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Quality Time


As a new school year descends upon us, with all the obligatory “back-to-school” sales and hype, we have to ask ourselves, “What are my kids going to learn this year besides reading, writing and arithmetic?”

Many of us have seen our kids pick up things at school we don’t particularly care for. Maybe it’s an attitude of disrespect toward you or foul language from the lyrics of a new CD or behavior they learned from pornographic pop-ups that appear on the computer monitor while doing homework. Get ready, because these things will happen.

As parents we have to create a godly culture in our homes that our kids are drawn to—one that goes “back to school” with them—rather than allowing them to bring unwanted attitudes and behaviors back home.

It’s a tough fact to accept, but kids today are falling into a trap of deception. It offers all the shine but shows none of the dirt that comes from being deceived. Deception doesn’t happen quickly, and this culture has a lot of time to repeat its message over and over again. As a result, our kids transfer ownership of their hearts from us to something else.

One pop culture mogul said, “We don’t advertise to this generation; we own this generation.” In many ways that’s true. What they say goes. What they put on network TV sells.

We can tell our kids, “As long as you’re a part of my house, you’re not going to watch this or wear that.” But such a response does very little to turn their hearts toward home.

Somewhere in the process of growing up, our kids get turned off to anything we have to say. They don’t want to talk about things or listen to us. And when they do listen, they do it grudgingly. It seems they don’t want our influence, and no longer embrace godly values.

Though it may come as a surprise to some of us, our kids have gradually transferred ownership of their hearts from us, their parents, to their friends or the culture. Kids care more about pleasing their peers than pleasing Mom and Dad. This type of thinking begins gradually, but every little step is a sign that their hearts are being lured away.

It seems hopeless, but there is something we can do! We, as parents, need to intervene. We’ve got to turn their hearts back toward us. This will not happen by commanding our kids to do this or do that, but by wooing them.

Parents, it is our job to continue to woo our kids so they will want to listen to us—not to the media, their peers or ungodly influences. If we allow the culture or their friends to overpower them, we will have an incredibly difficult time re-establishing the respect they once had for God and us.

The saying “Quality time is better than quantity” is not true. Parenting means sacrifice and time.

We need to do things with our kids and win them over by building bonds and making memories together through shared experiences. This will begin to draw their hearts toward home.

After you have spent quantity time with your kids, they will start to see that you care and want to listen to them. Your kids will eventually open up and share their thoughts and feelings with you.

Depending on how hardened your kids are and how controlled and manipulated they are by the culture and their friends, it might take a significant amount of time in the beginning to woo them. But it’s not impossible. Start a pattern of spending “quantity” time with your kids while they’re young and impressionable.

It’s time to recreate a culture in the home that demonstrates to our kids unconditional love and promotes open communication. It is our job as parents to woo the hearts of our children and influence their minds. Be encouraged. You can do it!


Ron Luce along with his wife, Katie, founded Teen Mania Ministries in 1986 with a mission to “provoke a young generation to passionately pursue Jesus Christ and to take His life-giving message to the ends of the earth.” read more
United-States-Constitution

We Need Strong Families

Our society, which includes the body of Christ, reflects a generation that has wandered from God's original constitution. What is a constitution? More than a document, it's a system that dictates the character, boundaries, temperament and structure of how something is governed.

I believe that every family should have a constitution. Just think about it: You would never enroll your child in a school that lacked an infrastructure. And you wouldn't put your investments and earnings in a banking system void of policies and procedures mandated by the Federal Reserve System.

Even the animal kingdom operates by a constitution—one of instinct. The governing law of nature that God deposited into animals works like a divine compass. You will never see an eagle protesting to the Creator that he wants to be a fish. read more

parents-adoption

Should You Be a Foster Parent?

Don't let fear stop you; here are some myths that stop parents from taking in foster kids.

Even Christians who want to help children have reservations about foster care. In fact, Christian professionals say you should receive prayer, counsel and training first if you believe God is stirring you to consider becoming a foster parent. Common concerns about foster parenting that might be familiar to you include: read more

Standing for God

Because of the highly publicized scandals of some of our nation's most prominent Christians, it is important for us as parents and leaders to talk to our kids about standing for God in the midst of moral failure in the church. read more

Kids and Busy Parents

Joey's school grades are dropping. What's going on? And why are so many kids having behavioral problems? Parents want to know. Is life tougher for our kids than it was for us?

The search for answers may lead us to uncomfortable spots—our homes and our workplaces. Since 1969, research tells us, parents' time with children has diminished an alarming 22 hours per week. And according to Harvard researcher S. Jody Heyman, parental involvement matters. When parents are unable to deal with school difficulties, educational achievement falls, and behavioral problems increase.

