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Grandparenting

 Grandparenting

Joey and Carla Link

June 2018
It’s difficult to imagine becoming grandparents when you are in the midst of parenting, at least we couldn’t. But the day will come when your first grandchild arrives and it is love at first sight, just as strong as when you had your kids, but different. How is it different? I remember when the nurse put our son into my arms after he was born; a part of me was elated and part of me was terrified. I (Carla) was his Mom! He would depend on me for everything. Could I do it? It was a little late to be asking that, but I think knowing you are going to become a mom while you are expecting and holding your baby and knowing you are a mom are two completely different things.

When my son handed me his son, my first grandchild, I only felt elation because he wasn’t dependent on me for anything but love, and I had that to give in spades. We didn’t think we would be those grandparents who pulled out pictures of their grandchildren and gushed about them. I was wrong. We are this type of grandparents!

We know you don’t want to hear about our grandchildren. You want to know what to do with your children’s grandparents! We can’t tell them what we think they should do in their grandparent role, but we can give you suggestions on how to handle them.

1. Do treat them with respect. They have earned it by raising you or your spouse. If you find yourself feeling disrespectful towards them, figure out the reason why and what you can do about it. Remember, how you treat someone is always a choice.

2. Do be kind. If you have something you would like to see them do differently, please find a kind way to tell them. They will listen to a kind tone and be more responsive to making the changes you are asking for.

3. Do remember their motivation is love. Please never forget that this is always true with both you and your children. They may not always act like it, and they may have times of thinking they are in control or that they are the parents, but they do love both you and your kids.

4. Do understand they do have good advice. Again, they did raise you or your spouse and you both turned out great, didn’t you? So they must have learned something along the way. If they give too much advice, ask them how they felt when their parents were dishing out advice when they were parenting. Neither of us wanted advice from our parents when we weren’t ready for it. We wanted to see if we could figure it out first.
With our kids, we have told them regarding both their marriages and parenting if they want our advice they need to ask for it. Now granted, what we think may show on our faces and (I) Carla have been known to clap my hand over my mouth to keep from blurting something out while Joey looks the other way or leaves the room. But, we keep our mouths shut. We asked our daughter-in-law (knowing we were getting ready to write this blog) and she said we were very good about this. You don’t have to take their advice when you ask for it, but don’t criticize it or them because you did ask for it.

5. Do expect them to spend time with your kids. Don’t expect them to babysit. We do not babysit our grandkids. We do spend time with them when their parents are around and when they are not, but we never see that as babysitting. Since our first grandchild arrived, when we visit them (they are 4 hours away) we try to spend one evening with the family and then invite them to go on a date the next evening. Babysitting? No! Time to love on the grandkids? Yes!

6. Do include them. Take into consideration what they think and feel. Being grandparents is one of the delights of growing older. When your body is giving out and you wonder whether you have enough to retire on, the smiles of your grandchildren are a delight to the soul. We make a big deal out of birthdays and our daughter-in-law is great at letting us do so. Recently she was driving home from a visit to see her family and we were driving to Iowa from teaching near them. She went out of her way and we went out of our way to meet up at a gas station in the middle. We hugged the kids and asked them about their trip then we both got back in our vehicles and took off. The total amount of time of the visit was less than 15 minutes. We were so grateful to her for realizing we had missed seeing them during our time near them and for making the effort to let us get our hugs.

7. Do invite them to have a role in your child’s lives. Both you and they might need to define what that is going to look like. If you live close to each other it will look different than seeing them a couple times a year.

8. Do remember their motivation is love. It is worth repeating. Will they spoil them? Probably. If it gets out of hand, talk to them about it and try to find a middle ground.

I had a strong, wonderful relationship with my grandparents. I chose the college I went to because it was near where they lived. Joey didn’t know his grandparents as his dad was orphaned at an early age and his maternal grandparents died when he was a young child. We were determined our children would know their grandparents and great-grandparents. Now we think of the legacy they left behind and of the one we want to leave behind.

We want our grandchildren to remember we loved God and put Him first in all we did. Toward that end we find ways to leave this impression with them. What legacy do you want your parents to leave when they are no longer here? Why not talk to them about it? It is something you both can find ways to work on.

