Encourage Your Children’s Curiosity by Reading Rather Than By Being Nosy

 
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business
— 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NASB)

When I read the quote the above quote and saw the picture, I laughed out loud!  It is so appropriate, isn’t it!  Our children are naturally curious and will ask a lot of questions.  As parents, we should encourage their curiosity and help them search for answers, but not allow being nosy to be a part of their behavior.  Reading is the best way to find answers to questions.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “nosy” in the common English for students as “wanting to know about someone else’s business.”  This has a negative connotation.  It does not mean that you are sincerely curious so that you can assist and provide consolation and prayer for the other person.  Instead, you are trying to find out about the other person so that you can make derogatory comments, often behind that person’s back.  The Bible encourages us to spend our time diligently working, not having idle time to be a busybody. 

 
We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down...
— 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 (NIV)
 

Most of our children’s behavior is modeled after us, as parents.  Take a moment and analyze your own behavior.  Do you have your nose in someone else’s affairs?  Do you talk openly and in front of your children about what other people are doing in a condemning way?  It may seem harmless but it isn’t at all.   Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about those things that are honorable, pure and worthy of praise.  Being a busybody is not among those mentioned. 

Plan A Parent-Child Date Night Every Now and Then

Last week, I wrote about how important it is for parents to have regular date nights away from their children so that they can develop a deep relationship with each other.  Today, I am focusing on a parent having a “date” or “date night” with a child.  Why would such an event be important?  The answer is simple – because it is a special time specifically set aside just for the parent and child to bond.

Each child is unique.  In order to learn what is truly distinctive about your child and the gifts God has given him/her, you need to spend time with each of them apart from your busy day.  As you do, you talk, ask questions, listen without being judgmental, laugh, hold hands and do whatever else makes you both have fun and enjoy each other’s company.  There should be no cell phones, lap tops, or other demands on a parent’s time and attention, as your full concentration should be on spending quality time with your child.   And, you can stay home or go out for an activity; you can go to a free event or an expensive one, such as dining at a fancy restaurant.  You can do them once a month or more frequently.  The choice is yours. 

In her blog, homeschool mom Heather Brown gives very good advice about parent-child dates and makes some creative recommendations about what to do with your child on these “dates”.   To read more, visit this link.

Why Parents’ Date Night Matters to Your Family

Ephesians 5:33Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)

Ephesians 5:28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (ESV)

When was the last time that you and your spouse had a specific day set aside just for the two of you or what we have come to know as “date night”?  Parents are so busy with their work, raising children, and participating in extracurricular activities that often, they do not consider their relationship as something to cherish and nurture.  The Bible admonishes a husband to love his wife as his own body, and for a wife to respect and love her husband.   How can a husband and wife do that if they do not spend quality time alone together.

Many spouses believe that setting aside time for each other is too difficult.  Quite the contrary - especially if you set your mind to it.  Begin by making sure that both parties agree on the day and time ahead of time.  Don’t wait until the last minute and then suggest a “date night” because it will be doomed to failure.  Importantly, “date night” does not need to actually take place at night.  For example, it can take place one week on a weekday for dinner at 7 p.m.  During the next week, it can be a picnic lunch, and a stroll in the park another week, and visiting an art show another week.   Plan a variety of things to do, rather than just the same thing on each date, so that there is not monotony and boredom.  You both should plan to make this time special for each other.

There can be date nights at home too.  Be creative.  Plan on putting the children to bed early and have a special night with your spouse.  The critical issue is that the “date night” is planned and set aside.  Guard and protect this time from any outside interference, such as texts or phone calls from your children.  Time together with your spouse is vital for the well-being of the entire family.

For more “date night” ideas, visit this webpage.

Teaching Kindness and Compassion To Our Children

Galatians 5:22-23 lists kindness as one of the fruits of the Spirit that we should develop.   In this fast paced world and with all the negative information on television and the internet, it is even more important that we cultivate kindness and compassion in our children.

