Glenda cared for her ailing mother for years, and every day they had a special routine. When I would come home in the evening after work, I would often go through the high points of the day, and one of those high points would be what I'd heard on Focus on the Family and the Rich teaching and the encouragement. Today, Glenda shares that same encouragement with others. I'm excited to point anyone that's struggling to focus on the family.
I find that focus teaches me, and it comforts me, and it inspires me, and it pulls me up when things are really hard. I'm Jim Daly. Help us support more families like Glenda's.
Become a monthly giver at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash family. No, no, no, no, no. Now, I've told you and told you, when Mommy tells you to do something, you don't tell her no. Mommy's in charge. Understand, honey?
No. Mommy is getting very upset. Now, I'm only going to say this one more time. Sweetie, pay attention. Mommy is in charge. No, stupid mother. Okay, okay, I give up. You're in charge. Well, maybe you can relate to that. It's kind of sad, but funny at the same time. If you've got a toddler or a teen in the home, you might have been tempted to just wave the white flag and surrender.
You just don't know what to do next. On today's Focus On The Family, we have some great news for you. There is hope for your family and some simple parenting strategies, a little common sense, and a lot of prayer. That can all add up to raising healthier, thriving kids. We'll tell you more about that in a moment. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller.
John, the ministry here, Focus On The Family, has been built upon challenges like we just heard in that clip. I can't believe we let the S-word get through there. We don't use that in our house.
The S-word. Yeah, stupid. But for more than 40 years, we've been hearing from moms and dads who want to do a better job with raising their kids. I mean, that is a goal for a healthy family. And the fact is most parenting issues haven't changed all that much, at least that's my opinion, since the days of Cain and Abel. I think human behavior is very much the same, and today's parents seem less confident and more uncertain about how to go about this task.
Maybe you're trying too hard to do everything perfectly. I know that's something we do in the Daly household from time to time. It's just if they could just act perfectly, we'll be fine. But guess what? Kids don't do that.
Rarely do they do that. And today we want to equip you with some tools to help you navigate these troubling and exciting days of parenting. And to do that, we're going to talk with one of your favorites.
That's Dr. Kevin Lehman. Kevin, welcome back to Focus On The Family. It's great to be here.
I always feel like I'm at home when I'm at focus. Oh, that's sweet. And you are fun. We enjoy having you. As a last born, we're going to talk about that in a different episode, but we love having you here. You're so much fun. Seems to me that Christian people ought to be fun.
That sounds right to me. Well, Kevin is certainly fun on TV. He spends a lot of time on national TV, does radio. He's a speaker. He's written more than 50 books, and he's been here dozens of times.
And we're going to have some fun along the way as we talk about one of the classics. We've hinted at it. It's called Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.
I don't think that's possible. Let me just say right from the beginning. Well, you can say that because you've raised kids and now you've lost your mind. Yes, I'm crazy. You tell me I'm crazy. Not at all, Jim.
Not at all. Hey, John, in addition to Dr. Kevin Lehman, we have a group of parents around us. And you're going to hear some laughter in the studio. So let's let everybody hear from you guys. Welcome to Focus. That's pretty good.
Pretty good, I'd say. So they're going to be thinking of some questions on your behalf. And we'll get to them in just a little while. Kevin, let's kick it off. Help us understand the overall landscape of parenting today.
You heard that intro. Do you think it's different? Do you think parents are basically facing the same challenges, or are they different today? Well, I'm old enough to remember when kids used to obey their parents. No parents obey their kids. So things have changed.
The landscape has changed. In that little introduction, we heard no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. One of my bits of advice is to young parents who are raising that little firstborn, the little lab rat of the family, is don't overuse the word no.
They become anesthetized to that. By the way, when a kid hits 18 months, circle the calendar, Mom and Dad, because now they understand what sheer power is. Even at that early age? Absolutely. That sounds ludicrous.
I mean, really, they can figure that out that early? Oh, absolutely. Any kind of a simple overreaction on our part, the kid's saying, oh, they're sort of big on that. Okay, I'm making a mental note on that. So kids can work you. They can play like a violin on the back of making children mine without losing yours. It says, we have seen the enemy and they are small. That's for sure. And they're unionized.
