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Q: How can I help my son or daughter be better prepared to succeed academically, socially, spiritually, fiscally and practically in college?

A: If your “child” is going to college, you have dreams in your heart of the truth they are going to learn, the people they are going to meet and the success they will accomplish with the degree they earn. We all want our young adults to think like Eleanor Powell, “What we are is God’s gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God.” We certainly don’t want them to think like Tom Petty, “You have four years to be irresponsible [in college], relax. Work is for people with jobs.  You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember the time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So stay out late. Go out with your friends on a Tuesday when you have a paper due on a Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have . . . The work never ends, but college does.”

The reality is that acquiring college degree is one of life’s great challenges. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 30 percent of adults have a college degree and 8 out of every 100 students gain a graduate (Masters) degree. Figuring out how to pay for college is also a difficult pursuit. According to CBS Money Watch, only 2% of high school athletes get sports scholarships while “seven in 10 seniors (69%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2013 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,400 per borrower.”

We have been quite fortunate in this regard as all 3 of our sons were awarded partial athletic scholarships and will end their college careers with Masters Degrees in their chosen fields. We also consider ourselves fortunate that our sons have landed successful career positions in a sluggish employment environment where only about 50% of grads have fulltime employment at the one year mark after graduation.

GradPicsWe believe this has happened because of God’s favor and our efforts to help them prepare. In addition to our yearly Learner and Leader Days from elementary through high school (outlined in the 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make book), we proactively prepared our graduates to launch. During the months before each went away to college, we walked them through The Freshman Foundation Dinner and Discussion Questions. With each son, we personalized the when and where of these imperative interactions. For son number 1, we took 5 beach walks each evening at Cannon Beach Conference Center’s Family Camp where we were speaking. We took son two out to dinner once a week for 5 weeks in the summer following his high school graduation. For our youngest, we discussed his decisions over home cooked meals on our deck, then wrapped up the final loose ends on a weekend college scouting trip. Our goal was to discuss with each son five vital areas of life that must be “owned” for a young person to launch well.

The five vital areas covered by the The Freshman Foundation Dinner and Discussion Questions are:

Fitness: How will your student stay healthy emotionally, physically and psychologically?
Finances: Who will pay for what and how will your student balance work and study?
Future: What degree, internships, apprenticeships or other experiences will secure their career?
Friends: How they will find solid, healthy friends, a good church and Christian fellowship?
Faith: What decisions, mentors, methods and organizations will help them mature spiritually?

There are 7 to 12 questions in each area to help facilitate a thorough, sensitive, cordial discussion between parents and student. You are, of course, free to adapt or personalize the questions to fit your situation. The goal is to help your graduate take a bold step in assuming responsibility for his or her choices to increase the chances of success during college.

You may also want to consider developing an Education Contract with your student. (You can find it in 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make). This form will help your young adult clearly spell out a budget that describes who pays for what during the college years. Expenses will be identified and compared with contributions from scholarships, income from work and funds provided by mom and dad. The “Farrel Scholarship” money came with some pre-requisites. Our sons were rewarded for attending church, serving at church or in a local ministry, meeting with a mentor and participating in a church or campus ministry focused on their stage of life. They were required to maintain a GPA in line with their abilities and to sign a morality pledge to seek excellence in the moral choices they would be confronted with (includes convictions about drug and alcohol use, sexual decisions and other ethical dilemmas). We wanted them to see that a college education is a PRIVILEGE not a right. Failure to meet the provisions of the agreement would result in a probationary period in which our sons could regroup. Although we never had to pull our financial support, we were prepared to do so if our kids did not regroup during the couple of probationary periods we had to institute.

The goal of this process was not to put pressure on our sons. Instead, we wanted them to know four vital truths: 1) Mom and Dad were celebrating their growth. 2) Mom and Dad would work hard to support them but were not willing to work harder than them for their success. 3) Mom and Dad were serious and would keep our word. 4) Mom and Dad would be their cheerleaders, champions and prayer warriors through their academic journey.

The payoff is you get to celebrate at the finish line with confetti, high fives and lots of hugs!
teen books w parents

06

09 2015

What are the benefits of being your wife’s best friend?

Curious couples consistently wonder what it is that really makes marriage work. I (Bill) am curious too! We can all sense when our hearts are in sync and things are good. It is elusive, however, to describe how this emotional, relational and spiritual magic is solidified in a marriage relationship. While developing a new APP for husbands, HER BEST FRIEND, I had the opportunity to reflect on years of relationship ministry and recent research.FBPostPic3_lowres

After years of exploration that has led to books, articles and clinical papers, the conclusion is simpler than any of us expected. The success of your marriage comes down to the quality of your friendship with your wife, according to John Gottman, the innovative founder of The Love Lab at the University of Washington (reported in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work). He and his team discovered that successful couples:

  • have “a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company.”
  • “know each other intimately and have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness” in big and little ways, day in and day out.
  • Determine the satisfaction of sex, romance and passion based on the quality of their friendship.
  • don’t let the negative thoughts they have about each other outweigh the positive ones.

In other words, friendship is the key. Her Best Friend is a new app to help foster the friendship in your marriage. Almost every man I meet wants to do good things for his wife but runs out of ideas quickly. The app will deliver one idea per day to your phone. If you like today’s idea, apply it in your relationship. If today’s idea seems better suited for others, simply wait until tomorrow because another idea is on its way. Here’s to your friendship!

HBF_GooglePlayIconHBF_AppleAppIcon

 

04

08 2015

Q: Creating a family mission statement, a family motto, and an illustrated family moniker (or crest) seems kind of difficult and labor intensive. Is there a simple way to create these?

A: Yes! Year after year we have worked to make these vital ingredients to a family compass easier to create. Focus on the Family interviewed us about these when we were on air talking about our books 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make and 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make. (Link to interview on Intentional Parent part 1; part 2). Also, we created a simple step by step document to help you create a family compass.
forest home brock momHowever, more recently, I was speaking for a Mother and Son conference at Forest Home camp, and our son, Brock, was team teaching with me. It thought it might be nice for moms and sons to work on a family crest together. Here is the simple crest and four simple questions that might begin your journey to create that vital family crest that can serve as a compass to you and your kids.

In each of the 4 spaces in this shield, place a symbol that answers these four questions (one symbol per space):

Family Crest Blank

  1. The best thing about our family is:
  2. The belief or value I think our family stands for is:
  3. The trait about God our family loves most is:
  4. The best way our family can help reach people for Jesus is:

While doing research on my newest book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman, I discovered a fascinating statistic. Children who grow up in families with a strong identity and a habit of sharing family stories that depict morality or belief choices make better choices and decisions themselves!  That is exactly what the process of creating a family mission, motto and moniker will do—they are tools to set up the environment for some wonderful, deep and meaningful conversations.  We encourage you to pick up a copy of 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make to help you pass on your baton of faith securely to the next generation. The many tools work together to help move your child forward into his or her God –given potential.

Psalm 145:3-4: Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.

May these tools help you commend God from generation to generation!

01

04 2015

It seems even clergy couples struggle with marriage issues. What Can we (I) do to help protect my pastor’s marriage?

Give them a little L.U.V.:

bill pam bech rebecca closeGal. 6:6 says, “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” Bill and I have spent our entire married life in some form of ministry. Our 2015 began with a week of heart break hitting our inbox with clergy couples in crisis. Around the world are selfless clergy couples who run to the side of others in need to give God’s love, so here are three things you can do to LUV your pastor or the clergy couples of your church (or parachurch) staff:

Listen—then take action: Tune in and get your eyes off yourself and ask honest questions to see if you really know what your pastor and his wife are dealing with personally. Some common struggles of clergy couples are economic distress or pressure; creating uninterrupted time together ; keeping a positive attitude in the middle of handling negative situations , or same stressors as anyone else: a strong willed or special needs child, a prodigal teen, health issues, or life stage drama like mid-life crisis. Be one of the people that surround the shepherd of your flock and offer a listening ear and tangible help. Your empathy and words of kindness and affirmation will also go a long way in helping easy this burden.

Underwrite: Be generous. Give funding to the pastor(s) to for the kind of things that keep a marriagered hot book and matches healthy. Send gift cards for dates, pay for a weekend away in a nice hotel or loan out your cabin.   Often Christian conference centers offer free housing to clergy couples, so even a small church can raise money for the gas and a couple meals and partner with the local Christian Camp to give your clergy couple some time alone together. (Our book Red Hot Monogamy has 200 ideas to keep passion in the parsonage!) In the church budget should also be funds for an annual marriage conference for the clergy couples to attend. Also, if there are clergy denominational meetings or conferences, add in a little extra to sponsor the spouse to attend too. Ministry minded marriages that have peers and mentors who they can be authentic with will have people to turn to in times of stress or crisis and this will strengthen the ministry marriage. (Our book A Couples’ Journey with God can help ministry minded couples learn from some of what we experienced)

Volunteer: If you have a strong marriage, offer to help head up the marriage ministry at your church,couples journey and bible or at least part of it: offer to run a small group for married couples; chair a marriage retreat committee, be the point person for a couples, date night, or write a blog on marriage for the church website or weekly bulletin. If your marriage has survived and overcome a particular challenge, offer to the pastor to meet with other couples who might come to him for the same issue. If your pastor has young children, volunteer to babysit (or arrange the childcare) so they can have a weekly date night. Also offer to be part of a prayer team for the clergy couple or offer to pay for counseling, or the cost of getting them to a ministry minded intensive (At Love-Wise we have a “Marriage On the Rocks?” resource list of multiple options to rescue and rebuild a relationship).

With a little bit of LUV we can show care for those who care so much for others.

Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, relationship specialists, and authors of 40 books. The Farrels are focused on helping individuals and couples become Love-Wise. (www.love-wise.com)

 

 

 

 

09

03 2015

Q: We want to avoid marital crisis. So how can we know how we are doing as a couple?

A: Each January, the President of the United States  gives a state of the Union address pointing out things that are going well and some suggested areas of improvement—then the debate, discussion and dialogue begins. In similar manner, Bill and I meet each January to review the state of our union.

In our book, Red Hot Monogamy, we walk a couple through 8 vital areas of life that create marital intimacy, harmony and unity. Set a date this week and rate yourself 1 to 10 how you are doing in each area: (Download State of the Union: Red Hot Relationship Date Night worksheet)

  • Social – Are you enjoying friendship with each other and those in your life?
  • Financial – Are you stable now and do you have a plan you are working for your future?
  • Recreational– Do you have a plan you both are working to stay healthy and happy?
  • Vocational– Do you have a plan in place to help both of you grow and move forward in your career (education; volunteer work)?
  • Parental– Are you on the same page as parents; do you have a plan to help you children reach their God- given potential?
  • Emotional– Are you both calm, peaceful, stable, and enjoying strong mental health?
  • Spiritual– Are you both growing in your walk with God?
  • Sexual– Do you enjoy regular intimacy, closeness and sexual expression?

Together set a goal in each area and move your life and love forward. (Download State of Union worksheet)

Setting goals is Biblical:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  . . . Luke 14:28-33 ESV

 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

BestYearGoalDownload Your Best Year Yet Goal Worksheets for Couples. (This will help you each set goals (a sheet for a husband and a wife), and it will help you talk through your life from a broad, global perspective. Change is possible! If you set one goal a month, in a year you will have moved your love and life forward! Or choose one area to focus on in the following year to laser movement in a problem area.

 

RHMBuy Red Hot Monogamy and set aside 8 weeks to move your life and love forward in all 8 areas of intimacy—and this book has 200 red hot ideas to fan the flame on your intimate life, so there can be great rewards for all your hard work you are doing as a couple! It is a built in red hot love incentive plan! (Even God gives incentives for wise choices, “Great is your reward!” (Matt 5:12) In this case, a red hot love is its own reward!

