Practically Loving Your Children

Most parents love their children, but many children do not feel loved. When children don’t feel loved, they do poorly in school, they don’t respond well to discipline, and they are filled with anger. I believe that inside every child is an emotional love tank. When the tank is full: that is, the child feels loved by parents, the child grows up emotionally healthy. But when the love tank is empty, the child will grow up with many internal struggles. Loving children effectively requires parents to express love in a language that the child understands. In my research, I discovered five basic love languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service.

A Third Alternative

Dr. Judith Wallerstein has studied the topic of divorce for more than 20 years. Here are her conclusions. “People want to believe that divorce will relieve all their stresses – back we go to square one and begin our lives anew. But divorce does not wipe the slate clean…Few adults anticipate accurately what lies ahead when they decide to divorce. Life is almost always more arduous and more complicated than they expect”. I know that if you are in a deeply troubled marriage, you may feel that you have only two options: stay in the marriage and be miserable, or divorce and hope for something better. There is a third alternative. It is what I call “reality living”.

Love Removes Barriers

Have you ever accused your spouse of something they didn’t do? I once accused my wife of miss-placing my briefcase, when in fact, I left it at my office. What do you do about false accusations? Ignore them and hope your spouse will forget? Not if you want a loving marriage. Every time you ignore a harsh word, it sits as an emotional barrier between the two of you. Love removes the barriers. So, I called my wife and said, “I found my briefcase.” She didn’t say anything. She knew there ought to be more to it than that. So, I said, “I’m sorry for the way I talked to you. It was wrong. Will you forgive me.” She said, “I thought you’d call.” We’re committed to removing the barriers.

ABC’s of Screen Time

How are screens affecting your child? Here is the ABC test for parents;
Attitude – What attitude does my child have after the screen time?
Behavior – How does the content encourage my child to behave?
Character – What character traits are being modeled and picked up?
Screens can be a friend or an enemy in raising your children. Watching a TV program together and discussing the content can build family unity. Everyone watching their own program and no interaction afterwards separates a family. As parents we set the example. People are more important than screens. Would your children get that message by observing your behavior? Think about it.

Don’t Go It Alone

You dreamed of a marriage where each made the other supremely happy. Now one of you has walked out. Separation is not the time to capitulate. Your dream can live again. But not without work – work that will demand listening, understanding, discipline and change. That work will likely involve the help of an outside counselor; someone who can help you think, evaluate, and reach out for God’s help. I know you’ve tried before, but sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. One of God’s great gifts is the gift of choice. It is extremely important that you make the right choices. Don’t go it alone. Reach out to a pastor, a counselor, or a friend. There is hope for the separated.

Learn to See Your Own Flaws

When I counsel couples, I sometimes ask them to write for me the things they dislike about their spouse. You should see the lists. Some have to request additional paper. A bit later, I ask them to list for me what they consider to be their own weaknesses. Usually, they can think of one right away, but I’ve seen them think and think to try to come up with number two. The message is clear. “I’m not perfect, but the real problem is with my spouse.” Jesus had a different approach. He said, “First, get the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see more clearly how to get the speck out of the eye of your spouse.” A more loving marriage begins when you pray this prayer: “Lord, show me where am I failing in my marriage.” It’s a prayer He will answer.

When Marriage is in “Critical Condition”

When your spouse walks out, is there still hope for your marriage? Separation does not equal divorce. Separation may be the valley of restoration, and the pain you feel may be the labor pains that will give rebirth to your marriage. What happens will be determined by what you and your spouse say and do in the next few weeks and months. In a very real sense, separation calls for intensive care, much like that given to one in grave physical danger. The condition of your marriage is ‘critical’. Things can go either way at any moment. Be assured, God is concerned about the outcome. Begin each day with prayer for His wisdom. When you ask, you will receive.

Start with Your Own Failures

In my 35 years as a marriage counselor, I’ve drawn one conclusion: Everyone wishes their spouse would change. “We could have a good marriage if he would just help me around the house.” Or, “Our marriage would be great if we could have sex more than once a month.” She wants him to change and he wants her to change. Both of them feel condemned and resentful. There is a better way. Start with your own failures. Admit that you’re not perfect. Confess some of your most obvious failures and tell your spouse that you want to change. Ask your spouse for one suggestion each week on how you could be a better husband or wife. To the best of your ability, make changes. Chances are, your spouse will reciprocate.

Digital-Free Zones

After two years of research, Arlene Pellicane and I wrote a book entitled: Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen Driven World. One of our suggestions is that you create digital-free zones for your family. For example: Don’t allow phones or screens during mealtimes. Here are some questions to make the meal time social. Who did you enjoy spending time with at school today? What do you like about him or her? What is something you are thankful for that happened today? Did anything happen today to make you feel angry or upset? How did you respond? When was the last time you apologized to someone or someone apologized to you? What happened? Life can be exciting if cellphones are silenced and screens blackened.

Love Languages in the Workplace

On a scale of 0 – 10, how much appreciation do you feel from your supervisor? How about your co-workers? Employees and volunteers perform better if they feel appreciated. It is not enough to express appreciation, it must be expressed in a way that is meaningful to the employee. Here are the five languages of appreciation: Words of affirmation, Quality time, Acts of service (that is offering to help out), Tangible gifts, and appropriate Physical touch. Words of appreciation may make one employee feel appreciated, but be rather empty to another. Learn the language of each employee and change the climate of your workplace.