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Are Your Kids Givers or Takers?

Are Your Kids Givers or Takers?

By Joey & Carla Link

December 18, 2019
Once kids understand what Christmas is, they want to get gifts for those they love. They wonder if they can get you to pay for them or if they are going to have to spend their own money. Perhaps they have been saving it for something they want and tospend it on others is just too painful. When they start hinting as to how much money you are willing to “loan” them for this reason, parents often fling around Acts 2:35,
“It is better to give than to receive.”
It doesn’t matter if your child is 5 or 15 years old, it’s hard for him/her to believe that when he has been saving for something he really, really wants, convincing him he should delay his/her gratification by a month or longer so he can spend it on getting a gift for his brother after he was mean to him is a very difficult sell. You might be tempted to tell him he is getting what he has been saving for at Christmas, but decide not to spoil that surprise because that it shouldn’t have any bearing on having a spirit of giving anyway.
Teaching your kids that it is better to give than receive doesn’t start with buying Christmas presents; at least it shouldn’t start there. It starts with a willingness to give of themselves to help others. It goes back to the “mines”! How many times have you heard one of your children (older than age 5 yrs.) say “That’s mine?!”
  • Is he willing to let one of his siblings sit in the seat in the car closest to the front, or does he think because he always gets there first or because he is the oldest it is his?
  • Is he willing to let one of his siblings have a bigger or better piece of dessert or is it always, “That’s not fair! I never get the biggest piece!”
  • Was he willing to share his/her toys or did he keep them to himself, yet expected his siblings to share theirs with him?
Giving is not always about money or material things. It is an attitudethat reflects what is in his heart. Either he/she is characterized as a giver or a taker. Some kids seemed to be better givers. Christ followers realize all they have is a gift from God and joyously give of what God has given them to both their church and to others.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.”
1 Corinthians 9:7
When you encourage your child to buy a gift for someone from their own money, you are teaching them to give as God has given to them.
  • How well do your kids understand the sacrifice it was for God to allow His son to leave heaven and go live on earth for 33 years? How would they like to go live with someone else for a year? It’s because of that gift God gave us in Jesus Christ, that we choose to give something that would please or bring pleasure to others.
  • Helping your kids understand this concept and actually apply it will take more than one conversation. You will ask them why they chose to get that gift over something else that is more expensive, but their sibling really wants. It’s finding out what was the motivation of their heart regarding what they gave and whythey gave it.
The “why” is so much more important
than “what” they give ever will be.
As your kids open up their presents this Christmas, we encourage you to pay attention to how appreciative they are for what they get.  Do they openly show disappointment that it wasn’t a “better gift” or that they simply did not like or appreciate it? If they are not satisfied, don’t do or say anything. Please do not tell them you will get it at the after-Christmas sales!! Look for other instances they are focused on what they are getting vs. what they are giving over the holidays. You may learn a certain child needs training to develop a giving heart.
Jot the things you notice down, and have a one-on-one (or better yet, both parents with this particular child) conversation with him/her.
  • Ask him if he thinks he is characterized by a heart of giving or one of getting.
  • Ask him to give you a situation that happened that week of each.
  • Ask him why he chooses to give.
  • Ask him why he chooses to take or get.
  • Ask him to come up with a way he could have handled each “getting” situations you jotted down as a giver.
  • Ask him if he is willing to work on his selfishness. If so, have him come up with one way he will work on it that next week.
  • At the end of the week get together with him again and grade him on how you think he did and have him grade himself too.
  • Encourage him if he has done well, and if not, ask him how he intends to improve that grade the next week.
  • Keep it up until it becomes an ingrained habit to think as a “giver” instead of a “taker”.
  • Remember your goal is to root out self-focused attitude and not just cut off the top of where this selfish weed comes from.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

By Joey & Carla Link

December 11, 2019
Have you ever had something like this picture in your parenting? You can see something is clearly notworking but deciphering it makes you have to stop what you are doing and deal with it.
Trees should not have fall leaves with 2 inches of snow on the ground. In the same way, kids should obey their parents and not argue or talk back. They should respect their parents and all adults in positions of authority over them. Do you notice when your kids are not obeying or respecting you or their grandparents?
Think about these situations and how your kids respond to them (age-appropriate)
  • When you go shopping, do your kids move out of the way of other adults, small children, disabled and elderly people when going through a doorway or do they rush to get there first and don’t bother to hold the doors open for them?
  • Do they speak to older people kindly at church, or do they ignore them?
  • Do they speak kindly to other kids when playing or do they have to have their own way, especially when the kids are siblings or younger kids?
  • Do they have an attitude when you ask them to do something?
  • Do they stop saying “Yes Mom” when you call their name? While this may not seem like a big deal, did you give them the freedom to stop saying it?
  • Do they say “please” and “thank you” without being prompted by you?
  • Do they gladly share their things or is generosity a foreign concept to them?
  • Do they treat you like a peer telling you what they are doing or do they ask you for permission first?
  • Are they more focused on themselves or about the needs and wants of others?
  • When playing games or sports do they play their way or go by the rules?
  • Are they experts at controlling others with their roller-coaster emotions?
If your child(ren) is characterized by the things mentioned above, is it so common to you that you don’t notice it anymore? Why not pray and ask God to wave red flags in your face so you will be prompted to deal with these terribly self-focused behaviors and attitudes.
In Isaiah 5:20 in the Living Bible it says,
“They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right.”
Is this what you are teaching your kids by NOT dealing with these behaviors?
What can parents do?

Mom and Dad need to have the same standard of what is right and wrong.

  • Do you and your spouse agree on the standards you are raising your kids by?
  • Are your standards Biblical and practical?

Parents must recognize when their kids are being self-focused and disrespectful.

  • Do you see it?
  • Are you open to your spouse or others showing you when your kids are violating your standards? Ask your friends to point a specific behavior out to you when your kids do it.

Parents need to have a plan other than lecturing and reminding when standards are violated.

  • Most parents don’t have a plan on what to do so they react when their kids’ behavior is disrespectful to them and others instead of proactively dealing with it/them.
  • With your spouse, choose 2-3 typical behavior violations and develop a plan for what you will do next time they come up.

Be willing to act no matter what the cost to you or your child’s reputation.

  • Their life-long character is more important than their child/teen friends.
  • Be willing to accept a little embarrassment and deal with your child. In the long run, others will appreciate and respect you for it.
Ultimately a parent’s biggest issue when training your kids to be focused on others before themselves is to be consistent. This is why we wrote the Mom’s Notes presentation “Fighting the Consistency Battle“. We would highly recommend you download the MP3 and PDF and listen to it together, then work through the Notes, making a plan on how to be consistent when working on your child’s behavior which will be reflected in his character.

Getting Your Kids Back in Line

Getting Your Kids Back in Line

Joey & Carla Link

December 4, 2019

Does it seem like your kids are telling you what to do vs. you telling them what to do? Do your kids dowhat you tell them to? Do you feel like your kids are running your home instead of you?
Carla and I remember thinking this with our kids. We thought we had things under control but couldn’t seem to get our son to do what he was told to do, much less with a good attitude. What were we missing? Everyone thought our kids were really good kids. Our kids told us they loved us and we went to their games and music events. We had regular family days and had good times together with lots of laughter, but something just didn’t seem right.
We led parenting classes for years using the “Growing Kids God’s Way” parenting curriculum. We were watching it with the class one time and the video was about the funnel. The behaviors that go in the funnel (meaning they are surrounded by boundaries) are the ones your kids aren’t old enough or mature enough to manage themselves or they just won’t manage them appropriately. When your kids are living outside of their funnel, they are taking freedoms they don’t deserve and you didn’t give them the freedom to have. The #1 way to get your kids back in the funnel was to have them ask for permission for everything and anything they wanted.
When was the last time your child asked you for permission to go to a friend’s house vs. tell you they were going? Or they told you they were going outside to ride bikes vs. asking if they could? Or they took the liberty to do something they wanted to do instead of what you told them to do? Give each of your kids a percentage of the times they are characterized by doing these things. It might surprise you.
When your kids ask permission for something they want to do they are acknowledging they are under your authority and are not equal to you. When they are outside the funnel and are taking freedoms they weren’t granted and don’t deserve, they are telling you that you are not in control, they are.
Kids can seem to be responsible but then they “forget” to get their homework done because they were in the middle of a game on their computer and didn’t want to stop playing, or they didn’t get their chores done because they were distracted with what a sibling was watching on their phone. They can make all kinds of excuses, but the truth is they didn’t want to do their homework or their chores so it was easy to find something else they did want to do. Why do you give in to their pitiful excuses? What are you teaching them if you don’t throw the excuses out and deal with their lack of responsibility?  What a difference it would make if they asked for permission to finish their game or watch the show with their sibling!
When you tell your kids they have to ask for permission for everything they want to have or do it will drive you nuts because they will be interrupting you all the time. But stick with it and keep in mind the bigger picture. The difficulty for you will be paying attention to when they do something they didn’t ask for permission for. When our kids were pre-teens and teens, we gave them permission to tattle on each other when they were doing something they didn’t ask for permission for and that took care of this problem!
We encourage you to listen to what your kids are saying when they want to do something. Do they ask for permission or tell you what they want to do?
It’s one thing for a parent to give their child the freedom of responsibility and not having to ask; it’s another for a child to take it.
Taking freedoms = Prideful attitude, not obedient to authority
Parents giving freedoms = Trustworthiness, Responsible
When you, the parent, have given your child freedoms and responsibilities vs. them taking them, you have so much more trust in your child that you don’t have to worry about them abusing that freedom. If they do, back in the funnel they go!

