God has not given them to us and not also made a way for us as their parents to train and to support them, to equip them without also not being faithful to keep His promises, to help us and walk with us through it. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, help and direction for parents.
Whether you're pregnant with that little one or you have a toddler in the house, or if you have teenagers, you'll benefit from the practical and biblical conversation you're about to hear. Co-author Dr. Shannon Wharton will join Gary today to talk about things I wish I'd known before we became parents. You can find out more about that featured resource online at buildingrelationships.us. This program is going to be a real encouragement to parents and future parents alike. I hope if you hear this program and think of someone who might need the encouragement that you'll point them to the website buildingrelationships.us so that they can hear it right there.
Gary, I remember the feeling when I was 23, hearing the news that I was going to be a dad and I searched for something to read to help prepare me, you know, what do I do? And I had all of these fears. And I'm just thinking now, why didn't you write this 30 or 40 years ago? Well, maybe I should have, you know, but then it wouldn't have been the right time framework for our guest today. So let's just leave it like it is. Okay.
Great. Well, you're going to hear some great encouragement that I wish I could have had back then. And we're going to do that as we meet Dr. Shannon Wharton. She is co-author of our featured resource, Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Became Parents, Associate Professor of Counseling for Liberty University. She's also a licensed counselor who for more than 20 years has specialized in counseling families, couples, and women. She's been interviewed on numerous programs and podcasts and is a popular conference speaker. She's co-authored two books with her friend and mentor, Dr. Gary Chapman.
She and her husband, Steven, have three children and they live in North Carolina. Well, Dr. Shannon Wharton, welcome back to Building Relationships. Dr. Chapman is one of my favorite programs. It's a treat for me to get to talk with you here. Well, tell us a little of the need for a resource like this. Why is this such an important topic for you? Well, I mean, we, Steven and I, we have our three kids and I like to tell people they, the children, have taught us so much about parenting. And in my work in ministry, I routinely hear people asking questions. So not only do I experience all of these questions firsthand, but here are so many other people asking me as a counselor and counselor educator, how do we parent? We're striking out or anymore I'm hearing people talk about epic parent fails. So the listener may be, that may resonate with the listener, epic parent fails. And Dr. Chapman, pretty much every parent that I talk to, that they can connect with that, that, that worry of failing their children, that worry of, of perhaps letting their children down by just, I don't know, just failing. It's often not that they're failing, but they feel they're worried that they are going to fail. So anyway, firsthand experience in lots of counseling over the years, I know that many, many parents struggle with the same worries.
Well, I think you're exactly right. And as I want our listeners to know, the reason I chose to write this book with Dr. Worden is because she had three children in the, in the home when we were writing this book and my kids were grown and gone and I wanted someone that was in touch with things here and now. So I think our listeners are going to find this program to be very helpful.
And I know the book is going to be helpful to those who are willing to get it and read it. So, so let's jump into the subject. What's the one main thing you wish you had known before you became a parent? Well, the children themselves, they are watching me for cues.
They're watching how, and Steven, they're watching us. How are, how are mom and dad handling these everyday challenges? See, you know, I think we enter into parenting feeling like we've got to know everything and wow, what a, what a mistruth that is.
We, we are learning all the time. So Dr. Chapman, I think that's the most important thing, entering into parenting, that it's okay to keep learning. It's okay that your kids see you learning and growing. That's actually how they're going to learn and grow the best that they see you struggling well and learning and growing.
Well talk about some of the most common stressors for new parents and maybe things they didn't realize that would be stressful. For us, the busyness of life has been, continues to be a major challenge that I don't know that parents often see. You know, they're, they're imagining picture albums. They're imagining Christmas dresses. They're imagining Easter baskets and, and all of the fun, the beach trips. They're imagining these fun picture album types of memory making that we do and that we love to do as families, but they don't necessarily recognize.
We, Steven and I did not recognize in the early days that life was so much more, that there were going to be so many normal developmental types of challenges that we as a couple were facing that now we as a couple with children were facing. It's a lot of work. It is so much work, but it's so sweet.
It's such sweet work. Wouldn't trade a thing about it. Yeah. You know, I think that Carolyn and I didn't have much of a idea that it was going to change our lives that much. You know, now she did agree before we got married. She said, I want to be a stay at home mom.
