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I have just seen the funniest thing… our dog was doing something we weren’t sure we wanted him to be doing so we got his attention. He was a long way away – and we weren’t 100% sure if he knew we were calling him or not. So we watched – oh the indecision. He stopped doing what he was doing and looked at where he thought we were. For a while he looked at us, fairly intensely, and then he walked a...

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The phone used to be a tool that we used to communicate with others. But it has become so much more. And as the abilities of the mobile phone have increased it seems to have become a societal problem. We say it distracts us and is a waste of time, and we wish for the days long gone when people connected with the people around them. When we start to criticise the mobile phone we are more often than...

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This is a subject that I have been reluctant to write about because I don’t want to put the spotlight on my kids lives.  But it is something that is really important to my heart and I’d like to share it with you. This is just rambling thoughts – as if you and I were having coffee.

There is so much information out there on dating, courting, or relationships before marriage.  I grew up with a very conservative church that encouraged courtship. Peter and I got together based on being friends and then our dating/engagement time (not courting) was spent as a long distance relationship, and I do have some teeny tiny regrets that we don’t have ‘going on dates’ as a part of our memories.  So there is a mixture of experiences and understanding in all that.

We talked about Dating from a Young Age

We raised our kids with the expectation that they would keep themselves for marriage – that was fairly basic understanding in all our discussions.  Over the years we talked about so many issues surrounding the different ways people encourage young adults to approach finding a life partner. We talked about your first kiss being at the wedding ceremony (good idea or bad), we talked about pros and cons of dating or courting, about needing father’s permission, we talked about being friends first, and about different levels of friendship and intimacy.   

Joshua (our oldest, and therefore our guinea pig as we work out what we believe about certain things!)  Josh went to a few Christian camps with a university campus. Each time there was a ‘relationship’ session and yet, he always came home frustrated that the talks were always about sexual purity.  Surely there is more to it he would say.

People often asked me for a booklist of the books we used to teach our kids, books that we gave them to read to be prepared.  I don’t have such a list. Or I didn’t then – I do now! My plan was to teach them to have relationships, good, honest, friendships; to have the skills to build and maintain relationships, to have the understanding and commitment to purity and the self-control to live it.  We didn’t read books to teach those things.

We did have an expectation that during school years there would be no boyfriend/girlfriend.  But after school years, when they started to think about these things we have given them two books:

  1. Sacred Search by Gary Thomas
  2. Boundaries in Dating by Dr. Henry Cloud

These books add to our perspective that a marriage relationship is built on solid friendship skills and character choices.

My Ah-ah Moment about Rules for Dating

Then one day, in the midst of all this discussion it hit me – the #1 thing that is wrong with setting rules for your kids dating – is that we are talking about them as adults.  Parents don’t set rules for their Adult Children.

Now, this might be different for you – if your kids are wanting to date in school, before they are 18 years old – you may well want to set some guidelines, expectations and consequences for them.  We did (or would have if the situation arose) – no dating during school years.

But once they are adults – we cannot set rules for them.  Even as I write this my heart palpitates – it is so important to me.  If we want our children to grow up to be self-governing adults, we have to let them self govern.  That means they set their own rules.

How scary is that!  We know, from either our own experience or our own observations that sexual relationships have lasting effects on people’s lives well after the relationship is dead and gone.  We also know that in the throws of love and desire we don’t think clearly – and we want to be a clear thinking head for our children.

But setting rules for our adult children is not the way to go.

This doesn’t mean we take a hands off approach either – it just means we can’t lay down rules and expect them to obey.  This is why relationship with our kids is so important. When we have relationship with them we walk with them, we talk with them (not at them), they share life with us and we share life with them.  When we have this type of relationship it is the best opportunity we have to help them do well in this aspect of adult living (romance and finding a life partner). When we connect at a heart level they will share their little secret (of who is starting to pull at their heart and desires), they will share their struggles, they may even ask for advice, support, or help.  This of course is ideal – and we need to have that ideal in front of us as it gives us motivation to build, strengthen and protect the relationship we have with our teens.

Our reality may not be the same as this ideal.  We can have a good relationship with our kids and they don’t open up this area of their life to us.  We can’t do anything about that. The least we can do is approach them and share our heart for a better relationship, share our commitment to give them unconditional love and support.  But ultimately it is their decision to open up their life, their heart to you or not.

When they do open this part of their life to you – once again, it is not our place to give them rules.   Instead we need to:

  • Be Humble and in awe of the privilege they give us by inviting them to walk with them.
  • Be Wise – we need to be able to share wisdom – practical applications of living out your values.  
  • Show Self-control – we need to always keep our eyes on the big picture (relationship) and watch our words, our tone and our actions.
  • Find ways to encourage them to articulate the values they want to live by.  
  • Be available to hold them accountable to the values they want to live by (ask them if they want us to).
  • Be loyal and helpful – always expecting the best of them, always finding ways to help them live to the values they say.
  • Be forgiving and gracious – being there with an open heart when (if) they share they stepped away from their intent.
Rules are not the Way

As a parent my desire has been to be an influence to my kids.  I want to be a physical example, but I also want my presence, my values, my belief system to influence my kids’ heart.  For many years Peter and I have kept this quote as a baseline:

When you show character, people begin to respect you…
After time, that respect grows into trust…
After time that trust builds a relationship…
When you have relationships with people,
You have influence into their lives.

And that pretty much sums up what our perspective has to be with our young adult children – especially in this area of romance and relationships – we must act with character at all times, because that will gain their trust, and that will build and strengthen our relationship with them – and that will open doors into their heart, and give us opportunity to influence.

The power of influence is far more reaching than the control of rules.

Over to You:

Have you started to think about this season in your kids’ lives?  How have you been talking about it with your kids?

Further Reading

Search by using key words to find what you are looking for
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Do you have a vision for your Family?

Your vision comes from what is important to you, your goals and your opportunities. Take time to shape a family vision as the start of being intentional in your family.

About Belinda

Belinda and her husband, Peter, live in the far north-west of Australia on a small farm. They have four adult children whom they homeschooled from prep-year 12. Over this time Belinda has taught and supported women both face to face and online. Her heart is to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused in all areas of family living. She continues to do this in her new season of life – as her kids leave home one by one leaving her with more time.

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One of the buzz words in our culture today – especially in education – is “Growth Mindset”.  As with any idea that we latch onto we need to first consider how it lines up with God’s word.  My basic understanding of a ‘growth mindset’ is that when you have the belief that you have the ability to grow and change – you do grow and change!  As opposed to the ‘fixed mindset’ which says you are stuck as you are and therefore limited.

And I think that simplistic definition is what sets alarm bells going in the Christian parent’s mind.  Is this just the power of positive thinking? Is it drawing from a power within that is not God?

The Christian Response to Growth Mindset

At first glance it does appear to be a humanistic idea – that man has the ability, the power within, to change.  And as a Christian I can react to that. Obviously I want to give God the credit for the power to change. But we can over-spiritualise life too.  God has given humans that amazing ability to grow and change – science calls it neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to change throughout life.

The Bible tells us that what is in our heart – what we believe – will shape everything that we do.

I know that when we start to believe things – we start to act certain ways.  This is the whole message of heart focus parenting. We teach our children beliefs and values that shape their choices and actions.

I do want my children to know that they can grow and change – in all areas of their life:

  • in our relationship with God as we fill our hearts with his love and Word
  • in our ability to do the right thing as we understand what is right and wrong
  • in our ability to express emotions as we accept ourselves
  • in our ability to give to other people as we accept others as loved by God
  • in our ability to learn as we see God’s purposes in knowledge
  • in our ability to care for our body, as we see that we are given a body for a purpose

The thing that I see missing in the growth mindset charts I read online and the conversations I have is that God created us with the ability to change and God has a plan and purpose for our growth. God is the source of our ability to grow and change – not ourselves.

So is it humanistic (man-centric) or is it Biblical (God-centric)?  I think it depends on what you believe! As a Christian parent I am going to teach my children from a God-centric position.  

A growth mindset is about aligning our self-talk with what God says.
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What does this mean to a Christian Family?

“Changing” in and of itself is not a Christian thought.  All humans have the ability to grow and change. As a Christian parent though I see our lives deeper than just our presence here on earth.  I see our tasks as deeper than just being kind to my neighbour. I see my passions as deeper than just the things I’m interested in or good at.  God is at the very core of who I am because I have invited him to be Lord of my life. This means as I reflect on the things that I do and how I do them – God is my motivation.  

One of the activities that I often do in a workshop is give parents 6 blocks – spiritual, moral, emotional, social, intellectual, physical – and ask them to arrange these blocks in order of importance. How you do this will depend on your belief and value system.  For me, the spiritual block is the foundation – then there is the moral, and then on an equal plane are the rest (emotional, social, intellectual, physical). 

