.

Yes, it appears to be a good thing that seems protective. I know you’re thinking if I’m in charge of what goes on in my life, then I can rest. That’s true if you actually have power over something. But worrying and the mental exhaustion that comes from predicting every possible outcome so you can be prepared, actually creates inner chaos. This is anything but rest.

You see there are certain things in life that you have no power over. I think they fall in 3 broad categories.

Forces of Nature: We have no power over the weather, natural disasters, or laws of the universe.

Emotions: Emotions happen and bypass our prefrontal cortex. They are a felt experience that gives us information like our senses. (For more on emotions, click here).

Other People: This encompasses the largest part of life that is really outside of our control. We have no power to actually change another person or chose what they do (or don’t do). Yes, that even includes your kids and your husbands. You can make requests, have influence, and even rules with consequences…but another person’s actions and choices belong only to them.

Controllers (and we all wear this label at times if we are honest) actually create for themselves inner chaos. Why? Because controllers are focused on where they are powerless. To do this they travel many exhausting mental loops trying to figure out a problem that has no solution that is actually within their power. Chaos results.

The answer? Accept what you can’t control and embrace what you can. You see focusing too much on the things we can’t control drains us of our personal power to act. When we focus on we have power we can harness that power into action. So what can you control? Oh, so much.

Your response, actions, reactions, choices, decisions, thoughts, beliefs, values, boundaries, who you chose to be in relationship with, and so much more. Shifting our focus is empowering and freeing.

Focusing too much on the things we can't control drains us of our power to act. Click To Tweet When we focus on what we can control then we harness that power into action. Click To Tweet

If you are a Christian, accepting what you can control allows you to surrender to the sovereignty of God….the one who really does have power over all. The one who loves your kids and husband more than you do. When we as believers try to control everything, we are stepping into God’s domain, violating God’s boundary. There are certain areas that are only His to control, this is what can truly bring rest.So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  Matthew 6:31-34

So beloved, rest in what you can control and let go of what you can’t. Only then will you find true peace. It’s not a perfect process, we all will over-control things at times. Recognizing it, giving ourselves grace, and shifting our focus again; we move on. If this is a huge struggle for you? Consider working with a counselor who can help you make this shift.

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” Dolly Parton

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. Dolly Parton Click To Tweet

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Parenting Struggles? Master the Art of Understanding

understandingWe all want be heard, seen, valued, and understood for who we really are. We desire unconditional love and acceptance. This isn’t debatable. We all recognize this desire, right? Isn’t this behind all the fairy tale romance stories and the cry for tolerance? See me, know me, love me, warts and all.

Maybe we focus so much on being understood that we forget to really understand those we love. Enter our children. Did you know they have that drive too? Kids need to be fully known, loved and accepted first by their parents. I’ve sat with people who did not experience this in their childhood and are dealing with the impacts this has left on them. The opposite of being understood is rejection. If a child doesn’t feel fully understood and accepted first at home, they may be sensitive to rejection in the future.

Now, I know we are put on this earth to guide, teach, train, and discipline our kids. Yet, I think sometimes we focus only on the externals and we miss what is going on in their heads and hearts. We miss their insecurities or their fears. Our kids are more than grades, athletic accomplishments, or artistic performances. They are more than their behavior.

We all want be heard, seen, valued, and understood for who we really are. Click To Tweet Maybe we focus so much on being understood that we forget to really understand those we love. Click To Tweet

If their behavior is rebellious, ugly, or emotional, they may be struggling in a way that they don’t feel safe to share with you.

If their behavior is always good, they may be attaching their identity to never making a mistake and this is a recipe for anxiety.

Behavior is just one component of personality. We are physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual beings. Behavior is the physical domain. It seems to me that as parents we focus a lot on that aspect of our children and less on the mental, emotional, or spiritual domains. Why is that? Well it’s much easier, right? But I know you want to raise a child who is confident in all areas of who they are, not just that demonstrates good behavior. And what if, by seeking to understand them in all areas you have an impact on their behavior.

