Monthly Archives: January 2014

10 Keys to Successful Parenting

Looking back over 15 years of parenting so far, the following is a list of decisions that we have made concerning our kids that we believe has had the biggest impact.

Here is the quick list and below are explanations of why I believe that each are important.

1) Believe and trust in God
2) Pray together
3) Go to church (consistently)
4) Eat dinner together
5) Be there for them
6) Take lots of pictures and videos
7) Educate yourself
8) Sports and Music
9) Stay together
10) Have fun and make memories

1) Believe and trust in God
God must be number one in our lives and we must show our kids that we believe such. That is why the first 3 keys to successful parenting deal with your faith and belief in one who is higher than us all.

2) Pray together
A great way to teach your kids the importance of God in our lives is to spend time daily with them in prayer. Pray with them before they head off to school. Pray together at dinner. A simple bedtime prayer together is also a great habit to get into with your kids. Becky and I have prayed with each of our kids at bedtime since they were babies. They look forward to bedtime prayer and if you try to skip, they’ll remind you. There is something about praying before bed that gives you and the kids peace of mind to close your eyes and sleep soundly.

3) Go to church (consistently)
Find a good church and then take them consistently. Don’t skip church for ball games or days out on the lake. Schedule events around church, not church around your events. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

4) Eat dinner together
Dinner time is a great time to bond as a family. At our home everyone is involved in the whole dinner process, from setting the table up to cleaning up afterward. Eating together should be a daily tradition that is not skipped. Turn the TV off, set the phones and other electronics to the side and enjoy some quality time together.

5) Be there for them
If at all possible, one of you should stay at home with the kids. When our first child one born, we decided that being at home with the kids was more important than making extra money, especially during the first 5 years of their life. Once they were all in school, Becky went back to work, but has always worked a job that was flexible enough to allow her to be there for the kids when they returned home from school. Your must be there for your kids.

6) Take lot of pictures and videos
Kids grow up fast and along with growing up comes change in how they look. Enjoy the moment, but also take lots of pictures and videos. Both you and the kids will love being able to look back, when they are older, and cherish the moments that you had together.

7) Educate yourself
We all spend about 13 to 17 years of our lives going to school and learning just about everything you will need in life, except how to raise children. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals, so it is necessary to educate yourself in some way about how to raise kids. Read books, talk to and learn from others that have been there already, pray, read the Bible. We have learned a ton from reading books about kids and how to raise them. As they get into the teenage years you will find yourself searching for even more than when they were younger.

8) Get them involved in sports and music
There are many benefits of getting your child involved in a team sport. They learn how to interact with others, how to work together as a team, how to control their emotions, develop motor skills and much more.
Every child should be given the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument. I can’t tell you how many times that I have heard someone say, “I wish that my parents would have made me learn…”. If your child learns how play an instrument, that is something that they can keep the rest of their lives. It’s not easy making them practice every day, but in the end both you and they will be glad for it.

9) Stay together
Your marriage will be tested many times throughout the parenting years. There will be times when you feel like giving up, but don’t.
Diamonds are formed under pressure. If you can stick it out to the end, both you and your kids will be better for it. I am very thankful for my wife. There are many days, when I think about all that she does for us. How I could do it without her, I have no idea. And vise versa. Husband and wife must compliment each other and work together to make the family run. I feel for all the single parents out there and their kids. They have to be under a huge load that I cannot understand.

10) Have fun and make memories
Amongst all the hustle and bustle of life, take some occasional “time-outs”, put life on pause for a moment and enjoy some time together. Play a board game, cards, roll around on the floor with your toddlers, and get away when you can.
One thing that my wife had to teach me concerning vacations was that it is all about making memories. Often times I would get all caught up in how much it is was costing. Gas, hotel, tickets and other things have a price, but memories are priceless. When you spend time together, either at home or on a trip somewhere, focus on having fun and making memories.

Thank you for taking a moment your time to read this. If you feel that it was helpful to you and believe that it could benefit others, please share.
If you would like to receive future articles from me on parenting, simply enter your email address in the “Follow Me” link to the right.

God bless you.

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Turn Off the Internet

Are your kids browsing the internet when they should be going to sleep?
Are they struggling to get their chores done because of the distractions of electronics?
In 2014, most everyone, including kids have their own personal device that can access the internet through Wi-Fi.
It could be a phone, iPod touch, tablet, laptop, desktop PC, XBox, and now even TVs.
This easy internet access makes it increasingly more difficult to control how much time the kids spend on it.
Television is no longer our only concern.

