Many discouraged parents have asked us this question: How should we respond to our child who doubts the reality of God?
When children suggest “there is no God” it’s natural for parents to immediately try to convince them otherwise. It’s a good intention, but one that often deepens the chasm between kids’ doubts and their movement toward God. If this is your reality, understand that there is probably little you can say, (because they’ve probably heard all the arguments before) but much that you can DO to make it safe for your kids to struggle back toward Jesus when they have doubts.
“S#*t,” “Oh My God.” …or “What the _____?” We’ve heard from numerous parents that this kind of language hurts their ears as well as their hearts. If this is a struggle in your family, here’s how you might respond through the Discipline that Connects framework.
“You are SAFE with me!”
To communicate emotional safety while addressing your kids’ word choices means coming alongside them as their understanding helper instead of their judge (can they ever tell the difference!). Are your kids worried they won’t fit in? Do they even know what the words mean?
In the same way, it’s helpful to understand what might be behind your angst when your kids say offensive words. Consider these questions:
Over the years, Lynne and I have worked with many families who struggle with the same issues. Time and again, we see how a change in perspective can transform a parent-child relationship from one of tension to one filled with grace. When it comes to school, grades and performance, there is often a minefield of conflict over expectations. Parents often believe that they need to create change in their child to see improvement in work ethic and performance when it comes to grades. The truth is, change best starts with the parent.
Read on to learn how one mother and daughter set aside conflict and embraced grace for homework success without nagging:
Misty anxiously told me about her seventh grade daughter, Greta.
“Her grades are tanking! She’s sassy and defiant most of the time! I know she is capable of so much more, but she won’t dig in and live up to her potential. I check her grades every day. I’ve withheld privileges, created charts, offered rewards, and constantly reminded her. But it keeps getting worse. Our fights get louder by the day!”
When you’re constantly fighting with kids who don’t live up to their potential, we suggest a new approach, a new fight: the fight of faith to walk in the “fruit of the spirit.”
One of the best times to show love to your kids is when they are misbehaving. Anger, frustration and lecturing are standard reactions to a kid who does something wrong, but do they work to change behavior? I worked with many troubled kids before I co-founded Connected Families with Lynne and learned quite a few things about the messages kids receive (and don’t receive) when they are getting a consequence. Many kids who did something wrong, already defined themselves as “bad.” Undeserving of love. Yet, this is not how God responds to our sin, even when we are at our worst. (See Romans 3:23-24.)
I believe that if Jesus came to us today, he would in some way say to all of us, “Black lives matter!* Be humble, listen, and love with my love.”
My heart is troubled.
As I look at the various viewpoints about the racial tension and highly publicized killings, my biggest takeaway is deep sadness. Wives have lost their husbands. Children have lost their fathers. Mothers have lost their children. We all have lost brothers and sisters.
Many parents today are wondering “what am I called to do in response?”
Our encouragement today – talk with your kids about how Jesus responded to marginalized groups of people during his life. HE is our model!
At a time in history when children were dismissed and largely considered irrelevant, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me! For they are like the kingdom.” It turns out that children matter! Do they matter more than anyone else? No, but this was a great opportunity to elevate the unique way in which children matter. Jesus similarly highlighted Gentiles, women, orphans, lepers, and the poor. He also did this with Samaritans, the closest equivalent in the Jewish world to the racial tension of today. In essence, by telling the story of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10), and by ministering to the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4), Jesus proclaimed, “Samaritan lives matter!” Jesus consistently sent the message, “The people you think of as less important are equally important!”
We are a big deal. Our kids look up to us in a unique way. They need our affirmation and approval. Statistics show that kids who get a father’s love tend to soar well into the world, and those who don’t tend to struggle. Consider that. Perhaps this is why the Bible speaks so specifically to fathers. (see Col. 3:21, Ephesians 6:4, Prov. 20:7)
My own dad had no idea what a big deal he was. He thought our mom was the cat’s pajamas when it came to parenting (and she was pretty awesome), so he left her to take care of most of the affirmation and approval stuff. He did typical dad things: we fished, golfed, watched football and laughed together some. Yet, Dad wasn’t one to put constructive words to his feelings. His silence left me wondering. Even though he loved and cared for me deeply, I came to believe that in Dad’s eyes I was a disappointment; that he didn’t love me. I made a lot of destructive choices in my teen years perhaps because I was looking for a reassurance of my father’s love.
Jesus was defiant.
He defied Satan’s temptation. He defied the religious structures of the day. He defied legalism. He even defied death.
One of our problems as parents is that we treat our kids’ defiance as if it is entirely bad. We then seek to make it go away – sometimes at all costs.
What if instead of a thinking of defiance as a problem we saw it as evidence of a gift God put in our children, coming out in unrefined, selfish, or sinful ways?
After all, it takes boldness, conviction, strength of will, and a plan to be defiant.
What if our job was not to make defiance go away, but to affirm and re-purpose those talents after the pattern of Jesus’ defiance?
Apply It Now
There are many parents out there that could benefit from the Connected Families ministry. We’d love your help reaching these parents!
You see, in a world of constant images and sound bites, it’s not enough to have great resources. First impressions are a really big deal in the internet world and this is where your help comes in.
We need a new tagline that speaks to the hearts and minds of parents. It should capture parents’ best hopes while speaking well into their current reality. And it should powerfully describes what Connected Families offers.
So imagine yourself on one of those days. You’ve got a handful of parenting challenges and you feel stuck. You’re tired, overwhelmed, and looking for encouragement AND for practical help. You go online and type “Christian parenting” in the search bar. You get several hundred thousand results. You see a bunch of familiar sites, many whose ideas you’ve tried before and other sites you’ve never seen. You scroll through, looking for something new and fresh that speaks to the heart of what you’re feeling and wanting.
Then you see a tagline–it jumps off the page at you. A tagline that feels both understanding and hopeful. You almost can’t help but click because in a few short words this tagline captures what you’re looking for.
And that tagline is… perhaps one of these options below!
We want to hear your voice! Of the options below, which one most compels you to click and learn more about Connected Families?
———————-> VOTE HERE <———————-
- Biblical tools for today’s parents
- Equipping parents to bring God’s compelling grace and truth to life
- Equipping parents to lead with confidence and grace
- Practical, Purposeful and Peaceful Parenting
- Simple grace for the complex parenting journey
- Uncommon Grace and Truth for Parenting
- Your Guide to Confident, Peaceful Parenting
———————-> VOTE HERE <———————-
Do any of these options draw you in? Do you have a recommendation for us to consider? We are excited to partner with you in this process and appreciate your insight.
Peer relationships carry increasing influence as children grow up. And sometimes, these relationships can be reason for parents to feel increasingly anxious.
Kids may choose good friends or they may not. Parents, wanting what’s best for their kids, have a tendency to over-control their children’s choices. I was one of those.
As Daniel entered elementary school, he had a friend Lynne and I did not particularly care for. Because they shared common interests, they gravitated toward each other. The fact that the friend was in our neighborhood also made it almost impossible to fully monitor their interaction. We tried to convince Daniel that while this friend needed God’s love, we didn’t think their friendship was a good idea. But even as a seven-year-old, he was resistant to our control.
As a typically impatient, “get it done” sort of dad, I found myself in our early parenting years using my big voice and strong presence to move my kids into action.
This approach worked great for me! …But my wife Lynne, in my opinion, seemed to spend too much time arguing with the kids or letting them try to talk things out.
Lynne did two things that helped me grow to be more thoughtful, honoring, and wise.