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Sweets & Treats

Sweets & Treats

Joey and Carla Link

October 30, 2019
This is the time of year where kids’ get more sweets and treats than they normally do. The question is, what do they do with this freedom? If they are younger, do they know how to manage their behavior when they get some extra sweets like candy orcupcakes? If they are in the pre-teen/teen years, have they learned how to say no to another piece because their body has had enough?
The first time we took our kids to a high school homecoming parade we were surprised and caught off guard at all the candy that was being thrown from the floats and at all the kids running into the street with grocery bags to fill up. Of course our kids wanted some. We told them they could pick up what was thrown to them but they couldn’t run in the street to get it. For kids to learn the ability of how much is enough when their sweet tooth is craving more is a great opportunity to teach them self-control. A chaperone for one of the floats noticed our kids and she came to them and gave them each a large handful. What a reward for their self-control!
Self-control is a root character trait that shows up in many ways in kids’ lives. When kids are toddlers and preschoolers you are their self-control mechanism by monitoring how much food they can have and how much they need to have of different food groups.
As they grow, parents move from putting food on their kids plates to letting them serve themselves.  This is another training opportunity to watch and see if your kids have the self-control to eat what they don’t like because it’s good for them, or will they skip the vegetables, or take a very small amount so they can have more of the foods they like. I am using food as an example because of the epidemic of overweight children – 13.5 million kids in the United States in 2018. (US Center for Disease Control)
Teaching kid’s self-control is second to obedience training when it comes to training your children to build a solid foundation of core values.
How well are your kids developing self-control? Here are a few questions for parents to evaluate
  • Can they walk in the house vs. running?
  • Do they put their backpacks and coats away when they walk in the house?
  • Do they take their dishes to the kitchen sink after eating?
  • Can they lose at a game and be a good sport about it?
  • Can they speak kindly and nicely to someone who is in a bad mood?
  • Do they pick up their toys when they are done playing with them without you telling them to?
When kids are given the freedom of having or using a cell phone, for the most part they are responsible enough to remember where they put it when they set it down and to keep it charged. Why? They keep track of them because it’s important to them. In the same way, teaching kids the self-control necessary to have consistency in being respectful in their attitude and actions towards others should be a goal in training your kids “in the way they need to go” (Proverbs 22:6).
How well are you doing?
  1. We encourage you as parents to observe your kids in the next few days and make a written list of things and areas your kids do and do not show responsibility, respect and/or self-control in.
  2. Together with your spouse, choose the most irritating one on that list and decide how you are going to work on it, including what correction you would give. Have a talk with each child about the one you want them to work on and ask them (6 yrs. and up) to come up with one way they can work on it that week.
  3. Be prepared to follow through with a related consequence if they don’t work on their self-control in their assigned area. For instance, we had a child that had a favorite shirt, but could never get that shirt or his other dirty clothes in the laundry basket. We took the shirt away until we could see self-control in other areas. Remember, when you take something away they have to earn the right to have it back.
  4. Give some grace when you start. Be willing to remind them for the first few times you see they could have used what they came up with to work on it. Just as it takes us a few mistakes to change a bad habit, the older your child is and the more ingrained the habit, the longer it will take to change it. If you don’t give them a consequence after a few reminders it will never become important enough to them to do it as a habit.
A good Bible verse for them to memorize is I Corinthians 10:31.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Encourage them to write it out and put it somewhere where they can see it throughout their day to remember all that they do is for God’s glory.

 The Halloween Question, Do We Participate or Not?  

 The Halloween Question

 Do We Participate or Not?           

     Joey and Carla Link

       October 23, 2019

 

When I (Joey) was growing up, my parents felt that participating in Halloween activities was a celebration of the devil, therefore we were not allowed to participate in the many Oct. 31 activities. But as a 3rdborn child, I wasn’t told this, so after school one year when I was about 10, I went to an afterschool party and then my friends and I went trick or treating on the way back to my house.  To say my mom was not happy with me is an understatement! But I didn’t know it was wrong, and I didn’t have all her beliefs.

 

It’s easy to expect our kids to have our convictions, but they don’t absorb them by osmosis. Convictions must be taught. And please note, teaching is not a one time or one year event. It can take several years for your kids to embrace your conviction about what is right or wrong with Halloween, especially when friends and relatives are pulling them another way.

 

Christian parents themselves are confronted with this question every year when many don’t have a feeling one way or another or one spouse grew up trick or treating to their hearts content and the other wasn’t allowed to.

 

Questions to ponder about Halloween to help you with your convictions:

  • Is Halloween a celebration of the devil?
  • If your kids participate in Halloween, will it be teaching them the devil is fun?
  • Can they dress up and go trick or treating just for fun?
  • Many churches have fall festivals and dress up parties, “Trunk or Treat”. If you participate at Halloween time, is this a celebration of Halloween?
  • Carving pumpkins with your kids is a fun activity and lighting them and putting them on your porch is pretty. Did you know the jack-a-lanterns are supposed to be scary faces and are placed near doors in order to ward off evil spirits? How about letting your kids paint happy faces on them instead?

 

Hopefully this will not disappoint you, but our goal and responsibility is not to set your standards but to help you think through what are right and wrong standards for you and your kids.

The reason we challenge you with the above questions is because as your kids grow into the pre-teen and teen years, you will need to answer these kinds of questions because their friends both Christians and non-believers will be questioning and challenging them as to why they can’t or won’t participate with them.

 

The bigger questions are:

  • Do your teens understand who the devil is and what it looks like when their generation celebrates him? 2 Corinthians 11:4 says “he masquerades as an angel of light.
  • Do your kids know how to fight the devil (temptation to do wrong)? Jesus did in Matthew 4 and he even had conversations with Satan as He was tempted 3 times over 40 days and nights to do things Satan’s way.

 

Jesus’ disciple wrote in I Peter 5:8-9,

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith...“

 

Do your kids know how to resist the devil’s temptations?

  • When they are tempted to say something wrong or speak badly to a sibling, can they hold back until they can speak kindly?
  • When they are tempted to speak disrespectfully to you or hit a brother or sister because they don’t like what they did or said, can they control their own actions?
  • When they hear you call their name and they want to choose not to respond and say “Yes Mom/Dad”, can they override their feelings and do what is right?
  • Can they hang around with friends who don’t have the same moral standards as they do and instead of talking like them or acting like them be a model of what’s right to them?

 

We aren’t sure we understood what October 31st meant to other cultures until we were in Mexico in late October one year. They call it “All Saint’s Eve” and they believe the dead can come alive again. They set up tabernacles to their dead relatives in their yards and in the street. We walked around for a bit and then went back to our hotel for the rest of the day and night due to the sick feeling in our bodies and souls. It gave us an entirely new perspective on that day.

 

Ultimately the questions about celebrating Halloween must be prayed over and you must be in agreement on what you choose to do. Then you need to lovingly be prepared to answer your kids’ questions by explaining to them why it is either right or wrong for your family.

Romans 14:5 is a good verse to work from when you are considering what to do with October 31st.

“One person considers one day more sacred than another;

another considers every day alike.

Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”

 

 

One Final Thought:

We are called to love each other not judge other Christians for

what they choose to do or not to do with October 31st.

Are your Kids Rule Keepers?

Are your Kids Rule Keepers?

Joey and Carla Link

October 16, 2019

 

While adults know the rules, they don’t always think they need to live by them unless they get caught. Which of us does not slow down, no matter how fast or slow we are going when we see a police car on the side of the road?  We were recently travelingthrough New York City and as we approached a tunnel, there was a sign that said “Don’t cross the line while in the tunnel”. Obviously, that wasn’t good enough, because they had to put up barriers to keep them in their lane.

 

The same thing happens with our kids. Your parenting signs would say “Don’t ride your bike in the street” or “Pick up your toys before you get a new one out”. But when the parents aren’t looking, their kids do what they want because the most painful consequences they get from their parents are threats they know their parents won’t follow through on, yelling, reminding and lecturing. Certainly not painful enough to stop them from doing exactly what they want when they want.

 

So how do you get your child to obey your rules?

Most of us don’t like rules. We don’t like being told what to do, when to do it or how to do it. We like to be independent and make our own decisions because we believe that we know what’s best. This holds true for kids as well as adults.

 

  1. Keep your rules simple. Think of putting it on a sign. That’s how short it should be. They get a toy out whenthey put one away.
  2. Know your reasonfor the rule. Make sure your kids (if they are old enough) understand it or they won’t follow it.
  3. The rule needs to make practical senseto your child. “Don’t ride your bike in the street” isn’t practical to a child who thinks he is old enough to. “Don’t ride your bike in the street because the driver of an oncoming car may not be paying attention and he could hit you,” makes practical sense to a child.
  4. When your child steps out of line, he/she needs a painfulconsequence. The fines the adult drivers going through this tunnel got were obviously not enough to stop the majority of them from changing lanes. If the state impounded a person’s car for a week or month it would make a difference, but of course they can’t because they don’t have any place to put the impounded cars. In the same way, parents can take away their kids freedom’s, but like a car, the freedom they lose needs to be something they want and need to use.
  5. Parents need to obeyrules too!If we had one of our grandchildren in the van when we drove through that tunnel in New York City and they asked what the posts were for, how embarrassing for the adult community at large that the kids would learn they don’t obey the rules. Children are always watching us and not much gets by them.

 

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.

Do what it says…Don’t be a listener who forgets

but a doer who acts for he will be blessed by his doing.”

James 1:22, 25

 

“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,

but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.”

Proverbs 10:17

 

The Morality Police

The Morality Police

Joey and Carla Link

October 9, 2019
I remember the time my older sister got a lecture from our mom about the length of her dresses. She was told that they couldn’t go above the knee when she stood up. Carla tells the story that when she was in high school her mom had a similar standard about how long her skirts could be but when she left the house to go to school, she would roll up her skirt and pull out masking tape to put around the hem to hold it up. This was in the day when girls had to wear dresses to school every day. While her mom and church may have set the standard of modesty at home, the “morality police” were her friends and peers. This is when miniskirts and the “hippie movement” were coming into play and the Christian community had no idea what to do with it.
Who Are Your Kids “Morality Police?
Your kids’ morality police are whoever has the most influence on how and why they make decisions. Who has the most influence, power and sway over the choices and decisions they make regarding the clothes they wear, how they fix their hair, or the kind of music they listen to? Who decides the movies they see and the sites they visit on the internet, or even the kinds of foods they eat – you or their peers?
When you take your kids shopping for clothes, you direct them to certain tops and jeans that you think look good and are stylish for them. But what you don’t see is how they look at what they are trying on through their friend’s eyes and they wonder if these friends will like what they choose or not.
The same is true for the kinds of music they will listen to and the hair styles they wear. Even for guys, when a hairstyle is “in” everyone gets it. They want to fit in and be accepted just like girls do. There is still a “code” of what attire to wear and how to act according to what the popular kids think. Most kids want to fit in and be part of the group. Didn’t you when you were growing up?
Who chooses the “Morality Police”? Who decides what styles are in or out? It’s those who have the most influence in a particular group. As a parent, think back to your teen years and what clothes were accepted and which were not. You might even pull out photo books and yearbooks to see how you dressed back then. We did and one of our kids said “DAD, why did you wear that?” I could only tell my daughter it was what everyone wore then.
Ultimately, every child or person must decide what they will wear for themselves. The question is why they make the choices they do and who is influencing them? This is the question every parent needs to get to the bottom of before they spend money and time on pleasing their kids’ fashion and music whims.
QUESTIONS FOR PARENTS
  • Other than family, who is the biggest influence in your child/teen’s life?
  • Who do they hang around with?
  • Does your child have a bigger influence over them or do they have a bigger influence on your child?
  • If your child influences others to your standard, that is a great and commendable thing. If others have a greater influence on your child than you do, this should be a warning flag that your child will follow the crowd whether it compromises his convictions or not.
  • What is the character of the kids who police your child’s styles and behavior? If they are Godly kids, they should be an encouragement in Christ-like character and modesty as well as other standards.
  • If these kids’ are not pursing Godly things, you will need to have greater involvement policing your child’s friends and the influence they have on them. You will need to help your child learn how to be able to stand up to these friends or you will need to work with them to help them choose new ones.
How to Be Your Child/Teen’s Biggest Influence
  1. Keep Family Identity Strong – One of the best ways to do this is to have a weekly family night. In our family it was non-negotiable – meaning the kids and us worked our schedules around it. Each of us including the kids had a week of the month to plan it and the family rule was everyone had to cheerfully participate.
  2. Build a Relationship of Trust with Each of Them – This might seem hard to do when you feel that all you do is correct them, but the stronger your relationship is the less bad behavior there will be. No matter how old or young they are, take them on individual dates at least monthly. Our son and his wife recently took their 3 yr. old son on such a date and they couldn’t wipe the smile off this sober minded young fellow and he couldn’t wait to tell us this good news.
  3. Stop and Listen to Them – If you can’t give them your undivided attention when they are ready to talk, find a time when you can. Ask questions, don’t judge.
  4. Intervene Even if They Don’t Want You To – I remember when our son was in 5th grade, his teacher knew what we stood for and contacted us to tell us she could see he was being negatively influenced and was drawn to some boys that we would not want him hanging around. We thanked her for her honesty as we also had been seeing some changes in his behavior and attitude at home but were unable to figure out the cause. I (Joey) drove to the school the next couple of days and watched him from my car during lunch recess. I began asking him who he hung out with at school and what they did during recess. After that, instead of attending his sports games with Carla and the girls, I purposely got involved on the teams as an assistant coach or umpire to deflate the influence of these boys. I started picking him up for lunch every couple weeks to talk life with him and spent more time with him one-on-one riding bikes and playing Frisbee golf. As I watch the man of God, husband and father he is today I do not regret one second of that time together.
Mom and Dad, you will only have one shot at training your kids. Either you will be your kid’s morality police or someone else will. Are you relaxing your standards to please your children? Or are you standing firm to honor the Lord?

