Category: Parenting

Q&A: Helping My Child with a Bad Attitude

Q: My son continually has a bad attitude. We would like to help him with it, what can we do?

Gary: Make sure your son feels loved. I know that you love him, the question is does your son feel loved? Sincerity is not enough. The deepest emotional need a child has is to feel loved by the parents. When that need is unmet children often experience anger, which shows up in their behavior. Dr. Ross Campbell and I wrote a book that has just been updated and released called The 5 Love Languages of ChildrenIt shares information on how to identify a child’s primary love language and how speaking this language interfaces with the child’s anger, learning, and with discipline. Many parents have shared that when they started speaking their child’s love language they saw a dramatic change in the child’s behavior.

Ways to Help Your Child with a Drug Problem

Alcohol and drug-related problems have become the downfall of many adolescents and young adults. Parents are frustrated and often do not know what to do. Here are three specific ways you can help if you suspect that your child has a drug problem. First, pray and ask God for wisdom. He can and will guide you in finding the help you need. Second, seek counsel from a qualified person on what steps you should take. Don’t try to solve the problem on your own. Third, practice “tough love”. Tough love means letting your child suffer the consequences of their drug and alcohol abuse. This is the fastest way for your child to become willing to go for treatment. Be kind, but firm in refusing to bail them out.

Internalized Anger in Young Adults

One of the most common problems for adolescents and young adults is passive- aggressive anger. This person has a subconscious motivation to do exactly the opposite of what one is supposed to do. Typically this behavior is designed to get back at a parent or other authority figure, at whom the individual is angry. The tragedy is that their behavior hurts them more than the other person. It is an immature way of handling anger. If your child’s behavior is illogical, rebellious, and self-destructive it may well be coming from internalized anger. The answer lies not in condemning their behavior, but in dealing with their anger. Someone must hear the pain and help the child find a better way to deal with anger.

Q&A: The Choice to Have Children

Q:  Are married people obligated to have children?

Gary: God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” In the Bible, children are viewed as a gift from God. However, I don’t think this means that every Christian couple is obligated to have children. If a couple decides not to have children, their reason for such a choice should clearly be understood and should not be rooted in selfishness. Some good reasons for not having children might include: physical and mental disabilities, poor relational skills, or ministry for Christ. Selfish reasons might be: the desire to travel, not willing to accept responsibility, or wanting to be free to follow personal interests. Make sure that your choice is based on a genuine desire to follow God’s plan for your life.

Depression in Young Adults

When Dr. Ross Campbell and I wrote our book: Parenting Your Adult Child, we discovered that depression is the most common hurdle faced by young adults. Symptoms include feelings of helplessness, despondency, and despair; problems with sleep (either too much or too little); problems with eating – too much or too little; and lack of energy. Depression in turn will affect the young adult’s performance in school or on the job. This may result in flunking out of college or being fired from a job. It is often at this point that the young adult turns to parents for help. May I encourage you, don’t try to help them alone. Insist that they see a counselor, medical doctor, or a pastor. Use the resources that are available to help your child succeed.

Escaping from Reality

As parents, we want our children to reach the point where they can function independently of us. It is the way life is designed – children are born to become adults. However, in contemporary culture it is not uncommon to see adult children who are not succeeding in life and want to return home. Is this a good idea? Perhaps! If you can help them find healing from their hurts; and rediscover their direction then time at home is good. However, if they move home simply as an escape from reality; if they are not open to your help, then you may enable them to live irresponsible lives. My suggestion is to have a family conference. Agree on a plan and hold each other accountable. This is responsible parenting.

Money Saving Techniques

Do you need more money? One of the best ways to have more money is to try what I call “free shopping.” Drive through affluent neighborhoods the night before the discards are to be collected. It’s amazing the things you find sitting beside a garbage can. The second approach is to let all your friends know that you are open to receiving hand-me-downs, especially children’s clothing and toys. The third approach is to inform your parents of specific toys that your children have requested. You know that they are going to give the children presents for their birthday, Christmas, and other occasions, so why not have them purchase things that the children really want? With these approaches you’ll have money for date nights and weekend get-aways with your spouse.

Nurturing Your Teenager

Teenagers are like tender plants that need to be nurtured. To nurture is ‘to feed’ the inner spirit. The opposite of nurture is abuse. Hostile, cutting, harsh words from parents kill the teenager’s spirit. Slapping, shoving, pushing, and beating will almost always produce a rebellious teenager. Nurturing parents are encouraging: looking for the positive things their teenagers do and say and commending them. I do not mean that you sit idly by and let them do things that will be destructive. The nurturing parent says, “What you did was wrong and you must suffer the consequences. But I want you to know that I believe in you. I don’t think that this behavior reflects the real you. I think you are a caring person. I love you and want to help you.”

Accepting Your Teen

In order to feel loved, teenagers need to feel accepted. The opposite of acceptance is
rejection. Research indicates that almost all violent teenagers feel rejected by their
parents. But how do you communicate acceptance, when you don’t like their behavior?
God is our model. We are “accepted in Christ,” even though God is not always pleased
with our behavior. The message we seek to communicate is “I love you because you are
my child. I don’t always like what you do, but I will never reject you. I will always be
here doing what I believe is best for you. I will love you even if you don’t follow my
advice, but because I love you, I must give you my advice. I love you no matter what.”

Connecting With Your Teen

We’ve heard a great deal about the importance of bonding between parent and infant. What we haven’t heard is that bonding is no less important for the teenager and his parents. Bonding requires time together spent in a positive atmosphere. The opposite of feeling connected is the feeling of abandonment. The teen who feels abandoned will have emotional struggles. Emotional connectedness requires communication. Where do you talk with your teenager? I’d like to suggest a radical thought. Have at least one meal a day with your family, and share what is happening in your lives. A second thought: Do something with your teenager at least once a week. Follow these suggestions and your teen will likely feel connected.

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