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Sweet Marital Moments That “Keep On” Giving

We all experience disagreements and arguments with our spouses. We probably even get irritated and agitated with them from time to time. Researchers in this study opened the door for such experiences by asking 154 middle-aged and older heterosexual married couples to have an intimate conversation about a “conflict in their relationship.” Can you imagine? “Have an argument about something you know you disagree about… and we’ll record you while you do.” Sounds like an invitation for trouble, doesn’t it? But researchers invited this trouble into the lab by asking couples to have this type of conversation in their presence every five years from 1989 to 2009. Trained coders observed all the videos to identify times the couple experienced moments of shared positive and negative emotions during the conflict conversation as well as positive synchrony. They witnessed these shared emotions and synchrony through nonverbal signs or unconscious “mirroring,” subtle facial expressions, head nods, smiles, leaning forward, tone of voice, body language, etc. The researchers also measured each person’s heart rate, recording times in which both partner’s heart rates slowed down or sped up simultaneously.

What did they discover? Couples who, even in conflict, shared positive moments of humor and affection and whose heart rates “beat as one” (speeding up or slowing down together) enjoyed better physical health over a 13-year period and were more likely to still be alive 30 years later. In other words, couples whose hearts literally “beat as one” and who could inject moments of humor and affection into their moments of conflict, lived longer, healthier lives. Isn’t that a wonderful gift to give your spouse?

This knowledge invites us to build a marital environment in which our hearts “beat as one” (aka—to become attuned) and an environment that will encourage mutual affection. You can do that by:

  1. Become a student of your spouse. Remain curious about your spouse, their world, and their thought life. Learn about your spouse’s day. Remain curious about their hopes and dreams as well as their worries and concerns. Enjoy conversations about their perspectives on the world around us. Learn something about your spouse every day.
  2. Sync your lives. Eat together. Go to bed together. Spend time each day talking together. Have a regular date night. Worship together. Sure, you will still have times you do things as an individual. But when you do things together you “sync your lives,” you get your hearts “beating as one.”
  3. Become your spouse’s number one fan. When I was in high school, I knew a woman who was our school’s number one fan. She knew the students and the teachers. She attended the school functions. And she only had good things to say about “her school” and “her kids.” Become your spouse’s number one fan. Learn all about them. Give voice to the things you admire about them. Have only good things to say about “your spouse” to other people. Praise them in public. Encourage them and thank them privately and in public. Let your spouse experience your adoration through your words and actions.
  4. Turn toward your spouse. When problems arise, turn toward your spouse for support and encouragement. And offer your spouse support and encouragement when difficulties arise in their lives. When times are good, turn toward your spouse to celebrate and enjoy.
  5. Dream together. Talk about your what would be your dream for 5-years, 10-years, even 15-years down the road. Start dreaming about your 25th or 30th anniversary when you get married…& don’t stop dreaming about it together. Talk about your dream vacation and plan how you might make it happen. Discuss your personal dreams and help one another achieve those dreams. Dream together and live toward your dreams.

These five ways you can create sweet marital moments that will help you and your spouse live a long, healthy life…and a happily married life. Once again, isn’t that a tremendous gift to give your spouse?

Caring for the Gift of Your Marriage

Your spouse and your marriage represent two of the most precious gifts you can ever receive. I know this is true for me. They are wonderful gifts. When we take care of these two gifts, they bring us a lifetime of joy. But, if we neglect or abuse these gifts, they result in a lifetime of pain. So how do we take care of these precious gifts? Many things come to mind, but here are a dozen things you can do every day to take care of these two gifts.

  1. Tell your spouse what you need. Your spouse is not a mind reader. Don’t expect them to read your mind and then get angry because they can’t do it. Politely, lovingly tell them what you need.
  2. Take your spouse’s sensitivities and vulnerabilities seriously. This means you becoming a student of your spouse. Learn about your spouse’s sensitivities. They often stem from life experiences. Do not make light of those sensitivities. Do not use them against your spouse. Instead, acknowledge them. Respect them. Treat your spouse with care, keeping their vulnerabilities and sensitivities in mind.
  3. Make it a habit to express adoration and admiration to your spouse every day. Say “I love you” every day. Look for opportunities to not only recognize traits you love about your spouse but to tell them what you love about them every day. Share physical affection—a hug, a kiss on the cheek, holding hands, a touch on the arm—with your spouse daily. Appreciate your spouse every day.
  4. Recognize and express gratitude to your spouse every day. Once again, look for opportunities to thank your spouse for the daily, multiple things they do for you, your family, and your home.
  5. Take responsibility for any mistakes you make. We all make mistakes. We say hurtful things. We forget to complete tasks. Take responsibility. Admit your mistake. Then “bear the fruit” of repentance. Your spouse will love you for it.
  6. Treat your spouse with respect and dignity in your words and actions. Speak with kindness. Engage in polite deeds toward your spouse. Serve your spouse.  
  7. Support and encourage your spouse’s dreams. Once again, this means becoming a student of your spouse to learn about their dreams and how you can support those dreams.
  8. Share emotions with your spouse. Weep with your spouse when they weep. Rejoice with your spouse when they rejoice. Take time to share in their emotions. And, have the courage to express your deep emotions to your spouse so they can share in your emotions as well. 
  9. Set boundaries to protect your marriage. Remain faithful. Do not let people, work, children, or even volunteering come between you and your spouse.
  10. Pursue peace. Strive to create a peaceful, relaxed home for your family.
  11. Encourage your spouse and build them up. Compliment your spouse. Acknowledge their strengths as well as those things they do in the home and community.
  12. Turn toward your spouse when problems arise. Turn toward your spouse for times of joy. Turn toward your spouse simply to connect in everyday life. Turn toward your partner and work as a team to navigate the complexities of life.  

Yes, marriage is a gift. Your spouse is a gift. Treat both with care and love. When you do, you will experience a lifetime of joy.

Parents Are Students…& Guess Who the Teacher Is?

I was talking with a father of a teen. He was struggling to establish a relationship with his daughter, so I asked him to tell me about her. He struggled to tell me her birthday, interests, likes, and dislikes. He tried to explain his difficulty learning and remembering this information. He seemed so uncomfortable that I changed the subject to sports. He sighed with relief as we discussed his favorite football players. He knew their weight, height, and age as well as their position, speed, college attended, completions, and other relevant stats.

As we talked, I had to ask, “How did you learn all this?”

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I guess it just like it. It’s important to me. I enjoy the games.”

“Hmmm. Isn’t your daughter just as likable, important, and enjoyable?”

The fact is, we learn about those things we value. We learn about the things we enjoy. And, we value and enjoy our children. Even more, our children need us to learn the details, the stats, of their lives. If we don’t learn their stats, they will feel lonely, unimportant, and uninteresting. They will feel as though we don’t value them and love them.  They will feel unloved. To put it another way, our children will feel loved as we learn and know the stats of their lives.

Guess who will teach you your children’s stats? That’s right. Your children will! They are the teachers and we are their students in learning the stats of their lives. So, become a good student by:

  1. Listening to the teacher. Listen closely as they talk about their lives. Listen to the stories that include their friends, their activities, their fears, their peers, their studies. Listen closely.
  2. Remembering the details. You may have to write some things down in a notebook to help you remember the constantly changing plays, players involved, and opponents. Call it your Children’s Stats notebook. Review the information now and again.
  3. Asking them about the details of their lives. Now that you know the stats of their lives, talk with your children about them. Ask them how that project for English is going. Ask about the argument they had with their friend. Ask them about things that interest them and how they are resolving various areas of discomfort. Then, as they answer, go back to #1 and start again. They will grow. The answers will evolve. The players, the plays, and the opponents will change. The goals will mature. With that in mind, go back to #1 and repeat: listen, remember, and ask.

At least two things will happen as you learn your children’s stats. One, your relationship with them will grow. They will feel loved by you and draw near to you. Two, you will enjoy your relationship with your children more. What’s not to love about that? Learn the stats.

Help Your Children Flourish

Parenting is like trying to balance a multi-dimensional see-saw. On one end of the see-saw sits discipline and structure. On the other end is warmth and affection. How we balance these two ingredients contributes to four possible types of parenting:

  • Neglectful parenting, which is low in both discipline and warmth,
  • Permissive parenting, which is high in warmth but low in discipline,
  • Authoritarian parenting, which is high in discipline but low in warmth, and
  • Authoritative parenting, which is high in both discipline and warmth.

The Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University published two studies in early 2019 that explored these parenting styles and their impact on flourishing later in life. Not surprisingly, parenting high in both warmth and discipline (authoritative parenting) proved most beneficial in promoting a flourishing life, even as a person matured into adulthood.  Somewhat surprising, permissive parenting—low in discipline but high in warmth—proved the second most beneficial parenting style for promoting a flourishing life. Falling to a distant third was authoritarian (low in warmth but high in discipline).  Of course, a neglectful style of parenting was least effective.

With further study, it appears that warmth (which authoritative and permissive parenting exhibit) is the most important aspect of parenting when it comes to helping our children flourish later in life. Specifically, parental warmth and affection was associated with the following benefits in later life:

  • A 46% reduction in depression
  • A 39% reduction in anxiety
  • A 68% reduction in eating disorders
  • Higher levels of emotional processing and expression
  • Lower levels of cigarette and marijuana use.

Providing warmth and affection to our children tops the list of important ingredients in parenting. When we provide an environment of warmth and affection to our children, they have a better chance of flourishing later in life. With that in mind, here are six simple ways to show your children warmth and affection…and promote their ability to flourish.

How to Avoid the “Failure to Launch” Syndrome

Parents love to see their preschooler exploring the world around them. We encourage our children to engage in exploration and play. Rightly so…such exploration helps them discover their interests and strengths during elementary school, their passion and identity during their teen years, and their vocation and independence in young adulthood. Exploring is crucial to healthy developmental in each age group. And, if you really think about it, it requires a great deal of courage for our children to explore the world and “become their own person.” Unfortunately, many parents unwittingly embezzle their children’s innate courage, robbing them of the grit and determination needed to develop healthy independence. Don’t embezzle your children’s innate courage, invest in it and nurture it with these four tips.

  1. Accept your children’s unique style of exploration. I have two daughters. One jumps into new activities and experiences. The other wades in slowly, first one toe and then another before her whole foot slips in. Then she slowly (sometimes painfully slowly) wades further in until she is fully immersed. (She takes after me, by the way.) Eventually, both daughters become fully immersed in an adventure, but they required different kinds of support and encouragement. One needed encouragement to “think before she leaps.” The other needed a hand, support, and even a gentle nudge at times. As young adults, they still have different styles and ways of approaching new experiences; but both of them have become independent and capable of courageous exploration. Accepting each child’s unique style of exploration and nurturing it in a complementary manner allows your child to explore courageously.
  2. Observe before removing obstacles. Our children will encounter obstacles, problems, and frustrations along the way. It is inevitable. Do not jump in to help too quickly. Step back for a moment and observe. Watch them to see how they respond to the obstacle. Give them the opportunity to solve the problem on their own. Watch a preschooler with a toy and you will see them try several actions with it before settling for the one that seems most appropriate. Let your elementary age children and your teens do the same with challenges that arise. Let them struggle with various attempts to solve the problem before you offer a suggestion. You might be pleasantly surprised at the creative solution they discover. (More on “stepping back” in Do Your Rob Your Teen of Victory?)
  3. Teach problem-solving. Of course, our children will not have the ability and knowledge to solve every problem that arises. So, when they come to you for help or you see them reach an impasse, teach them problem-solving. Teach problem solving rather than simply solving the problem for them. Ask questions about what they have done and why it did not work. Ask questions to prompt other ways of looking the problem and thus give rise to a potential solution. Help them look at the obstacle from various perspectives and points of view. Come up with three or four possible solutions and let them choose which one they will try first. Learning the process of problem-solving gives children the confidence they need to courageously explore the world around them.
  4. Acknowledge effort and reframe failures as learning. Children become more willing to explore when they know that effort produces success and failure is simply a step toward success. So, acknowledge and praise children’s effort. When they do make a mistake or fail, return to step three and teach problem-solving. Effort and problem-solving opens up a world of possibility and emboldens exploration. (Read Growing Your Child’s Mind for Success for more.)

These four tips can help increase our children’s courage to explore…and that can help us avoid the “failure to launch” syndrome as they mature. It will also give you the pleasure of watching your child explore the world with confidence and, in so doing, grow more independent and mature.

What We Can Learn About Parenting From FDR’s Mother

I recently started reading a biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), the 32nd president of the United States. (If you’re interested, I’m reading FDR by Jean Edward Smith.) Self-assured and optimistic in the midst of hardship, FDR “rescued the nation from economic collapse” and “led the nation to victory” in WWII.  Elected for four terms, FDR “proved to be the most gifted American statesman of the 20th century.”  The author of this biography made several very interesting observations about how FDR was parented. Perhaps we could learn some lessons from FDR’s parents for our own generation. After all, we could definitely use a more men and women of character in the world today.  So, here are two lessons we might learn from FDR’s mother. (Read What We Can Learn About Parenting from FDR’s Father to learn two more parenting tips.)

Writing of FDR’s mother (Sara), the author noted that “families as wealthy as the Roosevelts usually entrusted newborn babies to the care of experienced nurses and old family retainers. Not Sara. As soon as she recovered from childbirth, she insisted on doing everything herself: ‘Every mother ought to learn to care for her own baby, whether she can afford to delegate the task to someone or not.’ And although a wet nurse was available, Sara nursed Franklin…” herself.

  • Parents learn to care for their own children through sensitive observation. Every parent becomes a student of their child through everyday interactions and careful observations made during daily childcare. This creates intimacy in the parent/child relationship that will enhance your child’s desire to please, obey, and follow in your values. It also builds security in the child, making them feel significant and important.

“Sara (FDR’s mother) was determined to keep her son from being spoiled by too much attention yet at the same time wanted to show her affection. ‘We never subjected the boy to a lot of don’ts,’ she wrote. ‘While certain rules established for his well-being had to be rigidly observed, we were never strict merely for the sake of being strict.'”  Later the author noted, “America’s confidence in FDR depended on Roosevelt’s incredible confidence in himself, and that traced in large measure to the comfort and security of his childhood. As his daughter put it, ‘Granny (Sara) was a martinet, but she gave father the assurance he needed to prevail over adversity. Seldom has a young child been more constantly attended and incessantly approved by his mother.'”

  • Did you notice the balance between structure and relationship? FDR’s mother was described as a “martinet,” a strict disciplinarian. She “rigidly observed certain rules for his well-being.” But, she was not strict merely for the sake of strictness. On the contrary, she offered unwavering “approval and constantly attended” to his needs. She pursued a relationship with FDR based on her careful observations of his needs but was not afraid to enforce the rules for his own well-being. Structure and relationship—the two pillars of strong parenting and secure children. Our children would benefit from a more careful and thoughtful balance between firm structure and deep relationship today.

Our country benefited from FDR’s confidence and assurance. The author of FDR seems to believe much of FDR’s confidence and assurance came from his childhood and the parenting he received. Our children, and our communities, would benefit from parents taking the lessons of Sara’s parenting. Our children will mature confident and self-assured as we implement the same three principles describe in FDR’s mother:

  • Become students of our children through careful observation.
  • Establish firm structures in our children’s lives.
  • And, pursue a deep relationship with our children based on approval and attention.

Love Your Teen’s Risky Behavior

Teens love the thrill of taking risks. They seek out experiences that will stimulate their senses, emotions, and thinking in new and challenging ways. Daniel Siegel describes this novelty seeking as part of the adolescent’s E.S.S.E.N.C.E. (read The Essence of Silhouette of hiking man jumping over the mountains at sunsetAdolescence for more information). Like our teens’ Emotional Spark (read more about the Emotional Spark of Your Adolescent’s ESSENCE), their Novelty (N) seeking stems from brain changes that produce an increased drive for reward. Novelty seeking plays an important role in teen development. It helps them try out emerging abilities. It prompts them to leave the familiar comforts of home and venture into an unknown world. Their Emotional Spark contributes to seeking Novel experiences with passion and gusto, enabling our teens to seek out and establish their identity in the adult world outside their childhood home. As beneficial as this is, it does carry risk, some healthy and some dangerous. At least four actions can help parents work with their teens’ desire for Novelty and adventure while buffering the potential dangers.

  1. Get to know your teens. Become a student of their interests, ideas, activities, friends… their life. I know you have known them all their lives, but they are changing. You see their bodies changing. Now get to know how their inner world is changing as well—their thoughts and emotions, ideas and values. Learn about their insecurities and fears. Explore their interests and ideas. Listen to their emerging dreams and their developing sense of self. You will find it exciting to learn about your developing teen.
  2. As you learn about your teens, provide adventures based on their interests and values. Create opportunities of healthy risk for your teen. These can include anything from BMX riding, mission trips, hunting, rock climbing, or video production. The possibilities are as limitless as your teens’ potential interests. The important thing is to shape the adventure around your teens’ interests.
  3. Communicate with your teen. When you communicate with your teen listen more than you talk. Show genuine curiosity in what they have to say rather than lecture, advise, or direct. Listen attentively. Show genuine interest in what they think. Be curious enough to understand them deeply.

To accomplish the three steps above, you need to spend time with your teen…as much time as you can. Find creative ways to spend time with your teen. Make the most of every opportunity to interact with them, whether while driving them to and from activities or hiking the Appalachians. The time you invest will yield great dividends of enjoyable conversation and intimate relationship.

Your teens’ desire for novelty can provide wonderful opportunities for you to connect with your teen. It may also spark new life into your middle aged lifestyle. Why not enjoy the benefits of your teens’ E.S.S.E.N.C.E for your sake and theirs?

Enjoy Parenting (or not) With These 9 Tips

Do you enjoy parenting? I do…most of the time anyway. There are times I’d like to throw in the towel; but overall, I really enjoy parenting. My kids are in the process of “leaving the nest” and I’m going to miss having them at home to parent. As they prepare to leave, I have thought about what I have enjoyed about parenting. I realize I’ve experienced some “joy robbers” and some “joy starters” when it comes to parenting. Sometimes I even allowed the “joy robbers” to take over. I’d like to share these “joy robbers” and “joy starters” with you so you can enjoy parenting “to the max” and avoid the mistakes I’ve made along the way.

Cute Teenage Girl with Serious ExpressionFirst, the Joy Robbers:

  • Overscheduling. When you overschedule your children they get tired. You get grumpy. Everyone gets a shorter fuse. Overscheduling makes everyone in the family feel like they are constantly on the run and constantly under pressure. Slow down. Schedule in some down time. Overscheduling is a joy robber.
  • Expecting perfection. If you expect perfection from your children you will experience disappointment and frustration. They are children…and children are not perfect. What’s more, you are a parent…and parents are not perfect. We all make mistakes. We all fall short. Rather than expecting perfection, encourage everyone to do their best and accept one another in spite of shortcomings. Expecting perfection will rob you of joy.
  • Living through your children. We cannot expect our children to live out our unfulfilled dreams. They may not be interested in becoming the star quarterback we dreamed of becoming…or the lead in the musical…or the straight “A” student…or the artist…or the popular jock…you get the idea. Asking them to do so (even subtly) will only lead to frustration. Let your children live their own dream based on their own interests and strengths. Get a life of your own. Living through your children is a definite joy robber.
  • Focusing on frustrating moments. Life is filled with frustrations, irritations, and hassles. However, life is also filled with moments of fun, joy, and amazing connections. Joy robbers focus on the frustrations, irritations, and hassles. Count your blessings. Make it a point to “shout out” gratitude. Focusing on the frustrating moments will do nothing for your joy.
  • All work and no play. Parents and children need time to play. Sure we need to get some work done; but maybe we can build play into the work. Sometimes we can even set the work aside for a time and enjoy one another’s company while we play. Go ahead and play because all work and no play is a joy robber!

Joy Starters:

  • Spend time with your children. Joyful parents discover the most intimate and joyous times with children come during the most mundane and unexpected moments like driving to the grocery store, getting ready for bed, playing catch, or cooking dinner. You miss joyful moments when time together is rare. Time spent with children is the first joy starter.
  • Family in autumn parkTune in to your children. Become a student of your children. Learn about their interests, strengths, weak areas, and fears. Take time to meet their friends and teachers. Be accepting of what they dislike about you and the rules they disagree with. The more you tune into your children, the more joy you will discover as a parent.
  • Appreciate the little pleasures. Make it a point to express gratitude to your children every day. Appreciate the little things they do around the house, even if miniscule. Give a “shout out” of gratitude for the times you spend together, the talks you have, or the activities you enjoy. Thank them for spontaneously doing a chore or following through on something you had to ask them to do. Focus on those things you appreciate rather than the hassles. There are plenty of both; but your joy will grow as you focus on gratitude.
  • Play. Make time to play with your children. Play builds intimacy. Play empowers us to resolve conflict. Play is fun! You can play board games, catch, music, or just joke around. Make it a point to play with your children—it’s a great relationship builder and joy starter!

