Christian Parenting Should Involve More than Influencing Your Kids’ Faith Walk

by | Aug 20, 2021 | Uncategorized | 12 comments

Christian Parenting: Navigating Everything
Merchandise is Here!

We’ve been talking about direct communication all month, and while that’s so important in marriage, it’s also super important with parenting.

Are you able to communicate with your kids?

I’ve been looking for sponsors for the blog and the podcast, and when Brett Ullman contacted me with his new book Parenting: Navigating Everything, I was so excited, because here’s a sponsor I can really and truly get behind. I loved Brett’s idea about an Annual Family General Meeting, and today I invited him on the blog to tell us the story of his heart for parents and his new book.

Here’s Brett!

Sheila Gregoire

This post contains affiliate links.

Brett Ullman

After one of my talks five years ago, I had a conversation with a father, which was the catalyst for creating my most recent book, Parenting: Navigating Everything.

I had just finished speaking on mental health, and a father asked me, “Brett, how do I talk to my daughter about sex”?

This is an important question, as you followers of Sheila’s well know, but before I could answer, he blurted out, “Oh, by the way… she hates me”.

In asking him, “what do you mean she hates you” he interrupted and said, “forget about that, how do I talk to her about sex?”.

I said, “if she hates you, you don’t have the relationship foundation to impact her about this topic.” He needed to start making repairs to their relationship first.

It occurred to me on my drive home that the presentations I do on challenging issues like mental health, parenting, media, dating, sex and pornography were all impactful–but parents needed teaching about parenting foundations first.

Only then, once the parent/child relationship was strong, could they coach their children through these cultural minefields.

Your impact on your children’s lives is proportional to the depth of the relationship you have fostered with them.

 

George Barna

Revolutionary Parenting

Knowing this propelled my deep drive into parenting research.

What I found in the majority of Christian parenting books I read was a focus on developing the faith of the child only.

This is an important thing, but it is not the entire parenting conversation. From speaking to thousands of parents, I knew most parents weren’t asking questions about their kids’ faith but rather concerns around mental health, discipline, media, sex, pornography, and others. I saw the great need to bring together a Christian viewpoint on parenting that was holistic, practical and preventative. What was needed was teaching about intentional parenting as a foundation. Then this parenting approach could be applied to current issues which are affecting kids today.

Many parents are avoiding talking to their kids about tough topics. This could be because of their own discomfort or due to not being prepared. This avoidance sets up kids to fail. As a result, there is a trend to over parent children so as to shield them from life’s many difficulties. When we as parents over-function, our kids in turn under-function. This can lead to anxious children who are stunted in their development into adulthood. Julie Lythcott Haims in How to Raise an Adult states this trend succinctly here:

Why did parenting change from preparing our kids for life
to protecting them from life,
which means they’re not prepared to live life on their own?

 

We need to be leaders and teachers in our homes.

The book Parenting: Navigating Everything prepares parents to do just that.

In Parenting: Navigating Everything I want to help you build that foundation so that your relationship with your kids is the focus–not only their faith.

1. Parenting. What are the stages of parenting? What is the current state of parenting? What is the purpose of parenting?
2. Parenting styles. What are they, and which ones should I be using? What might I need to alter about my current parenting style?
3. Progression of parenting. What are the skills our children need to learn?
4. Time. What does quality time and being present with my kids look like?
5. Communication. How can I gain better communication skills so that I can more effectively connect with my kids?
6. Discipline. How do I effectively discipline my children?
7. Family Discipline. Why our worldview is important, and how we can raise kids with a Christian worldview.
8. Mental Health. How do we address issues like anxiety, panic attacks, and depression?
9. Engaging the Culture. How do we empower our kids to engage the culture around us without compromising their faith?
10. Media. How can we help our kids navigate technology?
11. Sexuality. How do we direct our kids towards healthy sexuality?
12. Pornography. What is the prevalence of pornography and how do we address its impact on our kids?
13. Dating. How do we best avoid pitfalls in dating?
14. Finances and education. How can we help out children make sound financial and educational choices?
15. Drugs and alcohol. What tools are available to assist in drug-proofing our kids?
16. Loneliness. How do we prevent disconnection in our kids and help them to create community?

This is an extensive handbook, the first six chapters covering essential foundations on parenting. The last ten chapters approach current issues from a Christian parenting worldview.

I was drawn to Sheila Gregoire, and her Bare Marriage work several years ago, seeing the start of a sort of reckoning on the Christian teachings about sex. I see what I do like a similar reckoning in the areas of parenting, mental health and other topics. My mission is to help people connect their ancient faith to their modern world.

The church’s over-emphasis on children’s discipleship and its near-silence on other parenting challenges show a lack of understanding of what parents are needing.

Families come to church looking for support in raising their children. We owe it to them to teach effective parenting principles from a Christian worldview that will equip them to lead their children to making many good life choices including choosing to live a life with God.

When we see the church hurting others or missing out on opportunities, this should urge us to take a hard look at what we are believing and teaching. Sheila has challenged the evangelical church to do better with their understanding of sex and gender roles. We are all the better for her and her teams’ insights. Sheila has shared that she is motivated by her readers who write to her for advice revealing ways they have been hurt by harmful teachings within the church and culture. I similarly challenge my audiences to:

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

 

Maya Angelou

How can people do better unless their ideas are challenged, and they make an effort to learn? This is what compels me as a speaker and author. We need more voices speaking up for truth and challenging the church. What I do best is to distill complex topics into teachable discussion points and share those with my audiences. I have mentored other speakers to refine their voices as well.

From the themes of the book, the presentation Parenting: Navigating Everything was born.

  • It is now available on RightNow media as a six-part video teaching series that can be used individually or as a small group curriculum.
  • It has a small group study guide available with it to guide you as the topics stir up good discussion.

In the book Trophy Child, Ted Cunningham has one of my favourite quotes.

They will not be with me forever, so I prepare them accordingly.

 

I leave you with the challenge to make the intentional effort to prepare your kids to navigate life.

You do not have to do this alone though. As the old Home Depot slogan goes, “You can do it, we can help.” I think my book Parenting: Navigating Everything is a great place to start.


Where can I find the Parenting Video Series?

Brett Ullman travels North America speaking to teens, young adults, leaders, and parents on topics including parenting, mental health, men, sexuality, pornography, dating, and media. Brett’s seminars engage and challenge attendees to try and connect our ancient faith with our modern culture we live in. Participants are inspired to reflect on what we know, what we believe and how our faith ought to serve as the lens through which we view and engage tough conversations in our society today.

Husband to Dawn, and father of Bennett and Zoe, Brett and his family make their home in Ajax, Ontario where Brett leads and directs Worlds Apart, a charity focused on empowering individuals to re-align their lives with Biblical core values often muddled by media but central to Christian living.

Brett was a teacher with the Toronto District School Board for 10 years before moving into speaking full-time back in 2005. Brett has a Master’s degree in Evangelism and Leadership from Wheaton Graduate School in Chicago and is also a graduate of the Arrow Leadership Program. He and his family attend Sanctus Church (formerly C4 Church) in Ajax since 2002.

YouTube | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook 

Brett Ullman

Parenting: Navigating Everything

Christian Parenting: Navigating Everything

Do you think the church focuses too much on teaching parents to lead their kids in the faith and not enough on relationship? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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12 Comments

  1. A2bbethany

    I recently had a friend and her boyfriend over for lunch. And we had a discussion about parenting styles. ….because I tend to not really punish if possible, when guests are here.

    they’re were in favor of a concept: breaking the child’s will to be molded to Christ. But I had already decided about myself, that my spirit didn’t need breaking, I’m already as God made me.(as a teen) The point of discipline is to teach her how to serve God as she was made to. Taking care to not break her personality, but let it blossom.

    And then that conversation with those mom’s? One of them had this as her story:
    She had been rebellious and dated someone her parents didn’t like. She ended up having sex with him, but recognized it as wrong.(near the very end of the relationship) She immediately told her parents and somehow stayed very close to her mother, in spite of her rebellious period. And I’m guessing that greatly helped her to not stray too self-destructively.

    We were all talking about the aspect of maintaining an ability to talk to our kids. I brought up Rebecca’s book….inspire me never reading it!

    Reply
    • A2bbethany

      *In spite*

      Reply
  2. Phil

    Whats fascinating about the question posed is that I cant really pull much on my history of messages from the Church on developing a relationship with my parents or my kids for that matter…I am actually asking the question where does this come from? My best answer is Jesus – he was the example….sure the 10 commandments say honor your Father and your Mother but they dont tell you how….it seems to me that developing a relationship with your parents is the practice for developing a relationship with the Ultimate parent – GOD. I will say this…I was talking to a guy I am working for yesterday and his relationship with his Father is estranged – the father was abusive and nasty to his son growing up and well…to this day apparently…but I met his Father once and during that encounter he shared a moment of faith when he said “praise the lord” to me. I shared that with the guy I am working with and he said…well my father was not much of an example for anything – but he did show me Jesus. I suppose the father gave the man a grounding point…but we need to go SO MUCH DEEPER….why shouldn’t the Church help us with that?

    Reply
  3. Meredith

    I don’t care about raising my kids to be Christians and believe a long list of doctrines. I care about raising them to be good, kind, caring, compassionate people who love their neighbors, care about the world, love recklessly, and use their gifts and talents to bring goodness and beauty into the world. I’m over “Christian” parenting that operates out of fear of “the world”, threatens kids with hell (which is innately abusive), and teaches them that believing the right things is more important than being the right kind of person. I’m also over Christian parenting that completely ignores child development and psychology.

    Reply
    • Lindsey

      🙌🙌🙌🙌THIS!🙌🙌🙌🙌

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, Meredith. I once heard a minister say that “there’s a difference between being a good person and being converted.” And I thought, “Yes, there is! Because most of the “converted” people I know are NOT good people!”

      Reply
    • Brett Ullman

      Hi Meredith. I fully agree. You will not find any of that in this book.

      Reply
  4. Anon

    “Do you think the church focuses too much on teaching parents to lead their kids in the faith and not enough on relationship?”

    That’s a bit of a ‘yes and no’ question. If you’re living out your faith in front of your kids in the right way, then that is going to include building good relationships with them! So I guess it depends on what the church means by ‘leading kids in the faith’.

    Reply
  5. EOF

    When I was a single and a young married, I paid close attention to the lessons to parents. What stood out the most to me was discipline, discipline, discipline. Spanking was definitely encouraged and expected. Kids were taught to “get happy quickly” when upset.

    I didn’t see any effort to help the kids work through their emotions, much less any help for the kids to see validity in what they were feeling.

    Really, it was all about making the parents look good. And so the church could brag about what great kids they were raising.

    Not surprisingly, a large majority of those now-grown kids aren’t part of the church.

    As a young Christian, I was treated much in the same way as the kids by older Christians. I still resent that to this day.

    Reply
  6. Rebekah

    Wow, reading this was so well timed. We just got a survey from the pastor of the church affiliated with my kids christian school, and it asked some really leading questions about whether or not you think the Bible is the most important tool to address the spiritual health of your kids. I knew something was wrong with that question but I couldn’t come up with the words to articulate it. Thank you for writing this!

    Reply
  7. Boone

    I’ve noticed that will breaking thing is a very big deal in Christian circles. It makes for a much easier controlled congregation.

    Back when our children were small our church had a seminar for young parents using a series called Growing Kids God’s Way, or something similar. It was done by a guy named Uzi something close to that. We sat through three of the tapes and Uzi kept talking about an “instrument of chastisement , “ which was code for weapon, and breaking your child’s will over and over again. During the discussion time after number three I asked the group if anybody besides me thought Uzi was a power crazed idiot. Several agreed with me. The facilitator had a melt down (Uzi was evidently his hero) and told us to leave. About half of the group left with us. Of course, I got the call from the pastor on Monday. I just told him that I considered the content to be advocating abuse and was very disappointed that the church was even showing it. The pastor called me back a few days later and told me that he had watched the same three episodes that I had and he agreed with me. He also canceled the rest of the series. The couple putting it on got mad and left.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Way to go, Boone! Oh, my goodness, I love that story! I think what it illustrates, too, is that often pastors don’t realize what is being taught, even in their churches (this is something we found with our survey, too. The harmful teachings were often learned in Christian circles, but usually not from pastors directly). So pastors can be thinking, “hey, let’s do a parenting class because I want to support families!” or “let’s do a marriage class!” and then someone volunteers, and the pastor gladly hands it over because the pastor can’t–and shouldn’t–do everything. But then there’s this stuff being taught. There has to be some way for pastors to vent this stuff without having to read it all themselves (because I don’t want to add to their plate). My suggestion is to always google the name of the book/curriculum and add words like “abuse” or “controversy” to the search, and chances are something will come up. For instance, i just Googled “”growing kids god’s way” ezzo abuse” and there were 3,430 listings, all talking about the controversy and abuse.

      Or else read the 1-star reviews of the material on Amazon. 1-star reviews are very telling. Either they’re really, really stupid (which means the book is likely good), or they’re well thought out with good reasoning, which means the book is likely horrible.

      Reply
      • Laura

        Reading to 1-star reviews on Amazon are very telling, especially when the reviews are long and detailed. Amazon has a lot (and I mean A LOT) of 1-star reviews on Love & Respect. That blew my mind! Now I’m curious about Growing Kids God’s Way.

        It’s always good for us to review certain materials before considering them for a Bible study at church. Even though pastors are often busy, I still think they need to do a bit of research on these materials and not just assume that the person who wants to do a Bible study with a particular book knows the contents of the book. I think we can easily get caught up in good book reviews without considering the bad ones.

        Reply

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