You Young Whippersnapper!

Have you ever had that job that was simply the toughest job you’ve ever had to deal with?

For me that’s parenting. HARD! There’s the constant battling over little, itty-bitty things. Things like simply putting on appropriate clothing.

 

But all kidding aside, the Bible puts responsibility for training kids squarely upon our shoulders. Parents are told to train their kids in God’s ways, to talk about it in the home, on the road, everywhere. The Bible points out that if you do the right things when the kids are young they won’t stray far as adults.

Keep in mind that this is NOT a promise from God. Sometimes parents do everything right and kids still choose the wrong paths. But there is a general principle – a truism – that says when we instill things in our kids then those things will stay with them.

One of my favorite folk songs is Teach Your Children, recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.

You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by.
And so, become yourself, because the past, is just a good bye.
Teach, your children well, their father’s hell, did slowly go by,
And feed, them on your dreams, the one they picked, the one you’re known by.

One thing we want our children to learn and care about is their education (spiritual and secular). So we talk about things at the dinner table. We ask what they’ve been talking about in Sunday School. We ask about spelling tests, books they’ve read – stuff like that.

We’ve found that turning learning into a game has worked really well. For example, we play a game called “First Letters.” We pick a letter of the alphabet. Then we go around the table clockwise and each person has to come up with word beginning with that letter (kids can come up with anything, parents have to come up with a word with at least 3 syllables).

Simple, but it is a fun way to talk about words and learning.

All said and done, school and church can only do so much to train kids. It’s really up to us: the parents (and also relatives, friends, and church families). When we engage kids in their learning they’ve got a much better shot of holding onto it as they grow up.

And for faith and for facts, this is a good thing.

Sound off! How have you helped kids engage in learning (sacred or secular)?

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How to Find “The One”

Fish

One of my personal pet peeves is hearing people talk about “THE ONE” as if there is one soul on earth that was destined to be their life partner. It’s such a part of popular thinking it even plays a role in the new Disney movie Frozen:

But it’s bunk. Garbage. There’s nothing that says there is one and only one person for you out there. The world is filled with possibility – work, love, and on and on. We have the ability and freedom to choose much in our lives – except for Calvinists, you guys are pretty much screwed out of any free thought. 😉

So, all you single people, never give up hope.

There are PLENTY of fish in the sea.

😉

I Love You I Hate You I Block You

Twitter PenPals

Twitter PenPals

Spend any time on Twitter and you’ll see this crazy relationship cycle. The elongated version goes like this:

–          I discover you

–          I love you

–          I follow you

–          I hate you

–          I unfollow you

–          I block you

Now I’m sure that people who don’t use Twitter to interact don’t ever notice this cycle. It’s true, some use Twitter only as a platform for their message – they don’t care to interact with others (that’s a shame, but that’s a topic for another day).

Those of us who DO interact with others have, at some point, experienced this relationship cycle. The problem is that Twitter is training us to be me-centered in our relationships rather than working on developing genuine relationships.

Hear me out – I’m not nuts.

Twitter is very user-centered. We follow people based on what we get out of their account (laughter, inspiration, etc.). But it’s really not about them. It’s still about us. As soon as we are no longer laughing or inspired (or simply grow tired of their shtick) we unfollow and move on.

That’s cool. This post really isn’t about complaining about losing followers. What I DO get frustrated and confused by is when followers interact with a Tweeter and begin to develop a rapport then, because of offense or some other reason, the follower says, “I’m done with you.”

And it happens once the honeymoon period wears off.

Following and being followed create a false sense of intimacy. We feel like we know and are known by others. But it’s a superficial knowing. You know what I want you to see about me. I know what you want me to see about you. It’s a façade.

As a Chaplain in the Army Reserve I have taught a lot of Singles Retreats for Soldiers. One of the primary points I try to teach them is that it takes 3 months of dating someone before the masks really come down and you see the person as they truly are.

We too often jump into things too quickly. Like The Doors sang: Hello, I love you – won’t you tell me your name?

But the initial infatuation with people ends. The honeymoon period wears off. It’s at THAT point that we can genuinely start knowing and being known. On Twitter, once that honeymoon period is over we tend to call it quits.

