The 4 Promises of Forgiveness

On Saturday, we posted The 6 A’s of Apology, which can really do wonders for conflict resolution. Today, we want to cap it off with the responsibility of the one receiving the apology — the responsibility of forgiveness.

After the last post, someone commented on Facebook and asked if we were going to talk about how to forgive a person when they’re not truly sorry. That got us thinking, and we’ve decided to do two follow up posts. Tomorrow, we’ll post a short blog on the causes of anger, and then on Wednesday, we’ll talk about staying unoffended, which will include some thoughts on forgiving someone even when they’re not so apologetic.

Have you ever screwed up and needed someone’s forgiveness? Can you remember what it felt like to have to face that person after you’d already apologized? As you approached that person, you were probably searching their face, looking for signs of genuine forgiveness. In those situations, we all really just want to be genuinely and totally let off the hook, right?

That’s what forgiveness really is. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that what they did was okay. That’s why in our last post we urged you to not let a kid say, “It’s okay” after someone apologizes to them. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the hurtful behavior or words are no longer wrong; it just means we are letting the person off the hook and moving on from it.

Forgiveness makes four basic promises, but before we get into those, we need to say this (and we’ll talk more about it in Wednesday’s post on staying unoffended): forgiving someone is often a process; it takes work.

Often, when we forgive someone, we’re not totally “over it”. In fact, just thinking about it can bring up some pretty yucky emotions, but check back with us on Wednesday because we’re going to give you some mental self-defense tips for when your mind gets mugged and negative thoughts keep firing.

There is a responsibility in forgiveness. We need to treat others the way we want to be treated. When we have hurt someone, we want a genuine assurance that we have been released from the debt, and we are required to do the same for those who have sinned against us. When we say the words, “I forgive you,” we are making four promises.

The 4 Promises of Forgiveness

Promise #1 — “I promise I will not think bad things about you.”

Ever catch yourself rehearsing a situation in your mind and getting mad all over again, even after you’ve already forgiven the person? For some weird reason, that seems to happen to me either in the shower or when I’m cleaning. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just when my mind is most vulnerable to opening wounds and revisiting offensive situations.

When that happens, its a red flag that you haven’t fully forgiven the person. Instead of fully diving into the situation and letting your anger and hurt take over, instead of thinking about what you would have and should have said and getting fired up all over again, recognize the red flag, and say out loud, “I choose to forgive So-And-So for doing Such-And-Such, and I release her completely from it.”

Then pray, and ask God to give you His eyes to see her the way He sees her. Ask Him to give you a genuine love for the person, and then speak blessing over her. “Bless So-And-So abundantly, God. Give her the desires of her heart, and cause her to prosper in everything her hand touches.”

We need to talk to our kids often about this and take their temperature after they’ve forgiven someone. If we sense that they are still offended, we have to remind them that we need to treat others the way we want to be treated. Have them think of a time when they did something wrong and ask them how they wanted to be treated. Chances are they wanted to be completely forgiven, and they have to do the same.

Promise #2 — “I promise I will not say bad things about you to other people.”

This can be tough. Often when someone hurts us, we desperately want to talk about it, and usually, we want to get other people on our side. We want to be validated, and it seems to be the most satisfying when we talk about it to someone who knows the other person. But really, what we’re doing is assassinating the other person’s character. On Wednesday, we’re going to talk more about how unforgiveness can progress to hatred (character assassination is one of the steps along the way). But for now, just know that when we forgive someone, we’ve promised not to say bad things about that person to other people.

If you need wise counsel, talk to your mom or your pastor or someone who can give you sound, objective advice, preferably someone who doesn’t know the other person.

Do not allow your kids to discuss a conflict again once it has been resolved. For example, once they’ve worked out a conflict during the day, they shouldn’t relate all the gory details to dad at the dinner table.

Promise #3 — “I promise I won’t bring it up again.”

Once we’ve forgiven someone, we can’t bring it up again in a future argument, like this: “You always do this! The last time we went through this, you did the exact same thing.”

In fact, the words “always” and “never” shouldn’t be allowed during a conflict. You have to deal with one situation at at time, and when you forgive someone, you’re promising that you’re not storing up their mistake in your conflict arsenal.

While we’re on this subject, we also need to teach our kids to be careful not to become abusers of information. When a conflict is resolved but later a new conflict arises, a child shouldn’t say, “Remember that time you broke my toy. You’ve been know to be careless with things, so you must be the one who broke this thing too.” That’s an abuse of information.

Promise #4 — I promise I will take action to demonstrate forgiveness.

This is similar to the action step in the 6 A’s of Apology, but the goal is different. In an apology, the action step communicates that in spite of having hurt or upset the other person, you really do value them. When it comes to forgiveness, the action step says that the debt is totally wiped out, and the person is freed from any condemnation.

It could be a hug, a smile, an invitation to get together again soon — whatever it is, the action step demonstrates your promise that the person is truly and totally forgiven.

Stop in tomorrow. We’re going to talk about the root causes of anger, how anger can help identify problems and how knowing the causes of anger can help you get control of it before it takes over and leaves you having to be the one to apologize.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Do You Know the 6 A’s of Apology?

Have you ever had someone say they’re sorry but it left you feeling frustrated and unvalidated? Or how about the apology that subtly blames YOU? It usually goes something like this, “Well…I’m sorry that YOU got your feelings hurt.”

When our kids give us a lame apology, it can make us especially angry because on some level we feel like we’ve failed at making them understand their wrong and take ownership of it.

The 6 A’s of Apology can fix it! Print these out, sit everyone down, go over them, and then post them somewhere central so they’re handy when someone needs to apologize.

The 6 A’s of Apology

A true apology is an expression of a person’s regret or remorse or sorrow for having wronged another. And the apology is a critical part of genuine conflict resolution and restoration.

We have a real life scenario that we’re going to use to give you an example of words to go with each of the A’s.

A while back, my son Seth was playing with Jody’s nephew in Jody’s daughter Sydney’s room. The boys were being wild and knocked some of Sydney’s stuffed animals off her bed and then stepped on them as they continued their rough play. Sydney’s things are very special to her, and this made her feel like they didn’t care about her.

To add insult to injury, Seth also opened her jewelry box and began riffling through it, which made Sydney feel really violated.

When I told Seth how all of this made her feel, he was shocked. He doesn’t think twice about throwing his stuffed animals around, especially in the midst of intense play, and he wouldn’t care if someone looked through the things on his dresser. So it never occurred to him that this might make someone else feel hurt.

Once he realized how Sydney felt, he was truly remorseful and wanted to fix it. He and I reviewed the 6 As of Apology, and we role played to help prepare him for their conversation.

#1 — Admit (Agree) You Were Wrong

The first step of a true apology is to verbally agree with the person (and God) that your actions were wrong and explain how they were wrong. Frankly, this is where most people blow it. The person on the receiving end of an apology NEEDS to know that the offender agrees with them about what went wrong.

“I touched your things without your permission and made a mess in your room, and it made you feel like I didn’t care about you. That was wrong.”

#2 — Apologize

The next step is a sincere statement of apology, which includes a complete statement of what the person is apologizing for.

“I am sorry that I disrespected your belongings and made you feel dishonored.”

#3 — Accept Responsibility

Often, an apology is weakened by a subtle shift of blame. Like this: “I’m sorry, but I wasn’t the only one doing it.” Excuses can also weaken the apology. “I know I shouldn’t have gone through your things, but I was looking for something.”

Sometimes a person will try to find something redeeming in their behavior in order to relieve some of the burden of responsibility. “I should not have been playing in your jewelry box, but I DID put everything back when I was done.”

As parents, we need to make sure we are not causing our children to stumble on this one. It’s tempting to think, “Well, it was wrong, but he’s boy, and boys will be boys. Besides, he was just following along with the other kids were doing.” Accepting full responsibility is a critical part of the apology, and it’s an important step in building restoration.

#4 — Ask For Forgiveness

It’s humbling to ask for forgiveness, but it’s an important part of the process, and it invites the other person into the conversation.

