I can think of a number of occasions when I was in a disagreement with my wife, my kids, or a friend. No doubt you can too. Recall the discomfort you felt, the tension in your body, the lack of certainty of what to do next.


It is very difficult to feel any differently when conflict happens because of the fight, flight, or freeze button activated in our brains. There is however, one thing we can do to lessen those reactions and make resolving conflict easy(er). Continue Reading →

Recently Zerrin and I spent some very rich time with some good friends. As we conversed, the husband began to share he felt as though his life no longer had purpose. We talked about challenges they faced, the season of life they were in, and questions about God. I wanted to encourage my brother, but experienced a growing frustration inside of me because nothing I said seemed to have any impact.


Then something happened that came out of no where. Torrents of emotions were stirred in me and I began to weep! Through my tears I managed to tell him how much of a difference he has made in my life and how much I need him and how difficult it would be to go on in life if I knew that he wasn’t still running the race as I am.

Then, in the midst of my tears, I found myself wondering what my friends and my wife were thinking about me as I was crying. Was it OK? Or did they see me as weak? Continue Reading →

I’m not sure when it really hit me, but there it was: we were having the same conflict again that we did the week before. And the week before that, and even the one before that! What was going on? Why did we keep fighting over the same thing?


Being a counselor who is trained to analyze complex situations, I had to figure this one out. What I eventually discovered was transformational to my marriage. Continue Reading →

Recently when talking to my brother, we both shared separate stories of a childhood memory where words were said to us in a very demeaning manner. I was in 8th grade when a teacher ridiculed me in front of the whole class because I didn’t know the definition of a word. I remember feeling utterly ashamed. I wanted to disappear. Why did he do that? Why wasn’t he considerate of the effect that might have had on me? Why aren’t we all much more attentive to what we say and how we say it? What should we keep in mind the most when communicating so that we can positively affect and love others well?


There is a proverb that says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Think about that. The very words you and I use each and every day are words that can injure, wound, shame, destroy, and bring death. OR they can bring forth LIFE! Our words can encourage, help, comfort, build up, strengthen, give direction, and heal! Continue Reading →

I know of couples who straight out go for the jugular when they fight with each other. Emotions escalate and so do they. Then there are those who are split: one wants to get to the bottom of things NOW and the other does everything they can to run the other direction. And finally, there are those couples in which neither party really wants to engage, so they both tend to put off dealing with conflict. Zerrin and I tend to fall more in this last camp. Here are some action steps to take regardless of how you deal with conflict:


Step #1: Consider Your Conflict Style

Why do you tend to deal with conflict the way you do? What good (or bad) examples have you learned from? These are very important questions to ask. They can lead to much personal insight. The more you clarify why, the more power you will have to change. Continue Reading →

In times of war there is something known as Rules Of Engagement (ROE). According to GlobalSecurity.org, they are “directives issued by competent military authority which delineate the circumstances and limitations under which United States forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered.”

Recently I thought married couples should be practicing rules of engagement when it comes to interpersonal conflict!

Here are 8 Rules of Engagement to ensure you’re always fighting fair: Continue Reading →

On the first page of the prologue in her book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, Judith S. Wallerstein writes: “The major contribution of this book has been to recognize, for the first time, that when children of divorce become adults, they are badly frightened that their relationships will fail, just like the most important relationship in their parents’ lives failed.” What does it take to overcome the effects of divorce on children? Continue Reading →

For years I have heard teaching on the verse Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” But what does it really mean?

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Image credit: spotmatikphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Most of the time the message heard from this verse is that if you raise your children properly, and later they rebel, you can be assured they will return. Too often however we forget that the verse is a Proverb (a general principle of wisdom) and not a promise. And at closer examination, there is much more to learn.

A professor of mine in graduate school wrote a very interesting and compelling article on this verse with a much broader take on the Wisdom Writer’s message. (See here.) In short the message is: train and prepare your children for adulthood, while celebrating their achievements along the way. In so doing you initiate them into their future roles. Through your encouragement and affirmation they will not depart from, but continue in their positions of honor.

Much could be expounded upon given the above understanding, but this article will focus on the idea of training and preparing your child for his or her future responsibilities. From training on wheels as children, to training on our jobs as adults we are all familiar with the concept. We learn a particular skill or behavior through instruction, practice, and repetition.

Zerrin and I decided early on, we would incorporate training in our efforts of child-rearing. We started by teaching our children how to meet and greet people they had never met before. We set up training exercises where I role-played a new person meeting the family and Zerrin would introduce our children to me. We taught them how to stretch out their hand to greet…to grasp the other’s hand firmly and shake three times…to look in their eyes, smile and say “nice to meet you sir.” We practiced again and again until they were trained well. Then we gave them opportunities to experience what they learned in real life. It was great preparation and much fun in the process.

We trained our children how to pray alone, and how to pray out loud for others. We taught them how to welcome others in to our home and love them. We trained them how to budget. We worked from an early age to teach and train them how to resolve conflict.

As parents, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of simply monitoring our kids and carting them around to their various activities. There is so much more! We must develop the mindset as parents that a very important part of our role is to train and raise up our children to be prepared for life in every way. We are their greatest mentors!

There are a 1001 areas in which we could train our children besides those mentioned above: how to organize; creating healthy study habits; where to find the best shopping deals; how to cook, wash clothes, clean house, mow the lawn, plant a garden, kill a spider, and unplug the toilet; automotive care 101; personal hygiene; how to love and respect one another; social skills such as good listening, joining in conversation, keeping good eye contact, and drawing people out; how to respect authorities such as teachers, police officers, and government officials; to appreciate the history of our country and our family. And this is only a start!

My children, your children, are amongst life’s greatest gifts. Love them fully. Train them well. Prepare them for their future. Be their mentor, and celebrate their achievements along the way. In so doing, you stand the greatest chance of setting the inclination of your children’s hearts to live out the best course imaginable for their lives!

Where have you sought to train your children? Leave a comment below:

All kids are asking two simple but profound questions:

1. “Am I really, really loved?”

2. “Can I get my own way without cost?”

How MUST we answer them? The first question: “Am I really, really loved?” must be answered YES!! A resounding “Yes, you are loved unconditionally – no matter what!”

How are we to get that message conveyed most clearly from our hearts to theirs? Continue Reading →