Want more encouragement for your marriage? Look no further than Loving Well, a podcast dedicated to helping you and your spouse build a healthy marriage the way that God intended. Listen at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash Loving Well, or wherever you get your podcasts. When we point to Jesus, we really help them understand the why behind the what. We do this thing, or we don't do this thing because of Jesus, because of his goodness, because of his desire for us, because of what he is calling and inviting us into as his followers. That's Natalie Frisk, and she's our guest today on Focus on the Family, sharing ideas about really helping your child find their identity in Christ.
Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, I remember when Jean and I brought our oldest Trent home from the hospital. Boy, do you remember that day or what?
I do, yeah. I think my big thing was don't break them. I was so worried about everything, and, you know, Lord, help me just do the best job I could do.
I didn't feel equipped. I don't think any parent with their firstborn child ever feels really up to speed on how this is going to happen, and then it proves to be true. You fumble along and hopefully do things mostly right.
You're never going to do it 100 percent right. You know, Proverbs thankfully takes up some of that slack. It says, train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he's old, he will not depart from it, and that's been kind of a calming theme for me with Trent and Troy to do the right things most of the time, repent and ask forgiveness when we don't, and then just keep moving forward. I think every parent, many of those listening right now are probably identifying with that.
You're not going to be perfect, but you can be good enough, and that's what we're aiming for. Yeah, kids are resilient, and I believe, like you, Jim, it's a long game. You've got a plan to parent for the rest of your life, and our guest is going to offer insights about this process, particularly with regards to spiritual development. Natalie Frisk is a curriculum developer at Raise Up Faith, which is a platform providing resources for kids as they grow in their walk with Christ. She and her husband have a daughter, and she's written a book about her experiences and her expertise. It's called Raising Disciples, How to Make Faith Matter for Our Kids.
We have copies of that book here at the ministry, and we'd invite your call, 800, the letter A in the word family, or click the link in the show notes to learn more. Natalie, welcome for the first time to Focus on the Family. Thank you so much for having me. It's a great privilege. And for our Canadian listeners, you're coming in from Canada, which is great.
That is absolutely correct. Where do you live in Canada? I live... Oh, gosh. Not the street name, but... Yes, yes.
I live about an hour's drive outside of Toronto. About. I love it. About, yes.
That was... So near Toronto, which is a lovely city. Well, it's so good to have you here.
And I know our Canadian listeners are always proud when one of their own make it down here to be on the broadcast. So let's get going with just how busy parents are today. And man, we lean on that. I'm sure 100 years ago working the farm and they came in pretty tired too.
I don't know that much has changed. We like to glamorize our busyness, but we are busy. And I think a good place to start is speaking to the busy parents who are running all over the place, trying to balance a million things.
How do you do that with children and keep them at the forefront of everything in your life? I don't know. Yeah, if you got that answer. That's the honest truth. I think the reality is I write in my book about this idea. I call it the guilt trip clause. And I think that parents are just so overwhelmed in every sphere that we're guilted, that we just feel lesser than, we feel not good enough, all of these things. And so balancing all that busyness, all that stuff, I think a little bit is to say, you know what?
It's okay. You don't necessarily have to do it all. I had a friend once preach on busyness and I'll never forget this line. He said, sometimes you have to say no to what's good, to say yes to what's best.
That's a good start. Just wake up to that every day. Oh goodness. And I think that's parenting. Yeah, that's so good.
It's so true. I appreciate the experience you have as a parent and your role in ministry. And it gives you a wide breadth of experience to see the other kids that you have helped. I think the need for parents to believe that this is the most important job. How do we help to make faith matter in our children's lives?
So that's a broad question, but how do we help our kids to develop more interest in spiritual things? And I'm sure you, the listener, are thinking about, well, my 13 year old, I mean, I'm dragging them to church right now because they don't want to go. So maybe you can answer that kind of age and stage.
Yeah. Well, I'm going to answer the age and stage by taking us back to preschool. When you're five, what do you do? You go to school and you learn show and tell, right? You show and you tell and you show and you tell, and you get excited about the thing that you are showing and telling. And I think sometimes we make our trip to church that we are feeling the dragging that you as a parent, high parent listener with the 13 year old who is being dragged to church, you're begrudgingly dragging them to church.
And I just wonder if some of our, we've lost some of that joy in the show and tell because we're trying so hard. And I think some of it is taking that breath and reminding ourselves that there's a joy in all of this show and telling them the good news of Jesus in our own lives, and then inviting them to join us in church, inviting them to join us on a walk where we're going to marvel at the beautiful things in God's creation and turn that almost into a prayer walk that they maybe don't know preemptively is going to be a prayer walk, but you know, you, you can kind of engage. I think that age in particular with various spiritual disciplines that are maybe a little bit outside the box for them and that reawaken something for them. So as you get a little older in that continuum, so the elementary, late elementary school years, you know, fifth, sixth grade, what does that look like to, to build into them and to get them interested in church? Does it change?
Yeah, I think it does. I think that helping them see where they have value and worth within the context of the church community is so vital to that. I mean, I was visiting a church community and they had a little girl in their worship band. I think she was about eight or nine years old and she was great. And it's not that she was a great singer, to be honest with you. I can't remember.
I don't, I couldn't tell you. That wasn't the impression you got. It didn't, it didn't matter to me if she was a great singer and up, she had a role, she had a place in that church community. And I just thought that was so beautiful. And I think at that age, fifth grade, sixth grade, it's us helping our kids find a place in the mix.
Their awareness is really high at that point. Let me role play to help with the older kids. I'll just role play this, not out of experience, but things that I've heard, you know, when you're saying as the parent and what I want is some parent coaching from you right now, when I give you this example, this is what I'm looking for. So the conversation kind of goes like this, listen, I told you to get ready for church so we can learn to be loving and joyful and kind. Do you understand me? So let's get ready to go. What's your parenting coaching for me?
My parenting coaching for you is let's roll back that tape. But I mean, we get lost in the moment. I don't want to be too condemning, but I mean, we are kind of conflicting our kids with that, right? Let's go learn about the fruit of the spirit, even though I am not possessing it right now. Well, and I think for us is to catch ourselves before we get to that place, just in our even, you know, we're frustrated, we're getting ready for the morning, and maybe everybody else is in the car. And, and, and you're waiting on that individual.
It's going, okay, I am going to model the love and the, you know, patience. We don't, we know what all the fruit of the spirit are. We all sang the songs in Sunday school, right? We know the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We know them. And I'm sure you could sing the tune.
I will not. No, I can't either. But, you know, if we can actually truly model that ourselves to that teen that is driving us bonkers, if we can actually model that, I think that is something significant in that teen's journey with understanding who they are within the context of the faith community. Yeah. I think every child has a real challenge to find their identity. We talk a lot about that. And it's important because I think it's the core thing. The world is chipping away at that constantly. So they want your identity to be in your appearance, in whatever clothes you might need to buy, or the makeup you need to wear the hairstyle, the tennis shoes, and the list goes on and on. And parents are competing with that, especially Christian parents to say, son or daughter, you know, don't be rooted in that. Here's where your identity is. It's such a battle.
How can we encourage our children that they're enough in Christ and have them believe it? Yeah. Well, I think some of it is honestly, truthfully comes down to being a broken record as a parent. It's to remind them again and again. Right. It's, it's writing them on your doorposts. Not necessarily, you know, literally, but, but saying them when you're on the road, when you, you know, you go along all those things.
I mean, there's a reason the Bible says it that way. There is a reason. And it's so fabulous because, I mean, even psychologists now will say, you know, in particular with boys, that when you're side by side with the boys going and doing, you know, when are you side by side with, you know, perhaps your son's in the car, you're side by side with them in the car and you're driving somewhere, they're going to have better conversations with you than if you were to say, Hey, bud, let's go grab a Coke at whatever place down the street. They're going to engage with you better in the car ride. The car ride is meaningful. And so what's the identity piece there. It's reminding your kids again and again, and in different ways and actually authentically meaning it.
I think sometimes we do tend to, you know, I don't know if you know this, but as Christ followers, sometimes we have, we tout our platitudes and we have our nice cliches and we toss them about, but we mean them and we want to, we got to say them like we actually mean them because we do. And, you know, telling your child that it's adding your kids into your schedule in meaningful ways. It's not just assuming all of the relational pieces will happen, but actually making meaningful times with them.
I think it's really key. Some good insights and great advice from Natalie Frisk on today's episode of Focus on the Family. We're so glad you've joined us and there's more to come. I just wanted to remind you of Natalie's book. It's called Raising Disciples. And we have copies of that here.
Stop by the show notes or give us a call. 800, the letter A and the word family. You know, one of the things in scripture that can be convicting and at times, again, we're not perfect as parents.
We're certainly not. But to not provoke your children to anger. Lord, are you sure about that?
But no, there's a reason because of the fragility. I think the Lord knows that little one's heart. And when a parent is out of their own wounds and pain, you know, they're being provoked in their anger because that child's not doing what they want or whatever.
You don't realize the damage you're doing. I think it's interesting. The Lord is the great physician, right?
He knows, he knows how the human spirit, the human emotions, work. And I think it's a great insight. They're saying, don't treat your children in such a way that they develop bitterness and hatred for you because you're being so angry and hard hearted toward them.
Yeah, absolutely. And I would even just take the moment to say for those parents who may be either the kids are a little bit older that are listening right now, who go, oh, maybe I did that. It's not too late to say I'm sorry. It's not too late to ask for forgiveness.
That's good. That is a beautiful example to your kids. As they're even grown to know and hear from you that you have reflected on that.
I have a dear friend who that was their experience in their adult years. They had a father who was fairly harsh in a lot of different ways, provoked, provoked them to anger, certainly. And he had his heart softened by the Lord and he apologized. And he apologized. And it was so meaningful.
I could have so many. I mean, you know, you go through all of those years of maybe bitterness or resentment. And then to hear that genuine apology. I think that's the love of Christ, just seeping out of them.
And that's really, really valuable for all. And I hope you, mom and dad, you're hearing that because it's never too late. And if that is a place where you're at that, that anger has gotten the best of you or, you know, just mistreatment. Boy, really mend that quickly and be humble about it because that's teaching your children so many good lessons as well. So just, I would encourage, I know Natalie, you would too take that as the first step and watch that little one blossom. Even young children, boy, when they see true humility, they get it. God's wired their heart to get it.
And it will make your relationship so much stronger. Natalie, you had an interesting upbringing and you're part of, I think two different denominations. We don't need to know the names of them, but it puts you in kind of a little bit of a, what I would call a Gumby theology. You know, one was over here and the other one was over there and part of it.
And this is really critical. I think this might be the kind of the most poignant part of our discussion today. And that is how we, as Christian parents can easily become legalistic where we concentrate on behavior as the core thing rather than the heart, because we have been transformed by Christ and we're excited about that. We want our children to live lives of Shalom, not chaos. And Shalom means you don't do drugs and you don't sleep around and you don't drink and all those right things, but we tend to only put the billboard of don't, don't, don't, don't, don't.
And we don't give them the heart of relationship with Christ and the reason that you do the right things. Speak to that legalism that you experienced. Oh my goodness. Yes. Now I will say I had overarchingly, I had a great upbringing when it came to faith.
I wouldn't, I don't think you had a wide variety. It sounds like a wide variety, but I did recognize that there was this embedded piece that was very legalistic. You're right. I have a chapter in my book that's about this exactly. It's about Jesus centered versus morality centered teaching for our kids.
And the reality is we tend to focus on morals, the do's and the don'ts often. I mean, right from our children being quite young, you know, don't touch that. Don't you know, because don't look at that. Don't read that. Right.
Because we want to protect them. It's all from a really great place. And I will say this. I don't hate morals. Morals are very important. It's not about Jesus only and not morals. But what happens when we teach a Jesus centered teaching to kids is that morals are the byproduct. When we point to Jesus, we really help them understand the why behind the what. We do this thing, or we don't do this thing because of Jesus, because of his goodness, because of his desire for us, because of what he is calling and inviting us into as his followers. And so following Jesus means all of these incredible opportunities.
It doesn't have to mean do this, don't do this. Isn't that kind of boring? Like you're not really called into a faith. You don't get excited about your faith when you hear, well, Christianity is do this, don't do this, do this. Christianity is actually following in the way of Jesus. It's actually this very exciting. Oh, my goodness.
I'm sitting here in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a kid from a tiny, tiny town in southwestern Ontario, Canada. And there's no reason that we would be brought together if it wasn't for the journey that Jesus had me on. And that is exciting. And when we follow Jesus, when we follow in his way, when we are transformed in our hearts, when the Holy Spirit is actually, you know, doing what the Holy Spirit does, we are transformed. Yeah, I think I think part of it, too, as believers following Christ, we're on our own journey.
Our kids are on their journey. But, you know, we have had the transformational, hopefully, that transformational realization that Jesus is the Son of God. He's our Savior.
He laid his life down for us. And through him, we're reconnected to the Father. We're promised eternal life. And so, you know, out of that, we want to live lives that are pleasing to him. So we're, you know, we're in that journey. We're further down the road than our 13 year old. But we want it's odd thing because I felt that as a dad.
It's like I wanted Trent and Troy as 13 year olds to get it and to be living a life that all the rules are being followed. The commandments are being followed. Right. It's important. It's not unimportant.
That's right. But that is what a mature Christian fixes their gaze on is how do I please the Lord. And what they need at that age is the realization that Christ is for them. And it doesn't mean you go break the rules.
That's not what I'm trying to say. I'm just saying grace has to be part of that original foundation that we once had, and that they need to experience in order to understand the love, the unconditional love of God. Does that make sense?
It makes all kinds of sense. And we expect them to be mature Christians and doing the right thing and not doing the wrong thing right from the get go. Yeah.
Yeah. And I would say I have known some 13 year olds who are actually incredibly mature in their faith and could say, I do this because this is what Jesus is calling me to. Now, the reality too is that we can help steer our kids towards some of those really great things by allowing them to ask the questions themselves too. Jesus is sitting here beside you.
What does he think you should say or do? Or how does Jesus want you to treat your friend? And all of these things are really helpful for them to think through on their own. It allows them to actually make some inroads in their own brains to actually wrestle these things through. But that's actually how we develop a faith that becomes our own is we wrestle through these things on our own. And so at those ages, that middle school kind of age range that you'd mentioned, asking kids the questions helps them identify what's good and what's not good in the eyes of the Lord. And I think too, the relationship that you have with your child needs to be strong enough to where they can trust coming to you and talking to you about things. And that's such a balance because I think temperamentally, we as parents, we want to jump in correct, right?
Versus building the trust that you can come to me with anything, and I mean anything so we can talk about it. That takes a lot of effort on the parent side to restrain yourself from correcting and all of it. And a lot of prayer.
Especially at junior high. And I realized that I could beat this drum forever and a day, but I think that prayer is the most valuable thing that any parent can do for their child because it transforms us. And it also puts all of the things that we're worried about our anxieties right at the Lord's feet.
