Focus on the Family Broadcast

Simple Tips for Growing Closer to Your Kids

Simple Tips for Growing Closer to Your Kids

Dr. Miles Mettler recommends parents “ask for permission” to talk to their kids – rather than barging in and interrupting what they’re doing. That models respect and how parents want their kids to approach them. Overall, Miles’ objective is to help parents build trust their children.
Original Air Date: January 9, 2023

Woman #1: Good parenting looks like understanding your children where they are, and how you can work with the Lord to help them get to the next place.

Man #1: I think good parenting is knowing when to speak up and knowing when you should just shut up and listen.

Woman #2: To just be aware of their emotional balance, or lack thereof, and instead of feeding off of that, to try and just breathe deep and deal with it.

Man #2: Good parenting strategy, sometimes just hold your tongue.

John Fuller: What do you think? Do those comments, uh, capture your experience as a mom or a dad? Would you maybe do things differently? Well, today on Focus on the Family, we’ll look at parenting suggestions like these, and, uh, they may challenge your perspective and help you think more intentionally about how you raise your kids. We hope so. Uh, your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I think it’s fair to say that parenting can be, at times very hard work, you know, and it, it something you have to do. It’s like going to the gym, you’ve gotta work on those muscles if you want to improve what you look like. (laughs)

John: Mm.

Jim: And, uh, the same is true in parenting. You’ve gotta put effort into it. Sometimes it subtle. I think some of the conflict in marriage in the parenting role is because you and your spouse probably come from a different perspective on how to do that.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It certainly happened with Jean and I. I mean, she wanted a real formal devotion, you know, start at 7:00. We’re gonna sing for 5 minutes, and then we’re gonna read the Word for 10, and then we’re gonna share for 5, (laughs) and then close on a hymn. And I was more like on the go, in the car, how do we share the Lord with what’s around us, and what’s the story in front of us? But you’ve got be mindful about what you’re doing, and the work that you need to do as a parent. Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs we’re going to ever have, and, um, I guess here’s the bottom line, too. There’s no formula that’s ironclad. There’s predictive things that we can do as a parent, uh, stay married is one of the best things you can do as a parent to show your kids, uh, love for their mom or their dad. It’s so critical. But today, we’re gonna talk about 52 parenting principles, and things you can do to do the best job you can do in being a parent.

John: Mm. And Focus on the Family is here to help you on your parenting journey. We have so many resources. Jim, you’ve said time and again, this is a treasure trove, resource rich ministry, and, um, we have real life moms and dads come through sharing their hearts, and that’s what we have today.

Jim: Uh, Miles, welcome to Focus.

Dr. Miles Mettler: Thank you. It’s great to be with you in the studio.

Jim: I guess I should say welcome to this end of the building- (laughs)

Dr. Mettler: Exactly. Nice to be down here.

Jim: ‘Cause you’re working at the other end.

Dr. Mettler: Exactly.

Jim: But it’s so good to have you here, and it’s a great thing, you’ve written this book, 52 Parenting Principles. Um, one thing that I’ve noticed, especially with Christian parents, we tend to think formulaically, that if we do these things, and we do them in the right dose, and the right ingredients, then we get the right outcome.

Dr. Mettler: Hm.

Jim: But there is this little bugger of a thing called free will-

Dr. Mettler: Hm.

Jim: So our kids don’t always, uh, do or turn out the way we expected, even with the great inputs that we may have, uh, provided. So, speak to that-

Dr. Mettler: Hm.

Jim: Formula problem that sometimes can pop up. It doesn’t mean you, you don’t do those things-

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But it’s not a formula.

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm. It’s not a formula. Well, and you’ll notice, the book is called 52 Parenting Principles, not 52 Parenting Guarantees.

