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.

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.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith on Halloween

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"Fight the good fight of faith..." - 1 Tim. 6:12

Halloween is coming up on Tuesday, and as Christians, it is difficult for us to see people celebrating this day when they truly do not know the true history of it and what it commemorates.  As Christians, we are not hopeless as we can fight Halloween and all it represents by using our faith.

It has been reported that after Christmas, Halloween is the biggest holiday for retailers.  From early September, everything from lawn & house decorations, to costumes, to makeup and music are advertised openly in stores and online at many websites.  Of course, the designs are centered on evil and scary images.  How can Christians respond?  Here are some suggestions:

1.    Put Bible verses and phrases everywhere. On lawn posts, indoor and outdoor signs, candy, even carved into pumpkins, include Bible verses. The verses should be positive in nature and short. A verse such as 1 Peter 3:11 that says, “They must turn from evil and do good” is perfect as it is to the point.

You do not have to limit yourself to Bible verses, as Bible phrases are excellent and can be just as effective.   For example, you can decorate a makeshift tombstone in your yard with the phrase “He is Risen”.  A tombstone is very much in the theme of the day, but the message is about the resurrection of Christ rather than an evil purpose.

2.    Decorate wreathes with Christian symbols.  Wreaths are popular decorations for homes.  However, instead of filling your wreath with black cats and bats, fill it with crosses, doves, and olive branches.  All of these are symbols of Christianity that promote the message of Christ.

3.    Greet trick or treaters with Bible verses.  When children come to your door to trick-or-treat, plan on giving them something unique.  One recommendation is candy wrapped with a short Bible verse.  Again, there are many short verses that are effective:  

  • Psalms 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
  • Mark 10:14 “Let the children come to me.”
  • John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.”

You can also look up more inspirational verses online and select the ones that you and children would like to share.

It is important that your children do not answer the door alone.  You should be there to greet everyone and your children can assist you with passing out candy and verses. 

By using our faith to fight Halloween, you and your children will have a lot of fun carving the pumpkins and making the decorations, all centered on the Word of God.  Importantly, they will not be missing out on the fun and will learn unique ways to spread the love of God.

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!

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. 

August is Kids Eat Right Month – Celebrate it with Your Family

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, has declared August, 2016 to be Kids Eat Right Month as part of its initiative to promote healthy eating habits among children.  If good, healthy eating habits are established when children are young, studies show that these habits will continue into adulthood. 

Here are some of the tips that are given:

1.  Teach your children about nutrition.  Here is where reading comes into play.  Find websites and articles that teach your children about the nutritional values of different foods.  Read and discuss these with your children.  This will help them develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for nutrition.  When you’re not around, they will be able to make intelligent decisions for themselves.

2. Take your children grocery shopping and read the ingredients of products off of the packages.  Search the internet for healthy recipes and have them participate in preparing meals. 

3. Help your children plan breakfasts and lunches.  During those busy weekdays, we tend to grab whatever is quick and convenient.  Stop … take time to plan differently.  Fruits and vegetables should be staples of meals.  Additionally, experts say that children love colorful meals.  Have them write down different menus with a variety of items, and then assist them with the follow-through. 

4. Have healthy snacks around the house.  We all know how children love to snack.  Be wise and plan for a variety of healthy snacks rather than just chips, sodas, and cookies.  Here is where different fruit and vegetables with dips can be introduced.    

5. Make sure to include activities for them too.  Kids love to run and play.  Developing an active lifestyle first requires a healthy meal.

For more information, visit the website by CLICKING HERE.

Good Manners Don’t Fall from a Tree- You must Teach Them to Your Children

I sincerely believe that Christians should have the best mannered children.  Why?  Because we are to be an example to the world in every way, including how we raise our children.  

Of course, good manners start at home.  In her book “Taming the Family Zoo: Six Weeks to Raising a Well Mannered Child”, author Donna Jones gives many ways to teach our children good manners.  Here are some of them:

  1. Teach the magic words.  Children need to know why “thank you”, “please” and all the other magic words are very important to their vocabulary.  Once they practice them at home, your children will have mastered their use, so using them in public will be natural to them.
  2. Teach wise behavior in public.  Children need to know that they shouldn’t be running around in public, climbing on chairs, raising their voices, cutting in lines, etc.  Proper public behavior starts at home.  If you allow them to do these or similar things at home, they will do them in public.  
  3. Teach good table manners.  Start at home of course.  Don’t allow your children to talk with their mouths full of food.  Show them how to place napkins in their laps and to keep their elbows off the table.  Don’t let them reach over someone else to get food.  Once they learn their manners at home, they will use them naturally at a public dining place or at a friend’s house. 

Read the entire article on her book by clicking here.

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt