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Healing Parent and Adult Child Relationships (Part 1 of 2)

Healing Parent and Adult Child Relationships (Part 1 of 2)

Dr. John Townsend offers parents guidance and encouragement for resolving a strained relationship with their adult children. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: November 23, 2021

Woman #1: About nine months ago, she sent me an email stating that she was going to be cutting me out of her life, which she did.

Woman #2: I reached out to my children on various occasions, including the death of their grandmother, and there’s been no response.

Woman #3: I have not spoken to my dad in two years and haven’t seen my mom since last year.

Woman #4: Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to repair our relationships?

John Fuller: A broken relationship between a parent and adult child is a painful reality for far too many families today. And sometimes those relational challenges lead to estrangement where there’s very little or even no communication anymore. Today on Focus on the Family, we’re going to be exploring those kinds of tough situations. And our guest is psychologist, Dr. John Townsend. Thanks for joining us. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, every family has to deal with differences and difficulties, uh, because we’re fallen people. I mean, we don’t live perfectly and therefore we create chaos in some way. Um, some create more chaos (laugh) than others. But one of the top calls we receive here in our counseling team comes from parents of adult children. It’s a growing category for us where these relationships are broken for one reason or another. Uh, but you can apply it to, you know, every relationship that you have in marriage, in relationships with your adult children, probably your teenage too. Uh, the point is we hear often about, uh, feelings of resentment, sadness, anger, grief between the parents and their children. And it’s heartbreaking because it makes life, uh, feel so much heavier. And today we’re gonna focus on, uh, giving attention specifically to those areas of relationship. And I think, again, these principles are gonna apply in every direction. Uh, let me say this, God has created the family as the key social unit. You know, this is an institution, not created by government or by man, it’s created by God. And that’s why we at Focus on the Family defend it vigorously because we believe this is the beginning, this is where you learn as a child those moral values, those principles about God, and then how to treat others. And we have a wonderful guest today who’s gonna help us do that even better.

John: Yeah. Dr. John Townsend is a nationally known leadership consultant, psychologist, and bestselling author. And, uh, he’s the founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling. Uh, he and his wife have two adult children and he’s written a number of books, including, uh, the one we’ll talk about today, uh, called Boundaries. It’s a bestselling book that he co-wrote with Dr. Henry Cloud.

Jim: John, welcome back to Focus.

Dr. John Townsend: Thanks guys.

Jim: Now on this, uh, the boundary bundle, if I could call it that, all the boundary materials you’ve hit 9 million units sold. That’s incredible. 9 million.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. It’s been a blessing. The funny thing is Henry and I always thought when we wrote that stuff, the beginning 25 years ago that, okay, people will learn about boundaries, they’ll all have good boundaries, and we’ll move on. But it’s work to do it. And so, they’re selling more than they were then. And now the 25-year-olds are getting the book because their parents raised them with boundaries and they’re trying to teach their kids the same thing.

Jim: Yeah. Let’s, let’s, um, move to the estrangement issue and what we set the program up to talk about. Um, uh, this conflict between parents and their adult children, uh, I mentioned at Focus we’re getting a lot more, uh, response with people that are experiencing that.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Um, are you hearing the same and why do you think the intensity of that relationship breakage between parent and the 20-something child is happening?

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. I, I am hearing it seeing a lot of it, Jim, and I think there’s a reason for it, is that, you know, know God created us to be people who were full of grace and truth like he is, like he talks about in Ephesians. And that means to be able to connect, but also to be able to talk directly when you need someone without freaking everybody out, we’re supposed to be loving people, but truthing people. But there’s been some family breakdown over the last 30 years where a lot of times the parents don’t feel like they should do that, that might be a mean thing, I wanna keep the self-esteem good and all that. And so, they’ve sort of like shied away from hard truths with their children. Now we’ve got a culture that’s kind of the same way that if you say something that you disagree with, um, you’re out of my life. So, the 25-year-olds get… They had a background maybe where there wasn’t a lot of truth and love, we call it integration in my… In the clinical world. They weren’t… Truth and love weren’t integrated. So maybe their background wasn’t very much that way. And also, the culture is saying, yeah, write anybody off that you disagree with, instead of let’s have a talk about it. That skill is no longer present like it used to be.

Jim: Yeah. Which is so sad because that’s how conflict gets taken care of, right?

Dr. Townsend: Absolutely. And it’s the only way.

Jim: And dealt with. Uh, you speak to that issue. Um, you do a lot of counseling with people. Uh, describe that person and the why, how you could have this disconnect, this estrangement between you and your adult child, and it’s kinda like that saying, when you keep hitting your head up against the same problem and you deal with it in same way and you get the same result, which isn’t where you wanna be.

Dr. Townsend: Definition of insanity.

Jim: Right? Why, why do we do that as God’s creatures? I mean, why aren’t we learning from those mistakes?

Dr. Townsend: Jim, I think there are a couple of reasons for that. One of ’em is a thing that we call, in the clinical world, defensive hope. And defensive hope says, if it’s first you don’t succeed, try, try again. In other words-

Jim: Right. (laugh)

Dr. Townsend: … There are sometimes where doing the same thing several times, you know, beating a nail into the wall can help. And so, we do that, but then we take it to an extreme thinking, well, it’s just not loud enough, I’ll tell them a million times. And then the, the adult child just alienates more. The other is because I think that they feel, um, a bit helpless, you know, like I’ve got no other skill here. And I feel like I’m gonna… Even if it threatens to alienate you, I want you back so bad, I’ll even do the wrong thing because that’s better than doing nothing, because the helpless is for an adult parent is so sad because this is the person, I love the most.

Jim: Yeah. And that, that’s the thing. I mean, when you care about that person so much, and you see, I guess…

Dr. Townsend: And you can’t, and you can’t reach ’em. It’s so hard to be a parent and you can’t reach ’em anymore.

Jim: Well, and maybe that’s a good question. Describe what has been the precedent there that has allowed this relationship to become so sour and you get to that point where nothing’s working now. You have heard all of it, I would think, so what happened 10 years before that, and eight years before that, and five years before that?

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. And it’s always a combination in varying ratios between what I did as a parent and what my adult child did, right, from 10 years ago. What’s their part and what’s my part? It’s never 100%, very, very rarely it’s 100% anything. So, a lot of times on the parent’s part is either when it was time to discipline little Sammy, I didn’t do it at all because I didn’t want him… make him feel bad. And then that means hard talks later they don’t have the ability. Or I came on too hard with Sammy and I disciplined, you know, the punishment didn’t fit the crime. And I was way, way too strict with him and now he’s alienated. So that’s kind of me on the parent part. And on Sammy’s part, it’s like, okay, I didn’t get perfect parenting, but I don’t want to forgive. And it’s a lot easier to blow him off. And here I am also developmentally in the launching stages. You know, the Bible says of in Genesis two, about leaving and cleaving, here I’m in the leaving and cleaving stages. My mom and dad aren’t the center of my life anymore.

Jim: Right. (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: They’re just not.

Jim: I’m laughing ’cause I’m living it.

Dr. Townsend: Right. And so, I’m… They’re kinda like oatmeal to me, this is not interesting anymore. I’ve got all these friends and things I wanna do when I wanna travel. So, I’ve got that pressure in my head, plus we are kind of like at odds to some issue, it’s way too much brain damage for me to try to go in about and have the hard talks. I’ll just live my life. So, they’ve got that launching energy saying it’s just too much trouble.

Jim: No, it’s so true. Uh, the one thing too, and I think this would be the most common issue is, you know, when we’re raising our kids in the single digits, there are 5, 8, 9, there’s a lot of control. You know, don’t run out there, don’t light that on fire, don’t… We’re, we’re dictating behavior, right? Don’t do this, don’t do that. And then they get into the teen years and they’re trying to express themselves and become more independent in their choices, et cetera and we’re still using controlling younger, uh, parenting approaches that inflame that situation. So, describe that controlling parent, I guess is the question.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. I think it’s really clear to say that the way you phrase this, the way I look at its Jim is, I call the years 1 to 11-ish, maybe 12 as the, you know, really controlled parent years. And then…

Jim: And that’s a good thing.

Dr. Townsend: And that’s a good thing because they don’t know the rules of life, their brain isn’t informed, they need to know don’t run out in the street and if you do, I’m gonna pull you back, right?

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: But then the other years, or what I would call the more gentler de-parenting years. I’m gonna give you choices now, not every choice, but I’m gonna let you, you know, start to think about values and consequences because I’m looking at the launch, you’re on leaving and cleaving launch. So, I parent with more control, first half the deep parenting with less control, and then by that time they know who they are, they know who God is, they know what their skills of life are.

