Parenting Made Practical » Blog

Do Your Kids Know How to Hear God’s Voice?

Joey & Carla Link

September 23, 2020

Christians will often say they can’t hear God speaking to them. Does God still speak to us? All you have to do is open up the Bible and read what God wants to say to you. He’s speaking all right, but are we listening? I (Joey) was struck by one line in Psalm 95 – the Psalm of worship:Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for He is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.
Today, if you hear his voice…” After great words of worship and adoration unto God. David says IF you hear His voice…” It is one thing to worship God in song, but it is quite another to listen to what He says to us in His Word. “If” you hear His voice,” so we can hear the sound of His voice, but whether we listen to what He is telling us or not is our choiceHow can you help your kids hear what God is saying to them? Let me ask you a question, do your kids listen to what you say to them? If not, why not? In the first 5 years of your child’s life, it is the job of the parents to teach their kids how to obey them. We believe God put parents in the life of every human being to teach them what authority looks like. Kids who do not obey their parents do not respect them and kids who do not respect their parents will not listen to them. So, if your kids aren’t listening to you, back up and work on obedience training.If your kids are characterized by listening to you, here are some things you can do to help them understand what God says they should do

  • Have your kids take notes in church. Over lunch, everyone in the family gets to share what they took notes on. When our children were young, I (Carla) would call the church office every week and find out what the sermon topic was. Then she would find or make up color sheets for the girls that had pictures of something the sermon was going to be about on them. I asked our pastor for a word he would frequently use in his sermon and had the kids make a tally mark for every time they heard that word. I did too. Whoever came the closest to the amount of marks I got and could tell why pastor had used that word so often got an ice cream treat on me.
  • Encourage and hold your kids accountable for having devotions/Quiet Times. You can find devotion books for children of every age (parentingmadepractical.com). If they don’t read yet, Mom or Dad can take a few minutes in the morning and read their devotion to them. Before our kids could write, we would have them draw a picture in their notebook about what they had learned in their QT that morning. Our kids kept their all their notebooks for years.

 When they were old enough to write in their notebooks they wrote:

  • The answers to the questions in their devotion book
  • Their prayer requests and when the requests were answered, they went back to that page and wrote the answer down by the request and the date it was answered. This taught them to see God’s answer to their prayers.
  • One thing they could do from what they had learned in their devotions each day.

 On Saturday evenings, they shared with us what they had been learning in their QT’s that week. This was how we kept them accountable to do them. 

  • When you are in the car and listening to Christian songs on the radio, ask them what they think a certain song, word or phrase is saying to them/us about obeying God’s voice.
  • When they demonstrate a character trait on their own initiative, praise them for it and then ask them how they knew being kind (for example) was the right thing to do.
  • If they tell you it is because you told them it was the right thing to do, ask them how you knew it was.
  • Show them how to find verses that talk about this particular character trait. They need to know it is God telling them it is the right thing to do and it pleases Him when they do.

 One of the reasons we don’t hear God’s voice is because we are too busy to have time to listen, think and meditate on what God is saying to us and we become like the next verse in Psalm 95. “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.” (Ps. 95:8) We can sing and praise God on the outside, but are we listening to Him as He works on our hearts on the inside? Encourage your kids to talk about what they are learning in different spiritual settings and have them share with you what God is saying to them and ask them how they are going to put it into practice.

Cloudy or Sunshine Kids

By Joey & Carla Link

September 16, 2020

My 2-year-old granddaughter loves Winnie the Pooh stories. In these stories there are 2 friends who are extremes in their personalities – gloomy Eeyore and bouncy Tigger, yet they both have an important role in the circle of Pooh’s friends. As parents, it’s easy to be drawn towards the happy-go-lucky “Tigger” kids with the Sanguine temperament. But their quiet and withdrawn “Eeyore’s” with the Melancholy temperament need just as much approval and acceptance as the ones who get it so freely. Your positive optimistic joyful kids can be so much fun to be around that parents can easily overlook some of their weaknesses that later on can turn into real issues. Even when they are deliberately being silly to cover up wrong-doing, parents have a hard time coming down on them when they are cracking up over their latest antics. When your gloomy, “the glass isn’t just half empty but is almost empty” kids with the Melancholy temperament get easily depressed and don’t come out of it quickly, parents often fall in the trap of becoming this child’s cheerleader. They  try talking them into a good mood or giving them what they want just to see them happy. How can parents help their kids learn from their feelings, whether sunny or gloomy?Don’t tell your “Eeyores” to buck up or put a smile on their face no matter what. This denies the child has feelings that might need to be explored. This child needs to know Mom and Dad are understanding and will listen.Love your child unconditionally. For Tigger’s or Eeyore’s to be willing to take a chance on working on or changing their emotional thought process, they need to know they will be loved no matter what. Fear of rejection is a full-time companion of those with the Melancholy and Sanguine temperaments.Talk to them.Melancholy: When they have feelings of failure or letting others down, talk to them privately in love and understanding, not telling them how wrong they were as they already know that and are struggling with the guilt of what they did. Instead ask them questions to help them climb up out of the hole they are digging for themselves.Phelgmatic: These kids need to learn to talk about what they feel. Don’t let them off the hook. Give them a time-frame they can think about what they want to say and tell them you will get back to them to talk some more.Choleric: Their primary out of control feeling is anger. Teach them that anger is not wrong but what you do with it can be very wrong. It is a signal something isn’t going well and that is what they need to deal with.Sanguine: These kids don’t understand what is wrong with being silly to the point of annoying everyone around them. They need to learn to deal with what the root of their silliness is – a need to be the center of attention or trying to hide something they did wrong for example.How can you work with your feelings so they don’t control those around you?What can you learn from this situation so you won’t make the same mistake? Both sunny kids and gloomy kids are blessings from the Lord. You have the great privilege to train them up in the way they need to go for the purpose He gave them to you for. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

Living Life In Front Of Your Kids

By Joey & Carla Link

September 9, 2020

I (Joey) grew up in a Bible teaching church with a good pastor. His kids became very good friends of mine. About 10 years later, he left his wife for another woman devastating her, his kids and the church. What eventually came out was his private life was very, very different from his public ministry. Similarly, many families intentionally live what they perceive to be a Christian life to find out their kids, in their teenage or young adult years are bitter towards what they perceive as their parents’ hypocrisy. These differences in how their kids think a Christian should live and what they saw in their parents’ daily lives can cause big divisions in families. Questions to Ponder

  • When you tell your kids to be nice to their siblings but you are yelling at them when you say it, will your kids wonder why you can yell and they can’t?
  • If you tell your kids to get off the computer, tablet or phone because too much can be harmful for them, yet you can’t stay off of social media, games or texting, what are you teaching your kids? You can’t ask them to do what you yourself are not doing.
  • If you tell your kids they don’t need expensive new things, yet you get the latest technology when it comes out, how are your kids supposed to reconcile that?
  • If you tell your kids they need to read books instead of watching so much television, yet they rarely, if ever see you reading a book, why should they?
  • If you tell your kids they need to look you in the eye when they speak to you but you don’t look them in the eye when you are speaking to them, do they feel rejected or not important?

 God set parents up as the living, breathing example of how kids are to grow up and what they are to be like. It is a huge accountability system for us that we are to reflect the heart of God to them in all we do. Therefore, you need to be sure your words match your actions. The question is, are we listening to the Holy Spirit’s quiet voice inside us saying “Don’t act like that just for the children, live like that for Jesus!” The best advice we would give you is to always be growing in your life and faith, and always be authentic in front of your kids. A lot of the things you go through, your kids will go through too. Your life’s trials and triumphs will become some of your kids’ best examples on how to deal with and live their lives as young adults. It gives them great stories to share when they get together too! “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? … But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.James 2:14-18

Back to Normal?!

Joey & Carla Link

August 19, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing and kids going back to school in classrooms practicing social distancing and having to wear masks, the big question is, “What exactly is normal?” While schools may have been out for the past several months, did your kids ever stop learning? What have they been learning?

  • from siblings
  • from watching you handle life’s stress
  • from news on TV or what they read or hear on the internet
  • from friends

 You have probably heard more than once that “more is caught than taught“. With summer coming to an end and school starting in one way or another, it’s a good time to stop and take inventory of what your kids have been learning the past several months. With all that has happened in our world with the pandemic, the protesting, rioting, and killing the last couple months in the United States, some kids could be developing fears or anxiety, especially those with the Melancholy and Sanguine temperaments. But God says, 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplicationwith thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“Philippians 4:6-7
This verse tells us:

  1. You don’t need to be fearful or anxious about anything, including COVID and riots.
  2. Pray about everything (no exceptions).
  3. Ask humbly (supplication) when you pray.
  4. Tell God you will be thankful for however He chooses to answer you when you pray.
  5. You will have peace and calm which you can’t understand.
  6. Through the Holy Spirit this peace will overcome your heart and your mind, keeping it focused on what God wants it to be.

 What a great verse to break down and teach your kids who get stressed and anxious. Please don’t let your other kids mock the ones who struggle with anxiety. It is not fair to them and will only make matters much, much worse. What have your kids been seeing at home during this time the world is in upheaval? Are you and your spouse enjoying each other? Or are you short-tempered and arguing all the time? If your kids do not see you and your spouse communicate positively with each other and give your stresses to God at home, where will they learn what a good marriage and a life lived God’s way should look like?

  • Are you still using kind and encouraging words with each other?
  • Are you having dates, like having dessert by candlelight after the kids go to bed?
  • Do you tell your kids things you pray about? Do you keep a record of family prayer time to record when God answers your prayers?

