This week on the Fresh Start Family Show, Wendy’s guest is Christina Dronen, mom of 3, founder and Executive Director of Finally Family Homes, a nonprofit helping kids aging out of foster care … as well as the author of the Parenting in Christ bible study series and creator of GentleChristianParenting.com.
Wendy and Christina find so much connection as they discuss their passion for helping families – especially within the church (many who have been grossly misguided, especially around what Godly discipline looks like) – see how to parent with gentleness and look at the scriptures to guide our discipline to be gentle, firm AND effective.
They look closer at how we can bring different scriptures to life when we apply them to being parents … especially Galatians 5:22-23.
In this episode, they chat about what it looks like to parent with the Fruits of the Spirit including:
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- Different scriptures give us guidance on how to parent
- How Christ was fatherly through gentle and loving correction
- Being gentle with ourselves and stepping away from shame
- How we can replenish our self-control when it’s depleted
- Using “planned-control” to help set you up for self-control success
- How apologizing is part of humility
Mentioned in this Episode:
Freedom to Be Online Course Oct 15 & 22
Not able to listen or want to read along with us?
Here is the episode transcript!
This episode is brought to you by the Fresh Start Family freedom to be personal development course, you can learn more over at freshstartfamilyonline.com/freedomcourse.
Well, Hey there listeners. I’m so happy you’re here. I’m Wendy Snyder, positive parenting educator and family life coach. And today I have Christina Dronen on the show, who’s going to be talking to us about how we can use the Fruits of the Spirit in our parenting walk: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Can I get a heck yes? I know all of us could use more of these in our daily walk. Right? If we’re being honest, most of us would admit that there are many days where we’re a little low on patience.
We’re a little low on, self-control probably a little low on gentleness, right? So to have a conversation around how we can really harness these gifts and rely on them and use them is just, I think, going to really bless you today. So I’m excited for you to get to know Christina. She is a wife, a mom of three sweet kiddos and the founder and executive director of Finally Family Homes, a nonprofit organization, helping kids who are aging out of foster care. The work that she’s doing there is so incredible families. I’m really excited for you to learn about it, but she’s also the author of the parenting and Christ Bible study series and blogs over at gentlechristianparenting.com, where she has a free Facebook group, where she gathers families in community who are really committed to practicing positive, gentle, respect, connection based parenting.
So I want you to go check her out, find her work, support her, her Bible studies are just awesome. She has tons of coloring sheets out there, which are really cool to just really give your hands something to do while you’re with your kids. If you have kids of young age and they color. I know back when my kids were little, it was like the best thing. When it was art time, we could sit and be present together. And for me, coloring was always a really great way just to be with them. So check out some of her coloring stuff. And yeah, I’m just extra thankful when I get to meet and become more familiar with the work of people like Christina, because you know, I’ve been teaching now in this space for, I don’t know, almost eight years now and founded Fresh Start Family about four years ago.
And for a few years, I was really kind of just down because it didn’t seem like there was a ton of educators teaching, you know, Christian families, how to apply this work into the daily fabric of their life and supporting families with why it is absolutely Biblical to parent from a place of gentleness and from kindness and connection and respect versus kind of the traditional things that you often hear preached in the church, which breaks my heart. And I know it breaks so many of your hearts too, and that is lots of punishment, lots of fear and force, just lots of overpowering and scripture being cited in a very incorrect and inaccurate way.
And so as time has gone on, I’ve met more and more friends and colleagues who are teaching in this space and supporting families of all faiths, really because what Christina helps families understand what I help families understand, again, you guys is for families of all faiths, this is work that is based in respect and dignity and compassion and empathy and grace and connection and firm kindness, right? That is for every person on the planet, no matter what faith or no faith you are. And it is just really special for me when I find people that have dedicated their lives and are really serving in a great capacity families of Christian faith, because we are a family who loves Jesus.
And there is just so much misinformation out there about how you have to parent, if you want to do it in a Godly way, if you want to respect God. And like I said, it just, it just breaks my heart. So I’m excited to get to know Christina a little bit more, get to know her work and the way she is supporting families. And I’m excited for you guys to have yet another resource to back you up when you’re like, no, thanks. I’m not going to hit my kids. I’m not going to overpower them and use fear and force as these influential tools in our home and call it Godly parenting. Like, no thanks. I’m going to go get supported by Wendy and her Jesus Guided Parenting Program. I’m going to get supported by Christina.
I’m going to get supported by Connected Families. I’m going to get supported by Flourishing Homes and Families like all of these incredible resources that you guys hopefully know about. Now that you’ve met me and started to get to know me and my circle of friends and colleagues. So anyways, without further ado, I want you to help me welcome Christina, but I’m going to tell you one more thing just to make sure you guys are on our email list. If you’re not on our email list, you guys remember this is a great way to stay in touch with me on a consistent basis. And for me to be able to cheer you on motivate you, lift you up on those days when you, you know, might be just wanting to run away and give up on parenting by 10:00 AM.
Every single week I send out weekly encouragements, weekly tips. Sometimes it’s in a blog post. Oftentimes it’s in a podcast. Sometimes it’s in other resources. Our email list is the place where you get notified. When we have our special discounts on sales, on our program at the time that I’m actually recording this intro, we actually are having a half price sale on private sessions with me, our Sibling Conflict bundle how to help siblings get along. We also are having a half price sale on our Firm and Kind Parenting Blueprint. Now, by the time you listen to this episode, of course, that sale will be finished. But my point is, if you are on the email list, then you get notified of those significant sales and those opportunities to save a lot of money when you invest in our education programs.
And then on top of that, you’re just hearing from me. We get to communicate. If you want to ask me a question, you just can hit reply. Like, Hey Wendy, you know, blah, blah, blah. So get on the email list, guys, if you haven’t yet, you can do that really easily by heading to freshstartfamilyonline.com/newsletter. All right, guys, lots of love. Thank you so much for listening. I love you all without further ado, help me welcome Christina to the show.
Well, hey there, I’m Stella. Welcome to my mom and dad’s podcast, The Fresh Start Family Show. We’re so happy you’re here. We’re inspired by the ocean, Jesus and rock and roll, and believe deeply in the true power of loving kindness. Together we hope to inspire you to expand your heart, learn new tools and strengthen your family. Enjoy the show.
Well hello, they listeners and welcome to a new episode of the Fresh Start Family Show. I am so excited to be here today with Christina Dronen. Welcome to the show, Christina!
Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
I’m so happy you’re here, too. Christina is going to be talking to us today, listeners about how we can Relish in the Fruits of the Spirit in our Parenting Walk, and I cannot wait for you to get to know Christina better. I can’t wait to get to know you better. Christina. I’ve admired your work for awhile. And every time I find an educator or an advocate for gentle parent in the gentle parenting space, that’s supporting families and parents to help them thrive, I just get so excited. So I remember the day, I think I found you through Instagram. I know Instagram gets a bad rap, but I have found just so many wonderful educators and advocates in the space.
And it really feels like those of us who are teaching and supporting families in this manner is growing with massive abundance right now. And it just makes me so happy because seven years ago, it, it didn’t feel like that. Right?
Absolutely. I’m totally on the same page as you.
So I remember messaging you and just being like, hi, nice to meet you. I’m so happy to find another advocate in this space. So before we get going on our great conversation today, about how we can really harness the power and relish and thrive in the Fruits of the Spirit as parents, tell us a little bit about yourself, Christina. Tell us how old your kids are. Tell us about the work that you do and how you became so passionate about serving God and families in this capacity.
Yeah, so I grew up all over the place. My dad was in the air force, so we moved around every two to four years. So I don’t know where to say I’m from, but I’ve actually lived in California now for, for longer than anywhere else. So we’ll say I’m from California, even though I moved here as an adult. So I live in the Los Angeles area in the outskirts, with my husband and three kids, they are 14, a 14 year old daughter, a 10 year old son. Oh 11. Actually, he just turned 11 yesterday. I’m not used to saying that 11 year old and a three, three and a half, almost four year old daughter as well. And let’s see, how did I get into this space?
I honestly was. I didn’t like how I was raised and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have kids. I was like, well, we’ll just see what happens. And you know, I had had them and, and then I felt like when I had my first born, I thought all my thoughts were, I don’t want to raise her how I was raised. And that is not enough for guidance. What you don’t want is not, there’s a whole lot of way. Well, what else is there? What do I do? So I started researching and I felt like a lot of what I was reading was full of really personal opinion and peppered with a verse or two in the entire like book.
And then, and this is God’s way and this is the way you have to do it or else, or else, or else your children will never be, you know, good members of society. And they’ll never be Christians and they’ll never dah, dah and all felt threat, threatening and menacing. And I’m like, and I would hear so much even from these authors or from other people, you know, well, God doesn’t say that much about, about parenting. And I was like, wow, that’s just, it doesn’t seem to fit with what I know. I mean, God cares a lot about people and his children. And why would he leave something so important? Like, eh, it doesn’t matter, you know? Yeah. So I sort of really praying about it and researching and reading. And I felt like God opened up my eyes to see that like, oh, this like all those commandments for how to treat each other and guidance and example of Christ all applies to parenting every bit of it.
So in fact, a great deal of scripture applies to parenting. There’s not one or two random cherry picked verses the fullness of who Christ is. I believe we are supposed to live out in the way that we engage with our children. And I’ve even had people say to me like, well, Jesus didn’t have children. And I’m like, he called his disciples little children and, and we’re all, he was fatherly towards all of those he raised. And in fact, what is it, Isaiah? Is it Isaiah 9:6 says, you know the one that he’s the Prince of Peace, the everlasting Father, that’s talking about Christ and not, he’s not like God, the Father, but he, his fatherly and he was very fatherly. He did everything fatherly.
He corrected his disciples. He instructed them. Every bit of his engagement was guiding and doing the things loving parents. So, yeah, so I started researching and I came across, like you said, if he back then, because my oldest is 14, almost 15, there was-gentle parenting- you know, I don’t think it was a Google search term back then. Like there was something called gentle Christian mothers. And I think maybe one or two very obscure authors out there. And I really, once I found it, I was like, there is, you know, there’s this whole world of, of caring in a different way and raising your kids in a way that, that reflects everything that I know to be true about Christianity.
And, and doesn’t say, check your Christianity at the door while you act like this other person as a parent. So, so I, but I felt like everything. I thought again, didn’t feel like there was enough scripture out there. And that’s why I started writing my Bible study guides because I felt like the scripture is what really got a hold of and gave me that confidence to parent differently. And I wanted to give other, especially Christians that empowerment and that truth that comes right from scripture and how to parent in a Godly, gentle way.
Oh, so good. Well, it’s so cool that we have similar aged kiddos. I don’t have a little one anymore, but I have a 14, almost 15 year old daughter and my son is 11 to
That’s so cool. You can get bored. You could have another one. I get tired of having sleep and the wild thing. Oh my goodness. Yeah,
You are brave girl. You aren’t brave. I am relishing. I keep using that term today. We were joking before we push record, but it’s kind of a grandma term, but here I am, I keep I’m like loving it. I keep saying it, I am relishing. And being able to sleep in and just, you know, teenage hood is like, has its own set of challenges, but I’m telling you the independence and the freedom. I’m like hallelujah. But I do miss those early years. We babysit our neighbor’s little boys yesterday and I was just loving the snuggles and all the things. So those are, those are great ages. Well, that’s awesome. And then tell us a little bit more. I know you’re a busy, busy girl. You, you have things you do in addition to your gentle Christian parenting work.
So tell us about your nonprofit. You’re doing amazing work with that. Christina would love to hear more.
Oh yeah. I know. I should have mentioned that in the beginning as well. Yeah. I really feel like it’s related. The, my part of my heart and passion is, is advocacy for, for the children and making sure that we represent Christ well, and that’s for parents. And then also, and in ministry and I just have a heart for those kids who, who age out of foster care. So the ones who get to be 18 years old and they basically, you know, the system says, sorry, we couldn’t reunite you with any family. We couldn’t find you a place to be adopted. And then now you’re 18. And so it’s, it doesn’t go well. They fall into human trafficking. They’re actually a major target of human trafficking, homelessness.
And, and when you think of homelessness, you don’t always think of an 18 year old or a 19 year old, or, you know, a young adult who is completely fairly capable, but like who on their 18th birthday walks out the door with a garbage bag of their clothes and makes it in life. You know, it’s, they have no support. The furniture even in their bedroom is not theirs. You know, they don’t have a bed or bed sheets. They don’t have, you know, the things that everybody who has a family of origin that’s solid has. And even, even the guidance and direction someone to call if your car breaks down. And so I live in the LA area. As I mentioned earlier, we have the largest foster care system in the nation and the largest unhoused homeless population last I checked LA county has over a hundred thousand homeless people.
And I believe that was not even like, that’s not even, that’s like a year ago. So who knows, you know, what the pandemic is done and about a thousand kids from foster care, sleep unsheltered every night on the streets of LA. So they hide, well, they’re not like all laid out, you know, on a, on a street from the, the young adults. They, they couch surf until they can’t make it or, you know, sleep in their cars and things like that. And so God, that is very clear in scripture. I feel like about caring for the orphan and the widow from, from Old Testament to New. And I think that’s just speaks to his overall heart, same for children, right? He’s all about the underclass. The forgotten about the cast aside, those that maybe society says are less important or don’t have anything to offer.
And I feel like, you know, foster youth who age out or orphans and, and our children, as well as little ones, you know, a lot of times with more up there, authoritarian parenting, you’ll hear very dismissive and denigrating a child as if they are not equally valuable and important in God’s eyes. And so I had that heart for that, for whatever reason, God, God did it. He, he brought it up through my church and I felt this passion to step in and say to these kids, you think nobody else cares about them? Like we care. There’s people who care once they know. And so we provide, I have a birthday box behind me. We do, we celebrate their birthdays because an aged-out You’ve told us that in her entire time in foster care, they never celebrated her birthday once.
And I know if you’re already feeling unchosen and forgotten about and unloved, you know, that kind of drives it home. So we sell, make sure their birthdays are celebrated. We celebrate their successes, like graduations, graduation gifts there too behind me. And then, and so we try to care, take care of their hearts as well as their basic needs, just help the homeless mama who’s a foster youth who had a baby of her own, you know, find some shelter and support. And, and it is faith-based. So we don’t say like, oh, if you want food, you gotta to go to Bible study or anything like that. It’s all we are sharing the love of Jesus. And if you want to come to a church, if you want to know more about him, you know them, then we’re happy to share that with you as well.
But our primary focus and it’s taken some time to get here is housing and that’s the number one need. And so we’re helping youth build to own their own tiny homes on wheels, creating our own affordable housing in LA. I know. And they’re fun too. I don’t know. 10 homes.
Yes, they are. Part of me wants to sell everything I own and just live in a tiny home.
Oh yeah. Yeah. I was, I was very interested until I had my third kid and then like maybe, maybe a while longer for me personally, and then like providing housing while they build those tiny homes. So yeah, that’s what I do for a lot of the day. It’s a, it’s a lot of work, but yeah, my, I guess my heart is just with the under dog and for, you know, caring for those, especially children and, and showing them the heart of Jesus and in our actions.
Oh, it’s so cool to, to just hear about different people’s stories and what God puts on each of our hearts. Right. Cause he chooses all of us to do something different and to just be on fire for him in different ways. And so that is just so inspiring to hear that. What’s the name of the nonprofit one more time for funding.
Yeah. It’s Finally Family Homes,
Finally Family Homes. Beautiful. And you start working with those children when they’re 17, 18 years old. Right?
I bet it, yeah, usually right around 18, sometimes younger, but 18 is really because they’re in the system usually until 18. And so there’s a different set of rules and things like that, that happened in that time.
Wow. It’s also so cool. I think so many of us that end up in this space as educators or people who are helping parents really at the core is that we’re children, advocates, right? Like we just have such a heart for kids and we’re just not down with them being forgotten about them being talked down to put in a different bucket of respect. Like it’s just, I think it is at the center of us. Right. And we know that we can help them the most when we work with their parents. You know, I know Chad Hayenga from Connected Families who we love and that’s been on our show quite a few times. He was a therapist that worked with kids a lot for years and years.
And then once he became a parenting coach and a life coach that worked with parents, he said, he just felt like the way that he could help families. And the transformations that he saw in homes was so much greater when he actually was able to work with the parents. And he was able to help the children even more than just working with the parents. But I don’t know if you get it sometimes when people find you or come to you. But a lot of times when people step into this space, they think, oh, you’re going to help. You’re going to work with my kid. And then usually we turn to them and say, actually, we’re going to work with you.
Oh, absolutely. I think, and I think in the gentle parenting space, that is one key difference is that, you know, even my Bible cities, they’re not like, and then your kid will, and then this, you know, it’s, if you want to teach your kids, self-control, let’s, here’s how you work on your self-control. Like, it really is modeling and it is, it’s all about. And I feel like the gentle parenting is all about controlling your behavior and how you respond and you say, and, and, and the kid how’d, they respond, honestly, it is more like it’s up to them. You know what I mean? Like, yeah, you can be a fantastic parent and still have kids that aren’t, you know, not as fantastic as your parents, but at the end of the day, you’re, you’re held accountable.
Like we w we, I, in scripture says this, we will be held accountable for the care that we give them we’re stewards. And we are stewards. They are God’s children. And we won’t be held accountable for everything that they do. We will be held accountable for what we do is that the lessons that even if your kids do become an wylie or go astray, having you behave and be a solid character in their life, a solid person and someone who’s dependably, you know, patient or gentle or whatever, they know that they can come back to you. You know, it’s like, I think of the prodigal son story, right? And the father for the longest time, he must be a terrible father.
One kid ran off, the other’s a self-righteous jerk. But when the going got tough, and this kid who like blew it off and was terrible, he came back because he knew who the father was because he knew the father would at least he would help even a stranger or even a servant and treat them better than what he was being treated out there. So the character of the father is what brought the child back and what led to the restoration, you know? And I think that that’s how God views us. And I think that our children are blessed when we work on ourselves and make sure that we are treating them, like I said, as, as Christ would treat us or representing Christ. Well, and, and that fruit, you know, who knows how it comes about, whether it’s, you know, when they’re older, when they’re younger, I saw immediate changes in my kids when I started being more gentle.
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Yeah. It is all about the parents.
Yeah. And that’s the thing, though. I’m sure you see the same thing is yes. Every once in a blue moon, there’s a child that still is just like Cray Cray or something. But for the majority, like 99% of the families we work with. Right. I see you’re nodding is like, as the parent cleans up, as the parent works on their own self control, we’re going to talk about humility and gentleness and patience and all the things today is they really like focus on building those and modeling those and using those and compassion and forgiveness and from kindness, instead of fear and intimidation, like, it just it’s like magic. It’s not magic because it’s God, but it’s, it’s like magic.
Like these kids just, I mean, that was my story, right. I mean, I was banging my head against a wall for a while, trying to figure out how to make my unruly little girl when she was three years old. And very strong-willed still is to this day, thank God for her spirit. But it was like, why is nothing working like these timeouts and these spankings. And then as soon as I started to switch and started to treat her differently and see her differently and take responsibility where I was the same aggression that I would come so hard. So down on her for it was, you know, it was very magical. It’s been quite the journey. It wasn’t like overnight or anything, but there was moments where I was just like, oh my gosh, this is powerful.
These kids, you know, they want to be just like us when they respect us. If it’s, if it’s false respect or not true power, then it’s, you know, it’s a facade that they want to be like us. But when you have true respect in your home and trust and all those things, great connection, then your kids just naturally want to be like you, they want to follow your lead. They have that, that healthy fear, which is all about awe and inspiration and reverence and glorifying, right? Like not scared to death, they’re going to hurt me, fear that a lot of people, I think translate a lot of scripture to mean when it doesn’t. But yeah, it’s just beautiful. So, and then 1, 1, 1 more question.
Before we get into the Fruits of the Spirit conversation, we’ve already started to touch on it, but so now your work with Gentle Christian Parenting, you have your Bible studies and then like, tell me what your day to day looks like for that, that side of the, your job. You have a dual side, your get your nonprofit, and then you got your,
I have a blog as well. And then a Facebook groups. There’s a lot of engagement in the Facebook group about the day-to-day things. But I do try to really always kind of direct this conversation, maybe a little different than others in terms of, I try to steer away from like, my kid keeps biting so-and-so dah, dah, dah. You know, how do we deal with it? And because that gets into some really functional areas where I think like mental health advocates and people who are more in behavior areas have a lot of already great advice out there. I love “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Faber and Mazlish. And I read that when my daughter was three. So I was already like anti spanking, but, and some people think that’s gentle parenting.
And I would, I would say that’s a first step, but I was still punishing. And it was like, three-year-old. And I was like, I don’t even like her anymore. I don’t even know what to do. I hate that our relationship is being destroyed by these battles. And so, yeah, I read that book and started taking those like practical steps, you know, and I think that’s really helpful, but for me, I just, again, I feel like there’s so much wealth of information that can come from the themes and scripture and the identity we have in Christ. So for instance, I have one of my parenting books, maybe that’s the most practical is “Training in the Disciplines of Jesus”. So like prayer and taking time, praying over your child, paying with your child, turning to God in prayer when you’re overwhelmed in parenting.
So, you know what I mean, where it’s like a broader spiritual engagement. And so that’s, that’s kind of where I try to lead and focus in my parenting is, is how do we turn to, to God and his word for, for guidance in an a broad, you know, group of, of situations, if that makes sense.
Yes. All that makes so sense. Okay, perfect. Well, this conversation then is perfect because we’re not going to be talking strategies and techniques and all the things which we do a ton of inside of our programs. But yeah, let’s just talk big picture. We’re going to specifically look at scripture today around the Fruits of the Spirit. One of my favorite scriptures in the world, but I’ll go ahead and read it for us. Galatians 6:22. I think it’s time that I get stronger glasses. Oh my gosh.
I think it’s Galatians 5:22.
Thank you. Thank telling you. I chose the wrong buses and I’m like, oh my gosh, am I going to be able to read this right now? But I like to read out of my Bible versus the computer when I can. And so I had grabbed it, but okay. I can see now, thank you Galatians 5:22, but the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against those things. And then I work out of, or I study out of a life application Bible, which I recommend to everyone. We have it on our shop page of our website. It’s the best, but our little translation at the bottom, it says the Fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us.
The spirit produces these character traits that are found in the nature of Christ. They are the byproducts of Christ control. We can’t obtain them by trying to get them without his help. If we want the Fruit of the Spirit to grow in us, we must join our life to his. We must know him, love him, remember him and imitate him as a result. We will fulfill the intended purpose of the law to love God and our neighbors. What a beautiful explanation there. Right? Yeah. But I know as we were chatting before you were saying that some of your favorite Fruits of the Spirit are gentleness and self-control, so let’s start with those. Talk to us about, let’s just take gentleness. I mean, your, your organization, Gentle Christian Parenting.
Why is this, you know, one of your favorite Fruits of the Spirit and how can we really lean on it in our parenting walk and really receive it, right? Like that’s, instead of striving, it’s like, just receive it just about that.
I grew up without any gentleness in our family and any sort of way, there were no gentle words or, you know, amongst each other or anything. And, and I, and I think I had maybe what was a more mainstream opinion of gentleness being kind of like weakness and so understanding it better really made me more excited about it, I guess, and understanding that gentleness is actually strength, great strength, right? I mean, if you’re practicing gentle parenting, if you’ve even done it once, you know, your kid is falling on the ground is screaming and kick in and you’re like calm and gentle. That’s like great strength that strengthened self-control and all at once to hold back, just reacting to being your three-year-old self, right.
Which is the unrestrained not using the prefrontal cortex part of your brain. Well, there’s a great quote about how gentleness actually usually advances your cause. You know, you might think a show of my, or a show of power or strength or force, you know, that’s how we, again, a three-year-old would try to get their way, right? This is how a, maybe our gut reaction is, but it’s through gentleness that we can actually be more powerful and an effective, right. Because we’re helping bring down defenses rather than when you’re forceful, you’re putting up other people’s defenses. And then just again, like with it not being talked about much, you know, there’s so much gentleness of Christ you see in scripture when you open up your eyes to see, and the fact that it’s one of the chosen aspects of, of having been saved and having received the Holy Spirit.
Like this is part of your evidence, right? This is your fruit. Like your gentleness is how you stand out from the world as someone who has received Christ and been transformed by him. So I think it’s just less talked about, I feel like, you know, I don’t know, the last time I heard a sermon on gentleness, I’ve heard lots of self-control or even maybe patience or love or joy, but I don’t know. I guess that’s part of my underdog. I like the underdog Fruit of the Spirit too!
I love that so much. Yeah. Gentleness has definitely been one of those ones that I’m learning more and more every day. Right. It’s like such a journey, but I’ve been thinking about the Fruits of the Spirit because sometimes I’ll teach and you know, we’ll joke like which one do you need more of? And do you want more of, but they’re all I think, readily available to us. It’s like, are we willing and ready to receive them? So I’ve been working with myself to just have, you know, talk about like, I’m still in the process of receiving that as one of a trait that I’m really good at. And that I’m blessed with. Like, we all know, it’s like, Hey, when you’re a believer, you have all that power it’s ready to access. You just have to believe you have to receive it.
And gentleness, there has been a lot of un-gentleness my motherhood journey over the years, you know? And it is so beautiful when you can have those moments. And now thank God. I do feel like I’m able to receive it on, you know, and, and use it in my parenting walk quite often. And it, it just is amazing how influential it is. Like, it’s just so influential. And I, I hear a lot of students say this too, but when we’re gentle, when we don’t rush to conclusions, we don’t jump to conclusions or we don’t rush to, to fix or correct. But when we’re gentle and slow and guiding, I think it, it gives our children also the opportunity to come forward and not feel like they’re being forced or not.
Like they just naturally start to respond a little bit more when you give them a little bit of space and you’re not so forceful with it. So yeah. Gentleness is such a good one.
What other things we, we don’t like to read is that part before the Fruit of the Spirit where it talks to the acts of the flesh, right. And the acts of, of the flesh are hatred discord, you know, fits of rage, selfish, ambition, factions, you know? And, and so it’s all about things, all those things that are very contrasted to the gentleness. Right. It’s and so when we’re not gentle, we, we can bring up rage in our children or express the rage ourselves or create divisions. And so I think that that gentleness is really a powerful tool for preventing battles and divisions.
Oh, I love that. And you know what just made me think before we move on to a different one, we’re just kind of having fun, choosing a few of these today, listeners, to touch on, but let’s talk real quick about gentleness with ourselves, right. Because as I’m sharing about my journey and you know, I haven’t had a perfect rollout of gentleness over the years, right. I mean, I’ve written articles before Christina one’s called, ‘I Left Bruises’. It was a night that I just got so angry at my son. He was having a meltdown in the street and I like grabbed him. And I remember like dragging him in being so embarrassed thinking like, oh my gosh, people are judging me. And, and he’s my easy going one. Like he’s, most of my stories are not about him, but I remember the moment or this story always evokes emotion in me and that’s okay.
Cause emotions good. Right? It’s like this beautiful God-given design and thank God it’s no longer shame. It used to be shame. And now it’s just like, oh, that was a crappy memory. But I remember the moment where I squeezed him extra tight on purpose. And it wasn’t like it was an accident. And there was the next night in the bathtub. He was like, Hey mama. And he was like his little naked four year old self. And I just looked over and I saw these like fingerprint bruises. And I was just like, oh my gosh, who am I like, who am I like? And you know, just the barrage of negative self-talk, which I think is one of the detriments of growing up in such an authoritative house or autocratic house.
Like, you know, just with, with fear and force comes a lot of shame, a lot of the concept, like in order to make a child behave better, you must first make them feel worse about themselves. So there’s just, it’s like, that has been something that I have joyfully and actively been on a mission to break in myself and help other parents get away from. But man, I know that there’s a lot of people listening right now that can relate. Right. And I’m sure you can, even too, it’s like, like here we are talking about how wonderful it is to relish and thrive in this Fruit of the Spirit. And so many of us have these many moments where we just really made big mistakes.
So obviously, I mean, I, I do so much teaching around this, but I want to hear your thoughts on this idea of self-compassion and just being gentle with yourself of our humanness and all that good stuff.
Absolutely. A hundred percent. I think that’s where you have to start, especially, you’re stepping into gentle parenting, you being gentle with yourself. And that’s one of those funny, like paradoxes I see sometimes when people are stepping in and starting to make those choices, is it when they slip back into old ways. Oh, I can’t believe that. I feel like the worst mom ever. And you know, and it’s like that, all that stuff, like you said, the shame, shame is not beneficial. Shame is not from Christ. Conviction says I made a mistake. Right. And I made a bad choice, but your identity and that’s where we’re like getting your identity and that, and that’s where I know I talked before the show about how I love humility. And that’s, again, one of those under, under misunderstood things I think out there, but I think humility is getting your identity in Christ.
And so, so it’s prideful to have shame. If that makes sense. You’re saying, no, I don’t accept what God has said about me. I’m a, I’m a terrible person. Like, so that’s, that’s a form of pride if that makes Yeah. You, it, sometimes it takes humility to believe that you’re better than you feel like, you know, that you’re worth more than what you believe because you have that, the humility of accepting about what God says about you. And so there’s that truth out there, that what you leave about yourself as how you behave, you behave in your identity. And that’s part of why you would never want to say, oh, you’re bad. You’re a bad kid. You’re a bad boy, blah, blah. What is the bad boy, do?
I’m a bad boy So I’m going to be like, you act out of your identity. And so I think if you, you know, if you’re going to be a compassionate, forgiving, gentle person that needs to be on yourself as well. And, and there’s, it’s hard to have to give others what you can’t give yourself. And so I think that’s super important and something I am absolutely working on as well. I am like definitely my own worst critic. And I tend to have really harsh judgmental responses on myself. And I know you probably know this and I’ve said it before, but what your parents say to you becomes your internal script. I’ve found myself saying things and, and I’ve been in therapy to be honest.
And yeah, and I been very beneficial and that’s sometimes where they say, where does that come from? Why are you saying this about yourself? And then I can pinpoint exact moments of when it was said to me over and over and over again. And so whenever I recognize that self-talk that’s old scripts running or things that were said to me, I try to change it. And I try to be very mindful of how I speak to my children and how I speak to their identity, because I know that I’m writing some of their own scripts. Like what kind of things I want them to say to themselves. I think absolutely we have to be gentle and patient if we want to express that gentleness outward to our kids. And it’s hard. I don’t know. It’s very hard for us.
Like our kids are looking at their, their little brains are more moldable as well. I’ve got years of dialogue to overwrite.
Yeah. And knowing that it’s like, you can always rewrite the dialogue and make new imprints and the moments when you weren’t gentle. Right. Like I just has your eyes. I heard you thinking like, like, even with our words, right? Like I’m giving an example of physicality, but like, even with words, right. Like I was raised with a common phrase, shame on you. Like, what were you thinking? And the times that that’s come out with my daughter has been one of, some of the most like regretful moments that I had. And it was for me, it came out as like, can you just, well, there was one time I said, can you just stop being you? And it was a version of like, and I’m just like, oh my gosh. And I could like hear And this is kind of rolls into self control, which we’ll talk next.
But I could like feel it coming out in that moment. And I was like, no, no, no, don’t say it. But my point is, it’s like, we, you know, again, regrets, conviction, guilt. It’s all, it’s all like part of being a human being, right. Shame is not. But knowing that within this work, you know, we practice and we have the ability to just redo things and make new imprints on our children’s brain and explain to them like, Hey, that is from, I’ve told my daughter this many times that is, as you said, an, an old script, that’s something that I heard, you know, who knows by the time I was, you know, it probably stopped when I was like 12 or 13, but I, you know, when a guest 27, 37 times, you know, who knows from the time all the little mistakes I made as a kid.
And so that was just, that was just me. That didn’t have anything to do with you. And you can create new imprints of I’m so thankful God designed you the way you are. I love your strong, well, I love your tenacity. I love your dedication. I love how out of the box you are. Like don’t ever change. Do not ever change. Don’t ever be different. Like be proud of who you are. Like I am so inspired by you, all those things. I think as long as you’re, you’re willing to do that work, it’s like 99% of the mistakes in the world are repairable. I think you get in trouble when you just like, make a mistake and then you never make amends. I that’s the way I was raised.
Right. Like we would scream and yell and fights and whatever. And then it was, the next morning was like with “Do you want pancakes or toast?”, You know, like that. And no one would ever talk about it. I’m like, yeah. Okay. Well, this sucked, but, okay, awesome. Well, talk to us about a little bit about self-control Christina, what are your thoughts on that and how it can bless us and how we can relish in self-control as a Fruit of the Spirit as parents?
I, I wanted something interesting. I actually, you know, I’m in LA, so I’m near Hollywood. I was in an infomercial weight loss infomercial, and had the like coaching guy. And I felt like one of the interesting things that I learned through experience and his coaching is self-control is he said, it’s kind of like a battery that we can be depleted of it. And I think that’s totally true for me anyway. That’s why I fail at my diet if I do it’s at night. Right. And I thought it was just because like, I don’t know, no time, but it’s because I’ve spent the whole day having self-control. And by the end of the day, when I’m tired and I’ve worn out my battery of self-control, you know, then I’m like, eh, it’s just a piece of chocolate, you know?
Yeah. And I think we see it in our children when they get home from school. Sometimes I’ve, I’ve had kids, mostly my son is that way where, you know, when they tell me how he’s doing at school, I’m like you’re sure?, Like the blonde kid? That’s not how he acts at home. You know? Like, because he’s so good at school. And I’m like, he ha he can do that. He can listen. And I think there’s that same concept of like, they, they keep it together. They’re good listeners at school. And then they see mom where they’re comfortable. They feel safe, they’ve held it together. And they’re like, yeah. You know, and it all comes out. So I think there’s definitely some truth, truth to that. And I think this is really where, like what you said about the Fruit of the Spirit receiving, we need to have our battery full.
We need to have do that spiritual and self care where we have that ability to keep going. And one of the things I learned in this, in this infomercial class was he wanted us to do things throughout the day to really care for ourselves, to do things to de stress. So like we were supposed to go on a 20 minute rock walk because there’s science, that’s 20 minutes, we’ll lower your cortisol levels. And I, and I use that all the time when I’m stressed out. And then what was the other things? Just little self-care things, even going for a massage. I was very strict, I guess, about going for a Chinese foot massage every week. And I was very successful in losing weight in that time. And I think it’s because I was refilling that battery in different ways.
And so I think that was one of the ways to look at self control and I think there is receiving, and I, and I love the term that I’ve heard from a pastor before grace and choice, right. Grace is that receiving, receiving of the Fruit of the Spirit, but we have a choice in each one of those Fruits of the Spirit, right? Like we have a choice to love. We have a choice to have self control. It’s not just like, you know, the way that I’ve lived, you know, there’s still have my choice. Yeah. And so I think there’s that, that grace and choice both with, with self control as well as how can we feed into ourselves with the holy spirit, with, with God’s word, with even just self care and then make that choice and have a plan for self control.
So I think, you know, when it comes to our children’s behavior, if I know that, you know, when my, my daughter throws a fit, it triggers me and I want to lose my temper, like having a decision ahead of time. Okay. Well, when she throws a fit, I know that I’m not going to yell at her and I’m not going to be like, stop doing that. And I’m not, I’m going to choose to say this, I’m going to take five deep breaths. Having a plan helps us. Self-control self-control is really hard to just come up with on the spot, having a plan for how you’re going to have self control. Like if you’re on a diet, that’s throwing away the brownies out of your house. So that same kind of thing, having a plan for how you’re going to deal with that planned control will help you be more successful and help you, you know, whether that’s a set of tools and strategies or scriptures you call on.
That’s one of the things I find helpful for self-control.
I love that. And you mentioned, you mentioned calling on it, right? Like I think that can be really helpful. Again, big, big work in progress. I get so many ideas when I coach and teach. It’s amazing. And then in real life, I’m like, well, I don’t always apply that, but just calling on it, right. I mean, we teach something, a lot of educators teach us, but a pause button or hurt connector where you’re creating that space between the stimulus and the response. But I think so often we forget to just call on it. Like, Jesus, give me self control right now. My heart is the power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ in this moment, give me self control because it’s like, if sometimes you can just name it and call it and pull from it, you know, it’s, it’s so freely given, but most of the times I’ve lost- I’ve not had a great amount of self control or made mistakes or done things that I later regret.
I did not slow down and pause and call on the Father to help. So I think there’s a lot of power in that. It’s hard to like be in Jesus’s presence and call the Holy Spirit into a room and then still act in a way that is against it. Right. So I think that if we can just get into a practice a more doing that, that’s great. Okay. Well let’s, I mean, gosh, we could talk all day, Christina. I mean, there’s so many that we haven’t covered yet, but humility is not on the list of gentle. I mean, sorry, the Fruits of the Spirit per se, but it’s obviously a cousin of so many things. So talk to us just about why you think humility. I always say humility is a super power, but I want to hear your words. Why do you think it’s so wonderful to have in our parenting walk, if we’re doing gentle, positive, connected, whatever-based parenting, and then we’ll wrap it up.
Yeah. So I think humility is such a key ingredient to being a Christian. First of all, it takes humility. I mean, that’s what Jesus talked about when he said, if you, if you want to enter the kingdom, you must do it like a little child. He meant like the humility of a little child and maybe other aspects to the teachability. But that, I mean, humility and teachability are almost synonyms really. And I think if we have a teachable spirit towards our children, if we have a position of humility, what can I learn from my child? How can I observe and take in what they’re doing, this idea of asking questions, instead of assuming I see this bad behavior, you know, you know, why are you being such a whatever, instead of that saying, you know, are you feeling upset right now?
Are you angry? Are you asking questions taking in and giving them a chance to put words to how they feel or what’s going on? You know, sometimes we assume bad intentions when we see something. So it’s, it’s really like a basis for, for loving others too. Right? We, we assume assuming the best in them or asking or saying, I don’t know. And I think kind of just thinking of your story earlier, that, that apologizing, like we need to apologize to our children when we’ve made mistakes and own our mistakes. And I think that’s a really good example of healthy relationships and engagement for them to see that for them to not idolotrize–idolotrize?–us.
You know, we don’t want them to think that we’re perfect. We don’t, we’re not their saviors. Jesus is their savior. We’re just pointing to him. And so by being humbled by things, I made a mistake. I wasn’t, you know, I’m, I made a poor choice here, whether it’s with them or just in life in general, that’s an opportunity, you know, like I’m not perfect, but Jesus is perfect. And his, his sacrifice paid for that sin and, and just teaching them how to even cope with life and their own mistakes and that they can go and more easily, I had struggled with apologizing. I was never once apologized to as a kid, never, ever, no matter how bad the behavior. And so I, that’s one of those things too. I struggle with them like, oh, I’m sorry, I hate that about myself.
I’m like, why can’t I just be like, I’m sorry, I made a poor choice and own it, but it’s that, you know, I guess if I, if I’m more strongly in my identity in Christ, it’s easier to do that, right? Like this is not a judgment on me, but the other thing, and, and I, I wanted to speak to this, you know, humility is in conflict with shame as we talked about before. And I think the reason my so many parents try to use shame is we think that will bring about change. We think that that will make our children do better next time. And the opposite is true, right? They, they hold onto that shame and that leads to bad behavior. And there’s also that scripture, which speaks to the Fruit of the Spirit. Romans 2:4.. is that God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance.
And that transformation actually comes from that kindness from God-supposedGod’s goodness towards us. It’s supposed to melt our hearts and draw him–draw us to Him. Not that God, I don’t know anybody who was like, I felt so ashamed that I just came to Jesus,
Right? Yes. That’s my drives me nuts. Like the shame filled messages that are given to try to bring people to Christ, like just in general, I’m like, what, what, like, there’s a, there’s a tractor trailer near us. That’s like “repent or go to hell!” And I’m like is that really working? Is anyone like coming up and being like, hello? I would like to get to know Jesus because I don’t know. It’s just, yeah.
There’s a post Romans 2 said that. That kindness leads to repentance .
Yes, yes, exactly. Right.
It’s again, that, that prodigal son story, the Father was so good. He didn’t come back because he’s like, I want to get a good dose of yelling at and shame from my father. Right. He came back because he knew his father was full of mercy and grace and goodness. And so I think that to end the father was very humble in that story. He ran, he lifted his garb and, and he did shameful things by not being all full of pomp and circumstance and whatever, and doing all the, the proper prideful, you know, things. So I think that humility is a gateway to connection is the gateway to God’s kingdom. And I think it, it is like it’s the foundation. It is, I think Saint Augustine said, it’s the virtue upon which all other virtues dressed, you know, that, that all, that, that Fruit of the Spirit and you don’t get it unless you humbly come to Christ first and humbly ask the Holy Spirit to help you in those moments.
Oh gosh, that is so well said, Christina. And yeah, I, I agree with all of that. And the cool thing is, is, you know, all this stuff that we learn in scripture and that is taught to us, it really does it, like you turn it into your parenting and it, and it’s so translates. It, it totally works like, you know, of kindness. If God uses kindness to help us turn from our, our ways and our sin, it’s like at this exact same thing, I’ve seen it over and over again with my own kids. I’ve seen it over and over again with so many students from all over the world when they are able to have humility with their kids, their kids often just turn around and mimic the behavior.
the next day. Like we’ve had, so many stories of, you know, where parents either apologize or did a make-up or a redo, or just took responsibility and said, Hey, you don’t deserve to be yelled at no one should ever yell at you. You don’t deserve to be harmed or hurt or whatever. And then the next day, the kid makes a mistake and smacks his sister. And then like, without like just last week, there was a, or two weeks ago in my certification group with women who are becoming certified in, in the Fresh StartFamily family approach. One of them shared that their little boy, he was, I think his four got in trouble at Sunday school. And there was, it was a big to-do. I mean, it was like he was in big, it got in a lot of trouble.
Anyways. It was not even like two hours after he got home that he had asked his mom if he could have paper and pens and he wanted to draw a picture for his teacher and do a makeup and write an apology, and then he didn’t want to wait. He wanted to take that to her that afternoon to hand, deliver it, to let her know how he was really sorry for the mistake he had made and how he had disrupted the classroom, of course in four year old language. But I mean, we just see those stories all the time. Like when you model and you don’t have to model perfectly, but when you embrace and use humility, even if I read a study the other week, that was like, even if you’re practicing gentle or connected or positive parenting, like 30% of the time, and you’re messing up 70, it is enough to have significant contributions to have your children really grow up to be very healthy human beings.
But yeah, we just see how effective and influential humility is. And so I just, I love it. So, Christina, thank you so much for this beautiful conversation. I could chat with you all day and I’m just so happy to, to know your work and all the wonderful things you are doing in the world. It’s one of my favorite parts about having this podcast and owning this company is getting to meet just wonderful people like you. So tell listeners, I’m going to put everything in the show notes too, but tell listeners where they can find you and all that good stuff
For Gentle Christian parenting, it’s gentlechristianparenting.com and at Facebook group is Gentle Christian Parenting, I think as well, Caring for Children Like Jesus and the Instagram GentleChristianParenting. My books are called Parenting in Christ, though. So those are the Bible study discussion guides, and you can find them lots of places, Amazon, Target. If you care about foster youth at all, or helping kids aging out of foster care, that’s Finally Family Homes and FinallyFamilyHomes.org, and then the same for all of our social media as well, Finally Family Homes. So,
Okay, well thank you, listeners. Go find Christina on all her platforms and our socials and all the things, and please support her work, Christina, thanks again for being here with me today.
Yes. Thank you so much for having me.
For links and more information about everything we talked about in today’s episode head to freshstartfamilyonline.com/137
For more information, go to freshstartfamilyonline.com. Thanks for listening, families. Have a great day.