Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Christian Parenting Handbook book review

I just finished reading The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller and it is definitely one of my new all-time favorites. This book is based on the concept of addressing the heart rather than just trying to control behavior.  It helps the reader to develop a comprehensive, biblical parenting philosophy where the goal is to raise children with internal motivation that reflects moral character and godly values, not just "behavior modification".  This means developing a heart that is motivated to do the right thing because it is right, rather than to receive a reward or avoid punishment.  To accomplish this, it requires creative strategies such as one-on-one discipleship, providing opportunities to practice positive character qualities, and exposing children to those who are less fortunate.  A heart-based approach aspires to see long lasting change take place, rather than just getting things done today.  This approach is both firm and relational.  The focus is on developing and addressing character qualities, values and convictions.  Some components are relationship building, natural consequences, sharing values and reasons behind the rules, using sorrow instead of anger, using Scripture in training, and limiting the use of rewards for good behavior.  This book not only does an excellent job building a biblical basis for parenting, but outlines very specific strategies and tools that can be applied right away, and gives many examples to help illustrate the parenting skills being discussed.  I highly recommend this book.

Click HERE for the Amazon page where you can read more reviews.

Note: we do NOT receive any money for this review or link.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is Obedience Necessary?

A four year old boy and his mother were visiting at our house.  It was time to go and he was asked to put away the toys he was playing with, and he said “No.”  Not only would he not pick up, but he would not put down the marbles he had in his hand.  His mother asked him repeatedly to put the marbles down, but he just ignored her and held them tightly.  His mom tried asking nicely, reasoning with him, promising she would buy him the same toy from the store, telling him she would tell his dad when they get home, counted to three, told him she would leave without him, etc.  Eventually he did decide to put the marbles down, but after all that, what was really accomplished?  Was putting the marbles down really the only goal in this situation?  If it was, then the goal was achieved.  I’m wondering if that should have been the only goal.  Is there any character quality that he could have learned if this situation had been handled differently?  This wasn't the first time I've seen this scenario.  It was the third time that week, and I see it all the time; parents negotiating with children with the same methods they would with an equal: guilt, threats, reasoning, bribes, debate, persuasion, etc.  I wonder if there is something about our culture that makes parents feel like they can’t physically take the marbles out of the hand or pick the child up and risk him crying or throwing a tantrum, or talk to the child about the consequences that he will receive for his actions.  Are parents embarrassed to enforce obedience because they might be seen as mean?  Or do they think it really is mean to enforce obedience?  Where do these fears come from?   Should parents give in to these fears or is there a worthwhile reason to conquer them?  Is there a positive outcome for the child that results when he is required to follow parental directions?

Ephesians 6:1-4 paints a picture of the parent child relationship in very simple terms. “Children obey your parents…Honor your father and mother…Fathers (parents) do not provoke your children to anger ("exasperate your children" NIV); instead bring them up in the training of the Lord NASB."   This sets up an order of authority, the parent is to train and the child is to obey.  It also gives guidelines for the manner that this training is to be carried out.  “Do not provoke your children to anger (exasperate).”  Exasperate means to annoy greatly or make very angry.  How do you annoy someone greatly or cause them to be very angry?  Treat them unfairly or harshly, spew anger, rub in your authority, overuse your power, intimidate them, etc.  So according to Ephesians, parents are to have authority but not the kind that annoys and angers.  They are to have the kind of authority that is loving and beneficial to the child.  These are the same guidelines that the Bible prescribes for all exercise of authority.  The Bible says to honor and obey leaders (Rom. 13:1-2; Titus 3:1; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13-14 and 5:5) but it also tells leaders to “be servants” and to not “Lord it over (dominate, control, act as if you are better than) other people" (Matt. 20:25-28; 1 Peter 5:2-3).  The Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands (Eph 5:22), but it also says that husbands should give themselves up like Christ gave himself up, and to love their wives as they do their own bodies (Eph. 5:25-29).  Biblical authority is serving another person in love for their benefit, not for the benefit, comfort or convenience of the person authority.  For the husband, serving his wife for her benefit means to put her needs before his own needs in order to make her holy and blameless by looking out for her spiritual, emotional, and physical well being. 

