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Should Apologies be Forced?

By Joey and Carla Link
April 13, 2022

Most moms want their kids to apologize when they have done something wrong. Parents want to know if they should force their kids to apologize when they don’t want to. Why is apologizing so hard? I (Joey) ask myself that question when I struggle to apologize. To get into the habit of apologizing makes it easier, and that is why we believe you should require children to apologize, even if they don’t mean it. Just going through the motions is gluing in their minds what the process looks like.

Saying “I’m sorry” or “Sorry” is not apologizing unless your child is a toddler. It just means this child is sorry he/she got caught and now faces a correction. After all, what is he sorry for? Is there any admission of wrong doing?

If you don’t require apologies, what are you teaching your kids? That if they don’t want to apologize, they can just walk away and leave things unresolved? Remember, you are teaching and training them for the big picture, and the biggest picture of all is how they will handle apologizing to God and then their spouse.

One time one of our kids, when I was encouraging her to apologize to her sister said to me, “You never say your sorry.” I realized Carla and I apologized to each other in private when we talked about the issue we were arguing about. I also realized that I didn’t tell the kids I was sorry for the ways I offended them because I always had my ears tuned to how they were speaking and acting towards each other. After that, when Carla and I had been tense with each other and the kids knew it, we made sure we came back and apologized to each other in front of the kids after making it right with each other. We also, when we could tell we had hurt one of our kids by yelling at them or the like, made sure we apologized to them for this. Did it make a difference? Definitely.

Apologizing looks like this – a child needs to:

  1. To “repent” is admitting what you did that was wrong and is to want to turn away from it and do right instead. We had our kids say “I was wrong when I did…” Then we had them tell WHY it was wrong.
  2. Forgiveness is making the relationship right with God and those they offended or hurt. Four of the hardest words to say are “Will you forgive me?” It was hard for our kids to understand how their words or tone hurt a sibling when they didn’t mean them to. We told them it didn’t matter they didn’t intentionally do anything wrong. What mattered was someone was hurt by it and they needed to apologize for that.
  3. The part most skip is “restoration” which is making right your wrong. To “make it right” means to “give back what you took away”. When our kids were little, we would ask them what they took away and work with them to come up with things to do to make it right. Our older kids had to come up with it themselves. If they had a bad attitude about doing their chores for example, to make it right meant they would go and do what he was asked with a good attitude. It could also include asking Mom for something he/she could do to help them since this child had stolen Mom’s time when she had to deal with him.
  4. The last part of this process is to accept the consequence. If a child is truly apologetic, he will calmly accept the consequence. This is why we recommend you give the consequence to your child after he apologizes. Apologizing is a key part of training children to obedience. To apologize correctly takes a humble spirit. Kids behave when they are humble, and are pleasant to be around.

What about your family? Have you worked with your children to apologize when they do something wrong or offend someone? Have you seen a difference in their attitude when they do?

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I John 1:9

Taming the Lecture Bug in You

By Joey and Carla Link
April 6, 2022

When parents lecture, they think they are helping their children by reminding them of the training and teaching they have given them. Lectures all too often turn into yelling matches because your voice gets angrier as you realize they aren’t listening to you. Do your lectures encourage your kids to make wise decisions? Lecturing is just a polite way of yelling at your kids for not getting something done for the umpteenth time.

What lectures don’t do.
Lectures do not give kids new information. All they hear is “blah, blah, blah.”
Lectures do not motivate kids to do the right thing. They do however motivate kids to do the wrong thing.
Lectures do not encourage kids to succeed. When you keep pointing out the wrong your kids are doing, they lose heart that they are doing anything right.
Lectures do not give kids (especially teens) the freedom to make mistakes they can learn from.

When legalistic parents lecture their kids in an attempt to prevent them from doing wrong by continually reminding them of their strict expectations, they are surprised to find their lectures prevent their kids from doing right.

When you lecture, your kids are unengaged because they know nothing is required of them. Kids keep a small part of their mind tuned in to what their parent is saying and let the other part of their mind wander wherever it wants to go. It is depressing to realize our kids don’t have to think hard about what we are saying to keep track of our words and intent, isn’t it?

Bottom line – telling your kids what they already know is not going to motivate them to get it done to make you happy.

So, what can you do instead? Ask them questions that they can’t lie about.
I asked my daughter to clean her room, When I walked by it a few hours later, the room was still a mess.

Instead of:
Me: Is your room clean?
Her: It is clean enough.

Try this:
Me: Did you have time to clean your room today?
Her: Yes.
Me: I just walked by it. Do you think I thought it was clean?
Her: No. I’m sorry Mom. Will you forgive me? I wanted to finish reading this book. I will go clean it now.
Me: I do forgive you and I understand the temptation to finish a book when you get to the good parts of it. So how are you going to overcome this temptation since you told me the other day you would work on it?
Her: You could take away the privilege of letting me read.
Me: I don’t want to do that. What else could you do?
Her: I could give you the book each morning and you could keep it until I have the freedom to read it when I am done with my schoolwork and chores.
Me: That sounds like a good plan.

