Does Your Family Pray BIG Prayers?

Building a culture of prayer in your home

Growing a Culture of Prayer (1)Do you ever feel like praying as a family is just “going through the motions”?  

As parents, and as Christians, many of us place great value on prayer. But sometimes figuring out how to grow a culture of prayer can be difficult — especially if our personal prayer life is consistently a challenge. If we do not value prayer it is unlikely that our children will. God wants us to pray. God calls us to pray.  Are we prepared to PRAY BIG as a family?  

We’ve gathered five practical ideas to make your family’s prayer life a team effort and shift it from self-focused to others-focused:

1. Pray BIG prayers.

Our kids get a sample of the size of God we worship by the size of prayers we pray. Do we believe in the God of the Bible, who the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 3:20 could do “immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine”? What if we spent more time praying for others than we do for ourselves?

NOTE: As you pray God-size prayers, are you willing to be part of the answer? Funny how God works that way, sometimes!

2. Ask kids about their perspective on prayer and why it is important:

Talking about prayer with our kids can sometimes be intimidating or create a sense of shame in us; especially since we don’t have it all figured out. It’s important to gain our kids perspective. Include them in the conversation! Some possible questions might be:

  • Do you think it is important to pray?
  • Why would God tell/want us to pray?
  • How could we incorporate prayer into our family?
  • What difference do you think it makes if we pray?
  • Who/what do you think we should be adding to our prayer list?

3. Allow prayer to be an ongoing conversation throughout your day, even allowing your kids to listen or join in.

Deuteronomy chapter 6 gives a good outline about how to pass faith along to our kids. In verses 5-9, God outlines the importance of making faith and discussing God’s commandments an everyday activity of life. In much the same way, praying out loud in the car for a friend or thanking God for a blessing you have received, sends a message that prayer is not a mealtime or bedtime ritual. It’s a part of our everyday life; just like eating, sleeping and breathing!

4. Engage kids on their level and with their preferences.

When creating a culture of prayer sometimes a child or two may be less interested than you hope. Generally, keep prayer times short. It’s not the time to pull out a laundry list of family issues while you have a captive audience! If kids don’t want to participate, that’s okay. No guilting. No shaming. Just good modeling and acceptance for where they are at this point in time. Kids that are too shy to pray can be the ones to suggest a person to pray for, and they could even draw a simple picture of that person while a parent prays. Imagine Gramma’s and the child’s delight when he/she helps you mail Gramma the picture with a note, “We prayed for you today!”

5. Keep a record of how God responded to your prayers.

If we are going to be honest, sometimes as parents we can wonder about why we pray as well. Is God really hearing us? Does He really care? Keeping a prayer journal can help remind us of how God has answered in the past which can spur us on to continue our praying ways.

Apply It Now:

  • What God-size prayers could you pray as a family?
  • Put a map on the wall in a prominent place to mark people/places that are in your prayers.
  • Put photos on your fridge to remind your family to pray for specific people.


At Connected Families we believe in the power of prayer and so we’re inviting you to both pray for us and to share your personal prayer requests with us.  Do you consider yourself to be a person of prayer?  We’d love to have you join our
Prayer Team where you will receive a monthly email from us with our updated prayer requests and praises.

When Kids Don’t Listen

Breaking into your Child’s Focus Bubble with Grace

When Kids Do Not Listen (1)

“How do I get my child to listen?!!”
Listening when you’re addressed by someone is a great life skill, but one that often our children don’t seem too eager to learn! Frustrated parents often say, “I hate it, but I just have to yell, and then they’ll
finally listen.” What we’ve learned through decades of coaching parents is that a little connection and creativity goes a long way in helping kids tune in when they hear, “Time for dinner!” or “Pick up your toys, please!”

Here’s a great example of how one of our coaching families overcame barriers to listening. Kristi and Steve had a very challenging 6-year-old daughter. (For older kids, see below.)  Sierra was intense about nearly everything. Her extremely bright brain was programmed to hone in on something interesting, and she was not to be deterred. Many times, it was like she was in a sound-proof focus bubble with whatever engaging activity was in front of her.

Kristi and Steve valued Sierra’s intensity because they saw that she was curious about many things and had a voracious desire to learn. But before they began coaching, they didn’t know how to help her, and she got timeouts, a scolding, or loss of privileges for not listening.

Is Your Discipline Too Tough, Too Soft, or Just Right?

Is Your Discipline Too Tough-

Kids are struggling these days. There is more confusion about life, more depression and  anxiety, and more behavioral disorders than ever. The pace of life keeps us scrambling and not as thoughtful as we would want to be.

We tend to parent from a confused place of anxiety rather than a place of intentional confidence.

Sometimes we become authoritarian and nag, push and take hard lines. We impulsively remove favorite privileges and possessions hoping to teach kids “their lesson.”

And sometimes we are too permissive. We fear our toughness will push kids away so we tip-toe around anything that might hurt or disappoint them. We bring forgotten homework or lunch money and do things they can do for themselves just to avoid conflict.

What Does My Child See On My Face In Times of Discipline?

What Does My Child See

Our faces. They say a lot to our kids. Before the first words roll off our tongue, we’ve already begun communicating.

Studies show that between 60% – 90% of all communication is nonverbal, with 55% related to the face alone.*

Take a common scenario like your child leaving a trail of food, wrappers, or toys. What might go through your mind at a time like that? “I’ve talked to him about this for weeks, numerous times a day, and nothing has changed! This place is constantly a mess!”

With all that going on inside, it’s sure to show up on your face. Your facial expressions may be sending messages like,
“Child, you are a disappointment.”
“Child, you are hopeless.”
“Child, you are a walking mess!”

The faces we get in return from our kids confirm those discouraging messages have been received. What do their faces often show us? Perhaps some fear. Maybe anger. Or the one that gets many parent’s blood boiling: defiance!

Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need

A Kind but Firm Approach to Parenting

Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need (1)

Knowing when to stand firm as a parent and when to extend mercy can be a difficult challenge, and can leave your kids feeling confused about your authority.

Have you heard yourself say these things?

…That is not ok, do you understand me? How many times do I have to tell you?

…If you finish your chores, I’ll get you a bowl of ice cream.

…Ok, I’ll let this go this time, but next time there will be a big consequence.

…My child never listens to me!  

If you often find yourself backing down or offering bribes when you feel you should stand firm, you’re not alone! Taking charge of this dynamic requires more than just a, “Be the parent – don’t give in so easily” mindset. If it was that simple, you wouldn’t still be questioning yourself.

Consider a couple strategies to help you develop the loving authority your kids need:

A “kind but firm” approach: empathize and give clear choices

Use a calm and respectful tone when you address your kids, and let them know you understand what it’s like to be them. Then offer two “you can…” choices with a clear boundary. This combination might look like this:

“I know you are tired after school and love to relax and play, I often feel that way after work. So you can choose to get your chore out of the way and then play, or you can play now and do your chore before dinner. But it must be done when you come to dinner.”

If they give more pushback, give more empathy, but don’t change the request. No deals.

[If you would like more details about consequences, check out the in-depth appendix of our book Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart.]

If this sort of approach is new to your kids, they may fight it before they understand that you won’t change your mind. Stay calm and just let them know repeatedly that you understand but you won’t be hooked by their emotional drama, and your boundaries are firm. Once kids sense your confidence, they are far more likely to respect your authority.

When “kind and firm” doesn’t work, or your child doesn’t respond, it could be worth a look beneath the surface.

Introspection: What’s going on under the surface?

There is almost always more going on in habitual conflicts than meets the eye, and it could be your kids know that in spite of your firm approach, you are still not feeling confident and resolved about your own authority.

Parenting is rooted in a combination of personality, experiences, and beliefs about our kids and ourselves as parents. Turning a few stones of self-awareness has proven to be helpful to many parents stuck in negative patterns.