What is in the best interest of a child in this dance of authority without exasperating?  One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is the ability to obey God, and that ability comes in the form of self –control.  Self-control is the foundational virtue that gives a child the ability to develop all other virtues, love, joy peace, patience, kindness, etc.  He can’t act out these virtues in his life if he does not have control over himself.  Self-control provides us with the power to make good decisions even when they are hard.  It helps us to do the hard things that in our deepest being we want to do, but in a way we don’t want to.  And it helps us to have the strength to not do the things that we should not do, ie: punch someone, yell at someone, do drugs, have casual sex, lie, steal, cheat, etc.  How can we provide this virtue for our child?  Train him to obey so that he can practice right and virtuous behavior.  A coach makes you do what you don’t want to do, so that you can become who you want to be.  As parents we have a similar job, we need to make children practice saying “I’m sorry,”  “please” and “thank you” and using positive communication to get what they want rather that whining, demanding, stealing, or throwing a temper tantrum.  As they grow we begin to explain the moral reasons why they do these things, and then as they gradually become autonomous (self governing) and separate from our authority they will be able to carry out their desire to act on their deepest desires to be a godly, virtuous and moral person with skill and ability that only comes from practice, rather than act on the fleshly, sinful impulses that come free at birth.  We are born naturally gifted at being mean, rude and self centered, but self –control only comes through hard work, and the earlier that work starts the stronger we get.  So a parent exercising their authority in a fair and loving way is in the best interest of the child.  Don’t let the culture talk you into the lie that children should be your equal, children should never cry, children should never face consequences.  You can have authority and be a loving parent, they are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are both necessary.  Stand strong on what you believe and don’t be embarrassed for doing what God has directed you to do.  Don’t worry about what other people think, do what you know is right.  Make your child do things that they don’t want to do so they can become who they want to be and who God wants them to be. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What view of dating will you teach your kids?

Parents of young children … are you developing a comprehensive philosophy of parenting?

Links refererenced in this post ... 
Podcast which includes the blog as well as commentary at: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=510131258181

As parents, we have an incredible responsibility and opportunity to shape not only our child, but our child’s future and in doing so, we also shape the future of our world!  We leave a legacy.  For better or for worse, we will leave a legacy. Ironically, many people will study more for their driver’s test than they will for raising the next generation of human beings that will inhabit and be the caretakers of our world and the expression of God’s Kingdom in our world.  We encourage parents to take advantage of the many resources available to formulate a biblical, wise and well-considered philosophy of parenting.  This includes a view on dating and what you will teach your children about dating and relationships. 

We would like to recommend a blog article by Bryana Johnson called “Underage dating: The Elephant in the social conservative living room.”   Underage dating is the dating done by teenagers who are too young to be considering marriage, but engage in a series of romantic relationships that serve only to “practice” the cycle of attraction, closeness, some form of intimacy, and then eventual breaking off of the relationship.  This practice of teen dating is the number one way that our culture (including Christian circles) chooses to perpetuate the cancer of broken marriages.  “The trouble with underage dating is that it presents an entirely faulty view of what interaction with the opposite gender should be about.  Rather than placing the emphasis on building one, strong relationship with one person at a stage of life when a marital commitment is feasible, dating encourages young people to pour their energies into consistently seducing other young people at a time when neither of them is capable of making any long term commitments, their relationships are destined to fail from the get go because they are founded on unhealthy perceptions of love and not backed by any necessity to stick it out.”  We should be teaching our children that the deep emotional connection between a man and a woman was designed by God to be permanent and to reflect the image of the Creator.  By having many serious dating relationships, each one ending in break-up, we treat that sacred connection, the gift called “romantic love”, and the heart of another individual, like it is a toy, to be used for our own selfish desires, then discarded when it no longer fulfills our wants. 

Bryana brings out some excellent points about the connection between the practice of teenage dating and the wide-spread impact of divorce in our culture.  We recommend her blog as some food for thought as you develop your views on dating and formulate what you will teach your children about this cultural practice that will surround them daily at school and among their peers.  Don't wait.  Kids are getting into the dating scene younger and younger.  If you wait until they are in 5th or 6th grade to begin to teach them a view of dating, you will be abdicating the role of "first teaching on the subject" to others who do not share your values. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Self-Esteem Part 3: How to Provide a Biblical Self-Concept

So how do we apply this in parenting?   How do we provide a self-esteem that is biblical and not secular?  Teaching your child self-esteem is essentially teaching the Gospel. Here are the main truths that you want to teach your children to believe about themselves:

1. Love yourself as Christ loves the church. Ephesians 5:29
2. Know you can do all things (but only) through Christ who strengthens you. Philippians 4: 13
3. None of us is "good enough."  And yet you don’t have to be “good enough” to be valuable and loved. Know that God loves you as you are.  We are not “good enough” on our own, it is only through Jesus’ payment for our sins that we are made “good enough.”
4. All people, including you, have value because God has given us value.
5. You are worth dying for because God loves you and not because of anything you did to deserve it. None of us can earn salvation– it is a gift from God Ephesians 2:6-9.  You are worthwhile but you are not worthy. You do not deserve Christ’s sacrifice. He died for you out of love, not out of your own worthiness.

