Author Kathi Lipp offers encouragement to moms as she describes how they can work through struggles with guilt, shame and the illusion of perfection and being in control. (Part 2 of 2)
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Kathi Lipp: Sometimes I think that my parenting is all up to me. If I do everything right, my kids will turn out right. If I do anything wrong, my kids are going to fail.
But you know what? Our kids belong to God and that's where we need to keep putting them. The fight for their lives, for their hearts, for their mind belongs to God. And God cares more about our kids than we even do, which is shocking and mind-blowing, especially I think to moms, that God cares more for them than we do. And that we can do everything that we're called to do, but the battle for them is God's.
End of Recap
John Fuller: That's our guest on the last "Focus on the Family," Kathi Lipp, talking about what to do when your children don't quite act the way you want them to. It's a common experience and it's one we'll talk about more on today's "Focus" broadcast with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and Jim, while there was a lot of good content in the last broadcast for moms, as dad I was sitting there thinking, I can understand and relate to and I can apply some of the things that Kathi talked about.
Jim Daly: (Laughing) Absolutely, I mean, it doesn't matter if you're a mom or dad, we may process it differently because of our roles or our gender, but so often it's angst, just pure and simple. And you your children to do the right thing, to behave well, especially because we're Christians and you know, that's the good motivation. That's right and proper. But guess what? You're sinners that give birth to sinners and they're not always gonna do the right thing and the question is, how do we respond in that moment?
Jim: Kathi, let me welcome you back to "Focus on the Family."
Kathi: Love being with you guys.
Jim: You are a prolific author, a speaker. You work with MOPS quite a bit.
Jim: And you have come out with this new book, I Need Some Help Here! which most moms and dads to John's point, say yes! That's the (Laughter) the title of the book I've been lookin' for.
Jim: And it kind of spans the age group, to little kids, up to the teen years when these issues become even more serious.
Jim: It's not just a temper tantrum. It's you know, rebellious behavior. You know, last time we talked very vulnerably, you did, about many of those situations. So, if you didn't hear the program last time, I encourage you to download it. Get the CD or get it off your SmartPhone. We've got those apps, John. They're good!
That's how I'm listening.
John: It's how I listen a lot! (Laughter)
Jim: But that's one way to catch up with the program. Let's just in the way of a little bit of a recap, you shared a story in your book. We didn't talk about it, but let's start with the younger kids when those tantrums come along.
Jim: Jean and I had one. I was out of town. Jean and the kids were shopping at Walmart, in fact and Trent saw--he was probably 5 at the time--he saw a candy bar he wanted and boy, this boy has a sweet tooth and (Laughing)—
Jim: --I mean, he melted down in that line and to the point where a soldier, dressed in uniform came over and said, "Son, you need to listen to your mother and obey her." (Laughter) And I was grateful for that—
Jim: --because I thought—
Kathi: --military backup—
Kathi: --I love it. (Laughter)
Jim: What a great thing to do, you know?
Jim: And it helped Jean out considerably.
John: So, it did alter the behavior.
Jim: I think it got his attention. I then when I arrived home and Jean shared the story with me, I got him aside and I said, "I understand a soldier had to sort you out at Walmart." And to which he was like mortified. I'm sure he was thinkin', how does news travel this fast? (Laughter) But you have a story in your book that also is like that. Tell us that.
Kathi: Well, what is it about Walmart and Target that …
Kathi: It is. You know, there's a meltdown in every aisle, there really is. And so, one of my readers contributed this great stor … well, okay, it's great because—
Jim: (Laughing) Yeah, it wasn't you.
Kathi: --every parent … it wasn't me (Laughter). Every parent can relate. But her son wanted some paints and was banging them on the side of the shopping cart. And she's saying, "Buddy, you can't do that." And he kept doing it and kept doing it. And finally she took them away. And she grabbed him and pulled him up in a bear hug. And he bit her on the shoulder. I mean, like just clomped down. And so, she had to release him. He went to the floor and she was, you know, trying to do boundaries and trying to figure out what to do. And her son turned around and bit her in the bum.
