My friend Cathy was a true Titus 2 woman.
You couldn’t know Cathy without knowing she was a Christian. She loves Jesus and it shined all over her. It was clearly the most important thing in her life. That love made her love for her husband and four boys even stronger.
Cathy was one of the founders of our local homeschool support group. We served there together for many years. Over those twenty years of leadership, she counseled young mothers not just about homeschooling, but about marriage, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting. She was the wise older woman for hundreds of young families in our county. She could hardly go to the store without meeting someone whose life she had spoken into.
It was heart-wrenching to look up front to see her husband and boys lined up on the front row, to see the grandbaby she would never see grow up, her son and his fiance that would miss her at their wedding.
What wrenched me even more, though, was to look around the congregation. There were only about a dozen of us from our homeschool group there. A dozen, not hundreds.
I really expected to see people filling the church, crowded around outside. I could probably list at least a hundred by name whose lives had been changed by her counsel. I know. People are busy, they’re sick, they struggle to find a babysitter. Still, I thought many more would be there.
It made me think. Outward-turned ministry is so important. We’ve got to share the gospel, disciple other women, be there for our friends. I get that. We love what the Lord allows us to do in speaking and writing. There are few feelings more wonderful than seeing God use your pitiful words to work in someone’s life.
The time is going to come, though, when our work here is over, when we go home to Jesus. When that last day here comes, there are some who would never miss our funeral. People whose grief will be deep and palpable. People who will sit in the front pew at our funeral. Our families.
When the time comes to say goodbye to my life, I want two things: I want to hear my Lord say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” and I want my husband and children to know my love for them came before all the rest of the world.
My friends in ministry, my fellow speakers, authors, bloggers, leaders: I want to close my computer when my child needs me. I want to save energy to spend time with my husband at the end of the day. I want my family to remember that I was there for them, not that I usually didn’t have time. It’s hard. We have to work long hours to get everything done. All that won’t matter, though, if we don’t meet the needs of the ones that we matter the most to. Let’s live in such a way that we do right by the people in the front row.
Cathy did a great job putting her Lord and family first. Father, please help me to love You and love my family like I ought to, day to day, hour by hour.
By His grace,
In gratefulness for the life of Cathy Aycock Jones, 1958-2016.
Wise and Faithful Christian, Wife, Mother, Mentor.
If you’re like the rest of us, you may be looking forward to the explosion of persuasive creativity which plays out this weekend.
Commercials are the shortest narrative form I know. In half a minute, they can introduce characters, hint at their back stories, play out a drama on the screen, and sell underarm deodorant or tortillas chips, too. All in thirty seconds.
However, experience has taught us to watch the Big Game with a hand on the remote. We always have a fallback position – the Weather Channel is usually safe – so if a commercial or halftime presentation seems to be heading somewhere we don’t want to take our kids, we can hop over to something benign for a few seconds.
Here’s a quick review of many – not all – of the Big Money commercials!
I’D RATHER SKIP
If you’d like to preview these yourself, here’s my source – I’m sure there are plenty more!
Sports are definitely a thing – they’re just not the only thing. We try and talk about all the things, from a Biblical perspective, when it comes to raising your son to productive Christian manhood!
Check out our book, Raising Real Men, for lots of practical ideas to put Scriptural principles into real-life application in your family!
Click over to find out more – you can get a downloadable version and start reading today!]]>
The problem is that sometimes we know where we want to go, but we find ourselves off course before we realize it’s happening.
In southwest Virginia, there is a nine-mile stretch between Fort Chiswell and Wytheville where Interstate 77 and Interstate 81 share the same roadway. For a short distance, you can actually be following I-77 North and I-81 South at the same time.
At that point, you’re actually driving due west. The signs’ directions are based on the endpoints – I-81 South runs from Fishers Landing, N.Y., down to eastern Tennessee, while I-77 North starts in Columbia, S.C. and finishes in Cleveland.
Highway engineers call this a “wrong way concurrency.” There’s an article on Wikipedia that explains it.
The two Interstates travel about 1460 miles in total, but for nine miles in Virginia, they look just the same. In the summertime, when the road salt has been cleaned off the southbound trucks, you can’t tell the difference between drivers heading to Tennessee and drivers aiming for Ohio … not for a short space. But the ends of their ways are 400 miles apart.
I was in a van going to church conference once when we made a wrong turn at this junction – and went an unplanned 168 miles before we were back on course. That’s discouraging!
This happens in our spiritual life sometimes, too. There was a controversy in our area over a certain book on Christian living. Some of our friends loved it, but others were alarmed. The supporters found some practical ideas which they said really helped their family.
The critics, though, pointed out that the authors denied critical truths from the Bible, and following their errors would lead to serious problems in the end. And the critics could point to specific families which had followed the practical ideas at the start but missed the point when the false teachers’ road split off from the truth — and ended up compromising their faith, destroying family relationships, or even facing criminal charges.
(To be specific, this wasn’t a matter of denominational differences, like whether you use the Lord’s Prayer and sing the Doxology, or follow more extemporaneous forms of worship. These authors denied the fact of original sin and taught human perfectibility — which left precious little room for mercy, forgiveness, or grace.)
We all get lots of advice from lots of sources – even within the Christian community. It’s important that we know where the advice started from and if possible, where it might end up. Think of your favorite authors, speakers, teachers of all sorts – those who most influence your thinking.
I think all of us have followed a teacher for a time and discovered their advice wasn’t as good as we first thought. I know we’ve changed our mind about some we used to admire. Sometimes we traveled with them a way, then realized their destination was not where we ought to go. And sometimes we had to repent of bad ideas we collected when we didn’t know better.
If we’re more cautious when we get on the highway – or when we find ourselves traveling with an unfamiliar driver – then maybe we can avoid a painful error in the miles ahead.
As somebody else said, “Nobody’s got time for that!”
Yours along the Way,
Hal and Melanie
After the first year we were traveling and speaking with our parenting book, Raising Real Men, we suddenly realized that we had sold thousands of copies without a single question about our beliefs. It was simply accepted that we claimed to be “Christian” in some way or another. That’s why we wrote a brief statement of faith and put it on our website. If you don’t know us already, we invite you check it out, and ask if you have any questions – any honest teacher would! After all, our goal is to help “make Biblical family life practical” for 21st century believers.
We don’t claim to be perfect, but we want to be like the apostle Paul, who said,
I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:12-14, NASB)
And if we can help each other along that way, we’ll be glad for your company on the road!
In the shipping emergency of World War II, shipyards were launching new vessels as rapidly as possible, sometimes with substandard materials or unproven construction. Many of the T2-class oil tankers were built with welded seams instead of rivets, and sometimes with low-quality steel. Under certain conditions, these ships could suffer hull fractures and broken welds. On February 18, 1952, not one but two of these tankers broke apart off Cape Cod in a blinding “nor’easter” winter storm with gale-force winds and 60-foot seas. Thirty-three men on the SS Pendleton found themselves adrift on the broken stern of their vessel, with their captain and their radio lost in the storm.
The story centers on a young Coast Guard bosun’s mate, Bernie Webber, who was the coxswain of the 36-foot rescue boat CG 36500 out of Chatham, Massachusetts. The film opens with Bernie’s first face-to-face meeting with his future wife, Miriam, a local switchboard operator; they’d become acquainted over the phone but she held off meeting him until a friend agreed to a double date. Bernie is a quiet, diffident young man and a straight shooter – his fellow Coasties tease him about being a stickler for the regulations. When he insists on getting authorization for his engagement, his exasperated commander exclaims, “It’s just a formality!”
Bernie’s deep sense of duty, both to the Coast Guard and to the men he’s sent to rescue, is the foundation for the film’s major theme – courage, commitment, and self-sacrifice. When a well-meaning friend urges him to appeal the order to set out into the storm for the Pendleton, Bernie replies that when the call comes, “In the Coast Guard they say you gotta go out – they don’t say you gotta come back in.” When others encourage him to turn back in the course of the perilous rescue, he tells his crew and the dozens of survivors on his tiny boat, “We’re all gonna live together, or we’re all gonna die together.”