Jim: Right. (laughs)

Dr. Mettler: So there’s a distinction there that we can make off the top. I don’t… We all know that there aren’t any formulas, or plans that you can follow that’s gonna produce the perfect kids and the perfect outcomes. But the reality is when we started having kids, that’s probably what I was looking for. That’s when I started listening to Focus on the Family, and I read a lot of the information from people that you had sitting here, and my desire was to avoid some of the stories that I’d heard from, you know, people I had worked with, uh, just people I talked to about the strained and broken relationships that they had, you know, with their kids, and I didn’t want that to be our fate. And, uh, I think you guys know that my background was in health and fitness, so, uh, when I got my Master’s degree, I worked with a lot of, um… Doing personal training, really, with a lot of high-level CEOs and community leaders, and people from the outside, when you look and you, you knew… Heard their stories from the outside, it looked like they had everything together. But when you work with people like that on a weekly basis, you know, they begin to develop a lot of trust in you, and they let their guard down, and the onion starts to be peeled back, and they start sharing things that are going on about what’s going on their family. And a lot of them had strained and broken relationships with their kids. And I thought, you know, as a young… This was even before we had kids, you know, I wasn’t even married yet, but it left an impression on me. And it was at that point that I thought, “You know what? I don’t care how much success, I didn’t know what my career path is gonna be, but I don’t want their story to be my story.”

Jim: Yeah, but… And it is pretty common, and especially with those people ’cause they’re high achievers, they’ve got their lists-

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And they’re working their future, and where they want to go-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: So that… Even that can become pretty, uh, stressful for the children of those parents. You were honest, though, in the book. You did talk about your mistakes-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: As a dad, and, and, um, being outwardly focused, if I recall exactly how you said it.

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Um, when did you have the epiphany that maybe even knowing the stories that you knew-

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I wasn’t on the right path always as a dad.

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: How did that come together for you?

Dr. Mettler: Well, that’s kind of how the book started. You know, after my devotional times in the morning, and our… You know, I think our oldest was probably about 7 years old, I would start making a list of things that I just thought that we should work on as parents, right? And so the list continued to develop, and grow, and it was just a bulleted list of things that I thought, “You know, these are things that we could focus on.” And I had, I don’t know, probably a dozen or so on the list at that point, and I kind of reviewed it, and I thought, “You know what? Um, all of these things are things that I’m probably contributing to, and in order for them to change, it’s up to me first, that I need to take 100% responsibility for what’s going on because I can only change myself. I can’t control them but I can control what I do, so if I didn’t like the environment, or the conflict that was developing, what could I do first, what could I change? Look inward versus looking outward.

Jim: Why is that so hard for us? I mean, especially for Christians?

Dr. Mettler: We’re just not wired that…

Jim: No, I mean, we’re selfish.

Dr. Mettler: We’re not wired that way. Yeah, we’re not wired that way. I want to look external, you know, I, I went back to school, I got my PhD, basically in, uh, behavior change. How could I be the source of the problem, right?

Jim: ‘Cause I am pretty good. (laughter)

Dr. Mettler: Yeah. I’m older, I’m wiser, you know, I have the experience. These are just kids, but I realized that that really wasn’t working very well. It didn’t get me anywhere so in the book, uh, the… I think the first principle is take 100% responsibility. It didn’t start out as my first principle but as I reviewed everything that I had, to me, that really was where it came to. It was, “I need to start with me if I’m gonna expect to see any changes in our kids.”

Jim: Miles, parents are probably listening to this, and maybe they have a, you know, a strong-willed teen, (laughs) or a strong willed two-year-old-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: It doesn’t matter. But they’re questioning, “Really? I mean, am I really the one that should be looking at that?” You’re… You really punch that idea that contentiousness and conflict in the home, um, is more about the parent than it is about the children. Some parents are gonna say, “You don’t know my kid.”

Dr. Mettler: Yeah. Again, right there, it’s the outward focus, right?

Jim: Right.

Dr. Mettler: Stop and just reset, and think, “Okay, what can I do differently?” And they’ll respond differently to us, whether it’s the tone we’re using, the words that we’re saying. You know, we’re defensive by nature as well, right? If people attack us, or if they accuse us of something, we’re gonna naturally try to defend ourselves, and kids aren’t any different than we are in that respect.

Jim: Yeah. I was gonna say, there- there’s kind of that adage, that if a child is acting out, there’s a reason that’s occurring. How does a wise parent, okay, begin to peel that onion and say, “Okay, what’s happening-”

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: “With my son, or my daughter?” What’s actually there, and how do you go about assessing that in a better way than just emotionally?

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm. Right. Yeah, there is… I think, you know, especially with social media now, and you look at the different ages that kids are being exposed to that, there’s a lot of external influence that’s on that.

Jim: Oh, the pressure about how you look, and-

Dr. Mettler: Oh, everything, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Mettler: And so, I think… And it kind of goes along with this, if I don’t like the environment that I have in my home than it’s up to me to change that. And so, what’s the environment we want to create? In my mind, it should be one of security and peace-

Jim: That’s good.

Dr. Mettler: So that when kids come into the home, they… All that other stuff that they’re facing, they feel like this is a place, and it’s a respite for them, right? And that over time, we develop a, a trust with our, our kids that no matter what’s going on, because of the relationship aspect that we’re building into them, they’re willing to share with us what’s going on. Maybe not all the time, maybe not right away, but when we continually stay in relationship with them, those deep, abiding relationships with them, they’re more likely to open up to us. If they don’t feel they can trust us, or, or if we’re gonna accuse them, or not believe them, or not trust them in what they’re saying to us, they’re not gonna come to us with those things.

Jim: That’s good. Another principle, or at least, uh, a concept that you covered in the book is getting feedback from your children. I love that because years ago, I think the boys were probably fifth and seventh grade, somewhere around there, I, I was looking at their report cards, right, electronically, even then, they were coming that way. But I’d be going over their grades with them individually, you know, “That looks good, you did good in math. That’s good. Oh, English looks a little light.” Then I realized, you know, maybe I should let them give me a report card, so I rea- rea-… I created this thing, Dad’s report card-

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Pretty simple, 7 things that, you know, am I spending enough time with you, do I help make you laugh? I mean, really, I think, good things. But it did really open up our conversations. I do think the lowest grade I received from Troy one time was not home enough.

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Not enough time, do I spend enough time with you is one of my questions-

Dr. Mettler: Yeah.

Jim: And he gave me a C, and that crushed me. I was like, “A C? I’m not a C student.” (laughter) So I talked to him, and said like, “Wow, how do I fix this?”

Dr. Mettler: Yeah.

Jim: “Uh, spend more time with me.”

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: Okay, let’s figure out how we can do that. There’s where I came up with not traveling during the summer.

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: I stopped traveling between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and he felt that as a commitment to him-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: And it- it’s probably been one of our bedrock, uh, points in our relationship.

Dr. Mettler: Mm. Well, and there, it go-… It goes back to again, you own that, right? He, he gave you the feedback, and you owned that and made a difference. And, you know, the thing with feedbacks, traditionally feedback, if you’ve grown up in the work environment, feedback oftentimes focus on the past, and what went wrong. And my impression of feedback is kind of what you did, what can I do to be a better dad? How can I get my grade better? (laughter) And one of the things… One of the thing that I… That’s a great exercise is to…Again, you have to have a high level of trust within the family unit, but who knows us better than our kids, and our spouse?

Jim: Exactly. (laughs)

Dr. Mettler: Nobody, right? So, uh, kind of what I like to do is, is get feedback that’s looking forward. In other words, uh, like once a week, or whatever time period you do it, just ask everybody to write down on a piece of paper for everybody that’s sitting around the table, what’s one thing I did really good this week, right? And then you share that, you look at it, and then they write down what’s one thing I can do better, and they share that-

Jim: Oh.

Dr. Mettler: And the person getting that feedback can’t argue about it, they can’t-

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Mettler: Refute it, they can’t ask questions about it. And then you come back the next week, and you say, “Okay, well how did I do?” And you repeat that over and over again, so it’s looking forward. How can I become better? And they… You know, and maybe put yourself on down more-

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Mettler: Or spend more time with me, whatever that is, they’re telling us if we’re willing to listen.

Jim: So often… And I think parents are doing a better job of this now, but the impression I have is so often just sticking with the grades. You know, your son or daughter gets four As, a B, and a C, and we automatically go to the C, right? It’s just what we do. “Man, what happened in that English class? Something happened, is the teacher good, or what happened?” Uh, rather than starting with, “My goodness. Four As? That’s so much better than what I did in seventh grade.”

Dr. Mettler: Right. Right.

Jim: You know, something that’s a little more affirming, but speak to the… Kind of the affirmation component. I know some, uh, psychologists talk about you need like, a 10 to 1 ratio, make sure you’re affirming your child-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: 10 times to every 1 critical comment that may need to be made.

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: It’s not about just, “Atta boys-”

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: But, you know, make sure you’re filling their tank with a lot of catching them doing the right thing, yeah?

Dr. Mettler: Exactly. Yeah, well, that’s right. You know, what we focus on grows so our n-… I think it’s out of a good intent, that we want the best for our kids so we kind of feel like we have to point out all these things that they could do better, and need to do better. Um, but why not point out those things that we want to reinforce, the things that we want to see more of. Those are the things that we want to focus on. And what is I did is I made a list of each of the kids, and I wrote down, “These are things that when I just observe them through the course of the week that I really admire about them, things that they do well, right? And I keep that list in front of me, and when I started doing that, those are the things I noticed more of, and was able to reinforce, and point out for them. And what you get is more of those types of, of things. If we’re always critical to them… And if we’re not sure, just ask your kids. (laughter) They- they’ll tell you, I mean, they’ll share with you, you know?

Jim: Honesty is not the problem there.

Dr. Mettler: No, you’re just not… It’s not the problem there, so… But it does need to be an intent, you know, and really, the subtitle of the book is, How to Bring Out the Best in Your Kids, and I didn’t put it in the title but it’s really more, how do we bring out the best in ourselves more so than it’s how to bring out the best in our kids, ’cause if we’re bringing out the best in ourselves, we’ll bring out the best in our kids, whatever that is.

Jim: Speaking about the best in, uh, our children’s lives, I think you had a story in the book about your daughter kind of being in her room all day-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: Which every parent would say, “Oh, what’s going on, you know, what, what are they doing online, social media, whatever it might be?”

Dr. Mettler: Right. Right. The suspicious mind.

Jim: Uh, tell us the… Yeah. It always goes there, isn’t that interesting?

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But what happened in that context?

Dr. Mettler: Yeah. So, this was right after COVID, and the kids had gone back to school, but she noticed that there was one boy in her class that wasn’t coming back, and, uh, she had known him, wasn’t a great friend of him but knew who he was, and, um, reached out and found out that he was… His parents were quarantined in that home for three months.

Jim: Oh.

Dr. Mettler: And so, she just felt bad about it, and so what she did is she contacted all of her network of friends, and, you know, she wasn’t driving it at the time, so she said, “Hey, send me a word of encouragement for the boy.” And since they couldn’t come and give her all the notes, and all that kind of stuff, they texted her, or emailed her what they wanted to share with this boy. And so what she was doing up in her room, which I, I found about was she was actually…Got cards and was writing out that they’d either texted or, or emailed to her, handwriting all these cards. She had like, 20 cards.

Jim: Mm.

Dr. Mettler: And so then what I was able to do was to drive her over to this boy’s house and leave them at his front door, and, and drive away. And again, that’s one of those things where… I mean, can you reinforce that behavior, and is that always gonna be the case when you go up into their room and, and find out what they’re doing? It’s not. But boy, those are things that you can reinforce, and just encourage them, and just compliment them on. You know, that’s the kind of character that I want to see.

Jim: Absolutely.

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and our guest today is Dr. Miles Mettler, and, uh, we are so glad to have him here in the studio talking about his book, 52 Parenting Principles: How to Bring Out the Best in Your Kids, and we’ll encourage you to get a copy of that book today. We’re at, or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Miles, another concept you had in the book was this idea of asking permission of your children to talk with them about whatever.

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: That seems a little backward to some parents, like, “Really? They’re my kid.”

Dr. Mettler: Yeah. Mm, exactly. That was my thought.

Jim: “I don’t report to them.”

Dr. Mettler: (laughs) That was my thought, but I also didn’t like conflict, so I thought, “Okay, well what can I do differently?” Because, you know, no matter what the kids are doing, whatever they’re doing at that time, it’s important to them. It may not… It may not seem important to me, but it does matter if they’re playing a video game, if they’re reading a book, if they’re watching television, if they’re doing homework, whatever… And just like us, whatever we’re doing in that moment is important to them. And so an approach that I started using was just, “Hey, can I get your attention, right?” And so what I see a lot of parents do is they’ll make a comment to their kid and then keep walking. So I thought, “Well, that’s not very effective.” So I’ll say, um, you know, “Hey, can I have your attention?” And then I’ll just stand there and not move, and it’s amazing how they respond to that. They’re not used to that. “Uh, oh, you really want my attention?” Right? And it’s just that how would we want to be treated if we’re in the middle of something and the kids ask us for something, do I want to be interrupted? You know, if you take homework, for example, there’s research to show that if you’re involved, you know, in a focused activity, it’ll take you…If you get interrupted, it’ll take you 20 minutes to get back to that same level of focus so it’s really just a deference thing, and it’s a… I think it’s a sign of respect, and it’s really how we would want to be treated. And it seems formulaic, it may even seem demeaning to some parents, but, you know, if you just get in the habit of doing that, it works really well.

Jim: Well, and what you’re communicating is respect.

Dr. Mettler: Exactly.

Jim: And, you know, that’s how they learn to give it, by receiving it, in my opinion.

Dr. Mettler: Exactly. I think we’re modeling that.

Jim: Yeah, exactly right. Um, another great thing that you had in the book, which actually came to me through someone who used to work here at Focus, Clark Miller, I thought it was one of the best pieces of advice he would give, and talk about, which was try to say yes more than you say no. And that really caught me, especially when my boys were younger, you know, when they would come to me and say, “Daddy, can we do such and such?” It’s so easy, especially busy dads-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: And, uh, saying, “Well, you know what, right now isn’t the best time-”

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: “But let me do it later.”

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: And it was just a good wake up call, to try to say yes-

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: More often than you say no-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: Speak to that.

Dr. Mettler: Well, I just had the thought at one point, you know, it’s easy… Like you said, it’s easier to say no ’cause you don’t have to put any thought into it, right?

Jim: Right. And it can be a distraction. “Let’s go have a snowball fight-”

Dr. Mettler: Very much so.

Jim: “Let’s go build a fort.”

Dr. Mettler: Exactly.

Jim: I mean, it’s like, “Okay, wow.”

Dr. Mettler: Right. Right. But, you know, we… Again, we want to set a precedence so that when there’s something really important, they still want to come to us-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Mettler: And I just thought, “You know what? Does saying no make me a better parent?”

Jim: Mm.

Dr. Mettler: I thought, “Well, not necessarily.” Right? And so, I’m much better when they ask me something, just to take time to pause and reflect, “What is it they’re really asking?” And it’s a great opportunity to get into dialogue. You know, they’re asking a lot of things, like, “Where are my shoes, and where’s my books?” And all those kinds of things, but they’re also gonna ask you more significant things like, “Hey, I, I plan to go out to the movie with my friends.”

Jim: (laughs) Right.

Dr. Mettler: “Can, can I do that?” Well, what’s the movie about? Now, my initial response is, “No, I, I want you to stay home. I don’t want you going out again tonight. You’ve been out three nights in a row. No.” Right? But-

Jim: Sounds like a familiar tape. (laughter) Thanks, a lot.

Dr. Mettler: But yet, the answer may still be no, but if we give them the… Again, the respect of just listening to them, having a little dialogue, letting them know that we considered our response before giving our response. Now, even if they answer is no, they’re gonna feel better about it because they’ll know that hey, at least we thought about it. We asked questions about it.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Mettler: And then if we do say no, you know, you want to stick to your guns, the… And the only way you can do that is if you really thought through and understood what they’re asking so that you can make a firm, definitive answer because otherwise, you know, you’re gonna get the kids that they’re just gonna keep repeating, and keep repeating, and keep asking, and those are the kids that often just wear you down. And they know if they keep asking enough, yeah, eventually mom or dad will say yes.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Mettler: And they’ll also know, like if one parent is the yes parent (laughs) and one parent is the no parent-

Jim: They know who to go to.

Dr. Mettler: They’ll know who to go to, right.

Jim: And then boy, does that get messy in your marriage.

Dr. Mettler: Ooh, that’s not good.

Jim: “You said yes to them again?” (laughter)

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: So, I mean, those are good things. In fact, you had that story at the waterpark which I thought was good. This is more in the activity area-

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Not really something I want to do as a teenager-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: But, you know, just saying yes to that, what happened?

Dr. Mettler: Yeah. Yeah. And so what’s so interesting about this, this was Matthew. He was like, four years old and we were at this (laughter) great water park, right? And, um, I, I was ready to be done. You know, they… We were there with other family, and we were off by ourselves, and he wanted to go on the Master Blaster one more time. (laughter) Right? And I started to walk away, and I said, “Matt, let’s go. We’re, we’re done.” And I… He didn’t follow me. And I turned around, and he was standing there with his arm folded, and he just gave me this look, and I was just convicted. At that point, it was just like, “Where do I have to go? I don’t have any place to go. We could go have another fun ride down the slide.”

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Mettler: Right? And so my alternative could have been, “Matthew,” I could have gone and grabbed his arm and started walking away.

Jim: “We are leaving now.”

Dr. Mettler: Well, well where would that have gotten us? And, and instead, what I did, I said, “Okay. One more ride. Are you good with that?” He said, “Yeah, one more ride.” So we w- went to the Master Blaster, had a great time coming down, we were done then, and, you know, the rest of the night was great.

Jim: Right. He was happy, you were happy, we’re all happy.

Dr. Mettler: I… Yeah. And I wasn’t late for anything.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Mettler: There was no reason, no good reason I couldn’t ha-… It was just… It was just gonna take time and energy from me.

Jim: And again, creating conflict where you didn’t need to create it.

Dr. Mettler: Didn’t need it, right.

Jim: In the 52 Parenting Principles book, uh, you also talked about building trust with your kids, and that can be hard to do, especially at the teen years, you know, they’re starting to expand their wings, they want some independence. It’s completely natural but this is where oftentimes conflict starts in a bigger way. How do we help our children, uh, aspire to that better future when sometimes they’re doing things that don’t deserve our trust-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: And you’ve got to look over their shoulder, and maybe even call them out on some things.

Dr. Mettler: Right. Right. Well, kids lie, right?

Jim: Are you serious?

Dr. Mettler: It starts… (laughs) It starts at a young-

Jim: I wish you would have told me that years ago.

Dr. Mettler: It starts at a young age. And they do it for good reasons, right? They think it’s gonna protect them, they think it’s in their best interest at this point in time to lie about it. Um, but I think that we have to begin from a point of trust, and not from a point of doubt ’cause that’s gonna come across in the tone that we use, and the words that we say.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Mettler: A- and so let’s just honor them by trusting them even when they mess up because it’s our responsibility to teach them to be trustworthy. Now, it doesn’t mean if they lie to us that there’s not consequences for that, but they need to have continual reassurance and encouragement that no matter how many times they mess up, we still believe in them. And believe it or not, our kids want us to believe in them, right? They want to please us no matter how many times they mess up. It’s in their heart to want to please their parents. And the thing we have to remember, if we’re continually criticizing or condemning our kids, and complaining about them, they don’t stop loving us, they stop loving themselves, and that’s not a good place to be.

Jim: That’s a powerful point. Wow, that is really powerful, and what a great reminder-

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Of our main goal. So often, Miles, right here at the end, you know, this idea of tone, and how we address issues-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: And, you know, sometimes Jean is so good pulling me aside, saying, “You may not know you’re a big guy, and the way you’re coming across right now is a little strong.” And I would not know it. I thought I was just addressing the issue.

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: You know, but she would say, “Eh, your voice is a little stern.”

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: “The boys are looking up at you, you know, they’re-”

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: “I think they are more fearful than they are listening.”

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It- it’s good to have that kind of check, and to invite it-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: ‘Cause you don’t always know how you’re coming across-

Dr. Mettler: And it’s not your intent.

Jim: Especially, I think, dads, you know, we’re the ones in the weeds on this a little bit sometimes-

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: ‘Cause we can be really strong, and especially physically-

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: We’re strong.

Dr. Mettler: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, you know, your kids can be a little fearful of that, so h- how do you encourage being mindful of all those little things, and sometimes your brain is just not alerting you to how you’re behaving.

Dr. Mettler: Right. Well, be open to the feedback, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Mettler: So Jean gave you the feedback, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Mettler: So she felt good enough about where your relationship is that, hey, she can talk to you about that, so that’s really important.

Jim: Yeah. Most of the time, I’m open to it.

Dr. Mettler: Yeah. (laughter) Well, another thing is, you know, you pick a time, and just, you have… Everybody has smart phones now, right? With the little record, you can record stuff.

Jim: Oh, sure.

Dr. Mettler: So put it on the counter and hit record.

Jim: Oh, wow.

Dr. Mettler: Right?

Jim: That’s accountability.

Dr. Mettler: And then when you’re interacting with the kids, just… And you’ll even forget that it’s on. Then push stop and go back and listen to it, and listen to how you sounded to yourself.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Mettler: I mean, the big part of this is awareness, right? There’s… If you look at the behavior change model, there’s kind of three steps in, in creating a new behavior. The first is awareness, and that’s really what a lot of the book is about. How do we become aware of the things that we’re doing that we can do differently? So after you’re aware of something, then you’re in the position to go into, “Okay. How can I change that?” And then the third step is to create a supportive environment, create an environment that supports the behaviors we want. And sometimes it’s other people that can help us stay in that zone.

Jim: Yeah. And I think, you know, what I’ve learned, and seen, now that my boys are in the 20s, is the critical component of loving your children.

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: I mean, and sometimes we may think we’re loving them when in fact, we’re just critiquing them, and we see that as love-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: Or we’re correcting them, or we’re looking at the C and not the four As-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: Or whatever. Maybe it’s four Cs and one A. Whatever the circumstances, sometimes we lose track of the power of love-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: Which is what God is telling us, right?

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: And I’m often convicted, Miles, in that idea that God has forgiven us much-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: And sometimes as parents, we don’t use that in our relationship with our children ’cause we set the bar at perfection. And when they fall short of it, we’re on them-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: And I’m so grateful that our Father in Heaven-

Dr. Mettler: Mm.

Jim: Doesn’t treat us that way, and me that way, right?

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: When you fall short, is He right there at your throat?

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: No, you know, He wants you to be aware of it-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: Repent of it, and then get back into relationship with Him, and it, it is the simple truth of parenting. It’s the same concept-

Dr. Mettler: Right.

Jim: To show grace and love to your children. So, you’ve done a great job. 52 Parenting Principles, what a really tangible resource for us as parents. I wish you would have written, you know, 15, 20 years ago. What happened?”

Dr. Mettler: (laughs) I know, right?

Jim: But this would be one I would have, uh, certainly read through, and talked through, and read with Jean, and, uh, man, we want to get this into your hands. What parent doesn’t want to do the best job that they can do raising kids that are healthy. Not perfect, but healthy, and we want to help you do that. If you can make a gift of any amount, uh, hopefully monthly, but even a one-time gift, we’ll send you a copy of Miles’ book as our way of saying thank you for participating in the ministry, and you get a great resource, either for yourself or to pass along to a friend, or someone at church. So get in touch with us, let us help you, or someone you love, do the best job they can do parenting.

John: We’re a phone call away. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, and you’ll find all the details at And I’d like to also point out our free parenting assessment. If you’ll invest 5 to 10 minutes of your time, you’ll walk away with a great understanding of, uh, some of the strengths of your parenting approach, and also, um, some of the areas of growth, so we’ll link over to that free parenting assessment at

Jim: Miles, again, thanks for being with us. It was really good.

Dr. Mettler: Thank you, appreciate it.

Jim: And thank you for joining us a a listener. And, uh, coming up tomorrow, Jolene Philo shares, uh, encouragement for parents who have children with special needs.


Jolene Philo: Think about today, and just say to yourself, “Can I make it through today? Can I get strength from God to make it through today?” And the answer to that is probably going to be yes, and then do it that day. And maybe all you can do that day with the love languages is think, “How could I use them tomorrow?” And that’s enough.

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52 Parenting Principles: How to Bring Out the Best in Your Kids

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