Parenting Made Practical » Blog

Grateful Hearts

By Joey and Carla Link
November 17, 2021

In today’s culture, thankfulness has gone out the window with other courtesies. “It’s all about me” is the mantra of most you meet. The current fad in our culture is to find yourself and to take care of yourself. While we certainly should take care of ourselves society is taking self-pampering to the extreme. 

What’s wrong with this? When you are thinking of yourself first, you live a self-focused mindfulness that thinks you deserve everything that catches your eye. 

It’s all about God” is supposed to be the mantra of Christians. We are supposed to live a God-focused mindfulness. When was the last time you actually stopped in the middle of the day and thanked God for something? Don’t assume anything is by chance or luck. Assume everything is by God. Your kids will never learn this until they see it in you.

We are focusing on temperaments for a while in celebration of the publication of our new 4-part video series and book “How Temperaments Impact You, Your Spouse and Your Kids”. There are two temperaments that struggle with being grateful or appreciating what they have been given. The Melancholy temperament is the most self-focused temperament. They run everything through how they feel about things and those feelings are based on “me”. 

I remember the time we invited a family that had just moved to our town to church and over to our house for lunch. I later commented to our Melancholy daughter that it seemed she and this family’s daughter, who was her age seemed to get along well. She shrugged and said the girl was only nice to her because there was no one else around for her to spend time with. When I asked her what she was basing that on, she told me she could tell it in the way she looked at her. Instead of looking to make a new friend, our self-focused Melancholy daughter was sure this girl, once she got to know other kids would leave our daughter high and dry. Ah, the self-focused Melancholy.

The Choleric temperament is arrogant and prideful, which is all about “me” as well. They think they are the smartest, most talented person in any room at any time. It is hard to be grateful when you think you deserve everything you get and what everyone else has too.

We had been to Nashville on a ministry trip and had spent some time with a friend who was an executive in the music industry. He gave our teenage Choleric son a box of CDs by contemporary Christian artists that hadn’t been released yet as a gift. Our son looked through them, quickly pulled one out and popped it into his CD player. I asked him for the box so I could look through the CDs and when I knew he had gotten through the one in his player one time, I asked to see it too. I told him when he remembered his manners he could have the CDs back. It took almost the entire day before he asked if we could stop and get a thank you card to send to this friend of ours. When it was in the mail, he got the CDs back.

The best way to cultivate grateful hearts is by giving to others. Do you have an older couple in your neighborhood? If not and your parents live in town, ask them for the name of a widow/widower they know. Make cookies with your kids and take them to these people. After dinner one night this week, brainstorm as a family ways you can look to show others you appreciate and are grateful for the influence they have in your family’s life.

 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”I Thessalonians 5:18

Training Your Child in the Way He Should Go

By Joey and Carla Link
November 10, 2021

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


Most Christian parents have heard this verse and often wonder what it means. We believe it means using the Bible in training our kids. If it says to be kind, it has no exceptions, so all of us, including each of our kids need to learn to be kind to anyone and everyone. (Philippians 4:6)

So why should we care about temperaments? Joey and I have been involved in family ministry for over 30 years now. Joey is a pastor counselor and my degree is in social work. We have worked with thousands of families over the years, including many hard marriages and troubled kids. In most of these situations, we talk about temperaments because when the weaknesses get out of control, the result on careers, school and most importantly relationships is often devastating.

Because of this we have come to the conclusion that each child’s God-given temperament has a lot to do with determining the “way he/she should go.” For each of your child’s strengths, there is an opposite weakness. Your strong-willed choleric child has the potential to make a fine leader someday, but at the same time can be bossy, demanding and has the need to control all situations he finds himself in. Your laid back, calm Phlegmatic is a born peacemaker and negotiator but at the same time is lazy and unmotivated. A sensitive, task-oriented Melancholy can be judgmental and a perfectionist and expect others to be as well. And your fun-loving, optimistic Sanguine? They are easily distracted and don’t follow through on what they say they will do. We want to encourage parents to show their kids how to build on their strengths and how to manage their weaknesses.

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. 

Why Did God Create My Child?

By Joey and Carla Link
November 3, 2021

Have you ever thought about how your child was designed? As Christ-followers, we believe God is the creator of life. We know a life comes from one sperm fertilizing one egg. But did you know over 100 million sperm can be released at a time? God is the one who designated that one sperm to reach its destination. The way your child is, his/her inherited gene pool, skills, talents, strengths, weaknesses and whether he is a “his” or “her” was all chosen by God.

 I (Carla) am the only one in my immediate family with red hair. My dad had 8 siblings, and not one of them had red hair. Can you imagine all the cousins I have? No redheads there. I am guessing if I go back enough generations, I will find one here and there, but the obvious reason I have red hair has very little to do with my gene pool, but had everything to do with God’s decision that was what He wanted for me.

In the Old Testament, God gave specific instructions on how His tabernacle was to be made:


So, Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded. Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.”Exodus 36:1-2

This is SO COOL! God was having his sanctuary made, the place that would be set apart to worship Him. While Israel was in Egypt before they reached the Promised Land, God made sure Bezalel, Oholiab and others would perfect the skills He had given them at birth. My (Carla) grandfather was good with his hands. So are his 2 grandsons. They took a natural skill and have perfected it over the years into a lucrative career in construction.

God has a reason for the way your children are. God has a purpose for your children’s lives. Parents are the tools God uses to both train and equip their kids for the purpose God gave them life and breath for.

When a person becomes a Christ-follower, he/she gets a “spiritual gift” from God to help that person fulfill what God’s purpose for him is. God expects parents to train up their kids in the way they are to go, in preparation for the plans and purposes God has for each of your kids’ lives including the receipt of this gift.It’s easy to see how different children are from one another, in spite of them all coming out of the same womb. And God has a different and unique plan for each of them. But He gave them all the same 2 parents, knowing you have what it takes to raise them His way. This means you must work to help your kids have right motivation for what they do and how they do it. What is your child’s motivation for what they do and how they do it? Fear of getting in trouble, or for approval of doing what is right?

It also means your kids will learn to work to the best of their ability, putting forth excellence in everything they do, which means they will learn to work hard and be diligent in all God wants them to do. Teaching them “putting forth excellence” in all they do is a job you get to do, to train them that anything less is not acceptable to you. Calling our kids back to redo a job again and again wasn’t our favorite thing to do and it won’t be yours either.

He wants you to train your kids to be Godly, which means, He wants you to train them to follow Him in all that they do. I Corinthians is a great verse to have your kids live out:“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,do it all for the glory of God.”

Why Give Kids Chores

By Joey and Carla Link
October 20, 2021

Giving kids chores is normal for parents to do, but WHY do we? Is it just to make Mom and Dad’s life easier? It really doesn’t as it takes more time to get kids to do the chores and do them the right way, then check up on them to make sure they did them. Carla and I should have kept count of how many times we muttered to ourselves, “It would be easier to do this myself!”  

SO, WHY give kids chores? The primary goal is to teach them responsibility and how to have a good work ethic. We did feel a moment of satisfaction recently while talking to one of our grown kids about her job. She was dealing with an employee who made her job harder as he wasn’t carrying his load and she said, “I wish their parents taught them how to work, like you taught me!” 

Kids need to do chores, to learn how to work! They’re going to take their habits, good or bad, into the jobs they get as adults. So, what’s a good work ethic? First, let’s look at how you teach your kids to do chores.

How do parents teach kids to do chores the right way?

1.Tell them about the chore. Give them the overview for what you expect and how and when you expect it will be done. 

2.Show them how you expect it to be done. Do you have a way you want their beds to be made? Their toys picked up? Clothes put away? Show them how to do it one day and watch them do it the next. 

3.Set a boundary of when it needs to be done by. Tell them you want their bed made, hair combed and teeth brushed before they come to breakfast. If they don’t meet the boundary, they need to sit until they are ready to apologize and then get a logical consequence, which is taking away what they were misusing. What were your kids doing instead of their chores? That is what you take away for a period of time.

 4.Teach them to be consistent by being consistent yourself. For 4 weeks, check to be sure your child is doing chores completely and on time every day. After that, do surprise checks for a couple weeks. 

Doing chores the right way is the first step to acquiring a good work ethic. There is more to it than that however. This is what an appropriate work ethic looks like.