The mission itself was impossible on the face of it – first, to even cross the bar in a gale, and once across, to drive a wooden 36-foot boat into the teeth of the storm for hours before completing a hazardous rescue and then re-tracing the arduous, murderous course home in the dark. And that describes the situation at best – because it rapidly gets worse.
In the end, Bernie and his volunteer crew manage to save thirty-two sailors in a lifeboat meant for twelve, and make Coast Guard history.
We went to see the “RealD 3D” version on opening night – a 2-D version is also playing. At this showing, there were at least 20 minutes of trailers before the feature started. Some of them had truly breathtaking 3-D effects, but be advised that the trailers for Warcraft, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and especially The Jungle Book – yes, you read that right — may be too intense for young viewers! However, you probably wouldn’t want to have that group with you to see The Finest Hours, either.
Appropriate for who?
We are definitely going to take our teenaged sons to see this. Pre-teens should be fine as well. Boys under 8 may find it intense – know your son! I wouldn’t suggest it for pre-schoolers.
There was surprisingly little objectionable content. The major subplot is the developing love between Bernie and the young woman he eventually marries; nothing is seen or implied that would be inappropriate on a crowded street. There are a few profanities and one ribald remark (cut short), but way fewer than I’d expect in a crowd of sailors and commercial fishermen. The one blasphemy is in a tavern scene at about six and a half minutes into the film; other uses of the Lord’s name are in moments of fear, not cursing. The men are drinking beer quietly and the two young women have small drinks in clear glasses – they could be ginger ale for all I could tell. And nobody smokes, ever – a serious anachronism for the early 1950’s!
There is a steady undercurrent of faith on display. The sailors on the sinking tanker pray together (though the group’s agitator interrupts impatiently to say, “Prayin’s okay, but it ain’t everything – we gotta do somethin’!”) Several times characters pause for what appears to be silent prayer. The townspeople gather at a church with blankets and food to comfort survivors.
Themes to watch for:
Obviously, this is a story of courage, self-sacrifice to save others, and devotion to duty. Other themes and examples to watch for are good and bad leadership, teamwork, and obedience to authority.
Discussion (CLICK HERE TO SKIP THE SPOILERS!)
The major themes are easy to observe. There are a couple of secondary themes which might bear some examples.
Bernie’s committed to doing the right thing – whether his routine in the Coast Guard close to shore or the overarching mission of lifesaving. He is invariably polite to the older fishermen he meets, always addressing them as “Mister” – even if they’re just a few years his senior. His behavior toward Miriam is always restrained and gentlemanly. The strongest expletive I heard from him was “It’s a heck of a long day, isn’t it?” And yet, at the critical moment of the rescue, he recognizes he’ll have to overload his boat to save the whole crew in one trip – which is validated when the Pendleton stern capsizes just minutes after the last survivor is on CG 36500.
Another is the portrayal of leaders. There are three leaders in the story. Bernie of course is the focal point of the film; he’s a quiet, diffident sort who endures jeering from his fellow sailors at the Lifeboat Station, but demonstrates “the right stuff” when he takes the wheel of CG 36500 and carries out an incredible feat of determination and nerve as others turn back and urge him to quit, too.
Robert Sybert is the engineer of the Pendleton and is pushed forward as the most knowledgeable man left on the drifting stern. He’s seen by some as a hermit “hiding below” in his engine room, but takes decisive and resourceful action to keep their hulk from sinking before rescuers arrive – even with no way to know if help would actually reach them at all.
Bosun Cluff is the commander of the Chatham Lifeboat Station and provides contrast for the other leaders in the story. He’s obviously an outsider, with a strong Southern accent that contrasts with the classic New England voices all around him. He possesses authority by his position, but he is uncomfortable and unloved by his men, and you see him struggle to make his orders stick and keep control over his station.
The heroes of the story are revealed as men of action, men who put their hands to the work needed and press on in spite of discouragement, and rise to leadership by their personal example. Cluff, however, is never seen leaving the warmth of the Coast Guard building, even to meet the returning CG 36500. Someone needs to monitor the radio and coordinate the rescue from shore, yet you see no desire from Cluff to be present or even close to the drama of the moment.
Comparisons with the book
I read the source book, The Finest Hours, before seeing the movie. The film is remarkably true to the book’s narrative, with a couple of exceptions. The major change from history is the timing of Bernie and Miriam’s relationship. In the film, they are newly engaged when the rescue begins; in actuality, they were already married in February 1952, and Miriam was sick in bed when Bernie put to sea with CG 36500 that day. The tension of Miriam wrestling with whether she could handle being a Coast Guard wife – “If I’m going to be with him, I’ve got to know,” she says – is a subplot of the movie but not in the actual Pendleton story.
In the film, Bernie is just leaving the station to take out the boat when the phone rings – which the viewer sees is Miriam calling to find him. He hesitates, then turns to his mission and leaves the phone unanswered. From that point, there’s no indication that Bernie is thinking about Miriam while on his dangerous duty. In reality, Bernie fretted throughout the day that he couldn’t contact Miriam before he left, and he worried what would happen to her if he didn’t survive the day.
The end of the film says that all four crewmen on the CG 36500 received the Gold Lifesaving Medal, the highest honor awarded by the Coast Guard. This is true as far as it goes, but the book relates that only Bernie was originally named to the gold medal, with the other three to receive lesser honors. Bernie protested that his crew deserved the same award he did, and Coast Guard officials, perhaps realizing that Webber was already in the media spotlight and controversy would be unhelpful, decided to upgrade the crewmens’ citations.
Recommendation – I’d strongly recommend for families with young men. This is a good one! Maybe too intense for very young or very sensitive viewers.
Public shame has been a form of punishment throughout history. Remember the pillory, where they would put offenders in the stocks in the public square to be mocked by passersby? It may or may not have been effective, reports vary, but it’s making a comeback, fueled by social media.
We get that it’s hard when your teens seem like they’re getting out of control, but we don’t think shaming, even just sharing on your own newsfeed, is a good place to go for a number of reasons.
Don’t punish someone forever for a temporary infraction. That funny video you hope will embarrass your teen into limiting their gaming and getting their school work done will likely be seen by the scholarship committee at their college, their college roommate, potential employers, even their future father-in-law. Do you really want to do that?
Airing your family’s dirty laundry in public violates trust. Maintaining a loving, trusting relationship with our children is one of the most important things we can do to protect them. Our children need to know they can trust us in order to listen to us when we give them advice. Our kids need to know that we’re on their side.
Being humiliated is infuriating. The Word of God warns us, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath,” so public humiliation is just a no go for Christians.
There are bullies out there that don’t know when to stop. Your goal may be to encourage your child to stop making bad decisions, but there are folks out there that will use what you’ve exposed to destroy your child.
Desperation is not a good place to be. Often parents feel driven to desperate measure because they feel powerless. They don’t think they have any way to make their children do right. God made you their parent, though, and you have more control than you think. You’re paying the bills, it’s your house, you really can make the rules.
First, listen. Don’t react, don’t argue, just listen. The enemy tempts your hormonal teens to believe you don’t care and you don’t understand. Your first move should be to show them you do care and you want to understand. To that end, listen carefully and ask questions until they are sure you understand what is on their mind.
Reassure them of your love. Make sure you tell them you love them and you like them and you’re concerned about them. You’ve got to keep your own temper to manage this.
Give them a dose of reality and take them to the Word of God. Now, it’s your turn. If you’ve given them plenty of time to talk themselves down off the ledge and you’ve kept your temper (as hard as it is, folks!!), they’re usually pretty receptive by this point. Explain reality to them. Lay out your concerns. Take them to the Scripture to show them what the issue is.
Genuinely forgive them when they repent. It’s hard when they lose it again and again, when they keep failing, but we’re so glad the Lord forgives us even when we’ve sinned against him time after time.
Then, it’s time for correction. Sometimes, it doesn’t even seem like it’s necessary by this point because they’re repentant, but it’s important to help them remember not to do that again. Often, by this time, our boys will agree, “Yeah, mom, you’re right.” When you discipline, not in the heat of the moment, but once things have calmed down, teens are much more likely to be compliant.