The solution that we have come up with for our home is very simple; we just turn the internet off.
How do you turn the internet off?
Simply pull out the cord that powers the Internet modem and wallah…no internet!
Every week night, at about 9:30, we pull the plug on the internet, say a prayer together and get to bed.

We’ll even pull the plug in the morning or in the middle of the day, if necessary.
If we find the kids staring at a screen instead of doing their homework or chores you can get their attention real fast by simply pulling the plug on the internet.
If they want it back… they will get done whatever it is that they need to do.
Try it one day! It’s kind of a rush to know that you have power over the mighty Internet! (At least, in your home)

Now, there still may be times when simply pulling the plug may not be enough, especially if your kids have their own internet enabled phone. In this case, you can have them turn their phone in to you.

You can limit the use of the internet with anti-virus software as well, but we still find it to be easier to just pull the plug.

If you have other ideas for controlling the internet in your home I would love to hear from you.
Let me know how it goes, if you try pulling the plug.


How To Wake Your Kids Up In The Morning

As parents, we set the tone for the whole day, good or bad, starting with how we wake our kids up.
It is never easy getting kids up in the mornings, especially on school days, if you hope to do it without making them grumpy in the process.
At the end of this article I share a method for waking my kids up that Becky and I have found to be most effective, but first I want to share with you what I have learned NOT to do.

Do not SING
This one was doomed to work from the start because I am a horrible singer.
And to make things worse, my choice of songs were not always the best, like…

“Get up, Get up, get busy, busy…Get up and move that body! Get up, get up get busy, now the night is over”
“Rise and shine, and give God the glory , glory”, clapping my hands loudly as I sing of course.
“It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, its Monday morrrrrrrrrrrrrning”. I think I made this one up myself.

For some reason, when I sang, they just pulled the covers over their heads and screamed “STOP!”
Stay away from singing.

Do not YELL
Yelling is typically not intentional, but on occasion it has been what I thought was the only way to get their attention.
Normally, it’s because we’re running behind, got up late or we thought the kids were up, only to find out 10 minutes before it’s time to go that they never got up in the first place. Now everyone is in a frantic rush and it’s next to impossible to have a good start to the day with this scenario.
Yelling doesn’t put anyone in a good mood.

Do not TURN ON THE LIGHTS
I’ve tried this a few times and although it does wake them up, they instantly pull the covers over their head and just scream.
This doesn’t seem to get them in the best of moods either for some reason. Let them turn their own lights on.

Do not BLARE MUSIC in their ears
Somehow, I really thought that this method would be fun. Who doesn’t like music right?
I even went as far as to download a song on my phone just for the purpose of waking them up.
You know the song from the movie Madagascar….”I like to move it move it”?
Who doesn’t like that song? It was the perfect song to get up to, so I thought.
WRONG! For some reason hearing this song blaring in your ear first thing in the morning is not how my kids like to be woke up.
I have to admit, that I thought it was kind of fun at first, but it didn’t last long once I realized that they were not enjoying it as much as I did.
Maybe a softer, more gentle, song choice would have been wiser.

After all this experimenting, there is one method that we have settled on and determined to work the best.

How to wake them up in a good mood…

  1. First, wake yourself up 15 to 30 minutes earlier than normal. You want to be up and ready ahead of the kids so that you can put your full focus into them. If you get up late yourself then you almost have to revert to the “Yelling” or “Turn the Lights On” method and that is never, ever fun.
  2. About 15 minutes prior to the time that you really need the kids to get up, turn a light on that is near their room, but not the one in their room. The hallway, bathroom or closet light should work. Go into their rooms, gently touch them on the shoulder and, with the softest voice that you have, simply say, “Good Morning”. They should at least shuffle under the covers a little or turn over.
  3. Now just walk away. They will not get up yet, but that’s ok. This is Stage 1 and the point is just to get them stirring.
  4. Now, go spend some time packing their lunches or getting breakfast going.
  5. Stage 2: Come back to them after about 15 minutes. This time speak to them in a normal voice, letting them know that it is time to get up. Stick around until you see them actually get out of the bed. Don’t say anything else, just stand there for a minute. Most of the time they will sense that you are there and know you mean business. Don’t let them drag things out; give them a minute at the most. If you walk away without seeing them out of bed and moving, you could come back later only to find that they have fallen back to sleep. Then you have to revert to yelling and the whole day gets off track.

This method may not work to perfection at first, but if you do it every day they will eventually get used to the routine.  You may even be pleasantly surprised on occasion and find them already up before you make it back for the second wake up call.

Think about how you woke your kids up when they were a newborn and simply continue to treat them the same as they get older.

