5 WAYS TO PROVE YOU LOVE YOUR KIDS
Posted by Carey Nieuwhof
There’s an insecurity inside most of us that asks, “But, does he/she really love me?”
It happens when you’re dating.
Sometimes it still haunts you when you’re married.
It follows you into your deep friendships.
And it definitely makes its way into the heart of almost every child.
I have NO idea where this idea came from, but I remember being ten years old and thinking my parents paid my friends to be my friends. (I know, I know . . . that’s a few more thousand dollars in counseling to figure how I came to believe that . . . but I digress.)
No, you’ve never had that thought? I’m a lot more secure than I used to be, but let’s be honest, we’ve all wondered whether someone really loved us when in fact, they did. When in fact, they do.
How does that translate to parenting?
Other than saying, “I love you,” what communicates to your kids you love them deeply?
Often our words and actions are disconnected.
So here are five ways you can show your kids you love them without saying, “I love you” over and over again:
1. GIVE THEM YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION
It’s tempting to think this is a technology issue—and it is to some extent. Your dinner recipe is on your phone or iPad, and while cooking, your Facebook, Instagram, texts, and email notifications keep pulling your attention away. Meanwhile, you were oblivious that someone was calling out, “hey, dad . . . dad . . . dad.”
It’s difficult when the world is in your pocket and follows you around everywhere. But this problem goes back long before we had iPhones and free Wi-Fi.
Maybe you had a hard time pulling your dad away from the football game when you wanted to show him what you built outside. Or your mom was always on the phone with her friends when you really just wanted to tell her what happened at school.
A person’s undivided attention is one of the rarest of gifts in our culture. Give it to your kids as often as you can.
A person’s undivided attention is one of the rarest of gifts in our culture.
2. LISTEN INSTEAD OF LECTURE
I’m tempted to think my greatest value as a parent is to keep my kids from making the same stupid mistakes I made, or that I see other people making.
There’s some value in that for sure.
But while a lecture feels good to give, it feels less awesome to receive it. Especially when it’s every day. All the time.
Sometimes, I think my kids would much rather have just had me listen to them, rather than lecture them.
They already knew what happened wasn’t great. They just wanted someone who understood. Someone who listened. Someone who cared.
Not someone who knew better.
Maybe a better parenting recipe is five parts listening to one part lecturing. Your kids might even do a great job figuring out the lesson all by themselves, if you just listen.
3. SET SOME LIMITS
At least two things are true about parenting.
Every kid craves limits.
And every kid pushes back against them.
If you decide your ten-year-old gets one sleep-over per school term, they’ll want two. If you let up and decide they’ll get three each month, then they’ll push for four.
It’s hard not to throw up your hands and say, “Fine, whatever you want.” Or worse, “Okay okay, you get as many as your friends have.”
But it’s so critical you don’t.
Setting and enforcing reasonable limits for your kids is one of the best ways to communicate both love and safety.
Your discipline as a parent will help your kids develop self-discipline.
Your discipline as a parent will help your kids develop self-discipline.
4. TALK TO THEM, NOT ABOUT THEM
We all have to talk about our kids to someone. But too often, I’ve heard parents complain loudly about their kids . . . while their kids (or siblings) are in the room.
Ditto for social media. I’ve seen exasperated parents get on Facebook to vent about how awful their kids are behaving.
Perhaps they’ve forgotten at some point, their kids will learn to read and maybe even navigate the interwebs, only to discover what Angry Mom really feels about them.
Few wounds pierce as deeply as unkind words spoken by a parent.
If you have a problem with your kids, talk to your kids about it, in love. Or discretely talk to an adult who can actually help you solve the problem.
You’ll be so glad you did.
Few wounds pierce as deeply as unkind words spoken by a parent.
5. PURSUE YOUR SPOUSE
Almost by default, your kids become the center of your life.
But as we’ve said before on Parent Cue, that’s a trap. Child-centered parenting produces self-centered children.
If you’re married, one of the best gifts you can give your kids is a healthy marriage.
I’ve heard it said that it’s more important for your kids to know you love each other than it is for them to know you love them. There may be some truth in that.
A loving home creates a stable base.
No kid wants to see their dad cheat on their mom, or their mom to roll her eyeballs every time her husband walks into the room. What might be funny or entertaining on a sitcom can be devastating in real life.
Date your spouse. Work through your issues. Pray for each other.
Take vacations without the kids.
Don’t abandon the romance. Pursue each other passionately.
Your kids will be far more secure as a result.
These are only five ways you can show your kids you love them. What are some other ways you’ve seen work?
About the Author:
Carey Nieuwhof is the lead pastor of Connexus Church and author of several books, including Parenting Beyond Your Capacity (with Reggie Joiner) and his latest book, "Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow." Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership and parenting. He writes one of the most widely read church leadership blogs at www.CareyNieuwhof.com and hosts the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews top leaders each week.
MAKE IT PERSONAL
Posted by Parent Cue
A crucial link exists between your ability to parent and your personal growth.
This parenting value—making it personal—is going to challenge you as a parent in a way the other values don’t. This one will benefit your kids, for sure. But it’s not directly about them, it’s about you. In a very real way, making it personal will help every other step you take as a parent.
When it comes to character and faith, your kids are watching you in a way they might not watch you in other pursuits. Because it’s so personal, you can’t do faith and character for your kids. There’s another factor at work. If it’s not in you, they know it. When it comes to spiritual and character formation, your journey impacts them deeply. If you want it to be in them, it needs to be in you.
As you read this, your anxiety level is probably rising. You feel like you can’t possibly measure up. If you were to level with your kids about your fears, your inconsistencies, or even how shaky your faith is on some days, you’d feel like you were admitting defeat.
But that’s a perfect picture mindset. God is interested in writing a bigger story, and your personal growth is part of the plotline. In fact, your developing story may be more influential than you think. That’s why parents need to let their kids see them struggle to grow. They need to see your authenticity and hear your transparency. Most of all, they need to observe up close that your spiritual, moral, and relational growth is a priority in your life. This is not about a perfect model, just an honest one. Whatever you want your children to become, you should honestly strive to become as well.
Your kids already have a front-row seat to your life. The question is, what are they watching? Is it just show? Or is it a real-life adventure where they see courage and passion to overcome personal obstacles? What if your personal growth was a front-row seat to the bigger story God wants to write in your family?
If you want your children to have it in them, they have to see it in you.
Your kids need to see you . . .
Your children need to see you make relational, emotional, and spiritual growth in your life a priority. If you don’t make it personal for yourself, it may never be personal for them.
Is it possible that you’re the kind of parent who feels guilty if you take a break? Maybe you run a long time because you have more capacity than most. It is possible to be close to empty and not know it. The question is, what kind of consistent deposits are you making in your personal life, for the sake of your family life?
Excerpt from Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof
POST ELECTION CONVERSATIONS: YOUR KIDS ARE LISTENING MORE THAN YOU THINK
Posted by Kristen Ivy
Yesterday was a strange day. This is the fifth election in which I was old enough to vote, and I cannot remember one with this level of intensity. Maybe I’ve forgotten. There were definitely intense feelings surrounding W. Bush and Obama, but nothing that felt like it carried the same level of emotion.
When I opened Facebook yesterday morning, what I saw almost took my breath away. The reactions were everywhere. They were intense. They were coming from people I typically don’t see getting involved in political or controversial issues. I was up early because it was my morning to drive my son to school, and instantly I felt pressure to say something. I knew that he knew about the election, but I didn’t know what he thought or what his friends thought.
When I brought it up, I learned a few things: He was eager to know who won. He had feelings about the outcome. And his friends had been talking—with both strong feelings and detailed information—about this election. In fact, there were names and details that surprised me. I didn’t realize he knew that. I didn’t know he had paid such close attention.
There will continue to be a lot of political conversation around the next few months—and there probably should be. But this was a reminder to me that our kids are listening more than we realize. And really, the most important changes for our future as a nation are found in the little people growing up around us as all of this unfolds.
So, here are just a few thoughts about how we can talk to our kids about the election this week and over the next few months.
1. ASK WHAT THEIR FRIENDS ARE SAYING
Some kids will tell you automatically everything their friends are saying. Others will hold it in, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it. Go first. Initiate the conversation with them.
2. TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY
Remember what’s real to them is real to them. Kids, especially under the age of ten, have a harder time with abstract concepts and ambiguity. It’s hard for them to understand some of the nuances that protect our national security or democratic processes. At least, it’s hard to understand if they are fundamentally worried that something is wrong. So, most importantly, reassure your kids that they are safe.
3. TALK ABOUT YOUR OWN VALUES
Regardless of how you vote, this election probably made you think about some of your own values. Use this opportunity to talk about those with your kid.
4. MAKE IT PERSONAL
Talk about good people who voted differently than you. My good friend, Carlos, reminded me of this yesterday, and I can’t stop thinking about how brilliant it really is. Make this personal. Whenever we group people together into a label it’s easy to hate them, fear them, belittle them, or ignore them. But when you remind your kids of people who you know and like who think differently than you, it changes the conversation. Pointing out the good things we see in each other may be the best way to show respect and help our kids feel safe.
In my own house, this election season has been a reminder to love.
Whenever you see fear, let it motivate you to love.
Whenever you see anger, let it motivate you to love.
Whenever you see pain, let it motivate you to love.
These are really hard conversations. I’m going to keep trying in my own house, even if it means sometimes messing them up. And I hope you will, too.
Listen in on this off-the-cuff conversation we captured for a bonus feature of our Parent Cue Live podcast for more thoughts about how to talk to your kids about the election results.
About the Author:
Kristen Ivy is the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange and co-author of "Playing For Keeps", "Creating a Lead Small Culture", and "It’s Just a Phase - So Don't Miss It". She combines her degree in secondary education with a Master of Divinity and lives out the full Orange spectrum as the wife of XP3 Students Orange Specialist, Matt Ivy, and the mother of three children, Sawyer, Hensley, and Raleigh. Read more from Kristen on her blog, justaphase.com.
Posted by Reggie Joiner
Every year, two professors from a small college in Wisconsin publish a “Mindset” list to remind us that every freshman has a completely different knowledge base than previous generations. Maybe you’ve seen the list. For example, this year, the class of 2017 has. . .
never had the chicken pox,
only known two presidents,
never needed directions, just an address,
always known there are “five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes” in a year.
The Mindset List reminds us that knowledge is always changing. When we narrowly define knowledge as the dictionary does, we forget that facts and information can only take us so far. What really matters—what really tests our knowledge—is what we do with what we know.
As a parent, we navigate that journey as we build into our kids an understanding of the world around us. One of the ways we can do that best is to think about the destination before we get too far along on the journey.
Roll the years forward. Imagine the end of your child or teen’s formative years. What does it look like after he or she has become an adult? What are the most important things that we want our son or daughter to walk away with and KNOW once they leave our home and head for college and beyond?
With that end in mind, we define knowledge a little differently, in a more active sense. For us, knowledge is “discovering something new so you can be better at what you do.”
Kids are naturally curious. They are wired at birth to question, explore, and discover what they don’t know. If we are not careful about how we handle learning, kids can grow up and grow out of being interested in discovering new things. The future of your children is not only linked to what they know, but to their desire to keep learning.
Whether we realize it or not, adults have the ability to turn the discovery dial up or down in a kid’s life.
If you want to turn it up, you need to become intentional about looking for ways to intrigue them with new ideas and insights about life.
Keep the story in history.
Keep the mystery in science.
Keep the application in math.
And when it comes to spiritual issues, be careful you don’t define God in such narrow terms that He’s no longer as huge and miraculous as He really is.
What are some ways we can help our kids value and get excited about learning?
About the Author:
Reggie is founder and CEO of Orange (The reThink Group). He has co-written two parenting books, "Playing for Keeps" and "Parenting Beyond Your Capacity" as well as other leadership books including "Lead Small" and "Think Orange". Reggie lives in Georgia with his wife, Debbie, and has four grown children, Reggie Paul, Hannah, Sarah, and Rebekah.
4 EASY WAYS TO BE A BETTER PARENT
Posted by Sherry Surratt
Many jobs come with at least a few personal benefits . . . like vacation or sick days; perhaps a maternity or personal leave option and if you’re lucky, even some personal development opportunities like access to mentors or conferences to help you grow. I’ve always thought it strangely odd that when it comes to the job of being a mom or a dad, the support benefits can be somewhat lean. Ok let’s be honest, it doesn’t come with any.
As former CEO of an organization that supports moms of young children, I had the opportunity to talk to thousands of moms about the importance of caring for themselves in the midst of endless wiping (tears, noses, and bottoms). Every mom I talked to loved her children fiercely and delighted in being a mom (most of the time) but also acknowledged that there were moments when she felt drained, weary, like she was running on her last ounce of energy. It makes sense. Somewhere between the poop, tantrums, and green bean mush being flung across the room, you can feel an urge to run for the hills.
But here’s what doesn’t make sense: to feel this urge and not address it. Of course you’re going to have moments when you’ll want to be anywhere but standing in the middle of said green bean mush. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you a human being in need of some soul care. This goes for dads as well as moms. It’s time to make parenting personal and make YOU a priority.
Here are a few practical and easy ways to do this:
1. GO SOLO
Time alone without someone tapping the flabby part of your underarm because they need a popsicle RIGHT NOW, or spending a few hours away from the exasperated sighs of your thirteen-year-old is a very good thing. It gives you new perspective, allows you to remember why you really do love those noisy short people who share your house and gives your flustered soul the space to settle. I spoke with many moms (and dads) who did this by leaning into a nearby relative or trading babysitting time with a close friend. Sometimes they went for a run, or grabbed dinner by themselves (woohoo, eating adult food without cutting somebody else’s meat), or they went on a date night to Starbucks. Some parents told me they found a park bench and just sat—where they didn’t have to listen to anyone yammering or have to talk back (sheer heaven). The point is that they gave themselves time away from their precious kids and returned with a renewed and refreshed mind. You need it and so do your kids.
2. ENLIST A CHEERLEADER
No, not the high school kind, but another parent or friend who can rally your spirit by reminding you of the things you are doing right. In the midst of the sighs and whines you’ll encounter from those precious short people (or that high school senior who is taller than you), this is crucial. Sure you make mistakes. We all do. Grab coffee with another adult who encourages your soul and spend some time together.
3. GIVE YOURSELF A BELLY-ACHE
Forego the Twizzlers (I can eat a pound in one sitting), and instead, find something that makes you laugh. When is the last time you laughed out loud until your stomach hurt? For you maybe it’s a favorite movie or book, or even sitting with a friend who tells you the story of how he accidentally set his toilet on fire (true story). Whatever makes you laugh, studies tell us it’s good for us. Even just a few minutes of laughter can lower our blood pressure, give us energy and help us come up with fresh solutions to perplexing problems. But many of us will go days without even a snicker. It’s great for your kids to see you laugh until diet coke shoots out your nose. Not only is it good for you, but it shows your kids that you’re a real person who knows how to have fun.
4. SPEND TIME WITH THE ONE WHO MADE YOU
Sometimes it’s easy to forget this, but if you are a parent, God created you to be one. He made you. He gave you the kids you have. On purpose. Even when you blow it, God’s love for you doesn’t end. His word tells us he delights in each of us (Zeph 3:17) and when we spend time with him, he listens, he whispers, he smiles. He reminds us that we are his son and his daughter and that we are precious. On days when no one else in my house is a big fan of me, this settles my soul. It reminds me that I’m created for a bigger purpose. It can for you too.
Here’s the reality. You’re the only person who can gage what’s going on inside of you. You know how you are feeling. Listen to what your heart (and body) is telling you, and do something about it. You’re busy, so your first step might be to choose something to let go of so you have room to make room for what you need. You are the most important resource your kids have. Take care of it.
About the Author:
Sherry Surratt is the Executive Director of Parent Strategy for Orange. She is the author of several books including Brave Mom: Facing and Overcoming Your Real Mom Fears, and Just Lead! A No Whining, No Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church. A shoe freak and coffee lover, Sherry resides in Denver, Co with her husband Geoff who is Pastor of Church Planting at Southeast Christian. She has two grown children and two incredibly gorgeous granddaughters.