Are You An Engaged Parent?

You’ve probably heard about all types of parenting styles. Some help children, while others hurt them. Unfortunately, many young people today are suffering because their parents aren’t truly engaged with them. Oh, they will swoop in and project manage their kids when they feel it’s necessary, but parents having a real relationship with their children is becoming increasingly rare.

Merely spending time at home with your kids is not necessarily the answer. You can be in the same room as your children for hours without any meaningful interaction. In fact, your children may feel more hurt because you aren’t even engaged with them when you are physically present. Your kids may feel as if you have a constant “Do not disturb” sign hung around your neck.

How do you know if you are truly engaged with your children or merely co-existing or project managing them? How would your kids answer these questions about your interactions with them?

  • When your child needs to get your attention, how long does it take you to notice and acknowledge them?
  • When your child has something important to share with you, how willing are you to put down whatever it is that your are doing and listen to them (fully)?
  • When your child is telling you a story or something that is important to them, do you actively listen by looking them in the eyes, making gestures and facial expressions that indicate your interest and asking appropriate questions?
  • Can you name your child’s friends and teachers?
  • Can you name several concerns your child has at the moment?
  • Do you know your child’s hopes for the near future?
  • Do you know your child’s dreams for the future?
  • Do you know what questions or doubts your child has about God, the Bible or Christianity?
  • Do you know how God has gifted your child to serve Him?
  • Do you know what one thing your child wishes you would do to help him or her navigate some aspect of his or her life?
  • Can you name one aspect of his or her spiritual life with which your child needs your help and guidance?

Why ask your child’s opinion of how you should answer these questions? Because often our perceptions of our behavior and attitudes are very different from that of the people we are impacting with our choices. You may think you are fully attentive, while your kids can’t remember the last time they felt as if they actually had your undivided attention.

So ask your kids to help you take this quiz. Then make any needed changes. Your kids need an engaged parent to help them grow to be the person God wants them to be.

Tips for Helping Your Family Grow Spiritually If You Are Quarantined

Let’s be honest. None of us really wants to be quarantined for a long period of time whether it’s from this virus or something else. The good news is that a lot of healthy families are being quarantined at home. We don’t know how many of us or how long any one area will find everyone at home before the virus peaks and life resumes as normal.

If you find your family at home for any period of time, don’t waste that precious time. You may have few other opportunities to connect as a family in this way. There are a lot of ways you can take advantage of this time and use it to better prepare your kids to be who God wants them to be.

  • Reconnect emotionally. Have those long conversations. Find out what everyone is thinking and feeling about all sorts of topics. Get to really know and appreciate each other. And limit time on devices to no more than an hour or two a day outside of time required for school or work.
  • Have fun together. Play games. Watch silly old kid movies. Tell jokes and stories. Have tea parties. Build forts with blankets. Have a family sleep over. Just enjoy being together.
  • Start or entrench habits of spiritual disciplines. Family devotionals, independent Bible reading, prayer, meditating on scriptures…all of those habits that will make you and your kids stronger spiritually, but you never seem to have time to practice. Challenge and encourage each other to establish good spiritual habits that will keep all of you connected to God each day.
  • Serve others. Whether or not people can leave their homes seems to vary from place to place. FaceTime people who may be isolated at home alone. Help others as much as whatever restrictions you are under will allow. Model unselfish behavior by not hoarding supplies, but sharing.
  • Read good books aloud. Most adults don’t realize it, but even many teens still enjoy hearing a great book read aloud. C.S. Lewis stories appeal to all ages as do many other great books that allow you to have interesting family conversations. You should have access to e-books even if libraries close and many classics you can find online free or at very low cost.
  • Look for God working in the world today. Things like pandemics can make some people question whether or not God still loves us and cares about us. They may feel like God has disappeared. Point out the small blessings God sends your way each day. Celebrate God’s goodness as He gives people gifts to develop new medicines and vaccines to end the current health issues facing us. Remind your kids daily that God is alive and walking beside us even when scary things happen.

I doubt any of us will be volunteering to be quarantined for fun. Taking advantage of the opportunities it may present your family to grow closer and more godly if it is required of you though, may bring your family more benefits than just good health.

Ideas for Valentine Family Fun and Service

Ready for Valentine’s Day? We are big celebrators in our family. Any excuse for adding a bit of fun, joy and love to our days and we are there! Valentine’s Day may have been founded to celebrate romantic love, but why not use it to teach your kids about agape love and have some family fun.

Agape love is the type of love God has for us and we are to have for those around us. It’s a higher love not based on attraction, romance or even friendship. It’s loving others just because they are human beings whom God created and loves.

There are a lot of fun things your family can do to spread some Agape love on Valentine’s Day. You should still have time to accomplish one or more of these before the holiday is over. (Because Valentine’s Day is on a Friday night this year, restaurants are “celebrating” on Saturday and Sunday, too. Let’s do the same!)

  • Shower widows, widowers and single people with love. There’s nothing like Valentine’s Day to remind you that you are single. No matter how happy someone single may be normally, everyone celebrating love can leave one feeling lonely and alone – even unloveable. Have your kids make cards, cookies or little baggies of those heart chocolates. Allow a few minutes to stay and visit. If necessary prepare your kids ahead of time about some things they can say to help the conversation.
  • Love on friends and “frenemies”. Every child has someone at school or in their activities who is less than kind to them. They may have even been treated by another child as an “enemy”. What a better way to teach your kids about loving their enemies than helping them prepare a Valentine surprise for their friends, but especially for those “not so nice kids”. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. Having some discussions on the subject though can help your kids feel more loving as they give a card or treat to someone they may normally avoid.
  • See the “invisible” people. People with special needs, people who are socially awkward or “unattractive”, people who are poor…our world has lots of people that are unseen by others, because they don’t fit the mold of someone who makes a good friend or even acquaintance. Consider having some of the “invisible” people your family knows over for a meal or dessert. Or give them a Valentine’s treat and have a real conversation with them. Find out the things they enjoy doing. Get to really know them as “real” people with real stories. Make them visible to your family.
  • Thank the unappreciated. How many bus drivers, crossing guards, or maintenance people are ever thanked, much less receive Valentine’s treats? Even teachers can be forgotten. What about the mail carrier, the garbage collectors and the counter person at the dry cleaners? How many unappreciated people can your family make feel appreciated over the next few days?
  • Serve those who help others. Ministries and non-profits usually have ongoing needs for items or volunteer hours. Can your family find a way to give a ministry or non-profit some extra help?
  • Surprise your family members. Let’s be honest. The people in our family know how to get on our “last nerve”. Living in the same house can create conflicts and hurt feelings. We can say the worst things to the people who love us the most. Why not change that dynamic? Encourage everyone in your family to find ways to surprise, encourage and love everyone in your family. Make it fun and focus on all of those little things that would make life more pleasant for the people in your family.

Make Valentine’s Day a day when your family has a tradition of loving everyone they can. Encourage your kids to pour out love generously. Who knows, your family may enjoy it so much it becomes a habit every day of the year!

Important Scriptures for Your Kids to Memorize

Scripture memorization is a great way to help your kids keep God’s words on their hearts and in their minds. Your church may not encourage your kids to memorize scripture. If you want your kids to know what God would want them to do without having to take the time to research, look up and read scriptures, memorization is key.

With so many possible passages, which ones should you help your kids memorize? Below is a list of some of the scriptures that can help your kids be who God wants them to be.

Some of the passages are only one or two verses. You will need to review these regularly in order for them to transfer to your children’s long term memories. Longer passages should do that automatically because of the number of repetitions they take to memorize.

Make sure your kids understand what they are memorizing. Explain to them how those verses can help them if they memorize them. Since memorization assignments at home are rare for non-homeschoolers, you may want to have ways to celebrate whenever they memorize passages.

The scriptures have been divided into categories to help you organize your memorization project.

Classic Scriptures

  • Psalm 23
  • Acts 2:38
  • Deuteronomy 6:6-7
  • Luke 6:31
  • John 1:1-14
  • 1 Corinthians 13
  • Matthew 5:2-12
  • John 3:16-17

Scriptures to Comfort

  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  • Romans 8:26-28
  • Psalm 1:1-6
  • Isaiah 40:29-31
  • Proverbs 3:5-6

Scriptures About Courage

  • Philippians 4:6-7
  • 2 Timothy 1:7
  • Joshua 1:9
  • 1 Peter 5:7
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • Matthew 6:31-33

Scriptures About Behavior

  • 1 John 1:8
  • James 1:27
  • Colossians 3:23
  • Proverbs 29:11
  • Psalm 34:14
  • 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Ephesians 2:10
  • Matthew 5:13-16

Scriptures About Our Heart

  • Philippians 4:8-9
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • Luke 16:13
  • 1 Peter 5:5
  • Proverbs 21:2
  • Matthew 22:37-38
  • Psalm 51:17
  • Ephesians 4:32

Scriptures About Family

  • Proverbs 6:20
  • Colossians 3:20
  • 1 Timothy 5:8
  • Ephesians 6:1-4
  • Proverbs 15:17

Scriptures About Friends (and Enemies)

  • 1 Corinthians 15:33
  • Proverbs 17:17
  • Ephesians 4:2
  • Luke 6:35
  • Proverbs 27:17
  • 1 John 4:7
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • Proverbs 27:6-9
  • Hebrews 10:24-25
  • 1 Peter 4:8-10
  • Proverbs 22:24-25

Don’t know these scriptures yourself? What a better family activity than memorizing them together? Having God’s words on the hearts and minds of your family will help all of you.

Simple Ways to Point Your Kids to God

A recent Barna study found kids and teens who grew to be faithful, productive Christians as adults had been exposed to an average of about 2 hours of spiritual content a day.

Before you start to panic, the good news is that it doesn’t all have to be formal instruction (Note: Sending your kids to a Christian school, doesn’t remove the need for you, as their parents, to provide spiritual content for them.) Things like praying and having people over to eat count towards the total.

In fact, there are lots of rather simple things you can do to increase your kids’ exposure to spiritual content each day. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Have faith conversations in the car. If you’re a parent, you probably spend a lot of time in the car with your kids. As you talk about life, make sure to point them towards God whenever possible. These spiritual discussions are a key factor in building a strong faith foundation.
  • Have drive by prayers. Don’t close your eyes if you are driving, but get in the habit of having short prayers motivated by things you see as you drive. Anyone can notice something and lead a drive by prayer for it.
  • Make time for family devotionals. You make time to read your kids lots of secular books and encourage them to read independently. Why? Because you have heard it will help them do better in school. Make an effort to read the Bible to your kids and encourage them to read it independently. Having a strong faith foundation is even more important than doing well in school.
  • Make worship services and Bible classes a priority. When you regularly skip church and Bible class for other activities, you send the message that those are things are good to do only if there isn’t anything better available.
  • Serve others and share your faith. Serving others and sharing your faith should be as much of your family DNA as your last name and your holiday traditions. You will initially do these things as a family. As your kids grow older, their individual service and faith sharing should be as common as what you do as a family.
  • Let your kids have their friends over. Hospitality is a major part of the home life of kids who grow up to be faithful Christians. It doesn’t have to be formal entertaining either. Letting them invite their friends to your house counts. So do visits by neighbors and extended family.
  • Do things with other Christian families. Don’t wait for your church to plan something organized. Meet another family at the park, take a hike with a group from church or grab a fast food lunch after church with others.
  • When you take your kids to a museum, look for sections covering cultures in the Bible. Many museums have sections with artifacts from the Egyptians, the Romans, the Assyrians, the Greeks and other cultures in the Bible. You may find lots of artifacts mentioned in the Bible like oil lamps, Torah scrolls, mummies (Jacob and Joseph’s bodies were mummified in Egypt), even some of the idols like Baal. (Note: In some museums, artifacts from Israel will be found in a section called Levantine or Levant culture.)
  • Take your kids outside. The Bible teaches us that creation points to God. Take your kids on a hike, to the beach, to an aquarium or zoo. Point out how amazing God is and how much He loves us.

Helping your kids build strong faith foundations and grow to their godly potential takes intentionality. Once you make the time though, the things you need to do are actually rather basic. Don’t let anything stop you from teaching your kids about God.