Kathi: And (Laughter) …
Jim: He's a biter.
Kathi: He's a biter. And I understand this mom's frustration as you know, he started yelling, "Stupid, stupid, stupid." And she finally figured out, that was the worst word he knew.
Kathi: And so, he was so frustrated, he just lost his mind. And at some point, she couldn't help but laugh because you know what do you do in that situation? But it makes you feel like the worst parent. I remember Justin. We were standing in line at Disneyland. That's the other place where required meltdowns happen every 20 minutes.
Jim: Sometime late in the afternoon.
Kathi: Absolutely and that's exactly what had happened. (Laughter) And Justin was, I think 2-years-old and his Uncle Kevin was holding him. And he bit Kevin on the shoulder. He was tired. He was upset. He was frustrated. And you just think, my child is biting other human beings. What have I done wrong as a parent?
Jim: Get that boy a turkey leg.
Kathi: Exactly. (Laughter) A giant turkey leg.
Jim: Yeah, something from Disneyland!
Kathi: Yeah, I love those!
Jim: Those things are huge. (Laughter)
John: Lasts for hours.
Kathi: But when you're thinking, I can't even keep my child from biting other people—
Kathi: --you feel like the worst parents in the world.
Jim: Well, let's dissect that though—
Jim: --because I've been guilty of being in the store and watching that and going, "Ooh," just a bit of a cringe saying, I wish I could find an appropriate way to engage.
Jim: And a lot of the people around that situation, you get kinda two responses.
Jim: The mom who's heart goes out to that mom. She knows, 'cause it was her last week.
Jim: Typically like older folks—where their patience perhaps is thin—
Jim: --and they don't remember what it was like, 'cause—
Jim: --they usually are the ones that make the faces and—
Jim: --I don't mean to offend anybody, but this is power of observation.
Kathi: Well …
Jim: But you have those two camps—
Jim: --where the empathy goes out and then, "That mother is a horrible mother." You know—
Jim: --what they're thinkin.
Kathi: Oh, absolutely and I would like to add a couple other people to that category. It's the people who have never had a child (Laughter), so they know everything to do right.
Jim: That's true.
Kathi: Or it's the parents of that sweet little 2-year-old girl who says, "Hi, Mommy," "Yes, Mommy." "May I help you, Mommy." And they think they've done it all right. And I know. Justin was great until he was a year and a half and then we went through the biting phase. And I thought was this great awesome parent and why can't these other parents control their children? And then I realized, yeah, control? That's an illusion oftentimes. But you're right, there are the two camps. And so, anytime you can shoot that mom a look of you know, hey—
Kathi: --I'm in this with you, sister. I get this. Or I love the military guy coming up to your son and saying, "You need to obey your mo …" But I think if you can say, "Hey, mom, is there any way I can help you out?" If you're another mom there, "Would you like me to take your cart? Can I get you to the front? Can I do anything to help?" Without judging, just saying, "I've been there, sister; I get it."
Jim: Let's move into this other topic that you cover in the book, I Need Some Help Here! again a great title. Shame, there's shame in both directions.
Jim: You know, when parents are feeling shame because of their children's behavior, we often reflect that shame toward the child then. That—
Jim: --sets you up for failure—
Jim: --as a parent, because when you use shame in your parenting tactics, it will demoralize that child. They don't feel good enough. They don't feel that they're capable of behaving well. Talk about shame in both directions.
Kathi: You know, I think that shame is when you are letting somebody else know or letting someone else know that who you innately are is not good enough—
Kathi: --that what's you know, I thought you would behave better than that. I thought when you say things like, "I thought you were a better person than that," that is, to me, is saying, "You're not capable of anything better than what you are."
