Do You Emotional Intelligence In Your Home?

Emotional Intelligence-for social

Recently I’ve been reading Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman for work and I’ve had some pretty enlightening moments.  I’ve written down several traits that particularly stick out to me such as: intentionality, adaptiveness, self-awareness, catalyst, resiliency and the list goes on.   I found myself focusing more and more on these attributes because I wanted to be well rounded in my career.

This reflection went on for several weeks and I found myself practicing those things sometimes without flaw at work, but when it came to my home, I was obviously lacking in several of these areas.  I thought, “How could I be so good at these at work, but fail in them at home?” I would snap at my kids or feel unmotivated to go the extra mile at home and even lose patience when they weren’t catching on to things as quickly as I wanted them to.   I think you can agree that different motivations move us to react differently in certain situations than others.  Sometimes that can be good, but sometimes that can be bad.   Why was it so hard to show the same level of emotional intelligence at home as it was work?

For me, I think it came down to priority. I want to be the same person in public (work) as I am in private (home), but it hasn’t always been that easy.   I react the way I do at work because I have put value on my emotions that tie directly to my paycheck, career growth and maybe even part of my identity.   At home, I often fail to put the same value on my emotions that tie to my spiritual growth and identity-as well as to my family’s.   Call it materialism, idolatry-I’m not sure, but the fact of the matter is that it’s easier sometimes to place more emphasis on things that are passing (temporal) rather than things that are eternal.

I’m all for showing emotional intelligence in the professional world, but I know I’m not the only one that struggles with having the same level of EQ once I step into the home.   Below are several traits that I’m working on within my home to match my enthusiasm with them in the work place. This is just a sampling and you might have others that you’d like to concentrate on.   I listed intention first because it is one of the main characteristics that stuck with me.   If you’re intentional about change in your home, amazing things will happen.   You’ll find that with these you’re not only progressing at work, but you’re also making a huge impact right where it matters most-the home.

Intention:  You can choose your path or you can have one by default.    Default intention leads to living by other people’s standards, by the winds of change and most likely by being reactive instead of proactive.   What purpose are you intentionally driving towards in your family?  Determine now to break those chains of the past, stand in the gap and help your children navigate successfully through life.

Adaptive: Life is full of change and we always need to be flexible.  We all have a tendency to get comfortable and resist the very things that will help us grow.   Parents often fail to grow with their kids and with the times.  Unfortunately their parenting style becomes irrelevant and fails to meet the needs of their changing kids.  Commit to always grow through every stage of life.  Is there an area in your life where you can be more adaptive?

Self-Awareness: We all have blind spots, but why is it that we often miss glaring and sometimes exaggerated tendencies and habits that affects our relationships negatively?  It’s the boss that doesn’t realize that his criticizing is hurting productivity, the teacher who never sees the potential in her students or the parent who never accepts his child.    Self-awareness is key to learning from our mistakes and shortcomings.   It’s the voice that prompts “you should work on that“ or “you’re better than that.”   Don’t be so focused on other people’s issues that you fail to be self-aware of what’s going on with you.

Catalyst:   If there’s change to be made in your family than that’s up to you.   Don’t be overwhelmed by your responsibility, but rather embrace the challenge.   You have God given resources at your disposal to do the right thing, change course and affect your family forever.    Break those destructive chains that have plagued your family and put the boundaries in place to raise the standard.   You can be that catalyst for change if you’ll decide now that your family deserves better.

Resiliency:   Many things in life can be disruptive and harmful, but we must not let those misfortunes cripple us from doing the right things.  It’s the “just man” that falls seven times, but he rises the 8th.    Life is hard sometimes and it’s tempting to check out and wonder whether it’s all worth it or not.   Others, including your children, are counting on you to keep your hand to the plow no matter the difficulty.   Even Jesus had to set his face like flint to weather the suffering ahead. Whatever you’re about to check out on or give up -it’s going to trickle down to your kids.  They may not quit on the same things, but they’re going to remember that you gave up instead of getting back up and fighting for what’s right.   Determine now that with God’s help you’re going to focus on being resilient!

So the question is how’s the emotional intelligence in your home? Maybe you didn’t identify as much with the ones I’m working on, but rather other attributes such as thick-skinned, inspiring, empathetic, optimism, self-control, cooperation, etc. would be more fitting.   Whatever you strive to improve in the area of emotional intelligence; make it a priority to show these to the people you love and care about the most.     The world is full of parents that have already given up, or don’t want to accept their responsibility.  Don’t be one of those, but rather raise the standard of what you want for your family and hold yourself accountable to infuse emotional intelligence into your home.

If you like my content, feel free to subscribe as well as email or comment on any ideas to make my blog even better! You can also check out my Youtube channel RelevantParenting and that has more creative ideas on how to engage with your kids.

Best,

Chad

 

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Titanium Arrows: Raising the toughest kids in the toughest times.

Titanium Arrows-smaller

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”  Ps 127:4-5 ESV

As I was thinking about writing this blog, there’s a part of me that wrestles with what it takes to be tough.  I’m not talking about being the baddest kid on the playground, but being able to handle the setbacks, blows, stings and betrayals that life often throws our way.    That’s only half the story as not all people rise up, overcome, move on or become better through life’s tragedies.   One author writes that “a significant minority, as a result of trauma, feel called upon to engage in a wider world.¹” That’s the type of toughness that I’m referring too.

I’m not discounting that some trauma can take years to see the bright side and maybe even some will never fully be relieved this side of heaven.  The reality is that without a measure of pain, discomfort and suffering in this world, our children will never be strong enough to make an impact.    My parents said it and I find myself commenting to my kids that things are truly going from “bad to worse” in our society today.   Today, circumstances of persecution or ridicule may be avoidable to some degree, but that may not always be true.

Certainly life is a great adventure and has so many wonderful memories that seem close to heaven on earth.  I would be foolish to believe that only concentrating on what’s wrong with this world would somehow prepare my children better for the effects of the pain, suffering and tragedy present today. I believe the opposite is true and may be bedrock to our topic.   The goodness of God in this world is what gives any tough kid hope.  Without hope, we are tough in vain, we suffer without cause and bear the pain in sheer agony.

Raising tough kids who are resilient, stand for truth, courageous and that never give up is not an easy task.    Whether brought on by recent events or just a burning is my soul is a desire that questions my ability to raise “tough kids”.    Like you, there’s so many traits that I want to infuse in them.  Some so mighty that it seems only the hand of God could ingrain in them.  Below is an attempt to set some starting points for raising tough kids.

This is not exhaustive and definitely not the full standard, but again it’s a start.  The road to having tough kids is not an easy one for you as a parent or for the child, but I guarantee it’s worth it.   God willing for all of us, our kids will rise up to be tough kids that can make a difference in this world despite the many challenges they will face.

Resilence:  One person has said it this way: “Of all the virtues we can learn, no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.²” Teaching out kids to bounce back after failure, after trauma or tragedy is crucial to their success as a person.

There are far too many people that spin out, never to regain traction again in their journey of life.   We simply have to teach and pray that every circumstance (whether good or bad) fortifies resilience in our children’s hearts.    Part of the way we can help as parents is to be there to make sense of it all, and when we can’t do that, we teach them about a God who can.

We believe in the One that is making everything turn out for good, even if we can’t fully understand in this life.   That is the foundational truth behind resilience and one our children must grow up understanding.    Don’t just give your kids an easy way out all the time, make them learn the lesson and help them see the opportunities among the difficulties.

Character:   It’s hard to find people who stand for truth these days.   We must teach our children absolute truth from an early age and show them how to apply it their everyday life.   Most people never understand how to have truth move from their head down to their heart and the dutiful life gets old after a while.   It’s the relationship that keeps us trusting, keeps us pursuing God even when we don’t understand.

Character is much more than a set of rules and regulations, but has its most powerful roots in a person.   We strive to be like Jesus and that gives us the strength to flourish in life.    Focus on how your kids are responding to truth, teach them at every occasion that you have and help them personalize God’s truth in each area of their life.

Courage:  It goes without saying that every true warrior has to face his/her fears at some point.    Humanly speaking, there is a lot to be afraid of if we dwelt on all the negativity, but that’s not how a tough person reacts.    Raising kids who are courageous takes a parent’s encouragement to help kids drive beyond their fears.  It could be that first day of school, that first date, moving to college, starting a new job, etc.  There are always things to be nervous and frightened about, but we can help our children rise above and reap the rewards of a courageous life.  When it comes to spiritual warfare, “once we decide to enter God’s doorway to salvation, we align ourselves against the forces of hell.³” Raising brave kids goes beyond just the physical aspects of the world.   Give them the “whole armor of God” to fight back.  Don’t let fear get an early grip in your child’s life, but teach them early on, that all fears can be overcome if we take that first step of faith.

Perseverance:   As I reflect on my own life, I think some of the most destructive things that have hampered my growth stemmed from me giving up.   I’m typically not a person that gives up, but in certain times of my life, my ship lost its sails, I stopped believing in the power of God and I lost hope.    By God’s grace, I’ve regained much that was lost and my sails are full.    It didn’t have to be that way, but that is the way I chose.  One youth pastor comments that one of the most frustrating challenges of dealing with teens is their addiction to the easy road. They simply don’t have what it takes to stick it out during hard times⁴.

It’s very true that our children will have plenty of challenges to snuff that persevering spirit from them.   You must be that rock solid example that shows them never to quit.    It’s easy to quit, but we’re not looking to raise quitters.  Children do sometimes follow in the footsteps of their parents and unfortunately many kids give up long before they enter adulthood.   We simply can’t allow that among our kids.

It’s the just man that rises the 8th time, no matter the difficulty- it’s always worth it to rise back up.    Pull your child up when you need to, push your child forward when you have too, but don’t ever leave them down to wallow in despair and determine it’s not worth it.    Life is always worth it and we have to paint that picture through lenses that speak of truth beyond this life and not only reflective of the circumstances around us.

Adventure:  Are you teaching your children to take healthy risks?  Life is an adventure and should be squeezed for all the legitimate satisfaction that one can draw out of it.   Life doesn’t have to be drab, or without risk.   Teaching kids to move out of their comfort zone, follow their passions, live as if it was their last day are all freeing actions that lead to an elevated life.    You truly only live once and those that always play it safe are definitely not the ones making history and changing people’s lives.

Help your kids make wise judgments, take those leaps of faith, and pray for the extraordinary life that God is waiting to give.  Just trust God to do better than we could imagine and allow Him to create masterpiece out of our children.

Hope:  Turn on the news and you’ll see plenty of assassins to hope.  Hope is such a powerful emotion that people will do extraordinary things as long as that candle of hope flickers in the wind.     Your kids will have a sense of hope based on your outlook of life.   If you have a habit of crushing their spirit, be overly criticizing or being abusive; you will put your kids on a trajectory that is liable to lead where no hope resides.

Fan the flame of hope as often as you can.  With God all things are possible and therefore there is always hope.  Never give up hope on your kids and don’t allow them to give up hope on life.   Again our hope is rooted in a Person who never changes, not circumstances that change as quick as the weather.

One author points out that “Christian and Non-Christian parents alike are raising children who are passive, pleasant, and malleable rather than innovative, proactive and bold.⁵” So where does your family stand? Are you raising tough kids who will have the anchors they need to stand and flourish in life?  If the answer is yes, then generations to come will be impacted by your resolve.  But if some of these aren’t true, don’t let your own problems eclipse your need to help your children navigate the storms of life.   Get in the trenches with them, teach them the life skills, the values and the fortitude necessary to take life by the horns and live it to the fullest!

If you like my content, feel free to subscribe as well as email or comment on any ideas to make my blog even better! You can also check out my Youtube channel RelevantParenting and that has more creative ideas on how to engage with your kids.

Best,

Chad

 

¹Feldman, D. Phd.   Kravetsz, L. 2014.SuperSurvivors . The Suprising Link Between Suffering and Success. New York.  Harper Wave.  Pg 3 quoting Judith Herman, Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry

²Greitens, E. 2015.  Resilience. New York: Hougton Mifflin Harcourt. Pg 8, quoting Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi

³Parshall, Craig & Janet. 2003. Traveling a Pligrim’s Path. Wheaton, IL. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.  Pg 25.

⁴Parshall, Craig & Janet. 2003. Traveling a Pligrim’s Path. Wheaton, IL. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.  Pg 25.

⁵Coughlin, P. 2007. No More Jeffyfish, Chickens,  or Wimps. Minnapolis, MN. Bethany House. Pg 24

 

Conquering those “WHAT IF’s” of parenting…

Mexico Archway

My husband and I were recently blessed with a trip to Mexico.   We were very excited to have the opportunity, but with this opportunity came a lot of logistics to work out. We don’t live near family, but thankfully we had some relatives that were willing to fly out and stay the few days with our kids.

As a mom, before you can relax and enjoy, you have to make sure all the laundry is done, the house is clean, a list of meals is available (of food the kids will actually eat!), all the necessary documents are signed in case of an emergency, lose weight, buy some new clothes and the list goes on. The week before we left I had accomplished all that and was feeling very excited about being away from my kids for this first time in 4 years! Just my husband and me in a beautiful location- exploring.

But suddenly I got overwhelmed with fear; fear of the big “what-if”. What if something happens to one of the boys and we aren’t able to make it back quickly? What if something happens to one of my relatives, then the other one will not only be dealing with their spouse in the hospital but also having to deal with our kids on their own. What if something happens to one of us, and we end up in the hospital in Mexico? But the biggest fear I had was, what if we don’t make it back…ever?! Would they feel loved?

I’m not normally a worrier. I’m more of the mindset “whatever happens, happens and I’ll make the best of it.” Now, I’m not saying I don’t struggle with fears, but more often than not I’m able to pray, compartmentalize it and move on. I had never had this much fear over something. It was to the point that I didn’t even want to go to Mexico. I knew it was Satan attacking me, but even through praying and reading scripture I still couldn’t conquer these attacks.  I texted a few friends who I knew would pray for me and told them my struggles. Instantly I was receiving messages back; messages of encouragement, prayers, verses and songs. I went to my quiet area, prayed and read some more and finally felt at peace and even excitement.

Ocean Rocks

I crawled into bed that night and suddenly got that panicked fear. Even to the point I started crying a little. I got out of bed and decided to pray over my boys and give them to God…again! I went to each of them and put my hands on them and confessed my fears, submitted them to the hands of God and prayed that He would help them feel loved. While I was praying I got such a clear thought in my head it was as if someone had spoken it out loud, “I love them more than you ever could.” I was so overwhelmed with that truth and instantly comforted. I had a Heavenly Father who loved my boys way more than I ever would be able to. He understands, as a parent, any situation I will go through while I parent my kids. He allowed his Son to endure ridicule and lies being spoken about him. Jesus was bullied and beaten, he endured peer pressure from those closest to him. He fought Satan’s attacks. God watched as Jesus was tortured then put on a cross-killed. God allowed that to happen to Jesus because of His love for us, for my kids. He loves them, he loves me, more than I can even understand.

Anytime I got that panicked feeling of fear, I was comforted that God loves my children. We left for Mexico a few days later and had an absolutely amazing time. It was such a nice to invest in our marriage and focus on each other without voices interrupting or little bodies climbing on us. As you can imagine, our relatives spoiled the boys and all of them had a wonderful time. And not only survived, but thrived!

Fish

As parents, we will constantly be fighting fears as we raise our children. All those “what-ifs”, all those moments we want to rescue them from whatever turmoil they’re going through. But please be encouraged and rest in the fact that God’s love is deeper than yours. How you want your kids to succeed; He wants that for them on a bigger scale. When I was going through these mind battles I was reading Isaiah 43: 1-7. I meditated on those verses and read them a few times over those days. I find a verse that you can focus on and memorize when those thoughts creep in. Write it on sticky notes and put it on your mirror, by the sink, on the fridge and wherever else you spend time. It will help focus your thoughts back on God and his power. It could also be a tool to explain that verse/verses to your kids. Let them know that you’re struggling with something (be general if needed), that you have fears and that you’re trying to fight them. It will not only help you, but will also help them realize it’s ok to have fears as long as you fight them and not let them take over their life. Teach them how to deal with their fears, to not suppress them. Let’s be courageous parents and raise courageous children for God.

Sarah

 

 

30 Day Parenting Challenge: Part 3

Holding Greyson-Part 3

This is our last and final session for the 30 Day Parenting Challenge. If you missed the first two blogs of this series, you can catch them here: 30 Day Parenting Challenge: Part 1 ,   30 Day Parenting Challenge: Part 2 .    Let’s dive into the last third of our challenge and see how far we get!

21) Give your kids VIP access: Often times we give everything else in our lives our best energy and we leave the scraps for our kids. Granted, sometimes we do the same thing when it comes to our other relationships as well. We’ll always have distractions in our lives and making this effort to shift our schedules around can make all the difference in the world. For this day, I’d like you to give your best energy to your children. Wrestle that extra 15 minutes, read a few more books, watch their favorite show with them, etc. This will enable you to do more and be more during this day for your children. Matter of fact, this is an important one to incorporate monthly as our kids will need those special days where we’re giving them all we’ve got.

22) Teach them a life skill: Teaching children the necessary life skills to succeed in life happens to be a big burden of mine. The fact is, many children struggle with having the right skills to thrive when they get out of the home. Are your children struggling with communication? What about their manners? Do they show particular interest in a field that you could help them explore? Have they been wanting you to take them fishing? What about teaching them the basics of preparing their own lunches, washing and matching their own clothes or even mowing the lawn? There are literally thousands of little life skill necessities that you can’t just leave to chance for them to pick up along the way. Letting your children leave the household unprepared for the “real” world is a great way to have frustrated young adults who end up getting a couple degrees from the School of Hard Knocks.

23) Pay it forward together: There’s myriads of ways to spread the love and pay it forward. Maybe you pay the person’s ticket at a restaurant or drive through. You can pay the tab of someone’s past due lunch bills at the school or their tuition that’s coming due. What about delivering some pizzas to the homeless or raking the elderly neighbor’s yard. The possibilities are endless so get your kids involved and find someone who’s in need!

24) Document how you feel towards them: In a previous post Letters Every Father Should Write I talked about writing down your feelings of love, pride and acceptance that you have for your children individually. There’s a lot of ideas, but one that I particularly love is to wax seal the letter for the appropriate time. I write these letters every so many years so I’m updating my message to them. I may never die before they leave the household, but I’m prepared if I do. If you’d like to see these letters illustrated, you can check out my YouTube video here Letters to Your Kids! Part 1.

25) Give them more chores: I know this sounds antithetical to having a better relationship with your children, but it in a weird way it does-I’ll explain. Children who have a good work ethic have more confidence in their abilities and frankly have a greater sense of satisfaction from a job well done. Obviously the amount of chores and the duration of them has to be age appropriate. Hard work produces a well -rounded spirit and I’ve always been a believer that if you work hard, you should be able to play hard as well. Developing a solid work ethic late in life is very difficult so cultivating this early on is a critical part of parenting. Many parents these days let their children off too easy because it’s easier or they don’t want to take the time to train them. Don’t fall into this trap.   Teach your children to work hard and they’ll benefit emotionally and physically the rest of their life.

26) Pray with them: Maybe you have that special prayer closet that you can invite them in with you, or a place in the yard that grants you the solitude and tranquility to talk to God. What are five things that you could pray with each child about that would change their life? Are there areas where they need to grow or currently struggling with? I like to weave in their personal wants in the mix because God grants them so often as well. Teach your child how to be thankful to God for everything, how to pray for others and how to seek His guidance in their lives. Maybe you have a special prayer list drawn up for when the both of you are together. Whatever you do, make it special and model how they can start developing their prayer life.

27) Lend them your ear: Whenever I come across verses in the Bible that reference God lending an ear, or turning his ear to our cries and prayer; I imagine myself doing that for my children. You get the sense that God is not distracted when we come to Him like so many times we are as parents. Take this day to focus on listening to your child. Get on their level, look them in the eye, ask intelligent questions and respond with thoughtful answers. If you listen to your children when they are young, they’ll be more apt to come to you later with bigger issues because they know that you’ll listen to them. Don’t be too quick to judge before you’ve heard the whole story. Don’t cut them off or interrupt them just like you wouldn’t do anyone else. Remember that your children will likely mimic your level of communication in one way or another so make sure they understand the listening portion of it is a vital part.

28) Grow with them:   It’s no doubt that your children are growing like weeds and it seems those clothes that fit them yesterday are already snug. I think it’s easy as parents to plateau at certain times of our lives and allow the younger crowd (including our children) to do the growing. We’re supposedly past that stage, have some solid experiences under our belt and life is good. The problem I see is that our culture changes, music changes, drugs change, pressures change, technology really changes, yet many parents are stuck in the early years of their adulthood and they haven’t progressed. Their children can run circles around them in technology, their children experience pressures in school that the parents have no clue about because they never had to deal with that when they were younger. Progress is crucial as a parent and part of that is to keep up with your kids. I’m not saying that you have to have the latest gear like your kids, but you ought to know what’s out there, what’s confronting them on a daily basis and how you can have intelligent conversations about things that are relevant to them. What’s one thing in today’s society or in your child’s life that is mainstream that you could really know some more about?

29) Win the day: Determine first thing in the morning that you’re relationship with your children is going to be the best it can be today. You’ll control your tongue, you’ll set goals and you’ll have an overall positive outlook on the circumstances of the day. Write it on the chalkboard, or on the mirror that you have claimed victory to make the best of everything that comes your way. If your child talks back to you, if they make you late for work, if they forget to feed the dog, or if they wind up in the principal’s office; these are all ways that we can show extra love, include proper discipline to shape their life, pray for God’s work in these areas and to model how to cope with the ups and downs of life. Life is stressful no doubt, but choosing to conquer the day no matter what will help your resolve to do the right thing regardless of how you feel. This will have a tremendous impact on those little eyes watching you.

30) Journal the journey: Not only is taking pictures and videos important along the way, but writing down your thoughts through lessons you learn as a parent are also beneficial as well. If you’re not accustomed to journaling, start one today. Write down those funny things your kids say, what lessons you’ve learned as a parent, what you’ve learned from other parents.   After a while, you’ll have a rich collection of insight into your daily life as a parent. Most of the things you document you will probably forget until you read it again. You can even pay services like Fiverr to draw a comic of the experience starting at $5. The possibilities are endless, just don’t forget to capture the moment whenever possible.

Can you believe we’ve finished 30 days of challenging ourselves to become better parents?! You should be proud of yourself for making the commitment and I’m proud of you too. I encourage you not to stop on this special journey as there’s still lots of impacting to do.  Take some of the days that especially meant a lot to you and expand upon them or draw them out to more than one day.

Feel free to email me or comment with any of your suggestions or tips. If you like the content that RelevantParenting provides, please follow my blog or subscribe to my Youtube channel RelevantParenting.   God bless you and I pray God encourages you to make the most of your time with your kids!

Chad

 

Parenting Approval: Who’s Opinion Matters to You?

Parenting Approval-flower

The other day I was making lunch for my boys when one of them said, “mom, look! Isn’t this cool?” He had just finished a coloring project he had been working on. I responded with the typical mom response, “that’s awesome, buddy. Good job!” His brother was a little less enthusiastic and said something about how it really wasn’t that cool. That launched an argument between them. One saying that it wasn’t cool at all, the other insisting he had made a very cool drawing. Finally the one who finished the project turned to me, very upset, and said, “moooommmmmm! He doesn’t think my coloring is cool!”

