Who’s Your Village?

Photo Credit: hans pohl Flickr via Compfight cc

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)

10 Things I’m Doing to Help My Little Guys Become Men.

Christian Parenting

As a father of six, I feel the responsibility of the title “Dad”. Including my wife, I have seven people who depend greatly on me. As a result I often feel the pressure of making sure that I’m on my game. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 17 years of marriage, it’s that this doesn’t happen unless I’m constantly working on it. Two of my six children are “men in the making”. Every day I look at these little guys and I wonder what kind of men are they going to grow up to become. It’s my desire that they grow up with a strong faith and become great husbands, great dads, and great leaders.

Here are 10 Things I’m Doing to Help My Little Guys Become Men:

1. Let him help

I try to let my boys be hands-on in the things that I’m doing. When you’re letting them help, you’re teaching them skills.

2. Let him get messy

They’re boys… I just believe they need to get messy sometimes.

3. Let him get hurt

I want my boys to get 100 little cuts. It’s the lessons that are learned when they “test the boundaries” that save them from getting big cuts later on in life. Sometimes, we try so hard to protect them that we forget that failure is another good way to learn valuable lessons.

4. Tell him I love you and I’m sorry

My little guys need to know that I love them deeply. They also need to know that I’m sorry when I mess up. Expressing love and forgiveness are things that are Caught not Taught. So I need to show them how to do it right.

5. Shoot Something

We shoot the BB gun

We shoot Airsoft targets.

We shoot baskets

… Just go shoot something.

6.Go Camping 

We go hiking.

We go in the woods.

I let them “go” in the woods

We campout in your backyard.

I believe that all of these experiences turn little boys into men.

7. Wrestle 

Physical touch is huge with my boys. I wrestle with them. I throw him up in the air until they scream. I play too rough with them. I’m constantly teaching them to toughen up and the importance of fighting through pain.

8. Make him aware of his surroundings 

I’m teaching them to be aware of what’s going on around him. I teach them to be aware of shady characters in the parking lot. I teach them to be aware of other people’s feelings.

9. Explain “the why” behind what I do

Whether they asked for it or not, I want to explain why I’m doing what I’m doing. Part of the role of dad is to be a teacher. I want to let them know that there are reasons why I do what I do and it’s not always “because I said so”.

10. Let him know I love his mom

Above everything else I need to let them know that I love their mom. They need to know that I love her more than anyone else on this planet. They need to learn from me how to treat a woman with respect and dignity. They need to learn from me how to sacrifice, serve, and honor.

By no means am I perfect with all of these. I’m sure there are some weeks when I miss the mark on everyone of them. But when I miss it up, I just tell them I’m sorry and I go back out again. It’s a great thing that love covers a multitude of sins.

So if you’ve got boys – what’s on your list?

 

What to Do When Christian Parenting Doesn’t Feel So Much Like Christian Parenting

Christian Parenting

I want to take a minute to share an email that was sent to me this last week. After responding to this couple, I asked for their permission to share with you all and they graciously agreed. (Naturally, I’ve changed their names and bla bla bla,)

 Hey Joe, 

My son, says that his father and I are one of only a few parents that have such strong convictions re: music and internet access. He says we need to “Loosen up”. Sometimes I feel we must agree with him because it appears as if so many “Christian” families allow their kids unlimited access to all kinds of devices and allowed to play all kinds of violent games. Yet…our standard remains high. 

Do you find many fighting this battle …not so much against the “world” , but the body of believers they walk with each day. 

Fighting the battle but…it’s pretty hard!  

Your Friend

 

Dear Friend,

 I was going to joke with you and say that I didn’t find too many people fighting this battle…only the stuffy, nerdy Christians. Actually, Aime and I deal with this all the time. 

So here’s a couple pieces of advice.

 Make sure you’re not parenting from fear. 

Make sure that that he’s equipped and not just shielded. Our decisions need to grow their hearts and not just to shield it. Remember to keep your “voice” in his life. : Early Childhood-PROTECT, Elementary -TEACH, Middle School-MODEL, High School-COACH, Adulthood-MENTOR.

 Be careful as identifying your standards as “higher”. 

They might not be necessarily higher, they might just be different standards than another family… and different is good.

 The most important thing is that your and your husband are on the same page. 