The increasing demands of work are taking a toll on American families. Compared with a decade ago, people work 10 hours more per week. How to balance work and family is a hot discussion topic.

When work intrudes on family time, children suffer. "Quality time" is a misnomer. Children need quantity when it comes to parent involvement. The amount of time invested is directly related to the degree of psychological adjustment.

We invited a panel of teens into our adult Sunday school class to discuss the topic "How the media influence our families." Tom (not his real name) was the darling of every mom in the group. His love and respect for his father brought tears to our eyes.

"My dad is always there. He listens, guides and helps me make decisions about what to watch and listen to. It's not so much that he's telling me what to do but that he knows what's happening in my life. I know he cares. And when I screw up, he always prays with me."

Tom makes it sound simple. But the opposite of his experience—the lack of parental supervision—is directly linked to our kids' involvement in drugs, alcohol, delinquency and sex. And it's not coincidental that more children get into major trouble at home between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m—the time of day most likely to be unsupervised by working parents.

Parents from all socioeconomic strata are distressed. Unfortunately, the response by some parents is to lose interest in their kids. A study by a Temple University psychologist found that almost a third of high school students' parents simply disengage from their kids.

The solution far too often in the white suburban church is to chide working mothers. But studies show that children do better academically when mothers have good jobs but also have the flexibility to take time off to meet their needs. And for the working poor and single parents, having a job is not a matter of choice but of survival.

So what can be done to ease the tension between work and family time commitments? Make whatever changes you can to spend time with your children and be involved in their lives. Here are some suggestions:

  • Turn off media and minimize adult distractions.
  • Be less selfish about your own pursuits. Focus instead on improving your relationship with your child.
  • Find employment that will allow for flexible time schedules, jobs close to home, telecommuting, home business or schedules that accommodate the needs of your children. This may mean a pay cut or lack of promotion, but the trade-offs are worth it.
  • Change shifts.
  • Schedule parent-teacher conferences in the evenings, during your lunch hour or on breaks.
  • Network with your children's friends' parents. Don't allow children to be unsupervised after school hours. Arrange a rotating supervision schedule or a time at a local YMCA or community program.
  • Become emotionally involved with your children. Don't allow work to drain you to the point of exhaustion.
  • Stay spiritually strong as a family. This requires praying together, reading the Word and intimately walking with your Father.

Though you may feel overwhelmed by work and family demands, simple changes such as turning off the TV every night can produce powerful effects. Ask God to speak to you if changes are needed, particularly in the area of work. Then trust Him to help you find ways to make those changes. read more

Unplug the 'Baby Sitter'

Don't give in to the video baby sitter. Phil Cooke explains why giving your kids over to a TV set is a truly horrifying choice. read more

Children of Divorce

Dr Judith Wallerstein is a respected psychologist known for her research on the long-term effects of divorce. Her book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25-Year Landmark Study, has created a media stir. Divorce, she confirms, is not an event children quickly get over. In fact, the effects of divorce on children are profound and cumulative.

In her study, Wallerstein followed 130 children from 60 middle-class families in northern California for 25 years. Her findings are depressing when it comes to how children of divorce fare. These now adult children tend to have lower-paying jobs and fewer years of college than their parents; unstable father-child relationships; a history of vulnerability to drugs and alcohol in adolescence; fears about commitment and divorce; and negative memories of the legal system that forced custody and visitation.


But the most distressing finding was that children of divorce do not get better with time. Instead they develop problems that tend to peak when they are in their 20s and 30s. Wallerstein and co-authors Julie Lewis and Sandra Blakeslee report that because, as children, they lacked healthy models for marriage, they often have problems with commitment and intimacy as adults.

Children, it appears, have very different experiences with divorce than their divorcing parents. While the latter go through periods of high conflict and emotional pain, they tend to heal within three years of the experience. Unfortunately, the effects of divorce on children linger for life.

Many Christians have applauded the results of Wallerstein's longitudinal study, feeling it supports the need for a lifelong marital covenant. However, not everyone in the body of Christ is rejoicing. In fact, one group of believers feels more weighed down than ever.

When the divorce findings were released, I took a summary copy to a Christian divorce-support group I was facilitating. The group members' reactions bordered on hostile.

I heard comments such as: "I don't want to hear the research findings. It's like hammering another nail in the coffin." "How many times do we have to be told divorce hurts children? The church already does a great job reminding us of that!" "I know divorce has negative consequences. I live with them every day."

The groups' message was, "Stop telling us how bad divorce is." They were tired of being judged or seen as failures. What they wanted was hope.

So here was my suggestion to them. Don't ignore the findings because you feel judged by them. Be informed of the possible ramifications in order to know how to pray.

