WHO ARE YOUR KIDS DEPENDING ON?

Last Monday, I wrote about the stages of growth and the stages of parenting.

(click here to read)

Since we have 4 kids, all 4 of them are in different stages.

Our youngest Joaquin is still in the telling stage. Ryan, who is 9 years old, is now in the teaching stage. Janina, 14, is now on the coaching stage together with our 17 year old, Nathan.

Part of releasing Nathan to make his own decisions is allowing him to go on an international trip all on his own.

Recently, he went on a missions trip to China to meet our pastor there. He spent 2 weeks to assist, play the guitar, speak and do whatever it takes to serve our church and pastor.

It wasn’t an easy decision because since it’s summer time, we’d rather have him with us most of the day and many days of the week.

However, we saw that it was also an opportune moment to get him into a posture of service and position of independence to learn lessons he wouldn’t be able to if he was with us at home.

I guess this is part of what it means to release our children into the purposes of God.

The goal is to transition them from being dependent on us to become more dependent on God.

It’s not the easiest to do as parents because we want to stay in control and micro manage their life.

But by God’s grace, we can.

STAGES OF GROWTH AND PARENTING

Growing up has different stages.

And so does parenting.

Because of this, we need to discern as parents what stage our kids are already in which may merit a different approach.

For 0-6 year olds, that’s usually what I’d call the TELLING stage.
We tell them, “go to sleep”, “brush your teeth”, “pick up your toys”, “take a bath”.

For 7-12 year olds, that would be the TEACHING stage.
This is the stage where we begin to release our kids to do things on their own.
They learn to study for their test, change their clothes, eat on their own…

For 13-18 year olds, this is the COACHING stage.
Because they become more independent, we slowly release them to make their own decisions.
We are there to coach them to make sure they make the right decisions.

For those 19 year olds and above, I would call that the FRIENDSHIP stage.
Mentoring… coaching… teaching… all rolled into one.
They now transition into adulthood and hopefully by the grace of God, we’ve been able to help them stand on their own feet as they fully make their own decisions.
They are released to their own destiny without us and just like an arrow (Psalm 127), we pray that they will hit their mark.

Ultimately, our goal as parents is to transition them from being dependent on us to becoming more dependent on God… less on us and more on Him.

We will not be with our kids 24/7… we won’t and we can’t.

But Someone will. And our kids cultivating that relationship and dependence on their Heavenly Father will help them make the right decisions in the future.

THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

Somebody said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.

I found that to be true.

I didn’t realize how freeing it could be to let go of the past and release the person who has hurt you.

It doesn’t change the past but it definitely opens up greater things for the future.

Here’s a post I wrote on that experience. 

Below is an amazing video on the power of forgiveness.

 

“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“Unforgiveness denies the victim the possibility of parole and leaves them stuck in the prison of what was, incarcerating them in their trauma and relinquishing the chance to escape beyond the pain.”  (T.D. Jakes)

“Every time you ask for forgiveness, you recognize that the biggest problems you face in life exist inside of you, not outside of you.” (Paul David Tripp)

“You will never forgive anyone more than God has already forgiven you.” (Max Lucado)

HOOKED: THE MOLDABLE BRAIN

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“She wanted to do it. I didn’t push her or anything. But when it was over, she cried and acted like it was a big mistake. I wish it hadn’t happened. But we can’t take it back and now everything is messed up.” (Andy, 15)

The human’s largest sexual organ is the brain.

This is what Dr. Gary Rose relates in his book, “Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children”. He says that the brain is moldable and adaptable – that it is not a rigid, immutable structure, but an organ that can grow and flex.

The primary things that change in the brain of a human being are its synapses.  They are like the highways that transport information from one neuron (the primary cells) to another.

It is these synapses that are developed or disconnected with time and with repetitive experiences.

“When a new activity or experience occurs, it can result in a strengthening of the connection between neurons, or even in a new connection altogether. These connections are critical for memory, behavior, emotions, desires and any number of other outcomes that activity or experience brings. If that experience or activity occurs again, the connection is used and strengthened in the process. If that connection is not used, the synapse eventually breaks down and dies. This process refers to either a continued connection between neurons or to a loss of connection – not the life or death of the neurons themselves, although that can and does occur as well.” (Dr. Daniel Weinberger, “The Adolescent Brain”)

PET scans (medical imaging technique that produces a 3D map of the brain) reveal that the part of the brain that controls the ability to make fully mature judgment decisions is not physically mature until an individual reaches his mid-twenties. That part of the brain that is responsible for complex assessments about future consequences and responsibility is still growing throughout the teen years and into the early twenties.

Adolescent brains can be negatively molded by unstructured experiences. For young people, this means that the guidance they can receive from media, pop culture or peers can be unhealthy depending on what value systems they subscribe to.

Elizabeth Ozer from the National Adolescent Health Information Center states that if young people are not guided by parents, mentors and other caring adults, but make their own decisions based on these less than optimal types of bonding, they often make poor decisions which would include risky sexual activity.

Parents, we can never underestimate the role and function that has been given to us by God. Our input in the development of value and belief system of our children are so critical that it will actually come to surface in the decisions they make even if we’re not there.

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POSTSCRIPT:

First post on this series here (How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children).
Second post here (How Bad Can Casual Sex Be?)

HOOKED: “HOW BAD CAN CASUAL SEX BE?”

“Sex was always a given and usually happened the first or second time we were together. I didn’t care anymore. I felt dead inside and thought this is just the way it is… I felt lost and hurt.” (Julie, 27)

Unfortunately for some, it’s too late once they find out the about damaging effects of sexual activity outside the boundaries of marriage.

As human beings, we are more than just sex machines or animals. We are so much more.

“If we think our makeup is limited to satisfying appetites, we’ll conclude that we can engage in sexual activity, enjoy it on a physical level, and totally disassociate these acts from the rest of what we are as human beings – but we’ll be sadly mistaken.” (Dr. Gary Rose)

In her book, The Primal Teen, Barbara Strauch shares that it has been found that poor or unhealthy parent-teen relations are major factors for boys and girls to engage in risky behaviors which includes sex.

On the flip side, in each case, research tells us that home environment had greater influence on behavior than hormone levels and if parent-child relations were good, hormone levels do not seem to matter at all regarding risky sexual behavior.

It is worth remembering that every child’s body and brain transforms as he or she gets older, and this transformation has a huge physical and psychological impact on all things sexual.

Take note of the recent studies that follow:

According to a report from the Heritage Center for Data Analysis in Washington DC, sexually active adolescents were three times more likely to be depressed than their friends who are still virgins.

The Adolescent and Family Health organization found out that those who were not virgins when they married are more likely to divorce than those who remained abstinent until marriage.

E. Laumann, R.T. Michael, G. Kolata reports in their article, “Sex in America: A Definitive Survey”, that married couples report higher levels of sexual satisfaction than unmarried individuals with multiple sexual partners.

Human beings are creatures who are much more than physical bodies. We possess the ability for cognitive thought, which includes judgment, abstract thinking, planning for the future, moral intelligence, and other processes that govern our lives.

Our decision-making ability, coming from the highest centers of the brain, can guide an individual to the most rewarding sexual behavior – unless bad programming from premature and unwise sexual behavior during the adolescent years has occurred, causing the brain formation for healthy decision making to be damaged.

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POST SCRIPT: This is blog no. 2 of a series. The first one here.

THE POWER OF ENCOURAGING YOUR KIDS

My son, Ryan, and I love taking the time to go to the basketball court and shoot some hoops.

It’s interesting what he does almost after every shot – he discreetly looks at me to see how I would react.

Almost every time, I try to give him a thumbs up sign to encourage him, whether he makes the shot or not.

According to a research experiment published in Psychological Science which was led by Lysann Damisch of the University of Cologne in Germany, a dexterity task that normally took more than 5 minutes was accomplished in just over 3 minutes, on average, if participants received an encouraging luck message before they started.

Dads, you have the power within your reach to encourage your children – a word, a smile or a simple thumbs up sign will go a long long way.

Here’s a list of encouraging words you may add to your everyday conversations with your kids. (Taken from Parenting Exchange by Karen Stephens)

• Your skills are really improving; you’ve outdone yourself today!

• How kind of you to share toys with your friend.That’s very generous.

• You are taking such good care of your pet. He’s so lucky to have you!

• Now THAT’S what I call a thorough job! Thanks for picking up your toys.

• That’s a great effort; don’t worry about that small mistake.

• Keep at it; I know you’ll figure it out. How can I help?

• You are such a good learner! I’m impressed by your concentration.

• I remember when you were first learning that. You’ve come a long way.

• You’re so fun around the house; life would be boring without you!

• What would I have done without you today? Thanks for cleaning the house with me.

• I’m so proud to tell people I’m your mom (dad).

• It’s wonderful to see you so happy with your performance.

• I appreciate your attention to detail. You are one sharp cookie.

• Your patience is commendable. Keep at it; I know you’ll get it yet.

• You’re doing a great job of controlling your anger.

• You’re on the right track! That’s using your brain.

• Hey, you’re getting the hang of it! Your practice is really paying off.

• Your attitude is a very respectful attitude. I appreciate that.

• How sensitive you are to your brother’s feelings.

• I love your sense of humor. How do you think up those jokes?

• You hang in there when the going gets tough. You’re a strong person.

• Look how much progress you’ve made.You should be proud.

• What a good memory you have. That effort deserves a high five!

• I really enjoyed your performance. No one could have done it better.

• Keep trying; I know you can work this frustrating problem out.

• How calm you were when you got that bad news. You are really maturing.

• It’s a real gift to me when you do your chores without being reminded.

• I have to hand it to you; you did exactly what you set out to do.

• Congratulations, you can be proud of your achievement!

PURITY RING

I loosely define vision as a picture of the future.

When my daughter turned 13, I took her out on a date to do just that – give her a mental picture of what the future might look like for her.

After a nice dinner in one of our favorite restaurants, The Old Vine, I went into my speech.

“One day you’ll get married.” (Believe me, this one was a hard line to tell her.)

“While that hasn’t happened yet, I want you to know that God is preparing you and the person you’ll end up with. Your mom and I have prayed for your future husband since you were a baby. And to this day, we still do.”

“In the next several years, I want you to have a picture of how your wedding will look like – that when you walk down that aisle in your beautiful white gown, you will be pure and holy before God… that you’ve kept your virginity and offered your purity to God, reserving it for the man you will marry.”

“So that when the pastor declares, ‘you may kiss the bride’, your answer will be ‘I do’ and not ‘I did.'”

I don’t remember all that I told her but that would be the gist of my speech to her.

After which, I pulled out a ring and gave her what I would call a purity ring.

I said,

“This ring, I’m giving to you today, as a sign of your commitment to keep yourself pure before God until the day you get married. Is this the vision you have for your future?”

She said, “Yes!” (whew!)

“And this purity ring will only be replaced by an engagement ring that your future husband will give you as a sign of his commitment to you.”

Well, that was a hard one for me to talk to my daughter with all the emotions going inside of me as a dad, but thank God for His grace.

ACTION BIBLE

My wife and I got a really nice gift last Christmas. A couple from church gave us an “Action Bible”.

It re-tells the stories of Scripture in animated format. For those who have young children, it’s a fascinating way to read through the Bible.

Here are a few snapshots of how it looks like.

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