Helping Families Navigate Parenting in a World Gone Mad

The Proverb says, “Point your kids in the right direction, when they’re old they won’t be lost (MSG).”

I believe it is every parent’s desire to see their children to grow up with quality character, a conscience built on a strong foundation and with a clear motivation that moves in the direction of success. This is a noble and honorable goal and as educators it is our job to partner with parents in this task. In today’s culture, that goal can feel overwhelmingly scary and impossible. How do we partner with parents well in a world that is trying to influence their child’s identity? How do we partner with parents well in a world that is fiercely competing for their children’s hearts and minds through its ideological constructs? How do we partner with parents well in a world that is trying to over sexualize their children? How do we partner with parents well in a world gone completely mad?

Though there is not a 2+2=4 formula to answer these questions. However, I do believe there are five keys that can assist us in the process as we partner with parents to disciple their children. This is, by no means, a comprehensive list. I am certain that if we guide parents in implementing these keys in their households, they will begin to find that parenting in this nonsensical world will seem less daunting and they will be able to begin to establish a solid foundation.

Key #1: Encourage parents towards being relationally present.
What do I mean by this? It’s simple. Encourage parents to create opportunities to slow down their family’s pace of life so that they can actively engage in face-to-face conversations with their children. When we create intentional time with our kids, we can see them for who they are and who God has designed them to be. This is not a one-off or one-time a week occurrence. Intentional time with our kids must be a regular occurrence. The more time invested, the more your relational presence and relational connection will positively impact your child and their overall wellbeing.

Example: I have worked with many families in my career and have observed reoccurring patterns. One major pattern was the increase in “behavioral problems”. I remember one dad was struggling with his son’s repeated behavioral outbursts and was at his wits end. During our first session I asked the son, with his father present, “How much time does your dad spend with you doing what you want on your level?” You would have thought I was speaking a foreign language as the son just stared at me. After a minute I then turned to the dad and said, “I don’t think we have a behavioral issue. We have a relational issue. For the next two weeks, spend at least 15-minutes a day doing what your son wants on his level. If the issues in your home do not change, I will provide free family counseling.” The family came back two weeks later completely different. Why? Because the son was relationally seen by his dad.

Key #2: Encourage parents towards knowing what is going on in your child’s world.
Taking the idea of being relationally present one step farther, help parents understand that they must be curious students of their child’s world. Yes, that requires more effort for them, yet it is a deeply impactful key to parenting well.

Ask parents these questions: Do you know the lingo your children are speaking? The fashion that is important? The music, books or movies that are being discussed? Do you know the current social media fads? Do you even know what social media platforms your children are involved in? These questions are not meant to overwhelm parents but to inform parents and to get parents thinking. Our children are being bombarded with information 24/7. If parents are not aware of these things, they cannot effectively confront the cultural lies with truth. Yes! I know what you are thinking, and it is okay encourage parents to monitor their child’s social media. If parents do not protect and prepare their children, who will?

One of my favorite tools is the “Culture Translator” by Axis. Parents can sign up for this free resource at

Key #3: Encourage parents toward creating a culture of mental and emotional wellbeing.
Language creates culture and culture has the power to speak life or speak death. Whether they realize it or not, every household has a culture around mental and emotional wellbeing. Help parents think through “how does their current culture recognize and treat emotions and mental health?” This is not allowing emotions to run their life but recognizing and establishing a culture that values both emotions and mental health. This is a key to effective parenting because it establishes a commonality and a safe place amongst the family. When emotions are something not to be feared they become indicators, like a check engine light, of something deeper and lead to conversations of growth and learning.

Key #4: Equip parents towards not being afraid to have the hard conversations.
When parents are up to speed on what is going on in their children’s world, they will be much more prepared to have the hard conversations. This takes a proactive posture. Do not wait for school, media, friends, or social media to influence their children’s hearts and minds. Encourage them to do their best to get ahead of them and have the conversation first. Being proactive means, they need to pre-plan these conversations. Encourage them to sit down with their spouse and discuss the different pressures and ideas their children are facing and develop age-appropriate game plan. This is a lot easier if you have already created a culture of mental and emotional well-being, are relationally present, and have done your research into your child’s world. Once parents have established a game plan, encourage them to allow curiosity to guide their questions and conversations. They will not be disappointed with the results. It will be hard, but it will be good.

This also lays a foundation for their children to want to bring conversations to them. They will want to talk to them about what is important in their lives. Furthermore, there will be issues and conversations that will inevitably come up, that parents haven’t accounted for, but doing this step parents will be prepared to respond and not react.

Encourage parents to be sure to remind our children who they are and tell them whose they are. One simple way to do this is to pray or speak scripture over them. Do this when they are awake and also do this when they are asleep. Words matter. What we say to our children will deeply impact their identity.

Key #5: Remind parents the goal is to raise unique independent and thoughtful adults, not “mini-mes”
Have parents take a step back for a moment from the chaos that is parenting and ask themselves this question. “When I fast-forward 20 years, who do I want my children to be when they are adults?” As you process this question, you can walk backwards and create a culture in your home that supports that goal. Remember, you are not creating mini-mes. Make an effort toward understanding their questions, likes, and dislikes and to not take offense. Allow them to learn from their mistakes and to not take them personally as a parent. Allow them to fail forward so that they can develop resilience and grit.

In my opinion parenting is one of the greatest responsibilities on this earth. Parenting is also a gift as we get to be part of the growth these children God has placed in our hands. Take heart that the work you are doing is good and it will not return void. Make sure you surround yourself with good supports and do not be afraid to reach out for help.


“At The Woodlands Christian Academy, we are blessed to partner with Dr. Mark Mayfield to help address the emotional health needs of our students. Dr. Mayfield is a former pastor, award winning author, speaker, leadership coach, counselor, and professor. Through his No Student Unseen and Stop Light Alert for Mental and Emotional Wellness programs, our school community is better able to recognize and address the mental health challenges of our students.”
- Julie Ambler TWCA Head of School

Dr. Mark Mayfield is a former pastor, award winning author, speaker, leadership coach, counselor, and professor. He has extensive experience in mental and emotional health consulting with schools and faith-based organizations. He is founder of No Student Unseen, which helps schools navigate their mental health challenges with the Stop Light Alert for Mental and Emotional Well-being system. Clinically, Dr. Mayfield is an expert in working with families affected by trauma. He is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at CCU and also partners with the AACC as the Director of Practice and Ministry Development and Editor of Marriage & Family: A Christian Journal.

Dr. Mayfield is the author of four books, “HELP! My Teen is Self-Injuring: A Crisis Manual for Parents” which addresses his own suicide survival story, and provides practical tools to help your child who may be struggling, “The Path Out of Loneliness: Finding and Fostering Connection to God, Ourselves and One Another”, “The Path To Wholeness: Managing Emotions, Finding Healing, and Becoming Our Best Selves” and “Hope and Healing for Loneliness: A Guide to Flourish in Community” (which comes out December 2023.)

He has been featured in prominent media outlets including FOX NEWS, Woman’s Day, Hello Giggles, NBC, Reader’s Digest, Byrdie, and more. Dr. Mayfield is on a list of mental health professionals that was invited to the White House in December 2019 and has had periodic calls with the White House to discuss mental health in America.

Dr. Mayfield lives in Texas with his wife of 16 years and their three children.

For more information about Dr. Mayfield or The Stop Light Alert for Mental and Emotional Well-being please go to or

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