So You Killed Your Cat. Now What?

pet grave headstone“Do you think we should tell the kids what really happened? What they don’t know won’t hurt them, right?”

Recently we received these questions when a parent accidentally ran over the sleeping, aging old family cat. What would you say if they asked you?

I’m wondering if you can help me with an immediate issue. Our dear friends have a 10 year old son & 8 year old daughter. They also had a 14 year old beloved cat until this morning – One of the parents accidentally ran over Ginger (she was sleeping under the car) this morning while leaving for work. The children were asleep so did not see any of this.

One parent thinks they should not ever tell the children that they ran over the cat, and that it died of natural causes. The other parent is conflicted about not being open, but also doesn’t want to lay this on the children. What would you recommend in this situation? As of now, the children know the cat died, but nothing about the accident.

Jim’s Real-life Parenting “Do-Over” — See It Live!

As some of you know, Lynne and I provided a home for a single mom and her baby boy for his first three and a half years.

As you might imagine in that setting, we had numerous learning opportunities with this strong-willed little fella. On one such occasion I caught my two-year-old little buddy in my emerging garden. I was surprised and yelled at him to “get out!” (Yes, I still yell without thinking sometimes too!) Then I realized I had a Flipcam in my pocket and I taped a little experiment. You can watch it below — pay close attention to Eli’s change in attitude as I go from stern and demanding to gentle and inviting him with choices.

How to Help Kids Follow Family Rules

When it comes to family rules, a common mistake parents make is not clearly defining the rules!

What is acceptable and what is not in a family can be a moving target depending on the whims of a parent’s mood, fatigue, or even their indigestion. One day shoes scattered in the entryway are ignored or simply kicked aside, and the next day it is a cardinal offense when a stressed parent trips over them. “You know better than to leave these here!” This inconsistency is a classic way that parents exasperate their children (See Ephesians 6:4).

How to Make Sure Your Kids Will Want to Stay

“…he will turn the hearts of the parents to their children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous” Luke 1:17

What if the way you disciplined your kids had the power to turn their hearts toward or away from the safety of your love, your home, and even God? We think it does. Our conclusion comes from extensive work with kids since 1985.

When kids steal, disobey, defy, cheat, lash out, or otherwise sin, in their hearts, they leave. They leave the safety of trustworthy relationships. They leave the safety of boundaries and limits placed for their protection. They leave the purposes for which God created them. These are acts of rebellion. All kids do this. All humans do this.

The way we are treated when we sin determines whether or not we’ll feel safe to return to the protection of the relationships, the love, the boundaries, and the purposes of God for our lives. In our years working in youth groups with other people’s kids we sometimes learned this the hard way. Many of the unchurched kids we were hoping to reach would quit coming after they were caught doing something they shouldn’t do – and disciplined. Especially if the discipline was reactive or shaming, we could pretty much guarantee that unless a strong relationship of grace was in place, we’d never see those kids again.

Do Your Consequences Build Up or Tear Down?

Do Your Consequences Build Up or Tear Down-

Sometimes, in spite of parents’ most graceful efforts to stay calm, connect well, and parent with grace, their kids still misbehave. They are “beloved sinners” (just like us) and need corrective guidance (just like we do), with the goal of helping them learn the powerful message, “You are responsible for your life, your relationships, and your decisions.”

Two Biblical principles can help parents communicate this message to their children: natural impacts and imposed consequences.

Do YOU Respect Authority?

This Election Day, there’s bound to be a candidate elected that you would rather not see take office. Or maybe an amendment that doesn’t go your way. The way parents respond when this happen speaks volumes to their kids!

If we humble ourselves and pray (see 2 Chron 7:14), God’s grace will rule our homes. But if we respond to the election by griping about the incompetent people who are going to ruin our country for the next four years, we model a basic (and contagious) disrespect for authority. This is similar to parents who complain about their boss at the dinner table, criticize their spouse’s cooking, and then expect their kids to quickly obey at bedtime, saying “Yes, Sir/Ma’am, I’m on my way!”

Our children are watching! And learning!

How to Have Positive Politics in Your Home

On Tuesday we talked about the importance of practicing what you preach at home.

Practically speaking, if you want your kids to learn respect and responsibility, you need to set the stage for it at home. Here’s an idea for developing great “politics” in your home:

  • Discuss with your family and write down some of the most important values in your home. (Examples of values include faith, duty, learning, authenticity, self-control, generosity, etc.)
  • Once the list is complete, ask your children how well they think you (the parent) live by these values and follow these rules.
  • Write down one rule for each value. For example, if the value is respect, your rule might read: “People will use respectful voices when we are upset. People will take ‘time outs’ until they can use respectful tones (parents included!)”
  • Discuss and decide what the consequences for breaking each rule will be.  

Enjoy this activity, and join us in praying that more and more leaders would emerge from homes that practice politics this way.

The Politics of Respect — In Our Homes!

Republican, or Democrat? Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama? With pre-election hype now at fever-pitch a week before the polls, it is easy to get either fed-up or worked-up with politics! Being an informed voter is certainly important, but we think the most important politics for a parent to engage in are the politics of their own home.

As candidates push their political agendas and make campaign promises of policy goals for the years to come, take a moment to reflect on the “politics” in your family. What goals do you have for raising your children?  It is important to consider not only what “policies” will guide your family in the years to come, but also how you will teach them to your children.

Consequences That Actually Work! (Part 1 – Natural Consequences)

 Over the next several weeks we’ll be sharing three types of consequences that make sense, are easy to implement, and most importantly will really help your children learn the value of making a better decision next time!

Natural impacts (aka Natural consequences)

Many impacts, or consequences, for misbehaviors like disrespect or irresponsibility occur naturally, without the intervention of an adult. We call these “natural impacts.”

For example, if a child has a messy room, she may not be able to find her shoes in the morning before school. If a child hits his brother, he may feel “icky” inside. If a child tells a lie, people won’t be as likely to trust him. By helping my children to understand and experience these natural impacts, I help them learn about the true causes and effects that will follow them into life beyond the walls of our home.

The Worst Punishment You Can Give…

The worst punishment a parent can give is the impulsive, emotional and irrational consequence that the child eventually weasels out of because both parent and child know it’s unreasonable.

Dishing out a quick consequence may help you feel big and powerful at the moment, but it teaches your kids that your word can’t be trusted, therefore you can’t be trusted. A recent coaching client testified to this when she said,  “I never thought about the impact of my empty threats on the trust level in my relationship with my child.”

So if you want your kids to trust you, it will help to be more thoughtful about consequences.

Try this process: