How Parenting Impacts Your Child, pt. 2

Relationships are hard work, and parenting is certainly no exception. Child psychologists say that ages newborn to six are extremely formative in a child's self-identity, making it critical to establish a healthy parenting philosophy early on. In today's podcast, Dr. Chris Grace and Dr. Tim Muehlhoff explore the different seasons of parenting styles and offer practical ways to foster healthy relationships with your children. 


Transcript 

Chris Grace:

Well, welcome again to our podcast, The Art of Relationships with Tim Muehlhoff.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Hey, great to be here again.

Chris Grace:

I'm Chris Grace, and we started looking at the topic, Tim, of parenting and we realize it's a very deep topic and there are a number of different podcasts we can do on this one. So, let's just continue talking a little bit about ways in which we navigate relationships well especially when children are in the mix. As we navigate relationships even sometimes as single parents, some of us out there, the notion of parenting is really one that brings up all kinds of angst, all kinds of concerns, and we have different kids. Some of us have been blessed with children that are easy going and then the majority of us have children that are just simply a combination of things right, both easy, but also difficult and times in which they go through seasons themselves. It just makes it hard for parents to know is this normal? Am I doing this the right way? And, that parent guilt comes into play.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Just as a disclaimer, neither of us has been asked to write a book on parenting. No one has called us.

Chris Grace:

No, and even if they did, I'm not sure I would accept it.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Well, you know there's a good point to be made, even before we jump into this. My wife and I speak at FamilyLife marriage conferences. There are 60 couples that speak at the marriage conference. There was a time that FamilyLife did parenting conferences and of the 60 couples, they could only get roughly 10 to 15 who would agree to speak at the parenting conference because they all felt like, "What do I have to say? I'm not qualified," even though these are great people who speak at marriage conferences across the nation. I think all of us ... this is a little bit of our Achilles heel. We're like, "How am I qualified to talk about parenting? We've done so many things wrong," All of us are in that camp, right?

Chris Grace:

Yeah, no, I remember when our kids were 3 and 4 and I had put together this barbecue grill and it had the propane gas. I had just put it together. It was sitting on the patio and the kids were already fascinated by this thing. They're pushing the buttons and we hadn't even started yet for the first time. I brought him over ... I opened ... I kind of kept the lid closed and I showed them, "Guys, I want to show you, this is dangerous. This isn't a toy," so I turned on the gas. I turned it off, turned it on, turned it off saying, "You don't touch this button, all right?" Then there's a button that actually lights something. I said, "Guys, you do not, whatever you do, that's the gas," and I'm showing it again. The lid's closed and so the gas is building up inside there, every time I turn this button.

 

And, then I said, "Now lean closer. I want to show you something. I'm going to open up this lid and I'm going to push this big red button, and I don't ever want you guys to touch this big red button." As I opened up that lid, and I pushed that red button, and I said, "Now, you watch." They leaned in and I pushed it, and that gas had been building up and it was literally a fireball that singed all of our eyebrows, and our eyelashes and the front of our hair. The kids just jumped back and looked at me, and I'm going, "Oh, boy!" Then, Alisa comes running and she wants to know what just happened. The kids are going, "Mom, don't ever touch that red button." In some ways, the kids never again wanted to play with that machine. Listen, we've all had mess ups parenting our kids are alive and yep.

Tim Muehlhoff:

All the Grace's kids are in therapy now saying, "I'm often chased by a big red button."

Chris Grace:

I will never eat a grilled hamburger in my life. One of the things that we do then, Tim, is we all have mess ups, and it's all difficult and there is no right way. There are people out there that say, follow this method, but ... and some of us do. We love to follow methods about how to do discipline and things ... but in reality, most of us are going to find that each of our kids are so unique and so different that some things work really well. In our family, for example, one of the things that we learned was for our first child he was a master at being able to go into timeout, sit there, and it really didn't bother him. I remember one time we came home and I asked Alisa, "Hey, where's Drew?" She's like, "You know, he ... Oh, no. I put him in timeout." I go, "When?" She goes, "35 minutes ago. He's been in timeout," and so we go back in the room and he is sitting there just hanging out enjoying life, do, dee, doo.

