Dr. John Townsend: My child doesn't need someone who's out of control and amping up and escalating. My child needs somebody who's full of grace and truth.
End of Teaser
John Fuller: And even more so as your child gets older. That's a great point from Dr. John Townsend and he joins us today on "Focus on the Family" with your host, Focus president and author, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I'm John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, we are parents of teenagers. Today is gonna be that kind of discussion. We're gonna talk about those difficult moments and hopefully, some of the joyful moments that we have being parents of teenagers (Chuckling) and sometimes it is a struggle. It's a challenging task and if your son or daughter is strugglin' in her place or his place right now, hang on. We're gonna give you some tools with our guest today to talk about how you launch that teenager in a good way and you may not be feeling it's even possible right now, but we are here to help you today.
John F.: Yeah, I think we have some great hope for you from our guest, Dr. John Townsend, who is a best-selling author. He's a business consultant and psychologist. He's the founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling and along with Dr. Henry Cloud has written a number of books. I think this book, Jim, is perhaps one of the ones that I go to most often, Boundaries with Teens.
Jim: (Laughing) Yeah, I bet you do--
John F.:When to Say—
Jim: --and so do I.
John F.: --Yes and How to Say No, because teens are always pushin', give me an answer. Come on.
Jim: Oh, my goodness, it's one of the toughest things in parenting, is how to place those boundaries and stick with it. John, let me welcome you back to "Focus on the Family."
Dr. John Townsend: Glad to be here, guys.
Jim: Can you tell we're chompin' at the bit—
John T.: Yes, you are.
Jim: --to get into this? Why do parents of teenagers struggle so much? Let's just start with the big picture.
John T.: We struggle that much because we're needed the most and wanted the least. (Chuckling) They need us right then to be there at that apex of development, but they don't want us to be interfering with their lives.
Jim: And it's like come close; get away.
John T.: Yeah, I mean, a 10-year-old says, "Help me with this. Mom, do this and dad, can you do this?" Teenagers say, "I'm a grownup; I don't need anything," and yet, you know that God put you in the position of nurture and admonition and you're supposed to help, but you're not a wanted person. So, if there's any time in life to be patient and to know the principles we're gonna talk about, it's right now, because they really do need you.
Jim: You know what's interesting and I just thought of this, but when you look at Mary and Joseph, you know, it talks about Jesus at 12-years-old roughly and they came for the census. They left and they couldn't find him and where is He? That's an interesting part of Scripture, isn't it? That's a parenting challenge right there. I mean, one, I would be, my wife and I'd be perplexed if we had forgotten our 12-year-old back at the Temple or wherever. Jean would be frantic. Talk about that moment of Scripture, when you're the mom and dad of the Savior and He's 12 and you don't know where He is.
John T. Well, the funny thing was, Mary's response to that. Now think about it. They were gone three days and they don't even know where their son is. This wasn't a son failure. This was a parenting failure. (Laughter) But then the funny thing is, the guilt-ridden and guilt-inducing Mary comes back. What's the first thing she says? What are you doing to us? What? You left me. (Laughter)
Jim: Well, think of the modern context of that. I guess parlay that into our experience today, when the teenager is trying to be independent—
John T.: Find their way.
Jim: --and how does the parent throttle that, knowing when to strengthen that throttle and when to back off the throttle, because that's what's so awkward, John, in that period of parenting. You're on and you're off.
John T.: Yeah, you are and you're on and you're off and I think the very first help there, guys is to have empathy for the teen. Parents have empathy for each other and "Oh, my gosh, you're pullin' my hair out. You know, it's crazy." But you gotta think for what's going on developmentally with the teen, neurologically, endocrine wise, the brain development, emotionally, spiritually. The teen is going through cataclysmic changes and they don't even understand what's goin' on. But guys, they're not happy.
Jim: How do we relax as parents? I mean, how do we find that good center point, where we can take a deep breath? Not everything is a tragedy. I think again, out of our own experience for Jean and myself when I observe it, mom tends to see everything as a nail, if she's the hammer.
John T.: Yes.
Jim: And she can get a little concerned about what she perceives as more passivity coming from me. Talk about that kind of environment, where we both think we're healthy in what we're doing, but one of us can't be right. (Laughter) So, what …
John T.: That is true. You gotta reset the button on what's worth investing in. There's a difference between a misdemeanor and a felony and what Barbie and I did and the way we trained our people when we were doin' work on this, was blow off the misdemeanors and go for the felonies.
So, there are certain behaviors, attitudinal things, sloppiness, this sort of thing that you kinda gotta go, that's not worth it, because I know in a week I'll have a big one. And the big scary ones which I list in the book, you know, drugs and sex and faith issues and massive disrespect, the conduct problems, save your strokes for that one.
And then you got a kid who comes out in life and they're okay. It's the parents that sort of micromanaged everything, that what happened was, the kid either withdrew and then went crazy in college and we didn't want that, but we wanted our kids to go crazy in junior high. We wanted to be there, mentor, structure, have other Christian friends around. We wanted the bad stuff to happen then where we're there to be there, not when they're perfect, because we micromanaged and then somethin' happens their sophomore year in college.
Jim: To kind of help the listener dial into what you're talking about, give us an example of what was failure at the junior high level.
John T.: Well, things like wantin' to ditch school or things like real disrespect where, you know, you're sayin', I have a thing about respect and you can disagree with mom and dad. You can be mad at mom and dad, but you gotta do it respectfully. Slamming doors is not okay. Yelling and using the wrong words is not okay.
So, what are the rules of engagement? We wanted to make sure, they could get mad at us and say that our rules were no good. That was their opinion, but they had to do it respectfully. So, we wanted to deal with those kind[s] of issues. Pickin' the wrong friends was a big deal. We wanted to … we wanted to meet their bad friends. We wanted to have those bad friends in our home and say, let's understand this kid and maybe that kid may not come back to our home, but we wanted to be inside our children's minds so much that the children went, there's a redemptive influence in my house with my friends and my behavior and how I look at culture, so that we could interact and engage with it. We tried to bring that into the home.
Jim: And I like that. I mean, especially pursuing the friendships and knowing who your, you know, children's friends are. I think that's critical. Sometimes parents use the excuse of being too busy and you know, I can't do everything.
John T.: Yeah.
Jim: I'd caution you to make sure you're engaging. Let me though, let me go to the disrespect side, because that's often what we see in the Christian home, because we do have a lot of rules and we want our kids to perform at a very high level when it comes to their behavior. And that area of disrespect, let's chase that a little bit. What about that 13-, 14-, 15-year-old, who consistently is being disrespectful? What typically is going on, is the root cause, if I can ask it that way?
John T.: Sure.
Jim: And there may be a handful and then, how does the parent, and I could say this out of my own experience, that it's like asking them, please or thank you; you've had that discussion 1,400 times. You said, you know, "When you disagree, you need to do it respect[fully]." You've done exactly what you said, but it just keeps happening. How do you engage in a different way, so it's not insanity (Chuckling), so you get the better result?
John T.: Well, you asked the question right there, Jim, because the whole book was written on a system of four different keys when the behavior or the attitudes don't change. Otherwise, if we say it 1,400 times, we have now become what we call "a nagger," a nagging parent, which is a powerless, infinite frustrated person. You don't want that.
So, the reason that I called the book, Boundaries with Teens is because it has a stage of setting boundaries that works. First off, the first of the four pillars—I call 'em "pillars"—is we love them. So, we have to convey even though you're disrespectful, Suzy or Sam, I really love you and you know mom and I are for you. Dad and I are for you.
The second one is the truth. The truth is, in the Daly household, we don't do disrespect and I want to put that on our refrigerator. We might disagree vigorously, but we don't disrespect. So, here's the truth. It's kinda like our little Ten Commandments in our home.
The third one—here's the scary one for Christian parents—is freedom.
John T.: You're free to keep blowin' us off. You're free to disrespe[ct]. You know, the parent that goes, "I'll make you," doesn't understand kids. You really are free and unless you're gonna run out in front of a car, then I'll, you know, in traffic, I'll grab you.
Jim: Now that sounds so counterintuitive. Why is that a positive thing? (Laughing)
John T.: That they're free?
John T.: The thing [is], we're not giving them that.
John T.: They have it.
Jim: Right, that's true.
John T.: How do you tell a kid, "I will make you mind?" And the kids in their mind, I remember bein' a teenager. You're not makin' me do anything. I'll do it around your back. And so, you're kind of accepting reality, that God made them free. So it's not giving them freedom. It's allowing God's truth is that, you can choose to disobey me. You can choose to pick the wrong friends. You can choose to not do your homework. You can choose to not makin' your bed. You're free.
Jim: What does that do in the soul of the child, when they hear that kind of statement from a parent, you're free?
John T.: It does two things. First off, it makes them liberated. Oh, my gosh, I'll have a party. But the second thing, they begin to feel like, my choices are my problem, because it's based on the fourth pillar. If it's got love and then the truth, which the rules and you're free to disobey. I'm not gonna make you mind, here's the fourth one.
The fourth one is, reality consequences. So, you're free to flunk classes and you're free to pick out the wrong friends and I've told you not to and you're free to disrespect. Here's what mom and I will do if you do that. We'll take away this or we'll add that. Because the boundaries are what allow them to say, cause and effect.
The more I disrespected mom, then they came in. I lost friends. I lost social media. I lost video. And we have a lot of things we give our kids these days. I lost the phone. I lost television. I lost movies. I'm grounded and this is a neurological thing. Their brain begins to go, before you have the fun of disrespecting mom, remember the last four times? You had no TV for a week. That wasn't fun. And they begin to make that great sowing and reaping connection. So, you follow up with the boundaries.
The problem we do is, we make 'em free and then we nag forever, instead of sayin', "I just told you this," so take away TV. Take away the cookies and whatever and the kid will get a little depressed and their brain gets healthy.
Jim: I would think, John, to a degree, a lot of this ties into temperament, as well. And I'm thinking of the strong-willed, you know, the classic of the strong-willed child, the more compliant child. My observation is, with the strong-willed child, you can take these things away and now game on. They don't care. At least that's what they're expressing to you. Take my electronics away. Okay.
John T.: Right.
Jim: So, what? I'm tougher than you, dad? I'm tougher than you, mom. And you keep whittling these things down, seemingly to no effect and you're down to ground zero. There's nothin' left to take away. (Chuckling) And they're sittin' there smilin' at you, goin', okay, I win.
John T.: Yeah, I've had that question 10,000 times.
Jim: (Laughing) I bet you have.
John T.: And God has an answer. He actually has two answers. One is, a boundary, a consequence is something you either give them that is noxious to them and heinous to them. More chores, pick up the dog's poop, you know—
Jim: Cottage cheese.
John T.: --cottage cheese. (Laughter) You give them things they don't like or you take away things they love. So, if you've got somebody who's kind of a loner and all by themselves and you put them in their room, they're fine. They've got their guitar and all that. But if you've got the social one, you've gotta take away that. So, you gotta find out what matters to the child and say, "That's on hold now."
No. 2, after you figure out what's the thing that matters to 'em, you 've got to do it with a strong-willed child, I'll say probably four times as many iterations as you thought you ever would.
Jim: So, that's why you feel exhausted.
John T.: Yes (Laughter), because I've had some parents with a very strong-willed child. I said, "You're doing the right things." And literally, the kid would go home and was very disrespectful. They'd go home. Mom and dad are laying it on. I don't do anything in their face, slam doors, yell at 'em, call 'em everything. The kid had to go to the room. (Laughter) I remember this; it was in junior high, not our kids, but our friends. And you're in your room. You've got no books, no TV, nothing but your homework and come out for meals and go back in and the kid was, this doesn't matter. And I think, I mean, child protective services were not involved and this is okay, I think in the second week, the kid finally raised a white flag and said, "I don't like this."
Jim: So, you just have to keep going.
John T.: You have to keep goin', because look how God does it. Look in the Old Testament. Over and over and over and over again, until we finally go, we don't like being captives of the Babylonians. So, it's either got to be the right or wrong consequence or you do it many more times.
The way I look at it, Jim is you're an oak tree and your kid's in denial, because their brain isn't working right and they're hitting their head against that oak tree 10,000 times. I want to say what I want and to what I want, feel what I want. You've got to withstand that 10,0001 times—
Jim: (Laughing) Right.
John T.: --and you win.
Jim: Let me ask you about the parent who isn't holding consistent to that. And I can be guilty of that. I don't know about you, John.
John T.: I was very guilty.
Jim: You know, because I'm good sometimes and other times, okay, it's summer (Laughter), you know.
John F.: I just want to give grace.
Jim: And you know what? You get a few, "I like my dad" (Laughter) statements.
John T.: That'd be nice.
Jim: Yeah, you know, and there's a lot of love when you give a little grace, but talk about that inconsistency and what it's communicating to the child, how it's harming the child.
John T.: Yeah, you have to be a future-based parent, guys. You have to think, what is my action doing right now because I want the love from my kid and I want the affection, but they are so irresponsible or self-centered or disrespectful, but I love the hugs and thank you for the cookie and thank you, all this. You have to be thinking, how is this engagement I'm having right now in the living room gonna affect when they're 20 and 25 and they fall in love and they're married and they've got a career and they've got kids? Is it gonna make them a person who's loving and responsible and towing the line and diligent? Or is it gonna make somebody who's just a lot of fun and chaotic and irresponsible?
My big prayer—we had boys—was that my daughters-in-law--our kids aren't married-- would not come to me one day and say, "What did you do?" (Laughter) "You gave in when you shouldn't have." I want my daughters-in-law to come in a say, "Thanks."
Jim: Oh, man.
John T.: "You held the line."
Jim: I just had this conversation last night with my teenagers. I mean, I am exactly honest and I said to Trent, my oldest, I said, "Trent," 'cause mom's out of town visiting family and I said, "Let's take care of the house. We've had our guy time. We gotta get the dishes done. We gotta get things straightened—
John T.: Yeah, there's a floor somewhere—
John T.: --out there.
Jim: Yeah and he's like, "Well, dad, come on. It's, you know, it … it's that time we've had as guys and we just haven't paid attention to the house, but it's time to step up and do it. And I told him, I said, "Listen, I'm thinkin' about your future wife, you know. When she needs to rely on you to be participating in the house, you gotta be there. And so, I'm helping you learn how to do that."
John T.: Okay, but Jim, that's more helpful for you. (Laughter) You're talking—
John F.: Yeah, I'm sure he thanked you—
John T.: --you're talking—
John F.: --for that, right?
John T.: --you're talking to yourself, Jim. (Laughter)
Jim: Okay, what would you have said?"
John T.: I wouldn't have done that bit about, I mean, they're just thinking, "What are you talkin' about? There's a million girls there." I would've just said, "You know, we've gotta clean up, so start. You know, you can put your stuff up and I'll meet you in 10 minutes."
"Well, dad, we're havin' a great time." II understand; I am, too, nine minutes. (Laughter) But I love this conversation, eight minutes or we'll go to consequence."
And so, you're not tellin' them about their future. You're living it, so they go, "I had a mom and dad [who] were loving and fun, but they made me toe the line." You look at the research on parenting, there's always two factors. You guys know this as well as anybody. Parents who are warm, very warm, fun, good wrestling and strict.
John T.: And strict means, I follow up on consequences and instead of being the mean beast, every solar eclipse, I'll follow up on the consequence, I follow a concept when it's like 90 percent of the time. You put out kids who find faith. They have great careers and marriages and lead the world.
John F.: Those are the kids that you're saying have been parented with consistent boundaries.
John T.: Yes.
John F.: Okay. Dr. John Townsend is our guest today on "Focus on the Family" and we're talking about his book, Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes and How to Say No. And we've got that and a CD or a download of this conversation, as well as our mobile app so you can listen on the go, at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
And I'll add that we'll send you a copy of Dr. Townsend's book, when you make a generous donation to equip us to help more parents. Make that contribution and select Boundaries with Teens as your thank-you gift at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-A-FAMILY.
And Jim, as you said at the beginning, we're living this. (Laughter) I mean, last night I had a conversation with a boy who was just caught up in his reading. And he got really fuming mad at me, because I said it's time for bed. And 20 minutes clicks away and then he's mad at me still, because I'm cutting off his fun. It's not fun to be a parent when a kid's grouchy like that.
John T.: You know, guys, that is such an important point. One thing you have to learn as a parent, that I've gotta get my self-image needs met outside of my children. If my children's being happy with me makes me feel good and that's what I need, now they're the parent and I'm the child. I want to make sure that I can tolerate my kids' rage, anger, disappointment for a long time, because I've got God, I've got a spouse. I've got a life team and a good church. I've got people around me that love me and think I'm a good person.
