EMPOWER OUTINGS

EMPOWER OUTINGS

Face it, errands are a child’s least favorite ‘activity.’ Look for ways to engage them vs. just having them follow you around. Who can push the cart? Who can find the can of beans first? Who can open the door? Who can guess how long the line will take? Use the wait times to fill up their love tank and connect with their hearts (not check your phone). For older kids, empower them to help plan the menu and pick out the groceries. They can get out and wash your window while you pump the gas (I also have a child gather the trash from the car while I get gas). Make it fun and look for ways they can own part of the outing.

15-MINUTE DATES

A mom from our online Kingdom parenting class shares this powerful strategy to connect with her children. I wish parents could see that God uses our children to align, heal, and restore what was stolen, lost, or hurt in our own childhood. This is His design for family restoration. 

She shares: “I hinder my connection with my children at times by making myself distant or unavailable. I do this because I become overwhelmed and stressed and just want to disconnect from ‘parenting.’ My folks were this way to an extreme when I was growing up. In the last month or so, I have begun to dedicate 15 minutes per day with each kiddo just to connect with them. I knew this would be good for my kids, but I have been astounded by how much that has helped me feel at ease, more confident, intentional, and joyful again. I went through a season where I literally forgot how to have FUN with them! All I could see was all the work, and I was sorely burned out. He is restoring my heart.”

FAMILY CIRCLE

When was the last time family members used harsh tones, unkind words, or sent messages of disapproval? When was the last time family members gathered to call out the good, honorable, and kind things in each other? In a family, we will find the flesh, but we can cultivate the spirit by intentionally creating space to speak life and declare truth over each other. Gather and answer the following questions over each person. 

What am I really good at? 

What do you love most about me? 

How have I helped you lately? 

What do I add to the family? 

How do you see Jesus in me? 

Make up your own!

HURTFUL WORDS

Do you have an issue with hurtful words (and tones) in your family? Try this teaching exercise.

Teach Proverbs 15:1. Get a really fancy plate at the thrift store. Speak in a soft, gentle tone and explain to the children the dish is like a person’s heart and how careful we need to be with it. When they least expect it say something hurtful in a sharp tone and smash the plate to the ground (this works great in the garage on a tarp). They will be shocked that you just did that. Begin to put the pieces back together again but show them that you can’t. Share with them that once our words are spoken, we can’t take them back, and sometimes we say things in a way that hurts their heart. Another great way to do it is with a tube of toothpaste. Have the kids squeeze it out on wax paper. After a few moments of fun, ask them in a serious tone to put the toothpaste back in the tube. No matter how hard they try, they won’t be able to. Explain that the tube is like their mouth, and we have to be careful what comes out because we can’t put it back in. 

**Obviously, there is always forgiveness, and God is faithful to clean up our mistakes and messes when we ask for help, but this teaching focuses on teaching children to be wise with their words.  In the days ahead, when you hear them speaking to one another in a harsh tone, ask them if they want to deal with the mess their tone will create if they continue. Chances are, if they aren’t able to change, it could be that their tone is revealing a deeper hurt between siblings that need to be addressed.

This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

I WAS MADE FOR JOY

I was talking about JOY and CONNECTION in class one day, and this is what one mom shared.

“The Lord told me that I was made for JOY, and I need to experience that with my kids. I am always the ‘get things done’ one, and my husband is more the ‘fun’ one. So the Lord told me to do something with my kids they would never expect from me – something that would make the biggest mess and bring so much laughter. This is with a vision of a chocolate syrup fight with my kids in the backyard. (EEEEEEKKKKK! The mess! The stains! The waste! Sticky chocolate fingerprints everywhere… ahhhhh! Hahaha.) We haven’t done it yet, but five bottles of chocolate syrup are on the grocery list. Lord have mercy!”

TECHNOLOGY

I realize we are all first-generation parents stewarding the world of technology with our children. We will hit some home runs, and we will make some mistakes along the way. One day my son asked if he could take his phone with him on our family outing. I usually have them leave them at home because it is our time to connect, but I allowed it. He was playing a Spanish app and engrossed in it and barely said a word. I had to run to Walmart, and he asked if he could keep playing on it while I was shopping. I agreed to make an exception. The trip was chaotic. He was always a few feet behind us and not paying attention as he bumped into others due to looking down on his phone. I was in a bit of a hurry and was trying to find something for Ellie. I asked him to stay by the cart while I ran down the other aisle, and he absent-mindedly walked away, leaving my cart and purse unattended. I asked him to go back to the cart. A few moments later, Ellie came to me upset because Hudson was snapping at her. He was attempting to push the cart but ran into something because his eyes were on his phone. A few minutes later, I asked him to help me with something, and he had an attitude with me for ‘interrupting’ him. It was so chaotic and stressful. I went to him and held out my hand, asking for his phone. We finished and when we got into the car, I reminded him that I had raised him to be a helper, to see others, to be kind, to jump in where needed, to be a gentleman, to serve, be aware of his surroundings and to be a blessing. I did not raise a son whose eyes were locked looking down on a screen, walking around aimlessly without seeing a single person or contributing to the task. Every parent needs to make their own choice about technology, but for me, when they were younger, going to the store was our training ground for character, and I was not going to let a phone undo all that work. I care more about his development than his entertainment. I care more about the man he is becoming than his comfort. I care more about him seeing others than what he is watching for himself. The phone is not your friend if it is breaking connection with those around you.

WHAT DOES LOVE LOOK LIKE?

“We all already were familiar with the love languages, so we focused on what each language actually LOOKED like to us. I realized that there were things that I thought were filling but weren’t, as well as things I had done that DID fulfill someone, but they never told me, so I didn’t even know! My husband and I decided that we needed to go deeper and really try to understand each other! I bought four glass jars with lids at the Dollar Tree, and each of us got one jar and chose a color to represent him or her. I cut pieces of construction paper in the chosen colors and then color-coded the lids and wrote our names. So how this works: If I do something to contribute to my husband’s love tank, he will put my color paper in his jar and let me know what it was that I did. This way, we are aware of what means something to someone else and what doesn’t. We wanted to do something visual that would make us more aware and help us learn each other better. So far, this is bringing so much awareness to each other and making us dig a little deeper to find out what works for someone. I thought my older ones would think it was childish, but they didn’t. I even got my grown 33-year-old son (who just moved back to Alabama and is temporarily staying with us) involved with it. I was expecting some eye-rolling, but they all are on board!”

ASK THEM

Ask your children this question and privately share their replies with him. “Hey, kids, what is the one thing you want most from your dad?” Then have him ask the kids about you.

FILL THOSE TANKS

If you have followed Let the Children Fly for long, you know that I am a big promoter of knowing and filling your child’s love tank. How many adults walk around with unmet needs waiting for someone to fill them? It is a lonely and isolating experience. The sad thing is few people can read your mind to know what you need. I have been very diligent in not only teaching my children about their love language but how to discern when they are feeling low, isolated, or disconnected and how to get their needs met in a HEALTHY, proactive way. Typically when their tanks are low, there is an increase of bickering, conflict, bad moods, agitation, and strife. While I went after character training, I also helped them to be PROACTIVE with their needs so that it doesn’t get to that point. Hudson came to me one morning and said, “Hey Mom, I set up a game of cards for us.” Truth be told, the timing wasn’t great, as I had a lot to do, but I had eyes to see that my son could have cared less about cards and was really saying, “Hey Mom, my love tank is low, and I want you to fill it before I go to school.” Yep! I can make time for you, son.

BURSTING HEARTS

Take a balloon and blow it up as big as you can and then let it go and watch it flap all around the room. Now tell the kids that a balloon is like a heart and that we need to be actively putting good things in people’s hearts. Have them pretend that the balloon is YOUR heart. Every time they call out something good about you, take a big breath and blow into the balloon. The next person calls out something good about you, and you give it another blow. Keep doing it until the balloon is about to pop. They will all laugh and giggle; tell them that we can help people have hearts that are ready to explode with goodness by being kind and calling out the good!

This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly