Focus on the Family Magazine - October/November 2021

It can be a struggle to raise a family while balancing your work life, social life and relationships. Focus on the Family magazine is here to help! Each complimentary issue delivers fresh, practical Biblical guidance on family and life topics. Every issue comes packed with relevant advice to build up your kids, strengthen your marriage, navigate entertainment and culture, and handle common challenges you may face in your marriage and parenting journeys. Plus you'll find seasonal advice ranging from back-to-school activities to date night tips for you and your spouse.

It can be a struggle to raise a family while balancing your work life, social life and relationships. Focus on the Family magazine is here to help! Each complimentary issue delivers fresh, practical Biblical guidance on family and life topics.

Every issue comes packed with relevant advice to build up your kids, strengthen your marriage, navigate entertainment and culture, and handle common challenges you may face in your marriage and parenting journeys. Plus you'll find seasonal advice ranging from back-to-school activities to date night tips for you and your spouse.

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‘HELP, I<br />



Helping Families Thrive in Christ<br />

OCT / NOV <strong>2021</strong><br />



BY FEAR,<br />


WORRY?<br />

M eet<br />



Jean-Paul<br />

Beran<br />

pg. 24

<strong>October</strong> / <strong>November</strong><br />

C<strong>on</strong>tents<br />

Difficulties in a marriage<br />

often affect <strong>the</strong> whole family<br />

You can give couples <strong>the</strong> help <strong>the</strong>y need when life gets difficult and<br />

tensi<strong>on</strong>s arise. Your d<strong>on</strong>ati<strong>on</strong> will make sure couples have access<br />

to articles, broadcasts, digital video series and o<strong>the</strong>r relevant tools<br />

<strong>the</strong>y need to streng<strong>the</strong>n and improve <strong>the</strong>ir relati<strong>on</strong>ship.<br />


Couples<br />


A marriage insight from Sue Mellema<br />


Appreciating your spouse will<br />

streng<strong>the</strong>n your marriage—and<br />

change you<br />

by Gary Thomas<br />


Five strategies for streng<strong>the</strong>ning<br />

your relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />

by Holley Gerth<br />


After two kids and 25 years of<br />

marriage, Mike told his family he<br />

was leaving. They all thought it was<br />

forever<br />

by Thomas Jeffries<br />

In Every<br />

Issue<br />


5 HACKS & FACTS<br />

10 MEDIA<br />


Faith & Inspirati<strong>on</strong><br />


The mealtime blessing that<br />

drew my neighbors toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

by Farrah Adkins<br />


<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada’s<br />

new president shares how his<br />

complicated past has given him<br />

a passi<strong>on</strong> for helping families find<br />

hope in Christ<br />

by Amy Van Veen and Todd Foley<br />


Letting go of my grudge helped me<br />

appreciate my husband and focus<br />

<strong>on</strong> God’s character<br />

by Krystle Porter<br />

Kids & Teens<br />


A parenting activity<br />

from Linsey Driskill<br />



Get to <strong>the</strong> heart of what’s<br />

bo<strong>the</strong>ring your kids with simple,<br />

n<strong>on</strong>threatening questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

by Michelle Nietert<br />



Three tips to help your teens<br />

become screenwise<br />

by J<strong>on</strong>athan McKee<br />


How to help children placed<br />

through foster care feel safe, valued<br />

and welcomed into your family<br />

by Johnst<strong>on</strong> Moore<br />


How to resp<strong>on</strong>d if your kids are<br />

isolating <strong>the</strong>mselves from social<br />

interacti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

by Mike Bechtle<br />

Will you c<strong>on</strong>sider supporting hurting couples<br />

with a d<strong>on</strong>ati<strong>on</strong> today?<br />

Simply visit <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Give or call 1.800.661.9800.<br />

<strong>October</strong> / <strong>November</strong> <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 3


Hacks & Facts<br />

president Jim Daly<br />

chief operating officer Ken Windebank<br />

publisher Steve Johns<strong>on</strong><br />


focus canada president Jean-Paul Beran<br />

editorial director Sheila Seifert<br />

managing editor Andrea Gutierrez<br />

copy chief Scott DeNicola<br />

c<strong>on</strong>tributing editors Ginger Kolbaba, Vance<br />

Fry, Jennifer L<strong>on</strong>as, Thomas Jeffries,<br />

a new<br />

chapter<br />

Marianne Hering and Jeff Masching<br />

art director Brian Mellema<br />

designer Anneka Jack<br />

cover The Beautiful Mess<br />

media publishing director Kevin Shirin<br />

editorial assistant Kat Bittner<br />

print producti<strong>on</strong> Gail Wise<br />

Jean-Paul Beran is<br />

president of <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada.<br />

IN 1983, six years after <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Family</strong> began <strong>the</strong>ir ministry in <strong>the</strong> U.S.,<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada opened<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir doors to serve <strong>the</strong> unique needs of<br />

Canadian families. Terence Rolst<strong>on</strong>, who<br />

faithfully served for many years as president, stepped down<br />

at <strong>the</strong> end of 2020. Bob Cheatley, a l<strong>on</strong>g-time board member<br />

of <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada, stepped in to serve as<br />

interim president.<br />

During that time, <strong>the</strong> Board of Directors began <strong>the</strong>ir extensive<br />

search. I am humbled and h<strong>on</strong>ored to be selected as <strong>the</strong><br />

new president of <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada.<br />

I am thankful for Terence’s legacy of faith and heart for helping<br />

families thrive. I am also grateful to Bob for stepping in to<br />

lead this ministry through a time of transiti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Jesus is my Lord and my Savior; he’s my everything. As I<br />

look ahead to this new chapter of serving as president, I look<br />

to Jesus as my example of leading with wisdom, service and<br />

grace. On page 24, you’ll have <strong>the</strong> opportunity to learn more<br />

about my story and understand my passi<strong>on</strong> for serving families<br />

in broken places and difficult seas<strong>on</strong>s. It is my desire that every<br />

family, regardless of what <strong>the</strong>y’re walking through, will experience<br />

<strong>the</strong> hope of Christ.<br />

I pray you find encouragement and guidance in <strong>the</strong> many<br />

excellent articles within <strong>the</strong>se pages, and I look forward to serving<br />

you in your journey of building a thriving family.<br />

Blessings,<br />

Jean-Paul Beran<br />


circulati<strong>on</strong> Sandy Grivy<br />

Thank you!<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> provides this magazine and<br />

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<strong>Magazine</strong>.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> magazine <strong>October</strong>/<strong>November</strong><br />

<strong>2021</strong>, Vol. 6, No. 5 ISSN 2471-5921, © <strong>2021</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Family</strong>. All rights reserved. Published by <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

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A Gourd of<br />

Gratefulness<br />

To help foster an attitude of gratitude in our family, I placed<br />

a medium-sized pumpkin in <strong>the</strong> center of our dinner table<br />

and, starting <strong>the</strong> first of <strong>the</strong> m<strong>on</strong>th, we used it to record<br />

things for which we were grateful. At dinnertime, each family<br />

member shared something he or she was thankful for.<br />

Starting at <strong>the</strong> top of <strong>the</strong> pumpkin, we wrote down each<br />

item using a black Sharpie. We added to it every night until<br />

Thanksgiving, eventually covering <strong>the</strong> outside of <strong>the</strong> entire<br />

gourd. The kids looked forward to writing something each<br />

evening (so did I!), and <strong>the</strong> pumpkin became a w<strong>on</strong>derful<br />

reminder and centerpiece of our many blessings.<br />

—Tien-Yee Hillman<br />

4 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY <strong>October</strong> / <strong>November</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

<strong>October</strong> / <strong>November</strong> <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 5





During <strong>on</strong>e particular Christmas seas<strong>on</strong>, my husband<br />

and I felt that our kids were being less grateful than<br />

we would have liked. So starting in January, we had<br />

<strong>the</strong>m write a letter every m<strong>on</strong>th to some<strong>on</strong>e, telling<br />

that pers<strong>on</strong> why <strong>the</strong>y were thankful for him or her.<br />

They chose to write to teachers, ministers, grandparents<br />

and friends’ parents. We taught our kids how to<br />

properly address <strong>the</strong> envelopes.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> end of that year of letters, we d<strong>on</strong>ated blankets<br />

and coats to <strong>the</strong> local homeless shelter. It was a<br />

full year of thankfulness, with m<strong>on</strong>thly reminders of<br />

gratitude and an <strong>on</strong>going heart change.<br />

—Rebecca Hardie<br />

People who send thankyou<br />

notes report a mood<br />

boost of two points <strong>on</strong> an<br />

11-point scale.<br />

Source: Psychological Science, 2018<br />

Gratitude Journal<br />


A Less<strong>on</strong> in<br />

Finger Painting<br />

One day we let my daughter totally paint her hands<br />

with finger paints. When it was time to wash <strong>the</strong><br />

paint off, we explained that germs can be all over her<br />

hands just like <strong>the</strong> paint; <strong>the</strong> <strong>on</strong>ly difference is that<br />

she can’t see <strong>the</strong> germs.<br />

So when she washes her hands, it’s important to<br />

scrub with soap and rub all over (getting between<br />

fingers, <strong>on</strong> top of hands, etc.). As she washed off <strong>the</strong><br />

paint, she was so excited to get her hands clean. Now<br />

when we want her to wash her hands properly, we<br />

remind her of <strong>the</strong> paint.<br />

Sneeze Beneath<br />

<strong>the</strong> Collar<br />

—Autumn Shaffer<br />

I taught my three boys to sneeze into <strong>the</strong> inside of<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir T-shirts by lifting <strong>the</strong> collar over <strong>the</strong>ir mouth and<br />

nose. That way <strong>the</strong> germs stay where <strong>the</strong>y’re at . . .<br />

with <strong>the</strong>m. As odd as it sounds, this practice has been<br />

well received. And because <strong>the</strong>ir clo<strong>the</strong>s are getting<br />

washed regularly, I can ensure that o<strong>the</strong>r people aren’t<br />

being subjected unnecessarily to my kids’ poorly<br />

directed sneezes.<br />

—Joanna Sanders<br />

Healthy Hands<br />

To avoid <strong>the</strong> spread of germs, I insist my children<br />

wear clo<strong>the</strong>s with pockets. This way, whenever we<br />

go out, I ask <strong>the</strong>m to keep <strong>the</strong>ir hands tucked in, and<br />

we avoid a lot of unnecessary touching. At times, I<br />

put a coin in <strong>the</strong>ir pocket and allow <strong>the</strong>m to keep it if<br />

I d<strong>on</strong>’t see <strong>the</strong>ir hands. The m<strong>on</strong>ey motivates <strong>the</strong>m to<br />

keep <strong>the</strong>ir hands out of sight.<br />

—Allis<strong>on</strong> Struber<br />

My husband and I taught our kids to keep a<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>al gratitude journal for jotting down<br />

encouraging thoughts, ideas and prayers.<br />

These became c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> starters at dinner<br />

every evening, and we brainstormed<br />

how to turn <strong>the</strong>m into acti<strong>on</strong>s: calling a<br />

friend to say we care, emailing a word of<br />

encouragement, saying thank you for a<br />

kindness, helping a sibling with a task or<br />

drawing a picture for grandparents.<br />

We also found that making Thanksgiving<br />

a truly special time, ra<strong>the</strong>r than simply a<br />

steppingst<strong>on</strong>e to Christmas, led our children<br />

to understand and value <strong>the</strong> significance of<br />

gratitude well bey<strong>on</strong>d <strong>the</strong> holiday seas<strong>on</strong>.<br />

—Nancy Koenig<br />




Our children washed thoroughly if <strong>the</strong>ir hands<br />

“looked” dirty, but if <strong>the</strong>y didn’t see dirt, <strong>the</strong>y would<br />

skip washing. One day we looked <strong>on</strong>line at pictures<br />

of germs magnified by a microscope. What a sight!<br />

That day changed my girls’ understanding about<br />

germs, and <strong>the</strong>y now wash without being told.<br />

—Ashlie Gillit<br />

6<br />


<strong>October</strong> / <strong>November</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

<strong>October</strong> / <strong>November</strong> <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 7



‘Do Unto O<strong>the</strong>rs . . .’<br />



I’ve marveled at how teaching<br />

my kids to have simple, kind<br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s can help <strong>the</strong>m bridge<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir differences with <strong>the</strong>ir peers.<br />

When our youngest s<strong>on</strong> butted<br />

heads with a classmate and <strong>the</strong><br />

situati<strong>on</strong> verged <strong>on</strong> bullying, <strong>the</strong><br />

classmate’s mo<strong>the</strong>r and I arranged<br />

playdates for <strong>the</strong> boys. It worked.<br />

They learned to embrace each<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r’s differences and found<br />

comm<strong>on</strong> ground, too.<br />

Every Saturday, I sat my children around <strong>the</strong> table for our weekly Bible<br />

reading and Scripture memorizati<strong>on</strong> before <strong>the</strong>y went out to play. One<br />

particular Scripture verse, “Do to o<strong>the</strong>rs as you would have <strong>the</strong>m do to<br />

you” (Luke 6:31, NIV), particularly encouraged my 7-year-old s<strong>on</strong>.<br />

After school <strong>on</strong>e day, my s<strong>on</strong> told me he’d made a new friend. She<br />

was a classmate who used a wheelchair. The o<strong>the</strong>r kids ignored or<br />

mocked her, but he wanted to treat her as he would have wanted o<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

to treat him, so he befriended her. Slowly, some of his classmates<br />

decided to befriend <strong>the</strong> little girl, too.<br />

—Dianna Lefas<br />

—Kristi Woods<br />

Comm<strong>on</strong><br />

Ground<br />

Between Kids<br />

Instead of focusing <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

differences my children notice<br />

between <strong>the</strong>mselves and o<strong>the</strong>rs,<br />

I encourage <strong>the</strong>m to look harder<br />

for <strong>the</strong> similarities between <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

For instance, <strong>on</strong>e of my s<strong>on</strong>s<br />

recently saw a boy about his age<br />

with a pacifier in his mouth. He<br />

immediately pointed it out (quite<br />

loudly) and asked if he was a baby.<br />

Instead of hushing or shaming<br />

him, I pointed out how he looked<br />

about my s<strong>on</strong>’s age and probably<br />

also enjoyed playing with cars<br />

and dinosaurs, too. Then I gently<br />

reminded him that he used to use<br />

a pacifier, as well. Reminding him<br />

of <strong>the</strong> ways he was <strong>the</strong> same as <strong>the</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r boy helped my s<strong>on</strong> view him<br />

in a new light.<br />

—Elizabeth James<br />



ON THE<br />


On his first day of third grade, my<br />

s<strong>on</strong> complained about a new kid<br />

who “messed up everything for<br />

everybody.” I discovered this child<br />

had ADHD, and <strong>the</strong>re were times his<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>r forgot to give him his medicati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

That night I read my s<strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> Bible story in Luke 10 about <strong>the</strong><br />

good Samaritan, stressing that we<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t know what this little boy might<br />

be going through in life and that we<br />

always need to show compassi<strong>on</strong><br />

and kindness regardless of how he<br />

might act. My s<strong>on</strong> said he’d try.<br />

That spring, I volunteered to<br />

chaper<strong>on</strong>e a school field trip. I was<br />

surprised when <strong>the</strong> boy’s mom<br />

took my hand. “I want to tell you<br />

how w<strong>on</strong>derful your s<strong>on</strong> is,” she<br />

said, her eyes glistening. “I know my<br />

s<strong>on</strong> can be difficult, but when n<strong>on</strong>e<br />

of <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r children will play with<br />

him, your s<strong>on</strong> always does.”<br />

As I said good night to my s<strong>on</strong><br />

that evening, he asked me if I had<br />

fun that day. I told him it was <strong>the</strong><br />

best day ever.<br />

—Linda Breeden<br />

Changing Unfair Labels<br />

One day, when my 10-year-old daughter, Julia, and I were out shopping,<br />

a girl from her school said hello. Julia barely acknowledged her. When<br />

I asked her why she’d acted that way, my daughter said, “She’s <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong><br />

bad kids, Mom.” By bad, Julia meant that she didn’t turn in her homework<br />

or get good grades, and she often got into trouble in class. I was<br />

c<strong>on</strong>cerned that my daughter was labeling kids in such a negative way.<br />

When we got home, I handed Julia a notepad and said, “I’d like you<br />

to make a list of every<strong>on</strong>e in your life who has helped you become who<br />

you are.” Her list was l<strong>on</strong>g, filled with parents, grandparents, aunts and<br />

uncles, her youth leaders at church, teachers and friends. I looked at her<br />

list and said, “We need to remember that a lot of kids can’t make a list<br />

like yours. Some kids d<strong>on</strong>’t have any<strong>on</strong>e to help <strong>the</strong>m with homework or<br />

teach <strong>the</strong>m how to behave. Who would you be today if no <strong>on</strong>e had ever<br />

helped you?”<br />

Julia nodded. “I’ll remember,” she said.<br />

After <strong>the</strong> list experience, Julia told her teacher that if any<strong>on</strong>e needed<br />

help with homework, she would stay inside during recess to help.<br />

She’d always assumed that when kids didn’t do <strong>the</strong>ir homework, it was<br />

out of laziness or bad behavior. After our c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>, she often spent<br />

recess helping <strong>the</strong> girl with her math homework, explaining homework<br />

in <strong>the</strong> same way I explained it to Julia <strong>the</strong> night before. It helped her<br />

see that we shouldn’t judge o<strong>the</strong>r people’s situati<strong>on</strong>s because we d<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

know all <strong>the</strong> facts.<br />

—Diane Stark<br />

8<br />


<strong>October</strong> / <strong>November</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

<strong>October</strong> / <strong>November</strong> <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 9


Couples<br />



I know I should be using parental c<strong>on</strong>trols<br />

<strong>on</strong> my kids’ accounts and devices, but I’m<br />

unsure where to start. What should I do?<br />

Great questi<strong>on</strong> because, let’s face it, that’s<br />

where a lot of us as parents are today. Yes,<br />

we know—in <strong>the</strong> abstract—that parental<br />

c<strong>on</strong>trols are available. But implementing<br />

<strong>the</strong>m can seem intimidating and overwhelming<br />

because, well, we d<strong>on</strong>’t know where to begin.<br />

The good news is that using parental c<strong>on</strong>trols is<br />

actually pretty simple <strong>on</strong>ce you get over that understandable<br />

anxiety.<br />

I’d suggest starting with a streaming service you<br />

use, which will give you a quick “win” and boost your<br />

c<strong>on</strong>fidence. Let’s take Netflix as an example: First, log<br />

<strong>on</strong> to your account from your computer. (Note that<br />

<strong>the</strong> procedure will be a little different if you log <strong>on</strong><br />

from a mobile device or smart TV.) Hover over your<br />

profile pic in <strong>the</strong> upper right-hand corner, and you’ll<br />

see <strong>the</strong> word “Account” appear in a drop-down menu.<br />

Click <strong>on</strong> it. At <strong>the</strong> bottom of that page, you’ll see <strong>the</strong><br />

header “Profile & Parental C<strong>on</strong>trols,” as well as different<br />

profiles for your family members (if those are<br />

set up). Click <strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong>e of your children’s profiles, and<br />

you’ll see a secti<strong>on</strong> for “Viewing Restricti<strong>on</strong>s,” which<br />

takes you to a bar with movie and TV ratings that you<br />

can restrict. Save. Boom. D<strong>on</strong>e.<br />

Once you’ve mastered <strong>on</strong>e service or device, you’ll<br />

have growing c<strong>on</strong>fidence to move <strong>on</strong> to ano<strong>the</strong>r. The<br />

settings w<strong>on</strong>’t be exactly <strong>the</strong> same, but <strong>the</strong>y’re all generally<br />

similar. Most importantly, you’ll see that taking<br />

advantage of <strong>the</strong>se c<strong>on</strong>tent-restricting features is a lot<br />

easier than you may have realized.<br />

—Adam Holz, director of Plugged In<br />

For reviews of <strong>the</strong>se and o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

titles, visit PluggedIn.com, <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>’s media review and<br />

discernment website.<br />

STRAY<br />

Will <strong>the</strong> cat lover in your<br />

family want to give this<br />

third-pers<strong>on</strong> adventure<br />

game a try?<br />

Scheduled release: <strong>October</strong><br />


Are <strong>the</strong> battle scenes in this<br />

Marvel superhero flick too<br />

intense for younger viewers?<br />

Scheduled release: Nov. 5<br />


Does <strong>the</strong> magical backdrop<br />

of Disney’s latest animated<br />

film overshadow <strong>the</strong> familycentered<br />

plot?<br />

Scheduled release: Nov. 24<br />



3tips to<br />

live by<br />

A marriage insight<br />

from Sue mellema<br />


TOGETHER has turned into<br />

happy moments for my husband,<br />

Dan, and me. Without <strong>the</strong> distracti<strong>on</strong><br />

of cellph<strong>on</strong>es and emails, we actually<br />

talk about what’s going <strong>on</strong> in our lives.<br />

Recently, we discussed <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>stantly<br />

changing seas<strong>on</strong>s of life. We’ve<br />

had busy and fun seas<strong>on</strong>s—watching<br />

our three s<strong>on</strong>s marry, start careers<br />

and become <strong>the</strong> fa<strong>the</strong>rs of our nine<br />

precious grandkids. And we’ve had<br />

challenging, heart-wrenching seas<strong>on</strong>s<br />

when we lost three of our parents to<br />

cancer, lung disease and Alzheimer’s.<br />

Dan and I came up with three<br />

golden nuggets that God has<br />

impressed <strong>on</strong> us to live out through<br />

each seas<strong>on</strong> of life:<br />

Love Jesus. Sounds basic and simple,<br />

but if we truly love <strong>the</strong> Savior,<br />

we’ll want to get to know Him by<br />

meditating <strong>on</strong> His Word and being<br />

obedient to what it says.<br />

Love o<strong>the</strong>rs. Dan and I are intenti<strong>on</strong>al<br />

about making time for family<br />

and inviting friends over, whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

it’s sending a quick text or enjoying<br />

a game night toge<strong>the</strong>r. When God<br />

puts some<strong>on</strong>e <strong>on</strong> our hearts, we try to<br />

bless that pers<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Preach <strong>the</strong> Gospel to yourself daily.<br />

When we stop to think about what<br />

Jesus did for us <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Cross, we can’t<br />

help but be humbled, thankful and<br />

filled with hope.<br />

N<strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong>se golden nuggets are<br />

new truths. But when we commit to<br />

living <strong>the</strong>m out, <strong>the</strong>y can change our<br />

marriages and prepare us for <strong>the</strong> next<br />

seas<strong>on</strong> of life God brings our way. •<br />

Sue mellema is a retired elementary school<br />

teacher and now a full-time grandma. Her<br />

husband, Dan, is <strong>the</strong> chief financial officer for<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> in <strong>the</strong> U.S.<br />

10<br />


<strong>October</strong> / <strong>November</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 11

cOuples / THanKFULneSS<br />

THanKFULneSS / cOuples<br />


WITH<br />


Take charge of your mind<br />

One of <strong>the</strong> most helpful verses for<br />

marriages isn’t, in c<strong>on</strong>text, about<br />

marriage, but when applied to<br />

marriage, it’s revoluti<strong>on</strong>ary. In<br />

Philippians 4:8 (NIV), Paul says we<br />

are to think about things that are true,<br />

noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable,<br />

excellent and praiseworthy. This calls<br />

us to take charge of our minds. In<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r words, we need to think about<br />

what we think about. Ra<strong>the</strong>r than letting<br />

our thoughts run off <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir own,<br />

we need to rein <strong>the</strong>m in.<br />

If we want to be healthy physically,<br />

we w<strong>on</strong>’t eat everything that looks delicious;<br />

we’ll exert self-c<strong>on</strong>trol. In <strong>the</strong><br />

same way, if we want to be healthy<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ally, we shouldn’t think about<br />

everything that demands our attenti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

We need to exert <strong>the</strong> same self-c<strong>on</strong>trol<br />

with our minds that we exhibit with<br />

our bodies. Philippians 4:8 implies<br />

that we shouldn’t dwell <strong>on</strong> whatever<br />

is dish<strong>on</strong>orable, distasteful, frustrating,<br />

shameful or deserving of censure.<br />

While we can address <strong>the</strong>se issues in<br />

counseling, <strong>the</strong>y shouldn’t be things<br />

we ruminate <strong>on</strong>.<br />

To build your marriage with gratitude,<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t listen to yourself; talk to<br />

yourself. Reject negative thoughts<br />

and pivot to <strong>the</strong> positive. You may<br />

have to think c<strong>on</strong>sciously about doing<br />

this at first, but in time it will become<br />

sec<strong>on</strong>d nature. As a result, you will<br />

feel more c<strong>on</strong>tent, and your spouse<br />

will feel more noticed and cherished.<br />

Praying involves thinking. If you<br />

pray <strong>on</strong>ly about what needs to change,<br />

it can foster an unhealthy attitude<br />

toward your spouse. Before I bring up<br />

any issues about my wife with God,<br />

I list things I’m thankful for. After<br />

all, I’m talking about His daughter<br />

(1 John 3:1; Ephesians 5:1), and no<br />

dad wants to hear his s<strong>on</strong>-in-law<br />

focusing <strong>on</strong> his daughter’s weaknesses<br />

while ignoring her strengths. >>><br />

Appreciating your spouse will<br />

streng<strong>the</strong>n your marriage—and<br />

change you<br />






I could read <strong>the</strong> expressi<strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong> my<br />

wife’s, Lisa’s, face: “Why would you<br />

give this to me?”<br />

Lisa held <strong>the</strong> stati<strong>on</strong>ery-store<br />

journal and thought (she later told<br />

me), You know I d<strong>on</strong>’t like to journal.<br />

Please d<strong>on</strong>’t ask me to do this.<br />

But <strong>the</strong>n she noticed it was<br />

stamped for <strong>the</strong> previous year, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> entries were already filled in.<br />

The first page read, “Lisa’s Lovely<br />

Ways.” Each day that year, I’d written<br />

down something about her I was<br />

thankful for or some quality I<br />

admired that blessed me.<br />

When she saw that, she cried.<br />

“You found 365 things to say? Like,<br />

even <strong>on</strong> my ornery days?”<br />

My daughter said, “Sheesh, Dad,<br />

that’s like something you see in a<br />

Hallmark movie that nobody ever<br />

really does.”<br />

Gratitude doesn’t come naturally<br />

to me or most people. The way our<br />

brains work, we tend to stop noticing<br />

<strong>the</strong> comm<strong>on</strong>place. For instance,<br />

if you live by railroad tracks, trains<br />

likely d<strong>on</strong>’t keep you up at night<br />

because your brain has learned to<br />

ignore <strong>the</strong> sounds.<br />

The same thing can happen in<br />

marriage. As <strong>the</strong> years go by, we<br />

tend to stop noticing our spouses’<br />

strengths. If your spouse has a great<br />

sense of humor or a deep faith, or<br />

is an incredible parent, eventually<br />

your brain w<strong>on</strong>’t register <strong>the</strong>se<br />

strengths as special. The things<br />

you <strong>on</strong>ce admired most about your<br />

spouse become comm<strong>on</strong>place, and<br />

you stop noticing <strong>the</strong>m. As a pastor,<br />

I regularly see people who are<br />

acutely aware of what <strong>the</strong>ir spouses<br />

aren’t doing and are blind to what<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are doing.<br />


12<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 13

cOuples / THanKFULneSS<br />

COnFLiCT / cOuples<br />

Why my wife cried<br />

Filling in that journal for Lisa was a<br />

powerful experience for me. Every<br />

morning, I had to come up with<br />

something new. In expressing my<br />

thanks for Lisa, I couldn’t write<br />

down <strong>the</strong> same thing 10 or even five<br />

times without it losing its power.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> m<strong>on</strong>ths passed, I asked God<br />

to remind me of something praiseworthy<br />

Lisa had d<strong>on</strong>e. By summer,<br />

I started “scanning” Lisa throughout<br />

<strong>the</strong> day, eager to catch something<br />

I could write in <strong>the</strong> journal. I was literally<br />

training my brain to look for<br />

<strong>the</strong> positive and ignore <strong>the</strong> negative.<br />

What happens to a husband when<br />

his first thought each day is focused <strong>on</strong><br />

something w<strong>on</strong>derful about his wife?<br />

Here’s what it did for me: It<br />

changed <strong>the</strong> way I thought about<br />

Lisa, talked about Lisa, prayed for<br />

Lisa and talked to Lisa. That journal<br />

was a gift to me l<strong>on</strong>g before I<br />

presented it to her. It fostered an attitude<br />

of gratitude in me. It made me<br />

feel like a different husband who had<br />

a different wife.<br />

Expressing thankfulness for your<br />

spouse is like feeding your lawn.<br />

Your marriage may be dry and<br />

malnourished, but you can restore it<br />

to a lush green. Our first summer in<br />

Houst<strong>on</strong>, when our lawn-care knowledge<br />

was a bit lacking, we awoke to<br />

a brown wasteland. My wife did her<br />

research for <strong>the</strong> area and discovered<br />

that <strong>the</strong> lawn just needed to be fed.<br />

Two weeks later it was fine.<br />

As we approach <strong>the</strong> holidays, let’s<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sider how we can feed our marriages<br />

with thanksgiving. •<br />

Gary thomas is <strong>the</strong> author of more than 20<br />

books, including Sacred Marriage, Cherish, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> recently revised and updated bestseller A<br />

Lifel<strong>on</strong>g Love: Discovering how intimacy with<br />

God brea<strong>the</strong>s passi<strong>on</strong> into your marriage.<br />



5 strategies<br />

for streng<strong>the</strong>ning<br />

your relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />


“I REALLY WANT TO GO to our<br />

neighborhood Christmas get-toge<strong>the</strong>r,”<br />

Therese told her husband, Heath. “I think<br />

it’s important for us to get to know our<br />

neighbors.”<br />

Heath looked up from his book. “Why?<br />

We d<strong>on</strong>’t do anything with those people all<br />

year l<strong>on</strong>g. I’d ra<strong>the</strong>r stay home.”<br />

“We d<strong>on</strong>’t do anything with <strong>the</strong>m<br />

because you never want to.” Therese loved<br />

hanging out with people, but Heath, after<br />

working l<strong>on</strong>g hours at his job, preferred<br />

staying in. Frustrated, Therese stared at<br />

her husband and w<strong>on</strong>dered, Why can’t<br />

you be more like me?<br />

As a counselor and life coach, I’ve<br />

encountered many people struggling in<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir marriages with similar situati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

We think if our spouses would be more<br />

like us, life would be better. >>><br />

14<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 15

cOuples / COnFLiCT<br />

COnFLiCT / cOuples<br />

From “I do” to “I d<strong>on</strong>’t”<br />

When we meet our future spouses, our differences<br />

often draw us toge<strong>the</strong>r. She’s loud, and he’s quiet.<br />

She’s dramatic, and he’s dependable. He loves<br />

adventure, and she loves an evening <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> couch<br />

watching a good movie. Perhaps we love <strong>the</strong>se differences<br />

when we say, “I do,” but over time, we may<br />

unintenti<strong>on</strong>ally start saying, “I d<strong>on</strong>’t.”<br />

• I d<strong>on</strong>’t understand why he acts this way.<br />

• I d<strong>on</strong>’t know how to love her well right now.<br />

• I d<strong>on</strong>’t think he’s happy, even though I’m<br />

trying hard.<br />

This disc<strong>on</strong>nect can happen for many reas<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

but <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> most prevalent I’ve seen in my work<br />

is that each spouse has a different pers<strong>on</strong>ality type.<br />

A people pers<strong>on</strong> is married to a private pers<strong>on</strong>. The<br />

life of <strong>the</strong> party is married to a wallflower.<br />

When I look at <strong>the</strong> Creati<strong>on</strong> story in Genesis,<br />

I see many complementary pairings—day and night,<br />

land and sea, masculine and feminine. I believe<br />

God made ano<strong>the</strong>r complementary pairing—introvert<br />

and extrovert.<br />

You may have married some<strong>on</strong>e you wish were<br />

like you. But you can actually become a more powerful<br />

team by understanding and embracing your<br />

spouse’s differences. Here are five strategies to help<br />

you appreciate your differences and leverage <strong>the</strong>m<br />

to build a str<strong>on</strong>ger marriage.<br />

Understand what makes<br />

your spouse different<br />

EXTROVERT DAVE married introvert Sarah.<br />

Sarah loves Christmas, so Dave planned a surprise<br />

holiday party. He worked <strong>on</strong> it for weeks and<br />

invited all of Sarah’s friends and acquaintances.<br />

After <strong>the</strong> party, Sarah walked into <strong>the</strong> kitchen and<br />

said, “I’m exhausted.”<br />

Dave hoped to hear, “That was so fun. You’re<br />

amazing!” Disappointed, he said, “Nothing I do is<br />

ever good enough for you.”<br />

Sarah felt misunderstood; Dave felt unappreciated.<br />

No <strong>on</strong>e was happy.<br />

For introvert-extrovert couples, having a happy<br />

marriage may mean two very different things since<br />

<strong>the</strong> ways <strong>the</strong>y experience happiness is different.<br />

Extroverts, who rely more <strong>on</strong> dopamine to<br />

energize <strong>the</strong>m, usually experience happiness as<br />

enthusiasm and excitement. While introverts, who<br />

rely more <strong>on</strong> acetylcholine to relax <strong>the</strong>m, often<br />

Learn what happiness<br />

means to your spouse<br />

experience happiness as calm and c<strong>on</strong>tentment.<br />

If Dave and Sarah had known <strong>the</strong> difference<br />

between introvert and extrovert happiness, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

could have avoided misunderstandings and hurt<br />

feelings. Dave might have c<strong>on</strong>sidered, How can I<br />

help Sarah experience more calm and c<strong>on</strong>tentment<br />

during this crazy holiday seas<strong>on</strong>? Then, instead<br />

of planning a surprise party, he could have taken<br />

Sarah out for a quiet dinner for two or given her<br />

time al<strong>on</strong>e to enjoy wrapping Christmas presents<br />

and getting into <strong>the</strong> Christmas spirit.<br />

To understand your spouse’s versi<strong>on</strong> of happiness,<br />

ask, “What does happiness actually feel like to<br />

you?” As your spouse describes <strong>the</strong> experience of<br />

happiness, encourage him or her to use syn<strong>on</strong>yms,<br />

such as calm, exciting or any o<strong>the</strong>r happiness words<br />

your spouse can think of. Then share your happiness<br />

words as well.<br />

THE FIRST STEP to embracing <strong>the</strong><br />

differences in your relati<strong>on</strong>ship is<br />

overcoming myths and misunderstandings<br />

about what it means to<br />

be an introvert or extrovert. It’s not<br />

about how much some<strong>on</strong>e likes<br />

small talk. Instead, our brains and<br />

nervous systems determine whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

we are introverts or extroverts.<br />

Neurotransmitters are chemical<br />

messengers that help shape our<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>ses and behavior. Extroverts<br />

feel <strong>the</strong>ir best with a neurotransmitter<br />

called dopamine, which acts like<br />

caffeine. It revs us up and is released<br />

when we have a lot coming at us from<br />

<strong>the</strong> outside, like at a dinner party.<br />

In c<strong>on</strong>trast, introverts feel best with a<br />

different neurotransmitter, acetylcholine,<br />

which works more like herbal tea. The<br />

chemical is released when we do things<br />

like turn inward, focus <strong>on</strong> a project or<br />

have meaningful c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

Nervous systems. In general, extroverts<br />

expend energy and introverts<br />

c<strong>on</strong>serve it. The aut<strong>on</strong>omic nervous<br />

system includes two divisi<strong>on</strong>s: sympa<strong>the</strong>tic<br />

and parasympa<strong>the</strong>tic. While<br />

we all use both, Dr. Marti Olsen<br />

Laney says in The Introvert Advantage,<br />

“Extroverts are linked with <strong>the</strong> dopamine/adrenaline,<br />

energy-spending,<br />

sympa<strong>the</strong>tic nervous system, [and]<br />

introverts are c<strong>on</strong>nected with <strong>the</strong><br />

acetylcholine, energy-c<strong>on</strong>serving,<br />

parasympa<strong>the</strong>tic nervous system.”<br />

Brain pathways. An extrovert’s primary<br />

pathway for processing is shorter,<br />

more straightforward and externally<br />

focused. Extroverts rely more<br />

<strong>on</strong> short-term memory, <strong>the</strong> here and<br />

now. An introvert’s primary pathway<br />

for processing is l<strong>on</strong>ger, more complex<br />

and internally focused. It draws<br />

more from l<strong>on</strong>g-term memory, taking<br />

into c<strong>on</strong>siderati<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> past, present<br />

and future. Because of <strong>the</strong> way <strong>the</strong>y<br />

process, introverts often need l<strong>on</strong>ger<br />

to resp<strong>on</strong>d.<br />

These biological differences matter,<br />

because without understanding<br />

<strong>the</strong> wiring of introverts and extroverts,<br />

we can easily assume that our<br />

spouses act in <strong>the</strong> ways <strong>the</strong>y do simply<br />

out of preference or stubbornness<br />

ra<strong>the</strong>r than because God intenti<strong>on</strong>ally<br />

designed <strong>the</strong>m to be that way.<br />

MICHELLE, who is an extrovert,<br />

and John, who is an introvert, work<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r in a family-owned business.<br />

They’ve made it through a challenging<br />

year, and Michelle wanted John<br />

to know how much she appreciated<br />

his hard work and commitment.<br />

On <strong>the</strong> next team Zoom call, she<br />

publicly praised John, and <strong>the</strong>n asked<br />

him to say a few words. Put <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> spot,<br />

John felt awkward and couldn’t wait to<br />

Adjust your lovelanguage<br />

volume<br />

get off <strong>the</strong> call. Michelle spoke his love<br />

language, words of affirmati<strong>on</strong>, but<br />

she spoke it in a volume that was hard<br />

for him to receive. He wished that<br />

Michelle had expressed her affirmati<strong>on</strong><br />

privately or in a handwritten note.<br />

Many couples who try to make<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir marriages happier turn to<br />

<strong>the</strong> five love languages Dr. Gary<br />

Chapman identified—words of affirmati<strong>on</strong>,<br />

quality time, acts of service,<br />

physical touch and gifts. But sometimes<br />

extroverts can unintenti<strong>on</strong>ally<br />

“shout” <strong>the</strong>ir love at <strong>the</strong>ir introvert<br />

spouse, as Michelle did with John.<br />

Though she expressed love in his language,<br />

it would have been better if<br />

she had t<strong>on</strong>ed it down so he could<br />

accept it.<br />

Once you know your spouse’s love<br />

language, ask yourself, What volume<br />

will work best? >>><br />

16<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 17

Take our<br />

FREE<br />

marriage<br />

assessment<br />

AS AN EXTROVERT, Paul likes<br />

to have activities most evenings.<br />

Amanda, an introvert who interacts<br />

all day with <strong>the</strong>ir two kids, hits<br />

her social limit by <strong>the</strong> time Paul gets<br />

home from work. When she tells<br />

Paul, “I need a break from <strong>the</strong> kids,”<br />

he interprets that as a desire to get<br />

out of <strong>the</strong> house. So he tells Amanda,<br />

“We’re having dinner with <strong>the</strong> Smiths<br />

Friday night!” She feels guilty for<br />

needing time al<strong>on</strong>e, so she replies,<br />

“Great!” Over time, Amanda is<br />

headed for burnout and resentment.<br />

Because of <strong>the</strong> way <strong>the</strong>y’re wired,<br />

extroverts are more energized<br />

by external stimulati<strong>on</strong> (what’s<br />

happening around <strong>the</strong>m), while<br />

introverts are more energized by<br />

internal stimulati<strong>on</strong> (what’s happening<br />

within <strong>the</strong>m). Extroverts<br />

become drained when <strong>the</strong>y<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t have enough going <strong>on</strong>, and<br />

introverts become drained when too<br />

much is happening.<br />

Introvert-extrovert couples need<br />

to be strategic about getting both<br />

of <strong>the</strong>ir energy needs met. A starting<br />

place can be an energy audit.<br />

Individually, write down everything<br />

you do for a day or a week. Put a plus<br />

sign by what energizes you, a minus<br />

sign by what drains you and a questi<strong>on</strong><br />

mark if you’re not sure. Then take<br />

time to go through your lists toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

The goal isn’t for you both to eliminate<br />

all your minuses; those are part of<br />

life. It’s seeing whe<strong>the</strong>r you can make<br />

some changes that will help each of<br />

you get your energy needs met. If<br />

you’re an extrovert, that may mean<br />

you both go out Friday night, but <strong>the</strong>n<br />

you take <strong>the</strong> kids to <strong>the</strong> park Saturday<br />

afterno<strong>on</strong> so your introvert spouse can<br />

enjoy a nap. Both of your energy needs<br />

are equally valid; <strong>the</strong>y’re just different.<br />

Embrace <strong>the</strong> power<br />

of those differences<br />

COnFLiCT / cOuples<br />

Start today!<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca<br />

/MarriageAssessment<br />

Pay attenti<strong>on</strong> to your<br />

different energy needs<br />

A TURNING POINT in introvert-extrovert marriages<br />

happens when you can see as strengths what<br />

you typically view as your spouse’s weaknesses or<br />

struggles. For example, if you wish your spouse<br />

were more outgoing, remind yourself how his or<br />

her calm, steady presence brings peace to your<br />

home. When you’re caught in critical thoughts,<br />

ask yourself, What’s <strong>the</strong> hidden strength in this?<br />

and How was I drawn to this quality when we were<br />

dating?<br />

God placed you with your opposite to make<br />

you str<strong>on</strong>ger. When you stop focusing <strong>on</strong> your differences<br />

and allow <strong>the</strong>m to motivate you instead,<br />

you’ll find you can accomplish more as a team than<br />

individually.<br />

My husband, Mark, and I have g<strong>on</strong>e <strong>on</strong> a breakfast<br />

date <strong>on</strong>ce a week for nearly 20 years. Early in<br />

our marriage we tried to communicate but kept<br />

ending up disc<strong>on</strong>nected. Our culture portrays love<br />

as a feeling, but in many ways it’s a skill. And, like<br />

all skills, it takes practice.<br />

Mark and I needed uninterrupted, face-to-face<br />

time with each o<strong>the</strong>r. Scheduling time toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

allowed us to shift from reacting to resp<strong>on</strong>ding in<br />

our relati<strong>on</strong>ship. Gradually, we learned to have<br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s rooted more in curiosity than criticism,<br />

and <strong>the</strong> skills we developed eventually spilled<br />

over into o<strong>the</strong>r areas of our life.<br />

From a brain-science perspective, when we sit<br />

across from some<strong>on</strong>e and deeply focus <strong>on</strong> that<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>, we activate our mirror neur<strong>on</strong>s. These neur<strong>on</strong>s<br />

allow us to “sync up” to ano<strong>the</strong>r pers<strong>on</strong> in<br />

God-designed ways that deepen our empathy and<br />

understanding. Intenti<strong>on</strong>al time with each o<strong>the</strong>r is<br />

<strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> most transformati<strong>on</strong>al tools in any relati<strong>on</strong>ship.<br />

And when you’re toge<strong>the</strong>r, <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> most<br />

powerful questi<strong>on</strong>s you can ask is, “How can I love<br />

you well right now?”<br />

When you begin to appreciate your differences as<br />

a couple, you are also better able to extend patience<br />

and understanding to each o<strong>the</strong>r. Ultimately,<br />

embracing your differences will help you see your<br />

spouse’s pers<strong>on</strong>ality not as an obstacle but as a<br />

God-given gift that makes you a more powerful<br />

team. As Solom<strong>on</strong> wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two<br />

are better than <strong>on</strong>e, because <strong>the</strong>y have a good<br />

reward for <strong>the</strong>ir toil.” •<br />

Holley Gerth is a counselor and life coach. She is <strong>the</strong> author of<br />

The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why <strong>the</strong> world needs you<br />

to be you.<br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 19

cOuples / reCOMMiTMenT<br />

reCOMMiTMenT / cOuples<br />

an unexpected proposal<br />

After two kids and 25 years of marriage,<br />

mike told his family he was leaving. <strong>the</strong>y<br />

all thought it was forever<br />


mike and Julie<br />





He’s not allowed to keep it loaded—<br />

he’s <strong>on</strong>ly 8, after all—but today’s<br />

events are making him rec<strong>on</strong>sider<br />

this particular policy. His parents<br />

are screaming at each o<strong>the</strong>r, and he’s<br />

scared.<br />

The boy loads his gun, just in case<br />

he has to protect his mo<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Of course his parents find out, and<br />

Mike’s fa<strong>the</strong>r insists he would never<br />

hurt Mom. Youthful optimism hopes<br />

things will improve, but <strong>the</strong> wallpaper<br />

spattered with spaghetti attests to yet<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r argument. Eventually, Mike<br />

learns that his parents are divorcing.<br />

Mike has no way of knowing what<br />

his parents are teaching him by not<br />

teaching him anything at all. He<br />

never learns to compromise, to c<strong>on</strong>sider<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs’ feelings, to share, to be<br />

vulnerable. By age 9, what Mike has<br />

learned is to internalize every c<strong>on</strong>cern,<br />

to hold in every emoti<strong>on</strong>—to<br />

handle <strong>the</strong>m by himself and within<br />

himself.<br />

“I learned early <strong>on</strong> how to build<br />

walls,” he says, “to protect me and<br />

to isolate me. I ei<strong>the</strong>r dealt with<br />

problems <strong>on</strong> my own or buried <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Most got buried.”<br />

Mike’s good friend is an older neighbor<br />

girl. The two live next door to<br />

each o<strong>the</strong>r in Dallas, attend <strong>the</strong> same<br />

schools, grow up in <strong>the</strong> same church.<br />

“Being friends with me meant you<br />

<strong>on</strong>ly saw what I was willing to show<br />

you, and that wasn’t much.”<br />

He keeps building walls, and by<br />

<strong>the</strong> time he’s an adult, Mike is living<br />

behind a fortress. No <strong>on</strong>e is getting in.<br />

Building barriers<br />

A girl named Julie sits in church. She<br />

and her family attend every Sunday,<br />

morning and night. Wednesday evenings,<br />

too. From an early age, <strong>the</strong> girl<br />

knows she wants a job as opposed<br />

to a career, so she can devote more<br />

time to family.<br />

Julie likes spending time with<br />

friends, kids like <strong>the</strong> boy next door.<br />

She’s a couple of years older than<br />

Mike, but that doesn’t really matter<br />

<strong>on</strong>ce <strong>the</strong>y are in college. They marry<br />

in 1983, and Julie discovers that her<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ship with Mike is nothing like<br />

her parents’ marriage.<br />

“My parents were very selfless, so<br />

that is what I learned by watching<br />

<strong>the</strong>m,” Julie says. “Mike’s parents<br />

were very selfish, so that is what he<br />

grew up absorbing. He brought isolati<strong>on</strong><br />

into our marriage.”<br />

Mike has no idea what a healthy<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ship looks like, no clue about<br />

genuine intimacy, not a single noti<strong>on</strong><br />

about resolving c<strong>on</strong>flict and absolutely<br />

no <strong>on</strong>e to model it for him.<br />

Instead, Mike shares with Julie <strong>the</strong><br />

skills he’s developed: Butting heads.<br />

Acting distant. Leading separate lives.<br />

Most of all, he shows her how to erect<br />

emoti<strong>on</strong>al barriers of her own.<br />

“I learned to build walls to protect<br />

me from hurt and unmet expectati<strong>on</strong>s,”<br />

Julie says. “Unknowingly, I<br />

mentally compared him to how my<br />

dad led our family, and Mike had<br />

absolutely no role model for any of his<br />

growing up, so he failed miserably.”<br />

Julie can tell something is wr<strong>on</strong>g,<br />

yet has no idea how to fix it. All she<br />

knows is that she grew up in a happy<br />

home, and this <strong>on</strong>e definitely isn’t.<br />

Unsure of what to do, she resp<strong>on</strong>ds<br />

to Mike’s behavior with <strong>the</strong> silent<br />

treatment. Ano<strong>the</strong>r wall between her<br />

and Mike. >>><br />

20<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 21

cOuples / reCOMMiTMenT<br />

Faith & Inspirati<strong>on</strong><br />

A surprise announcement<br />

For 25 years <strong>the</strong>y coexist. Their uni<strong>on</strong><br />

has become a chasm, <strong>the</strong>ir happiness<br />

a charade. They even hide <strong>the</strong><br />

truth from <strong>the</strong>ir two children. In<br />

December 2007, Mike makes a surprise<br />

announcement.<br />

“My dad said he was moving to<br />

Virginia, and my mom was not<br />

invited,” says <strong>the</strong>ir daughter, Kelly.<br />

“I think it was a shock to every<strong>on</strong>e.”<br />

Kelly is in high school, her older<br />

bro<strong>the</strong>r in college, <strong>the</strong> whole family in<br />

free fall. Julie must navigate <strong>the</strong> chaos<br />

in Dallas, al<strong>on</strong>e.<br />

After her husband leaves, she takes<br />

a full-time job and sells <strong>the</strong>ir house.<br />

She also starts listening to Christian<br />

radio, in particular a program called<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>. As <strong>the</strong> years<br />

pass, she pays special attenti<strong>on</strong> to<br />

<strong>the</strong> shows in which couples discuss<br />

<strong>the</strong> impact <strong>the</strong>ir family envir<strong>on</strong>ment<br />

had <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir marriage. It has never<br />

occurred to her before, but when Julie<br />

c<strong>on</strong>siders everything that happened<br />

in <strong>the</strong>ir dysfuncti<strong>on</strong>al, loveless relati<strong>on</strong>ship,<br />

it all makes perfect sense.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> meantime, Julie says, God<br />

has gotten Mike’s attenti<strong>on</strong>. He<br />

breaks up with <strong>the</strong> woman he’s been<br />

mike and Julie (center) with family members randi,<br />

craig, Kelly, cale and Hadley Grace (left to right)<br />

seeing, and in 2015 he writes a nearly<br />

2,000-word apology:<br />

Julie, I want to tell you how very<br />

sorry I am for what I did to you, for<br />

how much I hurt you. You never<br />

deserved anything like that. I know<br />

you’re probably w<strong>on</strong>dering, Where is<br />

this coming from? Well, for <strong>the</strong> last<br />

many, many m<strong>on</strong>ths, God has been<br />

working in my life. . . .<br />

Mike and Julie start talking again.<br />

Around 2016, <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong>m menti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

something <strong>the</strong>y’d heard <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> radio.<br />

The o<strong>the</strong>r <strong>on</strong>e says, “I heard that, too.”<br />

“We came to realize that we were<br />

both listening to <strong>the</strong> same <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> broadcasts every morning,<br />

five days a week,” Julie says, “and had<br />

been doing so for over a year.”<br />

In 2017 Mike invites Julie to visit<br />

Virginia, and <strong>the</strong>y spend <strong>the</strong> time<br />

walking and talking. Mike finally<br />

reveals everything about his past—<strong>the</strong><br />

good, <strong>the</strong> bad and <strong>the</strong> tragically sad.<br />

“After a few days, he said he felt <strong>the</strong><br />

Lord was leading him to remarry,”<br />

Julie says. “I asked, ‘Oh, who do you<br />

think you will marry?’ ”<br />

“You.”<br />


Counselors Milan and Kay<br />

Yerkovich discuss how to grow<br />

your marriage in times of stress.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Radio<br />

Tearing down walls<br />

Julie is stunned. She wants to remain<br />

friendly for <strong>the</strong> sake of <strong>the</strong>ir children;<br />

remarrying Mike was never a c<strong>on</strong>siderati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Still, Julie can’t deny she’s<br />

intrigued by <strong>the</strong> idea of tearing down<br />

past walls and rebuilding <strong>the</strong>ir family.<br />

In 2018 <strong>the</strong>y agree to meet up again<br />

at a Disney resort. For five days <strong>the</strong>y<br />

talk and talk and talk some more. In<br />

this fairy-tale setting, Julie realizes<br />

she’s falling in love again—not with<br />

<strong>the</strong> old Mike, but with this changed<br />

man and his renewed heart.<br />

Mike moves back to Texas in 2019,<br />

and toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>y spend <strong>the</strong> next five<br />

m<strong>on</strong>ths in a re-engagement class.<br />

Eleven years after <strong>the</strong>y divorced, Mike<br />

and Julie remarry.<br />

“Never in my wildest dreams,” says<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir daughter, Kelly, “did I think my<br />

family would be whole again.”<br />

Julie says <strong>the</strong>ir relati<strong>on</strong>ship today is<br />

what <strong>the</strong> Lord originally intended for<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir marriage. They regularly attempt<br />

to “out-serve” each o<strong>the</strong>r, and <strong>the</strong>y<br />

use <strong>the</strong> inevitable challenges as<br />

opportunities to love unc<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>ally.<br />

Mike and Julie also practice what<br />

<strong>the</strong>y’ve learned via <strong>the</strong> radio, knowing<br />

from experience how God can<br />

use those stories to transform broken<br />

people—people just like <strong>the</strong>m. •<br />




skipping grace?<br />

<strong>the</strong> mealtime blessing that<br />

drew my neighbors toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />




moved to a new state, our neighbors<br />

welcomed us with open arms. They<br />

had neighborhood get-toge<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

and potlucks, and we were invited to<br />

<strong>the</strong>se frequent ga<strong>the</strong>rings.<br />

At our first event, my husband joined<br />

<strong>the</strong> men in <strong>the</strong> living room, and my<br />

daughter headed to play with <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

children. I ended up in <strong>the</strong> kitchen,<br />

trying to fit in and make new friends.<br />

Fitting in<br />

When it was time to eat, every<strong>on</strong>e<br />

came toge<strong>the</strong>r, got <strong>the</strong>ir plates of<br />

food and started eating as <strong>the</strong>y c<strong>on</strong>tinued<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s. Standing<br />

and holding my plate, I didn’t give<br />

much thought to anything but getting<br />

to know my new neighbors—until I<br />

heard a child’s voice behind me.<br />

“Mommy, she w<strong>on</strong>’t eat,” <strong>the</strong> child<br />

said to her mo<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

“Why not?” <strong>the</strong> woman asked. “Is<br />

something wr<strong>on</strong>g?”<br />

“She w<strong>on</strong>’t eat because we didn’t<br />

say a blessing.”<br />

The realizati<strong>on</strong> quickly dawned<br />

<strong>on</strong> me. They were talking about my<br />

6-year-old daughter.<br />

Standing out<br />

As I stood with my mouth full of food,<br />

I was so proud of her and so ashamed<br />

of myself. No <strong>on</strong>e <strong>the</strong>re knew I was a<br />

Christian, but in that moment, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

all knew my daughter was.<br />

Christianity was not as prominent<br />

in our new nor<strong>the</strong>rn town as it had<br />

been in our previous city in <strong>the</strong> Bible<br />

Belt. I had even heard <strong>on</strong>e of our<br />

neighbors vocalize her disgust over<br />

<strong>the</strong> born-again stuff being “pushed<br />

down her throat.”<br />

Now I held my breath to see how<br />

this group would react to my daughter’s<br />

stand. Amazingly, every<strong>on</strong>e<br />

stopped eating as some<strong>on</strong>e asked<br />

my daughter to thank God for <strong>the</strong><br />

food. It was a beautiful gesture from<br />

kind people. And for <strong>the</strong> two years<br />

we lived in that neighborhood, every<strong>on</strong>e<br />

respected my daughter’s desire to<br />

pray before meals.<br />

Loving neighbors<br />

I’ll never forget our last neighborhood<br />

ga<strong>the</strong>ring. It was a Christmas<br />

dinner our next-door neighbor<br />

hosted—<strong>the</strong> same neighbor who had<br />

initially announced her oppositi<strong>on</strong><br />

to any<strong>on</strong>e who tried to tell her about<br />

Jesus and becoming a Christian.<br />

With all our neighbors ga<strong>the</strong>red<br />

around her table, our host instructed<br />

every<strong>on</strong>e to hold hands as we<br />

thanked God for <strong>the</strong> meal. Through<br />

a 6-year-old child, God had an entire<br />

neighborhood holding hands and<br />

praying toge<strong>the</strong>r. That day I witnessed<br />

a seed growing that God had used my<br />

daughter to plant. •<br />

Farrah Adkins is a freelance writer who<br />

shares her faith through articles, stories and<br />

devoti<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

22<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 23



M eet<br />

Jean-Paul<br />

Beran<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada’s new president<br />

shares how his complicated past has given him a<br />

passi<strong>on</strong> for helping families find hope in Christ<br />





THRIVE because we know first-hand how many of us<br />

carry burdens from childhood into adulthood. Our family<br />

of origin has a huge impact <strong>on</strong> how we build relati<strong>on</strong>ships<br />

with o<strong>the</strong>rs, participate in society and understand<br />

who God is, but when our family of origin was not a safe<br />

place, we d<strong>on</strong>’t get that healthy foundati<strong>on</strong>—and we<br />

struggle with how to break <strong>the</strong> cycle of brokenness in our<br />

own family.<br />

This is something Jean-Paul Beran, <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong><br />

Canada’s new president, knows all too well.<br />

“My heart for <strong>the</strong> importance of family and serving at<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada stems from <strong>the</strong> brokenness<br />

that happened within my family,” he explains. “That’s why<br />

I’m h<strong>on</strong>ored to come to <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>—to help people who are<br />

struggling in <strong>the</strong>ir marriage and family relati<strong>on</strong>ships.”<br />

As children, we believe our immediate family is normal<br />

and we often d<strong>on</strong>’t questi<strong>on</strong> if it’s healthy or unhealthy,<br />

safe or unsafe. Many of us d<strong>on</strong>’t sort through <strong>the</strong> patterns<br />

we learned as children until well into adulthood. For Jean-<br />

Paul, it wasn’t until his first daughter was born that he was<br />

c<strong>on</strong>fr<strong>on</strong>ted with how his unresolved past was determining<br />

<strong>the</strong> pers<strong>on</strong> he was becoming.<br />

Growing up with brokenness<br />

“My dad was a very successful businessman,” Jean-Paul<br />

recalls, “but <strong>the</strong>re was a lot of abuse, physical and mental,<br />

from my fa<strong>the</strong>r to me in particular and to my mo<strong>the</strong>r.”<br />

In additi<strong>on</strong> to abuse, his fa<strong>the</strong>r’s alcoholism and c<strong>on</strong>tinuous<br />

infidelity resulted in his parents’ separati<strong>on</strong>. Despite<br />

his mom waiting for her husband to return, five years<br />

passed with no change in his behavior. After meeting a<br />

w<strong>on</strong>derful man, his mo<strong>the</strong>r divorced and remarried—<strong>the</strong>y<br />

have been married for over 30 years. As divorce was highly<br />

frowned up<strong>on</strong> at <strong>the</strong> school she was working for at <strong>the</strong> time,<br />

she was fired and stripped of her pensi<strong>on</strong>.<br />

“She turned her back to <strong>the</strong> Lord from that point forward,”<br />

he explains. Because of that, Jean-Paul’s heart also hardened<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Lord. Thankfully when he was a young adult,<br />

God opened his eyes to <strong>the</strong> truth, grace and beauty of a<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>al <strong>on</strong>e-<strong>on</strong>-<strong>on</strong>e relati<strong>on</strong>ship with Jesus Christ.<br />

As he began <strong>the</strong> next chapter of his life knowing he was<br />

saved by <strong>the</strong> blood of Christ, sorting through <strong>the</strong> brokenness<br />

of his past did not happen overnight. He was <strong>on</strong> a<br />

challenging journey of discovering who God created him<br />

to be.<br />

Jean-Paul and his wife, Susan,<br />

celebrate 25 years of marriage this year<br />

Sorting through <strong>the</strong> past<br />

“My dad was an abusive alcoholic, so he has addicti<strong>on</strong><br />

issues and issues with staying with <strong>on</strong>e woman,” Jean-Paul<br />

explains. “Growing up, my relati<strong>on</strong>ship with him was like<br />

any child’s—I thought he was <strong>the</strong> best. I thought that was<br />

normal. Dad has girlfriends, Dad drinks, Dad hits you, Dad<br />

yells at you. That’s normal because that’s all I knew.”<br />

As a result, <strong>the</strong> first year of marriage to his wife, Susan,<br />

was very difficult. They were both believers, but <strong>the</strong>y came<br />

into <strong>the</strong>ir marriage with two starkly different views of marriage<br />

and family. “There was fighting every day, yelling—it<br />

was just horrible,” he explains. “But again, my background<br />

says that’s normal.”<br />

Since <strong>the</strong>y shared a commitment to <strong>the</strong> Lord, <strong>the</strong>y knew<br />

<strong>the</strong>y needed help and found a Christian counselor to help<br />

<strong>the</strong>m sort through <strong>the</strong> brokenness. By God’s grace, <strong>the</strong>y’re<br />

excited to be celebrating 25 years of marriage this year.<br />

As a young Christian still sorting through what he<br />

thought was normal, Jean-Paul’s career was similar to his<br />

fa<strong>the</strong>r’s—it revolved around being outgoing with clients<br />

and drinking a lot. It wasn’t until his wife announced she<br />

was pregnant with <strong>the</strong>ir first child that he was forced to<br />

questi<strong>on</strong> whose example he was following and why.<br />

“I had a <strong>on</strong>e-<strong>on</strong>-<strong>on</strong>e with Jesus when my wife said she<br />

was pregnant,” he recalls. “I got scared and thought, If I’m<br />

going to be a dad, do I want to be like my dad? Or do I want<br />

to be a fa<strong>the</strong>r like my Heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r? Which <strong>on</strong>e am I<br />

going to choose? It was a hard choice. However, I chose to<br />

be more like my Heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r for my family ra<strong>the</strong>r than<br />

24<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 25



following my own earthly fa<strong>the</strong>r’s model. I stopped drinking<br />

completely over 15 years ago when my daughter was<br />

born, and I refocused my career by no l<strong>on</strong>ger entertaining<br />

clients with drinking. H<strong>on</strong>estly, I was fearful that my career<br />

would go sideways.”<br />

In fact, <strong>the</strong> complete opposite happened.<br />

When he made an intenti<strong>on</strong>al choice to follow in his<br />

Heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r’s footsteps, his career took off, his relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />

with his wife grew str<strong>on</strong>ger, his friendships deepened,<br />

and he could be <strong>the</strong> fa<strong>the</strong>r his daughters needed.<br />

“Through that process,” he remembers, “I realized that<br />

my role model of a dad that I thought was normal was distorted<br />

and I needed to see that my role model is who <strong>the</strong><br />

Bible says my Heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r is. God is who I strived to be<br />

like. Then I could build a Christ-centered foundati<strong>on</strong> in my<br />

own family life.”<br />

Being <strong>the</strong> dad God called him to be<br />

As a child, his fa<strong>the</strong>r’s career took priority over his relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />

with Jean-Paul. When his own daughters were young,<br />

Jean-Paul felt God offering a different path—an opportunity<br />

to break <strong>the</strong> cycle of brokenness that can so easily run<br />

through our families. He sold his partnership in his firm<br />

and became a stay-at-home dad.<br />

“My children got to see me as <strong>the</strong> dad that does <strong>the</strong> cooking,<br />

<strong>the</strong> cleaning, <strong>the</strong> driving to appointments, <strong>the</strong> dad that<br />

<strong>the</strong>y come to when <strong>the</strong>y are going through issues and crying<br />

<strong>on</strong> my shoulder,” he remembers. “It was an amazing<br />

experience to build a foundati<strong>on</strong> with <strong>the</strong>m at that age.”<br />

Now that his girls are teenagers, <strong>the</strong>ir relati<strong>on</strong>ship is<br />

different from when <strong>the</strong>y were young, but <strong>the</strong> most important<br />

elements are <strong>the</strong>re—trust, c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> and safety. His<br />

daughters are growing up in <strong>the</strong> home envir<strong>on</strong>ment Jean-<br />

Paul needed as a child—an envir<strong>on</strong>ment where family is<br />

priority, where <strong>the</strong>y know <strong>the</strong>y are loved, and where <strong>the</strong>y<br />

feel safe to share h<strong>on</strong>estly what’s <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir heart, without<br />

fear of judgment or c<strong>on</strong>demnati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

“I feel it is so important how <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> helps and lifts up<br />

those who are struggling in <strong>the</strong>ir marriage and family,”<br />

he explains. “Regardless of where <strong>the</strong>y’re at, <strong>the</strong>re are<br />

resources for <strong>the</strong>m. It is so exciting that <strong>the</strong>y can say, ‘I<br />

need help’ and we can say, ‘I’ve got you.’ As some<strong>on</strong>e<br />

who’s been through that, I understand <strong>the</strong> importance of<br />

first having <strong>the</strong> courage to ask for help, and sec<strong>on</strong>d being<br />

able to help people—not <strong>on</strong>ly with prayer, but with practical<br />

guidance.”<br />

Living a Christ-centered life<br />

At <strong>the</strong> time of this interview, Jean-Paul’s fa<strong>the</strong>r is in end-oflife<br />

care. Since <strong>the</strong> beginning of this year, Jean-Paul has set<br />

aside time to spend with his fa<strong>the</strong>r at <strong>the</strong> care facility he’s in,<br />

which has also allowed him to give his stepmo<strong>the</strong>r a muchneeded<br />

break. “I’ve been able to spend more time with him<br />

in <strong>the</strong> last year than I have as an adult ever,” he explains.<br />

“This has given me <strong>the</strong> opportunity to heal my own heart<br />

and tell him that I love him.”<br />

When his stepmo<strong>the</strong>r asks why he’s doing this, he tells<br />

her, “Why wouldn’t I? Because of my role model being<br />

my Heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r, I can be a s<strong>on</strong> to my earthly fa<strong>the</strong>r as<br />

well, without anger and resentment.” By following Christ’s<br />

example of grace, love and forgiveness, Jean-Paul’s children<br />

are able to have str<strong>on</strong>g relati<strong>on</strong>ships with <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

paternal grandfa<strong>the</strong>r and step-grandmo<strong>the</strong>r—<strong>the</strong>y call her<br />

Babi (Czech for “Grandma”).<br />

As he begins this new chapter with <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong><br />

Canada, Jean-Paul feels Jesus is teaching him to be humble,<br />

to be a listener and to practice servant-leadership. He<br />

is c<strong>on</strong>tinually encouraged by <strong>the</strong> words of Psalm 73:23-24:<br />

“Never<strong>the</strong>less, I am c<strong>on</strong>tinually with you; you hold my right<br />

hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you<br />

will receive me to glory.” •<br />

Amy Van Veen is editorial manager and Todd Foley is a freelance writer<br />

for <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> canada.<br />

NEED HELP?<br />

Call <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada at<br />

1.800.661.9800, email help@fotf.ca or visit<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Help to learn more.<br />

Q&A with Jean-Paul<br />

Q: What do <strong>the</strong> Berans do for fun?<br />

A: We live in Vancouver, BC, so in <strong>the</strong> winters we<br />

try to take advantage of <strong>the</strong> local ski hills, play<br />

in <strong>the</strong> snow and have hot chocolate as often<br />

as we can. We’re an athletic family, so I coach<br />

my daughters’ soccer team. In <strong>the</strong> summers, we<br />

go out <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> water, go hiking and go camping.<br />

We have a dog named Luna, so we walk a lot<br />

in <strong>the</strong> forest, at <strong>the</strong> beach, and through our<br />

neighborhood.<br />

Q: Why do you prioritize dinner as a family?<br />

A: From day <strong>on</strong>e, my wife, Susan, and I wanted to<br />

have dinner as a family every night because we<br />

know it is so important to have that time toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Some days are filled with laughter, stories and<br />

really great c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s. O<strong>the</strong>r days, we may be<br />

tired and <strong>the</strong> table is quiet—but sitting in silence<br />

is good too because it will bring c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong><br />

over time.<br />

Q: What’s something people would be<br />

surprised to learn about you?<br />

A: Both my parents are immigrants to Canada—<br />

my fa<strong>the</strong>r is from <strong>the</strong> Czech Republic and my<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>r is an Indigenous Venezuelan woman.<br />

While I look Caucasian, with blue eyes and ginger<br />

hair, I am very proud of my Latin roots. I am also<br />

fluent in English, French and speak a little Spanish.<br />

Q: Any words of encouragement for<br />

<strong>the</strong> reader?<br />

A: D<strong>on</strong>’t give up hope, d<strong>on</strong>’t give up your trust in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Lord. Jesus loves you for who you are, regardless<br />

of your brokenness, regardless of <strong>the</strong> shame<br />

you might feel. God loves you, period. That’s<br />

coming straight from my heart. We all live in brokenness,<br />

but God is with us at all times, from our<br />

darkest and lowest points to our highest points.<br />

26<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 27


Kids & Teens<br />

sleepless<br />

jealousy<br />

Letting go of my grudge<br />

helped me appreciate<br />

my husband and focus<br />

<strong>on</strong> God’s character<br />


AS A MOM OF FIVE, I feel<br />

as though I haven’t had a decent<br />

night’s sleep in more than 11 years.<br />

My husband is w<strong>on</strong>derful—and a<br />

great dad—but he’s a deep sleeper.<br />

Combine sleepless kids with his deep<br />

dozes, and it’s a recipe for marital<br />

disaster.<br />

In those early years, I’d try to wake<br />

him, but most often I was left to care<br />

for a crying baby al<strong>on</strong>e. When morning<br />

finally dawned, I’d be physically<br />

drained and jealous of my husband’s<br />

glorious full night of sleep.<br />

Hurt feelings<br />

As our family c<strong>on</strong>tinued to grow, I<br />

developed an unhealthy way of voicing<br />

my frustrati<strong>on</strong>s. I’d sarcastically say,<br />

“How nice it must be to get a full night’s<br />

rest,” or “You better not yawn today.”<br />

I’m not sure my husband knew how to<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>d. And my behavior did nothing<br />

to solve my predicament.<br />

I knew I needed to release <strong>the</strong> hurt<br />

and bitterness I was harboring, but<br />

I didn’t know how. As I began to seek<br />

God more and reflect <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> qualities<br />

of humility, gentleness and patience<br />

from Ephesians 4:2, He gently showed<br />

me what I needed to focus <strong>on</strong>.<br />

The Lord also showed me that my<br />

husband had limitati<strong>on</strong>s—and that<br />

was OK. I had my own set of limitati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

They just looked different<br />

from his. I started seeing with fresh<br />

eyes that my husband offered me his<br />

best in o<strong>the</strong>r areas—things I equally<br />

needed and appreciated.<br />

A much-needed rest<br />

My gratefulness for my husband and<br />

my new gentler manner didn’t solve<br />

<strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r half of <strong>the</strong> problem, however.<br />

I needed sleep. After talking it<br />

over, we agreed that I could nap in <strong>the</strong><br />

morning after he was up and I had<br />

nursed <strong>the</strong> baby. This small change<br />

allowed me to get an extra 20 minutes<br />

of sleep—and wow, that helped!<br />

Fast-forward 10 years. I no l<strong>on</strong>ger<br />

expect my husband to resp<strong>on</strong>d to<br />

my needs if I d<strong>on</strong>’t voice <strong>the</strong>m. I’ve<br />

learned that if I set aside my emoti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

when I talk with my husband,<br />

he is better able to hear and address<br />

<strong>the</strong> problem. When I stopped dropping<br />

hints and started discussing my<br />

needs and grievances openly, our<br />

communicati<strong>on</strong> quickly improved. •<br />

Krystle Porter is a co-author and c<strong>on</strong>tributor at<br />

Help Club for Moms, a ministry for moms with<br />

kids of all ages.<br />


Tune in as Mari Jo Mast, Deb<br />

Weakly and Krystle Porter<br />

discuss <strong>the</strong> unique challenges of<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>rhood, offering insights <strong>on</strong><br />

marriage and dependence <strong>on</strong> God.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Radio<br />



sibling<br />

appreciati<strong>on</strong><br />

A parenting activity<br />

from Linsey Driskill<br />


to spend more time appreciating <strong>on</strong>e<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r, so I cut out a bunch of small<br />

tickets from yellow c<strong>on</strong>structi<strong>on</strong><br />

paper and introduced my children to<br />

Sibling Appreciati<strong>on</strong> Week.<br />

First we talked about <strong>the</strong> Golden<br />

Rule (Mat<strong>the</strong>w 7:12) and how Jesus<br />

asks us to treat o<strong>the</strong>rs as we want<br />

to be treated. I <strong>the</strong>n told each child<br />

to look for ways <strong>the</strong>ir siblings were<br />

nice to <strong>the</strong>m or o<strong>the</strong>rs and to write<br />

what <strong>the</strong>y saw <strong>on</strong> a golden ticket,<br />

beginning with: “Thank you for ______.”<br />

Using painter’s tape, <strong>the</strong>y stuck <strong>the</strong><br />

golden tickets in <strong>the</strong>ir siblings’ bedrooms<br />

(but not in hidden places like<br />

inside drawers). Each day after every<strong>on</strong>e<br />

had d<strong>on</strong>e this, I told my children,<br />

“Go find your golden tickets!”<br />

My triplets had so much fun<br />

searching for and reading <strong>the</strong>ir tickets<br />

that <strong>the</strong>y kept <strong>the</strong>m and <strong>the</strong>n taped<br />

<strong>the</strong>m up again to reread. They also<br />

surprised my husband and me with<br />

golden tickets, and we wrote some for<br />

<strong>the</strong>m as well.<br />

After our Sibling Appreciati<strong>on</strong><br />

Week, I let my kids know <strong>the</strong>y could<br />

still surprise <strong>the</strong>ir siblings with tickets<br />

whenever <strong>the</strong>y noticed <strong>on</strong>e of<br />

<strong>the</strong>m following <strong>the</strong> Golden Rule. My<br />

daughter said to me, “Instead of<br />

repaying wr<strong>on</strong>g for wr<strong>on</strong>g, it’s like<br />

christian, Gracie, bates, brooklyn and Linsey<br />

we’re repaying right for right.” •<br />

Linsey Driskill is a speaker and author who<br />

is passi<strong>on</strong>ate about encouraging families in<br />

following Jesus. Her devoti<strong>on</strong>al, Beautiful<br />

Hearted Women of <strong>the</strong> Bible: A creative<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>r-daughter devoti<strong>on</strong>al, fosters c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

with <strong>on</strong>e ano<strong>the</strong>r and Jesus through stories,<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s, prayers and activities.<br />

NEW<br />

Shop.<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca<br />

28<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 29






OR WORRY?<br />

Get to <strong>the</strong> heart<br />

of what’s bo<strong>the</strong>ring<br />

your kids with simple,<br />

n<strong>on</strong>threatening<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />


childhood<br />

fears<br />

“MOM, I DON’T WANT YOU TO DIE.” My 10-yearold<br />

s<strong>on</strong> touched my arm to get my attenti<strong>on</strong>. I had<br />

been <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> ph<strong>on</strong>e with my sister-in-law talking<br />

about wills, not realizing he was overhearing our<br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Turning to him, I said, “I know that’s an incredibly<br />

scary thought. And I’m sorry you overheard<br />

that c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>. While I can’t promise that could<br />

never happen, I want you to know that losing a parent<br />

while you’re still a kid is really rare. Although if<br />

it did happen, who could help you with it?”<br />

He thought a moment. “God.”<br />

“How could He help you?”<br />

“He would be <strong>the</strong>re. He would listen to me pray.<br />

He would know I would be sad.”<br />

Because my s<strong>on</strong> spoke up about something that<br />

frightened him, we could begin to address and<br />

defuse his fear.<br />



Unfortunately, kids d<strong>on</strong>’t always tell us what’s bo<strong>the</strong>ring<br />

<strong>the</strong>m. Their behavior or body language might<br />

give us clues—like fighting, fleeing or freezing up.<br />

But it’s often up to parents to figure out how to help<br />

kids share and overcome <strong>the</strong>ir fears.<br />

And it’s so important that we do. When fears take<br />

root, <strong>the</strong>y can evolve into anxiety, depressi<strong>on</strong> and<br />

even suicidal thoughts. As parents, we l<strong>on</strong>g to provide<br />

love and support to our kids. But when <strong>on</strong>e of our<br />

children is suffering, we can find ourselves feeling<br />

lost without a map to help us navigate <strong>the</strong> problem.<br />

As a counselor, I direct parents to ways <strong>the</strong>y can<br />

help <strong>the</strong>ir kids open up and overcome <strong>the</strong>ir fears.<br />

Here’s how you can move in this directi<strong>on</strong>:<br />



When my daughter, <strong>the</strong>n 7, landed a small role in<br />

a community performance, she was really excited.<br />

But as we drove home toge<strong>the</strong>r after <strong>the</strong> first performance,<br />

I looked at her face and could tell something<br />

was wr<strong>on</strong>g. My guess was that she was disappointed<br />

that no <strong>on</strong>e in <strong>the</strong> audience had come up to her after<br />

<strong>the</strong> show to ask her to sign <strong>the</strong>ir program.<br />

