Parenting Made Practical » Blog

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

by Joey and Carla Link

May 2015


photo by Refuge Studios

In our Midwestern town, they have what is called spring cleanup days. You can get rid of furniture and other items you no longer want, setting stuff out in front of your house on a specific day and the city cleanup crews come around and pick it up.

This year I walked through our house and pulled a few things out and took them to the curb. Feeling energized, I went back into the house and went through more rooms, looking for stuff that had piled up or we no longer needed. Carla and I have lived in the same home for over 25 years, and with her lack of mobility, she is no longer able to clean or put things away as she once did, so there were closets full of stuff. We have the best intentions of going through these piles and cleaning out, but life gets in the way and it always gets put on the list titled, “Later”.

I wonder how many parents put off their kids’ behavior issues, thinking they will deal with them “later”. Than one day, usually out of frustration with your kids, you realize “later” has arrived and it’s time to clean things up and throw them out of your child’s heart. You start working on a behavioral issue in your child’s life that needs a parental clean up. It isn’t long before the WOW factor kicks in. Your cleanup efforts reveal many other rooms in your child’s heart are filled with junk that needs a clean sweep as well.

For instance, a family we have worked with recently has a child with an unkempt heart. When they started pulling back the layers of dirt, they found not just deception, but out and out lying in multiple areas and issues. They not only had to deal with the lying, but the ramifications of the lying in different areas and who it had affected and possibly offended.

Another family’s young teenage daughter used her phone to begin texting people she didn’t even know, setting up a meeting with a young man instead of going to youth group one night. She didn’t call it a “date”. When the youth leaders asked the parents about it, the parents talked to their daughter and realized her freedoms were way outside the funnel of what she could handle without supervision. Both the parents and their daughter went through some difficult days before this girl realized the wrong path she was going down.

A young man had not finished a paper he needed to get turned in when he had been given 3 weeks to work on. The night before it was due, he was making everyone in the family miserable with his bad attitude while he was trying to get it done. He was making his family pay for his lack of planning. His parents need to teach this kid some time management and relational skills.

It is time for spring cleaning for these families. Just because only one of their children’s abuse of freedoms exploded into mayhem, doesn’t mean their other children haven’t been taking advantage of freedoms as well. Time to review the teaching on the funnel and get to work!

Why don’t we notice when our kids are sliding down the slippery slope of disobedience?

While it may not always be possible at the moment, it is easier to deal with our kids’ disobedient behavior when they are doing it before it becomes a habit in their life that you will have to drag out of their hearts at some point in time.

“Credit Card Parenting” — pay now with no interest OR you can let your kids funnel get out of control and lose time and money paying off your child’s bad behavior over time.

Solomon knew what he was talking about when he said:

Train up a child in the way he should go;

even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

We have a new book coming out this summer! It’s titled “Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think”. We believe it will be a big help and encouragement to parents. It’s at the printers now!! We will let you know when it’s available.

Successful Kids


by Joey & Carla Link

April 2015


photo credit: freemagebank

 A friend of mine who is the CEO of a very large company with plants in several countries often talks about how he uses some human resource business practices in the parenting of his kids. One of his favorite phrases he likes to use is “SUCCESS!” He says he wants to be sure in everything he does with his kids, whether it be helping them understand how to live for God or to prepare them for the day they leave home, he is setting them up for success.


What a great plan of action. This takes his parenting out of the negative of “You didn’t do this…” or “We can’t count on you to do anything! You are never going to amount to anything.”


Why don’t they get their stuff done? What are they doing instead? Are you asking too much? Are your expectations too high for them to see success?


At a parent-teacher conference when our son was in high school, we asked each of his teachers how much time a day should the homework they assign take. It was apparent some of them had never thought about it. When we added up what they all said, our son had about 3-4 hours of homework every single day. No wonder some of his chores weren’t getting done.


When we knew he had a test coming up or a paper to finish, we offered to do them for him. You are your kids greatest champion.


Now, perhaps it was an issue on your child’s part that stopped him from completing his tasks. If so, why and how will your child fix it or do you need to step in to help him figure it out?

For instance, a mom called me frustrated with her 12 year old son. He was forgetting something he need for soccer practice or a game 50% of the time they left the house. Being a good and loving mom she went back to get it for him every time. She asked me how many times she should continue doing this before giving him a consequence.


What is this mom doing to set her son up for success? She said she reminded him several times to be sure he got everything ready for soccer, and he responded with “Yes mom.” But yet somehow he still didn’t get everything in his soccer bag.


This kid knew he didn’t have to check his bag. He figured his gear would be there, forgetting he often got it out to play soccer with his brothers in the back yard. When he found he had forgotten something, he knew his mom would go back home and get it for him. This was not setting him up for success.


So what could this mom do to help set her son up for success? First, instead of calling a reminder out to him as she walked through the great room on her way to the kitchen, she calls his name and waits for him to respond so she knows she has his attention. When he comes to her he is looking her in the eye, and she tells him to check his soccer bag and make sure his gear is all there.


Now it is a matter of obedience which holds her son accountable. Reminders do not hold kids accountable. This is the appropriate thing to do for younger kids but this boy is 12 years old!


Setting a child up for success means you are going to give your child all the tools he needs to fulfill his responsibilities. One tool parents often don’t give their kids is the ability to think outside their box, and to think about how to make right choices and decisions on their own.


While mom was graciously reminding her son, at some point she needs to turn the responsibility of getting his soccer gear together over to her 12 year old son. If a child is capable of remembering what day practice is and what day the games are, he is capable of remembering to check his bag and make sure all his gear is there.


Mom decided she was tired of doing his remembering for him. She told her son she was giving him ownership of his soccer bag and was through running home to get what he forgot. A couple days later, sure enough her son didn’t have all his gear. She just looked at him and shrugged her shoulders and reminded him what she had told him earlier.


Setting your kids up for success in things they want to do is teaching them to think through their life’s responsibilities. The time will come all too soon when you won’t be around to be there back-up team.


Carla and I are putting the finishing touches on a book titled “Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think” that we believe will be a big help and encouragement to parents. It will be out this summer!

Praying with your Kids

Praying with your Kids

March 2015

By Joey Link


My mind and heart were flooded with memories as I walked out of my son’s bedroom a few nights ago. On this night I didn’t say goodnight to my son, I said goodnight to his son.


On our way to the bedroom, I toss my grandson on the couch and tickle him until we are both exhausted from laughing so hard. Every time I think we are through I hear him say, “Again Papa! Again!” I chase him up the stairs to his room. My wife keeps reminding me you need to calm kids down before they go to bed, but for me and my little buddy, that is not the way it works for us.


After reaching the top of the stairs, I pick him up, throw him over my shoulder, twist him around a couple of times and then I throw him in bed. We are both grinning and laughing. I pull the covers up and I hear two wonderful phrases come out of his mouth. The first is “Papa snuggle?” It couldn’t be a sweeter sound coming out of his mouth. It says “I trust you Papa and I want you to share my bed with me and cuddle me tight as I get ready to go to sleep.” The fun we had that day including the correction I had to give him culminated in him sharing his trusting heart with me as he asking me to snuggle with him.


As soon as I snuggle in tight the second request and most precious words he could utter come out of his mouth. He softly says, “Papa pray?” I get all choked up again just writing this. He asked me to pray because that is what he was used to. His daddy lays down and snuggles with him at night and prays with him, and they allow me this privilege when we visit them in their home.


I prayed a long time for his little life this night in his daddy’s room when he was growing up. I started by thanking God for his life and his name and what it means to us. I thank God for all the fun we had that day, listing all the things I could remember.  I thanked God for loving him so much that He gave him to us and I thanked God for the Mommy and Daddy He gave him. I prayed my grandson would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and for God to use his little life now as well as when he grows up. I asked God to help him be nice to his sister and obey his Mommy and Daddy. I prayed he would grow up and love the Lord our God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind and with all his strength and to love others just as much as he loves himself. I thanked God for the bedtime story we read that had this verse in Matthew 22:37 in it and that he would remember we memorized it the next day.


As I ended the prayer I said “Good night” as he snuggled his Pooh Bear and then he said “I love you Papa” and I of course said “I love you too Hudson.”


As I walked away from tucking him in, two other memories ran through my mind. The first one was a Saturday night when I was preaching the next morning in the worship service at church and I was feeling a little unsure about the message. I asked my son to pray for me. He did and that next night when I was tucking him into bed, Michael asked me if God answer our prayer about the sermon. Praying with kids is such a blessing.


The second memory was of the first three chapters of the book of Samuel and how Hannah must have prayed with and over her son who she had committed to give back to the Lord to serve at Shilo in Israel under the tutelage of Eli. Eli was the priest though his own sons were known to seek their own pleasure instead of thinking of the needs of others. I thought about my little grandson and prayed earnestly for him that no matter where God takes him or where God puts him, his parents would raise him with such a biblical foundation that he would be able to draw on it to bring glory to God with his life.


How often do you pray with and for your children? Even when they are teens, it’s a good thing to pray with them and for them for God’s guidance in their lives, for God to protect them from wrong and bad influences and for them to grow up sensitive to God’s still small voice in their hearts and for them to be guided by the Holy Spirit to be used by God to bring glory to His name.

Praying with kids

Is Your Child’s Heart Clean?

by Joey Link

February 2015


Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone,

and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them.

Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.’” Mark 7:14

I remember going to the beach with our kids when we visited our families in Southern California. Every summer they played in sandboxes and had fun swimming in pools, but there is nothing like going to the beach and finding both in one place. We have great memories (and pictures) of our kids playing and digging in the sand after going into the ocean. Our kids worked hard to build sandcastles. One of our daughters would bury herself in the sand because she liked the warmth of it. Oh how dirty she got. There was not a part of her untouched by the dirty sand.

It reminds me of Jesus’ teaching in Mark 7:14 where He says, “NOTHING on the outside of man that goes in makes him unclean.” Our kids can roll around in the sand all they want. Carla can look pretty muddy after a day working in the yard. I look like a scarecrow after working in my woodshop on a project, sanding and staining the wood. Jesus said none of this makes you unclean.

