Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #8

Need some encouragement or ideas? Here are weekly social media challenges to help!

Monday: A storm split this tree. The part separated from the main tree looks fine a few hours later. In a few days though, the story will be different. Your family needs strong bonds to keep Satan from destroying one or more of you. Strong bonds to each other. Strong bonds to your church family. Strong bonds to God. Keeping your family spiritually healthy means taking the time and effort to build these strong bonds.

Tuesday: If your kids seem to be struggling with their emotions and aren’t ready to talk about it, music and art can help. Encourage them to sing, play an instrument, draw, paint – anything that can help them release their emotions in healthy ways. Teach them about the importance of praying their feelings to God. Show them Psalms if they’re scared to pray about what they are feeling and asking God to help them. Work on your relationship, so they will feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts with you. Young people often turn to sinful behaviors thinking they will ease strong negative emotions. Give them a better, more godly way to cope.

Wednesday: This flower has different shading than most. Shading in nature is beautiful, but shading the truth is lying. The Bible tells us multiple times that God hates lies. Have you taught your kids lying is sinful? Do they shade the truth? Tell half truths? Omit the truth? Tell little white lies? Tell lies to “save someone’s feelings”? All of those are lies that are hated by God. Yet most Christian kids think many of those lies are perfectly acceptable. Lying makes life more complicated and unpleasant. Lying has tons of negative consequences. Most importantly God hates lies. Make sure you are raising truth tellers.

Thursday: Are your kids anxious, frustrated or upset? Nothing relaxes kids like a walk in nature. If you live in an urban area and are allowed outside, a park or even the wholesale outdoor flower mart will do. It’s okay to walk in silence until they relax and start talking. Or talk about what you are seeing or something non threatening until they open up. When they start talking really pay attention – even if you secretly think they are”over reacting”. Their emotions are very real to them and if you downplay their importance, they will be less likely to share with you again. Try to end your time in prayer and let them know you will continue praying about it. You don’t always have to solve their problems for them. Sometimes just active listening and prayer are enough.

Friday: These houses all look alike on the outside except for their doors. The doors and interiors of the homes reflect the personalities and experiences of their owners. Even if you are raising identical triplets, they are different. The basics of Christian parenting are the same, but recognizing and adjusting for those differences can make you more effective.

Christian Parenting Challenges Week 4

How has your week been? Have you struggled with your Christian parenting? Here are some challenges that we posted on social media this week, that can help you on your journey.

Monday: What will your kids remember from growing up in your home? It may not be what you think. The big expensive vacation may boil down to a conversation at a cafe or a day in the mountains to playing I Spy in the car on the way there. They will remember the way you lived your life as a Christian, how you treated them and others, your values and whether or not you lived them, the things you consistently said about God and others. Give them daily memories that will always point them to God. Those are the memories that really matter.

Tuesday: This man is very important in this city’s history. Yet even though someone told me his name and his story, I really couldn’t tell you much about him. Why? Because I haven’t spent a lot of time reading and learning about him. To me, he’s just a name. Jesus can be like that to your kids, too. They need to spend a lot of time learning about Jesus, what he said and did and what his father, God said and did. Otherwise it won’t transform their lives. Jesus will just be a name and a vague story or quote.

Wednesday: Sin is like poison and you should warn your kids and protect them from sin just like you would poison. They need to be taught what sinful thoughts, attitudes and behaviors are. They need to know the difference between a sin and a mistake – like missing an answer on a test. They need to be taught to guard their hearts against the temptation to rebel against God. Yes, grace is amazing, but it’s practically meaningless to your kids unless they understand sin.

Thursday: Food can be a great way to develop empathy in your kids. Part of empathy is understanding we have things in common with people who seem very different from us in some way. These foods are enjoyed by people in different parts of the U.S., but I enjoy them all and can create an instant point of connection with someone else who enjoys them. Breads are a great empathy builder. Bake or buy breads originally from other places. As you enjoy them, point out that in spite of the differences, they are all breads. Find other things your family has in common with people in those areas. Teaching empathy is the first step in loving others as we love ourselves…so have some fun working on empathy with your kids.

Friday: Smells are a strong memory trigger. Specific objects can have a similar effect on memory. It’s one of the reasons God gave the rainbow as a sign or memory trigger of His promise to Noah. Want your kids to remember important things from the Bible? Attach them to smells or specific objects and repeat the connection to your kids repeatedly over the years. Then when they encounter that smell or object, the memory of that concept or scripture will come flooding back.

Gardening, Kids and God

Gardening is a great way to teach kids many of the lessons God wants them to learn. In fact, Jesus taught several parables that involved growing things and taking care of vineyards and fields.

You can use those same parables and a few easy to find items to teach your kids about God. Gardening can also teach your kids about growth, God’s creation, patience, sin, love, nurturing, service and more.

The problem is that in today’s world, gardening is often too big of a commitment for many people. The idea of plowing, planting, weeding and processing a large plot of land seems overwhelming. Or perhaps your finances won’t cover the expenses of a large garden.

The great news is that you can plant incredibly small gardens – even in major urban areas – and teach your kids lessons. You can even use things you have on hand and the kitchen scraps you toss in the trash. We have found some great gardening resources so you can garden with your kids and teach them about God as you work.

  • Container gardening. Container gardening allows you to grow a few plants in almost any type of container. I had trouble getting extra pots earlier this spring so I am using a couple of beach sand pails to grow garlic and cucumbers. Just make sure the containers you use aren’t metal as they will become too hot later this summer. Here’s a link for more specifics on container gardening
  • Gardening with kitchen scraps. Did you know much of what we throw away when cooking can be planted to grow more food for free? I’m currently growing bulbs of garlic from small segments of one bulb. Not everything works because of hybrids in our food chain, but this list will get you started.
  • Gardening inside. If you live in a ninth floor apartment, you may think it’s impossible to grow food. Surprisingly, there are quite a few foods you can grow if you have a sunny window or can invest in lighting. This list can get you started.
  • Hydroponic gardening. If you want to try something really different, consider hydroponic gardening. This particular website has lots of different designs, from simple to elaborate. (Note: This would perhaps tie in well to discussions of Bible stories involving water.)
  • Aquaponic gardening. If you want to really get creative, grow food and introduce Bible stories about fish, aquaponic gardening might be for you. Fair warning, this type of gardening appears rather intense, but would definitely be memorable. This article can give you the basics if you are interested.

So grab some supplies, a Bible and your kids and start growing things. It’s a great summer activity that will also help teach your kids about God.

This Week’s Christian Parenting Challenges

Social media outlets are limiting access to more and more posts from non-profits like Parenting Like Hannah. We don’t want you to miss our daily Christian parenting challenges and their tips and encouragement.

We have decided for now, we will re-post the challenges for the previous week each Friday. You may want to tackle them during the weekend or post them on your refrigerator and using them for ideas in the coming week.

To make it easier for you, we have listed them by the original date they posted, but you can use them on different days or do several in one day – whatever works best for you. (The content is copied directly from our social media posts, so some of the wording may appear a little out of context.) We are hoping delivering the challenges to your email in a printable format will give you a helpful, new resource to use in parenting your kids towards God.

Monday: There have been a lot of things about our COVID world that are frustrating. Sometimes frustration can lead to unhealthy choices…even sinful ones. If you or your spouse is struggling with substance use/abuse, abusing your children physically or emotionally, experiencing depression/anxiety/suicidal thoughts, or you are having severe marital issues or anything else harmful or frightening…please reach out for help. People in ministry can still be reached by DM, email or phone. Don’t suffer in silence. Get the help you need now. If the first person you ask doesn’t respond, keep asking until someone does. You are not meant to handle this alone. God gave us the Church in part for community to help in stressful situations. Reach out to your church family for the help you need.

Tuesday: Your summer plans for your kids may have been changed, but to what? What can you do this summer to help your kids achieve your number one priority for them – spiritual growth? If that isn’t your top priority or you aren’t sure how to help them grow spiritually, we can help. Search past blog posts or go to our main ministry website www.teachonereachone.org for ideas.

Wednesday: Did you realize you probably aren’t seeing everything we post on Facebook to help you? If you go to our website and sign up for the newsletter you will receive no more than four emails a week from us – three new blog posts with tips, ideas and encouragement…and starting this week, a summary of our daily parenting challenges you can use each day in the coming week to give you a daily Christian parenting boost. So head to pwww.parentinglikehannah.com and sign up today!

Thursday: This container has all the ingredients for a wonderful pasta dinner. What, however, are the ingredients of a strong faith foundation for your kids? Check our blog this afternoon for some important basics. In the meantime, feel free to share what you think are some important things kids need for a strong faith foundation in a comment below.

Friday: We live in a world that loves to keep us anxious. Teach your kids how to manage their anxiety through scripture, prayer and godly pursuits like hobbies and exercise. If not, they may turn to less healthy or godly ways to manage their fears.

Is Your Child Being Bullied by Our Culture?

I was in an online Bible study the other day where we were discussing how culture is impacting Christianity. One woman spoke up. “Our culture is a bully. It bullies Christians for their beliefs.” While I am not in favor of developing a victim mentality, she is right. When you compare the tactics a bully uses and how Christians are often treated when they share their beliefs and God’s commands, the resemblance is striking.

If your kids believe in God and attempt to obey all of His commands, they will be different from their peers – even sadly many of their Christian peers. God calls His people to live a life so different from the surrounding culture that they stand out. In many cases, this will cause people unfamiliar with God’s culture to ask questions. Hopefully, some of these questioners will become Christians themselves.

Unfortunately, even churches and ministers have crumbled under the bullying. They have allowed the culture’s name calling and emotional reactions to influence how they read the Bible. They would rather find a way to reject God’s direct commands in order to better blend in with the culture and stop the bullying than stand up to it.

Your kids are going to make a choice to blend with the culture around them unless you prepare them to stand up to its bullying. What everyone seems to have forgotten is that a bully only has as much power over your choices as you give them. You can teach your kids how not to give culture’s bullies power over their lives and choices.

Here are a few ways to prepare your kids to stand up to culture’s bullying successfully.

  • Help them develop a confident faith. Young people who have really strong spiritual foundations are more confident in standing up to culture and being counter cultural. This will take a lot of work on your part. Your kids need to really know what’s in the Bible, who God wants them to be and how to do those things God wants them to do. They need training in apologetics and logical fallacies. They will be battling a cultural Goliath and just like David, they need to spend their younger years developing the skills they will need to be confident to follow God’s will for their lives.
  • They need strong connections to people of different ages in their church family. They need to find those one or two teens that are also being raised to defy culture. They need older Christians they love and trust enough to listen to their counsel or to be reassured by when being strong feels impossible. They need to be around examples of people really living their faith on a regular basis. They need godly friends when the loneliness of being different is painful. This goes beyond even regular church attendance. Bring that valuable hospitality in your home and regularly have people from your church family over post COVID so your kids really think of them as family.
  • Prepare your kids to speak up. Your kids need to be able to defend their faith with love and patience, but firmly enough that the culture’s bullies walk away when their only intent is to harass. Once again, this means knowing the Bible well, becoming familiar with effective apologetics and lots of practice conversations in your home. They also need to learn self control. Lashing back when bullied only strengthens the bully who is looking for an emotional response. Staying calm and clear will discourage many bullies from continuing to pursue.
  • Teach your kids when to disengage. Jesus told his disciples there are times when they needed to just dust off their sandals and move on. Your kids don’t need to waste their time and energy on debating people who are entrenched in their support of culture over God. There are plenty of people who are open to learning about a way of life that is fuller and richer than the shallow pleasures of culture. Your kids need to learn when to engage and when just to walk away from the ugly challenges culture likes to throw at Christians.
  • Teach your kids strategies for responding quickly and consistently to cultural challenges. Having predetermined strategies for handling common scenarios will help your children quickly and consistently handle temptations to join culture in ways that go against God. Helping them set limits of how they allow themselves to be exposed to culture can keep them from gradually being won over by it. Encouraging them to have a standard response to certain challenges will make it easier for them to think on their feet when confronted.
  • Teach your kids to STOP. When your kids are confronted by something in culture that confuses them, teach them to remember to stop. Stop is an acronym for stop, think about what culture is actually saying to them or asking them to do, consider all of their options, pray about it and then make a choice. Taking that extra time can help your kids remove themselves from the heat of the moment emotionally and lead them to make better choices.
  • Tell your kids it’s okay to ask for help. Young children are often told not to tattle. Teach your kids there is a huge difference from telling an adult something silly merely designed to cause trouble for someone else and asking for help from someone who can help them or someone else be more godly and avoid temptation. Your kids need to feel safe coming to you and expressing their emotions, experiences and more without fear of an over reaction from you. Often if they could come tell you when the bullying first starts, you can give them the help they need. If they don’t tell anyone who can help them navigate the bullying, they may give into the culture’s bullies like many of their peers have done.

Preparing your kids to stand up to culture’s bullies is essential if you want them to become faithful, productive Christians. It is hard work, but it’s work you really must do to protect your kids.