This is pretty time-consuming, but when it comes to preteens and teens, it takes time if you want your discipline to be effective, to become discipleship.
For the Christian, repentance and restoration is the goal. Public shaming may prompt repentance, but it’s pretty sure not to bring restoration. Let’s not do it, even if it’s just a snotty post on our own timeline and not a viral video. Let’s not go there.
We have several great resources for help in disciplining your kids in a godly way: our book, Raising Real Men, PreFlight for teens and their parents, Boot Camp 9-12 for parents of preteens, and Boyhood Boot Camp for parents of younger boys.
Hal & Melanie
That “boy” of course can be any age from a first-grader to a college student. For a younger boy, here’s how we’d approach it:
Take him seriously – and give him some grace. There’s an old adage – “It may be puppy love, but it’s still love to the puppy!” If your son has set his attention on a particular girl, his emotions are already involved. Listen and respond with some understanding, even if he’s very young; if there’s ever a matter of the heart and feelings, this is it! You want to move carefully because you never want him to put “my parents” and “my romantic interests” in separate compartments.
Always, go back to the Word. There are many passages dealing with relationships. One piece of advice that seems to stick with our sons is the proverb,
Prepare your outside work,
Make it fit for yourself in the field,
And afterward build your house.
The Hebrew word translated “house” can also mean “household” or “family” – not just the building you live in. That’s why we offer it as advice about relationships – not just farm management. And the New Testament says that a believer should be taking care of his own family, or else he’s denied the faith (1 Timothy 5:8) – which should warn a young man not to start a family until he’s able to support a wife and child!
Now, we need to be careful not to take that too far. Some people seem to expect a young man to have a paid-off house and large savings account before he seeks a wife. Many of us parents haven’t achieved that in our forties … so don’t place an unreasonable burden on your boys.
For younger boys, though, this practical question is usually enough: “Son, are you able to support a wife yet? Do you have an idea how much it will cost to provide a home, pay for groceries, and so forth? Do you have a job that would earn enough for that?”
You can be gentle about it, but it’s appropriate to say, “Son, you’re just not old enough yet. Be friends with lots of girls, and be patient – there will be time to choose a wife later.”
Help them see the road ahead – it’s longer than they realize. When the romantic feelings get involved, a man and woman are entering a pathway that’s meant to lead to marriage. When our sons begin to entertain romantic interests, we need to remind them of that fact and get down to real life. Is he mature enough to support a wife and family spiritually, emotionally, and financially? He shouldn’t start that kind of relationship until he is, or at least is getting close to it … and that holds true no matter how old he may be!
But friendship between sexes is a good thing. Paul advised Timothy, a young man himself, to treat the young women in the church “as sisters, with all purity.” (1 Timothy 5:2). That short passage says a lot; for one thing, relationships between guys and girls should always be marked by purity.
It also tells us that friendships between the sexes are not a doubtful thing when handled properly. Is your relationship with your siblings standoffish, hesitant, contrived, or suspicious? Of course not! Neither should it be sexually driven. Friendship between boys and girls can be open and confident, but with that boundary of propriety that any observer can see, “These are friends, not lovers.”
This is always a coaching opportunity to guide appropriate behavior. Robert Fulghum famously claimed, “All I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten.” The basic rules of civility need to be taught early, and they often need to be re-taught as maturity brings different situations to bear. For example, a young boy needs to learn, “Boys don’t treat girls roughly,” and he shouldn’t expect to wrestle with them in the back yard. A young man nearing adulthood needs to remember that same rule as, “Always speak gently to a young woman, and never, ever let anger with her turn to violence.”
We knew the message had registered when one of our young sons, maybe a second-grader at the time, was asked by the barber, “Do you have a girlfriend?” Startled, he replied, “No, sir! I don’t have a job yet!” All the older men burst into laughter, but they agreed – a simple, straightforward check before diving head-over-heels into a romantic relationship at any age!
|For older sons, the questions get more complex and more pointed … and we’ll talk about them next!
Yours in the Battle,
Hal and Melanie
If you’re in a long-term relationship (i.e. married!) or you’re advising a young person who’s considering the big step, you might enjoy our book,
My Beloved and My Friend:
How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses
It’s our answer to, “What do I wish my kids knew about building and keeping a strong marriage?” And it’s Biblical, conversational, and practical. Available in paperback, audiobook, and ebook formats – CLICK HERE!
When two children have an argument, how do you determine the truth when the two disagree?
What do you do when you get two different stories?
Often when the kids have a disagreement, we only find out because someone has “run to tell” – in other words, they want to call down some parental thunder on their mean old brother’s head. Usually, though, they haven’t followed Jesus’ directions about dealing with offensive people:
“… If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church…”
(Jesus, in Matthew 18:15-18 – NKJV)
“The Bible tells us when we have a problem with a brother, we’re supposed to go to him privately and try to work it out,” we might say. “Have you done that?”
Almost always, they haven’t!
So we send them back with the reminder, and commonly, that’s the last we hear of it. It’s plain the complaint wasn’t a call for justice, it was a request for an air strike against the enemy.
The passage goes on to say, “Take a witness.” Sometimes, if the complaint comes back, we’ll ask, “Did anybody see or hear what happened?” If so, you can suggest they get their witness and go back to the offending party.
But on the minor stuff kids argue about, we usually skip to the last stage – which is, to go to the authority over the matter. Between believers, it’s the church; between siblings, it’s the parents. At this point, we’ll call them both in and let the offended brother tell his side of the story first, without interruption — but with the promise that you’ll listen to both sides.
When the offended brother has shared his complaint, we’ll turn to the “defendent” and ask, “You’ve heard your brother’s story. Is that basically correct? Is there anything you’d like to add or change?”
That’s an important part of it – when you demonstrate that each will have their time and their say all the way through, it says that we’re committed to justice and not just fixing the blame. Typically, we’ll have to stop both sides from jumping into the other’s narrative, too. “No, you had your say …” or “You’ll have your turn next …” This is a great place to show your fairness!
If there were any witnesses, sometimes we’ll ask for confirmation or correction.
Sometimes this is enough to demonstrate what’s going on … but frequently, a problem that’s gone to this stage has picked up a lot of secondary offenses along the way. It’s not as simple as “He’s bad, I’m innocent.”
We have conversations like this:
Little Brother: “He hit me!”
Dad to Big Brother: “You hit him?”
Big Brother: “Well, yes … ”
Big Brother: “Well, he threw my book down the stairs.”
Dad to Little Brother: “You threw his book down the stairs? Why?”
Little: “Well, yeah, but he called me a name!”
Dad to Big: “Did you call your brother a name?”
Big: “Well, I said he was a pest because he wouldn’t let me read …”
D. to L. “You wouldn’t let him read?”
L. : “Well, I wanted him to play with me and he wouldn’t …”
… and so on.
By that time, we can usually show them that whatever may have started the disagreement, both of them made decisions to continue the disagreement. You can explain all the places where someone decided to argue when they could have done what his brother wanted, or accepted his brother’s refusal. “You could have stopped here or here or here …”
And — here’s the kicker — you can show them that since both of them broke rules (whether the law of God or your own family’s rules) … both of them deserve punishment. Maybe one of them needs more correction than the other – that, too, is handled in private, so neither brother really knows what discipline the other received – but in many cases, if there was ever an “innocent” party, he lost the moral high ground when he decided to be disagreeable in return.
We find that often, that realization that everyone may share some guilt encourages them to find a way to settle. And next time, there’s some memory of that possibility – that maybe we can resolve this privately, and not get the parents involved!
One of our favorite resources is Doorposts’ “The Brother Offended Checklist.” CLICK TO FIND OUT MORE.
Like some more ideas for dealing with family friction? Check out these downloadable resources —
A House NOT Divided – a workshop on positive ways to build family unity
How To Fight So You BOTH Win – no, really! Get to the root of conflicts and find acceptable solutions – in all kinds of relationships!
Hal & Melanie
In one sense, it’s very simple – We don’t allow it!
It’s very important that your home be a haven, and that means if any kid feels persecuted, if they say “Stop it!” to their brother, whatever it is has to stop immediately – or we’re going to deal with it very sharply.
There are several things which can be going on here. There is bullying where someone is using their increased strength or position to have their will or to persecute someone smaller or younger. If someone is consistently being a bully, some physical discipline is warranted.
But then there is also what we call “pesting,” where you use your position as the smaller or weaker sibling to try to get the older person in trouble, egging them on or pestering them to a breaking point!
One of the things we do which is especially effective with the second one is to say, “If you lead your brother into sin – if you tease your brother to the point that he loses his temper and starts fighting with you …” – or from the other direction, “If you send your little brother to go steal a cookie when you’ve been told not to have one …” – then guess what? “… You are going to get the same trouble that he just earned!”
The person that provokes and the person who gets provoked, both, get punished. That really squelches it – it takes all the fun out of it!
If you have two that are just at each other’s throats, we found it really effective to make them team up. One of the things we did was take a bungee cord and hook it on their belt loops and tell them, “You two are teammates today; you can’t unhook it.” That really helped them to stop persecuting each other because they were so angry with their parents! But by the end of the day they thought it was funny … and they were dealing with their original disagreement.
What you really have to watch out for is if there is one child that is always being bullied.
Then it’s time to get alone with each of the kids that’s doing that and read them the Riot Act. Explain to them what the Scripture requires of them, that Jesus is compared to a brother (as in Proverbs 18:24, there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother) and brothers have to hang together.
“Are you the kind of brother that Jesus could use as a good example?” we ask.
And we remind them – we’ve had to do this with ours, a few times – remind them that one day, we parents are going to be dead and gone to heaven, and the only people that will remember the things of their youth, the fun we had and the things we did, will be their siblings.
We simply will not allow them to develop the kind of relationship now that destroys their future relationship as adults. We know of families where that’s happened!
Also, recognize that the Bible does have specific passages dealing with people who make fun of folks for their disabilities or their weaknesses, about people who mock one another, people who disparage one another’s character, and so on. There are passages that condemn that kind of behavior very specifically. And those are the kind of things that happen sometime when boys get a bad attitude toward each other. You’ve got to just step on that behavior. You’ve got to squash it – flat.
One of the things we do is encourage our guys to think of the family as a team:
We sort out our differences with one another.
We don’t pick on each other;
instead, we support one another.
We help one another along.
We handle our disagreements at home, in private – so we can stand together outside.
When there’s an ongoing problem, it tends to be the brothers who are right next to each other in age, because they’re more in competition with each other – or so they think. Competition comes very naturally to boys, and when it leaves the playing field or the game board and bleeds over into family life, it can become corrosive.
We remind our boys that a football team that starts tackling each other when the ball is snapped is never going to win.
It will be something to remind your kids over and over – they’re not in that sort of competition against their brothers. You have to explain that you do love them all now and will continue to love them all regardless. (Note To Self: Be sure to express this often!).
Instead, our family is a team competing against the rest of the world. We’re on a mission together. That means we rejoice with our brother when he has a reason to rejoice, we grieve with him when he grieves, we stand by him when he needs us most. We can expect him to do the same for us. And we always remember:
What’s worked for your family? How do you help your kids see each other as part of a team, not as rivals?
Hal & Melanie
From our podcast, Making Biblical Family Life Practical:
Sibling Rivalry (episode 91) – CLICK HERE to listen
Building Family Unity (episode 92) – CLICK HERE to listen
If you haven’t read our book, Raising Real Men, then check it out here!
You might also enjoy our webinar series, Boyhood Boot Camp (for parents with young sons)
and Boot Camp 9-12 (for parents of pre-teen sons!)
Fighting in the Old West — Gerd Paulsen / FreeImages.com
It’s true the Internet has changed things. It’s easier to get information and easier to “talk” to other homeschoolers than ever before. You can even download workshop sessions from your favorite speakers whenever you like.
It’s different when you are actually there. We love the time after our workshops when we get to talk to moms and dads face to face and pray with them. You can really get to know the speakers you enjoy – and they can get to know you.
Often the people who wrote the curriculum you are interested in are right there in the book fair. Even if they’re not, there will be knowledgeable folks running each booth, usually people who’ve used those books themselves. You can talk to other parents there and gain from their experience, and take a look at new things you’ve never even heard of before.
It’s good to be away from home, too. It’s hard to focus on your own learning when the children are running in and out and the laundry is calling. It’s so relaxing to sit back next to your mate, listen and learn, then head to lunch together talking about where the Lord is leading your family. It’s good for you and good for your marriage and children, as well.
The best reasons, though, are the divine appointments. Cool things happen when you put a few thousand homeschoolers in a building together. It happens all the time. We see two dads bouncing cranky toddlers in the hall and the dad who’s been worried about high school talks about the teens he’s met there. Teens who’d been restless at home gain a new perspective and a bunch of new friends in the teen sessions. A group of moms chatters up a storm waiting for a session to start, then settles back happy with some new ideas. Old friends call delighted greetings over stacks of books. The energy and joy is amazing!
We’re going to be speaking at a number of conventions this year, including:
If you come to one, stop by and say, “Hi!”
For more times and places, visit our Events page at RaisingRealMen.com/calendar
This article originally appeared in The Homeschool Minute.
[ CLICK HERE for our podcast on why you really ought to go to a convention! ]
[AND HERE for some ideas how to get the most from a convention ]
One of the surprising discoveries of our family life has been the usefulness of keeping a journal or diary — at least one per family.
I tried keeping a diary when I was a kid, with limited success. My English teacher in high school introduced us to “journalling” for literary practice — an idea I didn’t really catch up with until blogging came around. Go looking for a “diary” in the store, and you’re likely to end up in the Lisa Frank section, full of rainbows and dewy-eyed unicorns, and not much to grab a boy’s heart.
But keeping a diary or journal has a long and honored history. One of our family’s treasures is a hand-written ledger kept by my great-great-great-grandfather to chronicle the goings-on at his South Carolina farm. It’s simple, not more than a line or two a day, but we read about the rhythms of planting, harvesting, plowing and ditching; about the seasonal floods and the Really Big One they had; about the texts of sermons and the days of sickness and celebrations with family.
the first Day of March 1851
Still Ditching in gum Swamp and halling cotton seed to Sumt. droping them 12 heeps to load 20 roas 25 steps plowing for corn in swamp all well
” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” “
2 to Day was the Sabbath and I went to hear the Rev. Mr. Tally preach and he gave a fine discours all well
” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” “
3 Still cleaning up gum Swamp and making the bridges about the ditches and the Dam or road finished the swamp Tapping for corn Still halling cotton seed in Sumter 3 waggons all well
It was mostly trivia then, but it’s priceless now … which hints that the journal we keep today may become a treasure to our grandchildren, too.
Several years ago I started two journals of my own. One was when I realized that most of my reading was newspapers and magazines; I decided I wanted to read something of spiritual value and something of professional value every month. I started a list of what I was reading, and it was a great help to improving my intellectual life!
The second was a practical matter — I had to keep track of daily activities so I could write weekly or monthly reports for my job. Like the reading list, it was a daily check for me — what had I done with my time for the day? Was it profitably spent, or was the time mislaid or wasted somehow? And it made sure nothing escaped mention when it was time for reports — or annual reviews.
Now, at the end of the year, my journal (which has morphed into more of a traditional diary) is the baseline for our family’s annual review. How have we spent our year? What has God done for us? What have we attempted for God? And what do we simply want to remember, both hard times and good times?
Maybe you already have a family historian. Maybe it’s time to find one! Or maybe everybody might put down a few thoughts once a day or once a week even, just to keep your memories fresh. Here are a few ideas:
Keeping a journal is a great way to capture a lot of life that you’ll forget by the end of the year. It will help you truly appreciate how God works in your life. You’ll be able to point your children to God’s faithfulness and protection day after day. And just by the way, when you get to December and your tax-figuring spouse looks up from a receipt and say, “What were we doing in Salisbury on June 17th?”, you’ll be able to tell – and that may have a very tangible value of its own, right now!
Our podcast talks about starting the new year with more Christ-centered focus – CLICK HERE to listen!