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Posts tagged ‘healthy parenting’

Protecting Your Son From Aggressive Girls

SOURCE:  Dennis Rainey/Family Life

We’re seeing a surge in girls taking the initiative with guys at younger and younger ages, and aggressively attempting to lure them into sexual activity.

These experiences led to my book, Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date, which was published in 2007. I received a lot of positive feedback from appreciative dads, but I also got something that I didn’t expect. Quite a few parents contacted me to say, “I really appreciate the helpful advice for raising daughters, but we really need something to help our sons deal with aggressive girls in this sexually-saturated culture.”

Read this mother’s frustration:

I have a very outgoing, charming, attractive 15-year-old son. I have literally been chasing the girls away from the door ever since the seventh grade. The phone calls, identified by caller ID, were left for the answering machine to answer. The aggressiveness and promiscuity of young girls nowadays is beyond words. Their dress is so alluring and inviting to a young man, what’s a guy to do? Moreover, what’s a mom to do?

Another mother wrote after hearing the FamilyLife Today® broadcast we did on my book:

After listening to your “Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date” program today, I’m wondering if you have been on a high school or junior high campus recently. While I agree with your points today, I have a seventh grade son. Let me tell you that the girls are relentless. So aggressive. He’s at a Christian school, and this is a problem. I can only imagine what it may be like elsewhere. Please address this issue.

Back when I was growing up, there were some girls who were called “boy crazy,” but very few were as forward and aggressive as what we’re seeing today. Based on my conversation with parents, and what I’ve seen through research on the internet, I think parents are facing some serious challenges. We’re seeing more girls taking the initiative with guys at younger and younger ages and aggressively attempting to lure them into sexual activity. As I’ve done research on the issue, parents are telling me about groups of girls getting together and targeting young men.

Of course, I’m not talking about all young ladies. But the situation has changed enough in recent years that we need to ask: How can we prepare our teenage sons for dealing with the attention and temptation being thrown at them by some sexually aggressive girls?

What in the world is happening?

What is going on in the hearts of some young girls that causes them to be so assertive? I think there are several reasons for what we are seeing:

First, the culture is supporting it. Movies, television shows, commercials, magazines, books … they all glamorize sex and intimacy and the right of young women to go after whatever it is they think will make them happy.

Second, we have a whole generation of young men who are confused in their own sexual identity. Are they supposed to be sensitive or aggressive? Leaders or helpers? Many young men today are not being taught how to treat a young lady with nobility, dignity, and respect. Many are growing up without a father or male figure to provide guidance. As a result, some of these young men have no idea how they should expect to be treated by a real young lady.

Third, the breakdown of the family has resulted in a whole generation of daughters who have been abandoned. And in the absence of a healthy, emotional attachment to their fathers and mothers, they’re trying to fill their emotional gas tanks with the opposite sex.

Finally, there’s little or no preparation for adolescence occurring among parents of preteens or early teens. This may be the core problem. When you ask parents of preteens how many of them would like their children to have the same experience they had in adolescence, there aren’t many hands that go up. But those same parents often become increasingly detached as their children move into the adolescent years.

Teenagers need training to understand the culture, peer pressure, what’s happening in them with their hormones, and what’s happening with the opposite sex. That’s why we have resources like Passport2Purity®—to help parents ground their children in the Scripture that anchors their hearts to withstand the winds of culture and peer pressure.

Protecting your boys

There are six assumptions you need to make in training and educating your sons in how to handle aggressive girls:

Assumption #1: Young boys are clueless about a lot of what is going on around them. They need to be prepared for the reality of today’s world, and this preparation needs to start while they are still boys. This is why I’d suggest that mothers and fathers talk with their 10- to 12-year-old sons about how they relate to the opposite sex before they face the temptation. There’s a much greater probability of success if you can have these conversations before the hormones hit.

Assumption #2: Aggressive girls will likely come into your son’s life. The problem is that most parents won’t know it, because teenage boys don’t talk about anything. But it could be taking place in your son’s life and he’s just not letting you know, so you have to pursue him in the process.

Assumption #3: You, as a parent, need a proactive plan. That plan will involve fathers and sons, but …

Assumption #4: Moms, that plan needs to involve you. You know how girls think and you can help your son understand girls in ways that a father can’t.

Assumption #5: With a son, this instruction, teaching, and call to accountability doesn’t end with the adolescent years. It continues on into adulthood. (And in my opinion, it doesn’t stop after they get married.) Why? Because there are women who are still preying upon men who are married, and every man needs an older man in his life who is asking him “Remember those conversations we had, Son? You’re a married man now, but that does not exempt you from temptation. How are you doing with that?”

Assumption #6: Your son needs a call to manhood. Ultimately, the call to a young man is to step up and become a noble man, a moral man, a spiritual man, God’s man. You’re going to call your sons as they move through adolescence to step up to maturity and step up to real manhood. And to do that, they need a mother and a father repetitively teaching Scripture and encouraging them as they do take these steps toward maturity.

I think one of the finest illustrations of this is in Proverbs, chapters 5-7. In this passage, the writer was reflecting back on conversations he had with his son about aggressive women. And over and over he basically says, “Listen, my son. Hear my warnings. Embrace what I say, because it’s important.”

The writer concludes the whole passage by saying, “Don’t fool around with her, Son. Don’t go near her. Because she runs a halfway house to hell, and she has your grave clothes and your coffin, Son. Heads up. This is dangerous stuff we’re talking about here” (my paraphrase of Proverbs 7:24-27).

One other Scripture your son should be familiar with, and commit to memory, is 2 Timothy 2:22: “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

That passage is equally helpful for young men and young women. And while we’re on the subject, what if you have daughters; how do you keep them from being drawn into this culture of aggressive girls?

Training your daughters

If you are raising a daughter, there are at least four things you should consider:

1. Equip your daughter with a biblical, healthy, God-centered perspective of her sexuality. She needs to understand how her clothes and her behavior affect boys. When girls are too flirty or too friendly with the opposite sex, they need to be told. If you witness this kind of behavior, rehearse it and relive it later on and talk about what it does to guys. Explain what is appropriate in terms of a friendly relationship between a young lady and a young man. This needs to be done without being rude, but we cannot let our daughters get away with being overly friendly or overly aggressive.

2. Moms, model what you teach to your daughters. You need to dress appropriately, the way you would want your teenage daughters to dress when they’ve matured. There is a mixed signal that is sent when a mom is telling her daughter to dress conservatively, but her own clothes call too much attention to her body.

3. Dads, actively love your daughters. Give your daughter words of affection, warm hugs, and gentle kisses that let her know that she’s sweet, you’re her daddy, and that no matter how big she gets and how mature she is, you’re never going to stop giving her those words and those hugs. No matter how threatening that may be as your daughter matures, you need to let her know that there’s a wholesome love through words and affection that occurs within a God-centered family.

4. Appropriately correct inappropriate behavior. Pray about how you should instruct her, help her, and correct her. Then begin to train her as to what is appropriate and what isn’t. This could be everything from how she looks at guys, to the makeup she wears, to the clothing she wears.

One of the most important things I did with our daughters was to go shopping with them. It was important for two reasons: First, it showed me how difficult it was for them to find appropriate clothing that is modest and fashionable; and second, it allowed me to give my approval or disapproval before the purchase was made.

Whether you’re a mom or dad, and whether you’re raising boys or girls, your children need your love and guidance as never before. They need to be loved when they don’t believe in themselves. They need to be clothed in wisdom that morally protects them like armor.

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For more help on this topic, order Dennis Rainey’s book  Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys: 7 Conversations You Must Have with Your Son.

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Love Shouldn’t Be Withdrawn Because You Say No

SOURCE:  Dr. Henry Cloud/Dr. John Townsend

“Every time I disagree with my mother, even on little things, I feel this terrible sense that she’s not there anymore,” mused Brandy over coffee with her friend Whitney. “It’s like she’s hurt and withdrawn, and I can’t get her back. It’s really a horrible feeling to think you’ve lost someone you love.”

Let’s be honest. None of us enjoys being told no. It’s difficult to accept another person’s refusal to give support, to be intimate, or to forgive. Yet good relationships are built on the freedom to refuse and confront.

Good relationships are built on appropriate no’s. Even when we’re children, young or old, we need to know our boundaries will be honored. It is crucial that our disagreements, our practicing of saying no, and our experimentation will not result in a withdrawal of love.

When parents pull away in hurt, disappointment, or passive rage, they are sending this message to their child: You’re lovable when you behave. You aren’t lovable when you don’t behave. A child translates that message something like this: When I’m good, I am loved. When I’m bad, I am cut off.

In essence, parents who pull away from their child, whether young or old, practice emotional blackmail. The child can either pretend to not disagree and keep the relationship, or he can continue to separate and lose his most important relationship in the world. Thus, he will most likely keep quiet.

Children whose parents withdraw when they start setting limits learn to accentuate and develop their compliant, loving, sensitive parts. At the same time, they learn to fear, distrust, and hate their aggressive, truth-telling, and separate parts. If someone they love pulls away when they become angry, cantankerous, or experimental, children learn to hide these parts of themselves.

Parents who tell their children, “It hurts us when you’re angry” make the child responsible for the emotional health of the parent. In effect, the child has just been made the parent of the parent — sometimes at two or three years old. It’s far, far better to say, “I know you’re angry, but you still can’t have that toy.” And then to take your hurt feelings to a spouse, or friend.

By nature, children are omnipotent. They live in a world where the sun shines because they were good, and it rains because they were naughty. Children will give up this omnipotence gradually over time, as they learn that needs and events besides theirs are important. But during the early years, this omnipotence plays right into boundary injury. When children feel parents withdrawing, they readily believe that they are responsible for Mom and Dad’s feelings. That’s what omnipotent means: “I am powerful enough to make Mom and Dad pull away. I’d better watch it.”

A parent’s emotional withdrawal can be subtle: A hurt tone of voice. Long silences for no reason. Or it can be overt: Crying spells. Illness. Yelling. Children of parents like these grow up to be adults who are terrified that setting boundaries will cause severe isolation and abandonment.

Please don’t misunderstand this. Parents setting boundaries with their children is crucial. Children need to know behavioral lines that should not be crossed. They need to suffer age-appropriate consequences for acting out. In fact, when parents do not set and maintain good boundaries with their children, the children suffer another type of boundary injury.

What we’re talking about here isn’t allowing the child free rein. Parents need to stay attached and connected to their children even when they disagree with them. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get angry. It means they shouldn’t withdraw.

This Is Why Your Kid’s Not Listening to You

SOURCE:  Stephanie Loomis Pappas /The Gottman Institute

I’m awake earlier than usual and hiding out in bed for a few precious minutes of reading time when a wail interrupts me mid-paragraph. My three-year-old opens my door and throws himself at the bed.

I reach out for a hug. “What’s the matter?”

He ignores me and screams louder.

“Why are you so sad?”

He screams louder and swipes at me.

“Well, I don’t want to spend time with someone who is screaming at me.” I get up and walk into my bathroom.

He follows, screams echoing off the tiles.

But I should really know better than to ask why my son is sad, because the book he just interrupted – Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s timeless “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” – warned me off asking why when dealing with an upset child.

Kids’ feelings are real feelings

In the foundational chapter of their book, originally published in 1980 and more recently in a 30th Anniversary Edition, Faber and Mazlish demonstrate the many ways in which parents minimize or reject their children’s feelings: A child complains about being hot, and a parent responds by telling the kid to put on a winter jacket. A child whimpers about a paper cut, and the parent dismisses it as no big deal.

For Faber and Mazlish, these brushed-off feelings are an early breach of trust between parents and their children. The bedrock of Faber and Mazlish’s approach to parenting is acknowledging children’s feelings. Not dismissing. Not minimizing. Not jumping to explain, or blame, or problem-solve. Just acknowledging.

Faber and Mazlish offer four ways that parents can acknowledge their children’s feelings. Parents can simply look at their children and listen. They can offer short acknowledgments like “I see” or “Uh-huh.” They can identify feelings. Or they can give their children their “wishes in fantasy,” like “Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could wear shorts in the winter?” or “I wish we could build a paper cut healing machine!”

Kids may not understand their feelings

Faber and Mazlish add a special caution against “why.” Although some kids can explain their feelings in the moment, many cannot. For those kids, asking why just makes things worse:
in addition to their original distress, they must now analyze the cause and come up with a reasonable explanation. Very often children don’t know why they feel as they do. At other times, they’re reluctant to tell you because they fear that, in the adult’s eyes, their reason won’t seem good enough. (“For that you’re crying?”)

What kids need, Faber and Mazlish argue, is for their feelings to be understood and respected, not questioned.

Imagine you get a call from someone you’ve known a long time, maybe a sibling or a dear friend. Just their tone of voice leads you to say things like, “You sound tired,” or “Oh no, you must not be feeling well,” or “You sound like you’re having a great day.”

But when talking to your child, who is in the room with you and offering plenty of clues as to how he’s feeling, you ask, “What’s the matter?” or “Why are you crying?” Even though we are trying to communicate empathy, these phrases make it seem as though we’re not really hearing our children.

Did I need to know why my son was sad in order to understand his feelings? I knew he was sad, but I didn’t acknowledge his feeling. Instead, I reflexively swooped in to solve the crying with whatever explanation fit his situation this time.

Maybe my son was crying because he was woken by the neighbors. Maybe he was crying because he’d had that nightmare with the turkey. Maybe he was crying because he was too hot or too cold. Maybe he was crying because that’s what kids do lots of the time. In reaching out for him, I was clearly trying to comfort. But did my “why” add to that? Did it matter why he was crying, or that he was seeking comfort from me?

“Why” sounds like an accusation

Once I started listening to myself, I realized that I often ask some version of “why?” in response to almost all of my child’s emotional outbursts. What’s the matter? Why are you crying? Why do you feel sad? Why are you laughing?

In our worst moments, “why” can become a parent’s accusation. Why didn’t you tell me you needed help with your homework? Why did you break all your pencils? Why didn’t you remember to take the dog out? Why did you do that to your little sister?

These kinds of why questions, Faber and Mazlish argue, put children in an impossible position. They either identify as inadequate or start getting defensive, placing blame on others. Neither position helps children solve their problems.

Turning off “why”

After reading Faber and Mazlish’s suggestion to avoid asking why, I resolve to start acknowledging my son’s feelings. My next chance comes later that morning when he runs into the kitchen and yells, “It’s raining!” before collapsing into sobs.

“Why are you sad it’s –” I catch myself and switch course. “You’re sad it’s raining.”

“Yes.”

“Sometimes the noise of rain can be scary.”

“Yes.”

My son dives in for a hug and asks if we can read a book. I pick Mo Willems’ “Are You Ready to Play Outside”, which seems appropriate given my son’s mood about the weather.

Turning “why” on ourselves

Faber and Mazlish make a compelling case for not asking “why” when our kids are wrestling with negative emotions. Although their focus is on children, their book also suggests even more important “why” questions:

Why are parents so quick to dismiss or minimize their children’s feelings? Why are we made so angry or uncomfortable by our children’s displays of negative emotion?

It’s incredibly difficult to consider the reasoning behind our own parenting decisions. People spend years in therapy answering that question. But it’s likely true that many of us are wound up in our hopes and dreams for our children. We want them to be happy, fulfilled, and successful. Their negative emotions seem like evidence that they are not thriving.

If we don’t want our children to crumple at the slightest provocation, to in fact flourish despite the difficult times, we need to help them identify and address their emotions.

7 Ways To Protect Your Children From Sexual Abuse

SOURCE:  Joshua Straub

A few months ago, I spoke at an event on the principles of emotional safety, where a representative from the National Organization of Victim’s Assistance (NOVA) happened to be in attendance. Since then, we’ve been working together on a few projects and becoming good friends.

The mission of NOVA is to champion dignity and compassion for those harmed by crime or crisis. They work quite frequently on behalf of abuse victims.

One evening, my friend and I were carpooling back to our hotel from an event and I asked him a personal question.

As a dad,” I began, “how can I best protect my kids from sexual abuse?

Here are seven answers he gave me.

1.   Have surprises but don’t keep secrets. We don’t keep secrets in our house. We only have surprises. Think about it, secrets are never told. Surprises are always revealed. If I take our kids to get their mommy a birthday present, we’re not keeping it a secret from her; we’re getting her a surprise that will be revealed on her birthday.

Most child predators tell children that the acts are to be kept a secret between the two of them. If secrets are not allowed in your family, it’s unlikely for your child to buy in to someone asking them to keep something secret.

2.   Over 90% of perpetrators are people we love and trust. Aunts. Uncles. Stepmoms. Stepdads. Grandparents. Moms. Dads. Coaches. Teachers. Pastors. Family friends. Be vigilant of who your children are spending time with—or who wants to spend time with them.

3.   Trust your child’s instincts. If your child is skittish towards a relative or friend, don’t push or force him to like and trust that person. Too often we assume that since we trust that individual, our child should too. Allow trust to happen naturally over time and under your supervision. There could be a legitimate reason for your child’s apprehension of an individual. Don’t force it.

4.   Use the appropriate names for private parts. It’s not a “willy,” a “pee-pee,” or a “dingy.” Teach your son he has a penis. The same is true for our daughters. Calling a vagina by its proper name is important because sexual predators often use “cutesy” names to lure children. They need to learn the appropriate terms. If your children know the names of their private parts, they can more accurately, and with no confusion, tell you if it hurts or if someone touched that area inappropriately.

5.   Teach them the appropriate situations for private parts to be seen. Just as they need to be told the appropriate ways to speak to others, use a fork, or share toys, our kids need to learn the appropriate situations for private parts to be seen and touched by others. For the most part, this shouldn’t go beyond bath time at home with mom or dad or an examination at the doctor’s office.

6.   If your children ask questions, answer them. Don’t ignore or deflect questions they have about their penis or vagina. Our children are curious about everything, including their body parts. Ignoring their questions or concerns will only increase their curiosity and, at worst, lead to feelings of shame about their body, as if it’s something they shouldn’t discuss. Age-appropriately, answer their questions. Knowledge is power.

7.   They don’t have to hug and kiss everybody. There’s always the overzealous aunt or grandma in the family who wants to pinch cheeks and plaster lipstick all over our children. Many times we comply and force our poor kids to do this. If your child doesn’t want to give hugs and kisses to family members, neighbors, or friends, respect that boundaries and don’t force them. Lord knows, you probably don’t want to hug and kiss them either.

66 Positive Things You Should Be Saying to Your Child

SOURCE:  

In a world where saying “no” is usually a lot easier than saying “yes,” it is important to bring up children who don’t feel that negativity has a higher value than positivity. Encouraging words can have a truly lasting effect on your kiddo years and years after you’ve said them, so we should choose to use phrases that will make them feel good about themselves inside and out, things that will stick with them as words that got them through tough times.

Whether you want to tell them how great they were at their soccer game, or how much you love spending time with them, here are 66 positive and encouraging things to say to your child on a daily basis.

  1. I’m grateful for you.
  2. You make me proud.
  3. Your words are meaningful.
  4. You have great ideas.
  5. I love being your parent.
  6. You don’t have to be perfect to be great.
  7. Your opinions matter.
  8. You are important.
  9. You are loved.
  10. I believe you.
  11. I believe in you.
  12. This family wouldn’t be the same without you.
  13. You are valuable.
  14. You can say no.
  15. You can say yes.
  16. I know you did your best.
  17. You were right.
  18. I accept who you are.
  19. We can try your way.
  20. You are helpful.
  21. You are worth it.
  22. You make me happy.
  23. I love your creativity.
  24. Being around you is fun.
  25. I can’t wait to hear about it.
  26. Don’t be afraid to be you.
  27. You’re making a difference.
  28. I’m excited to spend time with you.
  29. You are interesting.
  30. I love seeing the world your way.
  31. It’s good to be curious.
  32. I love the way you tell stories.
  33. What you did was awesome.
  34. I admire you.
  35. That’s a great question.
  36. Your friends are lucky to have you.
  37. I trust you.
  38. That was a really good choice.
  39. Seeing you happy makes me happy.
  40. Being your parent is my favorite job.
  41. I learn new things from you every day.
  42. You make me better.
  43. You are a good boy/girl.
  44. Thank you for being you.
  45. I’m so glad you’re here.
  46. You look great.
  47. I understand you.
  48. Watching you grow up is the best.
  49. That was really brave.
  50. I forgive you.
  51. I appreciate you.
  52. We all make mistakes.
  53. Yes, me too.
  54. You are very good at that!
  55. You can try again tomorrow.
  56. Nobody is perfect.
  57. I love how you said that.
  58. Not everyone will like you, and that’s OK.
  59. You did that so well.
  60. I’m listening.
  61. That’s a very fair point.
  62. You are beautiful inside and out.
  63. I love you.
  64. I could never stop loving you.
  65. You are enough.
  66. You make my heart full.

6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles

SOURCE:  Michelle Anthony/Family Life

Spiritually healthy parents walk each day, step by step, with God as their guide.

Sin is a reality of our lives. Without God’s love and forgiveness, the spiritually healthy family would be impossible.

Without God’s help, dysfunction is our only option.

Some dysfunction is the reality of living in an imperfect world with imperfect people, but it will be especially present when we omit God from our lives. Painful dysfunction comes when we choose to sit in the Director’s chair in an attempt to live the abundant life in the way we see fit.

While there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of types of dysfunction in today’s families, let’s unpack six dysfunctional parenting styles that without God’s redemption will leave a negative impact on our families.

1. The double-minded parent. You see adulthood as a time to fulfill all your dreams in this life, and your children are just one small part of those dreams. You think about how wonderful it is to have all that God offers, as well as what the world offers too! These are the mantras that you live by:

  • “I have worked hard my whole life—now it’s time for me!”
  • “God wants me to be happy, so I know that He is okay with my making choices that fulfill my needs even over my children’s, because their day will come when they are older.”
  • “Who says you can’t have it all?”
  • “Of course I love God, but this world is pretty cool, too, don’t you think?”

You must have the latest and the greatest, and no one is going to stop you. Children are sometimes an asset because they make adorable models in Christmas cards and allow you to brag in the social scene, but they can also equally cramp your style when you desire to stay out late or get away somewhere exotic for the weekend.

You have to have the biggest house, the most expensive toy, or the latest technology. Sure, you travel a lot, but you have earned it. You deserve some peace and quiet, and want time away to enjoy the best golf courses and the finest dining.

Children raised by the double-minded parent will often grow up having co-dependency tendencies, seeking acceptance from others, being unrealistic in their view of “self,” and feeling insecure. They are confused about what it means to follow Christ, and might avoid their parents in adulthood.

2. The “I can’t say no” parent. These parents love to say yes because when they do, everyone seems happy. They think that becoming a mom or dad is a perfect way to expand their social life as well. They truly enjoy the company of their children and don’t see a need for hierarchy in the family sector.

These parents might try to justify their actions by saying:

  • “I want to give my child all that I didn’t have when I was growing up.”
  • “Discipline is exhausting for me and my child—so I don’t do it! I create no boundaries, and therefore there is no need. Besides, I really, really, really want my kids to like me.”
  • “Unpopular no more, I now have a junior companion in life!”
  • “Sure, I rely on my child for emotional and social support—that’s what friends do!”
  • “In order to create intimacy and trust, I don’t have any boundaries on the topics that I discuss with my child.”
  • “I had a kid because I want to spoil someone. I like to spend money and be generous—what’s so bad about that?”
  • “My child is very mature for her age.”

Critics say you don’t have a backbone and your children are taking advantage of you.

When your kids get older and choose their peers over you, you find yourself desperate to keep their affection. You resort to buying their time and attention or guilting them into it. Either way you must ensure that you will not be without their companionship because you are afraid of being alone or unloved.

Children raised by the I-Can’t-Say-No parent often grow up too quickly, suffer from chronic boredom, think that rules don’t apply to them, become poor money managers, are unable to cultivate healthy emotional boundaries with others, and have an unhealthy attachment to you in adulthood.

3. The driver parent. If you are a driver parent, you view being driven as the secret to your success, and you want this same success (if not more) for your child. You wonder why people are always telling you to “lighten up” in the way you interact with your child, while you conjure up these justifications:

  • “I am driven and have been successful, so why would I let my child waste one second of his day?”
  • “Childhood is overrated—we need to start thinking of college now!”
  • “I love to vicariously live through my child’s life. It makes me so much more of an involved parent when I feel that we are “both” succeeding!”
  • “Everyone else is my daughter’s competition—and they had better get out of the way. There’s room for only one at the top.”

Driver parents often come from two extremes: as children they themselves were high achievers, and are determined to keep the legacy alive; or they were not afforded the opportunities to succeed and now want to ensure that their children have those things. In either scenario, children of driver parents often feel undue pressure to not disappoint their parents’ expectations.

Driver parents most commonly reveal themselves in sports and academics. In sports, success is often subjective, so the driver parent is present at all the games or events to make sure that the coach and the children have the parent’s perspective in the matter. In academics, success is objective; therefore great attention is given to study time, test scores, and advanced-placement courses (which will look good on college applications).

Children raised by the driver parent will often grow up feeling anxious or depressed (or both), and dissatisfied with their accomplishments. They often struggle with addiction and are unable to “play” or relax.

4. The micro-managing parent. These are statements you might use to reassure yourself you are on the right track:

  • “I know what is right. It’s my job to make sure my child doesn’t make a mistake!”
  • “Everything is done the way I want it, or I do it myself. Since my standards are so high, it’s just easier that way for everyone.”
  • “My kids don’t understand that I make all their decisions for their own good.”
  • “The world is a dangerous place—period! Someday my kids will thank me for protecting them.”

As the micro-manager, you need to be in control of everything. Your parenting style reflects your fear of letting go and what could happen if you do. The exaggerated need to be in charge of everyone and every decision is a dysfunction that stems from insecurity. Perhaps you were wounded as a child, and now, by your control, you ensure that you will never be victimized again. You now have a voice and will control circumstances by force, manipulation, and guilt in order to arrange life’s events in such a way that you come out on top a “victor.”

Children raised by the micro-managing parent will often grow up doubting themselves, feeling driven to perfection, struggling with headaches and stomach-aches, and developing eating disorders.

5. The criticizing parent. This parent can’t help but point out what is wrong. To him or her, it’s obvious what needs to be fixed, and consequently this parent calls attention to the problem so it can be corrected.

As a criticizing parent, you argue that this is a gift to your child, while others say you are being cruel with your words. You question how else your child will get the “thick skin” needed to survive in a harsh world and believe that you’re doing her a favor by “toughening” her up.

To feel reassured, a criticizing parent might make these justifications:

  • “Life is tough. I didn’t get a free pass; why should he?”
  • “Of course I constantly criticize my child (even in public). It keeps her ego under control.”
  • “I never praise my child because then he will strive for better. It’s the only way to get ahead in this life.”
  • “I don’t encourage my child’s interests—she will probably change her mind soon anyhow. What a waste of time and money.”
  • “If I don’t point out his faults, someone else will. Wouldn’t he rather it come from me than from a stranger?”

