Christian Parenting Challenges Week 3

We hope you are finding having a printable post with the previous week’s Christian parenting challenges makes it easier for you to do some of the challenges (or share them with others!). Here are the challenges from this week.

Monday: In this town, the children are responsible for answering the bell to raise the bridge when a boat needs to come through the canal. It’s a huge responsibility, but helps them grow and mature. It also gives them a sense of connection to their community and a sense of purpose. Your kids need roles that allow them to serve others. Roles that require them to be consistent, dependable and at times make sacrifices – putting the needs of others before their own desires. Give them or help them find their own ongoing responsibilities for serving others.

Tuesday: Cheese has an aging process. The maker does his job, but it’s not until the cheese has aged for a time that he knows whether his efforts were truly successful. Christian parenting can be like that. It may seem like you are working with your kids on the same things over and over with few results. That work you are putting in now may very well show results days, weeks, months, even years from now as your kids mature. Keep doing what you know God wants you to do to parent your kids towards Him. Don’t give up! The results may just amaze you!

Wednesday: In flowers you can see hints of what may be to come, but you don’t see the full realization until the bloom is fully open. The rest is just potential. Each of your kids has God given potential to learn about God, discover, develop and use their gifts to serve Him and grow to be the person He created them to be. Gift discovery is a huge part of Christian parenting. Unfortunately, most Christian parents aren’t aware of its importance in building a strong faith foundation and helping their kids grow to their godly potential. We have lots of blog posts on our website and you can search for them by typing in gifts, talents and service. Help your kids reach that gorgeous potential God gave them!

Thursday: Are there sibling wars in your house? We have a free parent tip sheet to help you actively teach your kids how to resolve conflict in godly ways. Contrary to popular belief, kids don’t usually “figure it out on their own.” Teaching your kids how to resolve conflict in godly ways can not only end sibling wars, but have a positive impact on all of their future relationships, too.…/TORO%20Tips%20for%20Kids-…

Friday: Your Church may not be as historic as this one where John Adams and his family worshipped, but it is your family’s church home. Unfortunately, after several months of online, virtual or Zoom church, your children may be confused about the importance of in person, “real” worship and fellowship when it’s safe again. It’s important to have regular conversations about the benefits of worshipping in person with other Christians. Your children will learn and grow the most spiritually in a real versus virtual church environment. It’s important they understand why, or this generation may walk away from in person fellowship entirely. (Note: We are not advocating worshipping together in person until health officials believe it is safe to once again fellowship in large groups indoors. The vaccine will Lord willing be here soon and allow us to resume normal worship practices.)

Christian Parenting Challenges Week 2

Each week day we post Christian parenting challenges on social media. We want you to have a printable copy so you can remember them or use them any time you wish. Here are the challenges from this week.

Monday: Wearing a mask is a good opportunity to teach your kids about what the Bible has to say about obeying governmental authorities (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2 etc.) and loving others as we love ourselves, putting others needs before our own and more. It’s faith and love in action.

Tuesday: This wind mill has lots of moving parts. If one of them is broken, it must be fixed for the windmill to create the paper it was built to make. Christian parenting is similar. If your kids aren’t growing spiritually, some part of the process that was meant to help them grow has broken down. It could be their own heart issue or something they need from you to start moving towards God again. If you don’t take the time to analyze what’s causing the problem and fix it, your child will continue to move farther and farther away from God. Problems are usually easier to fix when they start, not after years of worsening. Don’t procrastinate!

Wednesday: Life is full of interesting things. And things that practically scream for our attention. It’s easy to get distracted from doing the Christian parenting things God wants you to be doing. Sometimes – like with an illness – it’s unavoidable. One thing I think the pandemic has taught many of us is that most of our distractions we have actively chosen to allow them to distract us. When they are removed, we often still neglect the things we need to be doing. Don’t excuse your way out of parenting your kids towards God. Be intentional. Make good choices. It’s worth it!

Thursday: When I was young, I was fascinated with Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. It was fun to see her perform recently. Of course, we didn’t have the access to all of the information about the celebrities your kids do. Which makes being a fan a bit more spiritually dangerous for kids. I could only copy Mary Poppins or Maria in the Sound of Music as I knew next to nothing about the real Julie Andrews. Your kids can copy everything about their favorite celebrity from clothes to makeup to fowl language, illicit drug use and more (depending upon the celebrity of course). Even if they choose a Christian artist or a minister, those people can still make poor choices or sin. Teach your kids it’s fine to admire people, but they should focus their efforts on being like Jesus.

Friday: Most of these adults in Holland are already drunk at 10 a.m. They may look like they are having fun, they may have even convinced themselves they are having fun. Talking with locals revealed the daily heavy drinking is actually connected to the unhappiness they feel living their lives with no meaning and no sense of purpose. Kids and teens may only see the perception and not the reality in unhealthy and sinful coping strategies. Teach them godly ways to cope when they are lonely, sad or angry. Teach them the consequences of using poor coping strategies. Help them find their place in God’s Kingdom, so they will be connected and have a sense of purpose and belonging. Actively teach and model living the lives God wants His people to live….and make sure they see Christians can obey God and have a rich, full, joyful life.

Tiny Habits for Christian Parents

Do you want to do all of those Christian parenting things you know you should be doing, but struggle with consistency? Perhaps you do well for a couple of weeks, then something happens and you never seem to be able to keep up those great new habits.

The key word there is habit. Although Christianity is ultimately about our hearts, many of the things we need to do to keep our faith strong and Christian parent well are actually habits. We need to do them every day or several times a day to accomplish our spiritual goals.

If you’ve ever tried to break a bad habit or start a new one, you know how difficult it can be. Most of the time the very thought of trying to establish a new habit is enough to exhaust us. I don’t go to the gym because changing clothes, driving several miles, finding a class I like….all of it just feels too overwhelming.

There’s a great book called Tiny Habits by B. J. Fogg. I highly recommend reading it, if you can find the time. It’s not a Christian book, but a lot of the information can be easily adapted to be used in trying to live a Christian life.

There are a couple of key points for establishing new habits I want to share with you. It’s only a small fraction of all of the great material in the book, but you may find these three tips change everything for you.

Let’s say you want to have a family devotional time every day. You’ve started and stopped so many times, it feels like you will never be consistent. Here are three things you can do that may help you finally have those daily devotionals consistently.

  • Pick the best time. Find a time in your schedule as it is right now when you can easily and consistently fit a 20 minute family devotional. Make sure you consider possible roadblocks that could occur in that time slot, like a family member with other commitments. Let’s say your family always has dinner together. Can you work in the devotional immediately following your meal? Or could you have it while you are eating? Don’t try at this point to swap the devotional for another activity currently in that time slot, like watching a favorite tv show. You will be less likely to follow through if one of you feels they are giving up something for the new habit.
  • Make the new habit really tiny. This was the part that changed everything for me. Our new habits are always grandiose. We want a 20 minute family devotional that meets the spiritual needs of your kids, is engaging, and of course has some complex activity to make the point of the scripture reading memorable. It’s easy to fail the first time something goes wrong and give up. Instead, aim for reading a verse of scripture and having a very short prayer of blessing over your kids. Two minutes tops. If you want to do more, great! On those inevitable bad days, just read one verse of scripture and pray over your kids. Choose a book like Proverbs or a Gospel to start to make it easier to quickly find a great verse to read. (If you choose Proverbs, just read one verse from the chapter corresponding to that day’s date – January 15 – read one verse from Proverbs chapter 15. Or read the verse of the day in the Bible app.) A “victory” is that one verse and blessing prayer. Pat yourselves on the back and cheer every day you do it. On those days when you have a full devotional and activity…you’ve won the Super Bowl! On those crazy, bad days, you’ve still met your goal even if your family only read one verse of scripture together. The goal is consistency, not the amount of time or amount of scripture covered.
  • Create daily reminders you can’t miss. Set the alarm on everyone’s phone to go off at the chosen time. Have the Bible already out and open at the place you have chosen to have the devotional. Make signs that say “Devotional today at (time and place)” and hang them around your house where everyone will see them. Part of starting a new habit is remembering to actually do it! With lots of reminders, you will have less nights when you remember the devotional after everyone is in bed.

