Tag Archive for valued

10 Ways to Honor Your Family

Honoring family members simplifies life. Really, it does. When family members honor one another, each person can relax in the trust of one another’s faithfulness; they can rest secure in family relationships. The whole family can walk in the freedom and openness of the truth, and celebrate the joy of being encouraged by one another’s words. Life becomes simpler when we honor one another. So, if you want to make family life better, think of ways to honor one another. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

·     Let a family member be king or queen for a day. As king or queen, they get to pick the family meals and activities for the day. Make sure everyone gets a chance to be the king or queen for a day. Maybe you can do this by letting each person be king or queen on their birthday.

·     Organize a family smorgasbord. Let each family member pick one favorite food item. They might pick a dessert, a side dish, a main course, or an appetizer. Put it all together and feast on a smorgasbord meal.

·     Look through family photo albums or watch old family videos. Retell your favorite family stories as you do.

·     Get one envelope for each family member and write their name on it. Put all the envelopes nest to strips of paper in a common area of your home for one week. Encourage each family member to write a note to every other family member each day and place it in that person’s envelope. They can write something they admire about each person, a funny memory of each person, a thank you to each person, or an encouraging word.  At the end of the week, gather the family together for desert. While you enjoy your dessert, take turn reading your notes out loud. Laugh, tell stories, and celebrate together.

·     Have a family game night. Play board games, card games, sporting games…any games you like.

·     Create a 2-4 generation family tree (you can use more generations if you’d like). On the family tree, write the strengths and specific accomplishments of each family member recognized on the tree.  Share stories of each person’s life and the values your family learned through their life.

·     Go on a family outing to the zoo, the museum, a concert, a picnic…whatever you choose. Have fun!

·     Take a family vacation. Whether your vacation lasts a day or a week, enjoy the time together.

·     Make crafts as a family. If you have difficulty coming up with a craft, look some up on line. One fun idea is to create a family crest based on your name, family interests, and family values. 

·     Worship together—worship is a tremendous way to honor one another and celebrate as a family.

 What are your ideas for honoring family? Share them with us in the comment section.

The Best Advice for Dads…Ever

The other day, a new father asked me if I had any advice for him on parenting and fatherhood. I did not really think I had any unique words of wisdom. I mean, he had probably heard anything I would think to tell him. You know:

·     “Spend time with your kids now; they’ll be leaving for college before you know it.”

·     “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.”

·     “Have a date night with your wife on a regular basis. The stronger your marriage, the more secure your children.”

·     “Have fun with your kids. Build lots of happy memories with them.”

You know the advice. It is all good advice—important advice. But I’m sure he has heard it all before and I did not feel the need to beat the same drum over and over. So, when he asked if I had any advice, any words of wisdom, I replied, “Nothing out of the ordinary. You probably heard it all before.” His question did make me think though. What is one of the most important things I have done as a father? What would I definitely do again if I had to do it all over? After some thought, I went back to my friend and told him about one thing I found especially meaningful in my experience as a father. I would suggest this to every father, whether your children are young or old. My wife and I happened upon this jewel by accident; but I would not give it up for anything now. What is it? A “Daddy Night.” 

My wife works one long day a week.  So, starting when my oldest daughter was about one-year-old, I had the opportunity to care for my children solo one day a week.  My wife was not home, so I got to do it all. I enjoyed bathing them, feeding them, playing with them, getting chores done with them, and going through the bedtime routine with them.  My children and I developed our own routines…routines slightly different than the routines my wife had with them. She planned activities, we did more spontaneous activities. She played delicate games, we rough-housed. She really disliked playing Barbie, we played Barbie (much to my daughter’s dismay, Ken always tried to fly). Those routines changed as they grew. Over time, my daughters and I developed interests we enjoyed together. We went on outings together. We hung out at the house together. We had picnics, fancy dinners, cold pizza…you name it. We went to outdoor concerts, movies, parks, coffee shops…whatever. We had great times…and some not so great times. Either way, we had those times together.  I learned so much about my children by spending this time with them…and they learned about me. We shared so much.

I love our “Daddy Nights.” Amazingly, they do too—in spite of what they consider my “immature-boy-behavior” at times. In fact, they continue to shape their schedules around our nights together, even in their high school years. My oldest daughter is going away to college in the fall. We have enjoyed “Daddy Nights” for 17 years! This summer, she still plans to schedule around “Daddy Night.” My youngest daughter will go into her sophomore year of high school in the fall and we plan to continue our “Daddy Night’s.” Really, I think I’ll miss “Daddy Night” most of all when they are both gone.

My advice to fathers everywhere…dedicate one night a week as “Daddy Night.” Send your wife out with friends so she won’t be tempted to step in and take care of things. Spend the time with just you and your kids. You plan everything…until your children are old enough to share in the planning of course. Spend the evening together. Enjoy your time together, just you and your kids. The time will prove precious and the memories priceless! 

A Parent Stands, Stoops, & Stays

I recently read a quote by Eugene Peterson from his book entitled A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Mr. Peterson was referring to “God’s posture of blessing” when he said, “God stands–

He is foundational and dependable. God stoops–He kneels to our level and meets us where we are. God stays–He sticks with us through hard times and good, sharing His life with us in grace and peace.” This is a beautiful picture of God… and it is a beautiful picture of parents, family shepherds, who strive to emulate our Heavenly Father in our family. Think about it:


A parent stands, foundational and dependable in the family. He lays a clear foundation of trust. His children know he will keep his word and do as he says. He establishes a foundational lifestyle of honor and respect, in how he treats others and in the response he elicits from others. A parent also stands firm on the foundation of love, even in the midst of disagreement, discipline, or conflict. This foundation of love proclaims how much he cherishes and values his family.


A parent stoops. He kneels to his children’s level and meets them where they are. This is as simple as getting on eye level with your children when talking to them…or walking a little slower so their little legs can keep up. Stooping also means listening carefully to understand their needs, emotions, and desires from their perspective, from the mind of a child.  Parents who stoop realize that their children have not seen what we have seen. They have not experienced what we have experienced. Parents graciously stoop to understand the impact of experiences and situations on the family from the limited life experience and knowledge of their children.


A parent stays. He sticks with his children, sharing his life with them through hard times and good times. When times are difficult, a parent who stays will keep his children in his hands, protecting their innocence and emotions as much as possible. He will not only stand with his children through the joys of accomplishments and the pride of achievements but through the sorrow of disappointments and the confusion of transitions as well. A parent who stays will lean into the relationship with his children if they begin to stray. He will graciously stay with his children when they have to endure the consequences of their negative behavior. A parent who stays communicates that no matter what, good or bad, through thick or thin, he will always remain available to his child.


Yes, a family shepherd stands, stoops, and stays. In doing so, he lives out the image of the Heavenly Father in the presence of his children. So, parent in the image of our Father. Stand firm. Stoop down. Stay…always stay.

5 Ways to Help Your Teen Build Identity

The teen years are full of exploration and questions. Most likely, your teens will even engage you in “discussions” about the answers to those questions. You will watch, listen, and discuss questions like: What values do I believe? What career will I pursue? What lifestyle will I live? What kind of person do I want others to see in me? What is my purpose in life? What kind of person might I want to marry? Do I want to marry? In the process of answering these questions, teens may argue with parents and teachers (maybe even rebel), withdraw from family and spend more time with friends, “push the limits,” question family standards, experiment with different lifestyles and ideas. As any parent knows, it’s not just the teen who experiences difficulties during this time. Parents also struggle during their child’s adolescence (And can learn to love more). How can a parent journey through the teen years and maintain a loving relationship with their teen? Here are 5 tips to help.
     ·         The journey through the teen years begins with preparation. One wise writer suggests that parents “train up a child in way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Solomon, Proverbs 22:6). This author tells parents to encourage, nurture, and bring out their children’s inherent personality and natural abilities—“the way he should go.” When your children are young, pay attention to their interests and strengths. Provide opportunities for them to pursue their interests and practice their strengths. Acknowledge their interests and strengths with recognition, specific praise, and even detailed discussions about them. Express value in those interests and strengths. Notice that this takes time! You have to spend time engaged in a variety of activities in order to discover their interests and strengths, and, even more time to nurture those interests and strengths.

·         Encourage your teen’s self-discovery. This will also take time…time to engage in activities and conversation. When your teen asks questions, take the time to discuss the question and answer. Realize that teens are thinking and processing many ideas and values that they hear in the world around them. With that in mind, do not try to force an idea into their mind. Instead, discuss it. Allow them to disagree and encourage them to think. Let them know your strong beliefs, but realize your beliefs are the result of thought and experience. Allow them the freedom to think and experience as well. Value them enough to allow disagreement and trust them enough to believe they will reach healthy mature conclusions…then lovingly, gently, and patiently guide them toward those conclusions.

·         Enjoy your teen’s uniqueness…even more, value their uniqueness. Recognize that they may have different talents and interests than you do. Enjoy those differences. Relish in their uniqueness. Realize that those unique talents, interests, and dreams make them uniquely qualified to accomplish God’s purpose for them. Verbally admire their uniqueness. A great way to honor their uniqueness is with the compliment of accepting their expertise in areas of their interests.

·         Set loving limits for your teen. I know…teens are still teens. They still need limits. They do not have the experience to “do whatever they want.” They have not gained the mental, emotional, and experiential knowledge necessary to make every decision independently. And, they still live with you. So, set loving limits. Remember, however, that the limits you set are your limits on the behavior you will accept. Talk to them about why you believe those limits are effective and how they express love. Discuss their thoughts about the limits and listen to their perspective. When realistic you might even “give in a little.” Such loving discussion of limits and values will go a long way helping your teen develop their firm identity of character.

·         Be patient and constantly express love. Navigating the teen years is an adventure, a journey…and it will have plenty of difficult moments to mark the way. You will also find many joyous occasions and intimate moments that brighten the path of adolescence. Think back to your own teen years. Recall some of the silly (even dangerous or crazy) things you did. Remember, you survived. Today, you may look back on some of those events with humor or pride. When your teen does something that seems “kind of crazy,” be patient. Hold on for the ride. Work to keep lines of communication open. One of the best ways to do that is express love. Constantly find ways to express your love for your teen. Express love through your words, your respect, your hugs, your recognition, thoughtful gifts, time together, acts of service, or even a simple smile and acknowledgement of pride in them.
The teen years are full of adventure…and adventures have both scary moments and moments filled with joyful excitement. Enjoy them both. Fill the journey with times of joy and stuff it full of fun. Let your teen know that no matter what happens, you still love them. Soon, the teen years will end and your teen will be on their way. You will reshape your relationship with them into one involving two adults…and retell those teen adventures with misty-eyed pride.

Family–Coal or Diamonds?

Imagine a lump of coal and a diamond ring. Both are composed of carbon and both serve a unique purpose. If a chunk of coal remains buried under 435,113 pounds of pressure per square inch and remains at temperatures of about 752 degrees Fahrenheit, its carbon composition purifies and its structure modifies to form a different kind of carbon. After this purer form of carbon is mined, a jeweler places it in quick drying cement and cuts a groove in it. He inserts a steel blade into that groove and hits it to cut the carbon into pieces. The jeweler then removes the cut pieces of carbon from the cement and places them in a lathe. Working with another piece of diamond as a cutting tool, the jeweler cuts the pieces into the more familiar shape of a diamond (Click Here to read more on how diamonds are formed). So goes the journey of a carbon from coal to diamond. In this sense, you may think of a lump of coal as a diamond in the rough.
Interestingly, diamonds are no more rare than other gems (Click Here), which raises a question. If diamonds and coal are both carbons and they are not more rare than other gems, why do we value diamonds so much more? According to howstuffworks.com, we value diamonds more than other gems because of marketing and ownership. Perhaps, the right marketer could buy his fiancé a lump of coal instead of a diamond ring and convince her of its value. Wouldn’t the ladies love that? 
Still, if I offer you a bag of diamonds or a bag of coal, which will you take? I could try to convince you of coal’s value by saying it can help keep you warm and help cook your food; but, you would most likely pay more for a single diamond than several bags of coal.
Let’s face it, we have learned to value diamonds more than coal. We treat diamonds with more respect and care. We honor our fiancés with diamond rings rather than bags of coal. We honor diamonds by treating them with care and respect while we throw coal in the furnace for our own comfort. We honor diamonds by giving them value and treating them as precious while we toss coal aside to trample under foot or on the fire to warm up a burger. We have basically set diamonds apart from coal, stating that diamonds are of much greater value.
With this in mind, I have to ask…Do you treat the members of your family like diamonds or coal? Do you treat them with care and respect or do you throw them in the fire to use for your comfort? Do you honor them by giving them value and treating them as precious or dishonor them by tossing them aside while investing your best energy in other areas of your life? Have you “sanctified” your family members, set them apart from other people, and determined that they have greater value in your life than others? When we answer “yes” to each of these questions, we value family members as precious and treat them as special; we honor them like diamonds among coal. Treating family members like precious diamonds is revolutionary. Join the revolution—sanctify family by making the determination to treat them like precious diamonds among the coal. 

