What Is Your End Game?
About the Guest
Brian Housman encourages parents to shoot for a bigger parenting goal than mere obedience-to see their children’s hearts transformed into Christlikeness.
What Is Your End Game?
Bob: Right –
Brian: So one day, we’re walking by her shop and we’re going up the escalator and 8there’s a vinyl banner off to the side. There was nothing inappropriate on the banner. It really was a serious teachable moment with my son who was 11 at the time.
All this advertising was for makeup, it was just the woman’s face. Just her head shot.
I looked to Bailey, and I said, “Bailey, do you see those eyes?” It was the look that would sink a thousand ships. It was the look that was alluring.
I said, “Bailey, do you see those eyes?”
He said, “Yes Sir.”
I said, “Bailey, do not believe those eyes. Those are deceiving eyes Those are called bedroom eyes and only your wife should ever look at you in that way. If anyone else looks at you that way, then you run.”
I said, “Do you understand?”
He goes, “Yes Sir.”
Then we went and got ice cream. It was a minute and a half conversation, but it was either one of those things where I can ignore it, or capture this moment that God’s put right in front of us.
Bob: My point is you can do that as a parent, and you can do that effectively and successfully and wind up with a sixteen year old who gets his girlfriend pregnant, right?
Brian: Absolutely –
Dennis: And end up with an adult who’s going his or her own way. And this goes back to your illustration, Bob. Did God’s children turn out perfectly? They didn’t.
We’ve all got a will, we’ve been told in scripture. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each to his own way. Sometimes the teachable moments occur right under your nose, in your home. Like the time your two children were doing their homework and your daughter tossed a stapler—
Brian: She did—
Dennis: Was she tried to nail him to the wall? What was she trying to do at her brother?
Brian: Well, I’m back in the home office, and I hear my son scream out. So now the principal has to come out, cause we homeschool so I’m the principal. So I come out, and I’m like, what’s going on?
Bailey says, “Ashlan just threw a stapler and hit me in the head.” Now by the way, that does not happen in our house. Our kids are not violent children. They don’t hit things, they don’t yell at each other. They really do care about each other. So I knew something was wrong.
I said, “Bailey, how come you’re not working on school.” It was about 1:00 in the afternoon. He said, “Well I finished early. I got done.”
I said, “What did you have to work on today?” He said, “I had a test in math.”
“Well how did you do?”
“I made 100.”
So I turned to Ashlan and said, “Well, what about you? What’s going on with you?”
She said, “I did bad.”
I said, “What do you mean?”
She said, “I had a spelling test today.” Now she’s mildly dyslexic, by the way, and so as soon as she says, I had a spelling test, I know this is not going to be good.
I said, “Well, how did you do?” She said, “I made an F because I’m stupid.” So now already I’m understanding the problem. The problem is, she has a bad world view. That she doesn’t understand who she is in Christ. That now she’s putting her self-identity as being shaped by a grade she made on some quiz that does not matter in the big scheme of things.
Now I’m seeing the reason why she threw this stapler is because Bailey made an announcement, a proclamation that it’s 1:00 and I’m finished with school! So, she feels bad about herself, and throws a stapler. I asked her to go to her room for just a minute and let me talk to Bailey?
I talked to Bailey about how do you be mindful of the differences between you and your sister and being respectful of those boundaries so that you don’t say something that makes her feel embarrassed about herself?
And then come to find out that he didn’t get hit with the stapler. It’s in the vicinity, so in his mind that qualifies as being hit in the head.
I went to his sister’s room, and I said, “Sweetie, are you having a hard day today?”
She said, “Yes.”
I said, “How are you feeling about yourself?”
She said, “I don’t feel good because I’m not very smart.”
I said, “Well, what do you like about your brother?”
She said, “Well I like it that when we play together out in the front yard, that when all the other boys come over, he lets me stay and play with all of them.”
I said, “That’s a great thing, isn’t it? I know a lot of big brothers that would not want their sister around when they’re playing with their guy friends. So when you throw things at him, do you think that makes him to want you to stay and play, or maybe want you to leave?”
She said, “Probably make me want to leave.”
I said, “So what do you think might need to happen in order for you to make things right with him?”
She said, “I don’t know.”
I said, “Why don’t we just pray together and let’s just ask God to help show you what you might need to do to make that relationship right?”
So we prayed together, then I left, then it wasn’t you need to stay in here for a time out, or you’re grounded, or don’t throw staplers. None of those things were the issue. The issue was she didn’t understand who she was in Christ, and how to have a healthy relationship with her brother.
Then about 15 minutes later, she came out with a handmade cared that said, six things I love about my big brother. No one told her to make the card. We prayed about it, then my job is to speak truth, walk in truth, and model truth. The Holy Spirit’s job is to bring conviction. That’s never my job.
I think so often, we as parents, when our kids do fall into bad behavior, we immediately default to behavior modification or sin management. Instead of thinking through what’s the end game?
How do I get my kid to understand how God feels about them, who they are in Christ, and who God desires for them to be? It’s never perfect, and I’m not saying every conversation goes that way.
There was one time when we had a summer where my son was 12, my daughter was 10, and her three best friends all moved in a three week period. My son’s two closest friends I life moved in that same period. My wife’s two life-long friends moved in that same month. We’re walking around in a relational depression in our home, waving white flags, going God, did we do something wrong here? When really, it’s just life circumstances.
So we’re sitting at the breakfast table one morning, and we’re trying to get ready to start homeschool, and it’s 9:15. We start at 9:00. I said, “Hey sweetie, you need to make sure to put away the breakfast cereal because you were the last one that used it.”
She picks up the box, and she slams it on the table, and cereal goes flying. She said, “Why do you always yell at me about the cereal box? I’m not the only one that eats cereal. Everybody else eats cereal you know.” Then she storms out of the room. I’m sitting there going, where did this come from?
Bob: What just happened?
Brian: Yeah, like this is not how we respond to each other in our family. My wife goes, “You know why she did that don’t you?”
I said, “Yes, because she’s of your seed. That is why.”
Dennis: Now you’ve got big problems with two females in your home.
Brian: My wife, being very wise, did not respond to that snide comment. She said, very smartly, she said “It’s because all of her friends have left, and she thinks it’s something that she did, that made them leave. Now she’s acting out to find out if she’s bad will we leave, too?”
Wow, how did I not see that? It all gets back to an issue of truth. I went to my daughter’s room and she’s got her blanket pulled over her head, which is her version of sack cloth and ashes –
Bob: Alright –
Brian: I just said, “Sweetie, are you having a hard morning?”
She said, “Yes.”
I said “Are you thinking about your friends?”
She said, “Yes.”
I said, “I just want to let you know, no matter what ever happens, mom and dad, we’re never going anywhere.”
She sat up and threw her arms around me. We cried for a couple of minutes and then prayed together. She was fine. I never ever said, and by the way, you don’t raise your voice at me. I never had to say, we don’t slam cereal boxes in our house. Because once the heart was addressed the behavior took care of itself. You know what Jesus said. He said, “If you love me, you’ll do what?”
Bob: Keep my commandments –
Brian: Yes, you’ll keep my commands. You’re going to obey me. He didn’t just go to these people, these fishermen and tax collectors, and say, hey, drop everything and follow me, and somewhere along the way you’ll fall in love with my plan. He knew it was all about the heart first. When the heart is right, obedience follows.
Dennis: I’m listening to these stories and they have a number of assumptions built into them. One that the parent understands who God is and how He relates to us and how He’s relating to us with grace, and mercy, and trying to convince us that He loves us and has our best interest at heart.
I want you to talk about how a parent needs to understand that he or she as the parent is the authority in the parent/child relationship. There are a lot of parents today I think, who are trying to be buddies. They need a relationship. I’m not talking about that. They need a relationship with their child, but they need to know they are the parent. They need to be appropriately relating to their child as that authority.
Brian: I’ve communicated to both of my children that my main job in your life is not to be your friend. If I am not your friend, I’ve done something horribly wrong. But that’s not the end game. My primary role is to be a godly authority figure in your life.
I think there’s three different phases of influence that we go through as parents. When our children are young, we are the primary authoritative influence in their life.
Our job is to help not create boundaries, but to help our children understand God’s boundaries. As part of that, sometimes, the Holy Spirit gives us specific convictions for our family. I think part of our kids understanding, being able to see that God is leading us, is when we explain to them our convictions.