03

02 2015

Q: How do you two work together to make forward movement in life?

A: We set goals together! I (Pam) have selected a word and a verse for the year each January since I was 19. When Bill and I got married, we continued this tradition.BillAndPam-Rock

Download our Your Best Year Yet goal-setting worksheets.

Selecting a Word for the Year helps provide focus.  We each  choose an area needing the most growth, help or improvement. By focusing our energies, choosing a Word for the Year, a verse, a theme and a clarifying question, we often see powerful results.

Let us share one example. During the fall of 2010, I (Pam) began to experience some physical issues in my body. In January that year, at a Christian Wellness week sponsored by First Place 4 Health, I received some test results that shook me to the core. I had been working out daily, eating what I thought was healthier in my choices, and yet my weight kept going up. I was now slapped in the face with the reality that my health was at risk unless something changed!

I knew I wanted to live long and strong for God. I also knew one of my books was going to be re-released under the new title 10 Secrets to Living Smart, Savvy and Strong—and I felt like none of that was true of me at that moment. I was so discouraged. I instinctively picked up my Bible reading through my Logos Bible software. I scanned for verses on being STRONG! I was so discouraged and fearful so when I read this familiar passage, I dug in:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Joshua was also not feeling very strong or courageous. He too was discouraged, looking for help and hope. I felt I had found a comrade in arms! I phoned Bill and together we elected to use STRONG as our Word for the Year. We also chose Joshua 1:9 as our verse because Bill wanted to see strength increase in many areas of his life as well.

The word “strong” used here means to grow in strength – so God says it is a process! Courageous, likewise, means to make strong, bold and victorious. The word discourage is a pretty encompassing emotional word and God was saying, “don’t tremble, be in terror, be dismayed or adopt dread or fear.”

StrongBill and I arranged weights to spell out the word STRONG in one of our workouts. We combined the picture with the verse to create a motivating poster. We hung our hearts on the word STRONG. We adopted the motto, “Stay strong.”

So what are the results of meditating on the word STRONG and studying how God makes one strong? I grew in strength! I shed over 50 pounds; I went from walking to running; I moved from health risk to health strength.  Bill made new strides in his career and his health. In my book, Becoming a Brave New Woman,  I make it a goal to give women a bigger, stronger, view of God. I quote A. W. Tozer who says, “What we believe about God is the most important thing about us.”

In what area of life do you need God to make you strong?

Here are some tools to help:

Your Best Year Yet Worksheets (for couples) (for women)

Robert Herjavec, entrepreneur and star of ABC’s show Shark Tank says “a goal without a date is just a dream.” In Woman of Influence, I quote Emilie Barnes, “Goals are just dreams with deadlines.” Move your dream into reality with a goal plan and follow up. For long range success, we suggest one of our 10 Best Decisions books: for couples, for men, for women, for singles, for parents, for leaders, and for grads. Select one of these and spend 10 weeks creating a strong foundation for your year– or more importantly, for your LIFE! Once your goals are written, schedule in time you will need to accomplish those goals. Review Your Word for The Year and Your Best Year Yet goals sheets regularly to check on progress.

For more ideas on how to select and dwell in a word for the year, check out the book, My One Word by Pastor Mike Ashcroft & Rachel Olsen.

Find a word that reflects the desire of your heart for forward movement. Make it your one word prayer for the year. Find a verse that reflects the heart of this word. Then dig in to as many verses as you can find in which that word appears and watch—God will empower you to cross the finish line as a victor too!

Here are our words for 2015:

Pam: BEAUTIFUL

Pam SunsetMy prayer is that I will see God’s beauty and that my own life would better reflect the beauty of living by God’s design and plan.  I want to enjoy the beauty of some of the fruit of living by God’s beautiful plan-  our 35 happy years of marriage and our family with all our kids who love and serve Jesus, our grandkids and adding a new beautiful daughter-in law later in the year.

Bill: SIMPLE

Bill SunsetSince I wrote 7 SIMPLE SKILLS FOR MEN last year, this year I want to take diligent yet SIMPLE steps to see progress in some important (but not always enjoyable) areas of our life.  I want to enjoy the SIMPLE delights along the path God sends me/us.

So what is the word you need to hang your heart on this year?  Post it on our Bill and Pam Farrel facebook page and we

07

01 2015

Q: Looking back, what was a creative way you used to pass along your core values and beliefs to your kids?

A: In 10 Questions Your Kids  Ask About Sex, we share one of the ways we  have set out to earn the respect (and ear) of our kids. It is by placing our TradeMark™ on their hearts and livTMes with:

Traditions- things you do year after year to reinforce core principles.

Memories – once-in-a-lifetime events that mark a moment or drive home a point.

Mom and Dad—you do make a difference! It is never too late to start a yearly tradition. What child doesn’t like a party or a present? When you connect a principle to be taught with a positive experience, it will become imprinted on your child’s or teen’s heart and mind. It can become a touchstone they come back to in the middle of decision making later in life.

Traditions: We will just mention two:

  • Learner and Leader Day- the week before school begins we have a fun family day, then negotiate a privileges and responsibilities contract. (The chart, list of things kids can do at different ages, and how we reward our kids for being Learners and Leaders is all found in 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make). The plus side of having a yearly tradition like this is our kids thought it “normal” to make contracts, set goals, negotiate new privileges—and eventually the privilege of dating became one of them!
  • Christmas Blessing– Each year at our Christmas dinner we say a blessing over our kids-each one—as individuals. We compliment them, share a verse or quote that they embody, then we pray for them. Often the character qualities that eventually become vital in the area of relationships were some of the earliest we complimented: honesty, delayed gratification (patience), kindness, etc.

Jesus used traditions such as taking the disciples to the temple regularly. When he later called himself “the Lamb of God” they understood he would be sacrificed.

Memories: These are once in a lifetime ideas which are often connected to a rite of passage. Here are a few ideas: (for a full list see 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make or 10  Questions Kids Ask About Sex) .  Often these Rites of Passage are gender specific:

  • Modern Day Knight celebration is when you as a parent prepare a son to become an “adult.” This marker of growth is often accompanied by a party with friends and family. Since we had all sons, our celebration was a “Walk into Manhood”. One son, a quarterback, invited mentors to the football field for a walk up and down the field then BBQ; another, who loved his truck, had a “Drive into Manhood” at a race track and mentors walked the race track and poured wisdom into his heart. The last was an “On Target for Manhood” held at a shooting range accompanied by dinner.
  • Modern Day Princess party: In Pam’s book, Raising a Modern Day Princess, founder, Doreen Hanna and Pam share numerous ideas to mark a teen girls’ transition into being a grown up. The process may include a simple tea with her mentors or a Sweet 16 celebration but with a Biblical, meaningful twist. Often girls enjoy these parties together. As a group they can go through the Becoming a Modern Day Princess girls journal, and all the parents can pitch in to celebrate, bless and pray for their daughters.

Another resource we recommend to you that we developed as youth pastors, and then also used with our own kids is the Teen Relationship Contract. At age 11 or 12, each of our tweens completed their first contract (a Bible study and Q and A workbook they fill in), and they were rewarded with a dinner out with mom and dad. (This dinner often included more dialogue and discussions on love, sex and relationships). Each year we would then take each son out solo for a meal and they/we could add more privileges to the contract, ask questions, make adjustments, raise accountability, etc—whatever they needed to be more successful in the guy-guy relationship area.

Jesus set the example of a memory when he took some of the disciples to the mount of transfiguration and revealed his glory! The memory stuck with them years later as they traveled preaching Christ’s resurrection.

Try to leave a TM on your child this year—it is so worth it!

25

09 2014

Red Hot Romance

fire hat red hot 60Every memorable adventure has three things: the anticipation of going, the experience itself, and the lingering memories. Let’s look at how to make Valentine’s Day a journey to red hot love. Inspired by the effort we saw in King Solomon and his bride from Song of Songs in the Bible, here are few ideas from our book, Red Hot Monogamy, which might inspire you too.

Before: The Invitation

Make the invitation as memorable as the date itself by trying one of these ideas:

  • If you hear “your song” on the radio, simply call his/her cell and hold your phone up to the speaker and let the song do the romancing.
  • Create a photo postcard of the two of you and on the backside, write a thank you for an past special date and an invitation out to the Valentine activity.
  • Make a public statement of your love. Rent a billboard, hang a sheet or banner over the freeway overpass, make a banner for the garage door, write in chalk on the driveway, paint it on a wall that you are going to be repainting anyway.
  • Use inexpensive dime store Valentines to create a trail of clues that lead to a romantic destination. You can also make this into a car rally by taping the Valentines around town, around the mall or leave taped to your friend’s front doors.
  • In 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband, I tell a story of a wife who was very creative in her invitation:

“When I was employed as a producer for a local TV station, I used to get all kinds of perks. On one occasion, a new hotel-casino was opening up, and I was given a free room for the festivities. I decided to make a romantic date night out of it. I booked the room without telling my husband. Then, on the day of the reservation, I packed our suitcases full of goodies and put them in the car. When he came home from work, I presented him with a handmade card that read, “You are cordially invited to attend a surprise getaway with your wife at the so-and-so casino resort. Even if you don’t gamble a penny, you are guaranteed to get lucky! Your ride leaves in 10 minutes. Just bring your smile.” Let me tell you, it was a great evening, even if we never did make it to the official festivities at the hotel!”

During: The Date

valentines special rhmValentine’s Day doesn’t have to be expensive. On our favorite Valentine’s date, we each had a five-dollar budget, and we divided up the letters of Valentine (Bill got V, I got A, and so on). I (Pam) started my part of the date with A is for Acting, and we read a portion of Romeo and Juliet on a park stage! Here are a few ideas on activities to try on your date that are different than the usual dinner and movie:

  • Recreate your first date. If you can still fit into it, wear the same clothes, if not, at least go to the same places.
  • Check a book out of the library or buy a book of love poems. Sit in front of the fire place in each other’s arms and take turns reading poems to each other.
  • Use a magazine cover like Time’s Person of the Year and scan in your spouse’s picture. Or use Glamour or GQ or other magazine with catchy headlines but replace the model with a picture of your mate. Then give him/her a “red carpet” five star date of his or her dreams.
  • “Kidnap” your spouse from work or other and blind fold them and take him/her to a romantic rendezvous. (You might clear this with the boss or show up at the end of the work day—just don’t get your spouse fired—that would definitely ruin the mood).
  • Have dinner someplace different in your home: in front of the fire place, on the rooftop, on the patio or balcony out back, in the attic, under the tree in the back yard, etc.
  • Look at your wedding album and talk about what first attracted you to your mate.
  • How do I love thee, let me count the ways: Write on a set of index cards all the reasons you love your spouse; make a paper chain of her or his best qualities; Bring one a flower for each positive trait you want to recount and bring them in one at a time to her as your verbally list off what makes your heart sing.
  • Opposites attract: For one day, flip roles. If he usually drives, then let her. If she usually cooks, the let him. If he’s usually on top, have her do the honors.
  • Learn to do something your mate loves (the riles of football; how to golf; fly fishing; how to find a great antique or quilt, etc.)

