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Inconvenient Parenting - Melissa Hannigan

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
March 16, 2024 1:00 am

Inconvenient Parenting - Melissa Hannigan

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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March 16, 2024 1:00 am

You want to train up your child in the way he or she should go. How do you do that? On this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, Melissa Hannigan identifies the God-given traits children need in order to flourish in life. How do you encourage and cultivate those traits like wisdom, joy and imagination in a fallen world? Hear about “inconvenient parenting” on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.


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We had time around the table as a family for dinner. We had time for family walks for conversations. And then as I got introduced to these 12 qualities, I had the opportunity to have time to include them in our home.

It all started with this change in my heart of like, I want so much more. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, Melissa Hannigan talks about what she calls inconvenient parenting. How do you activate your child's God-given traits?

You can find our featured resource at the website Dr. Kathy Cook, who we've talked with a number of times on this program, says Melissa teaches how to put children first without enabling them to become self-centered, arrogant, and selfish. You're going to hear more about that concept of inconvenient parenting today on Building Relationships. Dr. Chapman, the whole parenting journey seems to me, looking back at it now in a lot of ways, it seems to be less about me doing all the right things and more about releasing the child to become who God uniquely created them to be. But that's not easy, is it? Well, you're right, Chris. You know, we had two children.

We have two children. And Shelly was always focused. You know, when she was eight years old, she said, I'm going to be a doctor when I grow up. And she never steered away from that, you know. High school, she took three years of chemistry and four years of Latin. And her brother, on the other hand, he said, you know, Shelly's too focused. She's going to miss out on a lot of life, you know, because he was all over the map. So I think recognizing children being different and allowing them to pursue, you know, the way God has made them and the vision God gives them, yeah, it's not an easy journey.

I'm excited about our conversation today. And we are praying that there's some parent listening right now who will walk away really encouraged by what Melissa Hannigan has to say. She holds a Masters of Arts degree in counseling from Midwestern Theological Seminary. Before becoming a full-time homeschool mom, Melissa worked with teen girls to overcome abuse, addiction and trauma. She's married to John and they are the parents of four children. And our featured resource at the Web site is her book Inconvenient Parenting. Just go to to find out more. Well, Melissa, welcome to Building Relationships.

Well, thank you so much for having me. Before we jump into today's topic in the book, you and your family have gone through some deep water in the last year or so. Tell us about losing your son Joey and this hard trail that you all have been on.

Yes, absolutely. So this book was set to launch August and we were gearing up for a book launch, excited for what God had, you know, opened the doors for us as a family to walk through. And completely out of the blue, one June afternoon, we got a phone call that Joey had been in an accident in a friend's swimming pool. A pool that he had swim in hundreds of times.

He just dove in wrong and he broke two, I can't even remember, he severed his spine. But he was incredibly brave through that and just continued to trust God. He went to the hospital, we all gathered our church, our friends and family, and we prayed. And he went through surgery and started rehab. And so we were preparing our hearts and our home for bringing home our son who was going to be paralyzed, quadriplegic.

And so that's kind of where our mind was. And I was learning how to care for my 16-year-old big giant of a son in a whole new way. But unfortunately, while he was in the hospital, some other complications arose and within three weeks, he passed away. And it completely blindsided our family.

It was not even on the realm of possibility. And yet I can share so many stories of God's faithfulness while we were in the hospital, able to witness and just shine our light in the midst of a really dark, hard time to the hospital staff and to our unsaved family and friends that watched us just trust God. And be very open-handed with the whole process. You know, it hasn't been easy. No parent can imagine losing a child. But what I tell friends when they say that to me is, you can't imagine it because if you're a believer, you can't even fathom the presence of God in the midst of the trial. And that has been our experience. God has been so thick and present with us, providing needs that we didn't even know that we had. Of course, we're walking a new journey of grief and suffering and learning how to live a new life without our precious boy.

But again, God has just been walking with us faithfully. And as I was in the hospital room thinking back over Joey's life, the last days as we were waiting, we knew he was going to go be with the Lord apart from a miracle. I thought back over his childhood, and I was so grateful that God guided me on this journey of inconvenient parenting, of choosing to put aside the things that the world says is important to really prioritize relationships and helping Joey become everything that God created him to be. And you know, I had moments where I'm like, God, he responded to a call to ministry. He was getting ready to start his senior year.

Why, Lord? But the Lord made it very clear that Joey's completed the work that he had for him. And now it's our job to continue the work that God has for each one of us, my daughters, my husband and I.

And so that's what we are trying to do our best today. Yeah. So he was a senior in high school. He was going to be. Starting in August would have been his senior year. So he would have turned 17 in August and started his. So he had taken the SATs and ACTs. We had started visiting colleges. He was wanting to go to a Bible school and study, either be a missionary or youth pastor.

He wasn't entirely sure, but he knew he wanted to do ministry. Boy, that has to be hard. In responding to that, you know, often husbands and wives process grief in a different way. What have you and John experienced along those lines? Yeah, even starting at the hospital, the trauma of the accident, we were very different in the way we responded. And it was God's grace. We both prayed a lot and asked the Lord to just give us grace for one another.

Because, you know, my background in counseling, I know high stress environments can lead to a lot of conflicts and really the downfall of marriages. And I said, Lord, help us. And so John and I really were giving each other the space to be who God created us to be in our unique ways. I was focused in on my son and learning everything that I could at the beginning of the hospital stay. And John was managing all of the decisions, talking with the doctors, bringing in the prayer groups and kind of managing all of that, where I wanted nothing to do with anybody else other than the nurse or the doctor that was next to Joey's side and Joey. And then as we grieved again, I'm very internal. I journaled and written a lot.

God has given me the opportunity to just pour out my heart and my thoughts in writing. And John is much more extroverted and social, and so he needs to be around other people. And so we've given each other the space to do that as he needs to go and surround himself with friends. And he allows me to pull back and internalize as I need to. But the important thing is that we continue to come back together and support each other and where we are checking in as best we can. Again, we're learning this as we go. We have not ever walked through nearly this deep of a trial, and yet we're just trusting the Lord and leaning on each other as best we can.

Yeah, yeah. I think our listeners, including me, just trying to think about that is just overwhelming. Well, I wanted our listeners to know about your loss as we begin our discussion today, because this is part of inconvenient parenting journey that you write about. There's so much that we don't control in life, right?

Absolutely. You know, as I was writing this book, I was looking ahead to Joey's senior year and eventually leaving the house. And as I rode and I prayed over my children each day, I really saw how the Lord had taken me from a brand new mom with Joey, terrified of everything, wanting to bubble wrap him and walking around, you know, Mother Hen, protecting him.

I was scared of everything. And through God's grace and just maturity in my faith and in my parenting, I started to trust myself. And I started to trust Joey more.

And I got to share in his celebration of life service just the journey that God took us on, trusting and learning how to let go. And I can see so many times where God really started to gently teach me to be open handed with my children, whether it was with their future career goals or their personality, you know, they're also very different. And it's easy for us as parents to want to put them in a box of the way that we think that they should be. Like you were saying earlier, you know, our kids are so different.

And so I can look back and see how God allowed me to trust him with Joey in little ways along the way that really, as best as I could be prepared to really release him ultimately to heaven until I see him again. Well, this is the title of the book, Inconvenient Parenting. Why don't you describe what that term or that phrase means?

Okay. It's funny, my husband really came up with the title. I wanted to call it sacrificial parenting. I feel like that sounds more spiritual and holy. But the reality is it's this idea of being willing to lay down yourself for the sake of your children, for what you know that is God's best for them. It's giving up what's easy for what's better.

It's seeing our children become who God created them to be because we've decided to prioritize really the things of the Lord. It's not easy and it takes an intentional laying down of some of our comforts. There's more mess. There's more conversations at 11 o'clock at night when you'd rather be in bed. But this inconvenient parenting mentality is just a choosing the better and laying aside kind of the comfort for a season.

Yeah. Is this something that came naturally to you or did you have to work at choosing this path? Well, I think in some ways mothers, from the beginning, you're sacrificing your body, you're sacrificing your sleep for a baby. And so some of that just comes naturally in motherhood.

But over the long haul of continuing to choose that path, it didn't come necessarily naturally. I share a story at the very beginning of the book. Our family lived in Houston. According to the world standards, we had everything. We had the unlimited AMX and the personal jet if we wanted to and the nanny and the housekeeper. And again, to the world standards, I had an easy life. I could be with my kids if I wanted to.

I could go to the spa all day if I felt like it. It was very comfortable. But as I spent time with the Lord and I observed my family, I realized that it wasn't what God wanted for our family because we were not seeking the things of Him. We were becoming entranced by the things of the world, material goods.

And it came to a head one day. I was listening to my son have a conversation. At this point, he was probably in second or third grade and he was talking with some of his friends and they were calling themselves jerks, junior educated rich kids. And I laughed because I'm like, you were not a rich kid at any standards.

And he was bragging to his friends that his daddy could land a private helicopter to pick him up from school if he wanted to with his black AMX. And there was this tug in my heart of like, no, that is not what I want for my son. I don't want him to be pursuing those things and bragging about those things.

I want him to be a man of integrity, a man that pursues the things of the Lord. And so at that point, I started praying, Lord, whatever it takes to shift our family's attention away from these things and back to you. And through a series of trials and struggles, ultimately, God did rip away the business partner that my husband had and really simplified our life pretty drastically overnight. And it wasn't comfortable. We went from a huge house to a tiny little apartment or a small house. And it was awkward. And there were times where I'd be looking at the mess and my husband would remind me, remember, we used to have a housekeeper that would help you with these things.

You wanted this. And it was more inconvenient, but it was so much better because we had time around the table as a family for dinner. We had time for family walks, for conversations. And then as I got introduced to these 12 qualities, I had the opportunity to have time to include them in our home, which we'll get to more later.

But it all started with this change in my heart of like, this is not what I want for my family. I want so much more. Yeah, yeah.

Wow. Well, you know, I've talked through the years with parents about trying to get on the same page with your spouse when it comes to how you love and how you discipline children and all the other aspects of parenting. Was it hard for you and John to get on the same page with this concept? So when we were introduced to the 12 qualities, it was COVID.

2020, we were in the lockdown period of time still. I'm homeschooling our kids. John's trying to figure out how to pivot his business that could be virtual. And so he was very overwhelmed and busy and focused on his job. And we always kind of had this understanding where I managed the homeschooling of the kids and he kind of supported our family financially. And he would step in for discipline and things like that. But when it came to education, he pretty much trusted my judgment. And so it started as a way to incorporate these qualities into our homeschool day. There were times where I share stories in the book where John comes home, comes in from outside and sees us painting one of our front windows with a mural of watered down paint.

And I'm standing up on a table up against the window and the girls are messy with paint. And he kind of gave me a sideways look, but he never really begrudged me for it. He just was surprised by it because I was always the type A, as best as I could keep everything very orderly. And so it was a shift, but I think he more observed. And then again, I share in the book, we're on a road trip one day and the girls are in the backseat singing along, making up a song, rhyming words.

And where normally I prefer quiet, I'm more of the introverted, I get overwhelmed with a lot of stimulus. I let it go. I let them continue to sing and be silly.

And he looked over at me and he was like, okay, I've noticed the painting. I've noticed the more messes and the experiments that go terribly wrong. And you're so calm about it.

What's changed? And I said, it's been this idea of these qualities and how God created them in my children and wants them to help them to live the abundant life that he intended. And this is part of the process. And he's like, but isn't that more inconvenient? And that's kind of the birth of the title.

And I said, you're right. It is. But isn't it so much more better?

Isn't it worth it to see our kids happy and they're not faces in front of screens and they're not fighting with each other, but they're experiencing joy and interacting. And so, yeah, it's a little noisier, but to me, it's much more worth it. And so that, you know, I don't necessarily think there was a disagreement.

It was just a slow understanding on John's part and him just really trusting me. Yeah. Well, you mentioned the 12 traits and you spell these out in the book, so we want to look at them. But first, how were you introduced to these 12 traits and why do you believe they're so important?

Yes. So again, back in 2020, Dr. Kathy Cook, she introduced me to them as a homeschool mom. She thought that they would be interesting to me. And I love to learn. I'm a student.

I would be in school the rest of my life if I could. So I'm always interested in new research and new ideas. And so she passed along this book. Dr. Thomas Armstrong did some research in the education world where he was looking at the best environment for classrooms for student success. And he looked at geniuses over time and found 12 things that they all had in common. So he put them together in a book and he talked about them. And so I started to dive in and study them because I was a homeschool mom.

I wanted the best environment classroom for my kids. But as I studied them, I realized, number one, these were all qualities that God had placed in us. He is the ultimate genius, right? He is the Alpha Omega, the ultimate creator. And we are made in his image. And so therefore we have these qualities within ourselves. And so I started looking at Dr. Armstrong's definitions and compared them to God's definition. Wisdom is one of the biggest differences. Yeah, that was just kind of the way that I was introduced to them.

And I started to introduce them. And I was excited to see the differences that I noticed in my children and even in myself as a mom, just flourish as a result of being more intentional about stewarding these qualities that I already saw present in my children. Well, these 12 characteristics, 12 traits are wisdom, wonder, vitality, sensitivity, flexibility, curiosity, creativity, imagination, inventiveness, playfulness, humor, and joy. So why do you believe these traits are God given?

And does your definition differ from the original researcher, Dr. Armstrong, that you mentioned? Yeah, so definitely, I believe, like I said, God created each one of us with the ability to experience the world around us and have an abundant life. And so these traits are the ways in which we engage with the world, the way that we learn, the way that we relate with one another. And so each trait, as I dove in, I'm like, I can find examples of this in scripture. I can see this aspect in God.

And I can see that my kids were created with this naturally. It's not something that you have to teach creativity. You know, I write about one of the studies that I came across where they did an analysis of kindergartners, and their creativity was off the charts. And they followed the same group of students throughout their schooling years. And by the time they were seniors, their creativity had diminished to almost nothing. And what had changed? Had they just suddenly lost their creative ability?

No, it was not stewarded. It wasn't encouraged. It wasn't allowed to flourish because other things became more important. And so I thought, well, if God intends us to be creative, because He's the ultimate creator, how can I, as a mom, continue to encourage this in my kids, even through their teen years and up into adulthood? And as a mom, as a woman, how can I continue to tap into that creative ability that God created inside of me? And so I share some ideas and examples in the book, but really, it's just shifting the way that we look at these things instead of as, oh, well, it's nice if kids can get some imagination playtime, but really, what's most important is XYZ. And I believe that that's not true, that to be fully human, to be all that God created us to be, is to express all of these qualities in the way that God intended them.

Yeah, I got to jump in here, Gary, because she's speaking my love language now. I was, you know, the creative kid, I was always thinking differently. And I felt like so, so left out or that some of the things that I would gravitate toward would be marginalized because they, well, you know, I was kind of all over the place, like you were saying your son was, Gary, you know, he's just everywhere. But in a lot of ways in education, we kind of beat the creativity out of kids, not beat it out, but we wean it out. And a lot of young people say, I want to go into music or I want to go, I want to be an actor or I want to be a writer. And somebody else, well-meaning in their life will say to them, well, how are you going to make a living at that?

So it all comes back down to, you know, you can't make a living, meaning you can't make a living at that. And you don't allow the young person to just dream. Is that part of what you're talking about? Absolutely. And that's my heart is for parents to just think differently about their kids in a way. Ultimately, I want parents to see their children the way that God sees them, because I believe God created each one of us with the unique gifts and purposes. And unfortunately, we try as parents to shepherd our kids into what we think that they should be instead of seeking what God wants for them.

Right. And so instead of taking the world standard, which is to make money and to have a career that's successful, which is not a bad thing. But that shouldn't be the most important thing. As parents, our goal should be to help see who God created our kids to be and then encourage them in that. And so that's my heart with the book is, you know, everybody's creativity is going to be expressed differently.

Some kids are going to be more artistic and some are just going to be different in the way that they think. And so becoming a student of your child or your children and to really understand the way God made them uniquely is kind of the heart of what I get to in this book. Yeah. How do you incorporate these qualities into the family without it becoming just one more thing to do on my to-do list as a parent?

Right. I know it's a little overwhelming when you hear a book and there's 12 things. And as a mom, I am in the trenches.

I get it. There's so much that we have to do and you don't want one more list, one more thing. Also, I don't want parents to feel this guilt and shame of like, oh man, I'm not doing this enough or I'm not doing this well. It's more of a perspective change. It's thinking differently about, number one, what is our purpose as parents? And really, as a husband and wife, if you're married, if you're single, just really nailing down what is the goal of parenting? And it should be to help our kids become who God created them to be. And if that is the goal, then the results should be, okay, now let me understand how God made my kids each uniquely.

And then what are things that I can do to pull that out of my kids? Not a checklist of, okay, now let me see, did we have wonder today? Check. Did I talk about feelings? Okay, we covered sensitivity. It's more of just an attitude of the way that we relate. It's not about education. It's not about any of those things. It's about relationships.

And so the book is really more about thinking through what we already do. We drive to work or drive our kids to school or drive our kids to practice. What is a conversation that we can have in the car that points to the wonder of creation?

