Thursday, November 21, 2013


From Beth

I am a huge fan of the "do over." As a matter of fact I think a key to parenting, especially parenting children who have experienced trauma, is to weave the second (and third and fourth....) chance into the way we train and disciple our children. Stephen and I have learned over the years how important it is for our children to always, always, always know that we see a way forward and that we are committed to discover that path with them. How many times have we said to our children, "Let's try this again," or "Our goal is to get you back to being able to enjoy that freedom." 

Here are 10 Things I Love About The Do-Over:
  1. It communicates HOPE. It says, "There is nothing you can do that will ever make me give up on you. I have a faith in what God is doing in you and in me that propels us forward, into your destiny."
  2. It says, "You can do this. You have what it takes. I can see it, even if you can't."
  3. It is a display of unconditional love--"No matter what you say or do, I am here for you. My love is not affected by your behavior (although my feelings often are!), for it is my choice to love you in good times and bad."
  4. It speaks of enduring love. It says, "I love you and am committed to walk alongside you no matter how long it takes to see you live in the abundant life that is your inheritance."
  5. It sends me on a treasure hunt, seeking the precious treasure of my child's true identity as a beloved son or daughter. It reminds me again to call forth the treasure and to speak life into my child. "You are my son/daughter and I love you. I know who you are; I see the gifts of God in your life (sometimes seeing "in the Spirit" is the only way to do this, for what we see in the flesh may not be helpful!)" 
  6. It demands that we always Parent Forward into our child's true Identity and Destiny, rather parenting into the past of their trauma or the present manifestation of it. 
  7. It speaks of partnership. "We are in this together. I am not going to distance myself from you because of what you have done; I will not punish you by withholding my love. Rather, I will draw in close with a plan for you to move forward. You and I will do this together. You are not alone in your pain/fear/anger."
  8. It is a beautiful expression of Grace--undeserved favor. It says, "Because you are my son/daughter, you are favored. You and I don't get what we deserve. How good is that?!" It is extravagant and sometimes even offensive (to our own sense of justice and to others who do not understand.)
  9. It is an opportunity to share with our child our own testimonies of how God has never given up on us, of how He has always given us a way forward when we have slammed shut doors to our future. 
  10. It is, pure and simple, Good News! It is the Gospel lived out in the nitty gritty reality of our mommy/daddy lives. It is all about Jesus, real and effective and just plain GOOD!

So, the next time your child speaks disrespectfully to you or disobeys or lashes out in anger, look for ways to parent him/her forward. Sometimes it is as easy as saying, "Sweetie, that was not ok. Let's try that again." 

And sometimes it is not that easy, that is for sure! As a matter of fact I have a few children for whom that sweet scenario is quite rare. Sometimes you will have to offer that do over again and again and again, holding your ground. We have some children who would go for days before they would yield to the offer of hope and forward movement. 

Take the cell phone for example, or substitute some other situation common to your child. We had very clear limits set for cell phone use when our children were younger. We also had more than one (as in lots and lots!) of occasions to "try again." As tempting as it is to threaten the end of all cell phone use forever, that is not really helpful! 
We would say something like, "It looks like I'll have to hold on to your phone now. You know, I want you to be able to have that cell phone, (or play with that toy, or have a friend over) as much as you do. You and I want the same thing! I want to help you get back to enjoying that freedom. What is a good path back from where we are? Let's see what we can do to get you what you want."
Be sure to set a finite time when your child can "try again." As I said, sometimes it can be right away, but with our children who tend to emotional escalation, it is more common for the do-over to take some time. It is always helpful to keep it as short a time as possible. We want to communicate our hope and confidence in their ability to make good choices through letting them know we are prepared to give them another chance from the beginning.  


  1. Oh Beth, I love this post. Such a beautiful, hope-filled way to parent through the tough times. Thank you for painting a picture for us of what this looks like in real life, because many of us weren't parented in this way, so we don't have a model of what this looks like. Great post!

  2. Dana, thank you for your encouraging words. It is so key that we find ways to live that are hope-filled, right?! Blessings on you and your family.