Posted on September 12, 2012 by Phil
LifeWay Research in NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The vast majority of parents hope their children grow up to live good lives, but for many, parental success does not include faith in God – even among parents who are evangelical Christians, according to a new study from LifeWay Research.
The national survey of 1,200 adults with children under 18 at home was conducted by LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources, for the new book The Parent Adventure: Preparing your children for a lifetime with God by Rodney and Selma Wilson and Scott McConnell (B&H Publishing Group).
The study found the most common definitions of successful parenting include children having good values (25 percent), being happy adults (25 percent), finding success in life (22 percent), being a good person (19 percent), graduating from college (17 percent), and living independently (15 percent). Being godly or having faith in God is mentioned by 9 percent of respondents.
Parents who attend religious services weekly are particularly likely to emphasize faith in God, but only 24 percent of them identify that as a mark of parenting success, the research found.
“We are seeing an ever-widening gulf in American believers between the private faith and a faith that is passed on,” said McConnell, who serves as associate director of LifeWay Research. “Instead, we too often see an emphasis on guiding children to a social morality and toward an as-yet undefined ‘happy’ life.”
Influences and goals
While the vast majority (83 percent) believes parents should be most responsible for a child’s spiritual development, only 35 percent say their religious faith is one of the most important influences on their parenting, according to the study. This leaves nearly half (48 percent) who acknowledge their role in their child’s spiritual development, but fail to consider their own religious faith among the most important influences on their parenting.
Pushing out to either end of the religious spectrum, the study found that almost a third of all parents either have no religious faith or say religious faith has little or no influence on their parenting. Conversely, among born-again Christians, 29 percent say faith is not among the most important influences on their parenting. Stetzer added, “When self-identifying Christians are not able to say that faith is a priority for parenting, we should not be surprised at the prevalence of church drop outs in the younger generation.”
Asked if they have a written plan or goal for what they want to accomplish as parents, a full 33 percent say they have no plan or goal at all. Among those who attend religious services weekly and evangelicals, 76 percent say they have a plan, either written or unwritten.
Fears and regrets
In contrast to visions of success, many parents are fearful for their children’s futures and some harbor regrets about their parenting, according to the research. A full 82 percent agree they feel fearful when they think about what kind of world their children will face as adults. Asked if they feel a lot of regret about what they’ve done as parents, 28 percent of parents agree, although only 5 percent feel strongly about it.
Almost 6 in 10 parents (59 percent) indicate they want their children to experience pain and disappointment so they can learn from it, but about 3 in 4 parents (74 percent) say they try to keep their own pain hidden from their children. More than 1 in 3 parents (34 percent) say they worry when they think about their children ‘leaving the nest.’ A full 15 percent say the prospect of their children growing up and leaving home is simply too painful to think about.
Only 14 percent of all parents say they feel they are very familiar with what the Bible has to say about parenting, even though 77 percent identify themselves as Christians. Among those who attend religious services weekly, that number rises to 36 percent.
“One of parents’ ultimate responsibilities is to prepare their children for adulthood,” McConnell said. “This study may hint at why many young adults are spiritually underdeveloped – their parents have given little focus to matters of faith.”
by Mark Kelly
Posted on August 22, 2012 by Phil
Today you are a parent of a precious child living in a world filled with thieves intent on stripping him of his innocence and purpose. Life has a way of providing experiences that can compose a toxic life narrative for a child.
Sometimes what you thought would never happen, happens. Piercing those painful days are moments that alter your child’s views of self, others, and God. And, if you’re not careful, the narrative of your child’s life will contain misplaced punctuation points. Periods instead of conjunctions. Points that stop the flow of life rather than expand passion and connections. Many times a child’s story contains truth with a mixture of misperceptions about self, the world, and God.
The truth is, life is both wonderful and confounding. Much that befalls our children is not preventable. Crises will occur.
How might your child’s view of God be falsely edited by life experiences? How can you as a parent nurture a resilient child who maintains healthy beliefs about life and about God even as he becomes acutely aware of and interacts with a fallen world?