And I said, okay, that's great. You know, so she knew there was going to be that change. And I had the idea, well, if she's going to be a stay at home mom, it's not going to take much of my time. I mean, she's going to be able to handle this. Do you think that a lot of new parents go into this season of life thinking that it's not going to be very difficult to make this transition?
Yeah, I know they go in thinking it's not going to be difficult making the transition. They, they're just doing the fun things. I just, in fact, was at a baby shower not too many weeks ago and so sweet.
All of the little Winnie Winnie the Pooh decorations and little party favors and that sweet couple, this is their first baby. And you know, they, they understand, I mean, they're, they're smart people. They understand that, that life is hard and parenting is hard, but they're still in the baby shower stage and just enjoying their own nap time, let alone hoping that their child will take a nap.
They just want their own nap time. And, and those are sweet, they're sweet days. And, and just that preparation for parenting is so sweet, but no, I do not, I not only think it, but I know it that parents don't know what they're getting into. And yet what a sweet privilege that God allows us to partner with him and in having these children and raising these children up for his kingdom purposes. And so I often tell our kids now that God has not given them to us and not also made a way for us as their parents to, to train and to support them, to equip them.
And that's the truth. It just, it takes a while to know that, that God has not allowed us to partner in parenting and not also promise to support and walk with us through it. So that's been a really sweet. And what I want, a truth that I want to, I want the listeners to hear today that God did not partner with us, did not give us this privilege without, without also not being faithful to keep his promises to help us.
It's just, it's wonderful. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . If you know a new parent or someone about to become a parent, suggest our conversation today.
You can find it online at buildingrelationships.us. Also, our featured resource will be helpful to parents with kids of all ages. The title is Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Became Parents.
Dr. Shannon Worden is joining us today, and you can find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Shannon, what are some of the things that you and Steven, your husband, agreed upon that would make parenting less stressful for you? Well, I would like to say that we very intentionally agreed upon this, but parents, if you're listening today, I want you to know from mine and Steven's home that it wasn't always intentional, conscious decision making. We were often figuring these things out as we went, such as, hey, did you happen to empty the dishwasher? Or, hey, would you mind getting the clothes out of the dryer?
They've been in there pretty much all day. So it became in the moment, in the doing of the work together, how we realized we needed each other. That has been the greatest insight for Steven and me as a couple, that we need each other. God's design was not fallible.
He knew exactly what he was doing. Mom, Dad, you're going to need each other. And so beyond that, maybe some of the more intentional decisions that we have made, Steven, he will tell you himself that in the early days, he managed our bank account. But increasingly, as we moved into all of the additional bills that home brought, that children brought, he and I realized I was actually probably the better of the two, maybe the less worried of the two.
I don't know. He would be stressing out over managing the books. We finally were just like, you know what, let's try with me running the books. He was like, yeah, let's do that. That would be a real relief to me.
We've done that now for a number of years. We both have less stress because I manage the books. Now, we are very often in contact with what the money is and what our bills are. But I tend to be the one that leads in terms of managing the overall bank account. So that's one specific example where we were very intentional in recognizing what our stress levels were and which of us may be equipped a little bit differently to handle that stress differently.
He has plenty of other stress, by the way, but this is one of those areas that I'm glad to field for us. Yeah, you know, with Carolyn, I was the opposite. She started off taking care of the books.
And one day she said, honey, this is hurting my stomach. Could you? So I've been doing it, but you know, it's an illustration that we are both different and we have different likes and we have different abilities and different comfort zones and it's discovering those and because we are a team, we just need to find our place on the team. You know, what's the best place for us to work together as a team. So we have to discuss, it takes communication to work all those things out.
Oh, wow. It sure does. And humility. Some folks that are listening really maybe feel that they have to do, they have to have the most perfect, the cleanest home.
They have to, you know, always know exactly what's coming. You know, this idea of maybe a false sense of control and just that the humility that a couple needs to be able to say, I don't think I can do this. I really need you. That takes such a sweet humility and actually is great for your relationship listener. If you can just be humble with and vulnerable to say to your spouse, I really need you and spouse on the flip side of that, I hear you, let me help and hey, I need you too. And those are really sweet conversations. It's scary at first to humble ourselves or to be vulnerable, but wow, those are some really sweet conversations to be honest with each other.