I have witnessed many kids who have great behavior but are stressed and overwhelmed trying to maintain the “perfect” life. Just looking at their achievements and grades, you wouldn’t know how much they are struggling. But there are moments that it comes out. You see, the danger of focusing only on behavior, good or bad, is raising kids who focus on the external things they do or ahieve for their sense of value. Now I am not anti-discipline, this is needed  (ask my kiddos we have rules and limits in our home). However, relationship and understanding your kids comes first. How do you know what discipline will work if there is no understanding?

Let’s face it, feeling understood is extremely powerful.

Let's face it, feeling understood is extremely powerful. Click To Tweet

Pause and think of a time you felt completely seen, loved, and accepted for who you really are? Visualize the moment. Who gave you that feeling? How did they do it? What would you have done for that person? How did you feel toward them? It’s an incredible feeling right? Did you know you have the ability, the superpower, to give this experience to your kid? Can you see how it might change everything?

So how do you learn understanding and give your child the experience of being understood?

  • Get to know them. Use the phrase “tell me more”. Tell me more about  (what’s behind the tears, the emotional outburst, the difficult situation, etc.).
  • Validate their feelings. This sounds fancy but it is simply letting their feelings be valid and real, no matter what they are. Regardless of how you would react in the situation, their perspective and feelings are what they are. Let them be that. Tell them you see it and remember a time you felt that way. “You really seem happy about something, tell me about it” (see how I combined them both) OR “Wow, you are really upset about this, tell me more about how that hurt you”. “That’s so sad, I’ve been sad to and it’s hard”. Let it be okay for them to feel what they feel. Be a safe place for their feelings. This helps them learn to validate their own feelings as they grow.
  • Learn what matters to them and how they are struggling. Listen to understand and not fix things.
  • No matter what, start and end things with how much you love them.
  • Compliment effort not results. “Wow I saw your grades, it took a lot of hard work and I admire how much time you invest in your studies”.
  • Be real about your own struggles.
  • Spend time with them. Have fun. Be silly. Take a genuine interest in what interests them. (don’t ask me how much I know about all kinds of things that I wouldn’t know if it weren’t for my kids….star wars, star trek, magic the gathering, pokemon, legos, marvel comics, etc etc etc.)
  • When in doubt, ask them for guidance. Just be real

I challenge you to look at your kids differently this week, whatever their age. Seek understanding. What are their passions, who are their friends, what’s the latest thing they are interested in, what are their fears, or current struggles? Warning: don’t ask all that in one sitting. LOL. It doesn’t work. Understanding comes over time as you deliberately seek to take the time and opportunities that present themselves. I think learning about my teens and watching them grow into who God designed them to be rocks! I have to set aside my agenda sometimes but that’s okay…my stuff will be here long after they are grown. Let’s seize the moment when it comes.

Seize the moment when it comes to really understand your kids. It's your parenting superpower. Click To Tweet

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The Parenting Teens Shift, Part 2-Changing How You Parent

parenting teensLast week we talked about the unique challenges your teen is experiencing due to their brain development and stage of life. If you haven’t read it, please read part 1 before you go any further. Click here to read the part 1.

This  week we are continuing to look at four more parenting shifts that help enable us to better parent our teens.

Holding Space for Emotions: Teens are emotional. They flash to emotions faster because of the construction going on in their brain. Remember, you have a fully functioning brain and theirs is still in development. There will be perspectives you can see that they can’t yet. An emotional moment, isn’t the time to share your perspective or give your opinion. What they need instead is to have a safe space to be emotional, no matter how insignificant the problem may seem to you. Let them cry. Let them express their fear, anger, or anxiety. Reflect it. “wow, that is so sad”, “sounds like you had a day where you felt unseen or rejected”, “man you have a lot on your plate”. Resist the temptation to fix the emotion and let your love and patience comfort their emotion. Emotion heals emotion. Only after they feel validated and understood can they hear your perspective and opinion. Giving them space to process their emotions may be what they need to solve the problem on their own. This does not mean that you tolerate disrespect. Utilize the time out principle. We all sometimes need a few minutes to calm our emotions. If your child is disrespectful or out of control, let them take some time to calm down and then provide space for them to process the underlying emotion. When you use the time-out concept, reassure them that you want to hear them. You can say something like “I really want to hear and understand you but I’m not okay with how you’re talking to me, let’s take a brief time-out and try again in _____ minutes”.

