Parenting Made Practical » Blog

How is Your Kids TRUE North?

How is Your Kids TRUE North?

Joey and Carla Link

 September 13, 2018

Do your kids really know where they are going? Do they know how to stop and think when the Holy Spirit is prompting them to not do something or do they run through the red light telling them to stop and go no further?

Your kids “True North” is where they need to be going and keep going. “True North” points upward. It gives kids direction and guidance. When kids are headed there it indicates they know right from wrong and are willing to do the right thing even if no one else is doing it. It guides them to where they need to go to get back on the right path when they know they got off it or when they got caught doing something wrong.

So how do kids know where their “True North” is?

  1. They have to be teachable. To be teachable is to be “able and willing to learn.” To be teachable your kids/teens first have to be willing to admit when they are wrong with a willingness to be told or find out what the right thing to do would be.

 

It is okay to be wrong as no one is right all the time. But to be wrong and stubbornly refuse to admit it is quite another story. Children with the Melancholy temperament struggle to admit when they are wrong because they are perfectionists and in their mind to do so is to admit failure which is unacceptable to them. Stubbornness is a weakness of the Phlegmatic temperament. They don’t make a fuss about not admitting they are wrong, they just dig their heels in a bucket of cement and don’t move to a new way of thinking.

Kids with the Choleric temperament are going to let you know in no uncertain terms that they are never wrong and that is that. Your Sanguine child doesn’t care if he is wrong and will apologize quickly but when confronted with the same choice will have no reason not to go the wrong way again.

  1. When kids/teens are headed to their True North, they will be willing to apologize when they offend someone without having to be told to do so. We learned to break it down like this for our kids.
  • Your child/teen says he was wrong and says exactly what he did that was wrong.
  • Repentance is turning around and going in the opposite direction. Your child needs to say what he needs to do to accomplish that.
  • Forgiveness is restoring the relationship with the one they offended by asking for forgiveness. We don’t know why it is so hard to say “Will you forgive me?” but it truly is.
  • Restitution/Restoration is giving back what they took away. If your child is 6 yrs. and up he needs to figure out how to do this. You can guide him with questions.

What does this look like? Our son forgot to take out the trash. He goes to his dad and says, “Dad, I’m sorry I didn’t once again get the trash out to the alley for trash pick-up. I know it was wrong and I need to figure out a way to remind myself. Will you forgive me for not choosing to remember to get it done? To make it right I will get it out next week and pay for the tag for the extra can.”

This is what admitting you are wrong looks like.

  1. If at first you don’t succeed try again. Baseball players are doing great if they have a .500 batting average which doesn’t happen very often. This means they hit the ball 50% of the time, which also means they don’t hit it 50% of the time it is pitched to them. Let’s say a player’s batting average is around .120. This isn’t very good. Does he just throw his hands in the air and give up? No, he works extra time at practice with the batting coach to improve his swing.

When kids/teens are headed to their True North, they don’t give up when they don’t make it on their first try. Along the way to a kid’s True North are his/her Bible, you, church, youth leaders, mentors, and so forth. Anyone who points them towards living like God wants them to qualifies. Our grandson recently called his Papa to pray with him to lead him to Jesus because “his Papa was always telling him about God.” On that very special day Joey was his guide to his True North.

How teachable are your kids? Do they know how to overcome the temptation of sin (doing the wrong thing) when their conscience is poking at them to stop? Are they willing to admit they did something or said something wrong to themselves and others? When professional baseball players strike out, they do it in front of thousands of people. Their failure to get on base is a very public thing. But when they get to the dugout, teammates and coaches are quick to encourage them to keep on trying. You, siblings, grandparents, and friends need to be the encouragers to help your kids/teens try and try again.

Being teachable is one of the greatest character qualities you should work on getting into your kids’ hearts. For if they are not teachable to you as their parents, how will they ever learn to be open, honest and teachable with their future spouse one day?

When Kids are Tearing Down Their Siblings

When Kids are Tearing Down

Their Siblings

Joey & Carla Link

August 22, 2018

 

We enjoy getting together with parents who are seeking help with their kids. We recently had dinner with a couple who have 3 boys who, like most boys are hitting each other and picking on each other, wrestling around until someone gets hurt either physically or emotionally. Like most parents, this mom and dad tried everything they could think of, including giving them physical things to do like running around the outside of the house, push-ups and sit-ups to get their energy out. But a few hours or a day later they ended up doing the same thing again, and again, and again.

 

The primary issue here is how they use their words with each other, for hurtful, angry words lead to lashing out physically. First I recommended they have a teaching time with the kids using Ephesians 4:29:

 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,

but only what is helpful for building others up

according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

 

It’s easy to read this verse and think of not using bad language like swearing. But bad language is also when words are used to hurt each other. “…but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I encouraged the parents to have their boys each read the verse out loud and then have them explain what it means.

 

  1. Teach your kids their words leave wounds that do not always heal.These parents talked about the words their boys used that often hurt each other’s feelings. Words can act like a knife and cut into an open wound which really hurts, but boys especially are afraid to show that it does. They stow these words away in their hearts and the wounds do not heal and when they are opened again and again with harsh words eventually the recipient will lash out, his hurt showing in anger.

 

I recommended they present a fun teaching time by going and getting some straws and peas. When I was a kid we could buy pea shooters where we would put these little peas in our mouths and had extra wide straws and used them to shoot/spit peas through the straw at targets but we ended up shooting at each other. Those little peas could really hurt. I recommended they get some pea shooters and give them to the younger boys and let them shoot at the older one. It’s amazing how much power you can have from 3-4 feet away.

