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How Parents Can Help Their Children Overcome Anxiety and Depression

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Our kids need to know they are loved, worthy, valued and created on purpose for a purpose. Their difficulty in overcoming anxiety or depression does not define them.

The change in my daughter’s voice was a jolt to my heart. Previously marked by joy and excitement, her voice was now void of emotion. She was struggling with more than sadness; she was experiencing full blown depression. Something needed to be done. I wondered, “How I can I help her overcome anxiety and depression?”

Maybe, like me, you have experienced a similar emotional shift in your kids. They may have moved from worry, stress, or fear to anxiety or gone from grief to depression. Perhaps your kids’ friends are going through mental health struggles too.

Unfortunately, anxiety and depression affect an ever growing population of kids and families today. When we understand how to best approach our kids and their swirling emotions, we will be more effective in helping them overcome anxiety or depression.

Approaching your Kids

One way we can help our children overcome anxiety or depression is to have an awareness of the variety of pressures kids today face. The stressors come in many forms: social interactions and hierarchy, academic accomplishment, artistic endeavors, athletic prowess, or an attractive appearance.

Whether the stress is external (parental or others’ expectations) or internal (personal expectations), these pressures can quickly build up and overwhelm our kids. So, it is up to mom and dad, to avoid placing unnecessary and unrealistic pressure on our children.

Focus on strengthening your relationship to cultivate trust between you and your child. Model how to ask for help and to be a helper. There is no shame in needing help (it is a human condition after all) and there is honor in being a helper. This may sound simple, but the Lord created us for relationship; to give help and receive help.

Rather than piling on tasks and additional responsibilities, look for areas where you and your child can support and serve each other. Everyday ways to reinforce the idea of interdependence could include participating in household chores or doing homework together. Bigger ways to reinforce a mutually helping relationship could include being a sounding board for a big decision or major life-transition.

Assess your child’s social media interactions and habits. It’s no secret that relationships can have a critical impact on your child’s ability to navigate anxiety and depression. But be sure that social media isn’t your child’s only source of social interaction. Guide your child toward interactions and relationships outside of social media through establishing face-to-face interactions, intentional family time, and meaningful adventures.

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Primary Stressors when Overcoming Anxiety and Depression

Unfortunately, in my daughter’s tween years, I added to the stress she put on herself to be thin (for the record she was thin). I thought I was being helpful when I said, “You look fine. Just be healthy and eat and exercise like your sister.” Not only did I discount her concern, I tossed in some comparison too. This was a big mom fail. Looking back, I should have listened to her worry and help her come up with a healthy plan for diet and exercise.

For every family, there are unique stressors that can negatively impact your child’s ability to overcome anxiety or depression. In your role as a parent, think about what areas of your child’s life, either external or internal, might be adding unnecessary stress. Consider how you can help your children alleviate these pressures.

Happiness Expectation

One of the more difficult cultural lies to debunk is that we are always supposed to be happy. For our kids, this happy expectation can quickly worm its way into their minds. Not only do they believe they must feel happy all the time, but they also believe they must experience an exciting adventure filled life, everyday!

In a world where they are constantly moving from one thing to the next, one goal seems to be boredom avoidance. Social media impacts our kids’ perception that life must always be happy and exciting. None of us wants to see our kids go through struggles yet those experiences will build resiliency and perseverance while strengthening problem solving skills and increasing empathy. There is hope.

Hardship and heartache are temporary experiences. Let them know, it’s OK to not be OK. Communicate that they are valuable, and their emotions can be important indicators of a problem to be solved. We can effectively guide our children toward cultivating hope despite the stress they might face.

Academic Performance

At any age, school can provide an overwhelming amount of stress. For those with younger kids, make sure that you are not overworking your children and creating unrealistic expectations for their intellectual development. Similarly, with older kids, focus on those major transitions. Such as: middle school to high school and high school to college. Do your best to shift focus away from strictly academic performance and toward personal development and relationships.

While grades are certainly important and worthy of attention, hyper-focus from a parent can unintentionally damage a child’s confidence and even increase anxiety or depression.

Take some time to reflect on your involvement with your child’s academic performance. Are there any areas where you can redirect your attention to encouragement, help, and positivity? Also, maintain consistent communication with your children’s teachers for added insight into any classroom situations.

Social Relationships

As our world continues its reliance upon the internet, we need to be aware of how we can support our kids in an online culture. With some kids, social media may be their only form of social interaction. Certain habits, like excessive screen time, can negatively impact our children.

Social media only provides glimpses into someone else’s reality. For our kids, this can lead to difficulty in filtering the difference between reality and fantasy. While they scroll edited pictures and posts, they likely only see only a slice of someone’s life or story. This has potential to be the catalyst for our kids to develop FOMO (the fear of missing out) or feelings of being “less than”.

As our children battle comparison, there is a chance they could move from those normal feelings of disappointment to depression or typical stress to anxiety. We can help our children fight the comparison battle. Talk with them about how and why people post things on social media. Discuss perception is not reality. Talk about how social media is used to project an image, yet that image is one dimensional. Ask them, “What image do you think this person is hoping to project?”

We can guide our kids to effectively navigate and discern the social media world. The simple reduction of time spent on social media typically has positive results. By having these conversations, we can guide our kids in ways to avoid detrimental comparison and maintain appropriate online boundaries.

Avoiding Hope Killers

Our words can speak hope and life. But they can also speak defeat and hopelessness. Whether you think they do or not, your kids listen to you. They carefully observe your responses to their questions, thoughts, and dreams. We have a choice, to build up, or tear down. Hope Killer statements can sounds like these:

  • “Your brother spends more times studying. If you did that too your grades could be as good as his.”
  • “Have you seen the way Jack is so polite and helpful to his mom? I wish you could be like that.
  • “Don’t worry about this so much. Just eat healthy and exercise, like your sister does.”

Avoid comparison statements like these. Instead, stir confidence in your children with affirming words. When your kids express feelings of sadness or worry—listen, reflect, and empathize. Acknowledge sadness or worry are normal human emotions. But be wise and remain alert for prolonged periods of deep grief or stress. This might be a sign of deeper issues like anxiety or depression.

Help your children dissect their personal expectations and fears. Ask key questions, “What are your goals or expectations? Are they challenging yet realistic?” “Is your fear likely to occur? Even if your fear comes to fruition, you can still_____.” This will provide you some insight into their heart and mind while giving your kids tools to evaluate their personal perspective. Point them toward God’s comforting truth: God is good, and the world is hard. But God is still good.

Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety and Depression

Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety and Depression

I admit, I am not perfect at helping my children overcome anxiety or depression. And that’s OK. You won’t be perfect either. But God can still use you and me to help our kids during troubled times. The Lord will provide opportunities for healthy relational interdependence and personal growth for families in the messy journeys of life. By applying some of these strategies listed below you will be able to be used by God to help your child overcome depression and anxiety.

Pay Attention

Be aware of how your child thinks and feels. Do your best to not brush off or disregard things they say or how they feel. Times of sadness and grief are normal. Extended periods of deep grief could be a red flag.

You are the expert on your children. Observe their behavior and mood swings to assess whether an emotion might be lingering longer than normal. Pay attention to any changes in routine or habits, look for patterns of withdrawal and isolation.

Ask Questions

Through my daughter’s struggle, I discovered two primary questions to help my children learn to overcome depression and anxiety.

The first question narrows the scope. Instead of asking your child: “How are you doing?” Add one extra word. Ask your child: “How are you doing today?”

The addition of the word today communicates you really want to know how they are plus the focus is fine tuned to their immediate or recent emotional state. The word today prevents getting the typical general response of, “Ok. Fine.”

If you feel concern that your child has fallen into depression, this next question is a critical yet scary one for parents to verbalize. Be brave, ask it, it could save your child’s life, “Have you considered taking your life?”

It is horrifying to say this out loud. Yet asking it opens the door for the hard conversation. Your child knows you can handle the answer and it shifts the responsibility for the conversation to the parent. Once asked, vulnerability, honesty, and problem solving can enter the dialogue. If the conversation does take a turn toward topics such as suicide or suicidal ideation, consider consulting professional help or additional resources, such as Alive to Thrive.