Specific family qualities emerged from research conducted over the past 10 years at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the Psychological Studies Institute in Chattanooga. More than 400 families were examined to determine the family characteristics and behaviors that produce healthy families. The research revealed that children within these families are more likely to emerge with core beliefs that serve as powerful tools to interpret life’s inevitable intrusions in a more constructive, life expanding way – interpretations that are consonant with God’s narrative. Yes, it’s a long list. But each of these characteristics contributes to a child’s resiliency in life.
A healthy family …
1. Exemplifies a strong sense of family
- Has a sense of family unity, permanency, and history
- Has family rituals and traditions
- Shares meals and communicates during meals
- Engages in leisure activities together
2. Uses clear, honest communication
- Expresses feelings openly and without judgment
- Discusses goals and dreams together
- Listens carefully to one another
- Does not act out anger physically
3. Is open and affirming
- Engages in positive forms of touch
- Attends to the emotional needs of the family
- Smiles and laughs often; shares hugs and kisses
- Praises one another in public; says “I love you” often
4. Shares a sense of mutuality and support
- Expresses appreciation for one another often
- Takes physical care of one another as needed
- Accepts the eventual separation of the children
5. Demonstrates trust and accountability
- Honors agreements and commitments
- Insists that directives to children be met
- Takes personal responsibility for actions
- Admits the need for and seeks help when appropriate
6. Resolves conflict
- Identifies, communicates, and solves problems
- Couples complaints with positive affective cues
- Refrains from reciprocating negative behaviors
- Has a willingness to forgive and be forgiven
- Resolves conflict quickly (average of five hours)
7. Has boundaries and organization
- Evidences a parental subsystem hierarchy
- Has boundaries that are clear, firm, yet flexible
- Knows family members whereabouts
- Agrees on family members roles and responsibilities
- Outlines and enforces household rules
8. Has a healthy view of sexuality
- Engages in positive forms of touch
- Has effective, open communication about sexual issues
- Is sexually attracted to one another (spouses)
- Displays affection in front of the children (spouses)
- Is sexually faithful (spouses)
9. Has a religious core and instills values
- Provides for the spiritual needs of its members
- Experiences purpose derived from religious beliefs
- Has parents who teach a sense of right and wrong
- Seeks divine assistance with family problems
- Attends a church together regularly; prays together
- Hears prayers spoken for one another
- Views marriage as a sacred, long-term commitment
- Believes that personal efforts can make a difference
- Views differences as perspectives rather than mutiny
10. Shares time and interests together
- Spends quality time together in large quantities
- Has regular parental involvement in family activities
- Spends ample time at home alone together (spouses)
- Shares bedtime stories with children
- Limits time watching television and playing video games
11. Establishes behavior control
- Establishes clear, flexible rules
- Provides opportunities for negotiation and alterations
- Assigns and ensures the completion of tasks
- Provides consequences for prohibited behaviors
- Has routines; encourages good habits
- Disciplines children when needed with consistency
- Provides guided responsibility for children
- Accepts children’s assertiveness
12. Meets basic tasks
- Maintains a psychologically and physically safe home
- Acquires and manages financial resources
- Provides for proper nutrition and moderate exercise
- Makes provision for relaxation and proper sleep
- Maintains routine medical and dental checks
- Has a lifestyle free of chemical addictions or misuse
- Emphasizes education
13. Connects with the community
- Encourages healthy relationships outside the family
- Values service
- Encourages children to participate in peer groups
- Supports the child’s school activities
Examine the list in light of your current family routine and characteristic behaviors. Select just one or two items that you could implement this month, and build from that point. Research shows that the actual crises that your child will face someday is not the real problem; the real problem is how the child interprets the crises or what the crises mean to him or her.
A healthy family has the capacity to build resiliency into their children. These family structures and behaviors provide foundational experiences for the child to emerge into adulthood and find true meaning in life. Often the seemingly small patterns, such as regular family mealtimes, create healthy behavioral patterns and healthy beliefs that last a lifetime.
