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How to Trust Your “Untrustable” Child

How to Trust Your “Untrustable” Child

Joey and Carla Link

August 14, 2019


A mom called me recently and said she felt bad because, as she emphatically stated, I can’t trust my child anymore. Canyou help me love him again?I reassured her she is not a bad mother and she is actually going through a normal phase with her child.


I told her, it is “normal”for parents to trust their child when the child says he/she will do something. Think about it, what parent wants to think or even believe they can’t trust their child? But when the task doesn’t get done for the umpteenth time after the parents best efforts to remind and remind until the parent is now the one doing all the “remembering”for many of this child’s responsibilities, it’s easy for a parent to get frustrated and even angry to the point of saying, “I can’t trust my child anymore!” And they are right, they can’t trust him. But it might not be the child’s fault.


Trust Is Broken When:

  • Parents discover their child did not keep their word by actionorinaction
  • Action– Parents visibly see it was not completed
  • Inaction– “I forgot… I will do it right now!” (passive rebellion)


The parents feel betrayed which opens the door of doubt and they wonder if they can trust this child in anyarea of their life.


The parent begins to pull back a child/teen’s freedomsand hover over him, watching whatever he is instructed to do. In other words, the parents have taken ownershipof this child’s responsibilities getting done. They want to say “No!” to all of this child’s requests to do or play with things because they know their child won’t clean up after himself and frankly they don’t think he deserves to have fun. And when it comes to friends, they willsay “No” because they don’t think this child deserves to be with friends when their child can’t be trusted to get his stuff done at home.


The parents’ door of doubtbegins to frustrate their “untrustable” child causing the child to lash out with more disobedience and irresponsibility. Their child begins to think “Why should I try if it doesn’t get me anywhere?” Ultimately this downward spiralstunts the child’s maturity growth and responsibility development as the parents pull him back from learning opportunities with friends and responsibilities all because they can’t trust their child.


I can still remember looking at Carla and saying, “Do you think he (our son age 14) will remember to get the trash out this week? He apologizes when we remind him, thinks of ways to make himself remember, but will it get taken out? NO!” Because we didn’t give in, today our son is extremely responsible as a vice president in a company. Please remember, you are training your kids in trust and responsibility for today, tomorrow and everyday after that.


Ultimately, what you can’t trust is your child’s wordthat he will get the task done, not the child himself and your child needs to know this.


Steps Parents Can Take to Build Trust in Their Child

  1. Don’t say you can’t trust your child. There are areas you cantrust your child in, so this generalized statement is a lie. Rephrase your statement by asking these kind of questions:
  • I don’t trust what you are saying.
  • Why do you think I can’t trust what you are telling me?”
  • “I can’t trust what you will or will not do when I am not around.”


  1. Your child needs to be the one to initiate rebuilding trust.

Since your child/teen broke your trust, he/she must be the one to work to rebuild it. To do so he must have a teachableheart, admitting what he did was wrong and be open to learning how he can work to rebuild your trust in this area. By doing this, your child/teen is taking the ownershipback of getting his responsibilities completed.


  1. Your child/teen starts to rebuild your trust with an admission of guilt.

A parent must be willing to open the door of trust. The magic words come from the child/teen and must include two things:

1.Admitwhat he did that was wrong includingwhyit was wrong

  1. Share howit broke his parents’ trust in him

Without this admission by the child/teen, the parents will not believe the child is teachable. This is why parents need to stopreminding, nagging, threatening and lecturing to get their child to own up to the trust they have broken. As long as a child does not have to take ownership of their faults, there will be no repairing of the cracks in the relationship.


The Repentance, Forgiveness and Restoration Process: This 3 step process is keyfor a child/teen to own their behaviors. We learned it in the parenting class, Growing Kids God’s Wayand teach it in our parenting conferences, books, DVD’s and Mom’s Notes, especially in the presentation “Understanding Freedoms, Parts 1 and 2”.


How do you get your child/teen to do this? By letting him/her feel the consequencesof the loss of your trust. When they want to go to a friend’s house, instead of saying “NO!”askhim if he got all his stuff (responsibilities) done and have him name all of them. You ask this even if you know he didn’t. When he/she say they didn’t, ask how you can believe he will be a good friend and get back on time from his friend’s home. At this point your child will be frustrated with their inaction vs. you being frustrated with it because you have thrown the ball back into your child/teen’s court.


Once a child/teenadmitshis/her wrong and howit was wrong, he needs to ask his parents to forgivehim and tell them how he is going to make this wrong right. At this point parents need to demonstrate loveand forgiveness,acceptingtheir apology, encouraging them for thinking it through and ensuringthem you love them.


What you shouldn’t do is lecture them and tell them never to do it again. Your child/teen doesn’t need any more guilt. You can hold him accountableby asking him/her what they are going to do to preventthem from tossing the ownership of their responsibilities back to you.



Joey and Carla Link

August 7, 2019


A young teen was pitching in a baseball game. If a pitch did not go over the plate, he got frustrated with himself. If a batter hit thepitch for a fair ball, he physically got mad at himself, hitting his leg in disappointment with his glove. In talking with his coach, he said this boy is his own worst enemy.


How well does your child accept:

  • Disappointment
  • Compliments
  • Suggestions
  • Criticism


If your children don’t learn to accept life’s circumstances, how will they accept God’s plan and purpose for their life if it is different than their own?


All kids will go through disappointment phases in their lives, but do they learn and grow from them, or do they get down on themselves from the circumstances they think were their fault or think they could have somehow made them better?


This would be a great discussion for your child who struggles with this on your next lunch date with your kids.Ask some of the following questions using a recent circumstance.

  1. What was most frustrating about what happened to you?
  2. What could you have changed or done differently to avoid what happened?
  • Worked harder?
  • Studied more for a test they got a bad grade on?
  • Worked to remember what they forgot and as a result got in trouble for?
  1. Was it unavoidable?
  2. Did you encourage someone else who did their best?
  3. Can you accept that you did your best and it is good enough?


Why is it so important for kids to learn to accept what happens to them? If they can’t accept the good things they get in life graciously or accept the bad things that happen to them, how will they ever accept God’s will for their lives if it’s different from their plans? If they can’t accept what happens to them, then they will struggle with what God gives them to go through for them to learn to bring Him glory through their life and circumstances. Every Christian goes through tough circumstances to learn what God wants to teach us through them. (James 1:2)


For this baseball pitcher, he needs to realize he needs to spend more time working on his craft, and less time on video gaming in his free time if he wants to be a successful pitcher.


He also needs to learn the art of praising someone else for doing a good job. If someone hit his best pitch, he did his best and he needs to tip his hat to him, accepting that a very good batter did something just a little bit better than he did, and that is okay too.


I had a friend growing up who was born with one normal arm and one that was a short arm with two fingers. My Dad taught him to play baseball with his physical deformity. He worked hard choosing not to let this disability set him back. He worked with his body to take the ball out of his glove with 2 fingers dropping his glove as an outfielder transferring the ball from his two fingers to throw. He worked so hard he became the starting right fielder and leadoff batter for our 4A high school baseball team.


My friend James accepted how God made him and was able to bring glory to God through his body and life. What do your kids need to learn to accept to bring glory to God through their lives?

Harnessing Inappropriate Words from Your Child’s Mouth

Harnessing Inappropriate Words from Your Child’s Mouth

Joey and Carla Link

July 31, 2019


It’s amazing what words and language has become normalized in today’s common conversations. Words that were only heard in locker rooms and on sports fields are heard every day by kids no matter where they are. A friend and I were talking about thisrecently and he told me he hears preschool kids using “F-bombs”.  Carla and I were at a community event where the music blaring out from the loud speakers was foul. It was promoted as a family event!

Jesus own brother, James said it clearly,

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:10)

  • If you want your kids to live for Jesus, what words should be coming out of their mouths?
  • What words are they hearing from their friends? From you?
  • Are they able to distingue between right and wrong language?
  • When they hear a foul word, do they know what it means? Do they know it is foul?


While a preschooler has no concept of what “F-bomb” means and shouldn’t, it does show what kind of language they hear on a regular basis and they quickly learn the context it is used in.


What is right and wrong language for your kids?

I (Joey) remember walking to the park with my then 6 year old son and he used a term he picked up at public school. In conversation I simply said, “That is a word our family doesn’t use, so please don’t say it anymore.” He said he didn’t know what the word meant; only that he had heard it used a lot in the boy’s bathroom and he was fine not using it.


Paul gives parents clear definition in Ephesians 4:29 of what is right and wrong language.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”


In Ephesians 5:4 Paul goes on to say, “There must be no filthiness and silly talk or crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”


Mom and Dad, what words, language and kind of talk are you allowing your kids to use:

  • in your home
  • with their friends
  • in text, emails
  • social media


I had a parent check their teens phone recently because they were having issues with the kid’s attitude. They were horrified at the words and language their teen’s fingers were texting to a friend.


It’s like Solomon said in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” You will know what your kids are thinking about when you pay attention to what is coming out of their heart through their mouths.


How Can Parents Harness Their Child’s Inappropriate Words?

  1. With young kids (7yrs. and younger) stop them from saying it with your authority. Be calm and steady – just explain you don’t use that word in your family like you don’t allow them to say “shut up”.
  2. Know what your kid’s friends talk about and what kinds of words they use. You can say, “We don’t use that word in our family so please don’t use it around our kids.”
  3. Help your kids choose appropriate friends and invite their families to spend time with your family. Don’t assume because they go to church they are appropriate.
  4. If your child asks what is wrong with a word you have told him not to use tell him, unless it is inappropriate for his age. When our kids asked us these type of questions over the years we usually asked them:
  • Why exactly do you want to know?
  • You already know the word is wrong to use so what else do you need to know?
  1. Parents need to model what words to use and what words not to use by not saying them. If it isn’t okay for your child to use them, it isn’t okay for you to use them.
  2. In the same way, parents need to give kids different words to use to replace what their peers use. Encourage them to be creative like “Oh Jelly snaps!”


Ultimately for a child who doesn’t use words he/she hear from friends and peers, they need to have a belief  that the word is right or wrong in the context it is being used in. Therefore, if a child wants to persist in using words you believe are wrong for your family’s identity, then you need to be prepared to teach them why you believe certain words or phrases are wrong, give them grace in removing it from their vocabulary as it likely has become a habit, and then help them replace it with other words that can make the same point.


Our oldest daughter was on the bus going to a band competition when she was 13 years old. After listening to them talk for a while she stood up, put her hands on her hips and said, “Do you know what that word means? Any of you? Well it means ‘poop’. Why you think it is cool to say ‘poop’ all the time when talking to each other is beyond me. I think it is disgusting and you should too!”


We encourage you to help your kids encourage and nourish their friends with what comes out of their mouths.


The lips of the righteous nourish many,

but fools die for lack of sense.”

Proverbs 10:21

The Water Park

The Water Park

Joey and Carla Link

July 24, 2019

Have you taken your kids to a water park or the beach this year? There is no better place to evaluate your 11-15 year old sons to see where their eyes wander and what they do to bring them under control. Not exactly what you thought this blog would beabout we are sure, but it needs to be discussed.


Jesus was very clear in his Sermon on the Mount when He said “But I tell you that if you look at another woman and want her, you are already unfaithful in your thoughts.” (Matthew 5:28) And this was in front of over 5000 people! He was speaking about a married or betrothed man. But when teens and unmarried young adults are lusting, they are not being faithful to their vow of purity.


Lust is not just a guy thing however, teen girls do it too! Just listen to what they talk about and then look at how they walk, dress and act to try and draw the eye of a young man to them.


I (Joey) remember the time I took our family to a water park. As I was walking with my son, I realized there were a lot of teen girls in bikini’s walking by. I noticed the perfect teaching opportunity, so I took advantage of it and talked to my son about what he shouldn’t be looking at. You need to be watching for these moments as well because Satan is on the prowl to steal the good you are working on with your kids away from you and God. Think of yourselves as your children’s shepherds, giving them room to roam but ever watchful to use your staff to draw them back in when they get too far afield.


Kids today are bombarded through the internet, billboards, movies and TV commercials that jump start their imagination that propels their curiosity to say “show me more!”


David asked God this question in Psalm 119:9, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” He answered it himself in the second part of the verse when he said, “By living according to Your Word.” It’s like one of our kids saying, “I know, I know, I need to think about how God wants me to stay pure for marriage.” Well, if they know, why aren’t they doing it?


We know the answer to that question. It is because at times the temptation overpowers us. Still, that doesn’t make lusting outside of marriage right. That’s why I said I could see he needed help so I got up and went over to him.


The lust of the eyes is a very powerful agent that wise parents watch for with their kids. You need to be willing to spend hours, days, weeks and months training and protecting your kids from being exposed to seeing things that can be harmful for them. You don’t need to be a helicopter parent and hover over them but rather think about what you would say to your kids if the sun was too bright. You would tell them not to look at the sun for a long time or at an eclipse as it will damage the retina in their eyes. You tell them to get sunscreen on whether they want to or not so their skin isn’t damaged and to wear hats and sunglasses.  Lusting after the flesh will damage their hearts.


What did I do with my son at the waterpark? I confirmed what he was seeing. I said “There sure is a lot of skin around here” and he said “there sure is!”I don’t think he had ever seen that many girls with that little clothing on.


Next, I said “Let’s see how many girls wear nail polish on their toes and what color is most popular.” Retraining a child’s eyes and refocusing their minds is helping protect them from what they are dealing with at the moment. You don’t have to have big long lectures or talks; they already know what the problem is and what they should do about it. There are moments like this one that they need your help to redirect them from the temptation they are being sucked into.


If you have girls that are tempted to wear swimsuits or other clothing that will draw a boy’s eye to them to lure them into temptation, moms need to use this as an opportunity to train them in the way they should go. I (Carla) was in the dressing room with my teen daughter while she was trying on clothes. When she would put an outfit on, I would have her close her eyes then open them looking straight ahead in the mirror. I asked her what she saw first, and it was always her chest. I told her that is what all the guys she knew would see first when they looked at her too. She had no problem dressing modestly after that!


Jesus said in Mark 9:42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.


It is appalling what some kids from Christian families are wearing in pictures they put on Facebook. From low necklines to bikinis, there is a whole lot of skin showing. Guys have enough trouble seeing non-followers of Christ wearing lustful clothing so we encourage you moms to not let your Christ-following daughters cause Christian brothers to stumble by lusting after them because of the clothes they wear.

Influencing Siblings

Influencing Siblings

Joey and Carla Link

July 17, 2019
Follow the leader is a popular game for kids to play. Who are they following in your home? For siblings, the guidance of an older sibling is a powerful influence! This is why we often tell parents to work on the older one first and younger siblings will learnwhat to do and what not to do.
What about all the times your kids are playing a game together and the oldest child tells the younger ones they have to do what he says? You are busy doing laundry and while you are aware the sounds coming from the kids aren’t friendly you don’t do anything until you hear a child cry out because he got hurt. What is the older child teaching the younger children that you didn’t see? That you can boss someone around so when they have a cousin or friends come over, they can push them around to get their own way too?
The old saying is true, “More is caught than taught“. This is why we encourage parents to be very mindful about the character of an older sibling because their influence can have a greater impact on a younger child than all the parents’ work and training.
What are your older kids passing on to their younger siblingsWe remember when our daughter Briana was vacuuming the family room. She was ramming the vacuum into her Mom’s new wall unit and Carla ran in to see what was going on. What was Briana’s response? She told Carla she didn’t understand why she had to do her brother Michael’s work. Carla checked the chore chart and saw that it was indeed Michael’s job to vacuum. She told Briana she didn’t know why she had to do Michael’s work either, but since she had started she had to finish and do a good job with no scratches on the wall unit.
Carla then went to see Michael. He laughed and told her if Briana was dumb enough to do it because he told her to then why should he stop her. Carla asked Briana what Michael had threatened her with to get her to do his chores and she just shrugged. Older brother’s bossiness won that one. We asked Briana if Michael had the freedom to decide who did what chore. She told us he said he did. We asked her how she could have found out if that were true and she responded by telling us she should have come to us, and yes she should have. Michael did not get off the hook. He got to do all of Briana’s chores the following week.
Proverbs 27:17 gives the gold standard of how siblings should work together.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
How can your kids “sharpen” each other?
  • Have a routine for each of your kid’s day, no matter their age. You need to plan a routine for your young kids, but by age 9-10 they should be planning their own and running it by you to see if you have any changes.
    • Plan for time together, time alone, time with each sibling, time for older siblings to play together and so on. When kids get used to this routine, they are thankful because it fulfills their need to be alone so they are then willing to give younger siblings time with a good attitude when they see it is only 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Teach them to learn from each other.
    • On a dad date, ask each of your kids ages 4 yrs. and up (on their own date) to think of ways they are teaching their siblings good things.
    • Then ask him/her to think of ways they are teaching them to do the wrong thing. Ask them what Jesus thinks of that.
    • As them to think of one way they can teach them the right thing to do instead and ask him if you can trust him to work on it that week.
    • Ask them to share one way each of his siblings is teaching him a good thing.
  • Provide opportunity for them to work together to learn from one another.
    • Conflict comes from working together but so does sharpening.
    • Ask one of your older kids to pick a younger sibling to work with to do something not on the normal chore list like rake leaves. Give them a section of the yard to do and then have another older child pick a sibling and give them a different section of the yard to do. When your kids pick a sibling they will usually take ownership of seeing the job gets done right.
    • When one of your younger children is ready to take on new chores, invite him/her to ask an older sibling to show him how to do it. Ask the chosen sibling if you can trust him to do a good job of showing him the right way to get this task done.
    • When you do this as a habit in your home, you will find the children inviting others to work on projects with them.
  • Ask your kids how they can encourage each other.
    • During a family night have encouragement as a theme (you might want to do this every few months).
    • After talking and sharing and perhaps role playing, have them write on a 3×5 index card one way they can encourage each member of the family the upcoming week.
    • Have them turn their cards in to you and let them know they can ask to see them at any time.
  • Ask them if they have the freedom to share with a sibling when they see them doing something they shouldn’t?
    • If they think they do, ask them where they got that freedom. Ask them what you would need to see to give them that freedom and let them know you will be watching to see when they are ready.
    • When they get the freedom, work through with your kids the right way to confront. (Galatians 6:1). Make sure they understand what a “gentle rebuke” looks like and ask them what they should do if the one they are confronting has a bad attitude about it.
By teaching siblings to be willing to be sharpened and sharpen others properly, parents are teaching their kids to work gracefully with a spouse one day as well as with their own children.