Purposeful Parenting, Part II

Two weeks ago we began a short series I’ve entitled “Purposeful Parenting.” It’s based on a blog post by Whitney Hopler of Crosswalk.com.   Whitney is doing a practical application of a book written by Jim Burns, The Ten Building Blocks for a Solid Family.
In the first commentary in this series, we covered 3 points: be there; express affirmation, warmth and encouragement; and build healthy morals and values.  I am structuring this series around the idea of being intentional about parenting.
It’s been my experience, and I believe this is certainly substantiated by the experts who write on the subject of building strong families, that when parents are purposeful in their parenting, good things happen.  No, they aren’t perfect families. And, yes, sometimes even in the most purposeful and intentional parenting situations, a kid goes off the rails.  There’s absolutely no guarantee, although we do have the principle in Proverbs 22:6—“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  That verse and Deuteronomy 6:4-7, in which God instructs the fathers to teach their children all the time, everywhere, the truths that He, God, was imparting to the Fathers, seem to me to be calling parents to purposeful, intentional parenting.
Fathers inspireAt some point, and I suspect it is very, very early, a child makes his or her choices about behavior. Parents who are purposefully parenting have spent time discovering everything they can about this gift from God, this little human who has been given to them to love and nurture.  Not only that, but parents determined to purposefully parent, and not just go with the flow or respond in the moment, spend time in serious Bible study and prayer, seeking to know God and to have His Word instilled in their own hearts and minds so that they bring their children up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
And that brings us to the next point:  Discipline with consistency.  Author Burns and blogger Hopler note that this is not easy. It takes energy and time—and I’ll add self-discipline. It’s always easier at the moment to give in. And that becomes a pattern children recognize.  If they badger, cry, act out, plead long enough…they’ll get their way.  In the long run, that’s not good for anyone and actually puts the child on a collision course eventually. Setting clear boundaries and expectations, individually and for the entire family, and then establishing corrective discipline for infractions, is good for everyone. Purposefully, intentionally and prayerfully establish the boundaries and expectations and the consequences for infractions—and then seek God’s strength to discipline yourself so that you can discipline—disciple—your children.
Burns and Hopler highlight that parents need to “ruthlessly eliminate stress,” in their own individual lives and for the entire family. Trim activities; don’t overschedule you or your family. Don’t let your career so stress you that you have nothing left to give to your family. Get adequate sleep and exercise.  When the stress is manageable, it’s easier to purposefully and intentionally parent, to be patient, to discipline in love not anger, to enjoy your spouse and your children.
The sixth building block the authors highlight is power-packed: “communicate well.”  Books and seminars abound on this topic. But it really can’t be over-emphasized. Parents devoted to purposeful parenting take time to listen to their children—really listen—both in the everyday things of life and in the times of discipline. In these exchanges you learn much about the individual child, the way he or she thinks and sees the world. It affords insight that will help you guide your children as unique persons with unique personalities. Purposeful parenting means positively communicating with your children, finding ways to encourage and affirm them not just giving them a constant barrage of negative.  Apologizing when appropriate can also be a real growing experience for all family members.
God the Father deals with us purposefully and intentionally as individuals—unique individuals. His discipline, His communication, and His salvation are all tailored to us individually.  In doing so, He has set the example for parenting.  Nothing can replace the value of strong marriages and strong families—and both happen when husband and wife, mom and dad, determine that by God’s grace, with His wisdom and in His strength, they will purposefully parent the children God gives them.

 

SCOTUS strikes blow against parental rights

From ParentalRights.Org:

SCOTUSThe Supreme Court of the United States has been in the news a lot lately with some major decisions regarding the balance of power. But one decision you may not have heard about – a decision to not make a decision – may have the biggest impact on your parental rights.

On Monday – the same day the Court handed down their rulings in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Harris v. Quinn – they also chose to deny cert to (that is, they opted not to review) Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown. In doing so, they left in place a California ban on reparative therapy which treads on parental rights.

 

Read the rest HERE

WFA president Julaine Appling states, “These laws truly trample on parental rights but then government today seems to think children are their heritage, not the heritage of the Lord given to married moms and dad to love, direct and nurture.  We had a similar bill introduced this session in Madison. Fortunately, it went nowhere but I’m sure it will be back. Parents need to stay tuned in and engaged on this important issue.

In God We Trust?

From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:

 

I ended up with a $20 bill in my hand over the weekend—not for long, I assure you. But for a change, I was still enough long enough to really look at the bill. The way I was holding it the words “In God We Trust” loomed large.  It was almost as if I had never seen them before. They fairly leaped off the bill.

In-God-We-Trust-415x276I paused and pondered. “In God We Trust.”  For a few moments I allowed myself to be transported to 1776.  Did the founders of this great country really trust in God?  Who did they look to for direction in a time of great adversity, a time of the heavy hand of government taking away their individual freedoms and their ability to self-determine?  We don’t have to look much beyond the words of the Declaration of Independence for a reasonable answer.

Fifty-six different men signed this document. Men from all walks of life, representing the diversity of the various colonies. They knew what they were doing. The Declaration of Independence represented the sentiments of all of those who took the quill, dipped it in the ink well and with their signature pledged to one another, their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

While written relatively quickly, the Declaration of Independence was not hastily or casually considered. Records show that some 86 changes were made including the insertion of three complete paragraphs, before the final vote on the document on July 4th. The deliberations and the number of and types of changes tell me that they were extremely careful about the wording.

In the opening paragraph of this incredible document, the signers make a bold statement regarding the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” with the word God capitalized. For those men, there was no doubt as to which god they were referring. This was God Almighty, the Creator God.

The second paragraph has that phenomenal declaration:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Again, there was universal agreement among the signers that the Creator was the same as “Nature’s God.”

In the concluding paragraph, the colonists through their elected representatives to Congress, boldly declare their decision:  “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown…”

Strong words. Frightening words. But I note that their trust was not in themselves, individually or collectively.  Rather their trust and their appeal was to the “Supreme Judge of the world” to God Almighty.  In those days, no one asked, “Who were they talking about using that phrase?”  Everyone knew.    It was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

For those 56 men who risked everything signing this document, “In God We Trust” was not a nice-sounding national motto showing up on paper currency.  It was a rock solid belief.  It was direction in the midst of oppressive circumstances.  It was the light of hope in the midst of the darkness of tyranny.

How the times have changed. One of the most profound, world-changing documents ever penned referred 3 specific times to God. Today, some 238 years later, we seriously entertain abolishing the motto, removing it from coins, taking out “one nation under God” from the pledge and completely eliminating God from our culture and government.

I assert that such actions would be absolutely unthinkable to those who risked everything so that you and I could, as their posterity, live even today in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”  So what does “In God We Trust” mean to you as you prepare to celebrate July 4th with friends and family?  Is it just a nice motto or is it a bedrock belief lived out every day?

WFA President Appling on SCOTUS Religious Freedom Ruling “Good News, but ‘Telling’”

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and others in a momentous case that upholds religious liberty and protects the conscience rights of business owners.

>>>>>read more HERE

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Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling responds, “This is certainly good news for Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Specialties and other similarly situated family-owned and run companies. It is telling, however, that the Court made it clear that this ruling does not provide, as they say, a “shield” for employers trying to cloak discrimination as religious belief.  This tells me we must stay very much on guard to protect religious freedom.”

Purposeful Parenting; Investment With High Returns

From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:

ImageDoug, father of four children in our private Christian school, sat across from me in my office early one school day. After very brief pleasantries, Doug sat up straighter in his chair and looked at me and said, “So what do you think are my kids’ God-given strengths and abilities? I want to know if what you see is what we are seeing at home. Our children are God’s gifts to us; we want to be good stewards in every way and help our kids cooperate with God in using the gifts and talents He has given them.”

The question surprised me. I’d never had a parent ask me that.  I answered him thoughtfully and carefully, suggesting that he also make sure to talk with their classroom teachers.

As we stood and shook hands later, I candidly told Doug that I had never had a parent ask me that question and that I was impressed.  “From my vantage,” I said, “it means you and Gail are truly intentional about how you are raising your children.  It’s not often I have the honor of working with parents who take the time to really know their children individually and then purpose to work to build their character individually and to intentionally strengthen the family unit.”

Intentional, purposeful parenting is not easy, but it is absolutely essential if parents want their children to grow up to be all that God intends them to be and if they want their family unit strong and healthy.

Recently, I came across a blog that featured a post entitled “10 Ways to Build a Healthy and Happy Family.”  As I read the piece, it seemed to be at least a good starting point for some practical suggestions on intentional and purposeful parenting.

The post is actually practical applications extrapolated from a book by Jim Burns, The 10 Building Blocks for a Solid Family.  Wendy Hopler, of Crosswalk.com wrote the blog article from Burns’ book. I think the main points are worth mentioning.  It may take a week or two to get to them all, but they are, I believe, important reminders to all families.

The first building block according to Burns and Hopler:  “Be there.”  It’s so obvious but so important. Someone has said showing up is half of life.  For kids, parents showing up is likely almost all of life. Kids know when they aren’t a priority.  When parents are really “there”—mentally, emotionally and physically, kids know that, too. They sense interest, involvement, importance.  As Hopler says, “nothing can make up for your absence.”

ImageBuilding block 2 is “express affirmation, warmth and encouragement.”  The blog author encourages parents to be wary of “shame-based parenting,” which she contends is performance-oriented and approval focused.  Don’t make everything about doing, not doing, or achieving or not achieving.  Spend some relaxed time just being with your children, listening, interacting, expressing interest, letting them know you love them for them, not for what they do.  This is the kind of investment that lets you learn about them and enables you to direct the child into areas of strength and help him or her on those areas of weakness.

Building block 3 is “build healthy morals and values.”  This requires much prayer, study and wisdom in order to know what is going on in the culture that is influencing your children and then seeking God’s will for how to, on purpose and with intention, help each of your children—individually and collectively as a family—deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. It means making tough decisions about television, movies, the Internet, video games, and events and it also means having difficult decisions about personal purity. Parents need to come up with a personalized game-plan for each of their children.  All children won’t struggle with the same areas, but all children must know what God says about what is good for them and what is bad for them.

We’ll get to the other building blocks in future commentaries.  But these 3 get us started and allow for careful examination of your parenting.  Are you being intentional and purposeful? Are you being personal in how you parent?  No matter how much time and energy it requires, I can guarantee you this is an investment with returns so high they cannot even be calculated.