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Positive Parenting

Elevate the Good

 What do we mean by this? It is easy for parents to focus on the restrictive or negative side of parenting. You are “restrictive” in your parent when you point out your children are doing wrong. “Why can’t you get ready on time?” “When are you going to do what I tell you to do?” “Stop hitting your sister!” While you cannot avoid being restrictive in your parenting, don’t overlook the many things you can do that affect the behavior of your child in a positive way, often without discipline.


Point your children in the direction you want them to go. Instead of saying, “Stop hitting your brother!” try, “Tell me one way you can be nice to your brother.” After you get that answer, say, “Are you willing to do that now?”  Pointing them to the ‘good,’ is to get into the habit of saying the opposite of the negative. Instead of saying this: Stop running in the house! Try this: Please walk in the house, you can run outside. Instead of this: Why can’t you do what I tell you to do? Try this: I asked you to vacuum the family room. When will get that done? Instead of this: We are late again, why can’t you get your stuff done on time? Try this: Make a list of all the things you need to do to get ready to leave the house in the morning. Write down how much time it will take to complete the list. That is how early you need to get up.

Write down the negative things you said to each of your kids this past week. Re-word each statement in a positive way. Parents have to teach themselves to elevate the good in their children.

Praise and encouragement are far better motivators to get your children to do what they are supposed to do to than discipline and critical words. When you praise your child, you are showing him honor and your approval for something he did. When you encourage your child, you are giving him courage to do something he needs to do, and you cheer him on towards the goal.  To encourage someone is to give him hope. Praise is for an accomplishment, encouragement is to be given along the way.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

“Therefore encourage one another

and build each other up.”

       I Thessalonians 5:11

ARE YOU REQUIRING YOUR CHILDREN TO DO THINGS YOU ARE NOT REQUIRING OF YOURSELF?  Children quickly pick up on any double standard on the part of the parent, and it breeds in them a lack of trust and security. Asking your children to do what you are not asking of yourself applies to more than just your actions.  It applies to how they view your character. For example, do not require them to speak kindly to others if you do not speak kindly to them.

“Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”

I Corinthians 11:1

Elevate the good, encourage your children when they take the initiative to do the right thing and don’t require your children to do what you will not make yourself do as. Wow. This is a lot to work on, isn’t it? Pick one of them and get to work on it. Flip your calendar to the beginning of next month and write down one of the others and figure out a way to work on it. Do the same for the next month. The only way to be consistent when working on things is to work on one thing at a time. Putting these positive ways to get your kids attention will reap huge benefit.

Tammie CrowgeyJune 25, 2013 - 11:20 am

Wow. I need to hear this message every day. By nature, I am quick to see all the things my kids are not doing well and slow to see what they are doing well. It’s embarrassing to admit that I have to physically remind myself (by writing the word “Praise” on a note card and placing it in a prominent place) to praise my children. However, when I praise them, I can see the joy on their face and in their attitude.
I also would not have thought to reword my instructions in a positive manner. What a great tip. It helps me to focus on the goal we are working towards and not focus on where we have been in the past.
Thank you Joey and Carla for sharing your fount of wisdom!

Teaching Your Kids To Work


“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,

as working for the Lord, not for men.”

(Colossians 3:23)


“Mommy, please can I help? Please?” “Mommy, I can do it!” Young children are anxious to ‘help’ with household duties. How quickly that changes! Before too much time passes, parents have to threaten their kids with their lives before they will get their chores done.


Have you noticed when you threaten to take away something your kids really want to do, they get their stuff done on time? Will they ever learn to get their responsibilities done on their own initiative?


When giving your kids chores to do around the house or yard, do you find they didn’t do a good job because they didn’t really want to do it in the first place? When our son was eleven years old, he wanted to mow our lawn. He knew I had paid teens to do it previous summers, and he was ready to make money.  He did a great job, doing it just the way I instructed him for the first couple weeks. He soon discovered mowing the lawn wasn’t fun, it really was a job, and he not only had to do it, he had to do it the way I wanted it done.


One evening I went outside to enjoy the nice weather and I saw strips he had missed. I talked to him about it, and he told me it was getting dark when he had mowed so he would get it next time. Not pleased with this I watched the next time he mowed. He was working so fast he wasn’t doing a good job and there were once again places that were not mowed.


I realized I needed to teach him to have a good work ethic, and this was a great place to start. I told him I was no longer going to pay him by the week. He would get paid monthly. If I had to remind him to do it, or if he had to do it again because he didn’t do it right the first time, he would still mow every week, he just wouldn’t get paid.  I also told him he could not mow anyone else’s lawn until he could show me I could trust him to do a good job on ours without my constant supervision. On his third summer of mowing, he said his goal was to get paid every month that summer. And he did.


At eleven years of age, do you think our son understood that everything he did was for the Lord? I don’t think he gave this a thought. I asked him what doing something for the Lord meant. This gave me the opportunity to teach him we can show the world God’s glory in everything we do every day. Since our office is in our home, we have a lot of people drop by the house. When they commented on how nice the yard looked and asked who mowed for us, he was giving God glory by showing others he was willing to work with his whole heart. In God’s eyes, giving Him the glory in what we do is more important than any amount of money we can make.


Teaching your children to work is a key responsibility of every parent. In many ways, it will determine how successful your child’s future will be. I want to encourage you to stop reminding your kids to do what they already know they are supposed to do. Stop lecturing them when they don’t do it. They aren’t listening anyway. Give them consequences. The most effective consequence that works for all ages is to take away the freedom of what they were doing instead of completing the assigned task.


If your child was watching television or playing on the computer instead of getting his homework done, he loses the freedom of the computer or television. If your child can’t get up on time in the morning, tell him (or her) if he needs more sleep he gets to go to bed earlier at night and set his bedtime one-half hour to one hour earlier, depending on the child’s age.


The first question your child is going to ask is how long he loses this privilege. Ask him what you need to see before you should give it back. The answer is he needs to get his schoolwork or his chores done on time. Tell him you need to see it become a habit, because you are tired of fighting with him over it. When you see this, you will give him the freedom back. Seeing it become a habit means he needs to do it consistently for at least one-two weeks. Remember, “no pain, no gain.”


The work ethic your children learn in your home is the work ethic they will take into their first job which will dictate the kind of employee they will turn out to be and it will dictate the way they will one day serve the Lord whether they work full-time in Christian ministry or volunteer at their church in some capacity.


“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,

as working for the Lord, not for men.”

(Colossians 3:23)




CherylMay 25, 2013 - 9:47 am

The importance of work ethic cannot be over-emphasized. During 33 years as a high school teacher, I met myriad students from myriad families: no matter what the students’ aptitudes, work ethic defined their success. I saw highly motivated seniors (who might have only average abilities) work their way to a 3 or 4 on an AP exam, thus earning college credit for their efforts. Conversely, I saw brilliant “budding geniuses,” refusing to do homework, not only fail AP exams but even fail in regular courses and not graduate. Just because they had been “resting on the laurels” of their gifted brains, they doomed their high school records by their refusal to follow directions and respect the guidance of their teachers.

On a personal note, as parents of an adopted son diagnosed with a brain disorder, my husband and I have gone through 24 years of very difficult parenting. Because of our son’s inability to sequence, his ADD, and his scattered thinking, it has often taken him 3-5 years to learn basic life concepts that can take a “normal” young person just a year or so to learn.

Nonetheless, my husband and I “fought the good fight” throughout his upbringing, and continue to do so today. Though he was unable to go to college, or even do very well in school for that matter, he has developed a pretty good work life because of what employers have said about his work ethic. Through constant discipline and excellent private school training, he learned how to interact with the public effectively, developed a huge heart for others (especially the needy), and is very good at physical/kinesthetic work that doesn’t involve a lot of paperwork. The auto dealership (where he started out washing and delivering cars) eventually made him a lot manager (training new employees, keeping the lot neat/tidy, making sure the other lot workers did a meticulous job). He was recently promoted to become a service writer; our prayer is that he will be able to manage the craziness of stressed-out customers bringing in their cars to the service dept.