Jim: Yeah. And it’s so critical. I would think that’s probably one of the greatest parenting errors that we make.

Dr. Townsend: Yes.

Jim: And that’s, that’s a good thing for us to describe. The other thing there is then we hit those teenage years and because we don’t know how to deescalate or decontrol, as you’re saying, we can tend to then manipulate. And boy, teenagers, they have a nose for parental manipulation. Don’t they?

Dr. Townsend: They can read that a mile away.

Jim: “Oh, so when did you shower last? (laughs). Wouldn’t it be nice to take a shower? It feels so good.” I’m guilty of that with two boys. I mean, it was half of my parenting.

Dr. Townsend: And we, and we really think that the child’s gonna go, “Great idea.”

John: I hadn’t thought of that.

Jim: “Thanks. Bingo. Right between the eyes, (laughs) you know, dad, it’s time. Thanks for the reminder.” I didn’t usually get that response. But what about that manipulation and how dangerous that can be as a parent?

Dr. Townsend: Uh, I think it’s actually worse than direct control. It’s not as bad as abuse, nothing’s as bad as abuse, but in terms of direct control versus manipulation, because if you’re directly controlling the child can say, where you’re too harsh or not harsh enough, but I know where you are. I can trust you because you’re this solid object saying you’ll being timed out for this.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: The manipulating, my favorite is when the mom says, “Do you know how long I was in labor with you?” (laughs)

Jim: I’ve never heard that before.

Dr. Townsend: Aren’t you, (laugh) now you… But you wanna go out with your friends again. (laughs). It’s just…

John: My wife actually had a friend to say that, uh, it was a very effective, uh, tactic with her child to say, “I gave birth to you. I can tell you what to do.” And at some point, in time that doesn’t really work.

Jim: Are you third party people here?

Dr. Townsend: Or, or the classic is, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it.”

Jim: Yeah, there’s a good one.

Dr. Townsend: All that stuff. But, but in terms of manipulation, then the child goes, “Oh, I can’t trust you. You’re gonna gain me and I don’t feel like you’re gonna be honest with me.” Direct control, you can say you’re crazy or not crazy, but they trust, manipulation they go, how do I know what you say is for my benefit? So, it’s, it’s a bad thing as you said.

Jim: Yeah. But I guess the flip, uh, side of that is then how does that adult child, again, let’s just picture a 24-year-old whose parent is manipulative or controlling, how do they self-assess how do they protect themselves? Let’s speak to the other side of it, not just the parent side, what, what mechanisms do they have to minimize the impact of that manipulation?

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. Suppose you’re listening to the program and yet thinking, well, I’m that age and my parents have been doing that to me, the best approach is to go to them with love and honor and say, “I wanna make things better.” You know-

Jim: That’s good.

Dr. Townsend: … You see all the way through the Bible when it talks about, you know, speak the truth in love and this sort of thing, confront your brother or sister, to go to them and say, you know, “Thank you for what you’ve done for me,” but there’s some things that don’t make it better. I always start off positive. It’s not as good as it could be, could we communicate in a different way? And here could be my part. And a lot of people then their defenses will go down because you’re not saying you’re the person at fault, you’re just saying, this is… The ground’s all level at the cross here, here’s what I’ve been doing that’s crazy, here’s what you’re doing, I wanna make it better. It’s really hard to say no to that invitation.

Jim: John, let me play a clip, um, that is from a mom who has struggled in her relationship with her daughter and have you respond.

Question: Hi, Dr. Of Townsend. Um, I have a question for you. Um, in the past I have been divorced and there’s been a lack of communication within the family. And so, um, I have an estranged daughter, an adult daughter who, um, can’t seem to find a way to forgive me. So, my question is, there’s just, how can I get that trust back and for her to find grace and mercy within herself for me?

Dr. Townsend: First off, my heart just sank when I heard her story. And it is one that I hear way too much, I’m sure y’all hear way too much too.

Jim: Correct, yeah.

Dr. Townsend: Where a parent is in those years where you want to enjoy the relationship and you’re growing up and flourishing and find your own way, she doesn’t have that. And all these years seem gone. Um, I built a structure for situations like that. And, um, it’s pretty simple, it’s not easy, but it’s simple.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Townsend: And when she said, well, how do I get her to trust me, there’s a step you got to do before trust. And it has to do with building a bridge. This is how you build a bridge. In whatever way, when you’ve got an adult child who’s estranged, whatever way they get communication, phone call, text, snail mail, you know, Zoom or having lunch, and if they’ll meet you at any way, you send them that communication and you say something like the following, “I’m so sorry about where things are and about how you feel about our relationship, and I miss you. And I would like for us to be connected again. And I want, um, to be sure that I know what I’ve done to hurt you. So, I’d like to propose this, I’d like for us to meet, phone, Zoom, in person, and I will want you to tell me everything in your experience I’ve done to hurt or alienate you. And I’m just gonna be sitting there with a legal pad and a pen, and I’m gonna write down everything you say, and you can take as long as you need to, because if it’s a lot, I want to know a lot. And one thing I’ll promise you is I’m not going to interrupt you and say, well, you misunderstood that part or well I was having a hard time or, well, how about the things you did? I promise I won’t do any of those things. I might say things like, how did that feel, or tell me more, or is there more information, but I want to hear from your heart what your experience is of the hurts I caused you. And then I’m gonna take that and I’m gonna go home and you’re gonna go home. And I wanna sit down and pray, and write, and think through and everything you’ve narrated that I’ve done that’s true, I’m gonna change it and I’m gonna change it by the time we meet again if you’ll give me a second meeting. And in that second meeting, I’m gonna show you how I’ve changed and I’m gonna stay changed. And that is all I ask of you. And that’s because you’re worth that to me. Is that something you would be interested in?” What I have found with this approach is that if there’s any hope at all, that’s the one is that they feel like you’re not trying to change me, you’re not saying, well, here’s my side of it, here’s your side of it, you do have a side and that comes later. Once you’ve built the bridge and you’ve taken a few hits and, and you’ve repented some things, that comes later, that’s fine, but it’s not your day because you’re the grownup. And they say, they’ve never asked me how it felt, or they’ve always interrupted, or they’ve always made the excuses, and then they really want to know, it’s the best chance you’ve got.

Jim: Yeah. And John, that, I mean, it sounds so tender and so right. And being the parent swallowing resolution for yourself and absorbing how you can repair the relationship is a great first, second, third step. And then hopefully, eventually you can get to some of the things that may have hurt you. I, I love that.

Dr. Townsend: Speaking of first, second, second and third does sound a lot more like what Jesus said about the first, second, and third mile, you’re going, you’re going the way the grownup should go.

Jim: Right. That’s so true. But we also need to cover that, um, that parent, that, you know, they haven’t perhaps done things that are egregious, yet their child is, their adult child, is in some serious trouble. It could be drugs; it could be promiscuous relationships or whatever it might be. I would think that that situation might be a little different when there’s harm, self-harm occurring. How does a parent engage that adult child in that discussion without damaging or severely damaging the relationship?

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. It’s one of those kinds of no-win situations in a way, Jim, because you think about parent, that means I’ve got a certain amount of leverage and control, but I’m a parent of this person who is also an adult.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: So, authority, I’m your dad, I’m your mom, that’s kind of out the window now.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: I’m just this older person that you’ve got a history with that I hope that you love, you know? (laughs)

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: That’s all I got. And so, the leverage has to move from, well, I’m the dad or the mom to influence.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: An influence of relationship. So, let’s suppose you’ve got somebody out of the home, for example, there’s out of the home problems and there’s in the home problems, depending on where, you know, the, the young adult is. Out of the home and you see them, like you said, maybe they’re on drugs, or maybe they’re, um, acting a promiscuous lifestyle or lots of other things. Um, the best approach you’ve got is to certainly meet with them because we have a responsibility. I mean, it’s not just the responsibility as a parent, it’s also a responsibility as of a Christian who loves somebody and all the passages there apply. And you go to them and say, I always say, you have to have a dedicated talk. You don’t do it while you’re watching Netflix or rock climbing.

Jim: Right. You gotta look at each other in the eye.

Dr. Townsend: You have to look at each other and you say, so you set it up, I believe in setting it up. And you say, “Um, I’d like to have a meeting with you about some things.” “Well, what’s gonna be about?” “Well, it’s just about making things better between us. And I’d like to go into it.” By the way, I’m gonna take the principles from a book that Henry Cloud and I wrote called, um, How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding, because it’s about a difficult conversation.

Jim: Correct.

Dr. Townsend: And so, you go to them, and you say, um, first off, you know, you visit how’s life. Then you say, “Lemme tell you why we’re meeting. And, and thank you for being here. And by the way,” and I always start with this, “And by the way, if I ever do anything to alienate you, upset you, make you feel not good or whatever, I would want you to tell me, or do you feel free to tell me?” And most of the time the adult child would say, “Sure, I do.” And that’s good. So, they know that this isn’t a one-way thing. I wanna know what I’m doing wrong. “Well, here’s some things I want to talk about that concern me. One is your X. And first off, I want to know the why, I’m interested in you.” So, before I tell ’em to change, I wanna know the why, why are you taking drugs? Why, why don’t you get a job? Why are you promiscuous? That’s gonna take a while because they have lots of reasons, they probably thought it through, Christian or not Christian, they’re all over the map these days. But you listen well and don’t take an opinion, you just wanna understand. I want to get to the why. And then once they get this say, “Thank you. Do I get it?” And you have to make sure they say you got it. And they say, “No, you don’t get it. You keep preaching at me.” “Okay. Let me try it again. Sound like you do it because you don’t think there’s anything wrong and it makes your life better and you’re under stress. Do I get it?” “Yeah. You get it.” When they say you get it, you got permission to say the following. “Can I give you my perspective on that, not to be a controlling person, but I owe you that perspective.” One out of 100 will say no, but the rest of ’em must say you kind of earned it, you sat here and listened to me talk. And here’s my perspective. And you do your homework before you do that, you find out what the Bible says, you find out what good psychology says, you find out what reality says, get statistics if you need to. “I’m concerned about your life, and I love you. And I’m looking at down the corridors of time, uh, with the years that you’re gonna become 30, 35, 40, and here’s what it says, and I don’t want that for you. I don’t think it’s good for you. It’s not just because it’s a right or wrong, certainly that, but there’s also bad consequences and fruit for your life. And I would like for you to, to think about it.” And then you say, “Regardless, I’m your dad and or I’m your mom and I wanna be friends with you. And I’d love to have other dialogue if you’d like to.”

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Townsend: That’s your best first approach.

Jim: Yeah. That’s good. And relationally driven, which is good, respectful.

Dr. Townsend: And, and outcome driven.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Townsend: So, they’re thinking about time.

John: And John, in that scenario, after that conversation, as the parent, you have to walk away and not worry if they change or not, that’s not easy.

Dr. Townsend: Well, you can worry. It’s okay.

John: Okay. (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: I think.

John: You gotta let go controlling that.

Dr. Townsend: That, that we have to do.

John: Yeah.

Dr. Townsend: We have to walk away knowing that they may say, “Oh my crazy mom. Oh, my crazy dad, that’s just who they are. Let me go back to my ways.” And you have to walk away from that. And whenever people tell me that and I feel it too, I always say the following, “Yeah. You know how God feels.”

Jim: Yeah. Right. (laughs)

Dr. Townsend: “Uh, he tells you the truth, he does everything he can for you. He makes it winsome and then he walks away and says, hope you make the right choice. Choose you this day as this as it says in Joshua.”

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Townsend: It’s so hard but he goes through it every day.

Jim: Yeah. John, let me, uh, I’m sorry, I’m kind of jumping around a little bit. I’m thinking of the parent of a teenager right now. So, they’re 10, 12 years away from potentially having a broken relationship with their adult child. Speak to the importance and the application of healthy boundaries in that time so that your kids can learn the right thing. Speak to that.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. A little more while they’re sort of in wet cement in their brains.

Jim: Correct.

Dr. Townsend: And it’s not hardened yet. Because in those years, you know, if you look at the neuroscience, they kind of don’t know who they are. And, and, um, they know a lot more of what, of what they don’t want, which is controlling parents. Then what they really do want that in the sort of a developmental sort of a sloshy time for them. So, when I wrote Boundaries to Teens, I gave four steps for the parent no matter what the problems is. If it’s anything from disrespect to eye rolling, to drugs, to, uh, you know, acting out to violence, little things and big things, there’s four steps that you have to take that really work. Um, the first one is called love. Well, that’s kind of a obvious one. You have to convey that you love and care for someone and convey that you love ’em on their terms. And that means listening that you care. Because you can’t tell them the rest of the stuff until they know that you do. Second one is past love is truth. And truth means here’s our house rules, in the Smith house we don’t do drugs, in the Smith house we don’t do promiscuous sex. We don’t do disrespect to your parents. You can disagree with your parents, but slamming doors and this sort of thing, whatever it is, that’s in our house rules. And sometimes I have parents’ kind of write them on the fridge. I’m a big believer in the writing on the fridge thing that we’ve been doing for 30 years so there won’t be any misunderstanding ’cause teenagers are kind of attorneys, they’ll say, “Well, you didn’t put a comment there,” right? (laughs) So it’s up there. So, you got the love now they know the house rules and the, and the, and you also note the consequences. If you don’t do this, if you do these things, we’re all happy, good grades and you’re behaving well. If you don’t do things, you lose these privileges. And you make sure the consequences fit the crime, things that are important to them, whatever the things are that they’re taking away, a lot of times it’s easy because of the social stuff and the digital stuff they are addicted to this, so you take that away and that’s a big deal after a couple times. The third one’s the hard one for Christian parents. And it’s a thing called freedom. Meaning you can disobey these if you choose. You can break… I can’t like monitor yo with a, you know, with a night stick around the house at night, you can break out and go do stuff and you can do these things. I won’t stop you. Now a 3-year-old, you gotta stop them you, you pull ’em out of traffic.

John: Safety issues.

Dr. Townsend: But at 14, 15, I just can’t monitor all the time. So, you’re free to do this. And Christian parents go, “What are you talking about?” I say, “Well, hold onto my system here.” Here’s the fourth one. The fourth one is reality. We will give you the reality of the consequences. I will follow up. I’m not just gonna threaten the neck, I’ll follow up with taking away the phone, anything digital, the car keys, social or whatever, and you follow up and that’s their training. So, if you do the four steps, love, truth, freedom, and reality, you’ve got your best shot.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And that is good. I wanna speak for that parent that has to brace for the response.

Dr. Townsend: Yeah. You have to put on your big parent pants and have no need for the child to like what they’re hearing. I often tell, tell parents, “You gotta do the support sandwich here. I’m gonna talk to Susie about the hard thing, and so would you pray for me and tell me I’m a good person?” And so, they’ll say, “Yeah, you, you know, go for it. I believe in you,” all those kinds of psych up things, they kind of coach you in a good way, get ready and I know you’re ready for it. And you normalize it. And, and you say, “I know from 100 times trying this she’s gonna be mad and blame me and explode and get emotional.” So, you normalize it. So, you got the support and you’ve normalized, then you have it with her and you still feel bad.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Townsend: So, then you call your support person afterwards, who’s on call and you say, “It was awful, I felt like a bad parent. She hates my guts. It’ll never be good.” And the person says, “Give it time. I love you. I’ll be praying for you.” You gotta have that sandwich and you gotta normalize.

Jim: Yeah. And that is good advice, John. And this has been so good. This is day one. We wanna come back tomorrow if you’re willing, continue the discussion and actually give parents even more hope that, uh, it’s not lost (laughs) and we just need to apply the right principles.

Dr. Townsend: And if we can remember that inside the heart of every teenager and adult child, they’ll still a part that says, I want the relationship. It may be so far inside they don’t have access to it, but that voice is still saying at some point under all the rebellion, and all the hatred, and all the, they don’t get me, I still want them, and we have to capitalize on that.

Jim: Yeah, and that is such a good reminder and an encouragement really. And uh, to the listener, let me encourage you to get a copy of Boundaries. This is a New York Times bestseller. I think again, the whole bundle, we started there mentioning that about 9 million, uh, copies of the boundary materials have been sold. So, people have resonated over the years with this content, its evergreen, it’s for every generation. These are tried and true principles that Dr. John Townsend has identified, and they’re biblically rooted and, uh, supported by science. I mean, you can’t get any better than that. If you can make a gift of any amount, we’ll send the book as our way of saying thank you. And right now, uh, we do have a yearend match. So, when you make that contribution, you not only get the book, but you’ll also double the impact because of, uh, friends to Focus on the Family wanting to supercharge the end of the year giving for our budget, which is fun. Uh, be part of the ministry.

