I have been spending some time reading a great book, Parenting with Grace and Truth written by Dan Seaborn. I can't wait to share my full review with you next week, but today I have a special interview with Dan himself!
Thank you for taking the time to spend with us Dan! Could you tell us a bit about your own family and what lead you to write this book for today's parents.
Jane and I have been married for 35 years. We live in West Michigan. We have four children. Our oldest son, Alan, and his wife, Annaliese, live in West Michigan as well. Alan works with me at Winning At Home. Our son, Josh, and his wife, Amy, live in Camden, NJ where Josh is a pastor at an inner city church. They are expecting their first child in February. Our daughter, Crissy, and her husband, Jonathan, live in West Michigan. They have our two grandchildren, Jackson and Naya. Our youngest daughter, Anna, lives home and works with the youth at our local Boys and Girls Club.
I wrote this book for parents because I encountered a time of parenting in my life that I never anticipated. Even though I worked with teens for many years I had never personally experienced the challenges of raising a child who is rebelling. In this book, I took the approach of understanding what it takes to balance grace with truth. I want to be a forgiving parent, but I don't want to move into being an enabling parent. Balancing these two things is very difficult. I try to address that topic in this book.
You and your wife call your list of values, "rules to die for." Why?
I wanted to establish some guidelines early on to make sure we had foundational principles in place with a Biblical base. These are rules we feel are vital to living a life honoring to Christ. If you begin shifting and changing the rules while you're in the process of dealing with your teenagers it can create a lot of confusion. Enforcing these foundational principles early on and sticking to them daily as we faced challenges helped protect us from that.
How do we help our children understand the importance of making good choices and how that impacts their future?
There will be some children that understand that naturally, but others do not have that type of discernment. You might be surprised as your children age how rapidly some of these things can change. You might be facing a situation with a child who made good choices all along then starts to make poor choices. The rules to die for were important because they were the foundation that I could point them back to to determine whether they were making wise choices or not. We could try to evaluate together whether their choices fit the type of living our family rules encouraged. All you can do is keep teaching the principles. Eventually they need to learn to make good choices for themselves.
Many of us are good at setting the "rules" but struggle with the follow-through. What are some ideas for consequences for violating family rules?
In our home we established the rules to die for and laid out the consequences when those rules weren't followed. If you were choosing not to follow the rules, we went so far as to say that you're choosing not to live in our home. That actually happened to us with one of our teenagers. It was a very difficult day, but we stood by our rules. In the long run, it has proven to be very effective.
How do today's television shows shape our parenting?
I think our parenting is shaped much more by the people around us, our faith, our own upbringing, and our environment than television.
We live in a culture that prizes being "busy." Parents often don't think twice about loading up their kids schedules and have dreams of their child being the best in whatever they do. Is there danger in this?
Yes, I have always said parents need to believe in their kids but there is such a thing as over believing in your kids and many parents fall into this. I believe we should encourage our children to be involved in the positive activities they enjoy and certainly support and cheer for them, but not force them to be involved in everything. Sometimes this can become a competition more for the parents than the children. We want our child to be the best at everything and we lose our focus of what is really important – spending quality time together! Be sure to keep proper balance!
Why is discipline often hard for us as parents?
Because we have to be responsible adults and we fear losing our child's friendship. We need to understand being best buddies isn't the most important part of your relationship with your children.
How can we help other parents, specifically single parents?
Put yourself in their shoes every now and then. If you know a single parent, try to relate to their life once in a while. Do what you can to support them! Think of practical ways you can help them and make their life a little easier. Take time to care!
You and your wife had a prodigal child. Tell us about that and how other parents dealing with this situation can cope.
This answer I feel could get very lengthy! If you want to have a phone conversation about this, let me know. I've learned a great deal through the challenge of having a prodigal child. It has been very difficult, but I now can relate and seek to love and encourage parents who are going through a difficult situation in a way I never would have been able to before. For this I am grateful. My wife and I learned to lean on the Lord, each other, and our friends in ways we never had before through this trial. It is important to surround yourself with people who love you and who have been through a similar situation. People who get it, can give you wise counsel, and encourage you to press on.
What should our main goal be as parents?
That our children grow to know and love the Lord. They need to see you modeling this for them daily as the parent! We need to be mature. Parenting involves a lot of dying to self. Being a good parent means most of the time the kids come first. Make sure you're setting a great example for others in the way you love your family.
Thank you so much for your time Dan! Parenting With Grace and Truth has been a great book for our family. It has opened our eyes to being more like Jesus as parents and this is how we want to be!
I can't wait to tell you all more about this next week, so please remember to check back! But, honestly, from what Dan has said today, who wants this book now?