No simple formula exists for raising healthy children or creating a healthy family. We live in a fallen world, and we all face the thieves of the night. Yet the long-term effects of intentional acts of loving give us hope.
by Philip Coyle
Posted on August 8, 2012 by Phil
“That’s a great story, Dad,” Kaleigh remarked. “I could listen to it over and over.”
“I really like the stories about how Jesus helped people,” Courtney added. “I wish Jesus lived on earth now.”
“Girls,” Dad said as he closed the Bible, “I know how much you like hearing Bible stories, and your Mom and I really like this time we have together as a family. So we’ll keep doing that. But we think it’s time for you both to start having your own personal Bible study and daily devotional time with God, just like Mom and I do. Here are some things that will help you.”
Families such as this one are paying attention to the spiritual development of their children. Mom and Dad know that in order to have a growing and fruitful Christian life, both children and adults must keep in close touch with God. They must learn to read the Bible, pray, and read devotional helps on a regular basis.
While teaching children at church is certainly very important, parents are the ones responsible for the spiritual training of their own children. Unfortunately, many parents feel that simply by taking their children to church they are taking care of their children’s spiritual growth.
God says in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” God clearly intends for parents to be the primary spiritual educators of their children. There is no better tool for helping a child develop spiritually than a parent who regularly prays, reads the Bible, and talks about God and Jesus.
Helping a child develop a growing relationship with God has many facets. First of all, a child should have his own Bible. If he does not have one yet, this would be a good time to give him one. If he has one, make sure the edition is appropriate for his age. Encourage the child to mark his favorite verses and passages in his Bible. This may well be the Bible he will use for most of his life.
Learning to pray is significant because that is how the child will communicate with God. Praying with the child at mealtime and at bedtime, as well as at church, is the best foundation to help her know how to pray and for what to pray. Parents can help children begin to pray in the following ways:
Parents can ask the child questions to help him think about what he wants to say. “Would you like to ask God for something special? Is there someone you would like to pray for?”
Parents can say a sentence and leave a blank for the child to fill in a word or two. “Thank You, God, for (my parents, my house, my church, the food, my dog). Dear God, please bless (my sick friend, my family, my Grandma and Grandpa).”
Children may say one-sentence prayers while an adult opens and closes the prayer. “Thank You, God, for my church. Thank You, God, for my family.”
Children can think a prayer as an adult leads the prayer aloud. “Will you pray now for a friend? (Pause.) Will you ask God to help you be a good friend? (Pause.)”
Children can pray prayers of their own. While parents should help children understand appropriate prayer topics, they must also understand that children will pray about what is happening in their own lives. They may want to pray about schoolwork, about something happy, or about something that makes them feel afraid.
Consider providing a simple prayer journal for each child. A three-hole folder with space to record requests and answers would be helpful. Print “I Can Pray” across the top of a sheet of paper. Punch three holes, make several copies, and place them in the folder.
Another facet of helping a child develop a devotional life is Bible reading. The younger the child, the simpler and shorter the Bible reading and devotional should be.
As children grow as Christians, they can begin a disciplined and organized personal prayer life. Help children develop a habit that throughout their lifetime will help them become the people God wants them to be.
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Phil
Christ-centered character, home, and witness
How can you keep this conversation going at home? Try bouncing some of these questions around at the dinner table, as you’re driving your kids to school or an activity, or even while you’re shopping together:
• How do you know Mommy and Daddy love you?
• How do you let Mommy and Daddy know you love them?
• What does it mean to obey your parents?
• When is it hardest for you to obey Mom or Dad?
• Why do you think God wants children to obey their parents?
• Who else should you obey besides Mom and Dad?
• Do you think parents are supposed to obey too? If so, whom?
• What do I do that exasperates you? (This question is only for the strong-hearted parent!)
• How can I be more encouraging to you?
• If you were a parent, how would you handle this specific situation that you and I have been dealing with?
Posted on July 25, 2012 by Phil
To assist you in guiding the behavior of the children in your ministry, try the following.
Always model Christ’s love for children and adults. Children learn Jesus loves them as they sense the adults in their lives love them. Children need to know they are loved and accepted for who they are, not for what they do or how they behave.
Be an example. If you want children to do as you say, then do what you say. If you want children to actively participate, then participate with them. Children will follow your actions more than your words.
Consistency is key. Work with the other children’s ministry leaders in your church in regards to what is expected of the children. What is expected in one ministry should be the same for others. Children are easily confused when there are different standards with different ministries.
Don’t expect too much. Children are not little adults; they are children and they need time to be children.
Explain activities before giving out resources. It is difficult for children to listen to the rules of a game while holding the equipment. Explain the rules before handing out the equipment.
Find time to know what is going on in a child’s world.
Give choices when possible, but make sure the choices are ones you are willing to accept.
Hold children accountable for their actions. Children need to learn there are results to their actions, and they may need help accepting the consequences of their behavior. This means both positive and negative consequences.
Involve men in your ministry. Children’s behavior tends to be different when there is a positive male role model in the room. Enlist men to serve in your Worship KidStyle ministry. Children need positive male role models in their lives.
Judge what is misbehaving and what are simply childhood characteristics. It is important to separate the child’s behavior from the child, and understand what are normal childhood developmental characteristics, attitudes, and abilities.
Know the children’s likes, dislikes, hobbies,interests, and so forth. Select activities that fulfill their likes.
Love each child. Children need to know there are adults who love them and want the best for them. No child should be made to feel unloved when she is at church.
Meet the needs of the children. Make sure the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of the children are met. If any one of these needs is not being met, it will affect the child’s behavior.
Notice children’s “good” behavior. Catch children doing things the way you would like for them to do things. Reinforce their positive behavior.
Observe what the child’s home life is like. Children act out what they see and experience at home. Visit children in their homes, and discover what their home lives are like.
Pray, pray, and pray. This should be your first step in dealing with any behavioral issues. Pray before, during, and after the session for each child and leader by name. Pray for yourself that God will give you the peace and patience to deal with any situation which may arise.
Quickly deal with any unsafe situation.
Respect the rights of the children. Children do have rights. No child deserves to have his self-esteem destroyed because of his behavior. When it is necessary to redirect a child, make sure it is done in a manner that will not destroy the child’s self-esteem.
State what is expected. Children will live up to your expectations. Let the children know what is expected of them.
Take the initiative to participate with the children. Children need to see you learning with them, playing games with them, and enjoying the session.
Use additional adults when dealing with behavioral situations that may arise.
AVoid calling down every negative action a child does. It is OK to overlook some stuff.
Work with other adults. Make sure the teacher/child ratio is maintained.
X marks the spot. Be in your spot, prepared and ready when the first child arrives.
Yelling accomplishes nothing. Lower your voice, and the child will lower his.
Be Zealous for children. Stand up for them, and be their voice. When they know you are on their side, they are more likely to do what you ask them to do.
Posted on July 18, 2012 by Phil
fullness over emptiness; substance over shadows; relationship over rules
How can you keep this conversation going at home? Try bouncing some of these questions around at the dinner table, as you’re driving your kids to school or an activity, or even while you’re shopping together:
• Read a Bible story book together. Talk about the pictures. Point out words and letters. Why are you happy God gave us the Bible?
• What’s your favorite book? Why?
• Why is it important to know how to read?
• What is your favorite Bible story? Why is it important that we read the Bible?
• Why do you believe what you believe about Jesus?
• How would you respond to someone who thinks believing in Jesus Christ is wishful thinking? Where would you get your facts?
Posted in Just For Parents | Tagged Camp Crestridge, Camp Ridgecrest, Conversation Starters, parent resourses, Parenting Teenagers, parents, Ridgecrest Summer Camps, Talking to your kids | Leave a reply
Posted on July 11, 2012 by Phil
I looked at David questioningly. “What did we talk about yesterday, son?” I asked. “Did you remember to ask yourself WWJD?”
“It’s OK, Momma,” he said in all innocence. “I’m not wearing my bracelet today.”
Reaching the heart
At that point, I realized I needed a better plan for teaching my children how to think like Jesus! A bracelet might serve as an outward reminder, but it does not have the power to change your heart. Jesus explained that evil thoughts come from the heart (Matthew 15:19). It is not so much about what Jesus would do, but it is about sharing His heart. Reaching my children’s hearts is the only way I will be able to teach them how to think like Jesus. A transformed heart will lead to changed lives that reflect what Jesus would do.
John A. Younts, author of Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally About God With Your Children, agrees. “Christian thought will lead your children away from the desires and works of the flesh and toward the fruit of the Spirit,” he explains. “It will lead to change in actions, attitudes, and words.” But it will not happen without your help. You must guide your child in learning to think like a Christian, relating every aspect of life to Christ and how he can best serve and glorify Him.
A child’s life is full of choices, although he may not see it that way. While he does not choose what school he attends or what neighborhood he lives in, he makes decisions concerning his own conduct every minute of the day. “God designed the Bible to address all of the events of your child’s life,” notes Younts. “So familiarize yourself with the passages of Scripture that address the issues your child faces each day in school, at home, at church, and in his life. Then bring these principles and truths into the daily world that your child inhabits.”
A child needs to realize that he makes a choice when it comes to the way he treats others. For example, he determines whether he shares or adopts a me-first attitude. He does not understand that he has a choice to make unless you show him. Telling your child, “You are choosing to be selfish when you refuse to share that toy,” defines his selfish behavior. It puts a name on his action. Explaining then, “God wants us to share with one another and be generous,” shows your child that there is a right behavior that he can choose – a choice that will please God.
Think on these things
Younts encourages parents to follow the direction of Paul in Philippians 4:8: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise – dwell on these things.” “Take the time to point out the things that are excellent and then focus your child’s thoughts on those things,” Younts advises. “Of course, parents must set the example.”
You cannot expect your child to learn how to think like Jesus if you are not actively pursuing that mind-set yourself. “Use the seemingly ordinary events of life to encourage Christian thought,” explains Younts.
- A new baby in the family can lead to a conversation about God as the giver of life.
- An afternoon spent tracking down a lost pet can facilitate a discussion on how Jesus came to seek and save people who needed Him.
- A scary thunderstorm or an unsettling news story can be used to lead your child to understand that God is sovereign, working everything together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Relate everything to the active presence of a personal God who is involved in every aspect of life.
“Christian thought is, first of all, redeemed thought,” explains Younts. “The goal for Christian thought is expressed in Psalm 19:14: ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.’ ” When your child is ultimately concerned with whether or not his thoughts are acceptable to God, you will reap the following rewards of Christian parenting.
- A child who knows that God is watching him even when no one else is looking
- A child who feels it when his heart is pricked by sin and weighted down by lack of confession
- A child who senses God’s power and marvels at His overwhelming presence in his life
“One important goal of parenting is to teach your children to think God’s thoughts,” reminds Younts. “Each day provides fresh, new opportunities to challenge your children to embrace God’s thoughts as their own.”
All quotes taken from personal interviews by Rebecca Ingram Powell. by Rebecca Ingram Powell
Posted on June 27, 2012 by Phil
Following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Resolution for Men, by Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick, and Randy Alcorn. This book, and The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, expand on the message of the Sherwood Pictures film Courageous, challenging Christian families to embrace the power and purpose of fatherhood.
God created fatherhood with an eternal purpose: to reveal and represent Himself. He did not simply realize that earthly fathers were like Him and then decide to call Himself our Father. On the contrary, He eternally existed as God the Father in heaven and intentionally created the role of fatherhood on earth to reveal who He is and to show us the nature of His relationship with His Son.
All fatherhood comes from Him (Ephesians 3:14-15). Every human father is called to be a daily, physical representation of God to his children, to introduce Him to the next generation. When a child looks at his earthly father, he should be able to see these qualities of God.
- a loving Provider
- a strong Protector
- a truthful Leader
- a respectable Authority
- an intimate Friend
This affects how a child thinks. “If my earthly father loves and cares for me, then my heavenly Father loves and cares for me. If my father means what he says, then God means what He says. If my father would die for me, God would die for me.” On the other hand, if a child’s earthly father is harsh or distant, what will the child think when someone says, “God is your Father”?
