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Focus on the Family Broadcast

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Helping Your Teen Become an Adult

Helping Your Teen Become an Adult

Dr. Kenneth Wilgus offers parents practical help for navigating the challenges that come with guiding their teens into young adulthood in a discussion based on his book Feeding the Mouth That Bites You: A Complete Guide to Parenting Adolescents and Launching Them Into the World.

Opening:

Teaser:

Frustrated Mom: (yelling) Tommy, I need you to clean your room or you’ll have to take a timeout! (to self) No, that won’t work, he’ll just sit around. (yelling) No dessert! No TV! No friends! (to self): Right, and no breakfast, no lunch, no dinner.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Well, maybe you know that mom’s frustration all too well, especially if you have a teenager in your house. You recognize that soon, they won’t be a child, and they’re quickly approaching the day when they become an adult, but you’re wondering why is it taking so long to grow up and to take some responsibility of their own?! Well today on Focus on the Family, we’re going to help. We’re going to help you and your teen better navigate the transitional time from childhood to adulthood, thanks to the expertise of our guest. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I’ll admit I’ve done the same thing with my boys: issuing those ultimatums and threats like, “You’ll never leave this house again!” And, “We’ll never do this fun thing again!” And then afterwards, feeling pretty foolish about all of it. As much as we’d like to control the lives of our kids, and get them to do everything exactly the way we want to, it’s impossible. Especially during the teen years. Man, this is the time of independence, that spurt, that growth of independence. They’re becoming their own person, and they’re different in many ways. So instead of trying to control our teens, we need to train them in how to effectively take control of their own lives and manage it well.

A couple months ago, Dr. Ken Wilgus was our guest on this broadcast. He’s a psychologist who specializes in adolescent behavior, and he shared some great insights about how to help your teens launch well into adulthood. It’s one of the most critical problems we have in the church today – our teens aren’t launching well. At the time, we recorded a lot of extra content with Ken, and we want to share more of the wisdom of that discussion that we had.

John: Mmhmm, and this conversation is based on Dr. Wilgus’ book, Feeding the Mouth That Bites You: A Complete Guide to Parenting Adolescents and Launching Them into the World. Now, we had a live audience in the studio, and we’re gonna include a question and answer time with them later on in this broadcast. Right now, here’s the conversation with Dr. Wilgus on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.

Body:

Jim: Ken, speak to the idea of planned emancipation, which is really the theme of Feeding the Mouth That Bites You – how you can help plan the emancipation of your teenager.

Kenneth Wilgus: Yes.

Jim: What’s that general…

Kenneth: You could…

Jim: Yeah.

Kenneth: You could practically title the book “Planned Emancipation,” really. That’s really what it’s about – which is getting ahead of the curve, knowing that by 13, your teenager, uh, needs and needs to need to be out on their own eventually. So you get out ahead of it, and in an orderly, rational fashion, you give over that freedom, uh, in reasonable stages. Now, with freedom always comes responsibility. So by letting go of one thing, you also leave them to their own consequences of the things that they’re, uh, doing. My favorite is always – the easy one – is music – that you can give a teenager: “You now have the freedom. It’s up to you to make your own decision about music. What you listen to, that’s between you and God. However, if your little sister is caught on your phone listening to some of that stuff, then you’re gonna lose your phone for a day. You need to make sure – that’s just true of any adult – you have to be held responsible for your own behavior.”

So, um, freedom carries responsibility with it. And then this is to your point – by letting go of that, it should allow and does allow for what often never happens, which is the parent really being able to say, “Can I look at your playlist? Do you mind if I just ask you about – doesn’t this bug you on a Sunday morning, listening – and, again, it’s not – I’m not telling you, you can’t. But can we talk about that?” And really have some substantive…

Jim: And in that context…

Kenneth: …Discussions.

Jim: …You’re saying you get more opportunity, more open heart…

Kenneth: Absolutely.

Jim: …From your teenager if they want to…

Kenneth: If they believe you – if they believe you…

Jim: Yeah.

Kenneth: …Really aren’t going to step back and go…

Jim: Right, and you’ve…

Kenneth: …Okay, this is bad.

Jim: …Demonstrated that you’ve let them have some…

Kenneth: That’s right.

Jim: …decision-making authority. Let’s further, uh, illuminate that emancipation idea. You have a – I think you call it the word picture of how planned emancipation works. It’s kind of a country with different states. Describe it.

Kenneth: Well, just picture a map basically with a large sort of continent divided into states. And this is the, uh, sovereign nation of your kid, Brandon, you know, whoever. And it’s divided into these discrete areas that are – might be school, clothing, money, different aspects of – that – that require control. And you start looking at that by – what teenagers look at is, um, “How much of my territory is occupied by your armies?”

(LAUGHTER)

“And your troops are on my stuff.” That’s why…

Jim: This is good.

Kenneth: That’s why kids and teenagers are really bothered by, um – you know, like, a teenager – parents are always stunned by – “Dr. Wilgus, we asked him, do you have homework? And he said no. But guess what? He did.”

John: He did.

Kenneth: As if, you know, that’s a big stunner. They…

Jim: That’s never…

Kenneth: Teenagers…

Jim: …Happened in my house.

Kenneth: Yeah, which is great.

(LAUGHTER)

I think that’s great. But for the rest of us…

Jim: So you’re saying that’s the wrong question?

Kenneth: They don’t even care – they – they’re not even – they don’t even feel guilty. It’s more like you shouldn’t be in this territory in the first place.

Jim: Huh.

Kenneth: And I don’t actually feel bad about – basically, that’s passive, uh, resistance to this occupying army, which is you shouldn’t be looking at my school stuff anyway.

Jim: That is really funny.

John: I can do it.

Kenneth: So you want to make your way out of those territories.

John: That’s kind of their statement of I can do this.

Kenneth: Even if – even if they’re failing something…

John: Well, that’s the question…

Kenneth: …It doesn’t mean…

John: …Ken.

Kenneth: …I need your help.

John: So if a lot of parents are saying, yeah, well, school, guess what?

Kenneth: That’s how important the autonomy need is. You know, when you try to talk what parents would think reasonably – “Honey, you’re failing algebra, so we’re going to step in, okay?” You don’t get a teenager that goes, “Okay” – she may have to, may not have a better answer. She still doesn’t like it.

John: Should we step in?

Kenneth: …Because – you know, the question there has more to do with, uh, the details of how you set up, um, what kind of freedom you’re giving. And that’s all laid out in the book. You can start by backing away from micromanaging, but you still have to maintain minimum grades. You can do it different ways that – again, I think parents do a better job of rationally stepping out in reasonable chunks rather than this, “Fine, you do it yourself, pass or fail.” You don’t have to go that far.

Jim: Ken, let me ask you to explain why it’s critical that parents respect the decisions their teens make. You’ve mentioned choices. You’ve talked about this battle map, or this idea of emancipation, and the parents send their troops in to occupy the territory of their teens. But how do we respect that, especially if we disagree with it, like music choices? How do you actually respect some of those what I would say are really bad decisions? And how do you tolerate it?

Kenneth: It starts by recognizing that you are talking to a young adult, not an old child, and that you respect that they have, uh, their own thinking process, whether they’re going to tell you this or not, and then lastly, as we’ve talked about, increasing your influence by really communicating. You know, that map we talked about, you want to make sure that you’re in, uh, in favor of eventually having all of your troops, so to speak, withdrawn from this young adult’s life so that you can say – and it means something – that, “These things are up to you now.”

Jim: Hm.

Kenneth: And the vast majority of young people will return to most of their parent’s, um, priorities in life, uh…

Jim: When they get married…

Kenneth: …When they get married.

Jim: …When they have their first child.

Kenneth: …When they have children.

Jim: Yeah.

Kenneth: Yes, they still do that.

Jim: It is an interesting observation.

Kenneth: Yes.

Jim: And that’s, again, the long…

Kenneth: But they can come a lot quicker if you’ve, again, allowed them – in our house, you grew up, you didn’t just get away.

Jim: Yeah. Okay, one of the most, uh, probably difficult areas of that freedom is the decision to go to church with you. I mean, this is probably a fight in a lot of homes.

Kenneth: That’s right.

Jim: I’m grateful to my kids. We don’t have that argument. We did for a while when they were younger, but they did buy in. And they said, “Okay, yeah, we’ll go to church.” Sometimes that doesn’t always come easy.

Kenneth: No.

Jim: But speak to that. It’s a common difficulty for parents of teenagers. You know, they’re bored. It’s not resonating with them. Um, the Bible study just isn’t the right thing. Uh, speak to the parent on how to manage that well.

Kenneth: Well, you know, a teenager’s spiritual life oftentimes exposes kind of where we are spiritually. And so teenagers ask questions that – you know, little children ask questions that are cute, and they almost can be profound, and it helps us. Teenagers ask questions that are not cute; they’re hard. And sometimes we’re not very good at answering them and can be, uh, frustrating.

I think it’s really important that, at some point before your teenager leaves your house, you give your teenage the message that, “It is now up to you and God whether you go to church at all. That is up to you.” I have no problem with that being very late, like, spring of senior year. That’s fine with me. The whole senior year – because up to that point, “I don’t like going.” “Well, this is that little most important thing in our whole life, and it’s what our family does, and you have to come with us.” But there needs to be a point when you let go of that.

John: There are gonna be families, though, that have – they’re hearing you. But they’re saying that – “That sounds nice, but we – we just have had so many blowups over this. How do we come to terms with this and get a win-win here?”

Kenneth: Well, the thing we haven’t talked about is that when you do get to the – the aspect of consequences and expectations, there really is some pretty hardline stuff. “If you’re 14, you have to go to church with us.” Um, to avoid big blowups is to be very clear that that means that if you’re not up and ready to go when we’re ready to go, you will receive the following consequences. And you need to be fairly firm about that with that it’s not a matter of, uh, trying to talk them into stuff. Uh, as we say in the book, uh, you know, you have to – with teenagers, as a parent, you’re not a policeman, you’re a judge.

Jim: Yeah.

Kenneth: And so…

Jim: And describe that. That was my next question actually – the distinction.

Kenneth: Well, it’s a big difference. A policeman has to do something to make things happen or not happen. A judge sits back and just makes sure that he or she is really clear on “This is the law that’s being broken, and this is the consequence that’s gonna happen.” The power that parents really have over teenagers is the fact that they own everything your teenager has. The clothes they’re wearing right now, the computer that Grandmom gave them, is yours. Or as I like to say to that eighth grader, that – “Oh, they can’t take it from me.” I always like to say, “Really? And if your dad takes your computer, who you gonna call? ‘Hello, police, my dad – oh, hello, hello?’“ They – no one’s gonna do anything about that. So you have that power, and you need to exercise that power by simply letting them know that this is the thing that we told you, you have to do. You did not do that thing, so this is the consequence for it. The more confident you are about that, the fewer blowups, the less, essentially – like I say, these control battles of trying to talk your teenager into stuff happens.

Jim: Well, and I so appreciate that. It’s really laying out the expectations clearly. And I think that’s one of the reasons for us, at least, church hasn’t been an issue. I mean, it’s known…

Kenneth: Yes.

Jim: …This is what we do on Sunday, and everybody’s kind of moved with that. So that’s…

Kenneth: And your boy will be eager to know when it is that it’s now up to him…

Jim: Correct.

Kenneth: …To, uh…

Jim: Yeah.

Kenneth: Whether to go or not.

