Category: Children

Reflecting God's Character

The biblical concept of marriage is that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman to live together in mutual love and respect for the glory of God. Marriage is not about us. It is about God and His kingdom. God ordained marriage as the foundational unit of society. Marriage, done God’s way, creates the safest and best environment in which to rear children.

But not all couples follow the covenant principles of marriage. For example covenant marriage is based on steadfast love – looking out for the interest of each other. Seeking to encourage and support each other. Covenant marriages also require confronting and forgiving when wrongs are committed. If you find this difficult, remember God is our source of power for marriage and for life.

Reflecting God’s Character

The biblical concept of marriage is that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman to live together in mutual love and respect for the glory of God. Marriage is not about us. It is about God and His kingdom. God ordained marriage as the foundational unit of society. Marriage, done God’s way, creates the safest and best environment in which to rear children.

But not all couples follow the covenant principles of marriage. For example covenant marriage is based on steadfast love – looking out for the interest of each other. Seeking to encourage and support each other. Covenant marriages also require confronting and forgiving when wrongs are committed. If you find this difficult, remember God is our source of power for marriage and for life.

Conversations

When your child becomes a teenager you must stop preaching and start teaching. I grew up in a generation were preachers and teachers were highly respected, but very different in delivery. The preacher was forceful, always passionate and dogmatic. The teacher was more conversational in tone, never overtly passionate, and allowed questions.

Raise your voice with your teenager and he will turn elsewhere for advice. Learn the art of asking questions. For example, “How do you think most students reacted to the burning of the American flag last week?” Affirm their ideas before sharing yours. “That’s an interesting way of looking at it. Let me share my perception.” With teenagers, conversations are more effective than sermons.

Thinking and Feeling

In order to spend quality time with your teenager, you must develop the art of listening. Let me share five ideas:

  1. Maintain eye contact when your teenager is talking.
  2. When your teen starts talking, drop everything else.  If you continue watching, reading, or doing something else, the teen wonders if you really want to hear what they have to say.
  3. Listen for feelings.  Understanding the teens emotions is fully as important as understanding their ideas.
  4. Observe body language.  Clenched fists, trembling hands, and tears, may give you clues as to what the teen is feeling.
  5. Refuse to interrupt. Keep the teen talking until you understand what he is thinking and feeling.

Learn Their Thoughts

In my book, The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers, I make the point that parents of teens must learn a new pattern of communication. When our children were little, we issued instructions and commands, but if we continue this pattern during the teen years, the teenager will say, “You’re treating me like a child.” And, he will be correct.

The teen is developing independence and self-identity. It’s time to move to dialogue, rather than monologue. As children, they simply listened to you. Now, they have their own ideas, emotions, and dreams. It’s time for you to listen without condemnation. They already know your thoughts. Now it’s time for you to learn their thoughts.

Collection of Things

In today’s busy world, many parents of teenagers find it difficult to spend quality time with their teen. Consequently, many teenagers live in houses filled with gadgets, but have love tanks that are empty. They often feel like they too are simply a part of their parent’s  collection of things.

Psychiatrist Ross Campbell said, “Without focused attention, a teenager experiences increased anxiety, because he feels everything else is more important than he is. He is consequently less secure and becomes impaired in his emotional and psychological growth.” Busy parents who want their teenagers to feel loved, must make time to give them focused attention.

Respecting Authority

Discipline is an expression of love. In Hebrews chapter 12 we read, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Why does God discipline us? Because He loves us. He wants to turn us from a pathway of destruction.

If you are a parent, you also are to discipline your children for the same reason. Your child will break the rules. Kindly, firmly, and consistently you must administer discipline. When you do, your child will learn to live under authority. When your child respects your authority, they are more likely to come to respect God’s authority. What could be more important?

Blessed to Give

Adults and youth alike are attracted to the young man or woman who goes out of his or her way to serve others. Healthy families are producing this kind of young people. As parents we must seek to build an attitude of service into the hearts of our children. Start young by teaching children to be ‘helpers’. Then celebrate their ‘service’ with cheers and accolades. Make ‘service to others’ a big thing in your family.

When children see that serving others is important to you, it will become important to them. Take them with you when you deliver cookies to the elderly. Let them help you shovel snow from the neighbors drive. Children learn by experience that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Serving Children

Parents serve children in a thousand ways. These ‘acts of service’ may be done out of a sense of duty and even resentment. On the other hand, they may be genuine acts of love. Loving service is an internally motivated desire to give one’s energy to serve others. Loving service is a gift, not a necessity, and is done freely, not under coercion.

When parents serve their children with a spirit of resentment and bitterness, a child’s physical needs may be met, but his emotional development will be greatly hampered. Because service is so daily, even the best parents need to stop for an attitude check now and then, to be sure that their acts of service are communicating love.

Age Appropriate

If your child’s love language is acts of service, your acts of service must be age appropriate. You should do for your children what they cannot do for themselves. Making beds for four-year-olds is an act of service, but eight-year-olds are capable of doing that themselves. Children need to learn to operate a washing machine and dryer before they get to college.

As a child gets older, we shift from doing things for them, to teaching them how to do things for themselves. Parents who are too busy to teach children how to do laundry, or too perfectionist to let them do it, are not loving children, but crippling them. It takes more time to teach a child how to prepare a meal than it does to do it yourself, but which is more loving?

Categories