Tag Archive for consequences

The Crucial “AND-Factor” in Parenting

John behaved terribly in Junior Church. He didn’t sit still. He didn’t listen. He talked constantly. He distracted the other children. He caused conflict. Finally, at my whit’s end, I told him, “I’m going to talk to your mother about your behavior today.”  So, after dismissing the children, I cleaned up the room and headed to the sanctuary where I could talk with John’s mother. As I approached, John’s mother smiled and said, “Isn’t Johnny a good kid. He told me how bad he was in class today. He said he was sorry.  He’s such an honest, good kid.”  I was shocked that he had already told his mother. I asked, “Did you talk to him about the need to change his behavior?” “No, he told me what he had done wrong.”  “Did he apologize for misbehaving?” “No, not really. But he told me about it. He’s such a good boy.” “Will you discipline him so this behavior doesn’t continue?” “Well, I don’t think I need to do anything. Boys will be boys. And he did come to tell me what he did wrong. He’s such an honest boy.” And, with that the conversation ended. I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn his disruptive behavior did not end.  John’s mother loved her son. She had acceptance down pat but she was not great on limits. As a result, John’s behavior didn’t change. He continued to misbehave. She was missing an important factor in effective parenting: the “AND-factor.” Every effective parent practices the “AND-factor.” Let me share a just three examples to explain.

  • Effective parents practice acceptance toward their children “AND” they set firm limits for their children. They accept and acknowledge what their children want “AND” maintain a firm limit. They even accept and acknowledge their children’s disappointment in not getting what they want “AND” still hold the limit firm. The parent using the “AND-factor” makes comments like, “I know you would like a cookie right now but it will spoil your dinner so you’ll have to wait until after dinner” or “I know you’d like your driver’s license now but you came in late and drunk two times in the last month so we can’t trust you with your license.” In both instances the parent acknowledges what their child wants “AND” maintains a firm and reasonable limit.
  • Effective parents remain available “AND” do not become intrusive. They remain involved in their children’s lives “AND” encourage independence. They remain available to help resolve problems that arise, but they do not step in to fix it. They remain available “AND” they let their children work it out independently as much as possible.
  • Effective parents practice patient acceptance toward their children “AND” they remain true to which behaviors are acceptable and which are not acceptable. These parents remain calm when their children misbehave. “AND,” they firmly tell their children what behaviors they will or will not tolerate. They wait patiently for their children to get ready for appointments (like catching the school bus) “AND” they encourage timeliness, even if that means their children receive a consequence when they are late. They remain calm in the midst of misbehavior “AND” they will enforce a consequence for that misbehavior.

I’m sure you get the idea. Other examples of the “AND-factor” include…

  • Respecting your needs “AND” respecting your children’s needs.
  • Encouraging open expression of feelings, even negative feelings and disagreements “AND” expecting, even demanding, those expressions remain polite and respectful.

Effective parents practice the “AND-factor” in many areas. Sometimes it’s a struggle “AND” it always produces the best results. So start practicing the “AND-factor” now.  Strive to do it perfectly “AND” be patient with the times you fall short.  Work hard at it “AND” have fun with it along the way. I could keep going “AND” you’d quit reading…so I better just quit now.

A More Powerful “No” to Parent Effectively

Our children don’t like to hear it, but we need to say it…and they need to hear it! It’s true. They need to hear us tell them “no” at the appropriate times. They need to hear “no” so they remember they can’t have everything they desire or do everything they want to do. They need to hear “no” so they learn the limits of appropriate behavior and the boundaries of safe behavior. They need to hear “no” so they can learn to say “no” for themselves. (Read Prelude, Fugue, and Variation to learn more.)  In fact, Magda Gerba revealed great insight when she said, “A child who is never told ‘no’ is a neglected child.” So, do not neglect your child, tell them “no.” But, make your “no” effective with these two components.

  1. Effective “no’s” are well-timed. Saying “no” at the wrong time can make things worse. I remember going to a children’s camp where, at the beginning of the week, the camp leaders explained the rules: “No throwing rocks.” “No going into the woods.” As the leaders stated these limits, these “no’s,” I saw the campers eyes light up with the realization that there were rocks to throw and woods to explore.  The “no’s” had the opposite effect of the leaders’ intent. The “no’s” aroused previously unknown possibilities in their awareness. Rather than preventing unwanted behaviors, they presented the possibility of new behaviors. The “no’s” were ill-timed. A well-timed “no” increases safety, like “No darting into the street” or “No texting and driving.”  A well-timed “no” promotes health, like “No cookies before dinner” or “No staying up all night to text.” Remember, an effective “no” is well-timed.
  2. An effective “no” needs to be part of a larger and thoughtful repertoire of variations on “no.” In fact, an effective “no” may not even sound like a “no.” One of the most effective ways to say “no” is to add a “yes.” For instance:
    1. Rather than “No hitting,” try saying “Keep your hands to yourself.”
    2. Instead of “No cookie before dinner” try “We’re saving the cookies for dessert.”
    3. “No yelling in the house” could become “Please use your indoor voice” or “You can yell all you want outside.”
    4. Rather than saying “Don’t you get angry at me” try “It’s OK to get mad, but you can still speak politely and act nice…even when you’re mad.”
    5. “No running” may become more effective as “Please walk with me and keep me company.”

Our children need us to speak “no’s” into their lives for their safety, health, and overall well-being. Following these two principles—making your “no” well-timed and developing a large and thoughtful repertoire of variations on “no”—will make your “no’s” even more effective.

How to Raise MEAN Kids…or NOT

“Controlling parents create mean college kids.” Having taught at a local college for several military policeyears and having two kids in college right now, that headline caught my attention. I have known quite a few mean college kids. The worst were the ones who engaged in what psychologist call “relational aggression.” They were not physically aggressive, but they could crush someone’s feelings or sabotage a person’s social standing with a well-spoken rumor, a strategic exclusion from some event, or nonchalantly embarrassing them in public. A study out of the University of Vermont suggests one way parents may contribute to this type of behavior. Specifically, this study of 180, mostly female, college students found that parents who use guilt trips or threat of withdrawing affection or support to influence their children contribute to the creation of the mean college kid who uses relational aggression. In other words, parents who control their children with guilt or threat of abandonment create mean college kids. Today, parents can practice this style of controlling influence from a distance, without even seeing their children, with the use of cell phone…just as our children can crush a peer through social media.

Rather than creating a mean kid through guilt inducing and controlling parenting styles, try these ideas:

  • Accept your children’s unique opinions and lifestyle. No need to try controlling their interests, ideas, and passions. Accept the fact that your children may not keep the hairstyle you like. They may not share your interests or political views. They may choose a different style of dress than you taught them. They may choose a vocation you never expected. Allow your children to be themselves. Accept their uniqueness. Enjoy your differences. Celebrate what you can learn from one another.
  • Respect your children enough to let them make their own mistakes. Do not make them feel guilty for the mistake, let them learn from the consequences of that mistake. Don’t control their every move in an effort to prevent “the same mistakes I made.” Instead, give them the dignity to learn from their mistakes without an “I told you so.” Empathize with the pain they experience as a consequence of their mistake, but let them have their own experience of, and opportunity to learn from, that pain. In fact, let them tell you what they learned and acknowledge the wisdom they gained.
  • Be available without clinging. Let your children know you are available to them any time they express a need. You can listen, share experiences, brainstorm ideas, even give advice if they ask…BUT you cannot live their life or make their decisions. Most importantly, whatever they choose, you still love them and remain available to them…without the guilt trip.

In other words, loosen the reins just a little. Appreciate their uniqueness and let them practice some decision making. Let them have some slack and let them learn from mistakes. Most important, always express your love and support.

How to Raise an Overly Self-Critical Child (…or not)

No, we do not want to raise self-critical children. We want to raise hard-working children who accept themselves and others. Unfortunately, we can easily slip into a style of parenting that promotes self-criticism and perfectionism in our children. How do parents unwittingly nurture self-criticism? Let me offer a couple examples.military police

  • Our child is working on a puzzle but keep trying to put the wrong piece in the wrong place at the wrong time. We jump in to take the wrong piece out and quickly replace it with the correct piece. In effect, we took over the puzzle for a short moment. We robbed our child of the chance to recognize their mistake, learn from it, and correct it on their own. We communicated they can’t do it on their own, they’re never good enough. We’ve nurtured a self-critical tendency toward anything less than perfect.
  • Our child starts to color their tree pink. In our desire to teach, we jump in to correct. We quickly take the pink crayon from them and give them a green one while explaining, “Look, those trees are green.” We intruded upon our child’s imaginative perception. We squelched their creativity at that moment and limited the way they can look at the world to align only with our perspective or the common perspective. We also sparked a moment of doubt about their decisions and aroused a fear of being different. We’ve nurtured a self-critical attitude toward any uniqueness in their lives and art.
  • Our teen wants to take an extra music or art class. We jump in to redirect them to something more useful, a math or science class for example. We explain the necessity of math and science as well as the frivolity of music or art. After all, they have to graduate from high school and find a well-paying career. Eventually, they succumb to our nagging and begrudgingly take a math class. We have subtly taken over their schedule and intruded upon their dreams. We’ve communicated their inability to make wise choices, explore options, have multiple interests, and even learn from mistakes. We’ve nurtured a self-critical tendency toward interests and decisions that don’t “fit the mold.”

In each of these scenarios well-meaning parents intruded upon their child’s decision and activity. They took over an experiment, a creative expression, a self-exploring decision. They left their child no choice but to “do it” the way their parent wanted it done. They put excessive pressure on their child to comply with their desire and their needs. When parents intrude upon their children’s lives, children become more likely to exhibit an overly self-critical nature and maladaptive perfectionism. What can a parent do instead?

  1. Focus on effort, NOT achievement. Recognize your child’s effort in everything they do.
  2. Acknowledge specifics of what your child has done right, or the things you admire, BEFORE discussing mistakes.
  3. Allow your child to experiment “outside the box.” Encourage creativity and uniqueness. Let them do things “their way” even if it takes longer, is not the traditional method, or is different than the way you would do it. You might explain how you do it, but allow them to try their unique approach as well.
  4. Let your child struggle with mistakes and choices. Allow them time to learn from their mistakes. While they struggle, do not say “I told you so” or “If you would have listened….”

Practice these four tips and you can help your children develop a sense of adventure and joy in exploring, learning, and growing.

Fix It, Clean It, Replace It, or Lose It

I worked as a school-based therapist in an inner-city middle school for several years. It was a great experience. I met many wonderful students and amazing teachers. Still, at times I thought we missed the mark when responding to students’ misbehavior. For example, one day a group of girls had a “wet paper towel party” in the bathroom. They soaked paper towels in water and threw them against the walls and ceiling. Soaked with water, these wads of paper towels stuck to every surface they hit. The girls left the bathroom a mess, globs of wet paper towels hanging all over the surface of walls and ceiling. The staff chose to suspend the girls for three days as a consequence. By simply suspending these young A man chained to a problem. White background. 3d renderladies, we missed an opportunity to teach them an important lesson. They enjoyed three days off school and, at best, learned how to have irresponsible fun and get a vacation. Perhaps we would have taught a more important lesson by offering a consequence directly connected to their behavior. For instance, a more logical consequence of the girls’ behavior would have been keeping them after school for three days to help the custodian clean the bathrooms. This would more likely teach the girls respect for property and personal responsibility while encouraging more responsible decision-making in the future.