(The photo is one of our favorite photos of our youngest daughter Amy on a walk with her Grandpa in 1998!)

Being the Best Dad

Being the Best Dad

Joey Link

June 6, 2018

 

Dads are busy guys who typically are busier than a person should be. From being a loving husband who wants to please his wife by taking her on dates to perpetually trying to keep the garage clean, the yard work done, and keep the honey-do list checked off, not to mention working a full-time job, finding time to keep in shape, have fun with the kids and help train them, plus try to watch your favorite television show, well, you don’t just get the picture – you livethis picture!

 

With this overloaded list occupying your time, how do you know if you are doing the Dad thing right or what is it you need to work on with your kids? When do you get to evaluate how things are going with them, and who is going to help you figure out what you need to work on?

 

I would offer you just one suggestion to help you think this through. Instead of looking at where you are at right now in your parenting, fast forward several years to when you will either be walking your daughter down an aisle, or preparing to watch your son marry the woman he will love and be a father with.

Then start thinking through what you want them to know and how to act and live their lives, because in that moment while you are rejoicing with them, you likely will be thinking back to what you wish you had taught them, or how differently you would have prioritized your to-do list.

You will also have a million memories flash through your mind. In seconds, you will travel from their birth to this, their wedding day remembering regrets and joys you had with them.

Mybestadvice(and how I tried to live my life) is this: on that day of celebration, I was determined I would stand tall and not look back and have regrets. Because I lived trying to envision what I wanted to teach and pass on to my kids every day so I would not have any doubts when they were ready to start a family of their own. This kept me focused during the years my kids were growing up on what I needed to work on training them in.

I have a friend named Brian who had the same goal and did something really smart with his boys before they left home for college. During their senior year of high school he planned 30Saturdays to take them out to breakfast where he covered points he wanted them to know so he (Dad) was sure he had equipped and prepared each of them to step out on his own as an adult. Some of these were major issues and some were just fun topics. Three boys; that was a total of 90 Saturdayshe gave to his sons, Dads! This was an incredible investment in their future success as men of God, loving husbands and wise fathers.

When my kids were in high school I took them out for lunch at least once a month just to talk. Did that pay off? Definitely!  If you want to have a relationship with your adult kids, an investment of time in their teen years is the best way to accomplish it. Today when I visit my adult children at their homes (they live in 3 different states), I often take them out for lunch or dinner and it is normal and familiar to just sit there and talk. I remember one time after my son was married he took me out to breakfast just to talk and told me he was paying and I needed to accept it! WOW! What a feeling!

Dads, if you want to find out what you should be doing differently or if you need to be sure what you want to pour into your kids is what they need to know as young adults, ask a dad whose kids are married if he would share with you what he would do differently if he could go back and do “DAD” all over again.

Most Dads have a list of what they wish they had done differently when their kids were growing up. My encouragement to you is not to become one of those dads. Be the one who had goals and worked backwards so that you won’t have regrets when your kids are ready to start their own family. Be the one who has a relationship with and enjoys being friends with your adult kids and their kids.

(The photo at the top of this blog is of Joey Link and his daughter Amy Link Carpenter, (February 26, 2011)

A Mother’s Son

A Mother’s Son

42

by Joey Link

May 9, 2018

 

I am a life-long Los Angeles Dodger baseball fan. Carla and I both grew up in Southern California and our fathers were both fans, as are my son and grandson. There are a lot of great Dodger players, but perhaps not one as well-known as Jackie Robinson. Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, becoming the first African-American to play in the National Baseball League for the then Brooklyn Dodgers. His story was played out in the movie “42”, which was in theaters a few years ago.

 

As I was reading the book “42”, a biography about Jackie Robinson’s life, I was impressed at the influence his mother had on his life and character. I don’t think he would have been able to break the color barrier in baseball had his mother not taught him about her faith in God.

 

The seventh of fourteen children, Mallie McGriff Robinson had grown up on land owned by her parents and gone to school up to the sixth grade – no small feat for a black girl in rural Georgia. Born slaves, Wash and Edna McGriff had pressed education on their children. When Mallie was ten, she repaid her father by teaching him to read his beloved Bible. Mallie married Jerry Robinson. They were tenant farmers in Georgia. After multiple affairs, Jerry left her for another woman when Jackie was just 6 months old. As a single mother with five children to raise, she packed them up and took a train to Southern California where she worked as a domestic housekeeper.

 

Mallie took her kids to church and taught them about her faith in God. In tough times, as she worked from sun up to sun down, she would often say, “my faith in God is my compass,” Jackie recounts in the book. She wanted the best for her kids, which is why she held her kids to a high standard and pushed them to do whatever they could to the best of their ability.

 

Growing up, Jackie didn’t always show he had faith in God as he got in trouble with a lot of the neighborhood kids, joined a gang and was delinquent in school. He joined the military during WWII but was arrested for not sitting in the back of a segregated bus and was dishonorably discharged, which was later overturned. Later in life Jackie said, “I had a lot of faith in God…there’s nothing like faith in God to help a fellow who gets booted around once in a while.”

 

Becoming the first African-American in baseball wasn’t easy, and his wife and children were often harassed with racial slurs. From his mother he learned to go to church in good times and bad. He said, “Often I would find a way of applying a story in the Bible to something that happened in real life.

 

Jackie remembers his momma often said to him, “God watches what you do. You must reap what you sow, so sow well!”

 

Today, every year on April 15, every major league baseball player wears Jackie’s number “42” on their uniform because of his integrity and for what he accomplished in baseball. The number “42” has been retired in his honor and will never again be worn by another player.

 

At this time of year when Moms are celebrated, it is my hope that you can follow the example of this great woman of God. Mallie Robinson was a single mom with five children. She purchased a home in 1923 and taught her kids to work hard and do their very best at all times. In addition to Jackie’s success in baseball, her son Mack Robinson ran the 200 meter dash at the 1936 Olympics, winning the silver medal by placing 2nd behind Jesse Owens.

 

When you get discouraged as a parent or life has dealt you an unkind blow, don’t give up or give in to your feelings of despair. Like Mallie Robinson, let your children see your trust in God by reading your Bible, praying for your family and living the life God has given you to live. Share your heart with your kids and say what you think they need to hear to grow and mature in their faith until they can take ownership of it themselves. You will never know what you have taught them about God that will guide your kids to follow God. Let them see the glory of God shine through any circumstance you find yourself in. Just as Jackie’s mother taught him how to live in a very unjust world, our kids need to learn how to live in an ungodly culture that ridicules Christianity. Plant seeds of biblical truth in your home and let God do the rest.

 

“A young man stood up to put him (Jesus) to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?

And he answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul

and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.’

Jesus said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.’”

Luke 10:25-28 ESV

Teaching Your Kids to Take Care of What Belongs to Them

STEWARDSHIP

Teaching Your Kids to Take Care of What Belongs to Them

baby-child-container-437746

Joey and Carla Link

April 25, 2018

 

Stewardship is a big word with an even bigger meaning. “Taking care of what belongs to you” is a simplified definition. As parents, it can seem like we spend 18 years teaching our kids to take care of what belongs to them. Even toddlers can and should be taught to pick up their toys and put their dirty clothes in the hamper.

 

So what do you do when you are pulling your hair out because you reminded your child to clean his room one more time and just lectured him because he didn’t?

 

The following are some helpful guidelines for you.

 

  1. Keep your expectations age appropriate. Don’t tell a 3 year old to clean his room. He will walk in, look at the mess and not knowing where to begin, sit down and play. Do write down all that needs to be done to get his room clean and give him one at a time do. Tell him to come back to you when he gets his books picked up. Give him another thing on the list you made. Keep at it until everything is picked up.

 

On the other hand, do expect your kids from ages 7 yrs. on up to be able to remember to get his chores and schoolwork done with no reminders from you.

 

  1. Keep it simple. Our rule was to get one thing out and put it away before getting another. Your preschooler doesn’t want to put his toys away? He can’t play with anything else until he does.

Your 10 year old is on the computer but hasn’t done his chores? He loses the freedom of the computer/phone until he is characterized by getting his stuff done before he has free time.

 

  1. Keep reinforcing your expectations. When your child is responsible, especially without a reminder from you, praise him. Praise and encouragement go a long, long way to getting your kids to be responsible. When your kids aren’t responsible, especially if they have had one reminder from you, give them a painful consequence. Without these reinforcements, don’t expect your kids to keep track of their stuff.

