When we should allow our kids to talk back to us.

When we lived in Guatemala we were surrounded by volcanoes – some dormant and some quite active. That’s when I learned that a smoking, bubbling volcano that oozed a little lava now and then was far less dangerous than one that seemed quiet but was actually building up pressure inside. The daily “ooze” released pressure making it less likely there would be a sudden violent eruption.

That principle works for people, too – and kids. There are times we do things to frustrate our kids. They get treated unfairly – either in reality or just in their perception. They don’t get to do something that’s really important to them. We may minimize their feelings or ignore them in the hustle and hassle of life.

When the pressure builds it’s important we allow them to “blow off some steam”. Hang in there with me. I know what you’re thinking but hear me out. Continue Reading

How can I keep my teen from becoming rebellious?

As our kids enter the teen years it’s natural for them to become more resistant to our leadership. Some of you are thinking, “My kid must have entered his teen years at 6 months old”.

While this is a natural part of the maturing process – designed to prepare them to actually be on their own – it does not mean they are ready to make wise decisions. But it does mean we should begin to let them have more say in the decisions that impact their lives. This is a time to offer guidance and counsel. Help them walk through the process and learn how to make wise decisions.

I do not believe a “rebellious stage” is inevitable. So don’t expect it, anticipate it or tolerate it. But there is one tip that I think will help our kids avoid feeling they need to rebel. Continue Reading

Three tips on how to encourage your kids.

After a time of worship where my wife led one of the songs, an older woman approached me. “Jana did such a wonderful job leading that song. I was really blessed by it.” That was great but then she added, “Oh, don’t tell her that though. I wouldn’t want her to get a big head about it.”

I responded, “I’m going to tell her and it would be even better if you would tell her, too. Most of us need all the encouragement we can get.”

We hear a lot today about how kids are coddled and given trophies and praised to high heaven just for breathing. While standing against such ridiculousness we need to make sure we don’t go to the opposite extreme and adopt this lady’s concern about them getting a “big head”. Because, as I told her, most of us need all the encouragement we can get.

Here are 3 tips on how to make your encouragement helpful and meaningful. Continue Reading

When do I tell my teen “Yes” and when do I say “No”?

The teen years are tough – tough on parents and tough on teens. Mark Twain offered some advice on how to deal with this difficult time.

When a boy turns 13, seal him in a barrel and feed him through a knot hole.
When he turns 16, plug up the hole.

I said he offered advice. I didn’t say it was helpful advice. Although, if you can get away with it, well ….

From my experience, here’s a tip that I think will be helpful. Continue Reading

4 proven ideas for raising God’s kids in the enemy’s world.

I felt like a total jerk. My new neighbor loaned me his electric lawn mower and I broke it. We had just moved and my mower was still “packed” but the grass at our new home was getting out of hand. I discovered electric mowers may be awesome for nicely manicured lawns but …. half way through my jungle the hamster died. It appeared some major gear was stripped and the blade just wouldn’t turn.

Duct tape? Super glue? I wonder if he’ll notice? I couldn’t see any way to fix it. What made it worse was my new neighbor was a deputy sheriff. Would this mean jail time?

When we borrow something we feel an extra responsibility to take good care of it. In fact, if at all possible it’s nice to return it in better condition than when we borrowed it. It’s the right thing to do.

Our kids are on loan from God. He expects us to return them to Him. And it would be nice if we return them in better condition than we received them. Here are 4 ways we can do that. Continue Reading

At what age is my child too old to spank?

As our children get older and show themselves more responsible, we should switch from giving commands to giving counsel. There will come a point where counsel is all we can give because we won’t be able to force compliance.

But I’ve seen that if we work to maintain mutual respect they will value and even seek our counsel long after they can reject our commands.

But at what age do we have to draw back? At what age are our children too old to spank? Continue Reading

If you have sensitive toes, don’t read this blog.

“I just don’t understand these parents.”

A pastor friend of mine was frustrated.

“Church Summer Camp is one of the most important spiritual experiences kids can have but some of our parents won’t send their kids because ‘It’s too expensive’. But I know these same parents never have a problem coming up with 3 times that amount for band camps and uniforms, little league expenses, dance recital costumes and any other expense for a school activity.”

Obviously the problem isn’t finances. It’s priorities.

I had a similar frustration when I was principal of a K-12 grade school. Often, when a child would get into junior high, some of the most vulnerable and volatile years of their entire lives, a parent would tell me they were putting their child in public school so they could play football. Really? Continue Reading

How can I measure my success as a parent?

Quick! Answer this question. But you can only choose one answer:
I will know I was a successful parent when my child _________________?

  1. Has a respectable, good paying job.
  2. Has a solid marriage and family.
  3. Is “giving back” to his community and the world.
  4. Other ________________

That was a tough decision because we want our kids to have and do all three – earn a good living, have a great family and be a contributing member of society. But I’d like to suggest that “Other” is the better choice because all of these amount to little if they aren’t built on the foundation of “Other”. Continue Reading

What everybody ought to know about adolescents.

I got a letter from a desperate parent: My teenage son is lazy and doesn’t want to work. All he does is hang out with friends and play video games. Can you offer some advice?

Here’s the good news. That’s not unusual. Most kids would rather play video games and hang out with friends than work. Shoot, Many days I’d rather play video games and hang out with friends than work. Wouldn’t you?

So why do you work instead of hanging out and playing games? It probably has something to do with the wisdom in Proverbs 16:26.
“It is good for workers to have an appetite; The workers hunger drives him on.”

Translation: If I don’t work I don’t eat.

Look at “hunger” as broader than just physical appetite and you can see how this passage offers the answer to your question. What does your son hunger for – video games and hanging out with friends? Great. Continue Reading

Valuable resources to make you an even more terrific parent.

I got a request last week from a mom that was looking for good material to use for a devotional time with her 5 year old. As I poked around to see what was available I realized there are probably lots of busy moms and dads who don’t have time to look around and see what’s available.

So, here are just a few good books, websites and resources I think you will find helpful. Continue Reading