Friday, October 30, 2009

Giving Instructions

The following parenting tip is from The National Center for Biblical Parenting ( You can sign up for email parenting tips.

When Giving Instructions, Consider the Timing

An important step in a good instruction routine is to consider timing. Parents who realize that a child needs an instruction must stop and think of the best way to present it. Ask yourself, "How can I communicate this problem to my child in the most effective way?" Pausing for just a moment, or in some cases, waiting a few hours, may prove to be the most productive way to deal with a situation.

For instance, it's tempting to greet Jenny when she arrives home from school, "Jenny, you didn't take out the trash this morning and your bedroom's a mess." This kind of ambush focuses more on the issue than on the relationship.

Instead, a dad might say to his daughter, "Hi Jenny, I'm glad you're home" and then engage Jenny in dialogue about her day for a few minutes. After relationship has been reestablished, he could then say, "After you put your books away and get a snack, would you please come and see me? I have a couple of things to talk to you about." In this way Dad is trying to be sensitive to the timing of his instructions.

Considering the timing is a small way of saying, "I love you" to a child even in the midst of the work of family life. You'll want to make different adjustments in this area depending on the age of your child. Young children need to learn obedience, so we may give less warning and expect a prompt response. Older children, and certainly teenagers, need more time to prepare themselves. Teens will need to adjust their own expectations or agendas. This takes some work for the teen and patience for the parent.

For more on how to build a good
Instruction Routine with your children, consider the book, Good and Angry, Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids, by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I am aware that not all families with young children choose to participate Halloween by “trick-or-treating.” In fact, I know that we have families at Grace Church from all over the spectrum of whether Christians should participate in this event. I’m not here to make a case either way. I know and respect families who do not trick-or-treat, but my family (3 children, ages 2 to 8) does choose to dress up and collect pounds of candy. From us, we aim to downplay the “spooky” aspects, such as no yard decorations outside of a Jack-o-Lantern, and we have not allowed our kids to dress up as occult-like characters (monsters, witches, etc). But we enjoy watching them have fun, and we feel it’s a great opportunity to be with our neighbors.

Does your family participate in Halloween activities? If so, in what ways?

-- Joey Espinosa

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 18: Teenagers - Training Objectives

The teenage years are marked by insecurity and vulnerability. It's a time for children to establish themselves as individuals, but there is an intense need to feel accepted and loved. Many families equate "teenager" with "rebellion," but it is important to note that rebellion doesn't just appear when a child turns 13. Instead, this rebellion has been there (possibly dormant) all along, but now there are more opportunities to express it.

In general, parenting is about preparing for the next stage. If you have preschoolers, the goal is to prepare them for childhood by teaching them that they are under authority (chapter 14). Elementary-aged children need to be lead towards the teen years by training their character at the heart level (chapter 16). And teenagers need to be prepared for adulthood.

Tripp gives three foundations for life that teenagers need before they reach full adulthood, based on the teaching in Proverbs 1:7-19, as follows:
  1. Fear of the Lord (verse 7). We need to realize that we are accountable to a holy and powerful God. It's not just about cognitive truth, but how it plays out in daily life. We need to live out of fear of God instead of fear of man, and our children need to see how we parents are living this out.
  2. Adherence to Parental Instruction (verses 8-9). Instruction should come in specific family worship times that address their specific needs and interests, and also amidst the flow of everyday living (see Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Furthermore, we must remember to parent out of their best interests, not what is convenient for us or what makes us look good to them or others.
  3. Disassociation with the Wicked (verses 10-19). Children do not become rebellious because they hang out with the wrong crowd. They (and we) are innately rebellious sinners. What they want is to have a sense of belonging. Since no one runs from a place where they are loved and accepted, parents should make their homes an attractive place for children and teens.
Do you have any suggestions with how you have made your home a welcoming and fun place for your child's friends?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Future Men Event

Friday, October 30th, from 7 - 9:30 PM, we are having an equipping event. See our website for more details and to register (it's free).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Raising Dorks

Most parents I know continually struggle with and try find a balance between protecting their children from the world's influence, while also trying to help them engage the culture. I probably tend more towards the risky end of the spectrum, but I need to be constantly reminded that I also need to help them guard their hearts. That's one reason I enjoyed this article titled "Raising Dorks" on the site "Stuff Christians Like." Enjoy!

-- Joey Espinosa

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Salt & Light

This morning, I read Matthew 5:13-16 to my kids, talking about how Jesus calls His disciples to be salt and light. We talked about how we are called to do good deeds, which will lead to people knowing and praising the Father. I asked them if they had any questions, and my 8-year-old daughter pondered, "I don't understand how when I do good deeds, that it will lead to others praising God"

What is our usual tendency when people notice us doing good deeds, or ask us why we do them? I think most people (me included) respond by saying things like, "I want to help others," or "We need to love our neighbor," or such. Notice how the focus is on the one doing the good deeds.

Instead, a more Christ-honoring response would be, "I do that because God wants me to be involved like that," or "I show love to others because Jesus has loved me." Then the focus goes to Him.

I explained this to my daughter, and gave an example that she could relate to. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Kenya on a mission trip. Several weeks before I left, she was upset at me, saying that she wanted me to stay. I told her it was OK that she was upset, but that I was going mostly because I felt that God wanted me to go. She got to see that I had God first in my life and that I was trying to follow Him, and it forced her to wrestle with the question of whether she would trust God with her daddy. And after it was all done, she was able to praise our heavenly Father that He used me for His purposes and that He brought me back safely.

As we teach our children to show love to others, let us remember to make sure that the glory and praise is returned to him, instead of on the one doing good deeds.

Do you have a story of how someone praised and knew God more because of how you or your child showed love to him?

-- Joey Espinosa