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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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.

A good philosophy from a past president

Historian David McCullough writes the following:

There is a story that goes with the painting of Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent that hangs in the White House.  Sargent, it is said, had been waiting about the mansion for several days, hoping for a chance to see the President and talk to him about doing his portrait, when one morning the two met unexpectedly as Roosevelt was descending the stairway.

When might there be a convenient time for the President to pose for him, Sargent asked.

“Now!” said the President.

So there he is in the painting, standing at the foot of the stairs, his hands on the newel post. It is a great portrait, capturing more of the subtleties of the Roosevelt personality than any ever done of him.  And it’s a good story. Moments come and go, the President was telling the painter. Here is the time, seize it, do your best.

What great inspiration for us parents.  Now is the time.  Seize it.  Do your best for your kids. 

Practice – don’t miss it!

When John Maxwell had the opportunity to meet with legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who had won 10 national championships while at UCLA, he asked him what he missed most about coaching.

“Practice,” Wooden said. “What you do in practice is going to determine your level of success. I used to tell my players, ‘You have to give 100% everyday. Whatever you don’t give, you can’t make up for tomorrow. If you give only 75% today, you can’t give 125% tomorrow to make up for it.'”

Maybe most of you what you and I do today could fall into the category of ‘practice,’ though we would be more likely to call it preparation: preparing for a meeting, or preparing next Sunday’s message, or preparing for the next big ministry event. Wooden’s words remind us that we don’t have the luxury of coasting through “non-game days” with our kids… each day we must give 100%, even when the day consists only of preparation for tomorrow. [Adapted from Today Matters by John Maxwell.]

Creating a family-centered life

How can you focus more on your family?  Here are five suggestions:

1.    Mom and Dad have a consistent date night alone together at least once a month.

2.    Dad has scheduled one-on-one time with each of his children at least once a month.

3.    Entire family gathers for dinner at least 3 times a week.

4.    Dad texts, e-mails, or calls each of his children at least once a day.

5.    A monthly family board game night.

What would you add?

Telling the truth

Most kids generally understand that when you get your paycheck, you deposit it into a bank, and then the bank pays you a little something called interest for keeping your money there. In the same way, explain to your children that each time they tell the truth, a deposit is made in your “trust account.” When a lie is told, that account is depleted.  The more deposits that are made, the more you trust them and thus, the more privileges they earn in return.  Initially, the returns on their deposits might be spending the night out at a friend’s house or getting a cell phone. As their account grows, they’ll get even bigger dividends.

Hey dads – feeling left out?

Does it seem like your kids turn to your wife more than they turn to you?  If they do, take a look at how you’re parenting.  Are you a listener, or a lecturer?  Do you praise your kids or put them down?  Do you show them patience or lose your temper?  Are you fun to be around or always edgy?  Do you spend time with them, or fill your schedule with other things?  Now, even though kids naturally turn more to mom sometimes, you can draw them to you by being the kind of dad you need to be.