Tag Archives: Parenting

12 Ways to Pray for Your Children

The following list enables you to concentrate your prayer efforts for your children. One suggested method for this list is to take one area a month and focus on that with your children. This will insure that you covered these significant issues in the course of a year. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS GIVE THANKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN. Include thanks in your prayers always. We need to come to value and honor our children as precious resources from the hand of God.

1. Pray that your children will come to trust Christ as their Savior and Lord early in life (2 Timothy 3:15).

2. Pray for your children’s safety….that God build a protective hedge about them….that they will be hedged in so that they can’t find their way to wrong people/places and wrong people can’t find their way to them (Hosea 2:6)

3. Pray that your children will avoid involvement with counterfeit Christian groups and occult practices….that they will know and embrace the real Christ. (Aberrant Christian groups and cults dilute and pervert the doctrine of Christ).

4. Pray that your children will grasp the truth of Gods word and the way of truth and avoid and renounce deception….that they will grow in knowledge of God and His will.

5. Pray that your children will learn to forgive others and receive forgiveness from others and from God, thus avoiding bitterness.

6. Pray that your children have submissive and respectful attitudes toward those in authority over them, renouncing any rebellion (1 Samuel 15:23). Pray that they would obey God – Parents – Teachers – Government – Church Leaders – Employers.

7. Pray that your children would be humble in their attitude toward God and others. Humility is confidence properly placed – an ability to see self in light of God’s nature and character….that they would avoid pride. Pride is a destructive force in your children’s lives. (Ephesians 6:10; James 4:6-10; 1 Peter 5:1-10; Pro 16:18).

8. Pray that your children will have a hatred for sin (Psalm 97:10)….that they will avoid temptation (I Corinthians10:13). and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:19). Pray that they will avoid the destruction of addictive habits in their lives (drugs, cigarettes and tobacco, alcohol etc)….that they be caught when guilty (Psalms 119:71) and come with a confessing attitude which receives forgiveness and results in righteousness (James 5:16; I John 1:9)….that they be protected from the evil one (John 17:5).

9. Pray that your children will have a responsible attitude in all their interpersonal relationships (Daniel 6:3)…that they would desire the right kind of friends and be protected from wrong friends (Proverbs 1:10,11)…that they would make wise choices while dating and that God would be preparing their mate by keeping them pure and keeping them in the way (2 Corinthians 6:14-17; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

10. Pray that they will recognize their position in Christ and as God’s children so that they have a proper perspective concerning their self-esteem. This will give them the strength to turn and God not be easily influenced by peer pressure.

11. Pray that their minds would be filled with good things (Philippians 4:8) and transformed by the renewing of their mind which will give them single-heartedness and a willingness to be sold out Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1,2; 1 Corinthians 2:16). Pray that they take every thought captive and make it obedient to the Lordship of Christ (2 Corinthians 1:5).

12. Pray that they would fear the Lord (Proverbs 1:8) and trust the Lord (Proverbs 3:5). These principles will insure that your children make decisions based not on fear of circumstances and will not have irrational fear – but will be secure in their lives as a result of trusting God!

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Parenting With the End in Mind

Parenting is leadership.  As such, parenting is a forward-looking enterprise.  Like every forward-looking enterprise there are day-to-day elements  governed by long-term objectives.  Most parents fail in seeing themselves as leaders who plan according to future goals, or their goals are reactive and fear driven. When you are driven by fear you make statements about the future governed by those fears:  “I just want to my daughter through high school drug free and not pregnant.”  Not the best strategy.

A good end for parents to have in mind for their children is giving them a commission.  We had a ceremony that we held on the 18th birthday of each of our sons.  We bought each of them a signet ring like my wedding ring as a reminder of their identity.  We blessed them and celebrated their future.  We prayed for them and pointed them to their future.  This was our end:  a send off.  We did it with joy and confidence.  It wasn’t relief to be rid of them, it was celebration of a job well done.

In order to do this effectively we had to be intentional in our parenting.  We couldn’t afford to simply react and let the events of life guide our parenting, we had to carry out a process to reach our desired end.  It is simpler than it sounds, but it does take initiative and planning. Here are the building block stages.

First: Healthy Individuals

A leader, by definition, will be someone who is healthy.  When you travel by plane you have to endure the safety spiel which includes instructions on loss of pressure in the cabin and the need for oxygen.  Oxygen masks will fall from the overhead area for each passenger.  If you have small children, you put the mask on yourself first, then the child.  This is a universal principle, not just a principle for oxygen masks.

A parent must take care to be healthy emotionally, relationally, physically and spiritually.  If  you are not healthy  you will not be able to model health for my your children and they end up confused.  They receive a mixed message which translates ultimately into:  adults don’t have to abide by the laws/rules and when I grow up I can stop as well.

Second: a Cohesive Marriage.

Parenting is the product of the passing on of identity to children.   Fragmentation in marriage makes parenting a difficult task.  The old adage “the best thing you can do for your children is love their mother/father” is true.  When a marriage is on track, children get to see what a healthy interaction looks like.  In our case (4 sons) they were able to see how a man treats a woman and what a healthy woman looks like.  When there is agreement in the values arena there is strength and longevity.  Common values make for a strong marriage. This strength is the foundation in parenting.

Third:  a Clear Plan Based on Common Values.

Parenting is the passing on of values to children.  People often tell my wife and I that we are lucky.  We bristle at that remark on two levels.  It assumes parenting that gets good results is simply a matter of chance.  Second it disregards all the work and sacrifice put into the parenting process.  We had a plan and we worked diligently to carry out the plan.  Our core values that we desired to plant in our sons were:  Security and Confidence (corollaries and results of faith and trust); a clear sense of heritage and identity; a strong sense of purpose and direction.

Parenting is proactive and begins with the end in mind. Take care of yourself, your marriage, and work your plan.

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Father Reflections on Departure, Adventure, Parenting

Well, it has begun. Caleb leaves for London today.  Joe leaves for Westmont on the 26th. Couldn’t be more excited for both of them. Curious about the future, and my emotional response to their leaving. A sort of final departure.

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When did it all happen.  It wasn’t long ago that I was standing in the third base coaching box yelling at Caleb or skimming with Joe at Oceanside.  They grow up, and that is a marvelous thing.  Here are some father reflections.

Enjoy your kids at every stage. Like everything else in life moments and events are fleeting.  What seemed once interminable  (soccer season for instance) I now miss.  I remember when we first had kids and I made this commitment to enjoy my kids at every stage.  It was all new with Tim (our first-born) and we were involved in a young marrieds Bible study.  Some of us had kids, some didn’t.  I can still see my friends face as he agreed with his wife’s words:

“I can’t wait till she is out of diapers.”

I had an ah-ha moment.  I was not yet tired of diapers, we were brand new and it was all an adventure.  But I remember thinking – “that isn’t a good attitude.”  Now trust me, I was glad to see dy-dee diapers go, but the stage of life was precious, and you should grab and enjoy the moment…even the diaper years and even more the junior high years.

Challenge your kids to do great things. Parent out of risk and not fear.  This is a great confidence booster.  In challenging your children to aspire you indirectly communicate that you believe in them and that they can accomplish big things.  When you discourage your children from risky behavior you indirectly communicate that they can’t handle life and big things, that they are not trustworthy or skilled, that they are incapable.  I tried to replace phrases like “be careful” with “have fun” or “remember to watch out for the little guy” or even “be smart.”  Remember at 4 and 5, riding a bike was risky.  How did we handle that?  We spent time training and teaching how to do that risky behavior.  Translate that to every stage in life and the activities that go along with those increased stages.

Say yes. I find that the default response that comes from fear and selfishness is the word “no”.  We use it too much. Can friends come over?  NO Can we go…? NO Can I stay up late? NO Can we light the cat’s tail on fire? NO Think of all the questions that your children ask you.  There are a ton, they ask for everything!  Say YES as much as you can.  If it isn’t unbiblical, immoral, unethical or illegal – find a way to say yes. This nurtures a sense of adventure in your kids.  This tells them that there are good things to do and to want to do.  This tells them that you want to help them to enjoy life.  When you say no repeatedly, your children become lethargic, lazy and unmotivated.  This chases them into adulthood.  Trust me, yes is cheaper than no in the long run, see two paragraphs down…

Don’t make your kids do stupid things to learn obvious lessons.    Sixteen year olds don’t need cars and they don’t need jobs (unless of course, like our friends the Buchanan’s, cars were part of the “yes of life” – they loved to drive, work, race and destroy cars. I am not picking on cars, just the obsession that owning a car at sixteen is a rite of passage for everyone).  Let them use your car, and just suck it up and buy the gas.  A sixteen year old doesn’t learn squat working at McDonalds to pay for insurance.  Please don’t let me see your kid swinging a sign for KayBee homes on the corner in the scorching sun on a Sunday afternoon for a measlee couple of bucks.  Most of you to whom this practice appeals have already taught your children the value of work and money through your everyday life at home.  Working at fast food for minimum wage is over-rated as a means of teaching a work ethic, and pales in comparison to the context of the home to teach these lessons.  There are so many healthy and wonderful opportunities available to children between 16-18 that to put them to work at Taco Bell sounds like torture, it should be illegal. Don’t sell your kids short.

Don’t punish your kids by restricting them from positive contexts and activities.  We have a great youth ministry at the church. Kids find it to be a safe, fun, challenging place.  They need that sort of healthy context.  Don’t threaten your kids with the loss of healthy activities  (like church or a good youth group, other healthy times with significant relationships) when they misbehave.  Instead, make your children accomplish something as a result of their misbehavior.  Give them an extra job around the house, or fine them.  Challenge them to a service project in exchange for time in prison (restriction).  The prison system doesn’t work in society, it doesn’t work for your teen.  Find a new and creative response to the mistakes and rebellion in your teen.  (By the way, much of the rebellion you are experiencing with your teen has to do with the “NO” philosophy that you thought was such a good idea to begin with.  Now that they are old enough, they are ignoring your NO and doing what they want, ouch).

Celebrate your children, especially when they grow up.  Parenting is about training and releasing.  We are preparing our kids to venture out into the wild wild world and to enjoy it.  I want my kids to experience the best that life has to offer – so I am excited that as Caleb begins his Junior year at Westmont College he doesn’t go to Santa Barbara but leaves for England Semester today for four months,  an off-campus program with 25 other Westmont students and two professors (Dr. Paul Delaney and  Dr. Jody Allen Randolph).

I am excited that Joe registered for his first semester at Westmont and and that his Facebook status today reads:

Tremper Longman III for Old Testament!!! oh yeah baby!!!”

I am anxious to meet his football playing roommate from Idaho and hope they get along.  We will tromp him up to Santa Barbara on the 25th to experience Parent’s Orientation for the fourth time.

Believe me, I am nervous at the same time. The same dad jitters I experienced when they were pitching and hitting magnified.  I want them to do well, meet good people, be safe, have fun, avoid pain.  We push fear aside, smile and bless them on their way.

God bless you boys.

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Paying girls NOT to get Pregnant

How about this for incentive:  Pay your daughter to not get pregnant.

There is actually a program called College Bound Sisters at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.  The goals of the program are to help girls graduate high school, enroll in college while avoiding pregnancy and they incentivize the girls with a $7 a week payment into an account they can access once enrolled in college.  The program is aimed at teenage girls aged 12-16 who has never been pregnant but who has a sister who had a baby before age 18.  They must want to go to college and must attend a weekly meeting.

This is an interesting twist on my previous blog post:  Stop Praising Your Kids for Their Achievments.

I admire the nobility of the program, helping at risk teens avoid pregnancy is a fantastic goal.  The facts are that teen pregnancy is a leading correlative factor in lifetime poverty.  A lack of education being an additional correlative factor.  Getting girls to avoid pregnancy and get an education not only helps them but it helps our soceity as a whole.  So bravo to the women in the nursing department at UNC Greensboro for this excellent and noble effort.

But…you knew there was going to be a but, let’s be smart about the particulars.  Incentivizing behavior that should be considered normative, healthy and base line does not ultimately solve the problem.  Picture the nightmare scenario if this program goes national, and teens around the country begin to demand their payment for not getting pregnant.  Or the reverse scenario from the smart bribery tendency child:  “Give me money or you may get a grandchild…some things just happen you know.”

I have a hard time being critical of this program because it is well intentioned, I wish more people would serve others in this manner, but I am really uneasy about the implications of paying people for good behavior.

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Stop Praising Your Kids for their Achievements

As a legendary and long term youth baseball coach I have witnessed my share of fascinating parental behavior.  Not the most extreme is the ongoing phenomenon of parents paying their children for hitting home runs.  I am baffled by that behavior.  As a lifelong baseball/softball player, home runs have never been my forte.  I have never hit a legitimate (over the fence) home run.  All my home runs have been inside the park.  Hitting a home run is a dream for every player who has ever picked up a bat to play baseball; there is no higher baseball achievement.  So why in the world would parents offer their children incentive to do what they already most want to do?