John: Yeah. Join the support team today, make a monthly pledge if you can, or a onetime gift, and, uh, we’ll send a copy of that book Boundaries to you. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or donate online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast

Jim: John, again, it’s been great having you here with us. Let’s come back and keep, keep talking.

Dr. Townsend: Sure.

John: And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back next time as we once more talk to Dr. John Townsend and help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

book cover for boundaries by john townsend

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

Receive John Townsend's book Boundaries for your donation of any amount! And when you give today, your support will be DOUBLED to Give Families Hope!

Recent Episodes

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Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence (Part 1 of 2)

Rhonda Stoppe explains how a mom with sons can shape them into becoming good and godly men. She offers moms practical guidance for spiritual training, effective communication, supporting the father-son relationship as a wife, and more. (Part 1 of 2)

Promotional image for Focus on the Family broadcast "Embracing Your Role as a Spouse"

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

Pastor Kevin Thompson explores three primary roles in marriage – friend, partner, and lover – and explains how spouses can live out those roles optimally by investing in their relationship mentally, emotionally, and physically.

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Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life (Part 2 of 2)

Jodie Berndt, best-selling author of the Praying the Scriptures book series, offers parents guidance for how they can more frequently and effectively pray for their children’s faith, wisdom, self-discipline, character, life purpose, and more. (Part 2 of 2)

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Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

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How a Former Abortion Doctor Became Pro-Life

As an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood, Dr. Patti Giebink believed she was helping women. Later, she began reading scripture and God gradually changed her heart on the abortion issue. Patti tells the story of her long journey from abortion doctor to pro-life and encourages listeners to share the message of life with compassion.

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Dr. Patti Giebink is an OB-GYN who serves on the board of the Alpha Center, a well-known pregnancy center located in Sioux Falls, S.D. She also travels intermittently to work in mission hospitals in Pakistan and other countries. After completing her medical training, Dr. Giebink worked for Planned Parenthood from 1995-1997, during which she was the only abortion-provider in the state of South Dakota. She eventually experienced a radical change of heart on the issue of abortion after receiving God’s grace, forgiveness, and love, and she is now a passionate advocate for the pro-life movement.

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Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life

Unexpected Choice is told from the perspective of a doctor who actually performed abortions through Planned Parenthood. The book chronicles her journey from being a pro-choice physician to someone speaking on behalf of the pro-life movement.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 2

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Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

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Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

Cherishing Your Spouse Every Day

Do you love your spouse, or do you truly cherish them? Gary Thomas encourages couples to make a daily effort to go beyond the ‘duty’ of love, and combat the natural inclination to drift apart, by choosing to see the best in their spouse.

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Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

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Dr. Randy Schroeder

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Effective parenting is now within your grasp! With this inspiring how-to comprehensive book, achieve extraordinary results in raising a child to be self-assured, self-reliant, and responsible! You will be able to successfully lead and lovingly encourage your child toward a Godly life!

The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

God designed marriage to reflect His love to the world; and because of this, the enemy wants to destroy God’s beautiful design. Based on his book, Defending Your Marriage, Dr. Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff share about the reality of spiritual warfare against marriages, and how to combat the enemy’s lies with the truth of God. Couples will be encouraged that they’re not alone in the fight for a godly marriage and better equipped to be a shining example for the world around them.

Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution.  Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships  where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast. 

Defending Your Marriage

Is your marriage under attack? Sometimes it can feel like the world is trying to tear your marriage apart. Internal conflicts or external pressures might make you wonder if something sinister is going on. How can you tell if you’re facing spiritual opposition? And what can you do about it? Tim Muehlhoff provides a straightforward resource for protecting your marriage from the threats of the evil one. He looks at what Scripture says about spiritual warfare and how our everyday struggles have deeper spiritual realities. And he provides practical steps for guarding our marriages with the whole armor of God.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 1

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

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Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

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Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 2

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Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage - Part 2

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 2

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

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Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

Kevin A. Thompson (MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is lead pastor at Community Bible Church, a growing multi-site church with four locations in western Arkansas. Every year he meets with nearly one hundred couples with a range of needs, from pre-marital counseling to navigating the most serious betrayals. A marriage and parenting conference speaker, he and his wife, Jenny, have two children and live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He blogs at kevinathompson.com.

Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!