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)
HOW TO RAISE GREAT PARENTS
In my last post, we talked about how God’s original parent training program was that one generation teach the next how to parent God’s way. It’s our job as parents to not only learn how to parent God’s way and to do it effectively but also to teach our children how to be a parent while we are parenting them.
This sounds more daunting then it actually is. In reality, parenting while teaching to parent is the easiest and most effective way of parenting.
When we send our children to school, they go knowing that they need to go through the learning process and do well so that one day they’ll graduate. They know because we tell them. From there we encourage them by telling them that great marks lead to better post secondary education options and those options can lead to better career opportunities etc. We keep them going by helping them to understand and to take on the goals as their own.
If our children think the only goal of parenting is for them to try and have fun and for us to try and stop them, they don’t see the reward in the process and our task will be difficult. However, if we talk to them not only about the benefits to their life for doing things the right way, but also about how cooperating with the parenting process and learning how it works will help make them great parents, then they’ll be able to see a bigger purpose and a greater reward. Read more
Throughout the Bible, children are considered to be a gift from God and a blessing to the parents who receive them.
Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)
Scripture contains many prayers and songs thanking God for the blessing of children, including those of Sarah, Hannah, and Mary. Mary had heard the stories of Sarah and Hannah and had learned that children are an awesome gift and a blessing.
Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47)
If you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, here it comes. Sometimes parenting can seem downright overwhelming. Children need constant care, training, and discipline, and none of us is perfectly up to the task. So at times we feel tempted to consider the gift of children as anything but a blessing. I once heard a mother say to her young teenager (in jest of course), “Watch it, buster! I brought you into this world and I can take you back out again!” That about sums up the way we sometimes feel, doesn’t it?
I apologize for the video. Let me be clear, I am not endorsing the product and I think the whole idea behind the video is appalling. However, the fact that this commercial was made and that people find it funny or appropriate, perfectly illustrates the point of my next few posts. Many people today believe that kids are generally horrible, that parenting is a huge thankless burden, and that having kids should be avoided. According to many statistical reports that I’ve viewed, the percentage of couples who are choosing not to have kids is increasing significantly ever year. So did God tell us to be fruitful and multiply so we could spend 20 years being miserable? Not! God meant parenting to be a joy not a burden.
In my last blog we talked about the benefits of getting up and going to the current household hotspot as soon as the sibling rivalry starts to heat up. This gives us the opportunity to do some effective in-the-middle-of-life Christian parenting which will take us closer to the home sweet home we desire.
If you’ve had the family meeting (we covered that in part two of this series) and you’ve decided to overcome the temptation to follow the armchair fling parenting style, then you’re ready to get moving.
Okay, the squabbling has started and you’re up and going. You have a few seconds of travel time to do two things, first remember the Third Parent and pray for parenting wisdom and help. Next (really valuable parenting tip) slow down and make sure you arrive on the scene calm.
My first two children were girls. I had a wonderful time and spent many hours reading Bible stories to my first daughter which, for the most part she attentively listen to.
The things I learned with my first helped me get a head start with my second daughter. It was a different experience because she’s a different girl but for the most part it was easy to stay on the track that I started on with my first. This Christian dad was in the groove.
Then my son was born and in his younger years much of what I had learned worked but when he got a little older it was like starting all over. Many times what had worked wonderfully with the girls did not even register with my boy. So I pressed into prayer asking God for help and wisdom and slowly but surely the seemingly obvious started to sink in. So here is some sound parenting advice, boys and girls are different and they learn differently.
Now that you know that God never intended us to parent without his help, that he is the third parent, that he has promised to work in you and cause you to be the parent He wants you to be, that He is working in your children as you trust Him and that He will even help you trust Him, you should be ready to move forward.
God has given you everything you need to get the job done. Nothing can prevent you from parenting God’s way; negative examples, bad experiences, lack of know-how, big mistakes you have made, the mistakes of others involved, NOTHING!
I am not saying that you should pretend that problems and pain do not exist. I am just saying that God is bigger than all of that and none of it can hold you back unless you let it.
Now all you need to do is start moving. Here are my suggestions for starting this obstacle course. First pray and let God know that you are on board for transformation. Ask him to cause you to be all that he has created you to be and more specifically to help you be a great Christian parent. Now do not stop praying that! Every time you run into a problem, fall into a bad habit, make a mistake, or just need help and wisdom for moving forward go to God. Transformation does not happen overnight—it is a lifetime thing.
How can I disciple my children when my own faith is a little shaky and when I don’t know enough about the Faith to disciple anyone? (Part 2)
In Psalm 39 David said, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (v. 13, 14)
In these verses God shows us that he is involved in the making of each one of us. God didn’t just make Adam and Eve, wind up the baby making process and walk away. He loves and knows each one of us and was there with us from the womb.
It is funny that even though we are taught that God knows everything, is always everywhere and that he loves us all (John 3:16) it comes as a surprise to us that God made us and has known us from the start.
God did of course wonderfully allow parents to be involved in the process. Our children are the product of our unions but although that is so much of who are children are, looks, personality, talents, quirks etc. that is not all they are.
Here is where we begin to deal with what I call ‘side of fries’ Christian Parenting.
In the opening comment of part one of this blog I talked about what most parents believe Christian Parenting to be. I sum that up as believing that we are to raise our children like everyone else aiming at them one day being healthy, well adjusted successful adults but with a side of Christianity. Bible stories, Sunday School, bedtime prayers etc. need to be added, so that hopefully, they will know Jesus, attend church and even read their Bible when they grow up.
Let’s examine what Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to see if the ‘do you want fries with that?’ idea holds up.
Ephesians 6: 4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV)