Hobbies Are A Great Time To Teach Virtue

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As a Christian parent, there are some important virtues that I want my boys to have before they graduate from high school.  I want my boys to have faith, goodness, knowledge (general and spiritual), self-control, perseverance, godliness, affection for the church, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7).

As a Christian parent, it is my duty to make sure my children have the best opportunities to know those virtues and apply it to their life.  Attending church, being around mature Christians, will help my children know these virtues, but I cannot rely on the church or the members of the church to raise my children right.  I am their father, and it is part of my identity to raise them down the right path.

A few weeks back I wrote on the subject of starting a hobby with your child and how, right now, is the best time to start.  Starting a hobby with your child isn’t just about finding something fun to do together, but it can also be a great opportunity to have an activity where virtues can be taught.

Maybe your hobby is a sport.  Great! That would a great time to teach perseverance, and self-control.

Maybe it’s some craft or art.  Great! That would be a great time to teach knowledge.

Whatever the hobby, you can find some time for teaching moments about a godly virtue.  Can you still have fun? Yes, but make sure to take the opportunities to teach as well.  Just don’t simply make the outing a time-waster, but instead make it a character builder.

What are some virtues that you would like your child to learn before they graduate high school?

The Difference Between Weeping and Whining

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If you a man, you probably at some point in your life have been told in one shape of form that, “Big boys don’t cry.”

Typically, this phrase is said by an older man, probably the uncle or father, during a moment when the boy is complaining with tears or when they hurt themselves.

Having boys of my own, I struggle with this phrase. I don’t want my boys to grow up to be men who cry over everything, but I do believe there is a time and place for tears.

Recently I was thinking about the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35 “Jesus Wept.” In the context, Jesus wept over the death of his friend, the sadness of his friend’s sisters, and just the overall scene of a funeral. Jesus cried, and he was more than a big boy, he was God.

Jesus weeping lead me to this thought with my own children, that there is a difference between weeping and whining. When my either one of my sons decides to cry, I think is he weeping or is he whining? This is how I my define each one.

Weeping is when we cry for something deserving emotion like a death or something that touches your heart.

Whining is when we complain or cry over not getting something we wanted i.e. tantrums.

So when tears come down my son’s face, I have to consider the context. Are they weeping or are they whining? Sometimes that decision is easy and sometimes that decision is very difficult.

An easy example, are they crying because they had to turn off the television? If so, I tell them “Men don’t whine,” because it is true. Real men don’t whine when they have to do something they don’t want to do. Real men do the what is told and go on with their business.

A more difficult one is when sometimes my sons they will hurt themselves because they were adventurous. Some parents might call that whining, but I put it in the category of weeping. I don’t tell them to stop crying over a physical pain, but instead I talk to them about risk and reward while I allow them to cry. Was the risk of climbing in the tree worth the bruises? That is for them to decide. After awhile, their tears go away, and they are back doing whatever they were doing, because they decided the risk is better than the reward. (Hopefully, that don’t bite me in the butt later down the road)

I think as a father of two boys, it is important to be careful with the words we use to our children. Their understanding of the English language, probably is better than most adults, but it is still limited. I don’t want to discourage crying, I want to discourage whining. I want my boys to cry and feel free to do so, but I want it to be for something of importance. That is when they are whining, I don’t call it crying. I tell them “Men don’t Whine,” and hopefully as they get older they can learn to weep and not to whine.

What are somethings that you consider whining? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

2 Important Tips When Potty Training Your Child

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There are many milestones that you will have with your family, especially during the preschool years. To name a few, you will see them be born, eat solid foods, get their first-hair cut, and their first food that makes them have a weird face that grandparents love to record. But none in my opinion is more exciting than potty training! Saying goodbye to diapers, you think wouldn’t be that exciting, but you would be wrong. The idea that you don’t have to buy diapers anymore, that you can use that money for something else than being defecated in, is such a great feeling.

Being diaper-free is a great moment for every parent.  No parent looks back and say’s “I wish ______ could be back diapers again.”  Although it is a great feeling it, unfortunately, isn’t easy when you are going through potty training.  Potty training can be the most tiring, most aggravating, most hair-pulling experience a parent will have in their child’s life. For some it’s no big deal, their child learns quickly and has no problems. But for others, it is a test of will, of endurance, and of patience.

If you want a surefire way to potty training with no fuss or mess, then you are misguided. There are plenty of blogs, books, websites, and advice columns telling us the best way to potty train, but I believe there is not one method or belief that fits all children. Why? It’s because every child is different, from their temperaments to their cognitive skills. Some parents are convinced to have their child ready before two while others wait until right before they start attending preschool. One child might be able to be trained in the one-day method while the other won’t until they are ready. There is not one method that works for every child.

Though the methods are different and plentiful, there are some good indicators of when to start.  Here are some basics that I think help, especially if this is your first child.

  • Can they understand basic directions?
  • Are they able to hold their bladder for a few hours?
  • Do they complain or not like being in a dirty diaper?

Typically if they are showing those indicators, you are ready to go into potty training.  Like I said, some parents will start sooner, that is up to your family and sanity of when to start, but I think if they are doing at the least one of these three indicators, go for it.  Mayo Clinic has some other indicators to ask before starting, which you can check out here.

If your child is ready, the next important step is to get a routine. Routines vary from family to family, so be flexible to your own family, but you need to be consistent. If you want your child to be consistent, you need to be consistent in training. Routines will never happen if you are unable to create consistency. When they wake up, put them on the toilet. Before bath time, put them on the toilet. Before you leave the house, put them on the toilet. Create a routine and be consistent that is flexible to your family.

The final step and one that any method will tell you because it is the most important is to praise them for achieving but show grace when they accidents. Your child will eventually figure it out, but they most likely will have accidents afterwards. Praise them for their accomplishments, but also handle their shortcomings with grace. If you start that mentality right now, while they are young then you are building a Christ-like attitude in your family that will have a long-standing impact. Because eventually, your child will grow up, and they will have accomplishments that deserve praises, but they will also have setbacks and failures that need to filled with grace.

Whatever method you use for potty training is up to you, if you want a list of different methods you can check out Potty Training Techniques from parentingscience.com.But whatever method you choose, remember to be consistent, and to praise for accomplishments and show grace when they have accidents.

No Better Time Than Now To Start A Hobby With Your Teen

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Summertime is almost over, and for some school starts back up in just a few weeks. Going back to school is a bittersweet feeling for many of us. We love that our teens will stop complaining of being bored and now they can start complaining about homework again. Our food budget will be less and cleanup a little easier, but then we have more transportation.  Like I said, it’s bittersweet.

Summertime is close to an end, but there is another time that is almost over as well, your child’s teenager years. Once your child hits middle school, they are two-thirds done with their childhood and that last one-third will fly by quicker than you realize. Because your time is limited with your teen, there is no better time right now than to start a hobby together.

I love The Message’s version of Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth.”

Although that verse has nothing to do with hobbies, it does remind us that there are more opportune times to start something new.  Right now, with the dwindling moments of your teen being under your care, there is no opportune time than these next couple of weeks to create some special memories.

Hobbies can create longstanding memories and can strengthen your relationship with your teen.

Let me tell you about a longstanding hobby that I have with my father.  When I was a child, I hated watching sports. I remember the television on during the 1991 NBA Finals when Michael Jordan won his first championship.  Every person in the room was watching with excitement, but to me it was boring and a waste of time.  I could care less, but as I grew older, watching sports became something of interest. I don’t know the reason or the time, but it happened around my teen years. Watching the Buckeyes play started becoming a little hobby that me, my dad, and my grandpa and we would watch together.  It wasn’t an every weekend thing, sometimes we didn’t watch the game together at all, but we would talk about the game when we were together. Though my grandpa is no longer with us, me and my dad still talk about the Buckeyes on the phone and every once in awhile we will get a chance to watch it together. Sometimes it’s the only thing we talk about, but that hobby is something that created a longstanding memory, that has kept our relationship together over the years.

Like I said, there is no better time to start than right now, while you have a few more weeks left in the summertime. Summertime is usually the most flexible time of the year for the family, so get going.

A quick way to start is by making a list things you want to try for the first time, and then asking your teenager some of those things they would consider trying.

If you have a hard time thinking of something, here are some ideas for you.

Hiking
Rock Climbing
Gardening
Finding New Restaurant
Movie Night
Collecting
Health Related (Body Building/Yoga/Martial Arts)
Theme Park

Maybe you have a hobby that works great, feel free to comment below.

For Parents Who Want To Teach Their Kids Honor

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“If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.” – Bette Davis

Of all the responsibilities of parenting, disciplining is probably the most difficult.  When my kids are disciplined for bad behavior, the whole house feels the punishment.  Disciplining is not easy, and it involves crying, screaming, and the child gets upset as well.  Discipline requires patience, because children will test your limit.  Discipline requires consistency, as a child will not forget what happened last time and will call you out on inconsistency.

In the moment of discipline, we can wonder if we are truly making a long-term difference and it can feel like we are failing as at being a parent.

What makes discipline even harder is that disciplining is not a one-size-fits-all responsibility.  Oh I wish, that it was simple as a sending your child to their room, but every family, every child, and every situation requires a careful analysis to tailor what is best suited for the appropriate discipline.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all method, the result of discipline should all be the same.  As a Christian parent, I want child to show honor and respect to us and  one-day to honor and respect God as well.

Our goal in discipline isn’t behavior modification, but character transformation.

Proverbs 22:6 say’s “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

One day honoring God is what I want my children to learn.  But, honor needs to start with learning to honor your parents.  Can a person learn how to honor God without honoring parents?  Yes, of course, but even if they learn to honor God first, that person must go back to honor parents.  A child nor adult can honor God without honoring their own parent.

I already wrote a blog about how to discipline better, so I won’t repeat that blog post, but I wanted to leave you with a few questions to think about how effective you are at disciplining.

What are my kids learning from me when I discipline them?

Are you a yeller?  Are you a shamer?  Are you passive-aggressive?  Those are some negative traits that we can use to curb negative behavior.  Using negative to fix a negative doesn’t result in the long term outcome that we want.  The goal is to build character, so make that character positive.

How can I be consistent in my discipline, but also tailor the discipline to my individual child’s personality?

Growing up, I was grounded from the indoors.  I was made to go outside to play and use my imagination.  Worst grounding ever, right?  Would that have worked with my brother or sister?  Nope, but it worked for on me.  Find the right punishment for the individual.

Hopefully those questions, help you check how effective you are currently disciplining your children.  I know discipline is difficult,  and it seems like it isn’t making a giant impact.  But remember it is an important tool for you to transform your child in becoming an adult of honor.

Helping With Separation Anxiety

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Even today, when I am walking out the door and heading to work, my youngest boy will sometimes say’s to me “Don’t Go.” Oh man, I love my job but it is hard to say goodbye to your child when they are so lovable. I just want to call off sick and spend the entire time with him. But, I know I will see him at lunch, so I kiss him on the forehead and tell him, I will be back in a little bit. Clinginess and wanting you to be around is a healthy reaction to separation. Our children want to be with us, and we want to be with them. That is a normal and something that we want to cherish, because, hopefully, as they get older, when you leave for work or whatever, they won’t care too much of you leaving. Do they like that you are leaving? No, but they know you are going to come back. In the meantime, how do we handle our children having separation issues right now? Though we cannot be with our child every minute of every day, there is someone who is with us always. And that is God. God is always with us, and there is nothing that can separate us from His love and affection. Romans 8:38- 39 say’s

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We can rest in the fact that God is always present with our children, and is constantly loving them. So when we leave every morning, we can hug our children, feel their sadness and remind them that God is always there and is always loving on them.

Extra Tips

1. Develop a good-bye ritual. Do not leave without your children knowing. Instead, seek them out and say your good-byes.

2. Be Consistent. If at all possible, come back home roughly around the same time every day. Being consistent will not only help your child’s anxiety, but also score major points with the spouse.

3. Leave With Certainty And Only Come Back When Needed. If you leave and come back often, it does nothing more than reinforce anxiety. If your child knows, if they throw a fit and you will be there, reinforces bad behavior. A recent example of this happened at Junior High camp. An 8th grade student pretended to be sick so his parents would pick him up from camp. This trick worked when they were young and still works when they are older.

Easy To Start Technology Boundary With Your Children

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Technology is everywhere. If you go out to dinner, you will see a restaurant filled with people using technology. If you go on an airplane, almost everyone will have headphones connected to some device. Even at the playground, you will see people sitting on the “mom” benches playing with technology. Technology has engrossed our lives.

I am not saying technology is bad, nor am I saying it is good. Technology is amoral and similar to any tool; it can be either good or bad. Think of a hammer, a hammer can be used to build, or it can be used to destroy. The hammer can’t be good nor bad, but instead the usage is in the hands of the user.

While our children, live in our homes, we are in charge of teaching them right and wrong, and how one uses technology falls in that category. We can easily forbid using a computer or smart phone, but they are going to get their hands on it somewhere sooner or later. Like it or not, technology is here to stay for a long time, so let’s prepare our children to use it correctly.

The best start with your children is by letting them know what is acceptable and accessible. I recommend sitting down with your children and explain to them what exactly is acceptable to watch and play, and when is the best time for them to use it. Here are two great contracts (from http://www.parentministry.net) that you can use for your family. One is a technology contract, and the other is for video games. These are super easy to understand and a great place to be on the same page with your children.

The next step is to be smart and do your best to stay ahead of the curve. I am around pop culture every day, and I at times cannot keep up with the latest trends. Thankfully there are great resources out there to help you out in this subject. For example, if your child wants to watch a show or play a game that is foreign to you, consult my favorite media website, http://www.commonsensemedia.com. I have not been wronged by the website yet, and I have found their resources and reviews fair and helpful.

For an easy to implement guide, check out my previous post on technology.

Curbing Attitude By Showing Humility

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Teenagers and attitudes go together like peanut butter and jelly, fries and hamburgers or corn and dogs. It is more common than the common cold and more contagious than a yawn. I say this because no matter how great your family is, attitude is always present in a home where a teenager resides.

As parents, we can easily regard attitude as a mere annoyance and accept the behavior as part of the adolescence development. Attitude is annoying, and it is common, but we shouldn’t be something to ignore and wait for calmer days.

As the parent, you need to be more proactive in curbing bad behavior. As the leader of the home, you are in the frontline, and you can be the example of good behavior for your student to follow.

If you need help, look no further than the second chapter of Philippians.

Philippians 2 is a great at explaining a Christ-like attitude that all of us, parents, grandparents, singles or whomever, can apply to our lives every day.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (vs. 3-4)

The biggest proponent in attitude with a teenager is selfishness, but selfishness is not found solely in teens. Selfishness can be found in us as well, and our selfishness can provoke attitude more. That is why, we must learn to be humble. We should never boost ourselves above anyone in the family because it will infect the household with selfishness. Instead, we need to learn to humble ourselves, serve our family in order to create a house of humility and peace.

If Christ can humble Himself then we can do that with our teenager.

Curbing Separation Anxiety

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Either you have gone through it, in the middle of it, or it is going to happen soon.

Separation Anxiety.

Separation anxiety is a normal behavior for very young children (8 months to a year and a half). All children at some point in life will experience the fear of being along. It happens when a child fears being away from their parent. The child has no idea if their parent will come back, even in a game of peek-a-boo.

Unfortunately as life progresses, separation anxiety should go away, if it does not go away it will turn into a disorder which is a bigger problem that could result in therapy or medication.

One way to curb separation anxiety is for the parents to be the presence of peace in their child’s life. Why? Because a parent’s personal anxiety, and nervousness can rub off on your children. So it is important for them to be an example of peace.

Philippians 4:6 (NIV) say’s “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

If you are feeling anxious about anything, whether it be dropping your child off at preschool or having a stressful day at work. Give those anxieties to God, and you will be teaching your child, even at a young age, to trust in God.

Easy To Implement Technology Guideline

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I love technology, and I am a parent who allows my children to use technology every day. Today’s technology provides excellent opportunities for my children, like fun interactive learning apps, to an extensive variety of easy assessable age-appropriate videos.

Although I allow my children to use technology, we have boundaries. We do not allow our children to watch shows whenever or wherever they want. We do not allow them to sit at home and play video games all day long. We prohibit certain types of video games and apps. We give our children perimeters with their technology usage.

We feel it is important to have perimeters in using technology, because for the simple fact that there are a lot of inappropriate stuff that children can quickly access. So letting children have free range, with no perimeters is reckless.

Here is my family’s technology plan. Our children are allowed to use technology for 20 minutes, twice a day. One the weekend, there are no video games, and they can only watch a show on Kids Netflix channel. Every once in awhile, we will watch an extra show or play an extra game but only if it is a family event.

The 20 minute, twice a day schedule works great because if the kids have poor attitudes or other bad behaviors, then their next block is taken away.

Currently, my children are young, so these rules are basic, and they will fluctuate as my children get older. But there will always be guidelines with technology usage in our home.

What kind of guidelines do you have for your children?

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