Parents: 5 Delusions That Hurt Your Relationship With Your Kids


Welcome! Thanks for joining us for this, our latest post in our year-long blog series we’re calling “Journey Together.” Here Josh McDowell shares five parenting delusions that sabotage parents in having a close relationship with their kids.

An important take-away: As parents, we can’t give what we don’t have, right? If you need to grow your parenting skills, we have some really fab, FREE parenting resources for you at the bottom of this post!


Parent Delusion #1: Quality Over Quantity

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My son turned ten just the other day. He said, “Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play. Can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today, I got a lot to do.” He said, “That’s ok.” And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed. Said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah. You know I’m gonna be like him.” **

It’s just not true that kids benefit most from occasional blocks of “quality” time with a parent. In truth, it’s the small, daily, teachable moments that help to cement a deepening connection between two people, especially a parent and child.

Consistent, positive interaction, based on an open channel of communication, builds a strong foundation of trust that will enable you to keep a connection during even the rocky moments of your relationship.

** Song lyric: Cat’s in the Cradle, by 1970s American songwriter Harry Chapin. Watch Josh’s video here.


Parent Delusion #2: It’s the Big Moments That Matter Most

Big moments are great — if they’re balanced by the everyday small ones. No doubt about it, kids love trips to Disney World. But what matters more is that you’re intentionally experiencing it with them. Your children will remember a few highlights from the big moments and vacations, but it will be the cumulative build of your joint small, routine moments that will mold their character.

Parents, God has given YOU the privilege of playing a significant role here. Relish the trust He has placed in YOU! Watch Josh’s video here.

The big moments are important, but it’s usually not the big moments that mold a child’s life. ~ Josh


Parent Delusion #3: The Early “Formative” Years Matter Most

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Yes, a child’s early years matter. Greatly. But your children also desperately need your time, love, and guidance during their challenging teen years. Even when it appears that your teenagers aren’t listening. Because they are. Think back on your own teen years!

Your kids just want to know that they can trust you with their worries and fears and weaknesses before they lower their guard enough to share them. Be a safe haven for your kids, as you rely on God’s Word to strengthen and guide them. And never stop praying for them! Watch Josh’s video here.

Your children need you as much as teens as they do when they’re younger. ~ Josh


Parent Delusion #4: Work Now, Play Later

“But I just don’t have the time right now!” is just an excuse. Really. Because we all know, deep down, that we give time to what we DECIDE to give time to. Your children get this message loud and clear!

Yes, life gets busy. And yes, it’s important to provide financially for our families. But we must be super aware that it is the relationships we have with our spouse and kids that God expects us to make our main priority. Josh had to keep this in mind himself, during his busy travel schedule over the years. We can’t get back lost time. So to enjoy quality relationships with our kids down the road, we must make consistent investment in them now.

A perfect analogy: a lush lawn. How do we grow and maintain a front lawn that makes our neighbors green with envy? By diligently and consistently adding what our grass needs to thrive: sunlight, water, weeding, and even fertilizer. When we don’t, our grass is quick to evidence our neglect. Watch Josh’s video here.

“Make the priority for your family so obvious that it motivates others to have the same.” ~ Josh 


Parent Delusion #5: God’s Grace Will Cover My Mistakes

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I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away. I called him up just the other day. I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind.” He said, “I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time. You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu, but it’s sure nice talking to you, dad. It’s been sure nice talking to you.” **

All parents make mistakes. Because they’re human. God continually offers to forgive those mistakes, because His love is that big and gracious. But the hurt we cause to our families via our words and actions has consequences. The hurt doesn’t go away unless we address it — ask for forgiveness — and commit to restoring the relationship. God is pleased with our efforts to bring our best selves!

** Song lyric: Cat’s in the Cradle, by 1970s American songwriter Harry Chapin. Watch Josh’s video here.


CLICK HERE to view all of Josh’s parenting videos.
Click HERE to view Josh’s Father Factor report.


In our next blog post, let’s look at Ashley’s post on maintaining healthy relationships.

Catch up: The introductory post to this series.

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