Category: Children

Your Unhappy Marriage May be More Harmful to Your Children than You Realize

We’re often warned about the detrimental effects divorce can have on children: It can make them insecure, worried, or harm their ability to have a successful marriage later on in life. If you find yourself in an unhappy marriage and have decided to stay for the sake of the children, it is vital to realize there are repercussions to that decision. Below are three consequences of maintaining status quo in an unhappy marriage which will hopefully serve as motivation to reignite the process of healing and restoration in your marriage.

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Q&A: Dealing with a Secretive Teen

Q: Gary, my teenager is somewhat secretive. How do I monitor their activity without violating trust?

Gary Chapman: I think teenagers being secretive often has to do with their whole move toward independence. This is a good shift because we want them to be independent by the time they’re 18 and moving on to college or joining the military. At the same time, if they’re being secretive about things that are detrimental to them, that’s a different matter. Even at the expense of their thinking you are violating their space, if you think something very negative is going on, you should violate their space. You should find out and confront them with it because you don’t want to let it get established as a habit in their lives.

53 Hours a Week

Is technology bringing your family closer together, or is it driving your family apart? The average American child spends 53 hours a week with media and technology. It is easy for parents to use the screen to entertain their children and keep them happy (which normally means quiet).

Screen time that is not purposeful tends to be a waste of time and a negative influence. Children are like wet cement, and many children are being imprinted by screens not by parents. In my book: Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen Driven World, Arlene Pellicane and I seek to give parents practical help with screen management.

In Conflict with Child’s Sexual Behavior

In the fifties it was called “shacking up”. Today it’s “cohabitation,” or simply “living together.” So what are Christian parents to do when they find themselves in conflict with their child’s sexual behavior? Some parents have tried the ‘ostrich’ approach, denying that it’s happening. Others take the ‘missile’ approach, launching verbal condemnation. I believe the Christian approach is to speak the truth in love. “I think you know that I don’t approve of what you are doing. I think it is detrimental to your future. But I know that you are an adult and I cannot make decisions for you. I do request that you respect our beliefs and not sleep together at our house.” Then treat the couple with love and respect. Pray, and give God a chance to work.

Q&A: I’m The Disciplinarian

Q: As the mom, I have the reputation as the disciplinarian toward the kids while my husband is looked at as the “fun one” who stays out of conflict. What steps can we take to balance this out?

Gary: You and your husband need to talk. I think that one of the key issues is learning how to make rules together and decide on consequences together. So that no matter who is at home the same consequence for the same crime is going to be dished out. You’ll find a lot of help in the book, The 5 Love Languages of Children, where we deal with making rules and consequences. I suggest you discuss that chapter together.

Positive Influence

Children are greatly influenced by parents. We want to make sure that the influence is positive. First, we love our children. Then, we train them. Training involves having rules and setting consequences. Never make a rule without also telling the child what will happen if they break the rule. Then, consistently apply the consequences. If you don’t put your bicycle away at night, you loose the privilege of riding the next day. Setting the consequences will keep the parent from over-reacting in the heat of the moment. Kindly and firmly applying the consequences will teach your child responsibility. Make life easier for everyone: have clear rules and reasonable consequences.

Developing Responsibility

If we want our children to become responsible adults, we must teach them when they are young. Requiring a child to ‘make his bed’ or vacuum her floor are first steps in developing responsibility. And what of good manners? Corporate America is now hiring ‘etiquette trainers’ because employees don’t know the simply rules of courtesy. If as parents we believe that ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ are better than ‘gimmie’ and ‘yuck,’ then we have rules that teach such manners. Rules must be clearly explained to children. Unspoken rules are unfair rules. In most cases, parents are older than children. So, they have the responsibility to make rules that will protect and guide the child.

Discipline Is Not a Negative Word

The word discipline is not a negative word, nor is it to be equated with spanking or yelling at children. The word discipline means literally “to train”. Without positive discipline children will self-destruct; they cannot train themselves. Training begins with love, followed by a clear statement of the rules. There are some things we do and some things we don’t do. Rules should always be reasonable. Some rules keep children from danger. “Look both ways before crossing the street.” Some rules protect property. “Never play baseball in the back yard.” Some rules teach children responsibility. “Always put the football in the garage when you finish playing.” Simple rules develop character and responsibility.

Q&A: Helping My Child with a Bad Attitude

Q: My son continually has a bad attitude. We would like to help him with it, what can we do?

Gary: Make sure your son feels loved. I know that you love him, the question is does your son feel loved? Sincerity is not enough. The deepest emotional need a child has is to feel loved by the parents. When that need is unmet children often experience anger, which shows up in their behavior. Dr. Ross Campbell and I wrote a book that has just been updated and released called The 5 Love Languages of ChildrenIt shares information on how to identify a child’s primary love language and how speaking this language interfaces with the child’s anger, learning, and with discipline. Many parents have shared that when they started speaking their child’s love language they saw a dramatic change in the child’s behavior.

Conflict over Disciplining the Children

One of the most common conflicts between husbands and wives is how to discipline the children. “He’s too harsh,” the wife says. “She lets them get away with murder,” the husband says. The conversation goes down hill from there. Their arguments leave them wounded and resentful. The basics of child rearing are not difficult to understand. The first fundamental is that children need to feel loved by mom and dad. Understanding the five love languages has helped thousands of parents learn how to love children effectively. If children don’t feel loved, they are far more likely to rebel against almost any form of discipline. Get on the same page. Make sure your children feel loved.

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