I need you. That's Dr. Shannon Worden and we're talking about the book that she and Dr. Chapman wrote, Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Became Parents. You can find out more at the website, buildingrelationships.us. I want to hear both of you answer this question about the faith side of parenting. What are some things that you wished you had known about how to pass on your faith to the next generation?
Gary, you first. Well, I think I, I didn't, I'd never thought this through, you know, as to how we're going to do that when the children come and as they get a little older, of course, and can begin to comprehend things. But one of the things we did decide early on was to have a daily devotional time with the children. Now, when they were very, very young, that involved, you know, reading a book to a three-year-old, you know, every night, it was a Bible story book, and then having prayer.
So I think, you know, we kind of built this as we went, which is what Dr. Worden was saying earlier, some of these things you do build as you go. But it became a real part of our lives that we would have this devotional time together. And when they were real young, we prayed, you know, in their presence there. But as they got a little older, we would go to the bed and pray with them, either Carolyn and I, and we kind of took turns doing it after we'd had our devotional time.
We said, now it's time to go to bed. And one of us would go to the bed with them and get on our knees beside the bed and pray for them and with them. And as they got older, of course, they began to pray as well. My daughter says, you know, that's really where I learned to pray, was listening to mom and dad pray, and then they asked me if I wanted to pray. So I started praying. And obviously, prayer is a huge issue for adults and for children because it's the time that we express our dependence on God.
I don't know, what was it like for you, Shannon? I'm just thinking about our model and how it is our children naturally do what we do. And so Stephen and I, having grown up in the church and living very faithfully and going to church, that was a natural part of what we then did with our children.
And so from the beginning, they were being dedicated at church, you know, and those early years they were being dedicated and then they were in classes, you know, from nursery on up, they have been in classes and in children's ministry. And so we were just naturally living out and modeling for them what we have felt in our hearts. I'm going to say something kind of controversial here even, that I'm not one of those parents, nor is Stephen, who says, oh, they'll figure it out. Okay, parent, well, let's look at that wisdom. If you watch whatever anything you want to watch on television, listen to anything you want to listen to on the radio, associate with anybody that you want to associate with, your children, again, back to that model, are seeing what you're living out. And so Stephen and I, in loving the Lord and wanting to be faithful in our relationship with Christ, we naturally listen and watch and associate with people that or with programming that reflects our relationship with Christ. And so the controversial piece to that is that sometimes parents will say, well, they'll figure it out.
No, left alone, they will figure out what the world wants them to know. And so Stephen and I thank the Lord, just because this is all praise to God here that because of his faithfulness to us and his help to us to stay faithful to him, that is what our kids are seeing. And maybe they will one day as adults, they maybe will choose their own path. But to date, all three of them have accepted Jesus in their heart. They've all made a public profession of faith. They've all been baptized.
And I get excited even thinking about that, just how sweet, Dr. Chapman, we got to see the two younger ones baptized this past January and just such a sweet moment in that profession of faith and just even sweeter. And so we can't afford to allow our children to find their own way as young people. Number one, we're living out our faith. But number two, they need to see, they need to, as the scripture tells us, they need to early in their life be hiding God's word in their heart. And so we're those parents who are trying our best to live for Christ and model that for our children in hopes that they too will stay faithful in their relationship with Him. I think another point you're making is that we need to also utilize the church. The church doesn't take the place of parents, but the church is a tremendous asset where children can be influenced in the right direction. We get them involved in sports and all kinds of other things, and those things can be really, really good. But they're not necessarily teaching them much about a relationship with God, but the church does that. I've often said to our children's workers, you all have got one of the most significant roles in the life of the church when you get to minister to children.
Let's go back. We were talking earlier about money and management and paying the bills and all of that, but the reality is it costs a lot of money to raise a child. And I don't know that I thought about that either before we had a child.
But what can expectant parents or new parents do now to prepare financially for raising children? Dr. Chapman, I'm laughing here. Carolyn, one time Stephen and I were with y'all and you and I were, I believe, recording a book trailer or promo and Carolyn was there with us and she said, would y'all just calm down? And she might have been speaking more to me, but we were trying so hard to get that recording right. And that has stayed with me. Goodness, I can't even tell you how often that comes to my mind.
