Talking With Your Kids About Tragedy

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Like many people across the United States and the world, my heart has been broken by the tragedy that struck Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 15. The sheer magnitude of this awful act of pure evil is almost too much to think about. I can’t stop thinking about, however. I imagine many other parents are wondering how to handle talking about this and other tragic events that may occur. Here are some suggestions that may assist you.
1.Decide how much your kids NEED to know. Many school aged kids will hear about the tragedy in CT because of it involving the deaths of children their age and the fact it happened at school. Kids they know may be talking about it. Hopefully, their teachers and administrators will not. Kids who are school age may need to know the basic facts of the event, but be diligent to protect them from the horror of details that will only make it more likely they develop major feelings of fear. Limit your own intake of the news regarding this event to times your kids will not be around. Obviously, the older your kids are, the more information they can handle. We don’t need to hide our kids from all exposure to the negative things of the world, but we do need to make sure we protect them from knowing too much at too young an age.
2. Be honest about your feelings. If you decide to have a conversation with your kids about a tragic event, let them know how you are feeling. If you are sad, tell them so. If you can’t quite figure out how you’re feeling, that’s ok too. Tell your kids it’s okay to be sad, confused or even angry that the tragedy has occurred. It’s important for you to work through your feelings without the pressure of having to know exactly how you feel within a day, week or even a month. Your kids need to have the same opportunity. Let them know they can talk to you about anything they have fears or concerns about.
3. Express positive things to them. Let your kids know how much you love them. Hug them. Write them a note describing something you think is special about them. Also let them know they are safe. Encourage them by letting know you will always love and protect them as long as you live.
4. Remember God is Sovereign. Sovereign mean authority. God is in charge of all things and He is watching over us at every moment. Even though God is in charge, He allows humans the free will to make whatever choices we want, even if they are bad ones. The fact the school shootings in Newtown, CT took place might cause kids to worry that God isn’t able to keep us safe. Show them Psalm 103:19 from the Bible that says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.” Also, using the fingers on your hand, teach them what Hebrews 13:5b says about God’s presence. Using one finger for each word show them “He will never leave you.” Keep your faith in God strong; your kids will follow where you lead.
5. Pray with them. This is something we need to be doing each day with our kids, but it’s even more important we do so in the midst of a tragedy. Prayer keeps us connected to our Heavenly Father and is a reminder we are unable to support ourselves on our own strength. What should you pray for? In this event, pray for the families who lost loved ones at the school that day. Pray also for the teachers and administrators left behind to pick up the pieces. Pray for the kids in the school who may have avoided physical harm, but will suffer emotionally from the trauma for many days to come.

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iParent-January 15: Smart Parents Use Splinks!

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If you haven’t been to sign up for Splinks yet, please go to the D6 Family website. This great little tool is a free and comes through email that offers you several different ready made ideas for how to connect with your kids about the Lord and His Word each week.

Many kids experience a disconnect between church and home that isn’t evident while they are kids, but shows up big time when they hit the teenage and young adult years. The disconnect comes from knowing the stories in the Bible from beginning to end, but not understanding how they apply to everyday life. We live in an age where kids go through cellphones and game systems like I went through Captain Crunch as a boy. If something isn’t useful or meaningful to them, they disregard it. We have to work to connect God’s Word to the real world, and there’s easier way to do this than by using Splinks from D6 Family. Seriously, go sign up today!

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Election 2008-Teaching Kids That Truth Matters

As the election draws ever nearer, I felt it might be helpful to address the whole concept of truthfulness. It is my firmly held belief that one of the foundations of our children’s lives ought to be a commitment to truth and honesty. This belief comes from what the Bible teaches us about how we should live. The Bible tells in the Ten Commandments to not “bear false witness” which is church-ese for “don’t lie”. The Bible also tells us in the Gospels to “let our yes be yes, and our no be no.” I believe the Bible teaches that truth is not negotiable, or flexible depending on the situation. What is true for one group of people is true for all groups of people

No where in public life is the concept of consistent truth telling attacked more than during a presidential election, and this drives me crazy. To a certain degree, both candidates are not totally truthful. They both will declare all of the things that they will do for the country, knowing full well, they have no intention of seriously doing everything they say. This is not optimism on there part, but I think a lack of truthfulness.

I believe that parents can make a difference in future generations by never straying from the biblical teaching about truth and honesty. We need to be prepared to explain to them that the candidates are making a bad choice when they tell something that isn’t true about the other one. It’s up to us to correct the bad stories when we hear them, and not just the ones that are against our preferred candidate. Our kids will be voting someday, maybe even in the next presidential election. We owe it to them and our founding fathers to help them abide by the truth and to demand a society of truthfulness.