Unless we’re intentional about building relationships with others.

Real Life Twitter Example:

One of the people I clicked with immediately on Twitter was @chattytamster. We seemed to mesh well and have many similar views on faith, politics, etc. But then came the day when we found we had a stark contrast in one of our views. She publicly (but politely) disagreed with me. And I with her. Sides were taken. It got tense because here we are as pen-pals having a public disagreement. I’ve been in that situation with people I didn’t mesh well with and those situations ended in being unfollowed.

Not this time.

In spite of the weirdness that comes when superficially (Social Media) connected people argue, Tamster and I talked about our differences and decided to be friends anyway. In the process of talking through the disagreement and talking honestly about the tension the weight of the tension has been lifted and I feel like the connection is stronger because of the process.

Relationship guru Dr. John Van Epp talks about how really knowing someone can be visualized as a mathematical formula:

I = T + T + T.

Intimacy = Talk (self-disclosure) + Togetherness (experiences) + Time

This can even happen on Twitter. I know people who met through Twitter who have exchanged addresses and phone numbers. Twitter has become a place where I actually get to do ministry. I’ve talked to people about prayer requests, family problems, and personal needs and concerns. What an amazing tool, and I’m just a flippant Anon account.

I know this post won’t change Twitter. I have no desire to “win back” people who have unfollowed me. But for the rest of us, we can have a little bit of insight and wisdom in knowing that the people we follow are real people, faults and all. You will be disappointed. You might occasionally be offended. But heck – you’ll experience that in real life, too.

The façade drops and the honeymoon period will end.

How will you respond?


Top 5 Areas of Marriage Conflict

Conflict

I teach a 9-week course on developing and maintaining healthy relationships. In the class we regularly do breakout groups of men and women to discuss a certain question or issue. In one of our classes we asked the men and women to split up and, as gender groups, identify their top 5 areas of marriage conflict. Like a couple other issues, both groups came up with the exact same list of conflict areas.

Any guess as to what they came up with?

In no particular order:

1. In-laws. Not everyone is blessed with wonderful, supportive, and caring in-laws the way I am. Some people have real conflict with their in-laws – conflict that results in fights, hurtful words, and even hurtful actions. One of the problems in dealing with difficult in-laws is that there is only so much you can do when it comes to other people’s behavior. In fact, you can’t do anything about their behavior. But you and your spouse don’t have to do anything with their behavior. What you CAN do is work on your responses to their behavior.

The Bible tells us that the marriage relationship is the beginning of a new family unity. While there are still ties to the old family, we are told that the man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife and the two become one. Simply put, your spouse becomes an extension of you! Now extend the logic – if your parents have a problem with your spouse then you should see it as though they have a problem with you (and vice versa). We need to be supportive of our spouses and “have their backs” even if it means coming against our own parents. If we take the Bible seriously about the unity within the marriage bond, then taking our spouse’s side against family is imperative. Too many “support” until conflict with the family occurs, then we quickly throw our spouses under the bus. Don’t fall into that trap. Get your partner’s back.

2. Money Issues. Always a biggie, isn’t it? One word: BUDGET! It’s important for couples to sit down and work out a family budget together. Each one should have a voice and give input for what the budget should look like. This should happen every month. The more you do it together the easier it gets. Also, it is important that spouses do not keep financial secrets from each other. It’s not “my money” and “your money” but “our money.” Remember, the Bible prioritizes marriage as unity. How we be united if we’re keeping parts of our lives from each other?

3. The Ex. Yikes. It seems that many people have a lot of problems with an ex. I’ve seen exes do some pretty crummy things. I’ve seen exes intentionally goad the new partner, pushing buttons and being an all-around jerk. My advice? Treat exes like online trolls (people who search for ways to stir up trouble) – all you can do is ignore them. If you engage then you take the bait and get caught in the trap. There is no good way to deal with a troll. They can’t be reasoned with. You can’t convince them of logic or fact. So ignore and walk away.