Jim: Right around the corner, in fact. Um, I want to – before we end today, I do want to talk about this issue of the parental response to whatever it might be – poor behavior, et cetera. And the way that parents – sometimes because we – you know, it pushes our buttons. And we end up in a bad place bursting out in anger or yelling. Um, how do we control that as parents and not let our teenagers get under our skin and push us emotionally to where we’re now in this confrontation of yelling and in a shouting match with our teenager?

Kenneth: Well, it’s a really good question. I – believe it or not, I actually recommend caution in overlooking at your parenting as far as, uh, what does this say about me and my upbringing? Because you can overdo that. The point you want to look at is when you’re in conflict with yourself. Like, I keep blowing up about this thing, I keep getting upset. And that’s the times you really need to ask, what is this doing within me? And most of the time, very often, what it’s doing is – is that the thing that your kid is struggling with is something you didn’t handle yourself very well either. The most common example I’ve had is that research tells us that if I’m talking to parents of an ADD kid, then there’s a good chance that one or both of these parents are also ADD. What research didn’t tell me is that you can tell which parent is ADD very often. It’s the one that doesn’t believe in this whole ADD thing. And I just think they’re lazy and blah, blah, blah. And you find out that he actually – it’s very often he overcame those same features by being really hard on himself and shaming himself, which is a way to get past attention deficit disorder – one example. But it’s also at a very high cost emotionally. The thing in your children that you lose your most patience with, that’s the thing that probably says something about a battle that you’re having within yourself.

Jim: Yeah. Speak to that issue of the long view and the importance as a parent to have a long view of the relationship with your teenager.

Kenneth: It’s one of my favorite parts of working with teenagers is that they are going to change. And things get, most of the time, improved as they get older. And so some of the more immature stuff will definitely improve itself. And ironically, I’ve done this long enough, after 30 years, I’ve had teenagers that I worked with come back as adults and they want help with that very thing – “Remember that you couldn’t get my parents to help me control my anger? Well, now I want your help because I need to control my anger.” So they improve and gain insight one way or the other. And so it’s important to think about that what you’re doing as a parent is helping as best you can while you clock in during these hours. But the good news is their outcome does not completely depend on you as a parent, which is, again, back to our faith. It’s part of, really, a privilege to be a part of their life for these years. But you know, it doesn’t all hang on you.

Jim: Hm.

John: Mmhmm. Yeah. This is Focus on the Family. Dr. Ken Wilgus is our guest. We’re talking about launching your young adult and preparing for that through a series of clearly defined expectations and some good conversations between you and your spouse. Dr. Wilgus wrote a book called, Feeding the Mouth That Bites You: A Complete Guide to Parenting Adolescents and Launching Them Into the World. And we’ve got that book and an audio copy of our conversation – that’ll include the entire 2-day broadcast that we shared with Dr. Wilgus back in November. Ask about these resources and more when you call 800-232-6459 – 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY – or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast to learn more.

Jim: All right, the young adults have been sitting here listening to this. Let’s tap them to ask you some questions that we haven’t covered yet.

Kenneth: That’d be great.

Jim: So are we ready for that, everybody? All right, we’ve got one. Come on up.

Hannah: I’m Hannah. I’m from Maryland. Um, so thank you so much, first of all, for having us out here. It’s been really cool to listen to this. Um, my question would be, um, if you have a child who is afraid to launch or has a fear of failure or anxiety, how would you handle that as a parent?

Kenneth: Okay. That’s a really good question because it’s happening more and more and more. And I think those are the times that it’s ironic that it can be tempting as a Christian family, as I’ve mentioned, to almost thank God for this overly anxious kid that doesn’t seem to want to ever leave us. How great is that? It’s not great. It’s not good for her. It’s not good for him. And so in those cases, I think parents really do have to press, um, that we need you to, um, be doing more for yourself. A lot of – for example, socially, you can’t set up playdates for your teenager. But you can definitely say, “Dude, your mom and I need a weekend. So uh, don’t you have somewhere – I need you to spend the night somewhere with – how about so-and-so?” So you – you’re pressing that, uh, and constantly giving the message that we expect you to be ready to go from here.