The same principal of consequences applies at home when we discipline our children. Simply sending a child to their room for a day or grounding them for a week does little to encourage responsible decision making in the future. Instead, offer a consequence related to the misbehavior, a logical consequence. Let them fix it, clean it, replace it, or lose it…whichever represents a logical result of their behavior. Let me give you some examples:

  • When your child refuses to get up for school, let them get to school late and suffer the usual consequences for tardiness.
  • When your child waits until the last minute to complete a project and then does not have the needed materials, don’t rush out to get it. Let them find a way to get it or suffer the consequences of an incomplete school project.
  • If your child does not finish their assigned chore, let them stay in (not playing their video game or watching TV or some other “fun” activity) until it is done.
  • If your child refuses to eat an appropriate amount of their supper, they miss out on dessert.
  • If your child breaks a window, they can work to earn the money to replace it and help in the actual replacement of it.

These all represent logical consequences. However, sometimes the results of misbehavior offer consequences enough. We simply need to step back and allow those natural consequences to happen rather than bail them out. Here are a few examples of natural consequences:

  • Your child refuses to eat and they go hungry until the next meal.
  • Your child refuses to wear a jacket on a cold morning and they get cold.
  • Your child does not hand in his homework and he gets a lower grade in that class.
  • Your child gets angry and breaks their phone (or is careless and loses it), so they do not have a phone until the next contract comes up.
  • Your teen driver carelessly has a fender bender so they have no mode of transportation while the car is fixed.

Using logical and natural consequences take effort on the part of the parent. We have to stay calm and allow the natural consequence to occur or we have to think of an appropriate logical consequence. But, the results are well worth the extra time and effort. What’s the result? A child who learns from their mistakes and makes adjustments in their behavior to avoid the consequences in the future. In other words, a wise child!

Help Your Children Internalize Great Values

As parents, we want our children to internalize positive values and the discernment to make wise choices. We encourage them to begin developing this kind of maturity early in hopes that, over time, they will internalize the skills necessary to do so independently. How can we help our children internalize the positive values and behaviors needed to live well? Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider.

First the DON’T’s:

  • parenting challengeDon’t yell. Yelling “scrambles” children’s minds. It threatens their sense of security. They feel responsible for their parent’s anger and threatened at the same time. Their fight or flight system is activated as a result; but they can’t run or fight. They are left in limbo, frozen, minds scrambled, unable to listen and unable to learn. Rather than yell, stay calm. Speak firmly but respectfully.
  • Don’t lecture. Children stop listening when parents lecture. They shut down. Instead, make your statements brief, concise, and to the point.
  • Don’t use permanent attributions like “always” and “never.” Your children will internalize your “always” and “never.” If you say your child “always lies” or “never cleans,” they will come to believe that about themselves and live it out. Use phrases like “this time” instead. Stick to “this” specific situation rather than letting your mind and your words go to “always” and “never.”
  • Don’t make comparisons. Comparisons never turnout well. Instead of helping to internalize positive values, comparisons contribute to a poor self-image, overly competitive behavior, fear of failure, and resentment. Focus on the specific behavior you want to address instead.

Don’t stop with the “don’ts” above. To really help your children internalize positive values and wisdom…

  • Do invest in a relationship with your children. Children internalize the values of people they know love them. If you want your children to listen to you and follow your guidance, build a relationship with them. This will demand an investment of time and energy. Take time getting to know your children. Learn about those things that interest them. Meet their friends. Enjoy activities with them. The closer your relationship with your children, the more likely they will internalize positive values from you. (Check out this Amazing Parenting Insight I Learned in 3 Parts for more.)
  • Do build on what they know already. Children already have a surprising ability to know right from wrong. Just check out this video from Yale University’s Infant Cognition Center, you might be surprised. Capitalize on that innate knowledge and encourage it. Rather than simply telling them what to do, ask them what they think and gently give input. Talk to them about choices movie characters make and the consequences. When a friend does something, ask them about it and their thoughts. Give them a chance to talk and develop their knowledge of right and wrong with your gently guidance and acceptance.
  • Do let them make choices. Children of all ages can make choices. Of course the nature of those choices will change over time; but, the opportunity to make choices will help them internalize positive values at any age. Let your toddler pick a shirt from the two you lay out. Your teen, on the other hand, can pick out a shirt from his whole closet. Let them make choices about simple daily activities like whether to take a bath or shower. And let them participate in larger more complex family decisions like where to go for dinner or what to do on vacation.
  • Do let them suffer. Sometimes our children will make poor choices that lead to some consequence. Don’t bail them out. Do let them suffer the consequences. Let them experience the results of their choices and their behaviors. Of course, take the initiative to protect them from decisions that can lead to greater harm. But, if they forget their lunch one day, let them suffer. They’ll survive. If they neglect their school project, let them suffer a poor grade. They’ll recover. Our children, like us, will learn a lot from the experience of a consequence.

DON’T neglect these four Do’s and four Don’ts to help your children internalize positive values. Get out there and DO them. And, have fun!

Family Rules: The Guardrails of Safety

From the time my children could walk (and even before), my family has enjoyed walking along the ridge of Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh, PA. Our daughters often ran ahead of us and darted out onto the overlooks. They would run right to the edge of the overlook and MtWash3peer through the fence at the panoramic view of Pittsburgh and the three rivers. We enjoyed those walks. Others did too. We saw high school couples taking prom pictures with the city of Pittsburgh as a backdrop. We even watched one romantic wedding proposal (she answered “yes”). We looked forward to walking, running, and skipping across the ridge of Mt. Washington; and, we never worried about our children’s safety. We simply enjoyed our family while looking over the ridge at the three rivers of Pittsburgh. Know why we never worried? Guardrails! Guardrails lined the ridge and each overlook. They kept us (and our children) from “going too far” and falling over the edge. They protected us. They added to our safety and allowed us to simply focus on enjoying one another in the moment.

Loving rules act as guardrails in families. They clearly delineate the limits and keep family members from “going too far.” They protect family members from hurting themselves or one another. They add a measure of safety to our lives and allow family members to enjoy one another more freely. All families benefit from clear, concise rules that create security. Establishing effective rules can prove a challenge. In fact, the rules may vary according to family, ages, places, or times. But, if you keep these five principles in mind when establishing family rules, you will enjoy the benefits of a healthy security and growing intimacy.

  • MtWash2Keep rules to a minimum. Too many rules become a burden and take the focus away from enjoying the relationship. Besides, you don’t need a rule for every situation. Some things are simply taught during daily interactions and don’t require a formal rule. Rather than making a rule for every situation, focus on rules that promote safety and respectful interactions. (Read Lincoln on the Parental Tyrant)
  • Establish reasonable rules. Rules are most effective when they make sense, when they have a logical foundation. When children ask about the reason for a certain rule, give them a clear and concise age appropriate reason. If the only reason for a rule is “because I said so,” you might want to reconsider that rule. (Read Because I Said So to learn more)
  • Make sure the rule is enforceable…and that you are willing to enforce it. Nothing undermines a good rule like lack of follow through. Enforceable rules focus on actions and behaviors—not attitudes, feelings, or thoughts. We cannot enforce an attitude, feeling, or way of thinking. However, we can enforce appropriate behaviors reflective of those attitudes, feelings, or thoughts. Effective rules focus on those behaviors. They define specific behavioral expectations and the realistic consequences related to them.
  • Effective consequences match the behavior. In other words, make sure the punishment fits the crime. A four-year-old who neglects to brush their teeth requires a very different response than a sixteen-year-old caught drinking. The rules and the consequences need to fit the situation and the child. (Parenting Advice from Horton the Elephant offers more)
  • Effective rules are undergirded by loving relationships. Vague, ambiguous rules result in too much slack and free reign to children who do not have the experience or wisdom to make some of those choices. Too many rules and rules based on “absolute black and white thinking” result in a lack of needed flexibility. They create a rigidity that prevents children from internalizing the “spirit of the law” and making it their own. The balance between these two extremes, between permissiveness and rigidity, is found in rules that flow from loving relationships. (Read Relationships Rule for more)

These five principles will help you establish loving, clear, effective rules that will protect your family from “going too far” and allow you to more fully enjoy your family.