 

Well, we realized at that moment timeout was not going to work with this kid. The other kid came out and immediately we knew that this was a social child who you put her in timeout she was not going to be happy. There were just different techniques that we had to use. Right? Let's talk about those and different ways that we, as parents, can navigate our children's uniquenesses as well.

Tim Muehlhoff: 

I think that's a great point as we launch this is, let's not get so committed to our way. Remember years ago there was that book called Parenting God's Way? I mean that ... Parenting God's Way. I think we need to have a little bit of humility and I'm not even saying that there weren't good things in that book. I'm just saying let's realize that we need to give each other a little bit of grace, that people are going to do things slightly different, and at the end of the day, we're all responsible for our kids, and we all just have to do what's best for our kids.

 

One of our kids, when we would put him on timeout he'd be so angry he would clean his entire room. Sometimes, when we had company coming we'd just make up something to discipline him. "Sorry, you're on timeout, and by the way, I'm going to rotate rooms." But, yeah, what are some thoughts you have about ...

Chris Grace:

I think as we talk about what ... I guess we would kind of briefly call this, Tim, maybe Engaged Parenting, right? It's learning how our kids develop and grow, but we do that simply by staying engaged with them because they are each individually ... they're unique and different and they have different ways and different tendencies. I think last time we talked a little bit about ... you knew the love language of these kids. Well, discipline doesn't work the same with every kid and I think for a parent to be engaged to know that, is something that we do naturally. We figure this out. We see our kids how they respond. We knew, for example, that with one of our kids, again the same kid, we knew that we weren't going to be able to use timeouts because they weren't going to be effective. 

 

But, boy, here's what we did learn. We knew that if we took away his little tiny savings account, whatever money he had in there, by saying, "If you hit your sister, we're taking five bucks. You're going to pay." It was extremely effective because the kid didn't want to give up that money, and he was like, "No, please. I'll never do that again." That was an effective way. Spanking sometimes might be one of those things as well. Really, I think what this involves, Tim, is being engaged and understanding how that works. So, being engaged and avoiding that tendency of being withdrawn.

Tim Muehlhoff:

We have our friend ... I think that's great Chris. We have a friend of ours who's one of the top child psychologists in Arizona and we have three boys. See, like every parent, we're freaking out a little bit, like what should we do? He said, "Listen, let me give you my best single piece of advice. Get one on one time with your kids." We have 3 boys. He said, "Listen, you go out there to shoot baskets, grab one of them. If somebody else comes out and says I want to shoot, okay, you will in 20 minutes." He said, "Grab one kid and go to the store with that child because you want to hear what's happening in his or her life and you can't parent in a herd." I think that was great to just grab one kid, and say "Okay, I've got to make a quick errand. Come with me."

Chris Grace:

I think that's great because what it does is, this notion of being engaged emotionally versus being withdrawn is something that we all battle, right? We give all of our time and our emotional energy to work, and so ... here the wife comes home. She's been working all day or the husband comes home and all of that energy's been used up. Then the kids and the spouse get the leftovers. What we really need to be able to do is learn how not to give our best to work. We don't have an endless supply of energy and the challenge is not to give our spouse or our children the leftovers. That idea is really being able learning how to draw boundaries, and how to have a moment of detoxifying, or a moment of reengaging before you walk back into that house whatever you've been doing so that you're able to provide your kids not with the leftovers but with attention and being engaged.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Sometimes, we make the mistake of seeing our front door as the finish-line, right? I've put in hard work, now I'm just going to get home. I just want to relax, and again, there needs to be seasons of life, right? When you have young, young kids you just can't do that. They're going to be demanding, but they also go to bed early. Now, when they get older, it becomes more emotionally draining. I like that, Chris, of something at the end of the day and maybe that's even your commute home, is to turn off music or even the radio and say, "Lord, I need you to give me grace. I need you to give me strength." Maybe it's listening to worship music, but again, I've often experienced that "Okay, I'm home. Woo!" Now, I want me time and that just doesn't work well. That's why God suggests that every week we have Sabbath rest to store up energy for the demands that are going to be hitting us on a weekly basis.

Chris Grace:

I think that's right. We're not saying that it's wrong to have time and alone time, right. I mean space is okay. Especially some people just need it right after work or right after they've been engaged in some event. I think that that's ... but, I think the idea is reengaging again and putting ... the ability to do that well. Right?

