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.

10 Ways to Productively Argue With Your Children

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

Most definitions of “argue” suggest the presentation of reasons or evidence, compelling data that have the effect of persuasion. But we’re talking about children here, so the discussion necessarily needs to be broader. Arguing with children is a lot like using gasoline to put out a fire, or drinking hot sauce to deal with a bad case of heartburn. Not only is the way we tend to argue a bad idea, the process is likely to exacerbate the situation and accelerate the destructive cycle. How much of our family time is defined by this kind of conflict?

There are ways to productively argue with your children, but it’s going to need a different strategy than usual. Here’s how to argue effectively with your kids.

1. Listen

When you listen you learn about them. Then, more often than not, we discover we’re not so far apart after all. We also teach our children to listen and not always assume they are right.

2. Avoid patronizing

You may be right, but rubbing it in is never a good idea.

3. Develop a playbook for disagreements

Call a family meeting when there’s no argument pending. Hash out argument guidelines. Respect everyone’s ideas. Offer several alternative procedural guidelines (all acceptable to the parents) and let the kids make the call. Then (this is very important when a real argument comes along) make sure to always follow the rules yourself.

4. Teach effective argument techniques

This is not a case of shooting yourself in the foot, but of equipping your child with a useful tool.

5. Let your child know they are heard and understood.

This goes beyond simple reception of information. Paraphrase what your child has said. Ask them if you have it right. Try the information on for size.

Let your child know they are heard and understood. CLICK TO TWEET

6. Be receptive to new ideas

Let your child know you value their input.

7. Avoid the pride trap

Sometimes, a few seconds into an argument, the unthinkable occurs. You realize you’re wrong and that your child is right. Some parents will continue to argue on principle. Don’t be that guy.

8. Role play

No, seriously, this can be fun. Role play can disarm the tension. Say, “Let’s switch roles. I’ll be the kid and you be the parent.” Then, lay out all the facts and advocate for your child’s point of view. Often, kids will be harsher on themselves than we would imagine.

9. Never put your child down

Name-calling is always wrong. If you say a child’s argument is “stupid,” or “emotional,” or “childish,” then the discussion shifts and kids begin to defend themselves rather than a point of view or an idea.

10. Remember not to confuse a healthy discussion with parental authority

Some things should not be argued about, simply because they’re non-negotiable. However, once your child understands that you argue reasonably, fairly and productively, he/she will accept the non-negotiable points with less opposition.

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.

5 Ways to Help Teens Cope With Change

** The following article was copied with theparentcue.org

I am a planner and always have been. I carefully constructed a plan for almost every life milestone.

Choosing a graduate school program in high school? Check.
Wedding dress selection? Check (as soon as he proposed)
Birth plan? Check (as detailed as it could possibly be)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed planning and longed for routine and stability. In middle school, I sat in the same seat in every class. In college, I decided on my class schedule a semester in advance.

I craved certainty and security.Even though I understood that life was anything but certain, there was something very gratifying about creating order amid chaos. Certainty is associated with clarity and predictability.

According to Dr. David Rock, the author of Handbook of NeuroLeadership, not knowing what will happen next is unsettling for humans and can be debilitating because it requires additional neural energy. Put simply, our brains have to work harder to process the unexpected.

But what happens when life throws you a curve ball that you did not, and could not, plan for?

Despite detailed planning for how my life would unfold, unsurprisingly, there were many surprises along the way:

Breakups
Illness
Career changes
Complicated births
Financial downturns
Moving
Graduating

Many of us have experienced these common life events that can potentially trigger a great deal of stress.

And as if change isn’t tricky enough for adults to navigate, teens and young adults have an even more difficult time with the inevitable uncertainties of this journey called life.

Freshmen year is just around the corner, will I make any new friends?
They just announced the new roster and wait, my name’s not on it this year . . .
We dated for an entire year and now she wants to break up. Will this pain ever subside?
How’s this finding a life purpose thing going to play out?

The presence of unknown variables has the potential to disturb even the most grounded among us. For teens, unwanted or unanticipated change may lead to feeling out of control and overwhelmed. We now know that excessive or chronic stress poses dangerous consequences on mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

By fostering a responsive, rather than reactive approach to coping with change, teens and young adults can
learn how to achieve clarity while navigating the inevitable obstacles of life.

Below are some strategies that can help your teen cope with change:

1. ACKNOWLEDGE EMOTIONS

The first step in managing emotions associated with any type of life change is simply to give yourself permission to experience the emotion so it can run its course. Transitions, like graduation, seem to be entirely positive to onlookers but may trigger feelings of fear and anxiety for a graduate. The reality of entering a new chapter of independence can be profoundly daunting. Whether it is a change of schools or the breakup of a significant relationship, change can bring out feelings of anger, rejection, and abandonment. Encourage your teen to share their feelings through journaling, talking to a therapist or supportive friends to help process the full range of difficult emotions.

2. FOCUS ON VALUES

Some of the most trying circumstances in life make us wish we could hide away in safety until the threat has vanished. Remind your teen it’s okay not to have all the answers to every question or to know how every detail will play out. Remembering what’s important—faith, family, friends, creative expression—is a powerful shield against whatever negative emotions threaten to arise. Ask them to list their values and help them to help the keep this life-change in the right context.

3. REFLECT BACK

Studies have shown that people who experience new life events—new schools, new relationships, or new jobs—experience some level of anxiety, even if the change was desired. Reflect with your teen on a time when they faced a significant change and successfully managed it, despite experiencing some initial fear. “Do you recall how terrified you were to start middle school?” Sometimes unfamiliar events are not as scary as they seem initially and may simply require a little time to adjust.

4. SHIFT PERSPECTIVES

We create our own realities in the way we process our thoughts and emotions and through the narratives we tell ourselves. Point out that changes, whether expected or unexpected, are part of the human experience and are opportunities for growth. Rather than be consumed with what was lost, consider potential gains. How can this new situation be a benefit? For example, if they’ve recently moved to a different school or city, help them see it as an opportunity to re-invent themselves. Help them learn to make the best of new situations. They may eventually view the life change as beneficial to their personal growth and life story.

5. BE SELF-COMPASSIONATE

Despite our best efforts and carefully executed plans, life often doesn’t go the way in which we intended. In fact, life can be stressful, and often disappointing. Instead of allowing frustration and self-doubt to take root, encourage your teen to offer themselves compassion. Researcher Dr. Kristin Neff explains how to show yourself self-compassion. If you are confronted with a painful experience, instead of ignoring your pain or chastising yourself, Dr. Neff recommends reminding yourself, “This is difficult right now, how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?” Self-compassionate individuals offer kindness to themselves and others rather than judgment and harsh critiques.