Focus on Progress Rather than the Destination!

Over 1,000 families signed up for our Influential Parenting Academy in just over four weeks. As a result I have been receiving more phone calls from parents related to their kids. Many of these calls come from parents who have finished the class and are about to begin the implementation process or have taken the first few steps of the implementation process. Read More →

Parenting with Love (pt 1)

A rare voice from Heaven

Only twice in the New Testament does God the Father speak audibly to mankind; once at the baptism of Jesus and secondly on a mountain when Jesus was revealed in glory to Peter, James and John. All of the first 3 gospels record the events. Not to be disrespectful in any way, but I can’t help but picture the Father up there looking down, placing his thumbs behind His lapels, puffing out His chest and saying, “Datsa my Boy!” (I think that’s in an Italian translation!). And in each case he calls Jesus “my beloved son”. How do you think Jesus felt on hearing that? And could there be a more joyful, affirming sound to a son or daughter than hearing his or her father bragging about his love for them?

In this series we will delve into the most important topic, Love. When we are feeling loved we feel special, content and happy. When we are feeling rejected, we feel hurt, angry and withdrawn. Keeping a sense of love alive between family members is challenging given our pace of life. Activities and commitments pull us apart and create pressure on both parents and kids. Read More →

Essential T’s of Family Connection: Transparency (pt 5)

The Vital Nature of Transparency

The family that came for Revive’s family camp could not have anticipated the change that would begin with just one week of time, fun and transparency.  The importance of transparency cannot be overstated when it comes to family connection and togetherness.

Transparency is a delicate topic and can strike fear into the hearts of adults. Yet it is vital and must be encouraged, guarded and protected within our homes.  For me becoming transparent required pursuing healing in my own heart because prior to this there were just too many sensitive spots that led to pain that people could trigger in me without meaning anything. I had a strong sense that I needed to protect myself, which of course meant I could share little or nothing about my real life, thoughts or feelings. Unfortunately this is the position I find far too many kids in today with their parents and siblings.

Sometimes I find kids sharing small things that are bothering them just to keep their parents at arms length from their true feelings about their family, life, beliefs and decisions.  When kids are unwilling to share their real thoughts, ideas and feelings the sense of being a close family is lost.

If we desire to raise emotionally aware kids, we need to foster transparency on an emotional level.  Kids need to learn to decipher and share their feelings in healthy and constructive ways. This leads to better communication, less conflict and defensiveness as they grow older.  The development of these skills is not possible when parents minimize or dismiss their feelings as opposed to helping them decipher, understand, and share those feelings. Some may fear that this will lead to their feelings ruling them and the house but I have not found that to be true.

When I coach families I find that suppressed hurts and negative feelings about themselves carried deep within are ruling them in unconscious ways.  One father I coached who opened his heart to this reality said to me, I cannot believe all I was missing and how much the pain from my past was impacting my thoughts, reactions, and perspective of my family. Did it mean he had to turn and face painful things within? Yes. Yet, it brought new meaning, purpose and joy to his life and that of his family.

Emotional transparency is vital in raising kids.

When they understand us they remain connected and their inherent desire to please us remains intact. When this is the case kids make better decisions in every area of their life.  When the desire to please wanes or is squashed the opposite is a virtual certainty.

We need to be open with our feelings in order to encourage our kids to do the same.  While focusing on behavior leads to defensiveness and conflict, sharing, listening and helping our kids share the feelings underneath their frustration, hurt or anger is essential.  This leads to emotionally aware, discerning and wise children that are not ruled by hidden emotions from within.

Our ability to ask questions and help them discern the different emotions they are experiencing will enable them to process and express them in healthy constructive ways rather than bottling them and erupting. When this type of communication happens within a family it leads to deeper understanding of one another, better relationships and a family unit that anchors our kids in a fast paced, painful world.  As the anchor in our kids’ lives Deedee and I have found that they choose to avoid the things we fear because they do not fear us or need to fill the void of not feeling loved and accepted by their parents with other things.

This type of transparency is powerful.

In my coaching of both marriages and families I see it constantly.  People come frustrated, hurt and interact on a surface level when the focus is on behavior, facts and outcomes. As we attempt to address their issues with one another this focus leads to debates because their perspectives are different and they are triggered and hurt by different things. As I help them discern the feelings underneath their frustration, hurt or anger and share those feelings with each other both parties begin to understand each other often for the first time.   This helps them understand the breakdown and often see for the first time their part in causing it, bringing about resolution and emotional re-connection.

I find many adults like myself have a hard time understanding the feelings we encounter within because our families did not communicate on an emotional level and may have dismissed or minimized our feelings as irrelevant.  In coaching I often help parents discern, identify and share their deeper feelings with each other and their kids, dramatically changing the family dynamic as they come to understand each other and why they have been frustrated, defensive or hurt.

To foster emotional transparency we need to rethink many of the long held paradigms of parent child interaction and relationships.  One of the crystallizing moments for the family at family camp came when the daughter who was the best behaved and most compliant child shared with her mom how her mom’s reactions impacted her.  She shared how she felt when her mom got upset and frustrated when she accidently spilled her milk and how it made her feel like she had to be perfect. Mistakes were not allowed and she was frustrated and hurt her because no matter how hard she tried, she was never good enough.

