We all have life cycles and I wanted to take a moment to make some general comments about the life cycles of our family circle. Each season builds upon the next.

MARRIED BEFORE CHILDREN – Two becoming one. This is where husbands and wives take their generational line and merge them together as one. It is a time of deciding what things you want to pass onto your children and what things you can leave behind.

CONCEPTION – A season of great joy, often with conviction that shapes the kind of parent you will become. The “I will never _____ with my child” or “I am always going to make sure _____” are statements of adult children becoming the parents in their family line. It is a changing of the guards, so to speak. While grandparents surely still have a powerful role in the family, there is a new reigning body that makes decisions that will affect future generations one way or another.

INFANCY – This is the season of great joy. Eye contact is vital, releasing a brain chemical that continues their brain development. Oohing and ahhing over a newborn is not just ‘cute’ but impacts their future relationship with their parents. They are learning to trust and be comforted by Mom and Dad. Parents are becoming empowered as they steward what has been entrusted to them.

TODDLER – The primary role of the parent in the toddler season is to intentionally teach them #1. Obedience to your voice and #2. Self-control. A toddler left to themselves will destroy a place in a matter of moments, not because their heart is ill, but because they have little self-control, and they want what they want when they want it. Parents who have learned to train a child’s will (not break their spirit) will reap the fruit for decades. Toddlers who learn they are covered by healthy parents learn to respect other adults, including when they enter the classroom. This is not a one-time teaching but a long season on which you will be building upon.

SCHOOL AGE – The primary role of a parent during the school-age years is to teach right from wrong. We must first teach in a proactive measure in the time of peace so that we are setting our children up for success.

Example: If we have never taught our children that stealing is wrong and they pocket a cool toy from the local store, disciplining them is nothing short of punishment. We have to make note our child has an area of needed growth, and we take that as our cue that they need to be empowered and grow. We teach them what we DO want, role-play what it looks like and then enforce it. If, after doing your part, a child willfully chooses not to comply, then you can issue a consequence but not on their first offense without you doing any training first.

PRETEEN – This is where parents begin to move from keeping them safe to allowing them to explore parts of the world on their own even if it means they tumble and stumble a bit. This can be a very scary time for parents, but if you have done your part to lay the foundation of right/wrong, we have to give them room to try it on and see how both camps feel. A child who makes a mess when they are ten and learns from it is going to be grateful compared to the 24-year-old who was always told what to do and didn’t know how to make their own choices. When they chose poorly, it becomes a discussion of right/wrong and issued consequences that keep the discomfort on them (not you). A parent’s primary role is to be a judge. To gather all of the information, decide what is right (righteous) and wrong (sin), and issue consequences that help empower them to do better next time. Children are learning their consequences are becoming bigger as their choices impact more than just stealing a cookie from the cookie jar.

TEEN – This season can be super fun but also very challenging. Teen brain is a real thing. We move from setting them up for success to giving them room to manage their choices. Do they still need you? More than you will ever know. But they do not want or need a parent to treat them like a ten-year-old. They want freedom and independence. Think of Genesis 2, which states: “A man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” We want to help point them in the direction one step at a time of being ready to walk out the front door and have the ingredients needed to one day lead their own family with success and bear good fruit. What they need from you is kindness, encouragement, support, and for you to continue to be their cheerleader. When they are faced with choices, be their INFLUENCER by asking questions and letting their brain exercise the ability to process and create position results. I tell my son often that the goal is to get him to stand on his own without doing it alone.

ADULT – The primary role of this season is to be their friend and treat them as your equal. While you will always be their parent, your authority over their choices is diminished (not in the spiritual realm). Cover them, keep the door open, let them walk out their own testimony, and trust that God has them.

What if you didn’t focus on eye contact as an infant, or laid down the framework of right living in the toddler years or have not been an intentional parent to teach them right from wrong? You start where you are and go from there. But we don’t use it as an excuse not to do it.


When my children were all toddlers, I brought them outside on a hot summer day and gave them an umbrella to play with. Oh, they had so much fun with it!

I then took the garden hose and sprayed it up in the air to land on them. They all screamed and giggled under their protective covering. I asked them to set the umbrellas down by the door and they went off to play again but I surprised them with a burst of water from the hose. This time they were left uncovered, and all went scrambling to grab and open their umbrellas. We sure had a lot of laughter and joy that afternoon. 

I sat them down and explained that staying under the umbrella kept them safe from the hot sun and the water pouring down from the hose. While the sun and water did not harm them, if they stayed outside for a long time, it could. I helped them to see the same is true with the covering that God and I have put over them to keep them safe. There is freedom to laugh and play and have a great time, but when you get out from under the umbrella, you can get burned or drenched! 

I explained that my umbrella represents the rules of the home, and God’s umbrella represents Biblical principles and obeying His commands. When the kids would disobey, I explained that they were getting a consequence because they chose to get out from under the umbrella. The love, favor, and blessings NEVER leave no matter what we do, but we can position ourselves directly under His wing or move far from it. The choice is ours and it is called free will. We have the right to choose whatever we want but the question is what do we want to choose? His ways and remain protected, or our way and deal with the consequences? 

Soon the kids began to understand this principle and all I would have to do is take my one index finger and point it up while taking the other like a cup and holding it over the index finger (to represent the umbrella), which signaled to them they weren’t obeying or staying under the umbrella with their choice.

Why not have some fun today with an umbrella, garden hose and teaching your child how to stay under your covering?


Create a special family Happy Birthday Jesus birthday party. Get a cake and balloons and write out cards to Him. Teach the children through the birthday party that Christmas is all about Jesus being born; not us, our wish-list or being in the center of attention. Christmas is a celebration that the Savior of the world was born. 

Spend time as a family asking Jesus what He wants for His birthday and then create a day around that. Perhaps it is serving others, buying gifts for another family, or spending time with Him.


Here is an excellent way to teach children the truth about our powerful God and free will.

Call a family meeting and together read Deuteronomy 30:15, “Look at what I’ve done for you today: I’ve placed in front of you life and good, death and evil.” Talk about some actions, words, or attitudes that cause life and blessing, and then talk about ways we can partner with death and evil. 

Ask for a volunteer to grab a spoon from the kitchen. Chances are he will jump up and do it gladly. Ask them why they jumped up and obeyed your instruction. Highlight to them that you were not forcing, controlling, or walking them to the kitchen, but that they did it out of their own choice.

Now role-play and talk about what would happen if you started yelling and threatening them that if they didn’t get the spoon, you would remove their toys, make them sleep in the garage, or punish them. They might ‘obey,’ but it would be out of fear and intimidation, not because they wanted to do it.

This is so important – explain to them that God gave each of us the GIFT of being able to choose things on our own. He puts before us life and death, and WE get to choose. He never controls us because tools like fear, rage, control, intimidation, manipulation, and threats are the devil’s tools and are a form of witchcraft. God never uses the devil’s tools to get His children to obey. He is good and wants us to trust Him.

A typical question around free will is WHY did God allow something? When we know His heart for giving us a choice, the question becomes HOW can God possibly contain the heartbreak of watching His creation reject His love and His plans to bless, provide, and protect us?

Doing this activity with your children not only applies to the current events but sets the stage for a lifetime.

In the days ahead, when you see your child choosing words and actions that are not life-giving, gently come alongside them and remind them of this exercise and ask, “Are you choosing blessings or curses, life or death right now?” You are helping them see their free will in action in practical settings.


Playdates are the best kind of summer school.

There is nothing sweeter than a playdate on a lazy summer afternoon. These can be the best outlets for training ground with your children. Host a playdate and let your child play naturally like they usually would do, but keep within earshot of them interacting with their friends. What are you hearing? What are you seeing? Are they being kind and gracious and putting other people first, or do they need help in these areas?

After the playdate is over, sit down and have a conversation with them or role-play some of the things that have happened. Empower them by explaining how they could have done it differently or show them new skills to apply in those same situations. After a few days, invite that friend over again and see how they implement the tools. I encourage you to remind them before the playdate about the tools or maybe even have hand signs as code words. Perhaps they need to learn to put their friends’ desires first, so maybe you want to have a code word of putting up your pinky finger. This keeps your child protected from shame in front of their friends and is the little code word between the two of you where you are letting them know they need to increase putting other people first.

Children have both strengths and weaknesses. Let me give you an example of how a child’s strengths can turn into a weakness. My daughter is a super strong leader. I probably would have let her stay at home and babysit at the age of 5 if it was legal. But because she’s such a strong leader, and has the end result as her focus, she has little regard for the success of others. I do not want to shut down her strength, but I do want to strengthen her weakness. So while the leadership skills will be there no matter what, I have intentionally gone after teaching her to lead in love. We have talked about it, role-played and I have given her plenty of intentional situations in which she can apply leadership in love.

Tell them stories about your friends growing up. What are some things that your friends did that made you come alive and felt very important?. What are some things your friends have done over the years that have hurt your heart or shaped who you are in a way that God did not intend?

Do you have kids who like to interrupt you? I taught the kids in the time of peace what I expected, and then we role-played, practiced, and got good at the technique before we were in ‘need’ of it. I explained that they are SOOO important, but so am I. When I am in the middle of something with someone ELSE, I need the respect of not having someone demanding my attention elsewhere. We had FUN role-playing what a demanding child looks like when Mama is talking to someone else or on the phone. We talked about WHY interrupting wasn’t okay and how it made others feel. The bottom line it is a self-control issue. I instructed them to put their hand on my arm, which signaled, “Mom, I need you.” It is important then for the adult to put their hand over their hand, which means, “I see you.” Then, when the timing was appropriate, I would say, “Excuse me, Mrs. Smith, could you hold for a moment?” and would direct my attention to them. If they came barging into the room or demanding my attention, I would simply say, “Excuse me, Mrs. Smith, could you hold on for a moment?” And then I would say out loud to my child, “You are so important, but so is Mrs. Smith. I need you to wait until I am done,” and then when I got off the phone, we would role-play and practice again. My kids use this tool to this day, and it is golden to have respectful kids who know how to wait their turn.

Teach this to your child and then set up a playdate specifically to practice this way of learning how to get your attention when you are busy.

Childhood is not the season to expect perfection but to give them the tools to live successful lives.


Here are some creative ways to communicate covering to your child:

  • Put a big blanket around your back and outstretch your arms like wings. Come to them and pull them close under your wing and tell them that, just like the blanket offers shelter, you are there to cover and protect them.
  • Read Matthew 18:10 with them and show them that they have a personal angel assigned to them.
  • Put your hand over their heart and pray over them.
  • Tell them that you are so glad God allowed you to be their _____ (mom, dad, grandparent, etc.) and that you take your job to keep them safe seriously.
  • Validate that a lot is going on in the world right now but that they are safe and secure in your house.
  • Ask them if they are worried or concerned about anything and process it together. Just asking alone makes them feel safe and secure.
  • Gather the family and read Psalms 91 out loud. Act out parts of the verse to help them gain deeper understanding.
  •  Intentionally speak their love language. If you do not know what it is, take the online quiz as a family to discover each person’s language of love. This can be found at The Love Language™ Quiz (


Grab a jar/bowl, sand (or small pebbles), and larger rocks. 

Call a FAMILY MEETING and talk to the children about Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” What does this mean exactly? 

Take the jar/bowl and explain how their capacity of time is given in each 24-hour period. Part of their time is spent sleeping, eating, doing homework, etc. Make a list of each thing that demands their time every day and then pour a little sand into the jar representing each thing. Brushing teeth… add a little sprinkle of sand into the jar. Taking out the trash… add a little sprinkle of sand into the jar, etc. 

Now take some larger rocks and explain how that represents seeking God such as reading the Word, praying, declaring His truth, etc. The larger rock no longer fits because they have filled up their jar with the smaller things.

Dump the jar out and put the larger rocks in FIRST and then add the sprinkles of sand which will make its way around the rock, that way everything fits in the jar in the proper order, and no one can say at the end of the day they ran out of room (time) because they put the important thing in first.


Give each family member a glass jar and put a yummy ingredient in it (marshmallows, popcorn, peanuts and M&Ms). I explained to my children how all of the ingredients are good – they’re yummy and pretty good on their own, but if we put them together, they make popcorn balls, which are even better! Each ingredient is so important – and if we didn’t have one of them, sadly the recipe wouldn’t be complete.

The Scripture that came to me was Psalm 133:1 (MSG) – “How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers (and sisters) get along!” 

One mom shared, “My goal with this exercise will be to teach my son that his little brother is important and valuable and adds to the family just like he does. That’s what makes us a family, and family is GOOD and BEAUTIFUL, and being in unity makes God happy.”


Trauma – a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

Think for a moment about your child’s life back in 2020. Perhaps it wasn’t perfect, but within a short time, your child was thrown into a whirlwind of being home 24/7. Not being able to see friends or go out to the park, learning without peers, sitting in front of a computer, many faced hours alone as their mom and dad still worked. Some went without food, increased sibling conflict, missed birthday parties, felt fear all around them, not being able to go to church or their favorite store, and then the anger and violence that was unleashed in nearly every city. Most adults can’t comprehend all that is going on, much less a child whose brain isn’t fully developed. Folks, this is trauma. Add another layer of what was released in the atmosphere and the paralyzing fear, worry, and anger that slimed people without notice or warning. Kids feel it too.

While I am not trying to create a doomsday post, there is a reality that this past season has been brutal for some children. The events themselves do not bring damage to children. How adults respond to trauma can make a challenging event a lifelong wound. Your role is KEY! #1. Know your child’s love language and fill it DAILY! Five minutes of intentional “I see you” can fill their heart. #2. Connection – Talking, engaging, asking questions, hugging, smiling, listening, etc. Merely hanging out 24/7 is not the same as actually connecting to their hearts. #3. Joy releases a chemical in our brain that increases our will to fight and endure hard things. Dance parties, giggles, wrestling matches, dinner in the living room, tickling, being silly, special treats, dancing on the bed, or splashing in the rain. Your child NEEDS joy!

I know it is hard to give when you are enduring the same battle, but your response in this hour matters. Help children overcome by filling them up with love, connection, and joy, which are heaven’s tools to overcome. 

Validation – recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile. Validation is not trying to move someone out of their space but giving them permission to be where they are at.

It is saying things like: I am sorry that _____.” “It is not okay that _____.” “It makes me mad that_____.” “You didn’t deserve that.” “That must have been so hard when_____.” “Man, that stinks!” “You are so much more than that.”


Sit with a piece of paper and ask Jesus to show you how your child is doing with each of the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Go after the areas that need some strengthening. You are sowing into character training today so that you can reap the good fruit of it tomorrow.


It is important to teach a child’s brain to learn how to engage, not just to listen. If he is watching TV and you shout out from the other room to do something, chances are his ears heard you, but his mind didn’t. Especially when they are younger, this requires intentional effort on your part, but you will reap the fruit for years to come. Stop what YOU are doing, go to them, get down on their level, hold out your hands, and tell him to put his hands in yours. You aren’t controlling him, forcing, or using anger to make him obey. If it takes 5 minutes for him to put his hands in your hands, that is okay. He is learning. Once his hands are in your hands (and you don’t hold on to control – he has free will), tell him to look at your eyes and then state what you need/want. When you start this, it can feel like you are spending so much time just getting his attention to say one sentence, but really you are sowing into teaching him about self-control, respect, honor, and engagement. If at any time he pulls his hands away or stops looking at you, cease talking and be silent until he returns his eyes to you, then instruct he puts his hands back, and the moment he does begin speaking again. It is okay if this takes time and practice. The other thing is that when kids are required to respond with a “Yes, Mom/Dad,” they are much more engaged in completing the instruction than when they do not respond. I worked really hard on this when they were younger, but it soon became the norm.