Christian Parenting Challenge #29 – Communicate

Christian Parenting Challenge #29 – Communicate

Challenge 29
Communicate

dad and son
Communication is the foundation for relationships
We communicate in different ways with different people. We communicate differently with our colleagues than with our partner, for example. The child/parent relationship is different again. It would be inappropriate for us to share our innermost thoughts and fears with our children, but we do want them to be able to open up to us. How can we encourage them to do this?

Trust, time, care
Trust is essential for deep, authentic communication to flourish. We won’t open ourselves up to someone we don’t trust. Conversely, the people we share with on the deepest level are the people we trust the most. We know that they won’t hurt us, break a confidence, laugh at our fears, or manipulate us. Our children need to trust us, or they will not share with us. If we can raise their confidence in us and allow them to talk to us now, when the issues are small, they will have confidence to talk to us when the issues get bigger, and they really need our help.
We also need to give them time to open up, and to know that we care about them.

Authentic relationships
Today’s challenge is to talk about something with your children that needs to be discussed (this might be a challenge to do with each child separately). The very first challenge was spending some time listening – today is all about two-way communication. The idea is to talk together about something: to put across your view, and to listen to your child’s.
Whatever topic you choose, pick a suitable time and place. Perhaps you could go for a walk, go fishing, bring up your chosen topic at the meal table, in the car, on the way to school, or in their bedroom . . . whatever you think would be best.
Most of us have topics we know we really ought to deal with, but have been putting off. At this point something may already have come to mind that you know you need to talk about . . . that is almost certainly the subject you need to broach today! In case nothing springs to mind, here are some ideas of topics you might like to talk about:
Sharing.
Chores.
Illness.
Financial issues.
A family matter.
A school issue.
A problem with behaviour.
The facts of life.
Keeping safe on the internet.
Something about church or their spiritual life.
And there are so many more! Anything you may have been avoiding talking about . . . today is your day! You might prefer to talk about a really simple issue, but let me encourage you not to pass up this opportunity to bring up a subject you know you should broach.

Good communication
Jesus said whatever needed to be said in just the right manner. To those who needed a gentle word, he spoke gently. He blessed, rebuked and encouraged, warned, inspired and always spoke the truth. At times he was angry, particularly with those who not only refused to listen, but tried to stop others listening, too. To be like Jesus is our aim! Still, while we’re getting there, here are some tips for good communication:
Decide on the outcome you want to achieve before you start. For example, do you want your children to know how ill grandma is, and be able to talk about how they feel about that to you?
Show that you want to talk and listen, by your body language.
Be tactful, especially if it’s a tricky topic to handle.
Keep your tone of voice calm and cheerful, if you can. If you can sound caring, rather than accusing or judgemental, you are more likely to get a good response.
Be open to new ideas – you never know, your children might have an interesting new take on an issue, or help you to understand something better.
Listen to what your children have to say about your chosen topic. Reflect back what they have said, to make sure you have understood their point of view.
Make sure you understand what they are trying to say, even if they aren’t expressing it in quite the right way. Ask questions if you’re not sure.
Be encouraging. Try to avoid being scathing, sarcastic, forceful or aggressive.
If your child starts to moan or whine, or speak to you disrespectfully, stop them gently but firmly, and ask them to use a different tone of voice.
And absolutely don’t let them overhear you telling your friends what they said. If they do, it might be a long time before they talk to you again.

Doing our best
Some of you will breeze through today’s challenge! Others of you might have to take a big gulp and be bold and brave. If this is you, well, just have a go. The best thing you can do is to practice – to just do it, then keep doing it, and realise that although many times you may seem to fumble around the issue and get all your words wrong, it’s all a step in the learning curve of life!

But my teenagers only grunt . . .
All I can say is, do your best. You may be surprised how much is going in when you talk. Exasperating it may be, but don’t give up, because although the teen years seem to last forever, they don’t, and it’s great to be still talking to them when they come out the other side!

Over to you!
Decide what it is you would like to talk about with each of your children, and what outcome you want to achieve.
Choose a suitable time and place.
Write in your notebook everything you think/feel about this issue, and how you will broach the subject.
Go communicate!
Let us know how it went Come over to the Christian Parenting Challenge facebook page!

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:14-15

For the Future:
Try to keep communicating. When something crops up that you would like to talk about . . . take a deep breath and just do it!

Christian Parenting Challenge #12 – Protect Your Children’s Minds

Challenge 12
Protect your children’s minds

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What do your children have on their minds?
Today’s challenge is a serious one. What is going into your children’s minds? What are they being fed by the world around; what are they thinking about, what are they absorbing even in your own home? Protecting our children’s minds is absolutely vital, but can slip under the radar. So many things can draw our children away from all that is good, and our enemy is just waiting to steal, to kill and to destroy.