The angle lighter battalion is on the move, so you better have a game plan. Well, let's talk about these two types of parents. There's many shades of this, but obviously you have the control parent, you know, that they're going to master parenting by controlling the outcome, by controlling the environment. Let's lean toward moms in this regard.
Why do moms typically feel this is a good way to go? Well, most of us in this room, in this studio, we have lots of parents surrounding us. Most of us, I would guess, there might be one exception, grew up in an authoritarian home, as did I. Hey, you listen up. You're going to do what I tell you to do as long as you live under this roof. You understand me? Hey, you want something to cry about? Oh, yes, I'm going to cry about it.
Okay? Some of you, as parents, you had parents who just gave you the look. And when you got the look, your whole body tightened up.
Your little heels clicked together. Well, there's the authoritarian parent. Well, guess what? There was a time when authoritarianism worked because the parent was so strong, so strong-willed, so hard-fisted, that kids wouldn't dare to get too far out of line.
Well, let's go the opposite extreme. Meet today's avant-garde, permissive parent. Britney, Britney, sweetheart, have you chosen to go to bed yet? You know, my father never said to me, hey, Kevin, have you chosen to go to bed?
In fact, he was an Irishman, okay, eighth-grade educated man. And he'd say things like this, hey, 8 o'clock, and he'd point. Now, if you – and that meant it was bedtime.
Well, we knew the sign language, you know. And if you didn't move, he'd come back and say, hey, you want to go to bed under your own power? Or you want to be ricocheted to bed? But the point was what?
You're going to bed. So we have these two extremes. And you see this in parenting today. We have the authoritarians.
And by the way, more authoritarians still hanging around in the Christian world, okay, than in the other side of this fence. But so if you bring up your kid to be authoritarian, I'm here to guarantee you you're going to plant the seed systematically of rebellion in your kid's heart. If you bring up your kid permissively, okay, and these are the parents, again, who failure is not an option for their child. Hey, would you kids knock it off?
I'm trying to finish your science project in here. And they do far too many things. And these parents, the permissives, bring their kids up like their kid is the center of the universe. If your kid is the center of the universe and you're a person of faith, somebody pony up and tell me, where's the room for Almighty God in a kid's life? I'm here to tell you there's no room for God in that kid's life. So we ought to move toward the authoritative parent.
And I think that's what St. Paul talked about in Ephesians 6. And the authoritative parent has limits, is firm, has authority, and authority, late-breaking news, authority, is a great word. We've all seen bumper stickers in our community that says what? Question authority. And so your kid and mine have to learn authority, but we need to learn what authority is, and it certainly isn't authoritarianism.
Well, before we get to that endgame, that goal, you mentioned a lot of mistakes that we as parents make, and you're talking about a couple of them. One of the terms you use in the book is whack-a-mole parent. So what is a whack-a-mole parent? Well, it gets back to the enemy. You ever play whack-a-mole?
It's one of those games you find in amusement parks and something pops up, you hit it with a mallet. And, you know, again, kids, you're sitting there watching Friends reruns, Mom and Dad, okay? It's the end of the day. I mean, the kids have been tucked into bed, and all of a sudden you hear this blood-curdling scream from the back bedroom, okay? And as only your wife can say, she says, uh, John, would you do something? And so John gets up, walks in there, pushes open the door, and says, all right, I've had it with you too.
Who started it? He did Daddy. And they point to each other. Okay, you will say things, parent. I know you have an MBA degree, okay? I know you're an elder in your church. You will say things that you would never say in front of your friend or your pastor ever, and you top it off with, and that's final. And you slam the door, and the whole house shakes.
What do the kids do behind closed doors? Laugh. They cover their mouth, trying to keep the laughter in, and they say, did you see the veins pop out of his neck? I never saw them pop out that far before. Now, husband John comes back, sits down next to his wife, and as only a loving wife can say, she says, honestly, John, I think you're entirely too rough with the boys.
And then he snaps back at her and says, seems to me, if you discipline around here, I wouldn't have to do that. Now, I ask you, five minutes earlier, were you at each other's throats? No, you were watching friends' reruns. And so I'm telling you, kids play us, they set us up, and like flies into the web. We fly in there. Kevin, we're going to take some questions in a minute from the crowd around us.
Wonderful. Get those questions ready. But for the next few seconds, you mentioned four goals of misbehavior. What are those four areas of misbehavior that parents should know about?
They come out of individual psychology from a guy by the name of Dr. Alfred Adler, who years ago was a colleague of Sigmund Freud in Vienna. But real briefly, kids misbehave for a reason. As kids become less encouraged and therefore discouraged, I mean, all kids are attention getters. Kids are going to seek attention positively or negatively, but all kids are attention getters. But when encouragement goes down in the home, and I'll be glad to talk about the difference between encouragement and praise, a kid will go beyond it. Let me show you with a little noise to boot, a classroom teacher, okay, and a little third grader starts tapping his pen, making noise. Teacher says, Thomas, Thomas, please, and he stops.
What's the best predictor before that classroom is over? What behavior is probably going to reoccur again? You guessed it. So that's the attention getter. It's purpose of behavior. He makes that noise to draw attention to himself. Now, you've got the powerful child. If he continues to get discouraged, he becomes powerful. Now, this is the kid that wanders around and you tell him to sit down. Okay, give him a command to sit down.
He sits all right, but he takes his arms and he folds them and he's got a defiant look on his face, sort of, okay, I will, but I'm going to tell you, I'm the boss here. A kid throws a temper tantrum. What's the purpose of nature of the temper tantrum at the mall? And by the way, what do you do when a kid throws a temper tantrum? Step over the child. There's a great temptation to step on the child.
That is very illegal. Don't do that. But watch what happens many times.
A little tyke will come and he'll dive in front of you a second time. He's saying, hey, parent, I'm in authority over you. What St. Paul clearly says in Ephesians 6 is this. Children, obey your parents at the right thing to do because God has placed them, here's that word, in authority over you.
So he's saying, hey, I'm the boss. I only count life when I win. So you see attention getters, you see powerful kids, then you see revengeful kids. In all my years of 40 years of private practice, I'll bet I didn't see two revengeful kids in all those times. And those are kids that are so hurt by life, they feel like they need to strike back at life. Then you've got the kids who, they're just inadequate. They just give up.
You see very few of those, believe it or not. So most of the kids that we deal with are attention getters or powerful driven kids. The power driven says, I only count when I dominate, when I win, when I control. The attention guy says, I only count life when I get other people to serve me, and I'm the center of attention.
Man, those are good thoughts. Before questions, can you answer this for me? Formulas in how we parent, especially in the Christian community. Do we need a little realization there that sometimes you can do things really well and your child still has their own free will?
Is it all that formulaic or is it unpredictable to a point? That's how much God loved us. He gave us free choice.
You can be the best. I've met some of the most godly, wonderful parents, and you really wonder how they could have spawned such kids. Because the kids just seem to be diametrically opposed. And these are loving parents who've done, you know, Lehman style really great parenting. But, you know, kids, they get a wire up their tail. They turn left when everybody else is turning right. Some kids just see themselves as victims or martyrs. You see it in adults. If I had all those answers, Jim, I would write a book called All Life's Answers.
But I would co-author it with Jim Daly and John Fuller. Well, thank you so very much. But it's so true because parents can carry a lot of guilt too because they've done the right thing, the good thing.
But they're still not getting the result that they had hoped for or prayed about for years. So if you're a parent, write this one down, guilt is the propellant for most of the lousy decisions you will make as a parent. You've got to get over the guilt. Well, with that, let's open it up to our guests around the table here. And just give me your first name and state your question. Hi, my name is Erin, and I have a seven-year-old, a five-year-old, and a three-year-old. And my question is- Where are the children?
No, I'm kidding. Over at Wits End. I have a question about something that my husband and I try to do in the evening. We call it family Bible time, and we try to bring the kids together and read a Bible story and- That's good. Already laughing. No, it's just, yeah.
I'm smiling. And so sometimes we let them act out the Bible story, but we're just trying to expose them and have family time together where we pray and read the Bible story. And it's not going very well because my husband is more authoritarian and wants them to be respectful and to mind. That doggone husband.
And I want them to have a positive experience with the Bible and with prayer and not have- I'm struggling because I don't want the discipline of trying to get them to mind to have a bad association with- I don't think any couple has ever faced this. Aaron, I love you, Aaron. I want to tell you that. I want to tell you the Lehmans, okay? Sandra and Kevin Lehman failed at that so miserably, so early.