But kids have to have someone to rail at, just like God has people that rail at Him all the time, because He knows that He can't get His own self-esteem, if you can say that, needs met in that way. So, when the kid's unhappy, I always tell parents this, if your kid's unhappy with you, it might mean something really good's happening.
John T.: It might mean they're learning, I'm responsible for myself. It might be learning, I've got to be patient. I can't get everything I want. That's the normal way of the universe, so their anger at us and frustration at us is a small price to pay for a life of happiness and health and holiness.
Jim: Dr. Townsend, I so appreciate what you're talking about. You mentioned your four pillars, loving that child, truth, pulled truth, freedom and reality and I want to come back to that idea of freedom. I'm thinking of the situation and it's not happening in our household, so this is, you know, the listeners who respond by e-mail and letters and phone calls, John, just kinda mentally going into the mailbox and pulling something out that I read in the past, but parents who, they've gone the freedom route.
They've said, I know you have freedom and they go a little down that path. And it's brought harm to the family; it's brought harm to the child and so, they reel it in. And at least they think they're reeling it in and then they let the line out a little and then it gets reeled in again. Talk about that yo-yo effect and either the good or the harm that, that may be causing in that environment, where the freedom extends to your ability to be responsible.
John T.: That's a really good point, Jim. Just because somebody is 16 on the outside, doesn't mean they're 16 on the inside. And so, a 16-year-old should not get the freedom that automatically they should drive, for example, unless they act like a 16-year-old. If they're 10-years-old on the inside, they can't do it. So, you give freedom that's appropriate with the spiritual and emotional developmental age of the child. You don't give them the freedom to go out and hurt themselves.
The other point about that is, and this is in the extreme cases. I've worked with this for a long time. Sometimes in the extreme cases when a child is just out of control, I mean, ditchin' at night, runnin' out the windows, this sort of thing, you have to tell the child, we may not have enough structure for you and we may have to find a place for you for a few weeks or months to give you the self-control that you need. That's not being a bad parent. It's saving your child's life.
If your household is not secure and your child is consistently violent or on drugs and won't stop or runnin' out into the street and you're tryin' to put bars in the windows and they're getting' past you, you just gotta say, "We need a place with more structure, with professionals, until you learn self-control and we want you back." So, those extreme cases, that's one of the best things a parent can do.
Jim: Let me ask you this. So often and I tend to lean in this direction, the formulaic parenting. I mean, we're talking here about things you can do for the best outcome, you know, setting boundaries, loving your child, all the things we've been discussing. But there's also the argument that needs to be acknowledged that parenting isn't a formula. You try these things. You do these things with consistency to set up the right outcome, but there's no guarantee. Children have free choice. I'm sure the Lord must look at us and say, "It's the same way I deal with you."
John T.: Yeah.
Jim: You have free choice and you do things as if I am the Father of teenagers (Chuckling), you know.
John T.: Well, like Jesus said, "I wish I'd put you under my wings like a hen does her chicks, but you would not." You know, sometimes we do everything we can. The way I tell parents, yeah, I love your point about, you can't like be too formulaic, because if you're a control freak for a teenager, that's a problem. You're gonna drive yourself crazy or them crazy. You can't be a control freak.
Look at it like this. I want to drive my car with my family from Los Angeles to Manhattan. So, that's what? Four thousand miles. Now, there may be 16 different routes to get there and perambulations and stops and all kinds of ways, but basically, we want to get to Manhattan. So, that's the idea.
I want you to get to your point, Sam or Sally, where you can control your life and have good values and make good choices.. You know what to do with money. You know what to do with a relationship with the opposite sex, but there'll be a million ways to do it. So, have fun in the process, because teenagers are the most creative people out there, but just keep going towards the goal.
Jim: Yeah and again, that parent that says, "No, you gotta take I-70. That's the only way to get there, is I-70."
John T.: That kid can say—
Jim: --that I see.
John T.: --"I see 69 other ways to do this and I'm gonna show you" and you don't want to have that fun.
Jim: How does that parent take the deep breath and say, okay, I can go on Route 66 with you? How does a parent do that when you are a control freak and you know it? What's a handle for the parent to take a deep breath and relax? What advice do you have for them?
John T.: There are two things that work. One is to disengage. When you can feel yourself tensing up, God gave us feelings for a reason, right. So, when I can feel my neck muscles tightening (Laughter) and the tachycardia and all that, I do not want my child to be around a "rageaholic." So, I disengage and say, I need to take a walk, go work out, go pray or whatever.
But the second thing is, to think, what is the best thing I can do for my child right now? My child doesn't need someone who's out of control and amping up and escalating. My child needs somebody who's full of grace and truth. So, if I kinda think, it's not about me right now, it's that I only have a little bit, you know, a little bit time with the teenager, is the de-parenting years. I've only got this much time left. What's the best thing for 'em? That'll help a lot.
Jim: John, I am resonating with what you're saying. We all are when we're livin' it (Chuckling) and I'm thinking again of the response here to Focus on the Family of the single parent, who's trying to do this and maybe workin' two jobs and very busy with all the responsibilities, maybe there's other siblings that are demanding time, as well. What about that unique environment?
John T.: Well, first off, parenting is the hardest job in the world and single parenting is the hardest, hardest job in the world, because you've got to be both nurturance and structure for that child. You don't have a mom, a dad to lob that off to each other. So, to you single moms and dads out there, if it feels hard, it is. It's the most important job in the world, parenting is.
Jim: You can't walk away from it.
John T.: You can't walk away from it, but it's also the hardest. And what I always tell the singles is, you've got to find other people to engage with your children who are healthy, who are godly, who are fun, who have structure, who have abilities that you don't have. So, I don't know if that means get into a single-parent support group at your church or bringing in Big Brothers or Big Sisters or whatever, but you don't have the internal character abilities to do that all alone by yourself. The child needs too much or the child and the children, so—
John T.: --find those other people.
Jim: --and so often when we give that advice, particularly single moms will say, "I can't find that person." They've really gotta try harder, right? And I know you're already busy and it's tough, but you've got to try harder.
John T.: Well, what I tell 'em is, let's divide parenting into the logistic tactical things and the relational things. Well, logistic tactical is meals, getting people to soccer games, making sure people, you know, have done their homework. And then the other part is the love and deep talks and how's life going? And I understand you [are] not getting along with your buddies and you're scared; you're insecure.
If there's not enough of you, then somehow farm out the tactical stuff. Maybe meet with four other families to talk about getting their own time and maybe make meals for each other and put 'em in the frig. Who knows! But the tactical is not as important as the engagement and relation levels. Don't ever give that part up.
Jim: That is well-said. Well, I appreciate that and I've got so many more questions and we're at the end of the program today. Let's come back next time and continue to talk to parents about how to do the job of launching their teen in a way that is healthy, spiritually, emotionally, physically. Can we do it?
John T.: Yeah. Just a word. You guys, I want to tell you, I'm on the road a lot. Focus on the Family is known for being the best at this and God bless you guys for doing it, because people, you are a lifeline to parents and single parents who need you. Keep it up.
Jim: Well, thanks so much and let me just say, if you can support Focus on the Family, we'd deeply appreciate it and that's how things happen here is through the generosity of donors and supporters. So, let me say thank you to those who help. If you haven't helped, pray about it and I would ask you to consider sending a gift to Focus.
John: Yeah, you can do so when you call 800-A-FAMILY and make that donation today and we'll send a thank-you gift, a copy of Dr. Townsend's book, Boundaries with Teens. Just ask for it when you donate by calling 800-A-FAMILY or online at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening in. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow. You'll hear more from Dr. John Townsend.
Dr. John Townsend: If I don't have the band width for somebody to have crazy ideas and push against me and disagree and be passive-aggressive, if I don't have the band width for that, I'm not gonna do anybody any good. So, get my life in order so that my teen's up and downs don't, you know, freak me out.
End of Excerpt
John: Some great insights tomorrow, as we once again, help your family thrive.
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John TownsendView Bio
Dr. John Townsend is a clinical psychologist, a marriage and family therapist, a popular public speaker and the co-founder of Cloud-Townsend Resources. He is also the author or co-author of numerous books including God Will Make a Way, How People Grow and Who's Pushing Your Buttons? Dr. Townsend holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Biola University. He resides in Southern California with his wife and sons. Learn how you can earn a graduate degree in Dr. Townsend's methodology at The Townsend Institute.