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Who Is Influencing Your Kids?

Who Is Influencing Your Kids?

Joey and Carla Link

July 10, 2019
Who has the most influence on your kids? Every parent thinks they are the biggest influence in their kids’ lives and that is certainly true with young children. But as they grow older, that can change. Have you considered how much time you actually spend with your kids versus how much time others spend with them and influence them? It’s one thing to love themunconditionally, spend money on them, take them places and even attend every one of their events, but who are they listening to? Who is speaking loudest into their lives?
When we first took the Growing Kids God’s Way parenting class some 30 years ago, one of the many things that made us take a closer look at our parenting was this very question. Who was spending the most time with our 3 kids? The week’s homework had us answer the following:
  1. Excluding yourself and your spouse, list all the people who spend at least one hour with your children during the course of a week.
  2. Next to their names, write the total hours per week they spend with your child.
  3. Count the number of people you have listed who have standards and values which differ from yours.
  4. Count the number of hours they spend with your child weekly.
Did the answers to these questions tell you something you have never thought about? It was frightening for us to see how many hours our son was spending with people who didn’t have the same values as ours. Those hours were in structured activities such as school and sports and music, but they still added up. It told us exactly where a lot of the attitude we were dealing with was coming from as well.
Whether its peers, cousins, siblings, teachers, coaches, day care workers/nannies or other adults, they all have an influence on your kids from terms and phrases they use to the kind of clothes they wear to how they do their hair. They can also influence all kinds of things from what they think about different things to the music they listen to and what they do to entertain themselves.
The influence of others on our kids can have a powerful impact on them that can take weeks, months and even years to try and counter once a child has bought into it. The Bible says it clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV):
“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Carla’s Mom wrote this verse on 3×5 cards and taped it to doors and mirrors throughout their house.
So what can a parent do?
 
Until your kids are mature enough, meaning they can be around bad influences and not be affected by them, teach them to walk away! Yes it can be embarrassing to them and even seem like they will be looked down on for slipping away, but Solomon’s wisdom says “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
  1. Parents need to encourage their kids regarding who to hang out with. This is part of training kids on what to look for in friends.
    • Plan times with families with like-minded values and similar ages of kids.
    • For a family night make a family list of qualities to look for in friends and those to avoid. One night a month get the list out and have kids name friends with good qualities on the list and have them share why. Have them share the names of kids who were so obnoxious they needed to be avoided at all costs and why, and the names of kids who didn’t have similar values they had to be in close contact with like sitting next to in school, band, choir, etc. Ask them what they could do to show them what Godly values looked like.
    • When in public and you see a kid misbehaving or begging their parent to buy them something, take your kids for ice cream and ask them what was wrong with their behavior and why and what the kids should have done differently.
    • Teach them that any friendship can erode into a bad influence depending on who the friend is spending time with. Help them see when this is happening and work with them to come up with a way to confront the friend or pull away from the friendship.
    • Help your kids learn how to be a good influence with kids with unwise values they have to spend time withWhen one of our daughters rode the bus to band events, we encouraged her to take a deck of Uno cards to play on the bus. She asked some girls with values similar to ours to sit together with her and they played the game. Other kids on the bus wanted to play too, even the loudmouth obnoxious ones. Amy told them it was a clean game so they could play if they kept their language clean. They did and cards became a thing to do on band trips.
Parents are often too busy to really know who their kids are hanging with or what they are talking about with each other. Have you thought about who your kids are spending their time with when they are on a school bus for music or athletic events? They spend hours in practice with these same kids. Have you thought about the language they hear when something doesn’t go a kid’s way? Not knowing this can erode good parental training through bad associations.
Over the years, especially when I (Joey) was in youth ministry we have heard many a sad parent say:
  • I wish I had learned more about who my kids were hanging out with.
  • “I didn’t know what my kids were really doing with that group of kids.”
  • “I didn’t know what my kids were listening to and the language they were picking up on.”
  • “I didn’t know my kids were looking at that on the internet with them.”
We are not encouraging you to be helicopter parents who micro-manage your kids. It is up to you to teach them how to be mature enough to live in the world and not be a part of it. Today with technology as a primary means of communication for kids, it’s easier than ever for parents to be informed about what their kids are doing, looking at and who they are communicating with on their phones. They may have never met who they consider to be close friends; much less you have met them! We would encourage you to be wise stewards of your most prized possessions, your kids and not let your investment into their lives be stolen by unwise fools but to teach your kids how to be influencers versus being influenced by “bad associations.”

Remembering

Remembering

By Joey & Carla Link

July 3, 2019

 

You see all these TV commercials about getting your DNA tested to see who your ancestors are. Joey doesn’t have to do that as his mother kept journals written by her great-grandfather, birth certificates and pictures that were left to her. James Cotton, Joey’sgreat (x4) grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War. We have a copy of his discharge record. It lists all the battles his battalion was a part of.

Rev. George Scott, Joey’s great (x2) grandfather spent 3 years during the Civil War as a Confederate prisoner of war where he served as a Chaplain for both sides of the conflict. He wasn’t going to tell a dying man he wouldn’t pray with him because he was on the wrong side of the conflict.

 

Rev. Scott was a circuit preacher, meaning he traveled by horseback to different churches to preach each Sunday and he was a Captain in the Underground Railroad. His son’s journals tells how, when he was 10 years old, his dad showed him the secret loft in their barn where they hid slaves while re-stocking their supplies and told him how to keep their farm as a central hideout should he be caught and killed. We are grateful Joey’s mom kept these journals and pictures and left them to us.

 

We were surprised to learn the Scott’s home was about an hour from us here in Iowa. One Memorial Day we decided to go find the cemetery dedicated to the soldiers of the Civil War and their families where he is buried. Visiting cemeteries is a time of remembering the lives of those who have gone before us and the legacies they left us. As we stood in front of Joey’s great-great grandfather’s grave and those of his family, we read the journals we brought with us. Courage, determination, compassion for the unfortunate, loved God and was passionate to share the Gospel with others, these are just a few things we noticed about his character. Think how many fleeing slaves he led to Christ! We wondered how long it had been since a family member stood there remembering the incredible legacy this man left to his future generations. It’s a memory we will never forget. We hope to take the next generation there when they are old enough to understand what this man did for his country and for those who were oppressed and seeking to live a life of freedom.

 

We will never forget going to our Nation’s capital with Joey’s father and walking with him through the WWII memorial park. Heserved in WWII, something he rarely talked about. When I (Carla) asked him to explain the significance of the medals he had earned he just looked at me with pain in his eyes and said they didn’t really mean much to him for how could he get medals when so many of his army buddies had lost their lives. He told me he didn’t deserve any honor for being one of the lucky ones who survived. It may not be a big deal to you, but we think it is important that our future generations don’t forget who they came from. God thought it was important too, commanding the Children of Israel to build memorials for events He wanted them to remember.

 

Patriotism has taken a big hit in our country. Schools are being encouraged to stop having their students stand and say the pledge of allegiance to the flag of America and athletes won’t stand for the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner”. This is a part of the culture your kids are growing up with today. Are they being desensitized to what it means to serve and honor God and country?

 

Why not try to find out who in your family served in wars fighting for our country’s freedom. Plan a trip to Washington D.C. and visit the War Memorials. The one for the Korean War is hauntingly beautiful yet important to see. Plan a trip to Boston and walk the Freedom Trail with your kids. They will learn more on that route about the birth of our country than they ever will from a textbook.

 

You can sing “God Bless America” as a family as you watch fireworks on July 4th. You might be surprised at how many others will join in with you. Pray for our country as a family. Ask your kids how you as a family can honor being an American.

 

(Note: The circular marker next to Joey’s great-grandfather’s grave with the star on it is the one given veterans of the Civil War when they died.)

 

Summer Jobs

Summer Jobs

Joey and Carla Link

June 26, 2019

 “Workaholism” is the Millennials new religion where work is what they live for. This was the conclusion one study on this topic came to: “Millennials don’t dread Monday mornings and they can work 12-14 hour days and longer. They are called the “hustle culture”. They are obsessed with striving relentlessly, devoid of humor. “Rise and Grind” is their theme and way of life.”

 

Why do young adults live for work? They have lost the vision God gives us for a satisfied and content life and therefore have lost sight of the fact that God promises to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19).God also expects us to seek Him first and then He will give us everything we need (Matthew 6:33).He gives us work as a tool to build our character and supply our needs.

Summer jobs are great opportunities for kids to earn money. Teens look for summer jobs to earn extra spending money or to put it away to help with college expenses. Do your kids understand the value of work?  Workaholismcan start with summer jobs that become after-school jobs and more. When all your teen can think about is work and the money he/she is making, all else including family life and God get put on the back burner. The time to combat this is before your kid gets his first paying job. That is when you need to teach your kids how to use money properly before they spend it on whatever looks good to them in that moment instead of learning to save some too.

Key questions for parents to work on with your kids about having a job:

1.    Do your kids know how to work?

2.    Can they balance work with other duties, family and responsibilities?

3.    Do they pray and ask God for the job He wants them to have, even if it is just a summer job?

4.    Do your kids know how to work with a good attitude and hustle knowing they are representing their Heavenly Father just like their actions and attitude represent your family?

5.    Do they see their job as an opportunity for them to be a positive representative of their Heavenly Father to their fellow employees and others around them?

6.    Do they thank God for the job they have and the money they earn from it?

7.    Do they honor God with their money they receive from their job by tithing?

8.    Do they know how to handle money God’s way? If not there are plenty of resources available that will teach them to do so. (Dave Ramsey and his daughter have written a series on how to handle money for kids.)

Carla and I both were raised with a strong work ethic which we wanted to pass down to our kids.

Our rule was our kids could not work for anyone else until they put forth their best effort with a good attitude in the jobs we had for them to do at home.

One goal we had was to teach our kids how to work and earn money so when they got to college they looked for a career where they could earn money that would provide for their needs and would allow them time to serve the Lord. We always want them to be thinking about ways they can serve God in addition to all the other responsibilities they have.

This Week’s Question: In today’s young “have to have it all” generation;

How are you helping your kids learn about money, work and using them both to bring glory and honor to Jesus?

“Life’s NOT Fair!” 

“Life’s NOT Fair!”

Joey & Carla Link

June 19, 2019

 

My (Joey) siblings were a few years older than me so they got to do things that sounded like a lot of fun but I wasn’t allowed to tag along. One time they got to go Christmas caroling with the church youth group in the back of a dump truck! I was 12 at the time and that sounded like so much fun. But my parents said I wasn’t old enough and I wasn’t going. I let them know in no uncertain terms that “Life’s NOT Fair!” but they weren’t swayed and I stayed home.

 

Have you heard “Life’s not fair” from your kids? What do kids mean when they say this? Its intent is to make the person telling you that you can’t do what you want to do feel guilty enough as you pull on their heartstring to give in and let you go.

 

When kids say something like this they are being self-focused:

  • They are thinking only of what they want to do
  • They are telling you they deserve better than you are giving them
  • They want more and they think they deserve more

By the way, this is what they are saying to you when they yell “I hate you” or “you don’t love me” too.

 

So what is fair? Children are not the same in the gifts and talents they have, and they crave the ones they don’t have. One of your kids may be gifted playing baseball and another one of your kids can’t hit a ball for the life of him. Yet this same child is gifted musically but doesn’t seem to care about that. One of my (Carla’s) sisters had blonde hair and one was a brunette. Me, I have red hair and freckles. My least favorite nickname growing up I heard at school was “Redhead the deadhead”. Did I covet their hair? You bet I did.

 

To listen to a child complain about what is not fair does not put parents in the best mood. If you are telling one of your children many times a week how selfish he/she is or thinking it, you have a child with a deeply rooted sin issue. It is most likely time to start digging away in the garden of his/her heart at this vile weed so it no longer controls your child’s thoughts and deeds.

 

Selfishness doesn’t care at all about what others are or are not getting. The most important thing in the world is what he got (or did not get) so going the route of trying to show him he got a fair deal is useless. A selfish heart doesn’t want to see others succeed because that person is getting praise and attention and that gives them perceived power that the selfish one wants to keep possession of. They also are not capable of admitting when they are wrong, but they don’t see that they are wrong. So, where do you begin?

 

5 ways to combat selfishness

  1. Teach your kids to have grateful hearts for then they will learn that to be content is to be satisfied with what you have and with what you don’t have. True contentment comes from accepting Christ and having faith that in Him you will have everything you need. (Philippians 4:11-13)
  2. Teach your kids that God made them special and unique. God made them perfect in every way even if they think they have some deformity like red hair. Parents need to teach their kids that God doesn’t make mistakes. Let them know that God has a very special purpose to bring glory to Him through them just the way He created them. My frustrated mom once asked me when I was complaining about my hair for the umpteenth time if she was the one who decided the color. I told her I knew she didn’t, that God made that choice when He created me. Then she told me to go to my room and let God know what I thought about Him giving me red hair and complain to Him. I was appalled, but I learned a valuable lesson that day.
  3. Teach your kids to put the needs of others first. Don’t just tell them they need to think of others first when they are being selfish. Ask them what they could do to show their siblings or/and you that they are thinking of them instead of pushing for what they want.
  4. Teach your kids to cheer others on to succeed. We required our kids to go to all the events of their siblings. They knew this was non-negotiable so they didn’t fight us on it. We were pleased when our two older kids joined us in the stands when our youngest was in the State Marching Band Competition. Our son was at university a couple hours away and our daughter took the train down from the Bible College she attended several hours away. It didn’t even occur to us or her that they would come. When we looked at them in surprise, they both said, “You cheer each other on, non-negotiable, right? She came to all our stuff so it is only fair we get to some of hers.”
  5. Teach your kids that life isn’t fair because it isn’t. When one of our kids said “life isn’t fair” we agreed with them and told them to go to their room and get their attitude (heart) right with God. Agreeing with them that “life is not fair” took their fight away because they had no response for us.

 

Parents, don’t let your kids get away with saying “It’s not fair”. Use this as a teaching opportunity to help them see that “fair” is what is best for them, how God made them and what He gives them. For we all know it was not fair for Jesus to have to die for us, but He was willing to do it even if your selfish child was the only person on the face of the earth. If God thinks each of us is that important, then how can we tell Him He made a mistake when He created us?

 

This Week’s Question:

Are your kids willing to live life the way God made them?

What are Your Kids “Catching” From You, Dad?

What are Your Kids “Catching” From You, Dad?

Joey and Carla Link

June 12, 2019

Our son is the father of four young children. On a visit with them recently, I (Joey) had a flashback to a time when I was raising him. He was not happy with us about something and emphatically said he would never parent the way we parented him.

 

I think every new parent thinks they will know how to parent differently and better than their own parents did with them, and that works on their first child who has both of his/her parent’s undivided attention. But by child #4, what you really want from your children is obedience and a peaceful home and the only way you are going to get it is to teach your children to learn to do what they don’t want to do whether they like it or not.

 

It is good to fast forward and imagine what kind of parent each of your children is going to be. Ask yourself if you want them to raise their kids the way you are raising them. I can still hear my mother tell me when she didn’t like my friends that “more is caught than taught” and that is true for how your kids see your parenting. They see what you do a lot more than listen to what you say. Carla’s Dad would tell her and her sisters “Don’t do what I do, but do what I tell you too.” That didn’t work for her either.

 

Many kids grow up turning their backs on God because they can’t comprehend a loving Heavenly Father with the way their earthly father treats them. So, Dad’s how well are you reflecting the character of God to your kids? God wants your kids to look at you the way He wants them to eventually look at Him. What do your kids see reflecting back at them when they look into the mirror of your soul?

 

I encourage you to grade yourself on the following characteristics of God to see how you are reflecting a loving Heavenly Father to your kids. If you don’t get an “A” or “B” you know what you can work on.

  1. Loving yet firm (Lamentations 3:22-23)
  2. Faithfully keeps His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20)
  3. Holds His kids accountable for wrong-doing. (Micah 6:8)
  4. Forgives us when we ask for it (1 John 1:9)
  5. Helps us get back on the right path without guilt (Proverbs 3:5,6)
  6. Provides for our needs without giving us our wants if we aren’t ready for them (Philippians 4:19)
  7. Keeps His Word although it might not look the way we want (Psalm 33:4)
  8. All powerful yet He uses His power to empower us not to enslave us (Psalm 147:5)
  9. He knows everything we think and do yet he doesn’t use it against us (1 John 3:20)
  10. He is always with us yet He does not impose Himself on us (Joshua 1:9)
  11. He is full of wisdom and He gives it to us if we ask for it (James 1:5)
  12. He is good, patient and kind yet he does not give us too much that would spoil us (1 Corinthians 13:4)
  13. He is merciful and compassionate when we mess up yet forgives us when we ask for it and does not hold our past against us (James 5:11)
  14. He helps us strive for excellence when we are determined to achieve it (1 Timothy 2:2-5)

 

This is the barometer Dads that we need to shoot for. Every Dad should want the best for his kids. Please never forget your kids need and want the best from you as well.

“For you are great and do wondrous things, you alone are God.

Teach me your ways O Lord. That I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

 I give thanks to you O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me.”

Psalm 86:10-13