EVENT RECAP – Parenting – It Might Be Less Than You Think with the Ashcrafts

Being Intentional as Parents

By Mike & Julie Ashcraft
With Madison Ashcraft Goslee & Michaela Ashcraft

It’s not about being a perfect parent!

Encounter.  Formation.  Expression.

The culture of the home is an incubator of character. The culture is what actually happens in your home. Ask your kids what your home’s culture is. Ask, listen and then start talking. Kids are made to be great. They need to know that you care about them. What are we doing to foster this?

 How did you see us integrate faith into our household?

            Michaela- I saw what you did in our home to cultivate your faith, and I learned how to have a relationship with Jesus.

            Madison – We behaved as normal teenagers, we weren’t “churchy”.  You simply modeled love in your relationship with me, and told me God loves me even more than you do.

A Pressure Free Home – a place to grow and feel safe

Our home is not perfect, but we strive to make it a place of immense enjoyment, safety and connection. One key component to creating a thriving culture in your home is to reduce pressure on your kids.

 

 Being a pastor’s kid, how have you dealt with pressure?

            Madison – You created for us a pressure free home. We were told that whatever the world sees in us doesn’t matter, only what God sees in us.

            Michaela – We didn’t have pressure to be anything that we weren’t created to be.

Being a Grace Filled Home

We resolve conflict by offering grace to each other. Talk through what happened and don’t wait to apologize.  Julie reminds us that the last thing a child hears when they walk out the door, they will remember. So meet kids where they are AND in that moment. We even restart and reset our day if necessary. We have the security in our home to be mad and then retry again  – the day is not ruined. Whatever is going on, just remember – it is just a season, it’s going to change

Words of wisdom from Julie

  1. Always iron your clothes
  2. Choose to wake up in a good mood
  3. Always celebrate, there’s always a reason for a party
  4. Love each other

Love Your Kids Uniquely

There is six years difference between our girls. They are unique and we have realized our parenting needs to be unique too.

Tell us about the driving contract.

            Madison – When I turned 16 I had to sign a two page legal-like contract. I felt like they didn’t trust me.  But we talked about how I felt, and then went over each item.  I could express my feelings and they showed me why they care.

            Michaela – I didn’t have a driving contract J But, we do talk about my driving privileges and I know that you always want me to be safe and what is best for me.  And we can compromise and work it out.

 

Boys & Other Things

We tell them it isn’t a right to privacy, we will respect your privacy. We have rules and one of those rules is the girls cell phones are ours too. We check their phones often and anything on their phones we will look at. We also had the rule that they could not date until they were 16.

How did you feel about these rules?

            Madison – I wasn’t happy about them, but I was okay with them.  I didn’t feel like I had anything to hide because you were always available and willing to talk. I could come to you about anything because you had created a safe environment and we trusted you. If it was on my phone, you knew about it already.  And as far as dating, you                               were always willing to sit down and talk about the rules and expectations so we came to a level of trust.

            Michaela – We could always talk about the rules. I felt heard, and always listened to. We had conversations about dating and what dating would look like, so I had understood all our expectations. 

Don’t Freak Out, Find Out

Awkward conversations… you have to have them! They are weird and imperative. Kids want a place to process, so give them that space. Another key component to creating a thriving culture in your home is to ask your kids questions and talk with them. We want to preserve their innocence. If we don’t do this, no one else will.

Know each other

You have to get to know your kids, and they have to get to know you.  Make sure the expression on your face matches theirs. If they are excited about something, join with their excitement. If they are hurting, join with their hurting. Don’t confuse vision (the hope of what could be) with expectation (what is required).  We tell them to do your best verses be the best. And make sure they are contributing to the family and they understand what their contribution means.

Everybody wants strategies to make kids behave the way we want them to behave – this is foolish.  What we need in our homes is a culture to thrive!

 

Potential Sermon Series to Review:

  1. Hot Heads
  2. Freak Out
  3. Parents Just Don’t Understand

 

 

 

 

 

6 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Christmas

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

“Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem.” – Linus

How many of us have felt like Charlie Brown about Christmas? Creator Charles Schultz was onto something long before it became the reality it is today. The birth of Jesus has become more about greed, consumerism, and a jolly fat man in red. Charlie’s sister, Sally, sums it up pretty nicely when she demands, “All I want is what I have coming to me…all I want is my fair share!” Christmas has turned into an entitlement.

The birth of Jesus represents the hope of mankind. “Born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord,” the Angel of the Lord proclaimed. This purpose of this article is not to say it is wrong to celebrate Christmas in the cultural way we do, but don’t miss the true meaning. To help with how to go about doing that, here are 6 meaningful ways to celebrate Christmas:

1. Advent Countdown

Ordinarily, we may give our children a small gift in the 24 days of December leading up to Christmas Day or perhaps small candies. You may want to craft an advent countdown of scripture verses that explain to the kids who Christ is and what he represents such as John 3:16. However, a little candy will probably go over well too.

2. Christ in the Center of the Family

The birth of Christ is our pathway to unification with the Creator. Without him, we are separated from God. This Christmas season begin the process of putting Christ in the center of your family or work to strengthen that reality. One way to do this is to hold a family bible discussion each day during the season. Pick a part of the Christmas story and create a dialogue with your children.  You may want to read to them about the journey of Joseph and Mary on the way to Bethlehem. Discuss how our own lives parallel that rocky and dangerous trek but, with the protection and  blessing of God in our lives, we will successfully fulfill our purpose.

3. Service Based on Scripture

In his words and actions, Jesus stressed over and over the importance of the body to serve. John 13:12-14 – “When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Go serve people.

4. Silent Worship at the Altar

Before the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve service hits your church, ask for permission. Perhaps create a special night for a silent altar worship during the week before Christmas Day. Take with you a single candle to light, and kneel before God in prayer and humbleness. Give each member of your family their own candle and keep it completely silent.

5. Reconcile our Relationships

God came to us in human form to reconcile our relationship with him. His birth, death, and resurrection represent this reconciliation in the person of Jesus Christ. Consider doing the same in your own relationships this Christmas season. Reconcile with and forgive those that have hurt you and, for those that you have hurt, seek forgiveness by sincere apology. Nothing could be more Christ-like at Christmas.

6. Family Prayer

This is the easiest and most purposeful way to celebrate Christmas this year. Lead your family in prayer every night and end with the Lord’s Prayer as we were taught to do by Christ. Have your children recite it with you until they know it. Merry Christmas!

© 2014 All Pro Dad. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

Christmas and the G-Word

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

Hi. My name is Carey, and I’m greedy. (This is the point where you all say, “Hi Carey.”)

Gosh, I hate to say it. I mean no one goes around and says they’re greedy, right? We might think otherpeople are greedy (it’s just so easy to spot the sins of others, even from a distance), but it’s so difficult to see in ourselves.

But read this definition of greedy and tell me if at least a piece of it doesn’t own you—or your kids.

Greed is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.

What makes this time of year difficult for greedy people is that we’re going to add to the pile of what we have that we arguably don’t need. There are things I want that I don’t need. And most of us are actually going to receive things that not only do we not need, but we do not want. In the incredibly affluent culture of North America, the problem of greed runs deep.

There’s a fine line we tread as parents in helping our kids celebrate Christmas. I still remember the almost delirious excitement I had as a child in being able to open gifts at Christmas. Let’s face it, what kid doesn’t love to get gifts at Christmas?

So, how do you make sure, as a parent, that you don’t inadvertently fuel greed in your family this Christmas?

I suppose there are a few options:

  • Don’t give presents.
  • Hand out coal.
  • Read from Deuteronomy and pretend its February.

But those are almost certain recipes to kill some of the joy that comes with Christmas.

In my experience, the very best antidote to greed I’ve discovered is generosity. The more I give, the deeper I cut into the greed that lives inside of me.

The more I am willing to take giving to a sacrificial level (to the point where we are not doing things as a family because we are giving income away), the more I am reminded that this life is not about me or about my wants and desire. By far, generous giving is the best antidote to the greed that lives inside of me.

As Christmas approaches, ask yourself this question: what am I doing to stifle greed in my family this Christmas? Maybe you could:

  • Sponsor a family in need.
  • Serve in a local mission over the holidays.
  • Talk to your kids about how you as a family have decided to give first, save second, and live on the rest.
  • Make sure giving is part of your full year—your weekly practice—rather than just a seasonal pursuit.
  • Work with your kids to incorporate giving as part of their regular rhythm.

All I know is this: I’m greedy. And the best way I know to tackle that in my life is to give away a noticeable portion of the things that God has given me.

What helps you wrestle down greed in your life and in your family?

What Your Preschooler Needs for Christmas

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

My “baby” is now 20-years-old. I consider myself to be a fairly good gift-giver, but his 20th birthday had me stumped. He is living in an apartment at college, semi-independent, cooking his own food and cleaning his own bathroom. He doesn’t need “things” from me, and he is hesitant to ask us to spend money on him because, well, college is expensive.

So, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. (A question I rarely ask anyone because it takes away the surprise element.) I should not have been surprised when he said, “Mom, just plan something for all of us to do together. You always plan the best adventures.” And, that’s what I did.

Because, that’s what we almost always do in our family to celebrate birthdays, accomplishments, each other. We started doing that at the beginning of our family life because we had little, or no money, for gifts. Then, it became a tradition, and we continue to give the gift of our presence—rather than presents—to each other.

This is not intended to send the message that there should be absolutely no gifts. It is intended to suggest that we can give some thought and consideration to the gifts we choose. Think about how the gift might lead to more time together with your child? One of our son’s favorite gifts at Christmas when he was three-years-old was a toolbox, tools, and a hard hat. We also had a stack of wood and sandpaper ready so we could start working on project together that very day.

Another family tradition every year at Christmas is to open a new, old-fashioned (no electronics) board game that we always reserve time to play together on Christmas Day. If you choose to do the start this tradition with your preschooler, it may mean you will have to review the rules of Candy Land or “let” your four-year-old win sometimes.

What does your preschooler really NEED this Christmas? Besides that loud and annoying toy you mother-in-law couldn’t resist? Time, time,and more time. The gift of your presence is priceless. It will create the kind of family memories and traditions that will last for years to come.

Three Ways to Make Sure You Don’t Miss Christmas

** The following was copied from theparentcue.org.

Christmas is about 7 minutes long when you have kids.

One minute it’s Thanksgiving and the next you’re putting away your ornaments.

Nothing moves as fast as the holidays and it’s no wonder that so many people find this time of year stressful. How do you make sure you make the most of your Christmas?

Here are three simple ways.

1. DO ONE LESS THING

I’m terrible at being still. On Saturdays, I often ask my wife, “What are we doing today?” She’ll look up from a book or knitting and say, “This, this is what we’re doing. The kids are playing. You’ve built a fire. This is enough.” Maybe you over stuff your calendar like me, especially during Christmas. Well this year, do one less thing. Don’t try to fit it all in. Look at your list of activities and remove one. Leave some room around the edges of your calendar and give the rest of what you’ll do some breathing room.

2. PUT THE PHONE DOWN

Your phone isn’t just a phone, it’s also an escape pod. Whenever you want, it offers you the chance to mentally disappear from a moment. Part of the reason we miss the holidays is that we’re stuck on our devices. This year, be deliberate about taking a break. Leave it in a drawer. Put it back in your bedroom during a dinner party. Throw it in the glove compartment when you drive to grandma’s house. Something that small can make a big difference.

3. START A NEW TRADITION

Sometimes, we speed through the holidays because we don’t have any traditions. A good tradition is like a speed bump. It slows you down and reminds you of years gone by. It pauses you and quiets the moment. It doesn’t have to be massive. One of ours is that we let our kids get up early on Christmas morning, but they have to wait at the top of the stairs before they come down. They think it’s torture but also secretly love the anticipation. That’s our tradition. What new one can you start?

 It will be January before you know it. The new year will be here and you’ll have a million things to do. Until then though, slow down. Laugh more. Take a deep breath. Relax a little bit.

God didn’t give us Christmas to make us crazy.

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!

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.”

 

 

Parent Network Podcast – Launch

Listen to our initial podcast where we describe the Parent Network and let you know what you can expect.

 

Subscribe to the Parent Network Podcast on iTunes.