Can I point out a cloud or a bird? We live in Florida, so we get beautiful sunsets and we see the ocean. But it doesn't take going out of your way to do anything differently. But what can you incorporate within your day that points to these things or allows room for these things? Another point is that a lot of times we get so busy as parents with kids that are going 100 miles an hour in lots of different activities. We don't have time to have family dinners. We don't have time to have conversations. We're so exhausted by the end of the day that we can't be inconvenienced by conversation because we can't keep our eyes open. And so back to the original point, what is our purpose as parenting? What are things that we put in our schedule that maybe we need to set down for a time? Maybe this is not the season to be in three sports.

Maybe we need to pay her back. And again, what is our purpose? Our purpose is to help our kids become who God created them to be. Being a star athlete, is that your purpose for your kid or is that really what God created them for? And so I believe that if we are trying to live in alignment with God's design for our home, we will have natural opportunities for conversation, which builds relationships. And that ultimately should be foundational of the priorities in our home. Chris, you and Andrea have nine children.

Yes, we do. You're looking back over the years. How is this resonating with you? I'm just I'm seeing every face of my children and exactly what you're talking about. And when I get busy with all the important things that I have to do, how often it marginalizes them, pushes them off. Or I can think of one time when my son came in the office and he had this little car.

He was so excited about it. And, you know, we'll do that later. We'll do that later. And just being and waking up. It's almost like, Melissa, what you're talking about is you allow your kids to wake up what was in you already so that you touch that nerve in them.

That's what I'm hearing. Absolutely. Yes. And wisdom, the first chapter that I talked about, the most important model of wisdom should be mom and dad. And we should be seeking the things of the Lord and spending time in God's word and demonstrating where we get really good factual truth information to our children because they're going to follow our footsteps. And so, yeah, being more intentional about the example that we're setting.

And it's not a shame. Oh, my goodness, I'm doing this terribly. But my heart is to be an encourager, to be a cheerleader for parents that are doing the best that they can. You know, most parents want these good things for their kids.

They just get so overwhelmed. And so my heart is to just encourage them to slow down, evaluate what it is that we can do differently, even if it's just a little thing, and then do that to the glory of God. Our program is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. You can find more simple ways to strengthen your relationships at Our featured resource today is the book by Melissa Hannigan, Inconvenient Parenting, Activate Your Child's God Given Traits.

Find out more at Melissa, on these 12 traits, what are some things that parents do that unintentionally work against these traits? Yeah, you know, we touched on earlier, busyness is one of those things, you know, kids that are not given the opportunity to be bored are not going to naturally find times to be creative and inventive and imaginative. And so, you know, we don't think about the importance of boredom as parents, but that's one of the ways that we can really make space for these things to flourish. And also, and I struggle with this in our own home, but screen time, you know, as a parent evaluating my own attachment to my phone, but then also taking a real hard look at how much is too much for my family.

And then also just, you know, the way that we look at different qualities in our kids as an annoyance instead of as the gift that God has given. I talk about in the chapter on playfulness, you know, my husband is really gifted with playfulness. I am more of the like, let's get the checklist done kind of mom, and he looks for opportunities for fun. And one day we were in the kitchen, and I was getting ready to do dishes, and I turned the faucet on, and he had come in and turned the faucet around so that when I turned the water on, it sprayed me in the face. And I had this moment where I could have chosen to be irritated with him because I was trying to get the dishes done. However, thankfully, the Lord had just let me be researching on playfulness, and I saw it as an opportunity to bring fun into our home. And so I turned that hose back around on him, and I sprayed him, and my son went and got his water gun, and it turned into a family water fight in the kitchen, which, you know, somebody ended up slipping on the water.

And, you know, we had to clean up our mess, but it's a memory that, number one, we treasure. And especially now that Joey has gone on to be with the Lord, I'm so grateful for those times. But a lot of times parents see playfulness, they see creativity, they see flexibility of thinking is another one where my son was so good at making connections where you don't necessarily see them.

And sometimes it seems like they're bouncing all over the place with their thoughts. And as a homeschool mom, I want you to stay on task and finish the thing that we're working on. But as I saw it as a gift that God had given him, his ability to make connections and see things in a different way, I encouraged that in him.

Now we still have boundaries, we still have to get things done, but it changed my attitude towards playfulness or creativity or flexibility in a way that made it a positive thing instead of an annoyance, I guess. Yeah, I can see that. What do you think is one of the hardest qualities to encourage in children?

Oh, goodness. Well, I think that it's unique to each family. I think every family has their own culture. And so for me, I think the hardest quality for me is vitality. It's the zest for life. It's excitement over each new day.

That's just not naturally my personality. And so for me, that is probably the hardest. But, you know, for others, it may be wisdom or slowing down for wonder. I don't necessarily think there's one that is the answer, but I think it's just unique to each child, to each home, really to each parent. Because if the parent struggles with it, it's going to be less likely to be incorporated into the home, right?

Yeah, yeah. So what if parents just, you know, naturally, they don't exhibit these traits, you know, they don't in their own lives, can they still, you know, encourage them in their children? Yeah, well, again, I think, I believe that God created us with all of these inside of us. And so it's reconnecting with that part of yourself that's gotten lost. Vitality, again, is one that I'm not so good at. But when I spend time in nature, when I take time and quiet to get away, I can reconnect with that excitement for life and zest.

And so knowing yourself, knowing what you're weak in and figuring out, okay, asking the Lord for discernment of how can I touch back into this place? You know, I have friends that are super creative. And then I have friends that are like, Oh, I can't draw at all. And so getting out of the mentality that creativity means you have to be a fantastic artist, that's a lie. Creativity can be expressed in lots of different ways. And it doesn't have to be beautiful to be expressive and creative and touching that, you know, connecting to that creator God part of ourselves that he's placed in us.

We're all intended to be creative in some way or another. And so not comparing yourself to other people is another important part. Like my ability to be imaginative is different than my spouse's.

And that's okay. I believe God puts us together with our strengths and our weaknesses and our differences. And so, you know, sometimes I know I am a overachiever.

So if I'm like, well, if I can't be the most creative or the most imaginative, then I just won't do it at all. And that's really unfortunate because that is giving me, I'm losing the opportunity to really express that part of myself that God placed inside of me. And so let go of expectations and comparison and just lean into whatever it is that's inside of us. That would be my first advice for those that find it hard for themselves.

Yeah. In your own family, as you look at these 12 traits, is there one of them that kind of stands out in your family? That is, you know, they just feel like, you know, you observe it just kind of stands out in the family or not?

Well, I would definitely say in this last season, Joy, which is crazy that we're going through grief. But back when Joey was in the hospital, right before his surgery, our local church basketball team wanted to dedicate their season to him. And so they asked him for a verse to put on their jersey. And he chose James 1-2, count it all, Joy, when you face various trials because, you know, the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you can be mature and complete. And as a mom, when he said that to me, I was filled with tears. I was so proud of the young man.

Like he's laying there paralyzed, knowing that he will never walk again. And yet he said to count it all, Joy. And so that has been something that as a family, we have continued to carry through this season of looking for ways to find joy in the midst of suffering and heartache, because there's always, always something to be joyful for. God has been so good to us. And so that, I think, is the quality that I would like to say our family really holds on to the tightest.

Wow. I have to admit, as you shared what you just shared about him choosing that verse, I had cold chills. Just the sense of, you know, a young man who would have that attitude and that spirit in that situation. He's speaking to us today. His life is speaking to us and everybody listening right now. Melissa, I think that's a wonderful thing. Even though he's not with us, he's still speaking. Isn't that great? That's been my hope and prayer as I've been able to speak is to just shine the light on God, because ultimately God is the one who saved him, who has grown him and matured him. And I've gotten to be a part of the journey and I'm so grateful for that. But yeah, it's incredible to see God using the most unimaginable circumstances to bring glory to himself.

And he really has in so many ways. Yeah. Was one of these qualities really, really hard for your family?

Is there one? Did you say that? This was the hardest one. It's unique with each of my kids, right?

So flexibility where Joey was really good at that. My youngest daughter, she really struggles with a fixed mindset. She's very like, this is the plan and we cannot deviate from said plan or this is the way it's supposed to be done.

And so we are not able to change. And so I've had to work with her on being more malleable, flexible, able to be transitional as needed. So I don't know for our whole family, if there's one, probably, like I said, vitality is the worst for me, but my kids, they really have been just flourishing with each of them. Humor, we loved, joke, and like I said, playfulness is my husband's strength. Maybe wisdom, I guess, would be the one we all could do better at.

