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From Head Knowledge to Heart Knowledge

By Joey and Carla Link
October 6, 2021

You’ve told your 6 yr. old son he has to be kind to his 3 yr. old sister no matter what. God said to be kind to each other and so that is what everyone in your family is going to do. (Ephesians 4:32) Yet time and time again, your son hits his sister when he gets mad at her. Never mind she broke his toy!

What do you do when he hits his sister? Do you tell him he has to be kind to her no matter what one more time? When you “tell” your kids the way it is supposed to be, you are just giving them information. We are fairly sure your son remembers he isn’t to hit her, but how is he supposed to be kind when she broke his toy? Have you told him that? Do you shown him how to be kind no matter what by your example, or is he remembering you shouting unkind things at a car that cut you off when you pulled into school that morning? Have you opened your Bible to this verse and talked to him about why God thinks showing kindness is so important?

Telling your kids to be kind is not training them to be kind.

Step 1 of the training process is to give them information. If you are telling your children what to think instead of working through with them how to think, you become a lecturing, reminding, threatening, demanding parent. Telling them to be kind is not even giving them information if you aren’t telling them why they should be kind in all situations, especially if the other person isn’t kind to them.

Step 2 is telling/showing them how to do it. Tell him how hard it would be for you to be kind to him if he walked across your clean floor with muddy shoes. Tell him what you would do to convince yourself to be kind to him instead of yelling at him. For you, being kind doesn’t mean taking away a consequence, since he was told to take his shoes off before he came into the house, it means not yelling at him first. Ask him to come up with a way he can stop himself before he hits his sister and come to you to ask you to intervene on his behalf instead. For him, not hitting her is being kind.
Okay, you have told him why he needs to be kind, talked with him about what it looks like to be kind, so why is he still not kind?  Where does the #wanttobekind come from? It comes from the heart.Unless Step 1 and Step 2 get to the heart it won’t stick.

There’s one more step. Step 3 has two different looks. One is to give your son praise and encouragement when you see him showing his sister kindness. When you do this, make sure you let your husband know too, so he can praise your son when he gets home from work. The other thing to do is to give him a consequence when he isn’t kind to his sister. Once ALL 3 of these steps are in place, you will see what you tell your children go into their hearts. It’s a process, not a one-time “telling or yelling” from you.

You Do You!

By Joey and Carla Link
September 29, 2021

“You do you.” is a very popular saying today. It means you are going to do what is right for you, whether it is right for anyone else. You do what you want and what makes you happy. But what happens if your son sees his sister building a tower out of Lego© blocks and he thinks it would be fun (and right for him) to kick it over?! 

What is the result when what makes you happy infringes on the happiness of others? Sadly, in our culture today we are flooded with the message that says my happiness is more important than your happiness because if I don’t feel good about myself, I won’t be good to anyone else and you are to stand back and let me do it.

If you aren’t satisfied with yourself or with your kids, it really is a spiritual issue, not a pampering issue. We encourage you to ask God why He created you or your kids a certain way or why He isn’t changing your kid’s behavior. God can handle our deepest concerns and questions. 

So how do you help your kids be happy no matter what is going on in their lives?

The answer lies in the “Golden Rule” (Matthew 6:12) “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.

Selfishly, for most of us, our motto is “whoever has the most money and power makes the rules we live by.” But Jesus says it doesn’t matter who has money, power, celebrity status or persuasive speech. Jesus says we are to treat others the way we want to be treated. This means:

  • No child wants someone to kick down the tower they spent hours making.
  • No child wants others to call them names, they want to hear nice things said about them.
  • No child wants another child to take advantage of them by trying to be first and push them out of the way to get there.

One of the best ways parents can teach kids this is to have them memorize this verse, and when you see your child is thinking more about himself than about his/her siblings or friends, ask him “Who you are thinking of right now?”

Ask this child what he/she would like their siblings to do for him/her, then ask him how he could turn it around and do it for their siblings instead?

