5 Words That Can Shape Your Parenting

family lifestyle portrait

I learned much of what I know about parenting after I was a parent. Thankfully, my two boys are model young people. I would say I have two of the greatest young men as sons that any parent has ever seen. (Biased…aren’t I?) But, seriously, we have seen good fruit from our labor as parents. I believe that is in part because we followed certain principles. Again, we learned as we went and it was purely the grace of God, but we were intentional.

These principles can greatly increase your success as a parent, in my opinion. This comes not only from my personal experience, but also my training as a counselor, and my observation and counseling with hundreds of parents through the years of ministry. Keep in mind that principles are not promises or guarantees, but I believe you have a better chance of success if you follow good principles than if you do not.

Here are 5 words that can shape your parenting:

Plan – Most of us have a plan for other areas of our life, but not for our family. Plan a strategy for raising children the way you want them to go. We had a personal parenting plan. You can read it HERE. We reevaluated every year and made individual plans for each child based on their needs at the time. Do you have a plan?

Protect – It is critically important to protect your relationship with the child so that you can maintain influence over them for the rest of their life. This is not accomplished by giving them what they want, but by gentling balancing discipline with love. Are you willing, for example, to say no, or to make them wait for something, even when it is uncomfortable and unpopular with your children (and their friends)? Do you work to build their trust in you as much as their obedience to you?

Control – This one gets me in trouble with some parents, but that is when they don’t always understand the magnitude of their parenting role at an early age. There is a time to gain control over a child’s actions. It’s when they are very young. When they are learning all the basic things of life we take for granted. I encourage independent personalities, but you don’t have to let them throw a temper tantrum, for example. When is that an acceptable response as an adult? And, you can make a four year old attend Sunday school even when the would rather not…for another example. Are there times you don’t want to go to work? What do you do in those times? There should be an element of control for a child not old enough to choose wisely and then a gradual release of authority is given to them as they get older. Too many parents allow too much freedom early and then try to get control back when the child tries to be an independent teenager. It should be the opposite. You are training a child in the way he should go. Take advantage of the years where they desperately need and will comply with your wisdom.

Invest – Children require an intentional investment of time and energy over time. Having children who grow up well does not usually just happen, but it is as a result of the right investment of parenting. We have children for such a short window of opportunity. We can’t waste that time with opportunities that only produce temporary rewards or pleasures. Which has more importance…your work, your hobby…or your children? Do your actions portray your answer?

Model – You cannot expect children to learn principles you are not willing to model for them. Children should not be held to higher standards than you hold yourself. Are you living a life they can follow and turn out the way you would want them to be?

Are there any words you would add?

How to Get Your Wife more Interested in Sex

happy couple 2

This is a guest post by my friend Jennifer Degler. Jennifer attends the church I pastor and was actually on the search team that brought me to the church. She is a Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, life coach, and co-author of No More Christian Nice Girl: When Just Being Nice—Instead of Good—Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends. A frequent speaker at women’s events and marriage retreats, she also maintains a counseling practice in central Kentucky. She is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and the founder of CWIVES, a ministry devoted to helping Christian wives enhance their sexual relationship (cwives.com ). Jennifer and her husband, Jeff, have been married for 25 years and have two children. Visit her Web site at JenniferDegler.com

I asked Jennifer to post on this issue, because I know it is something every marriage deals with, including the majority of readers of my blog…pastors. Though the issue may be more personal than normal posts, I believe Jennifer, as a professional, a strong believer, and a woman, can address this issue much better than I can, and I believe it’s an issue that can help many marriages if they work through it. I also know I’ll be criticized for posting this. (I know the pastors and other Christians who pretend this is not a real issue, even though they know it is.) But, let me say this to the most “spiritual” among us…if this issue is affecting a marriage, it becomes a very spiritual issue, because it will impact the commands on marriage…the two becoming one flesh…and yes…in a spiritual sense. In Jennifer’s marriage counseling (and mine), you can’t address most marriages in trouble and not see this issue presented. And, I wish I didn’t have to give these type disclaimers…but I do. (If you get a chance, as a supplement to this post, read 1 Corinthians 7:1-16.)

Here’s…

“How to get your wife more interested in sex”:

I’m often asked by husbands, “How can I get my wife more interested in sex?” Sexual desire is complicated, but you can help your wife want sex more if you deliberately cherish her heart by practicing the 5 P’s.

Pursue your wife. You were “a man with a plan” when you were courting her. Don’t stop pursuing her just because you caught her. Wives want to be wooed. Ask her which she prefers: cards, phone calls, texts, emails, dates you plan, gifts or flowers for no reason, surprise visits, lunches, conversation you initiate, etc. The more you woo, the more she will want you.

Protect your wife. Protect her safety, her reputation, her energy. You are protecting your wife when you take care of potential trouble areas women sometimes overlook, such as an odd car engine noise. Most husbands would gladly take a bullet for their wife, but do you protect her reputation? Do you speak well of her, both in her presence and when she’s not around? If family members speak rudely to her, you are protecting your wife by respectfully requesting they speak kindly to and about her. The number one sexual difficulty wives report is lacking energy for sex, so when you load the dishwasher and put the kids to bed, you are protecting a scarce resource: her energy. The more you protect her, the more she will appreciate and desire you.

Provide for your wife, beyond financially. Women are nurturers who constantly think of others’ needs and how to stretch themselves to meet those needs. It’s exhausting. When you are mindful of what your wife needs and then provide it, well, this feels amazing. Husbands, look at your wife: What does she need in this moment that you could provide? A break, a chair, a cup of tea? My husband brings blankets, water bottles, and snacks to our son’s games. I am the most provided-for-wife at every game…and I bet he is the most rewarded husband afterwards.

Profess she is your wife, proudly, publicly. When men are proud of something, they show it off. How do you introduce your wife to your friends? “The old ball and chain?” “My old lady?” “The Boss?” You are painting a verbal picture of how you see your wife. Is it flattering or denigrating? A husband who proudly tells the world, “This is my wonderful, beautiful wife!” helps his wife feel better about herself which translates into a more sexually confident wife.

Pray for and with your wife. Christian wives are turned on by a praying husband. It’s true. Forget those new silk boxers, just hold her hands and pray with her. She will see you recognize and care about her needs. When you pray for her, you are hitting on all 5 P’s. My husband left this message on my voice mail, “Honey, I didn’t get to pray for you before you flew to your speaking engagement. Let me pray for you now.” And he proceeded to pray for me, and as I listened to his message, my only thought was, “He is the sweetest man. I can’t wait to get home and rip off his clothes.” Prayer = the ultimate aphrodisiac.

(I borrowed 3 of these P’s from Steve Harvey).

5 Steps When You’ve Offended Someone

foot-in-mouth

All of us say things we wish we hadn’t said. We all offend people at times. Everyone knows what it is like to put foot in mouth.

Doing so is common, but what do we do afterwards?

Here are 5 Steps When You’ve Offended Someone:

Recognize that you will offend some people. – Actually, that should come before the incident. Even the most gentile-minded, peace-pursuing people are occasionally offensive. Sometimes the person on the other side of the offense has issues that make them easily offended. Sometimes we just say or do the wrong thing. It’s working to do so less often and never intentionally that should be our goal.

Pursue peace – Our goal should be to be at peace with others, as much as it depends on us. This too should be set, as a goal, before it’s needed, so you’ll respond accordingly when it is needed. Strive not to say or do things which are offensive. This often means learning to think before you speak.

Ask forgiveness and seek to rebuild trust. – Sometimes the best thing a person can do is to say they are sorry. Many times people want to pass blame, make excuses, or wait for the other person to make the first move towards reconciliation. If you know a perceived offense has occurred, put your “big boy pants” on and break the ice of forgiveness. Don’t be afraid to take the blame if it will bring peace in the end. Remember though that trust is built over time, so don’t be “offended” if it is not given to you instantly. You can release your own guilt once you’ve sought forgiveness.

Examine your life. – If you seem to consistently find yourself in situations where others feel offended by you; maybe the problem is you. Don’t be afraid to look at the “speck” in your own eye. Examine areas of your life where you are consistently offending others.

Stay true to God’s plan for your life. – While we should attempt to live at peace with everyone, we should never avoid offending people at the sacrifice of God’s plan for our life. Jesus’ best work was offensive to many. If you are being obedient to God, you will find it offends some (maybe many.) Don’t let that distract you from doing God’s will. And, don’t hide in the offense you made. Move forward.

What do you do when you’ve offended someone?

Mother: The Word of the Day

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Mother

Is there a sweeter word in the English language?

Mom

Momma

A word that comes with deep meaning and emotion.

Unconditional love.

Sacrificial giving.

Forgiving easily.

Striving to provide perfect environments for the ones she loves.

Incredible patience with little hands.

Strength beyond measure.

Always believing the best from her children.

A model and teacher of compassion.

Skilled for laughing at kid jokes that aren’t even funny.

Accepting of others.

Stability during chaos.

A tender touch but a hug that never lets go.

Mother

What do you think of when you hear the word mother?

Tribute to the Mother Who Has No Children

Happy childhood

I want to give a tribute to the mother who has no children.

I’ve always been sensitive this time of year to the mothers without children.

You know the ones.

They never had children.

For whatever reason.

  • Some never married.
  • Some never tried.
  • Some never could.

They never had children, but they:

  • Care for others sacrificially, simply for the joy of giving.
  • Are willing to fight lions, tigers and bears (Oh my!) for the ones they love.
  • Have more strength than the average man when caring for someone.
  • Are taken advantage of because of their generosity.
  • Love deeply and unconditionally.
  • Strive to make the world a better place for those around them.
  • Always thinking of others and willing to put others ahead of themselves.

Sounds like a mother to me.

Many of them wanted to be a mother…but they never were given that blessing.

But, they have a mother’s heart.

Oh, they may not have children…not in the natural sense…but in heart…they are every bit a mother.

And, if God were to celebrate Mother’s Day, I think He would include them in the celebration.

Because in God’s way of doing things, it’s always about the heart.

“Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

As you celebrate Mother’s Day this year, don’t forget the mother who has no children.

10 Things I’d Do If I Were Raising a Son Today

boy and father

I previously posted 10 Things I’d Do If Raising a Daughter Today. In this post, I will focus on the boys.

I know a little more about this subject, having two incredible sons of my own. But, we always look at life differently from the other side of it. My boys are grown. I’m still parenting, but in a completely different way. Mine now is one of influence. Thankfully, both boys still come to me for that influence. There is no greater joy than seeing boys become God-honoring young men. I’m thankful to have a front row seat with my sons.

But, even with the incredible young men I know as sons, there are things I would do differently if I had that part of life to do over again. I know boys become men. And, every man I know, whether or not he admits it, struggles at some level with confidence. He struggles to know he is enough, that he can do what God calls him to do. Every man is desperate for someone to believe in him.

And, sadly, we are living in the age where the absentee father is the normal. It once was the exception. (That’s the subject of another post, but it’s plaguing our society. Check any statistics.)

I was mindful of these truths when my boys were young, but I’m older now. The seasons of my life have taught me so much more.

So, I would be even more intentional today…if I were raising sons.

Here are 10 things I’d do if raising sons today:

I would tell him daily that I love him and I’m proud of who he is and the individual God created him to be.

I would show him I believe in him, by learning to enjoy and value the activities important to him.

I would discipline myself to be available when he needs me. Not only when it’s convenient or doesn’t interfere with my work or my hobbies, and assure him that I will never leave him or reject him.

I would strive to live a life that’s respectable, God-honoring, so he could model after me, and likewise be respected, knowing this will be his greatest need.

I would show him how to love a woman, by valuing and treating my wife as a treasured gift from God.

I would help him build confidence by giving him ample opportunities to explore, to dream, to be adventuresome, allowing him to fail under my watch, so I could encourage him to start again, explaining to him that the only way he will be a failure is if he doesn’t get back up from a fall.

I would lead him on paths of discovery, trying lots of new things, helping him find his place in the world, with the awesome reality that the only limits on him will be the ones he sets for himself.

I would let him know the boundaries of the house, knowing he would test them, so he could learn that even in freedom there are consequences for misbehaving and sin.

I would teach and model for him that the real value of a man is not in the sum total or his possessions, but in the sum total of knowing God intimately and knowing that those who know him best are honoring him most.

I would at times let him see me afraid, even let him see my cry, to show him that man can be courageous and still vulnerable, but then let him see me following even closer after God as my source of strength.

IfI were raising a son today…

Are you raising a son? Tell me about him.

Final note on these two posts, one for raising daughters and this for raising sons. They are somewhat interchangeable. Some of each list could apply to raising boys or girls. They are aspirations. There are no perfect parents. I have observed, however, that there are parents more intentional than others. There are parents who parent with the sober reality that we have precious little time to mold children who will be adults longer than they are children. Parents who know it takes time, energy, consistency and intentionality to parent well. Mostly knowing it takes the grace of God to be a great parent. As I finish this post I’m praying for parents who will read this…and for those who won’t.

10 Things I’d Do If I Were Raising a Daughter Today

father-daughter

I never had a daughter. I have a great daughter-in-law, and she has a special relationship with her dad, but I never got to raise a girl. I missed out, didn’t I?

But, I know a few grown girls. I’ve witnessed scars. All women have a scar of some kind. And, I know a dad plays a role. An important role. And, one that, if the right foundation is set, can help a girl avoid, or at least recover, from many of the scars life naturally will bring. Even when a girl becomes a woman.

And, it’s made me question what I would do if I were raising a girl today. These are scary times. Our children need us more than ever. I would want to be wise and intentional.

Here are 10 things I’d do if I were raising a daughter today:

I would tell her daily how beautiful she is and that I love her unconditionally.

I would let her know, in word and actions, that she is more important than my job, my hobbies, and my iPhone.

I would dance with her, take her on regular dates, and hold her hand frequently.

I would hold the standard high for her, but instill in her the belief that I’m here for her, regardless of what she does wrong, and that nothing she does could ever cause me to turn my back on her.

I would let her hear me pray for her daily and strive to live a godly life, after which she could model…and trust to be consistent.

I would let her know my wife was the most important woman in the world to me and encourage her to wait for a man willing to say the same.

I would get her self-defense training. And, teach her where to kick.

I would encourage her talents and abilities and remind her that God is going to use her in incredible ways.

I would help her understand that every boy’s intentions are not honorable and that she is worthy of and should always demand respect.

I would consistently remind her she has what it takes to do anything she sets her mind to do and to settle for nothing less than her best.

If I was raising a daughter today…

Are you raising a daughter? Tell me about her.

Next read 10 things I’d do if I were raising a son today.

7 Tips for Building Strong Relationships with Children

family lifestyle portrait

Most parents want to develop a close, lasting bond with their children that goes beyond the years a child lives in the home. Having a relationship with children that transcends time begins early in a child’s life as the heart of the child bonds with the heart of the parent.

I’m happy to say my boys are grown, but they are two of my best friends. And, they call or text frequently to discuss life and seek my input. I couldn’t ask for more. I realize now there were some things we did along the way that built the bond we have even today. Some of it may have been “accident” on our part. They don’t have to be for younger parents.

Here are a 7 tips to help build strong, lifetime relationships with children:

Choose activities to do together that they enjoy. It’s a great plus if they enjoy your hobbies, but you will have better success in connecting if you do the things with them they enjoy most. Don’t try to create a clone of you. When they begin making choices for themselves, learn to love their activities and play times.

Don’t force yourself on your children. As children get older and begin developing outside interests, do not be the parent who always has to tag along. Be there if you are invited, but allow your children some freedom to explore. As they get older, welcome other adults you trust to invest in them. This is one of the great values of being active in a local church. Men I admire made huge impacts on my boys.

Remain accessible to your children always, but especially during busy or stressful times. Children cannot handle or understand stress the way adults can. They just know when they want or need their parents. Make sure you are available as much as possible when the desire strikes them. We made sure our boys knew they were never an interruption and we were always there when needed. That meant building our schedule around time planned with them. The busier I was and more stressful life became, the more I protected that time.

Communicate on their level and with their interests. Understand the language of their age and learn about the things they have interest in doing. I never knew much about soccer or wrestling, but one of our boys did, so now I do. Wanna wrestle?

Learn to love their friends. This is huge and will show that you value their choices in friends and relationships. We sometimes had to gently guide them and we even distracted them from some friends, but we wanted them to love everyone. Be patient with them. They should not be expected to have the maturity of an adult yet. They will make mistakes and will not always make the decisions you want them to make. Help them form good values then honor their ability to make choices while you are still there to help them recover when they make bad ones. They’ll need good decision making skills for a lifetime.

Slow down. Life races by and before you know it the kids are gone. Believe me when I say this…it passes fast. Too fast. In your race to provide them all the right opportunities, all the stuff, make sure you give them what they need most…YOUR TIME.

Be intentional. When my boys were young I didn’t have a smart phone. I worked hard running a business that I owned, was active in dozens of professional and spiritual activities, including holding public office, but I rarely missed a ballgame or practice. Their time went on my calendar first. FIRST. And, I had no problem saying no to other opportunities.

To be clear, none of these are excuses to give children everything they want or to allow them to set the standards for your home. I believe parents should parent. For more on my parenting philosophy here read other posts under the category of PARENTING. Connecting with children in a way that lasts beyond the years they must connect with you, however, begins early in the child’s life and takes a consistent effort on the part of the parents.

What ideas or ways can you add to build a lasting connection with children?

Communication Often Changes Everything

gym

I was at a gym recently on an elliptical.

At the entrance there is a table with sign up sheets for various machines. People reserve their space in advance a week at a time. On that particular day, there was no sign up sheet for Monday. There was a sheet for other days, but not for Monday.

What took place for the next 20 minutes was humorous, but illustrated a great principle.

Half a dozen gym members debated the missing sign up sheet:

Maybe Monday is a holiday.

It’s not a holiday that should affect the gym.

No, it’s not a holiday.

There may be an error

No, because they have Tuesday and Wednesday 

I bet they’re saving that day for something special

Yea but they usually put a sign on the door 

And what about us regulars?

It’s probably a private party.

I hate when they do that.

Has it happened before.

I think so.

It’s not fair. 

We should complain.

After 20 minutes of similar dialogue, one wise person said, “I’ll just go ask.”

She did. It was a clerical error. Problem fixed. Problem solved. In a matter of minutes.

Unfortunately, I see this kind of thing all the time in leadership and life. Even in families and other relationships.

Sometimes…

  • Rather than complain
  • Rather than make up your own scenario
  • Rather than stir gossip

Sometimes, all you need to do is ask.

Especially in relationships…relationships of all kinds…when it involves people…when miscommunication or misunderstanding is possible…and it always is…

Communication often changes everything.