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What Your Kids Need Most to Grow Up Well (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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August 18, 2020 6:00 am

What Your Kids Need Most to Grow Up Well (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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August 18, 2020 6:00 am

Danny Huerta offers insights from his counseling experience, research, and Biblical knowledge to outline the parenting strategies that have proven to be the most effective, including steadfast love and boundaries, respect, grace, and more. (Part 1 of 2)

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Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly

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Download it today from the App Store or Google Play my kids as you've watched what they're not allowed to have.

And I feel like I'm always saying no kids want video games to be able to have access to that parent to give them attention. Kids definitely just want somebody to take care of them, show them what's real, what's not.

Real parenting often presents us with some dilemmas. You want what's best for your children, but it's not always clear what is best for them. Do they need more rules or more freedom? And where's the balance in all of that? Today on Focus on the Family, we're going to be exploring how you can parent your kids well and be more effective as a mom or a dad. Your host is focused President Jim Daly. And I'm John Fuller. John.

Many of us as parents, we get into this if then statement right. We approach parenting with cause and effect. And let me give an example. You give your child a rule and you expect to follow it. How many of us have done that? And sometimes they don't follow them. And then what do we do? And is it too much? You know, that whole question of how do we get these kids behaving in a way that we want them to or need them to and do it in a godly fashion? And that's that's you know, that's the big question for parents. And it's pretty straightforward and logical. And it makes perfect sense until reality hits and we realize our kids kind of like Adam and Eve, you know, God was a parent as well. He created AB and Adam and Eve and they didn't do what he wanted them to do. And it's the same for us. Kids are messy. They're complicated. It's not an if then equation. It's predictive. It's not guaranteed. And we want to equip you with those predictive tools that will give you the best chance in parenting a child who will love the Lord and serve the Lord. And that really is the goal.

It is. And we're gonna be talking about that today. We've invited our colleague to anywhere to hear he heads up our parenting and youth department at Focus on the Family and is a licensed clinical social worker. He's maintained a private practice here in the Colorado Springs area since 2003. He is a great new book called Seven Traits of Effective Parenting. And we be talking more about that today. You can get your copy. The link is in the episode notes.

Danny, you've been with us before. Welcome back to Focus on the Family. Thank you so much. Thank you, John. You're one of us, James J. But you're right here.

You're heading up every day. The parents area, vice president parenting here, Focus on the Family. So it's great to have you in studio. Thanks, Jim. A day. Let's start by identifying those seven traits of effective parenting and then we'll get through as many as we can get through today and next time. So what are the seven traits?

Seven traits. First ones, do I say desperate as a parent by. Any time out.

You know, it really you can divide it into two categories. One is high sensitivity, warmth, responsiveness. And the other side is demanding this some boundaries, limits, so that if you divide two categories, those seven traits in two categories, it's those and it's adaptability, respect, intentionality, love. And then you have gratitude and grace, forgiveness and the big one that a lot of parents have difficulty with boundaries. Okay. Now, that sounds right.

I have to be a student. I have every one of those and perform at a top level and delivering that to my kids.

Yeah, that goes beyond sound, you know. Oh, my goodness.

I mean, seriously, though, I think in the Christian community particularly, we do aim for perfection. We anything less than that is a disappointment, we believe, to God and to ourselves. I mean, how do we get beyond that idea that perfection is the goal?

These will come naturally if you're wanting relationship and something really good for your kids. It's not about perfection. It's about the transformation of you as a parent. You're invited into something as a parent. And that invitation is not only for your child, it's for you as you're being transformed. It's an invitation into prayer with a heavenly father and your transformation, an invitation for moments that when you fail and you learn and you pick yourself back up and your goal, those relationship and bridging with your child because you've been invited to help in the shaping of that child and guiding so that they can be contributors in God's kingdom down the road. This isn't about perfection. And you're trying to compare to other parents and you have some kind of great APRC. It's transformation and sent invitation.

Danny, I can appreciate that, but I need to camp for a minute because I do think even the mail, the e-mail, the response, we get her focus. I would even say even in our own household that the daily home. That that bar feels very high and it's not a bad thing to have a high bar. But we do need to realize that sometimes things will not go perfectly right. And how do we respond in that context? And I think we are sometimes inadequate as Christian parents to respond with grace when there's failure. And how would you counsel your counselor when that when that mom or dad is sitting in front of you and their child, their teenager has done something, you know, really outside the boundaries of what the rules of the House are? How do you coach them in terms of loving your child through this and getting to the other side? Because they oftentimes when this happens, you don't feel like there is another side. This is it. I mean, whatever it might be. Let's go to the big ones, premarital sex or drug abuse or, you know, something like that that they've done that really violate the standards.

The key word you used is love. When our kids fail and are at their worst is when they need most of our love at the highest level of love from us. So really, when we look at Christ's love, the depth of that, he died for our sins and wasn't expecting perfection from us. He was expecting relationship. That's the same for us with our kids. This isn't a formula to help you be the most amazing parent in front of everyone's eyes. This is a formula to form relationship with your kids, even in their dark spaces, their dark moments, adapting to the things that weren't supposed to happen, developing respect. So there's connection, developing intentionality. So you have those goal directed moments where you know, where you're kind of headed and then steadfast love. That's mercy from a heavenly father. That's what it means in scripture, in moments with David. It's a steadfast love means mercy. And that's what we can give our kids. And then from there, we move into boundaries. Now we have the platform to have boundaries with our kids and limits. It's not about controlling them. It's about an influence in their lives. And then from from there, you move in to grace and forgiveness to repair those moments that are going to be super imperfect. And you can't separate grace from forgiveness. You have to have those together. And then in the public sphere, when I was looking at the research. Forgiveness is separated. They don't have the word grace, but we have to have that. They they say. Who's they? The secular researchers. They say grace is a Christian word, but it's so important. It's a key word for relationship with someone else and then the other. The last one is gratitude. And at the end, you're thankful for, however, that turned out you gave your best shot. But it means that you have a playbook to work with. Research has confirmed that if if parents have a parenting plan, a goal, parenting goals, they will be successful at raising kids that are pro socially engaged with other people. But that's not where we stop it as Christians, because you can be prosocial and it's all for you. Well, we're asking is we're trying to create children that can serve other people. And that means they have they have mercy and grace and others as well because they've received it in their home.

And that's perfect. And it leads to the next question, which is a major theme throughout your book. This idea of contributor rather than consumer. So explain that.

Yeah, consumer is one that consumer child would be one that's very charming. They know they're going to give you something, but they're expecting something in return. I'm going to be nice to you because I know you can give me something. A contributor is. I love you and I can see you through God's eyes. And I care for you for your own benefit. And that's a contributor in God's kingdom. God has called us to one another, encourage one another, love one another, forgive one another. A lot of one another throughout the scriptures.

And that's serving one another is key. If you look at Paul, if you look at Jesus, they would call himself servants of others. And that's a contributor in God's kingdom. Yeah.

You point to an example in your own life. I think your grandparents up in Minnesota, what role? And my grandparents lean in right now because this is going to be good. What role did they play in helping form and shape you?

I was huge, Tim. I got to spend three months as we were transitioning to the United States. My mom's from Michigan, so grandfather from Germany, farmer. And my parents said, hey, while we packed everything up, you're going to stay with your grandparents over the summer. I didn't know English. My grandfather spoke only English and I only spoke Spanish. And when I arrived, I realized I did not understand what was going on in my grandfather's said. He just in a gentle way, very big man, farmer guy. He said, come with me to the garden. And as I observed him, this is a time when I was just quiet and taking it. How old are you? I'm eight years old, OK? And just watching him do his life, our like the way we live our lives as grandparents, as parents is one big lesson for our kids. And so my grandfather, my grandma. They would kneel next to the bed and pray for each person. They just kept going. And I didn't know how their knees stood that they were next to their bed. And I. I would watch. And that impacted me tremendously. And then my grandfather, the gentleness with God's creation, his BS. He would hold them and just love the bees. He was a beekeeper. He was a beekeeper. Wow. And then he had a garden and he would tend to the garden. He loved God with his heart in every single person, every stranger. This is a huge example to me when we're at the store. I noticed he was kind, he was loving. And I remember when he was stopped by a police officer and I didn't I just knew he was nervous about it. He just was so kind of that police officer. He says, hey, I'm sorry I did that and just loved the police officer as he was pulled over for going faster, a red light. He just said, I've said pretty good. And he would give tracks to people. It just it was a great example to me of God's love in managing the different demands that he had on his plate, but with gentleness really came into the world and with God's creation.

Well, what's in the heart is what comes out. And that's the point. You got it put into your heart. Those things that people are going to see. And that's that's an easy thing to recognize. OK. Let's get to it. Adaptability. One of the first of the seven. What does that look like in day to day parenting? Adaptability.

Yeah. You can almost picture it as having flexibility in your mind. Like you can stretch out. It's. That wasn't supposed to happen moments. And those are everyday. I still remember when my daughter spilled milk. We were we were in a hurry and she was a very young child and she spilled the milk and she said that wasn't supposed to happen. She could see our emotion. And what's fascinating to me is kids pick up on our emotions from a very early verbalize. She said that wasn't supposed to happen.

And says, hey, hey. That's right. And and she just looked at me waiting for my reaction.

And I had to adapt to that moment in manage my own stress level. I must take a mental time out and really look at what is my daughter needing in this moment. And we don't always respond that way. I've had moments where I have a reaction and then I have to come back and re bridge. It's being able to see the bigger picture adjusting as things are coming. For some personalities, that's harder than others. You want it black and white. You wanted a certain way. You're expecting it to go a certain way. And if it doesn't? Bad parenting comes out with stress. They've seen that with great intentions. Bad parenting still comes up well.

And it may be that same daughter who later you share a story in the book where you met her at the door. She came to the door. Something happened there that you didn't have the right response. What was that?

So I came home from from work and the same daughter. The same daughter, Lexi. She's older. Yes, she's she's older. And just I love Lexie. She sometimes just wants to come in and share everything. You know, so many people have daughters like that. I wasn't ready for that. I just want to come home, just connect with everyone. And she just started to ask questions and start talking. And I'll in my space and in grabbing man. And I said, Lexie, stop. And I just I it was a very strong reaction. And you could just see her kind of full, then get quiet and walk away. I said what I just did, man. And I had to come back when I was kind of regrouped and had my emotions in a good spot. And I said, Lexia, I am sorry I didn't handle me well. I needed to be ready for you. And that's going to happen. And I'm sorry. And this is when when Jesus died on the cross, he began that ministry, began the Ministry of Reconciliation. And I'm really trying to re bridge with you.

Hey, this is the great news. Danny's a counselor and he did that. You know, we all fail in parenting. Even people who know better.

You feel the same right now. Thanks, Jeff.

But you say the right thing coming back and telling her that that is such a great teaching moment to come back. I can remember that with my kids. You know, if I discipline them more one time, Trent. He wouldn't talk to me, wouldn't speak to me after he you know, there was a little thing there.

And he just I said, can you write me a note? And he shook his head, yes. And I said, What's the matter? And he says, When you spank me, it feels like you don't love me. Wow. And that was it. I mean, I think he only got like five or 10 spankings and they were like, wait, because I didn't like it anyway. But there's the idea. I mean, how do you communicate in that environment? How do you get across that? You love them, but there's boundaries that you have to maintain.

And, Jim, there's. Just so much in that interaction when there's discipline in the non verbals, if a person does it with anger in the moment. Yeah, because this is a huge discussion and counseling sessions. Should I spank or should I not? We're not gonna open that one. But when you're disciplining, how connected are you with your child? Is that all your anger? Are you sunhat? Love you. Yeah. There's something here that went wrong and we need to fix it because I love you so much. There's a huge difference in your nonverbal even afterwards if she didn't do it right in the moment. But just coming in and looking in their eyes and saying, I would die for you. And I love you. And they get that, then they really understand why discipline is. I understand why.

And now he's 19 and we actually laugh about it. That's it, man. That was like you spank me with a feather.

That's pretty terrible. I didn't like doing it.

I didn't do it. All right. That was adaptability. SUDANI Let's move to respect. It's another one of the traits for parents in your book as a dad. You know, I've required my sons to. I wouldn't even say required. I think it's earned to give respect. And, you know, I've never been that kind of dad to sit there and say, you better respect me.

Although, you know, I'll certainly say, hey, I need a little more respect here. Something like that. That's one more my style.

But why is that important? And how do you encourage your kids to respect you?

I really pictured us through the spirit, gentleness and effusions for it says Paul talks about being a prisoner of the Lord. But then he says to walk into the calling we've been given with all humility, gentleness and with patients bearing with one another in love. Those are big words, humility, gentleness and patience. And this is about me entering that we can bear with one another in love. And that's that's the home we're doing that. And this is about how where your thoughts are, because that that will come out. Where do you how do you respect other people with verbally with your eyes as well? This is about you managing you well and with gentleness, bringing that strength of the role that you have as parent and guiding your child and really listening carefully. Respect a lot of times is about listening to somebody else, being present with them, with what the true need is, because kids behaviors are telling us something. Their emotions are telling us something. And many times are reacting to that rather than really stopping and being present with what's needed.

You know, as so often and maybe this is a dying statement. I hope so. But so often parents will say, well, do what I say, not what I do right. Or something to that effect. And you really want to say, hey, do as I do. Right. They need to see it in action. And if you can't if you're using statements like what doesn't matter what I do, I'm asking you or telling you to do this. If if a child, you know, begins to say, well, you don't do that, Dad. Right.

Right. I'll never forget a story, Jim. We were at a at an amusement park. I think it was Disney World, actually, at the animal kingdom. We were waiting to get on the roller coaster. And I saw across the way when they were getting off the roller coaster, this family, a son, forgot his cap in his some of his other belongings and a cube in his dad to run in front of everyone, slap them upside the head. Fifteen, sixteen. Slap them upside the head said, man, you're stupid. That's terrible. And in front of everyone, we're watching that super disrespectful. You can see the kid at this young man falling in super insecure, anxious because he fears his dad rather than respects his dad. And his dad is not showing and modeling respect. What is that going to be like for this young man growing up?

Yeah. So I hear you saying that if my children are not showing me respect as a parent, maybe I'm not modeling respect in appropriate ways.

And it could be there could be many other things going on. But your role as a parent is to show respect by seeing your children through God's eyes or that mercy, that steadfast love. And we will gain respect if we're giving it. There's much more likelihood of that. Yeah, and certainly boundaries and limits as we talk about that, when kids are disrespectful and they will be at times, as is being able to respond, read and react to that.

Well, and that's the next question. How do you stay calm in that parenting moment when everything inside you wants to explode? I mean, it's hard to do. Oh, yeah, it is. But it is so key. You've got to dial down. I mean, sometimes it's so funny because you become the child in that emotional moment and it's like two kids go. You've got to remain being the adult. Right.

Right. Respect is about self-awareness. It's really a lot about that. And I'll tell parents take. To give yourself three, four, five time outs a day. Go mark it off. If you're one of those screamers that loses control. But this is about reflection and learning. We get new sunrises, new sunsets every day. It's never too late. To really become more aware of how you're impacting your kids and you can start today. Danny, roll back to that amusement park situation. If you could have coached that dad who obviously didn't stay calm to Jim's point. What would you have said or asked? I would have said, what did this trigger in you? Why was that so important to him? Did it embarrass you to see that your child needed to go back and they called him back to go get his things? Was there a shameful moment? What was it like with your dad when you had moments like these? And it's not if you had him, it's when you had those moments with your dad, because most likely they're, say, playing out of other strips that that dad had in his past. And so would be with compassion for the dad. And that's how we we come in with respect towards people with a compassionate lens towards them. And I have compassion for that, Dad. I'm sure there's a lot to that story. And it's not to shame him, but to be aware of how that's impacting him and his son.

Yeah, absolutely. It's pretty predictable that his father would have treated him very similarly. You learn so much in your family of origin. Right. Right.

All right. For today, let's cover intentionality is the last one today, and we'll come back next time and cover more. But intentionality is something that can it can be so difficult for parents. I mean, I'm more of a spontaneous temperament, so intentionality is boring.

I avoided at all costs. But you are intentional, Dad. I think so.

Yeah, but but speak to that for everybody that can understand how how you need to be an intentional parent. What does it mean?

