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Giving Dad His Grade

Giving Dad His Grade

Joey Link
June 17, 2020
When it is all said and done, what do you want your kids to see when they look back at your parenting?I think if they were asked to give a grade on our parenting, we would all hope for an A+, but that is not realistic as we all made or are making plenty of mistakes, as well as many successes.
Four months ago my children gave me my “father grade”. It was 3 pm in the afternoon and I had a strange bout of indigestion. When I told my wife I felt pressure in my chest, she said it was time to go to the Emergency Room. My blood pressure was 211 and I was taken back to a room for further evaluation. I told Carla not to contact the kids until we knew more. She went into the bathroom for privacy and googled “How long can you live with a blood pressure of 211?” When the response was “minutes”, she immediately contacted our children, who live in Chicago, Nashville and Dallas.
When the angiogram showed I had 3 blocked arteries and 2 were double-blocked, I was scheduled for emergency surgery in a larger hospital a couple hours away. Our son lives about 4 hours away from us in Chicago. When Carla talked to him, he and his wife put their 4 kids in the car and drove overnight to be with us, which was a huge blessing as he is very good in a crisis and he helped Carla with making the many decisions that were necessary.
Both of our girls arrived the next day and I was thankful to be surrounded by my family. There is no better feeling than to be surrounded by those you love most when facing a traumatic situation out of your control. There are not words to explain what it felt like to hold hands with my family as they circled my bed and we prayed together as they were preparing to take me in for surgery. Amy’s husband didn’t come as he was sick, but he joined us for this special time of prayer on facetime.
How is this situation indicative of my “father grade”? My 3 kids stopped their lives and rearranged their work schedules to jump on the first flights they could to see me before I underwent emergency open heart quadruple bypass surgery.
It is during these times people tend to reminisce. My kids talked about how I loved them even when they were disobedient. They talked about how I cared for them when they were sick or ran to the store in the middle of the night because they had an upset stomach and needed some 7-up©.
They talked about how I arranged my schedule to be there and supported them at their events, cheering them on no matter what and now they wanted to arrange their schedules to be there for me at this most important moment in my life.
I took each of our kids out to lunch once a month when they were growing up. We talked about something that was bothering them or anything they wanted to talk about. These were memory makers for us all.
As were the times I sat in the front seat of the car with each of them when they first learned to drive. I looked and acted like I trusted them when I was actually petrified. But they knew I was there to help them learn, even when I had each of them drive in bad weather and traffic and they were petrified.
There were fun memories of spending a winter weekend in a hotel getting pizza, swimming, playing games and all of us trying to lie on the same bed to watch a movie. Or the times we went bowling and I made up silly things they had to do (like stand on one foot) each time it was their turn to roll the ball down the alleyway.
One daughter remembers the countless doctor visits I went with her to, and how I was there for every needle prick and hospitalization holding her hand, encouraging her and letting her know she was loved no matter what and she would never go through anything alone. She remembers the many times I got up with her in the middle of the night when she needed a respiratory treatment. How I would cuddle with her while she sobbed and trembled until she fell asleep in my arms and I would put her back in bed.
Our son remembers all the times he and I went to the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team’s Spring Training Camp, just the two of us. Our other daughter remembers all the bicycle rides she and I took.
Our kids remember Saturday nights because they knew I was going to ask them what they had learned in their devotional times with God that week. What great discussions we had about what God was teaching them and me! But most of all, they remember how intentional I was about teaching them to live their lives God’s way.
Your kids will give you your “father grade” the day when you need them and they are willing to drop everything not only to be there for you, but to encourage you and tell you they love you and how, if necessary they will take care of their mom like you had always taken care of them. Your kids will give you your “father grade” when they come to you asking for advice when they are parenting their own kids. Your kids will give you your “father grade” when they choose to live their life God’s way.
“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.”
Proverbs 11:25
When your kids look back on your parenting, what do you hope they remember about you?

Accepting Others

Accepting Others

Joey & Carla Link
June 10, 2020
What exactly does it mean to accept others? Is it okay to only accept those who agree with you? “To accept” means tounderstand, to choose to receive others as they are without judgement.” It doesn’t mean you have to agree with another’s opinion on something, it means you need to understand how they arrived at that opinion and accept that they see it as truth.
Romans 14:7 says “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.” Jesus accepts us with all our warts and ugliness. As we look around our country, we see people who do not feel accepted by others. We have seen protests turn into rioting and looting instead of accepting the opinions of others. The call against racial injustice has overcome our society. Do you remember singing this song in Sunday School?
“Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
If Jesus loves people of every race in the world, how are you doing teaching your children to accept and love those that look different than them?
In the movie “42” (the story of Jackie Robinson), he and his wife were traveling for the first time through the South and they saw “Whites Only” bathrooms and water fountains labeled for use by whites or blacks. Jackie’s wife, Rachael just stared at it as she had never seen such a thing before. While we have come a long way from then, we still have a long way to go.
Carla and I grew up in Southern California. We had many African-American and Hispanic friends. When I was growing up I played ball games with my friends on the school playground after school. We didn’t know what prejudice, discrimination or racial injustice was.
Again, accepting others is “choosing to receive others as they are without judgement.” In today’s social media world, getting others to agree with your opinion or the way you believe has become contentious and judgmental. People often preface what they say with a statement similar to “I know many of you aren’t going to agree with me…” A lot of the time I don’t agree with them. Does that mean I can’t or won’t be friends with them anymore? Certainly not!
On the other hand, does this mean we have to accept ungodly thinking or behavior? NO! If this is the case, you need to find a way to accept them because “all are precious in His sight“.
Accepting others starts at home.
  • Parents need to teach their kids to accept their siblings, friends and peers whether they agree with them or not. Why do others have to change? The only person God asks you to change is yourself. Everyone was created by God, uniquely as they are, no matter what race they are, or what their opinions and feelings are. Ultimately, by not accepting others as they are, we are rejecting how God made them. If they need to change, that is God’s job and He will take care of it. God uses parents to work on training/changing their kids.
    • When God crosses your path with other ethnic families who have similar values, set up play dates or go to the park with them so your kids can learn to play together.
  • Accepting others in public. When you take your kids shopping and you walk by a person of a different race, say hi to them, smile at them and teach your kids to do the same. A friendly smile or greeting can brighten someone’s day in ways you will never know.
  • Build friendships with other cultured and diverse people and encourage your kids to as well. We have a family friend who is African-American. He lives 2,000 miles away from us. We have stayed in touch over the years because of our common faith and interests. When our daughter Amy met him, she was about 4 years old. We were all excited to see him as it had been several years since we had connected in person. We all jumped out of the van when we got to his house and the kids were excitedly yelling his name. Amy looked up to hug him, froze and started backing up to me. Our friend remarked that we didn’t have enough “color” in Iowa. As the visit went on, because we trusted him, she began to trust him too. There are a lot of African-Americans you didn’t see on the TV last weekend rioting, looting stores and causing incredible damage and violence. Don’t be afraid of all because of the actions of some.
The real reason we need to accept other cultures is in the rest of Romans 14:7. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” If Christ followers do not accept others, than God will not be praised, and we give God a black eye.
Race should not become a barrier. We all are created by the same God. Just as God forgives you, He forgives them. This is why He tells us to “love our enemies.” We can be God’s hands and feet in reaching across racial barriers to show God has reached across them too.