I encourage you to read the book to get more ideas, but start with these now. See if you can use them to ingrain those Christian parenting habits you need.

Summer Replacement Activities to Help Kids Grow Spiritually

As COVID strategies continue to develop and change, there is a strong possibility the summer activities in which your kids normally participate may already have been cancelled, delayed or dramatically altered. This may mean your kids will spend more unstructured time at home for part or all of the summer.

Don’t worry! In general, this can be an excellent development in the lives of your kids. Most kids are over scheduled to the point where their activities are hurting them more than helping them – especially spiritually. Extra time at home can also mean more time for you to be engaged with your kids – and that’s great, too.

What about that tendency young people can have to get into trouble when they aren’t occupied? Firm, but loving limits and consistently applied consequences for violating them will often almost entirely eliminate that problem.

If you want to engage your kids in some meaningful activities this summer that will also require minimal exposure to COVID, here are some great ideas to get you started.

  • Fun, hands-on engaging academic review activities that are connected to Bible stories in meaningful ways. Our Teach One Reach One Ministries website has tons of free activity ideas that will help your kids learn or review academic skills in foreign languages (created for ESL, the activities would work with any language), language arts, math, science, health and even sustenance and survival, while also learning Bible stories.
  • Family or individual service projects. We have lots of free service projects ideas online that connect serving others to Bible stories in meaningful ways. Created for groups to do, many can also be done as is or scaled back for individual young people or families.
  • Family Bible devotionals and activities. Search for family devotionals on Parenting Like Hannah and you will find plenty of free family devotional ideas to keep you busy all summer long.
  • Gift discovery, development and use. Many craft stores are offering project ideas and sales on materials to encourage kids to try different arts. You can also find YouTube video lessons on music, crafts, cooking and a variety of other potential areas of giftedness. Try them together and you may find some new gifts, too. Once your child has identified a gift, find online ways to encourage development of the gift and search our service project ideas to see if they can use that gift to serve others and share their faith in some way.
  • Explore apologetics and other ministry films and videos. Our church supplies its members with free access to Right Now Media, a group that has quality videos on all sorts of Christian content by many of the most popular speakers. If your church doesn’t offer it, you can look into an individual subscription or find some of the content on other sources. Even Netflix or Amazon Prime have occasional Christian films listed. Your kids probably won’t want to watch these as much as they will want to screen a secular streaming service show, but throwing one of these into the mix for family viewing from time to time might interest them more than you think.
  • “Old school” activities – with a twist. Try chalk paintings with cornstarch and food dyes, container gardening from scraps, low waste cooking or cooking through a famous chef’s cookbook. Or go straight old school and teach your kids jacks, four square, hopscotch and other summer classics. If you do these with your kids occasionally, you can strengthen your relationship in ways that will make later spiritual discussions more well received.
  • Look for God in His creation. Go on a nature hike (where they are allowed), lay on blankets in your yard and watch the clouds drift by or star gaze. Grow flowers or vegetables and share the results with others while admiring them as they grow and produce beauty or food (or both). Go rock or shell hunting. Feed the birds. Point out the variety and complexity in God’s creation.
  • Read great books. Encourage your kids to read, read the same books at the same time as your kids or read to them during a resting time. Of course the Bible is the best, but don’t forget Christian books like those by C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, Francis Chan, David Platt and more. There are fiction and non-fiction options and many classics have special versions for kids and/or teens. (We will share a list of some of our favorite non-fiction books for older kids and teens some time in the next week.)
  • Find fun ways to exercise together. If you can’t get outside to exercise, P.E. With Joe on YouTube is a teacher and family favorite of many. It makes sense that we can serve God more easily when we are healthy. You and your kids will find many other benefits from exercise, healthy eating and ample sleep.
  • Learning and practicing spiritual disciplines. Scripture or prayer journaling, Bible study, scripture reflection, scripture art, prayer walks and more are great ways for your kids to learn how to stay connected to God the rest of their lives.
  • Learning Christian life skills. Godly conflict resolution is a lot easier if you know the steps of productive conflict resolution. Good stewardship is easier when you understand how to make a budget. We have lots of free Christian life skill lessons that were written for use with teens, but could easily be adapted for use with elementary aged children as well.

So take advantage of this old school summer. Do some things with your kids that will help them grow spiritually while they are having fun. It may just end up being your best summer yet!

7 Key Components of Your Child’s Faith Foundation

As a Christian parent, you want your kids to have strong faith foundations. That strong foundation can help them avoid temptation and grow to become faithful, productive Christians. Yet many children raised in “good” Christian homes have faith foundations so weak, they crumble at the first stressor.

Part of the problem is we don’t have enough discussions about the specifics of what kids need to build a strong faith foundation. As a result, many parents are left to guess what their kids need or praying the church is providing their kids with everything they will need spiritually.

No matter how great the children’s and youth ministries are at your church, they just don’t have enough time with your children to give them everything they need spiritually. Even if your kids are enrolled in a Christian school, they won’t get everything they need. There are rare exceptions, but strong faith foundations are usually the result of a lot of intentionality from the child’s Christian parents. (Studies are showing young people need about 14 hours of spiritual content from active teaching, independent study and conversations and experiences every week to have a strong spiritual foundation.)

So, what exactly are the things your child needs you to help them with so their faith foundation will be strong?

  • Bible knowledge. There are over two hundred Bible stories and thousands of verses outside of the context of a story. Your kids need exposure to all of this content – either through active teaching or independent Bible study. Churches will give your kids exposure to about ten to twenty percent of that content. Your kids will need your help learning the rest. If your kids are exposed to very little Bible content, they are trying to live life without having read God’s instruction manual. Your kids will struggle to live the life God wants them to live if they have no idea what it is or how to do it.
  • Application principles. Application principles are taking a Bible story, figuring out the lessons God wants them to learn from the story and how to apply those principles to their daily lives. Without this piece, Bible stories are just interesting stories with no real value (in your child’s mind). Your children need your help learning how to understand what they read in the Bible and how it should impact their daily lives. They will need help molding their character, words, actions and ultimately hearts to be the Christian God wants them to be. You can teach them how to find the principles independently, but they will still need your help and encouragement in applying them to their daily lives.
  • Christian life skills. Many of God’s commands and application principles have skill sets attached to them. These skills must be taught to your kids in order for them to more easily obey God. Christian life skill training should include things like godly conflict resolution and stewardship skills like budgeting and giving, amongst others.
  • Gift discovery, development and use. God has given each of your kids at least one gift to use to serve Him by completing the good works God has planned for your child. Your kids may have different gifts, the same ones or a mixture of overlapping and unique gifts. They will need your help discovering, developing and learning how to use their gifts to serve God. For some children, this will come easily, while others will struggle for some time just identifying their gifts.
  • Critical thinking skills. While this overlaps other areas we have already discussed, we are beginning to separate it out because it is an area often neglected in a child’s spiritual education. Critical thinking skills are used when your kids think more deeply about what God has to say. It involves reflecting on scripture, but also apologetics – knowing how to defend their faith to skeptics and how to share their faith with seekers. It also involves analyzing more critically the faith challenges they will experience in the world and clearly seeing the logical fallacies or weaknesses in arguments against God that sound as if they contain sound logic and wisdom.
  • Servant leadership skills. Your kids may not grow up to be official church leaders, but they should have the servant leadership skills that will help them lead others to God. They need to learn how to effectively serve others and share their faith. Many also need to learn how to lead others with a servant heart and not the secular leadership model that is often toxic, because they will hold leadership positions in their church, company or community now and/or in the future.
  • Hospitality. This is another area we are beginning to separate from the others because of its vast importance. The Bible is full of examples of people being hospitable to others. In fact, God commands His people to show hospitality. Not surprisingly, studies are showing hospitality is a key component in the Christian homes who raise kids to be faithful, productive Christians.

Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t give up! We have so many free tools to help you. We have daily challenges to encourage you. Providing your kids with the things on thIs list is the very best way to help them get to Heaven. It will take lots of intentionality and hard work, but it needs to be your top priority. It is the most important gift you can give your kids.