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Posts tagged ‘building relationships’

Parenting: Going Beyond “How was your day?”

SOURCE:  The Gottman Institute

 

4 Things I’ve Learned About Parenting Adult Children

SOURCE:  Mark Merrill

Susan and I learned a lot of good things about parenting adult children from our own parents. Looking back, Susan and I agree that they did this very well with us. So we hope that we can build on what they taught us as we move into a season of parenting our five adult children.

Here are a few things we’ve learned about parenting adult children as we are working hard to follow what was modeled for us.

1. Be Involved, but not Intrusive.

There’s a fine line between giving our grown children advice versus giving them orders. And when any of my kids call and ask for my counsel on something, I try to ask them questions that will help them to come to their own conclusions rather than just telling them what to do. I want to be very involved in navigating them through life without them feeling like I’m being intrusive.

2. Be Caring, but not Crowding.

Cell phones, texting, and FaceTime help us stay connected with our children who are in college or working in another city. Susan and I are partial to Face Time because we not only get to hear their voices, but also see their faces. We love to love on them! Even though we’ve got this technology, we know it’s important not to overuse it and crowd our kids. Instead of calling or texting every hour, we try to call when we know they’re out of class or off of work and driving home. And when we do speak, we try avoid asking a million questions about who they’re with, what they’re doing, how late they’ll be out, and where they are. That’s harder for me than Susan! I’m learning to ask general questions like, “How is your day going?” and to be content with however long or short their answer may be.

3. Be Encouraging but not Enabling.

Encouraging and helping our children is really important to us. But it’s sometimes hard to determine when encouraging becomes enabling. There are no formulas that clearly guide us on this issue. For example, when your child graduates from college and gets their own apartment, should you pay the first month’s rent to help them get on their feet? That might be a very nice thing to do. But when paying that first month turns into paying the second and third month, that may be moving into the enabling category absent extenuating circumstances. Of course, being there for them in times of emergencies or times of need is part of being a parent.

4. Be Initiating, but not Isolating.

Soon enough, your kids will move into the next season of their lives, get married, and begin having children of their own. As they find themselves in this time of busyness, be sure not to isolate yourself by only offering to let them come visit you. Initiate time together with them by buying that plane ticket or making that drive down to see your kids and grandkids at their home. Make it easy by coming to where they are and build new memories at times that are convenient for them.

Explaining Your Convictions About Homosexuality

SOURCE:  Adam Barr and Ron Citlau/Family Life

In the next year you can bet at least one of these things will happen in your life:

  • A family member will come out of the closet and expect you to be okay with it. If you are not, family members may call you unloving and judgmental.
  • You’ll be invited to a cousin’s “wedding” . . . to someone of the same gender.
  • You’ll show up for one of your kid’s soccer games and discover that the woman who comes to every game with little Billy’s mom is not his aunt.
  • You will encounter someone who says the gospel cannot bring healing to our sexual identity or orientation.
  • You’ll have a conversation with your college-age child and learn she thinks your view on homosexuality is bigoted, a twenty-first-century version of 1960s racism.
  • You will read about a nationally recognized church leader endorsing the idea of same-sex marriage.

Are you ready to answer the tough questions your friends are asking you about your beliefs? Are you ready to reply to the wedding invitation from your gay cousin? Are you ready to deal with your daughter’s new friend and her two mommies, and the invitation for a sleepover? Are you ready to show someone that you can really, truly love people and still believe that sin is sin?

Are you ready, or are you panicking?

Chances are you would answer in the affirmative if someone asked you, “Is homosexual behavior a sin?” But consider three follow-up questions:

First, why do you believe this? Is it simply because “that’s how I was raised”? Is it because you find “those people” kind of “gross” and “weird”? Reality check: If our convictions are that shallow, then how can we respond with Christ-like compassion to people Jesus died to save? How will you be a real witness to the gospel? How will your faith survive when one of “those people” turns out to be someone you know and love? People gripped by the gospel are able to reach out toanyone in a way that balances truth and love.

Second, have you taken time to really explore what the Bible teaches about sexuality? You might (correctly) believe that Scripture says homosexual activity is a sin, but are you prepared to help someone else see that? Are you ready to defend your beliefs when someone persuasively argues that the Bible does not really condemn loving, committed same-sex relationships? Simply responding, “It’s what I’ve always believed” will not help you be a faithful witness. It will not help you when smart people ask hard questions.

Third, if your convictions on this issue are not well founded on rock-solid truth, do you really think they will stand the test of a hard storm? Jesus said that someone who hears His Word and obeys it is like a person who has built his house on a solid rock. The rain comes, the wind rages, but the house stands. If our stated convictions are not undergirded by solid foundations, they can be quickly swept aside. On this issue, Christians who faithfully speak the truth will increasingly stand in the minority. In the last decade alone, our culture has experienced a revolution of thought when it comes to homosexuality. The pressure to conform will be intense.

Are you ready?

Or are you panicking?

Here are a couple common questions we hear from Christians about talking with others about their convictions on this issue. Something important to remember as you read through these: Real-life people stand behind each of these questions. Relationships. Personal stories. Each of these questions and answers needs to be worked out in a Spirit-led context of relationship.

Question: How can I have a meaningful conversation about this issue without getting into an argument? How can I turn an argument into a meaningful conversation?

Paul was no stranger to difficult conversations. Sometimes, they ended with incredible conversions. Sometimes, they ended with his being stoned. His words to the Colossian church are relevant:

[P]ray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:2-6)

Here are five simple applications we can draw from this passage:

1. Have the right mindset: If you enter a conversation with a win-lose mentality, you’ve lost already. Our goal is not to win a debate, but to open a door. Creative questions are one of the best ways to do that. “What do you believe? What has led you to care so much about this issue?”

2. Speak your convictions clearly: We’re convinced God has revealed truth in His Word. In some ways, that removes the pressure—this isn’t just our private hobbyhorse. It is what the Bible, God’s Word, teaches.

3. Pay attention to the conversational context: Paul said we should “walk in wisdom.” Wisdom is applied righteousness—knowing the right steps in the real world.

  • Don’t “yell in the library”: Are you at work, in a Bible study, on the street? These factors will determine just how the conversation proceeds.
  • Discern whom you are speaking to: Is he gay? Does she have an ideological ax to grind? Has he just learned his daughter is lesbian?
  • Control the thermostat: What is their emotional temperature (1 = calm; 10 = screaming mad)? If it starts to get hot, acknowledge it and take a step back. What is your emotional temperature? Your conversation should be “gracious, seasoned with salt.”

4. Don’t expect agreement every time: In this passage, Paul basically asks God for the chance to say again, with clarity, what got him imprisoned in the first place! This isn’t a popularity contest.

5. Pray. Pray. Pray: Enough said. Just pray. A lot.

Question: My neighbors are a lesbian couple. We occasionally converse and have a cordial relationship. I’ve never out-and-out told them that I think their lifestyle is sinful. Am I just being a coward? Or is it okay not to mention this and just try to be a good neighbor to them?

1. Be a good neighbor! Build relationship. Be friendly, invite them to your home, go to their house, live some life with them. Don’t be overly concerned with being the moral police. Let your Christian witness shine through your actions. This isn’t being cowardly, it is just simple kindness. From my point of view, you can be more direct and honest the better friends you become.

2. But don’t be afraid of speaking the truth. Seek opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus. The best way to do this is by sharing what Jesus has done for you. Don’t make it academic; make it personal. This vulnerability is a nonthreatening way to share the good news of Jesus. And when the time is right, don’t be afraid to invite them to church.

3. If things get heated, remind them that friends can disagree. It is so silly that we have to walk on eggshells with those we don’t agree with. If it is a real friendship, then there will be several areas of disagreement. This is okay. What is needed are respect, a listening ear, and a bit of humility.

4. Become very aware of what God is doing in the life of this couple. A good prayer to pray is this: Lord, use me for what you want to do. Do you want me to serve them? Share biblical truth? And then, as you are with them, seek to discern why God has you in a relationship with them. And as God opens doors, walk through them!

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Adapted from Compassion Without Compromise, Copyright © 2014 by Adam T. Barr and Ron Citlau, Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

20 Ideas for Dating Your Wife

SOURCE:   Family Life Ministry/Justin Buzzard

Men, you know your wife better than anyone else, and only you know how to best encourage and cultivate her as a woman of God. But sometimes it helps to build off other people’s ideas in order to form your own. Here are 20 ideas that I hope will spark your thinking about how you can date your wife.

1. Attend a wedding. Sit in the back row and spend the whole time whispering memories from your own wedding.

2. Make a list of 10 things your wife loves to do. Each new time you take your wife on a date, do one of those 10 things as your date.

3. Take up a new hobby with your wife; do something new that you’re both excited about.

4. Do the classic date: dinner and a show. Take your wife to din­ner and to a movie she wants to watch.

5.  Take a 12-month honeymoon with your wife. Relive your honeymoon by scheduling a 24-hour getaway for every month of this year. Each month go somewhere new with your wife.