Not only does this behavior not make any sense, studies have shown that praising your kids for achievement is not as effective a parenting method as praising your children for their effort.  In fact, praising children for their achievement is actually counter-productive.  It causes them to pull back for fear of not achieving;  it robs them of confidence and causes them to be addicted to performance.  Praising children for their athletic ability, musical ability and intelligence have also been shown to backfire.  These are things that are out of their control, and praising them for it tends to cause them to want to give up when things get difficult.  “If I am so good, why do I keep striking out” is a common internalization for those praised for achievement or ability as opposed to effort.

Praising for effort is something that builds into a child’s internal motivation system. Effort becomes the focus, not the end result.  Since you can control effort, it is the natural place to place energy, the effort is truly the place where achievement is born.  Praising children for their effort helps them to persevere in challenging situations, and that essentially builds their self-esteem.

Our sons have not only been involved in sports but have competed academically in National History Day competitions.  They have regularly excelled in achievement, winning county and state titles and competing nationally at the University of Maryland against teams from all over the US.  I have witnessed this same phenomenon at these events where parents and educators both have mixed up the importance of praising for effort as opposed to achievement.  Only one team wins, if we teach our children that only the one team  accomplished anything praiseworthy then we have diminished the work of the majority of people in every field across the world.

As we have traveled to the finals in DC for history day I would remind my kids that the work they did in preparing for History Day was its own reward. The research, the teamwork, the writing, performing, interacting, competing, the relationships and the overall experience were things that they could control and celebrate.  The judging and awarding of places was out of their control.  Encourage your children to do hard things, praise them for their effort in persevering and finishing.

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Should we tell the kids?

To tell or not to tell, this is a common problem many parents with shady personal  histories face.  Should we tell the kids about our past drug usage?  How about a relational indiscretion?  What part of our past must we reveal to our children?

This is not as difficult as it may seem at first glance.  Here are the parenting principles to guide you through this question.

It is none of their business…

First, the behavior you demand from your children has no reference to how you behaved as a child/teen.  Many people have told me something similar to this:  “Our kids have a right to know, I don’t want them to find out from someone else.”  My response is:  “it is none of their business.”  Parenting is not about defending my past, it is about establishing a healthy context for growth in the present, with good results for the future.  My children don’t have an inherent right to know every detail about my past.

Parenting is about breaking bad habits and patterns that reside in the family dna and establishing the healthy values  that characterize our family now.  What I did in high school is irrelevant to the values I want to instill in my family now that I have grown up.  My behavior cannot be used as a license for my children’s desire to act out.  If you allow residual guilt over indiscretions in life to rule your present parenting posture, you will equivocate in your communication to your kids.

My father smoked and drank before I was born.  He came to faith in Christ when I was young and he changed many patterns of behavior.  I did not need to know the information, it was not my “right” and it had no impact on whether it was ok for me to smoke or drink.   I found out these details about my father as an adult, and it didn’t traumatize me, nor should it have traumatized me.

You are in charge…

The underlying problem that lurks here is the notion that the children are in charge, or that they have a right to make these egregious and stupid choices for themselves.  Now when it comes to “being in charge” the best approach is to exhibit a healthy and positive lifestyle that is attractive to emulate.  I don’t mean enforcing values that you do not hold yourself.

It is good for parents to be in control.

First, of their own life and values.  Living a positive and strong lifestyle becomes the key to parenting, and passing on values to your children.  So be in control of your life, that is the fruit of the Spirit the Bible describes as self-control.  If your past contained indiscretion, join the human race.  Whose hasn’t?  Don’t allow your children to use the stupid manipulation that claims a right to your prior misbehaviors as license for their own.  Instead turn it around on them.  Say something like:  “we obviously recognize that such and such behavior is unattractive/stupid/destructive and we don’t all have to suffer through it.

So many parenting challenges come from the reversal of authority.  It is really the same problem described in Genesis 3, the authority structure gets rearranged.  When we usurp God’s rightful authority, things get all messed up.  When the authority structure in parenting gets rearranged, things get all messed up.  Being in control in parenting means leading to godliness:  first by example then by instruction.  It is imparted with confidence, and there is no concession to manipulation.

This bears repeating.  It amazes me that people allow their children to think that they have a right to “experience” vices for themselves.  I have never taken drugs nor have I ever been drunk.  I haven’t missed anything, and I didn’t need to “experience” drug abuse or drunkenness to see it’s downside.  It does not have to be a part of my children’s experience.  In the same way my children don’t need to experience violence to know it is bad, they don’t need to experience other vices, even if I did.  We wouldn’t say:  “my kid needs to be beat up a few times so he can learn that violence hurts.”

So should you tell your kids about your past?  Maybe, maybe not.  Use your head and don’t let your past control your confidence in parenting.

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