Do this: List out the possible consequences of divorce from the research. Then take each one and pray over the related part of your child's life.

For example, take the finding that says children of divorce have difficulty with love and commitment later in life. Pray specifically about this. Ask God to break that pattern in your child's life.

Strengthen your relationship with Him so that your child sees a healthy model of love and commitment to a heavenly Father. Trust God to do as He promised--restore what was stolen.

Children don't have to repeat negative family patterns if you identify them early and begin to make changes. Here is a simple way to pray:

"Lord, I break dysfunction (mention the specific difficulty) over my child now. The enemy is under my feet, and I'm telling him to take his hands off my child.

"Lead this child into the knowledge of Your love. Help him or her experience it in such a way that there will never be doubt about the power of love.

"Help me be obedient in my covenant with You that I may be blessed. Let the intimate relationship I have with You as my Savior be the one that impresses and molds my child."

If you feel hopeless about the divorce research, take heart. God can take what's probable, according to the research, and render it impossible.

But you must know what you are up against in order to fight back with prayer. Use the findings to specifically target intercession for your children--and watch God's transforming power restore them to wholeness.

  read more
parentingcry1

Relate to Your Kids

Today's parents must work harder than ever at building satisfying and affirming relationships with their kids. When I was younger, parents didn't have to depend as much on communication and closeness to keep their children in line. They could control and protect them, more or less, by the imposition of rules and the isolation of their circumstances.

My folks understood that system. They had a million rules. There were regulations and prohibitions for almost every imaginable situation. Coming from a minister's home in a very conservative church, I was not allowed to go to the movies (which were remarkably tame), or to dances, or even to use mild slang.

I remember being reprimanded once for saying, “Hot dog!” when I got excited about something. I'm still not sure what danger those words conveyed to my dad, but he warned me not to say them again. read more

fatherknows

Why We Need Fathers

There is a major difference between men who genuinely love their kids and males who sire children

The Old Testament prophet and miracle-worker Elisha lay sick in his bed. The king of Israel heard of his grave condition, rushed to his side and cried: "'O my father, my father'" (2 Kin. 13:14, NKJV).

Why is the king calling Elisha his father? They weren't related. But knowing the nature and character of a father, there is good reason for speculation.
Could it be that in the eyes of the king, Elisha's divine ability to perform miracles may not have been his most impressive quality? During a critical moment when the heart's deepest feelings emerge, the king doesn't call him man of God or prophet extraordinaire. He calls him what he knew him to be—father.
All across the U.S. there is a desperate need for men to take their place in the home. But there is a major difference between men who genuinely love their kids and males who sire children.
In fact, fatherhood is so special that God uses it as a metaphor to describe His relationship with us. Spiritual fathering is a rich blend of leadership, strength, courage, the ability to provide, compassion, wisdom and love found nowhere else in the human experience.
Though we must celebrate and appreciate brave single mothers who devote their energies to making sure their children are cared for, nurtured and developed, they are not fathers. There is a fundamental difference in the way fathers influence the lives of their children. I can remember how my father touched my life.
He was a factory worker stuck on the second shift. But on Friday nights he would come home, wake me up and carry me off to get our hair cut by a friend. Midnight trips to the barbershop did seem a bit unusual, but it was during those times that we would bond together. We'd sit and munch on a bag of goodies until his friend arrived.
But the real goodies were the words of wisdom my dad shared with me. He could make the world make sense with his stories, anecdotes and instructions. I actually thought he knew everything about everything.
My father spoke with authority, but he did it in a way that made me feel included and special rather than intimidated and fearful.
Sometimes I'd eavesdrop on his conversations with the barber. It was so exciting being in the middle of grown men talking business. But I discovered that he was also a father to his friends. They turned to him for counsel and advice.
Many years have passed since our last midnight meeting. My father now rests with the Lord. But I still remember his words, guidance and love. Some of the wisdom I'm credited with today is actually insight he passed down to me.
But the structure of families over the years has changed, and not for the better. Too many decisions, I fear, are made based on musical lyrics and people who are idolized in the culture.
The apostle Paul saw some similar problems in the church at Corinth. His observation prompted him to write: "Though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers" (1 Cor. 4:15).
We will never know why the king of Israel stood over the frail body of Elisha weeping and saying, "My father, my father." But we do know that walking on water, calling fire down from heaven and making axe heads float pales in comparison to the greater miracle—having access to and benefiting from a spiritual father.
I pray, Lord Jesus, that You send us more fathers and give us the wisdom to turn our hearts back to them.

Clifford L. Frazier and his wife, Pamela, co-pastor City of Life Christian Church in St. Louis. The Fraziers are the founders of The Battle for the Family marriage and family seminars, which they conduct both nationally and internationally. read more

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