Most of us struggle to find blocks of time to spend with our children. Time that we feel will help us strengthen our bond and relationship with them. However the truth is that it’s what we do with the many everyday moments we have with our children that more powerfully effect our relationships. I wrote this book to give parents easy to read, simple to implement ways of using those small reoccurring moments to build their relationships and make their homes a more peaceful place to be. Readers have expressed their amazement about how doing such simple things consistently can make such big changes in their families!
I was flying into Chicago on United Airlines shortly after they had completed their new terminal. The captain welcomed us to Chicago and “The New Terminal of Tomorrow.” He went on to explain that everyone who’s tried to catch a connecting flight out of there understands why it’s really called “The Terminal of Tomorrow” – because you might not get on your connecting flight till tomorrow!
I’ve often waited in the Chicago airport. It’s a very busy place and reminds me of my home: children’s parties, sleepovers, friends coming and going, neighbors calling, extended family dropping by. And there are the departures. The car just doesn’t stop. There are youth groups, lessons of all sorts, sports, school, church, errands to run, and children’s friends to pick up or drive home. Sound familiar? In the middle of all the flights in and out, once in a while I find a wonderful parenting moment with one of my fellow travelers.
The first time it happened, everyone had flown in and back out of “Osborne O’Hare,” and only my son and I were left. During the next few hours he had his agenda, and I had mine. However, in the middle of that time the two of us needed to sit down and eat a meal. What followed started with me pointing out that it was cool that it was just the two of us guys.
Then we decided to have some guy food and talked about guy things, and we even used some guy table manners (intentional oxymoron). We laughed a lot and afterwards headed back to our own tasks. The meal needed to be prepared anyway, but the time we had was memorable. I now watch for “home alone” moments. My son and I have our “guy time” every time the Osborne Terminal clears out, and I have special dad-and-daughter meals whenever I find myself alone with one of them.
I’m not a fan of the Simpsons but I had to chuckle when I heard an ad for the show. Homer said, “Why do things that happen to stupid people keep happening to me?”
Very few of us would ever seriously ask that same question but how about if we tweaked it slightly, “Why do things that take place in stupid families keep on happening in mine?”
Isn’t that kind of what we’re asking when we get frustrated and throw out questions like, “Why must everything be a fight?” “Can’t anyone clean up after themselves?” “Would it hurt anyone to help out a bit for a change?” “For once, could you please just get along?”
One day many years ago, a friend and fellow worker very politely pointed out that I had a bad habit of interrupting him pretty much whenever he spoke. I admitted I had the problem, apologized and told him that I was going to do something about it. In the days that followed, he politely reminded me time and time again. I responded the same way each time.
A week or two later my friend reached the end of his patience and said, “Every time I talk about this, you say that you’re going to do something about it. Stop putting it off! Make a decision to change and do something about it now.”
I stopped and prayed on the spot for God’s help and I made a decision. Once the decision was made, I began paying attention and I put some effort into learning the skills I needed like really listening and following up with a question.
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I stopped interrupting however the biggest benefit of my friend’s rebuke was that I later learned how to apply the change principle in my family. Let me give you a brief example.
Once our family was suffering from chronic tornado kitchen syndrome. At first I whined, I complained and I asked the ‘Homer Simpson’ style questions.
My wonderful wife pointed out that perhaps we needed to do something different if we wanted change. (Where had I heard that before?) After some prayer and thought, I taped a note to the kitchen counter and had a family meeting and the fun began. If a single thing was out of place after someone left the kitchen they were on kitchen duty until the next time someone was caught. For awhile everyone was catching everyone else and kitchen duty revolved frequently. Within a few weeks everyone was getting the hang of ‘the game’ and those caught were spending longer periods of time on kitchen duty which made it even more important not to mess up.
What needs to change in your family? Is it the way you communicate with each other, are the kids not helping out, is the sibling rivalry fierce, are you constantly cleaning up after everyone? Here’s what you do, pick one thing that you want to change, pray about it and ask for wisdom. Now go looking for wisdom, search this site or other Christian parenting sites, Google the problem, read a parenting book, anything you need to do to find an idea or solution.
Proverbs 9 says that wisdom has prepared a huge banquet and she’s yelling, “Come and get it.” Finding the wisdom is very seldom difficult once you’ve decided on change. Now have a family meeting and get started.
What I found out was that small efforts at change can yield big results. A simple fun game in the kitchen led to everyone learning skills that began to spread to the rest of the house. My simple decision to stop interrupting people led me to better communication skills and therefore to better and stronger relationships.
The things that happen to stupid people happen to Homer Simpson and us not because we’re stupid but because we keep doing the same things over and over again and that’s stupid. And if we expect any change without changing, according to Einstein, that’s insane. Start today and fight stupidity and insanity with a little change.
For more quick and easy parenting tips for bringing change to your family, we recommend the e-Book “The Seven Mistakes Parents of Toddlers Make”
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad – your source for Christian Parenting advice)
During the worship service in church we sang a song from Psalms 84. When I sang David’s words, “better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere,” it struck me that David romanced God. He sang to him, he danced before him, he yearned to be in his presence, he wrote many psalms pouring out his heart and feelings towards him and he showed him his love with extravagant displays of adventurous obedience.
After having that thought, my mind jumped immediately to the same question that yours just did, “Can someone romance God? Isn’t romance reserved as a wonderful dance between a man and a woman?” So I looked up the word romance. While it is true that the word romance has, for the most part, come to refer to the expression of love between lovers, its origin and breath of meaning reveals other possibilities of use for this powerful word. Read more
In the very beginning of creation God announced that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. That announcement led to the first marriage, the first family, the first friends and the first community.
God created us to function in and be blessed by relationships. Not only in relationships with others but also in a relationship with him.
Jesus stated that the two greatest commandments were to love God and also to love others. Since God is love and therefore void of selfishness, his two greatest commandments should carry with them the greatest secrets of an awesome life and they do. Having a wonderful growing relationship with God and wonderful growing relationships with others is truly the biggest key to an awesome life. Loving and being loved. Read more
A much quoted marriage and family therapist said, “For human beings, you need two hugs a day to survive, four hugs for maintenance, six hugs to grow.” All kinds of research have been done on human touch and hugging, and the overwhelming data screams at us, “Go hug somebody!”
I have to give credit to my oldest daughter for bringing the application of “moment” parenting to our family. She had heard the above quote, or a similar one, and set her personal daily hug-giving minimum at seven. She also kept track of her daily-high hug score, which has, at times, reached unbelievable numbers. As a result, it’s very difficult to come near her without feeling sincerely cared for.
Because of her wonderful obsession, I made a habit out of hugging all of my children every time I passed them in the house, or whenever they came into hugging range. Don’t get me wrong; I hugged my children before, but basically only when it was called for. But now, whenever any of my children enter my personal space or my hug zone, they get hugged.
“Dad, why did God make me?”
“Dad, why can’t we go to heaven to see what it’s like, then come back home?”
“Dad, if God wants us to get to know Him, why doesn’t He let us see Him?”
All of the above are questions that my children have asked me. Why do I remember those out of all the questions they have ever asked? Well, because trying to answer those three questions is not something you easily forget.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that as difficult as some of my children’s questions are, taking the time to answer them is the most time-effective way to teach them. When children ask a question, all of their learning receptors are turned up to full. They’re curious. They’re thinking about it. They’re truly listening. They want to hear what you have to say. Taking a few moments to answer their questions can be more effective than hour-long sermons or lectures.
“That wasn’t a polite thing to say.” “Say ‘please.’ ” “Don’t forget your thank you’s!” “And what do you say?” “We don’t do that at the table!”
There are points in our parenting career when it seems like every second or third sentence gets invested in the quest for mannerly children. We’ve all been embarrassed (and we have the stories!) by our children while they were learning manners. We’ve also all been proud when they got it right and some stranger has commented on what polite children we have. Have you ever had the tables, or the table manners, turned on you? I have.
When my children were younger, I spent time teaching them that kindness in intent and tone should be the rule that governs all of our speech. To remind them when their speech to one of their siblings strayed from the kindness rule, I would gently but pointedly add a storybook quote to the end of their speech. After they fired off, I’d instantly say, “-she [or he] said in a kind and gentle voice.”
This is the seventh and final post in the series: “What does the Bible say about sibling rivalry and how can I get my kids to get along?”
We started out this sibling rivalry series by establishing that what the world says is normal in family relationships, is not what God wants for Christian families.
The world says that sibling rivalry, rebellious teenagers, kids and parents not getting along and family fighting are all part of normal family life.
However, Jesus himself said that the two greatest commands were to love God and to love others and that all of God’s law is summed up in these two commands. Christian love is a foundation of our Faith and teaching it, is a core Christian parenting skill.
Can you figure out which Biblical relationship principle you can discuss with your children by watching this video together?