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Practicing What You Preach

By Joey and Carla Link
March 9, 2022

Have you ever heard the phrase “caught between a rock and a hard place”? Parents often find themselves there, when everywhere they turn they run into a stone wall. We all speed when driving our cars. I think the first words out of our mouths when we gave each of our kids the keys to the car for the first time after they got their driver’s license was “Don’t speed!” When our kids were much younger, they learned what those signs with numbers on them meant and would watch the speedometer on the car and let their mom and I know when we were exceeding the posted speed limit. The last time I was in our son’s car it wasn’t too long before I heard his son let him know what the posted speed limit was and how fast he was going. What are you teaching your kids when you speed?

We heard about a man who was telling us about the heated conversations he and his son, who was learning to drive were having about speeding. The Dad’s mantra was “Do as I say, not as I do.” I don’t know who came up with this, but it does not sit well with kids or teens.

A week after this conversation, the church youth group was going to a camp which mandated no cell phones were allowed. The parents didn’t have 100% trust in their son being that far away and not being able to get in contact with him, so they allowed him to take his phone and told him to keep it in his bag. The son asked his dad if he didn’t have the freedom to disobey his parents, why did his dad have the freedom to pick and choose which rules and laws he would obey, which led back to the speeding issue.

Is there anywhere in Romans 13:1-2 where it says we have the freedom to make up our own minds about which laws we will or won’t obey?

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

When parents get caught obeying the laws of the government they agree with and not obeying the ones they don’t, when their kids and especially teens find out, it should be no surprise they see it as a double standard and call you a hypocrite.

It is not our place to say whether posted speed limits are right or wrong, or whether it is a good idea to expect kids to spend a weekend without their phones, especially when you can’t trust if they will leave it in their bag and not use it (this son did get caught texting his girlfriend who didn’t go to camp).

The bigger issue here is are you practicing how you expect your kids to live? If not, you will undermine your authority and influence with your kids when they are confronted with the double standard and they are trying to determine what are the right and wrong biblical principles they need to live by.

The better path would be to ask for permission for contextual exceptions. I was in charge of a youth retreat a few years ago and I said no cell phones allowed. If they needed to bring them for any reason the phones needed to be turned in to their counselor. I had several teens ask if they could use theirs during the teaching sessions because they used the Bible on their phones. That is not uncommon today, of course. I did allow them to use them for this purpose, as long as they gave them back to their counselor when each teaching session was over. Why couldn’t they hang on to them? I knew the phone was too big of a temptation not to look when it let them know they had a message and I wanted this time at camp to be focused on relationship building and growing in Christ
I was not surprised when I found a teen using it to text a friend who was not at camp, and I took their phone from them until we got home, as I had said I would. This kid had a choice. He could attend the retreat and abide by the rules, and join in on the fun, but give up his phone during this time. He chose not to.

The Dad we talked about at the beginning of this blog also had a choice. He could have also thought through why it was so hard to stick to the speed limit. The inherent problem is a governing authority needs to have a rational practical reason for their rules, otherwise authority is setting themselves up for rebellion and anarchy. This goes for parents too. If your kids don’t understand your rules or why you made them, there is no hope they will obey them and in essence you are teaching them to be disobedient.

The more Christians stand on Biblical principles, the more we will be the light of the world and respected by them and the more parents will be able to influence their kids and teens that are watching your every move.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning,
for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Hebrews 13:17

The Passive, or Quietly Rebellious Child

By Joey and Carla Link
March 2, 2022

We were visiting friends who had 3 children. The kids were told to get their pj’s on and get in bed with lights out and Mom and Dad would come in to tuck them in. When Mom came back from doing this, Dad asked her why the light was still on in their oldest (10 yrs.) daughter’s bedroom. Mom told him this daughter was reading and wanted to finish her chapter then said she would turn her light out. We went on visiting with them, and Dad got up about 45 minutes later to use the bathroom. We heard him open a bedroom door and tell his daughter to put her book down and he turned off her light. He came back to the table and told his wife since he had been a poor reader in school, he was glad she enjoyed reading so much.

Joey and I looked at each other, deciding whether to not to say anything. They had been asking us plenty of questions about their 8 yr. old son, but hadn’t asked us any about this daughter, repeatedly saying she was their compliant, “easy” child.

Rebellion is shown in 2 ways in kids. There is the angry in-your-face defiant rebellion their 8 yr. old son had down pat. Then there is passive, or quiet rebellion. Pouting, sulking, deep sighs, all typify this rebellion. “Rebellion” is “the action and/or attitude of resisting authority or the control someone has over you.” It doesn’t say “unless you are quiet about it.”

The most frequent responses your quietly rebellious child will show when you go to find out why he/she didn’t do something they were told to do are I forgot”, “I don’tremember”, “maybe”, or our daughter’s favorite when we asked her if the job was completed, “I’ll go check”.

We all like to think our kids are smart, talented kids. So, why can’t they “remember” to go clean their room when you tell them to? If your child is characterized by saying any of the above, he/she had no intention of doing the chore/homework. They were just hoping you wouldn’t find out it wasn’t done.

When your child has no intention of doing something he leads you to believe he will get done, he is deceiving you, which is a form of lying. Do you see why this is just as powerful a form of rebelling against your authority as angry defiance is? The root is the same for both, they don’t want anyone telling them what to do or making choices for them.

So, what can you do about your “easy” child? This child is harder to parent, as you have to be a detective to track them down when they aren’t being obedient. We would tell our daughter to come find one of us and let us know when she was finished with her task so we could check her work and make sure she had done it completely and efficiently. I (Carla) would set the timer for the amount of time I thought it should take her to get the job done, whether it was schoolwork or chores, and if she hadn’t come to find me when it went off, I would go find her.

I will never forget the time I told her to clean the Barbie doll mess off the floor of her bedroom. I went to see what was taking her so long 20 minutes later to find her dressing all her Barbies for church! This daughter of ours has the Sanguine temperament and they are easily distracted and have trouble following through on what they are told to do. She was following through all right. She just wasn’t following through on what I had told her to do! Kids with Sanguine as their primary temperament are quietly rebellious.

Keeping Track of Your Quietly Defiant Child:

Use a timer. If they are 7 years or younger you determine how long it should take them to do the task.
If they aren’t done when the timer goes off, have him/her go sit in an isolated place with no freedoms until they are ready to apologize.
After he apologizes, ask him how he is going to make it right. He should tell you he will finish the task. Allow him to go do this.
Double the amount of time the timer had been set for and your child sits in isolation for this amount of time during his/her free time for his consequence. Every minute it takes him to complete the task is added x 2 to this amount of time he sits.

When this Child “Forgets”, and “Doesn’t Remember”:

Quietly keep track of how many times over 3 days your quietly defiant child says “I forgot”, “I don’t remember”, “Maybe”, or something along these lines. If it is more than 1x per day, you are dealing with a quietly defiant rebellious child. Please remember, this child is choosing to forget and choosing not to remember, both of which are lies because he didn’t forget and he does remember.
When you get these responses from your child, resist the urge to remind him/her. He doesn’t need to be reminded to do something he doesn’t intend to do.
Deal with these as you would other lies this child tells.
When he apologizes, please make sure he tells you how he is going to make it right.

We have just scratched the surface of how and why your kids don’t and won’t submit to your authority. We will be covering more on this in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, if your kids are working on obeying immediately, completely, without challenge and without complaint (we have often shared this is what obedience training looks like), they will do what you say, when you say it, how you have told them it needs to be done without arguing or deceiving you. If your kids are constantly defying you, we urge you to step up their obedience training.

“To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”
1 Samuel 15:22-23

The Parenting Toolbox What’s in Yours?

By Joey and Carla Link
February 23, 2022

In our January 19th email we talked about what it looks like to consistently train your kids. How have you been doing since then with being consistent? When there isn’t a plan in place to help us be consistent in the training (both pro-active and re-active) of our kids, we all fall back on two things. 

Every parent has a parenting toolbox full of things you use every day with your kids. The ones you grab first are the easiest to use, and they are reminders and lectures. Let me ask you something. Do they work? If not, then it is time to throw them away and replace them with something good, like the consistent training plan we mentioned before. When you remind your kids to do something, you are doing their thinking for them. They don’t have to remember what they are supposed to be doing because you have trained them to wait for your reminder. We were guilty of this in our parenting. The only beneficial time to use reminders is when you are training little ones to new behaviors. 

There isn’t a good time to use lecturesWhy? Because you are almost always telling your child in an unpleasant tone what he/she already knows. Get into the habit of giving consequences instead of lectures and reminders and you will see your kids’ behavior improve.

Giving your children consistent consequences really does hurt you more than it hurts them, but throughout the entire Bible, God clearly shows consequences are the effect of disobedience. Your child doesn’t do his chores? He loses the freedom of what he was doing instead of the chore. You teen doesn’t get ready for school on time? When he gets enough tardy’s, he will get detention. If you don’t stop bailing your kids out with reminders, who is going to do it for them when they get to college?

Replace reminders with encouragement. In the Zoom parenting class we were leading last night, we talked about the difference between praise and encouragement. Praise is telling them they did a good job. Encouragement is “giving them courage” to do a good job. When you can see your child isn’t sure he can accomplish something, tell him/her you know he can do it. That’s encouragement. When you see your child remembering to get his stuff done on his own initiative, tell him you noticed he did it on his own and did a great job. That’s praise. It is a new year. Out with the old (reminders) and in with the new (consistent training and consequences). You might be surprised at the changes you will see in your children’s behavior!

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Are You Ready for Your Kids to Start Dating?

By Joey and Carla Link
February 16, 2022

When our son was in the second grade, he got a phone call from a girl in his class at school inviting him to go roller skating with her. We knew there was a couple’s dance every night at the roller rink where they would hold hands and skate around. You read that right – second grade. They were 7 years old! Needless to say, our son did not go.

Are you ready for when your child gets asked out on a date for the first time or when your son or daughter wants to start dating? We don’t think any parent truly is. Dating opens the doors for a lot of possibilities parents don’t want to think about. But we need to not only think about, but do something about as well.