Criticism is just a way for you to keep the “family business” going. You were most likely criticized as a child, as were your parent(s) and your grandparent(s). This heritage has built-in you a certain hardness that doesn’t have time to feel emotions, whine about the past, or spend time crying over what is not.  Rather than expose the hurt and deal with it, you find it easier and more effective to keep it locked away safely where no one can mess it up any further.

Children raised by the criticizing parent will often grow up bullying others, feeling insecure, blaming others for their mistakes, and being pessimistic about the future.

6. The absentee parent. In your mind the big moments in life are not losing teeth, hitting a home run in little league, or a dance recital. The big moments are the ones that you are providing and planning for, such as college, weddings, and retirement. You can justify your absence because of the following reasons:

  • “I recognize that my child would rather have all today’s stuff than me, so I work long hours to provide for his current and future needs.”
  • “My absence is a good way for my children to learn independence.”
  • “My nanny (or babysitter) is younger and more fun than I am.”
  • “I deny my child emotional bonding when I am home so that our time away is easier on her.”

Absenteeism is birthed from an insatiable need to achieve and succeed.  A parent with this dysfunction has no boundaries on time and energy, and feels that sleep and rest are for weak people. While they boast of an 80-hour workweek, feeling proud of their accomplishments, they simply can’t understand those who find satisfaction in a job well done and also find time for recreation, rest, and service to others. They justify their dysfunction by criticizing others’ lack of ambition, work ethic, or inability to progress.

Children raised by an absentee parent often grow up too fast, become sexually promiscuous, have low self-worth, and demand inordinate attention from others.

There’s hope!

In contrast to the six dysfunctional parenting styles stands the offer of hope from God that we may live in relationship with Him, pursuing His kingdom while living on His script. While far from perfect, the spiritually healthy parent walks each day, step by step, with God as his or her guide.

Becoming a spiritually healthy family means you will allow God to call the shots for you and your family members and that you look to Him to give you wisdom instead of relying on your own strength and “great ideas.” Because you realize you are a work in progress yourself, you offer your children grace when needed, while helping them see the correct path that God desires all His children to follow.

You recite the following things each day, because, deep down you know them to be true:

  • “I recognize that my child has been entrusted to me by God and that I need His guidance to raise her.”
  • “I know I live in a sinful world, but I will seek to put God’s character on display in my home in everyday situations.”
  • “I know there is a higher calling as a parent than controlling my child’s behavior—and that is forming his faith.”
  • “I seek to grow spiritually myself, knowing that the overflow of this will have a positive impact on my child.”

Children raised by the spiritually healthy parent often grow up knowing God, loving others, living a life of meaning, and recognizing that this world is not their ultimate home.

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Copyright © 2015 Michelle Anthony. Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family is published by David C Cook.

 

IT’S “YOUR” LIFE, CHILD!

(Author:  Unknown)

I gave you life, but cannot live it for you.

I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.

I can allow you freedom, but cannot account for it.

I can give you directions, but I cannot always be there to lead you.

I can take you to church, but I cannot make your believe.

I can teach you right from wrong, but I can’t always decide for you.

I can buy you nice clothes, but I cannot make you lovely inside.

I can offer you advice, but I cannot accept it for you.

I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.

I can teach you to be a friend, but I cannot make you one.

I can teach you respect, but I can’t force you to show honor.

I can grieve about your results, but I cannot doubt those in authority over you.

I can advise you about friends, but I cannot choose them for you.

I can teach you about sex, but I cannot keep you pure.

I can tell you the facts of life, but I cannot build your reputation.

I can warn you about drinking and drugs, but I can’t say “NO” for you.

I can tell you about lofty goals, but I can’t achieve them for you.

I can allow your decision-making, but I can’t be responsible for your actions.

I can teach you kindness, but I can’t force you to be gracious.

I can warn you about sins, but I cannot make your morals.

I can love you as a child, but I cannot place you in God’s Family.

I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God.

I can teach you about Jesus, but I cannot make Him your Savior.

I can teach you to OBEY, but I cannot make Jesus your Lord.

I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you Eternal Life.

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