Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #26

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was smaller than normal, but thanks to negative COVID tests, we were able to enjoy it without worrying about becoming ill. Of course, this means Christmas will be here soon. Here are the social media challenges for the week in case you missed them.

Monday: When King Henry VIII created the Anglican Church, he removed the roofs of all the other churches in the UK. Most were never repaired and the churches are now ruins dotting the land. Your kids will face persecution if they believe and obey God. They may not be martyred, but they will be teased, mocked and excluded. People, even some “Christians” will try to convince them obeying God is somehow stupid. You have to raise kids who know what they believe, why they believe it and are willing to go to prison or die if those are the earthly consequences for obeying God. That unshakable faith foundation doesn’t happen by accident. It will take a lot of time and effort on your part, but it is so comforting as you grow older to see your adult children still standing strong in their faith…knowing you will see them again in Heaven.

Tuesday: Did you know manners are more than stuffy old customs of rich people? They are how we can reflect God’s love to others. Why? Because at their core, manners are about kindness, consideration and respect or…putting others before ourselves. Working with your kids on their manners is one way of teaching them how to be loving and kind. It’s worth all of the time and effort it takes.

Wednesday: The books in this room represent the information your kids will absorb from multiple sources. It will impact their thinking, their worldview, their beliefs, their words, their actions and their faith. Do you have any idea what sources your kids are consuming for information? What are the authors’ biases (because we all have them)? Do they have an agenda? Is it godly or anti-godly? Become informed and involved. Otherwise your kids will slowly slide away from God and towards secularism, humanism or even atheism.

Thursday: Stop several times today and just look around you for a moment. Soak in the blessings God has given you. Thank Him for your precious little ones – even if they are all grown up with little ones of their own. Gratitude and joy are connected. Bring joy into your family by keeping them firmly grounded in gratitude.

Friday: The Christmas season officially begins today. It’s easy for children of all ages to become greedy when constantly bombarded by ads for all of the things they could ever want or imagine. Helping your kids focus on giving rather than getting can keep greed to a minimum. Have them focus on finding the gift that will truly mean something to the person who receives it. Or encourage them to put love into a homemade gift. Stay away from toy aisles, catalogs and stores and search our blog for past posts on the topic for even more practical tips.

Fun Ways to Teach Kids Perseverance on Thanksgiving

Perseverance is a critical character trait not only to live a successful life, but more importantly to live a Christian life. Helping your kids develop more perseverance is not always easy or fun. Thanksgiving is one of those rare occasions when perseverance lessons can actually be enjoyable and helpful to you and your kids.

If your kids aren’t normally allowed to help with cooking tasks, this Thanksgiving perseverance training may take a little more patience on your part. The great thing about preparing the Thanksgiving meal is that there are tasks even the youngest of children can perform that help them develop perseverance.

These are some of the tasks that are great for teaching kids perseverance.

  • Tearing the bread for stuffing or dressing. Almost every recipe calls for tearing quite a bit of bread into tiny pieces. In our house, we have a super large bowl we use so there is plenty of room for tiny hands to search for unturned pieces without spilling already torn pieces on the work space.
  • Making decorated place cards for everyone. You don’t need to buy place cards. Take rectangles of card stock and have your kids write the person’s name and draw decorations on each place card. The more people you have eating, the more perseverance this task will require.
  • Peeling potatoes. You can give your child a safety peeler to keep the task safe. Mashed potatoes require a lot of potatoes to be peeled, making this a great task of perseverance.
  • Setting the table. Many people, means there are a lot of place settings to put on the table properly. The key is “properly” which may require more perseverance for some kids than others.
  • Washing dirty dishes. There is no meal that creates more dirty dishes than Thanksgiving. Even if you use a dishwasher, that is a lot of loading and unloading of dishes!
  • Baking homemade rolls. Bread baking is always a great task in perseverance. Any recipe that requires kneading and rising is a great choice.
  • Making pies. Pies are a great way for older kids and teens to learn perseverance. Most recipes have multiple steps and baking involved. Not to mention, you can’t eat the finished pie until after the meal is eaten!

Allowing your kids to help you prepare the Thanksgiving meal can teach them perseverance and give you the extra kitchen help you need for years to come. That’s a win win for everyone!

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #25

Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week?! I imagine your favorite blessing may just be your kids. Do they know it though? Don’t forget, your kids need lots of hugs, “I love you’s” and quality time with you – even if you are all home together all day. Here are some more tips and encouragement from this week’s social media challenges.

