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Understanding Your Triggers for More Peaceful Parenting (Part 1 of 2)

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Understanding Your Triggers for More Peaceful Parenting (Part 1 of 2)

In a follow-up to our highly popular program "Understanding How to Manage Anger in Motherhood," Amber Lia and Wendy Speake return to offer more practical advice found in their book Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. (Part 1 of 2)

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Triggers

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Episode Summary

In a follow-up to our highly popular program "Understanding How to Manage Anger in Motherhood," Amber Lia and Wendy Speake return to offer more practical advice found in their book Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. (Part 1 of 2)

Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt:

Amber Lia: It’s not a signal to get irritated and lash out at my child. It’s a signal that I just to need to stop and pray, you know, and just say, “Lord, I’m feeling my anxiety rise. I’m feeling like I’m not a good mom because I just saw that Susan took her kids to that play that I said I was going to take my kids to, and I haven’t done that. And now I’m stressed. I got to try to figure out how I can afford that or how I can fit it” – we just need to stop all those things and just say, “OK.  I’m one mom. I’m doing – I am the best mom for the job because God gave me these kids.”

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Amber Lia. And she and Wendy Speake join us today on Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller. And your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, we’re so glad to have Amber and Wendy back with us again. Uh, last time, we spoke with them about the triggers that cause us parents to get angry with our kids. You remember that (laughter)?

John: Uh, just, like, recently, yes.

Jim: Right. And we received such a strong response from you the listener that, uh, we thought it would be great to have them back and talk about those other triggers that spark anger in us, maybe some of those external things, especially as we parent our children and how they can so easily access those  buttons in us, huh? And if you’re a parent who struggles with anger, uh, you’re going to get a lot of wisdom out of this program. And we want to help you find ways to – to be more peaceful in your parenting journey. We definitely think the Lord is supportive of that. He wants you to not strive in your parenting but to do it with joy. And that is the goal. Uh, we’re going to look at those external triggers, like I said. Tomorrow, uh, we’ll discuss more of those internal triggers. And Amber and Wendy will explain what the differences are between the two.

John: These ladies, um, write very transparently. They have seven boys between them and so…

Jim: (Laughter).

John: …A few triggers every now and then possibly in their lives. Uh, the book is called Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses.

Body:

Jim:  Amber and Wendy, welcome back to Focus.

Wendy Speake: Thank you.

Amber: We’re glad to be here.

Wendy: Yeah.

Jim: It’s so good to have you. I’m sure people are saying, “Well, I think I know what a trigger is.” But for the listener who may not have heard our previous program, uh, what are triggers? What are the basics here? And what’s the difference between internal and external triggers?

Amber: Sure, great question. Well, you know, triggers are those things that just set us off. They’re all of those little things and even big things that kids do that cause angry reactions. You know, we have this immediate response of frustration. You know, they cause us to yell or scream at our kids or just say things that we think, um, we would have never said until that moment. And out it comes out of our mouth. So they can be a wide range of different things. Um, in our book, we cover 31 different ones.

Jim: Yeah.

Amber: The external triggers are things like whining and complaining and messy rooms and kids talking back and sibling rivalry and just the things that the kids are doing that cause us to become angry and frustrated. And then those internal triggers – those are the things that really necessarily aren’t our kids’ behavior. But they’re still things that weigh on us and cause us to be quick to anger and cause us to lose it. And those are things like our own exhaustion, you know, times of transition, you know, even just moving from one location to the next with your family.

Jim: Yeah.

Amber: It can bring you a lot of pressure.

Jim: I would think…

Amber: Sometimes it’s our relationships with our spouses even. Yeah.

Jim: I can’t imagine that.

Amber: Right?

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: But I – you know, the interesting thing is I think we can identify external triggers easier than we can identify internal triggers.

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: Would that be fair?

Amber: Yeah. That’s true. Yeah. We don’t even realize them.

Jim: Because we know when somebody’s irritating us, right?

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: That was really irritating.

Amber: Mmm hmm.

Jim: But with internal triggers, it tends to be more hidden, I think.

Wendy: I think so.

Jim: Why am I reacting like that?

Wendy: I think that also it comes out – our response to our kids come out. And we know it’s out of proportion.

Jim: Yes.

Wendy: And that…

Amber: That’s right.

Wendy: …Oftentimes will trigger my awareness that there’s something deeper, there’s something internal going on. You know, for a woman, you know, where am I in my cycle? Am I getting enough sleep?

Jim: Oh, yeah.

Wendy: And am I having stress in my marriage? And then the child comes in and asks for a glass of milk, and I cannot cope…

Amber: The last straw.

Wendy: …That all he’s doing is asking for more and more and more and more.

Amber: Yes.

Wendy: And you’ve already been put to bed. And wait a minute. Why in the world in my responding that way?

Jim: Right.

Wendy: There’s something going on internally.

Jim: So when your son or daughter says, “Mom, are you OK?” – that’s probably an indication that you may…

John: (Laughter).

Wendy: That you might not be…

Jim: …Have been triggered.

Wendy: …That you might not be OK.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: Right – so true.

Wendy: Right.

Jim: But what I love, too, about the program last time – and again, folks responded, you know, so overwhelmingly that it was one of the best programs of the year. Um, it’s a practical application. So let’s get into it. Um…

Wendy: Yeah. Absolutely.

Jim: …Back talking. Let’s talk about back talking.

Wendy: Ooh, backtalk. Yes.

Jim: OK. Every mom just leaned in.

Wendy: Yup (laughter).

Jim: “Yes. That’s my problem. I have an 8-year-old. I have a 12-year-old.”

Amber: Yes.

Jim: I mean, whenever…

Wendy: A threenager (ph).

(LAUGHTER) 

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: But…

Wendy: Yes.

Jim: …OK. What’s happening in the dynamic? Let’s dissect it almost clinically and then talk practically about how to ease the back talking moment?

Wendy: Yup. Sure. When our kids backtalk, um, our tendency is to talk back in like. You know, they come at us with negative energy, and we dish it back…

Jim: (Laughter).

Wendy: …Because we are bigger. And we are stronger. And so whatever they’ve brought to us we can do. And the same is true, of course, with a slamming door or a nasty face or impatience sighs. You know, they do wrong. And so we respond in like. Um, but, I mean, let’s just take it right to the word of God. And we know over and over and over again that the children of Israel dished it out to their heavenly father. And God was long-suffering. He was patience. Romans 2:4 says, “It was the kindness of the Lord that has led them – us to repentance.” And could it be that the kindness of a mother or father has more power to lead a child to repentance than talking back in like to their backtalk? So I’m not saying this is permissive parenting. Absolutely. You don’t get to backtalk. Um…

Jim: But don’t respond in like.

Amber: Right.

Wendy: But we don’t need to respond in like. So I can very clearly prepare what I’m going to say when someone speaks to me in an unkind way, just like if I had a work colleague that was rude to me, I would say, “You know that’s – that makes me feel awful” or I respond rude back. I need to prepare before I go back to work tomorrow. When they do that, what am I going to say?

Jim: Well, it’s an important thing to describe, too. Why? Why are we, as parents, responding that way? I mean…

Wendy: Sure.

Jim: So speak from the moms’ perspective.

Wendy: Well, I think it’s disrespectful. Absolutely. And we’re ready for them to grow up. And I also think that our expectations are we never expected our little person whom we love…

Jim: Not our little child.

Wendy: …And adore – and our – we spend our energy working to serve and love. So when they do it, it’s very hard to not take it personally, to not feel victimized. And I don’t know if you’ve heard this term, hurt people hurt people.

Jim: Oh, yes.

Wendy: And so I think that the mom who says, “But I was never yelled at, and I’ve never yelled at anybody, or I was yelled at, and I swore I never would” – and then, all of a sudden, it snaps, and something comes out of your mouth. Well, we get hurt feelings, too. And so I think that Amber says it in Triggers. She says, “We need to change our mind about what a trigger is.” A trigger isn’t an opportunity to be angry. And a trigger is an opportunity to parent. So when they hurt our feelings…

Amber: Right.

Wendy: …If it would trigger in us a red flag that, oh, that child needs some parenting…

Jim: Yes.

Wendy: This is not about me. This is about them. And I’m the mom for the job. I’m going to go help that child know that is not the way that they get to talk to me.

Jim: But, of course, the question is – and I’m asking this on behalf of all the moms listening right now.

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: How do you step back from that precipice of emotion?

Amber: Right.

Wendy: Yes.