What are kind acts?  Jesus modeled kindness through such acts as healing the blind and eating with sinners. There are those acts that you can do in your neighborhood or community and those that you can do at home.  One of the acts of kindness that I have done over the years is to help feed homeless persons, not only during the holidays, but also during other times of the year.  Even when I travel, I try to spend time volunteering in some service capacity.

Once I was on a trip to attend a conference in a certain city and arranged for dinner with a friend who lived in that city.  After he picked me up and we were driving to the restaurant, I expressed my concern about how many homeless people were in his city as I felt there were many more as compared to other places I had visited.  My friend commented that I was the only person he knew who actually noticed homeless persons.  I was shocked by his statement.  

Parents can cultivate kindness by having their children volunteer to participate in many activities in their community.  Cleanups in specific areas of town, mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, babysitting for a single parent – these are all acts of kindness and compassion.

At home, parents are role models as children imitate them.  Parents should not expect their children to be kind if they are not.  Acts of kindness and words of kindness should be a regular part of a family’s daily ritual.  These include helping carry in bags of groceries; thanking each other for a thoughtful word or gesture; and assisting with a chore or a task.   

As the poem in today’s blog states, kindness and compassion never fail, whether in our communities or in our homes.  It is up to parents to nurture and develop those attributes in their children.

Sharing Jesus With Your Children

As a lay children’s minister for many years, I loved teaching children about Jesus in my church’s children’s ministry.  We used a variety of techniques, from puppet shows to funny skits, to dressing up in clown costumes to fun parties.  Everything was centered on the Word of God. Of course, I was trained to do what I did and relied upon the creativity that God gave me as well.

Many parents find it hard or uncomfortable to talk about Jesus with their children.  But, it shouldn’t be that way as parents are the first teachers of and role models for their children.

When talking with children about Jesus, I recommend to focus first on how much He loves them and wanted to be around children.  Describe some of the instances in the New Testament about Jesus and children.  When the disciples tried to keep the children away from Him, Jesus stopped them and made sure the children were allowed to come to Him.  He said that the kingdom of God belonged to them too.  Matthew 19:13-14; Mark 10:13-16.  One day, He took a child in His arms and told the people that if anyone receives a child in His Name receives Jesus and God, the Father.  Mark 9:36-37.  To illustrate the importance of children, He also told the people that children are not to be despised as their angels in heaven continually see the face of God.  Matthew 18:10.  And, He loved children so very much that He said it was not the will of God that any child should perish.  Matthew 18:14.

I further recommend that parents not limit talking about Jesus and spiritual issues to just Sundays.  All during the week, look for instances to talk about the goodness and love of God such as the beauties of nature; food to eat; a good home to live in; nice clothes to wear; and fun toys and games to play with.  Talk to them about how forgiving God is. The subjects are endless.  What is important is that your children see and hear about God every day. 

When you need assistance, surf the internet to find out what you can do.  There is quite a bit of information available to help parents.          

Sibling Conflict- What To Do If Your Family Has Fallen Victim To It

My sons are adults now but I still look back on those days when they were growing up together and often have to laugh at some of the things they did.  Yes, there was a lot of sibling conflict.  I remember one incident when they both wanted to sit in the front passenger seat of the car, so they raced each other to the car.  One of them got in first and tried to lock the doors with the automatic lock but couldn’t in time.  The other, in turn, tried to keep the door open at the same time as taking control of the automatic lock.  Needless to say, the back and forth between them and the lock caused all the locks in the car to stop working!

Sibling rivalry!  Just what can we do about it?  Based on my research and personal experiences, there are many things that parents can do.  First, encourage your children to be friends, not competitors.  I think that this is harder to do if you have children of the same gender as they often want to outdo each other, especially boys.  Suggest acts of kindness and helpfulness that they can do for each other.  Talk to them about your personal relationships with your siblings and how it is important for your children to have close relationships too.

Also, help each child to develop his/her unique gifts and talents.  Each child is exceptional and your child’s special abilities should be supported.  For my sons, my older son is an athlete and my youngest son has artistic talents, including music and drawing.  We spent some of our time at athletic events, and other time at music lessons.

