Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #12

Last week was a week of Sabbath type rest at Teach One Reach One Ministries. This week, we’ve been extra busy uploading dozens of new activity ideas you can use to teach your kids the Bible at home – even while teaching or reviewing secular academic skills. Here are the social media challenges for the week in case you missed them.

Monday: We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. Now is a perfect time to teach your kids how to find their hope in God. How to lean on Him in tough times. How to look to God for answers – even if we can’t find them right away. You may never again have as much time and as many real life examples to use to point your kids to God and scripture. Use these opportunities wisely.

Tuesday: These Assyrian objects are from a culture and time in the Old Testament. World history is in the Bible. In fact, it’s easy to attach the Bible to various parts of your children’s school day if they’re learning at home this semester. We have lots of activity ideas tying Bible lessons to school skills. Originally developed for faith based tutoring, most will work at home, too. And they’re all free! http://teachonereachone.org/activity-ideas/

Wednesday: The kids that grew up in this Native American community could only enter or leave by scaling a steep cliff using their hands and feet. I’m sure it took perseverance and courage to learn to live that life. Your kids will need perseverance and courage to lead a Christian life. Having a strong faith foundation will help. For practical tips, head to our website and search the terms to find past blog posts on them.

Thursday: Are your kids involved in distance learning? Are you homeschooling? We have four great ways to add teaching your kids about God on our blog today, with lots of free resources. So head on over to parentinglikehannah (.com) and check it out!

Friday: Did you know the White House was inspired by the President’s house in Ireland? It’s not an exact copy, but if you glance quickly the resemblance is remarkable. You and your kids are supposed to accurately reflect God’s image. You won’t do it perfectly, but the effort and the results should be obvious to those around you. Of course, to accurately reflect God’s image, you have to know Him well. That’s best done by your family spending time reading and discussing scripture. (You can even add it to your child’s school year. Check out our blog post this week for ideas. Parentinglikehannah (.com))

Raising Kids in a Noisy World

We live in a noisy world. There’s plenty of actual noise of course, but the noise of culture can be loud and confusing – especially to kids being raised in a Christian home. Culture has decided that if they yell something loudly enough and frequently enough, it becomes accepted as truth. And unfortunately, many times culture is right.

One need only watch a couple of episodes of programming targeting kids or teens and understand the cultural agenda of the people writing and producing it. Sometimes those messages are helpful for our kids to hear. Often though, they are encouraging young people to ignore God’s truths, commands and principles.

Sometimes this noise is obvious as shows openly mock Christians and Christianity. Other times, it’s a bit more subtle as characters openly applaud the behavior of a character who is making sinful choices. On some shows, one or more characters will actually preach a sermon of sorts to viewers to make sure their point is accepted or to give kids things to say when their parents reject the “truths” the entertainment is promoting.

Recently, I watched a smattering of shows targeted for kids on a variety of platforms. What I saw and heard was appalling. A seven year old character, for example, should not be exploring his sexuality. No child that age is prepared to even think about having sex with another human being.

So how can you help drown out this constant noise from culture that is trying to convince your kids that Satan’s lies are not only true, but laudable? Censoring has been a taboo concept in our culture. People who censored what their kids read or saw were – and often still are – thought of as narrow minded and judgmental.

There actually is a biblical incident recorded of a book burning. In Acts 19, Paul was in Ephesus, where many believed and practiced magic arts. We don’t necessarily know everything that entailed, but we do know that when they became Christians, they burned the scrolls they owned that covered the magic arts.

I’m not suggesting you burn books per se, but I do believe it is important to censor what your kids read and watch. Pluggedin.com can help you decide whether a particular form of entertainment is something your kids should experience. It breaks everything down so you can make extremely informed choices.

One word of caution. It’s critical as your kids reach school age that you explain to your kids why you aren’t allowing them to read or see certain things. Memorize Philippians 4:8 as a family. Explain why God wants us to fill our minds with good things, rather than bad. Talk about how exposure can desensitize even Christians to sin, or confuse truth and lies in their minds. If you just censor without explaining in rational terms why you are protecting them, they will sneak and watch or read the item – perhaps paying even closer attention.

There is also another sort of partial censorship. There may be certain books or shows you believe your kids are too young to process and separate the godly from ungodly principles. In those instances, explain at what age you think they may be ready for it. Help them understand why you believe it is best they wait.

You can’t protect your kids from everything. In fact, over protection can sometimes make them too naive and place them in danger. There are some things, however, that kids need to be sheltered from – at least until they are mature enough to process it without being unduly swayed to disobey God. Parental censorship when done well is not narrow minded or judgmental. It’s good Christian parenting.

Mr. Rogers as Christian Parenting Mentor

Mr. Rogers was one of my favorite people when I was little. He seemed so kind and friendly. What you may or may not know is that Fred Rogers was actually a minister. While he didn’t overtly teach Christianity, many of the principles he taught were godly.

Recently, someone compiled a lot of his advice and sayings into a book that is now in paperback, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. Much of it is godly parenting advice, even though Rogers once again avoids any direct connections to scripture, God or Christianity.

The book has quotes throughout, so it would be easy to pick a quote a day and think about it. Some would be great ways to start conversations with your kids. While you may not agree with absolutely everything Rogers writes (he was human after all!), it is generally more great advice in one book than I have seen in a very long time. It’s definitely a book you should consider reading.