As a parent out there, the Lord is giving you a specific conviction that you are not going to read, watch, PG-13 movies with your children before they’re 13 years old. Other parents kind of laugh at that, and think it’s silly that you have that conviction, but it’s important to explain to your children that this may not be a biblical issue, but this is a conviction the Holy Spirit has given me. My job is to look out for your best interests. Whether you agree with that or not, I’m asking you, just to be willing to obey my direction in your life.
There’s been several times with my kids where I’ve given them specific instructions, and they didn’t obey those instructions.
So I’ve gone back to them and part of starting the conversation is to revisit what our roles are. I usually start off by asking two questions to my kids. I’ll ask the question, “Do you believe that I love you?” If the answer is no, then we have much bigger problems than whatever the behavior issue is. I just ask my son, Bailey, do you believe that I love you? His answer is always, yes.
The second question is do you believe that I have your best interest at heart? Again, if he says no, then I don’t care what the behavior was, we need to talk about the issue of trust. Because now I understand that your disobedience came out of a lack of trust.
Which is really where, even as adults, I would make an argument that all of our sin comes out of a distrust with the Lord. Why do we jockey at our jobs to try to get one up on everybody else?
Because we don’t believe the Lord is our provider and will take care of us so I’m going to step in and take care of myself. Why are we so arrogant and talk about ourselves? Because we don’t believe that we are found in Christ and I have to make a name for myself. It all comes to distrust.
So I ask those two questions. It doesn’t matter if the issue is that my kids have snuck up in the middle of the night and they have been watching Netflix at 1:00 in the morning. Or they have their phone off the counter when they shouldn’t have. Or they are being disrespectful to their mother. I ask those two questions because it again brings it back to the context of a healthy, relational authority.
As opposed to just me walking in and saying, “Hey listen, you do not talk to your mother that way.” Or, “I’ve told you never to pick up that phone once it’s on the counter at night.” Because then I get back to behavior modifying.
Brian: Sin management as opposed to helping them understand that yes, I’m an authority figure but above everyone I’m an authority you can trust.
Dennis: I think for the parent who is listening. Keep in mind what he said. He said, you ask your child, “Do you know that I love you? Do you believe that? Do you think I truly do love you?”
And secondly, “Do you believe I have your best interest at heart?” I may not be able to say “yes” to everything you want to go do.
But do you really believe I’m looking out for you and trying to provide for you everything that God wants you to enjoy? At that point it does create more of an objective conversation with your child. One of the things that we experienced in raising kids was it seemed like they were constantly trying to get us off into a mud hole, an emotional mud hole and turn us into mud wrestlers with them.
Dennis: The reality is we have to stay out of mud wrestling. We have to stay above it and coach, encourage, and convince our children that we really do love them and we do have their best interest at heart.
Bob: I’m just really glad that you took time to put a lot of what we are talking about here in print in a book called, How You Always Meant to Parent: Setting Aside the Distractions of Today to Focus on Your Legacy of Tomorrow.
We’ve got copies of Brian Housman’s book in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and order a copy How You Always Meant to Parent.
Again, FamilyLifeToday.com. Or call if you’d like to order. Our toll free number is 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
So once again, Brian Housman’s book is called How You Always Meant to Parent. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to order or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Now, congratulations, today to two couples who I know of who are celebrating anniversaries. Jared and Yvonne Ahrens who live in Hoffman Estates, Illinois have been married 13 years today. They have attended the Weekend to Remember Getaway and they may have run into Doug and Deb Gulbranson who live here in Little Rock, Arkansas. The reason that the Ahrens and the Gulbransons may have run into each other is because Doug and Deb are of staff here at FamilyLife. I know that they have been at a number of our Weekend to Remember Getaways as well helping serve people who attend the getaways.
So congratulations to the Gulbransons and the Ahrens as they celebrate their anniversary today. We are the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™ at FamilyLife. Our goal is to effectively develop godly marriages and families because those marriages and families will change the world one home at a time.
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Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk more about intentional parenting. We’re going to talk about how grace and punishment fit together. How can you be a parent who gives grace and yet still punishes your kids? We’ll explore that tomorrow. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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