An emotional moment, isn’t the time to share your perspective or give your opinion. Click To Tweet

Teens need a safe space to be emotional, no matter how insignificant the problem may seem. Click To Tweet

Encouragement: Teens in our culture have a lot coming at them. They are constantly under stress to get good grades, be accepted at school, and juggle all they do. The world tells them they are only valuable because of what they look like, the grades they get, or how good they are in their extra curricular activities (band, sports, theatre, etc). What they really need are people that accept them no matter what. Encourage them for who they are (their unique attributes and character) separate and apart from behavior or results. Praise their hard work, their effort, their creativity, compassion, empathy, etc. instead of their grades or achievements. Encouraging them for who they are instead of what they do builds their self-confidence.

Encourage them for who they are separate and apart from behavior or results. Click To Tweet
  • Connection: Part of the changes that happen in a teen’s life and brain as they approach adulthood is a shift from family to peers. They experience an intense need for connection with their friends similar to the intense connection they needed with their parents during infancy. Teens need good, strong friends and access to connecting regularly with these friends. The need to belong somewhere with people their own age is powerful. In our culture, teens connect through social media and texting. Have boundaries and limits on their phone but consider allowing this freedom so they meet this need. Encourage them to find good friends and allow time and space for them to regularly be with their friends. School clubs, sports or a good church youth group helps provide them safe opportunities to connect with other supportive teens.

    Part of the changes that happen in a teen's life is a shift from family to peers. Click To Tweet

  • Deal with your stuff: Parenting this way is hard. It requires us to deal with our own stuff and we all have stuff. This may be the most important parenting shift you make. Let’s face it, parenting brings out our own faults, sins, and  issues. What is the reaction you struggle most with as you parent? You can’t control your teen but you can control yourself. Controlling you impacts your teen dramatically. So deal with your stuff. Deal with the anxiety that comes as you see them making choices that might not go well. Deal with the irritation resulting from encountering an emotional teen. Learn to calm yourself in order to give them what they need. Deal with the fear you have of giving your child freedom because you like to be in control. Whatever your stuff is, own it, face it, and deal with it. Your teen needs to see you as a real person, with real struggles and flaws who apologizes when they mess up. This helps them learn to accept their own stuff and fosters a better relationship. What do you need to do to work on so you can be the parent your teens need?

    Parenting this way is hard. It requires us to deal with our own stuff and we all have stuff. Click To Tweet

Teens are awesome. They see the world in a different way and feel deep emotions. They love fun but also are deep thinkers. This isn’t a stage to be scared of but a stage to be embraced. The relationship you cultivate now with your teen matters. Give them the gift of making these shifts so you can help equip, empower, and prepare them for adulthood.

Teens aren't a stage to be scared of but a stage to be embraced. Click To Tweet

Need help or think your teen needs more help than just a parenting shift? Find a good counselor that specializes in teens. There is always hope.

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The Parenting Teens Shift-Changing How You Parent

parenting teensI’m going to spend the next two weeks talking about the parenting teens shift. No, that’s not the latest dance craze, nor is it a funny YouTube video gone viral. The parenting teen shift is the shift all us parents of teenagers have to make as we are thrust into the teen world. Over the next two weeks I’m going to share things I’ve learned from my personal experience with my own teens, my extensive time spent with the amazing teens at church, and the experience I’ve gained counseling teens and parents. Not sure if you need to make a shift? What is your answer to the following questions?

  • Are you getting attitude and resistance where you used to get compliance?
  • Do they challenge you and question your decisions?
  • Are you confused by the emotionality of your teen?
  • Wondering what’s going on in your teen’s world?
  • Struggling to relate to your teen now that they are older?
  • Do you find yourself frustrated and feeling unappreciated?

If you answered yes then perhaps you can benefit from shifting how you think about parenting your teen. First let me reassure you that neither you nor your teen are crazy. This stage of development is an exciting and critical one full of changes. How you parent during this critical final parenting stage (as in every stage) is important. However, the problem is that the mindset and tools you used as a parent during childhood doesn’t necessarily work in the teen years. Hence, the need for the shift.

