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

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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

Fear of the Dark: Rite of Passage, or Destructive Emotion?

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If you go to the library to find some resources on helping your children get over the fear of the dark; you’ll probably be hard pressed to find very much.  Although the fear of the dark is said to plague millions of children, it is still a subject that most parents know very little about.

Most parents will do just about anything after frustration and exhaustion takes over. One of the best things you can help give your children is nights of peaceful sleep.    Millions of children around the world would love this gift, but how can parents ensure this amidst common childhood fears?

The reality is that many children sleep with their parents for weeks, if not months. Parents hire therapists to help their children overcome such anxieties and many are simply left to deal with their fears on their own. While most methods have their validity, some are more effective than others.

No matter what approach you use or stage that you are as a parent, spending just a little time to help your kids through this difficult stage can have an impact for the rest of their lives.   In a simple way, dealing with the fear of the dark is probably one of the earliest fears a child is confronted with.

As parents, this is a great opportunity to help them know how to deal with fears in general. Many may argue that this is just a rite of passage for kids, but the fear of the dark lingers into adulthood for thousands of people and it can give rise to other fears.  Rites of passage are intended for the betterment of a person, but allowing fear to accumulate over prolonged periods of time and with no boundaries can be the start down a path of destructive emotions.

The younger the child, the less that they can separate their fantasies from reality. A simple traumatic experience or an innocent experience taken out of context can haunt a child for years.    Being conscious as a parent of your child’s struggle is ultimately going to help determine the outcome of their struggle.  Below are ten things you can start doing tonight to give the gift of peaceful sleep to your child.

  • Engage with your child: A firefighter never faced real fire prior to having sufficient training away from the hot zone. Don’t wait till fear strikes before you engage in conversations about fear with your child. Assume that your children will deal with at least one major fear or several growing up so start planning now.   What does fear look like in your child? What brings out fearful emotions in them? Finally, how does your child respond when confronted with fear?
  • Identify the triggers: Every child is different and the same goes to how they respond to circumstances and even their own imagination.   Does the television in your house spur frightful thoughts, does the tension in your home create undo anxiety in your child or did your child have a traumatic experience that you haven’t made sure that your child is dealing with properly? The better you know your child, the better you can help them through these challenges.
  • Deal with fear properly: The old saying is true that kids will do what you do, not what you say. If you struggle with fear yourself and fail to deal with it properly, more than likely your kids will follow suit. Get some help, identify the triggers and engage a friend or a spouse to help you stay courageous.   Your kids will learn more from how you deal with fear than they will reading ten books about it.
  • Declare war on fear: Fear is one of the most destructive emotions your child can give into. Fear keeps people back when they should be moving forward, fear destroys relationships, it hampers personal growth and it can lead people down enslaved paths of destructive emotions. Don’t allow fear to take root in your family. Rid it wherever it claims land in your household and your children will be that much better for it.
  • Rearrange the room: Often times a simple rearrangement can mean all the difference to a child struggling with the shadows and strange sounds of a dark night.   Cutting branches away from the window, getting darker shades, closing the closet, facing the bed away from the moonlight are just a few practical ideas.
  • Enjoy the night: There are thousands of nighttime wonders to fascinate a child rather than simply being afraid of it.   Creation has so much beauty that we often take for granted what darkness actually reveals.   We tend to think in terms of what darkness hides, but in reality darkness opens up a whole new world of glowing insects, nocturnal animals, shooting stars and the wonderful moonlight glow. Take time to introduce your child to a few of these so they can gain appreciation for the night instead of only being afraid of it.
  • Find a hero: Find someone that your children can esteem because of their bravery. We all face fear in our lives, but not all people are courageous. Read examples of men and women who have done brave things despite their fears and remind your children of such stories.   Even children can rise to bravery and courage when faced with an example to live up to.
  • Slow down: Many parents are so busy dealing with their own problems that they fail to see that their children are going through the same, if not a myriad of their own struggles.   Don’t just assume they’ll work it out, slow your life down to see the details. A well said conversation at the right time can make all the difference and give your child the strength to take on bigger challenges throughout life.
  • Speak to their identity: Don’t make light of your child’s fear and put them down for it, but rather focus on times that they are strong.   When you say things like “Wow, that was brave,” or “I noticed how strong you were;” you’ve just given your children an upgrade on their armor and they’re ready to meet the next big challenge in their life. Children have enough chiseling at their confidence outside their home, the last thing they need is an unsupportive parent.
  • Don’t give up: Our kids are some of the greatest investments we have in life, therefore the effort is worth the payoff.   Kids often go through cycles of fear as they face different challenges in life and their imagination grows stronger with age.   This typically isn’t a one night deal where you’ve conquered fear and it will never rear its ugly head again. Learn to keep watch on important milestones that your child is approaching as new fears or old resurrected ones like to visit again.

Hopefully you can see by now that if parents are willing to take an active role in helping their children, there are dozens of ideas to help your child no matter what their age.     You can take a child who fears the darkness and begin helping him or her enjoy the beauty of the nighttime instead.     Below are several “fearbusters” that can aid in your courageous plan.

Fearbuster 1: Find out from your child what their favorite nighttime activity is and try to capitalize on it.   The goal is to engage them in as many comforting and enjoyable experiences before bed.

Fearbuster 2: Break out the tent, the sheets, or whatever you need to make an indoor fort for sleeping.     Kids thrive on unique experiences and an indoor adventure will surely get your kid’s imagination headed in the right direction.

Fearbuster 3:  Find some every day symbols that speak of strength.  Maybe you get a patch or a pin, or even a picture of something your child can aspire too.  These can be things such as shields, strong animals, brave people, etc.

Fearbuster 4:  Play a nighttime scavenger hunt with your children.   What creatures do you see or hear? What smells are present at night that aren’t during the day?  Lastly, what kind of shapes do you see in the stars or night sky?

Fearbuster 5: Celebrate courageous moments with your child.     Give liberal praise, have a formal celebration if your child makes great strides in overcoming their fear.

Fearbuster 6:  Don’t be too quick to offer a crutch.    There are times when it is necessary to step in a take a child out of a fearful situation.  Many times however, we do things as parents out of convenience, but it has no lasting help for the child.  Remember, a child becomes stronger when they are given the tools to overcome their fears and therefore choose courage, and not always just given the easy way out.

Fearbuster 7:  As mentioned before, talk to your child during the day about fear and don’t wait till it’s nighttime when they’re in the thick of it.   Your child will be in a much better state of mind and will probably open up much better to the things he or she struggles with.

Fearbuster 8: Try some calming music or a book on tape that encourages delightful thoughts instead of frightful ones. Even better if you can read or sing these to them, but at the least play them.

If you’d like more information about helping your kids overcome the fear of the dark, check out my book Lights Out! Helping Your Kids Overcome Their Fear of the Dark on Amazon and you can begin on the journey of helping your kids become more courageous. If you enjoy this content, please follow my blog and my Youtube channel RelevantParenting.

Best,

Chad

5 Ways to Make this Easter’s Celebration Count!

Easter Photo

Easter is one of our most celebrated holidays as a family due to what it means to our Christian Faith.   I’m all for getting the kids some candy and Easter baskets, but we try to keep the focus on what matters most in our celebration.   If we don’t intentionally plan to make that day count, it will be just another day off work, a nice service at church and my children having more of a sweet tooth.

Below are just five simple ways that we strive as a family to keep the meaning in Easter.   I’m sure you have others and I certainly would love to hear about them.   Enjoying some of the aspects of your culture around the holiday I think is also important.   It’s amazing how many memories children will keep from these times so let’s make them as impactful as possible.

    1. Celebrate the true meaning: Paul said that without the resurrection, our Christian faith is a miserable state.   This is one of the bedrock truths that is very important to pass onto our children.   We can begin imparting this truth very early in a child’s life. Because of Jesus rising from the dead, death has no more power to condemn us for eternity. It’s also resurrection power that gives us the strength to overcome those strongholds in our life. If you have never begun a relationship with Jesus, why don’t you begin one today?!
    2. Have traditions: With the internet at our fingertips, there’s no lack of resources for starting some exciting traditions.   You could also start with the things you experienced as a child if you haven’t already. You can check out my Youtube video here Easter Traditions , for some of the fun things that we do (with links below). Hopefully you’ve found a local church to attend on Easter Sunday-here are some additional fun traditions below:
    3. Focus on others: Anytime my children receive gifts, I try to remind them that every good thing does come from God and there are plenty of people around the world that don’t have the opportunity to receive such things.   Teaching your children to be grateful really helps keep the focus off of their circumstances and on the needs of others.   There’s people that don’t have money, are lonely, confused about what to believe, suffering or maybe just down on life that you and your children can reach out too. Easter is certainly a good time to do that.
    4. Take time to enjoy: We look at holidays as a time to finally get a break from work, spend time with family and maybe go on vacation. Although all of these are valid and true, there’s so much rich meaning to be enjoyed and passed onto our children.   It’s very easy to allow work and unimportant things to creep into our time spent with family, but make a commitment to be in the moment as you celebrate Easter.
    5. Make it memorable: Don’t just go through the motions, use some creativity and the imagination that God gave you. If this is particularly hard for you, Google Easter traditions or do a search on Pinterest.  Make this a year to remember with the whole family!

So let’s agree that this Easter is going to be different. Focus on the message and making an impact in your child’s life through positive memories. Impart not only great traditions, but most importantly, some spiritual truths that can change their life!  I look forward to hearing some of your ideas and comments.

Best,

Chad