Children, Encouragement

Our Children and Television

images-2I can still remember our first TV as a kid. It was a black and white RCA in a simple wood cabinet. It took a few minutes for the tubes to warm up before viewing. I recall shows like The Three Stooges and I Love Lucy. Bonanza was on Sunday evenings and our family knew that most likely our neighbors, chicken farmers, would show up for a “visit” just as it was about to come on. Leave It To Beaver and Dennis The Menace were full of fun and mischief. There was a talking horse, Mr. Ed. It was a time when most any show being broadcasted could be watched by any age group. There was an air of innocence, as a family, watching and laughing on the grey, itchy and uncomfortable couch. Hollywood hadn’t yet figured out how it could mold and shape the minds of America with its rolling images. There were no studies released on the harmful effects upon children or culture by viewing too much TV versus completing homework assignments or reading a book. In my house, the television came on only in the evening and you could partake if you had successfully proven your chores and your homework were finished.

imagesIn the book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, author Neil Postman writes, “It is a wise and particularly relevant presupposition that the media of communication available to a culture are a dominant influence on the formation of the culture’s intellect and social preoccupations.” He makes the argument that the more we as a society move away from the written word, study and memorization, the more illiterate we become by consuming nothing but entertainment through the medium of television. He shares that this medium of communication does not require any form of thinking and in the end television programing becomes the cultures principle way of knowing about itself.  (Written in 1985, I wonder what the author might say about the internet today?)

Current statistics tell us that children spend more time with the television than they spend in school. This certainly wasn’t true when my wife and I were raising our children and I hope it’s not true for your home. Turn it off, play a game, read a book, put a puzzle together, help your children learn something new by telling stories and interacting with them. You will never regret it.images-6

Children, Encouragement

Dating Your Children

Yes, you read that title correctly. Taking your children out on a date is extremely special for the two of you. It communicates so many positive messages to them. Those messages can include revealing your heart for your child and that one on one time with them is a priority to you, as well as, the fact that you desire to hear their heart. I loved those times and would often ask my children how I am doing as a dad and as a husband, am I home enough or at work too much? I would ask them about school and about their relationships. I loved the question, “What’s the best thing about life right now for you?” And of course, I would ask about the most challenging things in life too. While they would respond differently according to their personality, they were assured of my love and approval of them keeping communication channels open and honest.

imagesI can still remember my first date with my daughter. We went to a local restaurant for breakfast.  She was a bit young and found it difficult to sit in one place on the huge, vinyl, blue booth seat. She kept dropping her silverware on the floor and was under the table as much as she was on her seat. But, I forged ahead and asked her those daddy and husband questions. Her answer? “Daddy, these questions are stupid.” Right, note to self, be age appropriate. An unexpected and unplanned side benefit was that dating my children helped them to understand why I would desire to take their mother on dates. They understood.

Take a moment to watch this video and catch a vision for dating your children.

Children, Training

Our Children and Money

imagesAs parents we are responsible for our children’s view, value, use and relationship with money. How we use our finances, whether or not we use a budget, if we maintain a balance on our monthly credit card statements, how liberally we share with others and our tithing practices are all acts of training our children in finances. Exercising financial restraint versus instant gratification is also valuable child rearing. Financial stewardship and how we recognize God’s ownership of our money speaks volumes to our children who are watching us make transactions on a daily basis. How we handle our money, it is said, is an outside indicator of an inside spiritual condition.  Below are some ways in which we trained our children to handle and how to value money.

  •  First and foremost, gaining money is not the total goal, but rather being the best steward possible of what we do receive and/or earn is.
  • Teach your children to tithe off of their income/gifts and also to share with those in need. Coupled with this is the realization that it is all God’s, 100%.
  • Teach them to save for something they desire and not to borrow for it (delayed gratification). They will appreciate it a whole lot more and they will take better care of the item.
  • Teach them to invest for the future. Our sons saved for their first car in which they paid cash.
  • Teach your children the value of work and that they earn an allowance, it is not handed to them. Our children had an hour or so of “work time” every summer day and many Saturdays, along with daily chores. Our kids really learned to appreciate this work ethic in their first year of college.
  • Teach your children a certain standard of work. It must be acceptable in order to earn their allowance or pay. Our children still talk about this around our table today.
  • Be clear about your financial boundaries and do not give in to what every other parent is doing. Financial value boundaries will protect your children.
  • Use a formula similar to the following: 10% tithe; 50% savings; 10% rainy day fund and 30% spending money.
  • Older children can pay room and board (those who are working and out of school); be taught to use an ATM appropriately; learn to make and live by a budget; learn to write checks and use a credit card appropriately by paying off the monthly balance in full.
  • Teach your children about investments, savings, ownership of a home, home maintenance, assets verses liabilities, car payments, proper vehicle maintenance and insurance costs.
  • Here is a huge one, allow your children to fail and make mistakes financially while they live at home and then incorporate that mistake as a learning tool. Better now than when they no longer live with you.
  • Teach your children the many Proverbs and scriptural principles found in the Bible that deal with money.  For example: …”the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

If you will do this, your children will return to thank you, earn their own way as responsible and productive adults and not look for ongoing entitlement, gifts and handouts from their parents and others.images-2


Five Grievous Ways to Parent

Parenting is one of the toughest and most unappreciated jobs on the face of the earth. It can also be the most rewarding. There are, however, methods of parenting that will grieve a child. Here are just five that I have personally observed.images-2

1. Constantly saying “no” to your child because in saying “yes” you have to do something you don’t want to do. Lazy parents use the word “no” more often than they use the word, “yes.” Why? It’s too inconvenient to stop what they are doing and give their child time and attention. When you don’t want to take the time to play a game your child is politely asking you to play, then your adult world is just too important. You, Mr. or Mrs. Parent, are missing your child’s childhood. Charles Swindol once said that if he could change anything in raising his family it would have been to say “yes” more often to his children.

2. Making excuses for unacceptable behavior in your child. “He missed his nap.” “If the other child would not have…my child would not have…” Excuses will come back to haunt you. One day your child will be making them just like you are and you will be dumbfounded as to why. Stop making excuses and start taking the time to train your child. Yes, I know it’s inconvenient, but his or her future attitude is dependent upon it.

3. Thinking that more gifts and more stuff is what your child needs. Your child needs fewer things. Children in America are inundated with toys and technology. Around the world I often observe children playing with sticks (the number one toy of all time), a “discarded” tire, a totally worn out soccer ball or even a two liter plastic bottle. They are outside getting exercise and using their imaginations. These kids often appreciate what they do have more than the children who have it all. Truly, sometimes less is more.

4. Thinking that quality time makes up for quantity time. Your children need you. They need your presence, your laughter, your instruction, your reading to them, your story telling and your correction. It all takes time. It is not the babysitter’s job, the school’s job or the church’s job – it is your job. You took the time to bring this child into the world, now give the time he or she needs from you to raise them, to hug them, to love them and to look them in the eye and tell them how special, wanted and affirmed they are. Of course it’s inconvenient to have a “helper,” but making your home a haven of acceptance rather than a pit of rejection will make life-long and amazing memories.

5. Yelling at your child rather than getting up, going to them and speaking face to face. This is another lazy parenting tactic. Lethargic and idle parents stay in one place and scream commands expecting their child to come running. Really, did you enjoy that as a child? Is your child not worth more of your personal attention than your household pet? Parents who do more yelling than speaking respectfully will one day be on the other end of the screams. Trust me, having been a child welfare social worker it is inevitable. A calm spirit, full of heart and compassion will sow seeds of life into your child. The end result will be that they will know your love, acceptance and approval because you honor them for who they are – your flesh and your blood.


I’m Going on a Radical Diet in 2015

imagesI read recently that American’s are obsessed with losing weight and spend over $60 billion dollars annually to do so. In any given week, 1.2 million people attend Weight Watchers meetings. In recent years, $18 billion dollars was spent on diet pills and appetite suppressant annually. Personally, I am thrilled that American’s desire to lose weight and exercise more, but making it an obsession certainly seems unhealthy. However, my “radical” diet commitment for 2015 does not include Dr. Atkins, the cabbage diet, the Daniel diet or South Beach.

For 2015 I want to be deeply committed to “putting off” what does not belong in my life and “putting on” what does according to Ephesians chapter four. I desire to put off my old self so I can put on a new attitude in my mind. I am making a radical commitment to put off falsehood so I can put on the truth. I want to put off anger, unwholesome talk, bitterness, rage, slander and every form of malice. And, I want to put on building others up according to their needs, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. There is an amazing diet that can help you live at peace with others and yourself throughout this brand new year our Father has given us.  Happy, prosperous and healthy New Year all!images-4