Parenting is a verb that unfolds over time. We do not sit our children down when they are two and tell them everything there is to know about life. We grow and roll with them as they develop and mature. The same is true for safety. Children under five are mainly going to be with mom and dad, so their world is different than the child who is at the age of going to school, sleepovers, playing with neighbors alone, etc. Giving them the language and tools to be safe will open wider and wider over the years, eventually having them walk out your door prepared with tools to be successful, healthy, functioning adults. When new situations arise (playing alone outside, going to school, sleepovers), you first have to ask yourself, “What have I, as the parent, done to teach them about this in the time of peace?” When a child is begging to go play with the neighbors, that is not the time to teach. Your YES should be dependent upon: #1. Have you equipped them with how to handle that situation in the time of peace? #2. Do they have the skills and responsibility to be successful? Sending them out the door, to the neighbors, or even at school without first preparing and arming them with tools gambles with their success.
EQUIPPING THEM WITH SKILLS
The biggest war the next generation will face in their lifetime is the battle over their identity! Parents, teaching your child who they are – who God says they are – the parts that cannot be changed – the areas that aren’t moved or reduced based on circumstances – is a LIFELINE in today’s culture.
I had this dream years ago and have never forgotten it. It was the kind where you wake up and fear is still in your room. I will spare you the details, but I was in a normal room with a stage in the middle. On the stage were different scenes of really awful things happening to people. My dream was graphic and vivid. When I woke, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to know about this awful dream, and He said, “You are not to be entertained by fear. It is a room you have the freedom to wander into, but I am telling you not to. The longer you stay in the room, the greater the chance of you being center stage – get out as quickly as you can.”
Whoa! I think that word is for more than just me! This is why it is so important to guard our children and what they are being entertained by. Fear is not entertainment. It is the enemy’s tool to steal, kill and destroy peace, relationships, freedom, joy, sleep, rest, connection, destiny, identity, etc.
The church is not closed – never has been – never will be, according to Ephesians 3:21. If you are not able to go to the church building of your choice tomorrow, CREATE YOUR OWN. Doing church at home is a great way to come together as a family. Have someone pick out a verse to share and discuss it as a family. YouTube is loaded with worship songs that have the words on the bottom. Pass juice and bread/crackers and take Communion together, talking about the meaning. Go around in a circle and share one thing you are thankful for (keep the game going until you run out of things to think of). Put on worship music (with or without words) and just lay quietly as a family, enjoying the peace of His presence. Ask Jesus what He wants to say to each person and spend time asking, listening, and sharing. Spiritual intimacy is great for family connections. Gather the kids and ask them for ideas – they always come up with great ideas.
Remember that the Kingdom is JOY – partnering with JOY as a family for your home church brings the Father great delight. Play a game, laugh, be silly and enjoy the JOY. Invite another family over to join you!
Having three teenagers so close in age has created some competition for crossing milestones, such as who will get their driver’s license first. One child came to me in tears, saying they wanted to get theirs first to “prove them wrong.” I asked what she meant, and she shared that the others were poking fun at her, saying she would be a terrible driver and would probably be the first to crash. That did not sit well with me, so I called a family meeting to talk about it. I asked if anyone had made jokes along those lines, and 3 of them raised their hand. I told them that for their ‘joke’ to come true, my car would be damaged, and if my car went out of commission, not only would they lose a chance to drive it, but their world would change significantly without a family car. I began to list all of the ways my car blessed them. I told them that they were prophesying that their sister would not only hurt my car, but chances are another car or, worse, another human being would also be affected. I shared with them the amount of the loan on my car and that I am required to pay for it whether the vehicle is operable or not, and it would be a significant financial hardship to me if that happened. I asked, “Why in the world would you want to ‘prophesy’ hardship, financial ruin, heartbreak, and loss over your family?” They started to catch on. It isn’t funny to make fun of someone else failing so that you can be the first. That is not being a success; that is being a bully. A truly successful person celebrates those around them and champions them to greatness, which goes for siblings.
Do a teaching with your children on our mouth and taste buds. Explain that our tongue tastes things that are bitter and sweet. Next, blindfold the children and lead them into the kitchen for a science experiment. Place a tiny dab of horseradish on their tongues and ask them what they think and then place a drop of honey on their tongues. They will probably beg for more. Share with them Proverbs 16:24 and discuss how our words need to be like sweet honey, not bitter horseradish. Practice role-playing some scenarios: What would words full of honey sound like when someone takes your toy? Is in your space? Has hurt you? How can you use words of honey to encourage others? Show honor to your parents and teachers? The goal is not the absence of negative feelings or reactions but to respond in love despite being upset or hurt. You can also take the opportunity to teach them how to be intentionally ‘sweet’ with their words as opportunities arise to bless others. In the days ahead, when you hear harsh tones and unloving words, call out, “Oh, that sounds like horseradish to my ears!” When you hear them speaking kindly, you can say, “Oh, I love the honey coming out of your mouth!”
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
Give them the gift of peace. Soaking means to be saturated in His presence and nothing else (that means no to-do list, worrying, striving, or doing – just being).
People all around us are waiting for heaven to come to earth. God is waiting for us to bring heaven to earth. We have the privilege and honor of changing the world for the people around us TODAY. What we declare and pray makes a difference! I challenge every family to go for a walk around their neighborhood today and pray over each house they pass. Command fear and anxiety to go and release the peace of Jesus, the love of God, and the joy of heaven to flood each home. The times we have done this, the Lord has given us great compassion and His heart for our neighbors. This is a great way to be part of the solution and not just a victim of circumstances. It is impossible for nothing to happen when we pray. So be the light in your neighborhood by doing a walk-by-prayer-mission.
Teach them that there is a difference between being humble and allowing people to speak into their lives and give healthy feedback and constructive criticism vs. someone or something being used as a spokesperson of the enemy to tear down what God has built and designed. Give specific examples, such as a friend saying, “Shut up. You are so annoying when you talk,” and a teacher saying, “I need for you to manage your mouth when I am teaching the class.” Both are addressing the issue of their mouth, but one is to be rejected and the other is to be received. How do they know the difference? It is generally tested by peace.
Gather the kids and talk about the things most dear to your heart. Ask them what is one thing they couldn’t live without. Spend time thanking Jesus for giving it to you.
Target has cute Valentine’s Day mailboxes in their dollar section. Pick one up for each child, and instead of using them for V-day, use them to fill their tanks all year long. I would often encourage the kids to write notes of praise, thanks, or encouragement and have them secretly put them in their sibling’s mailboxes. It taught them how to be proactive in speaking love to someone and how good it feels to receive.