 Instead of living by “you do you”, God says to live by “you do for others.” I like what Micah 6:8 says (International Children’s Bible)

 “Do what is right to other people. Love being kind to others.And live humbly, trusting your God.

Do your kids:

  • Do what God says the right thing to do is no matter what they think or want?
  • Love being kind to others, including their siblings?
  • Live humbly instead of being proud and arrogant and thinking they are the best?
  • Trust God to know what is best for them at all times and in all circumstances? 

Grade each of your kids (6 yrs. and up) individually on each of these things

  • Talk to them about what each of them means and what they look like. 
  • Ask each of them to give you an example for each one.

Do your kids know Jesus expects all of us to do what is right for others over our own selfish desires?

“Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”James 4:17 (ESV)

Self-Control is for Kids and Parents Too!

By Joey and Carla Link
September 22, 2021

Many years ago this week, Joey & I became parents. We still remember it as the day parenting became a part of our lives forever. No looking back. No “What if’s?” As empty nesters, while we may no longer be actively parenting, we are still parents. We still get Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards. And the best of all? Grandparenting is the reward of hanging in there with your kids.

Both Joey and I have tempers, and when we look back on our parenting years, we both wish we had shown more patience with our kids. I am sure that if you had asked our kids during some seasons of their life at home if they thought we loved them unconditionally, “without limits and without conditions,” they might have said, “Only when we obeyed and did what we were supposed to do.”  The thought of that breaks my heart because while it wasn’t true, if we were giving the perception it was true, even without thought on our part, our kids suffered for it.

 There are times in the heat of the moment while trying to get your chronic slowpoke out the door or your happy-go-lucky child to follow through on an instruction or your oldest to quit being so bossy you say things without first thinking about them. Things like “You’re driving me crazy!” or “Why can’t you do anything the way you are supposed to?!” or “How many times have I told you to be ready on time? Do I have to dress you and spoon-feed you and physically carry you out the door to get you to school on time?” What do you think these phrases are going to accomplish in the heart of your child? Do you think they are going to motivate him/her to better behavior? Probably not.

 Your tone and words do matter. I (Carla) would get angry with my kids. I had to teach myself to stop, think of a way to word what I wanted to say with words that didn’t put my child down, and to calm down before I opened my mouth. I would put my hand over my mouth to keep the angry words inside until I could do this. Once when I had gone to my bedroom to get calm, I heard my youngest say to the oldest (the troublemaker that particular day) who was trying to find me, “Mom is in her room trying to find her happy attitude.” Indeed I was.

So what can you do? 1. Teach your kids how they behave is a choice. Making a wrong choice resulting in bad behavior does not mean they are bad kids. It means they need to learn why it is a bad choice and how to make a better one the next time around.

2. Have the child in question sit in an isolated place with no freedom to get up or talk until you come back to him. While he/she is sitting, go calm yourself down. When you are ready to talk to him, go find this child and ask him what he did that was wrong. 

3. After he/she tells you, ask him what he should do about it (over 6 yrs.) He should tell you he needs to apologize. I know we have gone over this before, but it always bears repeating.                  ·He should tell you why the behavior was wrong, ask you to forgive him and tell you how he is going to make it right. ·Apologizing this way is THE way you will get to your child’s heart instead of just his behavior.·Young kids might not know how to make it right. We told our kids it was “to give back when you took away.” Ask them what they took away with their bad behavior or words and take it from there.·When your kids just say “Sorry”, all they are sorry for is that they got caught.·Without an admission of what was done that was wrong, why it was wrong and how they are going to make it right, you are only dealing with symptoms of the behavior, not the roots, or what was causing it in the first place.

4. After your child apologizes, he/she needs a consequence to motivate him to right behavior the next time around. ·The consequence should fit the crime. ·Take away what your child was misusing and don’t tell him for how long.·Ask him what you need to see in him/her for him to get that freedom back. He knows. Then watch and see how serious he is about getting it back. 