On a relational level think of the ex in a similar way to the in-laws. The new marriage is what is important. You ought to be supporting your partner above your ex. That person is not part of the unity any more. There might be kids involved. There might be shared property involved. It doesn’t matter. Marital unity is what matters. Get each other’s backs, and leave the ex out of it.

4. Child Discipline. This one can bring up a lot of difficulties whether the kids are part of a two-parent household or if you’re in a blended family. The difficulty lies in the fact that we’re trying to get two adults to agree on the best course of action on how to raise and discipline other human beings. There’s no easy way to help to people come to agreement on the best way to raise kids. There are many different theories on the “best” ways. What I can say is that it’s possible for parents to find compromise. Each partner can up with a list of “non-negotiables” and a list of “preferables.” The preferable is where we strive to compromise (yes, that might mean giving in and letting your spouse win the day). This is not going to be a quick discussion, and there might be lots of give and take over the course of years of parenting. Don’t throw your hands up in the air and quit. Stick with it and work together. No matter what, even in disagreement, always show a united front before the kids.

5. Score Keeping. This is sometimes called quid pro quo which means “this for that.” It really comes down to keeping a tally of who did what and using that tally to try to motivate our spouses to do something for us. Healthiest relationships don’t keep score (I did it this time – it’s your turn to do it now). In biblical marriages, each spouse seeks to serve the other no matter who did what or how many times he did it. If I really love my wife I should strive to meet her needs, whatever those needs may be. That means that sometimes I will be the one cleaning the bathroom several weeks in a row (even though I REALLY don’t like cleaning bathrooms). It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done it. I will do my best to serve her. And she ought to have the same attitude towards meeting my needs and serving me. It’s mutual. When this happens we can drop the score keeping and be confident in the fact that our spouses will do whatever they can to love and support us.

What do you think? Have you had personal experience in these areas of marital conflict?

Would you add anything to the list?

8 Things Every Husband Needs to Do

Marital Success

I believe the Bible calls us to live in mutually submissive and mutually controlling relationships. I am not my own, but I belong to my wife. She belongs to me. I need to submit to my wife’s needs, wants, and desires. She needs to submit to mine. I believe the God calls us to this kind of mutuality.

My wife and I teach a 9 week marriage-enrichment class at our church. In our marriage class we split the men and women into gender breakout groups to discuss questions and issues. In one session we asked the women to identify 8 things their husbands do that they greatly appreciate. Here is their list:

  1. He pitches in around the house and with the kids – it seems that women don’t want to be the only caregiver and maid in the house. Men, this is our chance to step up and take ownership of the household. Stop passing the buck and figure out how you can be an active participant in running the family. One good method is to list out every task common to households (there are probably about 30-40 regular tasks) and split them up. Volunteer and say, “These 15 that you are already doing I will take off your hands.”
  2. He takes good care of me when I am sick – it is a great feeling to be cared for when you are under the weather. And let’s face it: women tend to be better care-givers than men. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Next time your woman is sick don’t complain about how you have to pick up the slack. Force her to go lie down and volunteer to make dinner, bathe the kids, read bedtime stories, and whatever else she normally does ALL THE TIME anyway.
  3. He takes care of the kids without complaining – whether you fathered them or are a blended family, BE A FATHER to the kids in the house.
  4. He asks what I need to be content and happy – I’ve heard it jokingly said that “Happy wife = Happy life” but IT’S TRUE! Your life will never be happier as when your spouse is happy. Care for her. Nurture her. Find out what her happiness requires and then pursue it diligently. When she knows that you care about her happiness it frees her to think about yours (you both win!).
  5. He helps me with my job/career – your wife has dreams, ambitions, and goals in her life. Don’t think that she’s a bump on a log. Assist (as much as you are able) in helping her realize success in her career.
  6. He does things without me having to ask him to – seriously, take initiative. She doesn’t want to be your momma. She wants to be your partner.
  7. He helps get the kids off to school – SEE NUMBER 3
  8. He has a good sense of humor – Everyone loves to laugh. We bond with people over laughter. If you and your wife find ways to laugh together it will help cement your relationship.

Well, there you have it. It’s what our class came up with. You want a healthy and happy marriage? Put in the work to make it that way.

How about you? What else would you add to this list?