Tag Archives: kids

Rewarding kids for character…not results

View More: http://betweentheblinks.pass.us/webbfamily2016-1One of the most difficult challenges Julia and I face is how in the world do we raise a kid right?  It is SO tough!  When you see other people, you get a million different examples of what to do.  But, even with the best intentions and the greatest plan, living that plan out consistently on a daily basis is exhausting and doesn’t guarantee good results!

One of the things we try to focus on A LOT is teaching Eli to have good character.  It’s a difficult thing to teach…especially to an 8 year old.  When I hear him share about his day with things like, “I told ____ that I was smarter than him because I’m in the gifted program” or I see how he bosses other kids around when playing with them, it makes me cringe.  As we work with him on things, I am constantly reminding myself “remember what YOU were like and the tactless things you said and did when YOU were 8!”  That helps me to have perspective and not get too frustrated, but I don’t want that to prevent us from setting the bar high.

So, one of the things we struggle with is…how do we encourage good character rather than good results.  Whenever Eli accomplishes something good (winning an award, good report card, etc), we always make sure to let him know how proud we are of him.  However, we go out of our way to remind him how much we love him just for who he is…not for whatever he accomplished.  As much as it sounds cliche, I would MUCH rather him get last place in a swim meet having given it his all with a great attitude than get first place and be rude to others or not have tried hard.  Swimming is just swimming, but what I’m concerned about is his HEART, not his results.

I believe by focusing too much on results, that sends the message that WITHOUT the results they are not loved or appreciated.  That tells them, it’s not THEM that you love, but rather it is what they can do.  But character is something that will define them for the rest of their lives.  By nurturing that now, it can be something that stays with them forever.

Recently we had a great day with Eli.  He came home from school with a perfect report card.  Of course, we were excited about it and told him we were proud.  Then, after school he had a tennis lesson.  To give you the background…we’ve had a tough time at tennis lessons recently.  He has been prone to goofing off, not paying attention, and being silly.  IMG_0934This has been frustrating to the coach and us and we’ve been trying to work with Eli on realizing it and making changes.  So on this day, he had a FABULOUS lesson.  He was focused, respectful to the coach, and made an huge effort to be encouraging to the other kids there whenever they were hitting.  After the lesson, the coach specifically mentioned how awesome Eli did and how kind and respectful he was.  We were SO happy!  It gave us such joy to see and hear that.  Later than night, Julia and I decided we wanted to reward him for his amazing day, but rather than do it for the good grades he achieved, we wanted to reward him for the awesome character and behavior he showed at tennis.  So, I left him a note and a pack of Pokemon cards for him to find when he woke up…as a reward for the kindness he showed.

My advice to you:

The next time your kid achieves something good, make sure to praise them.  But, make sure they know that you love them and are proud of them even without that accomplishment.  And when you see them showing good character, try to praise them even more.

What can you do with your kids that will help your wife love you?

IMG_3179Raising kids is A LOT of work.  Raising kids WELL is even more work.  It takes a lot of time, endless energy, good ideas, tons of patience, lots of prayer, and the grace of God to do so.

I am very blessed in this subject though.  Julia is an amazing mom!  Seriously…she is.  And it really makes my job easy!  She thinks of cool ways to teach things all the time that I would never think about.

So, one area that I struggle in is being passive as a parent.  I see the awesome things that Julia does and, to be honest, it’s easy to get lazy.  If Eli does that needs correcting, I know Julia is going to have a great way to address it and teach him something from it.  If he is upset about something from school, Julia is going to be there with some great comforting and will draw him out to get to the root of the issue.  So sometimes I get caught in this trap feeling like I don’t NEED to do anything.

I realize this is frustrating for her though.  No one wants to have to parent on their own.  It’s exhausting!  But, when I sit back and leave it to Julia to address all these things that come up, I’m forcing her to do all the work.  So, I have to make a conscious effort to be active at this.

When Eli speaks back to Julia, I try to step in and address it before she has a chance to.  When he interrupts someone when they’re talking, I try to talk to him about it.  When he is wandering around when he’s supposed to be getting ready for bed, I try to get him focused back on task.  Julia does all these things (and MUCH more).  But, I want him to hear from ME that it’s not ok.  I want BOTH of us to be teaching him these things.  I feel when parents are unified in the message they are teaching, it makes the message so much clearer and will be more effective.

So guys, if we want to show our wives that we love them, get on board with parenting.  This is very much a work in progress on my part.  Don’t let her shoulder the burden alone.  Talk with her about strategies of how to address things.  Talk about whatever phase your kids seem to be going through.  And make sure you’re engaging your child when the need arises.  I guarantee you she will appreciate it.

Kid’s activity schedules…disrupting marriages since minivans were invented

IMG_5218Raising kids is tough.  I struggle all the time worrying about whether or not I’m missing opportunities to impact Eli’s life.  After work, sometimes I’ll do nothing but veg out, and think, “I should probably take this time to do something amazing with him.”  Or, I worry about missing seasons of sports thinking how he may “get behind” the other kids.  What’s difficult is that there is no instruction book for what’s right, and one parent’s perspective can differ greatly from another.

IMG_0383Part of being a good father, husband, employee, and person is learning to have balance in life.  I think too often we are pushed to center our lives around our kids.  Eli likes activities.  If given the chance to do it, he will want to play soccer…and baseball…and basketball…swimming…cub scouts…gymnastics…lacrosse…dancing…wrestling…tennis…and more.  Yikes…that’s a lot!  Even doing just a handful of these will keep us driving back and forth from one activity to another most nights of the week.  And we just have ONE child.  I can only imagine what it would be like when you have multiple kids with busy schedules.  As parents we try very hard to make sure Eli is not over-scheduled.  We have a loose rule that he can only be involved in one sport at a time.  If he wants to play baseball, that’s great…but he has to stop gymnastics.

IMG_1723I think the difficulty lies in wanting your child to have every opportunity to maximize their potential.  If they are physically gifted…you WANT to give them every chance to do their best.  If they are academically gifted…you WANT to do everything you can to help that grow.  We would be slighting our kids if we DIDN’T give them opportunities to grow if there is an area they are gifted and interested in.  The question is…how can you do that and maintain balance in life? 

I think it’s important to figure out what’s the point of being a kid?  Is it to train to become a professional athlete?  Is it to become a genius?  Let’s be honest…statistically speaking, (according to the interwebs) if 100 people read this article, around 10 will have a kid that goes on to play sports at college.  And out of 100 people, 0 will have kids that play professionally.  But out of 100 kids…ALL of them will become adults…and CLOSE to all of them will be married and have kids.  So I think it makes sense to focus the majority of our energy on developing these areas.

  • how to be a husband/wife
  • how to be a father/mother
  • how to be responsible with money
  • how to love God
  • how to make friends
  • how to love others

IMG_2242One of the dangers in putting TOO much of your time and energy into kid’s activities is that the rest of your life can suffer because of it…things like your marriage relationship, your personal health and well being, and your ability to impact other people with your life.  With no margin left in life, it can be easy for these things to fall by the wayside.

I definitely do not have this mastered.  And I’m not totally sure the ways I’ve tried to balance life IS what’s best.  But I think it’s something that is important to think about and make sure to keep in mind.

My challenge to you:

Don’t let your kids activities dominate your life.  Make sure to keep a balance.  Don’t neglect nurturing an interest or talent they have in something, but make sure the push to become great at an activity doesn’t take precedence over the push to become great at becoming an adult.IMG_1933

How to lead your family spiritually: The definitive guide

Ok, so it’s not really the definitive guide…but I did put a lot of thought into this post.  And it’s about twice as long as my normal ones.  So I guess that counts for something!  :-)

A couple months ago I wrote about how being the spiritual leader of your family is the most important job a man has.  You might be saying…great, but how do I do that?!  That’s a fair question, and honestly I feel like the least qualified person to answer it.  I feel like I fail in this subject more than I succeed.  It’s only by the grace of God (and an awesome wife) that our family has any semblance of a solid spiritual foundation.  Knowing this is an important subject, I’m going to put some thoughts together about it.  Hopefully these will help organize ME to do better as well as encourage you to be moving in the right direction if you’re not already.

To effectively lead your family spiritually, I think there are three main things that need to take place.

1. YOU need to have a solid spiritual walk.  

Before you can have any impact on anyone else, I feel the most important thing is that YOU need to be praying and reading the Bible on a regular basis.  If you are not seeking after God, then how can you expect to lead your family?  It would be like a manager trying to run a factory full of workers when he didn’t know anything about how the factory operated.  If you are seeking after God the way you need to, then you will be much more likely to be able to lead, teach, and encourage others.  Also, the BEST way to lead is by example.  If your wife and kids see you following after God, without even saying anything, you will be teaching them.

man-reading-biblePractical ideas:

  • Download the YouVersion Bible app and sign up for a Bible reading plan.
  • Have a certain time each day (or certain days during the week) where you spend time in prayer and devotional time.
  • Get a devotional book to help get you going.
  • Join a men’s Bible study.

Although I feel like I struggle in this area, I did recently finish up a 12 month Bible reading plan.  Using YouVersion, I read through the whole Bible in 12 months.  It is amazing to see things from a different perspective when you read through in larger chunks.

2. Make sure you and your wife are growing TOGETHER

This could be from you, your church, the Bible, other books, other people, etc.  Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to do it all, just that you’re responsible for making sure it happens.

What stinks about this, is that out of all my husbandly attributes, this has historically been one of my weakest areas.  Julia and I have tried a lot of different methods to help grow our spiritual lives as a couple, but we’ve had a tough time being consistent with any of them.  It has led to her being frustrated…not wanting to nag me, but wanting me to step up and take the initiative.

Practical ideas:

  • Praying together at bedtime
  • Praying together ANYTIME you think about it
  • Reading through a book of the Bible then discussing
  • Reading a devotional book and discussing a chapter each week
  • Listening to podcasts of sermons while riding in the car
  • Try to be purposeful in conversations and sharing what God is doing in your lives
  • Set aside a time each week where, after the kids are in bed, you carve out time for spiritual growth together (reading bible or devotional book, talking about things you’ve learned, etc).  Putting these times on the calendar ahead of time is a good way to remember.

One of the best things we’ve tried, that we’re doing right now, is going through the Beth Moore study on Daniel.  Yes, Beth Moore is generally directed toward women, but it’s good stuff!  We’ll do the workbooks on our own, then get together to watch the video sessions.  It’s been nice to be able to really get deeper into the Word together and be able to talk about it.

3. Make sure your kids are getting the right foundation

IMG_1012Again, this could be from you, your wife, the church, or other people.  What’s important is that you make sure it is happening.  As someone who grew up in the church, it is easy for me to take for granted biblical knowledge.  It’s easy to forget that knowledge has to be learned.  And our kids aren’t going to learn about God on their own…or from watching TV or playing on the iPad.

Practical ideas:

  • Get a kids devotional book and read each night at dinner or bedtime
  • Bring them to church / sunday school / youth group
  • When you see something beautiful or amazing in nature, point out to your kids how amazing it is that God created it
  • When your kids do something bad, take the opportunity to talk about the nature of sin with them and why we need a rescuer to save us from it.
  • Find opportunities to serve other people WITH your kids.  If you model the behavior, and explain to them WHY we help others, it will help develop good habits for them.

All kids are different, but Eli is a creature of habit…and so are we.  So, we’ve found that by coming up with a routine (like devotional at bedtime…or whatever) we are MUCH more likely to stick with it.  And if we forget, Eli will let us know.  :-)

Here are a few books that we’ve used and LOVE!!  The Jesus Storybook Bible is a great kids Bible that you can read to them daily.  It is easy to understand, but also makes stories relatable to WHY they are important.  I highly recommend it.  Also, we have been using a family devotional book called Long Story Short.  It works for a wide age range of kids and is amazing!

My challenge to you:

Evaluate how well you are meeting each of these 3 points.  How is YOUR spiritual walk?  If you feel it needs something fresh to get you going, try one of the ideas above.  How do you and your wife participate in spiritual growth TOGETHER?  If it’s not happening much, try one of the ideas above.  And lastly, are your kids getting the spiritual guidance they need?  If not, what can you do to make that happen?

