Parenting: Laying a Foundation for Relationship and Self-Acceptance


Laying the foundation your children need to develop and grow as God designed them to, isn’t something we always consider. In fact, often times I find myself sitting back and just being glad that my kids are doing what they “should” be doing or what they have been told to do. After all, why mess with something that isn’t broken, right? Well, unfortunately it isn’t that simple. Our children grow and develop, their brains change and shift, and their behaviour changes as they stretch grow in their independence. To weather these changes, they need a foundation of both security and acceptance. This foundation creates confidence to explore, assurance of salvation and an innate willingness to learn and not be afraid of hard question or difficult answers. My four children are drastically different from each other, and it’s easier for me to relate to some than with others. It takes more time and effort to be in relationship with those I don’t understand, and I need to make sure all of my kids know that I love them deeply,


In order to prevent misconceptions or feelings of preference from our kids, my wife and I have been intentionally asking each other a few key questions:



  1. Have we been criticizing our children’s shortcomings more than we have been noticing their unique gifts?
  • Melissa and I watch our children together. It’s quite natural to look at a child and notice their shortcomings but doing this doesn’t build confidence. They need to know they are perfectly and wonderfully made, just a they are; without this foundation, they will not be able to grow and explore who God has created them to be. So, instead of noticing the bad, we acknowledge and consciously highlight the positive traits in each of our children.
  1. Are we affirming what they do or who they are?
  • The overt things that they do are important to acknowledge and affirm BUT affirming actions alone creates a sense of value found in performance. The possible result is a belief system that says, unless they perform, they are not valuable; their identity becomes tied to their performance. We MUST be looking past the actions and noticing the character traits of our children, the things that are motivating them to do the things they are doing, even if those motivations aren’t always right. It’s an opportunity for us to affirm WHO our children are, and correct and guide their character through moments where their motivation may be wrong. Doing this is a key ingredient to building resilience in our kids, they need to know that it’s okay when things don’t go as planned, this isn’t failure because even their attempts build and express their character.
  1. Are we listening to the heart of our children?
  • The other day, my daughter asked if she could skip going to youth group that evening. Our tendency as parents is to give a quick answer based on our value set, we value community and spiritual development and have had a standard in our home that says our kids will commit to going to youth as an expression of that value. In this case however, I stopped myself from the quick “no” and instead tried to listen to her and hear the reason that she didn’t want to go to youth. It gave us an opportunity to talk about why we prioritize going to youth group and discuss whether or not those goals were being met. At 13 it is very helpful for her to begin to process and problem solve how to commit and meet those needs so that she isn’t just going out of obedience but is participating. Listening actually gave me a chance to equip and grow her toward self-motivated spiritual growth and discernment.



I have found these questions to be extremely important for both my relationship with my children as well as their acceptance of themselves.


God wants us to embrace the gifts and purposes He has for each of us, and our job as parents is to build our children’s foundation so they can live fully fulfilled in who they have been created to be. When I think of the body of Christ, I can’t be a hand if God has made me to be a foot, (1 Cor. 12:15-26) and as a foot if I see that my child is a hand, I may need to work harder to understand the value of the hand, I may have to learn new things so I can teach them about who they are more effectively. My prayer is that these questions might help guide you as you guide and affirm your children in who they are and who God has created them to be.


Originally written for and published for

4 Unexpected Ways to Put Children First: Hint- It’s All About Your Marriage

4 Unexpected Ways to Put Your Children First

Hint – Its all about your marriage

The second highest demographic for divorce is people who are married 25-30 years!


Does this shock you?


We have couples regularly telling us stories about how disconnected they are, how they don’t date anymore and in some cases describing finding their needs met in others, whether physical or emotional. They reminisce on the days when they were first together and when they were so in love, when family members and friends would be exclaiming to them “Don’t miss your 6 months anniversary!” as this was something that was so important to them back then, now an anniversary is something that’s not so special and unfortunately, most couple feels disconnected.


The most common reason for this disconnect is, you guessed it, children! We know kids change our marriages, but they shouldn’t destroy our marriage. Whilst children don’t destroy all marriages, they can definitely make it more difficult for couples to do anything together without having to include the children. This is where people can drift apart. Couples need to try and find time for themselves, otherwise they might be heading towards a divorce. This has been the case for some couples. They’ve felt so miserable in their marriage that they have filed for a divorce by using a divorce attorney los angeles area, if that’s where the couple is located. No couples get married with the intention to divorce a few years later, so it’s important to try and keep the spark alive for as long as you can.


With this being said, we a big advocates of marriage counseling and trying to overcome your differences. However, there are rare occasions where an individual in a relationship is abusive and while we think you can work hard to save your marriage, this is where we draw the line. If you have children then you may need to Google “who is the best child custody lawyer” in order to legally get them away from your partner. It’s always best to contact professionals over serious matters like this so you know your children will always be safe.


Often when we have kids it’s because we “want them” and maybe we believe they will make our lives and relationship complete somehow. This is ironic because too often one spouse will pour into the kids while the other pours into their career, and instead of completing our lives and relationship, the new normal “depletes” it. Leaving little left for each other.


Let me be fair, putting our kids first makes sense, especially in those early years when they are completely helpless? Even as they grow there is only so much they can do to care for themselves or financially support themselves for they are dependant on us on many different levels, and we have a responsibility to provide for their needs. Unfortunately, if we don’t take the time to balance our family life with our marriage, we will struggle to maintain an adequate connection and when the time comes for them to move out of the house, we are strangers living together.


We MUST give our kids what they really need, and it turns out what they need most is for us to have an incredible marriage and relationship with our spouse. Without it they will lack the foundation of security they need today AND in their future. Cracks they find in their foundation can rock even your adult children and potentially have a devastating effect on their lives and families. We want to give our children something worth modeling.


One way to keep our relationships strong is by learning how to identify and express our needs to our partners. Proceed with caution, however, because saying “This is what I need from you…”, can potentially lead to personal entitlement, defensiveness or misunderstanding. I like to phrase it in a softer way, perhaps something like, “I love you and I miss us. I want a deeper and more incredible relationship with you, I think __________ would help us get there. What do you think we can do differently?”


Rephrasing your language not only helps your partner better receive your message, but it also shifts your thinking from blaming, moving from “me” to “us”.

Remember that putting your spouse first IS putting your children first – and they will appreciate the model of family that you leave them with more than you can imagine.

Here are a few ideas for how to keep your marriage first:

  1. Date your spouse! Schedule regular date nights as often as possible.
  2. Know your own needs well enough to express them.
  3. Soften your language as you communicate your needs with each other, remembering you are on the same team.
  4. Choose to listen to and meet your spouse’s needs when they express them to you, this keeps your heart in a state of giving rather than taking.


My kids occasionally ask their mother, “Why are you and Dad going out on a date? You’re already married!” And her response is, “”Do you like how Mom and Dad love each other and are married? Then we need to keep dating.” And they quickly send us off to stabilize their foundation. May you enjoy building a firm foundation for your children as much as we do.


Thank God for Thorns

Macro detail of thornI can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people refer to their “thorn in the flesh.” Usually in reference to some kind of habitual sin or personal issue that they can’t seem to get past.

Paul is talking from the same vantage point, an issue that nags at him over and over again – something he can’t quite kick and that he wishes wasn’t there. (2 Cor. 12:6-10)

I feel the same way as Paul, I want the thorns that nag at me torn out. I don’t like the fact that I have things that I struggle to move past. But it occurred to me recently as I was praying and working through a thorn that maybe I should thank God for it.

Why? Continue reading