It’s a dangerous world out there
Here are some dangers we need to make sure we are protecting our children’s minds against:
Occult/witchcraft.
Pornography.
Violence.
Anything that treats girls as things for pleasure.
Worldliness.
Materialism.
Harmful philosophies/cults.
To a certain extent, these dangers have always been around. But now the difference is that they are so much more readily available than they used to be, and many of them have become culturally acceptable. Terrible images and insidious ways of thinking are now being beamed and brought into our own homes via books, magazines, catalogues, TV programmes, YouTube videos, DVDs, social media sites and other Internet sites, mobile phones with Internet access, video games, films and advertisements. Everywhere our children go, they are at risk. Frankly, it is almost impossible to completely keep our children from what we might consider to be unsuitable material. So what can we do?

Defend your kids – fight back!
Our children seem so small and vulnerable at times, but the enemy doesn’t care. Are you ready to fight back? This is one fight that is definitely worth giving all your energy to, no holds barred. Here are some positive ways to fight back against the onslaught of evil that is assailing our children’s minds from all sides:
Praying – the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Keeping the lines of communication open with your children – it’s good to talk. If you don’t know there’s a problem, you can’t deal with it.
Ask what your children are learning at school – what they are being taught about marriage, creation, and other religions? Forewarned is forearmed. Be ready to teach these things yourself, from a biblical perspective.
Keep computer screens in an open place where you can see what is going on, make sure all parental controls are switched on, and talk about online safety.
Encourage your children to make good choices in every area of life.
Watch what your children are watching, read the books and magazines they are reading, and check the games they are playing (especially online games). If you consider them to be unsuitable, ban them, or . .
Offer Christian, or at least wholesome alternatives. Buy Christian books, audio books, DVDs and games. It’s money well spent.
Encourage Christian fellowship, and friends with high moral standards.
Talk about issues as they come up.
Be a good example.
Parents have to be prepared to be hated at times. Your children may never know the trouble you have spared them from, by looking after their minds know. I banned my youngest from watching the cartoon “South Park” when he was younger. He didn’t like it at the time, but he understands now. Being firm about things that matter is hard sometimes, but essential. Deepening your resolve to protect your children will strengthen your relationship with them in the long term.

Faith and deeds go together
Remember that we are on the winning side! We need to do what we can, then entrust our children to the Lord, and leave the rest to him. He is an all-powerful, almighty, all-gracious God, and loves our children even more than we do. 🙂 What a wonderful Saviour we serve!

Can Dernier Publishing help you?
If you would like to buy encouraging and inspiring books for your children that have a Christian message: Christian books
If there’s anything we can do to help, please don’t hesitate to contact us 🙂

Over to you!
If you are not sure what your children are reading/watching, or who they are spending time with, find out.
In your notebook, write down any dangers your child may be facing. Are they reading unsuitable books, watching TV programmes you’re not keen on, do they have a group of worldly friends?
Underline the one thing you are most concerned about and write a plan of action as to what you will do about it.
Carry out your plan.
Let us know how it went: www.facebook.com/christianparentingchallenge

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

For the future:
Keep praying, keep fighting. If you need to take more steps than one, come back to this challenge as often as you need to.

Christian Parenting Challenge #8: Look After Yourself

Christian Parenting Challenge #8: Look After Yourself

Challenge 8
Look after yourself

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You have needs, too
We all know what happens when we are tired, hungry, stressed out, and desperately need to spend some time alone. We get ratty, and our relationships suffer. As parents, we can naturally keep giving and giving, and giving again, but if we really want to deepen any relationship we need to make sure we have our own needs met, too.

Get enough sleep
Get enough sleep? Easy for you to say, I hear you mutter! But what if you went to bed half an hour earlier each night? We all tend to sit that bit too long in front of the telly or laptop, when really we should be heading for bed . . . just think how much more energy you would have if you got a bit more sleep! If your children disturb you at night, or if anything else is keeping you from sleeping well, try to think of a sensible way around the problem, so you can face each day with the energy you need.

Eat well and drink plenty of water
We all know we should eat healthily to keep up our energy levels, but it’s sometimes hard to eat the right amount of nutritious food at regular times. If you need some good advice on nutrition, today’s the perfect day to look some up (or just begin to follow what you already know!).
Some people become seriously grumpy if they don’t have regular meals – if that’s you, keep eating when you need to, so you don’t end up snapping at your children. If you already know you should eat more healthily, determine today to make that change.
Drinking lots of water can also give you lots more energy – such a simple thing to do, yet so effective. Being even a bit dehydrated can make you lethargic and give you a nagging headache. Easily remedied!

Take time for yourself
I know it’s not easy to take time for yourself when you are a parent, especially if you are on your own. My first husband died when my children were aged ten, fifteen and seventeen, so I know what it’s like to be up in the morning to do the school run and still be up late with teenagers. But if we don’t want to go under, we need to take time aside for ourselves.
Ever since my children were tiny, we had what I called “rest time”. When they were small they had a nap and so did I! As they got older, they played or read on their own, while I had the chance to sit in peace to recover from the morning and renew my energy for the rest of the day. I would have my “quiet time” then. Maybe you could try it? (Making sure your children are safe of course!)
It may be that you don’t need “me time” in the same way. Perhaps it would be better for you to take a long bath in the evening, to have the odd weekend away, or whatever is possible and helpful.
It’s not about being selfish, it’s about being realistic about being human! Even Jesus took time alone when he was surrounded by needy people – if it was OK for him, then it’s certainly OK for us.

Keep up with encouraging friends
We all need good company to keep us on the right track. Whatever does it for you, whether it’s meeting friends for coffee, having a round of golf, or whatever – make every effort to do it. Your needs to not have to come last all the time. Make sure you have lots of positive, encouraging Christian fellowship, too.

Pray and read the Bible
Praying and reading the Bible are essentials if we want to continue walking with the Lord and grow in our faith and draw closer to the Lord. Don’t skip your time with God – it may be the most important thing you do all day. We can all find the time to do the things that really matter.

Deal with stress and other issues in your life
Stress can be a big issue, but it’s not the only one. If you know that you have a problem in your life that is affecting your relationship with your children, today is an excellent opportunity to take the first step to deal with it.
Be honest with yourself, to start with. The truth can hurt, but if you deal with the truth, the truth can set you free. Not sure what the truth is? Feel confused and don’t know where to turn? Why not:
Write in your Challenge journal what you think and how you feel about any issue on your mind. Then write down what you feel the Lord is saying to you about it/what you think you should do about it. Many people find this aspect of keeping a journal incredibly helpful.
Talk to someone you trust. It can be a friend, a counsellor, a doctor, someone in the pastoral care team at church, or a trusted member of your family. Just do it – don’t be too proud to get help if you need it.

Remember, if you have a problem that is not dealt with, it will affect your family as well as yourself. Here are some issues that you really should get some help with:

If you are drinking too much alcohol, or you think your child may be.
If you are abusing your body in any way, or you think your child may be.
If your temper is causing rifts in your relationships.
If you have financial worries.
If you are suffering from depression.
If you feel that you are not coping with one or more aspect of life.
If you or your child have a long term illness.
If you or your child are at risk of abuse.
If you are harbouring bitterness, resentment, hurts and unforgiveness.
If you haven’t got over a bereavement, marriage or relationship break-up.
This is not an exhaustive list. You know if you need help with something – don’t pretend to yourself any longer. If you’re serious about deepening your relationship with your children, take the first steps to freedom today for their sake, if not for your own. You will never regret it.

Over to you!
Write in your notebook any steps you know you should take to look after yourself better.
Take that first step.
Begin a journal, if you think it might be helpful.
Pray about any known issues you are facing.
Let us know how it went! http://www.facebook.com/christianparentingchallenge

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

For the future:
For everyone’s sake, keep looking after yourself.

Be encouraged! What other parents say:
“This is a real challenge with young kids!!! We are going to try the following . . . Dad: more time out when off, drink more water, play golf more often. Mum: Less time in front of a screen, drink more water, more exercise, wind down for longer to help sleep.
We also are going to try and programme some quality time on our own together, maybe go for a walk or a coffee once in a while.”

What are your children reading?

Christian Parenting Challenge for the day: check out what your children are reading! You might get a shock – books are not always as innocent as would first appear . . . even (especially?) books brought home from school.

Selection of books from Dernier Publishing

If you read the book for yourself, you might at least you might be able to discuss some of the issues the story raises from a Christian perspective.

Keep your eyes open, folks, unsuitable influences can creep in when you’re not looking . . .

And make sure you offer plenty of Christian alternatives – books that will thrill, encourage and inspire your children in their walk with God!

Can you recommend any good Christian novels for children and young people? Try Dernier Publishing if you’re on the lookout for books for 8-16s! 🙂

book swirl 001Looking out with you,

 

Janet

 

What is the Christian Parenting Challenge?

Hi, I’m Janet Wilson, founder of Dernier Publishing. If you would like to know more about me, please go over to the ‘About’ page 🙂

The Christian Parenting Challenge is a brand new thing for me. It came out of a desire I believe many of us have, over and beyond ‘bringing up our children’, to deepen our relationship with them. One of the most quoted verses in Scripture on child-rearing is fromImage the book of Proverbs: “Train your child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Training comes from relationship. It doesn’t come from lectures, from punishments or a particular system of child-rearing . . . it comes from spending time together. The trouble is, many of us are super-busy and time just seems to slip away . . .

So, I invented the Christian Parenting Challenge – 30 days to deepen your relationship with your children. At the moment it’s a free resource – just let me know if you would like to join – if you do, you will get sent an email every day for 30 days, with a challenge for you to complete that day.

If you’re looking for advice in bringing up your children, this is the wrong place. But if you are a Christian, and the thought of deepening your relationship with your child thrills you, this is definitely the place to be 🙂