Is this more effective than another lecture about getting her nose out of her books and staying on top of the things she needs to get done? Definitely.


By Joey and Carla Link
March 30, 2022

I remember a time when I reminded one of my girls once again to get her chores done and her response was, “I know, I know.” I thought if she already knew, why wasn’t it done? In the last 24 hours how many times have you heard your spouse or yourself remind your kids to do something they already knew they were supposed to do? Reminders are the common and normal go-to for parents when they see something that’s not done, but it is a bad habit that is not really helpful in assisting kids to grow in maturity.

Recently I (Joey) had a parent ask us “How can I get my children to be more responsible at getting their chores done?” It’s a typical issue all parents struggle with. I asked this parent how many times she reminded them to do them. She sheepishly admitted she reminded her kids to do them all the time. I asked what motivated their kids to own getting their chores done – just their reminders? When working with another family, Carla asked the mom how many reminders did she have to give until their kids got around to doing their chores? Her response was there wasn’t a set number of times. Carla told her there definitely was. She had been counting all day when the mom reminded one of her kids and with all three of their kids Mom and Dad gave four reminders before the kids moved. Why did it take four times?

It wasn’t the number of reminders they got; it was the tone of their parent’s voice they were listening to. The kids knew when their parents’ tone of voice told them they better get them done now or they would pay the price.

Why would a child want to remember to do something they don’t want to do when their parent will remember for them? Every child wants to do his/her own thing and no child wants to be responsible until they have to be. It is the parents’ role to help their child mature and own their behaviors and responsibilities, and it will be work for both the parent and the child for this to happen.

How to get kids to work on responsibilities (for kids 8 yrs. and up)
· Have your kids list all the responsibilities they have.
· Ask them to rate between 1-10 (1 is low 10 is high) how well they do them without being reminded.
· Ask them to write down why they think they have to be reminded.
· Ask them to write down one way they can work on the 2 items on their list that take the most reminders for them to get their chores done. If they can’t come up with anything, let them know you will come up with one for them.
· As parents, be willing to come up with consequences that will help them remember.
· Above all, be consistent when dealing with it. If you hear a reminder coming out of your mouth, give a correction.
· Be sure and praise them when you see them working on them.

When a child is taking ownership of more and more of his/her responsibilities, he develops maturity in other areas that a parent may not be fully ready to trust or turn over to him. It is also a good time to give him the freedom to fail. In other words, ask him if you can trust him with that ownership and if he says “yes”, give it to him. Don’t be afraid to take it back if he misuses that freedom.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
Colossians 3:23

When Your Kids “Talk Trash”

By Joey and Carla Link
March 23, 2022

Trash talk. It’s another way of saying “swearing”, or “talking like a sailor”, or “foul language” and the list goes on and on. When we were growing up, even though we lived hundreds of miles apart, we both got in trouble for saying “golly” and “gosh darn” because that was considered to be using God’s name in vain. Can you even imagine how we went from “golly” to the language that is a common part of society today?

We were at a community event last summer where the music blaring out from the loud speakers was foul. It was promoted as a family event!

When your kids first say an inappropriate word, what is your reaction? Do you yell at them, telling them under no circumstances that they are to talk that way again? Before you react, ask yourself:
What words are they hearing from their friends?
From you?
From your choices in entertainment?
From too much freedom with television shows they are allowed to watch or stuff they are exposed to on the computer?
Are they able to distingue between right and wrong language?
When they hear a foul word, do they know what it means?
Do they know/think it is foul?

We aren’t just talking about pre-teens and teens here. Preschoolers talk this way because their parents do. Jesus own brother, James said it clearly,

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” James 3:10

What is right and wrong language for your kids?
I (Joey) remember walking to the park with my then 6-year-old son and he told me a joke he heard at the public school he attended. I asked him if he knew what the one word I was surprised to hear meant, and he said he didn’t. When I told him, he quickly said he wouldn’t tell that joke again.

Paul gives parents clear definition in Ephesians 4:29 of what is right and wrong language.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

What words, language and kind of talk are you allowing your kids to use:
in your home
with their friends
in text, emails
on social media

I had a parent check their teens phone recently because they were having issues with the kid’s attitude. They were horrified at the words and language their teen’s fingers were texting to a friend. It’s like Solomon said in Proverbs 23:7,

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

You will know what your kids are thinking about when you pay attention to what is coming out of their heart through their mouths.

How Can Parents Harness Their Child’s Inappropriate Words?
With young kids (7 yrs. and younger) stop them from saying it with your authority. Be calm and steady – just explain you don’t use that word in your family like you don’t allow them to say “shut up” or “stupid”. They don’t need long explanations or a lot of detail. Keep it simple.
Know what your kid’s friends talk about and what kinds of words they use. You can say, “We don’t use that word in our family so please don’t use it around our kids or in our home.”
Help your kids choose appropriate friends and invite their families to spend time with your family. Don’t assume because peers of your kids go to church their family has the same standards yours does.
If your child asks what is wrong with a word you have told him not to use tell him, unless it is inappropriate for his age. When our kids asked us these type of questions over the years, we usually asked them: Why exactly do you want to know? You already know the word is wrong to use so what else do you need to know?
Parents need to model what words to use and what words not to use by not saying the inappropriate ones yourselves. If it isn’t okay for your child to use, then it isn’t okay for you to use.
In the same way, parents need to give kids different words to use to replace what their peers use. Encourage them to be creative like “Oh Jelly snaps!”
Ultimately for a child to choose note to use words he/she hears from friends and peers, they need to believe the word is right or wrong in the context it is being used in. Therefore, if a child wants to persist in using words you believe are wrong for your family:
You need to be prepared to teach them why you believe the words or phrases are wrong
Give them grace in removing it from their vocabulary as it likely has become a habit
Help them replace it with other words that can make the same point

Our oldest daughter was on the bus going to a band competition when she was 13 years old. After listening to them talk for a while she stood up, put her hands on her hips and said, “Do you know what that word means? Any of you? It means “poop”. Why you think it is cool to say “poop” all the time when talking to each other is beyond me. I think it is disgusting and you should too! Next time you want to use that word go to the bathroom where it belongs because some of us here don’t want to hear it!”

Christianity is being mocked as the norm in our society today for the first time ever in our country’s history. When others know you are believers, they are watching to see what is different about being a Christian from the way they live their own lives. We can all be flickering flames that will burst into a bonfire if we just clean up our mouths and don’t allow “unwholesome trash talk” in our families.

“The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.”
Proverbs 10:21

I Don’t Want To!

By Joey and Carla Link
March 16, 2022

As a parent, you have likely heard your kids say, “It’s not fair” or “You can’t make me.” In our book, “Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave”, I (Joey) tell a story about the time when I was 12 and playing in Little League baseball. I had a bad attitude about an umpire’s calls and how unfair I thought his strike zone was. I let my attitude be known to the entire team and anyone else who could hear me. My Dad, who was one of the coaches, along with the other coach decide to make me sit and I didn’t play again that game. The next game, I didn’t play either. Being one of the better players on our team, I asked my Dad, why. He said that until I got my attitude straight, I wasn’t going to play anymore.

My Dad and the other coach were willing to sacrifice team wins to teach me a much-needed lesson that I have carried my whole life. It doesn’t matter if things go your way or not, you get in there and give it your best effort, every time.

In 1 Samuel 15 God had Samuel appoint Saul the first king over Israel. He gave Saul one assignment, to fight against their enemy and to kill every one of them including their king and their animals and to take no spoils (material things). But Saul didn’t do that. He did fight them and win, but he brought back many of their animals saying they would be good to sacrifice to God in honor of their victory. They brought back the king too.

When King Saul met up with Samuel, he said, “Blessed be you to the Lord, I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” (vs. 13) Kids who don’t want to change their selfish ways or take responsibility for their actions or attitudes will blame others or make excuses for their behaviors. Saul went on to say, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. But the people took the spoils and animals and brought them home.” “But the people did it”? The people were obeying their King. Samuel didn’t put up with Saul’s nonsense for a minute and neither did God. God was angry that King Saul disobeyed him, and regretted making him king (vs. 11). He stripped Saul of his title as a punishment, because he could not trust Saul to do what God told him to do. When Samuel confronted Saul, the king told him he did obey the command of the Lord.

The best thing you can do when you don’t trust your kids to obey is do what God did through Samuel. Hold your kids responsible in a life changing way that will bring about a changed heart. Too many times it is easier for parents to see the disobedience in their kids or hear their bad attitude and let it go. But for a child to keep getting away with something is the start of resetting the standard of right and wrong so that your standard of what is right becomes wrong or inconsequential to the child.

So how do you hold them accountable? Follow God’s lead. He took away the freedoms that came with being the King when He had Samuel strip Saul of that title. If you can’t trust your kids to obey you immediately, completely, without challenge and without complaining, then why do they have so many freedoms? When looking at your kids’ freedoms, look at the things they get to choose to do or don’t ask permission to do. Find out more on this in the Two Part Mom’s Notes presentations “Understanding Freedoms, Pt. 1” and “Understanding Freedoms, Pt. 2” available on MP3, PDF, CD and written Notes.

We encourage you as Galatians 6:9 says,

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”