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.

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.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #24

Well, just when many of you were getting used to a school routine, some systems are changing again! With all of this constant change, you may be feeling the stress. Or you may not have given much thought to your Christian parenting journey because of the constant chaos. Here are this week’s social media challenges to encourage and inspire you.

Monday: Some are leaving social media because it has become toxic for them. You can read our Christian parenting blog posts and social media challenges by going to the Parenting Like Hannah website and signing up for the newsletter. You will receive three emails a week. Just be sure to open them (even if you don’t have time to read) so they don’t go in your spam folder. We do not sell or share your name with anyone. That’s www.parentinglikehannah.com.

Tuesday: These towers in Ireland were built to protect monks and their valuables, like the Bible, from Vikings. As they approached, the monks would climb a ladder and enter in that opening half way up. Then they pulled the ladder in after them. There was no ground floor access and the tower protected them. Did you know protecting your kids from evil is not only something God wants you to do, but secular science backs the need as well? The evils in the world cause stress in children when they aren’t protected from them. They can change their brain structure, have a lifetime impact on their health and in some cases even modify their DNA in negative ways…impacting their descendants. Sadly, many will mock you for protecting your kids. You can be over protective and totally shield your child from life, but that is so rare you probably will never cross that line. Protect your kids from evil. Your kids need you to be that protective tower for them.

Wednesday: Some kids seem to be born with a sunny disposition. Others…not so much. Yet God calls all of us to be grateful and to go about life without grumbling and complaining. This year has challenged even the optimists of the world. You and your kids may have developed bad habits. There’s still time to turn your family into one that is grateful, complaint free and hope filled. Find creative ways to challenge each other to break bad habits. Our recent post about a gratitude challenge with a twist could help. End this year on a positive note by filling your home with positive, godly attitudes.

Thursday: Since God created everything, it only makes sense that to reflect His image, we would be creative. Encouraging your kids’ creativity also gives them godly ways to express themselves and work off stress and anxiety. Art isn’t the only way for your kids to express their creativity. They may prefer cooking, building things, writing or dozens of other ways to express creativity. Help them find the ways God made each of them to be creative. Take it one step more. Can you help them find ways to use that creativity to serve others and share their faith? This process is one of the fun parts of parenting that can also help your kids find their role in the Kingdom, so make the time to help your kids tap into their creativity.

Friday: This sign makes sense to the people who live here, but we had to guess at the meaning. Life is like that for your kids. A lot of what you think is common knowledge or common sense is actually information you have learned over the years. You can improve your kids common sense by actually teaching them about the world and how it works. Then they don’t have to learn the slow painful way of trial and error. The same principles work for teaching them how to live the Christian life. The more time you take teaching them what God wants, the fewer unnecessary mistakes they will make.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #22

In my mind, the Holiday season has begun with several almost back to back holidays over the next few months. With everything you have happening, now until Spring can seem overwhelming. Take a step back and prioritize what is actually best for your kids, your spouse and you. You may want to read our blog post earlier this week on fun ways to express gratitude as a family. Here are this week’s social media challenges.

Monday: If you find this coin while eating a special Greek holiday cake, you are supposed to have good luck. Unfortunately, constantly using words like “luck” and “coincidence” with your kids minimizes the role God actually plays in the good things that happen in our lives. Helping your kids “see” God is pointing out to your kids when you see Him working in the world around you. (And scrubbing the worlds “luck” and “coincidence” from your vocabulary.)

Tuesday: Life doesn’t always come with warning signs…especially to warn your kids about the things that can pull them away from God. Sometimes Satan tempts them with sins in which they become enmeshed. For others, Satan can use things which appear to be good, but ultimately have the same impact of pulling your kids away from God. Teach your kids how to stay close to God and how to avoid being tricked into starting to walk away from him. If you don’t tell them the warning signs, who will?

Wednesday: Did you know the sound of water from a stream, waterfall or fountain is soothing? That walking can calm nerves, lift moods and clarify thinking? Teaching your kids godly, healthy coping strategies for when they are feeling emotions like anxiety can keep them from turning to less healthy or godly ways of coping out of desperation.

Thursday: Someone was creative when they designed this playground equipment. You may have to be creative with certain aspects of parenting. What works well with one of your kids may have no impact on another one. That’s why Christian parenting mentors who have raised children who are active, productive Christians as adults can help. Studies are showing those parents do have parenting skills and techniques that are unique. Tapping into their wisdom can make your parenting journey easier and more successful. Why not make your life easier by asking for advice?! It’s what the book of Proverbs suggests over and over.

Friday: Young people sometimes stop believing in God when they see bad things happen to “good” people. It’s important for you to teach them the realities sin brought into the fallen world. They also need to understand God’s plan to redeem us, His amazing love for us and the length of a perfect eternity in Heaven compared to the pain in this world. They also need to understand their choices will impact whether or not their eternity is spent living in the presence of God. Don’t let them reject God because they don’t understand the realities of the world that are clearly explained in the Bible.