Archive for October, 2015

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of 1God! (1 John 3:1 NKJV)

Today we end the series of 18 things that Justin Coulson[i] says you can do to help your children feel cared for and heard and thus grow up to be resilient.

  1. Offer autonomy. When we are controlling, our children feel unloved. Of course it is important that we have rules and limits; they will help our children feel secure and safe.  At the same time, when we give them choices and allow them to decide for themselves wherever possible they will feel heard and cared for.
  2. Get down on the floor with them and play. Kids love it when their parents gets down on the floor, at their level, for some playtime. They relish the time with their parents when they can play, laugh, and be together. Pull out the Uno cards, or Skip-Bo, or Old Maid.  But they will also enjoy when you wrestle with them, jump on the trampoline, have Nerf-gun wars, or play handball or skipping.
  3. Save their presents. Save those cards they made you in school, or the gifts they worked on or saved money to buy you. There is something precious and heart-warming about going back through all of the things they gave to express their love for us.  You might think that is more important for as parents than it is for them, but when they see them displayed or when they find them safely tucked in a special box they will also feel loved knowing you loved the gift, and the giver.
  4. Tell them you love them. Say it often. At the beginning and the end of each day, on text messages and phone calls, in person and when you’re apart.  They need to hear those three words often.
  5. Show them you love them. Words are wonderful expressions of our feelings. But more than just words, they need to feel you love them. As Carlson*** concludes, “Show them as much as you can. They will grow up resilient, because they will grow up feeling cared for and listened to.”

What an opportunity we have, as parents, to help our kids be resilient just by showing them love in the small, simple things we say and do for them.

Father God, bless my children, and may they feel your and our love.

[i] http://family-studies.org/eighteen-ways-to-build-a-resilient-child/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=53b6201f47-Newsletter_87&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-53b6201f47-104541745

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And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. (Luke 15:31 NKJV)

We continue to share the 18 things that Justin Coulson[i] says you can do to help your children feel cared for and heard and thus grow up to be resilient.

  1. Smile. The truth is that sometimes we’re so busy and stressed that we don’t smile as much as we might, or should. Smiling is a great stress-reliever and an attitude changer.  It will do us good to smile.  Science says that just putting a pencil across our teeth stimulates the same muscles that create a smile making us feel better.  So, it is beneficial to us.  But in addition, a smile tells our children they can feel safe, and welcome.  Our children need to see and know that.
  2. Make time to do nothing. Chances are, our children will be more likely to talk to us when they feel conversation is welcome. But if our schedule is packed so tightly we can’t even find time to talk to our kids, they won’t feel listened to much less cared for.  When was the last time you were able to just sit down and do nothing…but be open and willing to listen to your kids? (or your spouse?)
  3. Respond to challenging behavior with maturity. Sometimes we may respond to our kid’s challenging behavior with anger. More than likely this will leave your child feeling you have not heard, much less listen, to them, and that you don’t care. At other times we may ignore our children, with similar results.  Remember that challenging behavior often comes from unmet needs, or not getting sufficient amounts of positive attention.  Think of such behavior as an opportunity to get close to your children and help problem-solve with them.  Keep in mind that discipline means to teach or instruct, to help them become disciples, not to hurt or punish.
  4. Leave love notes. You could write them a note on a napkin and stick it in their lunch bag, or leave a post-it note on their dresser or bathroom mirror. Make use of modern technology and send them a text message or post on Facebook.  They may not always tell you, but children love getting notes from their parents.  It makes them feel noticed, important, acknowledged, valued, and loved.


Father God, help me to love, encourage, and strengthen my children.

[i] http://family-studies.org/eighteen-ways-to-build-a-resilient-child/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=53b6201f47-Newsletter_87&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-53b6201f47-104541745

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We have a father, an old man, and la child of his old age, who is young; his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him. (Gen. 44:20  NKJV).

Justin Coulson[i] shares 18 things you might be able to do, starting today, to help your children feel cared for and heard and thus grow up to be resilient.

