Monday, March 29, 2010

What Parents Shouldn't Do

Here's a list of 10 things parents should avoid:

1. Screaming/Yelling at the kids. Yelling is out of bounds unless the child is in mortal danger, i.e., about to run out in the street. Talking is the best way to get your child to listen. Usually, if your children are not listening, it is not a volume problem with you.

2. Making fun of your kid's weaknesses or flaws. If you need me to explain this one, you probably shouldn't have had kids in the first place.

3. Threatening your kids with punishment. If you aren't going to carry through, don't make a threat. They will begin to disregard everything you say as an empty threat. If you want your kids to respect you and what you expect from them, follow through.

4. Model bad eating habits. Yup, they will pick up every habit you think you are hiding. Provide children with healthy food (fruits and vegetables) for every meal (french fries are not a vegetable). What they grow up eating will be with them the rest of their lives.

5. Talking about your child to others in front of your child while acting as if your child wasn't standing right there listening. This happened with me the other day. A mom started talking about her daughter in a very negative light in front of her (and 15 strangers standing around). Get a one else wants to witness a parent ripping into their child.

6. Smile when they say inappropriate things. Yup, they will repeat it at the most inopportune at church or to you. Then it ceases to be funny.

7. Tolerate porn. I heard a father the other day laughing that he caught his son looking at porn. WHAT!!???!!! And he didn't do anything about it or talk to him???? He dismissed it as 'boys will be boys.' Will he be laughing when his son disrespects girls and becomes sexually aggressive? Will he be laughing when his son becomes a registered sex offender because dad didn't set boundaries when he was 13 years old? Porn isn't very funny when it wrecks a man's life.

8. Hit your kids as your only way of punishing them. Spanking ceases to be effective by age 12. Learn the fine art of grounding them from privileges, taking away items that are loaned to them (like the Wii, a car, iPod, computer time, cell phone, etc.) Usually removing an item one or two days is enough to punish unless your child's behavior is really out there.

9. Ignore your kid. The most damaged adults I have ever known are those whose parents ignored them and didn't give them the love and affection (and availability) they need to form healthy human connections. A child needs AT LEAST an hour a day of one on one time with a parent (or both parents). Homework help, just talking about their day, playing a game, reading with them, or sitting on the edge of their bed and engaging with them are just a few ways to get this done.

10. Expect church to spiritually train them. I know so many parents who let the youth pastor give their kids the only dose of God they get. Bad idea. Parents need to encourage prayer, scripture reading and worship. Talking to your child about and modeling it is the best way for the child to see its importance in their life.

What else should parents avoid doing to their children?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Parenting...Be Available

I have read just about every parenting book out there with strategies and techniques ranging from extreme permissive to Nazi-like control. But I think there are basic things parents can do that help kids grow into healthy, happy, normal adults that aren't going to require daily therapy. So here is my seven things parents can do to raise happy, healthy kids:

1. Be available to love. Children need to be told they are loved at least once a day. This can be done through affirmation, praise and just saying "I love you," "I care about you," "I like you," "I think you're pretty cool," and "I am proud of you."

2. Be available to listen. Kids have things on their mind and they will talk about it if given half a chance. They ask questions. They say immature and naive things that crack me up. Treat each statement with respect and they will continue to talk to you as a teen and adult.

3. Be available for affection. When your kids hug you, hug back. Show your kids physical affection at least 5 times a day. Give them a back rub, hug , wrestle, kiss, hold hands, pet, and snuggle. Affection is the most effective way to communicate love, deeper than just saying it. Dads, be affectionate with your sons...don't hold back even as they get older.

4. Be available for help. Kids need help. They need homework help (or may pretend to to get one on one time). They need help learning about life and how to operate in their world with relationships. They need help cleaning, organizing and learning the healthy habits that will sustain them into adulthood.

5. Be available to play. I have spent many an hour throwing balls to my sons. We have wrestled, tackled, chased and laughed together. Play Uno, Skipbo, Risk, and Catan. They thrive on it. It teaches them to take life a little less seriously and just to have fun. It also teaches them to be a good sport, whether they win or lose.

6. Be available to practice awe. Take the time to worship God and teach them about the things that have deeper meaning a purpose. Stand on top of a mountain or a canyon or look at a beautiful flower together and marvel at the hand of God. Encourage them to read scripture and teach them gratitude for what they have been given. Help them discover awe in their life.

7. Be available for celebration. Celebrate often. Christmas, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, victories and a game well played. Go all out. Put up the Christmas tree, wrap the presents, put candles on the cake, go to Braums and eat a victory Rocky Road ice cream cone, or break out the Blue Bell ice cream. Take the time to treat each other special.

What would you add to the list?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pictures of Colorado

These are some pictures from out Spring Break trip to Paonia, Colorado from the deck of my parents house. We went skiing at Powderhorn (an awesome local ski area) and just hung around the house and ate homemade donuts (from scratch), hearty soups, great enchiladas and green chili blintzes. Paonia feels like home to me almost as much as Irving, TX does.

My parents operate Austin Family Farms, a farm that supplies farmer market, supermarkets, natural stores, and the community with naturally grown fruit and vegetables. They have apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, berries, table grapes and all manner of veggies. The white triangles is hail screen for the fruit trees.

These pictures remind me of when I was growing up, the gardeners of the church would put bags of zucchini and other veggies in unlocked cars in the church parking lot. God has blessed my dad with a green thumb.

Mountains outside Salida

My parent's peach orchard.

And when we got to Irving, TX, it had been snowing for the past 12 hours....WHAT!!???!!! It is supposed to be warmer than Colorado.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

I am sitting here looking out over a snow covered North Fork Valley in Western Colorado. The sun is just peeking over Beckwith peak, causing the mountains to glow gold. I am so glad my parents are from Western Colorado because it gives me a reason (free room and board) to visit here. We have been skiing and playing in freshly fallen snow, acting like the Texans we are.

We're headed back today, to the warmth of Texas, a place where it is not 12 degrees, where daffodils and redbuds are already blooming instead of the monochromatic shades of black, gray and white. Its a 16 hour drive from back to the Dallas area. From cold to warm, mountains to flat lands...both places feel like home. I will post some pictures when I get back to Texas. Have a great day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Role of Pastor

How involved should a pastor be in the the lives of people in their their community? Should they be friends? Accountability partners? Should they have a professional distance in their relationships? Should they share their own issues with members of their church?

What do you think?