Integrity

Integrity

Joey and Carla Link

September 25, 2019

 

Every child loves a good Bible story. They hear the story and often see it as a great adventure. What little ones don’t see and can’t see is the integrity of the men who are God’s heroes in these stories. As your kids get older, do they ever go back and re-read the Bible stories of the Old Testament especially? Or do they think they already know them by heart?

 

What is Biblical integrity?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, it is defined as “following a moral code; to be incorruptible.”

 

According to a Bible Dictionary, the biblical virtue of integrity points to a consistency between what is inside and what is outside, meaning, are your beliefs acted out in your behavior for example.

 

Between 

  • belief and behavior
  • our words and our ways
  • our attitudes and our actions
  • our values and our practice

 

A person of integrity will put the needs of others before his own. He will “turn the other cheek” rather than hurt the other person. A person of integrity would rather die than deny, or turn away from what he believes in.

 

During a Family Night, ask your kids what their definition of “integrity” would be.

  • Have them write it down and have all share with the other family members.
  • Ask them each to share an Old Testament Bible character they think was a person of integrity and have them share why.
  • Ask them to come up with Godly character traits they think a person of integrity should have.
  • Ask if they know a verse where that is mentioned.
  • Assign someone to keep a list of all that are shared.
  • Have that person read them all and ask everyone to silently pick one they need to work on.
  • Tell them in a month you will meet with them to see how they are doing working on the one they picked (great accountability). You can do this individually or as a group.
  • Have them share the one they are working on.
  • Have everyone else share how they have seen them working on it.
  • During the month before the meeting, pick one night a week and read a story out of a Children’s Bible Story book you know they think they know by heart. Ask them to share why these Biblical heroes are men of integrity.

 

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm19:7-11 NIV).