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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Conveying God’s Love Through Discipline (Part 1 of 2)

Conveying God’s Love Through Discipline (Part 1 of 2)

In a discussion based on their book Discipline That Connects With a Child's Heart, Jim and Lynne Jackson offer parents biblically-based practical advice for disciplining their children with grace and love. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: April 4, 2017


Mr. Jim Jackson: A parent’s got a bunch of goals for respect, for love, for kids to use kind words, for peace and quiet around here. And with those goals in mind, parents do the discipline that they do. But we’d like to suggest that while that’s an important goal, it’s not the most important goal for parents to be thinking about, how should their kids behave.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Well, that’s Jim Jackson and you’re going to hear more from him and his wife, Lynne, today on Focus on the Family about what the most important goal is when it comes to disciplining your children. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, we all want to raise respectful, dutiful, wonderful, maybe should I say “perfect” kids. But when they misbehave, we can often feel confused or feel like the formula’s not working and that is so true within Christian homes particularly, ‘cause we want to follow the rules. We want to do things correctly so that we get the right outcome. And sometimes that’s hard in parenting, because these little tots are born with temperaments of their own, which we can’t always manage. So, if you ‘re in that spot or you’re the grandparent and you’re observing this, man lean into today, because this program is going to help you, uh, do a better job, I believe, in your parenting role. Uh, discipline is hard, but we’re gonna give you some tools today, I think, to make it easier.

John: And as I said, Jim and Lynne Jackson are our guests and they lead parenting workshops around the world. They’ve got three grown children and live in Minnesota. And together they’ve co-authored the book, Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart and that’ll be the subject of the conversation today.

Jim D.: (Laughing) You could’ve left that title in half, right? Discipline That Connects.


Jim J.: We’ve – we’ve – we’ve had that conversation, right?

Jim D.: Did you have that already? Oh, man, that’s good. Let me start here, um, you know, like I said in the set-up, children are born with their own temperament and their own personalities and any parent that has more than one child, sees that their children are different. If you have two kids like we do, they’re quite different. If you have three or four, very different. If you have six, John, like yourself, very different.

John: They’re all different.

Jim D.: So, there’s this thing between nature or God and what He imprints on a child and then the nurture aspect of it. And I think as parents, we tend to want to overestimate the nurture aspect and we tend to underestimate these little temperaments that are there already. A strong-willed child might be an example…

Jim J.: Right.

Jim D.: …All the way to the compliant child. They seem to come out of the womb that way, right?

Jim J.: Compliant.


Jim J.: They come out compliant for the first maybe not even, right? For…

Jim D.: First hour?

Jim J.: …For the first hour sometimes.


Jim J.: Sometimes they cry. Our – one of our children made a mess all over me and all over everything and not compliant from – from the word “go.”

John: (Laughter).

Jim D.: ‘Cause she was sending you a message.

Jim J.: Right now.

Jim D.: (Laughter).

Jim J.: And, uh, you know, I want to reflect just a little bit on what you said, Jim, about how parents tend to want their kids to behave. They want their kids to be respectful. They want them to do well and they put a lot of focus and energy on that, especially in Christian homes. We’re taught in the church to raise obedient, respectful, faith-filled children and that’s what we want. And so, we make a goal in our method, in our efforts and in a lot of the things that we read, to try to figure out what is that formula to get my child to do what I want them to do? And we think that’s the wrong question.

Lynne Jackson: A better starting question isn’t, what should I do to manage this behavior? But what’s going on? What’s going on in my heart? What’s going on in the heart of my child? Because those are the things that really determine the end result of the discipline. So, if I have a lot of, you know, negative self-perceptions about myself as a parent or I have judgments about my child, um, to unpack that and understand it really can be a huge change in our discipline and reactions. Because if I have judgments about my child, they will subtly manifest in my non-verbals, my choice of words, my facial expressions, my tone of voice. And then those messages communicate to my child.

Jim D.: Give – give us an example of what that sounds like, what that feels like, both from the parent’s standpoint and the child’s standpoint.

Jim J.: Um, we talked about this a little bit and we thought it would be really fun to do a role play with you guys. Um, not to just say what it looks like, but to show what that might look like, because as parents armed with this goal of getting kids to behave, um, we’ve watched, you know, hundreds, probably thousands of parents over the years do this. So, we’re gonna do a role play right now.

Jim D.: Great, John can be my younger brother.


Jim J.: So, this could get really – this could get really messy really fast. Uh, but that’s real life, right? Um, and so, uh, you say, I mean, you kinda started to set this up already. You guys want to be siblings. And…

Jim D.: (Laughter).

John: I’ve always wanted to be Jim’s brother.

Jim D.: It’d seem natural.

Jim J.: It – it does seem natural, so – so older sibling, younger sibling. How old are you, Jim?

Jim D.: Well, I’m, uh, 55. He’s actually older than me.

Jim J.: Uh, in your role play.

John: I think – I think in our role play.


Jim D.: Oh, okay, we’re not…

Jim J.: Wait a minute.

Jim D.: …In an older brother sibling stuff.

John: Why don’t we do a hypothetical of you know, 16 and 14 or something like that, Jim?

Jim D.: (Laughter) Hey, John, why aren’t you paying Mom and Dad’s bills. They expect you, oh…

Jim J.: 16 and 14.

Jim D.: Younger, okay.

Jim J.: 16 and 14.

Jim J.: Or we could go – we could go sort of teen and preteen. How about if we go…

Jim D.: Okay, I like that.

Jim J.: …Just a little younger.

Jim D.: Wherever you’d like to take us, we’re willing to go.

Jim J.: So, 13 and 10?

John: Sure.

Jim J.: Okay…

John: Sounds good.

Jim J.: …What kind of things …

Jim D.: I think I want to be the 10-year-old all of a sudden.


Jim J.: I was gonna ask, what – when Jim’s inner child comes out, how old does that look?


Jim D.: Don’t answer that.


Jim D.: He’s speechless. Go ahead and lay it out for us.

Jim J.: So, uh, so 13-years-old, 10-years-old.

John: Got it.

Jim J.: What kinds of things do 13-years-old and 10-years-old squabble about?

Jim D.: You know, John, get out of here. I don’t want to play with you. I’m too old for that now. I’m not gonna play, you know, G.I. Joe with you anymore.

John: Wah!

Jim J.: Okay. So – so …

John: I think he’d be more upset if I took his stuff.

Jim J.: So, John would like older brother to play with him. 13-year-old is on to more sophisticated things like maybe a smartphone or a computer game or something like that.

Jim D.: Right, I’m far more mature than my younger brother, yeah.

Jim J.: Okay, so – so – and here’s the thing. So, I’ll be dad and you’re mom.

Lynne: Got it.

Jim J.: That makes sense, right?


Lynne: That makes sense. I can do that one.

John: I’m gonna sneak your phone, by the way.

Jim J.: So, mom generally is dealing with this before I get home from work and so, she’s gonna start dealing with this and I’m gonna come home from work and we’re just gonna see what that looks like and we’re gonna talk about how this is pretty – we’re gonna do this in a way that we think is fairly typical of what we’ve seen parents do or heard parents report. So, I’m gonna back out for just a little bit and then I’ll – I’ll enter the room and – and ready, set, role play.

Jim D.: Okay.

John: Come on, Jim. Just play for a few minutes, won’t ya?

Jim D.: You know what? If you don’t stop it, John, I’m gonna put you in the laundry basket and put the lid on.

John: You’re always glued…

Lynne: That is not…

John: …To that phone.

Lynne: …Okay. That is not okay.

John: I’m gonna steal your phone.

Jim D.: Mom, he’s always bugging me, Mom.

Lynne: He’s your younger brother.

Jim D.: He wants me to play with him.

Lynne: Well, you can be more respectful than that.

John: I just want him to play with me, Mom. I just want him to play G.I. Joe.

Jim J.: The door is opening and…

Jim D.: Mom, I am older.

Jim J.: …You hear dad coming.

Lynne: Yeah and that means…

Jim D.: Uh-oh.

Lynne: …You need to be more respectful as being the older child. That is not acceptable, young man.

John: Oh, you – boy, he’s a jerk. He’s just being a jerk.

Jim J.: Honey, honey.

Lynne: No name calling in this house.

Jim J.: Honey, honey.

Jim D.: Talk about a jerk. You’re the jerk.

Jim J.: I’ll handle this. I will handle this. You boys need to know for the umpteenth time, this is not okay. We’ve talked about this. We’ve grounded you, Jim, many times for the…

Jim D.: Dad, it’s not my fault.

