5 Suggestions for Teaching Children Honesty

boy and father

When our boys were in middle school, we did not allow them to roam the mall on their own without an adult in the building. I know, call us bad parents, but we believed their safety was more important than their coolness with other children.

Once when our school system was closed because of snow, one of our boys spent the night with another boy his age. He told us they were going to a gym and would be home afterwards, but before he returned home, we received a call from another friend that had seen him at the mall. He was BUSTED! What was worse for him was when he found out that we would have been fine with him going to the mall, because the parent was going also. That was a huge lesson for him in honesty. Years later, when this same son had another situation that required honesty, he told the whole truth and nothing but the truths…so help him, God. As an adult now, I would “honestly” say that honesty is one of his best qualities.

Scripture is very clear for the believer about how we are to approach honesty. We are told to “let your yes be yes and your no be no”. Honesty is a value, however, that is shared by believers and non-believers. It’s sort of a baseline moral standard of expectation of society. Raising our children to be honest, therefore, is an important part of our parenting.

With that desire in mind, that is the purpose of this post.

5 suggestions to encourage your children to be honest:

Model it – If your children see you being dishonest, even on the telephone with the telemarketer or with your employer as to why you are not going to work, they are learning bad habits. Be honest with your words and your time.

Teach it – The Bible is full of great stories about honesty. Spend time reading and discussing them with your children. A few suggestions are stories such as Joseph and his brothers, Esther and her situation with Haman, and the story of Jacob and Esau. Obviously, you will need to study them first so you can discuss them with your children. Ask questions to see if they understand and what their values are towards the issue of honesty.

Enforce it – There are some issues that should be handled more strongly than others in parenting. Enforcing honesty is one of them. If you allow even little actions of dishonesty to go unchecked, you are building a negative principle into your child’s life that you will one day see again and regret. Of course, the punishment should always fit the age and the severity of the wrong, but the issue of honesty is one area where zero tolerance should be a part of your disciple plan.

Encourage it – Honesty should become an aspired value in your home. Find examples of honesty around you and talk about them with your children. When you see good news of this value being demonstrated, whether in the news, the church or community, make sure your children are made aware of the positive effects of honesty. Again, ask questions to make sure they understand the importance of being honest.

Reward it – When your children are found being honest, reward them. Our boys were told consistently that if they told us the truth we would respond much differently than if we had to figure out the truth on our own. Make being honest a big deal to them, even something to celebrate.

Working to establish honesty in your children early will help ensure they live honest lives as adults. Even though honesty is a shared value, most of us would agree, our level of trust in others has diminished in recent years. As parents, we play a large role in raising the level of honesty in our society, one family at a time.

What tips do you have for teaching children honesty?

5 Tips to be a Better Dad This Week

boy and father

Five tips to be a better dad today this week:

Review your calendar for the week now – Make sure your family is getting some of your best time. Plenty of it. Children often spell love T I M E. They want yours. Rework your schedule if needed and possible.

Plan a date night with your wife – Protect your marriage…ultimately your family…by regular investments in it. Model for your kids what a good marriage looks like.

Make a prayer list for each of your kids – Write them on index cards and place the cards where you will see them often. What are their greatest struggles? Their fears? The parts of their character that need the most development? Pray for this list daily. Several times throughout the day if possible.

Plan long term – Take an hour this week to plan an intentional retreat with you and each child sometime in the next six months. It could be a day or a weekend, but make it intentional. Make it fun and character building. Plan questions ahead of time to stir meaningful discussions with them.

Turn off the television – I saved the hardest one for the last suggestion. But, seriously, it is hard, isn’t it? You work hard. You come home tired. You just want to veg in front of the tube. I get it. But, I speak from experience, these moments will pass so quickly. And what if you used that time to play a game with your children? What if that spurred a conversation? What if that changed the way a child looks at life? What if that created a moment the child never forgets? Those memories start…as all memories do…in a moment.

I realize this list is impossible for some. You have work commitments that have you out of town this week. Your children may object at first to a change in schedules that interrupts their schedule. You can’t force it. You may be separated from your child for custody reasons. You may have to build slowly to complete some things on this list.  You may have to be more creative.

The key is to be intentional as a dad. This is a great week to start.

(By the way…this works for moms too…I’ve just never been one 🙂 )

What tips do you have to improve your dadship this week?  

10 Easy Steps to Spoil a Child

Angry child with crossed arm

Have you ever wanted a spoiled child?

It is easy.

Here’s a 10-step quick formula guaranteed to produce results:

  • Give children everything they want.
  • Never tell them no.
  • Fight with your spouse over discipline.
  • Put children first, even over your spouse.
  • Strive to make every moment “the greatest moment of their life”.
  • Teach them they are the center of the universe.
  • Take their side every time…even over the teacher.
  • Make excuses for them.
  • Ignore their “minor” discipline problems.
  • Let them talk to you however they want.

Try that for 30 days and I guarantee you a spoiled child or your money back.

Good parenting is hard. It means saying no when the easy thing to say is yes. It means molding character that will yield maturity for a lifetime. Don’t take the easy route. Go for best!

I’m praying for you!

Any more suggestions to spoil a child? 

A Word to the Pastor’s Wife…From My Wife

Cheryl

A Word to the Pastor’s Wife…From My Wife:

I love being a pastor’s wife. It truly is whom God has called me to be in this season of life. Everyday is not easy, but when I’m serving as God intended for me to serve, I’m never more fulfilled in life.

That’s why I decided to share this advice to pastor’s wives. (I understand my husband has lots of pastors who read his blog. I hope they will share this with their spouse.)

Here is my advice:

Don’t try to be something you are not…and…Don’t be afraid to be yourself

So often we have a picture in our head of what a pastor’s wife is “suppose” to look like. I did before I was one. Of course, she plays the piano and/or sings in the choir…she bakes the most wonderful desserts…and she is active in every ministry the church and community have to offer…she can quote scripture in every sentence…her marriage is always perfect…and…oh yeah…she is the mother of 2.5 PERFECT children. And the sad thing is…often we (as pastor’s wives) beat ourselves up if we don’t meet all or at least several of these (self-imposed) expectations.

I’m not sure if it is because Ron and I surrendered to the full time vocational ministry later in life, but I soon realized if these were the expectations then I was in big trouble. People closest to me have never suggested I join the choir…I played a bassoon in high school which very few churches have a use for these days…I don’t cook (blessed to be married to a wonderful husband who does!)…I have typically worked full time outside the home…and I still have to use the table of contents in the Bible occasionally (That’s the result of coming to Christ as an adult. Praise God for children’s church.) Yet, God still called “me” to be a pastor’s wife! (And, I’m still wondering why some days.) BUT, I do have to say I do have 2 pretty amazing sons! Nearly perfect as they appear to me. (Can I count my amazing Yorkiepoo puppy as the .5??)

At first, when we were church planters, I wore many hats as a greeter, preschool teacher, baby rocker and clean up crew…just to name a few. Thankfully as the church grew, I was able to invest my time in the areas I was most passionate about…such as greeting and welcoming…and attending services to support my husband. (He says he preaches better when I’m in the room 🙂 ) No matter the church we serve in, my heart’s desire is to interact with as many people as possible to help all feel welcome. And I love hugs…both giving and receiving! Oh yeah…and I love to hear my man preach…even as many as 3 times on a Sunday!

God gives different gifts to different people and I needed to remind myself of God’s truth…that I need to be the person God called “me” to be! It is not always easy saying no to all the church expects me to be, but I have learned that by saying “yes” to what God is calling me to do and…not being afraid to say “no” to other things…allows me the freedom to follow my passions. It also allows God to use others to fill roles they should be doing…that they do better than me. Finally, it allows me to be the best supporter I can be for my husband. (Again, I don’t understand it, but he claims he’s a better pastor because of me. BTW, he asked me to put this line in here.)

Remember…don’t try to be someone you’re not…be the person God has called you to be!!

God’s Word says HIS yoke is easy…don’t let the world convince you otherwise!

Random thoughts on spanking or not spanking as a parent

family lifestyle portrait

To spank or not to spank…that’s probably one of the most frequent debates I have heard about parenting. Parents ask me frequently for my opinion on the issue. It is an important, but seldom talked about by those who teach on parenting. Many think the government should address the issue. Others think this is only a matter left for parents.

I suppose I should not be surprised when I am addressed with this question, since I frequently teach on issues such as parenting, marriage and the family, but I never know exactly how to address it. This post addresses some of those reasons.

Here are a few of my thoughts about the issue of corporal punishment:

  • This is a personal issue, a difficult one at that, and one I do not feel comfortable solving for parents. A parent can and will only enforce consistently those discipline strategies he or she agrees with personally.
  • This is an important question, but not at all the most important question about parenting.
  • The bigger issue is having an overall plan for parenting. I know too many parents trying to solve this question, but they have never fully thought through a strategy for where they are leading their children and how they are going to get them there. I would rather we spent more time talking about the adults we want our children to be someday and how we can better steer them in that direction. Discipline deals with the issue of discipleship. Building character in our children.
  • The goal of parenting is far more important than the methods used in parenting. In our parenting we tried many different methods; some worked and some didn’t. The key of our parenting experience was that we were intentionally thinking through the goal and working towards realizing that goal in each of our boy’s lives.
  • Each child is different. The strategy and methods for disciplining each child must be different.
  • You should never spank, or do any discipline, in anger. Cool off first
  • The child should never be able to question your love after the moment of discipline has passed. That’s with any discipline.
  • I did spank, but it was rare and always intentional. It seemed to work at the time. At a certain age it was the best method for one of our boys to discipline him through a strong-willed period. The cliché “this hurts me more than you” was really true for me, but it worked with this child. It wouldn’t have as well with the other.
  • The Bible verse that is often questioned is Proverbs 13:24, which says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” This verse is often interpreted as referring to spanking, thinking the Bible uses the imagery of the rod and staff of a shepherd. The shepherd’s methods to train the sheep were always for the sheep’s best interest, and always what worked for the sheep and its predators.The verse, however, as are all the Proverbs, is a principle, and, therefore, I think it refers more to the principle of effective parenting than it gives us a mandate to spank.
  • The mother and the father should agree on the form of discipline. If they do not, they should perhaps get help to come to a sense of agreement. Mothers and fathers should recognize that each plays a unique role in the process and one handles discipline differently than the other. I was much sterner on my boys than Cheryl was and she was much more of a nurturer than I was, but both were necessary.
  • For me the end goal of my discipline was spelled out in the Bible, in principles such as Proverbs 29:17 which says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” I was less concerned about process and more concerned about progress. Discipline is to disciple the child…prepare them for life and adulthood.

Again, I don’t have all the answers here. Most parents are doing the best they know how. My best advice is to be intentional. Have a goal and have a plan. For each child. What parent would not want to see the principle of the verse above come true in their child’s life some day? Good parenting should do what works best to accomplish the goal of parenting.

Those are my random thoughts. Anything to add?

(Last thought. This is the kind of post, dealing with controversial issues with strong opinions on both sides, that seems to bring out the mean people. Let me be clear I’m not looking for a fight or argument. And, if you’re mean…be nice here. 🙂 )

When I grow up…

Happy childhood

I was walking in the hall of our church building recently when I had to stop to let a classroom of children walk by me. We house a school in our building and an early childhood development center. It’s not unusual to encounter some of them on a daily basis. On this occasion, it was a class of what I would guess to be 4 or 5 years of age.

They were perfectly lined up by their teacher. They were behaving nicely. Their teacher was doing a great job with them. So cute.

All of a sudden. Out of nowhere. One little girl broke into meowing. Cat meows. She was good too. She didn’t know anyone else was around it seems. She simply started meowing.

I laughed. She didn’t seem to understand why. Her teacher told her to be quiet. She didn’t seem to understand why.

What is wrong with a little meowing anyway? Especially with such good pitch. I mean, it wasn’t a lion’s roar. That would be different, right? It’s a kitty cat. The cat’s meow.

But it made me think…

I want to be like that girl when I grow up.

Suddenly my mind reflected on another time in life…several years ago now…

When my youngest son was little he was often afraid at night. As long as he knew he could call and I’d be there…anytime at night…he was okay. He could sleep without fear. Without worry. And he tested that numerous times.

I want to be like that boy when I grow up.

I also want to skip and kick a can down the street and not worry about the effects on the environment. Just once. Random. I know.

I want to laugh more. Belly laugh. About things other people don’t even think are funny.

I want to enjoy my ice cream. All over my face, if needed. We can go to the bathroom later and wash it off. Or just go swing for a while. Whichever.

I want to climb a tree. A really big tree. Without a fear of heights or a fear of falling. I might even shout, “Look at me” from the top of that tree.

I want to take a run in the woods, jump in some puddles, and wear my play clothes all day.

Life is serious. Too serious. Very serious.

This world is a messed up scary place. Somedays it seems everyone is crazy. Doesn’t it? Even me. Who can I trust? Does anything make sense anymore? Anything?

But I know, I really do know, that my God is on His throne. He’s not moved. He’s in control. He has a plan. And, He loves me. He really does. He watches over me at night and counts the hairs on my head. All while making sure the stars are still aligned. And, I think He even laughs at my corny jokes. And at the cat’s meow of a little girl.

So when I grow up I want to trust more and worry less.

I want to enjoy life knowing someone else is in control. I want to laugh in the midst of sorrow knowing there is coming an answer. A resolution. Glory yet to be revealed. Knowing hope is here today. Not tomorrow. Today.

And, I want meow. Whenever I choose to meow. Life’s too short not to meow at will.

I can’t wait to grow up.

Without a dad…

boy and father

A boy struggles…

Knowing what it means to become a man…

What courage, honor, and strength really looks like…

When to take a risk…

A girl struggles…

Understanding her beauty and value…

Sensing self confidence and independence

To demand respect and equality…

I’ve been convicted lately, that many times the orphans of today…

Are the fatherless…

(And many times the widows are the single mothers…)

The statistics of the impact of this on society are staggering. Great efforts are being taken by non-profits such as The Fatherhood Initiative. Even the government is getting involved, recognizing the problems associated with this issue in our society.

What is the church doing about it?

Seriously, what initiatives do you know of where the church is addressing the fatherless issue?

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” James 1:27

(This is not to say we don’t take care of widows and orphans. We certainly do, but, in my opinion, we must not forget the cultural issues of our day…if we want “pure and undefiled religion”.)

What do you think?

Public Speaking Tip: Know Your Audience

It’s important when you’re speaking to an audience to know who makes up the audience.

This is an elementary public speaking principle.

I’ve been speaking for years…in school, business and ministry.

I know the principle. Most of the time I obey the principle.

Recently, though, I missed this.

I spoke to a group of 4 year old children. I told them the story of David and Goliath. It is one of my favorite stories, one I enjoyed acting out with my boys when they were young.

The problem this time. I forgot my audience.

I told the “whole counsel of God”. I shared the whole story.

Remember the part at the end…what David does to Goliath? It’s my favorite part.

He cut his head off.

Yep, I shared it. To the 4 year old children. My audience.

Have you ever seen the bright eyes of surprise on a 4 year old?

Yep, I saw them.

Yep, I heard from the teachers too. No parents yet.

Here’s an elementary public speaking principle:

Know your audience.

A Summary of Parenting Encouragement

Recently I preached a message on parenting. A man in the church took notes. In fact, he too great notes. He asked my permission to send his summary to a Boy Scout troop. I asked his permission to share his summary here.

A Summary of Parenting Encouragement

Of primary importance is to realize that as parent you have power over the child’s heart. The son likes to be “just like Dad”, the daughter plays “mommy” doing whatever her mother does, and little girls say “I am going to marry Daddy”. Take this fact very seriously.

First of all formulate a plan. What characteristics do you want your child to have, what beliefs, what do you want your adult children to be? It doesn’t have to be written but time must be taken to intentionally set goals and strategize. Don’t “fly by the seat of your pants”. The Bible says “train a child in the way he should go”.

Secondly, invest in your child. What you teach your child is what they will teach your grandchildren and so on for generations. Of primary importance is to develop character skills. This is the greatest return on investment, more important than anything else, even education. This doesn’t mean leave everything else out but you get back most where you invest most.

Thirdly, direct your child. Direction is probably the most lost fact in today’s parenting. The child has become the director. The child doesn’t know what they want or need. They are trying to know the boundaries. The parent knows what is best and what is needed. The parent knows what foods are needed, what rest is needed, the best use of time, what education means, etc. Direct the child when they are very young as you will not be able to gain control in the teenage years (at least it will be extremely hard). Remember, a child’s actions when they are young are their actions when they are adults. It is OK to say NO to a child. The goal is to establish control over the young child and gradually release it as they grow older. Remember you have a child for just a few years to train for a lifetime.

Fourthly, as the child grows older, let your influence become more of a factor in your child’s life. It is difficult to transition from direction to influence. Be sensitive to when a child is trying to direct and when he needs help in decision making (influence). Remember, you have power over the child’s heart, don’t push too hard. Be careful not to make an unimportant situation a primary battle of the household.

Lastly, model for your child what goals you have determined. Children see what their parents do and do the same. If you want your child to be considerate, be considerate, not rude. If you mistreat the restaurant server, why should you not expect your child to mistreat their teacher. Show your child what you want. Reflect on your actions and words to be sure these are what you want for your children. By the way, this doesn’t end for the rest of your life. You will always be a model for your children. (Also, we are a model or representative for any group that we may be a part. For instance, church members model what the church believes, rightly or wrongly.)

These are principles, not promises. Be intentional with your parenting, your marriage, your relationships. Pray for parenting skills all your life. Stop now and think about your parenting.

Here is the sermon from which he pulled these notes.