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Commanding Love

By Joey and Carla Link
February 2, 2022

February is the month to celebrate love. What do you think of when you think of the word “love”? I (Carla) like to think it means someone thinking I am important and special no matter what.   

Did you know that loving others is a command? That’s what the Bible says and it had a lot to say about love. “Command”, in the dictionary is an “authoritative voice”. That means someone in authority is telling us to do it, and in the case of the Bible that would be God. There is no higher authority or ever will be in our lives.  

“A new command I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 15:12 

Did you catch “you must love one another”? Loving others isn’t something we get to think about and do if we want to or are in the mood to or have the time to. It is something we must do. 

Carla and I are coming up to our 44th wedding anniversary. You can’t be married that long without knowing you must love each other whether you feel like it or not. I don’t think married love is what Jesus is referring to. He is talking about loving people in general. 

Where does that kind of love start? It starts at home. And it starts with parents showing their kids that married love takes priority in the family. A great thing we learned in the parenting class “Growing Kids God’s Way” is “couch time”. When Dad gets home from work, he and Mom sit on the couch for 10-15 minutes talking. The kids have to see or know you are having couch time, but can’t interrupt you. Showing priority is a form of love and kids need to know and see their parents making time for each other that they can’t take away from them. It gives kids a sense of security and stability. When our kids could tell things were tense between us, they would say, “You need to have couch time!”

What about kids? It is hard for a 3 year-old to understand why he must love his brother who just hit him. Loving people who are mean to you is hard, no matter the age. The Repentance, Forgiveness and Restoration process is a way of showing love. Please make sure your kids go through this with each other. It is the key to having a peaceful home. Teach your kids that when they grant forgiveness when it is asked of them, they don’t get to hold grudges or still be angry with that person.

A hard verse for any of us to follow is Matthew 5:44: 
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” 

In the moment a sibling becomes an “enemy”, teaching the sibling who was offended to love him/her is giving them the tools they need to love others. Your 10 year-old and teenager can love those who hurt them easier if they have been doing it all their lives.  

Require your kids to show love whether they want to or not. While you certainly need to deal with your 3 year-old’s sibling who hit him, you also ask your 3 year old how he can show love to him in return. Age wasn’t a factor for us when dealing with unkindness in our home. We asked the unkind kid (or ourselves) to come up with one way they could show kindness or be nice to the person they were unkind to and then were given time to go and do it.

“Let all that you do be done in love.”
1 Corinthians 16:14

Why is Being Consistent with Your Kids So Hard?

By Joey and Carla Link
January 19, 2022

The kids were finally in bed. Michelle looked at her husband and said, “We need to kick the kids in gear. I am tired of chasing them around all day trying to find their schoolwork and get them to do their chores. They were doing good a couple months ago. How did it get like this again?” 

Do you ever feel this way? I (Carla) remember telling Joey something similar about our kids, saying “We need to go back to getting first-time obedience from the kids.” Joey’s reply? He asked me why and how we kept losing it. That conversation changed the way we parented.

You know you have not been consistent when it comes to dealing with your kids’ misbehaviors. What are you going to do about it now? Often, parents begin to work with their kids but when they don’t know how to handle difficult behavioral issues they often give up until they get frustrated with their kids then they kick it in gear once again. Does this sound like you? Don’t lose heart! 

There are lots of reasons parents aren’t consistent in dealing with their kids. When we mention consistency, we are talking about more than giving them consequences when they do something wrong. We are also talking about being consistent when it comes to teaching them moral values like using self-control and to be responsible. Dealing with your kids is both pro-active and reactive.

  • Let’s say you have been working with your 7 yr. old to use self-control on his own initiative. You have worked with him pro-actively by explaining what self-control is.
  • Ask him what he can do when his toddler brother grabs the toy he is playing with other than hit him and take it back.
  • Ask him if he thinks he can remember to do this the next time his brother takes his toy.
  • That is enough explaining for a 7 yr. old for one day.
  • Do remember to praise him when he does what you agreed upon would be a good thing to do. If he hits him again, take him aside and ask him what he could do instead and when he tells you, ask him why he didn’t do it.
  • Don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer.
  • If he hits him again (a 3rd time), he needs a consequence.

Explain what the moral value you are working on is and why we all need to use it. Ask your child how he/she can put it into practiceEncourage him/her when they do. Remind them one time when they don’t. Give them a consequence if they do it again. 