I thought this would be a great teaching moment so I talked to both of them about how it doesn’t matter what others think of you, it matters what God thinks of you. As long as you did your best and you know it’s pleasing to God, than it doesn’t matter what someone says about you. As I finished making lunch I meditated on what I had just told them. How often, as parents, do we worry about what others think and not care what God thinks? I struggle often in this area. When I go out I think of how will others see me? If my kids are with me I need to make sure they look good and behave perfectly otherwise other parents will judge me and think I don’t know how to raise my kids.

If I go somewhere with my husband, how I look and act now reflects on him and I need to make sure I’m making him proud.  When he comes home I’m thinking about how the house looks, will he like what I made for dinner, do I look presentable enough (i.e. do I have a clean shirt on and is my hair washed- anyone else with me?!). Hopefully someone else reading this can understand a little of what I’m saying! My point is, a lot of the decisions we make every day, every moment even, revolves around what other people think. But how often do we think about what pleases God? Please don’t misunderstand me, it is important we look presentable, our house is welcoming and our kids know how to behave. But does what other people think drive your decision making? The Bible has many verses talking about the need to have God’s approval over man’s.

Galatians 1:10 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 2:4 “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

These are just a few verses that speak of pleasing God. I’m not saying this is an easy thought process, but one thing you learn quickly as a parent is that kids are mirrors. They reflect, repeat and reveal what they see in us as parents. Are you a person who strives to please God; is your MO that of someone seeking to please their Heavenly Father? Or are you a person driven by fear? She didn’t say “Hi” to me, does she not like me anymore? My boss hasn’t told me lately I’m doing a good job. My spouse hasn’t complimented my new hairstyle, clothes, etc. My kid wasn’t invited to a party, what did he do wrong?

While some of these can be legitimate reflections of something needing to be fixed, they could also mean absolutely nothing. If you have these thoughts, think back on what I told my kids. Have you been doing your best? Have you been living your life pleasing to God? If the answers to those questions are “yes”, than don’t let your need for approval from man ruin your life. Not only will you ruin your life, but you will teach your kids to grow up with the weight of making everyone happy and meeting others’ expectations over God’s. That is not a demand that I want to put on my kids. Join me in living a life where the priority is pleasing God first!

Sarah

30 Day Parenting Challenge: Part 2

Situps-Part 2

If you didn’t get a chance to catch Part 1 of the 30 Day Parenting Challenge, you can catch it here: 30 Day Parenting Challenge: Part 1 . Are you ready for another 10 days of challenge? I know you are, that’s why you’re reading this. You’re a third of the way and I know you can make it to the end. What we’re trying to do is set some new habits in our parenting and determine not to settle or coast through life. We have an important job to do and with the help of a loving and supporting community; we can encourage each other to take our parenting to the next level. Let’s get started with our next 10 days of challenge!

11) Make a resolution to never quit: Will you be like the prodigal’s father and love that child who has wronged you? Will you pursue your child like God did Jonah? Will you have the love for your child as Jesus did even after Peter denied him? Often times we focus on where we’re hurting, our name that’s tarnished because of our kids actions, or how we’re inconvenienced by a child that likes things and acts totally different than what we do. Your children need you, especially through their mistakes. Don’t conditionally love them, but accept them for who they are and pray that God will use their mistakes even to shape a successful life for them.
12) Identify current dangers to your family: Who’s the “watchman” for your family if we as parents aren’t? Certainly there’s plenty of other forces internally and externally that would love to take over the family castle. What’s hindering the growth in relationships within your family? Have you retired as a parent, or are you actively watching out for breeches from the enemy? Take this day to write out a handful of things that could cause some harm. Don’t ever let your guard down; be vigilant to identify what’s leading your family down harmful paths and captivating your children’s hearts with things that are lowly and ultimately destructive.
13) Preserve some of your history: I get that not everyone is sentimental or every child will care to receive their favorite childhood blankey when they’re an adult, but passing down some of those heirlooms can carry a lot of meaning with them. Most children, if raised by loving parents will aspire to have something of remembrance of them or a special childhood item/memory that brings back some great sentimental feelings. Gather that journal, or trunk that you can start saving some of those special experiences. I am personally lucky that a lot of my childhood toys and collections were preserved. There’s not a week that goes by that my kids don’t ask to peruse through them asking questions and learning more about my life experience.
14) Engage with them spiritually: It’s easy to rely on their Sunday school class, kid’s program or maybe their youth group to teach them their spiritual basics. However, most of those programs aren’t going to have the level of accountability that you can offer your child. If they’re old enough to read scripture; how are their devotions going? Could you memorize a verse or two with them? Are they struggling in an area of their life that you can help give them spiritual counsel on?
15) Write a vision for your family: Maybe this is something you can do on your parenting sabbatical day suggested on #8. Parenting has to be more than just a reactive duty, taking the kids here and there while you try to balance work and home all the while keeping the goldfish alive. What do you want to accomplish as a family? Is there a mission that your family is cut out to do? Does everyone in the family know that you’re working together for a common goal? This might be different for every family, but if you’re letting life happen and you have no real “calling” for your family, then life will happen and you’ll miss some of those rewarding opportunities that could have been presented to you. Decide where your family will make its mark and go out and live it!
16) Get over your past: One of the best things you can do as a parent is to get over your own past. I’m not suggesting that you can just get over it in one day, but you can certainly get started down that path. If you really want to bring that baggage into your kid’s lives than keep on reliving it; but is that what you really want? You CAN decide to leave the past in the past and focus on the future with your children. So many parents can’t get over their own past and they end up missing the present and future with their children. They have too many hang-ups themselves to help their kids with their own struggles. This is such a sad, wasted life. Find a way to move on and help your kids flourish in whatever they set out to do.
17) Fast for your family: You can do this as a family or individually as parents, but fasting has its place in deepening once search for God’s direction. Skip a meal, a whole day’s worth or even an activity that you can forego to spend more time seeking the right path for your family. Myself included, we often lack intensity in our pursuit for the best things in life. Fasting allows us to clear our vision on what we feel is important and necessary for God’s intervention in our lives.
18) Decide to pursue your dreams: Do you want your children to grow up pursuing their dreams? Then I say pursue yours. Your children will gain so much more life experience and lessons watching you take risks and go after your heart’s desire than if you teach them that you gave up all your dreams to raise them. I’m not saying that parenting doesn’t take sacrifice, but being the true person that you are and pursuing your passion is exactly what will encourage your children to do the same. Holding back actually conveys to your children that pursuing their dreams isn’t practical, it’s not possible with your current responsibility, or even that it’s not worth it amidst the other complexities of life. It’s much better to remain safe is what you’re saying. You only live once and so do your children. Learn to follow your own dreams and your children will be that much more enriched by it.
19) Be grateful: Nothing cures discontentment and melancholy more than being grateful. All the ups and downs of life is what God is using to shape you and your children. Learn to make lemonade out of lemons and trust that there is a plan behind everything. Your kids aren’t going to benefit from a cynical spirit and certainly living in a constant grumbling state produces the worst outlook in kids. Teach your children to be thankful for everything and make sure you are modeling it for them. Hardly any circumstances are as bad as we paint them out to be, so be a part of the solution instead of adding to the problem. Enjoy every minute of the children God gave you even if they rub you the wrong way sometimes.
20) Bestow some of your personal items to them: What are some of your personal items or parts of your collections that you can give to your children at this stage in their life? Is it jewelry, a childhood book or toy, or maybe something that your father gave you? Some things that I have to pass onto them, they’re not ready for, but I let them look and play with them with my supervision. Other things I tell them I’m holding onto for when they get older and then others I’m able to just give to them at this stage in their life. Whatever the item might be, children love rehearsing your memories and childhood. These mementos hold a lot of special meaning because it’s a part of your history. Don’t always just throw away things from your past; your children might be able to identify with those and it may turn out to be a special gift for them.

How does it feel to be two-thirds through the parenting challenge? Hopefully you’ve also gained some ideas of your own along the way. How are your children responding? Do you sense any new inspiration in your role as a parent? The important thing is to realize that you’re not alone. Thousands of parents around the world are making every effort to make that impact while they can. If you missed a couple days, don’t worry. You can always go back and repeat them another day or try some next month. I know you’re already improving as a parent and you’ll never regret it. Thanks again for taking this journey with me!      Feel free to email me or comment with any of your suggestions or tips. If you like the content that RelevantParenting provides, please follow my blog or subscribe to my Youtube channel RelevantParenting. God bless you and I pray God encourages you to make the most of your time with your kids!
Best,
Chad

30 Day Parenting Challenge: Part 1

Pushup-Part 1

Often in life we need accountability. Whether it’s meeting a goal that we’ve set, a spiritual battle that we need help with or even pursuing our own career path at work; we need that encouragement from others to beat the status quo, take risks and elevate our life.  Life is not meant to be conquered alone, but if we have others keeping us in line, that can make all the difference.

What I’d like to propose to you is a 30 Day Parenting Challenge to boost your parenting experiences. I’ll break these up into three sections of ten so make sure and look for Part 2 & 3 coming soon.  Hopefully many of these activities will pay dividends well beyond the moments with your kids.   You can practice these on the corresponding days of the month, pick any one that fits your day specifically, or even allow your children to pick them out for you.

Just like any other successful habit, a commitment to change will help you through those times that you’d rather stay comfortable than pursue a higher calling.   Parenting as you know is no easy task, but with some elbow grease, prayer and a plan; you can make a lifelong impact in those saplings of yours.