Uh, and it can help quite a bit. Again, if it’s severe anxiety, uh, there are times when you most need treatment for that as well, help with that – counseling can help with that. But that has to be accompanied by the constant message that no matter what this is, this isn’t gonna change the trajectory that you’re heading out, and we totally have respect that you can do that. That’s a really good question. It comes up a lot.

Ben: Okay. Um, hello. I’m Ben, and I’m from southern California. And, um, yeah this is an amazing opportunity to just get to sit in and listen. But I was wondering: so you were talking about fear earlier and control and, um, parents who are fearful, so they do tend to control more because of their fear. And that can, um, bring about broken relationships with the parent and the child or the adolescent. And, um, I was wondering with that broken relationship and trust, especially, what are some ways to rebuild that trust?

Kenneth: From the adolescent’s side or the young adult’s side?

Ben: From…

Kenneth: Or the parent?

Ben: From the parent’s side to, like, reach out to the kid?

Kenneth: It starts with if the parent is aware of that and willing to do it. Again, I – I think that’s a prayer request for a lot of parents that God would show them that what can feel like – almost like a righteous, “I’ve – I’m still mad at them, my adult child, ‘cause they’re not doing what they should do,” as if that’s a good thing. And so they have to first be shown that that’s a fearful thing. That’s not actually helping.

Then, once they see that, I think it’s pretty easy. Most young people I know are very open to hearing a – a mom or a dad, for example, call and say, “You know? I need to be open with you that I think I’ve been kind of broken about some things, and I really want to talk to you.” It’s not about confessing your sins to your young adult child. But it is about taking responsibility. And most of the teenagers I know, young adults for sure, are open to hearing that it doesn’t mean we’re all gonna be buddy-buddy after this. But certainly they’re open to hearing it. So I think it’s a matter of being aware of it first, and then they make the steps.

Ben: Thanks.

Kenneth: Good, Ben. Good question.

John: Ken, on that note, parents really have to, in my mind, own, uh, that relational responsibility. I mean, we have our kids for 18 years. And then, if you do it well, you’ve got the rest of your life with them. And if they’ve done something to tick me off, um, I really shouldn’t be waiting around for them, my child, to fix it. Should I?

Kenneth: You could wait their whole life, if you’ve decided in a resentful – can’t imagine how that’s a Christian fashion – to say, “You know, they have done me wrong. They’ve not respected me and their stepmother,” whatever the situation is. Then, “So I’m just gonna wait.” Then you can literally wait your whole life. Uh, it makes no sense to people based – uh, whose lives are based on forgiveness. And so you need to make that – it’s a very good point, that you need to initiate that and continue to initiate that, uh, as best you can in a humble way. Um, again, young adults will eventually come around, if you’re, um, persistent and – and humble.

John: They can be pretty forgiving, can’t they?

Kenneth: They really can. They really can.

Jim: All right.

Rebecca: Well, thank you for what you said. My name’s Rebecca, and I’m from Colorado Springs. So the question I had is I know as young people start to get older, one of the things their parents hope probably that they’ll do is get married. So, um, what are some ways that parents can help their kids navigate relationships while still also giving them some freedom to figure things out for themselves?

