I’m dying here. My boy continues to be violent to his siblings…one in particular…and tells us he wants out of the family. I feel like a prisoner in my own family, needing to be here to police him. I can’t even leave for work this morning. He has completely shut us off. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
First, we are very careful to ratchet down our tempers – don’t yell, don’t scream, don’t lose it. Somebody has got to be the adult around here! Just sit down calmly and tell him, “Look son, you know this kind of behavior is completely unacceptable. Period. Everyone is going to feel safe in our home, no matter how harsh I have to be to enforce that. Let’s look at what the Lord says about this.” Do you guys have For Instruction in Righteousness? It’s a terrific resource for this kind of thing.
The second thing is to enforce what we call “intense discipleship.” “Son, if I can’t trust you to control yourself with your siblings, then you will have to have adult supervision at all times. That means you don’t leave your mom’s side until I’m home. If she lays down for a nap, you lay down on the floor and read. If she goes to the bathroom, you stand outside the door. Please know this isn’t forever, but it’s to give you time to cool down and learn some self-control, because if you can’t control yourself, we have to control you.”
Lastly, as hard as it is when they are acting crazy, you have *got* to reaffirm your love for him. Tell him you love him, that you know it’s hard, that you’ve struggled yourself. Tell him he’ll get through it and you’ll help him. Tell him you know he’ll overcome it. He needs you to believe in him.
We’ve been there, done that with each of our boys. There are days you feel like you’ll go insane, but the payoff is enormous. This is a critical time in his life. It won’t last forever – but how you get through it will influence the years to come.
I’m in agreement with Melanie right down the line. You’re in a tough place and no kidding, but this is apparently where you need to be as the parent right now. Other resources (affiliate links coming!) which would be helpful are Lou Priolo’s book The Heart of Anger and Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart — they’ve been helpful to us!
Your son is in one of the transitional years where he is gaining more strength even as his emotions and decision making go frequently awry; we even see it in normally meek, subdued boys–suddenly they become prone to explosions of rage and rough behavior, even with boys much larger than them (evidence that logic goes out the window here — when we comfort them after a confrontation ends badly, they don’t seem to understand that provoking a bigger, more ill-tempered boy than themselves doesn’t even make sense).
I wonder if there might be some use getting your son involved in a strenuous activity of some sort. Our boys have played football and we honestly have less confrontation and fighting at home during the football season–they seem to work out a lot of energy and aggression on the practice field.
I would also be very aware of what he’s choosing for entertainment. A lot of action films and first-person video games seem to get our boys’ agitation levels up, and with no outlet like an active sport or vigorous work to burn off that adrenaline, they can end up taking it out on friends and family members.
Both of us:
We have a fantastic resource for parents of kids this age. It’s called Boot Camp 9-12 and it’s an online class where we discuss the challenges of parenting preteens and early teens and give you practical ideas for overcoming them. We talk about everything! The emotional rollercoaster, spiritual doubts, stumbling in school, gaming and porn, teaching entrepreneurship, Coming of Age celebrations and more. We think it would be a huge encouragement to you and we’re starting a new live class tomorrow. Check it out.
Don’t despair. We remember one angry, violent eleven-year-old who may or may not be a Young who turned out to be a very wonderful, mature Christian man. There’s hope! He needs patience, guidance, correction, love, and most of all, Jesus Christ.
Hal & Melanie
Sadly, this is happening more and more frequently. As more and more people become enslaved by porn, more of them will eventually act out their sick fantasies. Law enforcement statistics are showing this trend. It’s important that you take some basic precautions to protect your kids.
1. Trust your gut. If you feel uneasy about someone, don’t let them be alone with your kids. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you something and you need to listen. Or, you might be picking up on subtle signals that you can’t easily identify, but that tell you something isn’t quite right. Or, both.
2. Tell your children that no one is allowed to see them or touch them in the area covered by their underwear or bathing suit — and they aren’t allowed to see or touch anyone else there either. The only exceptions are their parents or someone their parents have asked to help them, such as a doctor or grandparent with the parents’ permission. (Oh, and their future mate after they’re married!)
3. Let them know that if anyone asks them not to tell their parents something, that’s a huge red flag that they should tell their parents right away. You might lose the chance to be surprised by a birthday present, but it’s worth it.
4. Make sure they know that if someone threatens them, or threatens someone or something they love, then they need to get adult help right away. Let them know you can take care of them and and you can protect yourself, that they need your help. Remind them that you are supposed to be protecting them, they don’t have to protect you.
5. Ask your children occasionally if anything is bothering them or if there’s something they’ve wanted to tell you, but maybe didn’t know how. Do this especially if you see any change of behavior or personality.
6. Remember that horrible things can happen very quickly. Some predators take delight in molesting their victims when their parents are nearby or even in the room. One mom said that in the time it took the kids to go get toys from the basement, her child was shown a pornographic movie on a phone by a man who was renting the downstairs apartment. It took less than two minutes for the boy to be exposed. If you are uneasy, don’t take your eyes off them.
7. Don’t be deceived. Most children are not molested by strangers but by people their families trusted. Watch out for grownups who seem way more focused on the kids than the adults. Don’t make your kids show physical affection to people they don’t want to.
8. You have a right, and a responsibility, to say No. If someone wants to take your child somewhere and you don’t feel good about it, say No. If someone is interacting with your child in a way that makes you uneasy, say No. If someone wants your child to stay overnight and it makes you uncomfortable, say No. In fact, we don’t do sleepovers at all except for grandparents or whole families, which stay together. The risks have risen enormously since we were kids and there was plenty of opportunity for sin then–it happened to schoolmates of ours. You don’t have to feel bad about saying No, either. Just say, “I’m sorry. That won’t be possible,” and move on. Your child is your responsibility.
9. You need to know that some predators are other kids. We’ve heard stories recently about kids being molested by neighbor kids while they played in the yard or while they were supposed to be playing with toys in their bedroom. It’s probably best for kids to play with friends in the common areas of the house or with adult supervision around. It’s a different world than it was when we were children and you have no idea what other kids have been exposed to. Unfortunately, you need to know that sometimes predators are siblings. This is a horrific thought, but it happens. Be aware, especially in blended, adoptive, or foster families where kids aren’t biologically related. In blood siblings, sometimes porn is a motivator.
10. Protect your kids from porn. Interest in porn can be a symptom a child’s been molested. Or, porn use can make them more susceptible to molesters. Worse still, porn can tempt them to act out themselves. No one wants to find out their child has become a predator, yet we know several really good, Christian families who’ve had to deal with that devastating discovery. Protect your kids. Get some kind of accountability software on every internet capable device in your home. We use Covenant Eyes and have used it for years. We love that it allows you to set different levels of filtering or accountability for each family member. You can support our ministry (affiliate link coming!) and try it for 30 days free by clicking here.
It’s serious. Our kids need our protection more than ever. Step up to the plate, overcome your embarrassment and go to bat for them. You won’t regret it.
Hal & Melanie
Oh, yeah! We’ve written a new book for guys in their teens and twenties. It’s called Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality. Although it won’t be officially released for several more weeks, we do have a few advance copies, if you want to grab one! Click here to check it out!]]>
As Christian parents, we probably all put right at the top of our list, “Teach our children to know and love and serve the Lord Jesus.” The stakes are high, and frankly, it can be a daunting thing to realize we have the biggest influence in our kids’ daily spiritual instruction!
Our friend Dennis Gundersen is a veteran pastor and the author of a thoughtful book called Your Child’s Profession of Faith. He’s been a friend of ours for at least twenty years, and we spoke to him on our podcast about some aspects of sharing the Gospel with your children.
How early can you teach your children about Jesus, sin, and forgiveness? “I can’t remember a time that we didn’t,” Dennis told us (he and his wife Naomi have four married adult sons). If the normal, everyday conversation in the home speaks about spiritual truth frequently, he said, then our children are going to hear spiritual truth from a young age … and often.
We need to be transparent about living out our faith in front of our children. Jesus lived out the ministry He was teaching His disciples, and His teaching style to them was often more about demonstration than instruction.
But family worship is important, too, and “practically applying it to ourselves” Dennis said. It’s important not to avoid the difficult or even “scary” topics like our inborn sinfulness and desperate need for a Savior! It’s not just “Jesus is my Friend” – we are all like sheep who have gone astray!
How to you get from the comforting messages to the need for repentance and forgiveness? “We found that all truth has roads to other truth,” he said. When we study through the Bible, “there are direct pathways between the gentle truths about Jesus and the wrath He endured on the Cross.” When you read straight through the Bible, you’ll get a balanced message. Our sin and guilt lead us back to the love of God in Christ, and the love of God for poor sinners leads us to Calvary.
How do you lead family devotions? It depends on your family, he said. If your children are all older kids and believers themselves, you might have longer and deeper devotions; but “You can cover a lot of the Bible in 10 or 15 minutes a day, if you make it a daily habit,” Dennis said. He recommends simply reading and discussing the Bible, rather than trying to find a curriculum and make it fit your family’s particular needs, interests, doctrinal background, and so on.
Some of the earliest spiritual training will probably be simple obedience. We asked him about one writer we know who says that the primary duty of children is to obey. Dennis said there is an element of truth to that; he noted that one of the most frequent statements in Proverbs is, “Son, listen to me!” And nothing opens the way for the Gospel than dealing with open sin or rebellion.
But it’s important that we parents confess our sins against our kids – and ask their forgiveness. They are very sensitive to hypocrisy and inconsistency in our actions and words. Sometimes we parents are going to react too quickly, or make unfair assumptions, or simply lose our temper with our children. It is appropriate and powerful when we admit our wrongs to our children, ask their forgiveness, and pray for God’s help overcoming these things in ourselves!
There are more great ideas on the full episode – you can get it on iTunes or listen online at the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network!
You can find all sorts of resources for learning at home at a low, family-friendly price
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This is kind of a shock to us. We grew up in the South where if you didn’t take your mom’s phone calls, she’d show up at your house and stand there on your porch until you did! “Family is family,” people would say when we were growing up.
True. There are truly dysfunctional families and frankly, broken personalities to deal with, sometimes. We’re not talking about the horrible situations that some of you face where you just must walk away. We have seen some families in that shape, sadly. An abuser, for example, has broken the family trust and has no right to access to anyone.
For most of our friends, though, it’s not a matter of pathology or persecution, but a series of disputes about authority, discipline, household management, and respect for one another. Many of these things could be resolved! Breaking off contact is the death penalty of relationships, and it should only happen in the most extreme circumstances.
If you find yourself exasperated and chafing in your extended family relationships, consider this:
The way you relate to your parents and in-laws now is teaching your children how to relate to you when you’re the grandparent.
Stop and think about that a moment.
By the time your children have children, things will be different than they are now.
Dietary advice will change. When we were children, our parents were told to choose margarine over butter – it was so much healthier! When our children were little, research was just surfacing that trans-fatty acids in many margarines were actually more dangerous than butter! Depend on it, something you confidently feed your children now will fall out of favor when your grandchildren come along.
Safety advice will change. When we were children, car seats for kids were simply boosters to let them see through the windows. Seatbelts were optional and kids routinely rode unrestrained in the back of the station wagon or the bed of Dad’s pickup truck. When our first child was born, car seats were mandatory and had multiple attachment points; by the time our youngest came along, parents were required to keep children in booster seats until they were eight years old! When your time comes to load up grandchildren, who knows what contraption will be standard equipment? Will you find it irritating or frustrating to submit to new expectations that seem unrealistic, panicky, and alarmist?
Baby care advice will change. We’ve seen this ourselves over the twenty years we had babies in our house. First, they told us to always put a baby to sleep on his stomach, because he might aspirate his spit up and die. A few years later, the experts said no, always put a baby to sleep on his side; otherwise he might aspirate spit up or have SIDS and die. A few years after than, they said babies should always be put to sleep on their backs … or they might die. The advice was always earnest and urgent and ever so certain … this time.
Dear Future Grandparent: Trust us, you’re going to think the new advice is all a bit silly. After all, your kids did fine! Your children, though, will do some things differently with their kids than you did with yours. When they do, don’t you want them to have patience with you when you don’t quite get it?
We get it. We really do. DISCLOSURE: We’ve said some of those things ourselves! We’re a little (well, a lot!) older now and our perspective has changed. Now we realize there are some very good reasons for choosing to overlook these things.
We want our kids to know that relationships are worth fighting for. Every relationship between two sinners is going to involve conflict and compromise. We want our children to understand that by the time they’re adults. We don’t want them to be quick to walk away – not from us and not from their mate.
We want our kids to understand that there is more to life than the body and that relationships are more important than food. The Word tells us that
Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
When we put what we have chosen to eat or not eat above our relationships with our family, above kindness and courtesy, we’re teaching our children the opposite of this verse.
It’s true that some circumstances are so serious, like a life-threatening allergy, that you have to handle them as medical issues and draw strict boundaries. And to be fair, it seems that some of these allergies are more common now than when we were kids … that’s real.
Much of what causes disagreement doesn’t rise to that level, though. Is it good for kids to have a diet rich in artificial colors or flavors? No. Will they be seriously hurt if they encounter them occasionally at Grandma’s house? No, again.
We want our children to learn tools for dealing with difficult people and uncomfortable situations. We travel a lot and we’ve enjoyed hospitality from people of all sorts. Sometimes, we’ve looked at our plates and had to decide – are we going to be picky and embarrass these kind hosts, or will we be gracious guests and ignore our usual preferences for an hour? When a conversation steers into controversies over politics, religious distinctives, or other areas of disagreement, have our children seen us answer softly and steer clear of arguments and offenses for the sake of relationships?