I hear Carolyn saying, Shannon, just calm down. Well, parents, you're listening today. Just calm down as you're thinking about all of the potential expenses. And then even as you're making some specific choices as you go along, just stay calm.
Try to operate from a position of logic and reason. Now that's difficult because sometimes we impulse buy. Parents, you know that feeling. I need this. We've got, oh, this is on sale.
I've got to get this. Well, do you? Do we really need to get that today? And so sometimes we just need to calm down and try to operate from a place of reason, from logic.
If it's a big purchase in particular, or if it's a lot of smaller purchases, either way, it all totals up to a big ticket. Really operate from a place of reason. Do we really need this? And so even training yourself in the early years and even prior to your first child, but training yourself to stay calm, to exercise some control with your spending. That is a practice, a discipline that will carry you a long way. I know it's so obvious, but again, those impulse buys, I've got to have this.
We're going to need this. Well, let's fast forward the clock a year. Did you really need it a year from now? And the answer often is no, you didn't. And so just some good calm, self-control reason will carry parents a long way. And if they are impulse spenders, they may need to be doing some accountability with that now, perhaps looking at some financial teaching, coaching that they can get, and perhaps even having an accountability person, a mentor, someone who can speak some wisdom into their life around spending.
I think that's good advice. You know, today it's even more difficult than it was even 10 years ago financially because of the inflation of everything that's gone on in the country. So I think most new parents will have to think, you know, maybe is there something we've been doing that we don't need to be doing because we need more money to take care of the child.
So at any rate, it's something that we will all face for sure. What do you say? I mentioned earlier about Carolyn wanting to be a stay at home mom. What do you say to the couple who wants one spouse to stay at home with the children, but they can't actually make it financially for one spouse to stay at home?
That's a great question. I know friends, I have friends who are in that very same situation and what they do as the children have gotten a little older is that in this case, I'm thinking of a mom. The mom has started working at a preschool and it's still maybe a half day type of work so that they have the extra income that they need, but they are also still finding time to care for the home and for the family in the way that they want to care for the family. There are solutions like that where one or the other can take on that very customized even, I would say customized fits their schedule, their needs, extra work. That being one example, I've also seen with the, of course, with the internet, lots of families are very smart at how they use Etsy and eBay programs like that, that they can craft or sell used clothes, used toys. They can make back some of the money that they are spending and those folks, the ones who are really invested in that, they do really well. So there's some really creative means out there either in the part-time work or perhaps even working from home. Obviously there's increasing numbers of opportunities at home. In that case though, you would have to still have some help such as we've always been very fortunate that my mom has been able to help us in so many ways and with childcare.
And so you would have to have some help if working from home, but that part-time job, that using eBay, Etsy, those other types of programs just to help sell or resell some of your materials, those are some really creative ways of one parent needing to or wanting to resume making money, but without giving up their vision for having someone at home more often than if they were working a full-time job. Yeah. And what works for one couple will not necessarily work for another couple.
That's right. But those ideas I think would be helpful. You know, there are books on parenting that really focus on the physical health of a child. Now we know that that is extremely important.
No question about that. The child eating right and sleeping and so forth and exercising and all of that as they grow up. But in the book, you discussed emotional health and say that emotional health of a child is just as important as physical health. So what can we do to bring help for our children emotionally?
I love thinking about emotional health. This is what we are supposed to do in the home, really. Even if we're homeschooling and we're responsible for the academic or whether we're sending our children to school outside of the home, either way, we are partnering in or responsible for their academic education.
And yet that emotional education, if you will, that is what is happening from day one in our parenting. We are modeling kindness. We are modeling grace.
We're modeling decision-making. The calm and the self-control that I spoke of here is we're modeling these emotional qualities, these social qualities. And I tell my children often they'll say, well, I made a 92 or I got a check plus on something. And I'm like, you know what?
That's wonderful. In fact, Dr. Chapman, what we say in our home is that an A is great, but a B is fine. You know, because our focus, we know and our focus is on that our kids are healthy, that they are relational people, that they in this world where, yes, there is so much academic, there is so much more that is emotional and social. And so the qualities, the traits, the characteristics that we are modeling and ingraining in them, that is actually going to take them much further than just their academic knowledge and skill. So we don't minimize the academic, but we absolutely do maximize or overly focus on the emotional because, again, that's where so much of their life is going to be spent with friends, with a spouse, with children, with coworkers in the ministry, in the mission field. They are going to be in one way or another reaching to other people. And so so much of our life here on earth is about relational connection and thus relational or emotional intelligence.
And so we absolutely do talk about that a lot. And y'all, you're going to laugh. Parent, you may laugh at this, but I will even say to, for instance, our middle son, I will say, I'm raising you to be a kind, unselfish person. And y'all forgive me here, but I say, I'm not raising you to be a narcissist. I want you to be unselfish. I want you to be giving. And they laugh. This is what you get from having a counselor mom.
You get training like that. But I absolutely want their focus on the heart and on the relationship as much and really more even than the academic. Our program is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. You can find us online at buildingrelationships.us.
There you can take an easy assessment of your love language, your language of apology, and more. Plus, find our featured resource today, the book by Dr. Chapman and our guest, Dr. Shannon Worden. It's titled Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Became Parents.
Find it at buildingrelationships.us. Before the break, Shannon, we were talking about the importance of emotional health in the life of a child. And I know in the book, you discuss stages of emotional development for children.
So just a word about that that might be helpful to parents. We borrow heavily from Eric Erickson's psychosocial stages of development. And that's such a tried and true model for understanding development across the lifespan.
Of course, anyone who studies that type of psychology, they know that there are other models and they all have strengths and some weaknesses. But in the book, we talk from Erickson's stages of psychosocial development. The first few of those in particular is where we focus in this book.
And the first of those is just the infancy stage, which is birth through 18 months. And the task or the basic challenge of that stage of life is that the child is building trust or mistrust. And that's where, parent, you think about it. You are their everything in those early days and early years. You are their source of comfort, their source of food, of safety, etc. And they are learning if you are a trustworthy person. And if they're in a trusting environment, that then plays into their development. Can I trust this world that I am in?
And can I grow to be a trustworthy person myself? So parent, I hope you're hearing that because you're thinking, oh my goodness, that's a lot of pressure. Remember now, God did not allow us this wonderful privilege of partnering with us without also helping and providing us, guiding us in the parenting work. So don't be too afraid, but do recognize even in these early days and years that in this infancy stage, that work you're doing, you think you're just feeding or changing a diaper or that sort of thing, singing them to sleep, but you're actually planting seeds of trust. They're learning to trust you.
And that's going to play out in their relational or emotional health. The next stage, early childhood, usually up to about three years of age is a stage of autonomy versus shame or doubt. And that period of time is where that toddler is learning, oh, I can do some things for myself. I can walk.
I can open cabinets. I can use a crayon on mom and dad's wall. There's some autonomy that they're beginning to experience.
And so you and I, we don't want to crush that spirit, but we do need to guide it. I don't know about you. I don't really like having crayons on my wall. Some parents are really creative.
They're special paints that you can now paint on your wall and the kid can chalk it up or crayon on it and it'll wipe right off. That was a brilliant invention, but we want to offer some boundaries, some guidance to the child, but we don't want to necessarily shame them because else that can stifle that autonomy and that can build shame or doubt, self doubt. Mom said, don't do this. Mom keeps saying, no, no, no.
Dad says, no, no, no. And I can begin to feel some, some shame or some uncertainty in myself as to whether I can succeed. And the next stage that we talk about in the book is Erikson's stage as known as preschool or the initiative versus guilt stage. And that's usually up to about age five. And you know, this is where a child is now understanding right from wrong and a child is beginning to be able to do some things for themselves. And once again, parent, we're wanting to foster a sense of, yes, you can, you child, you can do these things and here's a right way of doing it, a safe way of doing it.
And now go ahead, give it a try. Oh, great. That worked. Or, okay, hey, that didn't work. It doesn't have to be the message of what are you doing?
You mess that up. You know that, y'all, that's a very natural reaction to children, but it's also a very hurtful reaction at times back to calm and controlling ourselves and really recognizing these emotional relational seeds that we're planting in our children early in those early years. We want to see all of these stages as normal, as helpful, as good.
That child isn't trying to be bad. They're trying to come into their next stages of development. They're growing. They're ultimately all the way on up to adulthood where we hope and pray that they're going to live as thriving, healthy, happy adults. And so those are a few of the early stages that we talk about in the book. But parent, I do hope you're hearing these are normal stages. Try not to dismiss or diminish your children's opportunity to learn. Do, though, stay present, engaged, giving them opportunities to learn and grow, giving them those good yeses so that they can feel good about the good growing, the good learning they're doing. And we can talk more about some of the discipline elements of parenting as well, Dr. Chapman.
But that at least gives the listener a little bit of some insight as to what those developmental goals are in those first five, six years. Shannen, a lot of the caregiving for infants and young children, many times it falls on the mom. Can a dad be more involved at those early ages? Why is it important for the development of the child to have both mom and dad there?
That's a great question, Chris. Dads, you are needed. Dads, dads wanted. And so I have to say of Steven, just as an example to dads that are listening or perhaps moms who want to involve their husband more in parenting, I want to say of Steven that y'all, even after I delivered each of the three children, Steven was the one walking them around, making sure they had their first milk. And I was a mom who was a nursing mom, but sometimes if mom is coming out of surgery, actually moms who can relate to this actually had three C-sections and I needed Steven right out of the gate. The children needed Steven right out of the gate. He was the one giving them their first bottle. And so some moms be like, oh, I don't want that.
I want to be that first. Well, okay, everybody, you, it just is Dr. Chapman, you've said it really does vary. This just happened to be my story. But from the beginning, Steven was involved. And from the beginning, I didn't mind if he didn't do a diaper the exact way that I did it. I wanted him involved and he wanted to be involved. So dads, jump in there. It absolutely, Christi, your question is part of God's design that mom and dad are there together. Baby's hearing dad's voice. Baby is smelling dad's scent. He's hearing mom, smelling mom, feeling their heart beating as they hold that baby.
It's so important in that child's early formation really emotionally that they are hearing, seeing, engaging with mom and dad together. And so dad, I know sometimes it seems like woman's work or dirty work. I don't know what I'm doing. Well, who does?
Who does? But you're going to play such an important role in that kid's life. Why not go ahead and start on day one?
So sometimes you just need permission and I'm not the one to give you permission. Mom and dad, you can do that for yourself, but give yourself permission to jump in and parent together. The team, Dr. Chapman, you have mentioned team.
That team starts, it already had begun truthfully, but absolutely day one of that baby's life here on earth. Dad, jump in there, get involved. All the research indicates that the healthiest children are those who grow up in a home where there's a mother and a father who are loving each other and loving the children. But we also know in today's world, there are many, many single parent homes. Most often the mother and the father is not there. What would you say to those mothers in terms of building emotional health in the life of that child?
Yeah. Mom, it's hard, I feel for you, and you can do this. I have known many single moms who have been very successful, and one of the ways they have been successful is praying to the Lord, Lord, help me, trusting the Lord, Lord, I believe that you have not brought me to this place and now have abandoned me. So praying, believing, and then looking and counting on the Lord to bring trusted others into your life, perhaps a parent, perhaps a trusted church member, perhaps certainly trusted daycares, and do your due diligence there to make sure of the quality of that daycare. When you're getting on into the sports stage of life, making sure you've got trusted coaches that are coming into that child's life and pouring knowledge and wisdom, pouring discipline into that child, but praying, trusting the Lord, looking for other trusted people who can help you raise that child. Again, I've seen many parents do that.
As you said, Dr. Chapman, it's not ideal. I've also heard many single parents talk about how tired they are, how they wish they had someone. Let me also say, single parent, don't try to force a relationship because you're so desperate to have a co-parent.
Don't try to force a relationship. Really pray, trust the Lord. Once again, using reason, good sense about who you're bringing into your life and into your child's life, such that you're not impulsively or irresponsibly bringing in someone to your life, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, and then in time, a wife or a husband.
You're not bringing them in without really having vetted that person or making sure of that person, that they are in fact someone that you can stay with long-term. You can be successful. Pray, trust the Lord. Look for trusted others who can help partner with you in raising that child, but definitely do be patient.
