R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Can I Get a Little?

No matter how hard we try to keep calm, sometimes we blow it. When that happens, we can be open to ideas from the Holy Spirit, as was Brenda, a mom who receives our email tips. When we heard her story we invited her to write it to share. We hope you find her story as inspiring as we do!

angry-mom-2It was another busy evening – kids home from school, parents home from work, dinner to make, homework to do – and tension was running high. Our three lively children aged 5, 9, and 12 were talking over each other and interrupting my husband and me. I strive to model the peace, patience, respect, and love that I want my children to experience and learn, but needless to say, this is easier at some times than others. Trying to keep our cool, we gently reminded them to speak one at a time and listen when someone else was speaking. This worked…for a bit.

When Things Go Wrong, Don’t Fix the Problems!

Jeremy and Anna were frustrated about the chaotic dinners at their house. It was definitely a “herding cats” experience to get their two boys to the table and then a “managing monkeys” experience once they all got there. Their younger son Ayden sometimes got quite belligerent about not coming to dinner.

As they started to go into detail about these woes in their coaching session, I shifted the focus and asked, “Was there a time recently when it went better?” They thought for a minute, then described a time when it had gone relatively smoothly. Together we identified the following success factors they had already discovered:

Parenting from a Donkey

man riding donkey

Jesus was a “different kind of king”* This was evident in many ways, and highlighted by the unexpected way he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Custom was that a king entered a town with a full show of prestige, power, and authority as a conquering hero on a prancing stallion. Instead Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey — a lowly beast of burden. (This is about like the difference between leading a modern day parade by driving a big black Hummer versus riding a bicycle with chubby tires and fenders!)

Is Parenting a Calling or a Responsibility?

Father and son on a misty mountain

If I have a child, I have a God-given calling to parenting.

To view parenting as a calling instead of a responsibility can change my perspective on daily interaction with my children. My view of parenting challenges can change from, “What should I do about this problem?” to “What’s the opportunity in this challenge to accomplish God’s purposes?” Rather than just trying to immediately control behavior, I can prayerfully navigate through troubling times with a broader perspective and sense of purpose.

T.E.A.C.H.ing Values in Real Life

Renee and Randy were in a common repeating cycle with their 5-year-old, Peter. “We felt like we were constantly on eggshells because of his daily meltdowns.” We showed them the T.E.A.C.H. framework, and their next report was a great review of how effectively they applied it. Here’s their summary:

T – While Peter was calm they Talked with him about how sometimes our bodies get upset and our energy gets too high. They told him there are a lot of ways to help our bodies feel more calm.

E – They Exemplified self-control by staying calm and by describing their own emotions and energy level. When angry, the parent would say, “I feel angry now, but I want to calm down. I’m going to sit down and take a few deep breaths.” Sometimes they’d play soothing music or take walks, always describing their strategy.

A – They looked for any opportunities to Affirm Peter whenever he avoided a meltdown. Even if he started sucking his thumb they said, “It looks like your body figured out it needs to do something calm itself down.”

C – They Created Opportunities for success when he started sucking his thumb by saying, “Let’s find some bigger, more helpful ways to calm yourself down that won’t be hard on your teeth.” Then they offered some choices of big movement activities.

H – They Helped him get started in the calming activity, making sure it was fun and commenting on how it helped him be so calm and grown up (Affirmation).

In just a few short weeks of using the T.E.A.C.H framework to guide them, Renee, Randy, and Peter were experiencing much more peace in their daily routines.

Parents who T.E.A.C.H. their kids consistently report that their kids are more receptive to their teaching. It takes some thought and prayer!

Frustrated by constant discipline challenges? Take 15 minutes to read our free ebook When Your Child Misbehaves – Four Strategies for Lasting Change.

Why Do Kids Obsess Over Video Games?

During my recent reading of “Boys Adrift” by Dr. Leonard Sax, I came across a letter that really grabbed my attention. The letter’s author is a 27-year-old doctoral student at Notre Dame — oh, and he’s addicted to video games.

I don’t think you understand the computer game phenomenon when you talk about it sapping the motivation of male 20-somethings. That’s only part of the picture. The other part is that computer games allow people to do things that feel as significant or important as the things they wish they could do in real lifeA teenage boy plays video games. but don’t see any way of doing. I don’t mean that people are playing Battlefield 2 because they wish they could be shooting lots of people. But they do wish they could be doing something that mattered. When they’re playing that game, they can, for a few hours, feel like they’re doing something significant.

When I started grad school, I had a rough first year or so. Many times I came home feeling like I was never going to be any good as a scholar, like I had no hope of ever actually doing anything significant, or making any serious contribution even just in the academic community. But I could turn on the computer and play X-Wing and feel like I was helping to defeat the Galactic Empire. If you want to feel significant, feeling like you just destroyed the Death Star helps for a little while. ….

…[T]here is also in many games beauty and adventure. In Morrowind, you can wander through a really beautiful, detailed, vivid world. Now I prefer reality. But I live in South Bend, Indiana. There aren’t lots of places to hike or even to walk. …

Of course I agree that people should stop wasting time in front of the PC/Xbox and go do something real. But in order to treat a problem it may be helpful to know something about how it seems to those who suffer from it.

Richard R., Notre Dame

From Richard’s letter, we can learn several important things about how to thoughtfully and gracefully talk with our kids about video games:

Are We Ever Really Safe?

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Humans long to be safe. We want our children to be safe. Our efforts to create safety, whatever they may be, tend to lull us into thinking that we are indeed safe. For many in the US the formula to create safety has worked pretty well. I know it’s worked for me here in Minnesota – the center of the safest region perhaps on the planet. We’re about as protected from natural and man-made disasters as we can be. The formula has worked for me. I’m pretty safe. My kids are pretty safe.

And here’s the problem. It’s all about me.

My friend Dan, whose “safe,” affluent neighborhood was recently disrupted by the savage murder and dismemberment of a ten-year-old girl, related these powerful words: “I am working to not let proximity blind my perspective.” What he meant was that the “safety” some of us can manage for ourselves is an illusion. It tends to insulate us from the harsh reality that danger perpetuated by evil is not just prevalent in our world, it is rampant.

6 Destructive Lies We Tell Ourselves — And How to Fight Them!

Sometimes we humans seem to act unpredictably or irrationally. But every action has a purpose, rooted in an underlying or “core” belief. Our core beliefs are what guide our behavior.

The way core beliefs are formed is complex. Our environment, the media, our peers, and mostly the homes we grew up in are the major contributors to the things we believe about ourselves and others. Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about this, but the beliefs are there regardless, and contribute greatly to much of our behavior. Core beliefs deeply affect our parenting. For example, if conflict was treated as a problem and swept under the rug in the home I grew up in, then I will likely feel very anxious about conflict and will work hard to avoid it or put a quick stop to it in my children. My core belief may be, “People should be nice and not have conflicts.”

What “tapes” do you play in your head?

The funny thing about core beliefs is that they become almost imperceptible repeating “tapes” that play over and over again in our minds. When we learn to say them out loud they sound almost ridiculous. But they hold power over us until we can replace them with new “tapes” or phrases that grow from truth.

“Spread Yourselves THICK!”

“Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.” ~I Corinthians 6:12

Our oldest child, Daniel, made a grand pronouncement one morning upon learning that we all had to go to church early and stay through three services because of our ministry commitments. “You are spread way too thin! You people are like good jelly that’s wasted by being spread too thin on a big piece of toast. Nobody can taste how good you are. Why don’t you work on spreading yourselves THICK!”