Jeff Zaugg (03:03):

I’d love to ask the set of question of just something that you’re looking forward to right now, when it comes to the dad life. Anything that you’re like, man, this is, this is fun in this season.

Dr. Peter Larson (03:10):

Yeah, well, it’s actually, it’s, it’s a timely question because, I’m literally packing ski bags in the other room, um, today, ’cause Kate and I are going on a ski trip together, just the two of us, a daddy-daughter, ski trip. Very cool. Which is it’s, it’s really awesome because you know, we did a lot of daddy daughter dates when she was little and, and then something happens, you know, in those teen years when the last person they really want to be with is a parent and, and it’s, to me, this almost marks…. I kind of keep having to pinch myself because I’m like, Oh, she actually wants to go on a trip with just me. And it’s like the angsty teen years might be coming to an end. It’s awesome.

Jeff Zaugg (03:53):

That’s amazing. And this is something not a first time. I know this is something that you and your wife kind of led into intentionally around. What age was it that you guys did some other trips with your kids?

Dr. Peter Larson (04:02):

You know, well, we, we gave them all kind of the mandate / invitation that at 13 and we’re going to do a parent child trip with them. And it was just a time as they were launching into those teen years to really be intentional about some of the conversations we wanted to have with them, around their faith, around relationships, around what’s, what’s it going to be like when you’re starting to walk into the halls of high school? And so, you know, we did that with each of the kids at that age and it’s awesome to get some time away one-on-one with them, for sure.

Jeff Zaugg (04:38):

And this is, uh, a bit away from where I met with my seven year old and my oldest. But when you think advice specifically to that kind of 11 to 13 advice that you would have been part of on those thirteen-year-old trips, which is a while ago, um, what are some of the top, like if you’re coaching a dad in that season that had the privilege of going on a camping trip or doing something one-on-one with their son or daughter any just top of mind, like these are some of the things that you would pass along as tips for those trips.

Dr. Peter Larson (05:03):

You know, I, I think there’s just this theme of don’t be conformed to this world. Right. In fact, that’s kind of a verse that, that we lean on is, is don’t be conformed to this world, be in this world. Yeah. But, you know, as believers, we, you know, we are going against the culture. Right. And so what’s that going to look like? What’s that going to look like in relationships? Like what’s that gonna look like in the way you spend your time or the way you spend money or, you know, there’s just so many categories, but, obviously at that age, it’s all about friendships and relationships and boyfriends and girlfriends. And so that was a big topic of the conversation is how do you show up, and not be conformed to just what everyone else is thinking and doing, right?

Jeff Zaugg (05:58):

Because that desire for acceptance is so strong, especially at that age – it’s a strong for all of, but if you even backed up a step before that, so that’s great to know at the kind of 11 to 13 year old, a theme. How about if you went to my daughter’s age seven year old, like to be prepared for your child wanting to go on a 13 old trip. Right. Uh, what, what kind of just any kind of coaching or tips for that season of fatherhood?

Dr. Peter Larson (06:19):

Wow. I mean, when they were, when they were littler, you have this wonderful, I mean, at that age, the dad is like – worship the ground Dad walks – you’re their hero. And, and so just being engaged and being present and being investing in, in them at those years, and doing the silly stuff they love to do and spending the time I asked, I asked Anna earlier today, even as we were getting ready for this, I’m like, Hey, I’m doing this thing. And you know, she’s 17. I said, what do you, w what would you say has stood out to you? Um, and, and she just said, Oh, you’ve just, you’re here. And you’re interested. And you ask me questions and you care about what’s going on in my life. And I think, you know, there’s an old saying, “earn the right to be heard” and earn the right to, to be able to say, Hey, let’s go on a trip together. And I think you lay the, the foundation in those earlier years by just pouring into those relationships. Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg (07:24):

No, that’s really, that’s really helpful sometimes as just a rewind before we talk more about your fatherhood journey, talking about your dad for a moment, because we know that usually we anchor back to either doing the opposite that we saw done or, or, um, choosing similar paths because you really appreciated those things. Talk about your dad for a little bit, and then both sides of that areas that you chose the same path of intentionality and areas that maybe you went a different way. Yeah.

Dr. Peter Larson (07:47):

Well, my dad was, he was a rock star. I am, I am one of the very fortunate ones. Uh, my dad was the guy that other kids, you know, even looked to. I mean, he, he, my dad passed away about eight years ago now. And even at his funeral, there were several people sitting in that room who came up to us afterwards and were like, you know, your dad was the guy who spoke into my life or helped me, or helped me get that car, helped me get through college. I mean, I don’t know how many people he helped, but it was crazy. Um, so he, he had started as a social worker and I’m the youngest of four boys and he just loved his boys. He, you know, he, he grew a business almost by mistake in the, in the early years of, of insurance starting to cover mental health and treatment.

Dr. Peter Larson (08:47):

He was able to build a company that became quite successful. And in spite of that, I’ll give you an example. So he’s the president of this company that had grown to be in like 28 different states – busy guy. Well, one summer when I was 13, I broke my leg water skiing, but it was a nasty break. I broke, my femur, broke the femur. And at that time they used to put you in traction. They’re like, we can’t pin this thing and send you home. You’re going to be sitting in a hospital bed with your leg elevated, weights hanging off. Then you know, that it’s, you know, it was, it was nasty. Well, the place where I was skiing, where this happened, you know, it was, it was not close to our home. It was about half an hour drive. The hospital, I ended up in traction. And so here’s my dad running a busy com company. I was, I was in traction for 28 days. There was only one person who made it to the hospital every day, every 28 days in a row. And, you know, it still gets me, you know, um, that’s the kind of dad I had. He showed up. He was there.

Jeff Zaugg (10:04):

Um, thank you for sharing. Uh, was there any areas that you looking back chose for your three kids, you and Heather chose a different path of intentionality, any areas you said I’m going to put more focus here that you didn’t see modeled.

Dr. Peter Larson (10:15):

And, you know, I think we’re still doing that. I, in, in my dad’s later years, he didn’t take good care of himself. He, he, um, you know, probably, you know, didn’t, didn’t get that physical activity. He, he had been a smoker and, you know, he’d, so he died a little earlier. And, um, and I would even add, he probably, especially the last 10 years of his life as a retired guy, he, he had more cocktails than I, I felt comfortable with. And, and so I’m, I’ve been watching that and going, you know, you, you can’t just start strong or launch them. Well, you gotta finish strong too. And because that does impact you. And that, that is, that’s like probably one of the few pain points. When I think about my dad is like, man, he was such a rockstar. I wish he would have finished a little stronger in terms of his, just his modeling of, of lifestyle. Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg (11:11):

That’s been a theme that I’ve picked up over dozens of conversations is, is the thinking of dad life and fatherhood as, as they’re different modules. But you continue to be an intentional dad versus a coasting or a checking out. And not that your dad coasted or checked out, but there’s an intentionality you want for yourself. That is a no, let’s keep game on. This is a season, a precious season as well.

Dr. Peter Larson (11:34):

Totally. And you know, it, it was the painful part was, this was probably the person I respected the most in my life. And yet in the last 10 years of his life, I didn’t respect him that much. And so that was that just kind of tainted the, the story a little bit. Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg (11:51):

Well, let’s ask about your fatherhood now and just that season of dad life. I love to ask the not so awesome question. An area, a mistake, a area that you pay brought some hurts, or you’re just like, man, I missed it here in, in the dad life, in my, in your own journey. Any stories like that, that you’ve learned from,

Dr. Peter Larson (12:08):

You know, I’ve been learning even this last year. If there’s one thing I probably have wrestled with, sometimes it’s being overly focused on the kids, you know, you hear about, about helicopter parents. And, and not that we were like total helicopter parents, but like, I’m, I’ve been a big fan of my kids. And there’s times I feel like maybe to a fault, you know, my son he’s, he’s been fun. He’s, he’s this six foot five, you know, athlete. He, his sport is ultimate Frisbee of all things. Yes. So he, you know, he was captain of his high school team, led them to two state championships. He went to nationals and they finished second in the nation. Now he’s playing at the U of M, but, but there’s times like I’ve been too wrapped up in and, and almost like so focused on his, his athletic stuff. And, and how’s that going? That it’s felt like it’s probably wasn’t as healthy. And so COVID shut all that down. And, you know, he’s at the U now and he’s focused on this, LifeGroup he’s in, and he’s discipling some guys he’s actually discipling some guys on the Ultimate team. And I’m like, how much more important is that? Like, those are the conversations he and I should be having, not me sort of being overly focused on, uh, being a fan of his athleticism. Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg (13:36):

