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.
This post contains affiliate links.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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