1.Require your kids to do their jobs without reminders from you and without lectures from you which will teach them to think and learn to manage their time as needed. This is how your child will take ownership of getting his/her chores and schoolwork doneThis means you will need to give them the freedom to fail. A mom once asked me in frustration how she could get her daughters to get ready on time for school. They constantly missed the bus and she had to drive them to school. I (Carla) asked her if she and her husband were willing to let them get detention for being late. She had to think about that and ask her husband what he thought. They reluctantly agreed they were willing to try anything.  This is what giving them the freedom to fail looks like. I told her not to push them and make them ask her to drive them to school. If she was busy, she didn’t need to drop everything to get them there when they asked. She charged each of them gas money and an hourly wage for her time. When the girls had to serve detention time and they realized this was the way it was going to be, they managed to get ready for school, eat breakfast and get on the bus on time. 

2.Require them to do their chores and schoolwork the exact way they are supposed to be done. If you allow them to do sloppy work when doing their chores or turn in incomplete homework assignments, you are allowing them to develop work habits that will not allow them to succeed later on. Giving them the freedom to fail regarding turning in incomplete schoolwork or not getting papers done on time is a good reminder to them that their schoolwork is their responsibility, not yours. We told our kids they were going to have to get scholarships to go to college and their GPA accumulated from the day they started their freshman year of high school.

As far as chores, we required our kids to do the work at home the right way before we allowed them to do it for someone else with pay. Our son mowed our lawn for three summers before he bothered to do it the way I (Joey) had shown him it was to be done. 


I (Carla) offered to babysit kids at our home so their parents could have a date night and had my girls take care of them. They learned to make a schedule of activities they could do with the kids, learned how to care for a fussy baby and to feed them and put them to bed when their parents had asked them to. They did this with me for several months before I told them they were ready to babysit on their own. I taught piano lessons and I told my kids they could begin teaching beginning lessons when they turned 14 yrs. old. I listened to their lessons and gave them pointers and watched to see if they used them before I started paying them for their time. Your kids are not going to do in public what they are not already doing at home. 

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”Luke 16:10

From Head Knowledge to Heart Knowledge

By Joey and Carla Link
October 6, 2021

You’ve told your 6 yr. old son he has to be kind to his 3 yr. old sister no matter what. God said to be kind to each other and so that is what everyone in your family is going to do. (Ephesians 4:32) Yet time and time again, your son hits his sister when he gets mad at her. Never mind she broke his toy!


What do you do when he hits his sister? Do you tell him he has to be kind to her no matter what one more time? When you “tell” your kids the way it is supposed to be, you are just giving them information. We are fairly sure your son remembers he isn’t to hit her, but how is he supposed to be kind when she broke his toy? Have you told him that? Do you shown him how to be kind no matter what by your example, or is he remembering you shouting unkind things at a car that cut you off when you pulled into school that morning? Have you opened your Bible to this verse and talked to him about why God thinks showing kindness is so important?


Telling your kids to be kind is not training them to be kind.


Step 1 of the training process is to give them information. If you are telling your children what to think instead of working through with them how to think, you become a lecturing, reminding, threatening, demanding parent. Telling them to be kind is not even giving them information if you aren’t telling them why they should be kind in all situations, especially if the other person isn’t kind to them.


Step 2 is telling/showing them how to do it. Tell him how hard it would be for you to be kind to him if he walked across your clean floor with muddy shoes. Tell him what you would do to convince yourself to be kind to him instead of yelling at him. For you, being kind doesn’t mean taking away a consequence, since he was told to take his shoes off before he came into the house, it means not yelling at him first. Ask him to come up with a way he can stop himself before he hits his sister and come to you to ask you to intervene on his behalf instead. For him, not hitting her is being kind.
Okay, you have told him why he needs to be kind, talked with him about what it looks like to be kind, so why is he still not kind?  Where does the #wanttobekind come from? It comes from the heart.Unless Step 1 and Step 2 get to the heart it won’t stick.

 
There’s one more step. Step 3 has two different looks. One is to give your son praise and encouragement when you see him showing his sister kindness. When you do this, make sure you let your husband know too, so he can praise your son when he gets home from work. The other thing to do is to give him a consequence when he isn’t kind to his sister. Once ALL 3 of these steps are in place, you will see what you tell your children go into their hearts. It’s a process, not a one-time “telling or yelling” from you.