Practical applications:

  • Honor your child by viewing him as a priceless treasure and treating him with love and respect regardless of whether or not his actions deserve it.
  • Don’t dishonor him with anger, sarcasm, unjust criticism, unhealthy comparisons, or favoritism.
  • Give grace to your child.
  • Show him the Gospel as an answer to mistakes, we need forgiveness and we need to depend on Christ every day.
  • Don’t compare her to other people in a negative or positive way.
  • Don’t teach him that he is better than other people.
  • Expect her to treat you with respect.
  • Do not allow him to boss you around in an inappropriate way.
  • When he sins, help him to face it and make it right.
  • Don’t push him to perfection.
  • Don't love her only for her achievements.
  • Love him in spite of his bad behavior and choices.
  • Honor his separateness and personhood, allow him to have his own feelings, thoughts, opinion and choices (age appropriate of course).
  • Don’t use guilt motivation.
  • Provide fair and consistent consequences for poor choices/bad behavior.
  • Deliver consequences in a godly and empathetic way.
  • Tell him every day that you love him and don’t add a “because”.
  • Show him his need for God.
  • Don’t withhold love as a punishment or for any reason.
  • Encourage him that he can accomplish anything, but only in the strength of Christ.  
  • Teach him to honor all people, including you and all authority in his life.
  • Teach him that he doesn’t need any talent, ability or good looks to be worthwhile because God has already given him value and no one can take it from him.
  • Give him your time and attention.
  • Be tender and empathetic when she is hurting.
  • Teach him that holiness is more important than happiness.
  • Teach her that we have nothing on our own to be proud of because God has given us every talent and ability.
  • Don’t treat them him the center of the universe, he is a valuable part but everyone is equally valuable.
  • Help her to embrace failure as a part of learning.
  • Encourage him to try hard things even if he can’t do it perfectly the first time.
  • Don’t set her up to expect perfection of herself.
  • Forgive him.
  • Give her physical affection often.
  • Give him verbal affirmation often.
  • Remind her that she is a sinner and needs God every day.
  • Don’t compare him to other people.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Self-Esteem Part 2: What The Bible Says About How We Should View Ourselves

In one sense, low self-esteem is the opposite of pride.  In another sense, low self-esteem is a form of pride. It is rejecting what God says about us, and putting our opinion above God’s.  Low self-esteem is a focus on all the negative thoughts others may be having about us, and is, in that respect, self-centered.  Also some people with low self-esteem are very defensive about their looks or abilities because they are hanging on to their last shred of self-esteem and when it is threatened they become enraged, argumentative and accusatory.  It simply takes a different route to get to the same destination, that is, self-absorption, self-obsession, and selfishness. Instead, we are to be selfless, to die to self, and to deflect any attention given to us to the great God who created and sustains us.

Self-esteem can be defined as “a realistic respect for or a confidence and satisfaction in oneself,” but it is critical to provide the right basis for self-esteem.  So as parents we need to make sure that we provide biblical self-esteem.  Many define self-esteem as “feelings of worth based on their skills, accomplishments, status, financial resources, or appearance.” There is a secular version of self-esteem that says that we are the center of the universe and the goal in life is to feel good or to have “self-contentment.”  It also says that we should ignore our failures and our need for God and focus on our achievements.  These kinds of self-esteem can lead a person to feel independent and prideful and to indulge in self-worship, which dulls our desire for God.  If we only trust in our earthly resources, we will inevitably be left with a sense of worth based on pride. Beth Moore says in her book So Long Insecurity,  “Pride lives on the defensive against anyone and anything that tries to subtract from its self-sustained worth.  Confidence, on the other hand, is driven by the certainty of God-given identity and the conviction that nothing can take that identity away” (pg. 104).

As Christian’s we should not be prideful in thinking we have attained our worth on our own or in comparison to others but we also should not think we do not have value.  The Bible says that we should see ourselves as valuable and that value should be based on who we are in Christ (Eph. 1:4-5; Gal. 4:7; Rom. 8:15-17). It teaches us that we should be humble (2 Cor. 3:4-5; Isa. 64:6, Psalm 16:2; Phil. 2-3; Romans 12:3). “We cannot do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God.”  The Bible also teaches us to be confident and secure (
Jeremiah 17:7-8; Rom. 8:39; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Cor. 12:10; Phil. 4:12-13).  Nothing can shake God’s love for us.  Our confidence need to be in Him and nothing else.  We have all surpassing power but it is from God and nothing else!!

