Suzanne and Cliff sat awkwardly in my office. The discomfort of asking for help was overshadowed only by the tension between them, fueled by disagreements on how to discipline their sixteen-year-old daughter, Sophia, and their twelve-year-old son, Nate. The yelling, the punishments, the lectures—nothing was working, and things were getting worse. In her initial phone call, Suzanne struggled to hold back tears as she described the chaos in their home: the constant yelling, the bickering, and, often, the silent treatment among all members of their family. Suzanne had even expressed concerns about the state of her marriage. The stress had taken its toll. Her perception was that her husband was either too harsh or completely absent. Later, Cliff confided in me his belief that Suzanne was too soft on their children, often failing to follow through on her threats and frequently coming to Nate and Sophia’s defense.
Isaac and Elisha were feeling lost and uncertain. After years of desperately wanting a child, they now had three-year-old Jacob, who was more than they could handle. It seemed that the preschooler had taken over “their lives as they realized that making a baby was only the beginning of a lifetime journey of learning for the new parents. Their second baby was due in just four months, and they felt inadequate and unready. They longed to be the best parents they could be but felt like they were failing. Little Jacob seemed to dictate their every move, and they could not imagine dealing with another newborn.
Zach and Ashley were beginning a second marriage with his children, her children, and their own child. The resulting blend of family dynamics, with four children all under the age of twelve, was causing unbearable chaos, jealousy, and fighting within their home. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, their respective ex-partners were adding further complications to the situation.
Although these scenarios are very different, there is one commonality: Each parent wonders how they arrived here. What happened to the dreams they had for a warm and blissful family life? Despite their strong desires, good intentions, relentless efforts, and countless sacrifices, tension is high and joy seems scarce. The children are struggling and marriages are difficult. They can’t help but wonder if there is any hope for a happier future.
Do you, too, share this sense of dissatisfaction? Has your life fallen short of the joy and fun you had envisioned and hoped for? Are you grappling with uncertainty about how to effectively guide and nurture your children? Are you disappointed in yourself, your child, or your co-parent? Do you experience guilt for not measuring up to the ideal parent you aspire to be? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, please know that you are not alone. This book is for you.
It has been my privilege to watch parents transition their homes from a place of chaos and misery to a refuge of joy and peace. What a pleasure it is to see them rediscover the delight they experienced when they first held their newborn and anticipated a bright and loving future as a family. Although their initial dreams and circumstances may have changed, they are able to discover a newfound and even deeper love in the family they are creating.
How do they do this? How might you find more peace, joy, and contentment in your home? Although there is no silver bullet, there are some simple approaches that will bring about a kinder, calmer home where all can experience joy even amid the challenges of change, growth, and development.
There are many excellent books, videos, podcasts, and other resources available to help and support parents. If you weren’t so busy raising your children, you might learn from them all. However, I firmly believe that all of this wisdom and expertise can be distilled into a very simple framework of three easy to remember approaches that will allow you to parent at your best in every single circumstance.
After a lifetime of studying the research and advice of experts; parenting my own children, stepchildren, and grandchildren; and learning from the hundreds of families I have coached, it is clear to me that the keys to parenting are actually quite simple and can be applied across all generations and situations. Even my experience with parents of special needs children indicates that this framework is effective. If you would like to experience more joy and peace in your home, less guilt, and greater confidence, then read on to gain an understanding of these principles. Then enjoy real stories about how parents just like you have incorporated the framework of Let, Lift, and Listen into their families with amazing results.
- Riding to the Beach
- I Must Have a Cellphone
- I Have Decided to Quit School
- Parenting Tip: Sibling Conflict”
-Dad is More Fun Than Mom
- Parenting Tip: Rules for Co-Parenting from a Child’s Perspective
-Benjamin Punches a Hole in the Wall
-Please Help Me Move the Porch Furniture
-The Black Hole
-Mario Throws His Book bag
-Uh-Oh Changed the Lives of One Family
-Jackson Won’t Clean Up
-Leaving a Nighttime Mess”
-Chandler Goes to Military School
-The Shattered Christmas Ornament
-Claire Steals a Cookie
-I Was at School, Not the Beach
-Parenting Tip: Lies
-Luisa Forgets Her Homework
-Parenting Tip: Giving Choices
-I Have Decided to Quit School
-Parenting Tip: When Kids Say Something Ridiculous or Alarming
-You are Welcome to Repeat Seventh Grade
-Where is My Beer?
-That Dreaded Phone Call