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Why Teens Need A Routine

Why Teens Need A Routine

By Joey & Carla Link

March 11, 2020
After reading last week’s blog on routine written primarily for young children, a friend, a mother of 4 primarily college age kids had this to say, “Everyone needs routine! Even when the young adults are home, everything runs more peacefullywhen we all have some level of routine – meals at predictable times, reasonable bedtimes, planned activities/physical activities, and so forth.
I (Carla) told her I couldn’t agree more and was planning on writing about this in today’s blog. This is our story. Our daughter Briana missed too many days of school each year because of simple colds or other bugs she came home with.  Often these illnesses landed her in the hospital due to chronic respiratory issues. When she was in 4th grade, her doctor asked us to pull her out of school and homeschool her. Homeschooling was a fledging school option at that time, and where we live they encouraged homeschoolers to have a certified teacher to oversee your homeschooling.  I was all for this as I felt totally unprepared for this task.
Our teacher strongly encouraged us to keep on the same daily schedule as the school was on and helped me set up weekly lesson plans accordingly. Our days ended sooner than the school’s as we didn’t have recesses or some of their other activities, so with the teacher’s advice the last period of our school day was study hall.
Briana made it through the school year with no hospitalizations, so the next year we pulled her sister home with her and homeschooling became our way of life. I did lesson plans by the quarter, with the girls’ assisting me when they were in middle school. By the time they entered high school, they were doing their own lesson plans with my oversight.
When Briana went away to college, she was teased by the other girls in her dorm because she scheduled a study hall time every day in the library from the time classes started to the end of each semester. She’d always had a study hall at home and saw the value in it, so she decided to keep it in her routine at college.
While we were homeschooling, we started to travel more with the parenting ministry Growing Families Int’l and our kids traveled with us. I had each of them work on a routine they would follow in the car. They had to agree on the times they would do things collectively and individually. When we were home whether it was school season or summer break, they would write out their schedules each week and post them so all could see where they would be at any time. We don’t know how a family works in harmony without routine.
So, how would you work on getting your family of older kids on a routine? They are probably already on one. The key is to get each person’s routine to blend with all the others.
  1. For kids 11 and up, show them how to work on scheduling a routine that includes all things (including free time) they will have from the time they wake in the morning until the time they go to bed. There is a lot less tension in the morning when all your older kids know what times their siblings will be in the bathroom and for how long
  2. Let your pre-teens and teens try out the routine they come up with. They will stick to it if it is their own idea. If it doesn’t work, then sit down with them the next week or mid-week and figure out how to fix the problem areas. If more than one sibling is involved and they can’t come to agreement on areas their routines overlap, sit them down and act as their arbitrator.
  3. If there is a chronic offender among the siblings, you need to take him/her aside and deal with it. One of our daughters was always late getting out of the bathroom in the morning so the other was always running late. This was not her sister’s problem to deal with, it was ours.
  4. Always have “non-negotiable” events blocked out on the family monthly calendar. One of ours was church. They all worked, but not on Sunday morning. Friday nights were family nights, another “not to be missed” activity and so on.
Being on a routine throughout their life will help them manage their time when they are on their own.

Why Routine?

Why Routine?

By Joey & Carla Link

March 4, 2020
Some moms never see the need for a routine. Others, who use the eat, wake, sleep cycle with their babies tend to let routinego when their children become toddlers and as a result, things soon get out of control. We encourage you to keep a routine part of your children’s day. Why?

Do your children get along with each other? Do you feel like you have been hit by a truck by the end of each day? Do you feel trapped being home with your kids? Are you getting meals planned and prepared on time or do you find yourself ordering out more and more? Do you tell your children you will get to it later only to deal with unhappy kids when “later” never comes? Is there never time to indulge yourself?

There are great benefits to having a routine. Routines give kids predictability which gives them stability and security. Elaine St. James, author of the book Simplify Your Life with Kids has this to say,

“Kids who live without structure and routine can develop behavior problems. Frequent tantrums, whining, a disregard for rules, inappropriate or aggressive behavior, constant demands, and an inability to share are some of the signs that your child needs more structure.”

Frequent tantrums, whining, lack of obedience, demanding. Are any of these frequent residents in your home? Bottom line – Children feel secure when they know what to expect.

Parents who are more laid back don’t like to be held to a routine. I was like that. When I was challenged to try it for one month, I could not believe the difference in our home and kids. I learned there is freedom within the routine and kids seem to get that more than their parents do. The family’s day moves to a more relaxed pace because you are not constantly breaking up squabbles, trying to find ways to entertain bored, whiny kids.

The following are some suggestions for putting a routine in place in your home.

1. Keep Bedtime Consistent
* Look at your schedule each week.
* Write in what time you think your kids can get to bed each night.
* If you are going to be out at night with the kids more than 2 nights a week, on the nights you are home put them to bed ½ hour early.
* Kids need 10-12 hours of sleep a night

2. Keep Naps Consistent
* Young children will not nap well in a car seat or stroller. Don’t get into the habit of being away from home during their naptime.
* Kids are somewhat different in their sleep needs but a rule of thumb says all kids 3 yrs. and under should nap or at least rest in bed every day.
* If you have several late nights in a given week, schedule a 1 hour rest time for all children on the days you are home.

3. Keep Meals at a Consistent Time
* When you get your kids sleep, eat and wake times on a consistent rhythm, your children’s body will work in harmony with it.
* We have an epidemic of overweight kids in America. This is due in a large part to kids who eat all day in the name of snacking. Kids do not need to snack all day long. It is better for them to fill up on water in-between meals than food.
* Another reason kids are overweight is because they live on a diet of fast food. Feed your kids nutritious meals at home. If you don’t know how to cook, learn to. There is plenty of information online to assist you with this.

4. Plan Your Children’s Day in ½ Hour Segments
* Make a list of all the things all the children can do together.
* Make a list of activities each child likes to do on their own.
Break up their time together. If they have ½ hour to play together, the next ½ hour have them play separately. Sometimes you choose what they do during a segment and sometimes you allow them to choose. We added a sample routine below.

Once you have the routine planned, you can make changes on any given day when the need arises.


Michael (9 years) Briana (6 years) Amy (3 years)
7:00 am: Get up, dress and do morning chores
8:00 am: Breakfast and cleanup
(If they are done early, they can pick a book to look at – have a basket of books available)
9:00 am: Bible time around kitchen table.
9:30 am: Play alone in bedrooms; Amy on blanket in my bedroom (The girls share a room so they need to be separated)
10:00 am: Play together outside w/ my supervision
11:00 am: Everyone has household chores. Amy plays with puzzles at kitchen table when she finishes the job I give her.
11:30 am: Children have book time in assigned places and I make lunch
12:00 pm: Lunch and clean-up
12:45 pm: Naps and Rest Time
1:30 pm: Free play time
2:30 pm: Water and a piece of fruit for everyone.
3:00 pm: Play a game/activity together outside or inside
3:30 pm: Everyone plays alone inside. I pick an activity for each child.
4:00 pm: Partner different children up to play together Michael & Bri, Amy alone. I pick the activity.
4:30 pm: Switch kids around to play together, Bri & Amy, Michael alone.
5:00 pm: All children read or look at books, do puzzles or have computer time. Dad comes home and has time with Amy on T/TH, Briana on M/W and together on Friday.
5:30 pm: Children help set table (a different child each week) while I finish supper preparations. The other children watch a DVD.
6:00 pm: Dinner and cleanup
7:00 pm: Amy and Bri get baths, Michael has time with Dad
7:30 pm: Amy to bed, Dad/I read a short story and prays with her
8:00 pm: Bri to bed with story and prayer
8:30 pm: Michael to bed with a short talking time and prayer with Dad

A timer is your best friend. Set the timer or have the kids set one for when they move on to the next activity.
You will find more information on putting your family’s day on a workable routine in the Mom’s Notes presentations:
“Structuring Your Child’s Day, Pt. 1” 

Is Your Child A Surprise?

Is Your Child A Surprise?

By Joey & Carla Link

February 26, 2020
A couple from my college youth group married. They were very surprised to find a couple months later that they had gotten pregnant on their honeymoon. We know others who thought their families were complete when years later a “surprisepackage” joined their home.
I really like what Rick Warren says in his book the Purpose Driven Life:
“Your birth was no mistake or mishap, and your life is no fluke of nature. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He was not at all surprised by your birth. In fact, He expected it.
Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in the mind of God. He thought of you first. It is not fate, nor chance, nor luck, nor coincidence that you are breathing at this very moment. You are alive because God wanted to create you!
God prescribed every single detail of your body. He deliberately chose your race, the color of your skin, your hair, and every other feature. He custom-made your body just the way He wanted it. He also determined the natural talents you would possess and the uniqueness of your personality.”
Each child you are given is specially created and designed by God and given to you to raise for the purpose God has for them. The question is, are you raising your children the way that God wants you to? Do you thank God for making your child strong minded knowing God intends for him to be a leader someday? Are you seeking from God how to raise each of your children to help them find their purpose?
Although our four grandkids all came from the same parents, they are intriguingly different! This makes it more challenging for their parents to raise them because when it comes to kids, rarely does “one size fit all”. Oh, how much easier it would be to have a mold you could put kids through to press them out to go the way they are supposed to. God did give us a mold, it is called the Bible! If you raise every one of your children by the principles within it, God will be able to use them as He designed them for!
Even though all your kids are being raised with the same biblical principles, it looks different for each child. Knowing their temperament helps as it gives you perspective on the “bent” of each child. You tell your kids to share their toys with their younger siblings. Your child with the Choleric temperament will give his brother one of his toys, tell him not to break it and walk away. Your child with the Melancholy temperament will take all day to decide which toy to give his brother then will spend the rest of the day showing him how to use it correctly. Your child with the Sanguine temperament will give his brother whatever toy he wants and play with him taking their imaginations to great heights. Your child with the Phlegmatic temperament will give his brother a toy and sit and watch him play without saying a word. All of these examples are demonstrations of kindness.
The problem with raising them with Godly standards takes time! This week, we would like to encourage you to go on a date to talk about your kids, looking at them from God’s perspective and to evaluate and think through the following questions:
  1. How are each of your kids uniquely designed?
  2. Describe each of their unique tendencies both positive and negative
  3. On a scale of 1-5, how well are you training them to build up their uniqueness?
  4. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? The opposite of each weakness is a strength. God gave you to them to turn those weaknesses into strengths He can use.
  5. What specific areas do you need to work on with each child to help him/her elevate the strengths God has given them?
  6. What specific weak areas do you need to work on with each child to help him/her develop the way God intended him to be?
Make a list of no more than 5 specific areas to work on with each child, but only work on one at a time until they have it down before moving on to the others on your list. Having a plan of how to work on each weakness and strength is the best way to work together to make this happen.
Training your kids “in the way they should go” as Proverbs 22:6 says, means training them the way God originally intended each one of your kids to be in their uniqueness. The only way you can properly train them is to seek God’s direction by asking Him how He wants to raise each of your kids keeping their uniqueness in mind.

“Understanding Character Training” 

  • Part 1: “Laying the Foundation”   CDNotesMP3PDF
  • Part 2: “Getting to the Heart of Your Child” CDNotesMP3PDF
Mom’s Notes presentations about Temperaments: 
Working with Your Child’s Besetting Sin” (3-Part Series)
  • Pt. 1: “The Choleric: Training the Angry Child” CDNotesMP3PDF
  • Pt. 2: “The Phelgmatic:Dealing with a Child who is Stubborn and Unmotivated and The Sanguine: Working with the Child who Lies’ CDNotesMP3PDF
  • Pt. 3: “The Melancholy: Teaching Your Child to Deal with His Emotions’ CDNotesMP3PDF
The Mom’s Notes are for both Mom & Dad!

Like, Love or Lust?

Like, Love or Lust?

By Joey & Carla Link

February 19, 2020
I still remember the time when I was in 2nd grade and I was handed a folded up piece of paper from a classmate next to me that said on it “Pass to Sally.” The teacher grabbed it and read it aloud. The note said, “I love you, do you love me? Checkthe box yes or no. Signed Mike.” That stopped notes being passed in our class room, but it didn’t stop the feelings between these two second graders.
It’s normal for boys and girls to start liking each other, but when and where do they learn what love is? In 2nd grade the love they know is what they see and feel towards their parents and siblings. When a member of their family says “I love you” it makes them happy so when a friend makes them happy they will say it to them too. What then is “like”? Liking someone is having affection for them. “Liking” develops when you enjoy being around someone and friendship is the result.
When teens say “I love you” to a member of the opposite sex, do they mean it? Perhaps, however, while they may enjoy being around this person, when they think of love at this age guys are often confusing it with lust.
Teen girls allow their feelings to get carried away with wanting to have a boyfriend and all that entails. They may be coming from a home with divorced parents and are looking for someone to replace the consistency of having their dad around. Once their feelings get to a certain point, they confuse it with lovethen girls are vulnerable to physical intimacy.
Most people think of lust as an uncontrollable craving for sex, but lust can also be a strong and powerful craving for anything, including money, popularity and beautiful things. It’s the parent’s job to train their kids to learn to control their desires from toddlerhood, so when lust kicks in, regardless of its origins, they have the mental tools to control it.
Parents have many opportunities to work on kids’ lusts from an early age through teaching them self-control on issues like:
  • Going to their parent when called and saying “Yes Mommy, I’m coming!”
  • Picking up their toys when told to do so
  • When they want to eat more than they should
  • When they are playing with a sibling and the sibling is not playing fair they want to verbally or physically lash out at them.
  • Getting their schoolwork and chores done without reminders
  • Saving up money to buy what they want vs. giving it or loaning them the money to buy it.
  • When they want to wear clothes that are more revealing than you think they should wear.
Teaching kid’s self-control in areas like these are steps to learn to control lusting for things that hover out of their control. Focusing on a relationship between kids of the opposite sex, how can kids know if they are in lust, love or like? It’s like Paul said In I Corinthians 13:7 (TLB):
“If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost.
You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him,
and always stand your ground in defending him.”
Love will wait but lust needs to fulfill its wants and desires immediately.  Love seeks the best in others and never violates others like lust does. Lust has to please its own craving and ultimately only takes and has little left to give.