Kenneth: That’s a real – I like the way you put that because, um – it’s a funny side note, but for 30 years, I very commonly would ask an adolescent, um, do you think you’ll get married? And if you do, what age do you think you’ll be when you get married? And I won’t ask you guys that, but I can tell you that it used to be, um, most of them wanted to get married, but I’m gonna wait until I’m 22 or 23. And now, as you know, it’s um, 30 is almost the average. I don’t know what are y’all gonna do all that time? My whole life got started when I got married. I was born, I did some stuff, and I got married. It’s the best thing ever. But I do think that you need to – Christian parents particularly need to encourage young people about marriage, which means focusing on your own marriage, uh, because you can tell your parents’ marriage. And if it doesn’t look like any fun, it makes it not a very good advertisement for it. But number two is to really talk about what are your goals in relationship? And then number three is really picking the point where when will your parents say that’s up to you about dating? Uh, we may not even like the person you date, but that’s your call. Again, to increase the input that you can have with your teenager. So parents need to pick a point. And, really, below 16, there’s no need for that. And I don’t know what age y’all’s were, but it needs to be at least 16 or older. But there needs to be a point where the parents say, “This is now your call. And you can date. And we hope to be able to talk to you about that.” But making sure that you, again, reinforce that freedom, but be real clear that in this house, we really hope that you will be, instead of sort of just relationship exploring, you’ll be searching for the spouse that God has for you, which is a message is not talked about enough.

Jim: Ken, let me – let me add this question. I’m the father of two sons, so I’m gonna speak on behalf of a father with girls out there that’s, uh, you know, saying, “When – when I have that feeling that this is the wrong guy…”

Kenneth: That’s a great question.

Jim: …When – where do I – am I overstepping to say to my daughter, this guy’s trouble”?

Kenneth: Well, it starts with there is no antidote more – for that bad boyfriend more than a good relationship with your father.

Jim: Wow, that’s powerful.

Kenneth: So fathers must start to kind of date their daughter at 12 and 13 and 14, which means spending time just you and her, treating her with respect, like you would hope that a young man would, and have that kind of freedom to talk together. I can remember my youngest and I had a standing date – it was Sunday mornings. We would drop their mother off to choir practice, and we had a time for breakfast. And I can remember that was a constant time we spent. It was a good time to really talk together, including – I remember one time that her mother told me that she was mad at me about something. And, um, the first thing I told her when we sat down at breakfast was, “Your mom says you’re upset about” – I forget what it was. “Why didn’t you tell me? I want you to be able to tell me if I’ve upset you,” so that you kind of establish that kind of closeness. But, yeah, I think if you have that kind of relationship, you can speak into that same daughter, “Sweetie, can I talk to you about this guy – about Spike or whoever it is you’re dating?”

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: Spike. I love that nickname.

Kenneth: All the Spikes out there, nothing wrong with you.

John: You know, along these lines, earlier you had mentioned, Ken, about the influence that we have as parents. I had a daughter who was dating in high school. And we gave her a lot of space, first, because she didn’t tell us she was dating. But second…

Kenneth: That’s space.

John: Once we became aware, we gave her space. And she asked me, “So what do you think?” And I – I was fairly honest. I didn’t think he was a very smart pick for a couple of reasons. I didn’t object to him, and I – and I just backed off. And a couple of months later, she said, “I was listening. You didn’t know it, but I was listening to you, Dad.”

Kenneth: That’s a great example.

John: And she broke it off it, citing those very reasons that I had suggested. It wasn’t because I made her. But you have influence, Dad, uh, especially Dad.

Kenneth: That’s good. That’s really good.

Jim: It does raise this question about, um, lecturing and speeches. And I want to punch that before we’re done, uh, why those are fruitless, or at least mostly fruitless, the lecturing and the speeches. And they’re usually a dead-end street.

Kenneth: It’s kinda lazy parenting. It’s a way of checking off where I feel like I’ve done my job, whether it’s helpful to my teenager or not. I haven’t really paid attention to that.

Jim: Wow.

Kenneth: It’s not helpful because after about 12, teenagers know virtually all of what their parents’ major beliefs are. And so they don’t really – whatever you’re lecturing at is not news. Um, and so it’s just a way, usually, of satisfying your own fear. It was for me, anyway. I like – I can remember my kids had a stony expression that said, “You and I both know that I’m not listenin’ to this, but I’m not gonna react in a way you can get mad at me.” And it just didn’t do any good.