Now I know doing this all day long times more than one child gets complicated, tedious and takes all your time. What else should be taking your time when you are in the season of parenting? This is also why we strongly encourage you to only work on one thing at a time. You can’t possibly teach your child to obey you, be patient, be kind and be responsible all at once and have any hope of being consistent at any of them.

Where do you start? Always start with obedience training. If you aren’t sure what that is, we encourage you to get the Mom’s Notes presentation “Understanding First-Time Obedience”. There is a Mom’s Notes presentation titled “Fighting the Consistency Battle” you might find helpful too. 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22:6

Surviving Christmas with Your Kids

By Joey and Carla Link
December 15, 2021

We thought this would be a good time to take a look at some of the most-asked questions we get at this time. Think about what you would do in response to the questions before you look for our answers below. 

Question 1:  There’s lots to do and events to go to and your 6 week-old baby has been held by others a lot more than normal and her sleep schedule is off. She is overly fussy and is taking longer than normal to fall asleep for her naps and is waking up at night. What do you think the problem is? How are you going to deal with it?
 Question 2 Your mother-in-law doesn’t agree with laying the baby down to settle himself to sleep. She brings it up in front of others confident they will agree with her because she wants to rock the baby to sleep. How are you going to handle this? 
Question 3: Your toddler is throwing fits and isn’t napping well, which is out of character for him. What do you think the problem is and how are you going to handle it?
Question 4 Your toddler doesn’t want to wait for others to open their presents on Christmas Day. She wants all hers first, and keeps asking when she will get to open another present. What are you going do to?
Question 5:  Everyone else is letting their kids have unlimited treats and videos Christmas Day. Your kids are starting to whine. What are you going to do? 
Question 6: Your 5 yr. old doesn’t want to share one of his new toys with his cousins at Christmas. What are you going to do? 
Question 7: What do I do when my kids misbehave in front of their cousins and won’t pull it together when I tell them to? 

1.Remember that your routine is there to serve you. Do not become a slave to your routine. On the other hand, don’t forget that the byproduct of too much flexibility in your routine will be a fussy, unhappy baby/toddler. 
·Plan ahead to see how what is on your calendar will affect your child’s routine. If your children are well-rested, they will handle the stimulation that comes with the holidays better.
·Speaking of stimulation, every time your baby is passed to someone else or they are in an environment that is not normal to them, especially a loud, noisy one, they will get edgy and over-stimulated. The more toddlers are with other people and the more freedoms they get because you are busy, the more overstimulated they will get. Overstimulated kids are crabby kids.
·The only way a baby has to work off stimulation is through crying. Toddlers work it off by running in circles around you.
·Get a sitter or ask Grandma to stay home with the kids so they get to bed on time for naps and nighttime sleep.
2. If Grandma lives near you, this is an issue your husband needs to take on since she is his mother. Speaking as a grandma who doesn’t live near any of my grandchildren, rocking our little ones to sleep once or twice while we are visiting isn’t going to hurt the baby’s sleep routine, although since we know the baby will wake up happier if he/she falls asleep on their own, we try to get our rocking in at other times.
3.On of the biggest problems yet one of the biggest parts of the Christmas season is summed up in the word “anticipation”. Little kids don’t handle it well at all. Getting constantly asked what they want for Christmas makes them think they should and will get the things they talk about. They don’t understand when they don’t. Too much anticipation is too much stimulation. Only you can slow their pace down, make sure they eat healthy meals and get more than enough sleep.
4.Talk to her a couple days before Christmas. Ask her if she knows why people get presents. Show her all the presents under the tree. Ask her how many should be hers, how many should be yours and your spouse’s, and how many each of her siblings should get. ·       Divide them into piles so she can see how many each might get. Then ask her what she should do when you are opening your presents and go through the entire list too, including all who will be present at any gift-opening time. ·       Ask her what she could do while she is waiting for her next present. Let her know there are a couple things none of you can do. One is to ask for a present to open. Another is to run to someone to “help” them open their gift. ·       Let her know she will be sitting by you or her dad so you can remind her if she forgets. Go through this again before you start to open gifts.
5. The dread of every parent who works hard to be good stewards of what their kids watch on TV, how much they watch, and so forth. Unlimited freedoms make discontent, aggressive kids. 
·Talk about it with your older kids before the day comes. They already know it is going to happen.
·Remind them how upset they get when things and cousins get out of control.
·Ask them how they can handle their free time with their cousins.
·In these situations, planning ahead and having a plan is the way to enjoy a stress-free day for you and your older kids. Encourage them to take games to play and have fun contests going as they play, like whoever loses the most hands at Uno© has to stand up and sing “Frosty the Snowman” at the top of his lungs in front of the whole family. 