To teach a growth mindset from a biblical position we have to teach our children the following lessons:  

  1. God made them – and He loves them
  2. The Fall impacts us today – But God has a plan
  3. God has a purpose for them
  4. God is there to help them in their purpose
  5. Are you going to believe what God says, or what your feelings say?

As always – when we know our why – we are able to move further ahead.  To simply say “I can” is self driven – but to know why you can, or why you should – that gives a motivation deeper than selfish desire.

We can persist, overcome, learn, grow, change – because God has given us the ability to – and because we have a purpose to – to glorify God and to do what I am created for.  Without knowing what you are created for – we strive to be better because we want to please ourselves.

Seeing God as the reason and empowerment for change is addressing the ‘growth mindset’ issue from a God/spiritual perspective first.  Secondly we can address it from a moral perspective.

(Note:  Before we move onto the moral – let me just say – that the issues of growth and change that we are talking about are in the physical realm, not do with our holiness and salvation.  Though our belief in God changes our why which then changes our choices even in the physical realm of life.)

It’s Really the same as Character Training

We all have beliefs that we act upon – and the foundational belief that shapes how we face life is that God created all people and we are to love them, and secondly, God created us to care for the world and be productive in it. This is the premise for our moral beliefs and therefore moral growth.

When you look at the statements that create a growth mindset – what is really being taught is character.  

I can improve by working hard:  diligence
I am determined to do my best: determination
I can overcome challenges with effort: courage
I can train my brain: discipline
I will never give up: resilience
I can learn from my mistakes: forgiveness
I can problem solve: resourcefulness
I can learn: wisdom, humility
I can find a different way: flexibility
I can do my best: thoroughness

A growth mindset is about how we face life, how we deal with circumstances.  My definition of character is: the quality of our response to people or circumstances.  Are we going to give up, or are we going to push forward – this is the question for character growth, and this is the question for a growth mindset.  Same-same.

So are you Creating a Growth Mindset in Your Children?

In education circles the idea has been grabbed in both hands – we see it everywhere.  But in reality it is nothing new – it is creating a culture or atmosphere where children (or adults) believe that they don’t have to stay the same, that they can take responsibility for their own growth in any given sphere.  The only reason this has created a buzz is because of the science and understanding of what happens in the brain, and in the ensuing actions, when we believe that we can compared to when we believe that we can’t. It is something that parents have been teaching their children for generations.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful to have a quick review of the self-talk that happens in your family.  Some kids are more prone to it than others. Do your kids say:

  • I’ll never get this, or I’m not good at this
  • I’m hopeless
  • This is too hard
  • Don’t worry, I’ve changed my mind
  • This is good enough
  • I always muck it up, I made too many mistakes

These words are triggers to help you understand what your child is believing about themselves.  You can help them change this. Not by giving them a good pep talk declaring “Yes, you can do it, I believe in you!”  but by going back to the foundation of what the Bible says: God made you and He has a purpose for you, and He has given you the ability to make choices.  

A growth mindset is really about believing what God says about you.
A growth mindset is about aligning our self-talk with what God says.

As Christian parents this is definitely something we should be teaching our children.

Over to you:

What does the idea of ‘growth mindset’ mean to you?  How have you dealt with this in your family?
(I’d love to hear your comments below).

Further Reading:

How to Teach Character to your Kids:  Teaching our kids character is giving them heart-based life skills that will benefit them for their whole life and it is something that can be intentionally taught.

Do you Allow your Children to do Things on their Own? For our children to really learn life skills we have to let them do things on their own. If we incorporate this as a part of our training then we will have the confidence and they will to that they can do this.

Does your Child lack Initiative?  Initiative takes a child beyond obedience and helps them be truly responsible – but it often depends on how a parent encourages responsibility.

What to do when you don’t see change happening in your kids:  Though we don’t want to be results driven we do want to see our kids change. What can we do when we don’t see change happening in our kids?

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Your vision comes from what is important to you, your goals and your opportunities. Take time to shape a family vision as the start of being intentional in your family.

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I appreciate that you don’t want to hear about the Australian Homeschool Summit – and I won’t be sending you any specific announcements and information about that.

I do hope you’ll stick around my online community though as I continue to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused.  And just between you and me – I have plans for a parenting workshop this year but still working out the details!  

If there is anything in particular you’d like me to talk about either in a workshop – or in a blog post – please do let me know!

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We are in the beginnings of a new year and with that comes the cultural norm of reflection and setting goals.  Whether you believe in New Years Resolutions or Setting Goals or just Going with the Flow - we also carry this sense of sin in our life - all the things where we simply don’t measure up, aren’t good enough or are still working on.  We tend to set goals, or think about improving in those areas.

But what if we didn’t.  What if we started to believe what God says about us.  

God says we are a new creation.  He has given us a new heart - that means he has given us new desires, new values, new beliefs.  We no longer want to do things our own way without God. Yes, we may still deal with selfishness - but we are aware of it, and we don’t want it.  The only reason we don’t want that in our life is because we have a new way of living - a new heart - and selfishness is the old way. The very act of identifying selfishness as something you don’t want is living out of your new heart.  The old heart would have been happy with this state of being. The old heart didn’t know anything different.

Something my mum often says: If we focused more on Jesus we’d sin less.  

Instead we focus on all the things we shouldn’t be doing, all the things we don’t want to be doing - and it seems as if that is all we can do.  It reminds me of teaching toddlers. If you say to a toddler don’t do something - like don’t tip out all the toys… what will they do? Tip out all the toys.  They aren’t being necessarily contrary - you’ve just more or less put the idea in their head and they are following through. If you were to say, hold that box carefully, two hands.  Then that is what they’ll do.

Focus on Jesus not on the sin we have but don’t want in our life.

Jesus says: Your sin is forgiven, go…

When Jesus healed people at different times Jesus said different things - go home, go and and sin no more, go and get your healing confirmed.  Each time there is an inference - your sickness held you back from living - go and live.

Jesus says: Love God and Love Others (simplified version!)  

How can you do that this year?  How can I do that this year?

Jesus says:  I came that you may have life, abundant life. (John 10:10)

I believe that accepting Jesus gives me eternal life - but I also believe that the abundant life Jesus is talking about here happens today.  But we get it mixed up with abundance - with stuff, with opportunity, riches, health. Jesus isn’t about that stuff - he is about our inner life.  Living with Jesus today, is about allowing him to rule in my heart - allowing him to shape and control my beliefs, values, reactions to people and life.

Jesus gives us peace in turmoil, love for the unloveable, patience in times of pressure, kindness to the mean-hearted, goodness when selfishness raises its head, faithfulness we are tempted, gentleness when our frustration wants to push through, self-control when things get hard. This is the abundant life of allowing the Holy Spirit to speak, lead, prompt, direct our choices.

How does hearing Jesus’ voice change how you view the coming year?

Before you set New Year Goals:

Before you set new year goals - here are some scriptures that I’m pondering on.  I want these scriptures to sink deep into my heart and be at the forefront of my mind as I start planning for the new year.  

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."  2 Corinthians 5:17

"We exhorted you all to walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory." 1 Thessalonians 2:12

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  Matthew 6:33

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."  Colossians 3:2-3

Are you as familiar with those passages as I am?  Do you gloss over them, ticking them off as understood.  But what do they mean? What do they mean if we are to believe them, and let them change our life?  Change our choices? Change what we believe? Change how we face the coming new year?

How does hearing Jesus’ voice change how you view the coming year?
Further Reading:
About Belinda

Belinda and her husband, Peter, live in the far north-west of Australia on a small farm. They have four adult children whom they homeschooled from prep-year 12. Over this time Belinda has taught and supported women both face to face and online. Her heart is to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused in all areas of family living. She continues to do this in her new season of life – as her kids leave home one by one leaving her with more time.

Do you have a vision for your Family?

Your vision comes from what is important to you, your goals and your opportunities. Take time to shape a family vision as the start of being intentional in your family.

Search by using key words to find what you are looking for
Search for:

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Setting Goals from a Place of Contentment:  The New Year brings in a sense of fresh starts, vision and enthusiasm for setting goals and making change.  But unless we start with a heart of thankfulness we end up striving and stressing about all the things that aren’t right in our lives.

You've set Goals but is your Motivation Right?  It is easy to set goals on how we want to change, but have we asked God what his plans are?

Setting SMART Goals as a Parent:  As a parent you can set a SMART goal to help each of your children grow and move forward in every area of their life. 

How to Create a Heart Focus Family Vision:  A Family Vision Statement reflects your heart as you describe the values and purpose that describe your family. Includes a free download.

The post Celebrate Being a New Creation this New Year appeared first on Live life with your Kids!.

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