Jim: You know, Ken, right at the end here, the biggest question most parents have and the biggest disappointment probably quietly in their own parenting journey is when they’re 18, 19-year-old goes off to college or vocational training, or whatever they’re going to do, and they step away from the faith.

Kenneth: Yes.

Jim: And the desperation that creates in the heart of mom and dad – speak to that. And there’s no guarantees. I mean…

Kenneth: There really isn’t.

Jim: …The idea is you – you show it and live it well enough that hopefully your kids will own it for themselves. But how do you go about that desperate moment when Johnny, uh, doesn’t want to be part of the faith when they’re 20.

Kenneth: You know, there’s a great quote by an ancient rabbi that said up until 13, I talked to my son about God. And after 13, I talked to God about my son. And it’s a critical distinction between, really, our own understanding – is Christianity an ideology, or is it a true faith? And if it’s a true faith, then we really have to beg the spirit of Christ to call our children. We know that. And yet, we have this other thing that’s like, yes, but if I train them up right, isn’t it always going to turn out to be that they’ll be part of the faith? That’s not always true.

Jim: Yeah.

Kenneth: So I think it’s a test of your own faith. And lastly, by the time they leave, that’s really where you need to – uh, you’ll reap the benefits or not of whether you can communicate with this young adult. Because there’s nothing wrong – a young adult doesn’t want to be taught about the faith. But there’s nothing wrong about you talking about your faith. So that sounds like, “Honey, I know you don’t want to hear this stuff, and it may make you annoyed, but can I just tell you? I was praying this morning” – and then you just talk about what happened with you. And you finish that with, “But I know that’s silly to you, but I just wanted to tell you that.” That’s impactful. That’s not nothing. It’s way better than, um, constantly firing verses that you end up getting your text deleted because I just don’t want to hear those.

Jim: Ouch.

Closing:

John: And that’s just a portion of a conversation that we had with Dr. Ken Wilgus on Focus on the Family. You can get the full broadcast on CD or as a download from our website. It’s available at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY – 800-232-6459.

And at the website, we also have a free parenting assessment for you. It’s got 7 key traits to help you raise a healthier, godly family. It takes just a few minutes to fill out, and it’ll give you some ideas about your strengths and opportunities to grow as you interact with your kids.

Jim: And don’t forget Ken’s book, Feeding the Mouth That Bites You. This is a great resource, and I love the title and the content. As you heard from the program today, and even in those questions from our audience, this message is so important. Because at our core, we really want to do this well as parents. We don’t want to mess up our teenagers. We want them to launch well, and live well, and pursue God, and have that kind of close relationship that honors Christ in everything that they do. And so I can’t imagine a person who doesn’t want to read Ken’s book. Jean and I are reading it right now. That’s why I want to send you a copy of Feeding the Mouth That Bites You, when you send a gift of any amount to support the work here at Focus on the Family. It’s our way of saying thank you for partnering with us to encourage and equip parents, and give them the tools they need to effectively raise their children. So can we count on you for your support today? I hope so. 

John: And you can donate at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or when you call 800-A-FAMILY.

And coming up next time, practical help for young couples in the early years of marriage.

Teaser:

Jim Burns: What I found in my own marriage was that Cathy would say – early on, she would say, “Well, do you love me? And I’d think, “Well, of course, I love her.” But what she was really saying was, “I need emotional connection from you and I’m not sure you even know how to give that.”

End of Teaser

Today's Guests

Feeding the Mouth That Bites You

Receive Dr. Kenneth Wilgus' book Feeding the Mouth That Bites You for your donation of any amount!

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Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

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Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

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Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

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Revival Rising

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Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

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

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

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Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

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Are You Really Okay?

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Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

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

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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

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Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

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Headshot image of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Patti Giebink

Mrs. Patti Giebink

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Cover image of the book "Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life"

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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 1

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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.

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!

Thank you for committing to pray for the pre-born!

Sign up below for your free seven-day prayer guide. This daily guide will help give direction to your prayers for the pro-life movement. We will be praying with you! 

Focus on the Family

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