How Do You Spend Your Resources?

The 2008 Summer Olympics are ready to kick off in Beijing, China.  The opening ceremonies are this Friday, and will kick off competitions in dozens of different events.  The bill for the opening ceremonies is said to be in excess of $100 million dollars!  What an amazing amount of money.  That’s a huge sum to spend, even for a permanent structure. As I recall, LP Field in Nashville, where the Tennessee Titans play was built for somewhere in the neighborhood of $180 million.  That is certainly more money, but when you consider that it is a permanent structure that can hold 70,000 people for a variety of other events in addition to football games, that looks like a bargain compared to the money that will be spent on one, single EVENT.  Wow.  That’s a lot of fireworks and special effects.  

Today, I’m asking you the question, “how do you spend your resources?”.  Specifically, how do you spend your parenting resources?  What are my parenting resources you ask?  I’m no expert, but I think one very important resource is your brain.  You know that blob that floats in your skull, that great central processing unit for your existence?  Our brains are an amazing part of the overall system of our bodies, and experts tell us that we’ve only tapped into a small percentage of the brain’s full capabilities.  

Since your brain is so important for all of life, it makes sense then to me that our brain is one of the easiest and most important parenting tool we have at our disposal.  To begin implementing this resource in our parenting we have to shift our thinking to be intentional about using this resource in a most efficient way.  If we don’t make an intentional and determined choice to do this, we’ll fail.  It takes more than words or thoughts, it may take serious change.  This may seem simplistic, but how many times have we repeated the same mistakes personally or as a parent, knowing full well, what the result will be.  We have to change our wiring mentally to start using our brain adequately as a parent.  One big change to make in our wiring is to start paying attention to our kids.  I know you love them, and protect them from sharks and rabid possums and such, but we need to pay attention to the things that they do, watch and say.  It’s not enough to just bring your kids to church.  

If we allow their brains to be filled with several hours of media per day, how much of a chance can we possibly believe the one-two hours of church each WEEK can have any kind of lasting impact?  That’s not enough time.  It would be like planting a beautiful new bush in your yard and watering it one time, one day a week.  The plant will die in the summer heat, and the teaching that your kids receive at church will die if not watered and fertilized by you as their parent. We need to stay tuned in to their lives to be able to pick up on subtle developmental changes that occur as they grow.    What causes those subtle changes?   Is it the job you do as a parent, or something else that they take in?  We also need to use our brains in helping kids make wise choices about the media they take in.  If we let them, kids will watch tv, play video games and surf the internet until their eyes, ears and hands are worn out and they fall asleep, but this isn’t good for them. 

 Now, don’t get me wrong, I love some media myself, and we have television, internet and video games in our home.  Therefore, I’m not suggesting some “quaker-like” cocoon surrounding our kids, keeping them from experiencing the culture we live in.  I’m simply urging you to use the first parental resource, your brain, to set boundaries with your kids.  Set a time limit on their media intake, follow-up daily about the things they are learning at church, or the things you are learning at church or in your quiet time.  

It takes a lot of resources to consistently involve your children in what goes on at church and it can be expensive in more ways than just financial.  Think about the example about the spending on the Olympic opening ceremonies and the cost of a permanent structure like LP Field that is available for use year after year from thousands of people again.  At the end of your parenting career, that is when your kids are grown, don’t you want to be able to look back and know you spent your resources wisely?  Don’t be guilty of spending them all in one very small portion of their lives.  Spend those resources in ways that will make a lasting difference, and you will be the kind of parent God desires for us to be as written in Deuteronomy 6.

Show Your Love!

I’m writing mostly to dads out there with this post, and it’s about something that has really struck a chord in me lately. Currently, I’m reading the story of Brian “Head” Welch. Here’s the cover of the book:

He was one of the founding members of the heavy metal band Korn, who recently gave his life to Jesus Christ, and has since quit the band, drugs, alcohol, pornography and other addictive behaviors. What grabbed my attention wouldn’t leap off the page to most people, but I read the story of his childhood looking for clues about how much spiritual training and love he received as a boy. As it turns out, he received absolutely no leadership from his parents in spiritual matters. Keep in mind he was a regular kid in a regular family, with both parents in the home up until about age 13. He talks openly about knowing his mom loved him and how she showed it to him, but how he never felt the love from his father. His father wasn’t on drugs, or an alcoholic, but the way he treated and didn’t treat Brian played a huge role in his development. His father never felt comfortable showing him love. He never encouraged him in a consistent manner. The only consistent feeling this story described was an impatient anger with he and his brother.

I mentioned that he was a regular kid in a regular family. “Regular” these days too often means that kids have loving parents who want the best for the kids, but don’t have the personal discipline to lead their kids, or the knowledge of how to. Brian Welch had parents that loved him, but kids need more than just the word love. How do your kids KNOW that you love them? Welch writes that he had a need that only his father could feel. A need for love to be shown, approval to be given, recognition and training to help him grow properly. His father thought he was doing fine as a dad, giving Brian lots of chances to play sports or engage in hobbies, one of which became playing guitar. Before giving his life to Christ, his habits and addictions easily could have cost him his life. As a dad, or as a mom, how will you feel if one day your sons or daughters end up like Brian Welch. Sure, he may be an extreme case, but I know if one of my daughters even came close to the behaviors and addictions Welch had, I would wonder what I did wrong as a parent. In Welch’s case, he needed the attention and leadership from his father, not just the love from his mother.

Dads, your sons and daughters need to feel the love you have for them in unmistakeable ways. It may not be comfortable to you to show love in a big, open way, but for their sake, try to become fluent in the language of love that will help you kids bloom and blossom into the champion God wants them to be.

Protecting the Faith of Your Children

If you have been checking out the iParent blog for very long, you know that I am strong proponent for parents stepping up to take the leadership role as their children’s spiritual leaders.  The church simply is not there to water and fertilize the seeds of faith we sow into their lives on Sundays and Wednesdays.  What happens in the other 165 hours in a week, to strengthen them and help them practice their faith?  In everyday life, our children, and we as grown-ups need to be engaging in activities that help us act and think like God wants us to think, not just “turning off” our Christianity while we’re away from church.  I know I must improve in these ways with my daughters and suspect that many parents can relate to feeling like we’ve not done what we could have to help our kids grow into spiritual champions.   Continue reading

Trunk or Treat At The Donelson Fellowship!

Get ready for the funnest (that’s right, I said it) event of the entire year and come out for Trunk or Treat! October 26, 2008 from 5:00-7:00 pm is the time and the parking lot of The Donelson Fellowship is the place! On this night, the chilly, black asphalt canvas will be covered with cars, trucks, vans, and who knows what else, as people decorate their trunk (or tailgate) and give away candy to all the guests who come by for the fun!

This year’s Trunk or Treat will be full of fun and opportunities for the whole family to enjoy, with free hot dogs, chili and drinks, live music, inflatable slides and bounces for the kids, the Preschool L’il Punkins Zone (which has it’s own, dedicated bounce house) and much, much more.

If you’re anywhere in the world and want to visit our church on this night, this is your invitation! If you’re a member or attender at TDF, then obviously you’re invited as well, but we need more from you than just attendance. We need your help to make this event a big success.

Here’s a list and brief description of some things you can do to help. You can do more than one!

Decorate a trunk on our parking lot and bring enough candy for 150 people. Your trunk doesn’t have to be extravagant (but it can be!) and the candy doesn’t have to be the high dollar variety, but we need 60 people to come with their trunks and hearts open wide!
Help with one of our Trunk or Treat teams.
-8-10 people to work in the Welcome and Registration Tent.
-10-20 people to help with the food and fire department.
-8-10 adults to supervise the operation of inflatable games.
2. Bring a pot of chili and a plate of cookies or brownies
3. Arrive at 2:00 pm to help with setup
4. Stay after the event to help with cleanup
5. Volunteer a generator for use during the event

The point is, there is a lot to do and we need everyone to get involved and help us push this event to it’s highest levels. Two other things that I didn’t place on the list, but are even more important are that we need you to pray for this event. Pray that we will make definite, significant connections with people who live in our neighborhood. Lastly, tell everyone you know about Trunk or Treat and see how many people you can bring to the event! It’s gonna be great!

People decorating in trunks need to enter the parking lot from the McGavock Pike entrance and be in place by 4:30 pm. Setup begins at 2:00 pm and if you want a prime location, you should plan to come early and get set up and then help out in other areas of preparation.

Chili needs to be dropped off between 4:00 and 4:45 pm. Chili not being judged in the competition can be dropped in the same location as chili competition entrants.

We’re still looking for specific help in the food & fire area, pumpkin carving and inflatable games. Help us out, will ya? If enough people would volunteer in these areas, it wouldn’t be necessary to serve the entire time.