If you are looking for someone to partner with or marry, do be patient. That can only add other complications and I've seen that play out as well in a single parent's lives. And there again is where the church can help.
If a single mom is involved in a church, there are people there that work with children day by day, Sunday by Sunday, so take advantage of that. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller "The 5 Love Languages" . Our guest is Dr. Shannon Worden. She and Dr. Chapman have co-written the book Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Became Parents.
You can find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Shannon, let's talk a little bit about discipline. I think there are a lot of parents who feel inadequate in this area. Let's talk about healthy rules and healthy consequences if those rules are broken. Our instinct, listener, is we've got to put this fire out immediately. I'm not happy with this misbehavior.
I will raise my voice. I perhaps will even accidentally often even come across as scary to my child. I've often, in looking back at my parent fail moments where I raised my voice or said something unwise to my children, I just want to confess that Dr. Chapman, I've certainly been there where I've said something that I regretted later.
So, parent, you're in good company here. But when I look back on those moments, I think, hmm, what can I do differently? What can I do differently the next time? As far as healthy discipline, goodness, Dr. Chapman, the theme of calm and self-control really continues to come forward here for me today. I want to stay calm.
I want to, for sure, be clear, clear in my message. That's another fail for us sometimes, parent. We're fussing about something and the child doesn't even know what we're fussing about.
In fact, I've got to tell y'all a quick funny story. Our middle son, not too long ago, he said, I'm sorry, but I don't know what I'm sorry for. He was saying the right thing, but of course, we're doing deeper heart change. I want him to understand when he hurts his sister's feelings that he has hurt her feelings, that this is important. Back to that relational emotional intelligence, I want him to understand why he has been offensive or hurtful to her. So I said, okay, you're halfway there with your, I'm sorry, we'll keep working on the heart change phase.
But, you know, I myself, in my discipline, I want to be calm, self-controlled. I want to be clear so that the child understands what I'm asking for. And hey, parent, it's good news. You're going to get many opportunities to teach some of the same heart lessons to those children. And so it doesn't all have to happen in one moment of parenting. That's another, I believe, mistruth or myth that I've got to be able to change my child. I want them to be, I want them to do the right thing, to be well behaved. Well, goodness, parent, how long did it take you to be well behaved? I'm still struggling myself once in a while, fellas, you know, with my own behavior. And so we want to be calm, controlled, patient.
We want to recognize that this discipline is an ongoing process. We don't have to put out this fire today. Now, again, some of you listeners are thinking, well, hey, how many times does a kid have to touch a stove? Okay, let's go ahead and say of safety, let's try for once and done. Absolutely.
Even there, it might take a couple of times. Hey, you can't cross the street without mom, without dad. Hey, the stove is on.
Do you see the red light? Or for the younger children, listener, you might even have stove guards up, things that keep them from turning knobs on. There are lots of really great safety precautions out safety tools that are available to us with younger children. But bigger thing here, Dr. Chapman, that I'm speaking to is just the heart, our heart parent, our heart behind discipline, recognizing the calmer we can be, the more we can embrace that this is an ongoing training ground. It's not going to be a once and done parent.
I'm sorry to break that myth for you. But there's this ongoing process, much like God is working on you and me raising us up, training us with discipline, training us to act with discipline in our lives. Same with our children. There's a heart piece for us as parents that we're working on.
And then there's also the specifics. Parents want to know, well, what about timeout? What about spankings, this type of thing?
You have to pray, read on these topics to know what's best for you. But parent, I believe if you get your heart right on discipline, back to the calm, the seeking the Lord first and foremost, listener, but also the calm, the self-control, the patience, the recognizing this is an ongoing process. We want to be compassionate and gracious. If we can grasp that heart piece ourself, the specifics of how long is the timeout or what is the consequence for this behavior?
Do we charge them a quarter every time they do this particular behavior? Those particular things will come more clear to you as you get your heart right, the heart of discipline. You mentioned that sometimes in the midst of discipline, we overreact and speak harshly to the child. What's the value of apologizing to a child when we actually do that? Goodness, Dr. Chapman, when my children say to me, mama, I'm so sorry, I hear them saying back to me what I have said to them.