The way to get your tone and words under control other than you learning self-control yourself is to get your child to learn to use self-control. It almost always comes back to that, doesn’t it?

“Be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”Titus 1:8 (ESV)


By Joey and Carla Link
September 8, 2021

Do you ever feel discouraged in your parenting? Do you feel like giving in or backing off from raising your children to be obedient, loving, patient, and kind because it is just too hard? 

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

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

And succeed she did. The reward was great when her student, now a young woman, graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College. Anne had spelled every word of every lecture into this girl’s hand during her college years. Can you imagine?! Helen Keller was that little girl and she went on to become a prolific author and speaker on behalf of those with disabilities. 

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

On top of that, your kids are being raised by imperfect parents! Do you have the determination of Anne Sullivan to train your children in the character they will need to succeed, or do you just want to give up because it is too hard? Anne could have done the bare minimum when working with Helen and that would have been okay with everyone but Anne herself.

 It was 17 years ago this week that Carla and I were in a horrific car accident that left her bound to a wheelchair. She is often asked how she keeps such as positive attitude in light of the chronic pain she endures daily and not being able to walk. She tells them she has bad days, but they are just harder than the rest. Most days are hard for her. But she goes on to say that doesn’t make them bad. They are just hard. Seeing it that way is a choice. 

You are going to have a lot of bad days in your parenting journey especially if you are trying to raise them to have a strong moral character that God approves of. In today’s world there are fewer and fewer people that know what that looks like. It does make the training of your kids harder. But that doesn’t make it bad or wrong. It is just hard. And that’s okay.  

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easythat leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life,and those who find it are few.”Matthew 7:13-15 (ESV)

How is Your Crop Growing?

By Joey and Carla Link
September 1, 2021

Recently Carla and I were driving by some corn fields and we talked about all the work a farmer puts in to get those corn plants from seeds in the ground to the tasty, sweet corn on our tables. From the off-season planning, to working on the equipment to be sure it is in good working order, fertilizing the crop and making sure it is well watered, to watching to see when it is ready to be harvested, nurturing corn is a full-time job.
Just as a farmer must watch after his investment to be sure nothing will get near their crop that would destroy it, parents need to keep watch over their children. 
“Do not be deceived, bad company ruins good morals.”1 Corinthians 15:33
“Bad company” doesn’t have to be people. The often-destructive morals of television, digital games, social media, etc. certainly applies as well, along with peers and other influences. 
When we talk about giving your teen the freedom to fail, we are saying the time is right for you to see if they can handle a certain situation on their own. 
1.    When they come to you with a question, ask them what they think they should do. If it is at all doable, tell them it is a good choice and to go for it. This will give them confidence in their ability to make wise decisions.
2.    If they have shown you they can manage a freedom 65+% of the time when you are within shouting distance, give that area to them to see if they can handle it when you aren‘t.
3.    Having the freedom to fail has everything to do with trust. If you don’t trust them, don’t give them the freedom to do it. 

You don’t want to give them the freedom to fail when it comes to going out with a group of friends. If you don’t trust them, they shouldn’t have the freedom to go. We would ask our kids to give us 3 worst-case scenarios and how they would handle them. We gave them ours if they didn’t come up with them. Sometimes, after working through the worst-case scenarios, they would decide not to go. 
When do you start to give them the freedom to fail?1.    Giving your teen the freedom to fail is not a one-time event. It is a process that takes place over time.2.    Give them the freedom to fail in an area they have been successfully managing for a period of time. Take it away if they mis-manage it without your supervision. 
If they can’t handle it and need more support before they can manage this issue on their own, you want to be the one to stand alongside, supporting them. Stepping back and seeing if your child/teen is ready to manage a given behavior/responsibility on his own is a necessary action parents will do over and over again throughout their children’s growing up years. 
We encourage you not to give your teen the freedom to fail if you aren’t sure they can succeed. Give it to them when you are sure they will succeed.
Ihave no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the faith.”3rd John 4
We hope you enjoy your children as you raise a crop that will yield 100-fold.