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What Are Your Kids Thinking About

Parents often look at their kids and wonder what they are thinking about. Which of us haven’t wished for the gift of mind-reading when it comes to our kids?! You have given your kids consequences for misbehavior, yet they repeat the offense again and again. You wonder if they think you are going to overlook it this time, or if they like pain, or if the consequence wasn’t tough enough and so on. In your mind, they do what they are supposed to do and make wise choices and they get the blessing of earned freedoms and rewards…they don’t, and they get the pain of consequences and your disapproval. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?



Let’s look at what they SHOULD be thinking about. Many times we think of the teachings in the Bible for us as adults, but it is in the “Instruction Book for Life” on how we are to raise our kids! Philippians 4:8 is a terrific verse we should be drilling down deep and planting in the hearts of our kids.


“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable –

if anything is excellent or praiseworthy

 – think about such things.”


There are eight key words in this verse that should be what your kids are thinking about!




Can your kids even define these terms? Sounds like this would make a great Family Night project! Then ask them (and you) to pick 1 and write down one way they can work on it that week. Decide on a night to talk about the progress each of you has made during dinner the next week. On the other hand, you and your spouse should pick one each child struggles with, and make a plan on how you are going to train them in that.

For a biblical principle to stick with your child, you have to plant it in his heart so when he has to make a decision that would use this principle, his mind can reach down and grab it so he makes a wise choice.  Too often we talk to our kids, but we do not teach or train our kids.

You can throw watermelon seeds on the ground and hope and pray some of them grow and mature. Or you can take the time to plant them. It takes little effort to open a package and toss seeds wherever they land. To plant them means getting tools out, finding the best spot, digging up the ground, making mounds for the seeds to sit in with a water trench around the mound, fertilizing them and watering them consistently so they will bear ripe fruit. That’s the difference between talking and teaching.

Training your kids has 3 parts.

  1. Teach them by giving them information and telling them WHY they need to apply it.
  2. Work with them to show them HOW to use this information and model it for them.
  3. Hold them ACCOUNTABLE for doing it, which means giving them consequences when they don’t.

This is how you plant the Word of God down deep in your kids’ hearts. By showing them how to put a biblical principle into practice, when it comes time for them to make a decision, they will know what to do. They will know HOW to keep their thoughts on the right track. Keeping your kids thoughts pure and holy is not something you do just once, but throughout the entire time they live in your home. When they leave home they will know what to do, because you helped them think through what is  true, and noble, right, pure, lovely admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy”

Helping your kids develop and cultivate right thinking will definitely change their focus and attitude about things. Have you ever noticed when they make unwise choices they are thinking about themselves? The eight things to think on from Philippians 4:8 are others-focused. This fits in perfectly with Jesus’ teaching, “Love others just as much as your love yourselves.”

When our kids made a decision that focused on themselves, we would ask them, “Who are you thinking of right now?” They had no other answer but to say, “Me.” If they had a teachable heart, when we followed this up with the question, “Who should you be thinking of right now?” we got the response of “my sister” or whoever or whatever they should have been focused on. If they weren’t teachable, you have uncovered ground you need to get the gardening tools out for and begin cultivating your child’s heart to begin thinking rightly.

This is how we trained our kids to keep their thought processes on “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”




Apologies are Important

Most moms want their kids to apologize when they have done something wrong. Parents want to know if they should force their kids to apologize when they don’t want to. Why is apologizing so hard? I ask myself that question when I struggle to apologize. To get into the habit of apologizing makes it easier, and that is why we believe you should force children to apologize, even if they don’t mean it.


Our son had a tough time apologizing, especially to his sisters. We often had to force him to do it. But when we see him quickly apologize to his wife when he thinks he has offended her, we are grateful we stuck with working with him on this.


Apologizing looks like this – a child needs to:

1. Admit he (or she) was wrong. Saying “I’m sorry” is not enough. All they are sorry for is they got caught. To say, “I didn’t obey,” is not good enough either. It is too generic. He needs to state what his disobedience looked like.

2. Tell why what he did was wrong.

3. Ask for forgiveness, which is making the relationship right with the one he offended.

4. Tell what he will do to make things right, such as go and do what he was asked with a good attitude, or admit he needs to apologize to his siblings if he has offended them.

5. Accept the consequence. If a child is truly apologetic, he will calmly accept the consequence. This is why we recommend you give the consequence to your child after he apologizes. Apologizing is a key part of training children to obedience. To apologize correctly takes a humble spirit. Kids behave when they are humble, and are pleasant to be around.


What about your family? Have you worked with your children to apologize when they do something wrong or offend someone? Have you seen a difference in their attitude when they do?

Positive Parenting

Elevate the Good

 What do we mean by this? It is easy for parents to focus on the restrictive or negative side of parenting. You are “restrictive” in your parent when you point out your children are doing wrong. “Why can’t you get ready on time?” “When are you going to do what I tell you to do?” “Stop hitting your sister!” While you cannot avoid being restrictive in your parenting, don’t overlook the many things you can do that affect the behavior of your child in a positive way, often without discipline.


Point your children in the direction you want them to go. Instead of saying, “Stop hitting your brother!” try, “Tell me one way you can be nice to your brother.” After you get that answer, say, “Are you willing to do that now?”  Pointing them to the ‘good,’ is to get into the habit of saying the opposite of the negative. Instead of saying this: Stop running in the house! Try this: Please walk in the house, you can run outside. Instead of this: Why can’t you do what I tell you to do? Try this: I asked you to vacuum the family room. When will get that done? Instead of this: We are late again, why can’t you get your stuff done on time? Try this: Make a list of all the things you need to do to get ready to leave the house in the morning. Write down how much time it will take to complete the list. That is how early you need to get up.

Write down the negative things you said to each of your kids this past week. Re-word each statement in a positive way. Parents have to teach themselves to elevate the good in their children.

Praise and encouragement are far better motivators to get your children to do what they are supposed to do to than discipline and critical words. When you praise your child, you are showing him honor and your approval for something he did. When you encourage your child, you are giving him courage to do something he needs to do, and you cheer him on towards the goal.  To encourage someone is to give him hope. Praise is for an accomplishment, encouragement is to be given along the way.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

“Therefore encourage one another

and build each other up.”

       I Thessalonians 5:11

ARE YOU REQUIRING YOUR CHILDREN TO DO THINGS YOU ARE NOT REQUIRING OF YOURSELF?  Children quickly pick up on any double standard on the part of the parent, and it breeds in them a lack of trust and security. Asking your children to do what you are not asking of yourself applies to more than just your actions.  It applies to how they view your character. For example, do not require them to speak kindly to others if you do not speak kindly to them.

“Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”

I Corinthians 11:1

Elevate the good, encourage your children when they take the initiative to do the right thing and don’t require your children to do what you will not make yourself do as. Wow. This is a lot to work on, isn’t it? Pick one of them and get to work on it. Flip your calendar to the beginning of next month and write down one of the others and figure out a way to work on it. Do the same for the next month. The only way to be consistent when working on things is to work on one thing at a time. Putting these positive ways to get your kids attention will reap huge benefit.

Tammie CrowgeyJune 25, 2013 - 11:20 am

Wow. I need to hear this message every day. By nature, I am quick to see all the things my kids are not doing well and slow to see what they are doing well. It’s embarrassing to admit that I have to physically remind myself (by writing the word “Praise” on a note card and placing it in a prominent place) to praise my children. However, when I praise them, I can see the joy on their face and in their attitude.
I also would not have thought to reword my instructions in a positive manner. What a great tip. It helps me to focus on the goal we are working towards and not focus on where we have been in the past.
Thank you Joey and Carla for sharing your fount of wisdom!

Teaching Your Kids To Work


“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,

as working for the Lord, not for men.”

(Colossians 3:23)


“Mommy, please can I help? Please?” “Mommy, I can do it!” Young children are anxious to ‘help’ with household duties. How quickly that changes! Before too much time passes, parents have to threaten their kids with their lives before they will get their chores done.


Have you noticed when you threaten to take away something your kids really want to do, they get their stuff done on time? Will they ever learn to get their responsibilities done on their own initiative?


When giving your kids chores to do around the house or yard, do you find they didn’t do a good job because they didn’t really want to do it in the first place? When our son was eleven years old, he wanted to mow our lawn. He knew I had paid teens to do it previous summers, and he was ready to make money.  He did a great job, doing it just the way I instructed him for the first couple weeks. He soon discovered mowing the lawn wasn’t fun, it really was a job, and he not only had to do it, he had to do it the way I wanted it done.


One evening I went outside to enjoy the nice weather and I saw strips he had missed. I talked to him about it, and he told me it was getting dark when he had mowed so he would get it next time. Not pleased with this I watched the next time he mowed. He was working so fast he wasn’t doing a good job and there were once again places that were not mowed.


I realized I needed to teach him to have a good work ethic, and this was a great place to start. I told him I was no longer going to pay him by the week. He would get paid monthly. If I had to remind him to do it, or if he had to do it again because he didn’t do it right the first time, he would still mow every week, he just wouldn’t get paid.  I also told him he could not mow anyone else’s lawn until he could show me I could trust him to do a good job on ours without my constant supervision. On his third summer of mowing, he said his goal was to get paid every month that summer. And he did.


At eleven years of age, do you think our son understood that everything he did was for the Lord? I don’t think he gave this a thought. I asked him what doing something for the Lord meant. This gave me the opportunity to teach him we can show the world God’s glory in everything we do every day. Since our office is in our home, we have a lot of people drop by the house. When they commented on how nice the yard looked and asked who mowed for us, he was giving God glory by showing others he was willing to work with his whole heart. In God’s eyes, giving Him the glory in what we do is more important than any amount of money we can make.


Teaching your children to work is a key responsibility of every parent. In many ways, it will determine how successful your child’s future will be. I want to encourage you to stop reminding your kids to do what they already know they are supposed to do. Stop lecturing them when they don’t do it. They aren’t listening anyway. Give them consequences. The most effective consequence that works for all ages is to take away the freedom of what they were doing instead of completing the assigned task.


If your child was watching television or playing on the computer instead of getting his homework done, he loses the freedom of the computer or television. If your child can’t get up on time in the morning, tell him (or her) if he needs more sleep he gets to go to bed earlier at night and set his bedtime one-half hour to one hour earlier, depending on the child’s age.


The first question your child is going to ask is how long he loses this privilege. Ask him what you need to see before you should give it back. The answer is he needs to get his schoolwork or his chores done on time. Tell him you need to see it become a habit, because you are tired of fighting with him over it. When you see this, you will give him the freedom back. Seeing it become a habit means he needs to do it consistently for at least one-two weeks. Remember, “no pain, no gain.”


The work ethic your children learn in your home is the work ethic they will take into their first job which will dictate the kind of employee they will turn out to be and it will dictate the way they will one day serve the Lord whether they work full-time in Christian ministry or volunteer at their church in some capacity.


“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,

as working for the Lord, not for men.”

(Colossians 3:23)




CherylMay 25, 2013 - 9:47 am

The importance of work ethic cannot be over-emphasized. During 33 years as a high school teacher, I met myriad students from myriad families: no matter what the students’ aptitudes, work ethic defined their success. I saw highly motivated seniors (who might have only average abilities) work their way to a 3 or 4 on an AP exam, thus earning college credit for their efforts. Conversely, I saw brilliant “budding geniuses,” refusing to do homework, not only fail AP exams but even fail in regular courses and not graduate. Just because they had been “resting on the laurels” of their gifted brains, they doomed their high school records by their refusal to follow directions and respect the guidance of their teachers.

On a personal note, as parents of an adopted son diagnosed with a brain disorder, my husband and I have gone through 24 years of very difficult parenting. Because of our son’s inability to sequence, his ADD, and his scattered thinking, it has often taken him 3-5 years to learn basic life concepts that can take a “normal” young person just a year or so to learn.

Nonetheless, my husband and I “fought the good fight” throughout his upbringing, and continue to do so today. Though he was unable to go to college, or even do very well in school for that matter, he has developed a pretty good work life because of what employers have said about his work ethic. Through constant discipline and excellent private school training, he learned how to interact with the public effectively, developed a huge heart for others (especially the needy), and is very good at physical/kinesthetic work that doesn’t involve a lot of paperwork. The auto dealership (where he started out washing and delivering cars) eventually made him a lot manager (training new employees, keeping the lot neat/tidy, making sure the other lot workers did a meticulous job). He was recently promoted to become a service writer; our prayer is that he will be able to manage the craziness of stressed-out customers bringing in their cars to the service dept.

One thing his employers seem to agree on: he always tries hard and gets a lot done.

We are grateful for this answer to our prayers. Plus, he is marrying a young woman who does have a college degree (and who also helps him manage life with his brain disorder). When I spoke with her about whether she was concerned that she has a degree and her husband will not, her reply was, “My fiance works much harder than a lot of people I knew in college. He has a full-time job and is given all the overtime he wants. He likes his work. I graduated from college with people who still have not found work. They’re still living with their parents, and they have thousands of dollars in college debt. My future husband is in good shape, by comparison.”

Sophie MasseyMay 25, 2013 - 11:22 am

This is so true and yet missed by many parents. Nagging becomes the norm as we run around plagued by impatience brought on by our own propensity for carrying ‘monkeys’ that belong to our children. This only produces frustrated parents and lazy children. Thankyou for the reminder to us to implement Colossians 3:23 in this aspect of our own parenting as well as encouraging it’s outworking in our children’s lives and hearts.

Margaret PaulsonMay 25, 2013 - 9:58 pm

I really appreciate the reminder to keep a strong work ethic in our home. Lately we have been struggling with our children working together well. We have 5 children (15 down to 5) and all have a wonderful, strong idea/opinion 🙂 about how a job should be completed, and they don’t always agree. I find that we just resort to just giving individual jobs bc we don’t want conflict. I feel like we give consequences and we have times of conflict resolution where we train on how to work things through, but I would love some more insight. We homeschool, so we are home during the day. Thanks Carla.

Monica BrownMay 26, 2013 - 2:36 am

Joey and Carla. . . we used your advice with our oldest who is now 19 and are we ever GRATEFUL! We have 6 other children and one on the way and we are teaching them all to be responsible, diligent workers. .. this article reminds me again to NOT lecture. . to ask questions. . .to take away what my child wants until they are willing to do their work correctly. I was just saying today how pleased I am that my children know how to take care of things and clean up. They don’t always do what they know is right and we are working with them every day toward the goal of having a heart that works as for the Lord. We know it will make a HUGE difference for them when they reach adulthood.

Thanks for the reminder. . .

Jim & Monica Brown

Why Can’t I Do It

 Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.

Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive.

 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”

I Corinthians 10:23-24  NIV


I was listening to the news on the radio as I was driving, and I stumbled on a discussion about spring break, and how hundreds of thousands of teens and college students are going to Mexico and Florida and the Texas coast for “Spring Break”.  The people on the panel talked about how they used to go away for spring break and asked each other if they would let their college-age kids go. Every person on this panel said “No way!” One of the people on the panel said she would let her son go as long as she went with him as his chaperone. Everyone had a good laugh, knowing her son would never go for that.


When their parents say “NO” to something they want to do, a lot of kids and teens ask “WHY NOT??” Parents don’t always have a good answer to this question; they are just imagining all the worst case scenarios that could happen. Oftentimes this kind of interaction can break relationships of trust between the teen and their parents, especially if the parents respond to their teenager with a harsh and angry tone. What teens want most is for their parents to trust them, but they do not have enough worldly experience to know that giving trust can be a double-edged sword. They don’t understand their parents may trust them, but not the circumstances surrounding the activity they want to participate in.


These verses in I Corinthians 10 deal with this exact issue.


All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.

All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”

I Corinthians 10:23-24 NASV


From these verses, there is nothing wrong with telling your teens that they could do anything. This will surely get their minds going, thinking, “WOW, I can go!” Until you point out the rest of the line in the verse; “but not all things are profitable.” To help your kids work this through and get a good understanding of this verse, parents should ask the following questions:

  • How is this going to profit or benefit you?
  • How could participating in this activity hurt you?
  • You know many of the other teens going do not have the same values you do. How are you going to resist them when they try to get you to do something you know you should not do?
  • How is participating in this activity going to be constructive and help you grow in your relationship with Christ?


The second part of the verse is also interesting as it says, “All things are lawful,” meaning God doesn’t have a law against it. BUT, “not all things edify” or will build you up and be a blessing for you. The definition of the word “edify,” says “to instruct or improve especially by setting a good example; to profit morally or spiritually.” There is no middle ground here. If the circumstances that come with participation in an activity are not going to set a good example so your child or teen will profit morally or spiritually, then it is going to hurt or tear them down.


We would encourage you to

  • Plan a time to look at these verses up with your kids.
  • When you get to the point that says “All things are lawful /permissible” Ask them what this means.
  • Then read the rest of the line and have them look up the words, ‘profit / beneficial’ and ‘edify /constructive’ in the dictionary and discuss what they mean.
  • Encourage your kids to rewrite the verses using the definitions of these two words.
  • Have them write how activities or events they want to do under “All things are lawful/permissible” would benefit them or edify them.


You want them to grasp the fact that even though they could do something, that doesn’t mean they should do it. The trick is getting your kids to think this through. These verses explain this from God’s point of view.


The next time a situation comes up where your kids don’t understand why you are telling them, “No,” bring up these verses and ask your kids the questions mentioned above. Don’t let them get away with giving you answers they know you want to hear. You may need to keep asking them additional “HOW” or “WHY” questions to be sure they have not only thought through the issue, but will know how to deal with an unforeseen issue or complication they didn’t see coming.


I remember when our son Michael was in 9th grade and he wanted to join a team for the Dragon Boat Races during an event the high school sponsored. Teams of twenty teens were on each boat and they competed against each other. We saw the benefit in this activity so we told Michael he could go.  A week before the event, he told us a lot of the teens were staying overnight in the state park the night before the races and he wanted to join them. We could see many negative issues with this that would not make it a beneficial activity for him.


We asked him to come up with three reasons why we might say “yes,” and three reasons why we would say “no.” He agreed, but he didn’t come back at the appointed time with his answers. Carla asked him why, and he said the only reason we would say “yes” was because he wanted to go, but he had a lot of reasons why we would say “no.” He chose not to go. On race day, we found out sheriffs came out and arrested many of the students for underage drinking and drugs. A friend of ours who was a cop told Michael he was smart to stay home instead of spending the night with the others.


Our kids are just like us. We see something we want and we might check to see if there is a law against it or something in the Bible that says we shouldn’t do it. But that is about as far as many of us go. These verses teache us we need to do more than that. We need to ask ourselves if we will morally and spiritually profit from participating in this activity or from the purchase of something we want, but don’t need. This is an important, but often overlooked step when it comes to making decisions in our lives. If you want your kids to grow up thinking things through to make the right moral decision, you must teach them to think morally by thinking through and evaluating what is right and wrong for them.


Is this something you as an adult need to think through for yourselves so that you are a good example to your kids?


Margaret PaulsonMay 25, 2013 - 10:11 pm

It becomes more and more difficult to tell our children “No” as they grow and mature, especially our teens, with whom we have fervently been working on our relationship. I like the verse mentioned, as I believe it can be a tool to continually use to help transfer ownership of the decisions. I keep wanting my oldest daughter to think things through and come to the same conclusions that we her parents come to. They aren’t always the exact same, but we are making strides towards personal ownership and the verse Carla shared can be a great tool to get us there. We are going to try the approach this summer of 3 reasons why. Thanks.

Monica BrownMay 26, 2013 - 2:42 am

. . .this article changed our thinking in a critical way. . .thank you for encouraging us to think about whether or not something is actually profitable for us or others is so important and has already helped us navigate activities with our children. Your comments are helping us help our children to “buy in” to a biblical view of the many choices we have vs. forcing them to do what we say.

Thank you!!!

Jim and Monica Brown