Some other clever suggestions are: have the older sibling who is arguing pay to the younger sibling $1; if they tell different versions of an argument, have them stay in a room until they come up with the true version; or have them go to separate corners of a room and yell out “I love you” back and forth 20 times as this will get the anger out of them and focus on their relationship as siblings. 

 

Are You and Your Children Regularly Attending Church on Sundays?

The title for this week’s blog may surprise you.  Why would I ask if you and your children attend church regularly on Sundays?  Based on recent studies, there are declining numbers in church attendance, and many point to busy family schedules, including children’s sports on Sunday mornings, as the main reason.   Many people would like to take Sunday as a day off, due to their very busy schedule during the week days and even on Saturdays.  Sleeping in, relaxing, watching television, playing computer games – all these sound very appealing for a Sunday.

There are many benefits to regularly attending church as a family.  In her online article entitled 5 Benefits for Attending Church, writer Megan Gladwell gives a good listing:

  1. Church anchors us.  All day long we face bombardment from the outside world, so much so that we can lose our spiritual perspective: advertisements, social media, demands on our time, and other external forces.  By attending church, especially as a family, we develop closer bonds with each other and God and learn morals and standards by which to live. 
  2. We receive spiritual strength.  Nothing can substitute for what happens in church.  There is singing and praising God, a sermon to listen to, and many other activities that bring you closer to God.  It sets the tone for you spiritually for the rest of the week.
  3. Church provides much needed fellowship.  Often, churches have various groups that meet during the week.  There are functions to attend.  When you need a helping hand, a church member is usually there to assist.
  4. Church presents opportunities to serve.  Our communities have so many needs, and churches help fill those needs.  Families volunteer to provide assistance to others, exhibiting the love that Jesus wants us to show to our fellow man.  Children learn to serve others and be givers rather than just receivers.
  5. We get to know God on a personal level.  This should actually be the number 1 reason to attend church regularly. 

You can read her entire article by clicking here.

I have always been a regular church attender.  As a young mother, I remember a funny incident involving my oldest son who was about 7 years old at the time and wanted to stay home from church one Sunday morning.  He wriggled on the floor over to my side of the bed, moaning and groaning, and told me that he was having such a severe stomach ache that he couldn’t attend church.  I could instinctively tell that this was not true.   I firmly told him that God expected us to be in church every Sunday and would not accept that excuse.  Of course, he complained for a short while.  I made him breakfast, which he ate, and within minutes, he was up and about playing with his toys and then getting dressed to go to church.  He never made an excuse again.   I often wonder what would have happened if I had accepted his excuse.  What would have been the excuse he made up for the next Sunday and the Sunday after that?

This coming Sunday, make a vow to attend church regularly as a family.  The benefits will never end.

Have Interesting Dinner Conversations With Your Children

Dinner is one of the most important times during the day that you can spend talking with your children and learning more about them.  But, if your children are like mine, they usually have one or two word responses to questions.  How was your day? “Fine.”  Did you do anything interesting at school? “Not really.” And, I have to ask everyone to put away their cell phones so that we can actually focus on talking.  Every once in a while, however, I observe someone sneaking a peak at a cell phone under the table.

What can parents do to encourage stimulating discussions with their children during dinner time?  Many experts agree that making dinner a regular ritual is important.  Children need order and regularity in their lives, so parents should plan to have regular dinners with them most days of the week.  Another recommendation is to ensure that all devices are turned off.  Everyone at the table should be focused on listening and talking to and with each other.  No cell phones, tablets, computers, or televisions should be on or at the dinner table.

Experts also recommend to plan ahead so that you have good questions and conversation starters, and not to ask the same questions each night.  Change it up a bit.  Make it fun.  Ask questions about a grandparent’s heritage or the funniest thing that happened that day or the grossest thing they have ever eaten or what is their favorite song and why.   The questions are unlimited.  It takes your commitment as a parent to think and plan for these conversations during dinners with your children and see them as special opportunities for everyone to learn about each other.

How to Choose a Bible for Your Children

Do you have a Bible for your children?  Many parents buy story books for their children with stories out of the Bible because they do not believe that their children will be able to understand the Bible.  I continue to encourage parents to buy an actual Bible for their children so that they can begin to read God’s Word for themselves.