When our children see us behave like a Christian — with self-control, gentleness, and thankfulness — and when they watch us control our tempers and mouths when we’re provoked, we’re teaching them how to behave when they have challenges with other people. One day, no doubt, we’ll be that “other” person!
We want our children to learn to set loving boundaries. When we navigate awkward relationships in our family well, our children learn how to do the same. They learn how to refuse to be baited, how to change the subject, how to say no to a problematic invitation, how to tell someone to stop being a bully. and they see how to do those things like a Christian.
We want our children to respect their elders. Although it’s tempting to feel like our generation is the first to really be on top of it all, the Word of God tells us to honor our fathers and our mothers, to submit to the elders of the church, and to be subject to those in authority over us. When our kids see us honor our parents even when we disagree with them, they learn to respect the position and experience of their elders.
Ultimately, we want to show our children how we want to be treated when we’re the grandparents and they are the parents. We want a relationship with our children and grandchildren. We want to be a part of their lives. We don’t want to be cut off because we’re cranky or hard to deal with and especially not because we’ve made some kind of mistake.
If we want our children to treat us with mercy and grace that day, then we ought to be an example of mercy and grace for them now.
Give your mom a call. Invite your mother-in-law to come over. Family is family!
Hal & Melanie
I almost feel like he does it for the attention or he just doesn’t care. At the dinner table he will eat with his hands burp without saying excuse me eat really messy where stuff getting all over the place not caring to clean it up and chewing with his mouth open not saying please or thank you with out being reminded too, just has bad table manners, manners period. We will remind him to close his mouth etc things like that and he’ll say I know I know but a second later he’s doing it again when he was younger he had amazing table manners.
My husband’s getting frustrated because we took him to my in-laws for dinner yesterday we had a discussion with him before we went in about his table manners and he says I know I know ,we go in there and have issues again. It embarrasses us because my in-laws make comments of how that’s not allowed at their house but we don’t allow it either he’s just doing it. Its so frustrating and I’m trying to handle this the right way any advice on this would be great.”
There’s nothing like kids to keep you humble, is there?
We see three issues here and they each need a little different focus.
First, the grandparents. We’ve found ourselves in the same uncomfortable situation. In fact, it happened this morning! A child who definitely knows better will act like they’ve had no training at all in front of his or her very proper, Southern lady grandmother. Arrggghhh! That is so embarrassing! At this point, humility is probably the best course, saying something like, “No, we don’t allow it, either, and we’re working on it. Today is not a good day, though, is it? How did you handle things like this when we were growing up? What about when we were in public?” Getting them thinking back is likely to remind them that all children do this kind of thing at some time or another and even if it doesn’t, it shows you know what is expected and you’re trying — and allows them to be the experts!
You can learn more about how to handle this age in a godly way that protects your relationship without ignoring sin in our online class for parents of preteens: Boot Camp 9-12. It’s one of the most popular things we do!
This is a frustating age, situation, and even topic. Teaching manners to boys isn’t easy! That’s why we spent a whole chapter on it in our book, Raising Real Men, and why we called the second half of the book, Civilization for the Rough!
I’ve often heard it asserted that there’s no way a Christian should ever be depressed, and that if you are, it’s a sinful state of mind and you need to repent. Is this true? Or is it just one of many conditions of life we experience, and in which we can live and walk to the glory of God?
Funny, I never hear anyone ask, “How can you be a happy Christian in this world, and not be in sin? In a wicked, troubled world like this – I mean, how could you be right to be content and happy?” Of course we don’t ask that. So why do we ask it – or worse, just assert it to be so – about depression?
It seems to me we haven’t taken seriously the many conditions the Scriptures show godly men and women going through. They are described as everything from “cast down” to “crushed”; distressed, grieved, lowly, broken-hearted, mourning and sorrowful, undone and “Woe is me!” – it sounds like an experience of some sort of depression is pretty common among people who know the Lord.
Depression’s causes are likewise numerous: deferred hopes and ambitions; situations that never get better; heart-crushing problems that turn into lengthy trials that just won’t ever go away; severe mental or physical strains that tax our humanity and health, robbing us of sleep and sapping our strength. But sometimes, we can just get depressed because God is at work in our lives, humbling us and sanctifying us.
None of us wants to stay depressed. How do you pull out? The longer a time of depression goes on, the more earnest we become to find a way out, and sometimes that earnestness turns into a desperation that goes looking in the wrong places. Some turn to isolation; some turn to bed; some turn to alcohol or drugs; some turn to people instead of isolation (too many people); some turn to sex; some turn away from God. Some turn to God.
