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Teaching Your Kids About the 4th of July

By Joey and Carla Link
June 29, 2022

You think your kids will learn about the 4th of July and what it means in school. But exactly what are they learning about it? In public schools, it is hard to tell what is being taught about anything. Often, it is someone’s opinion about a historical event rather than the details surrounding the event itself.Do your kids know the 4th of July (in the US) is the birthday of the United States? Most kids can relate to what a birthday means. Celebration. Gifts. Parties. So, first of all, talk about how your family can celebrate the 4th. Can your kids plan a birthday party celebrating the United States?

  • Have one of your kids prepare to share what being a “free” country means?
  • Do your kids know that millions of people live in countries where these freedoms don’t exist? Have one of your kids be prepared to share what some of these freedoms are.
  • Do your kids know that God has historically been given credit for what the United States stands for? Ask each of your kids who are old enough to look up the following to share with the family on the 4th of July.
  • Where did the phrase, “In God We Trust” come from and where can you most easily find it?

I would have told you that the phrase “In God We Trust” first came into being in US politics when the Constitution was written. I just looked it up and I am wrong. On July 30, 1956, two years after pushing to have the phrase “under God” inserted into the pledge of allegiance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto.

Ask one of your kids to look up and find out how many US Presidents refused to put their hand on the Bible when they were sworn into office. Answer: All except 10 U.S. presidents have been sworn in with a Bible, and those that did traditionally seal their oath of office with “so help me God.”
Ask one of your kids to be prepared to share how the Declaration of Independence came into being and how many times it mentions God.
Answer: It mentions God 4 times.

The Declaration of Independence is an apology for revolution. Support for a complete break with Great Britain was growing stronger week by week in the spring of 1776, both in the Continental Congress and in the thirteen colonies at large. On June 7, 1776, a resolution advocating independence was presented to Congress by Richard Henry Lee of the Virginia delegation. Four days later Congress appointed a committee of five delegates to draft a document explaining the historic separation it would soon be voting on.
The resulting Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by his fellow delegates, contains a theory of rights that depends on a Supreme Being, not man, for its validity. The Declaration states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is possible to see in these words an affirmation of the Founders’ religious faith, but God-given rights had less to do with theology in the summer of 1776 than they did with rebellion. (From the article: Why God is in the Declaration But Not the Constitution, Anthony J. Minna, Feb. 22. 2016, Journal of American Revolution)

Plan to have a picnic at a park or in your back yard or a BBQ and ask your kids after they have shared their answers to the questions you have asked them what kind of gifts they can give the United States. One gift we told our kids they could always do was to pick up trash they saw and throw it away so they could keep our city and therefore our country clean. I am sure your family can think of a lot of other things you can do.

Summer at Home

By Joey and Carla Link
June 22, 2022

Summer is a kid’s delight! They look forward to the end of school with anticipation. It is not long however, before many moms are counting the days until school starts again, even if they homeschool. Why? With school comes routine.

Let me ask you this – what do your kids do with too much free time? Do they look for creative things to do or start irritating each other? Do they follow you around telling you they are bored, wanting you to entertain them? Do they constantly want to go, go, go (another form of entertainment)? The number one way to eliminate chaos in your home is to get your household on a routine. A routine brings predictability, order, and stability to a home. As adults, you know how much better you feel, and how much easier life is for you when you are on a routine. It is the same for all ages of children.

How do you come up with a routine? Write down the things that you would like to see happen in a day. You want your kids to play together, play alone, read, have computer time, playtime with you, rest time and so forth. It is a good idea to have time blocked out where two siblings have time together as opposed to them all being together in a group.

Work in ½ hour segments. The first segment should be breakfast, followed by Devotions, then chores. After that, divide your kids into groups of 2. Each group of 2 can play together in a separate place from a different group of 2. One gets to pick what to do on Monday and the other gets to pick on Tuesday and on it goes. When the timer goes off they have individual reading time. The next block of time they switch, and they play with the sibling they didn’t play with before. Have 3 kids? Two get to play together and 1 has alone time, then the next time slot after reading time 2 of them play together who didn’t get to before and a different one has alone time. I trust you see the flow and rhythm of how this works. Don’t forget to work in free time too! Please remember during free time they most likely need to be supervised by you. If they know you are watching, it will eliminate a lot of fighting.

If you have young children, make a list of things they can do alone and a different list of things they can do that requires supervision from you. Playpen and/or blanket time work for unsupervised time. Make a schedule each day of what you need to get done. Slot an activity they can do unsupervised for the few minutes you need to change a load of laundry. Next, do something with them that requires supervision and follow this with one that doesn’t require supervision. Keep alternating these and you will be surprised how much you get done at the end of the day!

For more ideas on establishing a routine, the Mom’s Notes presentations, “Structuring Your Child’s Day, Parts 1 and 2” are just what you need!

“But all things should be done decently and in order.”
I Corinthians 14:33

Is There One Thing Above All JesusWants All Dads to Do?

By Joey and Carla Link
June 15, 2022

Have you wondered what kind of Father Jesus would be if He had married and had children before His death? He gave us some insights when he said in Matthew 19:14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

While Jesus never married, He does have kids, lots of them. He even gave them His name. People call our family the Link family. People call Jesus’ family Christians and the Bible tells us what kind of Father He is to us. First and foremost, the first commandment tells us we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts. What comes next for Dads?

Let’s talk about the disciples. They followed Jesus’ teachings and were committed to being a part of His earthly and heavenly family. There are lots of stories how He listened to them and put up with their teenage-like disputes. In Luke 9:46 they were arguing about who would be the greatest of them. Can you imagine that? To actually ask Jesus this question?! Not very humble, is it? Jesus took the time to explain that to them.

John 13 tells us how Jesus demonstrated the full extent of his love for his disciples by how He took on the role of a servant, by washing their feet. Then when Peter, who had finally matured to understanding the position of Jesus’ leadership, said to him “No way Jesus! My feet are filthy. This is not a job for you to do.” Jesus went on to teach His disciples that He was setting the example to love each other no matter what, and you do this by serving each other.

Carla has a little song she made up that she sings to our grandkids when we are with them at bedtime that ends with “Grammy loves you and Grammy always will.” When she is done singing, she asks them if there is ever anything they could do that would stop her from loving them. Even as they are getting older, they still wait for her to sing the song to them.

But Jesus, knowing He was preparing the disciples for future leadership without Him, was, in this case showing Peter it didn’t matter how dirty he was inside or out (Peter later denied knowing Jesus). Jesus would always love him. He was showing them if they loved each other when they were most unlovable and they did it whether it made sense or not, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Jesus set the standard of how to love our kids when it is hard to love them because we know they will thwart our teaching by doing the exact opposite of what we have said was the right thing to do. Jesus knew Judas would betray him when He washed his feet. If He could do this to someone who was going to set the stage for His death, then surely we can love our kids and others no matter what.

As a father of 40 years, loving kids when they make bad and wrong choices is not easy, especially when you know you can stop them, but you also know allowing them the freedom to experience the pain of failure (age-appropriate) can help them learn from their mistakes and help them to become wiser than most around them.

We know those of you reading this unconditionally love your kids and always will, no matter what. The question is, “Do they know that?” What do they think when they know they did something wrong again and are in trouble again, especially your little ones?

Father’s Day is a day set apart to honor dads and show them love. Dads deserve this. Consider taking a cue from Jesus at what we now know was His “Last Supper” with the disciples and show them you love them in a special way that will grab their attention as well.

How Strong are Your Expectations?

By Joey and Carla Link
June 1, 2022

How do you stop a child from arguing with you? It is very frustrating when you give your child an instruction and they argue with you. Your first impulse is to argue back and that quickly gets you into a power struggle.

How do your kids build a trusting relationship with you? By doing what you tell them to do? If you can’t trust them to follow through with their instructions and responsibilities but they expect you to stop and listen whenever they want to say something to you, who is really in control?

When you give your child an instruction and expect them to obey you, parents should require a positive, submissive response like “Yes Dad, I will do it.” We recently went on a 4 day “Papa Adventure” with our 2 grandsons, ages 5 and 11 yrs. We went over the rules in the car on our way. The rules were as follows: Rule #1 – “Have fun!” Rule #2 – “When Papa or Grammy call your name what response do you immediately give?” which was followed by the chorus of “Yes Papa/Grammy, coming!” Rule #3 – “No whining or arguing.”

How did the boys do? We didn’t have a problem with them the entire trip. The younger one started whining but we realized it was our problem, not his. We had been on the go since we reached our destination and he was tired, so we slowed things down so he could rest for a while. Why didn’t we have any problems? It goes back to your expectations. To expect something means you “have a strong belief that something will happen the way you want it to.”

When you give your kids/teens an instruction, do you have a strong belief they will complete it the way they know it is supposed to be done? If you do, they won’t argue with you because they know it is pointless to do so.

When I (Carla) would give the kids an instruction and their response was “But Mom…” or no verbal response at all, I would tell them “No ‘But Moms’, I will hear a ‘Yes Mom’.” Did you catch how to stop arguing with your kids? Require them to give you a positive verbal response when you give them an instruction. When I told my kids “I will hear a ‘Yes Mom’”, they knew I had thrown the gauntlet down and if they crossed it they were begging for a correction and consequence, which they would get.

If you can tell your child is in a bad mood before you give him an instruction, tell him to go sit and get his attitude under control and come back to you when he is ready to apologize for his bad attitude. The very best way to stop your kids from arguing with you is to stop arguing with them.

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.”
Philippians 2:14-16

Knowing the ‘Why’

By Joey and Carla Link
May 25, 2022

Does your child know why he needs to hold your hand when you are getting ready to cross a street? Do your kids know why they need to ask permission before they go out in the yard? Do your kids know why you think it is a big deal they keep their room clean? Do your kids know why it is important to treat those everyone else ignores with kindness and respect?

Please don’t ever assume your kids know the “why”. And when they ask you “why” please take a couple minutes and explain it to them. We get so busy things slip between the cracks. When we tell them to pick up their rooms, we expect they know what we mean by that and they know they should do it just because you want it done. After all, how difficult can it be to pick up their rooms? What’s missing when you walk by their room later on and find their stuff somewhat rearranged, but the room still a mess? The why and the how. That is what is missing.

When you give your kids a task to complete, you have a picture in your mind of how it should look like when it is done. Do your kids come up with the same picture? The only way they could is if you have carefully showed them how you want it done, and this must be age-appropriate. When my girls were in preschool, I had their toys in bins. I would carefully sort them each week into the bins, and expected them to stay that way when the girls put their toys away. They didn’t stay that way and the toys would be such a jumble the girls could never find the toy they were looking for, which caused all of us frustration.

My mom was visiting one time when this happened, and she asked me how the girls knew what went into each bin, as they were all the same color. She also told me “Pick up your room” was too big of an instruction to a preschooler and I needed to break it down for them. We went out and got different colored bins. That problem was solved, as all I had to do then was say, “put your books in the red bin and come back to me when you are done.” When they told me the books were in the red bin, I told them to put their dolls in the yellow bin and so on until the room was clean.

With older kids, do they know exactly what you expect to see when you say, “Pick up your room?” My 10 year-old son once said to me, “My room is picked up!” He had picked everything up off the floor and put them in piles on his dresser and shelf. We set some boundaries that worked for both of us. During that conversation he asked me why it was a big deal if his room was picked up or not? After all none of his friends kept their rooms clean. I told him the room belonged to us. We were letting him use it. When you used something that didn’t belong to you it is your responsibility to do what the owner wants done with it. We talked about other examples like doing what his employer wants done whether he agreed with it or not, about obeying the laws when he started to drive and so on. We really didn’t have a problem with his room not being picked up during his teen years.

“Be good” “Stay out of trouble” and “Settle down” are neutral statements. Do you really expect your kids, especially if they are with other kids to stop and define what ‘good’ or ‘trouble’ looks like, or to know what you mean by ‘settle down’? A different way of handling this would be to say, “Stay out of trouble. Give me two examples of what you think I mean by trouble.” ‘Trouble’ can vary given the circumstance, so having them define it on the spot puts you and your child on the same page.

Instead of telling your son to be kind to his sister, ask him to give you one way he can show kindness to her. If he doesn’t know, have him sit until he comes up with something. Then ask him if he is willing to do what he came up with at that time. Again, if he says no, he sits until he is willing.

The best way to teach your children the ‘moral reason why’ is to talk about it as you go about the normal tasks of the day. When you read a book to a young child, ask a couple questions like, “Why do you think the elephant thought he should be kind to the turtle?” When my kids could read for themselves, when I was making dinner or folding laundry, I would ask one of them to come and read to me and then we could talk about ‘the moral reason why’.

Asking questions will tell you what they know. One of my daughters was impulsive and always wanted to be first. To work on this, we told her she had to wait to get in the car when we were going somewhere until her siblings got in. I asked her why I wanted her to do this, and she immediately said it was because she pushed her way in to be first and didn’t care if someone got hurt in the process. When I asked her why this was wrong, she said because she should never hurt someone. That was an acceptable answer for a 1st grader. When teaching your children the ‘moral reason why’, please keep in mind that it changes, not in definition but in application with age. Keep your ‘defining’ as simple as they have the maturity to understand.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:24–27

Being consistent in giving your children the moral reason why throughout their lives is the foundation for them to grow into wise men and women who understand God’s way is always the best way.