I often speak about honoring one another in the family. However, it is just as important (maybe more important) to become a person your family can honor. In fact, if we do not become a person worthy of honor, we set the whole family up for trouble. Consider what happened in Noah’s family when he acted dishonorably. Noah was a great man; but, after the flood he got drunk, a passed-out-laying-in-his-tent-naked-drunk. His son, Ham, found him, saw his father’s shame, and exposed his father’s dishonor by telling his brothers about his “find.” Noah had acted dishonorably by getting drunk. Ham had acted dishonorably by spreading the news of his father’s shame. These dishonorable acts ultimately resulted in Ham’s descendants living in servitude to their cousins (Genesis 9:25). The dishonorable actions of a father opened the door for his son to act dishonorably and for generations to live under the consequences of dishonor. Imagine the weight of that burden on Noah. You can avoid this heavy consequence by becoming a person of honor. Here are several traits a person of honor exhibits. Read them carefully and start living a life of honor today…for your family’s sake!
- A person worthy of honor is humble. We admire a humble person. A humble person listens and accepts correction, allowing him to grow in character. He believes that others have important contributions to make and, as a result, listens carefully and takes those contributions to heart.
- A person worthy of honor is gracious. A gracious person gives his time and energy to help and support those around him. A gracious person forgives. He accepts that others make mistakes and patiently corrects misunderstandings. A gracious person accepts others in spite of any mistakes or misunderstandings. A gracious person is a person worthy of honor.
- A person worthy of honor shows kindness to others. A person of honor does not need a bumper sticker proclaiming “random acts of kindness.” Everyone around him observes his kindness and receives the benefits of his kindness. Acting in kindness is second nature to him. He loves to hold the door open for others, allow others to go first in traffic, or speak words of encouragement to the downhearted. Kindness is his modus operandi.
- A person worthy of honor accepts correction and discipline. An honorable person humbly accepts his own shortcomings. He realizes his imperfection and admits his mistakes. As a result, he not only accepts but cherishes the correction of others. He realizes that correction helps him grow and become a more honorable person.
- A person worthy of honor speaks the truth. We know we can trust the word of an honorable person. He does not tell even white lies. You can completely trust the person of honor because he has no hidden agendas. He lovingly speaks the truth.
- A person worthy of honor keeps his word. His “yes” is “yes” and his “no” is “no.” When an honorable person promises to do something for you, you know it will get done. He does not make idle promises or promises he cannot keep. This adds to our willingness to trust a person of honor.
- A person worthy of honor works to provide for himself and his family. An honorable person does not trick others to make a gain. He does not connive and conspire to get ahead. Instead, he works hard. He works hard in response to his love for family. He works hard so no one has to carry the burden of caring for his needs. He works hard for the joy of helping others in their time of need.
- A person worthy of honor is generous. An honorable person gives to others with no expectation of return. He gives simply for the joy of giving. This does not mean he gives frivolously. He shares from his abundance with those who have need; but, he does so wisely, as a good steward. He not only shares his material wealth, but he shares his time and effort as well.
- A person of honor stands firm in his beliefs. He is not easily swayed. You know where he stands and what he believes. There is no guessing or fear about what he believes or how he will act. He is open and firm. Although he stands firm in his beliefs, he does not become rude. Instead, he remains firm in a loving and polite manner.
To build a family of honor, become a person of honor. Practice these nine attributes to become a person of honor. Your family will honor you and thank you…and you will enjoy the benefits of an honor filled family for generations to come.
Thanksgiving is more than a seasonal discussion of gratitude…more than a big family meal…more than a day of watching football. Thanksgiving, in my opinion, is a way of life. A lifestyle of thanksgiving provides many benefits to a family life. In fact, after reading these five benefits of thanksgiving, you might decide to let the day of Thanksgiving this year “jump start” a whole year of gratitude for your family.
- A lifestyle of thanksgiving teaches us to appreciate the blessings we have. A thankful family replaces a sense of entitlement with an appreciation for the unearned gifts received…gifts like someone doing our laundry, preparing our meals, or paying the bills to keep our house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A lifestyle of thanksgiving will takes us a step further to realize that every breath we take, every heartbeat that sends blood coursing through our body, and every time we run down the stairs are gifts we have been freely given. We truly are a blessed people.
- Thanksgiving replaces a selfish attitude with an attitude of generosity. As we realize how much we have received and how freely it was given, our desire to share will increase. We will become more generous. Generosity in a family leads to more acts of kindness and sharing…something else for which we can give thanks.
- Thanksgiving helps us develop greater peace of mind. When we neglect to offer thanks for the gifts we have received, our selfish desires grow. We look at what we do not have and experience want, a growing desire for more. We experience envy. We grow demanding. A lifestyle of thanksgiving puts our desire in perspective. Thanksgiving turns our focus toward the blessings we have received, the abundant material blessing we have, and the amazing opportunities each day presents. Gratitude replaces desire and envy. Giving thanks replaces demanding. A lifestyle of thanksgiving helps us focus on how much we have to be thankful for.
- A lifestyle of thanksgiving increases our joy and hope. As we focus on the blessings and gracious gifts we have received, we build a joyous past. We nurture an expectation that our future will be provided as well. We no longer need to worry and fret over what the future holds. Instead, the joys of thanksgiving will have strengthened the realization that God does provide and that life is good. We will have established a hope based on the memories of thanksgiving, a hope that God will also take care of our tomorrow. No need to worry, give thanks.
- A lifestyle of thanksgiving even helps make tough times more bearable. For three ways thanksgiving does this read Intentional Gratitude.
A lifestyle of thanksgiving can benefit our families all year long! Why not let this season of Thanksgiving “jump start” a year of gratitude for your family? You can practice thanksgiving all year round by starting a thanksgiving tree, a gratitude journal, or simply making a point of thanking one another every day for something. Believe me, the benefits will prove priceless!
Parents want to raise children who have self-control. And why not? Science has shown that self-control offers many life changing benefits.
- People with self-control make better choices. Better choices lead to fewer negative consequences and greater happiness. Better choices can also lead to more success—better grades, better jobs, more money, better health, etc.
- People with higher levels of self-control “stick to” their morals. They exhibit greater honesty and live with greater integrity.
- People with self-control resist temptation. They have better mental focus. In other words, unimportant distractions do not draw them away from important tasks…which takes us back to the first benefit noted above.
As parents, we want our children to experience the benefits of self-control. The real question becomes: how can we teach self-control to our children? Here are six ways to do just that!
- Play games. Depending on your child’s age, you can play any number of games to promote self-control. “Simon Says” and “freeze tag” teach self-control. Checkers, Chess, and Battleship teach children to think ahead and consider consequences, an important aspect of self-control. Board games of all kinds teach children to “wait their turn,” which takes enormous self-control. Don’t forget pretend play. Developing a make believe character who engages in an imaginative activity demands planning, consideration of consequences, acting out emotions, problem-solving, and cooperation…all aspects of self-control.
- Encourage self-talk. Self-talk offers guidance and encouragement through difficult tasks. Self-talk keeps children mindful of their desires and focused on their goals. Over time, self-talk becomes an inner voice prompting us to focus, move toward our goals, and ignore distraction. That inner voice promotes self-control.
- Teach healthy distraction. When children feel a growing anxiety or anger, healthy distraction can help. It can help them control their anxiety and allow them to respond wisely—from personal integrity, rather than with a rash emotional reaction. Teach your children healthy ways and healthy times to distract themselves. This involves giving them some specific physical or mental action to take. “Sing your favorite song to yourself” or “think about what you enjoyed most on our last vacation” will work better than “just think about something else.” “Build a space ship with your Legos” will help more than simply “go play.”
- Turn off the TV. TV watching will not teach the important skills involved in self-control. It does not encourage “waiting your turn,” thinking ahead, or focusing. Interactive social games and social interactions teach these skills. Turn off the TV and refer to #1.
- Maintain age appropriate expectations. Adjust your expectations to match your children’s age. Your 6-year-old will not have the same level of self-control as your 12-year-old…or your 16-year-old. Your 6-year-old will need more hands-on assistance, which will slowly change to more verbal prompting as she moves toward puberty and adolescence. Age appropriate expectations include age appropriate discipline. A toddler who won’t sit still in a restaurant requires different instruction than a 12-year-old who won’t sit still in the same situation.
- Do not assume a lapse of self-control is just bad behavior…listen. Allow your children to explain their choices and actions. Listen carefully to determine if they have an unmet need and teach them how to address that need. Listen for emotions that need soothed and help them learn to soothe them. Listen for motivations and intention that represent positive values and reinforce them while teaching appropriate ways to implement those motives and intention. Don’t assume a lapse in self-control is bad behavior…listen.
When you implement these 6 actions, you will encourage greater self-control in your children…from toddler to teen!