Tim Muehlhoff:

But, we have to make a distinction here between rest and leisure. See leisure, or like one guy said is like cotton candy for the soul. Like, I like to go play this video game. I like to just surf the web. Okay? I can see why leisure is important sometimes, but we're more talking about these pockets of rest where your soul gets revitalized. Maybe we could do a whole podcast on where are these disciplines that people in the ancient church would incorporate in order to help them meet all the demands of parenting, marriage, and community life.

Chris Grace:

Yeah, and then Tim, eventually we even talked about this before that notion of doing that in a way that is... you do it in front of your children as well so they this that you are making time for that, which is important. What great modeling. An opportunity for them to see, my parents this is important to them. This is important to my dad or my mom to be engaged with God, to have a relationship, to slow down, to be quiet.

Tim Muehlhoff:

We can't control the effects of it. I remember one time, Chris, I heard a sermon and got deeply convicted that I wasn't praying for my kids enough or stuff like that. I decided for about a couple of weeks to set my alarm 20 minutes early and be downstairs praying for my kids and you wonder if it's helping at all. One time my middle son came down and I was thinking, "Yes! Yes!" So, he comes down and I'm there. I've been dozing off literally 2 minutes before that, but I was there. He goes, "Dad, what are you doing?" I said, "Hey, I'm praying for all 3 of my boys that you'd become Godly men," and there was a pause. He goes, "Hey, are there any Eggos for breakfast?" I said, "Yeah, in the freezer." But, you know, we're trusting that the Holy Spirit is using not only to refresh you, but your kids see this. They see mom and dad getting refreshed. That's important.

Chris Grace:

Yeah, I think that's right. You know one of the things we've talked about during this time is, also it does help us in engaging with our children that way when we work at this. When we work at avoiding this tendency, desire and need to withdraw and to find our time, but in doing so, it also does something very powerful when we communicate to each other because literally every conversation that we have with anyone there is what we call a transfer of affect, right? It's important for parents, I think, to know that when they're talking to their kids they are transferring affect just in their non-verbal as well as with their word. That implicit message, that transfer of affect is something like I like you. I care for you. I pray for you versus I'm distracted and I don't like you. That's the message, so staying engaged ... that's the first one I think is that notion of engaged and staying engaged versus withdrawn.

 

A second one, Tim, I want to talk about is that idea of for us, in protectiveness as a parent that kicks in but that idea of being interested versus indifferent. It's similar, but that idea of when we look at our kids when we watch them we actually recognize that they are unique beings. That they have a soul. They are created in a certain way and being interested and watching them. You talked a little bit about this notion of how you determine your kids' background, their love language and things like that. That idea shows and keeps you engaged when we stay interested versus indifferent.

Tim Muehlhoff:

I would say, stay young in your interest. I can't tell you how many parents I've met where they just say, "Aww, that generation with their phones that can launch missiles, and Facebook." Man, stay young with this. So, again, I don't have a smartphone. I just chose not to do it, but I text my kids a lot and send them goofy texts. Like, I just say ... I send them the letter "K". K. They're like, "Dad, seriously." I remember sitting down with my kids. They were playing Call of Duty 24/7, right, that whole phase Black Ops, that whole thing. Now, on one hand, I could've just dug my heels in and said, "Okay, this is ridiculous. You're rotting your brains," which by the way we did put limits on how much they could play. But, I'll never forget the day when I walked in and all 3 of them were there and said, "Hey, I'd like to play."

Chris Grace:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tim Muehlhoff: 

They were like, "What?" I said, "Yeah, this looks cool. Let's play." There were like, "Really?" You could just see the enthusiasm. You know what's funny Chris? Here they are. We can pick our weapons. I have picked a nuclear bomb launcher. My child has picked a sharpened stick and they kill me. "Okay dad, go." Boom! "You're dead." What? We laughed and again that's where ... so often we say to our kids, hey this is what you're going to do. You're going to like this, so again ... and again, if you have a conviction against video games, okay. But, find something that the kids really like and don't be a fuddy-duddy. Sit down and say, "I want to learn this. This could be cool."

Chris Grace:

Yeah, what a great kind of message that communicates to your kid, right? You want to be part of their world. You want to be engaged with them even if it just feels mind numbing to you, it's just I am here for you and I'll put up with this. Watching kids try to hit a baseball when they're 6 or 7 is mind numbing. It's painful, but you do it because it's communicating something, I want to invest in you. Another one, Tim to talk about is this idea, we briefly talked about it earlier, but it's this idea of being attentive and being aware present when you are present -

Tim Muehlhoff: 

I'm sorry. I'm sorry, what? Oh, my bad. My bad. I'm just ... never mind.

Chris Grace:

Like you right now. What that leads me to is this notion, Tim, that we talked a little bit about and that's multi-tasking. One of the concerns of seeing how gosh, in this world today, man that e-mail, for example, is an amazing distraction, right? Work never leaves us. We're always able to get something. We're always on wireless. We're always able to be there, and multi-tasking, Tim, has some issues and some problems I think that parents need to deal with and talk about.

 

One of the things that I would say is, as you deal with multi-tasking, there really may be one ... there are not as many things as dangerous as multi-tasking when it comes to parenting just as it comes to driving. Think about that. Driving when you are multi-tasking is extremely dangerous. You simply can't do it, right? If you glance down ... one of the most common problems and biggest issues we now face in this society is just people who are trying to do too much while they're driving and it's extremely dangerous. You're most likely going to find massive accidents, injuries and problems resulting from that. 

 

Well, it's the same thing with parenting. We believe we can do 2 things at once. Well, multi-tasking has some problems with it. Multi-tasking ... First of all, even the word multi-tasking is misleading because it doesn't mean that can do or carry out 2 tasks at the same time. That's what we believe. In reality, what multi-tasking is, is switching, right? We do one task, we [picked 00:17:52] and then we switch. Well, the problem with multi-tasking is we have this thing called switch costs. Switch costs are those tolls that come into play when we switch from one to another. We lose the ability to pay attention to both things. Now, that is exactly where our kids feel this pain. With rare exceptions, people don't carry out 2 or more tasks literally at the same time. They switch between them and that switch time takes not only time, but it has a cost. They're small, but we can measure them and we have found them.

 

Parents, checking Facebook, checking e-mail, coming in ... Do you know how often, Tim, people have been found to look at e-mails while they're at work and at home? They average, at work, they did this recent study in 2015, that American workers and this probably applies to a lot of other countries as well, but they spend an average of 6 and almost 6 and half hours a day checking e-mail. That's a ... So 3 hours that's work e-mails and 3 hours with personal message e-mails. Well, that doesn't end, unfortunately, when people get home. This is beginning to show in our relationships and our parenting.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Yeah, I'm sorry. I phased out a little bit because I was checking my e-mail. Noreen and I just won a million dollars. I just have to send them my social security number. Yeah, but Chris, let's give one exception to what you're saying. Absolutely this multi-tasking sends a ton of negative ... but, again, we want to give grace to parents of toddlers. By definition, a parent of a toddler is a multi-tasker. There are 5 things that are happening at once. You live in a state of chaos. We're talking about where that is just my go-to habit. I'm multi-tasking all the time. We need to create those pockets where we don't multi-task. We say, "Hey, kids let's turn off electronic devices. Let's just sit and talk, play a board game, and turn the phones off. Mom and dad aren't going to," so I like that. 

 

There are certain seasons of life where you've just got to multi-task and just accept it that, that's part of the chaos that we live in. But, if you're in perpetual chaos ... again, we don't want to harp on this over and over and over, but that's why God said, once a week I want Sabbath rest. I want you to unplug. I want you to be fully present with me. That's a great suggestion. We give grace to the people who just have to multi-task, but most of us, it's become a bad habit. We don't need to do it. We're just addicted to doing it.

Chris Grace:

Yeah, and I think you've talked in the past and I think you even challenged some of your students to do this. It's almost like a tech fast, a fast from technology as a way to detoxify or find those ... You know, we talked about this as a place in which we can find space. We can find boundaries. We can say we are not going to turn on ... I heard last night my wife say this to our child, "Hey, it's 9:00. No more phone. It's now time to begin getting ready for the night," for the bed or whatever.

Tim Muehlhoff:

Oh, that's good.

Chris Grace:

I heard her out here, and my daughter says, "Okay, okay. I'm done." Now, those are great ways to do it. There's even this new technology thing that a friend of ours found. It's called The Circle. It's something that even Disney has sponsored. It's just a way in which parents can track usage, but it also controls turning on and off wireless at a certain pre-discussed scheduled time. That could be really good for families for the child but also for the parents. How about, Tim, having this idea of having times in which there is a tech-free zone, right? The kitchen table, when we're together, right? Those are moments -

Tim Muehlhoff:

Date night.

Chris Grace: 

Date night, yep, turning off that phone. You know, there are exceptions. Parents go out on a date night. One of them wants to be connected to the babysitter just in case.

Tim Muehlhoff:

No, that's good, yeah. That's good.

Chris Grace:

Instead, they know, this is my time with you. Those are some ways in which, Tim, this idea of parenting comes in, right? The idea of giving them all of our emotional energy and not giving it up at work where we stay engaged. You know that idea of also learning how to be interested and not indifferent. Then, being attentive. That idea of also just simply being able to show a child, to show our spouse that when we're in the same room when we're there and talking we are present right, and we're present when we're present. We're there.

Tim Muehlhoff:

We call that mindfulness, being fully present in a moment. Man, we should do a whole show on this. How technology's really keeping us from being fully present in the moment. But, that's great to give undivided attention to a child, a spouse. Now there's times that's not realistic. You can't walk through the door and chaos is going on and saying, "Hey, I want your undivided attention." That's just not going to happen, but maybe there's ways of, when the kids are young, to put them to bed a little early or send them upstairs and say, "Hey, I want you to watch a half hour video. Your mom and are going to make a cup of coffee. Do not come down unless there is blood or you've seen Jesus, bodily." Right? There's just certain parameters. 

 

Let me throw out one last one that was given to us by a child psychologist as well. When your kids are in high school ... again, parenting is seasons of life, obviously. When your kids are in high school, he suggested this and we actually did it, sit down and say, "What voice do you feel like you have in the family roles?" Like what say do you have, and "Are there any rules that you would change that you think are unfair?" Man, we did that and ... there were a lot of rules that they wanted to get rid, of course, but man we had a great conversation. One of the best conversations we've had is to say, "What say do you have in these rules and where can we loosen up the rules? That same psychologist did a longitudinal study on whether kids adopted faith as adults and what parenting style fostered that? The strict, strict disciplinarians had the lowest response rate of kids following faith later in life. It was the parents who were fluid in their rules that actually had the longest most successful rate of their kids following the faith into adulthood.

Chris Grace:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Man, there's a whole lot of topics we could talk about, right, with parenting. Let's do that. Let's continue on a regular basis. We'll keep bringing this up. Go off some of our listeners have sent in some great questions over time and responded. You can do that as well at cmr.biola.edu. Just send a question and we'll answer that and talk about it whether it's discipline styles, parenting styles. This whole notion of how do you discipline? Physical punishment and we can cover all those. Let's do that on a future podcast. What do you think?

Tim Muehlhoff:

Because good word, we're parenting experts and I think we should share our wealth and then have the kids on. Wouldn't that be hilarious?

Chris Grace:

That would be awesome.

Tim Muehlhoff:

We're not going to do that.

Chris Grace:

No, please don't. Well, thanks for joining us again on the Art of Relationships. Again, come to our website, check out the ways in which you can look at ... for different material, events, help whether it's another podcast or whether it's some blogs we've put together and some events going on. Come check it out. So, for the Art of Relationships, I'm Chris Grace.

Tim Muehlhoff:

And, I'm Tim Muehlhoff.

Chris Grace: 

And, we'll talk next time. 


The Art of Relationships Podcast

The Art of Relationships podcast, hosted by Dr. Chris Grace and Dr. Tim Muehlhoff, is centered on helping you build healthy relationships and marriages. In this podcast, Chris (director of Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and professor of psychology at Biola University) and Tim (professor of communication at Biola University and author of I Beg to Differ), weigh in on how to navigate the complexities of relationships in our culture with biblical wisdom and scholarly research. Listen to get practical insights on relationships, dating and marriage that can be applied to all relationships  — family, friends, co-workers and others.

 

Comments



Subscribe To Our Newsletter

 

Contact

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639
1-562-903-6000
© Biola University, Inc. All Rights Reserved.