Parenting: How to Go for the Real Gold

It was 1984 and I was 12 years old.

I watched Mary Lou Retton flip and flop in the Olympics. I wore a leotard and leg warmers and cheered her to gold.

It’s surreal as I plan to watch history unfold this weekend with my own 12 year old daughter.


How did I get so old?

I’m on this parenting path and I’m running this race dodging obstacles and trying to avoid getting off course.

But it’s hard and I’m an amateur.

The other night, my daughter tapped on our door. It was hours past her bedtime, but I could tell it was serious by the look on her face. She slowly walked to the side of my bed clutching a folded letter in her hands.

She handed it to me and started crying.

My heart thundered as I read her carefully printed confession. It told of how she deliberately disobeyed us. And how she quickly discovered with her secret choice, there was no joy. She was riddled with guilt.

I have never been more proud of my daughter. 

Sure, I was disappointed by her choice (which in and of itself wasn’t a big deal, just something we didn’t feel like she was ready for), But I was more impressed with her honesty.

I hugged her tight, her body quaking. I wiped my own eyes.

And I felt like I had won gold.

Because somehow, some way in all of our parenting mistakes and mishaps, she got the one lesson we long to teach our children:

Be like Jesus, even when no one is looking. And when you mess up, ask for forgiveness and keep running the race.

My kids are going to make mistakes. It’s part of life. But hearing my girl ask for a consequence, made me feel like all this hard parenting work is paying off.

When I look at the world’s idea of successful parenting, it includes good grades, elite education, conforming to mainstream agendas, being politically correct and looking perfect.

I haven’t taught my kids any of that. Instead, I’m okay with okay grades and we are currently (purposefully) moving out of an exemplary school district. I’ve encouraged them to stand up for what’s right, even it it means they are alone and I’d rather overpay for a t-shirt that benefits a worthy cause than jeans that get the approval of peers.

This journey is long. It’s filled with victories and defeats.

But in this leg of the race, I’ve learned there is victory in defeat and I wouldn’t trade that bit of gold for anything.



  1. 1

    Wendi says

    Love it!!! What a great post. Way to go Mom and Dad, you are truly great parents. Keep up the great work. Go for the gold that really matters. :)

  2. 4


    Nice! I love reading everything you write. I SO get where you are at AND I was 12 also, I had a Mary Lou Retton Wheaties poster. She rocked!!

  3. 5


    Wow. You definitely won the gold medal for this round with your daughter. Your words speak to me – deeply. As a child, I was led to believe all of the “world’s ideas of success”… but that was also in a house that did not believe in Jesus. Now, as a christian and as a mom, I want to win these type of victories… I want my daughter to “be like Jesus – even when nobody is looking”. Thank you for the encouragement that it can be done!

  4. 6

    Julie M says

    I feel like I have been where you were. My daughter has done the same thing. I get a note saying that she did something wrong & that she feels bad for doing it. I know that we want our children to talk to us but these little notes also allow them to communicate with us without having to say the words. What’s most important is that our girls are learning that there is a reason why we parent the way that we do. You are teaching your daughter some really valuable lessons. Great job!

  5. 7


    I don’t know why this post made me so emotional. All I can say…is you are so right!
    I’m a mom to older kids (22, 19 1/2 & 17 1/2)…like grown up kids. Each of them are very similar to what you described your daughter like in this post.
    Very much in tune with right & wrong. They’ve always been that way. Also, we didn’t harp on them about being perfect (not with grades, sports, activities) we simply taught them…that God always wants excellence from us. He is who we represent along with our family. I remember my son coming into our room late at night to confess a wrong (something not so big–but worthy of brokenness) and I felt just like you….so very grateful that he got it.
    GOLD is right.
    Nothing feels more incredible than to see your kids CHOOSE CHRIST!
    I love being a part of all that God is doing in each of their lives and I’m blown away….they turned out so well (in spite of me) !


  6. 9

    Jen L. says

    That is a pretty amazing girl you have there. I am curious as to why you think taking your kids out of a good school district is a good idea. Why sacrifice their education?

    • 9.1


      We are moving from a very affluent area to a more economically diverse (next town over). The schools are all good, but we’ve learned some of the downfalls of exemplary for us–more competition, big in size, more pressure.

      • 9.1.1

        Jen L. says

        Thanks for the response. I can relate to that. We live in the best school district in our area. Fortunately, our elementary school is economically and ethnically diverse. I do worry about the competition, pressure etc my boys might face in middle school and high school though. Hope the move goes well.

  7. 10


    What a beautiful post… really touched my heart – I just shared it on my facebook page! Raising Godly children in this fallen world is so difficult – but what a beautiful reminder to give our kids the same grace God gives to us!
    God Bless!

  8. 11


    What a great way to begin my day! This is a beautiful story of a girl’s heart and a parent’s determination to do life differently. LOVE it! Thank you for sharing :)

  9. 14


    Your family never stops “wow-ing” me. You’re such a great example of what a Jesus-centered family looks like, through the ups and downs and round-&-rounds of life. I just love seeing what God is doing through you, and it warms my heart to read about how open, honest, and thoughtful your family relationships really are. I cherish that and my husband and I strive toward that too. Thanks for sharing, Kristen.

  10. 15


    Love it. I recently felt like I won the gold in parenting too, when I watched my son come in second in a race he could have come first in when I asked him why he didn’t pull ahead of his competition in the local 5k he said “mom, he kept going the wrong way, I wanted to make sure he didn’t get lost” . I know when I ran races at 16 sadly I would have let the kid get lost, it brings tears to my eyes just thinking that I have raised a young man who would rather lose a race than see another fellow runner get lost.

  11. 17


    Such an amazing story. Such an inspiration to keep on with our family to find the true gold medals in life. To know what is truly important.

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