I figured out a long time ago, this isn't working. One of the things, so I'm telling you, when you have seven, five, and three, you try to line them up, and everybody's going to pay attention, and we're going to have Bible stories. It reminds me of my mother. My mother sent me to a joy club. It was horrific.
And I'm so old, they had flannel graphs. You talk about exciting. It was exciting.
Joy club. I love that. Oh, it was. But you know what? Here I am. I'm not making fun of it. I still remember what joy stood for.
Jesus, others, and you. My mom tried. But I'll tell you what we did, and what I might suggest for anybody to try. You know, kids love stories. They love stories at bedtime. You can tell kids stories that has biblical implications, that demonstrate biblical principles to kids in a fun way. It makes you creative, imaginative, and you can tell the kids the same story.
Now, if you choose to do that, I'm going to warn you. Jim talked earlier about the judge and jury. If you change that story, you leave something out, you're going to hear it from your little Judge Judy, who's going to say, Danny, you left out a part or whatever. But kids love stories. And we tried the devotional thing around the table with no success whatsoever. I marvel at people who can pull that one off. So I want you to know, Aaron, you're not alone. Try to be creative one on one with the kids rather than the three of them together.
You're outnumbered three to two. There you have it. Also, Odyssey is a great storytelling children's series that we do. And it's a good thing to be able to listen to that together and then talk about the principles involved.
Let's go to the next question. My name is Juliana, and I really appreciate everything you're saying about being an authoritative parent. My husband and I are about seven weeks from having our firstborn. And so I would love your tips on how to get started well on that.
When, how? Yes. I love that question. And I love your name.
What a pretty name. My goodness. You know, I'll tell you, you heard me talk about turn the heat up.
We sort of overdo things. I remember holding my daughter for the first time and I held her with my arms outstretched because I was afraid I was going to hurt her. You know, I think all of us as parents have done that. I'm going to give you some advice. Number one, have a noisy home. Don't tiptoe around this little sucker, okay? They will learn to go with the flow.
Take them with you wherever you go. And then check this out. In the first two weeks of life, leave that baby home.
I hesitated for a fact. What does that mean? Does that mean home alone?
No, it doesn't mean home alone. Okay. And now, again, if you're a first time mom, who are you going to leave them with?
A PhD in pediatric nursing, Lehman. That's who. You know, that's that temptation. Grandma will do.
A good friend will do. But you go out for an evening with your husband. You're going to want to just go to dinner and come right home. That's the temptation.
No. Go to dinner. See a movie.
Make it a long night. Your child will learn and you're now beginning to teach yourself that you have a right to life as a couple. And one of the best things you can do as a parent is to make sure you're a couple.
Those are just a couple things. That's great. That is great advice. Don't overuse the word no as that child starts to grow. Yeah. Try to say yes. Hello. My name is Lori and I'm an only child. And my husband and I have a daughter who's also an only child. She's 12 years old. Lori, before we go any further, we're going to take a few minutes and we're going to pray for you and your husband.
Pray for your husband for sure. Wow. Yeah.
Oh, my goodness. We tend to be parenting our parenting style is more toward the permissive side, but not extreme permissive, just more toward that area. So I wanted your opinion on something. Our daughter, who's in seventh grade, she's a great student, you know, straight A's, blah, blah, blah, blah. Very respectful.
That's what I expect. But let's see, how do I say this? So, for instance, last night she came home and she had a lot of homework to do and she had to go to a function after school. And normally she unloads the dishwasher. However, me being the parent, I thought, oh, she has all this stuff to do. I don't want to ask her to unload the dishwasher because she needs time to do all these other things. So I didn't ask her to unload the dishwasher. So when she has a lot of homework to do or she's real busy, I just, you know, sometimes I'll even clean up her room for her, things like that.
I'm just wondering your take on that because I don't want to stress her out. I'm going to surprise you, I think. I'm going to, you only child, you. I'm going to surprise you because I'm going to give you a Dr. Lehman five star because I think you have to realize that some kids have a lot on their plate. And there's nothing better than perceiving that situation, going in and doing things you normally wouldn't do.
Okay. Because, honey, and she says, Mom, did you clean up my bedroom? I'm sure, honey, you've got a lot on your plate this week, I just thought it would help.