Jim: Because you’re getting it right to you.

Wendy: Yeah.

Amber: Well…

Jim: And you’re going, “OK, little one. I can win at this.”

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: Wham.

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: How do you stand back?

Amber: And so that backtalk piece, along with the feelings of being disrespected that they’re talking back to you, is a really visceral thing. Like, our bodies literally tense up.

Jim: Oh, emotions – boom.

Amber: Emotions – we feel like we’re just going to literally blow our tops. You know, that’s a – that’s an expression for a reason. And so my body – I can feel it tighten and stiffen. And that’s even actually a clue to me now that I do need to calm myself down. So I take a deep breath, first of all, when they start talking back to me and being disrespectful. And I did a study on, you know, what does respect mean in the Bible? What does that term mean? And, really, it’s about placing a value of importance on the other person.

Jim: Yes.

Amber: Really, it’s kind of the golden rule. It’s treating others as you would want to be treated. It’s valuing them more than yourself. And so when my kids are not doing that, I literally have to plan, like Wendy said. You have to plan ahead outside of conflict and think to yourself, “OK. I’m going to remain calm. And then I’m going to speak the truth in love to my child.” So it’s not that I’m just going to let them backtalk to me. I’m not going to yell and scream at them and join them in the fight. I’m going to say to them, “Oliver, the way that you’re talking to me right now simply is disrespectful. And I don’t deserve that. And it’s not something that I know is really who you want to be as someone who’s learning about Jesus yourself and wanting to be like him. So let’s take a break. And we’ll come back together again in a few minutes. And then you can talk to me in a normal voice, and we can figure out what the problem – real problem is.”

Wendy: Sure. So your question was, what do you say when you feel it coming up…

Jim: (Laughter).

Wendy: …You know, when you feel it rising up?

Amber: Yeah.

Wendy: And I think that we have two – we have two suggestions for that. The first is stop your roll. So slow down. Lord, slow me down.

Amber: Yes.

Wendy: Or as Amber and I say, “Take a holy pause.”

Amber: Holy pause.

Jim: Yeah.

John: (Laughter).

Wendy: And then consider the right response. Now, it is OK to not respond right away to your child, to say, “You know what? I am not ready to respond kind and calm to you. That hurt my feelings. I need you to spend some time…”

Amber: Yes.

Wendy: “…In your room while I figure out how I’m going to respond to you.” And that’s OK. But I would also say the slowing down means, hey, I see that I have this recurring issue with that child.

Jim: Right.

Wendy: I’m going to plan a response. So one of the…

Jim: No, that’s good.

Wendy: One of the quotes from Triggers is figure out what you mean to say before you say something mean.

Jim: Right.

Wendy: And then I say, “Slow down, sit down and write down.” Like, actually, do the work. I mean, if we say we really, really value how we build our children up rather than tear him down then find 15 minutes when you’re not triggered and consider, with the Lord’s help – give me wisdom, Lord – what’s a better way to respond. And get together with their other parent and say, “How do we want to respond? – because he or she has the tendency to talk to us like this.” How do we want to call them up into better behavior rather than – backing talk – talk back…

Jim: Right.

Wendy: …Talking back to their backtalk?

Amber: Yeah. We’re modeling for them what we’re asking of them. And that’s so important because if we were to just yell back and say mean things and not have a plan in place for when these triggered moments come up then we’re really being kind of hypocritical. And that’s the last thing I want to be as a mom. I’m not saying we have to be perfect – not at all. But I want to be speaking to my child respectfully and calmly because that’s how I want them to talk to me.

Jim: That’s so true. And, unfortunately, I think for moms particularly – this is what I’ve noticed – is that when they blow it, they heap a ton of guilt onto themselves.

Amber: Huge – huge.

Jim: More than dads, in my opinion.

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: I think dads are like, “Well, they deserve it” and then walk away.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: We just kind of tend to compartmentalize…

Wendy: Yeah.

Jim: …Which is our – you know, are…

Amber: Yeah. Oh, well.

Wendy: We’re generalizing here. Um, but I know my husband would agree with you.

Jim: Yeah. And the point is…

Wendy: You know, he can move on. He’s like, “Well, he shouldn’t have been stupid.”

Jim: …You can feel guilty.

Amber: (Laughter).

Jim: And then you want to fix it. But I think I just want to drive that point home to the mom – for the mom that, um, consistently is blowing it.

Wendy: Mmm hmm.

Jim: She is reacting emotionally…

Wendy: Yes.

Jim: …For all the reasons that we talked about – to give her those handles to be able to back up. And I like the idea, think about it before you’re in the conflict.

Wendy: Yeah.

Jim: And then that moment of truth – you’ve got to say, “I need a deep breath. I need to back off here.” And even express it if you need to…

Wendy: Yeah.

Amber: Yes.

Jim: …As you just gave us that example. That’s so easy to hear but yet oftentimes so hard to do.

Wendy: It is, unless you plan it.

Jim: So plan it and practice it.

Wendy: So you’ve got to plan it…

Amber: And then practice, yeah.

Wendy: …And practice it. And then the other thing I do is, um, I ask for forgiveness when I miss – make a mistake.

Jim: Which is so good for the kids to hear.

Wendy: Yeah. Well, and…

Jim: So good.

Wendy: Just recently, I’ve had to ask for forgiveness for different things as they’re growing up.

Jim: That’s good.

Wendy: So my 15-year-old – I just recently said, “You know, the way that I’m correcting your speech has been mocking you.”

Jim: Hmm.

Wendy: “And you’ve communicated that to me. And I haven’t changed my tone with you.”

Jim: Wow.

Wendy: “And I’m sorry. That’s wrong. I would never let someone speak to you that way, the way that I have been. And so would you please forgive me?” And he forgave me.

Jim: Yeah.

Wendy: And then a couple months later, I did it again. And I came back, and I said, “I did it again. I’m sorry. I’m going to make a plan to now not correct your speech because I’ve learned that I haven’t yet learned how to do it in a respectful way.”

Amber: Yeah.

Wendy: “So I’m not going to do it all.”

Jim: Wow. What a great model.

John: Yeah.

Jim: Wow.

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and our guests today are Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. They have this terrific book, Triggers: Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions for Gentle, Biblical Responses. We’ve got the book, and audio for you at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or, call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, and before we move on I-I-I’ve gotta ask about the child where you a couple minutes ago said, “I need a break.” And you turn, and you start walking, like, to your bedroom or the garage, and they follow you because they’re not…

Wendy: Yeah.

John: You are robbing me of my oxygen. And I thrive on conflict.

Wendy: The fight.

John: And so I don’t want to let go of it.

Wendy: Yes.

John: And I’m not going to let you get that pause. What do you do about that?

Wendy: Well, I think most moms would actually, when they say, “I need a break,” would –  help their child, especially if we’re talking younger children. They would help get their child settled in their own room.

John: Yeah.

Wendy: And when I do that, I would say, “You don’t even have to think of this as a discipline.” We just need a break from one another so that we can come back and treat each other better. And they understand that. But…

John: OK. So the 12-year-old doesn’t go so easily to the corner, though (laughter).

Wendy: No, no. Well, and the 4-year-old doesn’t either. So I just preface that to say…

John: Yeah.

Wendy: …That when I would take my 4-year-old, out he would come. And out he would come. And out he would come.

John: Yeah.

Wendy: And so I would take him by the hand and say, this is required. This isn’t a discipline now. But it will be if you can’t do what I’m asking you.

Amber: And sometimes, it’s just a control issue where they just don’t feel heard, or they’re feeling like, you know, they have these big, strong emotions, and they don’t know what to do.

John: Right.

Amber: So they’re following you, and they’re harassing you. And so sometimes, you just need to stop and get down on their level, whether they’re 4 or – or 12 and just say, “Listen. I know you’re really emotional right now and that you want to keep talking to me. And I want you to know that I’m here. I am going to listen to you. But we do have to talk to each other in a way that is going to help us get through this moment together well because that’s what you need. You need me to be calm and to help you. And I want to do that. So I will listen to you. But let’s just sit here together. You know, look. Come sit on my lap.” You know, my 2-year-old, maybe I’m just putting him on my lap, and I’m saying, “I’m here” and just, you know, be a vehicle to help calm them in that moment. But don’t engage in – in all of the issue that the trigger is about. You know, don’t start arguing or going down that path. Just show them empathy. Now, that’s a mature thing to do as a Christ follower. You know…

John: True.

Amber: …It is not easy to tamp down those high emotions ourselves as parents in those moments when they’re just coming at you. But you do. You just take a deep breath. And you just have to get down on their level and have empathy and compassion for them. You know, the crowds followed Jesus. And he was tired and exhausted. And he tried to escape for a little bit. And they’d just follow him again.

Jim: Right (laughter).

Amber: And, you know, he had compassion on them the Bible tells us, you know? He was empathetic. And so he continued to meet their needs. And, you know, that’s parenting. It’s a long game.

Jim: Well, one thing…

Amber: So we have to do that, too.

Jim: Yeah. One thing you’re mentioning there – and I can envision this, and I’ve tried to do this from time to time, not always successfully. But if there’s a little skirmish going on I’ll take the offender, and, you know, get him next to me and say “Now, why are you acting like that?”

Amber: Right.

Jim: “What is driving that behavior?” – to get them to think about…

Wendy: Yes. That’s so respectful.

Jim: Yeah – and help them to think about…

Wendy: That’s right.

Jim: …What’s going on.

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: And the other key thing, especially in this area of disrespect and back talking – they’re very similar.

Amber: Yes.

Jim: I don’t know that I can differentiate. That’s all disrespect to me.

Amber: (Laughter) Yeah.

Jim: But I could see over the arc of 18 years now with my oldest where, you know, he used to verbalize that way. Then he would verbalize that way and come back and ask for forgiveness to where now the occurrence of it is far less.

Amber: That’s right.

Wendy: Yes. Yes.

Jim: And I think when I can see this big arc now, I get…

Wendy: That’s it.

Jim: …A better handle on his development. That’s what I’m seeing…

Wendy: Right.

Jim: …That when he was younger, he just – bam – he would just say it. And then we’d try to do the correction. And it seemed not to work because, the next day, he was doing it again. But then the apology would come. “You know, mom and dad, I’m sorry I responded like that. That wasn’t right.”

Wendy: Yeah.

Amber: And that’s a beautiful thing. It’s so rewarding…

Jim: It is.

Amber: …To see that because, you know, OK.

Jim: Right.

Amber: This is the fruit of all that labor. Hang in there.

Jim: Then it would start happening less and less.

Amber: Right.

Jim: And that big arc of 18 years – you can see that. But for the mom, who’s right in it right now with that 11-year-old…

John: And it’s never gonna happen now.

Jim: …And you’re seeing this 30-year-old…

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: …Acting the same way, it won’t be that way.

Amber: It’s not. There’s so much hope for when you continually do the right thing. I mean, do we honestly think that God is not going to bless that? I mean, he will. If we are continually demonstrating the fruit of the spirit toward our children – you know, when I first started on my own journey of struggling with anger and yelling and frustration, this was really overwhelming for me. And I thought, “I don’t know how I’m gonna get my act together, much less help my kids change.” But I just started realizing I was applying a lot of it verses in the Bible about my character to a whole lot of other people.

(LAUGHTER)

Wendy: Yes.

Amber: And I just wasn’t applying it in my home with my small children.

Wendy: Right.

Amber: And when I started going, “OK. God tells me that he’s giving me patience, and he’s giving me kindness.” And the Proverbs says that the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. OK, Lord. That’s my verse for this month. You help me to have patience and to teach my kids with kindness. And so I started just applying that, you know? What’s the kind thing for me to do, rush out the door and just say, you know, “What – you can get your shoes on yourself. You’re big enough. Come on”? Or is it to say, “All right. Let me stop for a minute. Let me help you” and to show them just those little changes over time? God will always honor our obedience and when we do the right thing. And we can trust that we do have the power of the Holy Spirit of Christ in us to do those things. We are not helpless.

Wendy: Right.

Jim: That is a great statement.

Amber: And I’m living proof of that.

Jim: Yes. That’s a great statement.

Wendy: I love that. And read over and over again, Amber and I have said that this book and this conversation is not, how do we get our children to stop disobeying so that we don’t have to get angry?

Jim: Right.

Wendy: That the real focus of this book, this conversation and our mothering, fathering lives is, how do I parent more like Christ?

Jim: Yeah (laughter).

Wendy: How do I parent more like God parents me…

Jim: Yeah.

Amber: Right.

Wendy: …And in that journey, invite my children to come up into maturity with me.

Jim: And the reason I’m laughing when you say that is it seems impossible. It’s almost like me living like Christ, being perfect. And I can’t be that because I’m not perfect, right? So how do we process that to say we can act more like Christ…

Wendy: Right.

Jim: …In the process.

Wendy: Well, I think there…

Amber: …That’s what you’re saying.

Wendy: There are two things that he’s given us that I think that are very, very clear in the call to bear fruit. Amber’s been talking about the fruit of God’s spirit in our home.

Amber: Right.

Wendy: And he says very clearly in Galatians, “Abide in me. I will abide in you.” No, I’m sorry. That’s in John. He says very clearly in his word, “Abide in me. I will abide in you. And you will bear fruit. And the fruit of my spirit in your life will be love and joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and even self-control.”

Jim: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: All good stuff.

Wendy: But then he goes on to say, “When you live by the spirit, you’ll keep in step with the spirit.” So I think there are two things that he tells us to do if we want to have this fruit in our home. The first is abide. Abide with Christ, in Christ. He – his spirit is in us. And as we do, his character will rub off on our character. And we will become more like him. But in the meantime, if you are convicted that your words are unkind, that your size are exasperated and impatient and you are not self-controlled as you, you know, berate your kids for being out of control – if those things are true then you still have to do the muscular work…

Jim: Right.

Wendy: …Of keeping in step with what – God’s word.

Amber: And don’t get overwhelmed by that because you could think to yourself – if you’re listening – there’s a mom or dad listening that really struggles with anger, and they think there’s so many things that trigger me. There’s so many instances where I do feel like I’m failing and where I’m not…

Wendy: Yeah.

Amber: …Getting it right.

Wendy: So many external things setting you off.

Amber: Yeah. And yet, you know what? Just focus on one thing at a time. That’s what I did. You know, I thought – I prayerfully just thought, “Lord, what is the thing that you really want to work in me first?” And then I just treated it like it was my job, you know?

Jim: Right.

Amber: It’s so easy to let tomorrow look just like today. And, you know, if someone’s listening that sort of feels that way, like, just kind of caught in this ebb and flow of these emotions, you know, take a moment and just prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal to you what’s one thing that you can work on…

Jim: Well…

Amber: …In this area. And then treat that like your job.

Jim: Yeah. And I would think the…

Wendy: Because it is (laughter).

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: The core of that is desire to change.

Amber: That’s right.

Wendy: Yeah.

Amber: I mean, you need to have the want to, right?

Wendy: Yeah.

Jim: So we’ve laid that good groundwork in terms of relying on the Lord and his Spirit to work through us and being more like him in the parenting. So we’ve covered disrespect and back talking – very similar. Let’s talk about the strong-willed child. I mean, these are special kids.

Wendy: Yeah.

Jim: I actually enjoy…

Amber: Yes.

Jim: One of my boys has that strong-willed personality. I enjoy it because it’s always out there on display.

Amber: Yes.

Jim: You know where he stands.

Amber: Yeah (laughter).

Jim: I never have to guess.

Amber: That’s right.

Jim: And he’ll tell you exactly what he’s thinking all the time.

Amber: Yeah.

Jim: And so there is a blessing. I know many will say that a strong-willed child can grow up to be a very powerful leader…

Wendy: Absolutely.

Jim: …Because their convictions run deep. You’re not going to knock them off the spot. You just want them to be on the right spot.

Wendy: Yeah.

Jim: So, as a mom, how do you…

Wendy: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …Help shape that to be the right spot and not react to the, “You are driving me crazy?”

Wendy: Your strength is too much for me. I know. I married a strong-willed man, and it was a right fit for me. I like I really loved being  married to a strong-willed man. I am a more natural, submissive personality.

Jim: Nurturer – yeah.

Wendy: Yeah. And so it fits well for our marriage. And then I popped out three little mini hims.

(LAUGHTER)

Wendy: And, um – and they all look at me. The youngest, especially, looks at me. His first, full sentence was, “I’m the biggest.”

Jim: (Laughter).

Wendy: And we laughed and looked at his brothers and say, “No, you’re the smallest, you see.”

Jim: Oh, no.

Wendy: “But you got the biggest heart.” And so we…

Jim: You keep telling ’em, “I’m the biggest.”

Amber: Yeah.

Wendy: But just recently, actually, I was just going on a date with my husband the other night. And I – we were laughing about this…

Jim: Yeah.

Wendy: …About our youngest, Asher. And I said, “You know, we’ve been telling this story wrong. He was not looking at his brother saying, ‘I’m the biggest.’ He was looking at me.”

John: (Laughter).

Wendy: He was challenging me.

Jim: Taking you on.

Wendy: “You submit to me, woman,” you know?

Jim: Oh, man.

Wendy: From the time he was 2 – anyway, he’s really special. From the time he was 3, he would get up before I was up in the morning. And he’d put on work boots, and he’d go outside if his dad was working on the property, and he’d start hauling limbs.

Jim: (Laughter).

Wendy: And it’s just a beautiful thing. I know that God has an incredible plan for this strong young man.

Jim: Yes.

Wendy: However, raising him is hard…

Jim: Yeah.

Wendy: …Because he comes to me with that strength and wants to push back on everything. So it’s small things. It’s, “Hey, bud. We’re not going to – we’re not having a snack before dinner.” And I turn around, and he’s got his hand in the cookie jar. I mean, he – he just – blatant disregard.

Jim: He’s going to do it his way.

Wendy: He’s going to do it. And so I say, “Well, because you chose to not obey, you’re going to miss out on the blessing of what we’re doing after dinner, which is dessert” or, you know, whatever…

Jim: Yeah.

Wendy: …That consequence needs to be.

Amber: Mmm hmm.

Wendy: But it is – and that’s a – that’s kind of a goofy – everybody has had that with their kids. But if you have a strong-willed child, you know that the difference is not that they took the cookie first, but it’s all day long. A strong-willed child…

Jim: It is nonstop.

Wendy: …Is not strong sometimes. A strong-willed child is strong all day long. And it is exhausting…

Jim: Right (laughter).

Wendy: …For a mother.

Jim: Well, and that’s where the frustration can be lit.

Wendy: Yes. And that’s when you wanna just all of a sudden…

Jim: I’m done.

Wendy: And you and I have had this conversation about – before about when you act out of control. And I think that what happens in my life is I act out of control when I feel out of control. Obviously, it sounds like a no-brainer.

Amber: Mmm hmm.

Wendy: But the truth of the matter is we don’t have control. God said…

Amber: Yeah.

Wendy: …Again, “The fruit of the spirit looks like this. And the last fruit is self-control.”

Jim: Yeah.

Wendy: He never said, “Wendy, you abide in me, and you will have Asher control.”

Jim: (Laughter).

Wendy: My job is to teach Asher the way he should go so that when he is older, he will be able to have self-control and continue with his strong-willed personality…

Jim: Yeah.

Wendy: …Down that path.

Closing:

Jim: Right. Well, this has been great. We’re actually – woo – on fire right now (laughter). All this good stuff, but we’re out of time. So we’ve got to come back next time and continue this discussion. And, you know, here at “Focus on the Family,” we want to help you. That’s the goal. That’s why Wendy and Amber are here today to help you better understand those triggers, those things that are causing you to work outside of the character you want to be in Christ. And this great book, Triggers, is a wonderful resource for you to absorb and understand. It will help you. And the way that they’ve scripted this, it’s to give you the tools to do it so much better than you’re probably doing it now. I wish Jean and I would have seen this years ago. I think it would have helped us. It would have helped us tremendously. So get a copy of the book. Order it through Focus on the Family for a gift of any amount. And we’ll say thank you for that gift, investing in families, by sending a copy of the book to say thank you.

John: Yeah, your monthly gift or your one-time gift makes a big difference for the outreach here as we help families around the world. And if the broadcast in particular has touched your life or the life of someone you love, go ahead and kind of pay it forward and make a generous donation today. These broadcasts and really all of the ministry programs depend on support from friends like you so please, think about what God could do through you if you partner with us and donate generously today, and when you do, request your copy of Triggers. Our number is  800-A-FAMILY. And online you can donate and get resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Amber and Wendy, great to have you. Let’s come back and continue this discussion. Can we do that?

Amber: Yeah, let’s do it.

Wendy: Absolutely.

Jim: OK.

John: Well, thanks for joining us today for “Focus on the Family.” I’m John Fuller, and on behalf of Jim and the entire team here, we’ll invite you back next time as we continue with Wendy and Amber and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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