Friendly Authority

Friendly Authority

Joey & Carla Link
May 27, 2020
In the 70’s the TV Show “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” was very popular and formative for many Dad’s parentingphilosophy. The theme song of the show set the stage for how a new generation of adults that were rebellious towards authority needed to be friends with their kids instead of an authority figure over them.
(Sung by a Dad)
People, let me tell you ’bout my best friend
He’s a warm-hearted person who’ll love me to the end
People let me tell you ’bout my best friend
He’s a one-boy, cuddly toy
My up, my down, my pride and joy
People, let me tell you ’bout him, he’s so much fun
Whether we’re talkin’ man to man
Or whether we’re talkin’ son to son
‘Cuz he’s my best friend
We don’t agree that parents need to be stern, harsh figures of authority over their children either. The ultimate goal of parenting is to be friends with your kids. Being friends with your kids is not the starting point of your parenting or the mid-point. It is the end-point of parenting.
So are we saying you can’t be friends with your kids? Well, to be friends means to be peers, and peers never have authority over one another. We want you to be friendly with your kids, but you cannot and should not be their peers. When your kids think you are their friends, they will pick and choose when they want to obey you.
When your kids are young and need training, you will flip flop between being friendly with your kids all the while holding to a standard of right and wrong. Being friendly and loving with your toddlers and preschoolers is needed and necessary, but so is teaching them what authority looks like.
Police demonstrate this by going out of their way to be friendly to kids when they see them. But if police are called for an infraction, they are the authority and will deal with the kids involved. A police officer will smile and wave to kids riding their bikes in a parking lot or on the side of a street. But if the kids are riding and swerving in the middle of the street, the police will pull the children aside to instruct and warn them not to do that again. If they catch them again, there will not be another warning, they will be taken to their parents expecting them to deal with them. Police try to show kids they can be trusted, but they also show them they will get no mercy if they break a law. This is a picture of what parenting young children looks like.
Today many parents try to talk their kids into obedience instead of being the much-needed authority their kids need. When the parents know their child is deliberately not following their instructions it is time for the parents to use their God given authority to reinforce right and wrong so the child will grow up knowing what they are.
Paul said it this way:
“I am writing this to you now in the hope that I won’t need to scold and punish when I come;
for I want to use the Lord’s authority that he has given me,
not to punish you but to make you strong.”
2 Corinthians 13:10 (LB)
Paul is making the point parents agree with – they want their children to pay attention to their teaching now so the time will come where their training and teaching will no longer be needed.
Every parent wants to have fun with their kids, and they should. But without a common foundation of what is right and what is wrong, fun and fellowship evaporates into kids becoming the authority while frustrated parents are still trying to be their best friend. The real joy of parenting is when like-minded teens or adult children want to be together and look forward to enjoying each other’s company.
None of us will ever forget the year, when finding all our kids spring breaks were on the same week, the 5 of us, our collegiate son and his 2 teenage sisters, spent 7 days together traveling from Iowa to San Francisco and back. We drove all night each way and stayed in a hotel on the wharf. We walked up and down the hilly city streets, rode cable cars, ate at local diners and flew kites on a windy beach under the Golden Gate bridge. We had the time of our lives.
I (Joey) recently had emergency open heart surgery. All of my kids were in my hospital room within 24 hours of hearing I was in the ER, having come from Chicago, Nashville and Dallas. Their support and encouragement was a huge blessing to Carla and I. It was their turn to come and minister to us. We wonder what that would have looked like if we hadn’t learned while they were growing up what “friendly authority” looks like and if we hadn’t held to that standard through thick and thin.
May God Bless You as you figure out what that looks like in your own family.
Friendly authority is only successful if both parents are working off the same page.

“Me, Me, Me!” Kids

“Me, Me, Me!” Kids

Joey & Carla Link

May 20, 2020

The “Me! Me! Me!” epidemic is bigger than the pandemic ever will be. Parents get frustrated when they have to constantly tell their kids to share, to be kind, and so on. Kids think about what they want and they think what they want should be thepriority in yours and their siblings minds.
This can be seen when:
  • Your children have to play a game they don’t want to play and they sulk, pout, and complain throughout the entire game.
  • Your kids don’t appreciate the meal you made for dinner. They demand what they want to eat and refuse to eat at all if they don’t get it.
  • One of your kids doesn’t like the movie someone else in the family chose to watch and even though it was their sibling’s turn to choose, this kid tries to talk him into watching the one he wants.
Children 3 and under don’t understand why they shouldn’t demand what they want. You get to teach them that life doesn’t work that way by being consistent in not giving in to their demands and being willing to deal with the fit that will come.
How can parents work on their kids when they are focusing on themselves?
  • 3 Good Things – From the time our kids started public elementary school, Carla would ask them on the walk home to tell her about their day. Most of what they said was always negative. So she told our kids they had to tell her 3 good things that had happened that day before they could tell her anything negative.