Naturally, all of us earthly fathers are unavoidably flawed. We are a long way from being like God. And yet it is part of children’s human nature to judge what they cannot see in God in light of what they can see in us.
Right now, this generation doesn’t know what true fatherhood looks like. They rarely see it modeled in the media or at home. And sadly, the result is another generation deeply struggling to understand what God is really like.
The word father means “founder, source, chief, or leader.” The father of a nation, an invention, a company, or a movement is the one who helped bring it into existence. As our heavenly Father, God is the source from which all other things come into being. In Scripture, God as Father is the first Person of the Trinity. Any time you hear the Godhead described, it is always God the Father first, then the Son, then the Holy Spirit. Jesus the Son willingly follows the leadership of the Father. And if you study the life of Christ, you discover that He always speaks the words, performs the works, and carries out the will of His heavenly Father. As God’s Son, Jesus came to reveal the Father to us. The Bible says that Jesus is the “fullness” of the Godhead “in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). So if you want to know what God is like, then just look at Jesus. He represents His Father perfectly.
How well are you representing your heavenly Father? To your son? To your daughter? That is your priceless purpose.
Both the Scriptures and statistics clearly communicate that there is no more influential person in the life of a child than his or her father. Whereas moms are priceless, irreplaceable, and needed beyond measure, they were never designed to be men or to fill the role of a dad. When the Bible states that “the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6 NKJV), it is revealing an important dynamic of how God has wired the hearts and minds of children.
They learn their identity from you.
When your kids are young, they don’t know who they are, what is right or wrong, or who God is. They don’t know how to live life. But kids naturally go to their dads for answers to their biggest questions: Who is God? Who am I? Am I loved? Am I a success? Do I have what it takes? What is my purpose in life? And if dads don’t teach their kids the truth about these things, then the world will teach them lies.
They learn their values from you.
Kids watch their dads to find what’s important. It’s a dad’s job to keep his children from having to learn the lessons of life the hard way. A father’s wise words and actions constantly reinforce the higher priorities and deeper truths of life. So if he is not there – or if he’s there but not intentional in his training and leadership – his kids will be walking through their most important decisions without the one person who should be loving and leading them the most.
They learn their worth from you.
When a child has a dad who says, “I love you, I’m proud of you, and I’m going to stand with you and always be there for you,” it changes the life of that child forever. Sons who have their dads in their lives do significantly better in school, have better social skills and self-esteem, and are more likely to say no to criminal behavior.
Similarly, when a daughter looks into the mirror, she needs to hear her father’s voice in her heart reminding her that she is beautiful and loved. As a result, girls with strong dads are much more likely to feel secure – and are much less likely to have eating disorders and identity issues or to become sexually active in their teen years. But in too many families, this is not what’s happening.
We need to rediscover God’s original intention of what our homes are supposed to be like. Families should be havens of love and enjoyment. Homes should be places of peace and purpose. But great homes don’t just happen. They are gardens that need to be intentionally cultivated and guarded. A man must let truth, love, and wise discipline become constant ingredients to his fathering. He should carefully nurture his wife, his children, and his own attitude so that his home is a place where his marriage and the next generation can grow and thrive.
That’s why we need a game-changing Resolution.
And that’s what our times are calling for.
Posted on June 20, 2012 by Phil
why beliefs matter, who Christ is, what Christ has done
Invite your child to join you in drawing pictures to match the words “Big, Bigger, Biggest.” Make sure that your “biggest” picture is God. As you and your child continue drawing, discuss why God is biggest of everything.
Adapted from “My God Is the Biggest” by Susan Easterday, HomeLife (September 2010): 38.
Have a contest to see who can get to the center of their tootsie pop first. Ask if your child would be mad if she got to the center and found a Brussels sprout and why. Point out that what’s in the center matters. Explain the Bible teaches Jesus is the center of everything. Consider why that matters.
Evaluate how your teen resembles others in your family. Consider how something visible, such as parent/child look-alikes, proves the existence of something invisible, like DNA. Explore how the visible Jesus proved the existence of the invisible God
Posted on June 13, 2012 by Phil