How will you, in a time of depression, make the correct turn? Here are a few proposals that I know have helped others. Not a comprehensive to-do list, because I know that the last thing you feel capable of when depressed is something to do. You yearn more to be delivered or rescued! I’ve found that, on the track of these ideas, the Lord has rescued many.
Because the key is Him – turning to Him. If you’re embittered at Him, letting anger get a foothold in your heart because you’re depressed, you’re not going to turn to Him. So you won’t find the powerful Deliverer you need. Calm yourself with the realization, “My anger at Him does not solve anything; it alienates me from Him and keeps me from trusting the One who can help me.” If you do get angry with Him, you always take it back in repentance later anyway, right? So what’s the point? Know that, while I don’t understand at all now what He is doing, a big step one is to not turn bitterly away from the God that I must cling to for help at this time.
2. Believe That God’s Plan of Suffering to Make You Christ-like is a Good Thing
When suffering stuns us, pause and face that biblically evident fact again: God’s plan is to make me like Christ, and that will include suffering, just as it did in His life. You and I have no conception of how much suffering it takes to transform us to only be even a little like Christ.
3. Don’t Settle for Any Single Answer
Depression begs and screams for an answer. The depressed heart yearns for something to solve the problem. And that makes you susceptible to hastily grasp an answer and settle too easily, thinking “That’s it! This is why I’m down.” Be patient. Go ahead and grab it – but keep looking. Take each idea that seems to be The Answer prayerfully before the Lord and ask for wisdom, to see if it’s really as helpful as it sounds. For instance, a change of diet or exercise may make a difference – but you also may need to address that strained relationship you haven’t made efforts to reconcile. Or, maybe you have taken those steps, but ignored some sin in your life that you know in your heart is to blame. The point is, our quest to find one specific cause might not help; it may be several features of life simultaneously.
4. If You Need Household Help, Humble Yourself and Call Out for It
Too many homeschool moms simply bear too much of the load themselves at home while other family members aren’t taking part in the work. Make sure your child training includes having your children learn to serve others, taking on a fair share of the work load. Identify chores or tasks that would take a load off you and get children to do them; even graciously ask your husband if there are areas he would take on for you, if that’s a possibility.
5. Find New Ways to Serve
This may sound like the contradiction of the previous point, but the remedies to depression can be both remarkable and unexpected. Being overwhelmed with too much to do can be part of the cause (draining you) but likewise, being too wrapped up in your own world and not serving others can also be part of the cause (leaving us dissatisfied with life that seems empty). One of the best benefits of being freed up from some household tasks (by having others do more of a part) is, it can free you up to minister to others in fresh and satisfying ways. Maybe delivering meals to that elderly family; making time to be mentored by that older woman (or being a mentor); or participating in some church ministry team.
6. Wallow in the Word — Nourish, Don’t Just Read or Study
We sometimes find ourselves in a spiritually weak or low condition because we have tended to limit our diet of the Word too much; and we often focus only on the points we like or prefer. We overdose on certain truths in the Word while others are totally neglected.
When you’re down, you definitely don’t just need short devotions – that is, little Bible snippets (often verses out of context). But you may not need intensive, in-depth Bible study either! You’re just not mentally up to that. Here is something you do need: every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Try soaking in long portions of Scripture. Find everything you possibly can for your faith to grasp onto; to find it, I suggest you devour the Word in great volume. Read long sections without studying them – just hose yourself down in the Word. You’ll find truths, perspectives, insights, and help you have ignored for a long time.
7. Get Outside!
This won’t be for everybody (there are people who don’t enjoy the great outdoors much … Ok, I don’t understand those people). You may like it more than you think, if you get out into it. You don’t need to walk a trail, explore a cave or get on a surfboard – just find a pretty nearby park, maybe even a spot on your own property, to sit outside and rest. Enjoy God’s gifts. Charles Spurgeon said “Next to our need for the Word of God is a need to feel a blast of cold air in your face off the lake.”
This is so different than the shallowness of “I need a vacation!” No – you don’t need a long break. You need regular breaks.
There’s a lot more to be said on this subject than this brief post can provide. Seek help from the body of Christ – your church. There are sure to be others there who have been through depression, and God comforts each of us in our afflictions, 2 Corinthians 1 says, “so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Dennis Gundersen is president & owner of Grace & Truth Books, a publisher of 75 Christian titles including many reprints of children’s books from past centuries. He is author of two books: Your Child’s Profession of Faith and Courtship & Dating: So What’s the Difference?, and served as pastor of two Tulsa churches from 1984-2009. Dennis is a frequently sought-after speaker for church conferences, men’s retreats, and homeschool conventions. He and his wife Naomi have been married for 40 years and have four adult sons.]]>
Scroll down for our Independence Day gift for you!
Is it even okay for a Christian to celebrate Independence Day? We’ve heard Christians arguing that we should not because the American Revolution was a rebellion. Is that true? That’s certainly the way King George saw it, but that’s not what the Christians of the day thought. They argued that since the signing of the Magna Charta, Britain had been a nation ruled by laws, not a man. King George had violated those laws that even he was subject to, that he had broken his side of the governing covenant and the Colonies were free to leave. They believed they were loyal to a higher authority than King George.
We would love to share our Independence Day Celebration Guide with you! It has the documents, songs, verses, and recipes you need to celebrate with your family in a way that you can feel good about! Sign up for our encouraging newsletter below and we’ll take you right there!]]>
1. Go outside. Turn off the devices and get moving. You’ll feel better, have more fun and be more imaginative, children of mine!
2. Somersaults. The secret to somersaults is to tuck your chin. Tell them, “Tuck your chin right down on your chest. Now, close your mouth. Roll, baby, roll!” It’s easy and fun and hard to hurt yourself if you just tuck your head down.
3. Sprinkler fun. Put on old clothes or swimsuits, set up a sprinkler and run over and through it!
4. Popsicles. If you must, make them yourself, but every child ought to try those old-fashioned straight-line cheapo ones. They’re just fun.
5. Play Pretend. We used to climb in the old bass boat under my grandfather’s carport and pretend we were customs agents, explorers, fishermen, ferry operators, wildlife agents, and more.
6. Bike-riding. If you can’t afford bikes, check out yard sales, craigslist, and thrift stores.
7. Build forts in the hedges. Keep some old sheets on hand for this kind of thing. I remember how much fun it was to find a tree or hedge that had a secret open place on the inside. Take some treats in there and have a picnic or rubberband guns and have a war!
8. Climb a tree. The world looks different from up there. Take a book in your back pocket and you can really go on an adventure.
9. Build a treehouse. You can do a lot with scrap lumber, a hammer, and some long nails.
10. Have an imaginary battle. Be the Secret Service and hunt down a ring of counterfeiters. Pretend you’re George Washington and fight the Redcoats.
11. Pick berries. Some of our earliest memories are picking strawberries and blueberries and popping them straight into our mouths. Of course, the bigger kids and parents can pick to take home!
12. Draw your own comic book.
13. Make rubberband guns. Or, order some rubberband machine guns and have an epic battle.
14. Go swimming. Or, learn to swim. Every single member of your family should learn how to swim. It’s a safety issue. If they’re too young, they need to wear a life jacket around water. Here’s a podcast of ours that may help.
15. Go fishing.
16. Make a movie. Friends of Hal’s mom invite all the cousins over in the summer and they make an epic movie. Once they bought two old satellite dishes and put them together to make a flying saucer.
17. Dig a hole.
18. Make real lemonade. All you need: lemons, sugar, and water.
19. Make a matchbox town out of a pile of dirt.
20. Design a house. Use pinestraw to lay out the walls.
21. Build a model railroad.
22. Shelter. Build a shelter out of umbrellas or tarps and sit outside while it’s raining. You can put a rock in the corner of a tarp and tie a string around it outside the tarp, then use the string to hang the tarp from trees or fences. (Cheaper alternative, but won’t last – plastic tablecloths from the dollar store.)
23. Eat watermelon. This is especially wonderful served on a dock while you stand in the Lake. No worries about the juice!
24. Build a catapult.
25. Build a dinosaur out of paper mache’. Then write a script and make a movie about him.
26. Learn the constellations.
27. Camp in the backyard.
28. Grow something. Tomatoes or bell peppers are easy.
29. Sleep under the stars in a hammock or sleeping bag.
30. Wash the car.
31. Wax the car.
32. Teach the dog to fetch.
33. Make paper airplanes.
34. Run races.
35. Have swimming races.
36. Play board games.
37.Make homemade ice cream.
38. Invent a board game.
39. Repaint your own bed room.
40. Learn a new craft. Last year, our boys learned how to make chain mail with these kits.
41. Build a boat. This is not as hard as it sounds. We’ve built four boats!
42. Make up a crazy story about something in your yard. Maybe that mud puddle is really a giant footprint!
43. Gather lightning bugs.
44. Shoot off fireworks or firecrackers. Of course, this isn’t legal everywhere. Obey the law. Only kids old enough to do this safely should try this one. Younger kids can do poppers and string fire-crackers.
45. Finger paint.
46. Play hide and go seek.
47. Eat lunch outside.
48. Learn to grill.
49. Build a dam across a stream. Take it down when you’re done.
50. Learn more about God. Read your Bible. Read a great book like Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Learn some hymns or songs. Ask your parents and grandparents about how they became Christians.
51. Put up a tire swing.
52. Go rock hunting.
53. Go wildflower hunting.
54. Start an insect collection.
55. Hatch a brood of chickens. Your cooperative extension agent will often provide the incubators and the eggs, and take the baby chickens back when you’re done.
56. Build a shed.
57. Listen to a great audiobook while you fold clothes and make your mama happy.
58. Pretend your house is a spaceship or Noah’s ark. This works best in the rain.
59. Build a fire. Try to do it with a magnifying glass first. Or, try rubbing two sticks together (this is way easier with a bow-type arrangement). Clearly, younger kids need supervision and older ones, wisdom.
60. Make S’mores.
61. Roast a hotdog on a stick.
62. Choose an ambitious reading project. The whole Lord of the Rings series. The whole New Testament. Read a whole series of something. Read every book in the library by your favorite author.
63.Be the chef. Cook all three meals for your family. My kids can do this by nine or ten, really anyone ought to be able to by 11 or 12. Older kids can do something more ambitious – cook a new recipe from scratch or try a new ethnic food.
64. Omelets. Kids that can make good omelets get invited to cook a lot. This is a good thing for a growing, hungry boy who wants protein!
65. Make gas. Put a few inches of vinegar in the bottom of a two liter and quickly add baking soda and stretch a balloon across the top. Shake it up and watch the balloon inflate. This is why you burp when you take an antacid.
66. Turn a box into a house. If you see a big box by the side of the road, grab it and cut side-ways H’s to make windows that close. Use crayons to draw bushes and flowers on the outside. Give it to a preschooler or toddler to play in.
67. Learn how to sword fight. You can start with sticks (make sure they aren’t sharp), or make your own from wood or foam, but for best results, use training swords.
68. Have a water balloon fight.
69. Play horseshoes.
70. Lay on the couch and look up at the ceiling. Imagine what it would be like to walk on the ceiling. For some reason, we did this a lot as kids.
71. Build a bird feeder and try to identify the birds that come.
72. Build a scratching post for your cat from scrap wood and carpet.
73. Learn to knit or crochet. There are lots of instructional videos online.
74. Have a tea party.
75. Write a short story. Who knows, it might one day become a book or even a series of books like the Promised Land series. Hope started it by writing a short story about what it was like to be a slave in ancient Egypt when she was 13.
76. Learn to play spades, hearts, or another card game.
77. Learn about heraldry and make up a coat of arms for your family.
78. Take up wood-burning. Make a gift for someone, a treasure box for yourself, or burn your new coat of arms. Here’s a kit you can start with.
79. Play in the rain. Put on old clothes and play outside when it is really pouring rain. So much fun. Don’t track mud in the house, though.
80. Bake a cake, make cookies, or make some other snack for the family.
81. Make a train out of laundry baskets. Pretend it’s taking you somewhere amazing.
82. Make a salt dough map or sculpture. Use two parts flour to one part salt and one part water.
83. Fold paper boats and test them out.
84. Hang a sheet over your bed and pretend it’s a stagecoach.
85. Have a shooting contest with foam dart guns or rubberband guns. Targets make this much more fun.
86. Freeze ripe bananas for fast, healthy popsicles.
87. Pick flowers and make a bouquet for your mom.
88. Make a tin can telephone with old cans and string.
89. Learn to play an instrument. One of our sons taught himself to play the guitar with free online videos.
90. Take the dog for a walk. He’s just as bored as you are.
91. Bathe the dog. Do it outside with the hose so you both get wet.
92. Make up a new sport. Grab a ball, make some rules, have fun.
93. Explore the crawl space under the house.
94. Learn to refinish furniture. Start with something out of the garage or that you pick up on the side of the road or at a thrift store.
95. Learn wood-carving. Make a whistle or flute from a piece of bamboo.
96. Polish your mom’s silver. Listening to an audiobook while you do it will make it more fun.
97. Make helmets out of milk jugs. Cut the handle part out and paint to make a helmet. Pretend you are in the Roman Army.
98. Step up to adulthood. Learn how to do something real – change the oil in the car, do the laundry, make your bed, change a tire, repair a leaky sink.
99. Do a play or talent show for your grandparents. Memorize a poem, sing a song, show a painting, play an instrument. Or, write a play for yourself and your siblings.
100. Make a card or write a letter for your grandparents or a far-away relative. Making someone else happy is a great way to make yourself happy.
101. Keep a journal. We have a journal kept by one of our ancestors over a hundred years ago. We’ve loved learning about what life was like in their time. Record your memories for your children’s children.
Can you add to the list? Did we forget anything?
We hope you’ll have a wonderfully creative, productive, and memorable summer!
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Hal & Melanie
A reader asks, “When do you step in when boys are wrestling? My 10 & 8 year old boys are constantly in some form of a challenge on the trampoline, in the yard, on the lake, in the house, etc.”
The way boys are always wrestling can be pretty frustrating, especially for moms. It’s hard to know if or when to step in and if you don’t, it seems like it often ends in someone angry or in tears. It’s important for boys to learn to be comfortable roughhousing with other boys and testing their strength against one another. Having physical courage is an important part of being a man and being comfortable in the role of protector. How do you keep it safe and healthy, though?
Our rules are pretty simple. For one, you don’t wrestle in the living room or kitchen. I would like to have a few nice things when they’ve all left home! The kitchen, on the other hand, is just too dangerous with boiling water, hot grease, and sharp things lurking around.
The other rule is that if anyone says, “Stop!” or “Knock it off!” it must stop immediately or you are a bully and we discipline quite firmly for being a bully.
We explain it to them like this: When fighter pilots are training, when they are doing war games, for example, if anyone broadcasts, “Knock it off!” they immediately disengage and separate. That means there is some danger or some other reason that they need to stop for everyone’s safety.
In the same way, wrestling is a war game; it is practice combat. Because it’s practice — You certainly have no intention of hurting your brother, at least, you’d better not! — there’s got to be a way to call it off if someone is getting hurt or needs to stop. If you can’t keep this rule of mock combat, then you aren’t mature enough for war games and you won’t be allowed to wrestle.
This works well for toy sword play, rubberband guns, any kind of play that involves pretend fighting. We believe that mock combat is appropriate for boys to play because one of their God-given roles is to be the protector of their family, and if needed, their community and nation. This is just an easy way to keep it healthy between brothers.
Hal & Melanie
For more on how to help boys turn their natural aggression to righteous purposes, plus lots more on raising boys, check out our award-winning book, Raising Real Men!]]>
The girl looked puzzled. Melanie pointed to her ring. “Oh no, I’m not married! That’s a purity ring.”
“Then you need to move it to the other hand!” Melanie said, “If a guy sees it, he’s going to think you are taken and never even try to get to know you.”
“But, I don’t want him to talk to me! I want him to talk to my father first!” the lovely young woman asserted.
“I don’t think you understand,” Melanie gently stated. “If he thinks you’re taken, he won’t talk to your father, either. In fact, he’s unlikely to approach your dad before he has gotten to know you well enough to know you are a good possibility for the future.”
What astounded us is that we had the exact same conversation twice more within a week or so. One young lady even confided that if a guy hit on her in Wal-Mart that she’d hold up the hand with the purity ring on it as if to say, “Taken!” and the young man would walk off.
We asked her, “If the forward guys think it’s an engagement ring or wedding band and leave you alone because of it, what makes you think nice Christian guys won’t?”
It also surprised us that in all three conversations, the father or mother listening in, once they understood the issue, immediately responded, “Move the ring to the other hand!”
Strangely, all three ladies were reluctant. One said, “But, I promised you!” Her mother responded, “It’s okay to wear it on the other hand, honestly!” It’s like the girls believed that if they moved it to the other hand, they weren’t pure any more. Nonsense!
Parents, we need to adjust our advice to the age of our children. Sometimes the advice we gave them at thirteen, like “Don’t think about marriage! Don’t ask yourself if those around you would be good mates,” doesn’t necessarily apply at 23. Both guys and girls in their twenties have told us they are struggling to feel free to pursue/be open to a mate when they’ve been told again and again not to, even though it is now time! We need to encourage them!
To our single female friends: Honorable guys look for things like rings because in our culture, a ring on your left ring finger says you are promised to someone else. And no, he won’t know it’s a purity ring. Not when you are old enough to be married.
It’s not unmaidenly to be clearly single! Or to be friendly. In fact, most young men we talk to as we speak around the country say that they look to see if a young woman seems interested in what they say or smiles when they see them. A girl that seems friendly is a good candidate for friendship. And most guys want to know a girl before they decide to pursue her. So, Don’t Shut the Door Too Soon. Definitely not at the first glance at your hand!
Why not wear the ring on the other hand?
Hal & Melanie
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