Do you want to have a great future as a parent? You need to look at your home today. Dr. Kevin Leman shares what to look for in your home.


Transcript from the podcast:

Doug: Well, this is continuing what we did last time which is “How do we help new parents set a great foundation?” Or, for those of us like me who didn’t set that foundation and are now in the middle of it, help us re-establish that foundation and make sure we get the keys to get back to where we want it to be.

The first one–if you haven’t listened to it, go back and listen to it–it’s really, really good. It’s about knowing your past, evaluate your past, realize that you are a product of your past, and all those types of things that Dr. Leman shared.
Today, we’re going to talk about what your home is like today, take a home inventory. Dr. Leman, how do we take a home inventory and what should we be looking for?

Dr. Leman: I think the first thing you have to understand, or ask the question: Do we have a united front? Are we really one? Are we one team? I hate to tell you there’s not many that are one team. That’s why there’s so much dysfunction, and so many problems in families today.

And that’s why books like Have a New Kid by Friday sell off the shelf because parents are wondering what to do. The first thing they have to do to fix the problem is realize that when you got married, it wasn’t just the two of you. You married your families.

And some of the residue from the family you came out of is affecting how you parent today. It’s very typical that one of you might be authoritarian based and harder, which automatically sets up a good probability of the other spouse being a little on the permissive side. So, you’re not together.

The first thing you have to address is getting on the same page. That means you have to make some concessions to your spouse so that you move together. That’s tough to do, but you need to be shoulder to shoulder. If you’re shoulder to shoulder, almost everything you say and do, the kids will accept. You have to take a look at your family and ask yourself, “Is this a fun place? If I was a kid, would I like to hang out with these people?”

If the answer is no, you need to re-evaluate what’s really important in life. We’ve stressed on these podcasts, relationships rather than rules. It’s all about relationships. I think you want to make sure you have fun in the family.

The other thing I guess I would suggest you take a look at is what kind of words you use with those you love. Are they encouraging words? Are they things like, “Hey, great. Looks like you really caught on to that. Wow, I’m really impressed by the fact you got a B on that course. That’s really a tough course for you. Wow, looks like all that extra effort you put in is really paying off.” Those are all encouraging words.

If you grew up with a critical-eyed parent–here’s a kid who’s really struggling because they’re no good in math at all, but they bring home a B and you have the audacity to say, “Hey, what’s with the B?” I mean, really, do you really want to go there? I don’t think so.

The self-evaluation for your family, I think starts with how are things working out for you. If you’re frustrated every night and you’re angry at your spouse or you’re angry at the kids, maybe you ought to look at a different paradigm, a different model.

That’s what we try to give you on every podcast. We go back to being the authoritative parent, which means you’re in authority without being an authoritarian. Not micromanaging. You’re expecting the best of your kids, you follow through, you don’t take excuses on, and you be a good parent which means sometimes you say, “You know, I shouldn’t have said that. Would you forgive me? I was wrong.” That’s the model that you start with to provide a family atmosphere that’s good for your kids.

Doug: Dr. Leman, when you were talking about be united with your spouse, you said something to the effect of “If one’s authoritarian or one’s permissive, you need to learn to give up something to be more united with your spouse.” Could you give us an example of what that would mean, what that means?

Dr. Leman: You might be rule-oriented, and you have a rule that the kids have to be in the
house by 5:00. The kid walks in at 5:07 and you just go off on the kid. Really, seven minutes? It sets up your spouse to say, “Honey, wait a minute. It’s not that big a thing.” Well, it’s a big thing to you because you’re rule oriented. So, husband and wife, get behind closed doors, re-examine that situation, say, “Honey, how could we handle that better?”

The parent that is little more accepting of what it’s like to rear a kid who comes in at 5:07, says “It’s not the end of the world.” Isn’t it better to greet the kid with, “I bet you had a great day today,” than, “Hey, you’re seven minutes late”? Do you see what I’m saying? But if you formulate that plan to be shoulder to shoulder–otherwise the kids will perceive, “Uh-Oh. Mom and Dad are on a different page.”

And they don’t like that. That rips away their security to have a Mom and Dad at opposite ends of the spectrum. Whenever you’re united, the kids feel that they’re safe. That’s what you have to keep in mind. Kids love the mundane. They love the predictable. They’re very much like Kevin Leman who eats the same breakfast basically every morning.
Lots of times, a waitress will come up and say, “Are you ready to order?” I’ll look at her and say, “We’re men. We knew what we’re going to have before we walked in the door.” She smiles and laughs and says, “Great, I’ve got two idiots to wait on.”

But nevertheless, you have to get on the same page and it’s all about relationships. You do this, not in front of the kids. You do this behind closed doors.
Again, we’re trying to change the course of the river. One of the reasons why you’re having problems with kids is that one of you is a rule person, and one of you is a relationship person. We need a way of getting both of you on the same page, to be a relationship person, rather than just a rule person.

Andrea: For couples who already have kids, that description will help them to evaluate where they are. But what if you don’t have kids yet? Or what if you have just a tiny baby? Can you give any examples how that couple might be able to evaluate whether or not they’re on the same page? I know in the early years of marriage, maybe that first year before there are any kids, life seems pretty happy-go-lucky and you get along.

Dr. Leman: Yeah, until the enemy shows up.

Andrea: How could they evaluate are we on the same page? Are we united? Are there some questions they could ask themselves?

Dr. Leman: This is a broad statement. What will determine the fate of your family gets down to the very core of who you are as a person. Did you marry the right person? We’re married. That’s a weird question to ask. Well, it’s a good question to ask because again, your family will thrive or shrivel depending upon the very core of who you are.
Think about that, the very core of who you are. What did you learn in that family that you came out of? What are your core values? If you two have the same core values, you’re going to do fine. If you believe that parents need to be in authority over children, you’re going to be fine. I’m old enough to remember when kids actually used to obey their parents.

Now parents obey their kids. What I’m saying is, from the get-go, for that young couple who’s maybe expecting or just dreaming about having children, I think it gets back to whether the core values match up. If they do, you’re in great shape.

Andrea: That’s great. Thank you.

Doug: I’m thinking about your book Have a New You. Would this be a time for someone to get that book to analyze and look at where are they in life?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, because it gives you a road map, psychological road map of who you are. In that book I say, “This book ought to cost $199.” I say that because if you’re meeting for the first time with a shrink, your half hour to 45 minutes costs you $225. Read my little paperback book for $14, or $12 or whatever it is, shrink yourself.
It’s no secret who you are. You came from this family, and that book walks you through how you got to where you are, and then gives you specific ideas about how to change things. It all gets to the fact that you can think your way–listen to this sentence–think your way to behavioral change. Behavior doesn’t just happen.
“Oh, that’s just the way I am.” Well, I got news for you. That’s a lie.

Just the way you are–it’s not good for you, it’s not good for your spouse, it’s not good for your kids. You need to do some changing. Who can change you? The shrink you pay money to, or you? Who’s the captain of your ship? Who’s the one that decides to smoke cigarettes, or not smoke cigarettes? Do you see what I’m saying? It all goes back to who we are, in our ability to adapt and change.

I just think that behavioral change is very possible. Is it easy to change? No, it’s not easy, because we’re all creatures of habit. But for the sake of your children, you need to be on the same page.

Doug: I really appreciate you saying that your family will thrive or shrivel depending on who you are as a person. I didn’t get that as a young parent and that’s why I love what you’re teaching. I got rules–and that’s how you get kids to be obedient.

This is just a testimony to exactly what you’re saying. What’s happened later in life is I have gotten Doug Terpening better, guess what, my parenting has gotten better, my marriage has gotten better, and I have less rules and more relationship now than ever before, and life is so much better.

If you’re a brand new parent, please take this to heart. Go get the book and believe that you can think your way to new behavior, because you can. And it will make your marriage better, it will make everything better.


Dr Leman’s latest training is Great Parenting from the Get-Go with Dr. Leman’s Proven Game-Plan.

The training is for parents with kids 7 years of age and younger. If your child is older than 7 and it feels like things are a bit out of control, this training will help highlight areas you missed for the firm foundation.

It closes Monday, Jan 19th.

Click HERE for more information.

The next session is a Ask Dr. Leman. If you have a question or thought regarding this topic, please leave us a voicemail for the next session. It must be under 30 seconds for the podcast. We reserve the right to use your question on the podcast. (This is NOT a private voicemail for personal counseling.)

Your Feedback

If you have an idea for a podcast or a question about an upcoming episode, e-mail me. If you enjoyed the show, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review. That would help tremendously in getting the word out! Thanks.