Monday: These flowers may look as if they accidentally sprung up, but they were carefully planted and tended by someone. There are parents who believe in free range parenting….virtually no guidance, oversight, coaching, direct teaching, etc. The belief is that kids will grow to be their best selves with little if any adult intervention. The truth is God expects parents to teach and coach their kids, to protect them from evil, to give them guided practice in living the lives God wants them to live. God also expects parents to correct their children when they are disobedient. Failing to do so, means your kids may turn out to be like the children of Eli, Samuel and the vast majority it appears of the sons of King David. You don’t have to control and micro manage your kids, but God does expect you to teach, guide and train them.

Tuesday: Need ideas for things to do with your kids that can also help them learn more about God? Check out the Bible lessons and activity ideas on our Teach One Reach One website. Originally designed for classes, many can also be done with your family and the ideas and lessons are all free! www.teachonereachone.org/activity-ideas

Wednesday: You would never purposefully say anything that would emotionally scar your kids for life, but are you doing it accidentally? A lot of parents say negative things about their kids to other adults when their children are nearby. Most of the time it is merely venting and an attempt to laugh about the struggles of parenting with friends. That’s not what it sounds like to your kids though, when they inevitably overhear you. What you meant as hyperbole, they hear as truth. What you said in frustration, they use to define themselves. Your words can cut your kids more than the words of others, because in their minds you are supposed to know them better than anyone and love them no matter what. And don’t forget, your young kids may eventually get on social media and scroll down through your old posts. Your kids know they aren’t perfect, but let them overhear you telling others encouraging things about them.

Thursday: What is the opposite of a child who is grateful? One who whines, complains, exhibits selfish and entitled behaviors and more. Want kids with great Christian character traits and hearts full of love? Work towards helping them have an attitude of gratitude and a grateful heart.

Friday: A lot of artists do self portraits. A fun way to find out how your kids view themselves is to give them some fun art supplies and have them draw a self portrait. If they think they can’t draw, show them abstract “portraits” and encourage them to try that style. Then have them write or draw what they are like “on the inside”…likes, dislikes, emotions, thoughts, etc. When they are finished, have them tell you about their portraits. Why does self image matter? Because it reveals part of your child’s heart and whether it is moving towards God or away from Him.

How Much Escapism Is Too Much?

If you have ever felt like running away from home, this may have been the year when the urge was the strongest. The only problem is that unless you are extremely wealthy, there is nowhere to run! It seems everywhere we turned, there has been doom and gloom. The questions then become, not “Can we escape?”, but rather, “Is escapism godly?” and “How much should we allow our kids to escape reality?”

Escapism is easier than it has ever been. Most of us carry with us a device that can take us to the virtual world of our preference. This includes live sporting events and concerts which have created new virtual worlds this year. We can even travel virtually and see the things we can’t currently travel to see. In this virtual world, we can close ourselves off from everything unpleasant if we should so choose. If your kids are like most, they are spending hours a day interacting with or watching some virtual experience.

The Bible doesn’t of course specifically address virtual worlds, because they didn’t exist then. It does however address leisure time…although, it’s a bit more than that. The weekly Sabbath, practiced by the Israelites, meant on one day a week, no work was to be done. Time was spent resting, praying and worshipping God. One has to imagine there were other activities, like day dreaming that occurred during this day of rest.

God never forbids having fun or enjoying leisure activities. What He did do was put some boundaries around leisure pursuits for His people. These boundaries would apply if your kids were laying in a field, looking up at the clouds and day dreaming or playing a video game. These boundaries or principles should be part of the discussion you have with your kids about how much time they should be spending in their virtual worlds, whether they are games, movies, sporting events or any place where they disconnect from others to enjoy an experience crafted to entice people away from the “real” world.

There are some signs, that your kids are perhaps becoming too enmeshed in their favorite virtual worlds.

  • Time spent in virtual worlds is beginning to interfere with obligations. School work needs to be completed properly. Chores done. When your kids are older, they will have work and family responsibilities as well. If the quality of school work, chores, jobs or relationships is suffering, then it’s time to decrease the amount of time spent in leisure pursuits.
  • The real world looks even worse because the virtual world is perfect. If the contrast becomes too stark, the temptation will be strong to live in the real world as little as possible. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world where no one asks anything of them or criticizes them? If time spent in the virtual world is steadily increasing, it is an indication that the virtual world is more appealing then real life.
  • The only relationships are with people they’ve never actually met. There are times when a supportive, online community can be helpful. That is rarely the case for kids and teens. If they are “too busy” to ever do anything with real people, they may believe their online “friends” are the perfect friends they can’t find in real life.
  • Anger is expressed when asked to leave the virtual world by a friend or family member. Anger, regularly expressed, when asked to put down a device or turn off the computer or television is a strong indication there may be an addiction issue. Theologically speaking, any addiction is putting something in the place where God should be…the most important thing in our lives. The brain science behind addiction is well known, making it easier for game designers and producers of events to structure things to encourage addiction. Be prepared for denial and even lies though…additional signs of someone struggling with addiction.
  • Opportunities to help someone, serve others or share their faith are missed or ignored. Do your kids no longer even notice that someone needs help? Do they turn down opportunities to serve or share their faith, claiming they are too busy (but you find them online during that time period)? God has plans for each of our lives. Those plans include serving others and sharing our faith. Those things can’t be done playing a game or watching a sporting event or video of some sort.
  • Do your kids know more about people in their virtual world of choice than their own family and friends? Relationships require spending time together sharing interests, feelings, ideas and more. A lack of knowledge about friends and family, with an immense knowledge of everyone in their virtual world of choice indicates an issue of some sort.
  • Are they more excited being in their virtual world than they are about spending time with God? Or even worse, have they stopped spending time with God to have more time in their virtual world? Christians who don’t read the Bible, pray and attend worship services become extremely vulnerable to Satan’s tricks. If your kids aren’t plugged into God because they would rather be plugged into their favorite virtual world, they are showing the early signs of a heart that is moving away from God.

Helping your kids (or spouse or yourself) detox from the perfect virtual isn’t easy. What Mom wouldn’t rather watch a Hallmark movie than clean up her child’s vomit? What spouse wouldn’t rather watch a ball game than clean out the gutters? Or what kid wouldn’t rather play a game than do homework? To live the rich, full life God has planned for each of you will require spending a lot more time in the real world than online. It’s worth the pain of detox to see your family living the lives God meant for them to have.

Fun Ways to Have a Grateful Family All Year

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. If your family is like most, gratitude is one of the themes for the day…at least during the prayer for the meal. In the U.S. Thanksgiving is quickly followed by a season that is characterized more by greed than gratitude. Once your kids are in that mindset, it can be tough to remind them to be grateful.

There are some fun activities you can do all year that can remind your kids to be grateful daily and not just on Thanksgiving. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Grab a large clear container (preferably unbreakable). Place it somewhere where everyone will see it at least a couple of times a day. Beside it, place slips of paper and a pen. If you have pre-writers, you may want to make the slips of paper a bit larger and place markers or crayons next to it. Encourage everyone in your family to write or draw something to be thankful for at least once a day and place it in the jar. To get everyone in the habit, for the first couple of weeks you might want to have a time each evening when you share a Bible verse and each add your entry for the day. Then periodically have a blessings time. Pull out all of the slips and read what people wrote or drew. Then have a prayer of thanksgiving.
  • Throughout history there are stories of people whose lives were saved or changed forever by an ear of corn, a crust of bread or an encouraging word. Periodically pop some popcorn or bake some bread. As you are enjoying the treat, take turns sharing the ways people have blessed you by helping or encouraging you in some way. Make the time even more special by writing a note or making a thank you treat for some of the people you mention.
  • Draw a five by five grid on a piece of paper. Each square should be large enough to write or draw something in it. You will need at least one copy for each person playing the game. Usually, kids love this game, so be prepared to make more grids! Make a set of slips of paper, each having a letter of the alphabet on it. If you have young children, you may want to leave out letters like “q”, “x” and “a”. On another set of slips of paper write categories of items for which you can be grateful like food, clothing, places, etc. If you have older children, you can make it more challenging by adding categories like books of the Bible, people in the Bible, adventures, books, etc. Start by pulling five letter slips. Everyone should write one letter beside each square going down the left side of the grid. Then pull five category slips. They should each go above a square across the top of the grid. When you say “go”, everyone starts completing the grid as quickly as possible. So if the first letter were “c” and the category, “food”, someone might write “cucumber” in the square where the two intersect. Set a time limit…slower for the first round, then shorter as you need to make it more difficult. Have everyone add up their answers and check the answers of the winner. Encourage trying to improve each person’s individual score more than focusing on who had the most correct answers each time.

Doing fun things to encourage gratitude all year, should lessen greed and entitlement as it increases gratitude. It’s a great way to spend regular family time together.