“We have dignity precisely because God himself gave it to us, His prized creation.  You and I possess dignity because God himself has it and He created us in His image.  To possess dignity is to be worthy of respect.  Worthy of high esteem.  No matter how foolish insecurity has tried to make us feel, we have the right to dignity because God himself gave it to us.  If we really believed this truth we would not have to mask our insecurity with pride.  If we knew who we were, what everybody else thought of us would grow less and less significant” (So Long Insecurity, Beth Moore, 159).

God is the only source of our value, apart from him we are nothing.  Anything other than God that is used to evaluate our worth becomes an idol.  

We have value because:  

  • We were created by God!  Psalm 139:13-16.  
  • We were created in God’s image!  Gen 1:27.  
  • We were chosen by God Himself!  God adopted us as His own children!  Eph. 1:4-6; Jn.1:12; Rom. 8:15-16; Gal. 4:7; Rev. 21:7.  
  • We are loved through the expression of God’s sacrifice!  Eph. 5:2; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10; 1 Thess. 5:9-10.  
  • God’s love for us is unconditional!  Eph. 2:4-5; Titus 3:3-5; Rom. 5:8.  
  • God has equipped us to do things that are eternally important and meaningful!  God has made us adequate for the eternally important task of affecting the destinies of human souls and he has made us able to have a meaningful impact on other human beings. Eph. 2:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-20.

Some people receive earthly talent and beauty that seem valuable to the society around us, but as real as it may seem, those things are just temporary bonuses on this earth and provide merely an illusion of value.  We need to reject the value that our culture places on external things and fully embrace our worth as a child of God, based on nothing other than the fact that we are valuable to God.  All people have the exact same value and if we see ourselves as better or worse in comparison to others then we are using the wrong scale and need to get in tune with God’s measuring stick.  We are the way we are, and that is good.  To truly have an accurate view of self, we need to accept that there is nothing we can do to alter our true value.

We should have an accurate and balanced view: “I am only valuable because of God’s love.” and “I am completely valuable because of God’s love.”

When we think we are of great value because of our beauty and talent, it is as if we arrogantly state “God I don’t need you, I have worldly commodities from which I gain my security and significance.”

Or conversely when we believe we have no value because we lack beauty and ability it is as if we distrustfully state “God you are not enough, I need the things that this world says are valuable, to be able to accept myself.”

A healthy self-esteem accepts that we are completely valuable regardless of our looks, talents etc., we are only valuable because of God’s view of us, and that we can never be more or less valuable than anyone else.

The next post will cover how you can provide a biblical self-concept for your children.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Self-Esteem Part 1: Why an Accurate Self-Concept Matters

Some extreme behaviors that result from an inaccurate view of “self” are: extreme pride and self-centeredness, chronic lying, absence from church and school, legalism, severe withdrawal from society, lower academic achievement, deep feelings of loneliness, workaholism, depression, poor mate selection, extreme self-criticism, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, unreasonable fears, avoidance of intimate relationships and suicidal thinking and attempts.

Providing the right foundation for our children’s self-esteem is one of the many important things we do for them.  It is important because how we see ourselves affects the way we treat others and the way we allow ourselves to be treated.  The way we think about ourselves can often be traced back to our parents.  As resilient as children are they do not easily escape the effects of a parent who was unaware of their need for love and respect, grace and correction.  People who did not gain an accurate view of themselves in the early years often struggle for the rest of their lives trying to feel good about themselves.  

People who receive lots of praise from their environment may learn to depend on these abilities and the praise that comes with them.  So they put high pressure on themselves to maintain their abilities and they put high pressure on others to continue to affirm their abilities.  They feel good about themselves most of the time, but that feeling requires constant maintenance and can be lost if the talent or success is lost.  They also tend to struggle with pride because they believe that they earned their self-worth.

People who either receive regular criticism or simply do not receive any praise from their environment may respond by making a commitment to themselves to either become talented or convince themselves and others that they do possess talent, intelligence, or other qualities that make them worthy of value.  Or they may resign themselves to believing that they are worthless to the point of self-hatred.

When we look to external sources to provide our self-worth, there are some sinful, selfish coping mechanisms that we use in order to keep our self-esteem intact:

Convince ourselves that we are……..
Try to become……. so that we can be valuable.
Avoid deep relationships so that our inadequacies are not revealed.
Pressure others to give us the praise that we deserve.
Become defensive when our inadequacies are exposed.
Require others to believe that we are ………..
Become angry at anyone who does not believe that we are…..
Become hurt by anyone who does not believe that we are…
Compare ourselves to other people and allow it to make us feel better or worse about ourselves.
Feel depressed, angry or worthless when we fail or do not live up to our expectations for ourselves.

The next post will cover what the Bible says about how we should view ourselves.