In the online article Choosing a Child’s Bible, writer T. Capps provides some excellent guidance in selecting the right Bible for your children.  Important considerations are:

1. Make sure that you purchase a Bible that is the right reading level for your child.

2. Buy a Bible that is the complete Bible, and not just one part.  That way, your children learn from young about the Old and New Testaments.

3.  If the Bible has pictures, ensure that they are accurate and not cartoon characters or scary.  The Bible is not a cartoon book, and children should not think of it as such.

4. Purchase a Bible that has maps and other information to help your children learn more about the time periods.  Maps, timelines, etc., offer assistance to children and make the Bible more understandable.

5. Make sure that the Bible is durable and further consider a cover for it so that it can last many years.

The author makes many more helpful suggestions.  Spend time considering what Bible to purchase as it will be a prized possession for your children for many years. To read the entire article, click here.

On Presidents’ Day, February 20, Make Learning About Presidents Interesting and Fun for Children

On Monday, February 20, we celebrate Presidents’ Day as a national holiday.  Every year it is celebrated on the third Monday in February.  It actually began with celebrating the birthday of George Washington, our first president.  In the 1980s, the holiday was changed to honor primarily two presidents born in February, Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Instead of this being just another day off to lounge around the house or do chores, dedicate it to helping your children learn more about these and other presidents through fun activities, many of which involve reading.  Not only are there many books about presidents, but there are also innumerable websites that have creative activities to do with your children.  Some websites list fun facts, others have games, word puzzles, crafts, free educational videos, and you can even take a virtual tour of the White House.

Find out what activities are planned in your community.  Usually, there are parades and other celebrations.  Many communities have made the holiday especially appealing to children by arranging scavenger hunts in museums and art classes all involving the theme of presidents.  

You can make it interesting and enjoyable for your children to learn history.  Soon your children will be asking for much more!

Websites about Presidents’ Day for children:
http://www.ducksters.com/biography/uspresidents/president_fun_facts.php
http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/presidents.html
http://www.watchknowlearn.org/Category.aspx?CategoryID=948
http://www.sylvanlearning.com/blog/index.php/presidents_day_facts_for_kids/

All Christians Should Join in Celebrating Black History Month

February has been designated Black History Month.  No matter what race or national origin you and your family are, there is so much that we can learn about ourselves and our nation by studying and celebrating African American history.

An online editorial by crosswalk.com editors entitled “The Importance of Black History Month to Christians” is worthy of reading to understand why Christians should participate.  The editors quote writer David Mathis, who acknowledges being a white American who grew up as an unsympathetic youth to the struggles of African Americans, but has changed:

“Such is not the spirit of Christ, nor is it walking by his Spirit to suspect the worst of non-blacks who rush to join the annual celebration. Nor is it Christian — not in this nation or any other place on the planet — to keep silent with our children about the realities of ethnicity in view of Christ. If we don’t cast a positive vision for our children about the glories of God-designed ethnic diversity, we leave their inherent ethnocentrism to swell and take root.”

“Black History Month isn’t simply about ethnic diversity in general, but remembering the horrors of our shared history and celebrating the progress that has been made, in God’s common kindness, and specifically the many successes of black Americans despite such a history. Christians honor this month, at least in part, because it helps us understand the awful plight of a people made in God’s image, many of them fellow believers, and acknowledges God’s goodness at work in remarkable achievements…in and through a people who often have been treated with utter wickedness.”

Plan to read to your children or have your children read at least one book about a famous African American.  Here are a few Christian African Americans to consider, many of whom you have probably never heard of before:

1.  Bishop Richard Allen – said to be the “Father of the Black Church”;

2.  Bishop William Seymour – started the fiery Christian teachings in California in the early 20th Century that ultimately led to what is known as the Azusa Street Revival and the beginning of the charismatic movement;

3. Thomas Dorsey – musician and composer who helped develop Gospel music;

4.  Mordecai Johnson – educator and pastor who became the first African American president of Howard University; and

5. Rosa Parks – a devout Christian who relied on her faith to refuse to give up her bus seat because of the color of her skin.