Our kids got into the habit of sharing 3 good things and they did so all through their school years including high school. We started asking them for 3 good things that happened after any event they went to as well. Often, after they shared the good things the bad things didn’t seem so important to them anymore.

  • Others First – Both our moms used to say, “When your friends come over and they don’t want to play what you want to play, as guests in your house they get to choose.” That is just the way it was when we were growing up.

3 questions to put others first: When our kids were being selfish in their interactions with their siblings or us, we would ask them this question: “Who are you thinking of right now?” They had to reply they were thinking of themselves. We followed that up with “Who should you be thinking of right now?” Their response would be the person they weren’t being kind to. Our next question was, “What can you do to show him you are thinking of him before yourself?” If they couldn’t come up with something they could do, they had to sit and think about it until they could. These questions backed them into a corner they could not squeeze out of.

 

At dinner each night, go around the table and have each person share one way they thought of someone else more than themselves that day. If your kids can’t come up with anything you can share something you might have noticed they did for one of their siblings. If Dad is consistent about asking each night, your kids will start to do things for others just so they will have something to share!

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.
Mark 13:30-31
Love God first then everyone else.
Where does loving yourself come in?

Teaching Kids to be Patient

Teaching Kids to be Patient

Joey & Carla Link
May 13, 2020
What parent hasn’t told their kids they need to be patient? For a lot of you that could be a daily mantra. Let’s face it, no one is patient all the time, but if you have a problem in this area, and most people with the Sanguine and Cholerictemperaments do, then teaching this to your kids is an even bigger dilemma. It’s best to work on your own need for patience with your kids.

If you tell your kids to be patient, what exactly are you asking them to do? It is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay without getting angry or upset. So if you promise your children you are going to a waterpark this weekend and your husband gets called in to work, this definition says if they are patient your kids will accept the delay without getting upset or angry.

To be patient takes self-control. So why are you expecting your kids who aren’t consistent in showing self-control to be patient? Teaching your child to have self-control is a building block in the foundation of teaching them to wait. Patience is “waiting” and that is how to describe it and refer to it to young children.

How can parents teach kids to learn to wait? Here are 3 key ways to accomplish this.

1. Use opportunities that occur during the day to teach them what “waiting” looks like. When you are getting ready to go somewhere, this is a great time to teach patience. Ask them to get their shoes on and wait by the door. Ask them to tell you what “waiting” looks like. Then ask them if you can trust them to wait in the way they just described to you.

2. Use tasks and skills to teach them nothing comes easy. I (Carla) taught piano for many years. I would warn parents of beginning students if their child couldn’t play their assigned songs right away they would ask to quit lessons. Patience is necessary to learn to play an instrument, a sport or learn any academic subject because many steps have to be learned well to produce the desired result. Learning patience in tasks and skills is key to a child’s emotional growth.

3. Use chores and homework to teach them to take the time to do it right. Once you tell your kids how you want the chore done, if they didn’t do it right or completely, instead of lecturing them, tell them to sit to get their heart right. When they come to you to apologize, to make it right they should be willing to do the chore or schoolwork correctly, with a good attitude. After the chore/schoolwork is done correctly, give them the consequence of doing more chores during their free time that day.

In Galatians 5:22-23 patience is listed as a fruit of the Spirit of God. This means when you and/or your child are working on it you can always pray and ask God to help you wait. Ultimately, the biggest reason everyone needs to learn patience is so we will be able to wait on God for His timing which is rarely our timing.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23
For more information check out the Mom’s Notes listed below!
“Understanding Character Training, Pt. 1 Laying the Foundation”
MP3  PDF  CD  Notes
“Understanding Character Training, Pt. 2  Getting to the Heart of Your Child”
MP3  PDF  CD  Notes
“Kids, Get Self-Control”
MP3  PDF  CD  Notes