Passing on Good Values

A friend of mine told me about the non-profit organization Foundation for a Better Life and its website www.passiton.com and I wanted to pass on what I have found and learned.   I believe it will be very helpful to parents and children in learning about and promoting good values.

The Foundation is dedicated to passing on good values in our communities through public service campaigns.  Various means of communicating positive values are used such as through videos, billboards, radio messages, and the internet.  Additionally, if you are looking for an inspirational quote, one page on its website is dedicated to that as well.  No matter how you may be feeling, there is an inspirational quote for you to help brighten your day.

A quote from its website explains its mission: “The goal of The Foundation for a Better Life is to offer inspirational messages to people everywhere as a contribution toward promoting good values, good role models and a better life.”  I can’t tell you enough about how impressed I am with this organization and all that it is doing.  Please spend some time on its website – you will not be disappointed!

Teaching Your Children to Genuinely Apologize

To “apologize” can be viewed as a sign of weakness.  Often, a child will say “Me apologize! No way!”  Children from a young age think that they can do no wrong and will refuse to admit a mistake.  That’s where our parenting skills come in handy.  We should consider helping our children to understand what an apology is and how to be truly sorry for a wrong.  This is an important part their development and maturity.

In talking to your children about apologizing, please do not yell at them or make them feel embarrassed, fearful or ashamed.  It takes calm heads to address what has happened and that calm head should come from you as a parent.  Experts suggest that a parent wait until the child has calmed down and then talk to them about what has happened.

Talking it out is critical.  Ask questions as to why your child acted in a certain way.  Did he feel jealous?  Did he feel left out or excluded?  As you are trying to find out why your child acted as he did, your child is also thinking about his actions. 

An important part of the discussion should be the other child’s feelings and what could have been done differently.  Ask your child how she would feel if the other child did the same thing to her.   What could she have done to avoid the situation or to prevent the situation from escalating?

Once these topics have been discussed, then you can move on to the apology.   Experts agree that a genuine apology includes understanding that the other person’s feelings should be accepted over your own and that remorse should be shown.  In an online article on the website Today’s Parent entitled Here’s What Works Way Better Than Forcing Your Kid To Say Sorry, a former elementary school teacher states that she focuses on three parts of the apology to guide students: “I’m sorry for this … this is wrong because … and in the future I will ….”   I think this is wonderful advice because it covers all aspects of an apology. 

To read the entire article, please visit the website by clicking here.

Have Your Children Participate in Holiday Planning

Three major holidays are soon approaching – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Typically, parents plan all the activities and children enjoy the fun, including days off from school and eating lots of sweets.  This year, have your children actively participate in the planning of each day’s activities to help them build organizational skills and appreciate what needs to be done.

For gifts, get suggestions from your children on what should be purchased or handmade.  Family members usually enjoy receiving personal, handmade items from children.  If your children are artistic, encourage them to think of presents that they can make.  There are many websites as well as stores that have ideas for projects.  The key is to plan ahead and make sure that you and your children have  time to make each gift.

If you decide on buying some gifts, encourage your children to come with you to select the gifts.  You can build fond memories looking for the perfect item for a grandparent, for example.  The gift recipient can be told that the child helped to select the item.  Oftentimes, that makes the gift extra-special.

Each holiday will need a special menu for meals prepared.  Ask your children to participate in building the menus and then grocery shopping and cooking with you.    They will learn about selecting meals and obtain hands-on- knowledge of ingredients as well as learn your cooking secrets.

Decorating the house for each holiday should be a planning activity too.  Many families have already accumulated decorations over the years that are kept in storage until the time to put them out.  Consider adding some new, special touches to this year’s decorations – some that your children select.  For example, one of my nieces wanted specific Christmas decorations in their front yard one year.  She and her parents discussed the decorations, arrived at an agreement on what could be purchased, and then went shopping for them.  Everyone assisted in putting them up.  The new decorations turned out to be an extra-special touch for their yard.   

Children love to be included in planning activities – it shows them that they are truly appreciated.  They can learn so much by doing so too! 

Is There Such a Thing as a Fun and Wholesome Party for Teens?

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:13-16

As a parent of two sons who are now adults,  I understand the dilemma that Christian parents are in when it comes to allowing their teenage children to throw parties.  I am a strong proponent of offering our children alternatives, always remembering that we are called to be the salt and the light where ever we are. 

What does it mean when Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth?  Salt has been used for centuries as a preservative for food.  As Christians, we are called to be preservatives of men – to show the world what it means to live a godly life.  Also, salt enhances the taste of food.  We are called to be influencers in the world. 

What does it mean when we are called the light of the world? We are to have our lives shine forth as examples of what it is to be believers and followers of Christ.  We are not to conform ourselves to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds.  Romans 12:2.  We are to set the examples!

How do these scripture verses relate to teenagers and parties?  In many different ways.  As I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, I am a proponent of offering our children alternatives.  When it comes to throwing parties, we should encourage our children to do so in godly ways, always being mindful that we are the salt and light of the world.  So, instead of discouraging them from parties, consider the impact of a wholesome party on all those in attendance.

Teens can have a great time in a wholesome environment but it takes a lot of planning.  Remember that at this age, they are social beings and love to have fun and interact.  Of course, food is critical.  Have a variety of  delicious snacks available.  Even consider an ethnic theme.  For example, I found Mexican food easy to cook and a hit with teens.  Instead of offering alcoholic beverages, have other choices, such as a tasty punch.  Teens love to play games, so have your children search the web for fun games to play.  They know what games they and their friends would like to play – do not force them to play a game that they do not want to. 

Your goal should be to make such an impression on the teens that they will realize that wholesome parties can, indeed, be a lot of fun and want to throw more.  Support your teens to be the salt and light of the world!

Websites where you can find great suggestions for games for wholesome parties:

Talking to your Children About Drugs and Alcohol

Have you spoken with your children about drugs and alcohol?  Many parents hesitate about broaching these subjects with their children, but you must.  Schools are supposed to provide drug and alcohol education as well, but as a parent, I always believed it was better for my children to hear about those subjects from me and my husband rather than someone else as we were also teaching about our Christian beliefs and values in the process.

Focus on the Family has an excellent series of articles online about talking with your children about drugs and alcohol.  It starts with a parent taking opportunities to talk whenever you can, as you cannot wait for the perfect moment.  Look for teachable moments when your children are with you, undistracted.  Remember that it is never too early to start talking about these issues.  Of course, if your children are young, you will want to taper what you say to their age range.  Ask questions.  Inquire as to what they already have heard about the subjects. 

Never tell your children a lie.  The author of the online series of articles mentions a girl in his class who said that her mother told her that if she smoked marijuana, her hair would fall out.  The girl knew other students who smoked but still had hair. Of course, she now did not believe her mother.   Would she believe her mother on other subjects?  That is a very good question.

There is a lot of misinformation out there, so it is up to you to know the subjects and be ready to give good counseling.  Ask your children’s teachers and school nurse for recommendations as to how you can prepare yourself and what literature there is to support what you say.   Your children will more likely listen to you if what you are saying to them comports with what they can find out online or at their school.  Give them literature so they can read for themselves as well.

To read the full series of articles, click here.

Gaining Respect by Displaying Exemplary Behavior

The idea of respecting parents and other elders is practically engraved into the minds of all children everywhere from a very young age.  It is certainly important that they know to respect those around them, but it can be hard to put into practice when they are not being shown the respect they too deserve. Yes, deserve! Just as adults deserve politeness and deference, so do children.  Respecting children not only shows them how to treat other people, but it also increases their confidence and self-esteem.

Respect should be given out of love and not just as a result of an adult’s power. Punishments or bribes should never be the driving force behind obtaining your children’s respect.  Each person has value, whether young or old, and respect should be extended in recognition of that value.  Children deserve as much respect as adults because they are valued in the eyes of God.

1 Timothy 4:12 speaks of a message given to Timothy from his mentor, the Apostle Paul.  It was about setting an example for those around him by his maturity of speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Timothy was a young church leader at the time and his youth may have caused some in the church to deem him imprudent.  That is why this message was so significant.  While we cannot be completely clear as to what these people thought of Timothy, we do know that it was important for him to understand how God had called him to present himself as a dedicated follower of Christ and a leader.

Though children and adults alike should regard one another with esteem, this verse discusses certain attributes to be found in young people that build respect:

  • Children are to speak positive words into the lives of others, praise God, and express gratitude for their blessings. That positivity should also extend into their actions.  Negative or curse words do not bring glory to God or establish that the person speaking them is mature.

  • Volunteering for church events and following through on commitments are examples of the conduct of an exemplary child.

  • The described ‘purity’ extends to spiritual purity as well as physical. Do they mean well in all their actions? Is their faith in God strong? The answer to these (and similar) questions should be “yes”.

Just as Paul advised his protégé Timothy, God wants the same from your children. He wants them to know that regardless of their age, they are worthy of respect.  Importantly, they are to carry themselves in a way that is pleasing unto Him and as they do so, they will gain more and more respect from those around them.

What is Wisdom?

Just what is wisdom?  Many people think that wisdom and knowledge mean the same and can be used interchangeably.  But that is not accurate.

Wisdom begins when we fear the Lord.   Proverbs 9:10 states "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."   The word fear in this scripture does not mean that we are to be afraid of God – for example, if we do something that is wrong, it does not mean then He will strike us with lightning. 

It means instead that we are to love, honor and respect God.   In order to have wisdom, we must love, honor and respect God.  When we do, we walk in obedience to what God says we should do and say.

Proverbs 2:6 states that “the Lord gives wisdom & out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”  When the Lord speaks, there is knowledge given to us.  And, this has knowledge been written down in the Bible.  The Bible is God’s Word.    As a result, reading the Bible - learning what the Lord has said - will give us knowledge.

Knowledge is also gained by learning and studying.  When we go to school, if we want to earn good grades, we read and study.  In other words, we gain knowledge, whether that knowledge is in geography, science or math for example.  So all our knowledge is in our heads – facts & information that we have collected over many, many years.

But how do we get wisdom?  As I mentioned, Proverbs 2:6 states that God gives us wisdom.  In other words, as we study the Bible and gain knowledge, God gives us the inside explanation of what His Word really means.  He gives us the inside ability and direction to figure things out – not using our natural minds, but being led by Him. 

The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once wrote:

“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge.  To know is not to be wise.  Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it.  There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

A person can have a lot of knowledge but not have the wisdom of God.   James 3:17 states: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

How then do we get wisdom? It comes from heaven or God.  According to James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”   You might say to yourself – Is it that simple to get wisdom? Just ask God?  Yes, but of course you have to believe that God will give it to you.  You must have faith!

Some Tips for Parents as Their Children Leave for College

When we dropped off my oldest son at college for the first time, I thought I had prepared myself well.  Unfortunately, I had a difficult time leaving him and then traveling back home.  Even weeks later, I suffered from a very empty feeling of loss.  My late husband and I had prepared him to be independent and confident, yet we struggled with having him leave us and our home. 

I learned a lot from that transition so that when my youngest son was ready to be dropped off at college, I was able to handle the transition much better.  Here are a few tips that I learned that will help parents adjust quicker as their children leave the nest and head to college:

1.    Even though it is a sad turning point for you, please do not let your son or daughter see you too upset.  Remember that this is an amazing starting point for their lives as adults and you have taught them all you could over many years.  Let them know how difficult is it for you to transition without them, but be very encouraging to them.  The last thing that you should want as a parent is for your children to be overly worried and concerned about you when they should be studying and making new friends as well as planning for their future careers.

2.    Contact them to make sure they are doing well but do not be communicating with them too much.  This is the time for them to learn to be on their own and use the skills you taught them to adapt and solve problems.  Calling, emailing or texting too often does not give your children the space they need to continue learning and growing on their own.  Sometimes they must learn from their wrong decisions.  We have all had to.

3.    Help them if they need assistance to deal with a challenge but do not take over control.  Again, guiding them to make the right decisions is critical in their maturing process.  When you take over complete control in solving problems, they can lose confidence in their own abilities.

4.    Assist them with their monthly expenses but do not splurge on them or allow them to spend money frivolously.  They must learn to live within a budget.  After assisting them with establishing that budget, be there for them in the event of a financial emergency, but again, do not allow them to spend frivolously and then bail them out.  This is their time to learn how to manage their allotted money.

5.    Get busy with your own lives.  Spend more time giving your talents and energies to others, such as your church and community organizations.  You still have a lot to experience and contribute, so do all you can to be active.  Your community needs you.

It will always be difficult for parents to transition from having their children at home to an empty nest.  However, this is a time for you to grow too!  Have confidence in the fact that you have done all you can to raise your children well and that you have much more to give to the world.  Get busy doing that!

The Importance of the Extended Family in Your Children’s Lives

With very busy lives, parents often think about spending time with their children rather than incorporating the extended family into leisure time too.  However, extended families have tremendous impact on children’s well-being. 

In an online article for the American College of Pediatricians, the many positive benefits of the extended family on children are extolled. Here a few:

1.    Children learn life stories and lessons from older family members.

2.    Parents and children have extra support when the time comes, because the time will indeed come.

3.    Exposing children to different beliefs and ideas from others will help them expand their understanding and knowledge and not just rely on their parents.

4.    Family health history is known and shared.  

The article ends with this statement which I believe is so important:

When kids can go with members of their extended family and be loved and cherished, and then come home to more people who love them, they are more connected to the love and goodness in humanity and better able to live positive and productive lives. 

So this weekend, set out some extra chairs for members of the extended family and have them to your home for special times.  Your children will grow to love and appreciate these times.

To read the entire article, click here.

What God’s Word Says About Being a Good Friend

I have written before about how to help our children choose good friends according to the Word of God.  I think that message is very important, but what is just as important and often overlooked, is what the Bible has to say about being a good friend.  Friends are a crucial part of our lives.  Having and being a good friend strengthen our lives and our walk with God.  These are a few ways your children can be good friends and have positive influences on their friends’ lives:

1.    Be there for your friend. We all go through rough patches that only a true friend could make better. The Bible talks about being there for a friend in times of trouble.  Being available, whether by phone or in person, and listening to them when they are distressed can be so comforting to them and lets them know that you can be trusted. It strengthens the bond of that relationship in a time that can tear many apart.

2.    Tell the truth.  We often want to spare our friends’ feelings, but sugarcoating a situation does nothing to help them in the long run.  We should be honest with one another because it is the only way to grow and better ourselves.  Of course, that does not give anyone the right to be mean or harsh.  I once heard someone say “honesty without tact is abuse,” and that is so true.  As a friend, your goal should never be to hurt someone’s feelings, but to help your friend progress in whatever aspect needs improvement. Give constructive comments rather than hurtful criticisms - the message will be received much easier.

3.    Spend time together. Between school, soccer practice, and chess club, our children can be very busy.  Yes, school and extracurricular activities are important, but just as important is spending time with their friends and truly enjoying their friends’ company.  Children have so much energy that they are bound to find activities to do during their time together.

Also, they should never be afraid of silence. Friends sitting in comfortable silence is an indication of the comfort between them. Being in that moment together can feel just as fulfilling as a day’s worth of exciting activities.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
— Proverbs 17:17

Who Are Your Children’s Role Models? Part 1

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

The Meriam-Webster dictionary defines “role model” as a person whose behavior is imitated by others.  The entertainment media is constantly providing us with information about the so-called “stars” and role models - whether they are actors, musicians, singers, or other public figures.  Often, we see children and youth emulating the dress and behavior of these “stars”.   As Christians, we should have our own “stars” for our children – persons who are different, yet extraordinary role models.  And, these “stars” must start at home.  This week’s blog centers on the role models whom our children should have in their every-day lives.

            When I found this image for this week’s blog, I was very impressed and happy.  It says a tremendous amount in very few words, and I encourage you to  take your time to read it and talk about it with your spouse and other family members.  Please set aside some time to do so.  As people who are not Christians look to the world’s “stars” to give them inspiration for living, we Christians must choose a different standard – one that glorifies God. 

Working Parents: Have a Plan for Taking Time Off From Work When Your Children Need You

Whether your child has an illness or injury, or the babysitter could not make it, taking unexpected time off from work can be tricky.  When both parents work, this can cause unnecessary tension because of arguments about who is going to stay home and take care of the child.  To prevent this from happening, it is very important to develop a plan ahead of time with your spouse about unanticipated “at home” days.

One important consideration is who has the most flexible schedule on any given day.   It may be that an arrangement can be worked out where both parents  divide the caretaking day in half.  If one spouse has mostly morning meetings and the other spouse has them in the afternoon, you can both work around your schedules.  My late husband and I did this.  His schedule was generally more flexible than mine, since as a lawyer, my schedule could be extremely busy.  We worked it out though between us, always keeping our focus on what was best for our children.  Compromise is very important as it reduces the parents’ stress levels and aids in flexible decision making, which of course, leaves more time for you both to focus on your child who needs you.

Speak to your office manager or human services representative ahead of time about the protocol for working from home or having children in the workplace. Many companies allow a parent to work from home if he is unable to come to the office and some allow children to be in the office under special circumstances.

If you and your spouse are not able to do any of the above, research alternatives.  Often retired relatives or friends will assist for a short while.  What is critical is that you do not wait until you need assistance to find a solution.

Raising children can be filled with ups and downs.  Having a plan and being willing to compromise - those are the key elements to surviving a sudden at-home stay.  Life is always going to throw curveballs at you, but being proactive can make them a little easier to catch

Small Ways to Boost Your Children’s Self Esteem

I have written before about boosting your child’s self-esteem, but today I will be discussing a few additional points as this is such an important subject.  Self-esteem is simply how a child feels about himself.  It is vital that children feel good about themselves because it makes them better problem solvers, better learners, and more appreciative of themselves and the people around them.

Since self-esteem is so integral to a child’s development, here are a few things you can do to boost his confidence.

1.    Do not pile on the praise. This may seem counterintuitive to what you believe.  Simply praising your child for everything he does is not helpful.  And, research shows that it may backfire.  Concentrate on praising effort.   Your praise may appear fake if a child knows that he did not perform well so instead, acknowledge when your child is making mistakes and encourage him to keep trying!

2.    Let your child make mistakes.  When teaching a child something new, be patient and monitor what she does.  Then, let her do it on her own so that she can learn from her mistakes.  Too often, as parents, we do not want our child to perform mediocrely.  How can she learn if she does not keep trying to do better.  

3.    Encourage independence. Once your child knows the difference between right and wrong and understands the consequences that come with certain decisions, let her make some for herself.  Often, this can show how much you trust her and respect her choices.

4.    Do not give harsh criticism.  I often hear parents calling their children names such as “lazy”, “messy”, “disorganized”, etc. What we speak over our children will come to pass.  They will begin to think about themselves just as you described.  So, select descriptive words that are encouraging rather than discouraging and look for things that they do right, rather than what they have done wrong.

Though these steps may seem simple, following them will go a long way in building healthy self-esteem in your children.

Kids Health provides more information about the benefits of high self-esteem in children and what you can do.  Read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

What to Do When Your Child says “I Hate You"

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
— 1 Corinthians 13:7

Oh, how this week’s Bible verse comes in handy, especially when children try to test your patience, question your affection for them, or even make you question their love for you.  Parents often fear the day when their child screams “I hate you” in the heat of passion.  Unfortunately, it will happen to a lot of parents and I think it is important to be prepared for when it does.

Children are not able to articulate their thoughts and feelings into meaningful, temperate phrases.  They are very honest and tend to share their feelings without filter.  Often, they blurt out whatever is on their mind, without regard for anyone else.

When your children utter these three words, experts recommend that it is best to focus on your children’s anger and not take the remarks personally.  You should respond with loving and reassuring phrases such as “I understand you are angry.  I love you and I am here for you.”   Teach your children to express in words that they is angry.

Your children need to know that you are always there for them and will try your very best to understand them. However, they also need to know that hurtful words like “I hate you” are unacceptable.  When the situation has calmed down and everyone has had the opportunity to take a short break, have a talk with them about appropriate ways to express their feelings.  Using the word “hate” is extremely powerful and negative.  Don’t yell at them and threaten.  The more loving your response is, the more they will understand that their choice of words was wrong and they can do better in the future.

You may have to bear through a few more intense tantrums and go through these points several times before your children are truly able to grasp the concept of healthy expression.  Keep trying – don’t give up!  The more practice you have, the better it will sink into their minds and the more they will be able to share their thoughts and feelings. You do not have to wait for them to throw another tantrum to put those lessons to work, though.  Try discussing experiences that usually elicit an impulsive, negative response from your children and teach them how to respond kindly.

Hearing those three words can be so devastating to a parent, but by responding in love and using these moments as times to teach, parents are establishing a foundation of self-expression that will definitely benefit their children in the future.

Do Not Be Worried about Your Children’s Futures

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
— Matthew 6:34

As parents, we are often consumed by preparing our children for the future. Whether it be enrolling them in as many extracurricular activities as possible to round out their academic resume or teaching them to be self-sufficient for adulthood, we want them to be completely prepared for everything that the future has to bring.  All this focus on the future, though, can cause high levels of stress for both you and your children and make it very difficult to just bask in the here and now.   

God does not want us to be anxious about anything.  I like what the words on the image for this week’s blog say: “Pray more, worry less”.   No one truly knows what the future will bring, but, as a Christian, you should feel comfort in knowing that God has already established a plan for the lives of each of your children.  

Try doing the following:

  1. Understand that not every trait your child has now, will carry over into her future.  For example, if you notice that your child is forgetful or seems unmotivated at times, it is unlikely that her attitude will persist throughout her life because behaviors change. Of course, you should talk to her about her conduct to ensure that she is fine and motivate her to do better, but do this to help your child in the present, not necessarily for the future. She does not need to hear your theories about the detrimental affects her present behavior may have on her future. She needs her parents’ assistance in dealing with whatever is going on at the moment.
  2. Spend time with your children (uninterrupted by the distractions of technology). This could be a planned outing or an impromptu hangout session. Making time for your children shows them how much you love and value them.
  3. Stop yourself from worrying.  In Matthew 6:34, Jesus taught His disciples about concentrating on what is happening today, and not worrying about what may happen tomorrow. 
  4. Pray.  Daily, ask God for guidance and comfort. 

Helping a Child Who is Afraid of the Dark

One of the most common fears among children is what can happen to them alone in the dark.  Most of us parents have been awakened in our beds by our children in the middle of the night, especially after they have had a bad dream.  Darkness represents the unknown, and since our children have such vivid imaginations, they can come up with the craziest things they believe lurk within it.  

I always recommend talking with your children about their fears.  Find out where these fears are coming from.  For example, what did they watch on tv or as a video or at the movie theater that could have caused fear? Tv programs and movies nowadays are filled with violence and scary looking creatures.  All of these can easily scare a child, especially one who is sensitive. 

When I was about 9 years, I remember going to the movies with my sisters and some friends.  We watched a Dracula movie.   Needless to say, it was their idea, not mine!  I could not sleep that night.  There was a large window in my bedroom and I made sure to put garlic cloves all around the windowsill, as that was supposed to ward off Dracula.  My thoughts about that movie tormented me for a long time and I had many sleepless nights.  My sisters and friends just laughed about the movie, so I never said anything, as I certainly did not want to be laughed at. 

Once you know the source of the fear, you will be able to deal with it.  One of the best ways is to establish a bedtime routine for them. 

Help them learn scripture verses to renew their minds.  This week’s verse is a wonderful one to start with: Psalm 56:3 - “When I’m afraid, I will trust in you.”  Another important verse for these types of situations is 2 Timothy 1:7 - “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love and a sound mind.”  A fun creative task that you can do with your children is to write out some verses, and then have your children decorate them with glow in the dark paint and hang them all about their bedrooms.  When they begin to feel afraid, they will be able to see the verses and then speak them out loud to eradicate all fear. 

Additionally, some parents speak blessings over their children at night, before they go to sleep.  To read more about how you can bless your children too, visit this blog.

Be sure to let your children know that you will always be there, close by, and will check up on them during the night too.  This will encourage them to learn to fight their fears on their own and develop confidence in doing so.  But, if need be, you will be there too to help along the way.

Fear of the dark is quite common for children and it is important to help them to learn to stand against fear on their own.   Scripture verses for fighting fear can be used for every issue that arouses fear in a person.  The more your children have renewed their minds with Bible verses, the better they will be able to withstand the forces that come against them as they grow up.

What To Do When Your Children Are Acting Selfish

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:3-4

“Buy me that toy.” “Change the tv channel - my favorite show is on.” “Mommy - get off the computer- I’m bored.” Do any of these sound familiar? They are all statements we may have heard from our own children and brushed off as childish behavior. While interactions like these do happen, they should never become normal. Unchecked, your children can continue to develop these selfish qualities more and more.

Children usually do not make these statements out of malice for other people, but out of their understanding for their own needs and desires. The only thing that matters to them is what they want at that specific time. The key is to stop this behavior when it happens – right away.  Do not make excuses for and tolerate it.  

How many times have your children tugged at your clothing or verbally demanded your attention to tell you something while you were on the phone? The next time they do this tell them that you are having a conversation and that you will speak to them when it is over.  Be firm and polite.  And, be sure to actually speak with them about their inappropriate behavior and not go on to some other task.  When you do,  you can say something such as, “I was speaking with someone on the phone. Please do not interrupt me.  Save it until I am done. I would love to talk about it after I’m finished.” Let them know that their actions were selfish and why.  Catching them while they are doing the act is important to helping them stop it.  Talking with them about it helps them understand what they are doing wrong and why their behavior is wrong.

Children may not always comprehend why being “self-centered” is wrong. Today’s Bible verse is very helpful.  Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Prioritizing the needs of those around us above our own is important because God says it is. It brings out our best character, shows the people we interact with  that we care for and respect them, and most of all, it is pleasing unto God. Being self-centered completely contradicts His Word.

Show your children that their thoughts and feelings should not be the only ones that are heard and respected.  How are other children reacting to their selfish behavior?  For example, if your son has a friend over to play, but he is refusing to share his toys, stop him, take him out of the room, and talk to him about it.  Explain to him how his behavior is affecting his friend and making his friend feel.  Ask him what he can do to make his friend’s visit more pleasant.  When the discussion has finished, have him return to the room and observe his behavior to make sure that he is actually following through on different, kinder behavior.

When you observe your children being considerate of others and not being selfish, let them know that out loud to reinforce their positive behavior.  This is one of the most important ways to stop selfish behavior.  Take your time to describe the selfless act that was done and make it clear that everyone benefits when they act that way.

As parents, we want to be there for our children and provide for their needs.  It’s their constant wants and demands that we need to control so that they do not control us. 

What to Do When Your Child Swears

Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].
— Ephesians 4:29 (AMP)

Children learn from what they see and hear around them, and while it can often be exciting to observe what they have learned, sometimes it can be frustrating or even embarrass and anger you.  Having said that, there is, unfortunately, going to be a day in your life as a parent when your child tells you about a new word he learned - a swear or curse word.  Or, you may hear your child use such a word when speaking with friends or siblings.  At first, you may be shocked to hear that word coming out of your child’s mouth (innocent as he or she may be). But, you must act quickly to counter this type of unacceptable speech.

First and foremost, be honest.  Did your child learn that curse word from you or your spouse?  Again, you cannot expect your children to do as they are told and totally ignore what their parents do.  Clean up your mouth before you enforce “no cursing” rules on your children.

It is critical that both parents agree that these types of words are not acceptable – period.  It will be very confusing for your child if you tell him that swearing is not acceptable speech but then your spouse laughs when he curses and things he’s cute by saying those type of words.   As with any other issue that involves raising children, parents must have a united front when dealing with cursing and decide together how violations of your parental rules will be dealt with.

It is imperative that, instead of getting upset with your child and yelling at him to not do it again, you speak to him about the meaning of the word and why he should avoid using it.  Let your child know that words like those are not pleasing to you or to God.  God wants us to use our voices to praise Him and uplift others, something we cannot do if it our mouths are cluttered with foul language.  Select and review with your child Bible verses such as Ephesians 4:29 that establish exactly what God wants to hear from us and why anything else is displeasing to Him.

It is also important to be willing to answer your child’s questions about curse words.  If your child feels that he can ask you anything without you getting angry and judging him, he will make you the first person he turns to when learning about something new, including words like these.

Assist your child to learn other words that are not curse words and to be able to select and use these words to best describe how he feels.  This will help him to develop word intelligence and self-control. For example, if your child is upset about what a sibling did, help your child to come up with words to express his feelings, rather than curse words.  Later on, when he is in the middle of an argument and angry, he should be able to tap into his extensive vocabulary to express himself without resorting to curse words.

Be prepared with a plan on how to deal with your child cursing.  It will happen one day, so it is better that you nip it in the bud right away rather than allow it to escalate into a difficult problem.

Teaching Biblical Financial Principles to Your Children

The concepts of handling money according to biblical principles are very important ones and parents often do not take the time to teach their children about them.  Proverbs 22:6 talks about training your child in the way he should go so that when he grows up, he will not depart from it.  Training your child also involves teaching these financial principles so that he can be a wise steward.  But, of course, you must know and follow these principles yourselves as parents.

In his online article entitled 10 Financial Principles That Are Biblical, author George Fooshee addresses principles that Christians need to know to properly manage their financial resources. Too many Christians are mired in debt and have become slaves to their out of control spending habits.  Knowing and then obeying God’s Word in regard to money management are critical to financial freedom.

The 10 financial principles are:

1. Understand that God is your source.  Philippians 4:19,  Proverbs 8:20-21, and 2 Cor. 9:8 all refer to God being our source - financial and otherwise.  The Christian walk involves putting our trust in Him to provide for our needs.

2. Tithing should be a regular part of our giving.  As Christians, we all understand that we should tithe.  Proverbs 3:9 instructs us to honor God with our first fruits.  But, do we really do it or do we make excuses and believe that God will understand why we have not tithed regularly?  God’s Word should be alive and something that we adhere to every day not just when we want to.

3. Prepare and plan.   Handling our money wisely involves preparation and planning. 

4. Save.

5. Keep out of debt.

6. Do not co-sign.

7. Keep records and set a budget.  From young, children should be taught how to budget. When giving an allowance to your children, for example, enforce the categories of “save”, “spend”, and “tithe” so they learn and put these concepts into practice.

8. Be content with what you have.  For example, if you know that you cannot afford a new vehicle at this time, do not shop for one.  Be content with what you have until you are truly able to afford a new or different one.

9. Work hard.

10. Seek Godly counsel.

As I have said many times before in my blogs, your children are observing what you do and listening to what you say every day.  Training or raising  successful children first starts with you as parents.   

To read more of this article, click here.

Raising Happy Children

We have all seen those faces: a child with an angry look – his face turned away from you, his lips pursed, his eyes glaring.  Perhaps the child did not get what he wanted.  Or, perhaps he woke up grouchy from a nap and saw no reason to change his demeanor or behavior and decided to take things out on you.  Children can be taught from a young age how to become happy and not remain in a negative mood.  According to Proverbs 15:13, a happy heart makes the face cheerful.

Helping your children develop happy hearts depends first and foremost on you having a happy heart yourself.  It is critical that as Christians, adults memorize scripture so that we lean on what the Bible has to say about our circumstances rather than on what the world throws at us.  The Word of God can be an extremely positive force in our lives if we speak and apply it. 

Try selecting various Bible verses that are easy for your children to memorize and write them on index cards or type them and hang them up throughout your house.  There are many websites that have lists of simple Bible verses so you can select one verse each week on which to focus.  Make it fun to memorize a verse and incorporate it in your everyday discussions.  The more you make the verses a part of their everyday lives, the more these verses will become a part of their thinking and behavior.   A quick reading of a verse will not do it.  It takes time and energy to change thoughts and behavior – it is not a one time, quick fix.

Also, have your children look at themselves in a mirror when they are happy and then when they are angry.  Help them to connect their facial expressions and outward physical behavior to their feelings.   Smiling is an indication of happiness and actually makes a person more attractive.  More people are drawn to smiling, friendly persons and the opposite is true as well.  Remember that your children typically will copy your behaviors.  Have you smiled at your children lately or have they seen you smiling?  You cannot expect your children to smile if you are not smiling at or with them!

Laughter is very important in maintaining a happy heart.  Children love to laugh – it’s part of their nature.  My sons enjoyed all kinds of silly jokes and riddles from when they were both small.  I bought joke books and cartoon books for them to read, to encourage laughter.  (Of course, that also encouraged reading.) They both have a wonderful, positive sense of humor today! Another way to make them laugh is spending time with them doing fun activities.  When was the last time that you played with and tickled your child?

These are some practical suggestions to raising happy children.  I encourage you to take the time to implement some so that you see more cheerful faces around your home!