Josh and Sean McDowell

This goal of this blog is for me to soak up wisdom from my father and share it with you. I have been blessed to have an incredibly influential father, Josh McDowell. He has written over 150 books and spoken to more young people live than anyone in history. But what I appreciate most about my father is his love for my mom, for his kids, and now for his many grandkids. Enjoy!

Three Important Lessons about Parenting

Posted August 06, 2015 by Sean McDowell

SEAN: Dad, what is the key to effective parenting?

JOSH: Rules without relationships lead to rebellions. Kids do not respond to rules. They respond to rules within the context of a loving, intimate relationship. It’s the same thing with discipline. Without a relationship it leads to anger, bitterness, and resentment. And the same is also true with truth. Truth without relationship leads to rejection. Relationships are the key.

SEAN: What mistakes did you make in parenting?

JOSH: There’s not enough time in this interview! The reality is though, son, if you have a relationship you can make a lot of mistakes and it doesn’t bind you. You can walk through it. Without that relationship, though, it would be devastating.

Probably one of the biggest mistakes I made over the years was to pass judgment on discipline while I was upset. Not angry, upset. Just like you’re not supposed to go shopping for food when you’re hungry, don’t discipline when you’re hurt, sad, or upset. You will always over do it. Your mom balanced me out well on this. Many times I had overdone it, and when she corrected me (by saying, “Honey, we need to talk” and then taking me to another room), I went back and apologized to you kids. And then I would always say, “You better go thank your mother because without her you would really be in trouble.”

Also, I would react too fast without hearing all the details. That’s how I learned to negotiate with you kids. Some people say that weakens you as a parent, but I think it strengthened us. Plus, you learn how to think through making decisions.

I remember getting really upset one time, and I stormed out of the house early in the morning, and then got in the car headed to Julian. And all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit just convicted me and so I turned around, went back and apologized to your mom. And she said, “You know, tonight, we need to share this with the kids.” I said, “What?!” she said, “Yes, our kids need to grow up knowing how to resolve conflict.” And so that night we sat you all down, walked you all through it, and tried to put it all in context. And your mom said to you kids, “Your dad came back and said he was sorry, we made up, and we want to share with you kids.” That was a more positive example.

SEAN: How did you learn to be a good dad with no example?

JOSH: Watching others. Plagiarizing. I’d watch carefully the lives of parents I respected. And if it worked for them then I’d go home and apply it with you all. That’s how I came up with the 7 A’s of parenting. I would say almost all of it came from other people.