Yeah. The shutdown caused a new angle, a new, uh, perspective,

Dr. Peter Larson (13:40):

Healthy perspective, you know, as parents we need to, uh, so I’m a psychologist and sometimes I’ll throw in these goofy words, but there’s a word called differentiation. And, and, you know, to not get too wrapped up in our kid’s life to be, to be cheering them on, to be supporting them, but not to be so close that you forget kind of where you stand and where they stand and let them do their thing and not be overly close. I

Jeff Zaugg (14:02):

I’ve probably swung pendulum from my dad was so involved and so wrapped up in all of it and just a great cheerleader, but probably too much like you’re describing. And I went pendulum the other way where I’m like, I don’t know if I’m ever going to put my girls into sports. And I mean, it really has gone that side, but I think it’s just even taking this a step deeper processing out, how do we, what’s the discernment process look like, and what is the right amount to encourage and to cheer them on and give opportunities versus that’s too much?

Dr. Peter Larson (14:29):

Yeah. You know, I mean, there, there’s, there’s being proud of your kid and then there’s being like letting your own identity creep into it and, and feeling, feeling this. So, you know, when, when you’re on the sideline and you’re so amped up, you know, you see those nightmare stories of hockey dads or whoever, like out there and yelling at refs, it’s like, okay, I want that ref. Warning sign that dad’s too wrapped up in this thing, this, these are youth sports. Right.

Jeff Zaugg (15:04):

It’s probably somewhere shy of that that still crossing the line.

Dr. Peter Larson (15:08):

For sure. For sure. So, you know, keeping your priorities in check and, and making sure that’s not the only focus of life. Yeah. You know, uh, life’s a whole lot more, especially than something like that. Ultimate Frisbee, right. It’s a club sport, come on.

Jeff Zaugg (15:23):

But it’s easy. It’s easy to go too deep into one focus, one area, and then our kids suffer because they miss out on the other side of dad that they needed in that place, which totally, I think it would be helpful before jumping this next step into the conversation. Just talk a little bit about what you get to do professionally, because I think in creating tools that help people move into who God’s called them to be. I think that actually gets us where I want to go next with the questions. So you just talk just a little setup of what you, what you do for work.

Dr. Peter Larson (15:51):

Well, I’m trained as a psychologist. Um, and while I had been in practice with, with, you know, clients and doing therapy for a number of years, uh, really, almost like 20 years ago now I started down a path of developing assessment tools and, started with marriage assessments and premarital assessments, a company called Prepare Enrich. And that tool is used by a lot of pastors around the, around the world, really to help premarital couples have the conversations they need to have as they transition into marriage.

Jeff Zaugg (16:24):

And just to cut in like that tool for my wife and I was so helpful for us in our pre-engagement counseling we did before we even engaged, we did that tool. And then we got to help coach six or eight couples through to prepare for there marriage. So thank you for your work on that. And I highly recommend them I’ll link in the show notes because it’s a tool that just helps us see what’s unseen – so important.

Dr. Peter Larson (16:44):

Yeah, no, it was, it was a lot of fun. I was with them for over 10 years and helped that tool really go from an old analog mail-in tool to a digital online tool, which then led me into working with a technology company. But it’s a really mission-driven company called Gloo. Can we develop a lot of resources, but I’m on the assessment side again, helping develop tools that serve churches. So helping them understand where their people are at and how they’re doing, or what areas of life are they flourishing in? What areas of life are they struggling in? So I develop a lot of those kinds of assessments and then I’ve also helped with some assessments of motivation. So there’s a new tool we’ve worked on called true motivate that a lot of colleges and high schools are starting to use to help young people tap into really what drives them, what motivates them intrinsically. And so I feel like, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s this unique design on our lives. And when we can, when we can tap into what that is, um, really work and vocation becomes a joy rather than a schlog.

Jeff Zaugg (17:51):

Well, I think your body of work, your research and your, education has prepared your thinking to even, it has to, I’m sure it’s applied these motivators and how you get at, how is my child, how are they wired and how do they tick? Like, how did some of that affect how you and Heather, maybe it wasn’t a direct tool that you created at the time, but just even how you approach trying to get after, uh, who’s God called them to be, and how do you encourage their strengths versus get frustrated by the way they’re wired. Any just, uh, kind of processing out loud around those themes.

Dr. Peter Larson (18:22):

Yeah. I mean, we’re Heather and I joke because, so Heather’s also got her master’s in psychology and she’s a coach, a relationship coach. And, and so our kids kinda joke when, when some, while they say, “Hey, mom therapize me,” whatever that means, but we’re trying not to mess them up with all, with all this. But they are so fun to watch. And they’re so unique. And so paying attention to, to what makes them tick, what do they naturally do? You know, like AJ is a leader. Um, and he also, he’s not a behind the scenes guy he’s, he needs to be out in front and, and to give him those opportunities and, you know, let him run with that. And Kate, on the other hand, she’s this person she loves to explore.

Dr. Peter Larson (19:11):

She loves new adventures, but she loves to serve others. And so she’s been on some mission trips that we’ve tried to help, you know, help support her as she’s gone on those. And, you know, just, just starting to pay attention to what is it that they naturally do and that they love and realizing there’s some motivation there that is going to serve them throughout their life. And how do we unleash that, fan, those flames. And it’s, what’s fun is it’s going to be different than you, you know, it’s not, they’re, they’re their own unique person.

Jeff Zaugg (19:44):

So was it all observational with your kids or did you actually, did you create any tools for your kids?

Dr. Peter Larson (19:49):

Well, I had the advantage of being able to use that True Motivate tool. So I actually took both AJ and Kate, through that,

Jeff Zaugg (19:57):

Through filling out the, did they fill out for themselves with True Motivate?

Dr. Peter Larson (20:00):

Yeah, they do. They do. It goes from, it’s a fun assessment. Cause it starts with your achievement stories. You know, the question is what have you done really well and felt good about? And then they start to unpack those stories in those times in their life. And then True Motivate helps connect the dots on the themes that are emerging. And so it’s, you know, it’s just a really fun process cause they’re talking about the stuff they love.

Jeff Zaugg (20:27):

Yep. That’s actually, my mind just jumped to the power of testimony that actually sharing a testimony, ties in with sharing some of these, like, stories of success, of areas that you really felt flourishing or thriving and looking at the power within that. Even our kids at a young age, they’ve already have a testimony. They’ve seen God at work or they’ve seen themselves like coming, you know, living more fully alive and you’re tapping into that.

Dr. Peter Larson (20:53):

Totally, totally. And it’s, you know, it’s just fun to see. And you know, for me, one of my motivations is building and developing things. And, and so as a psychologist, I love to build and develop assessments. And so realizing that, embracing that and realizing I don’t have to be the therapist psychologist, I can be the assessment psychologist. And that’s great to know. And then work yourself into that role.

Jeff Zaugg (21:13):

Well, I know in the rookie parent season, you and Heather were surrounded by some mentors, some of ’em even the, the staff or it was the, the professors, right? That you were working with in your, in your study. Right? Yeah. Talk about that a little, the aha that led to maybe even a new paradigm shift in how you approached.

Dr. Peter Larson (21:31):

Yeah, we were, we were so fortunate. So Heather and I got married and I was just starting graduate school at Fuller Seminary in their, in their psychology track. And, and you know, a few years into that, um, we were pregnant with, with AJ our first child. And it was just as I was kind of leaving the academic realm and getting into the therapy realm. And one of the cool things about going through that kind of education is you’re around all these really amazing wise people. You know, every new therapist has a supervisor. Who’s a really seasoned therapist. And I remember talking to my, one of my supervisors, his name was Joe and, and I was, I had some clients who were parents and struggling with some things. And I felt so inadequate because I was like, you know, 28 years old without kids. And I was supposed to help them with their parenting issues.

Dr. Peter Larson (22:24):

So I would run to Joe and say, Joe, what do you think about this? But one day we got into a conversation and he said, you know, the problem so many parents struggle with is that they want to be in control. They, they think they, and they think a good parent is in control. He said, the problem with control is it’s just so yes or no, black and white you’re either in control or you’re out of control. And he’s like, it’s a myth because you know what, you’re not in control. And, and we learned that right away with AJ when he was an infant, like you can’t make an infant sleep, you can’t make an infant eat. You can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do. And now on the flip side, what, what, what Joe went on to say is like, yeah, actually you do have influence though.

Dr. Peter Larson (23:12):

And influence is wonderful because it’s like a continuum. And so your question, your challenge as a dad, as a parent, is to think about how can I maximize my influence while knowing I don’t have control. So you know that infant, you can, you can dim the lights. You can make the room really quiet. You can change their diaper. You know, you, you get all the conditions set and then you cross your fingers and tip tow out of the room, knowing that I can’t make that baby sleep, but at least I’ve done everything I can. And that picture is important because the same things happen in, you know, when they’re 15 years old and they’re heading off to a dance and there’s an after party and you’re hoping they make good choices. It’s like, I’m not in control, but how can I do all the things to influence and hopefully empower them to make a good choice.

Jeff Zaugg (24:01):

And I know that this, that paradigm has led you to even do some self-reflection around, Hey, what were, what are some of the building blocks towards being a dad in this case, speaking to dads that, that walks with influence and intentionality versus feels like they’re failing on the control side over and over. So give us that, break it down for us a little bit, share some of those building blocks.

Dr. Peter Larson (24:20):

Yeah. So that’s, that has been a big theme for us is just how do we, how do we influence the kids? And you know, one of the first ones we already talked a little bit about is is you, you build that relationship, you show up and you, you’re not a dad who’s just tuned out or absent, but you’re, you’re building and investing in those relationships early. Yep. Um, that’s why we were doing things like, you know, a thirteen-year-old trip and that’s one simple thing. This is super simple, but one of those – I was on a early internship out of hospital and, and there was a social worker, a woman who was more seasoned and she had raised these incredible kids. And she was just this awesome person. You know, there’s people that just light up a room. She was one of those people and she had raised awesome kids.

Dr. Peter Larson (25:13):

And she found out we were having our first baby and she said, you know what? So, you know, the trick is? She said, every time your kid walks in a room, you just light up like a rock star, just entered the room, just be excited to see them. She’s like, you know, how many people ignore their kid or, they’re almost annoyed by their kid. If you want to build a kid who, who, you know, feels good. Um, and it’s not, you know, we don’t want to build little narcissists, but what a simple, great little nugget of, you know, how, how do you look at them the way God sees them and be like, awesome,

Jeff Zaugg (25:52):

Deep pleasure.

Dr. Peter Larson (25:54):

I am thrilled you’re here. So that was one of the simple things. And that’s a great way to start to have more influence is they know this person loves me and cares about me. So what they say matters.

Jeff Zaugg (26:07):

That’s super helpful. Go on to the next one. I want to hear some more of these steps.

Dr. Peter Larson (26:11):

Another one is just modeling, you know, realizing that they’re watching us. And so you have influence just going about your own business. This hit me the first time with when AJ was about a year and a half old. And it was Christmas time. And Heather and I were setting up the Christmas tree. Right. And we, you know, she always loves getting a real tree. So we were putting this tree in place and it was kind of crooked. And I was wrestling with the stand and I couldn’t get this thing to be straight. And so I’m looking around, Oh, there’s some coasters on the table. I grabbed these coasters and I start propping up part of the, the Christmas stand just to try and get the things straight, you know? And I walked away, looked at it and I was like, yeah, it’s a little better, but she’s like, no, the coasters aren’t going to cut it. So I, you know, took the coasters out. And I, and I, and I reworked the tree well, for the next couple of days, we kept finding coasters under the tree. They were copying you. And AJ at one and a half years old had been sitting in the room, watching me wrestle with this tree. And for whatever reason he thinks, you know, I guess we grab coasters off the table and we put them under this tree.

Jeff Zaugg (27:24):

It’s a little problem-solving dad does my hero.

Dr. Peter Larson (27:26):

Talk about – That hit me like, wow, this kid is watching. He’s a learning, he’s copying the things I do, even when they don’t make sense, you know, w when they’re irrational. And so it was just a good reminder. So now I’m starting to ask myself, you know, what, if he’s watching that stuff, you know, he’s also probably watching how I treat other people and how I talk to his mom and how I spend my time. And as he gets older, how I spend my money and what do I, how do I show up? And, you know, the way I drink or don’t drink, or have a Bible study, or spend time in prayer, like they’re watching all of that. Your life just by modeling something, you’re influencing your kids.

Jeff Zaugg (28:11):

Yeah. Your daughter’s watching. You’ve had two canceled flights so far, right. For your trip. And I know you got another, we’re praying to the flight happens tomorrow morning, but yeah. But yeah, exactly. Disappointment delay, they’re watching. And, even now in this season of dad life, your decisions are being watched.

Dr. Peter Larson (28:26):

Totally. They’re, they’re, you know, they’re, they’re watching how we handle the good things and the tough things. And, um, and, and that’s a big, that’s a big impact on their lives.

Jeff Zaugg (28:37):

Yup. We’re influencing by simply what we do, even if it’s not intentional, we’re modeling it. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Peter Larson (28:43):

I mean, for guys, for dads, you know, having a, having a small group or a Bible study that you go to, um, or, or being committed to taking mom on a date night, like you’re, you’re teaching them things by just living your own life, even away from them, even if they’re like, I wish you guys wouldn’t go, or dad, why are you going to your Bible study? I won’t stay here and play with me. It’s like, you know what, I’m actually modeling something to you by even, you know, holding to these things that sometimes take me away.

Jeff Zaugg (29:12):

And I’m gonna pause you on date night because, I think if there was ever a time in my relationship with my wife, so we’ve been married, it’ll be 15 years this summer. But if there was a gap in the rhythms of intentionality around date nights, these last 11 months have been that disruption because we’ve been babysitters have been nonexistent, and they’ve been stay at home or stay in the backyard dates – give us some encouragement for a little further. Why dating – if you’re married, if you’re listening right now and you want to be dadAWESOME, you take your wife on dates. So tell us why.

Dr. Peter Larson (29:42):

Well, I mean, again, you’re, you’re, you’re them that you’re showing your kids that you honor and prioritize this relationship. And, and there’s such a positive message when kids know their parents are in love. I mean, the security they experience in that, it’s like a warm embrace, just a foundation. And so, you know, living that out prioritizing, and every time Heather and I went on a date, and the other thing we did, we actually have almost always tried to get at least a weekend away every year. And it means, you know, getting the grandparents to show up and take the kids. It’s not convenient. And you might miss something here or there, but it’s like, it’s just so important. Cause you come back from those experiences, a better parent, you get a new perspective, you get refreshed, you reconnect with your spouse and you show back up in that home as a better parent.

Jeff Zaugg (30:38):

Yup. And they’re, again, they’re watching you are, we are modeling just by how we look at each other, the glow, the shiny eyes, or the kiss, the hug. The date nights though, our kids are watching.

Dr. Peter Larson (30:49):

I want my daughters to believe that that’s, that’s the normal, that’s the baseline. I don’t want them in a relationship that is where they’re not prized and honored and cared about and feeling like that’s normal. If, if they’re in a relationship where those things aren’t happening, I want my young daughters to be like, Oh, this isn’t okay. This is not how relationships supposed to be.

Jeff Zaugg (31:13):

Well, let’s go to another area of influence versus control. I think you’ve got another one for us.

Dr. Peter Larson (31:18):

Yeah. I mean, I think it’s, it’s just the routines, um, setting up the right routines with, with the family. So, you know, do we have dinner together? You know, and we weren’t, we weren’t crazy, you know, you know about that. Uh, but you know, if the kids, if the kids had an activity or sport or something, we would let them do that. But there was no excuse if we were all home, no excuse to be sitting in front of the TV and dinner, it’s like, TV’s off phones are put away. We’re going to have a conversation. We’re going to, we’re going to pray for a meal. We’re going to come together. And we’re going to all check in on our day and what’s going on – simple routine like that. You know, there’s a lot of research on as you know, families that just even have dinner together. The outcomes for kids is super positive.

Jeff Zaugg (32:05):

It’s wild. Yeah. It’s wild. How tangible, just sitting down for dinner. Yeah.

Dr. Peter Larson (32:09):

Um, some of the routines we had, uh, we had connected with some other families in our community and we would often do like a Sunday night. We called it family church and we took, you know, all these kids right in this very basement, you know, six, seven families, full of kids come in and we would have a little worship time and somebody would give a talk and we would break out and have little discussions as families – that was part of the routine. And again, that you’re showing them kind of, Hey, faith is integral to not only our life, but our community here. So I think, I think that’s a big one. And you know, some of the routines we tried to have the kids build into their own lives. It felt important too. You know, because it actually kind of bleeds into the next way to have influence, but, you know, making sure the kids are going to church, you know, and, and there was a season when we had moved back here, from some time in Colorado and our kids were just coming into junior high and high school, but we were hoping and wanting them to be connected to a church.

Dr. Peter Larson (33:18):

And they all chose a different Wednesday night youth group. And a lot of families would be like, no way, but we were like, Hey, you know, we could control the situation, but we’re just thrilled. They each want to go to a youth group. So we literally would pick up and drop off at three different Wednesday night programs where this one wanted to go, because this was a great program, but Oh, but my friends are over here and it’s like, great. We’re going to make this happen. We were going to worship together as a family on Sunday, but on Wednesday night, if you want to plug into a different youth group, go for it. And, and that’s part of that. So one of the ways, you know, I’ve, I’ve seen the influence is by outsourcing and getting some help. So our kids have been involved with a ministry called Young Life. They’ve gone to summer camps. Sometimes it’s a church camp, sometimes it’s, it’s a Young Life camp. They’ve been involved in youth groups and young Christian adults who invest in their lives is huge. I mean, to this day, AJ, he’s got like two mentors down at the U, college Young Life. And another guy who is, he’s known for years, uh, one of his old youth pastors, and he still meets with these guys for lunch and coffee. They’re still speaking into his life. And I’m just cheering that on. That’s outsourcing some of the positive influence you want to see on your kid’s life.

Jeff Zaugg (34:39):

Yeah. You’ve normalized, other voices of influence. But you’ve helped you have influenced towards the right types of voices versus control would have been shut off those other opportunities to go to other youth groups or to Young Life, or because we just have our church, like that would be control but you chose influence, right?

Dr. Peter Larson (35:02):

Yeah. You’re going to do this our way or not at all. Or you’re going to listen to just my voice and, and realizing, you know, there’s, you know, developmentally in these teen years, it’s coming, right. There’s going to be an age between about 12 and 17, where, where they really don’t want to hear their parents voice very much. And if there is a young Christian adult in their life, I mean, Anna got up yesterday and she’s like, Hey, I got Bible study with the girls this morning. And, and her, her leader is McKinsey. And they get together for coffee, with a group of girls before school. And they read through the Bible and McKinsey like walks on water. And I’m like, thank you, Mackenzie, because you are investing in my daughter and that’s okay.

Jeff Zaugg (35:46):

Just looking forward to it versus something you’re sending her to, you get to do this thing.

Dr. Peter Larson (35:49):

Yeah, it’s not, it’s not architected by us. It’s not artificial. Um, and, and that same daughter, she can’t wait to go volunteer at camp this summer and she’s a junior leader and she’s been doing it. She started at the camp and then, the minute she could start to volunteer, she got into it and now she’ll be going back. And, and that’s great. That’s us outsourcing influence to these positive things. And I really do think that’s an important bridge in those teen years.

Jeff Zaugg (36:16):

Yeah. It’s easy to kind of like cast stones at, or like to say, no, don’t out source the church. You’ve gotta be the spiritual, but you’re saying you’re actually discerning, Hey, what’s the, it works together like a mosaic, right? Like it’s, it’s pieces to the, kind of discipleship puzzle. And, just to recap here, so areas of influence versus control relationships, you had modeling routines, church and, and really thinking strategically, but open handedly around, what does influence look like in an outsourcing way? Did you have another one or was that…?

Dr. Peter Larson (36:46):

The last one is something that Heather and I talk about a lot, but, um, she’s always saying this, especially with, with daughters, don’t get on the roller coaster. You know, hormonally, emotionally, kids go through a season where there’s just a lot going on and feelings get really big, right. And some days it’s big excitement and some days it’s devastation. And, and one of the things we talk about is it’s, you know, they, if we get on the roller coasters with them and you see this, I mean, I know moms who get on the social roller coaster with their kids and try and manage, their relationships and the ups and downs. And it’s, it’s crazy-making right. You know, so instead our job is to kind of be the sidewalk, like how can I be this stable person, we’re here for you when you’re off that roller coaster, I’m going to be right here waiting for you, but I’m not going to get on that roller coaster with you, and ride all the waves. And so that’s, you know, that’s helped us again, keep a posture of, of positive influence, kind of a respected voice in their life without sort of joining them on the crazy ups and downs that they can be feeling.

Jeff Zaugg (38:03):

My mind and heart jumped to our Heavenly Father and that he’s not jumping on our roller coaster of my, even my thought life. Right. I’m just all over the map sometimes. And we have a very steady, calm, sure of his power heavenly father. So if we can even model that to a degree of stay on the sidewalk.

Dr. Peter Larson (38:22):

I mean, our anxieties can kick in and then Jesus is like, no, I’m here for you when you’re ready. And I haven’t given you a spirit of fear. Right. And so, you know, let’s, let’s claim some peace and come join me and I’m going to help you with that peace. And as parents, I think we can often be that and know that like, Hey, you’re, you’re in a tough day or you’re in a tough season, but we’re going to get through this.

Jeff Zaugg (38:44):

Yep. And we can’t necessarily speak to the storm, like Jesus did, Be Still, but I think our words do matter as far as the identity and affirmation and steadiness and, and, yeah, there are things we can speak to that help bring down the roller coaster. Definitely. Uh, well, this, I mean, so helpful, Peter. And I appreciate just even thinking ahead of time around this, this paradigm that you were invited into early on of influence versus control, was there any other just, pieces that you wanted to any other, either principles or, or tips that you wanted to pass on to our dadAWESOME community?

Dr. Peter Larson (39:19):

Well, I think, I mean, stepping back from all this, I mean, so much of even what I just relayed was spoken into my life by looking at people in my circle, in my community where, where I respected that person. Maybe I observed, again, their belief, they were a little ahead of us and it seemed like they were doing a great job and just, just being available to ask them like, Hey, what’s, you know, what, what advice do you have about parenting? Or what have you guys found? That’s worked well for you. And even as you’ve asked, like, what would you have done differently, but, but great parents are often very willing to share a little bit of gold. And so don’t hesitate to, um, to look for those, those moments where you can glean a little of that and mind some gold, because those things have informed our last 20 years of parenting and has been awesome.

Jeff Zaugg (40:12):

Yeah. I’ve heard even the way you’ve answered some of my questions. Like you have a very, I feel like you see through a lens of there’s some gold here. I want to mine out. There’s something here. I see something in that person’s kids. And I think we all, as dads can lean into being more observational, looking a step ahead and affirming and saying, tell me more about that. And, yeah, it is amazing the people that say yes to me to do a podcast interview with, uh, is, is remarkable, but also even mentors and dads a step ahead, are glad to grab a cup of coffee or have you over for dinner. And, I think we all need to stay in that posture of being learners, being teachable, being mentees in this area.

Dr. Peter Larson (40:47):

Yeah. I was thinking about, you know, is there a book I would recommend or some sort of resource, and I just realize, you know, thinking about it. It’s just those people that are already in your life that are, that are ready to give you a little wisdom, that I would actually encourage you guys to go sit down and have a conversation with.