Parenting teens is tough. They often seem to believe they have all the answers. They “know” exactly what they need, exactly how a parent can best parent, and exactly what their parent is doing wrong. Well, I decided to listen in on the vast wisdom of a few teens and learn some of their parenting tips. Actually, they did offer some pretty good advice. So, I’m sharing their advice with you—advice to parents straight from the teen’s mouth.
- “Get a hobby.” Healthy teens are moving toward independence. They want to establish their own identity, to individuate and become their “own person.” So, they begin to spend more time with friends and less time with parents. The joy of having a parent by their side now becomes the annoyance of “my parent, the stalker.” Don’t misunderstand this advice. Teens still need parents. Even more surprising, teens want their parents to remain available and attentive to their needs. They need a safety net only their parents can provide. Remain available to your teen. Let your teen know you are available. Talk with them. But “get a hobby.” Do not make them the sole focus of your life. Invest in your own interests and friends. Have fun with other adults.
- “Quit interrogating me.” Many teens have told me they “can’t stand” being asked “a lot of questions.” They don’t want to walk through the door into a barrage of questions: “How are you? Where did you go? What did you do? How was school? Did you remember to put gas in the car? How come you look unhappy? Are you OK? What’s wrong?” Quit asking so many questions and simply greet your teens when they come home. Ask one, maybe two questions. Tell them about your Give them space and allow for some silence. Develop the conversation of friendship with your teen—one which involves both people sharing information about themselves and their day. Honor your teen by trusting them to reveal information to you in their time and in their way while you simply keep the door open.
- “Let me be me.” Too many teens feel compared to a parent, brother, sister, neighbor, or “me when I was your age….” Comparisons leave us, and our teens, feeling unaccepted or “not good enough.” In response, our teen might just give up and say, “Nothing I do is good enough anyway.” Comparisons hinder our teens’ self-esteem. Instead of making comparisons, simply acknowledge what your teens do. Accept their level of ability, acknowledge their interests, and praise their efforts to improve. You will watch your teen grow in maturity as a result.
- “It’s my life. Let me make my own mistakes.” Of course we do not want our teen to make a life threatening mistake. However, most mistakes are more of an inconvenience than a true threat. Teens learn from their mistakes, just like we did. So, let your teen make some mistakes. Keep the lines of communication open so you can warn them of the dangers. Remain available to offer guidance. Rather than telling them “I told you so,” show empathy for the discomfort and negative results your teens experience when they make the poor choice. Doing so will allow your teen to learn from that mistake…just like you and I did.
- “Life with you is boring.” The teen brain is undergoing a whole remodeling. During remodeling, teens’ “reward center” operates differently. They need a greater thrill, a bigger risk, to activate the reward center. But, when it is activated, they experience a greater rush, a bigger thrill, and are ready to do it again. In other words, what excites you and I will often bore our teen. So, they seek the next thrill; and when they find that thrill they get a rush of chemicals in their brain’s reward center. We don’t want that thrill to be life threatening or dangerous. Taking the time to know your teen is a healthy practice to help you manage their risky behavior. Take time to discover your teens’ likes and interests. Gently guide them toward taking healthy risks based on their interests. Help them learn how to find that rush of excitement while remaining safe.
Believe me, teens have a lot more to say about parenting, but I didn’t want to overwhelm anybody. Just let these 5 pieces of teen parenting advice sink in and maybe we can learn more “teen wisdom” in the future.
If you’re like me, after reading that title you’re probably thinking, “Family fun and holiday preparations? Yeah right? What planet do you live on?” I mean really. We haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving and I am already hearing Christmas music in the stores. But, I believe I have rediscovered a way to have family fun and prepare for the holidays! Not only can we have fun while preparing for the holidays, but this Family Fun Night will make the holidays less hectic while building family intimacy. Sound too good to be true? Well, this family celebration can do it! Celebrate your family with a family craft night. Think about it. You can make tree ornaments, table settings, wall decorations, or crafty gifts to give to the in-laws (or anyone else for that matter). If you struggle for ideas, check out Craft Gossip or the Etsy Blog. Remember, as you work on your masterfully creative crafts, talk to one another. Share ideas. Recall holidays past and the fun times enjoyed. Dream about future holidays. Make a wish list for gifts you’d like to receive. Talk about gifts other people might enjoy receiving. Laugh. Have fun. Oh, don’t forget to throw some hot chocolate and other edible goodies into the mix. When all is said and done, you will have had a wonderful family night of fun while preparing decorations, gifts, and ideas for the holidays! So, slow down, enjoy one another’s company, and prepare for the coming holidays with a family fun night of crafts.