And as a parent, I need to separate the behavior from the child. I need to be able to say, you know what? That action really disappointed me, how you behaved. I love you and I believe that you can do better than that. And so, letting the child know, I believe in you, is a great way to also reinforce our own parenting. And you know, when we're constantly telling ourselves, I'm a bad parent; I'm a bad parent, it doesn't allow any room for God to act in our lives when we're saying, this is just who I am and I can't act any differently. But when we say, you know what? I had a bad parenting day, but I know that God, you know, God, I need You to meet me here. God, I'm desperate. I need to do something different. I need to behave differently in my life. God shows up in those circumstance[s]. He's shown up for me time and time and time again, when my behavior has not matched who I want to be.
Jim: Hm. How does a couple do this together? Because I know one of the things for Jean and I mean, she'll feel bad. She'll have a bad—
Jim: --day. I'm comin' home and of course, my first inclination is, well, let me fix this.
Kathi: Right, right.
Jim: What did you say to him? And what did he say to you?
Kathi: Yes, yes!
Jim: And then, if you would've said this, that would've probably gone better.
Kathi: Awesome (Laughing).
Jim: It's not usually met with any kind of positive …
John: That would be the end (Laughter) of the conversation I think, right there.
Jim: But you know, that is a—
Jim: ---struggle, 'cause usually mom is intuitive. She's—
Jim: --engaged. She may be working outside the home—
Jim: But even with that, she still seemed to be more connected to the emotions of the child than many dads are. How does a couple work together to better understand a good parenting approach with their son or daughter?
Kathi: I think something that has been key for Roger and I and it hasn't always worked perfectly, because sometimes I'll say, you know, we may not agree, but we disagree behind closed doors. And I always want to be respectful of Roger and his parenting style, because Roger brings great parenting stuff that I don't. Roger's much more kicked back. He is the one who will, you know, if they got an F on a test, it's not the end of the world to him.
Jim: (Laughing) Oh, this our house. What are you talkin' about?
Kathi: Exactly. Roger has a much longer view of parenting than I do. Whereas, I see everything as a crisis right away and we have to go down and we have to go talk to the teacher, he's like, really?
Jim: There is that balance that you have to have and I think every couple who has normal children, face this. If you haven't faced it at the age of 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9—
Jim: --you're gonna face it at 12, 13, 14, 15.
Jim: And it's where there's just more separation, more independence occurring. They're not always gonna do what you want—
Jim: --when you want it. And you need to figure that out. I think most households in America could fit the description that you've given us, Jean and I. I don't know about you and Dena.
John: No, it's the same.
Jim: But you know, you have to be on the same page and it is this balance, where Jean would say of me that I can be too kind of complacent in that area. And for me, you know, my perspective can be, she's too uptight about some of that.
Jim: You need to find that middle ground where you're both seeing it for what it is—the truth of it.
Kathi: Well, and I think instead of looking at too complacent or too, you know, hyper vigilant, we can look at it as, those are strengths, that—
Kathi: --so, you know, Roger has this strength of the long view and not reacting right away. So, one of the things that Rogers says to me all the time is, how about we not react tonight when we're both tired and exhausted. But can we take some time to think about it, to pray about it and let's come up with our reaction in the morning.
Jim: That sounds a lot better than, "What did you say to him?"
Kathi: (Laughing) Exactly. (Laughter)
Jim: That's a much better way to do it.
Kathi: We feel criticized at least as a mom. Let me speak for myself as a mom. I often feel criticized by my kids. I feel criticized by other parents. And if my husband comes home and say[s], "Why did you say it that way?" I feel criticized by him.
Kathi: And I think most dads are trying to say, how can I help you? And we're hearing it as, well, you know you're doing it wrong, right. If only you would do it like me. And so, I think when we get to the place of, how can we use your strengths in parenting and my strengths in parenting, to come up with the best parenting plan we can? And I think that if your church is offering a parenting class, go every week. Figure it out. Have a safe place to discuss all of this, so that you're not only talking about your parenting issues in the crisis of when your child has come home at 3 o'clock when they had a 10 o'clock curfew. That's not the time to be discussing philosophy of parenting. You need to be discussing it when you're removed from the crisis.
