Category Archives: Parenting

Book Review: The Tech-Wise Family

Book Review:  The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch

The Good:

Ready for a Challenge.  Listen, this is not for beginners.  The instructions are not keep your phone usage under 5 hours per day and limit your binge watching for the weekend.  No, this book will make you want to throw your phone out the window and hug your kids for an hour.  The challenge is real people, so buckle up.

Hold Hands.  Why do we hold our kids’ hands in the parking lot?  To lead them to our car and not let them get hit by a Target shopper who couldn’t wait to hit the dollar bin.  Same principle here.  Crouch holds your hand the whole way, guiding you through each principle, and giving you practical steps to accomplish each step.

Rest in Peace.  Most of us reading this do not rest.  You may have times of leisure, but we do not rest.  God rested.  Is this thing on?  God rested.  And yet we still think we can go 24/7 with another shot of espresso, a smartphone, and a Google home.  Doesn’t work that way.  You need to rest, and this plan will help you get there.

The Bad:

Have you met my kids?  I love my kids dearly, but some of these rules/steps are…I’m laughing out loud as I type this thinking of my children…unrealistic.  To his credit, the author does say this is not a one size fit all plan.  For example, tea on Sunday?  Yeah my 4 year old son is gonna be hyped for an afternoon of tea and classical music.  I can just hear him saying, “Daddy, my turn to pick?  I’d like to hear Symphony No. 5 in C minor…please daddy?”.  Or the rule of no screens till they are 10.  Now keep in mind, this is cherry picking the difficult ones.  Most principles are dynamite and need to be considered.

The Grade:  A-

The case is made.  I mean, just look at this Time Magazine article, there is no debate anymore.  Too much screen time for children is dangerous and hazardous to our kid’s spiritual and mental health.  It’s time we take control, set boundaries, and not allow the addiction to technology start when they are in diapers.  Feel free to start small.  That is what our family did as we have implemented several ideas, and they have been beneficial to our family.  And one more thing, the tech-wise family, it starts with the parents.  Set the example, and lead your family into being a tech-wise family.  It will be uncomfortable at first, but that’s often where God works best.

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5 Alarming Porn Statistics for Youth

I would not just call these stats “alarming”, but “jaw-dropping” would be more like it.  This is an epidemic.  Time we begin and continue to have conversations about the dangers of porn, and the broken hearts that only can be freed and rescued by Jesus (Galatians 5:1).  Click on my article below to find these stats, and more reasons to pray and have conversations with teens, parents, and your own children as soon as possible.

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Need Family Advice?

Need family advice?  Me too.  So I went to God’s Word and shared God’s thoughts on the family in the past, present, and the family’s future.  Click the picture below and have a listen.

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What Does Your Teen Need?

A parent shared this podcast between two Christian moms who have raised teenagers. They give some tremendous lessons, and ones you will want to hear as you either help parents teenagers, or raise teenagers on your own! Give a listen, it is worth your time.

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Book Review: Confident Parenting

Book Review:  Confident Parenting by Jim Burns

The Good:

Let’s Talk.  I’m discovering more and more that these are the types of books I enjoy most.  The book is written in such a way that I feel like we are having a conversation.  He gives examples of home life that makes the content more personable.  All throughout there are real life stories that feel like you are having a conversation with a trusted counselor.  Easy read, and that’s a good thing.

Plan Ahead.  What’s your plan for your kids?  Do you a have a discipleship plan?  What type of spiritual goals do you have for your kids?  Yeah, exactly.  If you answered “uh”, you might want to give this book a try.  Great practical advice for future and intentional planning for your kids.

Ironic Title.  It’s ironic a book called “Confident Parenting” could make me a little less confident.  That is, in the sense that I have a long way to go.  There is much to work on.  But the confidence comes from the advice, the hope of a future, and practical ways to reach your goals.

The Bad:

Theology Light.  With the exception of a couple of chapters, it was light on theology.  It has a great Biblical foundation.  And you know, I don’t think the intent was to dive into a theological discussion on parenting.  Rather, it presented Biblical points and dove into practical ways to carry out God’s instructions.  And the book accomplished this goal masterfully.

The Grade:  B+.  Don’t have time to read a parenting book, because you know, you’re a full-time parent just hanging on?  This would be a great book to just read a few pages in between karate, the grocery store, and laundry.  Looking for a less busy, grace-filled, positive, and encouraging home?  Then you might want to give this book a try.

 

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6 Lessons Parenting Has Taught Me

I’ve reached a milestone in my life.  One decade of parenting.  It would probably take me that long to write all the lessons I have learned over the years.  So instead, I’d like to list a few things parenting has taught me, and more importantly how it has changed me.

Patience.  Here’s a rule of thumb.  When you want your kids to move quickly – cleaning up, rushing to the car in the rain, or walking quickly past the toy aisle…they are in slow motion.  When you have literally an ounce of energy left, they could fill water towers with their energy.  What have I learned through this?  Patience.  (Still learning this by the way).  I have to be patient with their slow pace, learning how to pick up toys, and their misunderstanding of why they can’t do things.  Parenting is a marathon, and if you expect them to be competent, tax-paying, godly, self-sufficient people after they grow out of diapers, buckle up and take a drink from the patient drinking fountain.

Flexibility.  All the kids dressed, fed, teeth brushed, hair done, and looking very well put together.  You are headed out and we grab the baby to put into the car seat.  One problem.  Poop.  Poop.  Is.  Everywhere.  You thought you were going to be early out the door…now your plans aren’t the only things you have to change.  Kids get hurt, sick, tired, soiled…you have to be flexible.  Roll with the punches.  As a very structured, plan ahead, day-timers are fun type of guy.  This has been a challenge, but also a valuable lesson.

Confrontation.  Multiple children are screaming.  Another yells “I’m going to hit you”.  Loud noises, like someone is throwing something, is also occurring.  You just sat down for the first time all day.  You didn’t even have a chance to exhale.  So do you let it play out?  You may not believe in evolution, but you are really tempted to see if this “survival of the fittest” thing has any merit.  Oh, you’re so tempted.  But no, parenting has taught me you have to get up and confront the assailant and the defendant.  Listen to the witnesses, plea bargains, and review the evidence…and then make a verdict.  People rise when judges enter the room, you have to duck from not getting hit with a whiffle bat.  Judges also get to retire to their chambers for decision-making and a quiet moment, you have to wait till midnight for that.  So, what do you do?  You confront, correct, and discipline.  Why, because you love these kids.

Giving.  You’ve read the graphic.  Your kid when they are 18 will have cost you $__________.  It’s like when you buy a house, don’t look at that last page that includes all the interest.  Don’t do it.  And with kids, don’t ever think about how much they are going to cost.  Instead, think about how much love you can give them.  My wife and I have rarely worried about how God would provide for our children over these last 10 years.  He has always been faithful.  Sure, they will get more expensive in the coming years, but you can’t live life seeing children as dollar signs.  Give love to them, be wise with your money, but be willing to give too.  And giving doesn’t stop with your money, your kids need you to give them time, attention, and all the love you can possibly share.

Unselfishness.  Speaking of giving time.  Listen, there will be times when the only “me time” you get is when you go the bathroom (and even then do not expect privacy) or that sliver of time before the last child falls asleep and you pass out.  So if you go into parenting needing a lot of time to yourself, you’re in the wrong business.  Let me tell you, parenting taught me how selfish I was.  I still fight selfishness, but having little ones that need me to play with them, teach them, and show them God-moments each day…I can see the value of being unselfish.  I’m still learning this lesson every day, but my kids have helped me be more selfless.

Perspective.  Ever heard the phrase “don’t cry over spilled milk”.  My mother-in-law helped teach me this principle.  There is a difference between an accident and a deliberate act of treason by your kids.  You get me?  Yesterday one of my kids dropped a big glass bowl, and I grabbed the vacuum, my wife grabbed the broom.  Perspective.  It was an accident.  We cleaned it up, and moved on.  I’ve gone to bed with stickers or little hair rubber band stuck to my feet.  Every day I have to look in my shirt for hair that my little girls have shared with my clothes in our laundry.  I’ve stepped in toothpaste, slobbered on, and had to wipe boogers with my hand.  Hey man, perspective.  One day, I won’t have this.  And I’ll miss it.  I’ll miss the noise, the craziness, the boogers, the spilled drinks, the cheese sticks I find under our couch that have been sitting there for months (they get hard as a rock!).  I’ll miss it.  So it’s taught me perspective (that’s certainly not always perfect), but it is much healthier than it was 10 years ago.