 

One of the main reasons kids aren’t good stewards of their things and responsibilities is because they don’t think you are paying attention. If they are supposed to have chores done before breakfast, when they come to eat, ask them if you need to go check and see if it is done. One of our daughters used to say “I’ll go check” which meant they weren’t. Pay attention to what your kids are or aren’t doing and be consistent with encouragement and consequences and you will have a lot calmer home.

 

#goodstewards  #takesselfcontrol

Kids Like to Spend Money

Kids Like to Spend Money

pexels-photo-64824Joey and Carla Link

April 11, 2018

 

Your kids each get a wad of cash from their grandparents for Christmas and birthdays. A few weeks later they ask you to buy them something and you tell them to spend their own money. When they tell you they don’t have any, you look at them dumbfounded. Where did that money go? Money seems to slip through your kids’ fingers and even they can’t account for what they spent it on. Have you ever taught your kids how to handle money?

We were laughing with our son recently as he is starting to work with his son to train him to understand the value of money. We reminded him of the time when he was around 7 years old when we gave him the job of emptying the dishwasher for .25 cents a week (It was a long time ago!) After his mom reminded him for the umpteenth time to get that task done one day and threatened to take the money away, he told her he had decided the .25 wasn’t worth it! We realized the chores we gave our kids had to have value to them to get them to do them, but we never paid them for doing chores again. We told them everyone in the family had chores to do every day as a part of being in the family.

Kids choose to do what has value to them. For our kids to choose to buy something with their own money, it demonstrates the value/worth of that item to them. So what are your kids looking at? What is alluring to them when they walk through a store? If they had their own money would they want it badly enough to buy it themselves?

When our girls were teens and wanted a certain brand of jeans that were more costly than their clothing budget allowed we decided we would offer to pay what we would for the other jeans and they could pay the rest. This caused our girls a real dilemma because what they wanted was to have the expensive jeans and for us to pay for them! What we were doing was challenging them to understand the value of the jeans to them.

It doesn’t take long for kids, even preschoolers to get the “I wants”. It is up to you to teach them money matters and how to handle it. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Have a plan for handling money. We gave our kids 3 containers to use as banks. One was for money to spend, one for money to save and one for money to tithe. Every penny they got for jobs or gifts was divided these 3 ways: 50% savings, 15% tithe and 35% to spend.
  2. Teach them to tithe. We wanted our kids to learn to tithe when they were young so it would be an ingrained habit when they became adults. They loved putting shoeboxes together for Samaritan’s Purse and used their tithe money to buy the items for their boxes. They often gave more money to their tithe account so they could do more boxes. We made sure they saw us put our tithe envelope in the offering plate every week at church as well.

 

  1. Have them start saving their own money for things they want. This is not to be confused with using money in their savings bank. We opened a savings account at a local bank for our kids and they loved to deposit their savings money in their own account. This account was used to buy their first car and pay for college. The money they would save for something they want to buy is the money in their spending bank.
  • Talk to them about jobs they could do at their age to earn money. At age 12, I (Joey) started delivering newspapers 7 days a week. I learned a lot of lessons from this job I had for 7 years, some of which I liked and some I didn’t. (You can guess which category paying for a window I broke throwing the paper through it came under!) Or getting up early every day before school to deliver the papers even on Christmas Day.
  • Make a list of extra jobs around the house your kids can do to earn money like shoveling snow in the winte These should be jobs over and above their normal chores and other responsibilities.

 

The downside for parents is, if you have not taught them right from wrong, you may not like what they buy. For instance, if you have a girl who is drawn to tight fighting clothes or a boy who wants to play violent video games and you believe both are wrong for your kids, you need to be sure you teach them what is right and wrong about it. Our kids didn’t have the freedom to spend their money without our blessing.

The last thing kids want to do with money is to be responsible with it. The first time your child gets money for a gift or job such as mowing a lawn or babysitting, they start thinking and dreaming how to spend it and what they can get with it. Their next thought is “how can I get more of this money so I can buy more things?” This mindset is difficult to overcome, but oh so needed in “training our kids in the way they need to go.” (Proverbs 22:6)