Jesus’ disciples (like many Christians today) didn’t get what He was saying. Jesus told them what goes in the mouth from the outside goes into the stomach and gets discarded. Jesus went on to say that what comes out of the heart of man is what makes him unclean and needs to be taken care of.

We know you are committed to making sure your kids get their teeth brushed and their bodies bathed. Have you ever thought about how much time and effort you give to clean up your child’s heart in comparison to how much time and attention you give to cleaning his outward appearance?

Stop your kids from the normal flow of life to wash out their hearts – scrubbing out bad actions, motives, and attitudes. What a blessing it is when they become teachable to you and God once again. Be more concerned about what goes into your children’s heart than what goes into their mouths.

“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 

All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23(NIV)

Are Your Kids Teachable?

Are Your Kids Teachable?

January 2015

by Joey Link


I was watching a college bowl football game and a running back made a terrific play and was able to run 60+ yards for a touchdown. They showed a picture of the running back’s dad raising his hands to the sky at first I thought it was a touchdown sign, but his face looked upward toward heaven and I could read on his lips “Thank you Jesus.”


Then the announcers said, “This kid’s dad has had a huge influence on his son… what a terrific kid he is.”


It’s good when we as parents can influence our kids, but it’s even better when people see and understand the influence we have ON our kids.


What kind of influence do you have on your kids? How do you know if your kids are being influenced by you?


Our son Michael bought a house a few years back that needed a lot of work done to it. Even though the home we purchased when we moved to Iowa was a fixer upper and he helped me work on it throughout the years, I never saw myself as teaching him how to fix up a house to the degree his needed. As he worked on his house, I praised him for the great job he was doing.

This Christmas, he was home and as we were looking in one particular room of our home, he said to me, “This room is where I learned to do electrical work.” I was stunned. I remember him helping me put outlets in, but I don’t remember “teaching him” how to do electrical work.


I learned the principal ‘more is caught than taught’ while taking the parenting class Growing Kids God’s Way. This recent conversation with Michael drove this principle home to me again. I learned how much is taught not through my words, but through my example and how I live my life.


Are your kids teachable? For our kids to learn from us, their hearts need to be teachable. This means they are looking to learn, improve or better themselves. How do you get your kids to be teachable? I think it goes back to thinking about others vs. thinking about themselves because the greatest commandment next to loving God with all your heart is to “Love your neighbors as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40). When kids are so focused on themselves, pleasing themselves, and wanting others to think about them; when their hearts are saying “me, me, me,” they aren’t thinking about learning how God wants them to live or how to give of themselves to others and as a result their hearts are not teachable.


How do parents get their kids to be focused on others first so they can be teachable? By looking for ways they can help others vs. others helping them. Teach them how to support, encourage and build up each other. To do this requires a heart attitude that would rather give than receive.


As you are out, teach your kids to look for the opportunity to open a door for other people coming behind them. Carla uses a walker full-time. You would be surprised at the number of people that walk around her, tell her to get out of the way and pretty much walk through her before they will open the door for her.


SHOW THEM THE WAY – Young children are often eager to help you or their siblings. Instead of getting annoyed at their interference, find a way for them to “help”. Sharing a toy is another way a young child can show he is thinking of others first.


When your kids are 7-12 yrs. old, one day a week can be “Other’s 1st” day (not that you don’t encourage them to think of other’s first on other days, but rather put a special emphasis on it this day). Have them write down on a piece of paper one way they will show others they are thinking about them first and put it under your pillow. You can read the notes and encourage your kids when you see them doing their one thing. If you see a child thinking of himself, go to him and ask him what he just did would look like if he was thinking of others first. Then ask him if he is willing to show you he will do it.


How do your older kids walk in crowded stores or hallways? This is a simple way to see who they are thinking of. We always wait until last to leave any event or building. Why? So we don’t have to worry about children and young adults running into Carla.

Take the time to watch how they walk in crowds and teach them to make room for others as they walk along. Your kids need to know and use theses magic words when they bump into someone by accident – “please excuse me.”


As your kids move into the teen years, are they looking for opportunities to help and encourage their siblings or peers to be the best they can be? Rare is the child who would not want help with school work from an older sibling. When our girls were teens, they had what they called their “Grandmas’ Club.” Since their grandparents lived in other states, they found 4 elderly widows in our church and found ways to this day to love and serve them. It was not unusual for them to invite younger girls to join their outings with these ladies, showing them how to love lonely people.


Teachable hearts are those that say, “I can adopt a “Grandma”, or “I can help my sister with her math.” Your children will not mimic how you have shown them to serve others first unless you have shared with them WHY it is important to do so.


“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind 

let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 

do not merely look out for your own personal interests,

but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)


What are you doing to influence your kids? Being around them so they can see how you handle what life throws at you is half of it. Parents need to realize their kids are watching them whether the parents are deliberately trying to show them how to demonstrate Godly character or not. Remember, “More is caught from your life than taught from your words!”