How to instill valuable character in your kids the West Point way.

At West Point they were struggling with how to implant character traits of leadership into the future Army officers. They found that studying definitions of the traits didn’t help much – the cadets quickly forgot. But when they told the cadets stories about others who had been courageous or decisive or bold or humble the cadets not only remembered but also clearly saw how to apply it to their own leadership.

Stories are powerful teaching tools. No wonder Jesus used them so much.

In part 1 of this post I shared two huge benefits of lying down with your kids in the evening. Here are benefits 3, 4 and they have to do with storytelling.

  1. It’s prime time for news and views.
  2. It’s prime time for imparting faith and values.
  1. It’s prime time for passing heritage and legacy.

I used to tell my kids a lot of stories and some of their favorites were stories about dumb stuff I did as a kid – tossing snowballs at passing cars, slamming into the dangerous tree on our favorite sledding run, the fight when my brother hit me in the head with a hammer, the Christmas tree fort that earned my dad a call from the health department, exploding our neighbor’s mums, etc, etc. I had a lot of “When I was a kid …” stories. Continue Reading

4 huge benefits of lying down with your kids.

It’s the end of an exhausting day. You’re beat. You finally got the kids in bed and you still have 50 things to do before you can get some rest.That’s when you hear that still small voice – not the Holy Spirit but one of your kids – “Will you lie down with me?”

My default response when I was young and stupid was, “OK, but just for a minute.”

Now that I’m a little further down the road – OK, a lot further down the road – I see the amazing value of this prime time and want to help you take advantage of it, too.

TV stations put their best stuff on during prime time because it’s the time they will have the most attentive listeners. Bed time is prime time. It’s when your kids will be the most open and attentive.

Here’s why bed time is prime time and some tips on how to make the most of it.

  1. It’s prime time for news and views.

During this relaxed time with few distractions your kids will likely share information with you that might never come up during the day. They’ll share concerns, fears, questions, daily victories and challenges. These are the small things that become big things if kids are left to navigate through life on their own. Continue Reading

Defeat the urgent so you have time for the eternal.

I have some really wise friends – both wise women and wise guys.
I saw this FB post from a wise mom I know and asked if I could share it.

Though it talks about babies I can tell you from experience the principle applies to toddlers, elementary age, middle school, high school, young adults and even married kids.

Sometimes important things need to wait so I can invest my life in the only treasure I can take with me to heaven – my kids. Continue Reading

These guys really know what they’re talking about.

This is the third time today your child has misbehaved. You’ve tried everything – warnings, lectures, loss of privileges, everything but nothing is working. For whatever reason, your child is unwilling or maybe incapable of doing the right thing. You feel like a complete  failure as a parent. What are you going to do?

This is an amazing program from Focus on the Family. I have to admit I wish I had said what these guys say because I think they have tapped into a secret that I used without even realizing what I was doing.

Maybe that’s why I think their advice is so amazing – because they agree with me. 🙂
Check it out for yourself and see what you think. Continue Reading

A frustrating bureaucrat taught me this valuable lesson

Living in Guatemala it was always an experience to get your visa renewed. The rules were constantly changing.

A new missionary who didn’t speak Spanish asked me to help her with the process. To keep it simple I decided we’d just go to immigration first and ask them what they wanted. Amazingly they gave us an official looking sheet of paper with a list of 4 items.

Wow! This’ll be super easy. Six days later she came back with all the stuff – her passport, one passport photo, a letter from a lawyer and a police report from her hometown.

We trotted to the immigration office and took our place in line. An hour later we confidently handed the packet to the immigration officer. He gave us back the letter from the lawyer and said, “You don’t need this. But I need four passport photos, not just one. And where is the copy of your driver’s license and birth certificate?” Continue Reading

3 reasons it’ll be a miracle if your kids turn out OK

One day when my oldest son was being particularly obnoxious I told him he was an answer to my mother’s prayer.

“Really?” he excitedly asked.

“Yeah. My mom used to say, ‘I pray you have a son just like you so you can appreciate what I’ve had to put up with.’”

I was recently reminded of what a miracle it is if any of us raise good kids. Here are three reasons why. Continue Reading

5 ideas to make eating at a restaurant more pleasant.

Mother’s day is Sunday and many moms are going to be treated to Sunday lunch at a restaurant. But if you have small children it might not be such a treat.

Here are 5 tips for making the restaurant experience a more pleasant one.

  1. Choose Carefully

It doesn’t have to be Chucky Cheese but you’ll have a big head start if you pick a kid friendly restaurant. Look for:

  • Casual
    Probably not the best time to try that new upscale place everyone’s talking about. Pick a place you know offers high chairs, kids menus, perhaps some distractions – crayons, puzzles, etc.
  • Speedy Service

Find a place where you can order quickly and there’s not a long wait for the food. Even as an adult I’ve wanted to scream and throw something when I was hungry and had to wait 30 minutes for my meal. Continue Reading

The best way I’ve found to never have to spank your kids

I get a lot of interesting questions about parenting. Recently someone wrote that they were concerned that they might not be spanking their children enough.

They went on to say that time outs and taking away a privilege or two seemed to solve the problem. “Am I doing something wrong because I’m not spanking my child?”

They were a little surprised by my answer.

No! If what you’re doing is working then keep it up as long as it works.

I talk a lot about spanking in this blog because it’s such a neglected tool in the parental toolbox. And it’s one of those tools that, when you need it, nothing else will do the job.

But, and this is what surprised my friend, Continue Reading