Because I Said So

I was talking to a young man last week about his struggles coming home from college between semesters. One of his struggles involved his parents setting rules with no parenting challengeexplanation. When he asked about the reasons for some rule, his parents would simply say, “Because I said so. I’m the parent and you need to listen. I said so…that should be enough!” I’m sure we’ve all heard that explanation in some form or another…and most of us have probably said it at one time or another. But, is it really true. Should our children obey simply “because I said so.” When we tell our children to obey “because I said so…”

  1. We expect them to respond simply because of we have authority and power. This may work while they are young. However, parents’ power wanes as their children mature. Parents’ power and authority will diminish if they attempt to control behavior only with power. As children mature, effective parental authority and power is directly proportional to the relationship they develop with their children. Teens rebel against their parents’ power not their parents’ love. They will use a strong parent-child relationship as a secure base, a place of safety, while attempting to discover their independent power.
  2. We send the message that our children are incapable of understanding the reason behind the rules and incapable of learning self-control. This message demeans our children. I understand the difference between a toddler and a teen and a college age child. Still, children can begin to learn self-control at any age. We can begin to offer age appropriate explanations for the rules when our children are young. I am not suggesting you offer long explanations and debates to your toddler, just a simple, short reason for the rule. “No cookie before dinner. It will ruin your appetite.” “Time for bed. You need rest to have the best time tomorrow.” These explanations can grow more involved as your children mature.
  3. Our children will have little to no motivation to follow the rule. They may even become resentful of the rule and the parent who enforces the rule. Opposition will increase. Parents will likely resort to nagging and lecturing since the only tool they know is asserting power. Children will dig in their heels or comply out of fear. The parent-child relationship suffers.

On the other hand, when we offer our children age appropriate explanations for the rules…

  1. Our children learn to follow the rules based on rational reasons and natural consequences of misbehavior. They learn to trust us as the reason for the rules match their experience. For instance, they learn staying up late really does impact their mood in the morning.
  2. Our children learn to obey their parents’ rules out of respect for authority. They learn authority can be trusted. Authority has their best interest in mind. Authority is benevolent and loving. Authority is positive and worth listening to.
  3. Our children learn self-discipline by internalizing our explanations over time. As children grow, they can learn the appropriate times to discuss various rules they would like to change. This discussion will involve both parent and child listening to one another and one another’s rationale…and, it may or may not lead to a change in the rule. Either way, it represents a child become more self-disciplined and self-controlled, the goal of discipline in the first place.

If you want to raise children who think for themselves, respect authority, and practice self-discipline you might need to offer more explanation for a rule than “because I said so.” It takes more work and more time, but the long-term reward will be an influential relationship with your respectful, loving young adult child.

Should We Give an Allowance?

Parents often give children an allowance to motivate them to complete chores. Unfortunately, I have found allowances to be poor motivators. Don’t get me wrong.
Allowances often worked in our family for a short time…but then no longer worked. They would work again when our child had something they really wanted to buy (the real motivator); but they often had nothing they really wanted to buy. So, the motivation of receiving an allowance generally seemed short-lived and faded quickly. At least it did for us. Still, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Allowances can offer a great learning experience once we wrap our head around their real purpose. What is that real Family Bank of Honorpurpose? The purpose for giving an allowance is not to motivate but to teach. Allowances help our children learn the value of hard work and the benefit of managing money responsibly. Kevin Lehman describes one way to use an allowance to teach our children responsible and wise money management in his book Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. I share it with you below.

 

First, determine what chores your children can do and a fair “salary” for that work. Then, give your children their first week’s pay. I know…they haven’t earned it yet. Consider it a “signing bonus” or an advance. Now your children can begin completing their assigned chores. If they forget a chore, someone else will have to do it. But such choices carry a price in the real world. The one who chooses to neglect his chore must pay the one who completes it. Your child will have to dip into his allowance and pay his brother, sister, or parent for the chore they completed for him.

 

On another occasion, your children may decide they are too tired or too busy to do their chore. It still needs completed, so they can negotiate with another family member to do it…and pay them out of their own allowance.

 

If our children aren’t careful, they will run out of their allowance money half way through the week. At that point, they have to do their own chores because “they got no money” to pay the help. They have learned several things, including:

  1. It costs money to have someone else do my work.
  2. I only have so much money.
  3. When I’m out of money, I can’t pay for help.
  4. I need to use money wisely.
  5. Doing work, even for a brother or sister, can result in making more money.
  6. When children manage their chores and allowance wisely, they save money. They learn that hard work can help them save money.

 

In this way, allowances are a great teaching tool to help our children learn the value of work and the wisdom of managing money.

What I Learned at Family Camp, 2015

My family and I just returned from our annual trip to Family Camp at Camp Christian. Once again, Jim and Terry Jones organized a wonderful weekend of relaxation, fun, and worship. We enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new friends. This year, Tim Jones was our speaker. Tim and his wife, Lisa, minister through “Windows of Hope” with BLOC ministries in the inner city of Cincinnati. They are passionate, loving people with a great sense of humor and a deep love for Christ. Tim encouraged us to do several things to strengthen our families.

  • familysunheartHe encouraged us to “Be Real” in our homes. No one’s life is perfect. We all have our ups and downs. We grow closer, more intimate, and even stronger when we do not hide those ups and downs from one another but use them as opportunities to connect instead. It may feel vulnerable to “open up”, “get real,” and share our deepest emotions, but it will give your family an intimacy and strength you will never know otherwise.
  • Tim also asked the question, “What’s The Big Deal?” In this workshop, Tim shared the impact of sin in the lives of individuals and families. Every sinful action is connected to wires that “blow up” a series of consequences that can kill relationships and destroy lives. We may ask, “What’s the big deal?” but the consequences are deadly! In response, Tim encouraged us to live a life of faithfulness and integrity in our families, a life to protect them from the deadly consequences wired to sinful behaviors.
  • We also learned about “God’s Secret Weapon” (one of my favorite lessons, I might add). God has a “not-so-secret” weapon He has given to us, a weapon we can use to touch other people’s lives inside and outside our families. This weapon is “God’s favorite move” and has become one of mine as well. It brings release of pain and breaks the powers of loneliness. It breaks down walls and overcomes barriers. What is God’s favorite move, the secret weapon He has given to us? Kindness. One way to show kindness is through the open arms that welcome one another into the grasp of a loving hug! I think I’ll give a few extra oxytocin hugs (read 3-2-1 Release to learn about this “move”) today to celebrate “God’s favorite move.”
  • Finally, Tim reminded us that we have a “built in, self-activating, guilt free, God ordained party package”…and we need to use it to Celebrate family and life every day! Celebrate family and life by sharing activities like singing, dancing, laughing, and playing. After all, life is a gift. Family is a gift. Friendship is a gift. Every breath we take is a gift. Celebrate! If you have trouble coming up with ideas to celebrate family, try some of the ideas on the “Celebrate Page” of the Honor Grace Celebrate website.
  • One other thing, unrelated to the worship times, that I always find inspiring at family camp. Every year we have a talent show. People from preschoolers to adults share their talent. And, we truly witness some amazing talent at Camp Christian. Many times we experience the joy of watching this talent mature and grow as children grow up. Most of all though, I love that the talent show is fun and encouraging. The audience encourages each and every person who shares. There is a real sense of love and encouragement permeating the talent show. No competition. No ridicule. Just fun, love, and encouragement…a real celebration of the life and talent God has given.

Well, that’s what I learned at family camp this year. We had a great time. Thank you Jim and Terri for organizing another great weekend. We look forward to next year. Will you join us?

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