If your parenting strategies are not working, then it’s time reevaluate your tactics. In today’s episode, Dr. Leman breaks down classic examples of bad parenting and provides some concrete solutions to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.


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Doug: All right. I said, this is what you are supposed to do and it better get done around here. Or is it more fun just to be like, “Oh, that’s all right, you set the couch on fire. No worries. We have just now have a burnt spot in the couch.” Which kind of a parent are you? And does it really matter in the end? Is there a good way to parent or not? That’s what we get to ask Dr. Kevin Leman today. Are there a right way to wrong way to parent? And are there kind of some stereotypes that would help us understand which one we might be?

Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us today. If any of the subject matter raises any concerns for you or a child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, Dr. Leman, today is the release of the new book Why Your Kid Misbehaves and What You Can Do About It. And in there, I’ve read a bunch of Leman books, you have four different descriptions of the way that we can parent. And I thought it was so helpful for me to understand which one I am and the impact it could have on my kids. You describe them, there’s the fun way, the my way, the right way and the easy way that we do this. Help us understand why did you include in there the ways that we parent? And why is that important for us to know that?

Andrea: I just have to throw in here. I loved the phrase he used a couple weeks ago, “You are the maestro of the misbehavior orchestra.” Here we are going to parents again.

Dr. Leman: Yeah, well there’s no denying it that we parents create a milieu in our home, a social milieu that is conducive to pulling the rope in the right direction and cooperating and loving and closeness and a sharing of feelings and a sharing of wonderment and just enjoying life. That sounds pretty ideal. Or we get into the right way, my way, the authoritarian way, the permissive way. There are so many avenues that you can choose, parent, that will lead to destruction of the solidity of your family.

Dr. Leman: I had a talk the other day with my grandson who’s just turned 16 and is now driving a car, about the road less traveled and the fact that there are fewer people on it. And I asked him, I said, “Connor,” I said, “why do you suppose there’s fewer people on that road less traveled?” And he said, “Well Grandpa, probably because it’s really hard to make the right choice.” I said, “Yeah, that’s pretty good, Connor. For 16 that’s real good.”

Dr. Leman: What I’m saying is, folks, there’s all kinds of choices out there on the kind of parent you’re going to be. And when Doug in his introduction said something to the effect of, “This is the way it’s going to be. I said, this needs to get done and I mean it.” That’s just a frustrated parent who lacks the skills to know how to approach these children who are growing every day toward adulthood. And a reminder, you’re not raising a kid, you’re actually rearing a little adult who someday is hopefully going to be a productive person in society.

Dr. Leman: But I think if you choose to be an authentic parent, you have authenticity in your life and you have openness in your life and you have a realness to your life and you have the ability to listen and you’re committed to being a good parent and you’re committed to being in sync with your mate, you’ve already made a great choice, and your kids in all probability are going to benefit from that basic commitment to each other. Now, hopefully you’re a person of faith and if you live your faith out in front of your children, there’s a very high probability that your children will one day come to a full realization of who the creator of the universe is and develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And that’s an eternal decision. The decisions that we make when kids are very young are really decisions that will influence not only our kids’ life on this earth, but their eternal life as well. The stakes are high in making great decisions when those kids are little.

Doug: Dr. Leman, I have a question for you. You describe four different ways that we can fall into parenting wrongly and I want to just choose one and highlight it and it’s the easy way. And you say the easy parent says, “I only count when everyone likes me and I can keep the peace in the house.” And then you go down and you start to talk about how that’s going to be a negative for the kids. Yet it feels like that’s kind of a good parenting style. What are the consequences if I go the easy way for my kids? What do I need to know if I’m the easy way parent?

Dr. Leman: Well, what you have to understand is by going the easy way, you’re creating a weak kid. You’re not giving any structure to the kid’s life. You’re not giving a sense of realness or authenticity because that’s not what life’s all about. If your son or daughter joins the service at age 18, they’re not going to get an email from the Navy or the Air Force or the Army that says, “If there’s any possibility that you could work it into your schedule, we would like to have you in Germany or Afghanistan on October 2nd.” That email is never going to come your way. You’re going to be told in a very authoritarian organization, namely the military, you will be there. Everything is not the utopian state of parenthood where parents are on the same page and you’re an authority over your kids. There’s part of life that’s very authoritarian. The police officer does not say to you, “Listen, have you chosen to accept this ticket from me?” He hands you the ticket.

Dr. Leman: And so when you just go to whatever feels good, do it, you’re creating a monster, quite frankly, who will never appreciate other people because they’re going to be so determined on just pleasing themselves. Now, let’s take that young man that grows up just pleasing himself. His mom gives into him all the time. Once in a while she gives him a vitamin N, but it doesn’t mean anything because the kid learns that all you got to do is wear her down and she’ll give in. I’m asking every mom to think what kind of a husband will that kid make? And let me ask the Terpenings, your firstborn son, James, you tell me, what kind of a husband will James make, do you suppose?

Doug: I think he’s going to make a great one. He’s super responsible.

Dr. Leman: Why?

Doug: Because he had to. We made him. We made, we pushed our kids hard on a number of things. They were expected. They’re expected to do chores around the house. We actually adopted your phrase that really changed it where we said every member of the household has to contribute to make this work. And when we did, our chores changed from, this is what mom and dad want us to do to, oh, we’re needed around the house. So much so that then he went and served abroad and it’s just part of his DNA now. Yeah.

Dr. Leman: Okay. Okay. Now Andrea, give me words that describe James’ personality.

Andrea: Oh, the very first one that comes to mind is responsible. He is very kind and thoughtful, caring. He’s well thoughtful also in the way of, he thinks things through in his head before he, so maybe a processor.

Dr. Leman: All right now let’s continue being personal. Doug, tell me and tell our listeners basically what James has accomplished in his years. Tell us how old he is and tell us what he’s done.

Doug: James is 20 years old and after high school he went and served in Costa Rica for five months stint and fell in love with serving. That he went back and gave two more years. Two and a half years of his life he’s been in Costa Rica serving. And he’s been helping other 18, 19, 20, 21 year olds from anything from building homes, where he’s helping to, he was responsible for the roof part of building homes for people in poor communities, to going downtown and helping out people with homelessness, to kids who were trying to figure out where are they in their faith journey? That’s what he did.

Dr. Leman: Okay. Andrea, tell us what James did as a kid growing up before he turned 18 and left your home. What were the kind of things he was involved in?

Andrea: Well, the 4H was a big one. He loved and he was in a second club, not just our animal club but in a club that was a leadership club and he loved that. Helping to create events and things for the whole community of 4H.

Dr. Leman: I’m assuming he was a good student as well, right?

Andrea: Yes, very responsible.

Doug: The other thing is we had all our kids have their own small business and we made them deal with all the details. Getting the food for the animals, dealing with the customers and all of that. And we stepped back as much as we could.

Dr. Leman: Okay. Now I got a question for all of you who are listening to this, is it a surprise? Is there any surprises here? Was there any real shockers what you just heard? See, these are parents who held their kids accountable, empowered them, and they’re all different. All four children are very different in the Terpening home. But you have to go out and you have to use the spade and you have to turn over the ground and you have to fertilize it. Just like I always say you, you water a marriage by words, by feelings, by communication and so are the Terpenings perfect? Far from it. They’ve admitted all their shortcomings but they’ve done a great job at raising kids and they’ve allowed the kids to experience life as it really is, having their own business, 4H. I’m very outspoken. I don’t like activities for kids basically because there’s too many of them. It dilutes the indelible imprint that a parent I think has the right to put on their own kid. And they think they’re helping their kids through activities and they’re not.

Dr. Leman: But one of the activities that I just rail about because it’s so super is guess what? 4H because kids are responsible from the time that calf is born or whatever they’re rearing and hard work and work ethic is a part of being successful in 4H. I’m just telling you parents, let’s everybody take a deep breath and ask yourself, what are you doing? Are you just giving your kids cheap things from China? Are you giving them things? They don’t need things. They need you. They need your expectations. They need your vitamin E, your encouragement, they need your vitamin N. Life goes by quick, folks. How many of you are saying, “I can’t believe little Henry’s already 11 years old and a little Samantha’s already nine. Oh my goodness time goes by quick.” Well, life goes by quick. Have at it parents, you be the parent you want to be. I’m just telling you that there’s a tremendous connection. As A is to B, on the kind of parent you are and the kind of kid you’re going to create.

