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Teaching Our Kids to Make Good Choices

good choicesChoices make kids feel smart, but choices don’t necessarily make them wise. Sound strange? Well, consider what your day as a parent might look like.

Little Caleb wants you to read him a book. He doesn’t ask; he sweetly says, “Mommy, read me a book.” And because you know reading is an important thing for little Caleb’s mental development, you gladly reach for one.

Caleb doesn’t want that book. He wants the other book you didn’t pick. Still, at least he wants to read, you tell yourself. So, you point to the couch. Caleb flops on the loveseat. You tell yourself that it doesn’t really matter because at least he sat down.

When the book is finished, you ask your precious son what he wants for lunch. He tells you peanut butter and grape jelly. You don’t have grape jelly. You have strawberry.

Caleb doesn’t want strawberry. He wants grape.

That’s when the meltdown begins.

So, what went wrong? In a thousand little moments like these, we’ve allowed our Calebs to become wise in their own eyes. They’ve been trained to assume that they know what’s best. And it’s our fault.

Wisdom Takes Time

Solomon tells his son that wisdom comes—over time—by listening to his father and mother (Proverbs 1:8), but even their instruction ultimately goes back to God giving wisdom (Proverbs 2:6). But you’ll notice something Solomon doesn’t do. He doesn’t give his son choices. He just tells him what to do, with all the subtlety of a dreaded party pooper. Don’t go near that woman. Get some brains. Don’t hang out with losers. (Maybe that’s not exactly the same words he said, but you get the idea.)

Obviously, Solomon’s not going for cool dad of the year. He wouldn’t pass muster in Parenting magazine. And you know what? He doesn’t care. Neither should you.

Wisdom is passed on over time. Children aren’t born with it. They really don’t have the capacity to make good choices until you lay down a moral foundation. And when we give them so many choices at an early age—what to wear, what to eat, what to do—we’re accidentally teaching them something we don’t really want to teach.

What’s that? Well, think about it. In our story, Caleb picked the activity; Caleb picked which book to read; Caleb picked where to sit; and Caleb picked what to eat. Who does Caleb think is wise? Caleb. So, when you tell Caleb no about the jelly, you’re not just “laying down the law.” You’re attacking his pride—pride that we parents helped create.

Why It Matters

Decision-making is, more often than not, a moral issue, especially for young children. Letting them have such power means that you’re letting go of some of your authority. Sure, it may seem innocent. But over time, with decision after decision, you’ve ceded all kinds of ground.

And let’s be blunt: young kids aren’t ready for that sort of responsibility. It puffs them up like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They don’t know how to handle authority yet. They need you to show them how to be wise first.

So, don’t feel “uncool” if you set Caleb’s schedule, pick the book, and give him no say in lunch. Instead, realize that you’re establishing a godly foundation that he can build on. When he’s proven that he respects your authority to make decisions for him (Ephesians 6), then he can gradually enjoy more freedom to decide on his own.

And you’ll keep your sanity as well.

My Love Notes From God




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Categories: Love

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So What Do You Do?

As a man, this is a very familiar question. When men are gathered together, for any occasion, this is the question that is on the lips of every single one of us men. Many ask this question because they are trying to start a conversation, or just trying to be pleasant, but the fact is that every man in this world is being measured by his ability to hold and perform a task that provides for the well-being of his family.

At least that’s the way it used to be, but I think the worlds standards have changed dramatically. We really don’t care anymore if they are providing for the needs of their family, but we, as men, do gain our identities from the position we hold in the market place. In other words, what kind of job we have, where do we work, and what do we do for a living?

So, what do you do? This was asked of me at a high school reunion some years back. I responded with a sheepish reply, ” I work at Ford Motor Company.” Next question, “What do you do there?” “I work as an assembler”, trying to make my menial job sound somewhat important, such as a sanitation engineer would sound, instead of saying a garbage man. The man I was talking to responded, “I’m in Nuclear Medicine.” That told me, as a comparison, I was no match for nuclear science. Nuclear Science trumps an auto assembler, as a matter of fact, just about everything trumps auto assembly job.

Is that really the measuring stick of what makes a man a man, or maybe a better question would be, what really makes a Father?

Sure, being a good provider is very important to raising a family, and it’s the Dad’s job to bring home the income and provide for the physical needs of his family, but there is another measuring rod that many of us never quite match up to…our children.

They say that the grades of how good a parent you were, comes out when your kids are grown and on their own. That’s when you get to see just how good, or how bad you really did.

Now I want to state that we are all imperfect people and there is no one who is without error or some type of short comings. We all fall short in some area, so don’t beat yourself up to bad. But where are your goals, and where are your efforts, and most important of all, what kind of sacrifices do you make for your children dad?

Selfish creatures don’t make for good providers. There is an emotional side of raising children that so many of us dads fall very short of, myself included.

There is the story of a father whose job took him on the road a lot. He was a good provider, but his job required him to travel. His son played baseball and his father was unable to make any of his games.

Well one day the son came to his coach, and with a gleam in his eyes, he told his coach that his dad was going to be home from a long road trip, and he would be able to watch him play in his next game.

The coach designated him to play shortstop for that game, so that his dad would be able to see his son play close up. His son was a good ball player and he loved the game.

The day of the game arrived and as the team assembled together, the boy looked dejected, and the coach asked him if everything was alright? The boy said yes, but his dad wasn’t going to be able to come to the game. The coach asked why, the boy simply said, “he had to go and play golf with his friends.”

This father made a decision of playing golf with his friends, over watching his son play baseball.

What type of message do you think that father was sending to his son?

You may be thinking, so what, the dad deserves some relaxation and time for himself, he can always watch his son play in another game? That’s not what his son was thinking. His son was disappointed and he takes the actions of his father as, he doesn’t love me, he cares more about playing golf with his friends, than about watching me play baseball.

We take time to study and use all our resources to plan a trip with the boys to play 18 holes of golf. We sacrifice our time and our money to invest in ourselves and other things that we deem important to us, but what about our children? How important are they to you Dad? What type of sacrifice are you performing on their behalf? When they get older and have a family of their own, will they look back and see what type of sacrifices you made for them? Will they be able to see what an incredible father you really were?

The time goes by fast. They grow up, but it’s still not to late. It’s never to late. Make the time, and take the time, so you do make deposits into people, and invest in your children.

After all, there was someone who did that for you, leaving you an example, so you must do that for your children.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, so that whoever would believe in Him, would never parish, but have the gift of eternal life.” John 3:16



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