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Be a Wise Chicken

my kids chicken

What does parenting have to do with chickens? I’m glad you asked! Let me begin with a story about my chickens. When we first got our chickens we had them in an area enclosed by a 4 foot fence. It didn’t take long before the chickens figured out that they could get over the fence. What did they do when they got out? They crossed the road! So I raised the fence and they couldn’t get over it. However, it didn’t take long before they found a gap under one area of the fence and, you guessed it, they got out and crossed the road. I was left pondering a very real question about why the chickens crossed the road. It seemed as though they had a singular focus of getting to the other side and nothing else mattered.

As I pondered this, I began to think about how much we tend to be like that as people and as parents. We often put the blinders on and pursue our goal without really thinking it through. Parents often get so focused on traditional approaches, such as rewards and consequences, that they don’t stop to ask if they are working. When we do this, we react and often get run over by the stress of parenting; we get stuck in unwanted battles and end up with chaos. If you are a parent to a hurting child, this is even more important as it is so easy to fall into that chaos. Or, alternatively, we don’t pursue our goals because of fear of what we cannot see. We shut down and just let the chaos control us or believe that it is just going to be this way. It breaks my heart when I hear a parent of a hurting child just counting down the years and months until the child turns 18. While I understand and empathize with this feeling, there is a better way!

 

A wise chicken keeps his goal, the other side of the road, in focus but broadens his view to consider other valuable information such as whether a car is coming. He acts wisely. As a parent to a hurting child, are you setting goals and working towards them wisely? Are you considering the hurt your kids have gone through and the specialized parenting techniques needed to repair those wounds? Do you have a vision for your family that includes having peace and joy in your home? Or have you given up on that?

 He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20

Parenting hurting kids is full of stress. Often we see stress as the enemy, but stress is good if it is kept under control. It helps us know that we need to act in some way, keeps us sharp and builds our resources for not just coping with life, but living the extraordinary and victorious life God calls us to. When we are stressed, we will proceed down one of two paths, the path of the wise chicken or the path of the unwise chicken. These two paths are rooted in one of two primary emotional states, love/security or fear/insecurity. If I can stay on the wise path, I will act in love and security. I don’t act hastily but I do act. I think things through and seek wise counsel. If I stay on this path I will find success and possibilities will unfold before my eyes. This is the green path on the diagram below. If however, I chose the path of the unwise chicken, I will react either by proceeding without considering the potential problems that will run me over, or I stand paralyzed. Both options are motivated by fear and insecurity. This WILL end in some failure in life and will bog me down with limitations and problems. This is the red path on the diagram below.

my kids stress diagram wisdom, wise,

In the My Kids Therapeutic Parenting Community we specialize in helping parents be wise chicken. We help you learn specific therapeutic parenting techniques and mindsets that will help you not only manage your internal stress but also help you connect with your children in a way that gives them the best opportunity to heal. We would love to come along side you and help you be a wise chicken…are you ready to THRIVE as a parent and have PEACE in your family?

 

To get there you have to begin the journey, let’s get started!

 

By Stephen Luther

Executive Director of Grace Wellness Center

Licensed Professional Counselor and Therapeutic Parent Coach

www.MyKidsCommunity.com

My Kid’s Therapeutic Parenting on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/MyKidsTherapeuticParenting/

Parents, Let’s Talk About Consequences

my kids are kids

What is your primary goal as a parent? To give consequences, right? Sound absurd; well it is. But unfortunately that is the unspoken goal of many parents. I know this because as a parent coach when I challenge a parent on the consequences they are giving I get very interesting and often defiant responses. Perhaps the parents need a consequence for their defiance 😉. Wouldn’t that shock them if I immediately put them in time out? I get responses like “But I can’t let them get away with it” or “but I have to give a consequence” or “where does parenting come in then?’

Ok let’s look at this. Write down all the consequences you use that work. What do I mean by work? If it works you won’t have to do it anymore. Not that it stops the behavior in that moment. I’m talking about real change; you do the consequence, you child is changed and you don’t have to do it again. Ok, how many do you have on that list? Maybe there are one or two but I bet you don’t have many. You see, our goal isn’t consequences and really isn’t changed behavior. Our goal is a changed heart. How do we change a person’s heart? We connect with them! You need to connect with your child. Any consequences we give are secondary and honestly only have value if you have a very good connection with your child. It is one tool but not the only tool. What if you could change my child’s heart without a consequence? Would that be ok?

Therapeutic parent coaching and the My Kids Program is about connecting with your child. This can be difficult if your child is damaged or if your relationship with them has slowly broken down over the years. This is even more difficult for foster and adopted kids because they are damaged at the very core of who they are and are incapable, without repair work, of connecting with you. So whatever your situation, if things aren’t working, most likely consequences are only making things worse and validating your child’s belief that you are the enemy. The My Kids Program and Community helps you repair the damage and bring the joy back to your relationship with your children.

Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy your kids again? Let us help. Check us out at: www.MyKidsCommunity.com.

 

To get there you have to begin the journey, let’s get started!

By Stephen Luther

Executive Director of Grace Wellness Center

My Kid’s Therapeutic Parenting page on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/MyKidsTherapeuticParenting/

Parenting Through The Hurricane

my kids hurricane

Chaos, confusion, tiredness, anger, resentment…these feelings and others make up the hurricane many of us experience as parents. Is there something wrong with my kid(s)? Am I a failure? Is this just something I have to endure? Why doesn’t anything work? These are the questions, among others, that we ask when we are in the hurricane.

How do I know about this hurricane? I know it because I have lived it! In fact, I have lived it many times. As the parent of 11 children, many of whom were badly hurt before they came to us as foster kids, I feel like I have seen it all. When my wife and I faced those early hurricanes we scrambled to find the calm in the eye of the storm but we learned that this wasn’t going to work long term. We learned strategies from some of the best in the field of working with hurt and difficult kids and I have put those techniques together into the My Kids program at Grace Wellness Center.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let talk about this hurricane before I tell you more about the My Kids Program. The hurricane is the chaos that hurt and difficult kids bring into our lives. It causes most of us to react in one of two ways. Either we fight with our kids or we throw our hands up and give in. Neither is a good option and actually, neither is necessary. While, this fight or flight response does helps us survive the moment it is also what sends us scrambling for the eye of the hurricane. The eye of the hurricane is that place where we haven’t really worked through anything but we have peace for the moment. The problem is we will just find ourselves back in the hurricane. There really is no other option, it is all around us if we haven’t worked through it and resolved it. These patterns are reinforced by the immediate relief they sometimes bring but they don’t get us anywhere.

The only way out is through the hurricane. We have to actually deal with the problems and the ineffective patterns. Getting through the hurricane means you get to the point where the same things aren’t happening anymore and you don’t have to live in fear that they will reemerge any moment. If you already know how to do this, then this isn’t for you. However, most people don’t know how to get through the hurricane because it involves doing things differently and practicing therapeutic or reparative parenting. The My Kids program helps you learn therapeutic parenting and is based on solid techniques developed from an in depth understanding of how your child’s brain is functioning. You will learn tools to work with instead of against what is going on inside your child.

So you are on this journey called parenting. Your kids are going to grow up, you can’t change that. However, you can have an impact on how they turn out and what that journey is like for you. I would love to meet you where you are on your parenting journey and help you and your family live the life God has called you to and finally get out of the hurricane.

Are you looking for ways to start wading through the hurricane? Check out our 4 Free Preview Lessons of the My Kids program: https://mykidscommunity.com/

Because they are My Kids!

my kids community feet

“My Kids” Therapeutic Parent Coaching Program and Community

So I was sitting there looking at this woman trying to figure out what to say to such an absurd question…then it hit me, it wasn’t an absurd question to her and probably wasn’t to most of the people she had asked it to previously. We were in the process of adopting two of our kids who had been with us as foster children for almost two years and this woman was asking questions for our home study to see if we could adopt these children. The question she asked was why do you want to adopt “these kids?” After staring at her confused for a few seconds thinking “well which ones do you think I would want to adopt” I simply replied “because they are the ones they gave us.” Now SHE looked confused. She said “yeah but what about them makes you want to adopt them.” Ah, yes, there it is. She was looking for something conditional about these kids that makes me want to adopt them. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, kids change! If I want to adopt them because I like certain things about them, then what happens when that changes? This is how we pick puppies from the pound but shouldn’t be how we adopt kids.   So my next response was a defiant “because they are my kids!” I wanted to ask why she wanted to keep her kids but I didn’t. You see, when a child is born into a family, the parents already decided to love that child long before he or she was born and no matter what the child’s attributes are, they love them. You don’t see parents at the hospital looking at their child and deciding if they are going to keep them or not, do you? No! So when a foster child comes into our home we have already been praying for that child and loving that child no matter what they are like or what is wrong with them. They are our kids!

As a licensed counselor and therapeutic parent coach who specializes in working with foster, adopted, traumatized and difficult children I work with a lot of parents on this concept of unconditional love. Not only do we have to unconditionally love our kids, but they have to feel and believe that we do. This is where it gets hard. Every child needs someone to say “that’s my kid” and mean it with every fiber of their being no matter what happens or what the child does. But beyond that, the child has to take a risk and believe it. Hurt kids have a hard time doing this and often push parents away and even make parents act in ways that the child uses to confirm that they aren’t loved. Really bad and destructive patterns emerge when we don’t know how to handle situations with “hurt kids.” Notice I say “hurt kids” and not “bad kids.” These kids are hurting and they need someone to love them in a way that the child can believe them.

There was a point in time when I decided to be God’s child. I decided to let him adopt me into his family. Maybe you have as well? When we do that God reaches down, takes us in his arms and says “my kid” and it’s done. You are his kid unconditionally, no matter what you have done or how damaged you are. This is the model we have for adoption and for parenting, but it is hard to live. The “My Kids” program was started to help make this a reality. Our passion is for every child to have someone say “My Kid” and mean it and for every child to have the chance to take the risk and believe it.

My wife and I currently have 10 children in our home. Some are our biological children, others are adopted and others are foster children. But they are all our kids, period. People often ask “which ones are ours” to which we give a really confused look and say, “well all of them are ours.” James 1:27 commands us to look after the orphans. The My Kids program is committed to fulfilling this command and pursuing the goal of every child having someone say “my kid” and mean it.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

 

We are your community…

www.MyKidsCommunity.com

By Stephen Luther

Licensed Counselor, Therapeutic Parent Coach and founder of the My Kids Program and online Community

www.MyKidsCommunity.com

My Kid’s Therapeutic parent coaching group on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/890155804375744/

Christian Counseling for Teens When Life Feels Like a Big Pile of Manure

my kids girl pouting

As a Christian counselor with youth I long for break through sessions where a teen I am working with finally “gets it.”  I was talking with a teen boy recently and reflected to him that it “sounds like life feels like a big pile of manure right now.”  He agreed and began to reflect on that idea.  We began to discuss the redeeming power of Christ in making all things new, even a pile of manure, when he had that break through thought.  He said, “manure can be used as fertilizer.”  “Wow! That is an awesome thought” I replied.  What does manure do?  It is stinky and dirty but when used as fertilizer it makes things beautiful and healthy.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”  Revelations 21:4,5a

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

 In Revelations we are given hope in knowing that eventually all things will be made new and there will be no more sorrow and no more pain.  But 2 Corinthians reminds us that if you are “in Christ” being made new is not just a future hope but a present reality.  We can live in a world full of manure and come out smelling like roses if we use that manure as fertilizer instead of just letting it stink up our lives.  Too many teens and others are just living with the manure as they get swept away by a culture that openly mocks God.  As Christian counselors we help these youth and people of all ages find hope in the redeeming power of the Lord.

Many of us struggle with understanding why God allows bad things to happen in our lives.  While attending a training on the Art of Marriage program by Family life recently we were presented with the idea that “God does not protect us from the things he will perfect us through. “  What a beautiful and accurate way to understand God’s plan.  God allows the manure in our life not because he is mean and wants us to stink but because we need to recognize the reality that, apart from him, we are lost and in need of redemption.  That “manure” can either make us hardened and callused or it can be the very thing that God uses to set us free.  It is his intention that, just like when manure is used as fertilizer to produce beautiful flowers and healthy vegetables, our suffering is used to produce beautiful and healthy things in our life.  He wants us to be made new!

Are you feeling like life is a big pile of manure right now?  Maybe a teen or someone else you know is feeling that way?  Would you let one of our Christian counselors come along side of you or your loved one and help them be set free and made new.  We counsel both locally and through skype so that location and schedules are not a barrier to receiving Biblical counsel.  As Christian counselors we long to point people to the redeeming power of Christ and help them take the manure they are living with and use it to fertilize the growth of healthy, beautiful and pure things in their life.  God longs to bless you!

Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.  Isaiah 30:18

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Redefine the Problem

my kids cleaning self

Redefine the Problem with Parent Coaching

“My Kids” Therapeutic Parent Coaching Program

            When you look at it the way you have always looked at it, you will see what you have always seen.  We have been programmed by our culture to think in behavioral terms.

  “My child is defiant…manipulative…controlling…dishonest.”

  “I can’t let them get away with this.”

  “If I don’t make him feel bad, I am a bad parent.”

  “I have to give a consequence (even thought they aren’t working)…maybe something more severe will work.”

  “This time the sticker chart will work, they will want to earn TV.”

If you are cool with that way of thinking about things and don’t want to see things differently, you probably should stop reading now.  For the rest of you, open your minds to a better way to connect to your kids!

We are human beings, not Human doings!

            We treat our children as if they are human doings instead of human beings.  Why is this?  It’s because our world has programmed us to look at behaviors and not at the individual.   Think about it…insurance companies won’t pay for treatment if behaviors can’t be measured…many parenting books see kids, from new born to adolescents, as manipulative brats…If you walk into Target with a screaming kid under your arm while smiling and wave to people who are staring at you, they talk about you behind your back (or am I the only one who does that?).  Anyways, our world is about compliance not connection.  God created us to connect and for compliance to come out of those connections.  Neurologically, the executive functioning part of our brain (the prefrontal cortex) is designed to make decisions based 90% on our understanding of relationships, and based 10% on rewards and consequences.

“What you do does not determine who you are, who you are determines what you do.”  Neil Anderson

If this is true, traditional parenting approaches are very inadequate!   We need to redefine how we see the problem if we are going to change how we parent.  What would I do if I didn’t see my child as defiant, manipulative, or controlling?  I’m glad you asked!  At the root of all negative behavior, your child’s and yours, is insecurity.  When I am insecure I react out of fear.  Why do many parents give consequences?  Because they are afraid of what will happen if they don’t or that their child with think they “got away with it.”  Why do children act up?  They are stressed and become insecure because they don’t know how to manage it.  They haven’t developed the connections necessary to help them regulate their stress.

When I am stressed, or when one of my kids is stressed, we chose either the green (secure) path, or we chose the red (insecure) path.  If I see my child’s behavior as defiant or manipulative I am more likely to go down the red path which means I react with the same consequence (maybe more severe this time) that has never worked (If it worked you wouldn’t still have to do it).  This reaction leads to disconnection with my child, failure and limitations in our relationship.  If I redefine the problem and see my child as stressed and insecure instead of defiant and manipulative, I am more likely to move down the green path.  I stay regulated and connect with my child.  This gives them the opportunity to connect with me and regulate their stress.  This leads to success (you are successful even if your child doesn’t comply right way because you have stayed regulated and changed the pattern…eventually your child will regulate and connect to you and begin to change his behavior).  This path also leads to more possibilities to connect as the relationship grows and behavioral patterns start to change.

Are you ready to go on this journey or do you want to stay stuck in old patterns that haven’t worked?  If you are ready to transform your family, our parent coaching program is for you!

 

To get there you have to begin the journey, let’s get started!

By Stephen Luther
Executive Director of Grace Wellness Center
Licensed Professional Counselor and Therapeutic Parent Coach
www.thegracewellnesscenter.com
My Kid’s Therapeutic parent coaching group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/890155804375744/
Grace Wellness Center on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gracewellnesscenter

Parenting for Connection not Compliance

my kids children hands on wrists

 

Parenting for Connection not Compliance

Therapeutic Parent Coaching

            Have you ever heard that you should pick your battles in parenting?  What if I told you that you didn’t have to battle at all?  You would think I was nuts right?  Well I might be, but the fact is, you never have to battle with your kids.  It’s true!

Luke 6:45

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

God commands us to be obedient but that is in the context of a relationship.  Luke 6:45 tells us that what is in a person’s heart is what leads to the outward expression of either good or evil.  If we focus just on this outward expression, we battle.  When we focus on the heart we don’t have to battle, we learn to connect and dance with our children.

“Dance?  What do you mean dance?  I don’t like to dance!”

I am talking about doing a relational dance with your kids.  When your child (or anyone for that matter) engages in a negative behavior, they are communicating something to you.  They are insecure and acting on what is in their heart.  Are you listening?  When we address the behavior we battle.  When we address the heart, we dance.

All negative behavior comes out of some insecurity that your child can’t regulate.  When we battle our kids, they perceive us as against them and as a threat to what they are trying to do to resolve the insecurity.  What if you could help them deal with the insecurity and not get caught up in battles no one wins?  “Wow, that would be cool!”

Dancing 101:

  1. Accept that this behavior is their best attempt to deal with what is going on in their heart.  This is hard for a lot of parents because they are afraid if they accept it, it won’t change.  The opposite is actually true.  Acceptance is the beginning of change.  Not accepting leads to more of the same.
  2. Stop doing what isn’t working.  Stop going right to consequences.  What if you could create change without consequences?  Would that be ok?  What if you only had to use consequences as one tool among many?
  3. Empathize with their hurt and insecurity.  Empathy gets you into their heart and sooths the hurt.
  4. Be curious about what is going on for them.  While empathy gets you into their heart, curiosity invites them to come out.  This may take a while but if you don’t battle and keep at it, they will begin to come out and connect with you.
  5. Connect with your kids and enjoy them!

Do you want more?  Try Parent Coaching, it will help you learn to dance with your kids and transform your family.  Let us know if we can help!

Psalm 127:3-5

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

 

To get there you have to begin the journey, let’s get started!

By Stephen Luther
Executive Director of Grace Wellness Center
Licensed Professional Counselor and Therapeutic Parent Coach
www.thegracewellnesscenter.com
My Kid’s Therapeutic parent coaching group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/890155804375744/
Grace Wellness Center on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/

Enjoyed this post? Want to know 4 HUGE SECRETS to parenting? Click here or the logo below.

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Has this spoken to you? Would you like to speak to someone directly? Click here.