Here are some important facts about teen development to keep in mind:

A teen’s brain is undergoing a massive reconstruction project as it is finalizing its growth. Click To Tweet
  • A teen’s brain is undergoing a massive reconstruction project as it is finalizing its growth and development. This means that as your child progresses through the teen years, their brain is actively being changed. As a result, their emotions intensify and their reasoning and logic abilities improve. They’re more self-focused which magnifies problems in their world. All of this is a result of where they are in their brain growth and development.
  • This is the final stage of parenting prior to adulthood.

Both of those factors impact the need for a shift as we are parenting teens. When a child is born we control everything about their lives. As they grow, we continue to provide structure, limits, and freedom based on their age and development. Eventually, they will launch into adulthood and make all their own decisions. Our job as parents during the teen years, is to balance freedom, structure, and limits so they can learn how to manage their own lives. This need for increasing freedom and increasing responsibility is what makes parenting teens so challenging. It’s the opposite of what we did when they were little.

Our job as parents during the teen years, is to balance freedom, structure, and limits. Click To Tweet Our job as parents is to help teens learn how to manage their own lives. Click To Tweet

To successfully make this shift there are some key things to remember. We’ll talk about 4 of these shifts this week and cover 4 next week.

  • Relationship: Focus on building your relationship with them and not just on their behavior. They are people, with unique personalities, thoughts, opinions and emotions. Get to know them. I know you may think you know them but maybe seek to understand them differently. What is their temperament and how does that affect how they engage in the world. Appreciate their differences.  What do like like, listen to, watch on YouTube or Netflix? Who are their friends? What energizes them? What are their struggles? Fears? Passions? Value their input and work to cultivate a real relationship with them. Have fun with them and laugh together. Get their input on the house rules and consequences. Be available to talk when they want to talk. Learn how to really listen to them instead of immediately telling them your thoughts on their situation. Try to identify what they are feeling and reflect it back to them. Most importantly be real with them. Let them know you have emotions, faults, and failures too.
  • Control: Too much control and rules during this time in their lives is dangerous. I’m not saying you can’t have limits. In fact, your teen still needs boundaries and limits plus you need boundaries in place for your peace. What I am saying is choose them wisely. Remember, your teen is in a different brain developmental stage. In order to “wire in” confidence in their decision making ability, they need to have the freedom to make decisions. Give as much freedom and choices as you can. A very restrictive, controlled environment results in a teens questioning their decision-making ability and frequently leads to self-doubt. They need freedom and reasonable limits so they get to practice making good and bad decisions. As they get older the freedom increases and the limits decrease. Too little control is damaging as well. They are not adults yet and need limits and monitoring. The key is to choose where you exercise to control wisely and always offer limits with choices and freedom.

    Teens need to feel confident making decisions so they need freedom to make decisions Click To Tweet

  • Freedom: Freedom is a huge motivator for teens. They crave it and desperately want it. It helps them develop competence and confidence. Even making bad decisions helps them because unfortunately we all learn best by making mistakes. If your teen never has freedom then 1) you are missing out on a great reward and motivator 2) you will notice confidence decrease and you might see an increase in anxiety/depression because they will begin to question their ability and your belief in them. There are many ways to give freedom:  giving choices, asking for their input and opinion, giving privileges, letting them own certain chores/responsibilities, and letting them manage as much life as is reasonable. They will never learn to do certain things unless given the freedom to try.
  • The Power of Solving Problems with Questions: For most of their lives they have come to us when they have a problem to solve and we solve it for them. Yet now they need to be encouraged to solve their own problems. Since their brain is under construction, sometimes they are very emotional or struggle to see the solution. It’s tempting to just give them the answer, it seems so obvious sometimes to us. DON’T. Give them the opportunity to think of possible solutions. This will help them feel more confident in trusting their voice and will help their brain as it is develops. Listen, reflect their emotions, and ask “what have you thought of doing?” or “how might you solve this?” or “I know you can solve this problem, what are your ideas?” This is HARD but is very helpful and empowering for them.
Give teens the opportunity to think of possible solutions so they learn to trust their voice. Click To Tweet

Stay tuned next week when we talk about 4 more parenting shifts. I know it can be a challenge to change your default reactions with your teens. If you are struggling significantly with any of these, consider getting help from a counselor. Look for the daily joys in the journey of teen parenting….the glimpses of the unique person God created them to be. Find good healthy support. We got this parents!