When it comes to dating, do you have guidelines or a plan to work from? Or do you think you will wait and deal with it when the time comes? We have found that most parents have expectations of what their kids will or won’t do when they are on a date, but they have not talked to their kids about them before they get hit by their kids with the big question, “So, can I go?” 

When I (Joey) was a youth pastor, I worked on how to help teens and college kids have confident dating experiences when I saw how frustrated they were in their lack of understanding about the dating experience. I was surprised to find these teens didn’t feel comfortable talking with their parents about dating, even though one day they would want to bring “that special one” home to meet them. Why didn’t teens feel comfortable talking to their parents about it? These conversations need to be initiated by parents in a calm, non-threatening way. The last thing parents should do is leave it up to friends or even a youth pastor when you don’t know what their perspective on dating is. 

All this is why we put together a 2-part video series with a workbook titled “Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate, What Works?” Filmed before an audience of parents and teens, it’s designed to help both get on the same philosophical and practical page of what would work for them in dating.

I remember when our son was interested in a girl that grew up in a strong Christian family who had a very different dating philosophy than we did. It was challenging to work through the different viewpoints to get to agreeable standards that would work for both families. While in this process, our son decided the differences were too great and the dating relationship ended soon after. 

We have heard from many families over the years how this video series helped them think through both courting and dating in a whole new way. Many have said they were thankful to see the differences in the standards families could have and how confusing it can be since the Bible doesn’t have a lot to say about dating itself, there is no right or wrong philosophy. These families have told us this resource helped them find their own dating philosophy that would work for their family yet not offend other families. 

One Dad wrote us the following note after going through the session because his teen daughters were being asked out.

“My wife and I were having trouble figuring out how to give our girls an overall picture of dating. Joey and Carla gave us a grounded, logical approach that goes way beyond just teaching them the importance of remaining pure. This video series shares 4 levels of getting to know the opposite sex and how your teens can determine what each level should look like in the relationship they are in, looking to us for guidance along the way. My wife and I appreciate understanding how we and our teens can work together to make wise decisions regarding who their life-mate will be.” 

Whether you use this teaching or not, we hope you will get prepared with a blueprint for the framework you want to use when your kids get to be teenagers. You will want to be ready to help them learn how to go through the process of finding a life mate that will help them live for Christ and bring glory to God through both their dating and marriage relationship. The day will come when they come to you and say “So, can I go?”

What Is Love?

By Joey and Carla Link
February 9, 2022

If you walked up to people the next time you go grocery shopping and asked them what love is, you are sure to get lots of different answers. The Bible, however, has just a few. The passage in the Bible most of us know that speaks about love is 1 Corinthians 13. It says: 
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things for love never fails.”

Before we talk about what love looks like, let’s talk about what love is NOT! 
1.   Never show your appreciation for anything your spouse does for you“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 
2.   Nag and whine when things aren’t going your way“A nagging wife annoys like constant dripping.” Proverbs 19:13 
3.   Never admit that you are wrong, but be sure and rub it in your spouse’s face when he/she makes a mistake. “Love forgets mistakes, nagging about them parts the best of friends.” Proverbs 17:9 

Now let’s look at ways you can show your spouse you DO love him/her. 1.   Be an encourager. When I (Carla) get discouraged, it is usually because I am overwhelmed with life. I need my spirit to be balanced with encouragement. I get so overwhelmed with my faults and/or busyness or other things that I lose confidence in my strengths. Charlie Shedd, in his book Letters to Karen states, “Tell your husband he is wonderful. You can only tell him he isn’t wonderful where he isn’t if you have already told him he is wonderful where he is!”  “Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine,good things in others.” (Philippians 4:8) 
2.   Have realistic expectations. Much of the conflict we have experienced in our marriage has been a result of unrealistic, unspoken expectations. I expect Joey to know what I am thinking and feeling without having to express it and vice versa. We finally learned to set aside time to calmly share our expectations and at the same time express to each other how we need those expectations to be met. 

  • It has helped me a lot to have these thoughts to evaluate my expectations: Is there any way he can meet them? (Or am I demanding what he is unable to give?)
  • Will he have to compromise too much of what he thinks and believes to meet me on this? (Is the price too high?)  
  • Am I being selfish?

 3.   An old saying goes, “Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet. In other words, don’t rub your spouse’s mistakes in his face. Your spouse may have said something insensitive and although he/she apologized for it, you won’t let it go and your actions and attitude show it. 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sin God will forgive it and cleanse us, meaning wipe the slate clean. Should we do no less for our spouses? 

When you need to talk with your spouse about something you know he isn’t going to want to hear, ask yourself first, does he need to hear this? Is there a better time or way I could approach him with this? Joey and I will tell each other we have an agenda and to please let the other know when it would be a good time to talk about it. 

“…Convince, rebuke, and encourage with the utmost patience…”2 Timothy 4:2 

So, how can you communicate love to your spouse? As your perspective and your attitude move from negative to positive, what once seemed horrible and ugly to you will become beautiful and wonderful.  

It would be well if our spouses could say of us,“I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love.” Philippians 1:7