You can read the entire editorial by CLICKING HERE.

How Can Christian Parents Build Self-Esteem in Their Children?

Although my quote for today’s blog is not from the Bible, I believe it to be nonetheless very appropriate about self-esteem.  Just what is self-esteem? Essentially, it is the way a child thinks of himself/herself.  As Christian parents, what can we do to build self-esteem in our children?  We, of course, do not want them to grow up to be conceited and self-absorbed but there is a balance between healthy self-esteem and an inflated ego that we should understand.

First, we need to know and fully appreciate how God sees us and there are a number of Bible verses that show us that God sees us as very special. For example, Genesis 1:27 says that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him”.  Psalm 139:14 says “(f)or You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  In Ephesians 2:10, we are described as “God’s masterpiece”. Since He created us as such valuable, superior beings, we should see ourselves that way.

Second, it is important to make clear to our children that they should not rely on anyone’s praise from day to day to have self-esteem.  We, as parents, may praise our children some days, but not on other days.  Also, other people may not praise them, but in fact, may say negative things to them.  Their self-esteem and confidence should derive from God, who is always consistent and loving, and not from humans.  Help your children learn and memorize Bible verses that mention how special they are.  It is the Word of God that will serve as the foundation of their confidence.

Third, each child has different strengths.  Focus on building those strengths.  Remind them that all their gifts and strengths come from God. James 1:17 (“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights”).

 

Are You Just a Mother or Father or are You a Special Mommy or Daddy?

My oldest sister Sylvia gave me this plaque as a gift for Mother’s Day about 20 years ago.  It says simply: Anyone can be a mother but it takes someone special to be a mommy.  At the time, my oldest son Zac was about 9 years old and his brother James was 4 years old.  I have treasured that plaque since and keep it on my bathroom counter where I see it every day.  You can probably observe the age on it with all the scratches.  Sylvia has long passed away, but her memory and love continue on.

I felt so proud and honored that she noticed that I was a “mommy” and not just a mother.  I invested my love and time in my sons, as did my late husband Gordon.  We cherished them. I played with them; helped them with homework; read with them; drove them to school and afterschool sports; took them to church, etc., etc.  I wanted to impart all I could in my sons so that they would grow up to be loving, caring, smart young men who above all loved the Lord.

It’s not easy to be a mommy or daddy.  It takes a lot of time, energy, and commitment, but it is totally worth it.  Today, my sons are both in their 20s and have grown up to be sons whom I admire and respect.  To God be the glory!

Former President Obama is a Wonderful Role Model for Many Things, Including Being a Reader Who Enjoys Books

Former President Barrack Obama is a true role model.  He is a loving husband and father.  He enjoys continuing to learn and grow.  And, he especially loves to read.  During his presidency, he often promoted the importance of reading to students, and would actually take some of his precious time to read to them.

In an interview with the New York Times just days before he stepped down from office, President Obama made it clear that “books were a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration, and gave him a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.”  He especially found enlightening and helpful books by such great men as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.  In fact, he told the reporter that he would often leave his office so that he could read.

Not only is he a reader, but he is also a well-known author.  His love of books led him to write in order to encourage others.  I truly hope that he continues to promote literacy, especially among our African American and Hispanic young men.  If President Obama loves to read, it should be cool for young men to read too.  What an impactful message he sends!

To read the entire article, please CLICK HERE.

Teaching Our Children About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 16, is a federal holiday in honor of the great civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  What do you plan to do that day with your children?  Is it just another day off for you to spend time doing chores at home or shopping?  I strongly suggest that you take the time to plan celebrating this holiday and teaching your children about all the accomplishments of this American hero and his tremendous impact on us, and of course, incorporate reading into all your activities.

What are some of the things that you can do?  In her online article on Scholastic.com, Teach Kids About Martin Luther King, Jr., author Denene Millner makes some good suggestions.  First, she says to be honest when talking with your children, even though it may be painful.  Explain to your children that there were days when “Colored People” had their own drinking water fountains.  Tell them about being forced to sit in the back of a bus or to attend separate schools just because of the color of your skin.  Show them pictures of the past so that they can see for themselves what actually happened.

Second, discuss what Dr. King did that directly affects us today and how he promoted nonviolence.

Third, attend and volunteer at events that honor him.  Do some research in your community to find out what are the best activities for your family.

In addition to what Ms. Millner recommends, I would like to recommend that parents discuss who Dr. King was.  Let your children find out all about his interesting background, including that he was a brilliant man who started college when he was 15 years old!  I’m certain that he did a lot of reading as he grew up.  Importantly, he was not only a brave leader, but he was also a husband, father, and minister.

There are many wonderful books about Dr. King for every age group.  Visit your local library or bookstore.  He should not be just a memory in history.  Make this hero come alive for your children because there is so much that they can learn from him.

To read Ms. Millner’s entire article, click here.

What is One of the Most Important New Year’s Resolutions That You Can Make For Your Children? Read more!

    I came across this post by an unknown author about reading to your children.  As you may know, my blog centers on improving the lives of children, primarily through literacy.  It should be no surprise that I would continue to inspire adults to read more to and with children.  As we begin a new year, I encourage you to add that as a New Year’s resolution as it keeps reading on your most important things “to do” list each day.  

    As the unknown author writes, it only can take 20 minutes a day.  That is 20 minutes out of 1,440 minutes that we have each and every day.  Surely you can squeeze in the time!  But, if there is one day that you just have 10 minutes, still do it.  Don’t put reading off to a time in the future when you believe you will have “enough time” because often, that time does not happen.   Make procrastinating a thing of the past and just do it!

    What about where and when to read?  The author again gives you some suggestions.  Think about all the things that you do each day that require some sort of waiting time, and then add reading.  While you do laundry … while dinner cooks – these are just a few of those times.   Moreover, read during any time of the day – especially on weekends and holidays.  Search for opportunities to read. 

    I love it when the author suggests to “Hide the remote; let the computer games cool.”  We all know that these electronic devices steal reading time away from us.  So, in other words, don’t even turn on the television.  If you have it on, turn it off and then don’t let anyone else turn it on while reading is going on.  With computer games, you may have to pull your children away from them, but pull, pull, pull!  Those games won’t go anywhere and when you give the approval for your children to return to them, they will still be there.

    While reading, have your children snuggle close to you.  This is a wonderful time to bond and love on them.  They hear your voice.  They feel your warm touch.  They know that they are truly loved!  And, as the author says “Hey, don’t quit.”  Tomorrow is another day to read, and read, and read some more.

Helping Your Children To Make New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the beginning of a brand-new year and I’m sure that many of you have already sat down and written a list of resolutions to start off the year right.  Some parents think that new year’s resolutions are just for them as adults.  However, parents can help their children make changes and improvements in their behaviors and habits by encouraging and helping their children to make new year’s resolutions too.

In her online article 8 Ways to Help Kids Make New Year’s Resolutions, author Wendy Schuman gives some good advice.  First, she encourages parents to be role models for their children in making and following through with resolutions.   For example, if eating healthy is at the top of your list as a parent, make sure that you do your best to purchase healthy food and eat it.  Include your children in making healthy food choices and planning healthy meals.  And, ensure that there are plenty of nutritious snacks around, as we all know that kids love to snack.

Second, have your child write a short list of resolutions of just 2 or 3.  Ask your child: “What is the most important improvements that he would like to make?”  A long list can lead to frustrations when your child does not achieve every single item listed.

Third, be positive.  Don’t look for every time that your child has not followed through on a resolution and nag about it.  A nagging or criticizing parent can cause a child to develop a lack of self-confidence.  Instead, if your child does not follow through, try to remind him of the many successes that he has had in the past.  Encourage him to not give up and continue toward making the resolution a reality.  Each day is a new day and your child can always begin again.

Fourth, develop a family ritual around resolutions.  Get together as a family and share each person’s resolutions.  Make them meaningful. Be kind and loving to each other rather than critical and judgmental.   This is the beginning of a fresh new year that God has blessed you and your family with.

To read her entire article, CLICK HERE.

 

Raising Thankful Children

I came across this quote and was taken aback by how simple yet forthright and impactful it was.  Saying “thank you” is such an important part of our relationship with God, our Father, yet how often do we truly do it during our busy days?  How are we teaching our children to be thankful for all that He has given us?  1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “Give thanks in every circumstance for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It’s the day after Christmas and I’m certain that we all had a lot of gifts to open and indulge in as well as scrumptious meals to enjoy.  We should be thankful for all that He has given us, not just for these physical, worldly gifts, but most importantly, for the intangible ones - our lives, our health, our family, etc., etc.  I could go on and on naming what we can be thankful for each and every second of each and every day.  

Whether we like it or not, we are role models for our children.  If we are not verbally expressing our thanks and showing thankfulness through our actions, the likelihood is that our children will not either.  To raise thankful children, we must first be thankful as parents.  Try expressing thanks out loud each day as part of the family routine, such as when you are driving them to school.  Make it fun and playful.  Point out how they can thank each other for simple acts of kindness.  As a parent, you can thank your children for things that they do, and they should be thanking you as well.  Nurture a thankful spirit within your children and they will be kinder and more loving to you and others. 

Help Your Children To Be Gift Givers and Not Just Gift Receivers

As we approach Christmas Day, we, as parents, spend a lot of time thinking about and planning what to get our children for Christmas.  We want our gifts to be very special for them.  But consider this: God gave us His Son Jesus as the greatest gift for mankind.  God loves us so much that He is a giver!  During this holiday season, what about spending just as much time and effort teaching your children about being givers of gifts?  

Gift giving involves quite a bit of caring and planning.  First, select someone for whom your children can purchase a gift this Christmas.  That person can be a relative or someone who does not have a family.  Or is there someone in the hospital?

Second, have them find out what the person would like as a gift.  That involves getting to know the person deeply, not just in a casual or random way.  What are this person’s likes and dislikes?  If the person enjoys music, find out what specific kind of music.

Third, gift giving involves taking the time to find and purchase the appropriate gift.  Where can that special gift be purchased?  Is it available online or do you have to actually go to the store to purchase it?

Fourth, the gift should be wrapped with festive paper and ribbons, to make it look colorful, attractive and appealing.  This also takes time to select the specific paper and other ornaments to go on the package and then to carefully and lovingly wrap it.

Fifth, have your children add a special name tag or card to the gift.  Encourage them to use their creativity in creating and drawing the images.  This can be a whole project in and of itself.

Sixth, set aside that special time when your children can give the gift.  Make it unique.   And, remember to carefully observe the response of the person receiving this gift and the tremendous joy it brings.

Your children will remember these exceptional times and gifts.  They will also learn to be generous and to love and care about others, rather than just focusing on themselves.  

 

Are Your Parenting Skills Consistent?

As Christian parents, we want to raise Godly children.  But, in order to do so, our parenting skills should be consistent.  Ask yourself: Do you say one thing to your children, but do another?  Do you threaten, and threaten, and threaten, but never follow through?  Consistent parenting is very important to children because it builds a sense of security and character, and ultimately leads to them having a successful life. Children need to know what the rules are and what is expected of them.  And, they need to know what happens if they break the rules or do not follow through.  

Just as our Father God gave us rules and principles to follow in the Bible and lets us know what will happen if we do not follow them, we should treat our children similarly.   First, our morals and values must be consistent.  For example, if we believe that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), we must treat them as special and not abuse them.  But are you consistent?  It is easy to tell your children not to drink alcohol because of all the negative ramifications, but do you drink with friends?  

Second, our rules and requirements must be consistent.   We should not require one child to behave a certain way, but allow another child to do something different and then make excuses for that child. 

Third, the consequences or discipline we impose should be consistent.  Do not threaten to impose specific discipline, but then not impose it when the time comes.  There will eventually come a point where your child will simply ignore what you say either because you never followed through or you were inconsistent in your follow through.  The last thing that we want to happen as parents is that our children do not listen to what we have to say.