Doug: Well, and this is why I appreciate you so much is because the other parenting style was what I was. Because I was, and I love the phrase that you finally got me understanding, I was King Doug and it was, I was super authoritarian and it was my way or guess what? Get out of here. And I was too far the other way and we don’t even, I don’t even know if we have time to jump into all the four different characteristics. And this is, so I want to balance it out, the easy way your kid’s going to go this way.

Doug: And mine was, I was creating rebellion off the charts in my kids that I see now from others who didn’t stop it soon enough. And this is also where you just talk about the differences where Andrea helped pull me into exactly what you said, caring for the kids and listening to the kids and being with the kids. She’s a superstar in those things and really helped me understand that I was just plowing them over and just shoving them out the door. Yeah, I don’t know if we have enough time to get into the my way parent in here or not, but yeah. Dr. Leman, I don’t know why I’m telling you that. I’m just like.

Dr. Leman: Yeah, and let’s face it. I love Doug because Doug has been brave enough to say publicly, I was a fool. I thought I was king of the Terpening house and he’s just lucky that he married the pretty one. She was the real helper.

Andrea: The easy way parent who wanted peace.

Dr. Leman: Well, a lot of us, men tend to operate at arms length and our comfort zone many times is just telling people what to do. I’ve never had a woman say to me, “I love it when my husband just tells me what to do.” Never heard that yet. But what I love is when a woman says something like, “Oh,” that little oh, as a response to something that husband has said or done. Then you know as a man, you’re really reaching into your wife’s heart. Well, what does heart have to do with it?

Dr. Leman: We’ve been mentioning The Way the Wise, you know that little a book I did that I love. It’s an easy read about an hour, hour and 15 minutes to read the entire book. But the passage that that book is premised on, Proverbs 3, in just the first six verses there, King Solomon uses the word heart three times. Parenting, relationships, marriage and our relationship with our maker is all about heart. Again, I don’t want to go too far over and make you guys feel uncomfortable with my adulation for how you’ve reared your kids, but it’s a perfect example of as you as a parent change and start to do things differently, the bonuses just flow in a very natural way to all of your children. Be a good parent, be a good mate and life’s going to be pretty good.

Doug: I want to read a quote from the book, for those of you that are like me was king where you’re the my way parent. I have a right as the parent to tell you what to do and you better do it. Is you say you’ll come down like an almighty hammer to judge your kids before they can open their mouths to explain the behavior. You might get immediate outward obedience because those kids view you as top dog, but trust me, resentment is simmering under the surface. I cannot underscore that for the my way parents. You are just, you are breeding resentment and you wonder why when your kids are 21 and they leave and never come back, how could that have been when you fed, clothed them and gave them everything they needed? I bring this up to talk about the fact that for many of us, if you’re like me, to be able to look at the mirror and look at yourself and go, “Hmm, what am I really like?”

Doug: That’s really tough to do. Which is why I like this section of the book because it’s like, okay, which one of these four parents are you? Okay, I can put myself maybe there. Here’s what you’re going to get with your parenting. And when I see the negative I’m impacting on my kids, that’s just enough to prick whatever that my mind, my heart, my soul, whatever, to be like, oh, maybe I should change so that I get what I want, which is a relationship with my kids. Well, if you don’t want a relationship with your kids, you can do these things and just think you’re going to create robots. But that’s craziness. Anything you want to say to that Dr. Leman before I jump into the book?

Dr. Leman: No, just do it. We make these things available. Some of them are a $1.99, 2.99. You’re buying books. You’re getting books that if you walk into a bookstore, you’re going to pay a 16.99 for plus tax and here you can download them, have them on your appliance. And the big deal is they change your life. You can share it with your mate. Here it is, read it. And I can’t say enough about it. I’m just thankful to Revell, my publisher who allows us to do these podcasts. Yeah, it obviously helps Revell because they’re the ones that gain most whenever they sell a Kevin Leman book. But I’m in the school business. I got seven schools. I’m not in the business of creating money for myself. I’m in the business of educating kids because I want to make a difference in kids’ lives.

Dr. Leman: And these books are very practical. They’re fun. Some of you don’t like them. I read the one star reviews once in a while and I go, “Wow, where’d this person come from?” I’m just so glad that most of my books are four and a half stars or better. And those four stars are hard to get. Five stars are almost impossible. And I got a few of those. We know what we’re doing is helping a lot of people. I’m thankful for people like Doug and Andrea who pour their heart and soul into this and make it fun and bring a sense of realness to us. Help us spread the word. Tell your friends, put it up on your social media. Tell people how to catch us here as we talk about life as it really is.

Doug: After this, I want to give a brief description of the four different ways and the harms that we have from them. But the book that you can get between now and the end of May of 2020, for only a buck 99 is Born to Win. Born to Win, $1.99 between now and the end of May of 2020 wherever eBooks are sold. And the other thing I want to tell you that’s really fun with Revell Baker is this week, the week of May 5th. May five, six, seven, eight I believe, is that they are going to give away five copies of the brand new book. Why Your Kid Misbehaves and What You Can Do About It. You’ve heard us talking about it for weeks now. I’m telling you it’s totally worth you going to get. If you want to try and get a free one, you can go to Dr. Leman’s Facebook page today and enter in for the contest to win one of those brand new books. It is a phenomenal book. Okay, now a no nonsense parenting moment with Dr Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: Go buy any gym, any fitness center where there’s open windows, where you can look in and you’ll see people working and working and working and they’re working out or trying to come up with a perfect body. Well, how about psychological muscles for your kids? How do you help build psychological muscles for your kids? The peer group can be cool, but you need to sometimes help your kids develop psychological muscles. What does that mean? It means well, number one, don’t overreact to everything that comes your kid’s way. Sometimes people will say things to your kids that are just downright unkind. Sometimes your kids are too over sensitive. One of the things I try to teach our kids at Leman Academy of Excellence is when somebody dogs you, somebody is really nasty to you, I teach our students at Leman Academy to look at them and say, “Wow, I didn’t realize you felt so bad about yourself.” Wow, does that take the air out of the balloon. Teach that to your child. It’s one of those little pocket answers that good old Dr. Leman loves.

Doug: Alrighty. I’m going to briefly touch on the four different parenting styles and then you two can tell me, you can highlight, accentuate anything that I miss or to expand it. You described these four different ways. The fun way parent, I only count when I’m in the limelight, noticed appreciated, adorned. And the hit to your parenting is as a fun way parent, you’ll probably avoid the situation by not dealing with it. You’ll exit the premises and go out for an evening, so you’re an avoider.

Doug: My way, I’ve already read this one, but I only count when I’m in charge and others immediately follow my orders. And the problem with this one is you might get an immediate outward obedience because those kids view you as the top dog. But trust me, resentment is simmering under the surface.

Doug: And then the right way. I only count when I get to meet my own, which I find interesting, my own high standards by doing things right, perfectionist and critical eyed. And here’s the impact you’ll have on those kids. This time those projects, quote unquote, are your kids and it will be impossible for them to meet your high standards and do life correctly, even on their best days. Your natural disposition to become discouraged and resentful won’t help resolve the behavior. It will only further alienate you from your kids.

Doug: Dr. Leman, why was it important for you to highlight the four different ways and like.

Dr. Leman: Well, I think it’s important for parents to see that our behavior influences the whole kid’s view of life and themselves. And you’re either giving them a realistic view or an unrealistic view. And for example, the parent that just says “It’s got to be my way,” is sowing the seeds of rebellion in that kid’s heart and soul. The parent that says, “Well, let’s just do it the fun way and everything goes,” is not only painting an unrealistic view of life, but it’s also sowing the seeds of discontent and rebellion in your kid’s heart and soul because there isn’t structure. We come back to the mid point of being an authority over your children. But that’s what’s so cool about why your kids misbehave and what to do about it. If you as a parent can identify, and the fun part of this book, you identify that just by your own feelings of your kid’s misbehavior, at what level your kid is misbehaving. And that way you know exactly where you need to improve as a parent.

Dr. Leman: It gives you motivation to move from where you are to a better place. And it’s not only a better place for you or your spouse, it’s a better place for your kids. We talked earlier about the Terpening children. Why have they done so well? I can go off of my five children, all of my five children, you would think with five children, you’d have a loser in there somewhere. A good that’s just not hitting on all eight cylinders.

Dr. Leman: Well, that’s not the case in the Leman family. All five of our kids are hitting on all eight cylinders and they’re doing extremely well in life. Extremely well in life. Well, it’s not an accident. It goes back to how we parent and why your kids misbehave and what to do about it gives you a starting place where you can go into your kid’s life, get behind their eyes, see how they see life, and I think you’ll be convicted of the fact that you need to change your behavior. And when you change your behavior as a parent, you set up a great possibility that your son or daughter is going to alter their behavior as well. Pick up a copy, you’ll enjoy it.

Doug: For everybody out there that’s wondering, do I really want to read a book? Do I really want to invest the time and energy? Is this book really worth it? I just say, whatever you invest in, you get great results from and what you don’t in this world, I’m just old enough to realize you don’t. If I don’t exercise for some reason, I don’t stay in shape and there are especially if you are, if you don’t have kids yet or you’re just starting out, man, it saves you so many problems later on that you have to deal with to have a game plan and know what you’re doing. Andrea, you’re shaking your head.

Andrea: Well no. I’m just thinking how, boy if you are just starting out or if you have a friend who’s pregnant, what a great gift because I keep hearing over and over in these last few podcasts, how much of it is, it’s not the kid, it’s the parent and so if the parent and the parents can get on the same page, if the parent can figure out what their parenting style was as a child and now how they’re going to parent, I just think wow, you’re starting out leaps and bounds ahead. Just getting yourself healthy as a parent because you are going to, you are the maestro of the misbehavior orchestra or of the the great kids orchestra. Where you’re going to have fun with them. And so yeah, I don’t know, I just think parents just starting out, are going to have kids soon. What a great idea to share this.

Doug: Well and Dr. Leman, to follow up on that real quick is, you’ve said it before, if we are willing to do the hard work especially when we were first setting out like you’re saying Andrea, as brand new kids, what is life like when we finally have those teenagers for us?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, there’s a great payoff. I’ve often said the best years are when your kids are teenagers. And people look at you like you got a screw loose. You got to be kidding me. I’m not kidding you. We had no problems throughout our kids’ teenage years, none. Why? Because our home was their home. We had the home field advantage so to speak in the Leman family because the kids would bring their friends over. I think our kids were initially shocked at how much their friends like Sandy and I. Was sort of funny. But the bottom line as parents, you want to be a difference maker in your kid’s life. I hope so. And some of you have gone off on the wrong track for various reasons. You brought a lot of baggage into your marriage and whatever, but you can right the ship and this little book Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do About It, will help you navigate the oceans of life.

Doug: Amen. And Andrea and I are living it right now. Our 20 year old and 18 year old are demanding that we go out to have dinner with them because they just want to talk and debrief.

Andrea: I was just going to say little story from our home this week because our oldest two have just come home from their YWAM experiences. I was sitting at the table eating lunch with all four of the kids the other day and I just, I stopped the middle of the conversation. I said, “You guys don’t know how happy I am. This is amazing. Here you are laughing and joking with each other and we’re talking about life. And I have these little flashbacks to when they were preteen and all the time we spent together. And now here we are, the five of us. Dad’s at work, laughing and just enjoying one another. And you guys just don’t even know what a gift this is to your mom. It’s amazing. I am drinking it in.”

Doug: The payoff is you’re going to have some hard years to change yourself and change the patterns with your kids. I did. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not nice. But man, the payoff is so worth it for your kid’s sake and for you. It’s amazing. In conclusion, you can get Born to Win now until the end of May of 2020 for a $1.99 where eBooks are sold and go get the new book, Why Your Kid Misbehaves and What to Do About It. You get actual practical steps. They go on sale today, May 5th, and I am so excited to hear about how your life changes and just how much more you can enjoy those kids and love on them. Trust me, it will happen. Thank you for being with us today and listening. We appreciate you being with us.

Andrea: Have a great day.

Doug: Take care. Bye bye.