How I Turned My Parenting Fail into a Lesson in Grace: Sukay’s Story


We’re excited to introduce you to Sukay, who is part of our parent coaching team, and to share with you a story from her parenting journey. 

Whether or not they verbalize it, kids often struggle with feeling like they are “bad kids” or that they are “naughty” when they misbehave. It can be tough for parents, especially in moments of frustration as our kids are acting out, to communicate the message that they are loved no matter what even if their behavior may be less than desirable. The following story is an example from my own family life of a time when I discovered a great opportunity to communicate this message.

Why This Mom Loved Her Messy, Lopsided Christmas Tree

lopsided christmas tree messy loved itCheck out this “unique” Christmas tree. Not exactly what you’d expect to see in the town square, right?

While this “creative” design might have your fingers itching to straighten those dangling garlands, the mom whose tree it is decided she liked it how it was. Why? It was decorated by her children, a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 6-year-old.

Her decision might seem a little strange at first — after all, decorating can be a team effort, and parents can be on the team to make the house look presentable, right?

But ponder this: What message are the parents communicating to their children by not re-decorating this lopsided tree to a more sophisticated style?

  • What matters is not how things look, but the heart behind it.
  • You and your creativity are more important than my style of decorating.
  • I’m enjoying this stage of life with you, just the way you are.

Cultivating an attitude of loving our kids no matter what — even when their decorating is a little less than picture-perfect — in fact, ESPECIALLY then — is one of the best gifts you can give them this Christmas.


Did you know that Connected Families was started 13 years ago, reaching just a few hundred people in Chaska, MN? And now families all over the globe – from Australia, to Brazil, to China – are leaning into grace-filled biblical parenting. If you live outside the United States and receive our parenting tips, or have taken an online course, or have read our books, send us a quick note! We’d love to hear from you.

Donors – your financial partnership makes it possible for us to reach thousands of families a year, regardless of location! Help us reach more families around the world by donating $25, $50 or more. Every dollar will be matched – dollar for dollar – up to $50,000!

My Kids’ Messes Drive Me CRAZY!

For years I have struggled with the mess that our lively, spontaneous, creative, frequently disorganized children made at high speed. I used to call it “Trash and Dash.”

Since their father has somewhat more “relaxed” standards of housekeeping than I do, household messes were a constant battle in which I felt hurt, alone, and resentful.

Why is Connecting with My Kids So Hard?

She sat right in the front row. For the first three weeks of our class she had listened wide-eyed and engaged enthusiastically as we talked about the principles of Foundation and Connection. This day was different.

During the class she avoided eye contact and spent much of the time looking at the floor. She never spoke a word. After the class I approached her. “You seemed a bit distant today. Is everything OK?”

Connected Families in Ferguson, MO

Today we’d like to share with you a story we received from a dad who has been impacted by Connected Families and seen change not only in his parenting, but also in his urban ministry in Ferguson, MO.

Brycen Marner is the founder of the Kulture, an urban ministry in North County Missouri. The Kulture exists to nurture lasting hope in all areas of life for youth and young adults through transformative relationships with peers, mentors and Jesus Christ.

brycen the kulture

Brycen (back center) and some kids from the Kulture

During the spring of 2015, Brycen and his wife Kacey took part in our Discipline that Connects online course. Their goal was to gain skills and wisdom in raising their young family. Brycen wasn’t expecting that what he learned would impact the work that he’s doing with youth of Ferguson through the Kulture. We sat down with him to learn more.

Love – No Matter What!



For I am convinced that
neither arguing nor defiance,
neither sibling conflict nor disrespect,
neither bad grades nor failure,
neither whining nor lying,
neither forgetfulness nor messes,
nor any other misbehavior
will be able to separate you from
my love or from God’s amazing Love.

Romans 8:38-39
as adapted by Connected Families

Take 10 to 15 minutes to find out your strengths and challenges with our free parenting assessment.

Connected Families on the God-Centered Mom Podcast

Connected Families - God Centered Mom Podcast

Recently we (Jim and Lynne) headed over to chat with Heather at the God Centered Mom Podcast.

Heather is the mom of four boys, and we had a wonderful and lively conversation about everything parenting — from our four core messages of safety, love, capability, and responsibility to how to break the cycle of shame and parent from God’s grace and truth.

You can listen to our conversation in two parts on her blog:

Have a listen and then let us know — what ideas resonate with you the most? Share in the comments!

Do you know any other bloggers or podcasters we should connect with? Send us a note and let us know!

“If My Kid’s a Slob Now, How Will He Hold a Job Later?”


“When I look at my son’s messy room, it puts a knot in my stomach.”

Joe was insightful and honest as he described his emotions about his son’s room. “Just the sight of his dresser drawers hanging out with stuff all over and I’m thinking pessimistic thoughts: If he can’t even push his drawers shut, how is he going to be responsible to hold anything but a low end job? It even makes me feel like I’ve failed as a parent to help my son learn to be responsible.”

When It Comes to Expressing Love, Timing Matters!

If you ask most parents, they would say it’s important to love children unconditionally. But in practice, sometimes that’s harder than it sounds!

What exactly is unconditional love? What does it look like?

One thing’s for sure — unconditional love is not praise for positive behavior. When I express love in any context where children can possibly interpret my affection as conditional (based on their behavior), it loses its power as an expression of love!