Thursday, October 3, 2013

Helping Your Children Overcome Fear

Helping your children overcome fear can be a tough task. I am no expert on the area, but I would like to share some things that we have done that seemed to have worked pretty good. Fears come in many shapes and sizes. For example, some kids may be slightly intimidated by strangers, while others may be paralyzed by fear when it comes to meeting someone for the first time. Some kids may be scared to walk into a dark room, while others may be gripped by a level of fear that is off the charts when they find themselves in the dark.

Fear of heights, fear of water, fear of doctors, fear of being alone, you name it, children can be faced with them all. One of the most important things for us to remember as parents is that regardless of how ridiculous their fears may seem at times, they are real. If we want to help them overcome them, we must understand that, first and foremost. One of the worst things we can do with our children is to belittle them when we see some type of fear manifesting in them.

When you see some fear in them, take time out and talk them through it. Help them face that fear and walk it out with them. Several years ago while we were on vacation, for some reason, my son was scared to get into a swimming pool. He had never been fond of swimming, but for some reason this time he was terrified. It made no sense. He had been swimming before, but on this day he was paralyzed by fear. I came to the edge of the pool and began talking him through it. It took a long time, but I remained patient with him and he finally got in the pool. I don't know why he was scared and neither did he. He just was. We took it slow, and I just explained to him that we all have fear from time to time and that in order to beat it, we have to face it. I told him about my fear of showing off my 200 and none of your business pounds to the world, but was not going to let that keep me from going swimming with him. I explained to him that a brave and courageous boy wasn't someone without fear, just someone who refused to let fear rule over him. It was someone who was determined to face their fears and overcome them. Oh yeah, I also had to throw into the equation that fear comes from our enemy the devil and in order to beat him up he was going to have to get in the pool. All I know is it worked. He got in the pool and for the rest of the vacation he wanted to go swimming every day.

I'm not sure how all fears develop in our children but some things are a given. Certain television shows and movies can give birth to fear in our children. Pay attention to what your children are watching. Sometimes, we help facilitate fears in them by how we treat them. For example, constantly saying things like, "be careful," and "you're going to get hurt" can impart fear in our children. I'm not saying never to say things like that, I'm just saying be careful that you don't go overboard with it. Some fears are passed down from us to our children. More times than not, when this happens the fears seem much more elevated in our children than ourselves. Determine to overcome your fears so they aren't passed on to your children. Then, there are those fears that just seem to pop up from nowhere. Those that just make no sense. I believe our enemy the devil needs no assistance from us, television, or anything else to slap our children with a heavy load of fear. He's the author of all of it. Bathing our children with prayer and the Word of God will do wonders in helping them to overcome fear.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Become Your Child's Number One Fan

While growing up, I was involved in lots of different sports. In high school, my interests began to swing toward music, and I got involved in band. Regardless of what I found myself involved in, I could rest assured my parents were behind me 100%. I honestly can not remember one event in my life when I looked over to the sidelines and didn't see my parents there rooting me on. There were occasions when both might not be able to make it but at least one of them was always there. And, more times than not, both of them were there screaming and hollering like I was playing in the Super Bowl or something.

They have always been my biggest fans. Their enthusiasm was never a result of how great I was or how good I performed. They cheered me on the same if I had a rotten game or a great game. They weren't fickle fans who were on the bandwagon when things were good and off when things were lousy. They were true, die hard fans.

Your child, like every other child, needs fans. They need parents who are on the sidelines rooting for them. Whatever it is that they throw themselves into, they need to know that you'll be cheering them on and encouraging them every step of the way. Maybe it's not athletics, but I guarantee you that there is something that your child will excel in. Maybe they lean toward art or music. Perhaps, they really excel in academics. Maybe its photography, drama, poetry, or prose. Whatever it is, they need to know that Mom and Dad see that gift and that interest as valuable as any other.

When I was young I never understood why some kid's parents where never there on the sidelines. And, at age 46, I still can not understand it. I served in youth ministry for over 15 years, and during that time I saw countless numbers of teens who had so much in them that was buried so deep inside of them because no one recognized the treasure and helped them release it. I made it point to look for that treasure in all of them and then create a venue to help them step into that gifting.

It really takes two very easy steps. Recognize what it is your children are gifted at and then determine to be their biggest fan. Talk to them about it, encourage them in it, and if their gifts place them at a venue where there is a sidelines or auditorium, make sure you're there cheering them on. Trust me, they'll be looking for you.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Father Beware! The Little Ones Are Watching

It never ceases to amaze me how much my children imitate what I say, how I act, and what I do. If Daddy is mowing the lawn, he wants to be right behind me with his plastic lawn mower. If I'm playing my guitar, he has to run and get his. If I'm washing the car, there he is holding the hose and playing in the bubbles. Of course, things like that bring joy to my heart.

Unfortunately, there are also negative things in my life, that my sons are so quick to pick up on. Whether we like it or not, Dads, our little ones are watching us closely and it is a natural thing for them to imitate what they see in us. Not only is it a natural thing, imitating us is what they were created to do.

Scripture tells us in Proverbs 23:26:
"My son, pay close attention, and gladly follow my example." (CEV)
Perhaps you've heard the statement before that "more is caught, than taught." It is so true, that our children will imitate our actions more than they will listen to what we have to say. That is especially true when our actions do not line up with what we say. We, as fathers, have to be willing to step up to the plate and purpose in our hearts to become a Godly example for our children.

I'm not talking about going to church, paying our tithe, or helping out in children's church. Those are all great, but I'm talking about every day life here. Your children are watching to see how you act when pressure is applied to your life. They are watching your character. How do you react when you're a little short in your finances at the end of the month? How do you act when your internet service provider makes a mistake and suspends your dsl service? (I failed that test this week). What do you do when someone offends you? What do you do when you know you've offended someone else?

These are all tests of our character and your children are watching you closer than you think. I had a wake up call several years ago, that showed me just how close my then three and half year old watched me. For three days straight, he threw the biggest fits. Although he is prone to temper tantrums on occasion, this was beyond anything he had ever done. Each day, I would take him aside, talk to him about it and discipline him. On day three of this, I sit him on my lap and just began to talk to him. I asked him what was wrong and why he was so upset. His response floored me. "I'm just frustrated Dad." I asked him what he was frustrated about and he responded, "I'm frustrated about everything."

Now, I would like to claim that he got that from some movie he had watched recently, but the fact is, I was looking at a mirror image of myself. Those are words that he learned from yours truly. I have to admit, that is not the kind of example I want to set for my children. I want them to see their Dad able to maintain peace in the midst of a storm. I want them to see him maintain a spirit of calm, when things around him don't go as planned. How about you? Do you want them to see the fruit of the spirit pouring out of you regardless of what's going on around you?

Paul said in scripture, "follow me as I follow Christ." It is an awesome and powerful thing for a Dad to be able to look his son or daughter in the eye and say follow my example as I follow Christ. I'm sure you've heard the statement, "Do as I say, not as I do." Let's determine to be men of God who live in such a way that we are not ashamed for our children to "do as we do."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

You Set The Atmosphere In Your Home

As parents, our home is our kingdom. God has put us in a position of authority in our family and it is up to us to govern it. Part of the responsibility of governing this kingdom is setting the atmosphere. Have you ever allowed one of your children to take care of that responsibility for you? They wake up in a bad mood or something sets them off and pretty soon the atmosphere in your home has a real negative vibe?
Let me paint the picture for you. One of the children is whining because something didn't go his way. Mom has had it with the whining and is about to lose it. Dad comes home after a hard day's work and after 15 minutes the whining is about to send him over the edge. And for some unknown reason the other picks this day as the day to be bouncing off the walls.  Of course, this scenario is totally fictitious and in no way describes the Stone household. Ok, I'm just kidding about that. Actually, it has happened more times than I care to admit.
Here are the cold hard facts. As rulers over a kingdom, our kingdom will come under attack. I know we would all prefer to just sit back in our recliners and enjoy a kingdom of peace, but the reality is in order to have peace we are going to have to fight some battles. Not with one another though. Our families have an enemy and recognizing that truth is the first step to getting a handle on it. Satan longs to stir up stuff in the home. He wants our homes full of strife, turmoil, confusion, unrest, anxiety, and stress. He'll use our children, our spouse, and yes, even us to produce this in the home. He'll use the TV, neighbors, relatives, friends, internet, school, workplace, or whatever else he can to accomplish his goal. Again, the key is to recognize what is happening and then take some appropriate steps to stop his invasion.
Prayer is one of our best weapons. So often we are quick to discipline our children when they are acting out and fail to take care of the real source of the problem. Don't get me wrong, children need to be disciplined appropriately when they are out of line. But, disciplining a child for bad behavior and not following that up with spiritual warfare on their behalf is doing them a great disservice. Sticking with this whole warfare idea, it would be like the military sending aircraft to bomb the front lines but not doing anything about the supply lines that reinforce that front line. Trust me there is a root cause to our children acting out. So, discipline your children when it's needed, but then go a step further and deal with the real enemy. Pray for your children, and take authority over the stuff that causes them to act out. Scripture tells us in Luke 10:19, that Jesus gave us authority and power over the enemy, so use it.
Another thing that my wife and I do, when there seems to be tension in the home is to pop in a worship CD or DVD and let it play for a while. It never fails. That alone changes the mood in our home. There is something about music, and especially worship music that takes the atmosphere and begins to reshape it. Try it, I'm telling you it works!
Of course, sometimes there are peripheral things that affect the atmosphere of the home. Find the source and deal with it. We find that if our boys watch too much TV he acts differently. Not always bad, just not themselves sometimes. That in turn, may affect the mood in our home. Sometimes, it's what they watch. We notice that every time they watch some superhero movie or action flick they become very aggressive. Not, a bad thing unless they watched it right before bed time or when Mom or Dad have a splitting headache. Sometimes It's what our children eat. You know lots of sugar can really get them cranked, but just not eating enough of the right kind of food can make them cranky. Same goes for not enough sleep. Just watch and observe patterns and then take steps to help your child before things get out of hand and everyone in the house is affected.
Now, we all know that we, ourselves, can be the biggest problem when it comes to setting the atmosphere in our home. In fact, sometimes our children are simply a mirror image of us. They act out sometimes because Mom or Dad is full of anxiety, stress, turmoil, etc. We are bombarded by so much in life and let's face it we don't always handle it well. Just as with our children, we need to recognize that satan will hammer us and it will only be fixed by taking up arms against him. Just as you would for your children, do warfare for yourself. Spouses need to do warfare on behalf of one another. You're a team and together you can be an extremely powerful force.
Peace in the home will only come about when there is peace working and abiding in us as parents. Our enemy is real. Scripture tells us that he goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. It's so sad, but he is devouring many. Determine that your home and your family are off limits to him. Choose to go to battle for your kingdom and determine to stop him in his tracks. Your home can be a safe haven and a place of comfort for you and your children, but in order to experience that, Mom and Dad are going to have to be willing to go to war.