I hope the listeners get that today. Dr. Chapman, you speak so graciously and eloquently on that topic of apology that we ourselves have to humble ourselves. We have to be willing to say and model to our children, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize that you needed me right now.
I didn't know that that project was so important. I just missed a charity drive at school. Our daughter said, mama, I really wanted to do that. I said, Presley, I'm so sorry. I knew two weeks ago that those items were due and I missed it. I missed it. I'll get it better next time. We'll do it.
We'll do it. I'll pay better attention next time. You know, and so when I hear the children saying back to me, mama, I'm so sorry. I know that I'm planting right seeds, that Steven is planting right seeds of humility, of apology, of respect to them, even at their ages. Parents, we have to respect these little lives. These aren't kids that are just waiting to be adults one day. These are precious people who are worthy of respect and compassion and grace. The power of modeling apology, of being willing and humble to say to our children, I'm sorry.
The power of that is not only going to help us be a healthier family today, but it's preparing those children that they are going to be healthier adults in their future relationships. And so that for me is part of the value, the importance of teaching apology to our children now, Dr. Chapman. Sometimes people have said to me, if I apologize to my child, they'll lose respect for me.
And I say, no, no, no, no, no. They gain respect for you. They already know that what you did was wrong. So you're, you're teaching them to respect you by doing that. And also, as you mentioned, we're teaching them how to apologize. How do we avoid comparing our children with in their development and all with maybe a sibling or maybe somebody else that's a friend of theirs? And why is that important?
What a gift. Number one, that each child is different. Steven and I often talk about in these three children, they're all our children, and yet they're so different. And it's a wonderful snapshot back to us of God's design, for one, that children can be so different. So that's a paradigm shift, listener, that it's not that we're needing sameness, that each child should be and look or acts just like us, but that it's part of God's creative, intelligent design that we are all so different and that he has a unique purpose for each one of those different children. So I think that that heart piece, Dr. Chapman, is so critical that we as parents expect differences.
We embrace, we appreciate differences because it is part of God's design. It can be very challenging if a child is different in a quote, bad way. Perhaps they're a little more stubborn or driven, or I like to put a different word on it, driven. I have a child like that who's driven.
I don't like to say stubborn. I like to say driven so that I can keep my heart pure and loving toward those behaviors. But parent, listener, what I think of my own children is, is, God, you have a purpose for her life, for his life. Help me to shepherd this purpose. Help me to contribute to both shape in ways that it needs to be disciplined or redirected, but Lord, help me not to stunt or get in the way.
Even though it may be a quote, inconvenience to me right now, I may not enjoy the challenge of this particular personality feature. You still, Lord, have purpose in it. I want to be a helpful contributor to that child's purpose in this life. So, Dr. Chapman, I know there's so much more I could say, but I think that it's got to be a conscious choice for a parent to not single out or see in one child something that they're not willing to see in another child. There is good and purpose in all of our children, no matter how different. Well, Shannon, as we come to the close of the program, you know, your emphasis today in this program of looking to God and praying, just let prayer be a way of life, because the Bible does say, if you lack wisdom, ask God and he gives it to you. So thank you for that emphasis. Well, there's many other things we could talk about that we do discuss in the book, and that is such things as potty training.
We won't talk about that today. How the love languages interface as you're raising children, how important that is, and how children do change and influence a marriage. And so how do you keep your marriage strong as you raise your children? So a lot of things in the book, and I want to thank you for joining me and writing it and for being with us today. And I do trust that our listeners will get the book because I think they're going to find it a constant source of help at each stage as they raise their children.
I agree, Dr. Chapman. I've heard lots of readers let me know, and I've seen in social media, just lots of positive feedback on the book. So absolutely, I hope that it'll be a blessing to many, many readers to come. The title is Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Became Parents by Dr. Gary Chapman, Dr. Shannon Worden, our guest today. Find out more at the website buildingrelationships.us.
That's buildingrelationships.us. Next week, a new assessment for couples. Dr. Les Barrett will talk about better love in one week. It's going to be another helpful conversation just in time for Valentine's Day. Our thanks to Janice Backing and Steve Wick for their production work on the program, and thank you for listening. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in Chicago in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
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