Reverend Barry Ebert, Youth Director and Assistant Minister at Mile Hi Church in Lakewood recently reminisced about his career and passions, but mainly one passion in particular… teaching Love & Logic parenting workshops. In 1991, Rev. Ebert, in the early days of his nearly 25-year career at Mile Hi Church, was handed a cassette tape entitled, “Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants.” Little did he know he was about to embark on a personal and professional journey, one that would inspire him, help his family and define his career.
The now classic audiotape was made in the late 1980s by Jim Fay and Dr. Foster Cline, the same two men who coined the term “helicopter parent” and was the foundation of their very successful and world-renown parenting skills organization Love & Logic based in Golden, Colorado. Fay began his career as a teacher and in 1968 he was told by a superior that his “drill sergeant” approach was not an effective teaching style. About to lose his job, he searched for another way to inspire his students but found little information on the subject. Later, as a principal in Evergreen, he befriended local child psychiatrist, Dr. Foster Cline. Together, they formulated an empathic approach to teaching and parenting and before they knew it a company was born. Today, Love & Logic workshops are taught by more than 20,000 instructors in schools, churches, and military bases all over the world.
When Ebert received the tape, he was working as a junior church coordinator and was intrigued by the empowering message and the way it was delivered, with clarity and humor. As the father of two toddlers, he decided to ask Jim Fay to come speak at the church. Everyone in attendance loved the speaker and the parenting techniques he passed along. Ebert took the Love & Logic workshop twice and then decided to teach the concepts himself, something he’s been doing for over 20 years.
Ebert opens his workshops by saying “If you’re here today looking for a way to control your child, you need to ask for a refund.” The reason is, it’s about the parents, not the child.
Fay and Cline believe there are three types of parents. A helicopter parent never wants their child to struggle so they step in to solve all their problems and do everything they can to protect him/her from any negative feelings. This type of parent will often say things like, “When are you going to learn? I have to always clean up for you!” The drill sergeant is demanding and thinks that punishment and pain are the only ways to teach a child. “Do this or else!” is a common phrase. The consultant, on the other hand models good behavior and allows their child to experience life’s consequences while guiding him/her to become independent and think for themselves.
Ebert, along with Stephanie, his wife of 30 years, embraced the consultant approach while raising their sons Jesse and Gabriel. Apparently that approach has paid off.
Whether they’re relaxing at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colorado where son Jesse works as a lodging manager or sleeping on the floor of a tiny 42nd Street apartment in New York where son Gabe calls home, Ebert says it’s as if they’re hanging out with their best friends. Both sons followed their passions in life - Jesse is an avid snowboarder and loves living and working in the mountains. Gabe, a Juilliard graduate, won a Tony Award in 2013 for his portrayal of Mr. Wormwood in the Broadway musical, Matilda. He has begun acting in movies and television and recently appeared on NBC’s The Blacklist.
It goes without saying that Ebert’s sons learned how to be both successful and self-reliant. And isn’t that what every parent wants for their child? Sure. But how do you get there?
Among other principles, Love & Logic teaches parents how to lovingly encourage their kids to solve their own problems and let the child, not the parent, deal with any consequences that arise. Parenting this way produces more self-reliant, self-assured and capable young adults.
Before cell phones, iPads and video games, kids spent more time outside, away from their parents finding their own way in the world. But today’s generation spends more time inside and is more likely to have protective parents who don’t want them to stray too far from home and experience the world without their help or expertise.
Teaching self-reliance is just one of the many themes Ebert stresses in his workshops. He says that parents today are often caught between old parenting methods and new situations – such as deciding the role technology should play in our lives.
When his oldest son turned 12, the Eberts decided to get rid of their television. For the next ten years, both Jesse and Gabriel found there was more time to pursue their passions and the family became stronger and more attentive to each other as a result.
Although he knows the same tactic is not realistic for every family, he advises families to take an occasional break from technology and experiment with a longer hiatus if you believe it is negatively affecting relationships. Plan some fun activities to do together as a family. And above all, be present with your children.
Family is everything to Ebert and he believes he is doing exactly what he was meant to do in life. The core teachings of self-expression and self-reliance that he passes on to parents are exactly what he’s been teaching the youth within his church ministry for the last 25 years. In recognition for his work with the “giant souls in little shoes” he was recently given the 2016 Youth Champion Award by the Centers for Spiritual Living. Although he is deeply honored to be recognized by his peers, he says it’s truly fulfilling to see kids he taught in Sunday school grow up to be great parents who are passing along the wisdom of Love and Logic to a new generation.
In addition to being a great teacher, youth minister, father and husband, Ebert is an accomplished songwriter with five CDs to his credit. To find out more about Barry, his upcoming Love & Logic workshops or to purchase his music, visit
— Lisa Langley
A Teacher of
Love and Logic
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Jesse, Gabriel, Stephanie and Barry Ebert