father who came to psychologist Michael Anderson’s office for counseling
illustrates the shift in thinking many moms and dads need to make.
father said, “In the last 90 days, my daughter has completely changed. She’ll
do anything her friends tell her to do. She’s smoking. She’s drinking. She’s
asked him, “What was she like 90 days ago?”
father said, “She was an A-student. She
was in the church youth group. She’d do anything we told her to do.”
last phrase caught Michael’s ear. He said, “It sounds like the only thing that’s
changed is who she’s listening to.”
Michael was communicating to this father was that his daughter had never been encouraged
to develop her identity or to think for herself – only to follow instructions. When
she stopped listening to mom and dad and started listening to her friends
instead, it looked like a radical change was underway.
objective of parenting is to launch your children into the world, ready to maintain
healthy relationships and to handle the rigors of the adult world all on their
own. But the process of helping your child get there can be counterintuitive.
you see a well-behaved child, do you think, “Wow, those parents are doing a
great job”? That perception may or may not be accurate. The child could be behaving
out of strong inner character. Or his obedience could only be a thin veneer. Discipline
is only truly fruitful if it helps children develop self-discipline.
do you do that? A great place to start is to say what you mean and mean what
you say. That bit of advice may sound cliché at first, but colleagues Michael
Anderson and Dr. Tim Johanson say the proof is all around us that this strategy
lack of follow-through is common to moms and dads who try too hard to protect
their children from struggle and the discomfort it causes. When your child makes
bad decisions, it’s your job to make sure his or her life functions radically
different than when they’re making good decisions. That’s how they learn. Paul
teaches us that very principle in the book of Romans (5:3-5). Pain
helps build character when you properly channel it.
your parenting isn’t producing the character in your child you’ve expected, it’s
time to get creative by approaching your parenting from a new perspective.
fully unpack this concept with Michael Anderson and Dr. Tim Johanson on our Focus
on the Family broadcast “Rethinking Your Parenting Strategies.” It will offer simple, practical strategies you’ll
be able to start using immediately to teach and train your kids and to help
prepare them for adulthood.
is a licensed psychologist, and Tim is a pediatrician. Both of these men have
spent decades studying the way kids grow and learn, and they have some very
interesting and out-of-the-box ideas that may very well transform your
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