Love is all you need…or is it?

For every newlywed or new parent, the question must be asked, is love enough? If I love my spouse enough, can we make it last a lifetime? If we love each other enough, we won’t fight or get sick of each other, right? If I simply love my child, that will be enough to raise him, won’t it? Will he turn out okay?


But the truth is, after years and years of working in counseling, raising five children of my own, and being married to a wonderful who is very different from me I can tell you love is not enough. By itself, love wears thin. We are free to think, if I love my child enough, everything will turn out okay, but nothing is further from the truth. If you just love your child, you’ll end up with a little monster on your hands. Love and discipline are inseparable. If you love and discipline your child, then you’ve got a much better shot at raising your child right.


As for love in marriage, I can say that love is not two young lovers entwined in each other’s arms, gazing moonstruck at the lake on a summer night. If you simply love your spouse in this way, it’s not enough for the long haul. All the experts agree that the moony-eyed love—the honeymoon effect—lasts about two years. So what do you do between then and 48 years later, when you get your picture in the newspaper for your fiftieth anniversary and you both look wrinkled up like raisins?


I’ll say this: in both marriage and in child rearing you must choose to love. You must be faithful to love. It’s easy to love when the person is lovable. But the blessing is in loving the person even when he or she isn’t lovable. It happens in both marriage and in child rearing. There will be times when your spouse or child will be difficult or almost impossible to love. They’ll butt heads with you and drive you up walls and maybe even hurt you. But if you commit to love your spouse and children, no matter what they do, then you won’t be broken by any hardship. You’ll keep divorce at bay and you’ll rear a family that isn’t split and divided. So this year, remember to make the decision to love. As Proverbs 3:3 says, “Don’t let love and faithfulness ever leave you.”


For more ways to live wisely, check out one of my newest books Way of the Wise. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Books and

Liar Liar Pants on Fire?

A week from today, Mrs. Uppington and I head out with Christian Cruises on our Love, Laugh and Learn Cruise!  I hope I will be meeting some of you there!  If you aren’t joining us this year… consider joining us next year!

On this Friday, I thought I would discuss something we all deal with…. LYING.

It’s hard to trust again after a child has started habitually lying. How can you be sure he won’t lie again? How do you break him of the habit? Because once he starts, it’ll only get worse. If you’ve got a child who’s started lying, here are some things you may want to know.


Kids lie for two basic reasons.


One is for wish fulfillment. Some kids will come home and tell you they scored three goals in soccer…and then you find out they didn’t play at all.


The second is out of fear. “Did you break that vase?” you demand. “No, I didn’t do it! Little Joey did it!” your seven-year-old claims. Most children lie out of fear.  in order for there to be a relationship between two human beings, it must be based on trust otherwise the lying will become a mountain and get between them. So if your child lies to you, he needs to be caught in that lie and told that lying is not acceptable. There also needs to be a second consequence for lying.


Let’s say that, a couple days later, your child says something like, “Can I go next door and play with Ronnie?”


Your answer needs to be a matter-of-fact “No.”


“Buy why?” your child asks. “You always let me go.”


Now’s the teachable moment.


“Honey, I don’t have any assurance that you’re going to be where you said you’ll be. Remember Wednesday night, when you told me you were going to be at Susan’s—and you weren’t?”


Do you beat the kid over the head with the lie? No. Don’t drag it out long term. But saying something like that two or three times makes a memorable impression on a child that lying isn’t what you do. It doesn’t gain you anything, and it breaks down trust between the two of you. Children need to see and feel that immediate result.


Remember the age old admonition: “You won’t get in trouble if you tell me the truth.” That needs to be true of your family. If your child tells the truth she can know that you’re unhappy, but she should not be punished for telling the truth. In those situations, you’ll need to think carefully before you open your mouth. How you respond to such a situation directly relates to how comfortable your child is in telling you the truth. Kids can be as dumb as mud and will do stupid things, but if they own up to them and say they’re sorry, they need to know that life will go on and you won’t beat them over the head for years for their mistake.


Lastly, parents too have to be careful about their own lies; even those pesky little white lies are still lies. If you say to your child, “If someone from work calls, I’m not here,” and it’s not the truth, your child is smart enough to know it. And then your kid thinks, If it’s okay for you to lie, it’s okay for me to lie. Don’t forget, if you value honesty, you must also model it for your children. And that goes for any bit of character you’d like to see develop in your child!


For more on raising kids, Have a New Kid by Friday is a valuable resource!

Too far too fast—The cycle of stress

Sometimes stress simply can’t be avoided. There are those days when the car breaks down, you’re late to work, you’ve got nothing in the fridge for dinner, and both your son and daughter have sports practice. But there are times when parents also create unnecessary stress for themselves. One of those ways is by forcing your child or children to grow up too fast.


It’s a familiar story. The moment little Eric lets go with his first wail, his parents start fantasizing about his public-speaking abilities and dreaming of how he is going to be different from all the other kids. Their expectations for Eric tempt them to push the little guy too far too fast. Not only do his parents become overstressed but so does he. In fact, studies show little Eric and his mom, in particular, are prime candidates for overstress.

What I suggest to parents is to keep in mind that pushing your child to do too much can cause you and him undue stress, which can cause him and you physical and psychological damage. Little Eric doesn’t have to be good at everything. Many parents suffer from the “my kids the best syndrome,” but don’t fall into the trap!

Your child needs to have a sufficient amount of self-esteem that comes from his or her achievements, being part of something that counts, and so on. For some, it could mean being part of a team, or perhaps playing the flute in the orchestra. For others it could mean having a lot of friends, or a job that provides money for clothes and extras. But this does not mean your child has to DO IT ALL. In fact, one suggestion I enforced in my own household is the one activity per year rule. Each child can have one after school activity—a sport, band, theater—that they can do for that year. Letting them do more than that will leave your children feeling they have no free time and you feeling as if you’ve taken up an extra job as a taxi driver.

Your child doesn’t need to perform like a miniature adult. Sure he needs responsibilities and things which he can claim to be good at, but don’t force him into adulthood before his time. He’s got a whole life ahead of him. He’ll get to adulthood sooner than you realize. And as for you, you can’t be expected to cart around another little adult to all his activities. So cut your kid, and yourself, a break.

For more ways to break the stress cycle, check out Stopping Stress before it Stops You.

And a reminder that you can download my eBook “The Way of the Wise” is for only $5.99 through January 18th, 2014.

Kindle & Nook

How to give your son the confidence to say no!

The Wednesday Wars—

How to give your son the confidence to say no!

If you have a boy who’s entering the world of adolescence, there’s almost no doubt you’ve worried about him “running with the wrong crowd.” Moms are especially good worriers (you know you are!), but in this case, it’s hard to blame them. With drugs, sex, and guns running rampant, you may find yourself in a cold sweat just because your son is five minutes late for curfew.

There’s almost no way you can completely ensure your son’s safety. But what you can do is provide your son with the key components of a loving family: acceptance, belonging, and competence. These ingredients will give your child the confidence to say no to the temptations he will encounter.


Think back to those awkward adolescent years. I bet you wanted more than anything to be accepted by your peers and, most of all, your family. Your son needs to know that no matter how awkward those sprigs of first facial hair or odd mood swings, that you accept him. Kids will live up to your unwritten expectations. What are you saying with yours? Make sure your unwritten expectations are encouraging. Expect the best and you’ll often get it. Sprinkle in sincere compliments and accept your child even when he fails. Love him, but still hold him accountable.


We all need a place to belong. Ask yourself, where would you rather your son belong, to a an unhealthy group of friends or your family? (Your family of course!) So make sure everyone gets a say in household decisions and that everyone’s opinion is respected. Eat dinners together, and go to each other’s activities as a family. Kids need to know their family is a place where they will always “fit in.” Without a sense of belonging, there is no relationship between you and your son. And without a relationship, what you say and what you do mean nothing. But make your son feel like he belongs, and he’ll be primed for success!


No one wants to feel worthless. Make your son feel competent and he’ll have the confidence to tackle new projects and to say no to bad influences. So no matter his age, treat your son as if he’s competent. Give him tasks, and make him feel needed within your family. Don’t do anything for him that he can do himself. Instead, give him age appropriate responsibility, and watch him fly! The more tasks he does, the more competent he’ll become.

You can’t keep your son locked in a bubble. Eventually, he’ll squirm his way out, and he needs to be able to function in the real world. Giving him acceptance, belonging, and competence can keep him from going out in search of other more dangerous places to find these necessities. It can also give him the confidence he needs to say no to unsafe situations.

So make your home a place of connection—of deep relationships your boy can always count on. If you give your son acceptance, belonging, and competence, he won’t need to take a drag on a joint to “fit in.” He can say no, because he already has a place where he fits, just as he is.

For more information on raising your son, check out my book What a Difference a Mom Makes, a book for Mothers and the deep imprint they leave on their boys.


** My book, Way of the Wise was chosen for the Kindle Big Deal this month. It will be $3.49  for Kindle ebook only until Oct. 27th, 2013.  Get your copy here **

Running the Monday Marathon

Running the Monday Marathon…Who’s the powerful child in your family?


There’s always that one kid.


The kid who won’t stay in his seat at the restaurant. The girl who has to have the last word. And the boy who’s always screaming in the Target. That’s a powerful child at work.


And maybe he’s yours.


These powerful children are master manipulators and expert attention-getters! They love to be in control of the household power source—you.


So how can you tell if you’ve got a powerful master-manipulator on your hands? Here’s just a few ways you can spot the powerful child in your family. Every family’s got one and sometimes it’s not who you think.


1. Does your child love to battle with you? 


Is your kid stubborn beyond reason? Do they fight you at every turn? With powerful stubborn manipulators, every comment can turn into an argument. These kids have a need to be right!


2.  Is he or she overly sensitive?


Does your family feel like they have to walk on eggshells around that one son or daughter? We can often find ourselves sticking up for these children, saying “Oh, Fletcher is just so sensitive!” Don’t be fooled. These kids are workin’ ya!


3. Does it seem as if your child has developed a frightening new personality?


Was your child once an easy-going cooperative kid who you were proud to call your own? But now that she’s hit puberty, has she developed a personality close to that of a werewolf? These moody curveball kids can really throw you for a loop!


4. Do you feel like you’re always asking questions but never getting answers?


Powerful children aren’t always the loud obnoxious kid in the Target. Children can manipulate through silence too, and we can be suckers for the shy kid. We’ll ask him question after question, but he’ll only respond with a shrug or an “I dunno know.”


Next Steps? Check your reaction!


Chances are, if you have a powerful child, you’re having a powerful reaction. Your heart may pound, your stomach churn, and maybe you can picture more arguments than not with that child. Or perhaps you’ve gone out of your way to placate her.


Powerful manipulators come in a variety of packages. And they can leave us pulling our hair out at night! But having a powerful child isn’t all bad. It simply means that the power needs to be redirected, and you (yes, you!), dear parent, can be a circuit breaker on that power. All behavior is learned, and your child is looking to you to set the example. Don’t teach your powerful child to walk all over you with permissive parenting, and don’t fight power with power. It takes two to do battle, so disengage!


So next time Johnny says, “Hey, let me borrow the car so I can drive to the football game,” after he’s mouthed-off to you all night, don’t play the typical permissive or authoritarian parent. Don’t let him off the hook with a simple, “Well, alright. But don’t stay out too late!” And don’t give him the “Are you kidding me?! You’re not going anywhere for a month with a tone like that!”


Be authoritative. Stay calm. Control your power surges. Instead, calmly say something like, “Maybe I would consider letting you borrow the car, but I don’t like the way you’ve treated me tonight.” This puts the ball back in Johnny’s court and it’s up to him to decide whether he’ll abide by the rules. He may whine and complain at first, but he’ll come around if he wants those keys!


Parenting is never easy, but it is simple. Stay consistent, stay calm, and redirect those power surges! Your powerful child can become a powerful force for good. 


For more information on redirecting your powerful child, check out my new book Parenting Your Powerful Child. If you’ve got a powerful kid, it’s a book you can’t afford to miss!

My 70th Birthday and A GIVEAWAY


**WINNERS ANNOUNCED: RACHEL ABBOTT, CATHY SANDFORT AND BOBBI DAILEY! We will email you soon to get your mailing address and then you will be the proud owner of a signed copy of “Parenting Your Powerful Child”  

Thanks to all that entered!  

You can always purchase Parenting Your Powerful Child here:


Barnes and Noble 

Christian Books

I knew something was up around the Leman household…but I didn’t know what was up. Later I find out that Mrs. Uppington was being very sneaky and planning a surprise party! My first clue was when I woke up and my daughter Hannah and her husband Josh were on the patio in the morning drinking coffee — I was shocked! And I was hoping the other kids weren’t far behind…

And they weren’t! Kevin and Lauren flew in from California the next day along with other friends and family! The party was so great it made me want to be 70 all over again (and I thought that was impossible!) The best part was listening to all my kids and grandchildren talk about our relationship and what counted most in life to them.

To top it off my sweet wife bought me a 1950 Deluxe Ford – Little did she know that was my FIRST car. I paid 200 dollars for it. I think she paid a little more… She completely surprised me.

It was one of the those benchmarks in life that you don’t forget! Everyday since I keep thinking about how wonderful that evening was. How much love was in the that room.

It is a privilege to be a Dad and a husband, those are two things I certainly cut out to be!

Here are a few photos from our evening that my daughter Hannah took! Keep scrolling to get to the GIVEAWAY!







This month my new book Parenting Your Powerful Child came out! And I wanted to host a giveaway that I think you will like!

I am giving away 3 signed copies of my new book! That means THREE of you will be winners!

Here’s what you need to do to enter!

1. Put up a status on Facebook or Twitter that tells your friends and family about my new book “Parenting Your Powerful Child” and give them a link to this blogpost to find out more. Here’s the link you can share:

Here’s an example:

Have a powerful child? One that is hard to take anywhere or always talks back?  Dr. Leman has a new book just for you!  Find out more about Parenting Your Powerful Child here: 

2. After you complete number 1 (This part is important!) You must come back to this blogpost and leave a comment to tell me that you completed number 1! This is your entry!

I will pick three winners at random a week from today! Monday, September 23rd!

Happy Sharing!

And don’t forget, you can always purchase Parenting Your Powerful Child here:


Barnes and Noble 

Christian Books

Goodbyes are hard to do

One of my least favorite things to do is say goodbye.  I hate goodbyes… especially to my kids!  My friend Moonhead calls our family sappy goodbye family.

But…it’s that time of year when parents will be saying good-byes to their children. College, kindergarten, or the military.  I guarantee you’ll enjoy this interview below. Please have some Kleenex nearby as you listen to this broadcast with my friends at Focus on the Family. My particular story about saying goodbye to our 1st born, Holly, is a classic.  It can be found between the 16:30 and the 23:00 mark…Enjoy..sniff, sniff, sob, sob….

Oh! And if you missed Part I, here it is:

My Two Cents | A Child’s Allowance

Can anyone else relate to this little comic- or is it just me?! With out littlest Leman out of the house, Mrs. Uppington and I are having to call our 2nd oldest daughter that lives in town to help us fix our computers or turn on the TV. She now answers the phone, “Hello Tech Support.”

Anyways, Allowances.

Any of these sound familiar?

“I give Matt, our 14-year old, an allowance every week. But he’s always coming back to me the day after he receives the money asking for more money for something he’s just got to have it’s driving me crazy”

“We give all three of our kids- who are 12, 14, and 16 the same amount of allowances every week. But our 16-year old is constantly asking to borrow money for our 12-yera old… and getting it! Should we give more to the 16 year old because he’s older? Or be fair and keep the amount consistent?”


“Our 2 children, ages 11 and 13 are vastly different in personality. Jen, the oldest, is a hard worker. Always doing extra chores. Mark, our youngest, has to be prodded away from his Wii serval times in order to get his own chores done. I was raised in a home where everything was ‘even Steven’. But it always drove me crazy when I would do all the work and my little brother and I got the same amount of allowance. I don’t want to make Mark feel inferior by giving him less money, what should I do?”

Here’s my 2 cents on allowances:

Giving allowances is one of those areas that influence many other areas. Money a child has at his fingertips, how he has received that money, and how he views that money affect not only what he’s able to buy or save but how he feels about himself. In my view, an allowance is part of a family’s recreational budget. It’s one of the perks of being a family member. This is very different view than most of us grew up with. Remember, the chore list on the refrigerator? We all groaned about it, but we did it (unless we could get our little sister to do it for us!) because it was the only way to get paid.

Clean your room: 50 cents
Set the table: 10 cents
Take out the garbage: 20 cents

Doing those chores directly related to how much money we received in our allowance each week. But here’s what I am suggesting: every family member should automatically receive an allowance from the family’s recreational budget. Some family members, due to age and abilities, will have more work to do than others. For example, you wouldn’t expect a 6-year old to do the same kind of work that you would expect from a 14 year-old. But by the same token, the older child also has some perks that younger child doesn’t have- like a later bedtime and freedom to go out with friends.

I suggest that you start a child with an allowance around the age of 5. Give the child, say 5 quarters ($1.25 per week). Age 5 is also a good age at which to begin teaching the value of money. As a child gets older, increase their allowance with respect to her or his age.

Little Kayla, who is 8, is a saver. She puts every penny she received into her buy-a-horse-someday fund. But last year when she heard about a little girl who lost her home in a flood, she dipped into her allowance and sent that girl’s family a special gift- from her own heart and finances. Encourage your kids to think about how they could help other people with their savings.

Children need to know that when the money is spent, it’s spent. There’s no free lunch in life. If your child ask for more money because he/she used it up, say, “Well, payday isn’t until Saturday. I’m sure you’ll make something work.”