For teen guys: One of the best verses you can have your 13 (and up) yr. old teen boys memorize to help them with the lust of their eyes is Job 31:1 –

 “I made a covenant with my eyes
    not to look lustfully at a young woman.”
Why is this verse so important? Guys get stimulated through what they see visually. So exposing themselves to images that will make them think immorally is something they need to work on. Here are a couple things I (Joey) shared with our son when he started the puberty years.
  • I always wore baseball caps when I left the house. When my son started looking at girls with a new awareness, I told him to never leave the house without a cap on. Why? When pulled low it blocked your view. I also told him to stare at the ground when he walked in a place where the temptation was great.
  • I always taped football games and fast-forwarded through the halftime show. He understood why.
For teen girls: When I (Carla) took our teen girls shopping when they were in middle school and high school, I found a way to get them to see for themselves if they were dressed modestly or not. When they put on an outfit I would have them look down at the ground and close their eyes and when I counted to 3 look at the mirror and tell me where their eyes went first. I told them that is where boys eyes would first look when they walked by them. I asked them if that was where they wanted them to be looking and they always decided for themselves where exactly they wanted guys’ eyes to go. Our daughters, now young adults tell us that they still do this on occasion when trying on clothes if they are undecided about the modesty of an outfit.
Have your teen girls memorize 1 Timothy 4:12 –
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
Mom and Dad, how well have you taught your kids to control their desires and emotions? To learn to do this (along with lots of prayer) will give them the best possible chance at victory in this universal temptation.
3 Options for Getting
Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate, WHAT WORKS?

Love “Pings”

Love “Pings”

Joey and Carla Link

February 12, 2019


How do parents explain to their kids what is going on inside them when they start to like a boy or girl of the opposite sex?In the “Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate, What Works?” teaching we list four “pings” that set apart one particular guy or girl from the rest.


The first ping is the “ping” of physical attraction. Surely you all remember how it was when you saw someone of the opposite sex you couldn’t take your eyes off of. While the old saying “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” is true, it is your job to help your teen realize “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting” as Proverbs 31:30 says and it will not sustain a long-term relationship if this is the only “ping”. The rest of the verse says “but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.


The second ping is theping” of social attraction. It comes when your teen simply likes being with someone of the opposite sex. They enjoy this person’s sense of humor and/or their intelligence. It’s one thing to be impressed with how someone looks, but it is entirely another to really communicate with each other. Marriages often get in trouble because one spouse’s idea of a stimulating discussion is asking what’s for dinner while the other wants to talk about spiritual or political issues or the like. This spouse’s mate often feels like the other uses his/her intelligence or sarcasm to “lord it over them” and they feel underappreciated and inadequate, this is why this “ping” alone won’t sustain a long-term relationship.


The third ping is the “ping” of emotional attraction. They like being with someone who makes them feel good about themselves. They enjoy the compliments they are constantly getting and feel empowered by them. They give their feelings or heart to this person way too fast becoming completely vulnerable to them. The compliments often fade away once the wedding is over so this “ping” alone won’t sustain a long-term relationship.


The fourth ping is the “ping” of spiritual attraction. Your teen is attracted to one of the teens on the youth worship team or one in their small group who is always talking about what he/she is learning in their devotions. Being drawn to someone’s spiritual depth and maturity, his/her love for the Lord and how God is the center of their life is hard to ignore. While it is good for a married couple to grow together in their spiritual life, what is most important is the effort you put into your own spiritual growth. This “ping” alone won’t sustain a relationship if it isn’t backed up by the other “pings”.


Carla was working with a young gal who was in her senior year of college. She and her boyfriend planned to marry after graduation. Carla talked to her about the idea of these “pings” and after describing them all she went back and asked this young woman to rate how strong each “ping” was for her. The spiritual ping rated very high. When they got to the physical ping, this gal’s response was “all my friends think he is really cute.” Carla was immediately alarmed and realized why. When this girl’s boyfriend would lightly touch her in any way she pushed him away. We knew her boyfriend thought this would change after marriage but Carla was aware it most likely would not. From counseling many married couples with me, she knew this relationship was in deep, deep trouble because no marriage will work unless both spouses are physically attracted to one another, and this couple themselves, were completely unaware.


This is why we developed the “Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate, What Works?” teaching to help equip parents and teens to think through how they can manage a dating relationship with an array of questions and insights to help your young adult find a life partner. We hope you will find it helpful.


Mom and Dad, it’s your job to build a relationship of trust with each of your kids as they grow and mature so they will trust you to help them truly get to know someone on a level that leads to wanting to spend the rest of their lives together.



Please remember, your kids are watching you and your marriage.

They will be looking to copy you or someone else’s marriage they respect.


Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate…What Works? DVD & 2 Workbooks