Give It Up For Love…Start a Revolution

Give it up for love! Give what up? Give yourself up. Revolutionary love, a love that will change your marriage, your family, and ultimately your world, is a love in which you willingly give yourself up for the person you love. Let me say that in a different way. When we love our spouse, we give our life over to her, we deliver our life into her care and management, and we give our self into her power. “Wait a second…I thought the man was the head of the house?” Maybe so, but the head leads through servanthood and sacrifice. An ancient Christian writer said it this way: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for it…” There it is—husbands are to give themselves up for their wives. The original Greek word for gave up means “to give into the hands of another,” “to give over into one’s power or use.” Husbands are to lead through sacrifice; and, I believe, the whole family will follow his example. That is a revolutionary love…and a tall order. Think about what this means. To love our spouse, we commit our life to her. To love our family, we deliver our life into their use. My needs, my desires, and my goals become secondary to the well-being of my spouse and family. Practically speaking, this may mean:
     ·         Sacrificing the time I watch my favorite TV show, or the game, so I can spend the time satisfying my spouse’s desire to take a quiet walk in the park with her.

·         Giving up the last piece of pie so my children can enjoy it.

·         Putting aside my favorite book so I can spend time talking with my spouse.

·         Postponing, or even cancelling at times, my night out with the guys so I can watch a “chick flick” my wife wants to see.

·         Or, on an even more serious level, postponing a job promotion until the children are out of the house because my wife needs me at home and does not want me to be away from family so much.
I do not know how this revolutionary love might inspire to give yourself up. I only listed these few possibilities to get you thinking. Only you know what you may have to give up in order to show your truly revolutionary love for family. However, I do know this: When you discuss any potential sacrifices with your family, accept their influence in deciding what to do, and willingly make the sacrifice necessary for the best interest of those you love, you will experience a great reward. You will know greater intimacy and greater joy in your marriage and family. You will build memories that will not only live through your lifetime but will extend into the generations that follow you. You will have started a revolution!

The Investment Banker’s Wisdom for Families

This is one of those stories I wish I had thought of…but, I did not. “Anonymous” did. “Anonymous” has written some of the best stuff. Anyway, I want to share it with you because it reveals such great wisdom for the family. Invest in true riches today!
An investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The investment banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.”
The investment banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish.
The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The investment banker than asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, Senor.”
The investment banker scoffed, “I have a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor and eventually opening your won cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You can leave this small coastal village and move to Mexico City, then LA, and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
“But Senor,” the fisherman asked, “How long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, Senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”
“Millions, Senor? Then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire, move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings to sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

4 Skills to Increase Positive Family Interactions

I have discovered four skills that help limit misunderstandings and disagreements in our home. Honestly, I’m still a beginner in the practice of these four skills, but I have found them very helpful none the less. I’d like to share them with you because I think you will find them helpful as well. The first two skills have to do with managing our own mind and attitude. The second two skills offer a practical method for valuing the other person.
First, ask before you leap to conclusions. Do not assume you know what family members are thinking. Do not jump to conclusions about the motivations behind their actions or words. If you jump to conclusions, you may find yourself without a parachute. Instead, ask for clarification. Take the time to ask what they mean by their actions or words. Listen thoughtfully to their response. When you do ask for clarification, make sure you do it with the second skill deeply imbedded in your thoughts.
Second, assume the best. Make it a practice to believe each family member has some positive intent for their actions or words. Love believes all things. In love, assume that family members want to grow more intimate. Believe that family members want to have positive relationships with the family. Give the benefit of the doubt that family members have no intention of behaving simply to irritate or anger you. As an example, think about a toddler left at daycare for the first time. She cries and engages in tantrum behavior. She does not do this to irritate her mother, but in an attempt to remain close to her mother, to convince her mother to stay, to express a fear of being away from her mother. Her intent is good, but her behavior does not necessarily communicate her love and desire in a positive way. Parents respond best by accepting her behavior as an expression of her love and her fear of losing her mother, not as manipulation. Similarly, look beyond the irritating behaviors of family members to see the underlying positive intent and respond to that positive intent instead of the irritating behavior.
Third, remain aware of other family members. Although you need to “keep them in mind” whether you are with them or not, you especially need to pay attention to them when you interact with them. Observe them carefully. Listen to them sensitively. Hear the words they say as well as the tone of voice they use. Notice if they sound irritated or pleased. Pay attention to whether they look tired or energetic. Remain alert to their mood. As you remain aware of these details, practice the final skill.
Fourth, acknowledge the other person. Whether they look upset or happy, worried or content, angry or calm, acknowledge that. Report back to them what you see and hear: “You look especially happy today. What’s going on?” “You look upset, are you OK?” “You seem impatient right now, is anything going on?” “I’m glad you are staying so calm in this traffic. It makes me feel safer.” “You look angry. Is something wrong?” Here is a helpful pattern for acknowledging perceived emotions in other family members. Describe what you see or hear and then ask for clarification. After you ask for clarification, listen. Finally, ask if you can help in any way. 
As each family member practices these four skills, misunderstandings and disagreements decrease and compassionate interactions increase. Remember, practice makes perfect so practice, practice, practice…and practice some more.