Is Your Criticism Aversion Hurting Your Kids?

We live in a world where everyone is encouraged to criticize, but no one is encouraged to listen. Actually, you are encouraged to listen to the person’s criticism who is speaking or writing, but no one else’s critiques matter. It’s often couched in phrases like, “Everyone is doing the best they can.” Or “No one has a right to tell me what to do.” Or the ever popular, “Imperfection shows I’m only human.”

Unfortunately, this aversion to criticism is hurting young people – and not just because they won’t listen to our critiques. We live in a world that frowns upon self examination and self improvement – that embraces imperfection as laudable. A world where people would rather experience a hundred miserable failures than listen to the constructive criticism of others.

Yet, God calls Christians to a higher standard. We are to examine ourselves and strive for improvement, growth and even perfection. (Matthew 5:48, 2 Peter 1:5-8 and others) As Christian parents, we need to examine our parenting and our children to see if what we are doing is really helping our kids build strong spiritual foundations and grow to their godly potential.

A recent article in Psychology Today, gave several reasons why parents are missing their kids’ depression. The advice boiled down to parents need to listen – really listen to their kids, and they need not look for quick fixes, but should put in the work necessary to really help their kids deal with their depression.

Yet how many parents read that article or the previous paragraph from a defensive mindset? How many excuses or critiques of the author whipped through your brain while you were reading it? How incensed were you that someone dared to criticize how you listen to your children or how you try to help them with their problems?

Now imagine, if this were written from a Christian perspective. How would you react, if they added concerns about the spiritual health of your children? Or quoted scriptures? Or made specific suggestions of ways to help them process their emotions with God’s help? Or suggested something you are doing is hurting, rather than helping your kids?

We all know that not every critique is equally valid. Yet immediately dismissing all criticism – even that which is constructive and godly – is dangerous for us and our kids. Taking a little while longer to compare it to scripture and examine it for truth and validity could save us a lot of time and spare us a lot of grief.

Godly, constructive criticism can help you catch Christian parenting mistakes before they hurt your kids spiritually. It can save you time wasted by trial and error. It can improve your Christian parenting outcomes by allowing you to learn from those wiser and/or more experienced than you.

It’s worth taking a little extra time to really listen and process constructive criticism directed at your parenting. It can make a huge positive difference in the lives of your kids. It’s worth conquering your aversion, at least long enough to listen and vet what others are saying.

Giving Your Kids Feedback That Works

Lately, I’ve been watching shows about the great estates in England and their servants. I stared fascinated as the servants actually took a ruler and measured everything on a dinner table to make sure each item was placed in the exact proper place.

Imagine if one of the servants were new and neglected to use the ruler for an important dinner party. What would the owner of the estate say to the servant? More importantly, what would he say to make sure the table was set perfectly the next time?

In parenting, there is feedback or correction that helps our kids learn and grow and there is another kind that confuses, frustrates and eventually discourages them. What are those differences?

  • Helpful feedback is extremely specific and concrete. Children, especially young children, are concrete thinkers. Telling them they need a better attitude or to do something better, means very little to them. If, however, you explain that the fork goes to the left of the plate or that they shouldn’t complain when you ask them to do something, they are more likely to comply. When you give your child feedback, try to hear it from their perspective, but pretend like you are speaking a language they don’t fully understand yet. Do they actually know what those words mean to you and how to do the things you are asking them to do?
  • Helpful feedback often involves demonstrations. Sometimes showing works better than telling. Show your kids how you want them to make their beds or put away their clothes. Have them practice in front of you, giving them helpful reminders as needed.
  • Helpful feedback is developmentally appropriate. A table set by a four year old will look different from a table set by a fourteen year old. You need to consider your child’s age and abilities when giving feedback. Yes, you want to move your children closer to the ultimate goal with your feedback, but don’t push them to do things they aren’t able to do yet or let them off the hook for things they can easily master. It may take some trial and error, but you will eventually get a feel for the right balance of encouraging growth without overwhelming them.
  • Helpful feedback takes into account a child’s personality. Some kids crumble before the first word of feedback, while others need to hear it given in a firm tone before they will even consider paying attention. Being too harsh or too wish washy with the wrong child and your attempts at feedback will back fire.
  • Helpful feedback looks for the root of ongoing issues. As Christian parents, we need to be extremely aware of potential heart issues in our kids. Are you constantly having to give the same child the same feedback because the child isn’t understanding or able to do what is asked or because he or she is developing a rebellious heart? Missing the development of a rebellious heart can lead to heartbreak for everyone in the future. Assuming a child has a rebellious heart when he or she is actually just confused, can do damage to your relationship over time. It’s vital to take the time to explore the root cause with your child before jumping to conclusions and then address that core issue appropriately.
  • Helpful feedback comes from a place of love and concern. Yes, you can openly dislike your children and still teach them how to make a bed properly, but that’s not the ultimate goal of Christian parenting. Christian parents need a close, loving relationship with their kids so they can continue to be an influence, helping their kids grow to be mighty men and women of God. When your kids know without a doubt you love them and have their best interest at heart, they will accept your feedback more willingly and use it to learn and grow.

The next time you give your kids feedback and don’t get the desired results, carefully examine what you said. Structuring your feedback with the tips above in mind, might get you the results you want.