Archive for the ‘Parenting’Category

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


09 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!


04 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!


09 2014

Some couples seem strong enough in their marriage to be asked for advice, mentor other couples or teach marriage classes. How can we create a strong marriage?

You are to be commended in your desire to have a strong marriage. Our son, Zach, is a Strength and Conditioning Performance Coach at a Div. 1 University. He and his new bride, Caleigh, as an engagement photo, chose the word STRENGTH to represent their goal for the future. Their wise choice impressed us because we know it is God’s goal for each of us to be emotionally, physically, relationally, and spiritually STRONG. Look at how clearly God states this desire in Psalm 27:14, ” . . .be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” We have been asking ourselves the question, “How can we partner with God to gain a strong life?” Here is what we discovered:
• “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7) – Diligently Obey God’s Word
• “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Rom:1:11-12) – Use your gifts to encourage others and let others encourage you.
• “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Cor 16:13-14) -Be vigilant to stand firm in your core beliefs and do it in love.
• “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Eph 6:10-11) – Wear God’s armor (which is the WORD)
• “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say.” (2 Tim 2:1-2) – Obey the Word you have heard.
• “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you.” (1 John 2:14) – Let God’s Word live in you.

Getting stronger is not a mystery. The more you practice the better you get. The more “reps” an athlete performs, the stronger and more skilled he becomes. In the same way, the more “reps” you perform in the spiritual disciplines, communication skills, decision-making and intimate interaction, the more skilled you will become in the areas that matter most to you.
Make it your goal to do some spiritual circuit training: pray, read your Bible, memorize scripture, praise God for His goodness, and share the good news with others. Your marriage will be stronger, your children will be stronger and the influence you leave for those around you in your workplace, church and community will be stronger too. Pump some iron for Jesus!


02 2012

How important is it to be proud of our sons?

It is fascinating to watch the interaction of God the Father and God the Son. When Jesus was baptized, the Father’s voice echoed from heaven saying, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (Mark 1:11) At the transfiguration, the Father spoke up again and said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5)

What a powerful example of how important it is for us to express the value, potential and stature of our young men. Having ministered to men and their families for over 25 years, I can tell you that one of the phrases I have heard most often is, “I wish my dad would just say . . . I am proud of you . . . I believe in you . . . I have confidence in you . . .” Those who have been endorsed by their dads tend to do well. Those who have been rejected or demeaned by their dads tend to struggle.

Mark Hughes, Pastor of the Church of the Rock in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada has become a good friend. I recently had the opportunity to be on the speaking team with him at a Promise Keepers event. He told the following story about dads who were proud of their kids.

4 grown men were talking one day when one of them said, “You would be so proud of my son. He is a minister and everyone calls him, ‘Reverend.’”

The second gentlemen said, “That is nothing. My son is a Bishop and everyone calls him, ‘The Most Reverend.’”

The third man jumped in, “Well, that is nothing. My son is the Pope and the whole world calls him, ‘Your holiness.’”

Finally, the fourth gentlemen added, ‘I think I have you all beat on this one. My son is 7 foot 2 inches tall and weighs 350 pounds. When he walks in the room everyone says, “Oh My God!’”

God is grooming young men to be leaders, influencers and builders. The more confidence, training and support they can get will help them to become men who will lead their generation in righteousness and wisdom. Tell the young men in your sphere of influence that you believe in them and next time you see your son, tell him you are proud of him.


04 2011