Now, is that an excuse? Are you going to do that every week? Are you going to give your kid room service and food service? And my question to every parent is, are you rearing your kid in a home or hotel? Most parents rear their kids in what? Hotels. Meaning what?
We give them room service and food service and we snow plow the roads of life for them. But I'm saying, hey, this isn't cookie cutter here, folks. You've got to know who you're leading. You're the leader in your family and sometimes you see situations like that where you step up and you do kind things for each other.
Kevin, let me ask you a question because I know this is happening in some homes where that more authoritarian parent is saying, hey, this kid needs to learn and therefore they need to throw that banana peel away. Maybe it is finals week, but where's that balance of showing that kindness and the error of showing no kindness because you aren't learning how to grow up? So how do you – I mean, I like what you're saying.
I agree with what you're saying. But sometimes there will be one parent in the home that is so set on teaching you the right thing to do that there's never any grace or any let me help you with that. Well, I had a breakfast with a friend this morning and I posed the question about grace. You ever wondered why grace is so bountiful?
Could it possibly be because you and I need it on a daily basis? Again, I think that parent who is so rule-oriented, he's going to have – or she's going to have Pharisee thinking there's a right way to do things. You lose some great teachable moments. I think you want to teach your kids to be humble. You never look bigger in your kids' eyes when you say, I misspoke.
I was wrong. Would you forgive me? One of my chilling moments of being a parent and an author of 59 books is this. My 11-year-old daughter, Holly, looked at me at the breakfast table after I'd run over her feelings big time and she said, do you know what you ought to do and show you how stupid Kevin Lehman is? I said, what? And she said, you ought to read your own book. And that one got me. And she was right.
And I apologized profusely to her. So, again, keep in mind this balance. That's why I bring authoritative to our minds today. We want to be authoritative. We want to stand on authority.
God didn't put you on this earth to be run over by your smart-mouthed kid. Don't ever allow it. And for all you women, look at the news today. Look at everything that's in the news today about men and women. You women who are raising sons, you represent all of womanhood to this young guy.
Don't ever take any guff from little Buford or his little brother Harlan ever, ever, ever. We were obviously having great fun in the studio and learning lots from Dr. Kevin Lehman. And we really appreciated those great questions from our in-studio audience as well. Make plans now to join us for part two of the conversation next time. And we certainly do recommend that you follow up on this important topic of healthy discipline for kids by getting a copy of Dr. Lehman's book, which is a terrific resource, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. We'll send that to you when you make a generous donation of any amount to Focus on the Family today. And many of you know that's a big part of what we do here at Focus, we provide resources and practical tools for families. And we want to equip parents like we've done today, hopefully, and help couples learn how to better communicate and serve one another in marriage.
And we're committed to saving preborn babies and so much more. In many ways, we're like a family resource warehouse, I've often said it that way, where you can find books and downloads and videos and articles on every topic related to family. And we hope you'll come back to those resources again and again for the help and encouragement that you might need. Now, as you can imagine, these resources do cost money to create and to publish, and we need ongoing funding from friends like you who care about the state of the family.
And I'm sure you've seen evidence of family breakdown in your own community, your own church, and maybe even in your own family. So many people are desperate for advice, healing, and spiritual renewal. Focus on the Family wants to be a part of rescuing these families, many of whom can't afford to pay for the resources that you provide. So you can be part of the restoration process through your monthly support of Focus. Right now, we're recruiting sustainers, people who will commit to a monthly pledge. It may only be $10 a month, but every bit helps.
And I'm inviting you to consider partnering with us today. We do appreciate anything that you can give to encourage and support today's families, and a monthly pledge would be great. A one-time gift, as Jim said, is also helpful. Donate today and get a copy of Dr. Leeman's book, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, when you call 800 the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459, or check the program notes for details. One other resource that you'll find at our website is a free parenting assessment. It's a simple survey of your family and what's working well in your relationship with your kids. We'll provide suggestions about areas that might need a little improvement as well. It's free.
It takes just a few minutes. It's the parenting assessment. Check that out when you're online with us. Next time, you'll hear more from Dr. Leeman. He'll be offering rules of engagement for parenting your children. When you're fighting with your kids, you're cooperating with them. You're the adult here. You don't have to go there. You can say it once, turn your back, walk away. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
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