The mom later shared with me that she cannot figure out now why she believed coming down on her daughter for mistakes was good parenting and why she did not see that her daughter was feeling badly about her mistake and needed a hug.  She now knows that this shut down her daughter’s emotional transparency and helped lead to her bottling so much frustration and hurt inside.

Emotional transparency by all parties allows us to understand each other, stay connected and to resolve miscommunication and issues without the battle of who said what and what happened.

Transparency in God’s Family

Two aspects of our participation in the family of God come to mind. First is transparency with respect to God and, second, transparency within our physical and spiritual family.

Our heavenly Father knows us inside and out from the start. While humbling, I am thankful for how the psalmist puts it in Psalm 103:13,14. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear (revere) him. For he knows our frame (our frailty); he remembers that we are dust.” While this reveals a tenderness toward us as his children he still expects us to be transparent with him. Paul writes in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The word used for confess means “to say the same thing”. In other words, to agree and admit that we fell short of his standard. But in that confession there is forgiveness and cleansing, or full restoration of the relationship. This works in a family as we come to agreement of wrongs done to one another.

In our relationship as family members and members of God’s family were instructed by Paul in James 5:16 to “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” When we agree with one another on a wrong done and, in humility, bring each other to God in prayer, relational healing is a result.

In conclusion, remember the 5 Ts of Family Connection:

  • Togetherness – the Goal we strive for
  • Trust – the Ground we build on
  • Talk – The Gateway to healthy interaction
  • Time – the requirement for Growth in our relationships
  • Transparency – the element that renders that relationship Genuine

If you’re looking for help developing an emotionally transparent home, begin by experiencing our free online Influential Parenting Academy and consider Revive’s family camp.

Essential T’s of Family Connection: Time (pt 4)

When Stephen Covey wrote his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” his second habit was “Begin with the End in View.” That applies to the first blog post in this 5-part series, being Together, or Togetherness. If our GOAL is togetherness we need to visualise more than simply physical proximity, which we can accomplish silently while driving to the store together in the car. Emotional closeness, mutual respect and support, openness to reason together; these and more contribute to a deeper and more broad togetherness experience.

But that type of togetherness must be established on the second T we described: Trust. Trust is the GROUNDWORK that allows us to strive towards greater togetherness in the first place. Without trust family members will hold each other “at arm’s length”, hesitant to really engage on any meaningful level, not wanting to expose themselves to something that might be misunderstood or devalued. Once there is a commitment to trust, and that can be a decision as well as an emotion, we can move towards togetherness.

Even when there is a goal of togetherness and a commitment to trust there must be a GATEWAY to reach the destination, and that we dealt with in part 3: Talk. Community begins  with communication in a healthy way, with a sense of safety, open minds and hearts, respect and positive interaction. Read More →

Essential T’s of Family Connection: Talk (pt 3)

One of the three pillars that lead from Trust to Togetherness:

One of the keys for family connection that builds a sense of togetherness is TALK, simple on its face, but complex in its execution. Our challenge as parents and grandparents is establishing a culture of communication that builds and encourages open communication and togetherness.  We desire to be together but pools of pain within, unsolved issues, and poor communication habits can rob us of what we truly desire. Read More →

Essential T’s of Family Connection: Trust (Pt 2)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart…“.  So begins Proverbs 3:5. And over a hundred times the Bible talks about trusting God. “Sure” you say, “God presents Himself, and is presented as totally trustworthy. He does not lie and is holy and without flaw. Trustworthiness flows out of His perfect character. So that means I can, and should, trust Him.”

But:

Trust is a tricky topic Read More →

Essential T’s of Family Connection (pt 1)

In the Book of Deuteronomy in the Bible God tells Moses “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut. 6:5-7

Clearly God shares the importance of His instruction, but this exhortation also pictures a family where conversation and closeness occur. In verses 20 and 21 God says, “When your son asks you in time to come, What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you? Then you shall say …” Equally clear, then, is that curious questioning and trusted instruction are involved. Implied in these verses is that the family is to be a place where relationship is of utmost importance, both with God and with one another. Read More →

Healing Our Hearts: From Hurt to Healing to Health (pt 5)

Prior to my journey of heart healing I had intellectually forgiven the sources of the stuffed issues and pain within me.  Yet without having turned and dealt with the harm within, it was not a full forgiveness. As the negative beliefs I had adopted came to the forefront and the sources of those beliefs were identified, it was clear that my forgiveness was incomplete.

I had to truly begin to heal within before I could truly forgive in such a manner that I did not seek to guard and protect myself from those I had intellectually forgiven.  Read More →

Given that our culture is not a culture of grieving it seems only natural that we would learn to stuff our feelings only to reach a point where our hearts shut down because of unresolved issues with our parents, others or things outside our control which lead to the amount of pain we carry inside. Read More →

Healing Our Hearts: That Difficult Look Inside (pt 3)

Growing up you may have kept a treasure box; a box where special things were kept: a shell from that beach vacation, a ticket stub from the first ball game your dad took you to, a picture of your best childhood friend? In short, any number of things that brought back happy memories. On the other hand, you may have a box of another kind, immaterial but just as real, acknowledged or suppressed, and often unconscious; a box deep in your heart that is opened just to put things into, then tightly sealed again. That is the more important box, the one where deep hurts, disappointments and negative beliefs are kept. Read More →

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