Children: Jesus is in the House

My wife and I enjoy visiting family and friends. We also enjoy having family and friends visit our home. But, imagine what would happen if you were to visit my home and I answered the door saying, “Quit knocking so loud. I’m not deaf you know.” As you step into my house, I demand that you “take your shoes off…now. I just mopped the floors and I do not want you tracking mud through my house!” You smile politely, albeit somewhat confused, and take your shoes off. “Why are you giving me that look?” I continue. “I just asked you to take your shoes off. If you have a problem with it, just leave them on and track mud through my house.” “No, that’s OK. I don’t want to muddy your floors. They look beautiful,” you respond politely.
“You don’t have to get smug about it. I just asked you to take your shoes off. Never mind. Just go into the living room and sit down.” You attempt to make small talk as we enter the living room but, just as you are about to sit down, I yell, “Don’t sit there! That’s my seat. You sit over there” pointing to a less-than-comfortable looking chair in the corner. The visit continues and I continue to make similar comments. “I like your outfit but you probably paid too much for it. You have no common sense about money.” When you express frustration about a recent experience, I tell you to “Quit worrying about it. You get overemotional about everything.” When you compliment the cookies, I state, “Don’t overdo the praise, buddy. I bought the cookies, but at least I did something.” So the evening goes. How will you feel as you leave my home? How excited will you be to return?
Of course, you and I would never treat a guest so rudely. And yet, we often make these kinds of comments to our children. I have heard parents make comments like those above to their child on a consistent basis… conversations overrun with “do not’s,” demands, sarcasm, and subtle putdowns. Speaking in constant “do not’s,” demands, sarcasm, and putdowns leads to negative feelings that fuel misbehavior. These negative feelings also make it difficult, if not impossible, for a child to really listen and understand. If we want a child to listen…really listen…we have to stop the constant “do not’s,” demands, sarcasm, and putdowns. What can we offer instead? Here are a few ideas.
     ·         Tell your child what behaviors you desire rather than the behaviors you “do not” desire. It is important for parents to teach their children proper behavior; but, if we constantly tell them what not to do, how do they learn what to do. The behaviors they hear spoken about most often will remain most prevalent in their mind…and acted upon most often as a result. Given no positive alternative, and hearing constant yell about negative behaviors, a child will simply repeat the negative behaviors. Instead, describe appropriate and desired behaviors to your children. Tell them what behaviors you want to see. Fill their mind with images of proper behavior and the expected results of positive behavior.  
     ·         Make requests rather than demands. Demands arouse defensiveness. They make us want to “fight back.” Demands create competition. They reveal an underlying belief that our child does not want to help, and will not help, unless demanded to do so. Demands focus on “my needs” and “my desires.” Requests, on the other hand, communicate respect for the other person and a belief in their desire to help. They build cooperation. They take the other person’s needs and desires into account as well. We ultimately want our children to cooperate with us rather than simply comply because we are bigger and more demanding. Making requests instead of demands helps build the desire to cooperate and help.
     ·         Speak lovingly and honestly rather than sarcastically. Sarcasm reveals an underlying sense of anger that arouses more anger from the recipient. Constant sarcastic remarks fuel beliefs like “I’m never good enough” or “I can never do anything right.” A child will develop a sense of inadequacy in response to sarcastic remarks. They will come to believe they are not acceptable. Loving, honest remarks, on the other hand, build a sense of adequacy and acceptance in our children. This translates into a healthy sense of personal worth and, ultimately, better behavior.
     ·         Empathize rather than criticize. Children are learning about their emotions. Adults help children learn how to manage emotions by accepting the emotion and empathizing with it. When adults criticize a child’s emotion, the child feels shamed and humiliated. They may come to believe that something is inherently wrong with them because they have “unacceptable” emotions. When we empathize with our children’s emotions, they learn that they are normal…they belong. They learn that we manage those emotions in healthy ways and they can, too. Additionally, when parents empathize with their children, children learn that emotions provide us opportunities to connect with others and grow more intimate. 
     ·         Encourage rather than put-down. What do you want to shape your child’s sense of self-worth, a steady stream of putdowns or a steady supply of encouragement? Whichever they hear most often will form the recordings that constantly repeat in their mind throughout life. Fill that internal self-talk with words of encouragement that will play over and over throughout their life.
PS—After Christmas I often think about Jesus growing up. Mary, His mother, had some idea of who Jesus was–an angel told her even before He was born. I wonder how Mary parented Jesus. Did she respond with criticism or empathy to His sorrow when His friends hurt Him or He got frustrated with school? How did she get Him to do chores or tasks around the house, by demanding or requesting? Did she give a sarcastic “It’s about time you helped out around here” or an honest “I’m glad you helped me by cleaning up. Thank you”? Did she encourage Jesus or say things like “Is that any way for the Son of God to act?” How would you treat Jesus if He were a child in your home? Jesus set a child on His lap once and said, among other things, “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes Me.” Our children serve as His representative in our house. Perhaps, we can practice treating them as we would treat Him. After all, when we “do it unto the least of these…” Just a thought.