I asked, “Is <strong>the</strong>re anything you wished were different<br />

t<strong>on</strong>ight?”<br />

She looked at her hands. “No <strong>on</strong>e came up and<br />

talked to me after <strong>the</strong> show.”<br />

First I let her tell me <strong>the</strong> problem, even though I had<br />

correctly guessed it. I said, “I can see how that would<br />

be disappointing because of all <strong>the</strong> times you’ve g<strong>on</strong>e<br />

to shows and have asked actors to sign your program.”<br />

At <strong>the</strong> root of her disappointment was <strong>the</strong> fear<br />

that she was invisible, that no <strong>on</strong>e saw her. That’s a<br />

dangerous lie. But I could easily have missed it.<br />

Forcing kids to talk when <strong>the</strong>y aren’t in <strong>the</strong> right<br />

frame of mind rarely gets <strong>the</strong> right results. But when<br />

we ask simple, n<strong>on</strong>threatening questi<strong>on</strong>s, we can<br />

invite <strong>the</strong>m to share.<br />


When our children are little, bedtime prayers, stories,<br />

Scriptures and snuggles cultivate a peaceful<br />

ending to l<strong>on</strong>g days. As kids mature, we can be<br />

tempted to replace familiar bedtime rituals with a<br />

quick hug and kiss good night. But d<strong>on</strong>’t do it.<br />

As kids—especially older kids—wait to fall asleep,<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir brains keep going. Fears and negative thoughts<br />

about <strong>the</strong>mselves, <strong>the</strong>ir world and <strong>the</strong>ir future can<br />

easily surface. So bedtime traditi<strong>on</strong>s can be reassuring.<br />

Here’s a simple bedtime traditi<strong>on</strong> I practice with<br />

my kids. As we snuggle, I ask <strong>the</strong>se questi<strong>on</strong>s:<br />

• What’s something great about God?<br />

• What’s something you can tell<br />

God you’re sorry for that you<br />

did wr<strong>on</strong>g today?<br />

• What’s something you can thank<br />

Him for that He did for you today?<br />

• What’s something you can ask<br />

Him for?<br />

Sometimes <strong>the</strong>ir answers reveal hidden fears.<br />

One night my s<strong>on</strong> answered <strong>the</strong> last questi<strong>on</strong> by<br />

saying, “I can ask Him to help me sleep well t<strong>on</strong>ight<br />

and not be afraid when you leave.” That was a fear<br />

I had no idea existed—and might not have discovered<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rwise.<br />

Bedtime isn’t <strong>the</strong> <strong>on</strong>ly time to c<strong>on</strong>nect with our<br />

kids. A friend told me she often takes her daughter<br />

to paint pottery at <strong>the</strong> mall—especially if her daughter<br />

seems troubled about something.<br />

“When we’re painting, <strong>the</strong>re’s no pressure to talk,”<br />

my friend explained. “But <strong>the</strong> fact that <strong>the</strong>re’s no<br />

pressure to talk—al<strong>on</strong>g with <strong>the</strong> relaxing distracti<strong>on</strong><br />

that painting provides—makes it pretty easy to slip<br />

in and out of c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s about serious or intimate<br />

topics.” >>><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 31


riverbend<br />

friends<br />

childhood<br />

anxieties<br />

A new series<br />

for teen girls<br />



I had g<strong>on</strong>e to bed. She couldn’t fall asleep because<br />

she was overwhelmed with <strong>the</strong> amount of schoolwork<br />

she had that week.<br />

Instead of delving deeper into her emoti<strong>on</strong>s, I<br />

asked if I could pray for her. I embraced her and<br />

asked God to give her peace, ease her stress, and<br />

move <strong>on</strong> her behalf. When I pray with and for my<br />

children, I often remind <strong>the</strong>m that God answers<br />

in His own timing and in His own way—and that<br />

sometimes His answer may be different from what<br />

we had hoped for.<br />

But that night, God answered quickly, and in a way<br />

that exceeded our expectati<strong>on</strong>s. While we were still<br />

praying, a teacher sent out a late-night email postp<strong>on</strong>ing<br />

a test that had been scheduled for <strong>the</strong> next<br />

day. My daughter and I rejoiced toge<strong>the</strong>r at God’s<br />

speedy answer. Like my daughter, kids are often anxious<br />

about areas surrounding <strong>the</strong>ir school life.<br />


For some kids, school is a fun place. They feel successful<br />

and embraced. For o<strong>the</strong>rs, it’s a source of<br />

anxiety—especially after <strong>the</strong>ir experiences with<br />

<strong>on</strong>line classes, masks and scary news. Here are<br />

some c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> starters you can use to help your<br />

child open up about school-related fears:<br />

• Is <strong>the</strong>re anything about school you<br />

wish were different?<br />

• How are you feeling about school this<br />

year? What are you excited about?<br />

What are you nervous about?<br />

• Is <strong>the</strong>re some<strong>on</strong>e new in your class<br />

that we could invite over this week?<br />

• If you have a problem at school, what<br />

could you do? Who could you tell?<br />

• Do you ever think how God is with<br />

you, even while you’re at school? How<br />

might you act differently at school if<br />

you truly believed this?<br />

Dr. Josh and Christi Straub offer<br />

ways to help kids navigate worry<br />

in healthy ways.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Radio<br />


Whe<strong>the</strong>r my kids’ anxiety stems from school or<br />

something else—culture, news, failure, friends—<br />

what <strong>the</strong>y feel is real to <strong>the</strong>m. If I sense that <strong>on</strong>e<br />

of my children is really worried, we worship God<br />

through music. Worshiping God changes our focus<br />

from us to Him.<br />

Sometimes we do a simple exercise where we<br />

inhale deeply—and imagine we’re “breathing<br />

in” <strong>the</strong> love of God. Then we exhale—and imagine<br />

we’re “breathing out” <strong>the</strong> worries of <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

When my kids were younger, after having <strong>the</strong>m<br />

do this with me, I would ask, “Did that feel good?”<br />

Once <strong>the</strong>y answered, I’d ask <strong>the</strong>m to do <strong>the</strong> same<br />

exercise five more times <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir own. I’d add,<br />

“Maybe go outside. Close your eyes. Feel <strong>the</strong> wind<br />

and sun that God has created.”<br />

Sometimes now I’ll see my teenage daughter<br />

standing <strong>on</strong> our back patio, eyes closed, completely<br />

still, just breathing, and I know what she’s doing. >>><br />

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laugh toge<strong>the</strong>r, lean <strong>on</strong> each<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r, AD - Riverbend and most importantly, Friends<br />

discover that God is a friend<br />

who tk- have always c<strong>on</strong>tacted<br />

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resp<strong>on</strong>se<br />

• What’s a Scripture you could remember<br />

to help you feel less nervous about<br />

school?<br />

• How can I pray for you while you’re<br />

at school?<br />

32<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

Order <strong>on</strong>line at<br />

Shop.<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca<br />

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school<br />

fears<br />

School fears can look different for each<br />

child. Here is how o<strong>the</strong>r parents have<br />

helped <strong>the</strong>ir children:<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>ding well<br />

to <strong>the</strong>ir fears and<br />

anxieties<br />

EVEN WHEN WE INVITE OUR KIDS TO TALK, <strong>the</strong>y may not<br />

be in <strong>the</strong> mood to tell us what’s bo<strong>the</strong>ring <strong>the</strong>m. So when <strong>the</strong>y do<br />

open up, we d<strong>on</strong>’t want to shut <strong>the</strong>m down. In o<strong>the</strong>r words, how<br />

we resp<strong>on</strong>d can make or break <strong>the</strong> rest of <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>. Here<br />

are some helpful tips to keep your child talking:<br />

• Listen attentively, fully focused <strong>on</strong> your child. Let him see <strong>the</strong><br />

love <strong>on</strong> your face and your genuine interest in his words.<br />

• Encourage eye c<strong>on</strong>tact. As your child is sharing, she may<br />

look away, which may make it easier for her to talk. That’s fine.<br />

But as you resp<strong>on</strong>d, encourage her to look at you. When she<br />

can see in your eyes that you aren’t upset or disappointed, your<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>se can help break any shame she might be feeling.<br />

• Embolden your child to keep sharing by reflecting what<br />

you heard, such as “Can you tell me more about __?” and asking<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

• Normalize <strong>the</strong>ir struggles by sharing stories you’ve heard or<br />

things you’ve read, or even by briefly sharing a similar struggle<br />

of your own.<br />

• Avoid judgmental facial expressi<strong>on</strong>s or comments. You<br />

may not always realize what your facial expressi<strong>on</strong> is communicating<br />

or how your kids are interpreting it. So focus <strong>on</strong> looking<br />

attentive and showing interest.<br />

• Avoid spouting quick fixes. No matter how quickly you may<br />

want to react to something, brea<strong>the</strong> deeply and count to 10, if<br />

you must, before you resp<strong>on</strong>d. There will be time for a discussi<strong>on</strong><br />

later. For now, force yourself to listen.<br />



Getting our children to open up about<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir anxieties and worries—and<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>ding well so <strong>the</strong>y keep talking—is<br />

a great start. Sometimes just <strong>the</strong> act of<br />

airing what is bo<strong>the</strong>ring <strong>the</strong>m in a safe<br />

envir<strong>on</strong>ment is enough to cause <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

fears and worries to dissipate, or at least<br />

diminish power over <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

As our kids open up to us, we also have<br />

a beautiful opportunity to broaden <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

perspectives to include God.<br />

Once again, use questi<strong>on</strong>s. You’ll<br />

remember when I asked my s<strong>on</strong>, “Who<br />

could help you?” and he came up with his<br />

own w<strong>on</strong>derful answer: “God.” Questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

often engage our children in ways that<br />

help <strong>the</strong>m come up with <strong>the</strong> right answer.<br />

Try questi<strong>on</strong>s like <strong>the</strong>se to help kids<br />

focus <strong>on</strong> how good can come out of <strong>the</strong><br />

challenges <strong>the</strong>y face:<br />

• Can you think of a Bible story<br />

in which some<strong>on</strong>e faced a difficult<br />

time, but in <strong>the</strong> end God<br />

used it for good?<br />

• Can you remember a time<br />

when we prayed, and God<br />

answered our prayers?<br />

• What do you think God might<br />

be saying to you?<br />

You might be surprised at your children’s<br />

answers. •<br />

michelle Nietert is a licensed counselor and leads<br />

a team of counselors. She is also a speaker and<br />

an author. Her most recent book is Loved and<br />

Cherished: 100 devoti<strong>on</strong>s for girls.<br />



When our family moved across <strong>the</strong> country with our three<br />

boys, <strong>on</strong>e of our s<strong>on</strong>s entered an intense seas<strong>on</strong> of battling<br />

fear. Making new friends at school and joining sports<br />

teams as <strong>the</strong> new kid left him w<strong>on</strong>dering if he would be<br />

accepted and invited or al<strong>on</strong>e and misunderstood.<br />

He started having trouble sleeping as his daytime worries<br />

translated to nighttime fears. We looked up Scripture<br />

verses <strong>on</strong> fear and taped <strong>the</strong>m to his bedroom door and<br />

headboard. We prayed those verses toge<strong>the</strong>r every night.<br />

My husband and I prayed about how to handle this fear,<br />

and we believe <strong>the</strong> Lord gave us two tangible ideas.<br />

First, we let <strong>the</strong> family dog sleep in his room. We were<br />

skeptical in <strong>the</strong> beginning, but <strong>the</strong> next morning our s<strong>on</strong><br />

reported his first peaceful night’s sleep in weeks. God<br />

used <strong>the</strong> presence of our family dog to remind our s<strong>on</strong> of<br />

God’s c<strong>on</strong>stant presence and protecti<strong>on</strong> over him. Our s<strong>on</strong><br />

remembered that he is never truly al<strong>on</strong>e.<br />

Sec<strong>on</strong>d, I created a Scripture pillowcase. The first and<br />

last thing my s<strong>on</strong> saw each day was <strong>the</strong> Word of God<br />

reminding him that God had not given him a spirit of fear<br />

but of power, love and self-c<strong>on</strong>trol (2 Timothy 1:7). It took<br />

a few weeks, but his fears eventually disappeared. Our s<strong>on</strong><br />

says <strong>the</strong> presence of our dog and <strong>the</strong> comfort of his head<br />

resting <strong>on</strong> God’s Word helped him overcome his fears and<br />

sleep in peace again.<br />

—Renee Robins<strong>on</strong><br />


Both of my daughters have had unfounded fears of <strong>on</strong>e or<br />

more teachers. The best way to deal with this, we’ve found,<br />

is to find out what those teachers liked best. Each daughter<br />

had <strong>on</strong>e week to ask <strong>the</strong> teacher what her favorite color<br />

was, what she ate for lunch or what she did over <strong>the</strong> weekend.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> end of <strong>the</strong> week, we bought a few small things<br />

that <strong>the</strong> teacher liked, and <strong>the</strong> daughter delivered <strong>the</strong>m to<br />

school with a handmade card. Both of our girls gained a lot<br />

of c<strong>on</strong>fidence and learned that when we get to know people<br />

better, we find <strong>the</strong>y are not as scary as <strong>the</strong>y seem.<br />

—Angela Pratt<br />


A girl in my daughter’s class would tell my daughter that she<br />

could be her friend and be part of her group during recess,<br />

but <strong>the</strong> next day, without any explanati<strong>on</strong>, <strong>the</strong> girl would<br />

tell my daughter she could not be her friend. This happened<br />

frequently enough that my daughter felt rejected and c<strong>on</strong>fused,<br />

w<strong>on</strong>dering what she had d<strong>on</strong>e wr<strong>on</strong>g. Things were so<br />

uncertain that she began to dread school.<br />

So <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> way to school each day, I prayed with my<br />

daughter. Then, as I prepared to drop her off, I shared <strong>the</strong><br />

same short motto that she now knows by heart: “Be kind.<br />

Do your best. Remember God is with you, and Mommy<br />

loves you.” Through this experience, I taught her that showing<br />

kindness, ra<strong>the</strong>r than being liked, is what matters most;<br />

and doing her best, ra<strong>the</strong>r than performing perfectly, is<br />

what makes me most proud. Praying toge<strong>the</strong>r daily, followed<br />

by sharing this simple yet meaningful motto, made a<br />

bigger difference for her than I could have imagined.<br />

My daughter came to joyfully embrace her school days.<br />

She courageously smiled at and spoke to this girl with<br />

kindness. Ra<strong>the</strong>r than seeking this girl’s approval, my<br />

daughter began to look for some<strong>on</strong>e else who was in need<br />

of a friend.<br />

—Lydia Powell<br />


My oldest daughter was very nervous when it came to<br />

speaking in public. I took <strong>the</strong> opportunity during <strong>the</strong> pandemic<br />

to help address her fear by recording videos of all<br />

my daughters reading books, telling stories and reciting<br />

Bible verses. I asked <strong>the</strong>m to research some educati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

topics and share <strong>the</strong>m in <strong>the</strong> video as if <strong>the</strong>y were teaching<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r kids.<br />

I shared <strong>the</strong> videos with our close family members, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> girls started getting a lot more comfortable speaking up.<br />

I also saw <strong>the</strong>m exhibit increased c<strong>on</strong>fidence when participating<br />

in <strong>the</strong>ir virtual classes. When in-pers<strong>on</strong> learning<br />

came back, my daughters were more at ease facing <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

classmates and teachers. My oldest daughter even entered<br />

an oratorical c<strong>on</strong>test recently and took sec<strong>on</strong>d place!<br />

