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The Family Months

The Family Months

by Joey and Carla Link

November 2014

The months of November and December seem to be “family” months. Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful times for families to get together, give thanks to God and have fun together. But what is family? While kids enjoy the blessings of family along with the gifts they get and the time out of school, do they really know what “family is?” Do your kids see the way you are raising them as “This is our family” or “These are my parent’s rules?”
Joshua said in his book to all Israel when his family was being pulled to live by worldly standards that many Israelites were choosing to follow, ” As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Do your kids know your family standards and why they are so important?

Do your kids understand why only certain kinds of clothes and jewelry are appropriate for your family to wear and others aren’t? How about the words that come out of their mouths – are they words that honor God and fit your families values?

It’s one thing for your kids to fit in with their friends, but it’s another thing for your kids to begin speaking, acting and taking on characteristics of their friends, especially when these characteristics don’t fit your family’s values and beliefs. Some parents simply say, “Don’t act or talk like that!” For a small child that works. But when kids start the elementary school years, they need to know why we as a family don’t do this so they can uphold your family values. And just to be clear, “Because I said so,” doesn’t give kids understanding or build conviction into their hearts.
Are your kids characterized by wanting to be part of your family? If they are, praise them and encourage them when you see it. If they are characterized by different values, ask them questions to find out why they want to wear clothes you don’t approve of and how that pleases God and how that makes your family look to others.

This was brought to my attention once again me a few weeks ago when we were teaching in the Lancaster, PA area and I saw a large Amish family, ages around 5 -25 years wearing their traditional attire. Girls were in long dress with white head coverings, and boys wore black pants, had beards and black hats. I was impressed at how they were passing on to their children what they believe God wanted them to look like and how He wanted them to live out their faith. It was a great example and challenge for us as Christians. Do we teach our children what Godly values are and give them all the reasons they need to live and follow your family’s faith and traditions?

Are You Spiritually Strong?

Are You Spiritually Strong?

by Joey and Carla Link

October 2014

Untitledphoto courtesy of googleimages.com

 

We started talking about what spiritually strong parents don’t do a couple months ago. Did anything on that list hit you where it hurts? If so, have you been working on it? You can find this blog here.

 

When we talk to Christian parents, without fail they tell us they want to raise God-honoring children. Well, you can’t raise God-honoring children unless you are a God-honoring parent, which is another way of saying you need to be a spiritually strong parent to raise spiritually strong kids. So, let’s take a look at one key thing spiritually strong parents often DON’T DO!

 

Spiritually Strong Parents Make Their Kids a Priority Over Activities

Spiritually strong parents show their family they are a priority. We can get so busy we don’t see those who are living in the same house with us. Quite frankly, kids are often in the way of our next “to-do”. Don’t just tell your kids they are important to you. Show them they are!

 

Your kids will want to participate in everything available for their age, but do they need to? It is common for families to have their children running from one activity or sport to the next after school every day of the week. Parents don’t want their kids to miss out on what other kids are doing. What you wind up with are exhausted, cranky kids who do not excel at anything.

 

Ask a young adult if he/she thinks the activities they were involved in as kids advanced them academically or career-wise. We have asked many, and 95% of those have responded they did not. Yes, your child can learn about being part of a team by participating in a sport. Does that mean to learn this lesson your child has to be in soccer, football, swim team, gymnastics, dance and more? In God’s eyes people matter far more than any activity or event you or your child has the opportunity to be a part of, and spiritually strong parents know this. Make time for your kids, no matter what their age.

 

How do you show your kids they are a priority?

Hard Is Not Bad

HARD IS NOT BAD

by Joey & Carla Link
September 2014

Do you ever feel discouraged in your parenting? Do you feel like giving in or backing off from raising your children the way God wants you to because it is just too hard?

 

The next time this happens, perhaps you will think of this story. There was a girl born to a well-to-do family. She was much loved and desired, until she caught an illness when she was 2 yrs old. This illness left her blind and unable to hear. The family hired a woman named Anne to work with her, expecting little in return. They greatly underestimated the determination and spirit of the this woman they hired.

 

She worked tirelessly with this young girl, putting up with her horrible temper tantrums along the way. It took two long years, yet Anne taught her charge to read and write using braille and to communicate with others through signs. Anne wasn’t this girl’s mother, yet she was committed to seeing this young lady succeed, even with the imperfections God allowed her to have.

 

And succeed she did. The reward was great when her student, now a young woman, graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College. Anne had spelled every word of every lecture into this girl’s hand during her college years. Can you imagine?!

 

Helen Keller went on to become a prolific author and speaker on behalf of those with disabilities.

 

Your child has imperfections too. You may be raising a strong-willed choleric who is determined to be in control, or a lazy phlegmatic who doesn’t see the need to get anything done in a hurry, or a happy-go-lucky sanguine who is easily distracted and doesn’t get their stuff done without constant reminders from you.(Do you want to know more about temperaments – see the Mom’s Notes presentations, “Understanding Your Child’s Besetting Sin, Parts 1,2,3”)

 

And your child is being raised by imperfect parents. Do you have the determination of Anne Sullivan to train your children in the character they will need to succeed, or are you too busy with other things to give this the time and effort it takes? Anne could have done the bare minimum when working with Helen and that would have been okay with everyone but Anne herself.

 

Bev Linder, author of the book A Never-Give-Up Heart, said in her recent blog post to parents of children of special needs,

 

“Hard is not bad”

 

Hard is not bad, it is just hard. Don’t give up parents and don’t give in. Biblical parenting is hard work. Keep the big picture in mind. God gave you each of your children to train up to love and serve Him with all their hearts. Do you want your kids to succeed in God’s eyes? By God’s grace, be more determined than your children are.

 

DISASTERS HAPPEN

DISASTERS HAPPEN

august

Joey & Carla Link

August 2014

 

We’d just returned from a ministry trip. A week before the trip, my knee gave out and I fell and broke my leg right where it sits on the ankle joint. You would think with time the pain would pass. With this break, every time the foot moves, pain shoots up my leg. The doctor told me I would be non-weight bearing for 6 very long weeks.

 

Non-weight-bearing foot + pain = Bad Attitude

 

We got to our destination after driving all day to find the hotel room we pre-paid a month prior did not have a handicap accessible room available and the staff was rude about it. At our new room in a different hotel which took us an hour to find since it was late at night, I opened my suitcase to find the vitamin water I had put in had spilled red liquid all over my clothes. (I ALWAYS use Ziploc bags for liquids and really couldn’t figure out why the bottle wasn’t in a bag and even accused my hubby of taking it which of course made him happy) Joey graciously volunteered to wash my clothes at the hotel while he met with our hosts…and the list goes on.

 

No room + Wet clothes = Bad Attitude

 

We chose to put a positive spin on things, reminding ourselves when we are getting ready to do something good for God, the enemy attacks.

 

What does this have to do with parenting? When you get ready to leave the house with your kids (no matter their age) disaster is waiting around the corner. I remember the time I needed to get the kids to church and we were already late. Briana was about 18 months old and I gave her a bag of cheerios to keep her quiet. When we drove into the parking lot, she had gummed up Cheerios everywhere – in her hair, all over her face, smeared all over hers and her brothers clothes. I turned around and drove home, bathed and changed Bri while Michael changed clothes and back to church we went so I could get to the 2’s & 3’s Dept. where I taught the children’s church program.

 

Or the time Briana, then a teenager, got to the car when we were going somewhere and saw the outfit she had on was the same color scheme as the one her sister was wearing. Not the same outfit, mind you, just the same colors! We were ready to head out the driveway and she was in her room changing clothes, which required different shoes and a new hair style.

 

Toddler + wet gummed up Cheerios = Bad Attitude

Sisters + same clothes = Bad Attitude

 

I am sure you get the picture. Oh, the bad attitude of each belongs to the parents.

 

ATTITUDE IS A CHOICE!

 

Even if you are a pessimist, you can choose to look at the bright side of circumstances, finding solutions rather than problems and opportunities instead of road blocks. Of course, this is easier said than done. Choosing a bad attitude over a positive spirit is destructive because a bad attitude focuses on self.

 

When you focus on yourself, you become your #1 priority in life, even over God. Oh, you may say God is first in your life, but your actions hardly show it. Making yourself feel good becomes more important than anything or anyone else.

 

Getting your focus off self and back on God and others takes willpower. When I (Carla) was in physical therapy after our car accident several years ago, I was told to talk myself into moving the right way. When I am trying to stand up, to this day people often ask me what I say to myself. I smile as I tell them I tell myself “You can do it!” When I say this, I breathe a silent prayer asking God for His strength to get through the pain.

 

You can do it, no matter what “it” is. Your 3-year-old daughter spilled her juice during snack all over the mail you left on the table, not to mention your cell phone. Take a deep breath, thank God for the opportunity to show her what kindness looks like, take her in your arms and kiss away her tears letting her know all will be well and ask her to help you clean up the mess.

 

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning,

that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish

in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,

among whom you shine like lights in the world, holding fast to the Word of life.”

Philippians 2:14-16

Parenting Back to the Future

Parenting Back to the Future

by Joey Link

July 2014

july
Wouldn’t you like to speed through time to see what you need to do now to prepare your kids for their future challenges? Let me take you there through a recent conversation I had with a couple who went through a Growing Kids God’s Way class we led some 20 years ago.

While he was growing up, they took their now adult son to church. He was active in their church programs. He was quick to memorize verses in their church’s AWANA program. He sat with them in church and paid attention. He was active in the youth group and went on a couple of mission trips. He was a bright young man and very good student in school. He didn’t really give his parents much trouble at all as he was a very compliant and responsible son.

Today he is a very good employee and yet doesn’t go to church or read his Bible. He has a great job making good money in the technology field which is pleasing to his parents. While this young man has good Christian values, they are frustrated as Christ is not the center of his life as they had hoped and expected from all that they put and poured into his life.

So, going back into his childhood from this point in time, what happened? What could they have done differently or better? We believe man has a free will and can choose to reject God and His ways, or he can choose to follow His ways. From being a youth pastor and seeing several kids walk away from their faith after they leave home, I don’t think it can all be attributed to free will.

These are many similarities that can be found in the rebellion of God’s chosen people, the Israelites. God said it best, speaking to His servant Isaiah when He said;

“These people come near to me with their mouth

and honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

Their worship of me is based on merely human rules

they have been taught.”

Isaiah 29:13

Jesus saw the same thing in His day and quoted what God had said to Isaiah, speaking to the religious leaders of the day:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.”

Matthew 15:8

 

In talking to the young man’s dad, I asked him several questions that I would ask you to ponder about your children as well. We discovered in our conversation that they left out a few essential ingredients to help their son grow spiritually while he was in their home.

 

  • They were proud their son passed the levels in the Awana club and was getting trophies and high honors, but they found he was only memorizing facts and figures like he would for a test.

 

  • They thought the memory work he did in the weekly club was getting to his heart, but they were so busy with other kids and service at church that they didn’t have time to sit down and help their son think through what the verses really meant or how to apply them to his life.

 

  • They were pleased their son came to church and paid attention, but they never talked about what the kids heard in Sunday School or the church service at home.

 

  • They figured he was having a Quiet Time and praying every day, but they never talked to him about what he was learning in his devotions or getting from them.

 

All this was brought back to me recently as I was sitting in church trying to worship and yet was distracted by a young woman near me who was focused on her phone. I was even more disappointed with her constant texting which was stealing my attention from the sermon. I wonder why she even went to church that day.

 

Her two young children who were standing with her in worship just listening to the songs being sung, then they left for a children’s program. I had to wonder what follow up this young mother will give her kids at home, training their hearts to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength since she wasn’t even worshiping God in their presence. I wondered if her cell phone wasn’t more of a God to her than God’s one and only Son who died on a cross for her. We all need to be careful our cell phones don’t become idols!

 

Do you know if your kids are only learning with their minds while they attend classes and programs at church, or are they learning with their hearts too?

You can help your kids move the teaching from their head to their hearts by:

– Teach them to think about Scripture to understand what God is saying to them.

-Help them understand why God put that teaching in the Bible to us

-Help them understand what God wants you and your children to take away from this passage in Scripture

-Know how they will apply these verses or teaching to their life

-Know what that will look like

-Hold them accountable for having their devotions each day. On Saturday night while my kids were growing up, I used to ask them to bring me their QT journals and share with me what God had been teaching them that week in their devotions. They were excited to share with each other and Carla and I and it was a great way for me to hold them accountable for having them.

-When worshiping, make sure they see beyond the fancy staging and lights and know WHO  they are worshiping

-Print out the words of the songs sung during worship at home and talk about what they mean in regards to living the Christian life so they are more meaningful to your kids the next time they sing them

 

It’s one thing to take our kids to church and have them hear great songs and good sermons. It’s another thing to help our kids learn how to apply these to their lives. Instead of living through the next 20 years then looking back to see what kind of grades you got for mentoring your children in God’s love and the Christian faith, give them tests now. Test them to see what is in their hearts to see how close they are to God vs. the things of this world by having great family discussions to see what they already know and are learning each day, and especially on Sunday.

 

Summer time can be a good time to test your children to see what is in their hearts and what their motivation to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is.

 

 

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