 If you are a single parent, are you keeping your friend relationships up, albeit digitally?  With the kids being home for so many months, have you become child-centeredUltimately, our kids never left school. They are always learning from watching you, what you do, how you react and how you handle life’s ups and downs. And ultimately, your kids’ lives are as normal as they were a year ago. They know that you will take care of them, that you will never stop loving them. They know that you will protect them from harm and they can feel secure in their home and with their family. They know that you will encourage them in right behavior and correct them for wrong. They know you love God and they should learn to also. That’s what we hope and pray is “normal” for your family. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:19

Do You Think You Are a Bad Parent?

Do You Think You Are a Bad Parent?

Joey & Carla Link

July 29, 2020

When kids are arguing and fighting over what seems like silly and ridiculous things, it is hard to remain calm when you have to intervene for the umpteenth time. At that point you don’t care who started it and who said what to whom. You just want peace and quiet and if they have to sit on a chair the rest of the day with no freedom to speak for you to get it, so be it. You have to go to the grocery store. When you get there, before you get out of the car you review the “Store Rules”. No running, no touching anything on the shelves or each other, no arguing or fighting, inside voices only and obedience is not optional. (We are talking about kids 5 years and up here. Toddlers and preschoolers have the same rules, but mom knows she has to work with them, teaching them how to obey them.) I remember when a mom told me she holds her breath and starts counting when they get out of the car and she never gets to 25 before most of these rules have been broken, especially the one about “no touching each other”. She went on to tell me she doesn’t even try anymore and she is a complete failure as a parent. I am sure Jacob felt the same way when his twelve kids didn’t get along. Ten of them sold Joseph to be a slave in Egypt (Genesis 37). Ten years later Joseph became the #2 ruler in Egypt and he could go anywhere he wanted, but he didn’t go to see his family. God brought them to him for reconciliation. Read the story for yourself. It gives you a clear picture of how God intervenes to accomplish His will for our lives. Even when parents do a great job in parenting their kids, some kids, using the free will God gave each of us, make bad choices that often cost them dearly, especially in the teen and young adult years. One of the worst things a parent can do is to rag on them causing even more guilt and resentment, making them feel even worse. How can parents encourage a stubborn or wayward child? 

  • Love them. Wise King Solomon said “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12). Parents should hate the sin but love their child through it. One of our kids made a very bad choice in his teen years and God prompted us to catch him at it. We could have grounded this child for weeks and no one would have faulted us for it. We chose grace and love instead. He was apologetic because he knew he was wrong and that he had abused a freedom we had given him and when we asked him what consequence would be appropriate he chose one we agreed with and he was gracious the entire time he served his “time”.
  • Insist on your standard in your home. Joshua said “Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14) Joshua was talking to his family and the children of Israel and he was saying to them, “If you don’t want to follow and serve the Lord that is fine, make a choice, don’t just sit on the fence. If you are going to live in my home, you will live for Jesus, because that is what I am choosing” (Our wording). Does that mean those who choose to follow God will be perfect and not sin? NO! You sin and I sin. It does mean we will choose to pursue a Godly lifestyle and we have the right to insist our kids do too while they live in our home.

 On Sunday’s going to church was not an option for our family. When we were traveling or on vacation we found a church to attend. We talked about God and shared with each other what God was teaching us in our personal quiet times. We read the Bible together and talked about what it was saying to us and how to make that work in our lives. There were many words our kids heard from their friends that were not allowed to be spoken in our home. Even today as adults, our kids are not characterized by using foul language. Did our kids argue? Yes they did. It is to be expected that no two people living together are always going to have the same opinion. They had to work it out because that is what the family of God does. Teaching your kids and especially teens to work out their differences with each other will help them know how to work on differences with their friends and future spouses, employers and co-workers. 

  • Encourage your kids to do what is right. Some parents have allowed bad behavior to go on because they get tired of dealing with it. Or they say, “That is just how they are going to be. They won’t change.” Just as God didn’t let Joseph get away with not dealing with his siblings, God works with parents to keep working on a stubborn child’s heart to become what He wants it to be. Loving your kids in spite of their sin doesn’t mean you don’t need to deal with the sin. Deal with it and be consistent about it and your kids will change.

So are you curious to know what I (Carla) said to that mom who thought she was a failure as a parent? I told her that was exactly what Satan wanted her to believe. God doesn’t see us as failures. God always sees us “in process”. I told her the next time she goes to the grocery store to ask the kids what the store rules were. When they told her, she was to ask them if she could trust them to obey them. I told her they would say “yes”. She then was to ask them what she should do when they didn’t obey her. She was to sit in the car with them until they got beyond the “I don’t know” responses and answered her. When they came up with a realistic response that she could do, she was to repeat it back to her kids and say, “So if I have to do that, I am not being unfair?” What could they say? She called me after their next store visit and said by the time she got to the check-out all of her 4 kids (ages 6-13) had lost the freedom to speak and had their hands in the pockets of their jeans and they couldn’t take them out. She did get her shopping done in record time and was delighted she had found a way to get her kids to obey.  “Above all, love each other deeply,because love covers over a multitude of sins.”I Peter 4:8


The Mom’s Notes presentation “Building a Relationship of Trust with a Rebellious Teen” is on SALE through August 2, 2020 using code Aug2 at checkout.