We’re excited to launch our Parent Network podcast where we’ll interview people who can help equip and encourage us to help our family walk with God. Click here to go to our podcast page and soon you’ll be able to subscribe on iTunes.
** This article was copied from fulleryouthinstitute.com
I’ll be honest: I kind of hate a lot about kids’ sports. It’s one area where Kara and I hold different opinions. I’m the wet blanket in the office about everything from little league to major sporting events.
Mainly I get concerned about the ways our culture obsesses about kids’ performance. All kinds of parental anxiety and dysfunction plays out on the sidelines and in the bleachers, and you only need walk to your local park to catch a glimpse for yourself. Sports have such potential to build character, perseverance, and skill. Sometimes they succeed, and other times coaches, parents, and mobs of hot-or-cold fans burn out or puff up kids in quite damaging ways.
All that aside, my son’s getting ready to play T-ball this spring. I say getting ready, because after sign-ups we were informed that “spring training” would begin immediately this week. I didn’t sign up for that. They want kids there four nights a week, pre-season, to build skills prior to being placed on teams.
Did I mention this was just at my local neighborhood park league, not “competitive” T-ball?
In the midst of considering my own response to this, I stumbled across this great article by student leadership development expert Tim Elmore. In it he discusses research on what parents can say both before and after the game to encourage their kids, without making everything about performance (either positively or negatively). Elmore suggests:
Based on psychological research, the three healthiest statements moms and dads can make as [kids] perform are:
Before the Competition:
I love you.
After the competition:
Did you have fun?
I’m proud of you.
I love you.
It gets even better. Researchers Bruce Brown and Rob Miller asked college athletes what their parents said that made them feel great and brought them joy when they played sports. Want to know the six words they most want to hear their parents say?
“I love to watch you play.”
That’s it. Nothing aggrandizing like “you’re an all-star,” and nothing discouraging like “here are a couple of things I noticed that you can work on.” Just “I love to watch you play.”
As I gear up for T-ball, band concerts, gymnastics practice, and everything else I’ll be watching my three kids do this year, I’m internalizing these six words. I’m sure I’ll say other things, some that are helpful and some that aren’t.
But I want my kids to hear that doing what they do, and learning about who God created them to be, is a joy to watch as it unfolds.
** This article was copied from D6Family.com
My friend Samantha Krieger just wrote a post called What I Want My Daughters to Know About Beauty & Worth. I recommend you read her post and subscribe to her blog. She is one of the best writers I know and you don’t want to miss what she has to say, especially for the wives and moms out there.
I don’t have any daughters, yet I found myself drawn into this post. Partly because I know the world gives women a very false message about beauty, and women live under an immense amount of pressure to live up to some false, air-brushed standard. I can’t imagine the pressure many/most women feel to do everything they can to make sure their daughter doesn’t grow up believing the lies.
The other reason I was so drawn to this article has very little to do with beauty and worth. Rather, as the dad to four boys, I desire for my boys to have the right message about masculinity and worth. While the battle/struggle for boys and girls might be different, the fight is still over their value and worth.
My kids are at a sweet age right now. The twins are almost 12, our middle boy is nine and our youngest is seven. They can do a whole lot by themselves, they are fun to play and talk with, and they still think I’m the greatest guy on the planet. I know someday (probably soon!) this will change, so I am enjoying it in the moment. This is the perfect season for me to drive home the lessons they need to learn about their value and worth. I know as my twins start junior high in the fall, their world will be shaken like never before.
A few years ago, I read the book Season of Life, by Jeffrey Marx. The book tells the story of Joe Ehrmann, a former NFL player who now spends his days teaching young men about a whole new meaning of masculinity. In the book, Marx shares the world’s definition of masculinity and how it centers around athletic prowess as an elementary/middle school boy, sexual conquest as a high school/college young man, and financial success as a young adult/man.
As I watch my boys grow older and older, I see these things being lived out in front of my eyes. The most “popular” elementary boys seem to be the ones with the most athletic ability, and as my twins get ready to enter into junior high next year, I know sexual tensions rise like crazy in these pre-pubescent, adolescent boys and girls. And as I watch young adults, I see the prestige that comes with nicer cars, bigger homes, and more powerful job titles.
And everything in me wants my boys to know that their value and worth is not tied into their athletic ability, sexual conquests, or financial success. I long for them to know they are loved by their mom and dad, and are loved even more than they can imagine by the God of the universe. I want them to know that Jesus died for them, that their value and worth is defined by His finished work on the cross of Christ, not by baskets scored, notches on the bedpost, or digits in their bank account.
I want my boys to know:
- They are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). My twins were conceived at just about the same moment in time (they are fraternal – VERY fraternal). Yet, even though they come from the same parents and were made and born seconds apart, they are still so different from each other. Where do those differences come from? Their Creator.
- Their value comes from the fact that they are human beings, made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).
- Whatever the world offers is not worth it. So often the things we are drawn to (the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life) are not from God but from the world (1 John 2:15-16).
- Choosing God over choosing to please man is going to be one of the toughest battles they will face. And it’s a battle they will fight every single day (I know I still do, every single day) (Galatians 1:10).
- I want them to know that porn isn’t worth it. That even though it looks and sounds alluring and enticing, that it isn’t worth trying it out. I know they’ll want to google words and want to see pictures and videos. I know they’ll wonder what it’s like to be held by a woman and to feel her body against theirs. I know they’ll hear stories from their friends and they’ll feel left out. And I want them to know how AMAZING it is, but only in the right relationship at the right time (marriage).
- I want them to know how much I regret the stupid things I did in my life because I thought the short-term satisfaction would be worth it. So many regrets because I chose to pursue the fleeting pleasures at the expense of God’s best.
- That their mom and dad love them, unconditionally. They don’t have to earn our love and acceptance. There might be some days when I don’t “like” them, but I want them to know, much like the Father’s love for us, that they can’t and don’t need to try to earn the love of their parents.
My boys have a battle they need to fight. The world continues to drive home a message that says sports, sexual conquest, and financial/vocational success drive their value and worth. I am grateful for Samantha’s reminders that just as a daughter’s value and worth don’t come from their outer beauty, so doesn’t a son’s value come from athletic, sexual, or vocational success. I want them to know that their value and worth is best demonstrated in the cross of Christ.
- One of the best resources I have ever seen in knowing and understanding what it means to be a godly man comes from Watermark’s lead pastor, Todd Wagner. Check out his handout on 5 Characteristics of a Godly Man and watch his message as he talks through this list.
- If you’re married and have sons, talk with your spouse about what you see in your son(s) that you are grateful for and what you see that concerns you. Pray for him/them after you discuss.
- Talk with spouse about how you’re doing at driving home the right values with your children. Are you perpetuating the message of athletic, sexual and vocational success, or are reminding them about the source of their real value and worth.
Stuart Hall gave parents a lot of great things to think about at our Parent Network Event. Here are his slides.
Click on the link below to listen to this podcast from theparentcue.org.
** This article was copied from Intentionalparenting.net
Someone is watching you. He is three and a half feet tall, has grass stains on his jeans and answers to the name “Squirt.”
Our children are born into the world looking like us. Then they start talking like us and acting like us. Is it important to consider how we talk and act? Definitely. Your kids are watching you and taking it all in. You are their example of how to act in this world.
So, I am going to provide you with some things your children need to hear you say.
1. “I love you.”
This sometimes seems to be easier for mom than it is for dad, especially as the kids get older but this is THE most important thing you can say to your kids. You need to say it consistently every day. Your kids need to hear this to know they are loved! It makes them feel the safety and security that we all desire to provide for our children.
Your kids need to hear you praying. Whether at the dinner table or quietly during your quiet time with your Bible, they need to know you have a relationship with the Lord. Whether your kids are born-again believers yet or not, they need to know that you are.
3. “I’m sorry.”
We often demand that our kids apologize to us or other when they have done something wrong. We need to also set the example and apologize to them when we do them wrong. We are not perfect and our kids need to know that we know we are not perfect and sometime make mistakes. Apologizing communicates humility which is a character quality we want our own children to have.
4. “You’re really good at…”
We all like to be affirmed in our talents. Let you kids know what they are good at, even if they aren’t really that good at it yet. Encourage them in something they love, whether it’s baseball, playing the piano, acting or riding a unicycle!
5. “I missed you.”
Let your kids know you like it when they are around. They will know this when you tell them that you missed them. After you get back from a trip or they get back from spending the night at a friends house, tell them you missed them. Again…even if you didn’t because you really needed the break! They will feel loved and safe and will be happy to be home.
6. “You’re funny.”
I don’t really do as well as I should with this one. I got this from somewhere else and I can’t remember where or I would credit them. But kids like to be funny and like to think they are funny. But kids don’t always tell the funniest jokes or stories though they sometimes try. But sometimes, try to remember to tell them they are funny after they’ve told you a joke. Communicate the appreciation you have of them. Let them know in this way that you like to have them around.
7. “You’re a great kid.”
Sometimes kids disobey and we need to discipline them. But sometimes they do obey. And sometimes they even obey without even being asked. Be observant enough to know when this happens. Pay attention and let them know you appreciate it. We all want to be better than “good”. We want to be great! Tell your kids they are.
You want a bonus? If you said “yes” then read on!
8. “I’m glad your my son/daughter.”
There is a lot of competition among peers. Sometimes kids think they aren’t good enough because other kids put them down so much. Let your kids know you are glad they are your child. This might be about as important as telling them “I love you.” Sometimes kids wish they were like someone else who is more talented or popular. But you need to let them know you like them just the way they are and wouldn’t want any other kid to be their son.
Maybe you already say these things but maybe there are some that you don’t say or don’t say enough. Start now. Start tonight. Continue to build your relationship with them. You can do it! I know you can. Because you’re a great parent.
Lead your children on!
** This article was copied from fulleryouthinstitute.org
In my morning times with the Lord, I’m reading the book of Matthew. Chunk by chunk, paragraph by paragraph. After I read, I journal about what that day’s passage tells me about Jesus.
Lest you be under any illusions about my profound journaling, some days my journal entries are short and simple. One day last week, I wrote two words: “Jesus heals.”
Whether my reflections are long or short, this thorough process helps immerse me in the actions and words of Jesus. In the midst of my tendency to rush from my Bible reading to a full day, writing my insights helps them stick.
A few days ago, I was struck by how Jesus praises the faith of the centurion: “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (Matthew 8:10). That affirmation stands in stark contrast to the condemnatory greeting Jesus gives His disciples when they wake him in the middle of a furious storm: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26).
Why did Jesus praise the centurion and condemn the disciples?
After all, the disciples respected Jesus’ power enough to beg him to save them.
And the disciples were experienced fishermen, so this must have been a major storm.
So what did the disciples do wrong?
They were afraid. They panicked. Like the centurion, they knew that Jesus could deliver them, but they weren’t sure he would. So they were still full of fear.
My kids’ back-to-school season kindles new fears in me as a parent.
After the more relaxing pace of summer, I worry about the influx of school stress—ranging from trying to get out the door in the morning to navigating hours of evening homework.
I worry that my kids won’t get the teachers they want. Or that I want for them.
I am afraid that my more introverted child will withdraw into books.
I am afraid that my more extroverted child won’t hit the books enough.
I so want to have the type of faith that Jesus applauds. And I think a gospel-infused response to fear is more than repeatedly telling (or more accurately, berating) myself, “Don’t be afraid, Kara. Trust Jesus.” There has to be a healthy middle ground between denial and despair.
What can we do when we face back-to-school anxieties and fears?
1. Pay attention to them.
Don’t deny them or dwell on them, but acknowledge the fears you have as your family plunges back into the world of school lunches and rushed carpools.
2. See if you can figure out what’s underneath that fear.
What is behind the fear you have about your child, or your family’s schedule? Is it your own feelings of inadequacy, or your own struggles with loneliness?
3. Talk to others about what you’re fearing.
I often forget that I’m not alone in these fears. Most of my friends have their own fears, and even if they aren’t identical to mine, they generally stem from the same roots of shame or inadequacy. Knowing that brings me comfort.
4. Talk with Jesus about them.
Talking with a friend helps. Talking with Jesus helps more. Fears get smaller when I talk with Jesus about them.
5. Talk with Jesus with your kids.
When any of my kids share their concerns about their teacher, homework, or friendships, I try to talk to Jesus aloud right then and there. We pray that God would guide them to the right friends at lunch. We ask God to put them in the classes where they can best be salt and light.
What else do you do to faithfully handle your back-to-school worries and fears, and help your kids do the same?
It’s not hard to find people talking about the challenge of motivating children, especially boys. It’s also not hard to find articles and opinions that decry parenting, education, social media, gaming, women’s rights, and a host of other factors. One expert in education quipped that, given current trends, 2068 will be the last year a U.S. male will graduate from college.
In his book, Boys Adrift, Psychologist Dr. Leonard Sax writes that “A third of men ages 22-34 are still living at home with their parents—about a 100 percent increase in the past 20 years.” They’re at home playing video games, Sax writes. These “grown” boys are motivated by the imaginary challenges of online gaming, but they have grown indifferent to the real world. The problems seem to be obvious, but what about the solutions? What can dads do to get boys back on track? Here are 5 ideas for motivating boys.
1. Treat boys like boys.
“Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools,” observed Psychologist Michael Thompson. “Boys are treated like defective girls.” We’ve got to stop playing it that way. Boys have unique strengths. Why not play to those strengths rather than constantly try to make boys into something they’re not?
2. Bring back recess.
Recess is being pulled out of schools. We can’t change that. However, you can have recess with your son after school. If your son doesn’t want to play competitive sports after school, take up a physical hobby together – fish, run, throw a football/baseball, lift weights, play golf, etc. More than one researcher points out the foundational biological need that boys have to express themselves physically, to engage in play, and to periodically disengage from the structured learning environment. “Although boys are more active, only a small percentage engages in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day,” said Lorraine Robbins, assistant professor of nursing at Michigan State University.
3. Make sure they’re thirsty.
Someone who is never thirsty is never motivated to look for water. So, we need to dismantle the “entitlement” economy so many parents have established and make sure your child is required to earn access to what he wants by accomplishing real goals. “Learned helplessness” has to be taught. Set deadlines. Impose structure. A Dad’s job is that of coach, not quarterback.
Encouragement is the key to motivation. Take the training wheels off, give the bike a helpful shove, even run alongside if necessary. Let go, but hang around to encourage. This means compliment real achievement, teach problem-solving skills, and then step back. Allow kids to achieve something worthwhile so your compliments actually mean something.
5. Take the goodies out of his room.
James Lehman, MSW, contends that boys should be required to venture out of their rooms and engage in life. No computer in the bedroom, no television, no video-gaming system, and certainly no smartphone if he’s not performing. He’s a boy, so he needs to be hunting and gathering in every aspect of his life.
** The following article was copied from theparentcue.org.
I’m a 90’s kid. That means I have fond memories of gathering around the TV watching T.G.I.F. with my family, I could slay Bop-It like my life depended on it, and I owned several “Now That’s What I Call Music….” er,r I mean, “WOW Hits.” It also means I lived in the era when the Internet boomed in the homes of everyday people.
I remember the first time I was granted access to the internet in my own home. I had heard the rumors of this mystical land that lived inside Internet Explorer. It was the world where you could ask a butler named Jeeves any question, where the evilest thing you could find was pop-up ads, and receive the rush of chemicals to your head as you typed your heart out in AOL Instant Messaging (AIM).
This was my version of Social Media. Two hours a day, with only a handful of friends who also had internet access, and an insufficient number of web pages. It was an experience.
This is not your child’s version of social media.
Your child’s social media isn’t an experience. It’s a lifestyle.
Let’s get one thing straight: Your children are not growing up like you or me.
Now, before you channel Ron Swanson and run to your child’s room to destroy every piece of technology they own, we have to understand HOW social media is shaping them.
Social Media is shaping the way your children are reacting, responding, and reminiscing. They not only see the way you handle circumstances, they have access to entirely different worldviews and experiences. They are arriving at their conclusions on how the world operates by more than just your voice.
Social media is a measure of their worth. How many likes did they receive on that Instagram post? Did they get over 200 views on their Snapchat story? How many retweets did they get? Their validation is now a numerical number instead of the truth of who God has made them to be.
Social media is THE place where they connect with others. Forget about grabbing someone’s digits, what’s their handle? This is where they meet strangers and friends. This is the environment where they experience bullying, criticize others, and/or affirm each other.
This is also the place where they gather news and get passionate about causes they believe in. It’s also the place where they will find romantic partners.
This is the world we live in now.
I know as a parent this can feel a little overwhelming. What are you supposed to do? You can’t stop the way the world is evolving with technology. The only real thing that YOU can do as a parent is to set the example. Show your children what a healthy balance of consumption looks like. When your kids remember their childhood make sure they remember your face not the back of your phone. Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ed.D., advises, “ Don’t walk in the door after work, say ‘hi’ quickly, and then ‘just check your email.’ In the morning, get up a half hour earlier than your kids and check your email then. Give them your full attention until they’re out the door. And neither of you should be using phones in the car to or from school because that’s an important time to talk.”
- If your child is on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., be their friend and monitor their activity.
- Establish “no tech zones.” Make sure everyone (EVEN YOU) understands the rule and has no technology around the No Tech Zone.
- Find other interests other than the digital world. Do they like sports? Get them on a team. Do they like music? Get lessons going.
- Schedule times of adventure that require everyone to unplug. Go on hikes, canoe the lake, run the trail.
- Gather as a family and read the promises of who God created us to be. Teach where real value comes from with verses like Isaiah 40:31, Isaiah 41:10, Deuteronomy 3:18, John 8:36, Psalm 34:17.
Navigating parenting in our world is like the wild west. We don’t have all the perfect answers and how-to’s, and that’s ok. When your child puts up a fight with these rules, because they will, rest in the knowledge that you’re preparing them for success in their future. Your children are regularly receiving both affirmation and criticism from the outside world, be intentional on affirming and loving your children in a more personal and meaningful way on a daily basis. Hug them. Love them. Listen to them.
Click here and go to Episode 54 and listen to the Ted Cunningham interview.