It's goal directed and it's a little moments, two big moments. It's having conversations, having walks, maybe writing notes to your kids. It's really being aware that your children need your direction. You're guiding your teaching. And Deuteronomy six says that we are to love our Lord with all our heart, soul and mind for the purpose of teaching our kids all day long and to having those conversations. It's not meant to be boring. I know that my my daughter and son love those small moments. Right. I just stop and I look at them and I say, I love you so much. Do you know that? And I just stop them where they're at and hug them. That's somehow an intentional moment of connection with my son or daughter. I recently I said, hey, Alex, can we do. He's been making rings, woodworking, making rings. And I said, hey, can we make a ring together? I really would love to do that. Can you teach me an intentionality is about letting your kids teach you some of the things that they're loving. My daughter loves to run. I can't breathe.

And I lose her.

I lose sight of her. And I've said, hey, Lexi, can we go run together? I know you love that. But at the end, can we just walk home so that we can have that time together? And she loves that. When I have bids for connection with her and I want this is something that's really helped me and my parent thing. The idea of bids for connection that came from Gartmann and he he coined that term bids for connection boogied. We'd be familiar with this. When we have little kids, they want our connection, our attention a lot early on. And then as teenagers, they have so many other connections that we're going, hey, what happened? We're bidding for that negative. So now we're bidding. But it's that investment early on that makes a difference as to how those bids are going to go from us towards our kids. And so be intentional about looking at the interests of your kids and have fun expanding your opportunity to learn some new, exciting things. This is about paying attention, following through and having invitations all day long, if you could picture those little moments as invitations. It really opens up a huge world when your child says, hey, dad, D.F. Time.

Hey, Dad, do you do you want to do this? You say, I think this is an invitation I need to step into.

Absolutely. Absolutely. Right at the end here. I understand you like a poem by Reinhold Niebuhr.

Many know this as the Serenity Prayer. What grabs your attention with that? Why does it. Why does it grip you?

It's about looking at the things we can't control and managing those things well. There's so many things as parents we cannot control, and that includes who our kids become. We can influence that. We can impact that, and we can control us along the way. And and looking at the things we can manage and spending energy on that. It's interesting, this Thomas campus, I'd be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. That is convicting for us as parents. Yet it's encouraging that we don't have to control entire world. Says to control us. And to have a relationship with him in the intentional moments of prayer. That invitation with their heavenly father. Those are essential for us to do parenting well, because God will guide us. God will give us wisdom and we will be imperfect.

A lot good confession.

And we've got to end today. But we've covered three of the seven adaptability, respect, intentionality. Let's come back next time. We're gonna cover the others, which include steadfast love, boundaries, grace and forgiveness and gratitude.

And I think this is a great tool kit for parents. These are the right things you need to know about and to deploy again. Mostly for yourself and also then for your children to be as healthy spiritually, emotionally as they can be and for your children's children. That's all right. That's even we ourselves. So thank you.

Thank you, Jim. Thank you, John. Well, we're going to encourage you get your copy of that book, Seven Traits of Effective Parenting. We do have other great resources here at Focus on the Family. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word family 800 two, three, two, six, four, five, nine. Or click the link in the episode notes.

And John, let me also encourage people if you can help us monthly. It is such a great way to support the ministry. It stabilizes our planning. And we have many, many people, including Gene and I know you and Dana, we do as well. Yeah. So we support Focus monthly and I'd encourage you to do that. It really is helpful and it's the best way to, you know, help focus, meet the needs that come in each and every day. And if you can't sign up to be a monthly pledger, we'll send you a copy of Danny's book is our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry here, putting the fuel into the engine to minister to brokenness people that need help. And we are grateful to you for doing that.

Yeah. And you might be in a spot where you can't afford to commit to a monthly gift. A one gift of any amount will still mean a great deal to this ministry. And I will still say thank you for your support by sending a copy of seven traits of effective parenting.

By the way, when you're on our Web site. Be sure to take our free parenting assessment. It'll help you understand these traits and where you're doing well. Maybe an area of growth takes just a few minutes. It's a really good tool to kind of look at your parenting styles and effectiveness. The resources and opportunities to donate are in the episode notes or again, call 800, the letter A and the word family on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again continue the conversation with Danny and once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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