Today’s Table Talk is from the amazing Sue Bohlin. Not only has she written this very helpful bit for us on the pitfalls of letting frustration get the best of us, she has also opened the door to discussing sensitive issues by writing a guest blog on the importance of talking about sexual orientation with your tween/teens. I’ll be adding a page called “Tough Stuff” where you can check it out. THANKS, Sue. … Hope you all enjoy, and thanks for walking the road with me. -Kay


My first son came out of the womb with two questions: Are the rules the same today as yesterday? And, Can I be in charge?

He pushed me and fought me and clashed with me on just about everything when he was young. Needless to say, homeschooling him didn’t last real long; all of kindergarten and two months of first grade was as much as either of us could take.

Curt is now a delightful adult, an Air Force veteran who learned to make his strong will work for him instead of against me. He has given me permission to share anything and everything about parenting him, if I think it will help others.

So let me pass on the great secret that he finally divulged when he was about twenty years old.

“When you got mad, Mom, that meant I won.”

You’re kidding. It was that easy?

If I had only known that losing my cool and exploding at him (with yelling that sounded suspiciously like my mother’s voice coming out of my mouth) meant that I lost and he won, then I would have made sure that he didn’t see that I was mad. I could have been a better actress if I’d only known the rules of the game!

I always felt like I was losing with him, and I reacted by turning into a control freak, which never worked. Finally, when he was in high school, we both went through an experiential seminar that taught life skills. (You might have seen it on Dr. Phil’s show; it’s basically the same thing.) I learned that I couldn’t control him, I could only control myself. I encountered a major lightbulb moment in an exercise where, instead of the fruitlessness of an “I’m right.” “No, I’m right!” kind of impasse, I could say, “I acknowledge your position. This is my position.” I especially remember how hard it was to use this new skill when he refused to get up and go to school several mornings, too many mornings, of his senior year of high school. I couldn’t believe I was actually saying, “I acknowledge that you refuse to go to school today. I am concerned that you will not graduate simply because of your attendance, but if you choose to not graduate, I will let you experience the consequence of your choice.”

And guess what? He didn’t graduate. Missed too many days of school. But he had already been accepted into college, and sure enough, he just went up to the high school during the summer and sailed through his GED exam. And he went on to college, and went from there into the Air Force, and is a well-functioning human being today.

If I had had this tool (of acknowledging his position and then calmly stating my position) earlier, and if I’d read Parenting with Love and Logic to help me come up with wise consequences for unwise choices in addition to that tool, I think my parenting stress level would have been a lot lower.

I offer it to you because moms just shouldn’t let other moms lose unnecessarily.

{Sue loves teaching women and laughing, and if those two can be combined, all the better. She is a frequent speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women’s Connections) on the topic “How to Handle the Things You Hate But Can’t Change,” based on her lifelong experience as a polio survivor. She also is a speaker/writer for Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that helps people to think biblically. She is also the “webmistress” for’s 1200+ articles and answers to email (many of which she wrote). This means she’s a computer geek and she refuses to apologize for it.}

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