Dr. Tim Kimmel refers to himself as a "parenting veteran" rather than a parenting expert.
The dad of four children is the founder of Family Matters, a nonprofit ministry in Scottsdale, Ariz., and author of a dozen books. He will be in town next weekend to lead First Things First's parenting workshop, "Raising Truly Great Kids."
"I've heard him speak, and I like people who have a lot of energy and wisdom," said Julie Baumgardner, First Things First executive director.
Baumgardner said Kimmel isn't afraid to discuss controversial subjects a lot of seminar leaders avoid.
"People are dealing with the tough problems, and they want someone who will tell them the truth. He's not afraid to talk about how to deal with a rebellious child," she said.
In a phone interview, Kimmel talked about parenting issues and previewed his workshop.
Q: Today's parents were raised by the indulgent baby boomer generation. How do you think that has affected their parenting skills?
A: When I think of the indulgent generation, I think of a generation of kids born on third base but who are under the delusion that they hit a triple. Their parents have greased the skids for them.
Then they went out into the adult world and found out they aren't graded for who they are but for showing up on time and working hard. They aren't used to that. Life gets tough on them.
Parents can't afford to accidentally raise their kids. We really have to have a deliberate way of going about it, and that's what we're going to deal with: a plan not based on fears, not based on hard times, but a comprehensive plan based on a heart connection with their kids.
Q: Is there still a place today for spanking?
A: I feel bad that spanking has been demonized as it has been. It's a reaction to what we all would agree is clear abuse by certain parents. There are laws against doing physical damage to a child, and there should be laws against it.
But it bugs me that modern thinkers would indict millions of loving, conscientious parents who have given their kids a swat on the bottom because they loved them so much they didn't want them to grow up to be a fool.
We'll talk about that and put it in a balanced perspective. We should always separate our kids' infractions between misdemeanors and felonies, and deal with them accordingly.
Q: With the prevalence of texting, are parents losing face time with their kids, and what do you think may be the long-range ramifications of that?
A: Every time there has been a new technological way to communicate, the first applications usually scare everybody. When the television came along, it was the "idiot box," and everybody was just "wasting time," but look how much it's informed us.
There is a good use and bad use of everything. Our job as parents is to teach our kids right from wrong; how to balance the proper use of anything, be it a cell phone, computer, whatever.
The one thing I don't want to start off with is just being frightened of the medium. It's just a medium of communicating. I know some parents who solve their conflict when they get in arguments with their kids by texting back and forth because they are more civil.
Q: Is it ever too late for a parent to connect with a rebellious teen?
A: I'm a follower of the God of a second chance, a clean slate. He can help reconnect hearts between parents and teenagers that have had a lot of distance put between them. It requires us to not so much look at ourselves, but [at] our children's needs and best interests.
One thing every child needs is to know their parents love them, that we're proud of them, that we're grateful that God assigned them to us. Every child needs to know they have a parent who believes in them, that we'll stick with them all the way, no matter how foolish they may be.
Q: Will you preview your workshop?
A: We're going to talk about four freedoms that when you give them to your kids on a daily basis, you automatically bring the best out of them.
We're going to frame the three driving core needs of every child's heart and how to meet them.
Third, parents are going to learn six character traits that, when you build them into your child, you give them everything they need to stand strong in life.
We're going to close with strong-willed children and how to equip them to make a huge impact in life.
We'll have a lot of fun the whole way. The conference is emceed by [stand-up comedian] Ken Kaz from Phoenix. His whole comedy is built around the adventures of his goofy family, his three boys. He has come up with some of the funniest ways of looking at what we all deal with.
The audience is going to be addressed by people who respect them, even if they are struggling, even if they have no clue what they're doing as parents.
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
If You Go
* What: "Raising Truly Great Kids" parenting seminar.
* Where: Baylor School chapel.
* When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Feb. 19.
* Admission: $39 per person.
* Phone: 267-5383.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...