Protecting Marriage

JonathanStarr

Often the most overlooked parts of our unique parenting style, is the marriage aspect. We read books on parenting, we talk to other parents about our kids, and we laugh together about all of our parenting misadventures. However, we don’t often put an equal amount of energy into our marriage.

We’d all agree that we want our kids to see a good marriage. Nobody wants their kids to see an eventual divorce, broken homes, constant bickering, and angry conversations. But, what does it look like for kids to see a good marriage? Is it public displays of affection? A little kissing, and a dad that does the dishes?

I believe it’s much more than any of that.

It’s conflict resolution. Spouses will argue, and if they are really passionate arguers it will be loud. All couples have disagreements, frustrations with each other, and even an occasional misunderstanding. We should limit how much a part of our lives are described by the previous reasons, but we all know those things will happen. The solution to making conflict work in your families is to let your kids see the compromises made, the apologies given, and the grace applied.

It’s serving even when it’s not  convenient. It’s as easy as getting that second glass of iced tea before they ask for it, and as difficult as taking an entire weekend to help the family accomplish a task that your wife is asking for. Serve your spouse in front of your kids, and the less convenient it is…the more of an impact it can have on them when they see it!

It’s spoken words of love. Sure, show your love with some actions, but fill the cup with overflowing in the words department. Say it. Tell her you love her. Tell him he’s awesome. Let the words between you and your spouse be words of life and love. You should also let the words of love flow, even when your only audience is the kids!

It’s including them in the love story. Once upon a time…I met my wife. There is a lot of story there, but the story really takes off when my little ones starting arriving. My 3 kids are one of the best parts of the love story that Starr and I are writing together. I let my kids know, that each time one of them entered the world…my love for their mother increased yet again. I love her more, because I have them in my family.

It’s putting them 2nd. Here is the importance ranking in my house. Starr is #1. Kids are scattered in somewhere at #2. Then everyone else is a distant #3. But the #2 ranked kids aren’t even close to their #1 ranked mother. It’s not #1a and #1b. It’s her first, always first, never last, and the one that will be with me forever. She’s the only person in the house that makes it all work for me. This doesn’t hurt my kids self-esteem, it builds it up.

Anything you’d add to the list? How do we protect our marriage in front of our kids?

Making Parents Look Good

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I’m a small group leader and a parent. Actually I’m a parent first.

Maybe I should rewrite that first statement.

As a parent, I love nothing more than to see my kid receive attention from adults that mean them well and want to see them succeed. But selfishly, I love a small group leader that can do that while making me look good in front of my kids.

I don’t want a small group leader that is a “better voice” for my kids, I want one that is “another voice” for my kids. As small group leaders learn to embrace the role as an accompanying voice in the life of my kid, the more value my own voice has in my kids life.

Read the rest of my contribution at the Lead Small blog at: http://leadsmall.org/elementary/making-a-parent-look-good/

Getting the “New Kid” to Open Up

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As a Small Group you leader you need to have the ability to get kids to open up to you.  We need to feel pretty confident that we can get any kid, anywhere, in most any circumstance to talk with us.   You may be thinking, “I just wish I could get my kids to STOP talking so much!”  But I’m not talking about the kids you know, I m talking about those first time kids that come into our group, or maybe the kid in the checkout line at Wal-Mart (of course in public make sure you don’t creep the parents out and be sure to invite them to your church).

Are there things you can do to get any kid to talk to you?   Yes you can, and here are a few tricks.   Feel free to put them to the test, and I guarantee you that you will get a positive response.

The Nickname Method: Simply ask them if they have a nickname.   This worked fabulously when I worked with more inner city kids, because they ALL had nicknames!   But even out here in the the nether regions of West Texas I ve found that kids love to share nicknames.   Maybe they have a name that their mom calls them, or something their friends joke with them about.   Kids love nicknames.   If they don t have one, then you can offer them some suggestions.   It s an instant ice-breaker!

Read the rest of my contribution at the Lead Small blog at: http://leadsmall.org/elementary/getting-the-new-kid-to-open-up/

Ideology towards Practicality

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I’m a father and I’m learning. I’m learning that signing my son up for baseball means I get to sit outside in the freezing cold March nights. I’m learning that my daughter will talk about her favorite songs for hours on end. I’m learning that what my kids hear at church isn’t necessarily easy for them to do right away. I’m learning that my children are a much greater challenge to me than my job as a leader of children’s ministries.

I’m also a pastor and I’m learning. I’m learning that setting things on fire in a building with sensitive smoke detectors is not a great idea. I’m learning that glitter is the archenemy of our custodial staff. I’m more importantly learning the best of intentions does not guarantee a real connection with my families. I’m learning that children are the most important people in the lives of their parents. I’m learning that what I teach kids at church is second in importance to what parents teach their children at home.

We’ve all been there. We start working with kids, because we love the kids. We love teaching them new things about God. We love hearing them discover new ways of understanding God’s plan for their lives. Then, we realize that it’s much more fruitful to pour equal amounts of energy into the people these kids we love so much live with. That’s when we hit the proverbial family ministry wall. All that work you’ve been doing to connect families to your church could be for naught. The parents aren’t doing it at home. Your materials are top notch, they’re shiny, and they’re perfectly designed for parents … you think.

Read more from this article that originally appeared in Kidzmatter Magazine March/April 2014 at: http://kidzmatter.com/helping-every-parent-take-a-next-step-from-ideology-towards-practicality

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Tell your Story

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Did you know your church is always searching for more leaders? No matter how big the church you serve in is, there is always a need for more people to invest in the lives of the children there. As a small group leader, you play a huge role in this “recruiting” plan.

If your church leader could clone you, they would! You are the one your leaders are attempting to replicate, and you play the oh-so-important role of recruiter for your ministry. You know the people in your world, and you know who would make an awesome SGL. Part of fulfilling the responsibility of “Creating a Safe Place” is to make it a safe place for new kids and for the times when you can’t be there. So, tell your story!

Invite Someone You Love. Most of us serve because we were asked by somebody we trust, so pay it forward by doing the same for someone else. What we do always carries more meaning when we do it with someone we enjoy being with. Don’t keep it to yourself, invite others to share the experience!

Read the rest of my contribution at the Lead Small blog at: http://leadsmall.org/elementary/tell-your-story/