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

20 Unforgettable Moments To Spend with Your Children (Part 1)

20 unforgettable moments

This will be a two part series on “Unforgettable Moments” so make sure and catch part two in just a couple days!

Have you ever had the feeling of regret for missing an important time with your child or just not having enough time to spend with your children? Of course you have and I’ve shared those same emotions too.

The older we get and the older our children get, the quicker those minutes turn to hours, then to days and eventually months and years.    Time is one of those rare things that you can never get back once it’s lost.  Zig Ziglar stated it right when he said “To a child, ‘love’ is spelled T-I-M-E.”

What if you could zero in on those key moments that your children will never forget?   Take for example a particular smell that you remember as a child.  It could be the smell of a campfire, the smell of fresh cut grass or maybe freshly baked bread. Even as an adult, when you smell those smells, it brings you down memory lane, doesn’t it?

Those memories have strong associations that you’ll never forget. They’re triggered by multiple senses and that’s maybe why they’re so strong.    Today’s message is about creating those positive memories that will shape and nurture your children even into adulthood.

It’s amazing what we can still remember from our childhood, especially if it’s backed by powerful emotions.  See below and see which one of these resonates with you.

  • Snuggling with them: Maybe you’re not the emotional type or you’re the minimalist when it comes to showing emotion; but I have to tell you that you could be missing some of the sweetest times with kids. Whether you crawl into bed with them while telling them a bedtime story, or just getting under a cozy blanket while watching your favorite movie, these times are especially bonding. I’ve done plenty of the tent and living room overnighters with my kids, but one that stands out that they remember is when I slept with them in the trampoline.  It was cold, cramped and to tell you the truth it was miserable for me, but they were sure snuggled up to me all night-so much so that when we all woke up it seemed as though the kids were just dropped on me from above.   I’m not sure I would want to do that again, but it meant a lot to them.  The moral of the story is to slow down enough to show that physical contact they so desperately need.   You don’t need a trampoline (trust me) to go the extra mile in showing them physical affection. For particular kids, this is their love language and it means a lot to embrace, hold and snuggle with them.
  • Campfires: My boys and I have had some great conversation around the campfire. Depending on where you live, you can make an inexpensive fire pit, or many fire pits you can buy for under $100. I live in an area where there are fire bans so I just try to maximize the “season” when I am allowed to do it.  If I can go up into the mountains and have one with them, that’s even better.  You kids will listen to you for hours as long as you bring marshmallow and s’mores.   The whole experience is mesmerizing and brings a warmth to the gathering that kids will ask for over and over again.   My boys almost always expect to have some type of meaningful, spiritual or life skills coaching during this time and they even ask for it.   Watch my short YouTube video Starting a Campfire to see some of the basic tools that I use when planning for a nice camp fire.  Below are just a few books that I’ve found to supplement your storytelling and fun around the fire.
  • Supporting their events: I remember one time that my kids were having their Easter program and my boys were singing in it.   I had a long day at work and managed to get one of the worst migraines that I’ve ever had.     I told them that I wasn’t feeling well enough to attend and that I’d have to catch the next one.   I figured they would understand, but I was wrong.  You would’ve thought from their expression that that was the worst thing I could do to them.   You guessed it, I felt sorry for them, I sucked it up and went to their play.   That was a memory that I didn’t miss even though I so wanted to and looking back, I’m glad I didn’t.  My kids were beaming from ear to ear as they saw me in the crowd. It was worth putting up with my migraine to be there.
  • Dates with Kids: Having a set time to spend that special time with each child is crucial in developing a deep relationship.   This could be going to a baseball game because your child enjoys sports, or picking up some ice cream while you chat about life.  These can be formally planned or just picking up junior to tag along with you to the store.   I think the important thing here is that you need individual time with each child.   Put these times on the calendar and build up the excitement towards the event if you can.   Becky Mansfield in her blog Your Modern Family posts How to make each child feel important by “Every month on our child’s ‘birth date’, they get to have ‘their’ night.”  I thought that was a great idea and you should check out her post for more.   You’ll be amazed at how much your child opens up when they’re away from their siblings.
  • Teaching Life Skills: This is a big burden of mine. So many children grow up through life into adulthood not having the skills to compete in the workforce, handle life’s challenges or even cope with the day to day responsibilities that help shape a successful life.  Yes your kids will learn some life skills from school, from their mistakes, from their friends and even the jobs that they take, but ultimately, you can give them such a huge start in life if you focus on the crucial skills that they need before leaving the household.
  • Bedtime Talks: One of my favorite things to do is to crawl into the bed with each of my kids and just tell them a story, talk about life or answer any questions that they have.   In my household, the favorite stories are the ones from my childhood and bible stories.   I’ve told them so many stories from my childhood sometimes I can’t remember anymore.    I have to tell them ones I’ve already told them.    Another good idea is to ask them to ask me questions that they don’t understand about life or God.  Those are always interesting and even memorable.   Making sense of life either through stories or just talks I believe is such a healthy practice if you’ll just take the time.
  • Dinner Time Conversations: Great food and conversation go hand in hand.   Whether it’s that special pizza night or just a good home cooked meal, there’s a lot to be remembered from what comes out of dinner time conversations.    Try to keep the conversations light as opposed to scolding your kids for what they did or did not do during the day.   Talk about your days, what you learned and what was memorable.   Although we try to keep the “play” time at a minimum during dinner, we encourage humor and plenty of laughing.   If you’re going to establish the dinner table as an important family gathering, you have to keep if fun and enjoyable so your kids will long for it as they get older.
  • Holidays: I know holidays can be stressful, especially if you’re planning for a big crowd.    Amidst all the chaos and commercialization, don’t forget about the true meaning.    If you’re reading the Christmas story about how Christ came to save us, but yet your family is at each other’s throats; you’re kind of defeating the purpose.     For our family, we have to plan to have a successful holiday, we can’t just let it happen. We plan our recipes, our message around the meaning, our activities and of course which relative’s house we’ll spend time at.  We prep the kids for the stresses that might occur, their attitudes towards relatives and even a grateful spirit for the gifts they’ll receive.   Trust me, your kids will remember your holiday times so don’t let them become a war zone, but rather an enjoyable experience.
  • Playing with them: Let me guess, when you get home from work, the first thing you’re looking forward to doing is playing robots with your kids, playing hide and seek or playing dress up. No? I’m shocked! Not really, I am in the same boat.  You’ve had a stressful, long day at work and you want to just relax and enjoy the night-maybe watch your favorite show.   Children ask you to play with them because they enjoy your company, they often find their play time more enjoyable if you’re watching them or engaged with them.  On my way home from work, I often change my mindset of working with adults, to now engaging with kids.  It’s their world, what’s important to them and the more you can get into that world of theirs, the more impactful you’ll be as a parent.
  • Showing them their love language: Now if you’re like me, certain love languages are easier to show than others. For example, I’m a doer and constantly doing something.  For me to sit down relax and watch a 3 hour TV program most of the time seems pretty boring to me.    I get energized by accomplishing things and matter of fact the word relax is somewhat foreign to me.  When my child asks me to sit with him, I’m more apt to give him a piggy back ride around the house as I accomplish my stuff.   For him though, that’s not what he’s looking for.  He wants me to hold him, read a book, tickle him, or just simply relax while we spend some downtime together.  Whatever your child’s love language is, you have to tap into it and make time to express that to him or her individually.

Now that you’re at the halfway point; hopefully you’re already excited about some of the ways to make an impact today!   If you don’t know where to get started, just pick one thing that you’re comfortable with and after you’ve tried that one, move on to the next.  Ask God to help you choose the right ones.

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. Be sure and check back in a couple days to catch part 2 of the series.

Chad