—Maria Elena Chua<br />

34<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 35



3 tips to help your<br />

teens become<br />

screenwise<br />


NEW<br />




J<strong>on</strong>athan McKee’s newest book encourages<br />

you to engage kids in c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s about<br />

social media, entertainment and screen time<br />

to help <strong>the</strong>m navigate <strong>the</strong> digital landscape.<br />

Shop.<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca<br />




INSTAGRAM FEED, a task so<br />

habitual her thumbs almost do it<br />

instinctively.<br />

Megan’s dog wearing a cute sweater.<br />

397 likes.<br />

Amari and her boyfriend laughing<br />

while drinking a milkshake. 492 likes.<br />

Elena wearing a new crop top. 646<br />

likes.<br />

Sidney clicks to her latest post, an<br />

artsy photo perspective of her new<br />

Vans . . . at least she thought so anyway.<br />

If <strong>on</strong>ly every<strong>on</strong>e else did.<br />

Only 134 likes.<br />

Her neck and shoulders tighten,<br />

and her heart starts beating faster.<br />

She can’t put words to <strong>the</strong> feeling<br />

if you asked her, but most counselors<br />

would simply call it anxiety. For<br />

some of her friends, it has become<br />

something more severe, and sadly<br />

far too comm<strong>on</strong>. It’s <strong>the</strong> overwhelming<br />

feeling of not being good enough,<br />

amplified by <strong>the</strong> pressurized envir<strong>on</strong>ment<br />

social media create.<br />

The mental health of young people<br />

today has almost been narrowed<br />

down to two words: Likes and<br />

Followers. And most parents have no<br />

idea what to do about it.<br />

It’s as simple as this: Kids want<br />

screens. And when <strong>the</strong>y get screens,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y want social media because that’s<br />

where you c<strong>on</strong>nect with people. And<br />

<strong>on</strong>ce you get <strong>on</strong> social media, <strong>the</strong><br />

comparis<strong>on</strong> game begins.<br />

Why d<strong>on</strong>’t I have as many likes as<br />

Jake?<br />

Why does Emma have so many<br />

more followers?<br />

Teenagers have always struggled<br />

with feelings of insecurity, but never<br />

before have those results been posted<br />

for <strong>the</strong> entire world to see.<br />

182 Likes.<br />

165 Followers.<br />

There’s always some<strong>on</strong>e with more.<br />

Researchers are coming to a c<strong>on</strong>sensus:<br />

Today’s young people are<br />

experiencing an unprecedented<br />

increase of anxiety, depressi<strong>on</strong> and<br />

suicidal thoughts . . . pre-COVID,<br />

mind you. And <strong>the</strong> spike began when<br />

social media found its way into every<strong>on</strong>e’s<br />

back pocket.<br />

One in five adolescent girls<br />

experienced a major depressive episode<br />

at some point during 2018.<br />

That’s an 84% increase during <strong>the</strong><br />

past decade. And a report from<br />

<strong>the</strong> U.S. Department of Health and<br />

Human Services revealed, suicide<br />

rates am<strong>on</strong>g Americans ages 10 to<br />

24 increased by 56% between 2007<br />

and 2017. For some perspective, <strong>the</strong><br />

iPh<strong>on</strong>e came out in 2007. The biggest<br />

increases in suicide rates occurred<br />

am<strong>on</strong>g <strong>the</strong> very young; <strong>the</strong> rate nearly<br />

tripled during that time period in kids<br />

ages 10 to 14.<br />

And in 2020 researchers compared<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir data and came to a c<strong>on</strong>sensus:<br />

The hours young people spend<br />

<strong>on</strong> social media str<strong>on</strong>gly affects <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

mental health, especially am<strong>on</strong>g girls.<br />

They even got specific: Mental health<br />

and happiness are <strong>the</strong> str<strong>on</strong>gest when<br />

teenagers spend just <strong>on</strong>e to two hours<br />

a day <strong>on</strong> social media. The more time<br />

spent past two hours, mental wellbeing<br />

decreases rapidly.<br />

So what can Mom and Dad do<br />

to help <strong>the</strong>ir kids, especially <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

daughters? Here are a few tips most<br />

researchers agree <strong>on</strong>:<br />

36<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 37



C<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

before correcti<strong>on</strong><br />

The temptati<strong>on</strong> after reading this kind<br />

of research is to overreact and resp<strong>on</strong>d<br />

with rules. But what your kids really<br />

need is for you to interact with <strong>the</strong>m and work <strong>on</strong><br />

resp<strong>on</strong>ding relati<strong>on</strong>ally. The old adage is true: Rules<br />

without relati<strong>on</strong>ship lead to rebelli<strong>on</strong>.<br />

We need to c<strong>on</strong>vert our overreacti<strong>on</strong> into interacti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

So talk with your kids about <strong>the</strong> research in this article.<br />

Take <strong>the</strong>m through a book like my Teen’s Guide to Social<br />

Media & Mobile Devices, engaging <strong>the</strong>m in a dialogue<br />

with <strong>the</strong> discussi<strong>on</strong> questi<strong>on</strong>s. Owning a ph<strong>on</strong>e is much<br />

like driving a car—it’s a privilege. We spend hours up<strong>on</strong><br />

hours talking with our kids about driving before <strong>the</strong>y get<br />

behind <strong>the</strong> wheel. Why is <strong>the</strong> smartph<strong>on</strong>e any different?<br />

worthy of love<br />

How to help children placed through<br />

foster care feel safe, valued and<br />

welcomed into your family<br />



Delay social media<br />

until high school<br />

I know, I know. This is extremely difficult<br />

(and I can hear your daughter<br />

saying it now, “All my friends are<br />

<strong>on</strong> Instagram, Mom!”) But just like driving, owning a<br />

smartph<strong>on</strong>e is a privilege that comes with age.<br />

At a bare minimum, d<strong>on</strong>’t give your kids a smartph<strong>on</strong>e<br />

until <strong>the</strong>y’re 13 years old.<br />

Why 13? Because kids can’t be <strong>on</strong> social media until<br />

<strong>the</strong>y’re 13 according to <strong>the</strong> Federal Trade Commissi<strong>on</strong>’s<br />

Children’s Online Privacy Protecti<strong>on</strong> Act (COPPA) in <strong>the</strong><br />

U.S. Any<strong>on</strong>e who tries to sign up for social media has to<br />

enter his or her date of birth and will be denied if under<br />

age 13. COPPA doesn’t allow websites or social media<br />

apps to collect pers<strong>on</strong>al informati<strong>on</strong> from any<strong>on</strong>e under<br />

13 without parental c<strong>on</strong>sent.<br />

The minimum is 13 but, as a guy who researches this<br />

stuff all <strong>the</strong> time, I think that age should be 14 for most<br />

kids. Groups of parents can unite and commit to waiting<br />

until all <strong>the</strong>ir kids graduate from middle school to get<br />

<strong>the</strong>m smartph<strong>on</strong>es. It’s much easier if <strong>the</strong>ir close-knit<br />

group of friends are in <strong>the</strong> same boat.<br />

Keep devices<br />

out of <strong>the</strong> bedroom<br />

I’ve heard hundreds of horror stories<br />

from parents at my parent workshops<br />

of <strong>the</strong>ir kids getting into trouble with<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir ph<strong>on</strong>es. And in all those stories of kids streaming<br />

inappropriate c<strong>on</strong>tent or sneaking off with some<strong>on</strong>e<br />

<strong>the</strong>y met <strong>on</strong> social media (often some<strong>on</strong>e who turns out<br />

different than who <strong>the</strong>y thought), almost all of those stories<br />

have a comm<strong>on</strong> phrase: all through <strong>the</strong> night.<br />

They were messaging each o<strong>the</strong>r all night. He played<br />

his games all night. She would wake up and check her<br />

likes all night. He downloaded inappropriate pictures in<br />

his bedroom late at night.<br />

Maybe that’s because recent studies reveal 79% of<br />

teenagers actually take <strong>the</strong>ir devices with <strong>the</strong>m to <strong>the</strong><br />

bedroom each night, 68% of teens keep it within reach,<br />

and 29% actually sleep with <strong>the</strong>ir device in bed.<br />

Would you like to avoid a lot of grief?<br />

Collect your kids’ ph<strong>on</strong>es every night about an hour<br />

before bedtime. (I bet you can think of about 10 things<br />

<strong>the</strong>y can do instead.)<br />

I can hear it now. “But Mom, I need it for my alarm<br />

clock.” Keep <strong>the</strong>ir ph<strong>on</strong>e. Buy <strong>the</strong>m an alarm clock. •<br />

J<strong>on</strong>athan McKee has authored more than two dozen books including<br />

<strong>the</strong> newly released Parenting Generati<strong>on</strong> Screen and The Teen’s Guide<br />

to Social Media & Mobile Devices. He has 30 years of youth ministry<br />

experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide.<br />


“ANNA* BROKE THIS,” our<br />

s<strong>on</strong> said, holding a shattered ornament<br />

in his hand.<br />

I told him to do his best to clean it<br />

up and <strong>the</strong>n ask Anna to come see my<br />

wife and me in our room.<br />

Anna had been in our home <strong>on</strong>ly<br />

about an hour. Born in a country halfway<br />

around <strong>the</strong> world, she had come<br />

to <strong>the</strong> United States with her biological<br />

fa<strong>the</strong>r a few m<strong>on</strong>ths earlier. Not<br />

l<strong>on</strong>g after her arrival, she’d been<br />

placed with a family that had taught<br />

her how to speak English.<br />

Unfortunately, this family had also<br />

shown Anna what c<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>al love<br />

looked like. They’d told her that if she<br />

didn’t behave properly, she would<br />

have to leave <strong>the</strong>ir home. Naturally,<br />

her humanity, her traumatic past<br />

and her age—she was <strong>on</strong>ly 6 at <strong>the</strong><br />

time—made it impossible for her to<br />

meet <strong>the</strong>ir standards, and <strong>the</strong>y had<br />

requested she be placed elsewhere.<br />

Anna had come to our home in<br />

tears. She wasn’t crying because she<br />

missed <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r family, but because<br />

children aren’t designed to experience<br />

this kind of rejecti<strong>on</strong>. I am sure<br />

<strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r family’s biological children<br />

had misbehaved plenty of times. The<br />

difference was that <strong>the</strong>y didn’t fear<br />

rejecti<strong>on</strong>. They were part of <strong>the</strong> family.<br />

Anna wasn’t.<br />

A few minutes after we sent our s<strong>on</strong><br />

to fetch Anna, she showed up in our<br />

doorway, petrified. Her eyes reflected<br />

her distress as she admitted breaking<br />

<strong>the</strong> ornament. Our hearts broke<br />

for her. We sensed she feared being<br />

rejected again.<br />

We assured Anna <strong>the</strong>re was nothing<br />

she could do that would cause us to<br />

make her leave. Up<strong>on</strong> hearing those<br />

words, she physically relaxed. We<br />

hugged her and <strong>the</strong>n sent her <strong>on</strong> her<br />

way to get to know her new siblings.<br />

God used a broken ornament to<br />

help us make our new daughter feel<br />

valued and welcome. She needed<br />

to see she was not an intruder but a<br />

member of <strong>the</strong> family. Eventually we<br />

adopted her. And she’s been a part of<br />

<strong>the</strong> family for <strong>the</strong> past 15 years.<br />

Whenever a new child is placed<br />

in a home through foster care or<br />

adopti<strong>on</strong>, he or she needs to feel<br />

safe, welcome and part of <strong>the</strong> family,<br />

especially if that child has experienced<br />

trauma. Here are ways o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

parents have welcomed children<br />

into <strong>the</strong>ir homes:<br />

38<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 39



Unrushed, Day by Day<br />

As adoptive parents through foster<br />

care, my husband and I strived to<br />

create a calm envir<strong>on</strong>ment for our<br />

children. I had to learn to take panicfilled<br />

kids in my arms until <strong>the</strong>y felt<br />

c<strong>on</strong>nected and safe. Time stood still<br />

as we rocked toge<strong>the</strong>r. I waited with<br />

<strong>the</strong>m for as l<strong>on</strong>g as it took. I told <strong>the</strong>m<br />

it was OK to cry, and sometimes <strong>the</strong>y<br />

did. O<strong>the</strong>r times we sat in silence.<br />

As I helped my children identify<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir feelings, repeating what I heard,<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir countenances brightened.<br />

Whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>y were feeling scared,<br />

worried, nervous, al<strong>on</strong>e or hungry,<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>ding to <strong>the</strong>m with understanding<br />

gave voice to <strong>the</strong>ir feelings of<br />

undiscovered or buried pain. As I created<br />

a safe place where trusting me<br />

was possible, <strong>the</strong>y learned that my<br />

love was genuine.<br />

I’ve realized that my children d<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

need me to save <strong>the</strong>m from all <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

past traumas or fears. They need me<br />

to walk with <strong>the</strong>m, unrushed, day by<br />

day. Doing that affirms <strong>the</strong>ir place in<br />

my world.<br />

—Kelly D. McManus<br />

The Gift of Space<br />

What my young <strong>on</strong>es need most is<br />

space. Space to process. Space to feel.<br />

Sometimes <strong>the</strong>y just need my husband<br />

and me to ignore <strong>the</strong> stares and comments<br />

that show up when <strong>the</strong>y can’t<br />

hold <strong>the</strong>mselves toge<strong>the</strong>r any l<strong>on</strong>ger.<br />

Some of <strong>the</strong> emoti<strong>on</strong>s <strong>the</strong>y’ve held<br />

inside are more powerful than many<br />

adults will ever face. Regardless of <strong>the</strong><br />

pain <strong>the</strong>y’ve already endured, being<br />

taken from <strong>on</strong>e family and placed with<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r is traumatic—even if it someday<br />

leads to healing, even if it assures<br />

safety, even if <strong>the</strong>ir lives improve.<br />

It’s not uncomm<strong>on</strong> to find me sitting<br />

in <strong>the</strong> middle of a grocery aisle holding<br />

my boy when <strong>the</strong> experience is just too<br />

much for him. Christmas sometimes<br />

means ignoring <strong>the</strong> new toys for a<br />

day or so until he is ready to play with<br />

<strong>the</strong>m. At a large dinner with extended<br />

family, it might mean that we excuse<br />

him from <strong>the</strong> table and let him sit quietly<br />

in <strong>the</strong> next room. On vacati<strong>on</strong>s, it<br />

means keeping his routine as close to<br />

normal as possible. We teach manners<br />

<strong>on</strong> quiet, normal days and expect less<br />

of him <strong>on</strong> special occasi<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

No matter how much better things<br />

may seem, children still have memories<br />

and questi<strong>on</strong>s about <strong>the</strong>ir lives<br />

before. Every traditi<strong>on</strong> feels new: <strong>the</strong><br />

foods, smells, voices, routines, love.<br />

So as parents, we show <strong>the</strong>m that no<br />

matter how overwhelmed <strong>the</strong>y feel,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are loved.<br />

—Shandy Hodsd<strong>on</strong><br />

Embrace Humility<br />

One of <strong>the</strong> best things my husband<br />

and I did to prepare for opening our<br />

hearts and our home to foster children<br />

was not being afraid of <strong>the</strong> messes<br />

of life. We never expect perfecti<strong>on</strong> or<br />

instant results. Every day we remind<br />

our kids that <strong>the</strong>y are safe, valued,<br />

loved and a vital part of our family.<br />

This is harder than it sounds<br />

because kids in foster care have had<br />

too many rugs ripped from beneath<br />

<strong>the</strong>m. Every day we reassure our<br />

children that we can do hard things<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r, that because of God we<br />

hope big, and we believe <strong>the</strong> pain<br />

and fear of uncertainty w<strong>on</strong>’t always<br />

plague <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

We also try to model a healthy<br />

marriage and dem<strong>on</strong>strate humility.<br />

Indeed, we notice less fear am<strong>on</strong>g<br />

our children when we show <strong>the</strong>m that<br />

while married life has bumps and<br />

misunderstandings, a husband and<br />

wife can still come toge<strong>the</strong>r in love<br />

no matter what. My husband and I<br />

humble ourselves in fr<strong>on</strong>t of <strong>the</strong> kids,<br />

apologizing to each o<strong>the</strong>r and making<br />

up where <strong>the</strong>y can see us. We try<br />

to treat <strong>the</strong>m <strong>the</strong> same way, asking for<br />

forgiveness when we fail.<br />

Our children need to see disagreements<br />

that d<strong>on</strong>’t end in abuse<br />

or unsafe behavior. Allowing kids<br />

into <strong>the</strong> process of working through<br />

c<strong>on</strong>flict, hurt feelings and differing<br />

perspectives builds reassurance and<br />

trust. And <strong>the</strong> best way to dem<strong>on</strong>strate<br />

that is to never hold back <strong>on</strong> love.<br />

—Kara N. Young<br />

H<strong>on</strong>oring Memories<br />

We learned early <strong>on</strong> in foster parenting<br />

to treat every child who came<br />

into our home, whe<strong>the</strong>r for days or<br />

m<strong>on</strong>ths, <strong>the</strong> same way we treat all<br />

of our children. For example, if you<br />

never buy used clo<strong>the</strong>s for your children,<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t do that for foster children.<br />

I also learned to make a memory<br />

life book for every child who lives<br />

with us, documenting <strong>the</strong> child’s history<br />

and time with our family. So<br />

many children who spend time in foster<br />

care lose track of those years. No<br />

mementos, no photos, no memories.<br />

If we are called to love and care for<br />

<strong>the</strong>se children, that includes helping<br />

<strong>the</strong>m preserve <strong>the</strong>ir past.<br />

We adopted our fourth and fifth<br />

foster placements. When <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

with us <strong>on</strong>ly a few m<strong>on</strong>ths, <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome<br />

and some developmental<br />

delays. I was angry. How could any<strong>on</strong>e<br />

do that to a baby? How unfair!<br />

Sessi<strong>on</strong>s with a <strong>the</strong>rapist and lots<br />

of prayer helped me work through<br />

forgiving <strong>the</strong>ir mo<strong>the</strong>r. Eventually she<br />

and I became friends, and today we<br />

share <strong>the</strong> children we both love.<br />

I’ve also learned to listen. My children<br />

shut down if I talk too much.<br />

Sometimes it’s just a matter of<br />

extending grace and unc<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>al<br />

love. It isn’t always easy, but it’s<br />

exactly what God does for us.<br />

—Tricia Couffer >>><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 41


Kids’<br />

magazines<br />


A gift that gives all year!<br />



Be intenti<strong>on</strong>al about creating a welcoming<br />

envir<strong>on</strong>ment for a new child in your family:<br />

AGES<br />

3-7<br />

Clubhouse Jr.<br />

Faith-building fun<br />

for boys’ and girls’<br />

formative years<br />

featuring stories,<br />

craft ideas, jokes and<br />

puzzles that teach<br />

God’s truth.<br />

AGES<br />

8-12<br />

42<br />

• Establish and maintain routines that<br />

are unique to your family. When a<br />

new child arrives, include him or her<br />

in those routines right away. That will<br />

make him or her feel like an insider<br />

more quickly and will create a sense<br />

of bel<strong>on</strong>ging.<br />

• Talk to your children about things<br />

<strong>the</strong>y can do to make your new child<br />

feel welcome, such as sharing toys,<br />

picking out movies and TV shows<br />

to watch toge<strong>the</strong>r and introducing<br />

him or her to friends. Make sure your<br />

children do not see this as something<br />

imposed <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>m by Mom and<br />

Dad (which <strong>the</strong>y will possibly grow<br />

to resent), but ra<strong>the</strong>r something <strong>the</strong><br />

whole family is doing for <strong>the</strong> benefit<br />

of <strong>the</strong> new child and in obedience<br />

to God’s call to love our neighbors as<br />

ourselves.<br />

• Talk to your parents, siblings,<br />

extended family and close friends in<br />

advance and ask <strong>the</strong>m to treat this<br />

child <strong>the</strong> same way <strong>the</strong>y do your<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r children.<br />

• If possible, talk to <strong>the</strong> child’s social<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

worker before <strong>the</strong> placement is finalized.<br />

Find out what your child likes<br />

(food, restaurants, clo<strong>the</strong>s, music,<br />

etc.), and <strong>the</strong>n try to accommodate<br />

as you’re able.<br />

• Give your new child chores, just as<br />

you do with your o<strong>the</strong>r children. That<br />

will help him or her take resp<strong>on</strong>sibility<br />

for being part of your household.<br />

• As you’re able, build relati<strong>on</strong>ships<br />

with your child’s siblings and<br />

extended family, treating <strong>the</strong>m as<br />

part of your extended family. The<br />

child needs you to adopt an “us”<br />

mindset ra<strong>the</strong>r than an “us and <strong>the</strong>m”<br />

mindset.<br />

• H<strong>on</strong>or your child’s birth parents by<br />

speaking of <strong>the</strong>m in respectful terms.<br />

Exhibit grace and compassi<strong>on</strong>. Do<br />

not vilify <strong>the</strong>m. At <strong>the</strong> same time,<br />

give <strong>the</strong> child freedom and a listening<br />

ear to process his or her feelings<br />

h<strong>on</strong>estly and openly, without judgment<br />

from you.<br />

• Introduce your new child by name<br />

to your friends, neighbors, family,<br />

church family and o<strong>the</strong>rs in your life.<br />

Be careful not to saddle your child<br />

with <strong>the</strong> foster label.<br />

Children placed in your home for foster<br />

care and adopti<strong>on</strong> have often<br />

experienced c<strong>on</strong>siderable trauma<br />

and great loss. Their lives have been<br />

upended, and <strong>the</strong>y often feel unworthy<br />

of love. They may think <strong>the</strong>y are<br />

<strong>on</strong>e wr<strong>on</strong>g move away from ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

rejecti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

If <strong>the</strong>y are to heal from <strong>the</strong>ir trauma<br />

and loss, <strong>the</strong>y need to feel safe, secure,<br />

accepted, wanted, valued, treasured<br />

and loved. They want to feel just as<br />

we do in our relati<strong>on</strong>ship with our<br />

heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r, who adopted and<br />

welcomed us into His family. Your<br />

dem<strong>on</strong>strati<strong>on</strong> of love can point <strong>the</strong>m<br />

to Him. •<br />

—JM<br />

*Not her real name<br />

Johnst<strong>on</strong> Moore and his wife, Terri, have<br />

adopted seven children from <strong>the</strong> Los Angeles<br />

County foster care system. He is a writer and<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sultant, as well as a regular speaker at<br />

foster care and adopti<strong>on</strong> events, including<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>’s Wait No more events.<br />


<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada helps<br />

foster and adoptive families through our<br />

Waiting to Bel<strong>on</strong>g program. Learn more<br />

by visiting WaitingToBel<strong>on</strong>g.ca.<br />

Clubhouse<br />

An award-winning<br />

magazine for boys and<br />

girls featuring adventure<br />

stories, mysteries, bios<br />

of servant-hearted<br />

kids, crafts and more.<br />

TEEN<br />

GIRLS<br />

Brio<br />

Godly role models,<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ship advice,<br />

B ible readings,<br />

relevant articles,<br />

quizzes and more to<br />

help young women<br />

build <strong>the</strong>ir life <strong>on</strong> faith.<br />

Subscribe to our kids’ magazines at<br />

Shop.<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/<strong>Magazine</strong>s<br />

or call 1.800.661.9800<br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 43




If your teen is socially isolated, c<strong>on</strong>sider talking to a counselor.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada offers a <strong>on</strong>e-time, complimentary<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sultati<strong>on</strong> from a Christian perspective. To reach a registered<br />

counselor, call 1-800-661-9800 weekdays between<br />

8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific time.<br />

How to resp<strong>on</strong>d if your kids are isolating<br />

<strong>the</strong>mselves from social interacti<strong>on</strong>s<br />


SIX MONTHS AGO, she was bubbly and<br />

full of life. She spent her free time with friends,<br />

and you almost had to bribe her to spend time<br />

at home. Now she never leaves <strong>the</strong> house, gives<br />

<strong>on</strong>e-word answers and doesn’t even argue.<br />

His teachers think he’s a disciplined student<br />

because he sits in <strong>the</strong> back of <strong>the</strong> classroom<br />

with his head in a book—but he’s not reading.<br />

disc<strong>on</strong>nected teens<br />

He used to hang out with his friends at church;<br />

now he plays video games al<strong>on</strong>e in his room.<br />

As a parent, you’ve noticed <strong>the</strong> changes in your<br />

teen’s behavior and w<strong>on</strong>der what’s wr<strong>on</strong>g. You’re<br />

worried—and afraid—of what could happen if<br />

your teen doesn’t snap out of it. But what can<br />

you do to help? Whatever you try just seems to<br />

make things worse.<br />

More than just<br />

needing space<br />

What’s happening with your teen<br />

isn’t just moodiness or needing<br />

time al<strong>on</strong>e to recharge. It’s called<br />

social isolati<strong>on</strong>. You may have heard<br />

a lot about social isolati<strong>on</strong> during<br />

COVID-19 lockdowns. But <strong>the</strong> problem<br />

is more than kids missing <strong>the</strong><br />

chance to hang out with friends.<br />

Traumatic events, such as a breakup,<br />

bullying, an embarrassing failure,<br />

rejecti<strong>on</strong> or an inability to fit in with<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir peer group, can cause teens to<br />

deliberately disc<strong>on</strong>nect and withdraw<br />

from every<strong>on</strong>e.<br />

Isolated teens feel al<strong>on</strong>e in <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

struggles but many d<strong>on</strong>’t reach out<br />

to any<strong>on</strong>e for help—not even <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

friends. Instead, <strong>the</strong>y think <strong>the</strong>y have<br />

to figure things out <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir own.<br />

When we see our teens spiraling<br />

downward, it’s natural to scramble<br />

for soluti<strong>on</strong>s. Impulsively, we may try<br />

every fear-based technique we can<br />

think of, such as pleading or forcing<br />

<strong>the</strong>m to reengage, using guilt or logic.<br />

Or we may try to shame <strong>the</strong>m for how<br />

<strong>the</strong>y’re impacting <strong>the</strong> family. You may<br />

get results with this approach, but it<br />

doesn’t lead to genuine c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

If a fear-based approach isn’t <strong>the</strong><br />

answer, what is?<br />

A path to rec<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

First John 4:18 tells us that “perfect love<br />

casts out fear.” If love is genuine and<br />

unc<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>al, it positi<strong>on</strong>s you as a safe<br />

pers<strong>on</strong> in your teen’s life. You become<br />

an ally instead of a repair pers<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Love is <strong>the</strong> foundati<strong>on</strong> of relati<strong>on</strong>ships<br />

and c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>. A fear-based<br />

approach asks, “How can I fix my<br />

teen?” but a love-based approach asks,<br />

“How can I best love my child?” Here<br />

are some ways for dem<strong>on</strong>strating a<br />

love-based approach with your teen:<br />

Affirm your unc<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>al love and<br />

support. Teens need to know how<br />

much you love and value <strong>the</strong>m, and<br />

nothing <strong>the</strong>y do can ever change that.<br />

So be intenti<strong>on</strong>al about letting your<br />

teen know that he or she is not al<strong>on</strong>e,<br />

and that you’ll work through issues<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r. My wife and I often told our<br />

teens, “We’re not going anywhere,<br />

and you can’t make us not love you.”<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> active listening. When a<br />

teen is isolating, <strong>the</strong> most important<br />

thing you can do is listen. To get your<br />

teen talking, show genuine curiosity<br />

and ask open-ended questi<strong>on</strong>s. When<br />

a c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> opens up, avoid shifting<br />

<strong>the</strong> focus to your own experiences<br />

or soluti<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

Instead, seek to understand what<br />

your teen is thinking and feeling.<br />

Teens often feel ashamed or guilty for<br />

having negative thoughts or emoti<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

so let your teen know it’s normal.<br />

D<strong>on</strong>’t panic if your teen says things<br />

like “I hate my life.” Just keep listening<br />

and express your love and support.<br />

Make c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>, not correcti<strong>on</strong>,<br />

<strong>the</strong> goal. When our s<strong>on</strong> would isolate,<br />

he became defensive and even<br />

more withdrawn if we tried correcting<br />

him or using logic to snap him out<br />

of it. Simply being present in his pain<br />

opened a door for soluti<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

By focusing <strong>on</strong> a love-based c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>,<br />

you can build trust and<br />

create a safe space for your teen to<br />

talk about issues. Isolated teens often<br />

feel trapped and powerless, but we<br />

can restore hope by helping <strong>the</strong>m<br />

identify <strong>on</strong>e issue that’s important to<br />

<strong>the</strong>m and exploring tiny steps toward<br />

a soluti<strong>on</strong>. Letting teens come up<br />

with <strong>the</strong>ir own soluti<strong>on</strong>s gives <strong>the</strong>m a<br />

sense of ownership.<br />

As you love your teen toward c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>,<br />

invite God into <strong>the</strong> healing<br />

process by praying for your child daily.<br />

He loves our teens more than we do,<br />

and He knows how to reach <strong>the</strong>m! •<br />

Mike Bechtle, Ph.D., is a writer, public speaker<br />

and senior c<strong>on</strong>sultant for Franklincovey. He<br />

has authored five books including Dealing<br />

With <strong>the</strong> Elephant in <strong>the</strong> Room.<br />

44<br />


OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />

OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 45


pumpkin patch<br />

Rileigh, 3<br />

Sitting am<strong>on</strong>g <strong>the</strong> pumpkins, our little girl<br />

gets kisses from her new puppy, Copper.<br />

—Tiffany from California<br />

Matteo, 9<br />

Our s<strong>on</strong> enjoys <strong>the</strong> pumpkins as we<br />

hike through an apple orchard.<br />

—Felix and Joy from Ontario<br />

The Hope Restored<br />

marriage intensive program<br />

A proven, biblically based program to restore<br />

and rebuild your marriage.<br />

Zi<strong>on</strong>, 3, Eden, 7, and Olive, 10 m<strong>on</strong>ths<br />

We love to visit <strong>the</strong> pumpkin patch every<br />

year. God’s creati<strong>on</strong> is so awesome!<br />

—Jennifer from Vancouver<br />

“Game changer!! We have become more in love since<br />

Hope Restored. It’s a w<strong>on</strong>derful feeling when you have tools to help<br />

navigate through difficult c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s and feel safe enough to fall in love<br />

with your best friend all over again! We so appreciate all we learned and all<br />

of what <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> did for our relati<strong>on</strong>ship and marriage!”<br />

— hope restored attendee<br />

Leanna, 7<br />

Having a t<strong>on</strong> of fun with a half-t<strong>on</strong><br />

pumpkin that her papa grew.<br />

—Emily from Wisc<strong>on</strong>sin<br />

Your kids could be in <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> magazine!<br />

email photos* of your child in his or her favorite costume or helping<br />

to cook. (Put “costumes” or “cooking” in <strong>the</strong> subject line.)<br />

Send to: info@fotf.ca<br />

* Largest photo possible—professi<strong>on</strong>al photos not accepted<br />

if you or some<strong>on</strong>e you know is facing significant<br />

marital distress, call us. we want to help.<br />

46 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY OctOber / NOvember <strong>2021</strong><br />


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