One thing his employers seem to agree on: he always tries hard and gets a lot done.

We are grateful for this answer to our prayers. Plus, he is marrying a young woman who does have a college degree (and who also helps him manage life with his brain disorder). When I spoke with her about whether she was concerned that she has a degree and her husband will not, her reply was, “My fiance works much harder than a lot of people I knew in college. He has a full-time job and is given all the overtime he wants. He likes his work. I graduated from college with people who still have not found work. They’re still living with their parents, and they have thousands of dollars in college debt. My future husband is in good shape, by comparison.”

Sophie MasseyMay 25, 2013 - 11:22 am

This is so true and yet missed by many parents. Nagging becomes the norm as we run around plagued by impatience brought on by our own propensity for carrying ‘monkeys’ that belong to our children. This only produces frustrated parents and lazy children. Thankyou for the reminder to us to implement Colossians 3:23 in this aspect of our own parenting as well as encouraging it’s outworking in our children’s lives and hearts.

Margaret PaulsonMay 25, 2013 - 9:58 pm

I really appreciate the reminder to keep a strong work ethic in our home. Lately we have been struggling with our children working together well. We have 5 children (15 down to 5) and all have a wonderful, strong idea/opinion 🙂 about how a job should be completed, and they don’t always agree. I find that we just resort to just giving individual jobs bc we don’t want conflict. I feel like we give consequences and we have times of conflict resolution where we train on how to work things through, but I would love some more insight. We homeschool, so we are home during the day. Thanks Carla.

Monica BrownMay 26, 2013 - 2:36 am

Joey and Carla. . . we used your advice with our oldest who is now 19 and are we ever GRATEFUL! We have 6 other children and one on the way and we are teaching them all to be responsible, diligent workers. .. this article reminds me again to NOT lecture. . to ask questions. . .to take away what my child wants until they are willing to do their work correctly. I was just saying today how pleased I am that my children know how to take care of things and clean up. They don’t always do what they know is right and we are working with them every day toward the goal of having a heart that works as for the Lord. We know it will make a HUGE difference for them when they reach adulthood.

Thanks for the reminder. . .

Jim & Monica Brown

Why Can’t I Do It

 Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.

Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive.

 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”

I Corinthians 10:23-24  NIV


I was listening to the news on the radio as I was driving, and I stumbled on a discussion about spring break, and how hundreds of thousands of teens and college students are going to Mexico and Florida and the Texas coast for “Spring Break”.  The people on the panel talked about how they used to go away for spring break and asked each other if they would let their college-age kids go. Every person on this panel said “No way!” One of the people on the panel said she would let her son go as long as she went with him as his chaperone. Everyone had a good laugh, knowing her son would never go for that.


When their parents say “NO” to something they want to do, a lot of kids and teens ask “WHY NOT??” Parents don’t always have a good answer to this question; they are just imagining all the worst case scenarios that could happen. Oftentimes this kind of interaction can break relationships of trust between the teen and their parents, especially if the parents respond to their teenager with a harsh and angry tone. What teens want most is for their parents to trust them, but they do not have enough worldly experience to know that giving trust can be a double-edged sword. They don’t understand their parents may trust them, but not the circumstances surrounding the activity they want to participate in.


These verses in I Corinthians 10 deal with this exact issue.


All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.

All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”

I Corinthians 10:23-24 NASV


From these verses, there is nothing wrong with telling your teens that they could do anything. This will surely get their minds going, thinking, “WOW, I can go!” Until you point out the rest of the line in the verse; “but not all things are profitable.” To help your kids work this through and get a good understanding of this verse, parents should ask the following questions:

  • How is this going to profit or benefit you?
  • How could participating in this activity hurt you?
  • You know many of the other teens going do not have the same values you do. How are you going to resist them when they try to get you to do something you know you should not do?
  • How is participating in this activity going to be constructive and help you grow in your relationship with Christ?