  1. Bed time is best. Make the last few minutes of the day a precious bonding time with your children. Read to them, preferably a nice story book, pray with them, tuck them in bed, and give them a warm hug and a kiss. Your children will go to bed feeling loved and secure.
  2. Give hugs, and touch them. When you pass by your children, or your spouse, make it habit to pat them on the back, squeeze their arm, touch their neck or hair, or put your arm around their shoulder. Your touch affirms them as a person, that you have seen them, and that their presence matters. It feels good to be noticed.  It’s like a vitamin which, as research shows, can boost well-being.  As Colson*** writes, “I also find that if a child is struggling, one of the best things we can do is hug them. In fact, the times our children deserve our hugs the least are the times they need them most.”
  3. Stay calm. It is a parent’s main responsibility to stay calmer than their child. We teach our kids by example how to regulate their behavior. They can see and trust that we are stable, secure, predictable, and safe and they learn they can come to us no matter what, and that we will respond calmly and kindly.
  4. One-on-one time is crucial. This is particularly important the more children you have. Kids feel important, heard, and worthy when we give them personal, undivided attention.  This does not have to be structured meetings that look more a job interview.  Instead, even short outings, walks, or individual play time may be the most important way we can show our children we care about them and that we want to listen to them.  Fathers can take their daughters on a date and mothers their sons.  These times are crucial relationship-builders.

Father God, if I am not already doing these things for my children, help to begin today to help them and strengthen them as they grow.

[i] http://family-studies.org/eighteen-ways-to-build-a-resilient-child/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=53b6201f47-Newsletter_87&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-53b6201f47-104541745

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He will choose our inheritance for us, The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Psalms 47:4 NKJV)

Justin Coulson[i] shares 18 things you might be able to do, starting today, to help your children feel cared for and heard and thus grow up to be resilient.

  1. Turn off your smartphone. Several studies have shown that that the mere presence of a cell phone detracts from the quality of our conversations. Put the phone away when you are talking, or at the very least put it on airplane mode. Just to silence it is not enough because every time it vibrates both you and your children will be aware of it and will feel the distraction.
  2. Turn off screens. Set time aside for screen-free, people-connection time. What that means is that you turn off the TV, put away all tablets and cell phones, disconnect all electronic games and media, and simply focus on the people in front of you.  It’s just you and your kids, and conversation. This could be during meal time, or when you travel.  Or you can spend some of those times playing games.  Try “The Ungame,” which is fantastic game of conversation and healthy communication.
  3. Make eye contact. Recent studies with infants show that even babies need that eye-to-eye contact and attention, and when they don’t receive that they become very nervous and even upset. When your children want to connect and communicate with you, stop for a moment and look them in the eyes.  It is very difficult, particularly for men, to be able to listen attentively while they are doing something else like reading, or watching TV.  It would be best if you physically turn towards them and pay attention to them.  You can listen better and it also makes it clear to them you really are right there for them.
  4. Listen. Sometimes our children come to us with problems, fears, or concerns. As they relate what they are dealing with, encourage them to tell you more, ask them some probing questions (without interrogating them). Listen attentively.  Help them make their own decisions by saying something like, “What do you think you should do?” Sometimes that’s all they need; they know the answers.

Father, I want to be a good parent to my children; please help me.

[i] http://family-studies.org/eighteen-ways-to-build-a-resilient-child/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=53b6201f47-Newsletter_87&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-53b6201f47-104541745

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My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands.  (Prov. 3:1 NKJV)

Andrew Fuller, one of Australia’s best-known child and adolescent psychologists, conducted a study about resilience with approximately 16,000 Aussie youth. Resilience, as defined in the dictionary, means to be able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

Fuller found that the children who were most resilient almost universally agreed with two statements that children with the lowest resilience disagreed with. They were:

I have a parent who cares about me.

I have a parent who listens to me.

Pause for a moment and ask yourself, “Would my children answer ‘yes’ to those two statements?”  You may even ask your children, “Do you feel like I care about you? Do you feel like I listen to you?”

Think about your own growing up years.  What made you feel cared about as a child? When did you feel listened to? And most important, how did feeling cared about and heard make you feel?  You might think that buying the latest technological toys or gadgets, giving them nice clothes or plenty of money, or taking them on some exotic and expensive vacations is what builds your child’s sense of self-worth and resilience.  Or you may be the opposite and think that depriving them of fun, making them work hard, forcing them to hold back their feelings is how you strengthen them against the challenges of this world.  Or you may simply not know how to help your children be more resilient.  Justin Coulson[i]  shares 18 things you might be able to do, starting today, to help your children feel cared for and heard. (We’ll cover these during the next few days)

  1. Stop saying “I’m busy.” You have probably heard that to a child, LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E. If that’s true, what do “I’m busy,” or “hurry up,” mean to them?  When we are too busy for them or when we rush them, they suffer and often withdraw.  You do that enough times and when they grow up you will have a distant relationship with them, probably at a time when you long for closeness with them.

Father God, use me as I encourage my children to be resilient by loving them, listening to them, and spending time with them.

[i] http://family-studies.org/eighteen-ways-to-build-a-resilient-child/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=53b6201f47-Newsletter_87&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-53b6201f47-104541745

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Face-to-face vitamins

So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exo. 33:11, NKJV)

According to new research, if you’re feeling depressed, hanging out with friends or loved ones face-to-face is better for your emotional health than a phone call or sending an email.  Linda Carroll[i] writes about this research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Monday, to compare how the different types of social contact affect our mental health.  According to the study’s lead author Dr. Alan Teo, a professor of psychiatry at the Oregon Health & Science University and a core investigator at VA Portland Health Care System, calling and emailing did not seem to have the same kind of protective effect.

It’s not that emailing or calling on the phone is bad or that you should cut them out of your life. Instead, Teo says, “the message is that they are no substitute for face-to face contact, which acts as a sort of vitamin for depression prevention.”

Teo believes that while the study only looked at people who were 50 and older, the findings might apply to younger adults as well.   On a more personal application, Teo’s own behavior has changed.  As he explains, “I am trying to make sure I am spending time face to face, having nice long conversations at a café, because I really think meeting up with someone brings something special, something magical, for our mental health.”

“Email is good and does help in reducing social isolation,” says Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor in-residence at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the late-life mood, stress and wellness research program at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. But we are communal animals. We are meant to be in society.”  She also points to the tons of research showing the health benefits of attending church and suggests that at least part of those benefits may come from being in the society of others.  “It’s a very powerful effect,” she says.

Spend time, face-to-face, with the people you care about; it’s good for them, and it’s good for you.

Father God, help me to make time for personal interaction with others.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/face-face-interaction-may-be-vitamin-depression-study-suggests-t48101

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That you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thes. 2:12 NKJV)

We learned yesterday that a formal evaluation can help a couple set goals, affirm what works and avoid entrenched conflict. The question is, how do you review your marriage?  Rebecca Chory,[i]  professor at Frostburg State University’s business school, in Maryland, has identified six strategies for giving an effective performance review:

Address the behavior, not the person.  Begin your comments with affirmation and, by all means, do not put down your partner.  For example, she recommends you say something like: “I love you and want to be with you, but there are these behaviors…” or “When you did this, I felt this…”

Explain why you came to your conclusion. What contributed to your assessment? Provide a rationale.

Show that you are aware of the other person’s situation. Try to walk in their shoes.  See if you can imagine what they may be going through.  For instance, is your spouse stressed, overworked, or sick? Acknowledge the challenges he or she has been facing and how they may have contributed to the behavior you don’t like.

Be consistent over time. Don’t criticize your spouse for something one time and laugh it off another.  Your spouse needs to know what to expect, what the rules of the game are.

Allow the other person to respond and provide input. The review should be a conversation, not a lecture, and most certainly not a chastisement session. A lot of misunderstandings can be cleared up when people talk openly.

Be clear about what you would like to change. What can be done to improve the situation?  If you’re not clear, chances are neither are they.

In general terms, always begin by identifying your strengths as a couple, then move on to discussing one concern at a time, and don’t make it your goal to come up with a solution right away.  Instead, aim to understand your partner and to have your partner understand you.

Father God, Help us to maintain a positive attitude in marriage.

[i] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/performance-review-may-good-marriage-180300598.html

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