When is defiance better than obedience?


defiant child with parent

I’ll never forget her statement. I was speaking to a grade-school teacher in a Christian school about behavior problems with her students. In the context of the conversation she actually seemed more upset about the obedient kids than the defiant ones.

She declared, “I can always tell the kids parented by strict parents who follow parenting programs that demand first-time obedience. They do what you say but take no risks. They won’t give answers unless they know they’re right. The kids who fight back, they are usually the bold ones, the creative ones, the energetic ones. Many of them are leaders. I love the chance to shape these kids!”

Get a Parenting Refresher This Spring!

May can be a hectic month, as school wraps up and summer activities begin. Find a grace-filled oasis and join us for a parenting refresher!

Discipline-That-Connectes-Book-SquareIn May we’ll open registration for our online course, Discipline that Connects®, which is based on our popular book and workshop. Sign up here to be notified as soon as registration opens!

Below, check out our upcoming workshops in the Minnesota area. All workshops are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. Churches frequently have registration and contact information on their websites, which are noted below. All MOPS workshops are for moms with preschool age kids. Some groups request that you register before attending. If you are unable to find how to register, please connect with us!

4/22/2015Oak Hills Church – Eagan, MN
Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart: Part 3 of 4
Register Here!

4/24/2015Bethlehem Covenant Church – Minneapolis, MN
Clarity For The Chaos of Family Life
Register Here!

4/26/2015Redeemer Covenant Church – Minneapolis, MN
Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart
No registration necessary.

4/27/2015Southwest Christian High School – Chaska, MN
Staying Connected to Your Kids Through the Pressures of School
No registration necessary.

4/28/2015 – Living Hope MOPS – Mora, MN
Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart
No registration necessary.

4/29/2015Oak Hills Church - Eagan, MN
Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart: Part 4 of 4
Register here!

5/3/2015Chapel Hill Church – Eagan, MN
Digging for Gold: Discovering the Hidden Treasure in Your Child’s Misbehavior
No registration necessary.

5/8/2015 and 5/9/2015Common Place Church – Rock Valley, IA
Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart
No registration necessary.

5/9/2015 - Valley Church – Des Moines, IA
Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart
No registration necessary.

Is Asking Questions When I’m Upset Actually Feasible?

art of asking good questionsTeaching the art of asking good questions is a favorite goal in our daily work with parents. Why? Because we’ve learned that lectures and answers often shut kids down and build walls between parents and their kids, while good questions build wisdom, strengthen connection, and lead to kids taking more responsibility for their lives.

To illustrate this in real life, we’ve invited Joel and Amy to write about their journey to learn to ask good questions and build wisdom with their two teenage sons.


I remember the feeling of cluelessness one day when my husband and I were sitting in a session with our parent coach, Chad.

We’d been learning from Connected Families’ resources about how to communicate to our two teenage sons that they were safe and loved. While we were growing and our hearts were changing, we still had many unsolved problems and felt stuck. After we described an issue with one of our sons during a coaching session, Chad asked, “How does your son feel about it?”

Dead silence. We were totally clueless. We said that we thought he felt a certain way, but really we had no idea. Then Chad asked, “Well, have you ever asked him?”

Build Kids Up with Nourishing Affirmation in 30 Seconds

Affirmation ABCs 30 seconds

Kids need encouragement. But not all affirmation is created equal!

Some affirmation is empty — like popcorn or cotton candy — but nourishing affirmation builds kids up by helping them see how their actions benefit others or build their character.

So, what does nourishing affirmation look like?

3 Game-Changing Questions to Show Your Kids They’re Worth It

worth it game changing questions

It can be hard work to change the way you parent. Especially when your efforts to stay calm lead to more pushback from your kids.

Along the way it’s normal to fall into the old habit of huffing and puffing to get your own sense of control. Don’t lose heart! When this happens, let the dust settle for you and your child, and then ask your kids the following powerful questions:

The Art of Asking Good Questions

art of asking good questions

Questions are a simple and powerful tool. Asked well, questions can open hearts (did you know Jesus asked over 300 questions?). Learning the art requires a fair bit of attention to detail.

Consider the question, “What happened?” The lilt of voice, the facial expression, the tone and even the sincerity of the question can either open or close the one you’re asking. Just because there is a question mark following a sentence doesn’t mean it is a good question, does it?

There are a number of things to keep in mind when asking questions to our kids. Here are a few to consider, in the form of — yep — questions.

Stressful Times Lead to Fertile Hearts

stress emotional rototiller fertile hearts

© 2012 RichardBH, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio


Painting pictures in my mind has been very helpful in my parenting journey. For example, when I’m upset and feel like my head is going to explode I imagine a balloon in my lungs filling and releasing air. When my kids are upset and I remain calm, I visualize myself “loaning” my calm to them as a blanket to cover them during their emotional storm.

A word-picture God gave me recently is appropriate for the spring weather we’ve been having: when my kids are upset, tense, frustrated, angry — really any negative emotion — I picture a tiny rototiller tilling up the soil of their hearts.

How do I keep from favoring one child over the others?

Connected Families Q&AWe received the following question from a parent:

Q: What can I do to not show favoritism even when in some sense, certain kids really are my favorites?

The favoring of one child over others is common. Sociologists tell us that 65-70% of parents demonstrate favoritism.

The reality is that people are wired differently and are attracted variously to people of different wirings. Parents and children are no different. So in many cases it will be natural for parents to favor a child, and for a child to favor a parent.

The key is to be aware of it, and make the adjustments you decide are necessary to make; to let your love for your children overcome the likes and dislikes you may have about their personalities and preferences.

A key to this is to commit to seek God’s love for yourself, and then seek wisdom to find ways to express God’s love and your love to each of your children, in spite of their behavior or wiring.

Do you have experience with this? How have you managed it? Leave a comment and share with the community.

The Making of Discipline that Connects

Discipline that Connects - 1 & 2In 2012 Lynne and I published our most popular book Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart (see reviews here). This book has transformed the way thousands of parents discipline their kids. Instead of providing a “quick fix” to change behavior, this approach equips parents to lovingly shape beliefs and resulting behaviors for the long run.

In 2013 we realized that not all parents have the time or energy to read an entire parenting book, so we decided to boil down the four messages of the book into a free and easy 36 page handbook. We frequently hear how such a short book — easily read in one sitting — has made a lasting impact on a family.

Now, thanks to donor generosity, the handbook is also available in Spanish! Here’s a note from a mom who shared the Spanish ebook with her moms group in Ecuador: