I’ve come to learn that it really does take a village to raise a child. In fact, my dad and mom always said that their “success” in parenting really had more to do with the people they surrounded us with than anything they did. Not sure if I completely agree (I think they made some right choices along the way). Either way, they were certainly onto something. When I look back on my childhood I can remember the missionaries, the pastors, the small group leaders, the coaches of high character and integrity that surrounded my upbringing. It’s not surprising that all of us “children” grew up to serve God in various ways in full-time vocational ministry.
The adults in out lives were more than just friends. They were more than just people to hangout with and friends to have near while we tried to “survive the troubles of life”. They were influences. They were partners in parenting and childrearing.
Our life was not easy. We had struggles like every other family. We had times when we had “enough” and there were times when we struggled financially. There were times of health and times of sickness. Throughout my childhood, my parents kept the main thing the main thing. They raised us kids with a purpose in life that was beyond ourselves. It was beyond the “typical”. They raised us with the belief that God was calling us to more. He was preparing and leading us to make a difference in this world… to offer hope to people who were far from Him.
Aime and I are right in the middle of raising our six kids. They range from a senior in High School to kindergarten. We’re trying hard to surround them with key influences… people with strong character and an outspoken call on their life to make a difference. Sometimes this means we have to make the tough choices to change these influences by changing where we spend our time. These choices can be tough in the moment, but we’re banking on it paying out in the long run.
So, just a challenge here –
Who do you choose to surround your children? What kinds of people have influence in their life? What things are they striving after?
These are important questions because chances are …
Your kids just might grow up to look like them as much as they will you.
Feeling lost as a parent? Looking for a way to discover the purpose for your family? Wanting to establish family values, set goals, or just need a tool to help you keep the main thing the main thing?
We’ve got it for you (Right Here)
Photo Credit: Curtis Cronn via Compfight cc
Your pre-teen is asked to go to the movies on a “group date” and you feel uncomfortable with it… but you know every other parent (who happen to be your friends) seem to be fine with it. What do you do?
Every year there seems to be a new strategy for overcoming peer pressure. When I grew up it was “Just say No!” Now it’s something like “Make a Difference” and “Stand Out”. Why is it that this always make sense to us when we’re talking with our kids, but when it comes to our own lives as parents we struggle.
Peer pressure is real…and it’s really tough on parents. Don’t believe me? Just take a walk through the mall and watch parents as they sheepishly following their kids from store to store shaking the heads is disapproval …and yet carrying armloads of bags filled with over-prices, under fabricated clothes that resemble something worn by Madonna. (Side note: when did parents become cool with Madonna?) Anyway, the point is simple and we all know it: we feel pressure to conform to other parents every day. So how do we handle situations where our gut is saying one thing and our mouth wants to say something else?
Here’s 5 things that should help
What’s the Purpose?
If you know me at all you know that I’m all about helping our kids have a purpose for their lives bigger than themselves. The very first line of defense in fighting parental peer pressure is to know whether or not this activity is even something you should be considering. I’ve been floored with the number of times I’ve spoken with parents about whether or not they should allow their 16 year old to drink or smoke marijuana. (You think I’m kidding, but I’m not!) Their line of reasoning? “Well they’re going to do it anyway, at least if they do it in my house I can make sure their safe and not driving or anything stupid like that.”
Ok… that’s just plain dumb. What do you know? Drugs are illegal and bad. It’s a no brainer. But what about a movie? “Whatcha going to see?” Generally, a lot of pressure can be relieved right away if you had a personal conviction on the kinds of movies you’re kids are going to watch and which ones they’e not.
How do I set these boundaries for my kids? Simple, we want our kids to be “Owned by God”. We value things like Integrity, Grace and Wise Choices (we actually have 12 core values as a family). If this movie pulls us away from our goal or values… it’s a No Go!
Photo Credit: Katie Tegtmeyer via Compfight cc
“Eat all your vegetables”
“Lose the bad attitude in the morning”
“Make your bed”
“Pick up after yourself”
“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”
“Quit being lazy”
Photo Credit: mt 23 via Compfight cc
This past week acted as the “line of demarcation” for our family. From now on everything is different. Summer is officially coming to a close. My wife spent hours filling out medical forms and paperwork for the school so that our kids could participate in sports and attend various classes. We were reminded about the need for figuring out our Fall budget. And we’ve discovered conflicting events that have already been scheduled. Needless to say, it’s going be very important that we have all our ducks in a row before school officially begins. This year we will have one child in preschool, one child in the Elementary School, one child in the Intermediate School, one child in the Middle School, and one child in the High School. (CRAZY!!!!)
So as we we’re making our checklists, I was reminded that we needed to add a couple more items to this list.
Along with crayons, markers, paper, and all that jazz, we’re going to need to be sure we include:
A Synchronized Calendar, Good Communication, and Family Values
A Synchronized Calendar
You have heard me say it before, and I guarantee this will not be the last – getting all of our schedules onto one calendar is essential. Too many times we overlap events, miss opportunities, and cause so much undue stress simply because we’re not aware of everybody’s schedule.
There are many calendar apps out there that will help you with this. Our family simply uses Google Calendar. Google Calendar allows me to have a calendar for my work, my wife to have one for our family, and each of our girls to have one for their school and sporting events. Because of the ability to share all of these calendars with one another we minimize the possibility to overlap.
Like most dads, there are times I find myself in a constant state of frustration. I’m not always there, but there have definitely been a few days when I’ve felt like all I do is discipline. I feel like all I’m doing is telling these kids the same stuff again and again. Without exception though, there always is that moment when we connect. When what I say finally gets through and it’s as though for the very first time in several moments… they listen.
I can’t think of anything more frustrating than having to go through this process again and again. So how can we break the cycle and actually get our elementary aged children to actually want to listen to what we have to say?
Here’s 4 tips:
1. Teach – Don’t over-protect
One of the hardest transitions that you will make as a parent is the transition from having protection as your primary goal to that of teaching.
Naturally, you will never fully abandon the role of protecting; however, that role does shift when you’re parenting an Elementary aged child. Protection answers with “because I said so” when teaching answers with “let me explain”.
2. Ask open ended questions
by doing this you keep the conversation going
by doing this you actually are asking your child to express him/her self
by doing this you’re teaching them how to listen
3. Tell stories
Kids love stories. They all do! Every child! This is a lesson I learned years ago as a Children’s Pastor. If you really want your child to want to listen to you… you just need to tell it to them in the form of a story. Lectures rarely work… stories do. Don’t believe me, give it a try.
4. Have fun with them
We’ve all heard it said, “a family that plays together, stays together…” There’s a good reason why we say this : it’s true. When we as parents take the time to enjoy our children and enjoy our time with them we build a necessary bond that is essential to connecting with our kids. It’s during these times together that we build trust.