Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run” -Proverbs 21:5a

Our family makes Resolution’s on New Years Eve. We write them out and keep them secret from each other for the year. Then, the next New Year’s Eve we open the envelopes and share how close we came to reaching each particular goal. The idea is to model goal-setting and learn to enjoy the process while celebrating success. Of course we often don’t reach the goals we set- but we are sure to cheer for all progress made, no matter how small.

Top 10 Adults New Years Resolutions for 2015
1. Lose weight
2. Get Organized
3. Spend Less, Save More
4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5. Staying Fit and Healthy
6. Learn Something Exciting
7. Quit Smoking
8. Help Others in their Dreams
9. Fall in Love
10. Spend More Time with Family

45% of adults make resolutions each year and start strong in January. But by February, many people are feeling sour. In fact, 24% never reach those goals. But the fact remains, if you set a goal and determine to complete it- you’re 10 times more likely to actually complete it than just winging it and hoping for the best.

Watch this video with the kids. If you haven’t, it’s not too late to create your resolutions for this year. So, this week just watch the video, write down some goals and tuck them away until next year. If you’ve already been trying to accomplish something hard this year, I hope this video inspires you to press onward.

I realize this is Marshmallow Madness– so where are the marshmallows? I don’t know, I guess you could eat some while you watch. Or carrot sticks.

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Is it ever ok to lie?

The Bible warns against evil lies, but what about “friendly white lies”? Is there even such a thing?

“Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.”    Psalms 34:13

index     One way to help children understand the concept of honesty is to define it:

You must tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

It is also helpful to discuss the meaning of deception:

       to deceive = the action or practice of concealing or misrepresenting the truth

Brainstorm as a family the truthful response to these situations:
  • Is withholding information the same as lying?
  • What about when we are planning a surprise for grandma?
  • How should children respond when they don’t like their birthday gift?
  • What if a child really doesn’t enjoy another child’s company or doesn’t want to pursue a friendship?

Sometimes our children make a speaking mistake without intentionally lying. Give them a re-do! Particularly with younger kids who are experimenting with language and make-believe, allow them to re-start their story with “I think…”, “Once upon a time…”, or “I wish…”.  This helps to teach them that a story is fun to tell as long as we aren’t deceiving.

  • “Today I found a pot of gold! While driving, tell the children stories and have them guess whether they are fact or fiction. This will help them distinguish what is real and what is pretend. “Once I ran out of gas and I had to call a tow truck to help me.”,”I just saw a purple cow!”, “The light took forever to turn green.” 

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Talk to children about earning trust in our every day words:

Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.

Damage Control!

Oh, if we could all have the wisdom to know when to stop talking! Spend some time teaching on what to do and say in those situations when we know we’ve already blown it.

Proverbs 30:32  “If you have done foolishly in lifting up yourself, or if you have thought evil, lay your hand on your mouth.”

One humbling method is to stop immediately and apologize, much like an old Jane Austin novel: “Please forgive me, I am not myself today.”

Some examples of honesty found in the Bible are Samuel, David, Nehemiah, Paul and of course Jesus Christ.   All things considered, honesty really is the best policy.

Try This:

A light-hearted honesty test for teens at christianteens.com

Read this story to children about a boy named Daniel having to choose to be honest or dishonest.

Kids of Integrity has a whole section devoted to teaching kids about honesty. For example, serve a food your child really dislikes, and when they absolutely detest it, explain that God hates lies even more.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Train.”  It’s an interesting word… because it can be interpreted so many ways.  To some it can mean discipline.  To others it can mean to educate, but I believe it is meant to mean a good mix of both with a slant towards educating.  Too often we think of training as punishing undesirable behavior. However, training for a sport means we practice good habits until they become natural to us. We research the best methods for success and we re-run those methods over and over to get across that finish line first. When we fail, we analyse what went wrong.  If we can put so much effort into training for things like sports, why aren’t we, as parents, putting in all the work for our children? Training our children the way they should go is more comprehensive then having them sit in a corner for a designated length of time.

We should be applying the same principles to train up our children, so they can succeed at the most valuable race they will ever make: the future that God has planned for them. Three words will get you started on the right path:

Practice, practice, practice.

Practice trouble areas.  Here’s a common example.  How many times have you felt helpless just trying to get the kids out the door in the morning?  Simple disobediences’ can lead to quick tempers and just a bad start to the day.  So… practice it.  (Never in the morning! ) Call a family meeting, pick a time and explain how “disobedience at the door” affects everyone.  Have them practice getting coats on, sitting quietly, or whatever else you want to see in the morning routine.  Make it fun, grab a stop watch and time the family.  By practicing trouble areas, without the “time crunch busy go-go” morning environment, you will start to see… better mornings out the door!  If a certain child displays selfishness, have him or her practice showing love and selflessness by thinking of 3 things they can do to add value to those around him.  Praise character as it increases, and acknowledge even the smallest change of heart as it becomes evident.  This is a smart way to walk out the daily faith commanded in Deuteronomy 6.

Link everything to character. Instead of asking a child to put away their toys, ask them to show diligence to complete their task. Don’t just talk about not being late; instead explain how being punctual demonstrates respect. If you’re going to have a chart and put stickers on it when a certain habit is established, make sure to reward the character not the habit. For example, “You did a great job of making your bed, and brushing your teeth this week!”  This could be better explained by adding “You showed respect for our home by getting your responsibilities done on time!”

Here is a link that lists character traits (and their opposites) along with a Biblical definition and Bible verse for each. Spend time focusing on a different attribute each month, or post it on the fridge and consult it when you see a particular weakness that needs addressing.

Teach your children character now, and it will equip them for success in their own race.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Got a great idea to teach character? Please comment and pass it on!

Better than bread- its Wonderbread!

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That’s what comes to mind when I ponder the word enrichment.

In a nutshell, it means to make something better. To add pleasure. To enrich a job is to make it more satisfying for its employees. To enrich one’s life is to make it more enjoyable. Notice it isn’t about starting from scratch. Wonderbread didn’t re-invent a whole new food, they enriched the flour by adding vitamins. They took what was working, and found ways to make it even better. (Please don’t think I’m advocating enriched white bread, I am more of a natural make it yourself person. Sadly, Wonderbread’s slogan at one time was actually “Good nutrition doesn’t have to be whole wheat…” !)

 Consider how your family navigates an average day. What is already working decently?  How can you enrich it further? Maybe a prayer before meals thanking God (or after the meal in the old testament tradition), or a quick blessing as the kids leave the house for school.

We can make our family better just by smiling more. What is the first thing you say to your children in the morning? How about the last words you speak over them at night?

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Try this enriching Christmas activity you can use with your nativity set:

(adapted from www.famtime.com free devotional)

Read the Christmas story from Luke 2 together. Use a children’s picture bible if appropriate. Talk about the characters, where they came from, and when they got to see Jesus.

Use the Nativity set to “act” out Jesus’ birth.  Leave the barn as is, but place the Mary and Joseph in another part of the house to indicate “Nazareth” and over a few days have them get closer and closer to the manger in “Bethlehem”.  If you would like to start a new family tradition, Jesus can arrive in the manger on Christmas Day, the Shepherds the next day, and the Wise Men on New Years Day. They could present a gift for Jesus, perhaps a bag of groceries for the food bank? They might also bring a board game or some other fun family activity!

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I’m sure there are plenty of great things going on in your home. Perhaps there are ways to enrich it even more.  Got a great idea? Leave a comment and let us know.

 

 

Respect is a tough character trait to teach. Not only is it difficult to define, it kind of goes against the selfishness that is in all of us. Although we can’t deny that kids go through phases of genuinely desiring only to please their parents, they soon figure out how to lie, steal, and hit, all on their own.

For young children, use facial cues and body language to teach the concept of respect as “adding value”. Discuss how to tell how another person is feeling. “Look at Susy’s sad face. What can we do to help her feel better?”

Talk about eyebrows, smiles, frowns, angry eyes, slumped shoulders, and stomping, for example, to help children look beyond themselves: “When you gave your brother a turn with that toy, he smiles and his eyes were sparkling! You added value to him! How does that feel to make him feel special?”

Use the term to help children make restitution when they hurt another’s feelings: “I know you apologized for doing wrong, but you need to add value to make your relationship better. Let’s think of three things you can do to make her feel special.”

As they get older, you can expand the term “value” even more, to include the term “honor”. Being respectful encompasses showing honor, but respect has some negative connotations (You will respect your elders, or else!!). It is an easier transition mentally from adding value to showing honor. From there, we can teach that showing honor with a positive attitude is showing respect.

Teens can sometimes withhold respect because they don’t feel it has been earned. They might disagree with our decisions or feel slighted for not being consulted. Be careful not to return fire- we can model respect even when disciplining. Re-iterate the same process of using facial cues and body language to discern attitudes, and discuss adding value in those areas.

Make sure to add value to them as well, and especially model how we show respect to those around us not only at home, but at work, at church and towards the leaders of our communities. Invite their opinion when appropriate, but walk them through being respectful even when they disagree.

Some ideas to help it hit home:

Praise the kids every time you hear of something respectful. Do a silly dance every time somebody adds value to somebody else. Put a bean, penny or marble in a cup or bowl, (or a sticker on a chart), and when it is full do something fun together as a family.

Pick a new person in the family each day and discuss as a group ways to honor that person. Make it a game to show respect, just don’t forget one member of the family! Be sure to get through every person!

What does your family do to honor each other?