The second part of the verse is also interesting as it says, “All things are lawful,” meaning God doesn’t have a law against it. BUT, “not all things edify” or will build you up and be a blessing for you. The definition of the word “edify,” says “to instruct or improve especially by setting a good example; to profit morally or spiritually.” There is no middle ground here. If the circumstances that come with participation in an activity are not going to set a good example so your child or teen will profit morally or spiritually, then it is going to hurt or tear them down.


We would encourage you to

  • Plan a time to look at these verses up with your kids.
  • When you get to the point that says “All things are lawful /permissible” Ask them what this means.
  • Then read the rest of the line and have them look up the words, ‘profit / beneficial’ and ‘edify /constructive’ in the dictionary and discuss what they mean.
  • Encourage your kids to rewrite the verses using the definitions of these two words.
  • Have them write how activities or events they want to do under “All things are lawful/permissible” would benefit them or edify them.


You want them to grasp the fact that even though they could do something, that doesn’t mean they should do it. The trick is getting your kids to think this through. These verses explain this from God’s point of view.


The next time a situation comes up where your kids don’t understand why you are telling them, “No,” bring up these verses and ask your kids the questions mentioned above. Don’t let them get away with giving you answers they know you want to hear. You may need to keep asking them additional “HOW” or “WHY” questions to be sure they have not only thought through the issue, but will know how to deal with an unforeseen issue or complication they didn’t see coming.


I remember when our son Michael was in 9th grade and he wanted to join a team for the Dragon Boat Races during an event the high school sponsored. Teams of twenty teens were on each boat and they competed against each other. We saw the benefit in this activity so we told Michael he could go.  A week before the event, he told us a lot of the teens were staying overnight in the state park the night before the races and he wanted to join them. We could see many negative issues with this that would not make it a beneficial activity for him.


We asked him to come up with three reasons why we might say “yes,” and three reasons why we would say “no.” He agreed, but he didn’t come back at the appointed time with his answers. Carla asked him why, and he said the only reason we would say “yes” was because he wanted to go, but he had a lot of reasons why we would say “no.” He chose not to go. On race day, we found out sheriffs came out and arrested many of the students for underage drinking and drugs. A friend of ours who was a cop told Michael he was smart to stay home instead of spending the night with the others.


Our kids are just like us. We see something we want and we might check to see if there is a law against it or something in the Bible that says we shouldn’t do it. But that is about as far as many of us go. These verses teache us we need to do more than that. We need to ask ourselves if we will morally and spiritually profit from participating in this activity or from the purchase of something we want, but don’t need. This is an important, but often overlooked step when it comes to making decisions in our lives. If you want your kids to grow up thinking things through to make the right moral decision, you must teach them to think morally by thinking through and evaluating what is right and wrong for them.


Is this something you as an adult need to think through for yourselves so that you are a good example to your kids?


Margaret PaulsonMay 25, 2013 - 10:11 pm

It becomes more and more difficult to tell our children “No” as they grow and mature, especially our teens, with whom we have fervently been working on our relationship. I like the verse mentioned, as I believe it can be a tool to continually use to help transfer ownership of the decisions. I keep wanting my oldest daughter to think things through and come to the same conclusions that we her parents come to. They aren’t always the exact same, but we are making strides towards personal ownership and the verse Carla shared can be a great tool to get us there. We are going to try the approach this summer of 3 reasons why. Thanks.

Monica BrownMay 26, 2013 - 2:42 am

. . .this article changed our thinking in a critical way. . .thank you for encouraging us to think about whether or not something is actually profitable for us or others is so important and has already helped us navigate activities with our children. Your comments are helping us help our children to “buy in” to a biblical view of the many choices we have vs. forcing them to do what we say.