Yeah. You know, Natalie, one of the most difficult things I know we experienced this, John, maybe you and Dina did as well, but with all the social media, all the inputs that your elementary, middle school, high school children are going to receive, I guess on the one hand, it's hard to compete with that in the context of how to help them build their faith and become disciples, right? You're competing with these exciting kind of environments. And so I think the question is, you know, how do parents approach this so that they're getting the core stuff right? And TikTok is a thing, but it shouldn't be the thing.
That's right. And, you know, how do we manage that? Yeah, I think when it comes to the vast array of social media, oh my goodness, aren't you glad you didn't grow up? I am.
I'm so glad. It's distracting. Talk about a prayer piece for my own child, social media, you know, there's a little bit of holy fear in that regard, but I think that the thing with social media is that it's not inherently evil. There actually are some good pieces of social media. And so I think it's also helping your kids recognize and be able to filter through what's good and what's harmful in their experience of social media.
I have a friend, a colleague of mine at Raise Up Faith, and he talks about the difference between junk media and kind of what is more healthy media. And so being able to steer our kids towards faith-based programming, you know, things that are going to build them up versus tear them down, helping our kids just have that level of awareness that there are messages that they're going to receive that aren't healthy and they're not helpful to who they are as humans is good and important. And then on the other side of the coin, when it comes to social media and our engagement with our kids, I think the other piece of it is that the reality of what our kids are looking for is attention and it's being fully known and seen. And so if we can spend genuinely focused time with our kids away from the online scopes and spheres and really engage with them, help them feel seen, help them know they're loved, they're secure, help build them up, encourage them, my goodness. I notice just, you know, as I walk through a mall or, you know, grocery shopping and hearing parents talk to their kids, and sometimes, and I realize that these are parents doing their very best and I've been there too.
We could probably all raise our hands around this table. But you hear just the negative things that people say to their kids. Oh, stop doing that. Oh, stop crying. Stop this. Stop that. Oh my goodness.
Get your hand out of your nose. All these things. And, you know, how many messages do we give our kids each day?
How many of them are more negative than positive? And I think, especially as Christ followers, that we are meant to be people who are encouraging and building one another up. You know, we are called to that. And I think if we are encouragers of our kids, that space that you talked about earlier of them being willing to come to you, it just softens that area between that area between you and them. Sure. Creating the trust. And that encouragement becomes really meaningful.
Yeah. Natalie, we have not been able to cover it all, but at the end here, I don't want you, the listener, to be discouraged. Like, oh my goodness, I've heard these folks talk about this stuff and I haven't kind of, you know, pulled my anger back.
I, you know, all the stuff that could be. What advice do you have for that parent who's listening saying, okay, I got to retool here. Listener, I genuinely believe that you are doing the very best you can as a parent.
God bless you. And I think and believe that as we follow in the way of Jesus, that our kids will see what that looks like. And I think that if we focus on following Jesus and inviting our kids into the things that we know to be important when it comes to following Jesus, maybe that's serving in your local community in some way. Maybe that's the way in which you tithe to your church.
Maybe that's a prayer time that is really important to you. Invite your kids into that. Let them know that that is an important aspect of your own faith development and that it's because of Jesus.
Let them know the why behind the what. That is really important stuff. And bless you. I really do believe that you're a great mom or dad. That is so well said, Natalie. Thank you so much for being with us.
And we've only touched the surface. You know, there's so many good concepts in the book and I hope you'll get a copy. And to do that, man, why don't we bless each other, make a gift to focus of any amount. And we'll send you a copy of Natalie's book as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry and helping other parents do the best job they can do along with all the other good things that Focus is doing.
But jump on. Let's do ministry together and we'll send you the book again as our way of saying thank you. Yeah, Focus on the Family is here to encourage parents at every age and stage of the journey and you certainly have heard that today. Join us, as Jim said, make a contribution to the work of Focus on the Family and we'll send that book Raising Disciples by Natalie Frisk as our thank you. And our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. You can find all the details and make a donation online. The links are in the show notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Focus on the Family dot com slash prepare my will. That's Focus on the Family dot com slash prepare my will.
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