The Secret of Superman

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

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Superman. Seriously! I still remember the day my parents handed me a box from Sears and Roebuck that contained a red cape, blue tights with a red-and-yellow “S” shield on the chest. When I put it on, something magical happened. It transformed me from a shy six-year-old to a super hero with unique powers.

I was more powerful than my dad’s parked car.

I could leap tall fences with a single bound.

I was faster than our speeding fox terrier.

Looking back, I am absolutely positive that I could jump higher, run faster, and do more whenever I put on that suit. That was the year I got in trouble with my mom for running across the roof of our house in my red cape and underwear. It was just one of those days when I had to get suited up fast, so I left the tights off and just went with the cape. And don’t ask me how I got up on the roof. You should know. I flew, of course. At least that’s what I remember.

I don’t actually recall when I stopped believing in Superman, but his story did convince me of something that is true.

Good will ultimately win over evil.

It’s ironic that the story of Superman was created in 1938 by two high school students in Cleveland Ohio. Superman literally showed up in the nick of time. It just happened to be the same year, Hitler appointed himself as the supreme commander of the armed forces of Germany and set the stage for the most horrific war the world would ever know.

It’s intriguing that while nations were drawn into a world war that would threaten their existence, a fictional story of a superhero would entertain the imagination of a generation to suggest that good will somehow always prevail. I guess you should just never underestimate the power of a good story.

The point is the stories you tell to your kids every week really matter.

Why do you think…
Frodo in Lord of the Rings
Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia
and a boy named Harry have such an appeal to the imagination of kids?

Because they echo an aspect of an ancient narrative that God put into motion at the beginning of time.

They remind us of…
the struggle between good and evil.
the existence of a supernatural and miraculous power.
the potential to be personally restored and transformed.

The right story can inspire.
The right story can incite faith.
The right story can give hope.

If you want to change the way kids and teenagers see this world, then make sure you give them stories over time.

That’s why we like to tell parents that stories over time = perspective.

Everybody loves a good story.
You latch on to someone who is going against the odds.
You identify with their struggle to push through.

Stories are powerful. Especially when they reflect God’s story.

So do whatever you can to amplify the best stories around you.

Read them.
Watch them.
Tell them.
Create them.
Write them.
Illustrate them.
Video them.
Live them.
Collect them.

They can make life fuller, faith deeper, hope stronger.

So, what if I was never able to fly? There’s a secret I’ll always know because of Superman.

Good wins in the end.

6 Short Sentences Your Child Needs to Hear You Say

**This article was copied from allprodad.com

6 Short Sentences Your Child Needs to Hear You Say

In raising our five children, Susan and I have tried to consistently convey to each of them these 6 short sentences. We’ve done it with our words and our actions. And, as I write this post, I’m realizing I need to say these things even more because they can’t be said enough.

Saying these six short sentences will give your child a strong sense of security, identity, belonging, and value.

1. “I’m here for you.”

Being available for your child is incredibly important. They may not need you when you tell them this, but they’ll remember you promised to be available to them when they need you the most. This sentence is more than just giving them permission to find you when the going gets rough…it’s an invitation to them. It tells them, “I will do whatever I can to help you whenever you need me.”

2. “I’m proud of you.”

Some middle-aged men I’ve talked to have never heard, or have waited years to hear, their dad say “I’m proud of you.”  And many of them thought if they just performed better, if they just made it big in sports, or if they just had a thriving money-making career, their dad just might notice. Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t make your kids wait. Tell them today.

3. “I believe in you.”

Remember back to your teen and early adult years?  How confident were you in yourself? And how confident are you today in yourself? Self-doubt and second-guessing come with the territory of being human. And you can be a great source of support to your child through these struggles. Your child needs to know that somebody somewhere in this world believes in them and their immeasurable value.

4. “I want the best for you.”

This sentence has a couple of benefits. First, it tells your child that you have a purpose behind your parenting. They may not understand how you see “what’s best” and they may not even agree with you, but they will hopefully start to appreciate it over time as they see you working hard to do what’s in their best interests. I have often said to each of my kids, “I’m doing this or saying this because I always have your best interests at heart.” And they know they can always trust me. Second, it puts you in their corner. Again, they may not always see how your ideas, your standards, or your consequences are really for their benefit, but giving them this regular reminder at least assures them, in the depths of their heart, that you are for them, not against them.

5. “I will stand with you.”

I saw a video recently of a dad dancing with his daughter at a talent show. The girl had a severe and rare disorder that keeps her from having almost any muscle tone, control, or physical abilities of her own. But as her dad picked her up out of her chair and danced around the stage, her nearly inexpressive face suddenly blossomed with a huge smile. This girl knows that her dad is willing to risk embarrassment, harassment, or scorn from any person in order to be counted with her. This sentence tells your child that you are willing to be identified with them even when they’ve made a mistake or have to do hard things.

6. “I love you.”

This is, quite simply, a sentence that cannot be said too many times. Big family moment?  “I love you.” Quiet and quick goodnight? “I love you.” Dropping them off at school or a job? “I love you.” Just for no particular reason at all in the middle of the day? “I love you.”

6 Things All First-Time Parents Should Know

** This article was copied from crosswalk.com

6 Things All First-Time Parents Should Know

In my morning radio program “Phone Call from the Pastor” (Lifesongs 89.1 New Orleans), I told this:

This is a message to a young mother of two boys I saw at McDonald’s on Airline Highway yesterday. Your boys are perhaps 2 and 3-1/2. You say they were born 18 months apart. “They’re killing you,” I told you facetiously. “I hope you survive until they’re grown.” But what I thought was, “I hope they survive.”

Their behavior is suicidal. They are well on their way to becoming society’s worst nightmare. They are out of control.

You kept giving orders to the older one–sit down, be quiet, turn around, eat your lunch–and he kept ignoring and defying you. There was fire in the little guy’s eyes. He really did look like a miniature devil.

My heart went out to you. My wife and I raised two little boys who were three years apart. I know they can be very trying, especially on Mom. So, what I’m about to suggest to you comes from some experience with this subject.

You have maybe one or two years to turn those boys around. I know they’re young but don’t be fooled. The character you build in them now is what they will live with the rest of their lives.

So, at the risk of seeming presumptuous, I have six suggestions on how to head off those boys before they self-destruct…

1. Turn off the television.

2. Take them to the park. A big park is best so they can work off all that energy.

3. Read to them.

4. You and Dad need to stand together on the matter of discipline. If you don’t, it’s all over.

5. Never repeat yourself to a child. Tell him once. When he ignores you, pick him up and take him off to one side or in another room and lower the boom. Don’t hurt him. Just be plain spoken. Act promptly. And never make a threat you do not intend to act on.

6. Get your family in a church that loves children. You need help, a support team. You cannot raise these kids alone. You need God’s help and the strength of a family of believers.

I’m praying for you, young mother. God bless you and God help you.

Twenty year hindsight…

There’s nothing in that six-fold counsel I would change. The radio program was for only two minutes, although I frequently fudged. Still, as brief as it is, the advice is sound.

Her boys would be men now, in their early 20s. I wonder how they’re doing, what they have become, what they are on their way to becoming in life.

Should I have said something like this to that young mother? Would she have received it?

You never know. Perhaps I should. But I didn’t.

I do not believe the character of a child is permanently fixed as a toddler, even if I implied otherwise. But so much of who they are is well established by the time they are five. My wife and I adopted a five-year-old daughter, so we also know this, and could tell you story after story.

Even if your child is an adult now, don’t give up, friend. Pray and love them, and seek God’s wisdom. If you do not believe in the power of prayer, you will throw up your hands in despair. Pray or despair. Those are your choices, I fear.

I suppose I would temper one piece of the counsel I gave in 1997. It’s not enough to find a church that loves children. I’ve seen churches reach hundreds of kids, then do little more than entertain them, and they failed the adults miserably. The parents should seek God’s wisdom about a Bible-centered, Bible-teaching church where Christ is honored, where people are told how to be saved and how to live for Jesus, and that loves children, protects them and instructs them.

God bless all young parents. Yours is the most important work on the planet.

And may God bless all the older parents whose children have strayed, have not been faithful to their upbringing, and are living out the story of the prodigal (Luke 15).

And one more. May God bless the older parents who came to Christ late and see how they failed their children, and who fear now it’s too late to help them. God help these hurting parents and show them what to do now.

Let all of us be intercessors for our children. It’s a scary world out there. They should not be sent out to face it alone and unprepared.

Talking to Your Kids About God

** This article was taken form AllProDad.com

Picture yourself hustling in the mall to get some Christmas shopping done.  You’re hungry, tired, scrambling – and your kids are with you.  They want lunch in the food court.  You just want to get done and home as soon as possible.  While you’re holding up a necklace, wondering if your wife will like it, one of your kids asks a question out of the clear blue sky:

“Dad, what does God have to do with Christmas?”

“Wha… um… what did you say?”

“What does God have to do with Christmas?  I heard somebody say, ‘He’s the reason for the season.’  I don’t get it.”

“Uh, can this wait for your mom?”

“I heard somebody say that he was born in a manger, but I didn’t think God was born.  And if he wasn’t born, where did he come from?  And if he’s a baby in a manger, then how can he be everywhere because isn’t God everywhere?”

Are you ready for one of life’s big questions right in the middle of a shopping mall?  Want a couple of suggestions, just in case you don’t have all the answers?  Here are some things to know when you talk about God with your kids.

1. Don’t panic.

It’s OK not to know everything.  The last thing you want to do is make stuff up.  Talking about God is a serious conversation, and if you don’t have the answers at the tip of your tongue, say so.   “What a great question, kiddo.  I don’t know the answer to that.  But we should go figure it out.”

2. Know where you can find some answers.

The Bible records Jesus’ birth and the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2. This chapter can help provide some basic answers to “what” “when” and “how” kinds of questions your kids might be asking.

3. You don’t need to answer what they’re not asking.

For any dad, talking about God or what He is like or questions of faith can make you feel out of your depth.  You know it’s important, so you want to give a great answer.  However, you might have to fight the temptation to over-answer.  Maybe a simple answer might suffice.   For example, if your kid is asking what God has to do with Christmas, instead of talking about the history of Christianity or giving a short comparative religion course, you might simply say, “Christmas celebrates how God sent Jesus to live on earth.  That’s a big deal.”  Then you can see where the conversation goes.  Or maybe that will satisfy their question for the moment.  You don’t have to fit everything that ever needed saying into one conversation.

4. Make space for the conversation.

Maybe the mall isn’t the right place for the conversation.  Maybe you really do have to get home soon.  If you can’t give an answer to the question right then, do honor their curiosity and tell them when you’re going pursue the conversation with them.  For example, “Great question, kiddo.  I’d love to talk about that with you, but that’s a conversation for sitting down at home, not running around shopping.  How about if we talk about this when everybody is together tonight at dinner?”  Make sure you follow up at dinner!

5. Be a learner alongside your kids.

Maybe even follow the cues of their curiosity. [Tweet This]  One of the interesting features of the Bible’s story is that it teaches that we are supposed to come with faith like a child.  Ever notice how concerned adults are with their image and reputation?  We try to be so sophisticated.  Kids aren’t that way.  They ask open-hearted questions and enjoy mystery and wonder.  If you find yourself struggling to answer your kids’ questions about God at Christmastime, follow their example in being child-like as you find answers.  It’s an incredible story.  One that can change your whole life.

Here’s one video that explains what God has to do with Christmas.

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This article was copied from www.allprodad.com

7 Notes You Should Write to Your Children

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has shared with me about how he wrote many letters to his daughter in college, but she never said anything to him about it when they spoke on the phone or when they saw each other. He wondered if she ever even read them. One day when Jim was visiting her in her dorm room, he saw all of the letters he had written to her opened and proudly posted on her bulletin board!

Your children may not express their enthusiasm about your notes or even acknowledge getting them, but know that writing notes to them will impact their lives and always be remembered. Over the years, I’ve made it a practice to write notes to each of my children. I’d like to share the kinds of notes I’ve written and then show you how you can write those notes to your children as well. If you don’t feel like you’re the writing type or don’t know what to say, I’m going to try to give you some ideas and specific things you can say in your notes. Some of these notes you’ll write one time; others will be notes you’ll want to write on an ongoing basis when you can.

Here are the 7 notes you should write to your children:

1. Love note.

This is a note where you express your unconditional love to your children for who they are and validate their wonderful gifts. You can read what I wrote to my children in my How to Win Your Child’s Heart blog post.

2. Lunch box note.

Another way to uplift our children is to slip them a note in their lunchbox. My wife, Susan, and I found that just simply letting them know we’re thinking of them will encourage them through the day. Not sure of what to write? How about, “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “Have a great day,” or “Hope your test goes well.” You can even surprise them with a “Let’s go for ice cream after school” note. I’ve got some free, downloadable lunchbox notes for kids and teens you can use to get started.

3. Post-It note.

You can write little notes to your kids on yellow sticky notes and put them on their mirror, dresser, notebook or anywhere you want. Like lunchbox notes, these post-its are just quick words of encouragement to your kids. You might just say something like, “Way to go. An A in math! Awesome!” or “That was so nice that you encouraged your brother when he was down.” You can check out my How to Love your Family with Sticky Notes blog to see how we do it in our home.

4. Pillow Talk note.

As our children were growing up, Susan began to feel as if all communication with them was becoming instructional or disciplinary. So one time, she grabbed a spiral notebook, wrote a note to one of our daughters praising her for a nice thing she did for her sister and put it on her pillow. To my wife’s surprise, my daughter wrote back and placed the journal on her pillow. As a result, Susan developed the Pillow Talk journal so parents, like you, can write short notes of encouragement to their kids when they desire.

5. Forgiveness note.

Every parent makes mistakes in child-rearing. And every parent should ask their child to forgive them for those mistakes.  Sometimes a verbal, “I was wrong, would you please forgive me?” is appropriate. Other times, a written letter to your child is the way to go. Write to Right a Wrong.

6. Blessing note.

There is something inside every child that makes that child crave a good word from his or her parents. [Tweet This] When we bless our child, we are placing our “seal of approval” upon them and giving them power to prosper in many areas of life, including marriage, children, finances, health, and career. In addition to writing a note of blessing, you can also have a blessing ceremony.

7. College and career note.

Another thing I’ve done for my children is to memorialize, in writing, the most important things I tried to instill in them as they were growing up. Three of our five children are now in college or working.  Before they left our nest, there were four things that Susan and I taught them and always want them to remember. Here are the four things I penned to each of them.

Nine Things Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

Nine Things Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

Phase Maps – “It’s Just a Phase”

At our last Parent Network event Kristen Ivey shared with us a few “Phase Maps” that will help us as parents navigate our kids through a few key areas of life.  Click below to download the maps for Authentic Faith, Sexual Integrity and Technological Responsibility.

Authentic Faith Phase Map

Sexual Integrity Phase Map

Technological Responsibility Phase Map