Leslie Vernick
November 10th, 2015                                                                                
What's New?
  • Leslie On the  Radio! Saturday 11/14. Catch the podcast by CLICKING HERE.
  • Did you Catch Leslie on Focus on the Family Radio where she talked about how to live a Christ-Centered life in a Me-First World. You can listen to it here 
  • Our Empowered To Change Group Is starting soon. CLICK HERE to be put on the VIP list and be the first to be notified.

How To Handle
Unwelcome Advise

By Leslie Vernick

Someone asked me this week how she could tell her good friend to stop giving her advice about her parenting without ruining their friendship. She said, “My friend constantly tells me I’m too lenient with my kids. I’m getting tired of hearing it.”


A good girlfriend is a wonderful gift. And a healthy relationship includes freedom to share honest feelings and disagreements.


But I encouraged her that before she initiated a heart-to-heart discussion with her friend, she should stop and ask herself if her friends concerns have any merit to them.


I remember my friend, Barb, shared with me that she thought my life was too busy and I needed to slow down. Inside I thought to myself, “Why is she telling me this?” and immediately I felt myself getting defensive. But after I thought about it, I knew she was right.   


The Bible encourages us to consider constructive criticism. Psalm 141:5 says, “Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it” (nlt). Could God be using your friend to show you areas needing improvement in your parenting?


No one can improve any skill without constructive feedback from the outside. Whether in reading a book on parenting, watching a friend discipline in a way that’s different than you, or seeing a terrified look in your child’s eyes when you’re screaming at her, we all need to receive feedback if we want to learn new things, grow or improve something. 


On the other hand, your parenting style might just be different from your friend, not better or worse. Not everyone does things the same way. You may be a more lenient parent than your friend, and still be a wise, loving, godly mother.


If you want to address this with your friend, prayerfully think through what you want to say. I usually write it down, to really figure out the right words. We can cause real damage to a good friendship by reckless words (Proverbs 12:18). Then I practice and practice and practice. This builds my courage (no one likes to speak hard words), and gets me used to saying it the way I planned.


This is important so that you don’t just blurt out your negative feelings during an intense moment and potentially ruin your friendship. Plan the time to talk. Ask her if she’d be willing to set aside a specific time to talk together, uninterrupted by children. Then affirm your friend before sharing your concerns.


For example, you might say something like, “I love you and value our friendship. You’re a great mom and a wise woman. I’ve prayerfully considered your comments about being too lenient with my kids, but I don’t think I am. Although my parenting may be different from yours, mine’s not wrong as a result. I’d really appreciate if you wouldn’t comment anymore on how I raise my kids. I know you mean well, but your remarks upset me.”


Such candor might surprise your friend. But if your friendship is healthy, she’ll be thankful for your honesty and your friendship will be stronger. 


What If My Spouse Is Mentally ill?
Question: You’ve been talking about setting boundaries in marriage or implementing consequences for destructive behavior but what if your spouse is mentally ill? What if he is bipolar, is on the Autism spectrum, or has a personality disorder? Do you still recommend boundaries and consequences or does there need to be more compassion?

Answer: The answer is not either or, but both. Yes I still recommend appropriate and sometimes firm boundaries even with mental illness. And yes, there needs to be great compassion.

I’ve thought and thought about this question and how I wanted to answer. I’ve worked in the mental health field for over 30 years but I also grew up with a mother diagnosed with bipolar. She was an alcoholic. And she was abusive.

This is what I know. Having a mental illness certainly causes marital and familial stress, and requires a great deal of compassion and resolve to get through it. However, I want to make a distinction between mental illness and foolishness or wickedness of the heart.

I was recently at dinner with some friends and we got into a discussion about ISIS and Hitler and school shootings and everything else that is wrong with the world. Toward the end of our talk, the man in our party concluded, “These people are mentally ill, that’s all there is to it.”

I disagreed. Not everyone who is mentally ill is abusive and not everyone who is abusive is mentally ill. Yes, mentally ill people are sinful, just like you and me, but they are not necessarily wicked. Mental illness often leads to an inability to think clearly or see reality properly. Because of their distorted perceptions, they also have trouble controlling their emotions and behaviors appropriately. But most mentally ill people are not cruel towards others, intentionally malicious, nor do they feel good about themselves or what they’ve done.

Let me give you an example. Gina was diagnosed bipolar. When she wasn’t taking her medication she would become manic and spend large sums of money she could not afford as well as have multiple sexual encounters with total strangers. There were times she had outbursts of anger. Once she got back on her medication she would have great remorse over her behaviors and feel appropriate shame, guilt, and regret. She hated her disease and worked to get the help she needed so that she had a good chance of not repeating her manic episodes. She knew they caused her, her husband and family great pain.

Yet, Gina still had consequences to face because of her behaviors. Her credit card bill now totaled $8,000 that she didn’t have and as a result, her husband put a boundary in place that he would not give Gina any of the family credit cards to carry until she was more stable.

Gina chose to humble herself to receive her doctor’s and my help. Together we set up boundaries for Gina and accountability checks so that if the people closest to her noticed she was acting strange, they would give her that feedback and she would listen, even if she disagreed (because she wasn’t thinking clearly) and she would go immediately to her doctor for another opinion.
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How To Handle Unwelcome Advise


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Take a look at the upcoming events to watch for from Leslie
How To Find Selfless Joy In A Me-First World
What If My Spouse Is Mentally Ill?
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Coaching Programs

 How To Find Selfless Joy In A Me-First World
Leslie Vernick

Western culture increasingly emphasizes the importance of self-love and self-esteem. Many of us believe we must “find” ourselves–and feel good about what we see–before we can experience significant spiritual growth.


Focusing so much on ourselves, however, distracts us from pursuing the only source of true fulfillment. Do we, as God’s people, really need to love ourselves more? Or is there a wiser, biblical path that can lead us to joy that is not self-centered and fleeting, but God-focused and lasting?


“At last–an articulate voice of truth in the chaos of our me-first world. Leslie helped adjust my perspective as she took me back to scriptures dealing with “self-fulfillment” and “self-image.” Her thoughtful, real-life book is full of sound-bytes. The personal applications at the end of each chapter will drive home the changes we need to make in finding true, Biblical joy.
– Jeanne

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide your name and email address.

Winners of a free 2-month membership to CONQUER are Jane F. and Elizabeth M.



November 2nd & 3rd

Leslie will fly to Texas to be be part of a documentary on abusive relationships



Working with Leslie in the Empowered To Change  group, helped me talk about the destructive elements and impact of my marriage in a safe environment and get input directly and indirectly as Leslie answered my questions and spoke with others and also through the closed and ongoing facebook page. I have gained clarity and strength to heal, grow, and interact with more wisdom.  Thank you Leslie for the E2C group!”  






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Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States