I am convinced if the enemy can’t get you to turn from God, he uses busyness to get you distracted from God. Busyness is one of the top things that work against families. Too busy to connect. Too busy to hear/see your child’s heart. Too busy to play in the Kingdom. Too busy to rest. Too busy to get in their world. Too busy to empower/teach them. Too busy to work through heart splinters. Too busy to go to church. Too busy to worship as a family. Too busy to read the Word. Yep, you are TOO busy. Busyness is not the same as bearing fruit, and you have permission to say NO to the enemy’s trap of umpteen demands on your time and energy. I have a rule in my house – if I can’t do it in peace, then I won’t do it. I have said no to many good things but will not let even good things rob me of my peace or connection with my children.
We treat children like they are in blatant sin and punish them when what they really need is HELP. My passion is to empower parents HOW to see beyond the behavior and into what is going on in their hearts. There is hope in parenting our children in peace and authority that reaps a generation of kids who are whole, confident, and secure.
Words are important. God said let there be light and there was light.
Stop for a moment and dream about your ideal summer. What does it look like with connection and activities? How do you want to feel at the end of every day?
This is not a “name it -claim it” teaching, but a model of following our Father and speaking into existence that which is already available into the spirit realm.
Have a family meeting and together make declarations about what you want your summer to be about. Such as, “We will release joy everywhere we go.” “Our summer will be filled with joy.” “We will connect deeply as a family.” “We will love ourselves and others well.” “We will laugh daily.” “We will take responsibility for what is ours.” “We will grow as a family this summer.”
What we are declaring over our families becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When our children hear us communicating that we are dreading the summer or we are so glad school is starting again, it communicates to them the wrong worth and value. Ask Holy Spirit to highlight any false declarations that you have been declaring over yourself, your parenting or your children for the summer months. Ask for forgiveness, if needed.
Flipping Mindsets – Summer is when you get to regroup and get a new vision for your family. You get to shake off all of the events of last year, re-calibrate as a family, go after character growth, learn new skills for life, grow deeper in your connections, and build memories.
Family Rules – 3 big things were lost in the Garden; our sense of BELONGING, our WORTH and our SECURITY. Whatever our household rules, boundaries, limits, or ‘no’s are with children, it must be done in a loving way that still intentionally communicates that they have a place where they belong, that they are incredibly valuable and important and that they are secure and safe. Things like disunity, arguments between parents, ongoing sibling conflict, atmosphere of worry and stress, anger, belittling, disrespect, and lack of intentional family time can all inflict the orphan spirit. I am not talking about a one-time deal like you had a bad day and yelled once. I am talking about lifestyles and norms. Our goal in parenting should be to model heaven.
Rules – Review your household core values and rules as a family. If your children cannot tell you what the rules are, then it will be hard to expect them to govern themselves by them. Play a round of charades acting out what honor, respect, kindness, etc. looks like.
Vision – What is the vision you have for your family? If you do not know what you are aiming for then you will parent inconsistently, which will produce inconsistent and frustrating results for the whole family.
My daughter came to me crying, saying that her sister came into her room demanding she takes out the bathroom garbage. When she told her she would do it later, her sister got upset and began to intimidate her. When I inquired, she said she had taken the garbage out last week, and it was her sister’s turn. I asked if she was faithful with her week, then why did she care if her sister was faithful with hers? Why did that agitate and upset her so much? I felt like something deeper was going on. I asked her to sit on her bed and ask Jesus to show her why she cared so much about her sister’s chores to the point she would use force and intimidation to attempt to control her sister, which her mind knew was not okay. I have taught my children behind every big emotion (anger, rage, intimidation) is what we call SSL – the softer emotion of being SCARED, SAD, OR LONELY. I asked her which one she was feeling under the intimation. She identified she felt scared. She was agitated in the process and kept saying, “I just don’t like it (when they don’t do their chores).” Holy Spirit had me ask this, “…. because what will happen if they don’t do their chores?” She said, “You will be mad at me.” I asked, “And if Mom is mad at you what will happen?” And she broke down in tears and said, “We won’t be connected.” This is where we have to have some tough skin and allow our children to process our parenting, even when we feel misunderstood or falsely accused. It doesn’t matter what MY truth is; she is revealing HER truth at this moment which was driving her behavior. One week she was on dish duty and failed to do it. I went to make breakfast in a hurry and didn’t have any clean dishes, and I got upset. I returned to her a few minutes later and asked for forgiveness, telling her that while she was in the wrong for not managing her chores, I didn’t manage my heart well (I was stressed about something else, and she got the brunt of it). While I thought we worked it out, we didn’t have the opportunity to reconnect before she left for school and went the whole day feeling the space between us. It left a message in her heart that if the chores weren’t done, we would lose our connection, which scared her. I asked for forgiveness again for not managing my emotions well that day and reminded her that she was not responsible for my emotions. That’s my job. I also told her that it is not her job to control her siblings so that she and I remain connected. She melted in my arms and wept. And then humbly apologized to her sister for being so mean.
This is where partnering with Holy Spirit in our parenting gets exciting. We get to give Him space to minister to our children above our capabilities. There is a time for character training and discipline, but in this case, she was feeling a threat to our connection, and that is what needed to be restored.
Whip up a batch of cookies as an after-school snack and sit with them, talking about their day for an extended period of time. Go deeper than the “How was your day?” You are giving them the gift of being seen and heard.
Get moving – nothing stirs up our natural endorphins like exercise. Pick them up from school, play some family basketball, kick the ball around, or play tag. Join the fun and play with them. You are giving them the gift of play which is critical for a child’s brain.
Joy – Find a pocket of joy today (simply doing something that ignites great joy). Jump on the bed, dance in the rain, have a wrestling match or tickle attack, or cook together. Joy increases the chemical in the brain to endure hard things. You are giving them the gift of hope.
Speak truth over them – remind them of who they are. Call out their identity. “You are my favorite,” “You are passionately loved and fiercely wanted,” “You are unique and special,” “You bring me joy.” You are giving them the gift of being valued.
Which one will you do today (for their heart and yours)?
Do you have a child you have a harder time connecting with? This can be a crippling thing for parents to admit, but it affects more people than you realize. Listen to this podcast to hear what is going on underneath those uncomfortable emotions.
People have asked me over and over to show them HOW I taught my children different things. Years ago, the kids and I sat down and recalled some of the key lessons I taught them over the years, and we put together a kit for parents to use in their own homes.
This is a sample lesson: Heart Play (Playdough) – Teaching children to care for the hearts of others. Intentionally play with playdough with your children for a bit, and then ask them to make you a huge heart. Ooh and aah over their heart creation while you hold it in your hand. Talk about our physical hearts and why God gave each of us one, and how important they are to our survival. Every human has a heart – it is what makes them alive. Take the heart creation in your hand and talk about how gentle we need to be with people’s hearts. Now take one finger and smash it deep into the heart, then smash another finger in another place. Show them that the shape of the heart changed when you were not gentle and caring about it. Words aren’t just words; harsh words are hurtful to people’s hearts. Also, explain that many people have wounded hearts (not from us), but when we say loving things to them, it is like their hearts go back to the way they were originally. Act this out a few times and role-play how we can both squish and help people’s hearts.
In the days ahead, when your kids are having issues with unloving words, remind them of the playdough heart. Ask them, “Hey guys, do you think you just put love in that person’s heart or poked it?” “How could you do that differently without hurting his/her heart?” Also, when they get their own heart poked, show them how we can ask Jesus to put His hand on our hearts and heal them. “Jesus, my heart got hurt. Will You please touch it and make it all better?”
We can’t cover our children enough. They are faced with so much, and often we aren’t even aware of what they are genuinely facing as parents. Prayer not only works but is also a lifeline. I encourage you to think of one other family you have a connection with and intentionally ask them if you could adopt each other’s kids by praying for them daily. Put a picture of them on your fridge, set a reminder in your phone, or place a sticky note on your mirror, but pray daily for your friend’s children. I see the rich value in doing this because it allows others to cover our children, and they can pray from a place without knowing all of the details of the child’s world, and it takes the pressure off of the parents that they are the only ones covering their children. Nothing like having some backup in the spirit and sending them a quick text that says, “Pray for a situation at school,” or “Having a hard night, please pray.” This gives new meaning to the role of GOD PARENT. I am doing this with my friends, and it is powerful. Prayer is your great weapon – steward it wisely!
Emotional and mental isolation is worse than physical isolation, as it is a breeding ground for the enemy’s lies. A real war is happening for your child, but you are not a prisoner, and there IS a way out. So rise up, Mama Bear! We need you, protective Father! We must help our children process their grief and help them stay connected to the family, others, and even themselves in this hour. JOY releases a chemical in their brains that gives them the will to fight and endure hard things. One of the most profound ways you can help them is to find pockets of joy throughout the day.
What is a pocket of joy? It is finding those little moments to crack a smile, giggle, or roar with laughter. It is dance parties in the middle of math, eating chocolate chip cookie dough, running in the rain, jumping on the bed, and being silly and childlike. Whatever your day looks like, let it include pockets of JOY! It is NOT entitlement and buying them whatever they want. It is joy through connection and face-to-face smiles, not just things.
I was completely engaged in worship one Sunday morning when I heard the Lord say, “I like hip hop.” It was so out of the blue. I heard it again and was like, “Okay. That’s great.” When I heard it a third time, the revelation came. I was raised in a good ole Lutheran church, and in my home, you wouldn’t be caught dead going to church in anything other than your Sunday best which included black patent leather shoes. I had come a long way, but I still had a deeply ingrained belief about what clothing did and did not look appropriate for church. My daughter had slipped her bright pink sneakers on without me noticing until we got to church, and I had scolded her, saying they weren’t appropriate church shoes. I had to humbly repent of partnering with the religious spirit because apparently Jesus likes hip hop and thinks bright pink shoes are just fine in His house!