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The Danger of Befriending Your Children

I love my kids, and I am their friend. But, I’m not their best friend…and I don’t want to be. That’s because best friends are considered two people who are on the same level. They share confidential issues of their hearts with each other, and they may give advice. Yet, one friend is not in a position of authority over the other.

 

When parents attempt to be best friends with their children, then the adult comes down to the child’s level. As a result, it’s impossible to fully function as the parent, such as teaching and enforcing consequences. Yes, we are to love our children, hug them, kiss them, praise them, care for them, and bond with them in an appropriate way. But, a parent should not come down to their kid’s level for any reason. If we do, then we abdicate our position of authority and protection. Making an attempt to befriend children forces a parent to forfeit the honor, respect, and authority needed to bring correction and direction into a young person’s life.

 

For example, I’ve told my sons for years, “I’m your dad. We can be best friends when you are married and pay your own mortgage.” I have said this so many times that they now recite it back to me. Occasionally, my sons have joked around with me to a level that borders on disrespect. Immediately, I stopped them and said, “Hey guys, save that stuff for your buddies in the locker room. You aren’t going to joke around with me in a way that mocks me and my position. Remember, I’m your father.” Allowing your kids to treat you as their best friend subtly opens the door to disrespect, which is a door you definitely need to keep shut.

 

Are you trying too hard to be your kid’s best friend instead of their parent? For instance, are you:

 

  • Telling off-color jokes?
  • Watching inappropriate movies or TV shows together?
  • Hanging out with your kid’s friends?
  • Sharing your personal issues as an adult?

 

If so, then you’re setting the stage for major problems. You can be a parent in whom your child confides, but not the opposite. Let them know they can talk to you about anything in their lives. But, you must maintain a clear boundary, showing that you are their parent first and their friend second. Storm-proof parenting means raising kids to respect you, rather than lowering yourself to the child’s level just to be their friend.

Let ‘Em Feel the Pain!

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of dozens of grandparents bringing their grandchildren to my karate school. After they had been with us for awhile and I was able to establish a good relationship with them, I asked them, “Why are you bringing your grandkids to karate? Where are their parents?” In many cases, I would hear that the grandparents were the children’s primary caregivers. The parents had skipped town, were in prison, or dead from a drug overdose.

 

In light of their answers, I then respectfully asked them, “If you could turn back the clock and go back to when they were kids, what would you do differently—what would you change?” Amazingly, almost every grandparent has answered, “I didn’t let them feel the consequences of their actions. Instead, I made excuses for them, I cut them slack, and I wish I hadn’t. I knew the teacher, the principal, the judge, the cop, and I got them out of trouble. So they never learned the consequences of wrong choices when their troubles were a tiny sapling, and as a result their troubles grew into great oak trees.”

 

As parents, you can learn a valuable lesson from the pain of others. Train your children when they are little. Let them feel the consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Let them stay after school for poor behavior in the classroom, even if it means you have to make and extra trip. Don’t argue with a teacher about a grade on a test. If they fail a class and have to retake it in summer school rather than go to camp because they goofed off during the year, they will learn a valuable lesson. As hard as these consequences may seem, they may be just the thing your son or daughter needs to keep them from going through greater hardship later in life.

 

If they are not listening to you and being polite when they are five years old, the situation will only become exponentially worse when they are seventeen. Consequences should be smart, swift, and real at any age. Remove privileges like cell phone and weekend activities if you receive reports of disrespect to teachers or authorities. Take away their car if they begin drinking and doing drugs. Let them get kicked off the football team or do community service because they got caught with alcohol.

 

Yes, cushion your kids’ consequences with compassion and understanding. They are constantly learning and transitioning into the role of self-sufficient adult. You should hug them, love them, and pray with them that God will help them through it. But, don’t take away the consequences. They must feel the pain of the poor choices they make when the consequences are safe and within your control.

 

“Poverty and shame come to him who refuses instruction and correction, but he who heeds reproof is honored” (Proverbs 13:18).

The Turning Point

When I was asked to be a keynote speaker at the US Martial Arts Convention in Washington DC, the subject was The Turning Point. Here’s the highlights from this presentation:

For me and all of us, we have negative events in our lives: Tragedies, setbacks, obstacles…for us in Louisiana, our most well-known are Katrina and the following economic slump, and the oil spill. After events like these, griping, complaining, grumbling, and fault finding become everyone’s pastime.

But my question for you is: Are you a thermostat or a thermometer?

Are you a thermostat? Do you set the temperature in your life? For example, your attitude, your values, your beliefs, or your standards of excellence?

Or are you a thermometer? Do you reflect your environment and the thoughts and actions of those around you?

I hope its #1!

You decide for your family, your kids, your entire life. You ultimately decide what you think and say and do, because what goes on in your mind is exactly the results that you’ll get, and what you ALLOW to come out of your mouth will greatly determines your outcome.
For me, I had to stop making excuses, and stop accepting excuses made for me. I had to flood myself with positive messages, people, actions, habits and routines. I realized as YOU MUST, The Turning Point has always been as it always will be — the Turning Point had to happen inside of me. Nothing will get better until we do; make the decision today. Your mind, your thoughts, and your words will create your future. The battle to be won is within you- not outside of you

You’re the answer your looking for, and it all starts and ends with you and your choices. Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re always right”

So begin anew today!  Build the life of your dreams with no excuses or apologies! Your country, your community, and your family need you at your best more now than ever!

It’s your choice- I suspect you know it. It’s your choice- it always has been. Choose to be your best! Dream, build , create, encourage, grow! You can and must do it, so begin right now. Live the life of your dreams, and be sure to pray and include God in your plans!

 

Parents and Daughters

Horrified! That’s the best way to describe what me and my wife felt while watching the game this week! Not horrified by the game, but horrified at the commercials, and how racy and lewd they were!

Sitcoms are just as racy and lewd! They have been attacking families and relationships constantly, but now they have really kicked it up to a new level. “Men are fools”. Well, some of us earned that.” Kids are uncontrollable, disrespectful monsters”. Well only if you allow it.

Now this! A new show called I Hate My Teenage Daughter. Really? Moms hate their daughters? I get it’s a tough relationship at times, but get some wisdom and skills to navigate it! But I digress.

If you don’t understand the power of the media, you need to. The power of suggestion on teens and adults is massive, and these statements and humorously arranged circumstances that are shown are actually painful for all involved.

I have 4 kids, 2 boys and 2 girls, 9 to 20 in age range. I HAVE NEVER HATED MY KIDS.

At any age, at any stage. Never resented them, and the suggestion that it’s humorous for parents to hate their kids, and that the teenage years are going to be awful is something I refused my entire parenting career.

”Terrible two’s”? I refused and rebuked it. High school? Not a problem. Not perfect, mind you, but I refused to let my kids’ behavior influence how I felt about them, or how I trained them and coached them.

There is a separation time that happens when your kids are teens, as it should, and you should be separating from them and training them to be more independent.

The whole parent-pal model has failed since the 1970′s and will fail forever. You’re a parent, grow up. They’ve got friends, they need a parent.

Placing unrealistic adult expectations on a relationship with a child or teen is selfish and creates codependency. Don’t do it.

But you have to control how you feel when disappointed by your teens. But hate ‘em? Never!

Frustrated with them? Agitated? “Sure, join the club, we’ve got jackets”, as Shrek says.

But hating someone that was a gift from heaven, I wouldn’t even joke about that. And suggesting it, is trying to make fun of and damage a relationship that is a gift from heaven. Even when it’s not going smooth.

I remember once my 17 year old son wanted to go on a ski trip with his high school girlfriend and family, I said no (parents you know its ok to say that, right?), and he said he was gonna be mad at me and hate me for the weekend (emotional manipulation), to which I said, “I love you too much to let your temporary hatred of me sway my decision of what I think is best, I’m a big boy I can take it”

So don’t watch that show, or if you do, feel sorry for the fools who will laugh at it, while it influences the way they interact and feel about their relationships with their moms and daughters.

You and the StormProof Tribe, we avoid the attempt at belittling our families, minds, spirits, health, and finances.

Fear and weakness is for others, not for us. Turn off the idiot box; you’ll be better for it.

Success is up to you!

Say What You Want To See

Providing correction to children is one of the chief responsibilities of every parent. One important nuance in the area of brain development is crucial when facing this responsibility. The fact is that human beings of all ages don’t process negative commands well. Children especially, just don’t understand them. If your child is acting up and you tell them to stop being wild and obnoxious,” in their mind they hear “Be wild and obnoxious”. If you say, “Don’t hit your sister,” they hear “hit your sister”. Try it for yourself. If I tell you, “Don’t think about pink elephants,” what does your mind begin to think about? Yep…pink elephants. The reason this happens is because we think in pictures about what is being said. That is the way the human mind works.

 

With our children we must lean to say what we want to see. We must speak the instruction that will produce the positive behavior we are looking for. For example, instead of saying, “Stop being wild and obnoxious,” you can say “Straighten up and be calm.” Likewise, instead of saying, “Don’t hit your sister,” you can say “Keep your hands to yourself. Show me your best manners.” In this way, you are communicating the positive behavior you want to see in a way that their minds can understand it. This is what I call “seeding” the behavior that you want. Our words are like seeds, so by planting the right seeds, we will harvest the right behavior.

 

We also need to avoid saying negative, destructive statements to our children. Hurtful words spoken in anger are painful. They have lingering and limiting effects on the future of your children. Instead of saying, “You are so stubborn,” which is a negative, destructive statement, say something like, “You have a spirit of a leader, and you won’t be easily misled.” Or, rather than allowing a critical remark escape like “You are always making messes and getting into stuff you aren’t supposed to,” you could say, “I’m glad that you are creative and inquisitive. Let’s define what areas you can play in, and those that are off limits.” It is about putting a positive spin on the words of correction that we are giving.

 

And as parents, we must realize that whatever we are trying to teach our children to do, it is going to take them time and repetition to learn. They probably won’t “get it” or do it as well as you would like immediately, and that’s okay. Ask God for grace – divine strength and ability – to talk to your children in the most effective way possible. In this way you will be correcting them in the same way you yourself like to be addressed when you are in the process of learning something new. Aren’t we all glad that God is patient, kind; slow to anger, and forgiving when He corrects us (Psalm 145:8,9)? Let us imitate Him, since He’s the perfect parent.

Don’t Count to Three When Your Kids Drive You Crazy

After 25 years of working with thousands of families, I’ve found that many parents make the mistake of warning their children by saying, “I’m counting to three! One…two…” But, the warning rarely has the desired effect. Instead, it tends to exacerbate the situation even worse.

Doesn’t it feel sometimes like the popular “count to three” technique is more of an escalator of your own frustration than a motivator for your child? Children should be taught to stop appropriate behavior the first time they are asked. Counting to three actually trains them that it’s okay to keep doing what they should be doing until you get to three. “What a fun game to watch Mommy and Daddy get madder and madder as they count! As long as I stop before three, nothing happens to me!” Looking at it from a child’s point of view, you can see that it’s just not a productive form of discipline.

There are many strategies to discipline your children, including time-outs, removal of privileges, saying the behavior you want to see, or partnering correction with encouragement. But, at the foundation of any technique is the importance of correcting your kids with the right attitude – one of love and peace.

For example, when it’s time for my kids to clean their rooms, I usually incorporate a warning with positive instruction. I say something like, “Hey, I’m coming back to check your room in 15 minutes, and it needs to be clean. When it is, you can go outside to play.” I outline what I expect. I remind them of the privilege that is attached to the job, and I encourage them to get it done. If I come back and the room isn’t clean, then they lose their chance to go outside and they still have to clean their room.”

Don’t let your emotions take the lead in your discipline. The key to removing your frustration and anger from the equation is to plan your responses to disobedience in advance so that you can stay calm, cool, and collected. When yelling starts, teaching stops. Take your own time out if you need it. Or, “count to three” for yourself internally before your respond. Temper everything you do with wisdom and love – not emotions.

The Bible says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19, 20 NIV).

The Rich Reward of Routine

A routine is any activity that we do automatically on a regular basis. Children who grow up without routines, duties, and boundaries, grow up in an uncontrolled manner and become difficult to manage. According to the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, studies have documented that schedules and routines influence children’s emotional, cognitive, and social development. Predictable and consistent schedules in preschool classrooms help children feel secure and comfortable. Also, schedules and routines help children understand the expectations of the environment and reduce the frequency of behavior problems, such as tantrums and acts of aggression.

Routines can be established for everyday activities, household chores, family fun time, and devotions. They help children feel safe and teach them healthy habits, such as brushing their teeth, washing their hands, and taking a bath. Another wonderful aspect of routines is that they help eliminate stress and bring a tremendous amount of peace and order to the home because everyone knows what is expected of them. If established correctly, these set schedules can be a blessing to the entire family.

We are all creatures of habit, even to the point that we will unconsciously create a routine if we don’t already have one. A friend of mine had the habit of turning on the TV first thing in the morning, because it had been his father’s routine to watch the local weather for its impact on the family farm. But, my friend worked from home and really wasn’t concerned about the daily weather. Yet, his routine was dictated by default.

A morning routine is especially important for children to start off on the right track and get ready for the day. A morning of cartoons, stressful interactions about homework or getting dressed, and a rushed breakfast can be detrimental to your child having a successful day of focus and learning. Establish a healthy routine of rising in time, taking care of the morning ablutions, a calm, healthy meal, and words of encouragement for the day. Prepare the night before by having the children pack up their completed homework, pick out their outfits, and go to bed on time.

You will be amazed how much security and serenity the simple act of routine instills in your kids. It may seem simple on paper, but requires diligence and preparation on your part as parent. But, it is worth it for your own sake as well – wouldn’t you like to greet the day with calm instead of chaos!

Source: The Importance of Teaching Children Routines (www.milestoneparenting.com/productinfo/ImportanceOfRoutines.aspx, retrieved 5-18-10)

Wanted: Good Character – How to Motivate Your Kids

Rewards are powerful motivators for our kids to do the right thing–especially rewards that are linked to things they like and are interested in. Proverbs 10:6 says, “Blessings crown the head of the righteous…” Would you like your kids to begin taking the initiative to do things without being asked? Then get creative! Make up some “Wanted” posters and put them up around the house. Write what you WANT to see them do along with the REWARD (or the blessing) they’ll receive for taking the initiative to do it.

Example 1:

WANTED: Kid caught in a random act of kindness to a sibling.
REWARD: You choose the movie everyone watches, or the dessert for Friday family night.

Example 2:

WANTED: Kid brushing the dog even when it’s not on the chore list.
REWARD: You choose the restaurant for our next family outing, or play a board game of your choice with Mom/Dad.

Example 3:

WANTED: Kid caught cleaning up to help someone in the family.
REWARD: You get an extra story book before bed, or a stop over to play at a friend’s house after school.

Make this “Wanted / Reward” concept fun, fresh, and interesting by putting up a poster in each room of the house and changing the rewards every month or so.

The list of creative ways to teach and motivate children is seemingly unending. Ask the Lord to show you what is going to work best for each of your children at their individual age and situation. He knew each of them before He formed and “wired” them in the womb (see Jeremiah 1:5). Consequently, He knows exactly what is needed to motivate them to do right.