6.We were appalled when our son, then 2 yrs. old was showing his new toy airplane to one of his older cousins on Christmas Day and he stomped on it while laughing, breaking it into many pieces. His parents did nothing, including replace it. After that, we would tell our son before his birthday or Christmas that we would put his new toys away in our room until he got to play with them, because we had lots of things for the kids to do other than play with his new toys. We told him he would get to play with his toys and we couldn’t wait to watch after everyone had left.
7. The holiday season is meant to be a joyful time for families to come together. Family gatherings are not the time or place to work on things with your children. However, if they are misbehaving and don’t respond to your reminder or warning, then take them to a secluded room and deal with them there. Our kids knew they got one warning and then had to sit in an isolated spot by themselves until we told them they could get up.       

Go over your expectations the day before you go or everyone comes to your house. Include reasons why each one might cause trouble. Is it because he is always left out? Does a cousin always make fun of him/her? Is he showing off? There is always a reason. Ask them if this happens what they could do instead of cause trouble for the others and themselves. Ask them to tell you again the day of the event what they can do instead of getting into trouble.No matter how carefully you plan, you will need time after the holidays to get your routine and kids back on track. If at all possible, try to clear your calendars and allow yourself that time. Remember to enjoy time with your spouse too! Why not plan a special date just for him?

Elevate the Good

By Joey and Carla Link
December 8, 2021

Have you ever heard the expression “they see the cup half full?” This would be referring to those with the optimistic Sanguine temperament. Those that see the cup half empty are primarily those with the negative Melancholy temperament. 

No one wants to hear they would be described as negative. The Melancholy temperament, however, is critical and judgmental. Before taking on an assignment they tend to think through all the “what if’s” first and their “what if’s” have more to do with what could go wrong than with what could possibly go right.

Since they tend to be perfectionists, they set impossibly high standards for themselves and for others too. When you don’t meet their standard, they will let you know it in a way that lets you know in no uncertain terms you have failed.Kids with the Melancholy temperament are over-sensitive. While they will dish critical words out, they don’t like to be on the receiving end of them because any negative coming their way makes them feel unloved and rejected, and they hold on to these feelings for a long time. Holding on to these kinds of feelings for a long time is where they get the reputation for holding grudges. Their grudges often turn into roots of bitterness that damage relationships in ways that all too often turn into one-way streets. God tells us to love others before ourselves. In fact, this is one of His most important commandments, coming after the most important one which is to love God first and foremost.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
John 15:12

Those with the Melancholy temperament are self-focused. Another way of saying this is to say they are self-centered. Everything is run through the lens of how they feel about it, and feelings always come back to focusing on self.So how do you teach your child with the Melancholy temperament to elevate the good in life instead of always looking at what did or could go wrong?1. Think of the positive before the negative. When we shared our days around the dinner table at night, everyone had to start with 3 positive comments before they shared a negative.2. Share what can go right before sharing what can go wrong. Work with your child to think of things that can go right with a task or project before your child lists all the things that can go wrong.3. Work with all your kids to become each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Teach them how to encourage each other when their siblings are working on a project whether it be academic, musical, athletic, chores and so on.4. When they should be focused on others, ask them “Who are you thinking of right now?” Follow this with “Who should you be thinking of right now?” Ask your Melancholy child what he/she can do to show this person he is thinking of him/her.Encouragement is the life-blood for those with the Melancholy temperament to effectively function. So what are the positive traits of one with the Melancholy temperament? They are faithful and loyal, committed to finishing what they say they will do. To-do lists are their best friends! They are creative, artistic and most musical geniuses have the Melancholy temperament. They are intelligent and deep thinkers. Although they don’t need a lot of friends, they are the best friend you could ever have. The world would function on a very surface level without those with the Melancholy temperament in our lives. 

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”I Thessalonians 5:11 

We hope you can see through the last few weeks’ podcasts, blogs, Facebook and Instagram posts how much perspective and insight understanding your children’s temperaments can give you. Have you gotten our new 4-part video series and/or book, “How Temperaments Impact You, Your Spouse & Your Kids” yet?

Teaching Your Kids to Work

By Joey and Carla Link
December 1, 2021

The colors of the trees in the fall are beautiful here in the Midwest and are a true reflection of the majesty of God’s artistry. But, as with most things they are also a lot of work. We have many trees in our yard and many trees mean many leaves that have to be raked. 

Yard work is a great way to teach kids how to work. I asked friends of ours if their teenage boys would be able to lend me a hand at cleaning up our yard. This included cleaning out the gutters on the roof and mowing down the bushes in the borders around the house. The boys had never done the dirty job of cleaning wet leaves and pine needles out of gutters before as they didn’t have trees in their yard, but they were willing to give it a try. I had spent many hours teaching the oldest kid baseball skills to sharpen his playing for his school team, so he was especially eager to help me.

They climbed the ladder to the roof with trowels in their hands and got to work. I was pleased with both their effort and their good attitude. When the kids were finished, I took them and their mother out for lunch. I asked Mom if I could do some teaching with the kids, and as she and her husband were alumni of the parenting classes we teach, she readily agreed.

I asked each of the boys which of them was the best worker that morning. Each of them had a different answer, and neither of them put themselves first. Their answers surprised each other and their mother. They did a good job of pointing out what each of them had done best.

I asked them to describe what I and their parents meant when we referred to something as “Good, Better or Best”. I wanted them to grade themselves on their work effort in each of these categories in both attitude and skill just as if they were in school. I shared Romans 12:3 with them as I asked them to do this:

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,but rather think of yourself with sober judgement.”

When your kids do their chores, as their parent, it is easy for you to grade their effort in your mind. Do you ever wonder what grade your kids (8 yrs. and up) would give themselves? Having them do this is a good way to teach them what “sober judgement” is. Our kids graded themselves in these areas:

·      Did they do the job completely?

·      Did they do the job the way they had been instructed to?

·      Did they do the job (chores/schoolwork) on their own initiative?

·      If they had to be reminded to do it, how many reminders did it take to get them started?

·      Did they work with a good attitude?

·      Did they work with their best effort?

Carla and I discovered having our kids grade themselves was the best way for us to keep from falling into the habit of looking for what they didn’t do and lecturing them for it. We would grade them too, and shared what we thought after they told us what grade they gave themselves. On the whole, we were often easier on them than they were on themselves.

Our kids gave themselves “A’s” through “F’s” and kept a monthly chart of both their regular chores including schoolwork and added additional tasks they were instructed to do as well. If they got lower than a “B” on any one of the points listed above, they would write one way they were going to work on it that week and put it somewhere they would see it each day.

It didn’t take long for the kids who helped me clean out the gutters to come up with their grades for “Good, Better or Best”. Their scores matched what I had come up with. I asked them how they could improve the scores that were lower than a “b”. They both came up with things they could do, and I asked them how they were going to remind themselves to work on the things they came up with.

I asked them why it was important for them to give a chore their best effort, especially in attitude. Wasn’t it good enough to get the job done? Why on earth would they need to have a good attitude as they did it?

We talked about the expectations of employers when they got jobs of their own (neither of the boys were old enough to drive yet). 

·      Why would I want to hire someone who thought doing the job their way was better than mine? 

·      Why would I want to hire someone who did the bare minimum on the job instead of giving it their best effort?

 ·      Why would I want to pay someone who kept stopping what they were doing to look at their phone to see if they got a text? 

I surely would not want to pay someone I had hired to do a job if they whined and complained about it to other co-workers or friends.

When kids grade themselves on their chores each day, they are learning to manage their own work ethic by taking ownership of it which will impact many areas of their lives.It especially helps kids with the Sanguine temperament as the proof of the effort or lack of is right there before their eyes. Ask them every day how they are doing on staying focused on doing what they had come up with to work on.

A good verse for kids to memorize is Colossians 3:23:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

How can you find out what your children’s temperaments are? Ultimately, we encourage you to ask God to open your eyes to the traits that make up your child and ask Him to teach you how to train your children in the way He wants them to go.