If you are, it’s ok even if theres a million other parents not on our page.

Growing up, my mom had a saying (actually, she still has it) – when we wanted to do something that was different than our family standards and we asked “But Why?” She’d simply say, “Because WE don’t do that!”  

Not always right or wrong… sometimes it was just “we don’t do that”. – we’re different, and that’s ok.

As you can imagine, the conversation continued and as usual, nothing is ever “clean cut”. Nor is it ever as simple as following three simple pieces of advice. I want this friend and others to know that I actually spend time praying for situations like this. It’s so tough when we “see the enemy and he is us”. It’s tough when we feel like we’re fighting a losing battle, because our battle is not with “the world” but with other Christians.

My encouragement is this: You’re not alone! Keep emailing… keep connecting… and keep seeking help. God often times will meet with us through the encouragement of others.

Who is Jesus – How to re-introduce you’re teenager to someone you love…

“I’m not sure what happened. It’s almost as if they have completely forgotten how they were raised. It’s as if Sunday School, VBS, and all the Youth Camps have been sucked out of my child.” 

 

This was just part of a conversation I had with a concerned parent this past week. Their 17 year old son has been making some bad choices and now dad and mom are concerned. The choices aren’t horrible. He hasn’t moved out and turned to a life of crime or anything like that. According to mom, he just hasn’t had any interest in Church, “Christian things”, or Jesus for that matter.

 

Mom’s question: What do we do?

My advice: Re-introduce your child to someone you love.

man silhouette

Here’s what I mean:

My Aunt Margie practically raised my twin brother and I for many years. You’d love her! She was everything a “fun Aunt” should be. We stayed up late, we ate terrible amounts of junk food and she loved to play video games. I love my Aunt deeply! If I were to tell you about my Aunt Margie I would tell you story after story of how much fun we had. After a couple real good stories, you’d get to know her very well. We really get to know people through shared experiences.

Parenting Transitions from a High School Student’s Perspective

About 2 years ago Aime and I met Camden. He’s a great guy who loves to hang out with my youngest son. Cam is a High School student and VERY tall. My son is 6 years old and VERY short. They make a great pair. Cam is one of those guys that you want your son to grow up to be just like. I’m excited that he agreed to guest post today and offer his perspective on a transition that every parent fears… the high school years. Pay attention – we’re going to learn something today!

 

When dealing with the different voices of parenting, especially the higher levels, there are always two sides of the coin. On one side, the parent’s deal with problems they are faced with as they move from one voice to another. On the other side is the child who is trying to learn right from wrong, good and bad, not to mention make major decision regarding their future. The first three voices of the journey are training stages (Protect, Teach, and Model) that teach children everything they need to know. However, it’s in the Coaching voice where parents MUST relinquish control over the children they hold so dear. This step backwards can cause at least 2 major problems.

  1. If the parent steps back too quickly child might make poor choices due to little real world experience.
  2. If the parent does not step back then the child learns to live life with a protector who swoops in and fixes things the moment they go wrong.

The main problems with these two examples are that “home” and “acceptance” is not synonymous.

transitioning

THE WILD CHILD

This child has been virtually abandoned. Parents have taken a step back and said “Okay, we showed you how, now do it.” This makes as much sense as a person calling himself a pilot by saying “Okay, I’ve seen many people fly planes, now I can do it too.” Emotionally this approach says this to a child, “I am done speaking into your life and I expect you to be able to solve your own problems.”

THE SHELTERED CHILD

The reverse approach is no better. My mother often asks, “Do you think a fairy is going to clean up after your mess?”

The irony of the situation is that she will then clean up whatever it was that was messy. This child has been trained to expect that dishes clean themselves, clothes put themselves away, and any project will magically do itself eventually. This approach can potentially be damaging to a child’s emotional health as well.

The child learns from this approach that they’re incompetent. In this kind of a household failure is so unacceptable that the parents are willing to fix it themselves rather than leave what their child created… or, at least that what the child hears.

The ideal message to give your child is this:

“I want to see you succeed on your own, but if you fail, we still love you and welcome you at home. I don’t expect you to be perfect, I expect you to try.”

There is no universal plan to achieve this message because every family is different and every child is not alike.

 

…plus I’m just a high schooler myself; I don’t have all the answers!

Dad and/or Mom- How’s the transition feel from your side?