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The Secret to Parenting Anxious Kids and Teens: What to Do and NOT Do

Parenting anxious kids and teens can be extremely difficult and overwhelming. What seems logical often fails to work. How many of these have you tried?

Calm down!

There’s nothing to be afraid of.

Stop worrying, you’re fine.

Let me tell you why you shouldn’t be afraid.

We don’t have time for this!

You’re too old for this!

Stop whining!

Sound familiar? If your child or teen struggles with anxiety, you’ve probably found yourself saying one of these phrases. And like me, you’ve discovered that they DON’T WORK. In fact, they make things WORSE. As your child’s anxiety increase so does your own. You are overwhelmed, out of control, helpless. You don’t understand their fear. It seems unreasonable to you. How come they don’t trust you when you tell them not to be afraid? So what can you do? How do you help them?

  1. Deal with your own emotional reactions. Nothing can increase a parent’s frustration, anger, or anxiety quite like a child in an out of control emotional state. Take temper tantrums for example. We all are familiar with that out of control emotional experience.

When a child is in panic or high anxiety, you feel responsible for soothing them and convincing them they are safe. When your attempts don’t work, your own emotions build in response. But we all experience stress and strong emotions. None of us can be told not to feel a certain way. In fact, think of the last time your spouse told you all the reasons you shouldn’t be angry. Did your anger leave when you heard their reasons? Of course not!! What helps? When your spouse hears you out and listens. See we all have to learn to listen to our emotions and know what we need. So let’s see this as an opportunity to teach our kids.

We all experience stress and strong emotions. Click To Tweet

Let’s redefine your job in your child’s anxious/panicked moment. Your job is not to convince your child not to feel fear. Your job is:

Parenting Anxious KidsBe with them through it

Model calm

Equip them with tools to calm themselves helping them learn that they are their own safe place

  1. Be there for them. No matter what causes the anxiety for your child, your relationship can increase or decrease their experience. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Can I stay calm?
    • Am I reacting or responding?
    • Am I trying to really understand their world and experience?
    • Am I contributing to the stress and anxiety?
  1. Teach them calming Tools. There are so many tools for dealing with anxiety. Become an expert in as many of these tools as possible. If you need outside help, find a good counselor that works specifically with the age of your child and specializes in anxiety.
    • Accept the Anxiety. This is key for both you and them. Don’t avoid it but accept it, welcome it, and number it based on how intense it feels. (1-10)
    • Teach them to take deep, slow breaths. 4 seconds in, 4 seconds hold, 4 seconds out. Encourage them to breathe in blue for calm and breathe out red for anxiety. Maybe blow bubbles together,
    • Observe the Room. Have them observe the room with their senses. 5 things they see, 4 things they hear, 3 things they touch, 2 things they smell, 1 thing they taste.
    • Grounding Object. Pick out an object they can hold when they feel anxious. For my son it was a necklace with a shield.
    • Imagine a Safe Place. Help them visualize a safe place. Let their imagination run free and encourage them to draw that safe place.
    • Safety Motto. Come up with a safe phrase they can repeat when they feel unsafe. I am safe. I am ok. I am safe.
  2. Watch their anxiety number come down as they use these tools. Have them give you their number regularly throughout the episode.
  3. Praise their ability to bring the number down and point out their bravery in the face of fear. Give them an opportunity to reflect on how it felt to bring their number down.
  4. Consider the stress in their life. Today’s kids and teens are over scheduled and stressed. This can increase anxiety. We all need time to recharge. Are your kids learning to the value of down time? Are their schedules healthy and reasonable?
  5. Consider the message you send them. So many kids and teens with anxiety are perfectionist pleasers seeking to gain your approval and love. This is often a subtle message communicated by how you communicate with them. Do you only praise them for their performance? Do you have a lot of rules and expectations? Are rules bigger in your house than relationships? Do you frequently point out how they could improve? If so you may be unintentionally communicating, I only love you if___________. Instead, spend time encouraging your child’s deeper qualities…their hard work, compassion, care, bravery etc. Give them freedom to fail, struggle, and have weaknesses. Go here to read more about dealing with your own reactions and exceptions.
Many kids with anxiety are perfectionist pleasers seeking to gain your approval. Click To Tweet

I know how much you love your kids. I know you want them to do well in life. The very fact that you are reading this tells me how much you care. Take a deep breath, give yourself grace for the past, and move forward equipped with new information. If you need to, reach out and get help. There is so much hope!

Take a deep breath, give yourself grace for the past, and move forward. Click To Tweet

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Life Wisdom from Coach Chavis

John ChavisWe moved to Bryan/College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, when I was 9. Man, that place is different…its spirit is infectious. The University traditions create a sense of belonging and pride that grows as you fall in love with the school and the people. I swear it is one of the friendliest places in the world!! As a result, there was never a question of where I would go to school….

Aggieland was community, it was pride, it was honor, it was authentic, it was family, it was tradition, it was home!

So it should be no surprise that years later I love Aggie sports and no sport is greater in Texas than football! (Sorry son…I love soccer too.)

I don’t just watch the games…we celebrate the games! In true Aggie fashion, we’ve developed traditions around how we watch the football games. We plan special meals, gather with my sister, and make it an event!!

Texas A&M

I’m such an Aggie football nerd, that I even watch all the press conferences on YouTube…..I know…I may have a problem.

But every now and then, I come across life wisdom that has to be pointed out and acknowledged. That happened a few weeks ago….

For non-Aggie followers…our offense for the last few seasons has been okay (not Johnny Manziel okay but not bad). Our defense has struggled, mostly because we had a lot of young guys. So Coach Sumlin, in his brilliant wisdom, hired John Chavis to head up the Aggie defense. This season there has been a night and day difference in our defensive line!

How is this possible, is Coach Chavis really that awesome? Did these young kids just train all summer? How? What? Huh????????????

Now Coach Chavis is good and they did train hard all summer but I think I heard the secret one day during a press conference. Coach Chavis was asked how he had been able to build confidence in the team that had played so poorly last season….brilliant question because we were all wondering.

His answer was GOLD….

You put young men in situations where they can have success. You coach them and give them the tools that they need to go prepare. But when they have success they start gaining confidence. You got to be very very positive with them. If you’re not careful coaching can be a negative profession because you’re always correcting. And you got to make those corrections but you got to do it in a way where you’re not beating kids down. We expect a lot out of them. We hold them accountable and they hold each other accountable but we are not going to beat them down, we are not going to beat them down. That’s been the approach we take. We have high expectations for them but each one of those guys is somebody’s son, they’re our football players and we got to treat them that way. Have high expectations, show them how they can get it done, and they’ll go get it done for you.”

You coach them and give them the tools that they need to go prepare. Click To Tweet

So let me tell you what this counselor heard:

  • Give kids the right tools and support them.
  • Connect with them (build relationship).
  • Encourage them to have a team that supports them.
  • Set them up for success.
  • Be very positive.
  • Be very careful about how you correct, do it in a way that doesn’t destroy their spirit.
  • Have high, reasonable expectations but remember that they are human.
  • If you do this, they will go out and get it done!

Now that is a solid approach to coaching, parenting, teaching, leading, and team building.

Criticism kills relationship. If you are in a role where you have to correct (like any of the roles listed above) then how you correct is important. If you beat people up with your words, you may accomplish your initial goal of behavior change, but you have lost the relationship. Relationship is what grounds us, connects us, and makes us want to work hard for people.

Those Aggie boys are fighting hard on the field for Chavis because of his approach, because they are inspired to do well for him.

As parents, isn’t that what we want? Kids that are inspired and empowered to reach their maximum potential? Unfortunately, too often we think constant criticism, harshness, or belittling will change behavior. It wouldn’t work for me and it wouldn’t work for you. In fact, think of the last time you were treated that way? Didn’t it make you want to NOT be around that person?

Correction doesn’t have to be negative. If we focus on the relationship first and major on the positives, then we earn the right to speak correctively.

If we focus on the relationship first...then we earn the right to speak correctively. Click To Tweet

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 

Watch the press conference below, the question is asked at about 2 minutes, 30 seconds in.

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How to Talk with Teens about Change

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Life in this broken world is comprised of beginnings and endings…seasons of change and transitions. This is abundantly evident in a teen’s life. They experience huge amounts of change during the course of adolescence. Change involves beginnings and endings. Endings are hard because it can illicit fear of the unknown, sadness over loss, and possible regret over things undone. Learning how to process and healthily approach change is a great empowering and equipping opportunity for parents. How you talk with teens about change matters.

Henry Cloud writes in Necessary Endings, “Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.” This is true both for the person who is making a change, and for those who are impacted by the change.

When there is a big change, provide space for the kids to talk about their thoughts and feelings where you just listen.

  • No cell phones. Just mutually agree to spend time talking together.
  • Speak face to face.
  • Follow their conversation
  • Notice their body language
  • Clarify what you see and hear
  • Let them know you understand what it is like to feel whatever they are feeling.

Now is NOT t the time to tell them “everything will be okay”. Let them share their thoughts and feelings. Provide space for them to feel and let whatever they feel be okay.

When they are ready you can help them process it by asking good questions

(Who, What, When Where, How questions…no why questions).

Sample Questions:

  • Who is your support system?
  • How can you contribute and take ownership of your life and this situation?
  • What do you need from us as your parents?
  • How do you see this impacting you the most?
  • What are your biggest concerns?
  • What do you feel about this?
  • What are your ideas to solve ___________________?
  • How can you continue your growth?
  • How can you honor and celebrate the impact this person had in your life

The idea is to help them deal with change by:

  • Incorporating this into their life
  • Encouraging resilience in the face of change
  • Helping them see their impact and power in life and in the group.

Keep an ongoing conversation going with your child. If they are having strong emotional reactions, they may need extra compassion and involvement from you for a season.

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 mom juggle

Parenting, The Great Surprise!

Well, I became a mom almost 14 years ago (wow, when did I become so old?).  Although I love my kids and I love being mom, nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, prepares you for this!

I mean how did I become the finder of all lost things, the fixer of all broken things, the chef, the maid, the clothes washer/dryer/folder, the chauffeur, the teacher, planner, organizer, hostess of many friends, etc., etc., etc.!  My favorite moment this month is when my kid wakes me up to tell me that he is awake!  Really, he couldn’t be awake by himself…I had to lose out on the bliss of sleep as well?

Thankfully, God gives us incredible love for our children and grace to cover each and every mistake.  Watching my boys transition from kids to teens is pretty cool!  I mean they can do stuff for themselves (hang in there moms of littles…it does come) and they are pretty cool to be around!

Parenting is hard and definitely not for perfectionists, pleasers, or wimps (yikes, I have a little of all of that in me)!  Nothing has grown me up more than growing as a mom with my kids!  As I reflect on years past, here is what I would tell my young mom-self (if I could):

  • Building the relationship with my kid is way more important than the condition of my house!
  • Frequently what frustrates & angers me is simply childish curiosity or accidents, so relax!
  • Read Dr. Kevin Leman, he ROCKS!
  • There is grace for me when I mess up &  grace for my kids too!
  • Children learn just as much about life when I mess up and apologize, as they do when I do it all right!
  • Rigid expectations for myself and my kids could lay a heavy burden on me than is reasonable.
  • Have fun!
  • Get sleep!
  • Learn to say no!
  • Take care of myself so I can care for others, no guilt!
  • Have friends & be the village for each other!
  • Don’t neglect my relationship with God!  He is # 1!
  • Don’t neglect my marriage, husband comes before kids!
  • Laugh often!

Moms, you’re not alone!  We got this!  There is always hope!

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