Determine in your minds today that every day will be a good day and it all starts with me.
Make it your purpose to start the day off right, by waking the kids up gently and in a good mood.

I would love to hear from you.
How has your experience been in waking your kids up? Good or bad?
Do you have another method that seems to work well?


How to Deal with an Argumentative Teen

The next time you’re teen wants to get argumentative with you, ask them this question before proceeding to have a conversation with them.
“Am I dealing with a 34-year-old or a 4-year-old?”. Then treat them accordingly.
@DaveRamsey


It’s OK To Say “No”

Don’t be afraid to tell your teen No.
Although they may not outwardly express it, there may be times when they actually want you to say “No”, so that they can in turn use you as an excuse to then tell their friends, “No”.


Family Time

When is the last time you sat down at the dinner table and played a board game with your family?
Try entertaining each other instead of being entertained by Hollywood.


Teens and Boundaries

Teens need boundaries. Boundaries, like a fence, keep them from getting into trouble and trouble from getting in.


Teens and Freedom

Teens like freedom, but freedom must be earned by showing responsibility.


Good Parenting Tip

Teach your kids good habits.
Be intentional about spending time with them in prayer each day this year.


Parenting 2014: Our Story

Our parenting journey began with the birth of Collin in October 1998. Becky and I were still young at the time, in our lower 20s. Both of our careers were still developing, but we decided that it would be best if she quit her job to stay at home with the kids. Those early years don’t last long and they are so critical in a childs’ development.

Connor was born 15 months after Collin and then Colton about 3.5 years after him. That allowed Becky 8 or 9 years to be at home with the kids before they were all in school. She continued her education while she was at home though and became an RN so that she would have something to do when the kids reached school age. We do not regret the decision for her to be at home with the kids one bit. Our kids received a lot of one on one time and that has helped them tremendously in more ways than we probably know of.

During their early years Becky and I read to them a lot and just simply spent time playing with them. I remember being on the floor a lot, letting them roll me around like a log. Blue Clues, Dora and the Wiggles were popular then as well. Collin learned to write by mimicking Steve and his Handy Dandy Notebook with a Magna Doodle that we had bought him and still to this day, I find myself singing songs like “Big Red Car” and “Fruit Salad, Yummy, Yummy”. Dora was a step ahead of Dave Ramsey, by saying, “Swiper, No swiping.” We took lots of pictures and videos and had a blast while they were young.

As the kids grew older we started them off in T-ball for a couple of years and dabbled in gymnastics, but one day Collin came home from school with a martial arts book and expressed interest in trying that out. We researched a couple options and decided to go with TKD (Tae Down Do). After Collin started, Connor got in it, then Colton and I joined. Martial arts became a family thing that we did together for about 6 or 7 years. It was a large commitment, because we were at the school for several days a week, but we all eventually met our goal and became black belts. Collin and Connor even earned their second degree.

During this time we also were introduced to a ministry called Bible Quizzing at our church and have since committed our lives to that. Bible Quizzing is a program that is meant to give kids motivation, through competition, for learning scriptures from the Bible, but we are not just talking a few scriptures. Our kids learned 300 to 500 verses each year depending on the age division they are in. We spend an hour or so each evening memorizing and reviewing scriptures together. They must know them to the point that given a unique word they can tell you what verse that word is found in and then quote the scripture word for word. I take them and other quizzers to local and national tournaments to quiz against other teams on what they have learned. Bible quizzing has changed our lives forever. If you are interested in learning more about it check out http://www.seniorbiblequizzing.com or http://www.upcquiz.com.

Even with Bible Quizzing as our main focus, the kids still love to do things many other kids do. Connor made the middle school basketball team this year and Colton plays Upward basketball, a christian based basketball league sponsored by a local church.
Collin started piano when he was 10 and has excelled at that. He performs multiple recitals each year and has joined the music ministry at the church, playing for the youth services as well as subbing in when needed for the main services. Collin has also become infatuated with the Rubix cube. He has spent countless hours mastering it to the point that he can now solve it in under 20 seconds average, with his best time so far being 12 seconds. Connor and Colton have recently began music lessons as well. One is learning guitar and the other drums. I play the bass, so my dream is that one day we can all play together as a family band.

I share all of this with you so that as I write on parenting in 2014 you will know that we are just a typical American family, but we are also rooted and grounded in our christian faith. We love God and we love family and our main goal as parents is to make those things the foundation upon which our kids are raised.

I look forward to writing on parenting this year. As we get deeper into the teenage years, I am realizing that we have a lot of learning to do if we are to stay on top of things and help our kids become what God has intended for them to be.

May God bless you in 2014


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