Thank you!!!

Jim and Monica Brown

Keeping Your Family Strong

We were visiting with a family the other night over dinner. They started to share about their concerns for their 14 year old daughter. She was starting to pull away from the family. She would hide in her room, texting her friends or playing games on the internet with them. She resented when she was asked to help out with chores and other household duties. This family has done a great job training their children in Godly character over the years, and they wondered what has gone wrong.

I (Joey) don’t think they were reassured when we told them this was normal behavior and to be expected. This is their oldest child, and they just were not prepared for the middle years. Oh they have gone through GKGW several times, taken the GFI Middle Years class, and listened to the Mom’s Notes, but having information is one thing, when the explosion comes in the form of unexpected behavior, it is another thing altogether. To some extent, we all live in denial. We get information, but we don’t think it is going to happen to our kids. When it does, the rug is literally pulled out from underneath us.

I (Joey) reminded these parents of two things they learned in Growing Kids God’s Way (Cpt 17); the independent and interdependent families. Let’s say the members of your family are standing in a circle, holding hands with their backs to the inside of the circle. This is your independent family. Everyone’s focus is where their interests lie, not with each other.

Try standing in a circle again, still holding hands but facing inward. This is what an interdependent family looks like. Everyone is focused on the needs of the family as a whole. The members of an interdependent family support each other, and make each other a priority. They realize no matter what, you have their backs and they will have yours. For fourteen years, all the members of this family had been facing inward, but the daughter flipped around and is now facing outward. Once the parents realized this, they knew what they needed to do to turn her back around so their family is interdependent once more.

How do you build an interdependent family? It is called “Family Identity.” Take family trips and plan activities where you build memories that withstand the rigors of the worst times of your family. Parents and kids alike sacrifice certain things you want to do in life to have nights of playing games or making ice cream, going for a bike ride as a family, or just for a walk. The family talks around the dinner table instead of shoveling food down and running to do their own thing.

When parents are busy with their own activities, kids will find substitutes for their parents to spend time with. They don’t care if their friends have the same values and standards you have trained them to. If someone shows interest in them and is nice to them, that qualifies them as a good friend, regardless what their personal beliefs are. Parenting is a season of your life. When your kids are adults, you will crave time with them. Start building a relationship now that will lead to a lifetime of friendship.

I learned to play Frisbee golf because it was someone my son enjoyed doing. Although Carla would have preferred to scrapbook by herself, she allowed both our daughters to scrap with her and encouraged them in their efforts. Carla will tell you she has played more games of Uno than she cares to think about. We found ways to do what our kids enjoyed doing.

We assigned each of our children a week every month to plan our weekly family night. I am sure Michael still remembers the time his younger sister excitedly gave us all pictures she had copied from her color books to color and make up stories about. We were pleased to see him put a smile on his face and participate in this activity without complaining. This was our family rule: If you wanted the members of the family to participate in the family night you planned each month without whining and complaining, you had to do the same for them. Michael and I cheerfully participated in “dress-up night,” knowing Briana had planned what she wanted us to wear. She had a great time putting curlers in our hair and make-up on our faces. Speaking of scrapbooking, many of these nights have been recorded for posterity in photos, so we all have fun when we are together laughing and remembering.

When I (Joey) was growing up, we had a family vacation where we didn’t leave town. We were each given a day of the week to plan something to do. We went bowling on my brother’s day, to my sister’s favorite restaurant one night in another town, roller skating on my day and so on (I am pretty sure we cleaned house on my mom’s day).

How many things do you do as a family? To develop family identity, we strongly encourage you to plan a family night once a week. If you are too busy to give your undivided attention to your family one night a week, then you are too busy. You will not believe the encouragement this will be to your children, no matter their age. When our kids got to be teens, they kept family night a priority and would not plan other things to do that night, including taking babysitting jobs. That is how important family night was to them.