For more free nearly free ideas adapted from our book Red Hot Monogamy, check out the free article “Recession Romance”

After: Making the Memory Last

Send a thank you card, email, text then go the extra mile to add a new romantic habit to your routine:

  • Create a mail box for love notes: place it in your bathroom, on the kitchen table, etc and exchange love mail.
  • A traditional mailbox I nice because it has a red flag you can put up to signal “You’ve
    go mail!”
  • Leave love notes between pages of a book or magazine your mate is reading.
  • Place romantic cards through the house, or use the house for some play on words. The day after
  • Valentine’s my spouse woke up to signs that read things like, “You are my CUP of tea”; “I love to STAIR at you!” “You’ve opened the DOOR to my heart.” Or use everyday items to send a unique set of messages, The title of a candy bar with a note that says, “You are a “Big Hunk” of Burning Love, or I am “Red Hot: for your love.

Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship specialists, international speakers and best-selling authors of Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti, Red Hot Monogamy and 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband and newest: Red Hot Romance Tips for Women  (www.Love-Wise.com)

07

02 2014

How do we create a SAFEty net for our children?

Raising kids today can be intensely challenging because we live in an overexposed world when it comes to sex, which leads to an increased likelihood of encountering deviant behavior. We can create a S.A.F.E. place for our kids to grow up in by making it our goal to provide:

Skills to Speak Up
Adults Involved
Friendship Circle
Environment of Safety (Home and Neighborhood)

(Read more about this in 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex.)

Skills to Speak Up
Children who are confident, assertive and respectful tend to attract people who are healthy while repelling those with evil intent. You do your kids a big favor when you instruct them that being fully involved in life and establishing firm boundaries go hand in hand. Teach your child that most people are friendly, helpful and have their best at heart. At the same time, have them practice safeguarding themselves from anyone who crosses appropriate lines. Teach them that their body is private. They own their body and all rights to it. Teach your child as early as possible to close the door, or go into a private room or bathroom to change his or her clothes. In addition, give your child the power to speak up and say it is never okay to be violated:
It is never okay for anyone to touch your private parts (except a parent or doctor to protect your health).

  • It is never okay for anyone to ask you to touch their private parts.
  • It is never okay for anyone to ask to see you naked or ask you to see them naked.
  • It is never okay for anyone to ask you to be sexual with someone else while they watch.
  • Teach your child to “Say No- Then Go!” and walk away from anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable.

Reinforce that “No means no!” Compliment your child when they give an opinion, speak up, respectfully correct others, or show leadership. Confident, courageous, assertive kids are less likely to be targeted.

Adult Involvement
Kids are wired to learn from adults. As parents, make it a point to know your children’s teachers, coaches, music instructors, drama directors, etc. As they grow, seek out other adults who will tell your kids the same things you have been telling them. These patterns will surround your kids with responsible, compassionate adults who will help guide and protect them.
It will also make it easier for you to spot any adults who are showing uninvited and unwarranted attention toward your child. Don’t allow yourself to get complacent. Keep asking, “Do any adults or older teens show touchy-feely behaviors toward your child that make you or your child uneasy?” If so, trust your instincts and remove your child from the situation while you gather more information. Encourage your children to freely talk to you anytime someone makes him or her feel uncomfortable. It is also wise to ask, “Have the adults in your church, school or community been properly vetted to insure they are trusted role models with reliable backgrounds?”

Friendship Circle
Deliberately meet the parents of your children’s friends and help each of your kids make friends with other children from healthy families. This will train your child to network with people throughout life who will promote growth and worthwhile interactions. It will also allow your child to borrow your discernment in his or her choice of friends.
Your active involvement will make you aware of parents going through a family trauma (divorce, domestic violence, etc) and families who are battling addictions to drugs, alcohol or other behaviors that could negatively impact your child. Being proactive equips you to set a strategy of protection rather than having to react after the fact.
If you choose to allow your child to play with someone from a troubled home for the sake of compassion, be bold in setting up strong boundaries. Insist on supervised settings, like a church classroom or school rather than in a home, unless it is your home and the interactions are being supervised by your watchful eyes. It is just better to be safe than sorry.

Environment of Safety
Kids are adventurous, creative and generally naïve. As a result, they need areas to play in that are protected by separations or supervisors. Your yard may have a fence that makes it difficult for others to gain access. Or, the parents of your neighborhood may have a pact with one another to keep a close eye on each other’s children as they play. In these circumstances, you can afford to relax some and give your kids more freedom.
In the absence of these natural safeguards, it is wise consistently check out your child’s play spaces with strategic questions.

  • Is there intentional supervision over any spaces in close proximity to high traffic areas? Are you aware of any registered sex offenders in your neighborhood?
  • If your child attends a church, community or school sponsored class are there at least two adults in the room, and are there windows in rooms and doors to raise accountability of how the adults behave with children?
  • If a child goes to other’s homes, are you aware of the home environment, rules and backgrounds of the adults and older siblings that live there? Do those parents give sufficient oversight to their activities and nap times?
  • Do you know and agree with the songs, TV shows, movies or internet use of the homes that your child visits? Early sexual exposure can lower natural resistance toward sexual exploration or sexual games predators sometimes use.

We want our kids to have fun, grow strong and be fascinated with life. To make sure it stays that way, err on the side of your child’s safety.

Pam and Bill Farrel are authors of more than 35 books including best selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti , 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make and their newest for parents: 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex. All available at www.Love-Wise.com

30

09 2013

Q: Mom, have you ever felt your life is too busy?

A: In 10 Best Decisions a Woman Can Make, I include a humorous list of clues that your life might be moving too fast:
• Your “To Do” list includes eating and bathroom breaks but those never seem to get crossed off!
• You think “half day” is quitting work at 5 pm.
• Clearing the dining room table means tossing all the fast food bags out of the back seat of the car
• You think it is more strategic to just buy clean underwear and socks than to hunt down any in your kid’s messy room to wash!
Every mom deeply loves her family. As a result, it is common or a mom’s life to get busier and busier with each passing year. The delicate balancing act of every mom’s life is to find a way to reflect her true inner priorities as her schedule gets more demanding with responsibilities for those she loves. One of the skills that helps me find my way back to my priorities on a regular basis is to Follow the Flags.
Go on Green: There are times when opportunities are obvious and everyone is doing well. I love these times and they are pretty easy to identify because my husband is happy, my kids are content, housework is efficient because everyone is pitching in and no one is criticizing me. It was during these times of my life that I was able to finish my degree, begin writing books and build a ministry to help women become who God create them to be.
Yield on Yellow: Sometimes when you approach an intersection you encounter a yellow light. Some people think these mean speed up before it turns red! In reality, they are caution lights encouraging us to slow down, proceed with caution and stay alert to what is happening around you. God has built these into our family as well. When I began writing from home, I asked God to show me yellow warning signs in each one of my family members that I could pick up on when they were carrying stress that wasn’t theirs (if I was “too busy”). After I prayed, I noticed Brock would became more distant emotionally, Zach would become grumpy and sloppy, Caleb grew tired and whiney, and my husband, Bill, would become quiet and independent. I had to train myself to back off my schedule when I saw these reactions so that I didn’t sacrifice my important relationships for my important pursuits.
Rest on Red: There are times in the life of every family where everyone just needs to stop and spend time with one another. The work needs to stop. The pursuits need to be put on hold. The chores need to be set aside so that memories can be built. When your kids and husband are upset, whiny and uncooperative no matter what you try, it is time to simply stop and enjoy the fact that you are a family. At those times, I would pray:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way (Ps 139:23-24)
After praying, I looked for opportunities to delegate tasks, postpone activities, delay a career move, resign a role, call a family meeting to reshuffle our responsibilities or sometimes just stop to play. Now that my kids are grown, some with families of their own, I am reminded how quickly motherhood moments pass. But the choices remain the same. Just recently I said, “No,” to a pile of dishes, the tasks on my computer, and the demands of my ministry because my granddaughter walked in with a storybook in hand and asked, “Will you read me, Nana?” I could tell in the inflection of her voice that she was supposed to be my highest priority at the moment. You’ll need to excuse me as I put the brakes on to make first things first. I am pushing pause because I have some pages to turn for a preschooler !

10

05 2013