Posted by Kendra Fleming
A while ago something painful happened to our family. It hurt. It was a betrayal. It was out of our control and it was someone else’s fault. It left our whole family reeling. The details of what happened are not important, but what is continuing to happen in us as a result is very important.
As we were navigating the days and months ahead, Gary and I had one primary concern and that was for our children. Each of my four children was affected in a different way. I watched them struggle with anger and betrayal. I knew that how they came through this would forever change them.
My heart broke to think that some one’s poor choices could forever damage the hearts of my children. I struggled with this and cried many tears. I prayed that God would protect the hearts of my children and help them come through this without bitterness.
I asked everyone I trusted for advice. I wanted to know how I could help them navigate this painful situation and come out on the other side whole? How should I guide them?
One day I was sitting on the bed of one of my daughters. She was unloading her anger…I could see she was building walls. I knew these walls would be damaging. In that moment I knew the answer.
The only possible way to protect the hearts of my children was to guide them towards forgiveness.
Not a quick, I’m sorry.
This would take some time…some work.
This would require an I accept you, I care about you, and I love you in spite of what you’ve done, kind of forgiveness.
It would require an ability to put aside your desire to make someone else pay.
And to open your arms wide and give them a chance they don’t deserve.
And a realization that none of us are perfect.
We all need forgiveness.
It’s the only possible way to walk through pain and be changed for the better.
Your children will be treated unfairly. They will be lied to. They will be betrayed. There is no question that someone will hurt your children someday in someway.
The question is how will they survive? Choosing to forgive makes it possible for them to emerge on the other side with a heart that is whole.
If you want to invest in the future emotional health of your children…teach them to forgive.
About the Author:
We are honored to have Kendra Fleming, a dear friend, guest post on our blog. Kendra is the Director of Children’s Ministry at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. She lives in Cumming, GA with her husband Gary and their four children, Jessica (19), Catherine (18), Jack (15), and Emily (13).
Posted by Brooklyn Lindsey
Imagine a parent of a child you know approaching you.
“Can (insert their child’s name) and I speak with you and (insert your child’s name) privately for a minute?”
Maybe this kind of “confrontational” conversation raises your blood pressure? I know it raises mine.
Thoughts spiral and I become anxious:
“What did my child do?”
“How will it affect them?”
“How will it affect me?”
But what if situations like this are the perfect opportunity for us to give something very valuable to our children?
What if the temporary discomfort of having a friendship conversation could lead to a lifelong ability to navigate relationships in a healthy way?
Instead of simply mediating conflict, or avoiding it, we have a chance to coach our kids in lessons of love.
My daughter Mya is all about “friendship benches”—she wrote about it in Kindergarten. She thinks every place should have one. It’s somewhere you can feel “chunterbole” (comfortable) and you don’t have to worry. There’s even a “sign on it so you know it’s there.”
As a parent, you have the opportunity to help your kids sort out their friendships by offering this kind of place where their feelings can be felt and shared. You can be a friendship coach.
So, how do you coach someone you love when they have been hurt or have hurt someone else? What do you say when there is a recurring issue that doesn’t seem to have a solution or resolve? What do you do when the “thing” that happens keeps happening?
The temptation is to remove your child from the situation.
If instead, you coach your child through the situation, they will learn how to navigate through difficult relational experiences and develop lasting friendships.
If we were looking at a map made by pirates (don’t we always?) you would see on the margins phrases like, “Here Be Dragons!” describing the places outside an intended route. It’s a place outside of the comfort zone, the place where danger waits.
Our kids are going to face some friendship dragons, but there’s nothing outside of the comfort zone that you can’t walk through together. You know they’re there, you can avoid them sometimes, but there’s also a way through it if you end up there. You have a developmental map that they don’t have yet and as a parent, you can help them navigate.
Here are a few ways to be a great friendship coach to your kids.
Depending on the phase your child is in, these ideas can become simpler or more complex.
Coach your kid to . . .
Let the relational bumps in the road be times and places for your child to grow the ability to love others as they love themselves. It will take time, intentionality, patience, and probably more coffee than you can make in one pot.
But one day, you might wake up to a child telling you that they are working through something with a friend and they have navigated to a place of healing and truth.
And that, my friends, is the win.
About the Author:
Brooklyn has been a youth pastor since 2001. She has authored numerous books and projects and is a youth pastor at Highland Park Church of the Nazarene, her first priority. Second, she is a speaker who loves teaching from the Bible and leading people to live in response to God’s love. Brooklyn, while named after a city in New York, lives in the sunshine state with her husband, Coy, and their sweet girls, Kirra and Mya.
RAISING A KIND PERSON
Posted by Reggie Joiner
So how kind have your kids been lately?
That is one of your goals as a parent right? Along with a good education, health, financial autonomy, faith in God, you hope your kids will be nice, at least some of the time.
That’s because most of us believe life in general just works better when everyone is treating each other kinder. It definitely makes your home a little more pleasant.
Actually being kind, like other positive character qualities, makes you not only happy, but it also makes you healthy. According to one scientist, David Hamilton, kindness changes the brain, impacts the heart and immune system, and may even be an antidote to depression. He also suggests that acts of kindness can even help a damaged heart regenerate faster. (That seemed to be Dr. Seuss’ philosophy too and the medical reason to how the Grinch’s heart grew a couple of sizes in one day.)
But sometimes it’s just hard for kids to be kind, especially when…
a sister ruins a favorite sweater.
a brother eats the last piece of cake.
a friend stabs you in the back.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, (most parents over 40 will understand that cliché), there is one big reason you should remind your kid’s to be kind … God! The idea that we are made in the image of God should be a compelling reason to teach kids they should be kind. Most of the time when a kid asks, “Why?” your answer can be, “because you are made in the image of God!” It’s definitely the answer in this case. Since God created us so we can be nice and because we are created in His image we should value the idea of showing kindness to each other. Maybe that’s why Jesus said…
“Do to others what you want them to do for you.”
That makes a great motto for any home, worthy enough to be put on a plaque, especially since Jesus said it. It’s the perfect line to drop when you’ve been dragged in to referee a disagreement or when you need to silent a vengeful tattle teller. But really, its true. When our kids learn empathy for others, it can have an impact on how they treat them.
I read a blog the other day written by Megan Jordan with a list of questions that she teaches her kids to ask to help them become more empathetic and kind to others. You should try these on your kids, too.
Ask themselves (of others):
How would that make him feel?
How would that make me feel?
Look at her face: What do I think she’s thinking right now?
Is she maybe feeling lonely or left out?
What else might he be upset about?
When fighting ask:
Is it necessary to fight about this?
Is it worth being right or even just winning?
Did I [do something that hurt their feelings] just to be cool?
Are you okay?
Is there anything I can do to help?
Is there anything you need?
Want to play?
So, help your kids learn to start thinking about the feelings of others. That means you have to be intentional about it too, because it can’t be in them if it’s not in you. The absolute best way they will learn how to be kind is when they see you being kind. So be kind to others and be kind to your kids.
Being kind and raising kind people is actually a really good goal to have as a parent, because kind people have better relationships, and they ultimately live a healthier, happier, more successful life.
You can hear more about why and how to teach your kids kindness on this month’s Parent Cue Live podcast.
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.