Parenting Made Practical » Blog



Carla Link

May 2016
fam (3)

I was in high school when my father left my Mom with three teenage girls. It was not common for Christian church-going families to split apart back in the 70’s and fellow church-goers didn’t know what to do with us. (I know, I’m old!) Mostly they ignored us and it hurt. Thankfully, my mother had been involved in Bible Study Fellowship for many years as the class administrator. Her faith remained strong thanks to BSF. She taught my sisters and I how to have our Quiet Times on BSF study notes (intensive Bible training). They invited my mom to join the National Staff of BSF when they learned my father had left her. God showed us through her faith He would always take care of His own.

My mom was not a talker. She was a great listener and was always available to us when we needed to talk. Once when I was frustrated with my husband and was talking about it on the phone to her, she asked me, “Do you want me to be angry with him?” I immediately said I did not. She then told me I needed to stop talking about him in a negative way or she would pick up my offenses towards him. I learned to never make my disputes with my hubby public from my mom.

When I would talk about something going on at school or work, she would say, “And if you were in their shoes?” Through this statement she taught me how to see things from other’s point of view.

In college (I attended a California State University) I was a Young Life leader at a large high school and was involved in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Young Life is an outreach to non-Christian kids and I did have the privilege of leading several young ladies to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and met with them weekly to teach them how God wanted them to live. Since most of their families were non-believers, there were often struggles to deal with when they tried to put God first in their lives.

When I participated in an outreach event for IVF, opinions often collided among the leadership that I often would be drawn into the middle of. When I shared these struggles with my mom she would say how delighted she was I was in turmoil. When I asked her why, she said that Satan doesn’t attack lukewarm Christians and she could tell the things I was sharing would please God when I saw victory in them so she would pray for me to get there. I learned from my Mom when you are doing something big for God the Enemy will attack. You can count on it. Marrying someone in full-time Christian ministry, this is a lesson that we remind ourselves of on a regular basis.

One of our daughters has a blog and on a recent post she was writing about the oppression she felt from Satan about a project she was working on and went on to say she was okay with it as she had watched us deal with attacks from him throughout her entire life. I smiled when I read that, and thanked God she remembered this lesson. My Mom is no longer with us, but I know she would be smiling too if God whispered in her ear what Briana had written.

These are just a few things I learned from my mother. What have you learned from your mom you are passing down to your kids?

Who’s in Control?


Who’s in Control?

Joey and Carla Link

©April 2016

Authority – there are those who think this is an unnecessary word in parenting. Is it? Ephesians 6:1 says:

Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.”

What does obey mean?To be ruled or controlled by…” is what Webster’s Dictionary says. Well nobody wants to be ruled or controlled by anyone. Yet this is what God has said. Children are to obey their parents and we all are to obey God. So why does God think children need to be controlled by their parents? The obvious answer is because they don’t have the wisdom, knowledge or experience to make right decisions for themselves.

You may think you are the authority in your home, but let me ask you this: Do your children obey you with a good attitude 85% of the time? If not, they are in control. While parents may get obedience in action, they often do not get it in attitude. That’s where we were with our children in the early years of our parenting journey.

When your child’s attitude is out of control, it is very difficult to bring it back under control. Rare is the child who can bring it back without parental intervention (authority). When we ask parents what “parental intervention” looks like for them, we often hear they yell at their children, threaten them, bribe them, ground them and so forth.

For us, parental intervention meant our children would get one warning. If they did not bring themselves under control or repeated the misbehavior, they were told to sit to calm down and get self-control. They each had a place where this sitting took place. They were not allowed to get up from the chair until they were ready to apologize. After they apologized, they received a consequence.

Telling your child to go and sit to get self-control is not a consequence. It gives him the chance to think about what he is doing and to get ready to apologize. It gives you both a chance to calm down.

“Children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.”

Colossians 3:20

Who Are Your Kids Associating With?

by Joey & Carla Link

lecture 3©April 2016

I remember the day Carla told me about two teenage girls who knocked at our door and asked “Is Michael there?” These girls were dressed in a way no mother would want her son to be looking at. Thankfully, Michael wasn’t home. When Michael and I got home, his sisters told him about the girls and described their tight black mini-skirts and knee high black boots in great detail. Michael immediately said they were looking for trouble and he needed to find them before they found it.

How would you respond if Michael was your 17 year old son? Every parent should be training their kids to know what they believe and how to hang around non-Christians so they can bring those who don’t know Jesus Christ into a saving knowledge of Him. Too often however, parents stop their teens from being in the world (but not part of it). Parents fear their teens will be contaminated by the world so they build a protective wall around them. At some point, parents need to let their mature teens outside this wall and give them the freedom to show their spiritual strength but only when they are ready for it.

Jesus experienced this first hand in the second chapter of Mark when he and his disciples went to the tax collector’s house. Many of Levi’s co-workers were eating dinner with him. (In those days, tax collectors were thought of in the same way as drug dealers today). The Pharisees (pastors and church leaders) came to the disciples asking them, “Why does Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners?” In other words, why would you allow your teens to hang out at the mall with kids that don’t know Jesus, or allow your younger kids to play with the kids of families who don’t go to church (under your supervision of course)?

Jesus heard the question and said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor,

but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

Jesus knew if He was going to impact people who didn’t know Him, He would have to hang out with them to show them who He was and what He teaches and that He thought they were important enough to spend His time with. In the same way, if you and your family are going to show the world Jesus, then you are going to have to hang around with them so they can see Jesus in you.

We believe parents should not sacrifice your children’s innocence or compromise your family’s beliefs and convictions to reach out to your kids’ peers. Notice here, Jesus did not send his disciples to the tax collector’s house, He went and they followed, learning from Him as they went from place to place. After Jesus died, He sent his disciples into the world to tell them about what they had seen and heard during their time with Him. In the same way, when your kids are in elementary and middle school, you should be with them when they are around non-Christians.

  • Are you training your kids to impact their world vs. the world influencing them?
  • What are you doing to train your kids to stand up for their faith and live it not only at home and church, but with non-Christian friends as well?
  • Do your kids see you and hear you talk to non-Christians so they can watch and learn from you?
  • Have you talked to them about what you believe and why you believe it? Two good resources that we have used with our kids and highly recommend them for older teens and college students are “Know What You Believe” and “Know Why You Believe” by Paul Little. Go through these books with your teens for an enriching experience for all of you.

Michael did go after the two girls and stopped them from doing some foolish things. They were only two of many unsaved teens in the high school band our son hung out with. Can you imagine my joy when I walked out the door of my house one afternoon to find our son and one of these girls sitting on our porch going through a Christian book? Michael was mentoring her in the faith. We lost contact with these teens when Michael went away to college. One Saturday, years later, Carla and I were having a garage sale and one of these girls stopped by and asked if we remembered her. She told us Michael was the only true gentleman she had ever met, the only Christian who ever showed her respect. She said that when she was tempted to do things she knew were wrong, she often thought of Michael and what she knew his reaction would be, and that alone often stopped her from doing it. Wow! For a parent, it doesn’t get better than that!

The question remains, will the world impact your teens, or are you training your kids to grow up to impact the world for Jesus Christ?

Rose-Colored Glasses or God-Glasses?

Rose-Colored Glasses

or God-Glasses?

by Joey and Carla Link

©March 2016


In case you’re wondering, it is normal for kids (especially when they hit the early teen years), to put on rose-colored glasses and do things that just don’t make sense. Your boys take off on a bike ride with their friends without asking permission. You gave them permission to go to their friend’s house, but not to ride two miles away to another friend’s house. When you question them about it, they don’t see what they did wrong. They are home safe and sound, aren’t they? So what’s the big deal?

Let’s say your son gets a crush on a nice girl. You have him put on his “God glasses” so he can see the pitfalls of being involved in a dating relationship when he is just starting high school. He agrees that he needs to break it off with this girl. So he says. But the truth is he doesn’t. Thinking he knows just as much as you do, he decides to contact her behind your back and leads you to believe nothing is going on. Now your trust is broken and you power up and unload the lecture of all lectures, landing a direct hit, only he disagrees with you and the ensuing argument leaves you tired and tense and puts a wall up between you and your son.

Kids grow up wanting what they want and while they are getting it, they take their eyes off of Jesus and put them on friends, a girl, the newest electronic gadget, or something else that takes their eyes off truth, honesty and reality. The worst part is they are willing to sacrifice their relationship with you, but they know you will be there when they need you because that’s your job as their parent. The reason they are doing these things is because they got the idea they know what is best, yet in reality they don’t begin to have all the answers. How can you bring them back to the truth of God’s Word?

Bake some cookies with this child. Yes, even with your boys! After all, they will love eating them! 🙂 But the one thing you need to do is replace the sugar with salt. To them, it will look the same; just don’t let them taste it. Mix it all up as you talk about your concerns with some of the decisions he has been making. It’s not that you don’t trust him, you just don’t think he has the information or experience he needs to make the wisest decision. Explain to him that sometimes you can make mistakes that can be very costly and be hard, if not impossible to overturn. Let him know that even at your advanced age (according to him) you still seek advice from others when you need to make important decisions. Make sure your talking is a conversation, and not a lecture.

As soon as the cookies are done baking, take them out and give your son /daughter the first one. As he bites into it, he will be sure to spit it out as there is no way it will taste good.

Ask him what is wrong. He will most likely blame you for doing something to the cookies. Before you start baking, have sugar in a bowl and salt in a different bowl set aside where your child can’t see them. Bring them out and ask your child if he can tell the difference by looking at the two bowls. Didn’t the cookies look good before he tasted them? The moral of this story is this: you have to have the right ingredients to get the desired results. How something looks at first glance (salt instead of sugar) is not sufficient to ensure the best results.

It is the same when making decisions. At first glance not having enough information because he didn’t know what questions to ask, or not having the experience that would let him know if what he wants to do is the right choice.

Having someone wiser to help him think through and work through decisions he makes is what God gave him parents for – to help him learn and see what is right from wrong and to stop him from making a big mistake.

Let him know you may not be perfect parents, but you certainly can see a little further down the road from the life experience God has given you and you really don’t want him to make mistakes that you can foresee will hurt him. Therefore, you would like to ask him to give you the benefit of the doubt. Ask him to trust you, and to give you an opportunity to help him learn how to tell the difference between the sugar and salt.

Celebrating Easter

Celebrating Easter

 Joey & Carla Link

       © March 2016

Landscape (57)

 Spring is just around the corner, although for many of us, the normal winter weather has yet to appear! While Christmas is a wonderful time to teach our children about the blessed gift of Jesus Christ, families often get caught off-guard in the springtime, and the greatest annual event for every Christian often slips up on us and pass us by before we really have the time to teach our children about the events that led up to Jesus death, burial and resurrection. So, does your family take time to celebrate Easter? We mean really celebrate Easter?

Several years back, we had the wonderful blessing of going to Israel for two weeks. It was always a goal and dream for us, but we were not sure how to make it happen. Many great people we had partnered with over the years in serving families gave us the trip as a gift. We had the wonderful privilege of walking where Jesus walked. The blessing turned into more than a trip however, it became a deeper conviction and commitment to our Lord because of the facts we got to see up close and personal. Neither Carla nor I will ever forget our time in the garden tomb. Each Easter we look at the pictures taken during our time there and in awe, we once again marvel at what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross.

Thinking of Easter, we encourage you to pull out your Bible and books that share with your children the wonder of the cross and salvation. This is a lesson that should never grow old in their hearts and minds. Celebrate Easter as a family like many do during the Christmas advent season. Take each part of the Easter story and break it into the 3 weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. Use candles as they do in advent, as children enjoy the symbolism of them.

Moses’ instructions to Israel in Deuteronomy 6 is a great directive for parents on teaching the Easter story: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Think about how your family could incorporate the Easter story with the above underlined words this year. Have your children come up with ideas on how you can impress the story on each other, talk about it, and write it down where it is a daily reminder of what Christ has done for you.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, 

that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16