Protect Your Child From Depression-Part 1

Children receive a series of immunizations to protect them from diseases such as the measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. They even get vaccinated against the chicken pox. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could immunize our children against depression? After all, a growing number of people struggle with depression…and, at a younger age. I realize that depression is different than the measles, mumps, polio, or the chicken pox. And, I realize there is no magic shot to prevent depression. Still, wouldn’t it be great to protect your children from depression? To find a way that even if they did experience depression, it would be less severe and shorter-lived?
Well, there may be a way to do just that! No, the answer is not a shot—it’s more of a lifestyle. Of course, there is no way to guarantee that your child will never experience depression. However, there may be some skills you can teach your child to help protect them from depression.
Studies show that several factors contribute to depression. How a person explains things, how a person resolves negative experiences, and how a person interprets events around them affects their susceptibility to depression. In other words, the vaccine against depression is more of a lifestyle and a way of thinking than a shot. So, what can a parent teach their children to limit their chances of experiencing depression? What teaching ingredients make up a potential vaccine against depression? Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share a few ways to help prevent depression in your children.
First, teach your children that actions make a difference. Feelings of helplessness contribute to depression. People develop a sense of helplessness when they believe that their actions don’t matter. So, teach your children that actions make a difference. Knowing that their actions have an effect on the world around them can protect them from feeling helpless, and, as a result, protects them from depression. How can a parent do this?
When children are very young, play games in which you imitate their behavior. For instance, when they clap their hands, clap your hands, too. When they pat the table, pat the table as well. Your baby will giggle and enjoy the game…and, they will begin to learn that their behavior impacts the people around them. They learn that their parents respond to their actions.
As your children grow, let them play with toys that they can control, cause/effect toys—the drum that makes noise when they bang it, the figure that pops up when they push the button, or the blocks that fall down when they knock them over. Games such as chess or checkers accomplish similar results as they grow older. They learn that their choices and actions make a difference.
Give them choices throughout the day as well. When you offer a choice, make sure that both options offered are OK by you. For instance, ask them if they “want to take a bath before or after dinner”…or “wear their blue shirt or red shirt today.” As they make these choices, they discover that their decisions matter, their actions make a difference.
Another important area of teaching children that their actions make a difference is discipline. Let them experience the natural consequence of their actions—both the positive and the negative. Although they may not always like the consequences, they will more likely learn that their actions do make a difference!

This is the first step in protecting your child from depression. Teach them that their actions make a difference.
« Older Entries Recent Entries »