We all want our children to learn kindness; so, we model and teach kindness every opportunity we get.
We also want our family to grow stronger and more intimate. So, we share intimate times and grow stronger family ties.
This Family Fun Night activity can help you accomplish both goals (raising kind children and growing stronger family ties) while having fun! It provides an opportunity to gather the whole family together for a project utilizing everyone’s imagination and creativity. It allows the whole family an opportunity to show kindness to as many people as desired. And, all it takes is some cardstock, scissors, glue, and creativity. That’s right…this is a Family Fun Night making homemade cards. You can make cards for any occasion—thank you cards, funny cards, serious cards, thinking of you cards, encouragement cards, get well soon cards, Christmas cards, birthday cards, etc. You can even make cards for unique holidays like “Pi Day” or “I Forgot Day”. Be as creative as you want with the cards. While you make your cards, admire your ideas. Laugh at one another’s jokes as you put them on the cards. Talk about the people who deserve a special card. When all is said and done, you will have a stack of cards to use on any occasions. People love to receive cards in the mail. So, take your stack of cards and practice kindness by mailing them out to whoever you want…at any time you like. In fact, why not send out one or two cards today? Send them out just to celebrate your family fun night of card making.
Do you want to raise a confident child? Of course you do. We all want our children to grow confident—willing to tackle healthy risks, able to stand firm in the face of opposition, willing to persevere through setbacks, comfortable with their ability to explore and achieve. With that in mind, consider these six tips for raising a confident child.
- Develop a warm, trusting relationship with your child. Spend time with him. Talk. Have fun. Spending time with your child communicates how much you love him. A child who knows he is loved by his parents comes to see himself as lovable…and he grows more confident.
- Trust your child with significant tasks. Give him an important job to do in the home and teach him the significance of that job. Inform him how the job helps you, his family, and his home. Praise his effort on this job. Thank him for doing it. Publicly and privately acknowledge his work. A child who knows his parents view his work and efforts as important will grow confident.
- Know your child. Become involved in his life. Get to know his friends. Learn about his interests. Be present for his activities. Have an awareness of his daily schedule and life—who he is with, where he is, what he is doing. By knowing your child in this manner, you communicate how much you value him. A child who feels valued becomes more confident.
- Set clear limits. Every child needs limits to protect him and encourage his growth. Age appropriate limits increase his opportunity for successful experiences. Successful experiences increase confidence. So, set healthy limits that reflect your family values. Communicate those limits clearly and concisely.
- Practice self-control. Don’t be a pushover, enforce the limits. When you tell your child “no,” stick with it. This will demand you think through your “no’s” and have good reasons for saying “no.” Explain your reason in a brief sentence, then let your “no” be “no.” No need to debate or justify. You have already stated your reason. Now have the self-control to stick with it. When a child experiences a parent who will briefly explain a firm, loving limit and then stand by that limit, he feels secure. Most likely, he will eventually internalize that healthy limit. A secure child who has internalized appropriate limits becomes a confident child.
- That being said, as your child matures allow him to have input into the rules and limits. When limits are somewhat flexible, be willing to negotiate. Give you child some voice. Listen to discover your child reasons for wanting to modify the limit. Ask questions to make sure you understand his reasons and to help him clarify his own reasons. Strive to truly understand your child’s reasoning. Clearly communicate your concerns as well. Then, when both your child’s reasons and your concerns are clearly understood, you can negotiate. Sometimes you may choose to go with your child’s idea. Sometimes you may not. Either way, a child who feels his ideas are heard and respected becomes a child who has the confidence to speak up.
Combining these six tips will create a warm, trusting relationship between your and your child while setting and enforcing clear limits on a consistent basis. This combination will help your child:
- Feels loved and see himself as lovable,
- Receives acknowledgement of his significant contribution to the home and sees himself as significant,
- Experiences success within the clear boundaries of a structured family life, and
- Internalized the values inherent in that structure.
In other words, you will have raised a confident child!
Whether you want to spend a romantic night with your spouse or a relaxed evening with your whole family, stargazing fits the bill. I remember laying a blanket out in the back yard so my daughters, my wife, and I could lie back, look at the stars, and talk. We talked about the constellations (mostly them pointing constellations out to me) as well as life, beliefs, dreams, and whatever silly ideas came to mind. Stargazing is relaxing. It provides a lovely backdrop for building family intimacy as well as the perfect romantic setting after the kids go to bed.
