Should You Make Your Kids Go To Church?

** The following article was copied from theparentcue.org

I recently read an article about a family who loved to hike. Actually, not all of them loved it. One son shared how every weekend, rain or shine, he was forced to put on his hiking shoes (yes, forced) and he was loaded into the family car for what he described as a boring, wasted day of tramping in the woods. He said the numerous pre-hike conversations with his mom went like this.

“I don’t feel good.”
“The sunshine will make you feel better.”

“I’m tired. Can’t I stay home?”
“Put your shoes on. Let’s go.”

He did put his shoes on, but not without griping about it. As he hiked, he dreamed of the day when he could make his own decisions and told himself he’d never hike again.

He went on to tell how he’s out on his own now, and guess what? He loves to hike. He says hiking is one of his favorite things he gets to do on the weekend and he goes as often as he can.

This story makes me wonder if the words I told you so ever pop into his mom’s mind. It also makes me stop and consider the somewhat nebulous power of my influence as a parent. As my kids got older (and more opinionated), I often wondered what we should insist on versus what they got to decide. Things like brushing their teeth and going to school were easy (okay, easier) to insist on out of a healthy respect for cavities and detention. But what about things like going to church or participating in youth group? What about even deeper subjects like what they believed about God and faith?

It gets messy.

When our kids were young, it was easy to herd them in the car for church. “Time for kids’ church! Let’s go!”

But then our daughter turned thirteen.

“I don’t want to go to youth group. None of my friends are there.”

Geoff and I had some serious discussions. If we make her go, will she end up hating church? We’d both been brought up in church and could relate to not always wanting to go. We also knew families where they had forced their kids and now as young adults, they didn’t want anything to do with it.

It was hard to know the right path to take. Looking back, we can’t say we handled it perfectly (I bet our kids would chime in on that), but we do feel like we made a few good choices:

1. WE TRIED TO INSPIRE INSTEAD OF NAG.

Geoff and I love great worship music and great preaching, and thankfully we were at a church with both. We often talked with our kids about the teaching we heard at church and how it stirred our hearts. We talked about how worship connected us to God. We told stories about the fun and friendships in our small group, and we often hosted group at our house. We wanted our kids to see what church meant to us and how it formed our relationship with God.

2. WE REQUIRED, BUT WE ALSO LET THEM CHOOSE.

What mattered most to us about church was that our kids were exposed to adults who loved and worshipped God. This wasn’t something we were willing to let go of for our daughter, but we let her choose where these relationships would be. Would she rather go to the large mid-week group or be part of a girls’ small group? We let her decide.

3. WE LEANED INTO OTHERS.

Brittainy’s decision to go to small group turned out to be a game changer. She had a leader who remembered what it felt like to be in middle school and didn’t shy away from talking honestly about it. She shared how she remembered sometimes feeling lonely in middle school, but how she woke up every day and reminded herself of God’s love for her. She talked about how reading her Bible and what it meant to pray and know that God heard her. I wish I could say that my kids’ faith and character were because they had great parents. But I think it was because they had great small group leaders.

If you’re reading this and your kids are rolling their eyes or balking at church or faith, you’re not alone. We can’t force our kids to love God, but maybe we can inspire them. Whatever it feels like today, don’t give up.

Whatever it feels like today, don’t give up. Lean into other leaders and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Show your kids that while their opinions may change, your love and support for them won’t.

Building a Healthy Family System – Seminar Recap

Seminar Recap
Building a Healthy Family System
LISTENING & COMMUNICATION
By Pat Nolan

 

Listening

As parents, some times we make things too complicated. In fact, listening seems so simple that it’s easy to gloss over it as a parental skill and favor more exciting things like teaching moments, fixing problems, or making sure our kids listen to us. Parents regularly talk about wanting “good communication” with their kids and kids actually do want to talk to their parents. So if listening is the foundation of good communication, then let’s keep it simple and start there.

Benefits of Listening

Listening will go far, not just in hearing the conversation, but can help fortify other areas of parenting too.

  • We can gather information about a child’s life and what’s in their head
  • Listening builds strong relationships
  • Listening thoughtfully shows respect
  • Shows them you care and that they matter
  • It is always the first step in solving problems
  • Kids are smarter than most adults think – they pay attention and are aware. They will teach you how to raise them if you listen.
  • A child who is listened to… Learns how to listen

What is Listening?

Listening is thoughtful attention. It is intentional, and most parents have listening skills. Sometimes it is a matter of putting them into practice intentionally so that you can be a role model for these skills.

We can be better listeners with:

  • Direct eye contact
  • Positive body language
  • Paraphrasing/summarizing what is being said (“So you want to have more time on your ipad”)
  • Reflecting the emotion of what they are saying (“Sounds like it hurts your feeling when your sister calls you names”)
  • Show empathy (“I remember when my parents made me go to church”)

Listening Quicksand

Just as there are good listening practices, there are also poor listening practices. I call these Listening Quicksand. Be careful not to sink into these practices!

  • Cell Phones – when you look at your cell phone, you automatically make the person you’re talking with a second priority
  • Interrupting – you are focused on just getting a moment to break in and say what you want, not listening to what is being said
  • Wanting the last word – The focus is on you plus, the conversation will never end!
  • Minimizing the conversation to avoid uncomfortable topics
  • Teaching moment – Parents try to use every moment as a teaching moment.
  • Problem solving- It’s hard to listen and “fix the problem” at the same time
  • Showing lack of interest in the conversation
  • Time constraints- shutting a conversation down because of time constraints, then never picking it back up.

Listening Bait

Know what topics become “Quicksand” for you as a parent. These topics become great
“teaching moments” and even better conversation killers. What can you do to be a better listener with these topics?

  • Video games
  • Social Media
  • School
  • Friendships
  • Future

Rule of thumb for Listening

  • If you are talking with your kids, make your contribution 20 seconds or less at a time.
  • If the conversation is 70/30 (70% you talking, 30% them) then you are not listening. Reverse it.
  • Don’t be afraid of uncomfortable conversations. These are ones that stick. Especially when you show respect by listening.
  • Serious conversations are set up by all the small, seemingly innocuous conversations.
  • Have fun with your kids in conversation. Laughter and joking make conversations and listening so much easier.

Encounter.  Formation.  Expression.

One of the things we talk about at Port City Community is the idea of Encounter, Formation, Expression.  The basic concept is that what we encounter in life will help to form what we think and believe.  What we think and believe will inevitably show up and be expressed in what we say and do.  As parents, part of our job is to help our kids maneuver in a world that is ever changing and build a solid foundation in Christ.  When it comes to listening and communication, we need to remember that what they encounter is forming who they are.  When they encounter parents who listen with thoughtful attention, they will begin to know they are heard and what they have to say matters. It builds up their confidence, helps form their identity, and strengthens their relationship with you, their parents. When a kid opens a door to a conversation, don’t hesitate or be afraid, go in!!  And remember to have fun with your kids, they’re pretty cool!

How to Parent During the Teen Years – Dad Edition

Our friend Stuart Hall joins The Parent Cue podcast to share about how dads can better parent during the teenage years.  Check it out!  https://soundcloud.com/rethinkgroup/pcl-50-dad-edition-with-stuart-hall

 

Parents – Your Role Really Matters!

This article was written by Doug & Cathy Fields -Authors of Intentional Parenting

In our parenting seminars, parents often ask us questions that reveal their fears about the negative influence of media, culture, and peers on their children. This is a normal concern in today’s crazy culture, but we answer their worry by telling them to be less concerned about “outside” influences and more concerned about their hugely significant roles as the primary influencers in their child’s lives.

More than anyone else, kids of all ages are influenced and shaped by their parents.

The only time this influence shifts away from parents and onto other influences is when parents are either physically or emotionally absent. In other words, if you as a parent decide to “opt-out” of the parenting scene, then you can expect culture and all it represents to be more than glad to step in.

Research and social science studies support the fact that the parent/child relationship significantly impacts a child throughout his or her lifetime. The parent’s role and involvement is essential to the child’s development of emotional health, academic advancement, and making significant life decisions.

A recent study found that “a lack of parental involvement can have long-lasting negative effects on a child. Children who don’t have a close relationship with a parent are at risk for teen pregnancy, more likely to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, and more likely to live a sedentary life. They are also more likely to be withdrawn or suffer from depression.”

Your influence is the reason why you are such a big deal as a parent. This should be no surprise since children are very valuable to God.

Look how Jesus describes children: He [Jesus] took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:36-37 (NIV)

When you welcome a child into your life, you welcome Jesus. That’s powerful!
And the writer of Psalms says: “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him…” Psalms 127:3 (NLT)

God has rewarded you with the gift of a child — a gift worthy of cherishing and one that requires your very best effort. You were called to be a parent — it’s a significant part of your destiny and life purpose.

Yet, sometimes as parents, we want to deny or downplay our impact on our child’s life so that we can be let off the hook.

Look, we get it! Parenting is a huge responsibility — your child’s future is on the line. That’s a lot of pressure.

But we’d like to suggest that instead of viewing your parental responsibility as something negative, you begin to see it as empowering. After all, among all the other influences in your children’s lives, you are the one who has the ability to spend the most time with them. Not their friends, not the TV, and not even their cell phone. Therefore, you also have the most opportunities to instill your values into your kids.

So, if you long to be a good parent, and for your kids to grow up as successful and mature adults, then the first thing you need to do is to develop a deep conviction that your role as a parent is crucial. Believe that you — your presence, your actions, and your words — are vital to the health and development of your child. Believe that you are the most significant influence in your child’s life.

Parent Network Podcast – Michelle Starbuck

Check out our fourth episode where we interview Michelle Starbuck, our volunteer Director of the Parent Network, on intentional parenting over the years.

 

Parent Network Podcast – Mike Ashcraft

Listen to our latest Parent Network Podcast where we interview Mike Ashcraft on “The Power of Intentional Parenting.”

 

 

The Missing Milestone

** This article was copied from www.championtribes.org

The Missing Milestone

Not every moment in life is created equal.

Some moments have more weight and significance than others. These moments are called milestones. Milestones are moments that mark our lives. Things like the birth of a child, graduations, weddings, and retirements.

Imagine for a second how your life would different if it was not marked by some of these milestones. What if you went through school, but never had the milestone moment of graduation? What if you dated and got engaged, but never had a wedding? What if you worked for years and years, but never had a retirement party?

Milestones mark our lives by representing the end of a season and the beginning of a new season of life. They often signifying a profound change. And we often adopt a new identity after a milestone moment. When someone has a child they take on the new identity of mother or father. When someone graduates they are now an alumnus or alumna. When someone gets married they are now Mr. & Mrs. And when some retires they are now retired. There is a lot of weight and significance that is held in these milestone moments. Milestones have the power to transform our lives. 

But what if I told you that there was a milestone that was missing? 
You see throughout history in nearly every single culture there was a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, yet sadly in our Western culture we have lost this important idea.  It has become the Missing Milestone.

The importance of this Missing Milestone can not be overstated. It affects our families, communities, and nation in innumerable and unmeasurable ways. And yet we continue to perpetuate this gap in our culture, this Missing Milestone, because most men also grew up without it.

When we talk to fathers about this idea, most of them understand this idea intuitively. They feel that it was missing from their life and they don’t want their son to grow up feeling the same void that they experienced. But the train of thought is typically the same… “I want to do this, but I don’t know when and I don’t know how.”
We would love to help you answer those questions with a few simple tips to create a rite of passage experience for your son:

1) It needs to be a moment in time, yet part of a journey.

Think about the other milestones we mentioned above (marriage, graduation, retirement) they all center around a singular moment. Yet that moment has had significant build up to it. It wasn’t out of the blue. The journey of dating and engagement led to the milestone of marriage. The journey of high-school or college led to the milestone of graduation. The journey of navigating a career led to retirement. The milestone is a singular significant moment, but there was a process and build up to it that made it important.

2) It should build upon ceremony and ritual.

All milestones are built upon ceremony and ritual. Think baby showers, pomp & circumstance, wedding rings and vows, and gold watches, and eulogies. That is part of what makes them feel set apart and significant. Make sure to weave ceremony and ritual into your rite of passage moment for your son.

3) It needs to include your blessing.

There is a book called The Blessing by John Trent PH.D. & Gary Smalley that says, “If a young man fails to receive the blessing of their father, they will spend the rest of their life looking for it in all the wrong places.” Think about that for a minute. Your son desires your love and affirmation more than anything else in the world. Weave your blessing into this rite of passage experience.

4) Do this with your son in middle school.

Middle school is perhaps the most important transition in your sons life. He is beginning puberty. He is forming his own identity. He is beginning to become independent. But more importantly he is asking bigger and more important questions than he has ever asked before and he is looking for answers. This your opportunity as a father to bring your voice into his life at the most critical time.

5) Don’t do it alone.

Bring in other wise men to speak into his life. Seek out other men who are in this same stage of life with their sons and have critical conversations together. Brining in others will help hold you accountable and motivated and create a better context for conversation. It makes everything less awkward to have friends do it with you (for both fathers and sons).

We hope these tips will help you navigate the Missing Milestone and create a rite of passage into manhood for your son. If you want to learn more about our experience, how we have helped hundreds of fathers navigate this important phase of life, and teach Commitment, Confidence, Humility, Accountability, Motivation, Perseverance, Integrity, Ownership, Sacrifice, Significance learn more at https://www.championtribes.com/how-it-works/

The First Social Media Challenge Your Kid Will Face

** The following article was copied from theparentcue.org.

The news is often full of terrible stories about horrible things that happened to kids because of social media. These things do happen and there’s a long list of them to keep in mind as your kids navigate this digital world.

The reality though is that more than likely, your kid will face one particular challenge before any others. Want to know what it is?

Someone is going to block them on Instagram.

Or, someone won’t follow them on Instagram.

Those are similar issues, although blocking feels more deliberate.

When you were a teenager, a person who didn’t like you, just wouldn’t talk to you. Now though, they can block you from taking a peek into their life. They can shut a door firmly in the most popular place for teens to congregate, Instagram.

They can lock you out of their lives.

This is the easiest, most common way a teenager gets their feelings hurt online. When someone doesn’t follow you, that hurts too, but not in the same way. Maybe they didn’t know you have an account. Maybe they forgot to follow you. Maybe there’s some other reason they don’t right now. Not so with a blocking. When someone blocks you, they’ve deliberately sent you a message that they don’t like you.

In situations like that, the most important thing to assess is if the relationship needs to be repaired. Sometimes it does and your kid needs to apologize for something. Other times, there’s nothing to repair. You can’t force your child to be friends with someone and meddling in the situation will only make everything all the worse.

There’s a block headed to your future as a parent, I promise, it’s coming.

Instead of waiting for it, do the brave thing, and ask your child if they’ve ever been blocked on Instagram.

If they have, talk about it. Ask them how they feel. Ask if they have anything they need to do. It might seem like something small, but you’d be surprised at the big conversation it can start.

Does My Child Measure Up?

** The following article was copied from theparentcue.org

Google “developmental milestones” and you may be surprised to see 1.5 million results. Are there that many milestones in the 18-year lifespan of a child from birth until they graduate from high school? No, definitely not. 1.5 million results tells us that common milestones happen at different times, on a different “schedule” for every single child.

No need to panic if your baby does not automatically become a walking toddler by that first birthday celebration. Your three-year-old who refuses to potty-train will jump that hurdle before she leaves home for college. And, your five-year-old who still can’t master zippers and buttons will achieve those skills before his first date.

Is it ever okay to compare your four-year-old to your best friend’s child of the same age or to your older child who said so many more words at the same age? What’s the harm?

Potentially, the harm can be that your child will sense that he or she doesn’t live up to your expectations. She may eventually quit trying to be the person that she thinks you want her to be, and can’t be, or experience stress and shame because she feels inadequate.

Comparing siblings may foster or increase sibling rivalry.

Worse yet, you may feel inadequate as a parent because you see your child as “not as good as” another child and you falsely interpret that as a negative commentary on your parenting abilities.

But comparing for the sake of understanding differences and strengths can bring insights. You may be alerted to real struggles or developmental delays that are best addressed by professionals during the preschool years. When you use a positive form of comparison, you are simply identifying your child’s strengths or their needs.

Your child’s unique strengths, personality characteristics, and temperament will start to shine through starting in the first few months of life. As your baby grows and develops in these early years, instead of falling into the milestone comparison trap, you can give your child exactly what he needs most in this phase: You can embrace him and demonstrate he is worth loving and exactly how he was created to be.

And then you can finally give yourself a break and know you’re an amazing parent who loves their child well.

Help! My Kid Got a Cell Phone. Now What?

** The following article was copied from www.samluce.com

It seems that kids younger and younger are getting cell phones these days. There are many good reasons to get your kids a cell phone and there are equally as many reasons to delay as long as possible. The question I hear from parents is how do I keep my kids safe online and yet let them enjoy the freedom of a cell phone. The balance of safety and security is not easy to maintain.

I used to be an advocate of waiting until kids are much older to get a cell phone. I have changed my mind, with the pervasiveness of technology and the easy access of porn you have to teach your kids at a young age how to use technology without being ruled by it. If you just hand your kids a cell phone without teaching them how to use it or placing safeguards around it you are crazy. I love you but you are crazy. Here are a few things we have done and are putting into practice with our oldest as he joins the millions of kids who are connected around the world. These are a work in progress.

  1. We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do. –  Andy Crouch. No phones in bedrooms.
  2. We use Circle at home to filter content, enforce bedtime and to create timed boundaries. Circle is amazing! It is dead simple to set up it allows for a ton of flexibility you can filter and put time restrictions on individual apps. What’s also great about it is that it filters your internet so when friends come over it works on their device if they connect to your internet.
  3. We use Circle Go for on the go. We keep all our content and time filters in place on LTE and 4G cell phone coverage away from home. It has a monthly fee of 4.99 a month but is good for up to 10 devices.
  4. We use Life 360 to create digital fences that allow us to know when our child has left one place and arrived at another. This app also has functionality that monitors your kids driving their speed and disables texting when moving at a high rate of speed, it will also automatically call 911 if involved in an accident.
  5. Create a Cell Phone Contract. When they understand the privileges and responsibilities of having a phone. They also need to understand how to keep their phone and what will cause them to lose their phone privileges.
  6.  We have the passwords to everything. Privacy is not an option for Jr. Highers. Parents read your children’s email and text messages its being loving, not nosey.
  7. We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play, and rest together. – Andy Crouch
  8. Use the early years to teach your kids the etiquette of texting and calling. Let them know when is appropriate to do either and when is appropriate to do neither.
  9. For us at least, no social media until High School – Junior High is difficult enough allowing bullies to reach into the sanctuary of your home through social media is not worth the benefit.