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Wishful Thinking

By Joey and Carla Link
June 23, 2021

It is summer, a time everyone looks forward to. The kids get a break from school and families are busy planning vacations, holidays and fun things to do. Don’t you wish you could say to your kids, “Mom is so looking forward to getting a break this summer too! So can I count on you to do what you are supposed to do and what Mom or Dad tell you to with a great attitude all summer long?!” There were times I wished for that all year round. Unfortunately, when Eve ate that apple that God told her and Adam not to do, which was the only thing God told them not to do and they lived in Paradise, she brought sin into the world and with it the desire to do things our own way. Sin doesn’t take weeks off, it doesn’t take a single day off. Another wish I have often had for myself is that I would learn what God wants to teach me without first having to get myself into trouble before I give in and do it His way. Don’t you? So, what you can definitely count on your kids doing this summer is to misbehave, throw your carefully laid boundaries over the fence and see their siblings as sparring partners.
We want to give you a boost of encouragement to get a “Summer Training Plan” before it gets away from you.
First, keep your training ‘to-do’ list narrowed down to working on one thing at a time. I used to make a list of four things I wanted to work on with each of my children. We would actively work on the first one or two items, and give reminders for the third. The fourth was just there as a reminder to me we would get around to it eventually.Do you have a plan to train your children? Do you even have a firm idea in your mind of what it takes to train them? There are three steps to training: 1) You have to share knowledge – Your kids need to know why what you are asking them to do is important to you and God and why it needs to be important to them. Kids don’t retain lectures. Come up with creative ways (I know, this takes time!) to teach them the moral character traits that are instilled in hearts that live for Christ. 2) Knowledge alone will not motivate children to work on a character trait like to be kind to their siblings. They need the practical application that goes with the knowledge. In other words, they need to know how to do what you are teaching them. You tell your 3-yr old to be kind to her brother. Do you think she really knows what ‘be kind’ looks like? Instead, ask her if she could share a toy with her brother telling her that is being kind. For your 8 yr. old, ask him/her to give you one way they can show their sibling kindness. 3) Children need motivation to follow through with putting what you are teaching them into practice. “Motivation” has two sides; the first is to praise them when they do what you are working on with them, such as showing patience. The second is “consequences”. Before you start working on a character trait with your child, have in mind what appropriate consequences can be applied when necessary. The most effective consequence is taking away the privilege of whatever they misused. Remind yourself what they were supposed to do, then think about what they were doing instead. That is what they misused. Knowledge, application and consequences are the three-steps to effectively train your children, and all three are required to do the job successfully. Step back and evaluate the level of obedience each one of your children have. If it is not better than 75%, then put that at the top of your training list. Sit down with your spouse and come up with a list of three things for each of your children that need work. Think in terms of character traits. Don’t put down you want to teach them to remember to do their chores. Put down you want to teach them responsibility instead. That is thinking in terms of character traits. Now you might use following through with chores as the tool to accomplish this, and that’s okay. Take your spouse on a “kid date” (because you are going to talk about the kids) and come up with goals and a plan and get to work! Now that we can look back at our parenting years, we would rate the time we took to proactively train our children in Godly character as one of the best things we did. All 3 of them love the Lord with all their hearts and it just doesn’t get better than that. 

Dads, Do You Know How to be a Hero?

By Joey and Carla Link
June 16, 2021

When Dads start having kids, many think taking care of them is their wife’s duty and they are there to provide the money their family needs to function. They don’t know what to do when their kids cry or whine, or won’t do what they tell them to do. We cringe whenever we hear a young dad say “I’ll have more input into his/her life when he is older.”
It is easy for a Dad to feel like he isn’t good at much. His boss tells him he needs to spend more time at work, his pastor tells him he needs to spend more time in God’s Word and serving in the church, his wife tells him she needs more of his undivided attention. And his kids? They are telling him in ways he cannot stand (misbehaving, being obnoxious) that they need more time with him, even the younger ones. Then his Mom gives him a book on how to be a good father for Father’s Day and he feels like crawling into a hole and never coming out.
Have you ever wanted to remind everyone you are never going to be perfect? Even God, who is perfect didn’t have perfect “kids” because they used their free will to sin and he has spent endless time working on training the children of Israel to be loyal to him ever since.
Similarly, our kids are going to sin. They fight their own human nature and it’s our jobs to train them in the way they should go so that when they are old, they will choose to believe in and love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).
What Can Busy Dad’s Do to be Your Kids’ Hero?
1.Read a Bible story to them and pray with them. Find time several nights a week, in the morning, or at the dinner table to show them who God is to you. It doesn’t have to be long! We spent anywhere from 5 min to 15 min reading a chapter from a devotional book like “Little Visits with God” or the Bible and then a short prayer. Most read aloud Bible storybooks or devotionals have a couple questions you can ask your kids too. I would often ask the kids if there was something they wanted us to pray for them about, and that was good for them to share what was on their hearts and mind.  2.Talk with your kids. Often when I needed to go to the store, I would take one child with me just to talk about whatever was on their mind. Or, I would ask them a question about a friend of theirs or something they were doing and get them to talk. Talking like this when your kids aren’t in trouble gives you great insight into their lives. You can find out what they think about. I (Joey) will never forget the time I was in the car with one of my daughters who was about 7 yrs. at the time. She said “Daddy, if God promised Noah he would never flood the world again, why is the Mississippi River flooding our town?” (It was at the time)   3.Plan a family trip. You can plan it but your wife may have more time to do the detail work of setting it up. Family trips, even a weekend trip or overnight at a hotel with a swimming pool can be memorable events for you and the kids. We always tried to take at least one weekend trip a winter. It didn’t matter where we went (it was too cold to be outside anyway), what mattered was what we did while we were there and the time spent together. I remember the time we were all sitting on one of the beds in the hotel room playing a card game. There wasn’t much room with the 5 of us on the bed at the same time so the ones on the end weren’t comfortable. When someone would get up to go to the bathroom, if their spot was better, someone else took it. It got to be hilarious as we all started bartering for better spots on the bed. That was over 20 years ago in our family, but our kids still talk about it. Trips like these build memories.
Whenever you as a Dad feel like you’re not matching up, please remember, God made you just the way you are, and he gave you the perfect kids for you (together with your wife) to raise. If not, he would have given you other kids. God chose you and your kids as a match to do life with. So, teach them what God gives you to teach them. Enjoy them and may you remember- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your souland with all your might. And 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, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:3-5

Giving Your Kids the Selfish Test

By Joey and Carla Link
June 9, 2021

We are sure at one time or another, you have had a child who says “NO!” to you. Not the toddlers who just learned the word, but a 5 year-old who defiantly looks you in the eye and says “NO, I am not doing it!” At 10 years of age this same child glares at you and walks away, with no intention of doing what you just told him to do. You quit telling your teen what to do because you are tired of fighting with him/her.
Where does this attitude come from? What makes them defy adults and especially parents who love them and do so much for them? It comes from a self-centered, self-focused heart that thinks the world should revolve around what they think and want. It comes from kids who think they are more important than they really are. The apostle Paul said it this way in Galatians 6:3: “If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing,he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions.”When was the last time you gave your child a selfish test?It’s easy for kids to think that everything they have (and you and their siblings have too) belongs to them. Your 5 year-old says to his 3 year-old brother, “I was playing with that!” even though your 5 year-old had put it down to play with something else. The only reason he wants it now is because someone else is enjoying it. A selfish test is when you have your kids ask for permission to use everything that belongs to anyone else. This is the best way to get your child back in the funnel of appreciation. Since every room in the house essentially belongs to you, this child (only do one child at a time) has to ask to use the bathroom (regardless of age). He/she has to ask to get a drink of water and if he can use your glasses. He has to ask to watch your TV or use your computer/tablet. He has to ask to sit on the chair you own to eat lunch. He has to ask to use the bed you have provided for him to sleep in. Even with your teenagers, do this with everything they have that you pay for the service of, including their phones and use of your car. Will your kids think this is ridiculous? Probably. But more importantly, it will get across to them in a tangible way there is very little in the house they own or have rights to. This test will not be easy for you or your child. Your child/teen has to remember to ask for permission for everything and you have to keep track of whether he/she does or not. Believe me, this will leave a far more lasting impression on your kids and teens then taking away the privilege of something they have. While we want to give our kids things that they enjoy using and let them have the freedom of the house, they must do so with proper appreciationand respect as that verse in Galatians 6 says. When kids/teens are not appreciative of the things you give them, they likely are not going to appreciate all the things and blessings God gives them to enjoy out of His love for them. “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”Galatians 6:2-5 Is this what you want people to see your kids as when they become adults?

Got Toddlers?!

By Joey and Carla Link
June 2, 2021

WHAT IS “NORMAL” BEHAVIOR FOR TODDLERS? While behaviors such as throwing fits, being demanding, controlling you with his whims, talking in very loud voices, wanting Mama and no one else but Mama, are normal and to be expected, parents still need to deal with them. A toddler will let you know that he is unhappy with you if you require him to do something he doesn’t want to do. Please don’t try to talk your toddler into it. Put him somewhere he will stay until he gets happy and tackle the issue again. If you know your toddler will throw fit after fit about picking up his toys for example, then move him to an activity you know he enjoys. A toddler doesn’t understand logic or reasoning. Everything in his world is black and white so don’t try to go into the gray areas for him or expect him to understand the moral “why”.Let’s look at some parenting guidelines about raising toddlers:1.Stay in control at all times and stay calm. We are talking about you, not your child. Your toddler wants what he wants when he wants it. He doesn’t get why you don’t understand that or why you try to deprive him of whatever he wants in any given moment in time. Reminding yourself that he is only 2 helps you stay in control.

  • If you aren’t calm we guarantee your toddler won’t be either. Or your baby and your preschooler. Your kids will feed off your stress.
  • Count to ten or take a deep breath and slowly exhale.

2.Parenting toddlers isn’t easy. Just when you think you’ve got your toddler figured out, he changes. There is a reason they call it the “Terrible Two’s”.Because their verbal, physical, and emotional skills aren’t well-developed, your child can easily become frustrated when he/she fails to communicate what he wants to say or perform a task to yours or his satisfaction3.Your toddler doesn’t want to nap or go to bed. He/she thinks they should be able to play until they unknowingly fall asleep on the floor.

  • Napping isn’t about choice. They need naps until they start school. They may not like them, but it doesn’t mean they don’t need them.
  • Have a set routine for naptime and bedtime.
  • Kids up to 8 yrs. old should be in bed by 8:00; kids under 6 yrs. by 7:30.
  • Kids under a year old need 2 naps a day; kids between 12 and 30 months need 1 long nap a day, and when busyness has interrupted sleep schedules and kids are overstimulated, add a 2nd one hour nap in the morning for a few days to allow their bodies to catch up.
  • Bedtime routine includes: (for both naps and nighttime sleep)
  • Having them at the same time every day.
  • Having them in their bed at home, not while you are doing errands.
  • Have them get in bed, pray with them and leave the room. The longer you drag this out the more time you are giving your child to protest.
  • When he/she has a melt-down and you keep trying to calm him down, he is in control. Since you know there is nothing wrong with him, let him work on calming himself down. If he/she cries, so be it.
  • Give him attention when he is happy and calm, not having melt-downs and mad.

 4.Praise the behaviors you want to encourage your toddler to keep doing.

  • Deal with your toddler at the first sign he/she isn’t happy, like when he starts whining.
  • Have him/her sit in a chair with his hands clasped together and no freedom to talk or get off the chair. Tell him he needs to calm down and get self-control.

 5.Set boundaries, keep them simple and enforce them. By setting limits you will help your toddler learn self-control.

  • Boundaries include things you don’t want him to touch. Keep most of it out of his reach (like remotes) but have a couple things at his level to use as tools to teach him “no touching”.
  • When he does touch something he’s not supposed to, have him sit with his hands folded until he gets self-control. Walk away. When he is done with any crying or fit, ask him if he is ready to apologize for touching the “no touching” object.
  • All the apology needs to be at this age is “Sorry”. If he/she needs a hug afterwards. Give it to him.
  • Don’t be surprised when your toddler touches it again. They aren’t old enough to understand logical thinking. Just repeat the process above.

6.Don’t give in.Set your limits and be consistent. If that means your child has a full-blown tantrum in the grocery store because you won’t buy him a candy bar, remove your child from the situation and wait until things calm down. You won’t be the first parent to leave a full cart in the store and you won’t be the first parent to be standing by your car as your toddler screams his head off. There is a lot more that can be said about raising toddlers but it will have to wait until another time. In the meantime, please remember that your toddler is doing things that are perfectly normal for his age. Hang in there! “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”Psalm 127:3

Are You A Babywise Mom

By Joey and Carla Link
May 26, 2021

There are two ways to feed your baby. You can feed him on demand (whenever he cries) or on a routine. Like anything else where there is more than one way to do it, how you feed your baby is a choice. We demand fed our 3 kids. When we met Gary Ezzo, the author of On Becoming Babywise, our youngest, Amy had just turned a year old. She could walk, she jabbered constantly, but she didn’t sleep. Even as an infant, she took 15-20 minute catnaps and woke up several times a night and at a year old, nothing had changed.
Our other daughter had chronic respiratory problems and had to be hooked up to a machine every 4 hours around the clock for 30 minutes. At 2 years old, Briana understandably didn’t like the treatments and when they were done, she cried for another 30 minutes while I rubbed her back and sang to her trying to calm her down. Her crying always woke Amy up so I would put one down so I could feed the other.
Joey was a family pastor at the time and we attended a conference hosted by Gary Ezzo who was also the author of the very popular Growing Kids God’s Way parenting curriculum. Joey wanted to check this program out to see if it would fit his vision for the parenting ministry in our church.
Anne Marie Ezzo sat down with me during the conference and explained the Preparation for Parenting course, which eventually became the foundation for the On Becoming Babywise book. We put Amy on the routine immediately when we got home from the conference, and after 3 bad days, she started sleeping through the night. Unbelievable! The next day I went to her room to see what she was up to and was surprised to see her laying on the floor, sound asleep. She slept for 2 hours! We became immediate believers in the Eat, Wake, Sleep routine. Two ladies in the young marrieds class at church were pregnant and they agreed to try this program from birth, with “by-the-book” results.
We have led the Growing Families Int’l parenting classes in our area for over 30 years now. Gary asked us to oversee all the classes in 14 states and eventually we served as National Ministry Overseers for the entire country. We also were guest speakers with the Ezzo’s at many parenting conferences which led to us speaking and teaching at seminars and conferences throughout the United States on our own.
Why are we encouraging you or others you know to put your baby on the Eat, Wake, Sleep routine you find in On Becoming Babywise?
If you want your baby to sleep through the night (6 hours) by 6 weeks of age and 10 hours by 12 weeks; play happily when he/she is awake and fall asleep on his own when you lay him down – this is the book for you!

I have been a Contact Mom Coordinator for the Babywise ministry for over 30 years and was the National Ministry Advisor for many years. Here are tips I have learned from working with hundreds of moms over the years.

Babywise Tips:
1.   When your baby is a newborn, start a 3 hour Eat, Wake, Sleep routine around the clock.
Start with first feed at 6 am, then every 3 hours feed your baby again. 9 am, noon, 1 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm, midnight, 3 am.
Set your alarm for the midnight and 3 am feedings. Think of it this way, your baby is going to wake up a couple times a night to feed anyway. By establishing set times, this will give you and the baby consistent sleep in-between feeds and give the baby consistent metabolism around the clock.
You can treat the 6 am feed like a nighttime sleep – no stimulation, no talking to him/her – just feed and change the diaper if needed.
This allows you to shower, dress and get your other kids up and feed them breakfast.
1.   When the baby is about 4-6 weeks old, one half of the baby’s cycle will be sleep and the other half feed and wake time.
Until then, his wake times will be inconsistent and there will be very little wake time for the first 2-3 weeks.
“4-6 weeks” is a very general guideline for this. Some babies wake time might be longer at a quicker pace than another baby whose wake time might be 15-20 minutes at 4 weeks.
2.   Put the baby down at the 1st sign of sleepiness – yawning, tugging on his ear or hair, or first sign of whimpering.
Don’t wait for the baby to work himself into a crying fit as it is much harder for him to settle down when he does.
3.   Although On Becoming Babywise tells you it is a flexible routine – keep it as consistent as possible the first 8 weeks. You will benefit from this with a chubby, healthy baby who will sleep through the night.
4.   When your baby starts moving around he no longer needs the swaddle. He will feel bound by it and will cry. It is really only needed the first couple weeks.

5.   The baby will sleep better if he can’t sense you are nearby. I would recommend you move him/her to his crib in his bedroom after the first 3-4 weeks.
6.   When planning your baby’s routine, the two Mom’s Notes presentations “Structuring Your Child’s Day, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2” will be very helpful. The Notes/PDF version also shows how, with a family of 4 children you would blend all their routines into one that works for the entire family.
7.   If you have a toddler or preschooler when the baby is born, get them on what the baby’s routine will be now so he/she will be on it when the baby comes. Let the baby’s feed times be DVD time for the 1st couple weeks until you and the baby are settled.
8.   If you have guests over or are at an event at church or elsewhere, watch your baby to see that he/she doesn’t get overstimulated. This happens when he is held by too many people or overwhelmed by too much noise. Overstimulated babies are unhappy, cranky babies.

The success of On Becoming Babywise for over 25 years now is worth trying the Eat, Wake, Sleep routine with your baby. A routine brings peace of mind because you know when the baby is ready to eat, you know when it is time for him/her to sleep, you know how long he will sleep and so forth. The best thing about a routine is YOU KNOW what to do and when to do it!