Jim J.: …Way that you treat …

Jim D.: It’s his fault.

John: You deserve it all.

Jim J.: Don’t you tell me…

Jim D.: It’s his fault.

Jim J.: …That it is not your fault.

Jim D.: I mean, he’s pestering me.

Jim J.: You – you’re subtle and he knows how to get your goat and you let him get your goat. Now you go to your room. Unplug that electronic stuff.

Jim D.: Why should I be penalized?

Jim J.: He’s gonna get his, too. I’m gonna talk…

Jim D.: It’s his fault.

Jim J.: …To him about – you stop it right now, young man or you’re gonna lose that computer game for the week. Do you understand me?

Jim D.: For a week!

Jim J.: Do you understand me?

Jim D.: Oh, that sounds really fair, Dad.

Jim J.: All right, go on to your room. Now we’ll talk about this later.

Jim D.: Okay.

Jim J.: Go on. John, you need to…

John: I didn’t do anything.

Jim J.: John, you need to know you have an older brother who’s in need…

John: In his phone all the time and he ignores me all the time, Dad.

Jim J.: All right, do you need to go to your room for a break, too, before any of this?

John: No, I don’t have any reason to.

Jim D.: (Laughing) He sounds like a very mature 10-year-old.


Jim J.: I’ve got no logical reason to go to my room, Father.

Jim D.: He’s like Spock.

Jim J.: Okay, so, we could go on and on and on, right, because this is sort of – this is sort of what – what we hear…

John: This is too close to home…

Jim J.: …From parents.

John: …For a lot of us.

Lynne: (Laughter).

Jim J.: So, here’s the question. There’s a bunch of questions. Lynne’s question starts out saying, “What’s going on here?” It – it’s a really important question.

Jim D.: Well, Lynn sounded kind of intense for mom, but I don’t know. Was that where you wanted to be?

Lynne: Oh, I was…

Jim D.: You’re trying to get control.

Lynne: I was intense as a mom…

Jim D.: Yeah, you want everything to calm down a little bit.

Lynne: …Until I learned, yeah, until I learned some wiser ways.

Jim J.: Yeah, so earlier Lynne talked about what’s going on? It’s an important question for us to think about. And so, let’s do that a little bit by a little bit. So, let’s – let’s first go to – to Lynne’s goals. When she intervened with this, what was she trying to do? What was important to her? If you boys would learn…

Jim D.: Straighten out the problem.

John: Stop the argument.

Jim J.: Okay, so if you boys would learn just what it is that she wants you to learn at times like this, based on what she said, what she did, uh, what would it be?

Jim D.: Treat each other respectfully.

Lynne: Mm-hmm.

Jim J.: So – so respect, so mom wants respect. What else?

Jim D.: Love, love each other. In this family, we love each other. So, you better love each other.

Lynne: Yep, that’s right…

Jim D.: (Laughter).

Lynne: …Doggone it.

Jim D.: Not that I’ve heard that before.

John: Use nice words.

Jim D.: Treat each other kindly.

Jim J.: Use nice words, treat each other kindly. Um, so, and then I came in and, uh, a subtle…

John: Bum, bum, bum.

Jim J.: …Thing happened before I even started talking with you guys, but when you think about what it was to be me, what do I want the people in this situation to be learning, to be growing in, to be embracing as values?

Jim D.: I want peace in this house.

Jim J.: I want peace in this house. Who’s that about?

Jim D.: It’s about me.


John: It’s about me, the dad. So, it’s important for me to acknowledge that that’s going on. And I – I could tell you the a – the story of the day I came home, and my kids were arguing not to – uh, at about the same age and not too differently then what you said and what I did was what I did. I mean, the reason that I am able to do this is ’cause there’s a default in me that gets this way as a dad. And I said to my kids, “You stop arguing. I just came home. I had a hard day.” And I didn’t say it in these words, but essentially what I was communicating to my kids was, “This is all about me. I deserve to come home to a peaceful home and be able to go get my snack and sit in the easy chair for a few minutes and chill out.”

Jim D.: And watch the news.

Jim J.: And watch the news.

Jim D.: Yeah, it sounds reasonable. What’s the problem?

Jim J.: And you – you kids need to not be…


Jim D.: I mean, where am I missing it, Jim?

Jim J.: Right. So, it’s important for me to acknowledge that that’s what’s going on. Well, in our family in that story, um, I had acknowledged that – that sometimes I get selfish and I get big and I get demanding in ways that aren’t helpful and we had taught our kids the kind of parents we want to be, the king of messages we wanted them to be learning. And so, when I did that, my oldest son just looked at me and said, “Dad, you didn’t connect first.”

Jim D.: (Laughter).

John: Ouch.


Lynne: Yeah, right to say ouch.

John: You are that man.

Jim J.: And – and he – he was right. So, I mean, when you think about the list of things that parents want to get done and – and the what’s going on that Lynne referred to is, a parent’s got a bunch of goals for respect, for love, for kids to use kind words, for peace and quiet around here. And with those goals in mind, parents do the discipline that they do. But we’d like to suggest that while that’s an important goal, it’s not the most important goal for parents to be thinking about, how should their kids behave.

Jim D.: Okay, now that prompts two questions in my mind. One is, okay, what’s the most important goal then?

Lynne: The most important goal is to really be thoughtful about the messages you want to communicate to the child, kind of those “you are blank” messages that you want to communicate to them in the midst of the misbehavior.

Jim D.: Like you are frustrating me?


Lynne: Well, that’s what …

Jim J.: Is that what you want them to…


Jim J.: …Is that what you want ‘em to get from you?

Lynne: That’s what…

Jim D.: I mean, it’s pretty…

Lynne: …I was…

Jim D.: …Self-evident, right?

Lynne: Yeah, you got what I was communicating.

Jim J.: We don’t want – so – so here’s the question. And this is really the question that our material attempts to answer. What are the messages parents want their kids to come to believe is true about them? Because…

Jim D.: Well, would…

Jim J.: …Out of the abundance of our hearts, our mouths flow. Our kids will behave based on what they believe is true about them, not based on what they’ve conditioned to do. Because we can condition kids really well in our midst, but if they’re conditioned well in our midst and then they go out here into the world, they’re not conditioned well there and something else emerges.

Jim D.: Well, and this is the problem that we’re having with our young people, right? They’re walking away from the faith when they go off to college, whatever.

Jim J.: In record numbers.

Jim D.: Record numbers.

Lynne: Right, yep.

Jim D.: But the second question to follow, you started to lean in that direction, how should it be handled then?

Jim J.: Well, how should it be handled is a different question than what beliefs do I want my child to embrace?

Jim D.: Okay, so you have these two things flowing.

Jim J.: So – so we’re gonna lay a framework out  and then invite you as our children to – to interact with us just a little bit. The framework is, uh, a framework of four messages that we’ve sort of determined. I mean, there could be all kinds of them. If we look to God’s Word, Ephesians chapters 1 and 2, just in those chapters where Paul is about to address the church for some behavioral sorts of thing, he – he lets them know who they are. And he basically says, 27 different “you are” messages to their kids. Well, that’s too many for parents to remember, so we narrowed the list to four. And the four are this. You’re safe with me, because God’s at work in me. I’m a work of grace, too. You’re loved no matter what. You’re God’s workmanship. You’re called. You’re capable to do the good works God prepared in advance that you do them. And you’re responsible. God can’t be mocked. You reap what you sow. So, what we – what our work is all about is helping parents make the shift from going after getting kids to behave as the primary goal to going after how kids believe as the primary goal.

Jim D.: Okay.

Lynne: A succinct way to say that is simply, we shift from managing beha – from a primary focus of managing behavior to a primary focus of mentoring belief. And from those healthy, helpful God-given beliefs about ourselves, then kids learn to manage their own behavior and walk in wisdom.

Jim D.: Let me hear those four again, Jim, ‘cause I – some people are driving down the highway.

Jim J.: Yeah, right.

Jim D.: And they’re going, oh, that was good, but…

Jim J.: So, I’ll do them…

Jim D.: …I don’t’ remember them.

Jim J.: …super succinct. Uh, message number one, you are safe with me. Message number two, you are loved no matter what. Message number three, you’re called and capable. Message number four, you’re responsible.

Jim D.: Yeah, those are good, and we’ll post those online and if you’re driving and can’t write them down, go to the website and you can get that. Let’s take those four components and back up to the story and apply them.

Jim J.: Yeah. Well, so here’s what I’m gonna ask you. You – so I’m gonna give you 13- and 10-year-old kids, here’s – we’re gonna have a conversation right now. Uh, boys, honey – um, and, you know, Lynne would participate in this. We had a talk about it. We decided that as parents we’ve been working way too hard to manage your lives.

Jim D.: Boy, that’s for sure, Dad.


Jim J.: Yeah.

John: Well, it’s easy for you to say. You’re…

Jim D.: That’s an amen on that one.

John: …Just sitting in your room on your phone all day long, Jim.

Jim J.: You know what, buddy. You – you – and I know that you’ve known that for a while now probably and it’s getting at you, isn’t it?

Jim D.: It has been for a while.

Jim J.: And I be you wished that it would be different.

Jim D.: Yeah, I wish you’d treat me a little – little older like I am.

Jim J.: Yeah.

Jim D.: Much older than John.

Jim J.: Yeah, I want to – I want to hear more about that in a bit, but before I do, I want to – I want to tell you that we’ve decided there’s four things we want you guys to – to know are true about you, that we believe are true about you. We blow it sometimes and we don’t act this way, but here they are.

You’re – we want you to know you’re safe with us. You’re emotionally safe. You’re physically safe. We’re never gonna hurt you. You’re – you’re physically – we’re never gonna hurt you, even spiritually or emotionally. We don’t want to. We may do that, but we want you to know we’re gonna work toward being safe. Um, message number two, that we want to make sure you know and start believing better from us is that you’re loved no matter what. When you guys – when I came home the other day and you were bickering the way you bicker, I’ll bet you if I’d have asked you at that moment, “Do you think Mom and I love you the way you want to feel loved by us?” you would’ve said, “no way” right?

John: Yeah, if you loved us, you wouldn’t let him run over me all the time.

Jim J.: Yeah, right.

Jim D.: Or him pester me.

Jim J.: Yeah, so we gotta – we’ll – we have some work to do to figure out how to – how to do this new way. And then we know that you’re capable of figuring this out. We’ve watched you. In fact, I probably treat you, Mom treats you like most of the time you‘re failures at you getting along. But you know what? When we think about it and when we look at it, most of the time you’re not failures. You do great. You’re capable of this and we just want to help you get more and more capable. And then when things go haywire, sometimes we get in the middle of your fights and then we become part of your fight. Well, it’s your fight. You’re responsible for it, not us and so, we want to help you figure out how to take more responsibility for yourself, John, when you feel that way. And more self – more responsibility to grow old the way you want to, Jim.

Jim D.: Hmm. You talk in the book about baggage and keeping your kids safe from the parents’ baggage. What do you mean by that? I mean, I think you’re hinting at it, but let’s be more specific. What baggage to parents bring into the parenting role?

Lynne: There’s a lot of baggage that we have that’s mostly in the form of beliefs about ourselves or our children. So, for example, we have a very intense oldest son named Daniel and when I would get into conflicts with him early on, I had this almost like a loop tape in my head just playing over and over when – when we would start to get into a conflict that was – basically it was the statement, “I am an angry mom, raising an angry child. And when he gets to be a teenager, it’s going to be horrible.” So, you can just feel how that preset in my mind would increase my anger, my anxiety, my desire to control him before that all became a reality. And God convicted me out of the verse in Ephesians that talks about speaking the truth in love and it was like, Lynne, you are not speaking the truth in love to yourself about yourself and Daniel. So, I really had to think it through a pray about it, ‘cause I couldn’t just go, “Oh, we get along great,” ‘cause we didn’t. We were angry a lot. And so, as I thought about it and prayed about it, I realized I’m an intense mom raising an intense child. And we butt heads, but we love each other and that was so much more true. That was 100% true. The rest – the previous one had been sort of a – a toxic lie that was coated with a little bit of truth and about my identity and his identity. And so, when I shifted in that perspective, I could set down my baggage. I could go into sibling conflict without a judgment of, “Oh, he’s at it again, picking on his little sister.” And I could go in with beliefs of, “Lord, where are the opportunities here?” to build the skills and values that my kids are gonna need throughout life.

John: Well, you’re listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and today we’re talking to Jim and Lynne Jackson. And they’ve conducted parenting conferences around the world. You can hear the wisdom just kind of oozing out of them. And the book that they’ve written that we’re talking about today is Discipline that Connects With Your Child’s Heart and we have that at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. While you‘re there, get our mobile app and listen on the go or get a CD and download of this program, as well.

Jim D.: Jim and Lynne, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. We’ve done a pretty good job, I think, so far, but you talked about anger, Lynne, and a lot of parents listening right now can connect with that, because their buttons get pushed and their mirror cells start reflecting what they feel they’re getting from their parents. It’s an easy trap to get into where you begin arguing with your par – when you begin arguing with your children…

Jim J.: (Laughter).

Jim D.: …And you know…

Jim J.: He’s in the role play still.


Jim D.: …And – and so, um, how for that angry parent when it flashes so quickly now, because this has been years in the making. It happened at 7. It’s happened at 9. It’s now 11. Maybe they’re 13 and seven years of this build up where this is a continual fight. How does that parent, like you experienced, how do you back up and say, “Okay, we gotta – we gotta redirect this?” But the change starts with me, the parent…

Lynne: Mm-hmm.

Jim J.: Yeah.

Jim D.: …Not the child and we…

Lynne: Yep.

Jim D.: …As parents, I think, continue to want the child to change first, so that we don’t have to change our mirror cells, as you described. Let’s change yours first, ‘cause that’ll be easier for me. (Laughter)

Lynne: Right, yeah. So, often parents, they want that outward behavior, but – and if that’s my goal, then my child is instantly in charge, because I’m looking for a specific behavior and they can just go, “Nope, not gonna do it.” But if I have a goal about myself, I want to be a wise parent and to really help my child learn something productive from this, I’m in much more control of that goal. And anger is really about a blocked goal. So, if my child just says, “No, I’m not gonna behave,” then that will instantly kick in my anger. But if I have a goal to bring – build skills and values, to communicate unconditional love, to help my child take responsibility for resolving their conflicts, those are goals that I can – I’m in much more control of and my anger naturally subsides.

Jim J.: One of the scripts that we teach, and we teach a lot – we – we work with parents. We coach parents. And one of the scripts we work hard on helping parents to come to embrace is, “I can be okay even when my child is struggling.”

Jim D.: (Laughing).

Lynne: And my child’s behavior is not my report card.

John: Mm-hmm. Yes.

Jim J.: That’s another one, we feel that’s so…

Jim D.: Say that – say that again, because that’s important.

John: Yeah.

Lynne: My child’s behavior is not my report card.

Jim D.: Okay, most moms out there just went, “What?”

Lynne: (Laughter).

Jim D.: That doesn’t even feel right.

Lynne: Oh, it does.

Jim D.: It is my report card.

Lynne: I will – no. And we would like to think that, but that’s an incredible pressure on our kids. I remember specifically the day in, you know, a big box store, Target, that, um, my kids were just having a meltdown. And I took a deep breath (sound of breathing) and I thought, “This is another chance to practice getting my value from Jesus.”


John: Right.

Lynne: And it just – it was like it changes the whole thing because it’s like, I don’t even care if the pastor walks by right now. I’m just gonna keep my focus on loving my kids and guiding them well.

Jim D.: But practically then, what did you do?

Lynne: Um, started with some empathy for my child. You know, what are they feeling, what’s important to them? Oh, you love that Lego kit, don’t you? You saw Johnny had one and you just love that. I love how intense you are about building things. I think it’s one of the ways God made you. We can’t get it today, but when we get home, we can talk about a plan for you to earn that.

Jim D.: Hmm. That’s good. Uh, Lynne, you talk about your perfectionism being part of it and again, I – I feel moms in the audience going, “That’s me, that perfectionism.” How did perfectionism play into your, um, script when it came to parenting?

Lynne: Oh, I really had a – it started with me. It felt sort of like God, you know, um, was  – He had given me the Holy Spirit and so, I should have all the fruits of the Spirit all the time in relating to my kids. And so, I was just frequently feeling like God was discouraged with me, um, and so, I struggled in – in loving myself when I struggled as a parent. So, when I began to really understand grace for myself, then I was much more able to give it to my kids. Um…

Jim D.: Can I…

Lynne: …And just set aside that perfectionism of “we all have to get it perfect,” because that’s the pressure.

Jim D.: Well, that – and that’s the formula. I want to be perfect, because I want to follow Christ. You’re my child.

Lynne: Yep.

Jim D.: I want to be a perfect parent. Therefore, the evidence of my perfectness will be you’re perfect.

Lynne: Yes.

Jim D.: And then God goes to work on you.


Lynne: Right. And I can remember one of the most dysfunctional thoughts I ever had was, I remember looking at Daniel and thinking, “You are the three-dimensional representation of my failure as a parent.” (Laughter)

John: Hmm.

Lynne: And what a terrible thought. You know, and at least I was aware. I was like, “Oh, Lord, take that and transform it.” ‘Cause that – that was so gut level, but that was where I was at.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Lynne: And then we…

Jim D.: And I appreciate that transparency. I want to bring in the work of the Spirit of God…

Jim J.: Yeah.

Lynne: Mm-hmm.

Jim D.: …Into this right here, because I think, you know, we focus on our Christian faith and in our relationship with Christ. So, how did God work in your heart to begin to reshape your parenting ability so that you honored Him? I mean, oftentimes we’re gonna put our own formula in there. We’re gonna feel we’re honoring the Lord when we are as perfect as possible, and our kids are behaving as perfect as possible. I’m not so sure that’s what God is expecting.

Lynne: Oh, no. He’s expecting faith, you know, where we hold onto His hands through the ups and downs of life and – and the messes and the mud and just to be crying out to Him in that time in faith.

Jim D.: And that’s good for your children to see actually.

Lynne: It’s really good for your children to see. I was coaching a mom who was really struggling with her boy – her kinda – actually about the ages of the guys you just role played. Um, and she was trying to micromanage everything, and she was a perfectionist and she was getting’ all anxious. And so, then we took out a notecard in the coaching session and, um, she wrote down, okay, what’s true about you? And she wrote down some true beliefs about herself as a parent that the Lord has spoken to her. And I said, “Okay, flip it over and put some true beliefs about your boys on the back side.” And so, she did that and then, um, I saw her later for another coaching session. I said, “How’s it going?” She said, “Really good. I stuck the card in my – in the bathroom and so, when I start to argue with the boys, I go, “Just a minute, guys. I need to go to the bathroom.”


Lynne: And she goes to the bathroom.

John: Good strategy.

Lynne: Yeah. And eventually the guys asked, “Mom, why do you keep going to the bathroom when we’re having a conflict?”


Lynne: So, she sits them down in the hall and showed them the card and they got a glimpse into spiritual true spiritual transformation of bringing the truth of Jesus about us into the nitty-gritty messes of family life. I happened to run into her about five years ago and she had so much joy in her and in her parenting and her relationships with her boys.

Jim D.: And the kids were probably doing a lot better.

Lynne: Oh, absolutely.

Jim: And that’s a good practical approach and in the book you talk about slow, low and listen and we are out of time today, but I want to come back next time and talk about that concept of slow, low and listen, rather than be big, be an authority, be in command, because it – it seems counterintuitive. Can we come back and pick up the discussion there and teach parents how to be low, slow and listen?

Jim J.: You got it.

Lynne: Absolutely.

Jim D.: Let’s do it.

John: Well, we do hope you can join us next time, and, of course, meanwhile, stop by our website for resources like the book, Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart, written by our guests, Jim and Lynne Jackson. And then we have other resources as well, including a free assessment. It’s called the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment and, uh, it takes just a few minutes to fill out. It’ll show you some strengths in your approach as a mom or a dad and maybe an area or two of growth as well. It’s all at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. You can also call us for details. 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim D.: And if you’ve benefitted from the work that we’re doing, let me ask you to make a donation to Focus on the Family. We’ve assisted literally millions of families to raise healthy, God-honoring children. And if we’ve helped you in that way, please pay it forward. Let’s help another family get on the right track. We especially appreciate your help in this difficult year. If you can make a pledge to donate every month electronically, we would be so grateful, and we’ll say thank you by sending a copy of the book, Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart. If you aren’t able to make a monthly gift, we’ll still send you the book for a one-time gift to help the ministry help others.

John: You can donate and get your copy of the book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. We’ve got more from Jim and Lynne Jackson next time on the broadcast. For now, 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.

Today's Guests

Book Cover: Discipline That Connects With a Child's Heart

Discipline That Connects With a Child's Heart

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