Children also need to know that upholding their end of the bargain as a family member is important. If they don’t there are consequences. Let’s say your son doesn’t mow the lawn like he is supposed to, instead of bickering what if you quietly hired another sibling to cut the lawn? What if the money it cost to hire someone else was taken out of your son’s allowance the following week? Do you think you’d get them message across?

Allowances teach children how to manage money- and they also teach children firsthand about consequences. If your child does not get around to a certain task, don’t cajole her, remind her , or lecture her. Simply hire someone else to do that task and take whatever you had to pay that person from your child’s allowance. No threats-no warnings- only action.

I go into even more detail about allowances in the book Have A New Kid By Friday. How do allowances work in your house? What works, what doesn’t? What will you take from this post? Comments, shares and tweets are welcomed and appreciated! Have a great week!

Dr. Leman Live This Week in Michigan!

Today’s kids are unionized, and they’ve got a game plan to drive you up the wall.

Sound familiar?

Grooters Productions is filming a video curriculum based on Have a New Kid by Friday. We are looking for parents of all kinds and ages to participate as audience members. THERE ARE ONLY 50 SEATS AVAILABLE – RSVP NOW TO BE PART OF THIS FREE EVENT!

Filming will take place on Wednesday, April 18 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Grooters Productions Studios, 17 West Sixth Street, Holland, MI. Lunch will be provided.

Would love to see you there. RSVP NOW to reserve your seat! Contact Grooters Productions at 616-546-4000 to reserve your spot. Adults only please.

Can’t attend? Please share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter to help get the word out!

The Modern Day Prodigal

I continue to receive emails from parents asking about modern day prodigal children. Whether the prodigal is defying family rules, living an undesirable life style, or leaving to who-knows-where, it’s a heart wrenching experience for any parent. Parents have poured so much energy, time and love into their son or daughters life. I was prompted to blog on this subject after receiving an email from a Mom who was complaining that her son was getting drunk, staying out late, waking up the family at all hours and smoking weed to boot! Now get this, she is planning on sending him away to a private University next fall. Let me get this straight, you are going to spend 40K to send this kid to a private school and he is drunk and smoking weed all the time? What is wrong with this picture?

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go” 

That does not mean train up a child in the way YOU think he should go. It speaks specifically to what way God would have your kid go (according to his bent). Let’s face it. Some kids learn the hard-way. Just like the true prodigal son in the Bible, he went to a far away land. Where no one would recognize him. After being gone for sometime he realized that his father’s farmhands were much better off than he.  He then returned to his home, and his father said,  “Oh, look what the cat dragged in, did you learn your lesson out there, big boy?”
No.That’s not what it says.  It says,  “The Father saw him from a far.  And ran towards him and  embraced him. He put a ring on his finger, and put a robe on him. And feasted on the fatten calf.”

I realize that the prodigal son story is one of salvation. It’s really not a study in family relationships. But it does prove a good point– and that is, some people have to hit bottom and be put on their own, to realize that a new direction or path must be taken.

Here are a few suggestions if you are dealing with a modern day prodigal:

  1. If he/she has left the family, make no attempt to contact them. No, not even a birthday card, and certainly not a birthday card with money  in it!  Let all contacts be initiated by your son or daughter.
  2. Exercise patience, you might have you wait a while!
  3. If you prodigal lives with you, you need to find of way of saying (if they are 18 or older) “This isn’t working. We as parents are holding you back. We are too old fashioned for you. You need to go live life the way you think it oughta be lived.”
What you are doing here is showing him/her the door with a smile on your face. I know you are saying to yourself right now, “Leman, where is he/she going to get the money to live by himself?” Well, I don’t have the foggiest idea, but it would be a great experience for him to get out, live with his buddy and try to make it financially. Would I continue to pay insurance on a car that he owns? No. I wouldn’t give him/her a dime. There are two approaches here. The slow leak theory is when you watch your kid spiral down week after week. The blow out theory is when you bring things to a head. Some kids grow up easy, and some with great difficulty. But becoming the enabler, and allowing your son/daughter to live under your roof, eat your food, then disrespect you repeatedly, doesn’t help your child and it certainly doesn’t help you.

If you are going through this heartache right now, know that you are not alone. Other parents have dealt effectively with their prodigal. Yes, continue to pray for your son or daughter. Remember that God sometimes puts us through trials to make us stronger. Realize that this tough time on you might be a necessary step in your child’s faith journey and coming to the truth of what life is all about.

As always your comments are welcome!  What say you?