A change of attitude

It’s difficult to maintain an encouraging spirit when you’re overwhelmed by problems with your child. Dr. James Dobson shared a story of a family that faced this predicament:

Jenny was a three-year-old who was still acting like a child in the “terrible twos”; nearly every interaction between parent and child was marked by conflict. Yet the father decided that this was as good a time as any for a first “date” with his daughter: breakfast at a local restaurant. As the hot pancakes melted his butter, he felt his own disappointment with his daughter melting away. He began to tell Jenny how much she was loved and appreciated, that he and her mother had prayed for Jenny for years, that they were so proud of her. The father stopped to eat, but never got the fork to his mouth. In a soft, pleading voice, Jenny said, “Longer, Daddy. Longer.” For a second time he told Jenny why she was special…and a third time…and a fourth. Whenever he stopped, he heard the words, “Longer, Daddy. Longer.”

To follow Christ is “to be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23) so that every action and word is “helpful for building others up” (v. 29). It is true with children of all ages, too. Sometimes a problem with misbehavior or rebellion can be lessened by simply taking the time to have fun together and to speak of love in very warm terms. Kids need to hear that they are respected and appreciated. And guess what—so do moms and dads.

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Losing your driver’s seat position?

My friend’s 15-year-old just got her restricted driver’s license.  You know what that means.  Old dad had to white knuckle it from the passenger’s side.   Talk about nerve-wracking!  But believe it or not, he said the worst part wasn’t the close calls with curbs,  cars and trees… it was realizing that his little girl was growing up… and that he needed to start letting go.   Allowing our children to begin taking control of their own lives can feel like a bumpy ride… but letting go is the only way they’ll ever find the road to independence. 

Appreciating the little things

Has your child ever stopped you to make you notice something trivial that you would not normally stop to notice? It’s easy to let the burden of parenthood steal our appreciation for God’s amazing creation. Yet Scripture says that “He has caused his wonders to be remembered” (Psalm 111:4). We will remember—and discover a more spiritual perspective on the mundane side of life—if we only take the time to look. Sometimes our kids will be the ones to lead us there.

Maybe, you just need to laugh…

When King Solomon began his quest to discover the meaning of life, he believed that laughter was “foolish” (Ecclesiastes 2:2). But when he investigated further, he realized that God orders all things according to His purposes—that there is “a season for every activity under heaven” (3:1), including “a time to laugh” (v. 4). On those days when your child does something unexpected, you may discover that the most godly response is not one of anger or disapproval. You’ve entered a new season—a time to laugh.

Why can’t they stop fighting?

Sibling rivalry has been known to drive even the most patient and reasonable of parents crazy. It was responsible for the first murder on record, when Cain killed his brother Abel. Though a degree of antagonism between your children may be inevitable, you can minimize these conflicts by avoiding comparisons between your kids, by establishing and enforcing clear boundaries between them, and especially by instilling an equitable system of justice at home. Someone has said, “Strong families make good neighbors.” It is true. Solomon told us why: “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous” (Proverbs 21:15). While you can’t eliminate sibling rivalry altogether, you can insist on civility at home. Over time, that can lead to lasting friendships.

Just get ’em through it

Scripture says that “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established” (Proverbs 24:3). Those same qualities should be applied to raising families. It takes both wisdom and understanding to know when to tighten your grip and when to loosen it. In the case of hardheaded kids you are struggling to get along with in the teenage years, the wisest approach may be to simply get ’em through it.

Kids killing kids

One of the most disturbing trends insociety is the increasing incidence of kids killing kids. It is frightening to realize that school shootings such as the one at Colorado’s Columbine High School so many years ago, where two classmates murdered a teacher and twelve of their peers, have become almost commonplace (and even more frightening – an example for others). Our culture—through television, movies, the Internet, and video games—teaches our kids to get even with or kill those who get in their way.

It’s the same method that the Nazis employed before and during World War II. Recruits were required to perform disturbing tasks systematically until they were no longer shocked or revolted by them. They were desensitized to violence—as are children who observe repeated acts of brutality in the media. That’s why the American Medical Association and other child development authorities recently stated what most of us have understood for a long time: “[The] effects [of violence] in the media are measurable and long lasting. Moreover, prolonged viewing of media violence can lead to emotional desensitization toward violence in real life.”

Scripture describes our heavenly Father’s feelings on this matter in the strongest terms: “Those who love violence his soul hates” (Psalm 11:5). Don’t wait another day to shield your family from violent images. The stakes are not only your kids’ emotional well-being, but their relationship with God Himself.