29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #23

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children, Thoughts
23.  Keep your promises.  A promise is a powerful thing.  I hate to break a promise.  I have and it hurts.  Why is breaking a promise so painful?  When you make a promise, you give away a part of yourself.  Something as simple as "I will be there at 3 o'clock to pick you up" gives a part of yourself to another person.  And something as serious as "I promise to love you for the rest of our lives" gives yourself completely to another person.  That is why divorce is so painful.  In marriage, you are giving yourself to another person.  In divorce, you have lost something you will never get back.  You have lost a part of yourself.  God's intention in marriage is to give yourselves away to each…
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29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #22

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children, Thoughts
22.  A healthy diet.  Let me join the bandwagon for healthy eating.  You know it is the right thing to do.  Rhonda and I were both raised on a midwestern diet of meat and potatoes with ample sides of sugar and butter.  Nothing nefarious on the part of our parents.  It just came naturally in a farming community in the 1960s.  A particular feature of our diet was a breakfast of donuts or cereal.  (I still can't believe that I put 2 tablespoons of sugar on my Cheerios as a kid.  Again, just a sign of the times.) By the time our own kids came along, books like Feed Me, I'm Yours! began to open doors to healthy eating for children.  Along the way, we made the correlation between large…
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29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #21

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children, Thoughts
21.  A healthy amount of sleep.  This was a specific issue at our house because both Rhonda and I are night people.  But our night owl approach was not a good fit for our kids.  We became more sensitive to sleep issues when we made the connection between lack of sleep and some of the negative attitudes in our home. Children often see bedtime as a rights issue, arguing to stay up longer as a function of their age.  Or parents sometimes use bedtime as a punishment platform sending ornery kids to bed early.  We tried to focus on bedtime as a health issue.  We stressed that we all feel better physically and emotionally when we get enough sleep. I also caution parents in regard to the health side of…
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29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #20

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children, Thoughts
20.  Follow a family schedule that reduces fatigue and time pressure.  On the printed page, margin is the space between the print and the edge of the paper.  In life, margin is the space between our activity level and our limits.  When our activities and responsibilities exceed our time, energy, and financial limits, life suffers.  In particular, the relational life that God intended suffers the most. A constant diet of busyness and entertainment limits the development of self-confidence and imagination in our kids.  It also squeezes out the margin we need to help our children interpret life.  When they hear something confusing from a teacher, a friend, or whomever, we need to have the time on hand to help them process these thoughts and make sense of what they are…
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29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #19

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children, Thoughts
19.  Encourage friendships of high character.  "He who walks with wise men will be wise.  But the companion of fools will suffer harm" (Prov 13:20).  One of our continuing prayers for our children is that they would find and connect with quality friends.  We were created for community and friendships are community in action. We stressed several ideas in teaching our children about making friends.  We first explained that they already had a network of close relationships in their siblings.  Getting along with their brothers and sisters became a defining criteria if they were going to be allowed to invite new friends over.  Developing affirming relationships within your family teaches what true friendship is - loyalty in good times and bad. We also emphasized the importance of reaching out to be a friend, rather than…
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29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #18

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children, Thoughts
18.  Teach your children to communicate with adults.  One of the best ways you can prepare your kids for a confident adult life is to teach them to communicate with grown-ups.  This ability is not valued and is desperately lacking in their peer-influenced world.  Somehow conversing with adults is not cool and we have come to expect rudeness as typical adolescent behavior.  It doesn't have to be this way. Here is an illustration we used to help our children in this area.  One evening I went to the garage and came back with a tennis ball.  With the kids gathered around, I asked for a partner to play a game of "catch" with me.  I let the volunteer go first and she threw me the tennis ball.  I then held on…
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29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #17

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children, Thoughts
Well here we are, over half way there on our journey to 29 ways to affirm your children.  For you OCD types, I apologize for using the prime number of 29 in every title.  Maybe I will come up with a number 30 before we are through (but then I would have to go back and edit every title).  Did I mention the number 29? One thing I would like to stress is that these ideas are not a new to-do list to add to your busy schedule.  Depending on your stage of life, we are all at varying points of busyness ranging from having some margin in our lives to very little margin to haven't seen margin in a coon's age.  The point of these posts is to work this…
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29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #16

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children, Thoughts
16.  Teach children to complete their chores.  As a follow-up to teaching children to work, we want to emphasize teaching them to finish the job.  This became an important issue at our house because Rhonda and I recognized how our own personalities sometimes interfered with that effort.  Rhonda is an artist and an idea machine.  As such, she easily moves to the next big idea before the previous endeavor is complete.  It is not a laziness issue, but just the opposite.  It is driven by a love to tackle the next big thing. As for me, I have an uncanny knack for completing jobs to the 80% level.  I mow the yard, but don't quite get to the edging.  I do the hand dishes, but always leave a dish or…
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29 Ways to Affirm Your Children – #15

29 Ways to Affirm Your Children, Thoughts
15.  Teach your children to work.  Another way we spur our children forward on the path of becoming productive and independent adults is to teach them how to work.  The irony is that despite its value, most kids are not too interested in developing this skill.  The best way to get them started is to work alongside your children.  We tried, in our family, to make working together as natural as playing together.  Our kids helping us clean the garage or raking the leaves became just as much a part of family life as playing children's games or building Lego cities with our children.  Your influence in the "work alongside Daddy" increases when you, the adult, "play alongside" as well.  Having your kids work alongside you teaches them the necessary…
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