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When Trouble Comes, Are Your Kids Ready?

When Trouble Comes,

Are Your Kids Ready?

HOPE

by Joey and Carla Link

September 6, 2017

 

Driving home from a family camp 13 years ago today, a man fell asleep and lost control of his vehicle. He hit us, throwing us over a guardrail. Even though I (Carla) was wearing a seat belt, I was ejected from the van, suffering severe injuries. I was able to go home after a 3 month hospital stay, but our lives have never been the same and never will be as I suffer medical repercussions from that accident still today.

 

A horrific car accident, your house being broken into and robbed, or you find out you have cancer; these are the sort of things we never expect to happen to us as Christ followers. We often think our life of faith is going to be all sunshine and roses and Jesus has failed us when things go wrong. But God clearly says all through Scripture that we will go through dark and difficult times. People still frequently say to me “I don’t understand why God would allow this to happen to you.” My response is “Why not?”

 

“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

 2 Timothy 3:12.

 

Have you ever thought about preparing your kids for tough circumstances? It’s like a toddler learning to run, he will stumble and fall and get hurt, but he will keep getting up and will run again. If your kids are going to live for Christ, they will make mistakes, stumble and fall. All God asks us to do is pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and try again, and again.

 

How do you prepare your kids for tough situations?

 

  1. Step up your obedience training. If your kids do not obey you without reminders and lectures from you at least 80% of the time, consider it time to work on training them in obedience training. For if they won’t obey you, why would they obey God in tough times? Both of our books, “Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Obey” and “Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think” will help you with this.

 

  1. Read Old Testament Bible stories to them. Ask your kids what the person in the story did to deserve such trouble. Ask them what they would do if they were in a similar situation. Joseph wore a coat his father had given him and his brothers ganged up on him wanting to kill him but sold him into slavery instead. David did nothing to King Saul for him to send an army after him to kill him. When given the opportunity to strike back and even kill the King, he said to his friend “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” (1 Samuel 26:9) What a powerful lesson to teach your kids when they are being treated unfairly by peers and friends.

 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

 

  1. Follow the leader. Right now we are all glued to the internet and television looking at pictures of the devastation in Houston, Texas after last weekend’s hurricane. Can you imagine thousands of parents comforting kids as they are leaving all behind to evacuate flooded homes? In moments like these you don’t want your obedience training to fail you or your kids.

 

God is bigger and has more power than the hurricane. That’s hard to imagine too, isn’t it. But that is how God can say with confidence, “I have overcome the world.”  God will find a way to make it right for these families again. It is up to us to show our kids the way through tough times. I (Carla) recently shared with a young friend who was facing difficult medical testing how I got through it, something I had plenty of experience at. She used the things I shared with her and told me later she did feel God’s overwhelming peace in the midst of the tests.

 

  1. Teach them how to handle adverse situations. Start when they are young. When your toddler takes his brother’s toy from him, teach the preschool brother what he can do to work it out instead of hit him. As you continue to teach the appropriate ways to work through difficult situations as your kids grow and mature, it will become a part of who they are when they become young adults to deal with tough situations.

 

What you don’t want to do is frighten your kids when you think of preparing them for adversity. You don’t need to fill their minds with worst case scenarios. It goes back to this verse in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:

 

“These words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them

when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way.”

 

It is the parent’s job to prepare your kids to handle the unknown in the everyday circumstances of life. Staying on top of their obedience training doesn’t require filling their heads with the possibility of impending disaster. Putting their seat belts on is a matter of obeying the law, you don’t have to tell them what it would be like to get in a car accident without one. Keep the big picture in mind, but with kids, stay in the here and now. Have a plan to consistently train your kids’ character to be Godly and they will be able to handle whatever comes their way.

 

Teach your kids as Paul said in Ephesians 6:13 about what it means to put on and wear the full armor of God. He never leaves us unprotected in any storm, much less the worst of storms.