Motivation & Focus in Children

Did you see the article in Time magazine (7/23/15) entitled “In Praise of the Ordinary Child”? The author (Jeffrey Kluger) made several excellent observations. I would like to share two of his quotes along with a few comments.

  1. young photographer“There’s a difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation;” and, I would add, parents need to learn the difference. As parents we need to become students of our children. As students, we learn what interests our children, what they get excited about and what “turns them on.” We discover passions dwelling within their hearts and minds. In other words, we uncover what they find intrinsically motivating. With that knowledge, we help them find ways to satisfy their passion. Their passion might vary from music in one child to carpentry in another…or babysitting, cleaning, law, or any number of other interests. In some children, their passion may change weekly (or daily), making it hard for a parent to keep up. Still, parents help their children find and pursue interests that arise from within. Too often parents cross the line from encouraging intrinsically motivating activities to extrinsically motivating children to pursue some activity. We push our children to pursue the activity we see them perform well whether they find it interesting or not. Or, we strongly encourage them to pursue an activity related to our interests like sports, reading, or music. Many children will initially comply with our interests simply to please us (their parents). However, they day will come when they rebel against us and pursue something more intrinsically motivating to them.


  1. “We force kids to focus prematurely.” As soon as children exhibit a glimmer of talent in some area, many parents swoop in and compel they focus on that talent with all their time and effort. Unfortunately, focusing too early kills interest and joy. Eventually, children “forced to focus prematurely” will burn out, lose interest, and quit. Talent, on the other hand, blossoms under the guise of play. Our children benefit when we allow them the opportunity to explore and pursue talents and interests in a playful leisurely manner, slowly developing a greater focus as their interests grow stronger. Rather than push your children to focus prematurely, allow them to develop a focus over time at their own pace. You will likely find yourself pleasantly surprised at their growing interest and talent.

Cut the Puppet Strings

Children are not our puppets. We cannot control them. (Learn more in Children Are Not Our Puppets.) In fact, if we hold our children on puppet strings, we do them a disservice. We interfere with their healthy self-image, intimate relationships, and ability to assertively take a stand for what they believe. What can you do as a parent to cut the puppet strings and let go? What can you do to keep your children safe while not controlling them? These five actions can help you let go of over-control while encouraging your children to mature.

  1. grandfather and granddaughter with computer at homeGet curious. Encourage conversation with your children. Learn about their interests and opinions by asking open-ended questions. Learn about their friends, their dreams, their fears, their hobbies. Our children are fascinating! Get curious and learn about them by talking with them often.
  2. Get your own life. Don’t live your life through your children. Don’t encourage your children to fulfill your dreams. Get your own life and let your children have their life. That will mean allowing them to become involved in activities without you. It will mean allowing them to meet other adults they can look up to and go to for advice. Let your children have their own life may mean allowing them to have no interest at all in something you find exciting. Let your children have a life that is separate from your life.
  3. Be consistent and flexible. Children need us to be consistent in our love for them and our expectations of them. They need to know the rules and the consequences of breaking those rules. As they grow, they benefit from knowing the reasoning behind the rules as well. Our children also need us to be flexible. They need to have the opportunity to talk about the rules and give their explanation for why they believe an exception or a change is called for as they mature. They need to know we will listen and consider their opinion. They need to know we are willing to make changes in the rules or expectations when they make sense and show maturity. We grow as they grow. The rules changes as we all mature.
  4. Accept their choices. Children and adolescents need to make choices. Let them make age appropriate choices. You may not let your preschooler choose where to go for vacation, but let them choose between two outfits to wear for the day. As your children grow, let them have more choice and responsibility. They might make choices you disagree with. Sometimes these choices are merely opinion, like whether to wear a pullover shirt or a button up shirt. Other times their choices will just be wrong. When these wrong choices are not dangerous or life threatening, accept them. They will suffer the consequences. Let them. We learn when we make wrong choices and experience the results.
  5. Lean in. No matter what your children do, lean in to your relationship with them. Our children really need to know we want a relationship with them when they do suffer consequences for bad choices. They need to know our love is unconditional. When they do something that makes you proud, lean in to the relationship. When they make a mistake or fail, lean in to the relationship. When they disobey and you have to discipline them, lean in to the relationship. For love covers a multitude of sins.


These five practices can help you cut the puppet strings and train your children to become real boys and girls. No, they will become even more than that. They will become mature and responsible young men and women.

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