  1. Get Started: Truly it’s that simple. Whatever you’ve been considering doing as a parent, just do it. You don’t have to have a perfect plan, you don’t have to be a perfect parent, just get started and you can always improve as you go along. Too many people get stuck in the paralysis of analysis and never take that first step in making a change.   You’ll never know unless you try and you’ll end up regretting it if you don’t. Don’t allow the past to dictate your future. If you have a dream of doing something for your kids, making something for them or making a major change in your lifestyle to be there more for you children; then I say get on with it and you’ll never look back!
  2. Work on one area of weakness with your kids: This could be your temper with them, your lack of involvement, the absence of listening, or a scarcity of physical affection shown to them.   No one is going to be a perfect parent, but think of one thing you could focus on today to do better? I’d say go as far as asking your child what you could do to be a better parent to them.
  3. Say “yes” to their requests: Is it really going to hurt you if they ask you to play soccer in the backyard with them? What about a board game, reading a book to them, or playing house or tea with them? Showing your kids that you believe their world is important along with their desires will give them the confidence to engage you in more important matters down the road.
  4. Change up your routine: Maybe one parent takes the kids to school, but this day the other one does.   Try having dinner outside in the backyard instead of at the dinner table.   Allow the kids to sleep in your room and you sleep in theirs. Cook breakfast for dinner and maybe serve them breakfast in bed.   Give them a day off chores and you do them for them so they can spend that extra time in play.   Show up at one of their sport practices instead of just their game. Children will sometimes forget the grind and routine of everyday life, but these change-ups of routine they will more than likely never forget.
  5. Create a new tradition or celebration for your family: What does your family enjoy doing that you could implement more often? Was there a special occasion in the history of your family that you could celebrate? Maybe it was going through a trial that made everyone stronger, or a spiritual decision that you’ve made as a family.   These traditions will be so intertwined with your kid’s core experiences that they’ll probably carry on some of these tradition with their kids.   Traditions/celebrations are rich in meaning and they can anchor kids in many ways that other activities can’t.
  6. Bless your kids: If you’ve never had the chance of laying your hands on your kids and requesting God’s blessing on their life, you’re missing a great experience. My children often ask me to bless them and it seems to encourage them even if they don’t understand everything I’m praying for.   This was often practiced in scripture and we all need God’s protection and blessings in our lives to flourish anyway.   Try huddling up your child(ren) and pray over them asking God to do wonders in their lives and pour out His blessings on everything they do.
  7. Apologize for your mistakes: I think one of the worst things that we can do as parents is to never apologize to our kids.   Ask your kids flat out what you’ve done to set them back, hurt them, or be a bad example.   Trust me, your kids will tell you and you’ll enjoy some humble pie.   Don’t be that proud parent who can’t admit their wrongs.   If you want to raise bitter kids, than don’t bother with this one.   Sometimes the greatest lessons your children will learn are those that you’ve missed the boat on, but humbly encourage them to take a better path.
  8. Take a parenting sabbatical: I’m not saying to skip your parenting duties, but ask your spouse if you can take a few hours or maybe a half day to evaluate your priorities and goals as a parent. Go to that special park or hike that really gets your mental juices flowing.   Are you doing everything you can to be the best parent? Use this time to come up with an action plan that you can implement to set a new course for your family. We all need to recalibrate at one time or another, and taking some time away from the daily grind will help you figure out a clear path.
  9. Take a road trip: Kids seem to have a natural inclination to explore.   Sometimes we lose a portion of that drive as we age, but going on a road trip has so many connection points as a family that you can do in a couple hours or even a day or two.   Make up a treasure hunt or a scavenger hunt with your family.   Find that local historical hotspot that you can peer into the past and learn from it.   Don’t always allow the stacked up chores to prevent you from taking those special times with your children. The chores will always be there, but your kids won’t.
  10. Focus on their love language: Each of your children is going to be different in how they receive and show love. Keying into this early on will make sure that your child’s emotional tank is always full.   If you’re anything like me, certain love languages are easier to meet than others based on your own love language and maybe the current demands on your life.   I know when my children ask specific requests, they’re asking me to show them love the way they feel loved.   Sometimes I have to consciously make an effort to fulfill these requests so I’m meeting their needs.   If your child is always giving you cards, telling you that you’re a good parent, or even giving you lots of kisses and hugs; they’re probably telling you how they want to feel loved as well. Start looking out for these little clues so you can maximize your love shown to them.

Now that you’ve been challenged to focus on specific areas where you might be able to make an immediate impact, it’s time to continue this journey as there’s still two more parts!   Hopefully you’ve experienced some momentum as you’ve made the most important step and that is too just get started.    Later this week you’ll get another 10 days of Parenting Challenge so get ready to make a difference and look for those activities that you might want to repeat later on in the year.

Feel free to email me or comment with any of your suggestions or tips. If you like the content that RelevantParenting provides, please follow my blog or subscribe to my Youtube channel RelevantParenting.   God bless you and I pray God encourages you to make the most of your time with your kids!

Best,

Chad