I don't know. I think all of us could use more wisdom every day. Now, you homeschool your family. Are the principles in this book geared only toward homeschool families? Or how about families where the parent is not with the kids basically all day long? Yeah, so my heart as I wrote this book, I wrote it for my best friend whose girls are in public school and my sister whose kids are... It's not just for homeschool families.

It's not about how we educate our kids. That's just one small part of our day. It's really more about how we relate with our kids and how we, as a family culture, tap into who God created us to be and then lean into that. And so I believe my hope is that it can be an encouragement to all parents, single parents, adoptive parents.

All parents should be able to be encouraged in some way by the principles in this book. Yeah. Now, parents whose children are in public school, the parents, both of them work outside the home. Obviously, that's a huge number of hours every day invested in that. You think they are going to find it, time-wise, a challenge to have these things on the front burner?

Oh, for sure. I can imagine the just mental exhaustion of being at work all day and the kids are at school all day. And then you come home and you want to relate with your kids. You want to have time as a family and yet everybody's tired. So I definitely can understand that it would be difficult. But again, I believe the inconvenient part of this is willing to put aside our exhaustion, ask the Lord for strength. And I believe that God will give us the opportunities to do these things as we seek to find the little nuggets of time. Whether it's in the car as we're driving or as we're tucking the kids into bed, it's definitely doable.

I'm sure that it would be much more difficult with the less time that you have together. Melissa, in the book, you share a story about a question that one of your daughters asked you. Share how you handle that and why you feel it's important that children bring questions to their parents.

Yes. So curiosity is one of the qualities that I talk about. And I think as parents, we want our kids to come to us as the first source of information. And so I've always encouraged my kids that there's no question that's off limits.

I want you to come to me no matter what. And so one day we're at the park. We had just finished doing a human sexuality unit with our home school.

And we're at the park. I don't even know where it came from. But one of my daughters says, Hey, Mommy, how can two mommies have a baby? And I was taken aback by that question. My flesh was wanting to say, just ignore her, pretend I didn't hear her.

I don't know. Lots of thoughts went through my head. But the ultimate thought was, I'm so glad that she asked me and she didn't ask her sister to use her laptop to Google this. So I knelt down and I said, Thank you so much for asking me that question.

I wonder what made you think that? But also, I said, Remember how when we talked about our reproduction unit at home and I said that there are some conversations that are only between mommies and daddies and their children? And so I was trying to preemptively stop my kids from going to Sunday school and sharing all the things that they had just learned at home in our science lesson for the day. And so I said, We're at a park.

There's lots of kids of all ages here. And so why don't we save this conversation for when we're at home in private? And so, of course, she says, Okay, Mommy, what about the day we get home? And again, very easy for me to just not circle back to that conversation. Avoid it. Ignore it.

I don't want to deal with it. But again, I want my kids to know that when they ask me a question, I'm going to answer them. Now, I might not have the answer to all the questions that they have. And there have been many things that, especially my son, he asked a lot of theological questions that even as a seminary student, I did not have the answers for.

But I taught him and I continue to teach my girls. Like if mom doesn't know the answer, if dad doesn't know the answer, we will find somebody, a book, a pastor that we trust, and we will get to the bottom of the answer the best we can. In this situation, as best as her developmentally appropriate, I explained God's design for families, God's original plan for a mom and a dad. And this is the way that a family is made up. But with our culture today, there is medical interventions. There's adoptive families.

Families are going to look all different kinds of ways. And so you're right. One mommy and one mommy cannot make a baby.

That's not possible. But they can raise a child together in the culture that we live in today. And so she kind of went along and said, Okay, that makes sense. But it was a great opportunity for me to encourage her that, Yes, we're going to have things that don't make sense. Come to mom, come to dad. We want to be your source of information. But it's easy. It's really easy, especially when they're little. Kids ask so many questions, right?

They're always peppering you with questions, and it's easy to just tune them out, push them away, say not right now. But when we do that when they're little, we run the risk of them stopping coming to us as they get older, and their questions get more complicated and more serious. And so my encouragement to parents would be no question is too little.

Continue to encourage them to come to you with all of them because curiosity isn't a gift from the Lord. It's a way that we learn. And we want to be the ones to shepherd our kids to the truth.

Absolutely. I hope parents are listening to that. You know, there's a difference between being sensitive to your child's needs. And on the other hand, not allowing them to become the center of the universe, you know, or the center of the family. How have you navigated that with your children?

Yeah, so I share one of my daughter's struggles with anxiety severely. We first noticed it when she was, gosh, a toddler, and we were going to the movies as a family. And she had a temper tantrum as we were walking into the dark theater.

And we just thought it was, you know, a toddler being a toddler. But every time we would go to the movies, it was the same behavior. And so we kind of stopped for a while going to the movies.

And then as she got a little older and had the vocabulary to kind of talk to us, I asked her, why do you not like to go to the movies? And she was able, as best she could, to explain that it was overwhelming. It was a big screen. It was dark. It was loud. And it made her feel unsafe.

And so my husband and I, after a conversation, decided that going to the movies as a family with her was not necessarily worth putting her through the trauma, truly, that she was experiencing. And so I would say, getting to the heart of what's going on with the child is so important. Asking the Lord for discernment. And He will.

He will give you discernment. And then deciding as a family how you can protect the child and be sensitive to their needs without letting it overrun, like you said, overrun the family. We still went to movies. We would just plan a time where that particular child would go hang out at grandma's or go to a friend's house.

And so the rest of the kids would still get to enjoy a movie time with mom and dad. But, you know, and now that she's older and we've gotten coping skills, she can go to movies now. She has to sit on the end of the row. She has to have a plan for how she's going to, you know, handle. Mostly she has to have probably already seen the movie because the unknown, the anticipation is just too much for her. But again, it's not something that we were willing to force on her going to the doctor. She has to, even though she gets anxious about it. We, you know, that's one of those things that is not negotiable. And so as a family, figuring out how can you understand your child's emotional needs and support them without, you know, letting them rule the household.

But again, like I said, God can give us discernment. Recently, I had a situation with my youngest child where we had finished up eating and she didn't finish all of her food and her middle sister was still hungry. So I just passed the plate over and said, oh, you can finish your sister's sandwich. And this is very out of character for my youngest child. But she started screaming, you can't have my sandwich. That's my sandwich. I don't want you to have my sandwich. Now, that is not typical behavior for this child. And my flesh was like, you're selfish. I can't believe you're acting like this. Stop being a baby.

It's just going to go in the trash anyways. You know, all of these typical responses sent her to her room. She starts throwing her stuffed animals. I mean, it was very extreme reaction for her. And I could feel my blood pressure going up. Honestly, I was getting angry.

Like, why is she acting this way for a sandwich? But I took some breaths and I sought the Lord. I said, Lord, what is going on?

And it was the Holy Spirit said, it's not about the sandwich. And I was like, okay, so I went into her room with a calmer attitude. She's still kind of going full out temper tantrum.

And I quietly sat on her bed and I said, I don't think it's about the sandwich. She still kept going. And finally, she looked over at a picture of her big brother and she just wept. And it was the first time that she really got emotional after Joey passed away. And she said, I didn't want to give up my brother. And for her, for some reason, she was putting all of her emotion onto the sandwich, which is so silly, but in place of her brother. And I would have missed that opportunity to connect with her and to understand the deeper issue of what was going on.

Now, I still had to keep her from injuring her sister. And we talked about temper tantrums. But when I paused and sought the Lord's discernment and I realized that it wasn't about the sandwich, I was able to connect with her in such a deeper level. And she started to open up about her feelings. And so I think that's the important thing for parents to remember that these outward behaviors are usually indications of stuff that's going on inside of their hearts. And so if we can probe and figure out what's going on, we can help them to manage those emotions in a healthy way instead of in this temper tantrum way that like my daughter did. And I'm so glad for the Lord's guidance and that opportunity that I was able to connect with her.

Yeah, that's powerful. Well, Melissa, we're at the end of our time on the program. I want to thank you again for being with us and sharing your life and talking with us about this book. I really believe this book is going to help all kind of families, you know, whatever the parent's vocation or whatever, single parents and adopted parents and all of those. So thank you for being here. And may God continue to guide you and John and your family.

And I pray also that God will take what's been said today and take this book and touch the lives of parents. So, again, thank you for being with us. Thank you so much for having me.

Truly, it's been a joy. Once again, the title of Melissa Hannigan's book is Inconvenient Parenting, Activate Your Child's God Given Traits. We have a link to the website Again, just go to And next week, some help for adoptive parents. We'll talk about a five love language approach to loving adoptive children well. Don't miss that encouraging conversation in one week. Our thanks to Janice Backing and Steve Wick for their work behind the scenes. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-16 02:30:29 / 2024-03-16 02:49:50 / 19

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