I have a long ways to go.  I’m just in my first decade, and “teenage-dom” is around the corner.  I’m sure I’ll learn a whole new set of lessons then.  But until then, I’m thankful for the lessons God has taught me through parenting.  It is a humbling, joyful, frustrating, tiring, loving, and growing experience all rolled up in one.  And I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

 

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Book Review: How to Keep Your Kids on Your Team

Book Review:  How to Keep Your Kids on Your Team by Charles Stanley

The Good:

Been there, done that.  Charles Stanley had both the view of the counselor and the parent when he brought personal illustrations to play.  The counseling situations were enlightening and eye-opening, and the family illustrations brought a personal touch.  Each produced a break for the mind and allowed for smooth reading.

Homework?  With each chapter, I walked away with homework.  There were parenting skills that needed sharpened, conversations that needed to take place, and changes that needed to happen.  I have a long ways to go, but there were measurable steps I could take in improving my parenting.

This Quote – “The only hope they have is to undergo a transforming experience by Christ in their life and thus gain an understanding of who they really are in Jesus Christ.”

Handing Down Your Faith.  The chapter on this very subject was priceless.  My favorite part of the book and made the whole read worthwhile.  Such an important concept and I’m indebted to the author for the wisdom that was shared.

The Bad:

Not too sure.  There were a couple specific parenting situations that I disagreed with the take of the author.  Nothing sinful or even anything wrong, but a stance I probably wouldn’t take.  I am still learning on the job, so maybe my view may change as my kids get older.  Seems most of my disagreements had to do with discipline that was at times on the weak side.

Not One Mention of SnapChat.  It’s no fault of the author, but the book is outdated in the area of technology.  Writing in the mid-80’s, there is no mention of the constant battle of cell phones, gaming, and technology that this generation of parents face.  (Disclaimer:  Looks like an updated version was written in 1996, but would still lag behind in some technological issues.)

The Grade:  A.  Any parenting book that teaches you practical ways of improving your relationship with your children and your role as a parent gets an A from me.  This book provides valuable insight in parenting, while providing personal ways of improving the day-to-day grind of parenting a child.  Written over 30 years ago, it just goes to show, Biblical parenting does not go out of style.

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Partnering with Parents

Some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way in partnering with parents.  Hope you find this podcast helpful in your student ministry.

https://lcm.wol.org/multiply/partnering-parents-jeff-beckley/

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How To Get Parents on Your Team – Part 2

Last week, I wrote on the importance of being on the same team as the parents in your youth ministry.  I cannot overstate how critical it is to have a parental connection and partnership within your student ministry.  The trust and credibility you build with parents will only bring value and growth.  Parents will provide the support you need in various ways and you will be able to provide valuable insight and encouragement to their parenting journey.

Today, I’d like to share with you one practical method of getting parents on your team.  It’s not a trick or an ulterior motive ploy.  On the contrary, you hopefully have the same heart as the parents, and that is to see their child grow in their relationship with the Lord and reach their full potential of using their God-given abilities and gifts.

One way that happens is through Parent/Pastor Conferences.  You heard me.  Why can’t teachers have all the fun with parent/teacher conferences.  After all, aren’t youth pastors/workers/leaders also teaching their children valuable material (the most valuable actually) and need to give progress updates to the parents and find ways we can work together at church and home to allow the student to achieve continued spiritual growth?  In actuality, this meeting has more significance (no offense teachers, you are most appreciated), but not because of the teacher’s place in the student’s life, but because the church teaches about that which is eternal.Shouldn’t parents and pastors sit down and discuss ways they can partner with each other to allow the teenager to fight temptation, grow in their spiritual disciplines and gifts, and experience spiritual growth.  I can hear you scream YES from here!  So how is this done?  I’m glad you asked.

  1. Pick a date. Provide a date with a wide range of times.  Example – 3-7pm on a weeknight can allow families with different schedules to attend.  Provide alternate dates to parents so they can still have time to meet with you, but encourage the conference date as a primary option.
  2. Sign-up List. During your next parent meeting, explain the parent/pastor conference and pass around a sign-up list.  Follow up with parents that may not sign up, but this provides a good base of meetings right off the bat.
  3. Make it Professional. I had my dear wife make her famous chocolate chip cookies (this puts everyone in a good mood to start the meeting) and some coffee.  I set out two leather chairs in the lobby, coffee & cookies on a table, and a sign saying I would be with them in a moment.  This is not a silly exercise, we are talking about the spiritual condition of a human being.  Take it seriously.
  4. Have a Plan. For me, I kept it very simple.  In order to stay in my 30 minute timeframe, I had 4 categories:  Concerns, Strengths, Weaknesses, & Goals.  The parents talked and I also gave my input as well.  This plan worked well in this context and kept discussion on topic and with a firm direction.  **Make sure to have plans for each grade written down and ready to go.
  5. Make Prayer a Focus. We want God to be the main source and contributor to our discussion.  So we make sure to invite God right off the bat through prayer.  Then, I make it a point to have the dad pray at the end of the meeting if he is able to attend.  This is a subtle encouragement to allow the dad to take charge spiritually within the family.  It’s always a blessing to hear parents pray for the teens you serve and care for.

That’s it.  5 steps to conducting a parent/pastor conference.  Just another way to get parents on your team.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the value this provides in your personal ministry to teens, and in your relationships with parents.  Trust, encouragement, direction, blessing, and counsel all happens in 30 minutes.  Give is a try, and get on the same team with those parents.

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Need help with parenting?

That seems like a silly question.  Couldn’t all parents use at least a little help with parenting.  Paul Tripp wrote a book called “Parenting”.  You know what it is about?  Parenting.  Seriously though, it’s more than that.  This book has a dynamite combination.  Sometimes when you combine two things, it’s not so great.  Like hot dogs and mayonnaise, not what the doctor ordered.  Or how about stripes and plaids?  Gasoline and an open flame?  These are all disasters waiting to happen.  But when you combine a parenting book with the Gospel, you get a must read.

Book Review:  Parenting:  14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul Tripp 410ppsax0fl-_sx328_bo1204203200_

The Good:

Don’t Skip the Intro.  What a way to set up a book!  Like a great pregame from a coach, the author’s motivation in the opening pages is impeccable.  Not sure about the book, read the intro and you’ll be asking “Where do I sign?”

Gospel-Centered.  The author’s web page suggested his concern of parenting self-help books, and even his previous parenting books being held in more importance than God’s Word.  So, the author goes all out in taking the Gospel into parenting, rather than the other way around.  And he does a masterful job of instilling Gospel principles into everyday parenting.  It’s not too over the top, the “porridge” tastes just right.

That Didn’t Take Long.  Read a chapter and set a timer…it won’t be very long until you are tested with these practical principles from God’s Word.  These chapters are filled with practical lessons, that are both challenging and convicting.  And it doesn’t take long for you to be tested on the material.

The Bad:

This, This, and This.  The author has a certain style.  He like a particular mode of writing.  The book is filled with a specific literary technique.  I was trying to be subtle there, but the author tends to lean on a repetitive style of writing, and enjoys repeating a phrase in different ways.  Most of the time, it is very effective and needed, but every once in a while the list just seems redundant.

The Grade:  A.  For any phase of parenting, this book is a must read.  Read it before having kids.  Read it when you are in the heat of the battle.  Read it as a grandparent.  Suggest it to friends.  Suggest it in parent meetings.  It’s a must read.  It goes to the heart of both the parent and the child, and it does not let go.  It is enlightening, frustratingly challenging, spiritually uplifting, directionally on target, and never wavers from the truth of God’s Word.  It is a must read.

 

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