***As I mentioned, I can definitely use some help in this topic.  So…I’d love to hear from you!  What are some different ideas for any of the 3 areas that you have done that you feel have been helpful?  Enter your ideas in the reply/comments area below!***

4 rules to live by when your wife is out of town

I think Julia and I make a pretty good team.  We both pick up each other’s slack when we need it.  We do a pretty good job of distributing work around the house too.  So, whenever one of us is out of town for the night (or 4), it shakes things up a bit.  It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while Julia will be out for a few days (church retreat, getaway with friends, etc).  When that happens, I have a few rules that I always try to go by.

Eli with his dream dinner
Eli with his dream dinner

1.  Don’t rely on her to plan your meals:

  • If she’s going somewhere, she has plenty of packing to do and plans to make of her own.  The last thing she needs to worry about is what YOU’RE going to eat while she’s gone.  Go grocery shopping yourself.  Plan out your meals.  If you’re not used to cooking, try out some easy recipes, or at least plan some things you can pick up.  At any rate, don’t make your wife figure it out for you.

2.  Don’t make her feel guilty for going away:

  • It doesn’t do anyone any good if you make her feel guilty for being gone.  It doesn’t help you any and it only ruins her fun.  Let her know that you’re glad she’s able to go away and that you’ll be fine.  Let her know if you miss her, but don’t play it up so much that she feels like a jerk for going away for a couple nights.
Bowling in the playroom

3.  If you have kids, plan something fun:

  • I’ll be honest, being a single parent even for a day or two is TOUGH!  I have the utmost respect for those that do it full time.  It is exhausting and I find it tough to give any of my time and energy to spending quality time with my son.  So, I have to force myself to make sure it happens.  No matter what, I always try to schedule some time for something fun for us to do (hiking, board games, dinner out, nerf gun wars, etc).  Even if it’s just a short period of time, I can see that it makes a world of difference to him.

4.  IMG_0373Have the house looking better when she gets back than when she left:

  • This is one of my favorites, and I take it as a personal challenge to see what I can get done.  Whenever Julia is gone, I try to do as much as I can before she gets back.  Vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, doing dishes, doing laundry, picking up stuff, random home projects, etc.  I don’t always get to everything, but I do my best.  Enlist your kids to help too!  She might not even always notice everything, but the last thing I want is for her to come back tired from her trip and be instantly overwhelmed by a dirty house and pile of stuff for her to do.

If you love your kids…leave them behind

Seattle 263I believe one of the most important requirements for developing a strong, loving family is to spend time together…doing things that are fun and making memories together.  In the same way, I think this is one of the most important aspects of a marriage too.  The problem I often see is that after a couple has kids it can be easy for these two areas to merge together.  It is an incorrect assumption that quality family time equals quality marriage time.  

I know many couples that are married with kids and haven’t been alone together overnight since their kids were born!  I think this is such a shame.  An important part of being a good parent is being able to love your spouse and model that behavior for your kids.  And, an important part of loving your spouse is being connected with them and spending time together.  If you never get away and spend time alone together, that connection will be tough to achieve.

IMG_0285After Eli was born, Julia and I made a commitment to get away by ourselves at least once every year, and I’m so glad we did!  These getaways are usually the highlights of my year.  I LOVE going out on dates with her on a regular basis, but the enjoyment we feel and the connection we make on a date doesn’t come close to what we get from going away for a few days.

Sometimes we’ve been able to take a cool vacation together like the Bahamas, Seattle, or even Italy!  But often our trip away is somewhere nearby that we just go for a couple nights.  Last year we went to Asheville for a few nights and one time we just got away to a hotel in Atlanta.  The extent of our trip is usually determined by the amount of vacation money we have available, but even when times are tighter we make sure to go somewhere.

photoThis weekend we went away for our 11th anniversary!  We went up to WinShape Retreat at Berry College and it was awesome.  It was so relaxing and we loved every minute of it.  We spent a lot of time talking, enjoying great meals, reading, writing in our anniversary journal, and relaxing.  It was just what we needed.  When we got home, we were ready to pour our lives back into Eli, who had a blast from his weekend with Nana & Grandpa.  :-)

My challenge to you:

If you have kids, make sure you make it a priority to get away with just your wife from time to time.  Dates are great, but they don’t compare to the intimacy and connection you get from getting away for a few days at a time.  Make it a priority and I KNOW you will not regret it!