Focus on their Feelings

One of the keys to maintaining and building trust with your child is to focus on their feelings. When they begin to share or open up, ensure that they feel heard. Listen and ask questions before providing advice or guidance.

Keep the conversation focused on them and their present struggle. Avoid being a historian and bringing up negative things that occurred when they were younger. Like, “You always get so upset about being left out. I remember when you were….” Keep the conversation in the present tense.

Also, to remain in the present and child-focused, be wise with the use of empathy. While it is important to normalize and empathize, “I recall a time when I ….” this connection technique must be used with discretion and brevity. Focus on your children and their struggle.

Final Thoughts on Overcoming Anxiety and Depression

Our kids need to know they are loved, worthy, valued and created on purpose for a purpose. Their difficulty in overcoming anxiety or depression does not define them. Their worth is found, not in the struggle but in their identity as a child of God.

If you would like to talk to someone further about your child’s depression or anxiety, or need help finding a counselor in your area, Focus on the Family offers a one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective. You can reach a counselor at 1-855-771-HELP (4357).

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 2

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 2

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

As a spouse, you have three roles to play—a friend, a partner, and a lover. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Pastor Kevin A. Thompson explores those different roles and challenges you to live them out by investing emotionally, physically, and mentally in your relationship. As friends, he suggests we learn to play and laugh together. As partners, he equips us with solid ways to handle conflict and communication. As lovers, he offers some thoughts on how to bring back the sizzle. He shares five keys to saving your marriage: humility, respect, mercy, communication, and resilience. You’ll be encouraged to intentionally invest in your marriage.

Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

Kevin A. Thompson (MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is lead pastor at Community Bible Church, a growing multi-site church with four locations in western Arkansas. Every year he meets with nearly one hundred couples with a range of needs, from pre-marital counseling to navigating the most serious betrayals. A marriage and parenting conference speaker, he and his wife, Jenny, have two children and live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He blogs at kevinathompson.com.

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

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Cherishing Your Spouse Every Day

Do you love your spouse, or do you truly cherish them? Gary Thomas encourages couples to make a daily effort to go beyond the ‘duty’ of love, and combat the natural inclination to drift apart, by choosing to see the best in their spouse.

Mr. Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas is an international speaker and best-selling, award-winning author whose books include Married SexSacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting. He has also written numerous articles for several prominent national magazines. Gary and his wife, Lisa, reside in Texas and have three children. You can learn more about Gary by visiting his website, www.garythomas.com.

cherish front cover

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

“Most marriages survive by gritting teeth and holding on. But marriages can and will not only survive but thrive when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another.” Those are the powerful words of bestselling author Gary Thomas in his newest book–Cherish. And in a world desperate for marriage redemption, it is needed now more than ever. Thomas shows that although there are a countless number of marriages consisting of two people just going through the motions, there are real ways this pattern can be reversed: when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another in proven, loving, and everyday actions and words.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 1

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

How a Former Abortion Doctor Became Pro-Life

As an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood, Dr. Patti Giebink believed she was helping women. Later, she began reading scripture and God gradually changed her heart on the abortion issue. Patti tells the story of her long journey from abortion doctor to pro-life and encourages listeners to share the message of life with compassion.

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

Mrs. Patti Giebink

Dr. Patti Giebink is an OB-GYN who serves on the board of the Alpha Center, a well-known pregnancy center located in Sioux Falls, S.D. She also travels intermittently to work in mission hospitals in Pakistan and other countries. After completing her medical training, Dr. Giebink worked for Planned Parenthood from 1995-1997, during which she was the only abortion-provider in the state of South Dakota. She eventually experienced a radical change of heart on the issue of abortion after receiving God’s grace, forgiveness, and love, and she is now a passionate advocate for the pro-life movement.

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

Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life

Unexpected Choice is told from the perspective of a doctor who actually performed abortions through Planned Parenthood. The book chronicles her journey from being a pro-choice physician to someone speaking on behalf of the pro-life movement.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.