Creating Stress For Your Children

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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There's a difference between stressing your children out and intentionally allowing them to live in the tension of life circumstances. I am discovering this every single day that I am a parent.

My 12-year old daughter flakes out a lot. And when I say a lot I mean, a lot!

In just a few short weeks of school being back in session, she has forgotten her gym clothes, her lunch box, her change of clothes to wear after gym class, her homework, her deodorant stick for after gym class, and many other things. She’s going to lose her bike too! Not because I’m mean and will take it away, but because she continually forgets to put it in the garage, and leaves it behind our 12-passenger van. It will be gone because it’s going to get crunched under the van tires!

She’s a flake alright! But I love her.

Unfortunately, though, I find myself lecturing her over her flakiness. The other day, I lectured her about forgetting her change of clothes after gym class. The day after that, I lectured her over her lunch box and the fact that she continually forgets to wash it out, creating quite a lovely discovery at the end of a long weekend. I’m trying hard to not be this type of parent, I promise.

The other day, however, I did not lecture her over something else she flaked out on. Amazingly, as we drove along to school, I just spoke a simple line of truth and then said nothing beyond that. She sighed and exclaimed, “Dad, stop, you’re stressing me out!” No problem! I stopped right then and there.

Later on, after I dropped her off at school, I got to thinking- good! You need to stress out about this stuff. Until you stop flaking out on some of the realities of life, I want you to feel the weight of your decisions.

I know what you’re thinking- ouch dad! Ease up on the girl! Maybe you’re right…perhaps I do need to lighten up! 🙂

Actually, I know you’re right. Here’s why:

I’ve discovered, in more than a decade of parenting, and more than 15 years of working with families, that creating stress in your child’s life is unhealthy. Allowing the stress that you feel personally over something (your own hang-ups, workload at the office, or the frustrations you have at home) to rest on your children can be very destructive. Especially since they are still growing and their understanding of the way life works is still in development.

They are learning to live in the tension of living. You and I, being adults, have experienced more life, more tough seasons, more bad decisions, and more of the day in and day out stresses of life. They have not. But the truth is, they will. And my 12-year old is starting to realize how much the weight of her decisions can dictate her life. That’s a good thing!

After her statement to me in the car the other day, I asked myself this question- “I  don’t want to stress her out, but I do want her to learn how to make better choices. How do I do that?” The answer I came up with was this:

As a parent, I need to intentionally allow my children to dwell in situations where they begin to learn to manage the tensions of life, or the tensions of their bad choices. This is one of the healthiest things I can do as their parent. Lecture them? No. Add my stress over life to theirs? Absolutely not!

Stand by as their guide but allow them to feel the weight of their choices (or flakiness)? Definitely!

Question: What is your perspective on this? Do you agree? Disagree? What have you found to be helpful?

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.