6. Devote one hour each night for alone time with your wife. Talk about how your days went. Joke around with each other. Cultivate your friendship. Talk honestly about what’s going on in your lives. Help each other. Encourage each other. Pray together.

7. Mark your wife’s birthday, your wedding anniversary, and Mother’s Day on your calendar every year and plan to make those days special.

8. Write a love note to your wife. Tell her all over again what she means to you.

9. Spend an evening stargazing with your wife and talking about dreams you have for the future.

10. Spend an evening reminiscing with your wife about all you’ve been through together and all God has done and redeemed in your life together.

11. Devote the next month to studying a book of the Bible with your wife. Take 20 minutes several nights a week to read, discuss, and pray through a shorter book such as Ephesians or Philippians.

12. Visit your roots. Visit where your wife grew up and where you grew up. Learn more about each other’s backgrounds.

13. Hold your wife’s hand often, in public and in private.

14. Tell your wife that you love her.

15. Tell your wife that Jesus loves her more than you do.

16. Set a weekly date night. Each week rotate going out and stay­ing in for your date night.

17. Cancel work for the day and do something special with your wife.

18. Take dancing lessons with your wife.

19. Cut something from your schedule and use that time to date your wife.

20. Vacation with your wife without your kids, without your work, and without your cell phone and computer.

Adapted by permission from Date Your Wife, by Justin Buzzard, ©2012, Crossway Books.

10 Ideas: Connecting With Your Kids

SOURCE:   Mary May Larmoyeux 

Children are a heritage from the Lord.
—Psalm 127:3

In today’s activity-packed society, it’s more important than ever to intentionally connect with your kids. Here are 10 ideas that can help you get to know your children better and pass on a legacy of faith and fun.

1. During dinner ask everyone to share one piece of both good news and bad news from the day.

2. Have regular “Kids’ Nights to Cook.” Set up a restaurant atmosphere in your home and create some lifetime memories. Little ones will enjoy decorating the table and making special menus for the evening.

3. Visit a local bookstore with your children and ask them to help you choose a family devotional. Then work through it together.

4. If you have a sports enthusiast in your home, ask him or her to give you and your spouse regular updates about what’s going on in the world of sports—both locally and nationally.

5. Do a one-on-one activity with each child at least once a week.

6. Take turns choosing Bible verses that the entire family can memorize together. Using a special journal or notebook, ask the children to record each verse after the family has memorized it together.

7. Once a week after mealtime, draw names to see who will be in the “hot seat.” (Discard each name after it is drawn so everybody will eventually be chosen.) Family members will ask the person in the “hot seat” a question that cannot be answered “Yes” or “No.”

8. When bringing the kids to school, take turns being prayer warriors—praying for each person’s day.

9. After dinner, rotate sharing a “joke of the day.”

10. Have regular family nights doing something fun that everyone enjoys.

 

QUESTIONS FOR EXPLORING YOUR CHILD’S WORLD

SOURCE:  Bill Bellican

Below are some examples of questions you might use in building your relationship with your child/teen.  Prayerfully consider how the Lord might have you work these into conversations at different times.  Don’t use these questions like a project where you ask your child to answer all the questions as though it was a homework assignment.  Weave them throughout your interactions with your child.  Get to know them better.  Enter their world.  Explore what is of interest to them.  This is not a time to fix things or pass judgement.  Make it about them as opposed to you.  Listen.  Learn.  Proverbs 1:5 admonishes us: “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.”  Seek the grace and ability from the Lord to really listen and add to your learning about your child.  Then, you will become wiser with your parenting.  Plus, you will be building a great relationship.  Finally, ask the Lord to give you the insight and creativity to add more of your own questions to this list.

1.  Who is your best friend?

2.  What color would you like for the walls in your bedroom?

3.  Who is your greatest hero?

4.  What embarrasses you the most?

5.  What is your biggest fear?

6.  What is your favorite type of music?

7.  What person outside the immediate family has most influenced your life?

8.  What is your favorite school subject?

9.  What is your least favorite school subject?

10. What have you done you feel most proud of?

11. What is your biggest complaint about the family?

12. What sport do you most enjoy?

13. What is your favorite TV program?

14. What really makes you angry?

15. What would you like to be when you get older?

16. What chore do you like least?

17. What three foods do you like most?

18. What is your most prized possession?

19. What is your favorite family occasion?

20. What activity did you most recently enjoy?

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