John: Well, the conversation always goes so quickly when you're with us, Kathi. We're about halfway through a broadcast the second day here with Kathi Lipp on "Focus on the Family" and some really practical insights from her, as captured in her book, I Need Some Help Here! Hope for When Your Kids Don't Go According to Plan.
And we have that at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Or give us a call, 1-800-A-FAMILY and we'll tell you more about the book and other helps, including our counseling department, if you want to go a little bit deeper, because it really is a major issue for you and your spouse or you and your child.
John: You know, right here, Jim, I'm thinking about a time when like you, I tend to be a little more laid back and let time kinda clarify the issue. And Dena, this past school year said, you know, I don't think this is the right school for Zane. Maybe we should pull him right now. And I just said, "Oh, let's give it time." I finally took heed to her warning and said, "Okay, we do need to get him out of the waters he's swimming in right now." Middle school is tough and he's learnin' some things. Do you have a situation, Kathi, that comes to mind where Roger finally heard you, because there is some value to the red flag warning that a lot of wives bring to this.
Jim: It's hard to say, you're finally right. (Laughter) That's a tough one for any guy.
John: Well, I'm tryin' to get guys to just admit sometimes—
Jim: It's hard for us--
John: --you need to listen to them.
Jim: --to listen to that.
Kathi: It is. I would say, with the blended family especially, I saw a lot of where Roger, he loves to take care of his girls. I'm one of his girls, my daughter and his daughter, Amanda. But Amanda was getting away with a lot and he really wanted to make sure that she felt loved, especially you know, this is a child who's gone through a divorce. And so, there was a lot of the Disneyland dad kind of aspect to it.
And so, I mentioned it a few times and probably did not get the healthy dialogue that I should have. (Laughter) I said, "You're spoiling that child." And so, when we finally pulled back and he started to see that Amanda was acting entitled and entitled to things, entitled to money and we were starting to see an ugly side of her. And he finally said, "You know what? I think you're probably right."
And can I tell you, one of the areas that we are most proud of Amanda at this point is, she takes financial responsibility. She is paying for school on her own now. She is managing her bill[s]. She is doing the things that an adult needs to do. But there had to be a pulling back. And can I tell you, I probably have to admit to Roger more times that he has to admit to me, you know what? You were right in that. And so, it's humbling, but for the sake of our family and for the sake of our marriage, which is the most important relationship in our house after our individual relationships with Jesus Christ, we have to be able to come humbly and say, "You know what? You were right. And we're gonna do it your way."
Jim: Kathi, let me ask you, how does a couple go home tonight and take an inventory of where they're at in their family? How do they uh … you know, absorb what we've been talking about and they can get together and say, okay, we need to start differently today?
Kathi: I think one of the best things we can do as parents together and let me also speak to single parents out there, too. As a couple, we can look at each other's parenting strengths and say, you know what? You do this really, really well. And so, when maybe there are issues of discipline, I'm going to defer more to you, because you have a good sense of this. And for single parents, because I was a single parent for a couple of years. I felt like I had no parenting strengths. And so, recognizing there are some things that I do well in this.
But I think the other thing to understand it, that the expectation that our kids are gonna make mistakes. Our kids are gonna wander off the path and to not question everything that we believe, not to question every value that we've held and say, have we done it all wrong this whole time? But to keep coming back to each other and to God. And I think one of the most powerful things we can do as we pray for our kids, is to put them at the feet of God and say, as much as I would love to control this situation and recognizing my control is fleeting, but to say, you know, the best thing I can do for my kids on a regular basis is pray for them. Pray for their relationship with God and pray for my parenting and say, God, every single day and my kids are older now. I pray for my parenting more fervently than I did when my kids were little.
Jim: What do you think that's done to your heart toward your children?
Kathi: Oh, it has softened it greatly. It really has, because when I look at how I was as a child and the prayer I desperately needed as a child and I look at where people are coming into my kids' lives that I never would've expected. You know, for so long I felt like all the parenting was up to me and Roger. Anything good that came into my kids' life had to be from me and Roger. But now I see other people who love God, who are coming into my kids' lives that I never expected. My kids when they're at work, they talk about this person who says they're praying for them. And I look at how much God cares for my kids and that makes me be able to loosen my control over what's going to happen to my kids and trust God, even more deeply for them and love them a little bit more freely.
John: You know, Jim, we've talked about on the broadcast before, about how parenting is an act of God on you. Your child is the conduit for God to work in your life. You've said that time and again and I appreciate that reminder, Kathy, that letting go is … there's something godly about that and (Laughter) recognizing that He is the one who's in control.
Jim: Yeah, it's hard. It works against our human nature. Kathi, I'm still there, that couple that has the young teenager—the 13-, 14-, 15-year-old.
Jim: They may have said some things they regret, you know, things that were hard, back to that shame orientation.
Kathi: Right, right.
Jim: You know, how come you're not measuring up?
Jim: We thought you were better than that, things that you said earlier in this program.
Jim: How do we step back and say, okay, we're gonna do it differently. When we're disappointed, we're gonna say it this way. Give us an example of that, a better way to go.
Kathi: Well, and I think when we're saying those things, what we're really saying is, I'm ashamed of who I am and I'm pouring it out on my kids. And so, instead, let's separate the behavior from the child.
And the constant message we need to be able to give to our kids is, I love you. And so, when they get to a point where they've done the thing they shouldn't have done and saying, you know what? There are gonna be consequences because you broke curfew. Or you were with somebody that we specifically forbidden you from seeing because we know the influence you have.
So, there are gonna be consequences, but consequences don't take away the fact that we love you. Let me tell you some reasons that we're proud of you, because you've made other decisions that we're really proud of. So, really calling out the things in your child that you see that are godly and good and growing. And making sure that your kids know that you see those things. So, it's not a lack of consequences, but it's a lack of shame and judgment on your child and still believing the best for your kids.
Jim: Well, again, I just feel like we're so good in the Christian community of that judgment.
Jim: And it's understandable.
Kathi: Oh, yes.
Jim: I don't mean to point a finger even, because we want to live our lives well. Hopefully, as Christian adults, we're doing a good job in that area.
Jim: And then we have that expectation of our children.
Jim: And when they don't measure up, you gotta be careful—
Jim: --that you're not a Pharisee talking to—
Jim: --a person who's not measuring up. It's—
Kathi: Well, and let's be honest.
Jim: --it's gonna defeat them.
Kathi: Yeah and shame is separating. Shame is separating. It separates you from that child, because if they know they can never measure up, why do they keep trying and why do they have a relationship with you?
Jim: Kathi, people listening to us might say, well, that sounds good hypothetically, but they haven't been living it. You've had really difficult times with your kids. Justin, you talked last time about your daughter.
Jim: Justin, your son went through a period of time that was challenging for you and Roger. Talk about that.
Kathi: Well, we went through uh … it was the most humbling parenting experience of my life.
Kathi: Because he was so defiant and he was rejecting everything that we cared about and …
Jim: What age? Tell us.
Kathi: We're talking really 16 to 18 and then some lingering, as well as an adult. But there were just points where anything that we said, "The wall is white," "It's black." I mean, anything … he was so oppositional and defiant and we just felt like the worst parents in the world. And you know, he's gone through bouts of depression and there have been some really, really tough issues. And we've sought out mentors and we worked with other people who have had kids with similar situations. And I have to tell you, I haven't been proud in the past of things I've said. And I had to apologize to Justin.
Kathi: And talk about a humbling experience, apologizing to a child and it's like, but I'm still really not liking all your choices. I'm not liking what you're doing. But I had to take responsibility for my part. I'm the adult in the relationship. And I had to say, "Justin, you know, I said some things that I don't believe. I believe that you are a good person. I believe that you care about the people around you. I just believe that it's hard for you to show it sometimes. But you know what? I believe good things about you." And so, I had to tell him all the reasons I was proud of him.
And the time I think his heart was so hard, it was very hard for him to receive that. But now this is the same kid who … he still lives with us. He's 23-years-old. He is launching this year and we've seen great growth in him, who will hug me when I get home from a trip and he'll hug me as I'm leaving. And you know, there's still a long way we need to go in the relationship, but does he doubt that I love him? Not in the least. He knows to the core of his being. And even though at 16, I would've said, of course he knows that I love him, I don't know that he would've said that. And so, our relationship has changed but it was humbling and it was hard, I'll be honest with you.
Jim: No, I appreciate that, because it gives us as parents that nudge to be intentional about those discussions with your children. It's never too late to say I'm sorry as a parent. I mean, I've done that on a regular basis, and you can see it in your child's face when they light up. They interestingly enough, then begin to compute, oh, mom and dad aren't perfect.
Jim: 'Cause they see you as the standard. That's the natural course of things. So, when you can say, "I need to ask for your forgiveness," it demonstrates and models for them humility.
Kathi: And when we can say, I'm not perfect, but I still know that God loves me deeply and I know that for you as a child, I think it changes the way that our kids view God. And I think there's something really powerful in saying, I am messed up sometimes, but I keep trying. I keep asking God to change my heart and change how I behave. But God loves me no matter what.
Jim: Yeah. I mean, that's (Chuckling) a great place to end. God loves me no matter what and that means, if you're 8 or 15 or 50 or—
Jim: --80, God loves you no matter what. And Kathi, you've done such a wonderful job putting these concepts into print in your book, I Need Some Help Here! Hope for When Your Kids Don't Go According to Plan. Many, many parents will be helped by this. Thanks for being with us.
Kathi: Oh, thank you.
John: And I'll just say thanks for being so vulnerable, Kathi about your family's struggles, both yesterday and today. And as you said last time, there's a lot of comfort when we can turn to other parents in the midst of a difficult situation and say, "It's okay; I know. I've been there, too."
Now the book by Kathi Lipp is a great resource for any family. We all have challenges from time to time and we've covered some of those here the past couple of days. As Kathi describes further in her book, there are situations where your child may be sick or injured or they feel overwhelmed by life or they may not be displaying the kind of character traits you were expecting from them. All of this can be heartbreaking for a parent, but Kathi provides a lot of practical advice and encouragement along with Scripture and prayer points to help you get through that with the Lord's grace and His peace and His power.
So, please call today about getting a copy of I Need Some Help Here! by Kathi Lipp. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or you can learn more at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . And when you get in touch, please ask about how you can join our family support team. You know, ever year more than a half million parents contact us--moms and dads who are looking for solutions or resources or maybe just a listening ear. And they may be in the middle of a family crisis or perhaps they simply want to help their child succeed in the classroom or in life.
Now you can play a part in getting them on the right track through your financial support of Focus on the Family. We depend on the generosity of friends like you, who enable us to respond to these needy families. And your gift of any amount helps pay for our programs like this one and resources, like Kathi's book and our websites and counseling team and so much more. Please help us help parents who contact us every day. And I'll say thanks in advance for that assistance. In fact, because of your generosity, we'd like to send you a copy of Kathi's book, just to encourage you or to allow you to pass it along to a family that you know can benefit from it. That's available for a gift to Focus on the Family of any amount today. Again, our number is 800, the letter A and the word 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. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time for more trusted advice and encouragement to help your family thrive in Christ.
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Kathi LippView Bio
Kathi Lipp is a popular public speaker and the author of 16 books including Clutter Free, Hot Mama: 12 Secrets to a Sizzling Hot Marriage, The Get Yourself Organized Project, The Husband Project and You Don't Have to Try So Hard. She is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and host of the podcast Clutter Free Academy. Kathi and her husband, Roger, are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, Calif. Learn more about Kathi by visiting her website, www.kathilipp.com.