If any of these issues (or others you identify) cause you to feel timid when trying to discipline, this isn’t a “stand tall and go get ‘em” lecture! It’s an encouragement to access God’s grace and truth for you and your kids. Below you’ll see some hurtful beliefs with which you might identify, and some helpful truths that you could use to replace them.

[Part 1] Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need

A Kind but Firm Approach to Parenting

 

Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need (1)

Knowing when to stand firm as a parent and when to extend mercy can be a difficult challenge, and can leave your kids feeling confused about your authority.

Have you heard yourself say these things?
…That is not ok, do you understand me? How many times do I have to tell you?
…If you finish your chores, I’ll get you a bowl of ice cream.
…Ok, I’ll let this go this time, but next time there will be a big consequence.
…My child never listens to me!  

If you often find yourself backing down or offering bribes when you feel you should stand firm, you’re not alone! Taking charge of this dynamic requires more than just a, “Be the parent – don’t give in so easily” mindset. If it was that simple, you wouldn’t still be questioning yourself.

The Awesome Thing about Your Kid’s Misbehavior…

The Awesome Thing about Your Kid’s Misbehavior

The rough-looking teen’s tough veneer had softened. I detected tears in his eyes.

“No one has ever said anything like that to me.”

Just minutes before, I met this teen in a line at our local amusement park. After a brief conversation, I dug a little deeper and asked Jared what he was good at. “Are you kidding?” He seemed angry. “Look at me.” Violent tattoos, tattered dark clothes, a defiant countenance and multiple piercings on his ears, nose, eyebrows and lips were suggestive of a hard life.

The Powerful Role of Empathy in Discipline

The Powerful Role of Empathy in DisciplineCould it be that one of the main reasons Jesus is so appealing to us, a reason we want to follow him, is that we see throughout scripture that he “gets” people?

He knows us. He understands us. He meets us where we are. Hebrews 4:15 essentially tells us that we have a high priest (Jesus) who empathizes with our every weakness. Following in Jesus’ example, we represent his character to our kids when we empathize with them in their weaknesses.

6 Practical Tips to Tame Your Temper

6 Practical Tips to Tame Your TemperDisciplining misbehaving kids is often a difficult and emotion-laden task. Our oldest son Daniel, sometimes said to Lynne, “Mom, you just bursted all over us!” And he was painfully right. Jim had his share of quick, harsh reactions as well. Those were discouraging times for all of us, and we wished we knew how to get unstuck from that negative pattern.

We began applying our professional knowledge to develop practical strategies that helped us become calmer and more effective when disciplining. As we “field-tested” these ideas in our own family, we were equipped to help thousands of parents defuse their explosive reactions as well.

Parents who learn to calm themselves before disciplining usually find they are much more effective as they access their wisdom and good intentions for their kids. We suggest that parents stop, breathe, and get perspective. But what does that look like? Here are six practical ways to “get perspective” as you calm your heart for discipline that connects with your child’s heart.

Are You An Emotionally Safe Parent?

Are You an Emotionally Safe Parent-A friend of ours said, “I am so competent at work and with friends. I’m on my game almost all the time. But when my kids act up, it’s like I lose the ‘real me!’ I become someone I don’t know or like.” Virtually every parent we’ve talked with in any depth admits, “I don’t like the ‘me’ that comes out when I discipline my kids.”

The tough truth to swallow is that whatever comes out of us IS the “real me.” Kids provoke us. And when we’re provoked, we tend to reveal what’s really inside us – especially when the provocateurs are our very own little children. What’s revealed is often not a pretty picture as stressed parents feel desperate, and use intimidation, manipulation and anger to regain a sense of control in the situation. Although this may work temporarily, it does so at the expense of the parent-child relationship.

When anger, anxiety and a need to control drive our discipline, we unintentionally communicate to our children that we are not emotionally safe. They will self-protect by closing their hearts to us.