A Thanksgiving Prayer

A Thanksgiving Prayer

November 27, 2019

God directed King Solomon to build a temple.  When it was completed, through a prayer of thanksgiving to God, King Solomondedicated the temple to Him. It is a great reminder to us all to remember to thank God for all things big and small.
Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said:
“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below-you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.  You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it-as it is today.
Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’  And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.
But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!  Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.  May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.  Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
When anyone wrongs their neighbor and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.
When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple,  then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.
When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them,  then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.
When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come,  and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel-being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple – then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name – for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm -when they come and pray toward this temple,  then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name,  then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
When they sin against you-for there is no one who does not sin-and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near;  and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’;  and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name;  then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.  And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy;  for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.
May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you.  For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, Sovereign Lord, brought our ancestors out of Egypt.”
When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven.  He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying:
“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.  May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us.  May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors.  And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other.  And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”
1 Kings 8:22-61(NIV)
It is our hope that you have a wonderful day with those you love.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude or Grumbletude?

Gratitude or Grumbletude?

Joey and Carla Link

November 20, 2019
At Thanksgiving we are taught to be thankful for all the blessings God has given us. But before our kids can be thankful, theyneed to appreciate what they have and what they don’t have.
I remember taking the teens of our church on a “Planned Famine” when I was a youth pastor in Southern California. It is a 30 hour program sponsored by World Vision International to help teens learn and care about world hunger. Teens enlist sponsors to financially support them through the long 30 hours they don’t get to eat. The money would be used for world hunger projects.
While they drank juices and soups at meals, there was no food. The liquid kept their blood sugar up but by no means filled their empty stomachs. At the end of the 30 hours, the teens shared what they learned before having dinner together. These kids did not share thankfulness for food, they shared “gratefulness“.
Being thankful is a  

feeling;
being grateful is an action.
If you were to ask most grandparents they would say “kids today enjoy their stuff but aren’t grateful for what they have been given.” The teens in the 30 hour fast learned to be grateful for food.
How can you help your kids be more grateful?
  1. Have them read what the Pilgrims actually lived through as they landed in America. Find a book you can read as a family this month at dinner.
  2. Have them learn what it was like for the pilgrims to cross the ocean without GPS and weather apps. Living with the fear of unknown storms and or running into pirates with no protection, it was a perilous undertaking.
  3. Do they know kids who have a parent who has cancer, or whose dad is out of work? Talk through what hardships they face and how your family can encourage them.
  4. Ask them how they can show they are grateful for things they take for granted-like food, water and a bathroom!
Show them how to do without
  1. Challenge your teen’s to go a week without using their cell phone and they will be grateful for it when they get it back. Take away the computer, video games, movies, TV and all electronics for a week or two and they will begin to be grateful for their entertainment value.
  2. Take a long drive to a place you have never been before and tell your kids they have to figure out how to get there with no GPS or the internet.
At a Teen Camp a few years ago, I took the teens into a room with no windows with all the lights on for the Sunday morning session. I began worship by teaching on the early Christians from Acts and how they had such great fellowship, worship and teaching. I said we are going to have church like they did this morning.
Then I turned off the lights, lit one candle and said there was no power in the days of the early church. I asked them to assume I was not there and asked them to start without me.
  • They asked for song sheets and I said they didn’t have a copy machine, so no song sheets.
  • They tried to sing from memory and they fumbled through the words that they didn’t remember.
  • One started to read from her Bible what she had learned in her Quiet Time earlier that morning but I asked her to put it away because they didn’t have Bibles back then either.
After 20 minutes, we turned the lights back on and started to truly worship. They were very open to the teaching that morning as they worshiped together and built each other up in their faith.
How can you help teach your kids how to be grateful this Thanksgiving for what they have, where they live and the family they are blessed to be in?
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
let us shout joyfully to Him. Psalm 95:2