 

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,

you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything,

to stand, stand firm then.”

 

As the Newsboys song goes

 “Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night
But joy comes in the morning.”

What Are You Filling Your Kids’ Spiritual Backpacks With?

What Are You Filling Your Kids’

Spiritual Backpacks With?

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Joey and Carla Link

August 23, 2017

It’s back to school time! It can cause anxiety for kids – going to a new class, new school or moving up a grade. Other kids can’t wait for the next grade. Many parents can’t wait for school to start again to get their kids and family back in a regular routine. Good parents ensure kids learn everything they can and what they need to be well-rounded adults.

 

Parents hit the “Back to School” sales and get their curriculum ready and lesson plans completed if they homeschool. Back to school time can be emotionally draining for parents as they realize their kids are growing up, especially if they have kids who are college bound.

 

One thing many parents don’t plan for as they prepare their kids to go back to school is their spiritual growth and development. I focused on this with our kids each year. Here are some Spiritual preparations I wanted my kids to have before they left our home for good.  What are yours?

 

Stores in our areas post lists for each grade and school of what kids need to fill their backpacks with. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a “Spiritual Check-List” too? Here’s ours.

 

  1. Our kids know where each book of the Bible is and can turn to that book in church or Bible study when the name of the book is called. We did drills looking up different verses in the Bible which encouraged them to memorize where the books were to beat their siblings.

 

In this digitized age, Bibles are easily accessed on phones and tablets and the names of the books of the Bible can be found by googling them. This is our perspective of course, but we think while you can certainly access the Bible on your computer or phone, nothing replaces holding the Word of God in your hands and reading the pages with reverence and awe. The Bible is the life of God and you just don’t get that feeling from a tablet or phone.

 

  1. We read from the Bible 4-5 days a week as a family. I (Joey) started in Genesis and read through the Bible with them over the years pulling out a few verses each day for them to think on. Yes, we even read through Numbers and Deuteronomy. J

 

  1. We memorized verses together. We put a key verse (on a 3×5 card) on the mirror of their bathroom and bedrooms to help remind them to look at it. As a single parent of 3 teenage girls, my (Carla’s) mom had 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals” on every mirror, closet door and on cupboards in the kitchen! I have never forgotten that verse as a result.

 

  1. We took them to mid-week kids’ programs at church. Our church had the excellent AWANA program where they memorized verses each week. We didn’t just have them memorize verses, when we worked with them on memorizing the verses, we asked them what they meant and had good conversations about them.

 

  1. We would read a book at dinner time a few days a week. One of our favorites that is still in print is “Little Pilgrim’s Progress.” Our goal was 2 chapters 2-3 nights a week and our young teens kept asking for more.

 

  1. We had them read books that would encourage them in their faith and challenge them to live for Jesus. Carla or I would take them through books like “A Girl/Boy After God’s Own Heart” 1-2 chapters a week. The questions at the end of each chapter opened up wonderful discussions on applying God’s principles to their lives.

 

  1. We encouraged them to have their Quiet Time/Devotions every day. On Saturdays, Joey would ask them what God had taught them in their QT’s that week. They were eager to share and we did as well.

 

  1. We wanted our kids to be able to lead someone to Christ, so they had to not only know the plan of salvation, they could actually share it with someone.
  • Do you know 90% of Christians have never led someone to the Lord? How that must hurt God! Have you? We wanted our kids to be confident how to take this step when God knocked on their door and said, “He/she’s ready!”
  • We used “The 4 Spiritual Laws” by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade ministry, now known as Cru.

 

  1. We wanted our kids to be able to lead a small group Bible study or confidently teach a children’s class.
  • Carla always taught Sunday School classes and had the girls join her and assigned them weeks to plan each part of the program including the lessons and to teach them.
  • She or I would lead a Bible Study with their peers, then have them lead one while we observed. All 3 of our kids will tell you they are grateful for this experience.

 

Some might wonder when and how you can fit all this into your children and family’s schedule. It’s just like any other thing your kids want to add to your family’s life, like playing a sport or spending time with friends. When it’s something you want to do and you think it is important in their lives, you find a way to fit it in and make it happen.

 

One day, your kids will graduate from kindergarten, elementary, middle school and then high school. Potentially they will go on to college and graduate from there. At each level of promotion, they move up after completing course work they know, understand and are proficient at.

 

When your kids graduate from your home will they be proficient at following Christ? Will they have the foundation building blocks from your home (with the church’s help) for your kids to get a job or go to college and not walk away from their faith? Do you know over 80% of kids raised in evangelical Christian churches walk away from their faith during their college years? So not only are we not bringing new believers into God’s kingdom, the ones He gave us to raise for 18 years are walking away from Him. This should scare you to death.

 

Will your kids choose to go to church when they leave your home? Marry a strong Christian? Will they be hanging on to their most important textbook of life, their Bible? What do your Spiritual lesson plans need to include this year?

It’s Summer!

It’s Summer!

Joey and Carla Link

Picture1

August 9 2017

It’s already August! Is your family enjoying time together and perhaps with grandparents? It is so hot here in the Midwest everyone is talking about finding a beach! Is that in your summer plans? The stores here are putting out school supplies. I’m thinking “School supplies, it’s barely August!”

Whatever you planned to do this summer it is definitely time to get on it. I want to go through drawers and clean them out and reorganize them. I think I have gotten one done. What about you? Do you have any household projects you were hoping to accomplish?

 

What about your kids? Did you and your spouse come up with one thing each of them needed training in? Have you started to work on it consistently? If we asked each of your kids what you were working on with them, what do you think they would say?

 

What about daily devotions? Everyone slacks off doing them in the spring for the extra 15 minutes of sleep when soccer games and practices were added into the already overcrowded family schedule. You wanted to get them going again before school starts. There is still time for that. We have devotion books for all ages at the parentingmadepractical.com bookstore.

 

If things have gotten crazy and lazy with bored kids causing trouble every day, here are some tips to get your home back in order.

 

  1. Get a routine in place. Routine brings order to your child’s day and order brings predictability, which gives kids security. Too much free time for kids of any age leads to trouble.
  • Your kids get up around the same time every day so they need to go to bed at the same time too. Don’t let summer’s lazy attitude let your kids stay up late night after night unless the family has a planned activity outside the home. I encourage you to keep them on the same sleep schedule they are on when school is in session.
  • They need to have regular eating times too. Please don’t let them snack all day. We had the rule that drinks needed to stay in the kitchen unless they were outside.
  • For kids 5-11 years, have them help you make their routine (if they have a good attitude about it). Make a list of the activities that need to be done or can be done. Include chores, devotions, reading time, free play time, game time, time on computer and so forth. Write down how much time each activity should get or needs.
  • Tween and teens can come up with their own routine, although you have the right to align it with family activities or tweak it. Make sure they include a time each day to play with younger siblings.

 

  1. Step up your obedience training. Together with your spouse, write down next to the names of each of your kids how often they come with a good attitude when you call their name and give a verbal response if you have trained them to do this (kids 4 yrs. and up). Give each of them a percentage. For the ones whose percentage was lower than 75% – it’s time to step up your obedience training. Come up with a plan, decide to be consistent and get going. If you need a review, our “Understanding First-Time Obedience” Mom’s Notes presentation comes in a packet with a chart to use. Oh, for the kids with a percentage higher than 75%, make sure you have a quiet moment with them to praise them for being consistent.

 

  1. Spend intentional time with your kids. While your kids may beg to spend time with their friends this summer, what they really want is to spend time with YOU! They may not show or say it, but they do. Spending time with your kids is more than sitting in front of the television. When was the last time you rode bikes together? Our grandkids, ages 6 and 4 yrs. were here recently visiting us parent-free and we rode bikes to a city park a few blocks away. Joey was on his bike, our little guy had just learned to ride without training wheels, our 4 yr. old granddaughter was on a big wheel and I in my scooter. What a site we made but they asked to go again and again. Oh, spending time together means no phones! You can take it with you; just put it on silent like you would if you were at the movies. This leads us to #4…

 

  1. Have FUN! It’s summer! Do things as a family but also find time to spend with each child individually. Even going for a walk around the block one-on-one or out for ice cream will speak volumes to your child. You can always have fun without letting your standards slide. I remember one of our daughters was pouting on a family outing when she was around 9 yrs. old and her father looked at her and said, “I can see you must not want to do this since your attitude is choosing to sit out and watch us have fun.” She sat for 30 minutes and watched us race cars on a track. Joey went to her and asked if she was ready to join us and she apologized and said to make it right her attitude would be good the rest of the day.

 

What are some of your favorite family activities with young children? With older kids? Can you think of activities they can do during the daily routine like “Lego Time”?

Training Your Child’s Bent

Training Your Child’s Bent

Joey and Carla Link

July 12, 2017

“Train up a child in the way he should go;

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

Proverbs 22:6

 

The future belongs to those who believeParents have hung on to this verse from Proverbs for dear life, hoping and praying their kids will “not depart from it.” “I’ve taken my kids to church their entire lives. I’ve trained them the way they should go. So why is my son so rebellious?” “My daughter took up with the wrong boy and now she is pregnant. I took her to church, we are good Christians. What happened?” are questions we often get.

Each one of our children have a “bent”,  a way to go that God has given them to be who He wants them to be to do what He wants them to do. Parents need to learn the ‘bent” God gave them so they can train them up in God’s way of living.

When we train our kids according to “the way they should go,” or their “bent, they will recognize how God made them and will see where they fit into His plan. The word bent means “someone who is determined to take a specific course of action, a knack or aptitude for doing something.”

When God designed each of your children while they were in your womb, He put together their temperament blend. He gave them specific spiritual gifts, talents, and so forth, all parts which make your child unique. As parents, it is our job to watch for these as our children develop and mature. To begin to get to know your child’s bent or “the way they should go,” we think it is important for parents to understand their children’s temperament so they can train them and teach them accordingly.

We have spent several weeks on Parenting Made Practical’s facebook page talking about the four temperaments and the strengths and weaknesses of each. Have you decided if your child is a strong-willed Choleric, a laid back Phlegmatic, a sensitive yet task-oriented Melancholy, or an energetic, out-going and fun-loving Sanguine?

For each of your child’s strengths, there is an opposite weakness. Your strong-willed choleric child has the potential to make a fine leader someday but at the same time can be bossy, demanding and has the need to control all situations he finds himself in. Your laid back, even-keeled Phlegmatic is a born peacemaker but at the same time is lazy and unmotivated. A sensitive, task-oriented Melancholy can be judgmental and expect others to stick to his to-do list as well. And your fun-loving Sanguine? They are easily distracted and don’t follow through on what they say they will do.

Everyone is a blend of two temperaments. I (Carla) think this is God’s way of balancing us out. We need to learn the temperament blend of each of our kids and train them to develop their strengths and learn how to keep their weaknesses under control.

We wrote three Mom’s Notes presentations to help you with this, focusing on the major weakness of each temperament. These presentations are called, “Working with Your Child’s Besetting Sin, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3”. They are on sale now at www.parentingmadepractical.com.

We encourage you to ask God to open your eyes to the traits that make up your child. Ask Him to show you His design for your child. Ask Him to teach you how to train your children in the way they should go, in keeping with their individual gifts and the natural ‘bent’ He gave them. When we train our kids in such a way that they find fulfillment in who they were created to be, we have done what God has called us to do as parents with the kids he gave us.

My Child Lies

My Child Lies

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Joey and Carla Link

June 2017

 

Is there anything worse than your child lying to you? It’s hard to stay calm. I was talking to a parent recently who found out her child lied to them when Mom was talking to a friend and heard what her child said to her about an issue they were dealing with. This mom felt a deep burn in her heart when she got the story from her friend.

 

What do you do when your child lies to you? We have a very helpful Mom’s Notes presentation called “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” that is full of practical information on this troubling character trait. You can download both the notes (PDF) and MP3 at parentingmadepractical.com. I would also like to offer insight on this topic here as well. Let us first lay a foundation.

 

Does your child brush his teeth every day? Turn the light off in the bathroom? Make his bed the way he is supposed to? Get the dog fed? How about getting the trash out? Get off the computer when it’s time? Do you remind your kids to do any of these “normal” daily responsibilities? If so why do you remind them?

 

It could be because you are working on training him to do these responsibilities. When is your training over so you can give him the monkey (ownership) of each responsibility? It is over when you are confident he knows what to do, why he should do it, how to do it and does it by himself with no reminders from you 75% of the time.

 

Once you give a monkey to him, what do you do when you can see he isn’t carrying his monkeys, or he hasn’t completed the tasks he was previously characterized by doing?

 

  1. Ask yourself, is this a one-time happening or is it happening with several different responsibilities many times a day. If it is a one-time thing don’t do anything.

 

  1. If it is happening again and again, let him fail. We know this hurts you as much as them, but it is a necessary part of growing up. This is the deal with letting him fail, failure = consequences. Be ready with an appropriate consequence that makes the failure painful. If he doesn’t get his schoolwork turned in, let him feel the consequences his teacher will give him. If he is homeschooled, take away all his freedoms until he is caught up.

 

  1. When your kids give you the impression they have completed their chores and schoolwork but they haven’t, do you treat this as lying? It is a form of lying called deceiving. To deceive is “to cause someone to believe something that is not true.” Isn’t that what a lie is? To trick you to believe something other than the truth? Once your kids are 8 yrs. and above and have received the monkey for a particular responsibility or behavior, when they become deceptive in dealing with it with you, it needs to be treated as lying and you need to pull that monkey back into the funnel, meaning it is your responsibility to oversee it with your authority again.

 

  1. If you continue reminding them vs. training them to remember and be responsible for these, then you really are giving your child a double message allowing them to lie to you while at the same time telling them outright lying is wrong and not allowed.

 

What can you do? When you find they don’t get their teeth brushed or feed the dog or do whatever else is on their list of tasks for the day, instead of reminding them, threatening or lecturing them (like we talk about in our book “Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think”):

 

  • Ask them why they lied to you. With the shocked look on their face, ask them to go look up the word “deceive” in a dictionary or on the internet. Ask them how deceiving can be seen as a form of lying.

 

  • If they say “I just forgot to do it. I wasn’t deceiving you”, ask them why you should believe them. It’s easy for kids to get in the habit of “forgetting” because it erases responsibility for them. So saying they forgot to do something is again trying to deceive or trick you. Ask them why you would want to be their memory.

 

When you give your kids an instruction, when you are finished do they say “Yes Mom/Dad?” If the task does not get completed, you want to go back to “Why did you lie to me by saying you would do it?” Your child might want to know when he told you he would do it. You can tell him when he responds to you with “Yes Mom/Dad” at the end of their instruction he is agreeing to follow through with it. When he doesn’t intend to do it, saying “Yes Mom/Dad” is another form of lying and when your kids are 8 yrs. and up, they need a correction for it.

 

Kids with the Sanguine temperament are prone to lying by deceiving, distracting and the other forms you can find out more about in the Mom’s Notes presentation, “Working with Your Child’s Besetting Sin, Pt. 2 Dealing with the Child Who Lies.”

 

Teaching our kids to be responsible is one thing, and it needs to come first. Teaching them to be honest with you as well as themselves by not lying in any way when they know they should be responsible is another matter completely.