PARENTING TOPIC: Imagine the end

Stretching Faith

Monday, February 17th, 2014


By Gina McClain

It was late Sunday evening in June. Driving down the highway, my husband started slowing down. “Why are you stopping?” I’m clearly annoyed.  It’s late and I’m ready to crash. In less than twelve hours I embark on a week long summer camp with a gaggle of kids.

“It’s not me,” the hubs says, “the car is dying.”

His diagnosis was correct. Our precious family car had sputtered to it’s final stop.

That car had seen us through years of car seats, multiple family vacations and one cross-country move.  Not that I’m a terribly sentimental person, but the fact that it was paid-in-full certainly increased my love for it.

To say the cars death was untimely is an understatement.  We weren’t very far down the road of saving for it’s replacement. When we looked at our budget, you could say we were poised for a miracle.

Little did we know we were on the cusp of a faith-stretching journey for our whole family. You see, we made two important decisions from the beginning.

First, we chose to only pay cash for a car. Not because of the amount of cash we had. Far from it. We decided to pay cash because of how we’ve seen God provide in the past and trust He’ll do the same again.

Second, we chose to involve our kids in the journey. Because we wanted our kids to see what trusting in God’s provision looks like.

Over the course of 7 weeks, our family gathered before bed. Sitting on the floor of our hallway, prayed for a car that fit within the cash we had available to spend. We prayed for transportation to help get where we needed to go throughout the week. With every week that passed, a car was made available for us to use.  And nearly two months later we paid cash for our new-to-us car.

That was a fun day.

As challenging and inconvenient as the process was, the outcome is remarkably rewarding. Over the course of time, our kids watched us make a choice each day. To trust for God’s provision and not our own understanding. As a family, we fought to make a wise choice.  As a family, our faith was stretched. And as a family, we celebrated what God did.

Faith is trusting what you can’t see because of what you can.  My husband and I have learned over the course of our lives that God will provide in ways we need but don’t often predict. And when we wait on Him, the outcome is better than we can create on our own.

We want our kids to learn this same practice in their own lives. We want them to learn the practical application of trusting in what you can’t see because of what you can.

When we invite our kids to participate with us as we exercise our own faith, we allow them to take part in a story that helps them develop their own faith.

Where is God asking you to trust Him?  How is He inviting you to trust what you can’t see because of what you can?


Gina_McClain_BW_160Gina McClain is the Children’s Ministry Director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Gina is driven by the idea of equipping parents for the journey of teaching their kids how to follow Christ. Based upon her experience as a mom, she identifies with the everyday challenges parents wade through. Gina and her husband, Kyle, have three kids, Keegan, Josie and Connor.

Not My Valentine

Thursday, February 13th, 2014


by Kristen Ivy

“I can’t marry you mama, because you’re going to die.”

This is the truth that my four-year-old son shared with me while I stood in the kitchen last night.

True on two accounts.
I will die some day.
And he probably shouldn’t marry me.

The statement was followed by a very deeply alarming conversation about his plans for the future including:

“I will just marry Milly because I love her.”
“I can’t marry Milly because she’s not a mama.”
“Can you ask Milly’s mama if we can get married?”
“I think I will marry Milly when I am ten years old, or maybe seventeen because then I will be old enough to drink coke.”

 For the record, I’ve never declared a legal drinking age for soda in our house, but I rolled with it—you know, after I explained that sometimes it’s okay to marry a girl who’s not a mom yet. It’s actually okay to get married and then become a mom. But I didn’t want to push that one too far. I was already in a little over my head in the conversation.

Today, while laughing privately about our seriously comical conversation about his future family plans, I realized how much truth he was really sharing with me. He may not have all the pieces put together yet, but I’m pretty sure I have a smart four-year-old.

This week is Valentine’s.

That means dads will go to dances with their little girls. A lucky mom or two might get a card and a carnation from their son. But for the most part, parents everywhere will help plan, cut, paste, paint, draw and design cards for their sons and daughters to take to school. Cards they will give to someone else.

Valentine’s is one more example of the truth my son was trying to let me in on. We aren’t their valentines. We aren’t their future. We aren’t ultimately the one they will give their hearts to.

Our kids will never love us back the way we love them. And that’s okay.
I’m not saying that in a sad way. Actually, I think it’s pretty encouraging—especially if your son or daughter is over the age of ten and is starting to let you know very clearly that you have taken a backseat to. . . well, you know, Harry Styles, Selena Gomez, or Grace from geometry class. It happens.

Our job as parents isn’t to make sure they love us back as much as we love them.  If you think that’s your job, you may end up really depressed one day when you discover your kid has significantly fewer videos of you on their iPhone than you do of them, and possibly even fewer features of you on Instagram.

Our job is just to give them love.
Parenting is just not like any other relationship. We love our kids in an un-balanced, never equally reciprocated, over the top, makes your heart ache kind of way.

But it’s not in vain. The love you give your child this Valentine’s day, and the day after that, and the day after that, all adds up to something incredible.

You are giving them the confidence to know they are lovable.
You are teaching them what it means to be loved by someone.
You are demonstrating to them what it looks like to love someone else.

So it’s okay if the most important Valentine you give today isn’t to someone who gives you one back. They might. They might not. Your unconditional love for them goes far beyond what they can ever give you in return.

Come to think of it, now that you know and understand the extent of a parent’s love . . .

If someone parented you, maybe you could surprise them with a little unexpected Valentine this week! (Not that it evens the playing field.)



Kristen is the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange and co-author of Playing For Keeps. She combines her degree in secondary education with a Master of Divinity and lives out the full Orange spectrum as the wife of XP3 Students Orange Specialist Matt Ivy, and the mother of two First-Look (preschool) children, Sawyer and Hensley.

Looking Back

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

photography by Mark Wilson

This is going to sound strange, but I do wonder sometimes if God got it backwards when it comes to parenting. I’m not really questioning God’s wisdom, so don’t respond with a super-spiritual answer to correct my logic, just let me think out loud for a few minutes. Why did I start out as a dad during the busiest and hardest years of my life?

I became a parent like a lot of you, while I was still trying to figure out who I was, build a career, manage a minimal income, establish a healthy marriage, etc. It seems like it would make more sense to find my identity, build a strong marriage, retire and then have kids. Now I have more margin in my time and finances. Back then, I was always running out of everything. I just think I would be a much better parent now than I was in my twenties. I actually hear young parents giving advice to other young parents sometimes and think, “that’s never going to work.” I start to interrupt and then just think, “you will figure this out.”  I really do wish I knew then what I know now. Not that I have all the answers. . .I just think I would be a smarter dad. So here’s some advice I would give to myself if I were starting over as a dad:

Listen more, talk less.
(I can’t count the college students who tell me they don’t feel like their parents ever really listened.)

Don’t “send” your kids to bed, put them in bed.
(You only have a short window of time when they are young enough to want you to tuck them in.)

Ask better questions.
(Learn to shift from performance questions to heart questions.)

Guard Saturdays to create family traditions.
(There are a little over 350 Saturdays between the time your kids are 1st grade and when they become teenagers, then Saturdays change forever.)

Don’t sign up your kids for everything.
(We tend to make our kids experientially rich, but relationally poor.)

Play games.
(Have fun together, build memories playing board games or card games, etc.)

Don’t take things too serious.
(What you think matters right now will probably not matter as much as you think it does later. What does matter is what you communicate during stressful or dramatic moments.)

Never punish anyone relationally.
(Don’t withdraw your relationship to make someone feel bad for something they have done wrong.)

Do chores together.
(Kids who work with their parents have a better work ethic and tend to be more responsible.)

Say “I love you” everyday.
(It’s just a healthy habit you can never start too early.)

Apologize often.
(You might as well admit when you do something wrong, everyone knows it anyway.)

I could keep going here. . .What advice would you give yourself if you had to do it all over again?

The Necessary White Space

Monday, January 20th, 2014


By Sarah Anderson

Every night at 6:45, the evening bedtime routine begins. My husband takes two lively and squirmy boys upstairs for a bath that usually ends up as a splashing, wrangling, wrestling match of sorts. Sometimes it results in clean boys, and sometimes just very wet ones. While managing that chaos, I pick up the abandoned toys and rinse the abandoned dishes. I make a sippy cup of milk for the boy who is in diapers, and the tiniest sippy cup of water for the one who is not. I find pacifiers and blankets. I lay out pajamas, I collect towels and then boys, to read to,  sing to, kiss on, hug on, and then bid goodnight.

And once their doors are closed for the night, I start preparing for the next day—to do it all again.

Parenting is hard on so many levels. It can be monotonous. Demanding. Filled with thousands of tiny selfless acts not prone to being noticed. It is saturated with times when a parent is compelled to forego themselves for the sake of another—rarely with the “other’s” notice.

It is tiring work. To lose oneself in the making of another—in the routine, in the familiarity. It is easy to wonder where we went.

In Judaism, they teach the idea when it comes to the text of Scripture, that the words are black fire on white fire. From what I understand, the concept suggests the actual words on the page say something—but so does the white space between the words. There is as much to learn from the black ink as the white gaps. There is the study of God’s holy word–and there is the study of God’s holy silence. It is the background. It is the stuff that you can’t put words to, but exists and is necessary to make the visible words more poignant and rich.

There are days when it feels like I am the white space in my kid’s lives. They can’t name what I do. They can’t put words to the ways I am making their days run smoothly, their nighttimes happen effectively, their worlds comfortable. My role is so often defined by the things that can’t be defined. For this reason, the hazard in parenting is to wake up one day wondering where we went. We end up feeling invisible. Overlooked. Like the background to a story we once felt central to, but no longer matter in.

This is the risk in parenting.

That we begin to believe our selfless acts are for nothing.

That the load of laundry being started just shy of midnight is unappreciated.

That the lunches packed to each child’s preference is not valued.

That the driving to and from school, and then to and from practice and then to and from whatever next is insignificant.

That the routine becomes so commonplace to the ones it is for, they will come to value what we do more than who we are.

That is the risk.

But I think the Jewish tradition is on to something. The white space, though un-definable, though boundless and intangible, is so very necessary for the black ink. Jewish tradition suggests that the words tell us something, but the space between gives meaning. In the details and monotony, in the routine and habit of parenting, is the backbone to the families we are raising. We may sometimes get lost in the sprouting out and growing up of our children, but our quiet work behind them, around them, for them is what is allowing them to grow into who they were meant to be.

In a few minutes, my husband will begin to corral the kids. I will do what I do to restore the house to its formal glory—though a short-lived glory come morning. But I will learn to do it for the beauty and purpose found in the invisible, but necessary white space. I will do it, because I believe there is meaning in the undefinable, but molding tasks of life. I will do it because though it may not seem like it, it matters.


Sarah_Anderson_BW_144Sarah Anderson writes for the XP3 student curriculum at Orange. She is married to Rodney Anderson and is mom to two beautiful bouncy boys, Asher and Pace.

Growing Knowledge

Monday, January 13th, 2014


Every year, two professors from a small college in Wisconsin publish a “Mindset” list to remind us that every freshman has a completely different knowledge base than previous generations. Maybe you’ve seen the list. For example, this year, the class of 2017 has. . .

never had the chicken pox,
only known two presidents,
never needed directions, just an address,
always known there are “five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes” in a year.

The Mindset List reminds us that knowledge is always changing. When we narrowly define knowledge as the dictionary does, we forget that facts and information can only take us so far. What really matters—what really tests our knowledge—is what we do with what we know.

As a parent, we navigate that journey as we build into our kids an understanding of the world around us. One of the ways we can do that best is to think about the destination before we get too far along on the journey.

Roll the years forward. Imagine the end of your child or teen’s formative years. What does it look like after he or she has become an adult? What are the most important things that we want our son or daughter to walk away with and KNOW once they leave our home and head for college and beyond?

With that end in mind, we define knowledge a little differently, in a more active sense. For us, knowledge is “discovering something new so you can be better at what you do.”

Kids are naturally curious. They are wired at birth to question, explore, and discover what they don’t know. If we are not careful about how we handle learning, kids can grow up and grow out of being interested in discovering new things. The future of your children is not only linked to what they know, but to their desire to keep learning.

Whether we realize it or not, adults have the ability to turn the discovery dial up or down in a kid’s life.

If you want to turn it up, you need to become intentional about looking for ways to intrigue them with new ideas and insights about life.

Keep the story in history.

Keep the mystery in science.

Keep the application in math.

And when it comes to spiritual issues, be careful you don’t define God in such narrow terms that He’s no longer as huge and miraculous as He really is.

What are some ways we can help our kids value and get excited about learning?

5 Ways to Fight Entitlement in Your Kids

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Here’s another favorite from the archives:

Like most parents, you feel this terrible tug.

On the one hand, you want to provide your child with every advantage. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like when you do that, you’re feeding an incredibly unhealthy characteristic in our culture.

For whatever reason, we’re living in the midst of an entitlement epidemic. Probably more than any other generation before us, our generation feels as though we have a right to things that used to be defined as wants, or even privileges.

Here’s how the cycle starts:

On the day your child is born, it’s easy to decide as a parent that you need to give your child every advantage.

So you compete. You made sure he had bright colors in his nursery and exactly the right kind of mobile to stimulate his brain, but now it’s an all out frenzy to ensure your preschooler can swim, skate, hit a ball, paint frameable art, read, write and speak classical Greek before his fourth birthday.

And don’t worry, because by the time you’re done with the race to kindergarten, the culture has taken over feeding the frenzy. Your child has now seen enough advertisements and made enough friends to believe that her every desire not only can be met, but should be met. The boots that every other stylish kid is wearing are not a privilege, they are a right. Or so you’ve been told.

And then other inalienable rights emerge: the right to a phone for texting, iPod touches, Facebook and so much more.

Somewhere in the mix, you found yourself realizing that you are tempted to pay your kids for every “act of service” rendered in the house, from emptying the trash to picking up each sock.

And you realize something is desperately wrong. And you would be correct in that.

So, what do you do to fight entitlement in yourself and in your kids? Here are five suggestions:

1.  Be clear on wants and needs. I joke with my kids that we owe them shelter, food and clothes, and I would be happy to slip a pizza under the door to their cardboard house any time they wish (they are 16 and 20, don’t try this with your 5-year-old, but you get the point.) Take time to explain what is actually a need and what a want is. Culture will never explain it to them. You need to.

2.  Reclaim special occasions. There is nothing wrong with not buying wants for your kids in every day life. Save the special things for special occasions like birthdays, Christmas and the like. You don’t need to indulge for no reason. In fact, you probably shouldn’t.

3.   Set a budget and let them choose. With back to school shopping and seasonal purchases, we started setting a budget with our kids early and then let them choose how they would spend it. They become much more frugal shoppers when all of a sudden they realize that money is limited and they can get more if they shop around.

4.  Establish an allowance and expectations. An allowance is a great way for a child to learn responsibility. We’ve encouraged our kids to give 10 percent of every thing they earn, save 10 percent, and live off the rest (the formula gets more restrictive the closer they get to college). Explain what gets covered and not covered out of that allowance.

5.  Be clear about what you will never pay them for. There are some things that you do because you are a part of the family. You can decide where that lands in your home. Make a list of responsibilities that no one gets paid for that you do because you are part of a family. To help with this, why not ask your kids what a reasonable list looks like? Involving them will help them own the decision. Second, make sure you follow up. And hold them responsible for what you all agreed to do. Otherwise you will be tempted to pay for everything or just roll your eyes daily and do it yourself.

Approaches like these can help raise kids who see life as a series of privileges, who live gratefully, and realize their responsibility to others.

How is our entitlement culture impacting your family? And how have you learned to battle it?

The Words that Stick

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.50.13 PM

We lived for a few solid years in our family not having to really watch our words. We could have conversations about dessert, fun places to go, and toys. And our toddlers would be none the wiser. But this past year, we turned a corner. We’ve started spelling. Even then, Asher, my oldest, will pick out letters and ask insistently, “What are you talking about? What does that spell? What are you saying?”

Our years of open conversation and reckless dialogue are done. These days, words are starting to stick. Phrases hang around. Nothing is said “in passing” anymore. Because my four-year old’s mind is like a steel trap. What’s said is almost always remembered.

“I need a few minutes of quiet.”

“What in the world is going on here?”

“This place is a mess.”

It’s kind of entertaining stuff coming from the mouth of four-year-old, unless you’re that four-year-old’s mother. Then it’s just convicting.

But, last weekend, something beautiful happened. Asher told me he wanted to write a letter to his best friend. I was instructed to write down everything he spoke aloud. Thinking this could be interesting, I obliged, sitting down with a pad of paper and pen in hand.

“Dear Levi,” he very confidently began, “God loves us. Be strong and courageous. God, help us learn to have a good attitude. Be strong and courageous. Be brave. Be good and kind. Cook with your dad. Pray as much as you can. Pray and take baths every night. Do not be afraid.”

I couldn’t have done my own talking even if I tried. He had me speechless. As his scribe, memorializing these stream of consciousness phrases, I couldn’t help but think: Just keep your mouth shut. Let him talk. This is gold.

It’s rare for me to not interrupt, interject, or insert my words into almost every conversation making every moment as “teachable” as possible—as soon as possible.  But this time, I kept quiet and simply decided to listen. And I’m so glad I did.

Be strong and courageous.

Pray as much as you can.

Take baths.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Sometimes, when you just let your kids talk, and you do the listening, you catch some real gems. Sure, you find out that your nagging about washing their hands, finishing their vegetables and saying “thank you” are sticking, but you also hear that there are a lot more meaningful truths being catalogued and filed away as well.

After writing the letter, I began to learn that I don’t necessarily have to always ask, interject, dig, or wrestle truths out of my son. Sometimes, I just need to be quiet and hear from his own mouth and in his own words the things he cares about and is internalizing.

If we can manage to be quiet long enough, the very ones we are trying to parent will tell us what they need to hear from us most. Maybe not explicitly. But tucked into the nuances of the day. In their body language. In their interactions with others. In their questions. In their stories. In their conversations. Maybe even in their “letters” to friends.

So when it comes to weighing what we say, maybe we choose to say less. And listen more. And then choose the words we do say more wisely.

Because they stick. They are remembered.

And whether we intend for them to or not, they are going to show up again. Let’s make sure what gets remembered is worth repeating and speaks to the needs our kids are so subtly letting us know they have.

And now and then throw in something about taking a bath, so your child will be wise and grounded—but also clean.

For more on how words matter, follow the conversation here.

Sarah Anderson writes for the XP3 student curriculum at Orange. She is married to Rodney Anderson and is mom to two beautiful bouncy boys, Asher and Pace.

Get to Know Them All Over Again

Friday, October 4th, 2013

I have two sons.

Two sons, two realities:

One loves music. The other loves sports.
One loves conversation. The other is a man of few words.
They both like camping.

My thinking went this way: of course I know them. They’re my sons. But then I lived a few years longer. And so did they. And I realized that as they’ve grown up, they’ve done more than just add years. They’ve added depth to who they are. Complexity. Nuance.

In fact, I find that the older they get, the more I realize I have yet to learn about the person God’s creating. There are things about my boys I’m still discovering, aspects of their character and personality that are yet to be unearthed or explored. And it’s wonderful.

And you know what bridges the gap between what you know and what you want to know?


Love over time is what makes relationship deeper.

The gap between what we know and what we don’t know creates wonder, awe, and respect. Respect for who they are. Respect for what God is doing.

If you really want to get to know your family, spend a greater quantity of quality time together. Learn about who they are becoming. Observe what they like and don’t like. Ask them questions, or maybe. . . just listen. Listen a lot.

When you do, you’ll discover:

  • The things you’re supposed to know that no one tells you.
  • The things you’re supposed to know, but that can change at any minute because they have the right to change them.
  • The things you’re not supposed to know because they think it’s none of your business.
  • The parts of their personality that they themselves are still discovering.

And one more thing will happen. The way you invest time getting to know your kids, they’ll see that you love them.

Love over time communicates value.

So this week, spend some time getting to know your family. To really know them. Because there is always so much left to discover.

Follow the rest of the conversation on Playing For Keeps as Reggie, Kristen, and others talk about the 6 things every kid needs over time. You can start with the first part of the series about how Time Matters.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will continue to talk about how kids need Love, Words, Stories, Tribes, and Fun OVER TIME! Next week we will wrap up with the 3rd habit to make love matter more.

3 Practical Habits To Make Time Matter More

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

By Kristen Ivy

So time is moving. And it’s moving faster than you think.

What does that mean for you as a parent? How can you make the most of the limited amount of time that you have with your kids? How can you make sure that time isn’t getting away from you?

I certainly don’t know the answer to all those questions. But here are three pretty practical ideas that might be helpful:


You don’t have to count down the seconds, or the minutes, or even the days. But maybe there is a value in counting your weeks. Because when you see how much time you have left, you tend to get serious about the time you have now.

So create a visual reminder. Have a countdown clock. In my family, we have two jars of marbles—one for each child. Inside each jar are enough marbles to represent the number of weeks that we will have with them before their high school graduation (we hope – fingers crossed for passing every grade). Every Sunday, I remove a marble from each jar as a reminder that our time is limited. Removing the marble doesn’t do anything special for my kids. But it does something for me mentally. It reminds me that time is moving. And because I know my weeks are numbered, I tend to make what matters matter more.

*A really simple way to keep track of the number of weeks you have left with your son or daughter is to download the FREE Legacy Countdown App!


Some parents are naturally wired to schedule things. Some (like me) are not. But regardless of how scheduled or unscheduled you are, you probably have a calendar or a notebook or a napkin somewhere that helps you remember what you need to do.

As a working mom, I am constantly filling my days with meetings, and deadlines, and tasks that feel really urgent. But if I’m not intentional, that’s ALL that will get space on my calendar. So, once every month or so, I look at my calendar and schedule the things that no one is asking me to schedule. I mark up the calendar with things like:

go on a date with Sawyer.
take the kids to the park.
have a movie night.

That may sound silly. But by “marking it up,” it reserves the time. Because I know the weeks are limited. I need a reminder to make the weeks count.


Every day isn’t a special day. In fact, most days are pretty typical. But one of the best ways to make the most of every week is to create some habits. There are just some things that are inherently part of the rhythm of our world. And by creating some intentional rhythms, we can make the days and the weeks count a little more.

So if you want to make your time count, don’t undervalue the simple things:

What do you do every morning at breakfast?
What if part of your breakfast routine just became looking for ways to encourage?

When do you eat together?
You don’t have to make a home-cooked meal to have a conversation. What if one meal a day was media-free time when you were intentional about having a conversation with your child?

What’s the last thing you do before they go to bed at night?
Every day ends the same way. We go to bed. So what’s your bedtime routine? How do you make the most of the moments right before your son or daughter drifts off to sleep?

I know there are people reading this blog who are smarter than me and parents who are just better at this TIME thing than I am. So what are your habits? How do you make the most of your TIME? How do you Count it Down, Mark it Up, and Measure it out. I’d love to learn from you!

Follow the rest of the conversation on Playing For Keeps as Reggie, Kristen, and others talk about the 6 things every kid needs over time. You can start with the first part of the series about how Time Matters.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will continue to talk about how kids need Love, Words, Stories, Tribes, and Fun OVER TIME!

Kristen is the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange and co-author of Playing For Keeps.She combines her degree in secondary education with a Master of Divinity and lives out the full Orange spectrum as the wife of XP3 Students Orange Specialist Matt Ivy, and the mother of two First-Look (preschool) children, Sawyer and Hensley.

Secrets for Dads From a Daughter

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Art by Hannah Joiner

by Hannah Joiner

I happened to be at the wedding when Reggie, my dad, read this letter to Mark on the day he gave his daughter Kristi away in marriage. Even though it was directed primarily to fathers, I couldn’t help but learn a few things myself. I also thought of a few secrets that my dad should know about his daughter that might be beneficial for other dads too.

Secret one: Rolling my eyes didn’t always mean what I was communicating to you.

I remember rolling my eyes as a little girl when my dad needed to take me by his office. The funny thing is I also remember REALLY wanting to go. I just didn’t want him to know that. Yes, we do play games, and I’m sorry it’s so confusing! I loved feeling like I was important enough to be around my dad’s workplace. It made me feel like he was proud to be my dad.

Secret two: I loved when you invested in getting to know my friends.

When my dad would get to know my friends (at any age), it meant the world to me. I pretended to be embarrassed sometimes. Little did he know, he was communicating his genuine interest in my life. What was important to me was also important to him. And I began to realize that his purpose was not to just make the rules, he wanted to build a relationship with me.

Secret three: Letting go helped me decide who I wanted to be.

When I was sixteen, I got into some trouble at school. I was scared to death of what my punishment would be when my dad got home. This is one of those times I remember him “letting go.” He didn’t really punish me, he just told me I was old enough to make my own decisions and that I was accountable to God and myself. The next day, he took me to work with him and treated me like an adult. This was a turning point in my life. I was heartbroken knowing he was disappointed in me. I WANTED a punishment so that I could just pay for it. Instead, letting go in that moment taught me who I wanted to be—someone that could make the right decisions without rules.

Dads, I wish I had been better at communicating to my father how much his holding on and letting go meant to me. The chances are your daughters will probably wish the same thing one day. If you are fighting for her and trying your best, she knows it. So don’t stop. Of course my dad didn’t do everything right, but none of that matters now because he fought for our relationship. I really believe that’s the most crucial part.

I hope this encourages every parent and ever leader to push on through the eye rolls and know that kids need you to fight for their heart. So keep doing what you do. Every day. Every week. And when that moment comes and you have to let go and let them walk away, you can know they will carry with them all the things you have done for them over time.

Hannah Joiner works as a creative director for Orange. By default she grew up around the making and development of Orange and now as an adult can’t help but have a few thoughts of her own sometimes. In her free time she is painting or making something! Hannah believes that creativity is a universal tool we can use to teach children, inspire people, and share stories.