5 Ways to Motivate Boys

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.

4. Encourage.

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.

Keep Showing Up – It Matters!

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

When you first have a baby, there are many questions you start to wonder about parenting, like . . . what have I gotten myself into?! You may also begin to wonder as you wipe the spit-up off your shirt . . . Am I doing anything that really matters?

Perhaps you secretly set a few goals for yourself for the day. Maybe you hoped to do any of the following:

  • Shower
  • Write a bestselling book
  • Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Learn Chinese
  • Run a half marathon
  • Cook a 7-course dinner

This is actually what you were able to accomplish instead: Kept three tiny humans alive, clothed, fed, changed, rested, and entertained.

Parenting is not the flashiest of gigs. It’s made up of hundreds of small, repetitive tasks. Nobody claps when you change nine newborn diapers a day or you finally convince your little one to try the baby peas. Surprisingly, there are no awards for the stamina it takes to hold a baby and make dinner one-handed. But it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve one.

So many hours of our time as parents are filled with mundane tasks that do not seem extraordinary or remarkable in any way. The list feels endless. So at some point, you may wonder, did I do anything that really matters this week? Yes, you did. You showed up. Sometimes being dependable is more important than doing something remarkable.

When you are consistently present, you are answering your baby’s most heart-felt need. You are communicating to them that they are safe, and you are setting a foundation for their future security and success. Even though no one will throw you a party to celebrate your efforts, the attention you give your baby now and in the weeks to come is making a difference. Believe it!

How Social Media is Molding Your Child

** 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.

With the development of the cell phone and the plethora of other internet connected devices, social media has become so integral in the lives our children (and us) that it’s reshaping the culture of childhood.

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.”


  1. If your child is on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., be their friend and monitor their activity.
  2. Establish “no tech zones.” Make sure everyone (EVEN YOU) understands the rule and has no technology around the No Tech Zone.
  3. Find other interests other than the digital world. Do they like sports? Get them on a team. Do they like music? Get lessons going.
  4. Schedule times of adventure that require everyone to unplug. Go on hikes, canoe the lake, run the trail.
  5. 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.

A Parent’s Guide to Making the Jump (from Middle School to High School)


A Parent’s Guide to Making the Jump (from Middle School to High School)

Celebrate the Accomplishment!

Your 8th grader is coming out of one of the biggest and most important phases of his or her life. Over the last few years they have moved from being a kid to being a teen, and that’s a big deal!  They have been in a phase where they have been developing their identities, and they NEED your affirmation. Take some time in the next few weeks to really celebrate them and let them know that you are proud of them. They may not seem like they need this from you, but they do! They’re still growing and  learning about who they are and who they want to be.  As a parent, you have a big part to play in it all. Make their favorite dinner, take them to their favorite restaurant, invite some family and/or friends … just make a big deal out of them surviving middle school.

This Summer

This summer your rising 9th grader is invited to join us for our Student Ministry Summer Nights (SMSN). On these nights we’ll spend time together building community, studying the Bible and just plain having fun. Grab an SMSN flyer and put the dates on the calendar!


If your teen hasn’t signed up for our summer camp yet, you should make that happen! FUSE is the biggest and best event we do all year long, and it’s amazing opportunity for your rising 9th grader to get connected in several ways. They’ll have a chance to meet some new leaders, hang out with other students who are making the jump into high school, and take more steps towards owning their faith.


Next Fall

Your child will be moving from Tsunami into our high school ministry called Ripple Effect.. Just as the life of a high schooler is different than that of a middle schooler, Ripple Effect is different than Tsunami.  We often find that students coming to Ripple Effect are looking to have the same experience they had in Tsunami and the reality is that it’s just different. Middle school students in Tsunami are wild and crazy and like to jump around.  High school students in Ripple Effect are more “chill” and like to hang out. Tsunami is on Wednesday nights, and Ripple Effect is on Sunday nights. Instead of meeting each week at church, Ripple Effect has monthly big events at church and have REgroups in homes most Sundays. These “community groups” are organized by grade and area of town and are well suited to the high school culture. You’ll get more info on REgroups as we approach the fall. It all starts on Sunday, September 10th at 6:30 pm.

Lead … Spiritually!

As your teen moves into the next phase of his or her faith, don’t underestimate the influence you still have. Your child is not only listening to what you say about God but now, more than ever, they are watching how you live. In short, be the adult you want your child to become. Show them an example of what it means for an adult to follow Jesus in every area of life. Talk about your own faith and share with them about the grace of God in your life. Love them unconditionally and make your walk with God a normal part of everyday life.  If you do, they just might.

“Train up a child in the way he should go:

and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

Print out a copy of the brochure:  8th-to-9th-transition-brochure-final-pdf

How To Help Our Kids Embrace Responsibility

Click here and go to Episode 54 and listen to the Ted Cunningham interview.


How To Avoid Raising Co-Dependent Kids

The following article was copied form allpordad.com.

Shielding kids from consequences can have long-term consequences for parents. Take, for instance, my friend’s brother Bill. It started small when Bill was in first grade. Mom would do his chores so Bill wouldn’t get in trouble with Dad. Quickly, it moved to homework cover-ups and graduated to Mom covering when he skipped school; Dad lying to the police when he wrecked a car he didn’t have permission to drive, and increasingly large financial defaults. By the time Mom and Dad let Bill move back home after failing college (no questions asked), he felt entitled to every bailout that came his way. The bailouts just kept getting bigger, including $50,000 in a failed real estate venture.

We’re all concerned about keeping our kids safe and happy. But we raise our children to fly, not flop around the nest as the product of enabling parents. One day, we’re going to have to let go and, when we do, it’s a good idea to make sure they’re equipped and ready. If you want to avoid raising codependent kids, follow these 5 things early and often.

1. Expect more of them:

We all tend to rise to the level of expectation. A two-year-old can learn to pick up toys. A three-year-old can help to set the table. A four-year-old can take dirty clothes to the laundry room and learn how to operate the machine. The more, and the earlier, we train children to contribute, the more self-reliance will become a part of their DNA.

2. Allow (managed) natural consequences:

Typically, there is no better learning tool than to experience the consequence of behavior. A five-year-old refuses to clean up the toys in the middle of the floor? The toys visit the attic for a prescribed amount of time. A ten-year-old curses? Get a dictionary, then handwrite five acceptable words that mean the same thing, plus their complete definitions. Establish a direct line between behavior and a real world result.

3. Be consistent:

Mom and Dad need to be on the same page because learning thrives where children know what to expect. When children understand that what they do or do not do makes a consistent and measurable difference in the quality of their life, they will become more likely to accept responsibility for themselves and work to impact the outcome more favorably.

4. Be clear:

Leave no doubt as to the outcome when encouraging children to accept responsibility. Then having made ourselves clear, we need to follow through. This is why it’s important not to threaten beyond our willingness to enforce. If we say, for example, “If you do that again, I will take away your phone for a month,” but then only take it away for one day, we have created a problem.

5. Trust them:

Having made ourselves clear, we must demonstrate trust by getting out of the way. We can’t expect a child to grow if we treat them as if they are incapable of doing what we ask. When they succeed, we congratulate. If they fail, we follow through on consequences because we believe they could have done better.

The Importance of Letting Go

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

I’m writing this while sitting on a flight with my thirteen-year-old son on our way home from Uganda. Yep . . . Uganda! It’s actually an interesting story how it all happened. I had an opportunity to join a mission trip to Uganda to pilot if for our ministry. The trip was one designed for fathers and their children, and they asked if my son would join us. Right away I knew the answer for sure. Let me ask his mom.

Her initial answer was predictable. It was simply . . . “I hate you.”

Now, before you judge the quality of my marriage . . . well, just stop. I love my wife’s answer. In a way, it sums up what most of us parents feel when we are faced with an option like that for our children.

Loosely translated, “I hate you” means, “I want this for my child, but I’m scared.”

I gave her a couple of weeks to think about it, and then I brought it up again.

Her response was one of the most profound parenting insights I’ve ever heard. (Did I mention how much I love my brilliant wife?)

She said, “I don’t want my thirteen-year-old to go to Uganda. But, I want a seventeen-year-old who went to Uganda when he was thirteen.”

Drop the parenting mic!

As I think about our trip I am amazed what he experienced as a thirteen-year-old. Someday he will be a seventeen-year-old who has already . . .

worked with and learned from great Ugandan men who are working hard to combat the lack of male role models in that culture.

made friends with another Mac from across the world and had to say goodbye. . . probably for this lifetime.

bartered with some tough Ugandan ladies at the city market.

played with Muhammed, #2 Muhammed (a name he gave himself), and Osama and enjoyed it.

sat with a widowed mother of twelve in her shed and told her she was “Brave.” (She really liked that.)

walked into an orphanage and brought joy to some amazing children who needed a little more joy.

felt deeply, the privilege and the blessing of being born in the United States of America.

Here’s my point:

As parents raising Christian children we must, at some point (probably middle school), decide that we are going to begin to move from protecting our children to preparing them for this world. The older they get, the more you have to let go,  giving them experiences where they can lead, serve, and learn how to do things on their own.

The reality is you don’t even need to take a missions trip, though I would highly recommend it. There are plenty of ways to change gears and plug them into new experiences. What is something you can do this summer to push your kids out of the nest just a little, to help them experience something new or become more responsible, even if it makes you feel a little uncomfortable at first? What do you want your kid to have already experienced when they are seventeen?

Switch One Word and Change Your Family Dynamics

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

Growing up, I always knew I wanted a family of my own—the wife, the kids, the whole bit. In college, I remember having “deep” conversations with friends about how I was going to do family right. I remember thinking, I’m going to be a great husband and dad. 

Then I became a husband. I instantly found out that I wasn’t all that I had dreamed I would be. While I had my good moments, too often I had bad moments. I was much more selfish than I knew. I was confused on a regular basis. What did I say wrong? What did I do wrong?

Before we had kids I thought, Well, I may not be a perfect husband, but I’m going to knock this dad thing out of the park. Three nights in and I was pretending not to hear the baby crying in the middle of the night.

Now that I have been married for 22 years and have three teenagers, I’m not really sure about anything. Add to that all the pressure of really wanting to be a good husband and dad and I can quickly feel overwhelmed. But I have realized that a lot of the pressure I feel to be a good husband and dad doesn’t have anything to do with my wife and kids.

Let me see if I can explain, then tell me if you have ever been there. Often, I don’t want things for my wife and kids as much as I want things from my wife and kids. And there is a huge difference.

Let’s start with how we want things from our family. If our goal is to be a good spouse, then the only one who can give us The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval is our spouse. So, if we do chores around the house in order to get a “that a boy/girl” from our spouse, we are probably going to be disappointed and frustrated with our spouse. Likewise, if we parent teenagers expecting respect and appreciation from them, then we are . .  . what’s the word . . . idiots?

Now, let’s flip it. If we do chores around the house because we want something for our spouse, that’s different. We’re not doing it because we want to feel validated; we’re doing it because we want something FOR them. We want them to feel love through an act of service, to be less stressed during a busy week, to feel like they are not alone in all there is to do.

Do we want our kids to be respectful and our spouse to be grateful?  Absolutely. But what if the better way to get those things is by switching from to for? I think our home and family may be a much more peaceful place for us all to live. Why? I think it has something to do with humility, selflessness, and peace. So, let’s give this a test.

Run your latest family conflict through the grid of this question: During this conflict, was I frustrated because I wanted something from them or for them? Then tell me what happens. I’m still figuring this whole thing out. I don’t have this one mastered for sure. But as I’ve played around it for the last few months, and it works. Try it, and please let us know how it works for you.

How to Have Deeper Conversations With Kids

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

How to Have Deeper Conversations With Kids

Recently, I had some downtime in my work day and I walked by my son’s room to find him leaning on the steps of his bunk bed staring and doing nothing (I work from home and he is homeschooled). So I walked into his room and rested next to his bean bag chair. He immediately came off the steps and sat next to me. I asked him, “What’s on your mind?” What followed was a deeper conversation than I anticipated. It started light with basic topics covered — his sister’s 16th birthday party, my brother and his family who had recently visited from out of state, and some of the superhero movies we had recently watched.

Then we found ourselves talking about school concerns, to problems he and his siblings had been having, and more. As we talked I realized how important these one-on-one talks are. I need to be intentional in fostering these types of conversations regularly. Now I have scheduled times for each child to have alone time with me. It’s my way of making these types of conversations happen. Here are 4 ways to have deeper conversations with kids.

Get on their level

Our 6-year-old is the youngest and shortest in the house. One time I got on my knees and walked around a little bit. It was a completely different perspective, and that is his view all the time. He looks up to everything, making it seem like everybody is looking down on him. So, I often squat or sit down when I speak to him. It enables me to get face-to-face, to look him eye-to-eye and gets me on his level. When I do, he knows he has my attention and the conversations flow. Try getting on your kids level, physically, when talking to them.

Get comfortable in their space

As I reflect on the conversation I mentioned in our son’s bedroom I’m realizing some of our best and deepest conversations happen there. When I sit or lay down in his room, It’s like I’m in his area, where he’s most comfortable, and he opens up. The same happens with our other two kids as well. They sleep, hang out, and just spend time in their rooms. They are very comfortable there and it’s private. They can just relax, open up, and be themselves.

We have talks at the kitchen table, but that’s not just their space. Deep conversations have happened there, but I think the deepest conversations we’ve had happened when I got comfortable in their own space. I believe the same will happen with you.

Never stop talking

Small talk, deep conversations, talks about goals, about school, sports, whatever, never stop talking to them. Even when they aren’t as talkative. Keep the lines of communication open, and have as much conversation with your kids as you possibly can. The more quantity conversation you have will open the door for more quality conversations. When the communication dies in any relationship, the relationship will soon follow. Never stop talking to your kids.

Never stop listening

Make sure you are listening, intently. I’m guilty of forming an opinion before they are done speaking. Or going into problem-solving mode when they just want to express themselves to me. Your kids aren’t always looking for an answer, sometimes just an ear.  Listening to your kids will keep open the door to deeper conversations.

As dads, we want to have meaningful influence with our kids. If we have a surface-level relationship built on surface-level conversations, then our influence will be limited. Practice what I’ve mentioned above and you’ll be able to go deep with your kids.