 

The goal is to demonstrate how much a word or phrase can hurt coming out of someone’s mouth like the peas out of the shooter. Once it is out of a kid’s mouth, the sting is left and the words can’t be taken away. It doesn’t “build others up according to their needs.”  I encouraged the parents to point out the words coming out of their mouths need to build a wall of encouragementto those they are speaking to.

 

  1. Teach your kids their words need to benefit others. “That it may benefitthose who listen,” is the last part of this verse that is often overlooked. In talking to this family, we discussed with them ways they could get their boys to understand their words needed to “benefit” their brothers. Making sure hurtful or angry words don’t come out of your mouth is one thing. Making sure the words you do choose to say benefitthose you are speaking to is quite another. To benefitsomething is to give them a gift for profit, which is to say “so they gain something.”

 

To speak words that you know will benefit others, especially your siblings means you have to teach your kids how to think about what they say before they say it. Have them ask themselves, “How is this going to benefit her/him and build them up?”

 

That is exactly what Hebrews 10:24 means when it says,

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on

toward love and good deeds.

  1. Teach your kids that “boyswillcan be boys”.Personally I (Joey) like to play sports and any game can produce a lot of jeering and teasing. Much of it is part of the game and kids need to learn how to handle that as they will have it all their lives. But when it gets personal and out of hand, parents need to teach their kids to be aware when the teasing has gone too far and it’s become malicious instead of fun. Kids should be encouraged to stand up for the wronged person just like Pee Wee Reese did in the movie “42”.

 

Reese, a white boy from Kentucky who was an outstanding baseball player was on the same team as Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in baseball. When their team was playing a game in Reese’s hometown and the crowd was jeering Robinson and calling him terrible names, Pee Wee Reese realized how wrong this was and walked over from the shortstop position to first base and put his arm around Jackie Robinson and stood there eyeing the crowd. Soon you could hear a pin drop in the entire ball park. Pee Wee Reese decided he needed to take a stand and though risky in those days, his actions shouted to the large crowd that the color of a man’s skin should not make him ineligible to play the game he was very good at.

 

Do your kids know when to stop teasing others and when to step in and spur others on to love and good deeds? If not, help them learn this by practicing on their siblings to help them build up the courage to look for ways they could do it with their friends.

 

  1. Show your kids how words can both build others up and benefit them as well by the words they hear coming from your mouths.

 

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14 (ESV)

 

 

Teens and Time Management

Teens and Time Management

Joey and Carla Link

July 25, 2018

 

All through a child’s life parents work to help their kids learn to manage their responsibilities “on time” with questions/statements such as “Is your bed made? No breakfast until that’s done,” or “Why are you watching TV when your room is such a mess?” or “Your homework better be done before your phone comes out of your pocket.”

 

While it may not be intentional, statements such as these tell your kids there is a time-frame in which their responsibilities need to be done. For many families however, this is as far as teaching kids to manage their time gets, with reminders and lectures from parents.

 

Then the teen years come and your teenage daughter is babysitting a couple times a week and has marching band practice every day after school. Your son is mowing lawns on weekends plus football practice and games. You want your kids to grow spiritually so they attend the weekly youth meeting plus are involved in a small group Bible study.  Time with their friends, time with guy/girl relationships, not to mention the time it takes to get their homework done every day. Time. No one seems to have any of it and something is always left undone.

 

Parents wonder how their teenager is going to keep on top of his/her stuff when they go to college and Mom isn’t there to remind them what they need to do. We have known way too many teens who have failed miserably at this and had to come home after their first semester or year away.

 

How do parents help their teens manage all the things they have going on?

 

  1. Start when your kids are 5 yrs. and older. When you give them a job to do, tell them when it needs to be done by, and have them come back to you letting you know it is done so you don’t have to check it yourself.

 

  1. With kids 9 yrs. and up, ask them when they think they will get the job done.
  • Ask them if you can trust them to do it or will you need to check and make sure it was done.
  • If you find it isn’t done, no reminders. Have them sit to get their heart right so they can go through the Repentance/Forgiveness/Restoration process. To make it right they should tell you they will get the task done now.
  • Tell them to come to you when they have completed it as they will need a consequence. Taking away the privilege of what they were doing instead of the task is a good one.
  • If you find it is done, be sure to praise them for getting it done when they said they would.

 

Start working with your teens to bring order to their fall schedule before it hits full force.

  • Have them list on paper all the daily, weekly, monthly responsibilities they have and have them put next to each item listed how many hours a day/week/month it will take.

 

  • Have them list other interests or activities they would like to add in, such as babysitting once a week, getting a part-time job or running for student council

 

  • You and your spouse need to work on a list too. Be sure to put Family Night as a non-negotiable.

 

  • Compare your list with theirs and merge them together. Keep asking them questions so they see what they need to make time for rather than you tell them.

 

Writing down all the activities they have going on will teach them where their time goes, where it needs to go and how to fit everything in and say “no” to what won’t fit in.

 

When our kids were teens they were making their homeschool schedule by the semester. They had weekly lesson plans written out and each Monday they would pull that week’s plan out of their notebook, update it with any changes and put it on their bulletin board over their desks. Included on that weekly calendar were all other activities they had in addition to school including free time. Briana told us when she was attending Moody Bible Institute that others made fun of her because she scheduled a non-negotiable study time at the library every day. They will carry the time management skills you teach them wherever they go.

 

What time management skills do you think your kids should know?

 

#gettingstuffdone  #whetherwewanttoornot  #lifeskill

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)