Stargazing can also become a great family hobby—a hobby that promotes togetherness and the opportunity to stand in awe of the vastness of God and His creation…or talk about myths and romance…all while having a snack. Depending on where you live, a stargazing family could have enjoyed a lunar eclipse, a solar eclipse, Pegasus crossing the sky, and mercury peeking into the morning sky last month (October, 2014). And, this month (November, 2014) will offer a great time to see Mercury just before sunrise in the Eastern sky.
Two sites that will give more information about stargazing are StarDate and Stargazing Tonight. Check them out. Then go for a walk on a clear night and enjoy the stories of stars and constellations. Share dreams. Recall what the stars mean in your beliefs (such as Abraham being promised by God that his descendants would number like the stars of the sky). Stand in awe at the vastness of God and His creation. And, for the sake of family, enjoy one another’s company as you stargaze for a family fun night.
Yes, you can have a successful family conflict! Successful conflict increases mutual understanding and intimacy. It draws families closer together. Conflict also reveals ways to help your family grow stronger. Conflict can do this and more if we avoid five practices. If you let these five practices sneak into your family conflict, misunderstandings increase. Anger grows. Intimacy diminishes. Joy dwindles. What five practices interfere with a successful conflict? Let me share them here.
- Mind-reading interferes with successful conflict. Mind reading occurs when one person assumes to know what the other person thinks or intends by their actions or words. A person who mind reads assumes to know the motives of the other person. Mind reading implies that “I know your thoughts, intents, and motives better than you know them yourself.” When a person practices mind reading, he passes up the opportunity to truly understand what the other person means, intends, and believes. He increases the chances of misunderstanding the other person’s motives. Instead of mind reading, ask questions. Seek to understand what the other person means and intends by their statement.
- Labeling interferes with successful conflict. Labeling involves name-calling. It can be as subtle as “You’re irrational” or as direct as “You’re an idiot!” Labeling, name-calling, will obviously interferes with a successful conflict. Name-calling hurts. It arouses the other person’s defensiveness. It passes judgment on the other person. It implies the conflict cannot be successfully resolves since the other person is “an idiot,” a “jerk,” or…you fill in the blank. Instead of labeling and name-calling, practice kindness in the midst of conflict. Take the time to remember the other person’s positive qualities.
- Blaming interferes with successful conflict. Sometimes people blame directly. “It’s your fault!” Sometimes we use a more subtle form of blaming, “You-tooing.” “I may have left the dishes out, but you….” “Well even if I did break the dish what does it matter? You have broken lots of dishes in the past!” By blaming we avoid responsibility. We avoid looking at our own contribution to the situation. We “pass the buck.” The person we have a conflict with is more likely to take responsibility for his role in the conflict if we willingly take responsibility for our role in the conflict. Instead of blaming, accept responsibility. Apologize as needed. Take the log out of your own eye and state what you will do differently to resolve this conflict.
- Kitchen-sinking also interferes with successful conflict. Kitchen-sinking is throwing every past conflict and frustration into the sink when you are discussing one dirty dish. You’ve had the kitchen-sink experience. You and your spouse begin to argue about a single incident but, as the argument progresses, you both bring up “the time you forgot to put the gas in the car” or “the time you yelled at me for no reason” or “the time you went out with the guys instead of watching a movie with me” or…you get the idea. I’ve heard couples bring up things that happened 20 years ago when they begin to argue about a specific incident that occurred yesterday. Kitchen-sinking prevents you from resolving anything. Stop kitchen-sinking. Instead, deal with one incident at a time. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. So, once you resolve an incident put it to rest. No need to beat a dead horse. Resolve it and let it go.
- Generalizing interferes with successful conflict. We generalize with words like “always” and “never.” “You never listen to me.” “You always get your way.” Such generalization increase defensiveness. The other person feels the need to “prove” the generalization wrong. The conflict becomes a surface battle of events rather than the deeper dialogue of resolving hurt feelings and emotional disconnection. Instead of making broad generalizations, stop to think of exceptions. Consider times that counter the generalization. Instead of making broad generalizations, deal with the incident at hand…no more, no less. It is not an issue of “always” or “never” but an issue of “today” and “this time.”
Avoiding these five practices will help you experience the true joys of a successful family conflict.