As parents, we have committed many sins that have offended our kids over the years. But, I have found, aside from going through the Repentance, Forgiveness and Restoration process  with them, the one antidote that can cover a multitude of parental sins is to build family identity with them.


There is a Mom’s Notes presentation entitled, Building Family Identity (Volume 3).

If you already own this presentation, this might be a good time to listen to it again.


Monica BrownMay 26, 2013 - 2:43 am

so fun!!! GREAT ideas and what a wonderful way to grow up! Everyone learning to respect each other and have fun in ways that make everyone feel special!

Love these ideas. . .

Jim & Monica Brown

When It Is Your Fault

Do you ever feel you have messed up as a parent? Perhaps you have disciplined your kids when you were angry and you were too hard on them, or your expectations were unfair. Do your kids tell you they hate you? Welcome to the club! There isn’t a parent alive who has not felt this way at one time or another.  So, what can you do about it?


Did you know your kids can be disobedient because of your sin? Ouch. As painful as this is to hear, it is certainly the truth. If you consistently discipline your kids while you are yelling at them because you are angry, you are not disciplining them, you are punishing them. Kids who are punished do not learn to deal with their sin. They get mad at you for your harshness with them (especially a sensitive child), so they deliberately do something to make you mad again as this is the only way they can pay you back.


What’s the difference between punishment and discipline? The definition of the word “punish” is, “To deal with harshly, roughly.” The definition for “discipline” is, “Teaching or training which corrects, molds, and strengthens.” That is quite a difference.


When you cannot get your anger and frustration under control before dealing with your kids, you are in sin. When you correct them, all they get out of it is the fact they made you angry. Where is the teaching and training in this? How do you turn this around with a child you consistently are harsh with? How do you open up their hearts again so they will listen to you? If you have taken the Growing Kids God’s Way parenting class, this would be an excellent time to dig out your manual and review Chapter 13, which talks about the Repentance, Forgiveness and Restoration process. Only this time, don’t think of how it affects your kids, think of how it affects you. The key to turn children who are angry and rebellious (because of your sin) around is for you to apologize to them.


Step 1: Repentance – This is recognizing you have done something wrong and need to confess it. When in Backyard Bible Club (w/Child Evangelism Fellowship) while I (Carla) was growing up, we learned ‘to repent’ was to make a U-turn. You turn around and go the other direction. Start the apology by telling your child you know your anger is wrong and why it is wrong.


Step 2: Forgiveness – Jesus gave us the example of forgiveness by dying on the cross for us. When He did this, He gave us the opportunity to come to Him and make our relationship right by confessing our sin and asking Him to forgive us. This is the example He set before us on how to wipe out our sin with those we have wronged. Forgiveness is a gift Christ gave us for all of eternity if we ask for it by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior. Forgiveness is a gift the one we offended gives us, especially if we ask for it.


“If we confess our sin he is faithful and just

and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

I John 1:9


Step 3: Restoration – In simple terms, this means you make right your wrong. You give back what you took away. How do you make right the wrong your angry heart did in the eyes of your child? Let your child know how much you love him, and that you will work on not getting angry when he disobeys. Then go through the scenario again, teaching and training him how to do the right thing the next time he is confronted with the same choice.


A parent’s goal through this process needs to be the same as what you expect of your children when they sin and disobey you, and that is to restore the relationship. So what do YOU need to do to restore your relationship with your child when you have offended him? Apologize. When your children forgive you, he typically has a very soft heart towards you as he does not like being estranged from you.


How are you going to work on not getting angry the next time your child willfully disobeys? When one of your children needs correction, first, have him sit in an isolated place to think about what he did wrong (age 5 years and up). Tell him he cannot get up until he is ready to come and talk to you about what he did wrong and apologize. While he is sitting, you need to go sit too. Take a few deep breaths and calm down and pray and ask God for His wisdom to deal with this child. After your child apologizes, he/she gets their correction. This is discipline.