What if You Can’t FIX It?

A human problem that many of us face…we want to FIX it. This does not just go for projects around the house but even the problems that our kids bring to us. ESPECIALLY if we have “been there and done that” in our own lives. Our human tendency is to offer a quick fix from our experiences and sage wisdom. But what if you simply can’t fix it? Here are a few quick reminders on how to reapproach your child the next time he/she brings you a problem. If anything needs to get fixed, it just might be your approach as mom or dad.

Feelings first. If you are a maximum problem-solver, this is a tough one to start with. Your child honestly does not care what you know or what you have been through until you are willing to care about them and what they are going through. Do whatever it takes to not respond quickly. No quick fixes, “answers”, solutions, or problem-solving. Simply listen. That may mean literally putting your hands over your mouth to resist the urge. Wait and let your child share his/her feelings first.

Investigate. Now this does not mean that you turn on the spotlight and crank up the interrogation. To investigate means to ask intentional questions. Once you have heard what your child initially wanted to get off his/her chest, now you can dig a little deeper. Inevitably some questions may have arisen in your mind as to why this happened? Who was there? What started this all? Now is the time to show that you were listening. Actively show it by “investigating” to convey your desire to understand more fully.

eXperience alongside. Again, as a wise and experienced adult, we want to wrap our conversations up with our children offering our advice. But we still have to resist going into lecture mode. Otherwise, you are just wasting your’s and your child’s time. First, continue on the same investigatory path in asking your child, “What do you think you are going to do now?” Allow your child to consider for him/herself the next steps. Now what? And then note that this last reminder adds the word “alongside”. Walk alongside your child as he/she experiences life. Catch them when they fall; it is not then a time to say, “I told you so.” Allow them to safely experience life just as you once did. Yes, you can offer wisdom from your own experiences, but you also have to trust them and God’s working in their life. And at the end of the day, being there with and for your child will build trust. And this trust is what will bring your child back time-and-time again in the future as they continue to face problems. So instead of focusing on fixing your child or what they are facing, turn it inwards to FIX your you listening skills.


  • Jim Burns

    Jim Burns is the President of HomeWord and the Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 30 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage and Closer. Jim and his wife, Cathy live Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca and Heidi.

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