On a side note, we need to teach our kids how to respond to this. They should say, “I forgive you,” and NOT, “It’s okay,” because the truth is, it’s not okay. It’s not okay when a person is hurt or dishonored or disrespected.

“Will you please forgive me?”

#5 — Alter Your Behavior

An apology seems empty when the person makes the same mistake again and again. This is the repentance part of apology. Repentance means turning in the other direction. After a person apologizes, he should be thinking of steps to change his behavior in the future, and he should communicate those steps.

“Next time I’m playing rough, I’ll make sure we don’t go into your room. And I won’t touch any of your things without your permission.”

#6 — Action Step

Once an apology is done, we need to take an action step to demonstrate that we are genuine. Sometimes it’s as simple as giving the person a hug or smiling brightly. Other situations might require something more.

Sydney’s love languages are affection and gifts. After we role played his apology, he made her a card using her favorite color paper.  On our way to meet her, we stopped at a store and Seth picked out a small gift for her. While we were at the register, he saw a cute little thing and asked if he could get it to tape to the outside of the gift.

This small token of apology was not only a blessing to Sydney, but it empowered Seth and was healing for him too.

Now it’s important to note that before taking an action step, we thought about Sydney’s love language. Without that information, this could go wrong. A person whose love language is not gifts can receive it as a bribe. A person whose love language is not words of affirmation can receive a card with loving words as vain flattery, but for a person whose love language IS words of affirmation, a beautiful card that tells how important and valued the person is could make all the difference.

Come back on Monday. We’re going to go through the Four Promises of Forgiveness.

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Smart People You Don’t Have To Tell

We’ve been doing doing a series called Grandma’s Old Adages, and I’ve been sharing some of the catchy little soundbites of wisdom from my Grandma Rita that have stuck with me from childhood.

But today’s was actually a Grandpa Bob axiom, and it was so sticky that I catch myself and most of our family saying it fairly often. It goes like this: “Smart people you don’t have to tell, and stupid people you don’t waste your breath on.”

Okay, so it doesn’t sound very kind or holy, but it’s actually quite Biblical. I know we like to talk about how loving and accepting Jesus was during His time on earth, and He was. He loved even the most unlovely — the hated tax collectors, the hideous lepers, the scorned prostitutes — he loved them all with a perfect love. In fact, He loved people so much, He was willing face to a horrendous and torturous death full of public humiliation to save their undeserving souls.

But even Jesus, who was the embodiment of love, recognized the futility of trying to reason with stupidity. He said it like this: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)

Maybe a better word for “stupid people” is “fools.” If you ever want to do a worthy family Bible study, read one chapter a day in the book of Proverbs and pay close attention to the description of a fool. Compare it with the descriptions of a wise person.

Proverbs 26:4 says, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.”

Who is the fool? This is a great word study. Do a concordance search on the words “fool” and “foolish”, and find out how God defines them — you’ll find very robust descriptions. Here are just a few aspects of a fool.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2)

“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” (Proverbs 29:11)

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” (Proverbs 18:6)

“If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.” (Proverbs 29:9)

“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” (Proverbs 12:16)

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1)

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” (Proverbs 20:3)

I think this last verse is the heart of my grandfather’s saying. When you’re dealing with wise people, there’s no need to argue, but if you’re dealing with a fool, it’s senseless to even try to make your point. With fools there is no hope of genuine reconciliation or restoration because they are full of offense, conflict, strife and bitterness. What you resolve today, is likely to be unsettled tomorrow.

 

Today’s post is part of a series called Grandma’s Old Adages. You can read the rest of the series by clicking below.

Show Me Your Friends And I’ll Tell You Who You Are

50,000 Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

You Catch More Flies With Honey

Poop Or Get Off The Pot

The King Is Dead, Long Live the King

Rita

Grandma Rita

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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You Catch More Flies With Honey

“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” my Grandma Rita always said.

Today’s post is a continuation of the Grandma’s Old Adages series. If you missed the first two, scroll down to find links.

Jody and I are big fans of teaching our kids how to advocate for themselves. When someone mistreats them (even if it’s an adult), we want our kids to value themselves and their relationship with the other person enough to express their feelings. Plus, we know that being offended gives the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-27). In fact, offense is one of the primary ways the devil steals, kills and destroys a person’s testimony.

Our kids have to learn how to confront a person whenever they are offended and resolve the problem.

How many adults do you know who are emotionally constipated? They are so afraid of confrontation that they refuse to deal with their offense. Eventually avoidance becomes a habit, and they are paralyzed at the first hint of a negative emotion.

Tremendous freedom awaits those who are willing to confront their offenders. But…as Grandma Rita always said…you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. The Bible says it like this: “A gentle word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

We have to teach our kids how to be assertive without being aggressive.

When they’re dealing with offense, we have our kids practice phrasing everything in “I” statements. To their teacher: “I felt scared when you raised your voice at me.” Instead of “you hurt my feelings.” To a sibling: “I was angry when you borrowed my shoes without asking and left them outside. It made me feel like you don’t value me enough to value my things.” Instead of “Who said you could borrow my shoes? And then you left them outside! Don’t touch my stuff.”

The car is a great place to roll play and have kids practice the art of gentle confrontation. With regular rehearsal, they’ll be ready when a real situation happens.

Before you head off to the rest of your day, check out the first two posts in the series:

Show Me Your Friends, And I’ll Tell You Who You Are

50,000 Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

Rita

 

 

 

 

Grandma Rita

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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50 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

This is the second in the Grandma’s Old Adages series, and it’s kind of a strange one, but it has always stuck with me. In fact, just recently I found myself quoting it to my daughter.

Why Frenchmen? Why 50 million? I don’t know…maybe it’s the aliteration that makes it so sticky, but the wisdom behind this odd phrase is sound.

When there is a widespread consensus on an issue, take it seriously. It applies in a couple of ways. For one (and this is the one I recently shared with Skyler), if a person is having the same problem nearly every place she goes, chances are good SHE is the problem.

Jody and I often say that as parents, we need to realize that our children are NOT extensions of ourselves. They are their own people. When we recognize this, and we’re motivated by a deep love for them and a hope for their greater good, we can be objective about their behavior, and then (and only then) can we really help them.

So when our kid comes to us and says they’re having a problem in school and then later complains about a similar situation at church and then again about something happening in an extra curricular activity, followed by a similar issue with her circle of friends, we need to be brave parents and recognize that 50 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong! The problem is in our kid.

Gently, and with a heaping spoonful of deep love, we need to help our kids see when they are the problem and give them tools to fix it. That’s our job. If we constantly side with our kids and defend them and make excuses for them, we are doing them a terrible diservice. For one, we are sure to create emotionally constipated blame shifters, who don’t know how to self-evaluate, take responsibility, own up to their mistakes and correct their problems.

But when we come along side our kids and help them figure out why certain things keep happening and then help them take steps to fix the problems, we are giving them valuable life skills, and ultimately, we’re delivering healthier people into adulthood.

How many times have we heard parents say that no one likes their kid because everyone else is jealous? Jealousy is real, and occasionally  someone might reject a kid out of pure envy, but if a parent finds themselves making this excuse often, they need to face the real problem or else that kid will grow up socially disabled.

“50,000 Frenchmen can’t be wrong” also works in the reverse. In addition to being a litmus test for a problem, it can be a precautionary tool. The Bible says it like this: “In a multitude of counselors, there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6)

Let’s teach our kids to seek wise counsel from a variety of good sources on a regular basis. If a kid wants a guitar for his birthday, teach him how to be a wise consumer and research it thoroughly to find the best deal in his price range. If a teen wants to go on a mission trip, have her talk to a number of different people who have been there and glean their wisdom.

The key to this one is WISE counsel, but there is good reason to seek wisdom from more than one source.

Grandma Rita
Grandma Rita

Thanks again, Grandma Rita! This is a good one.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Show Me Your Friends and I’ll Tell You Who You Are

I find myself often saying, “My grandmother always said…”

My grandma is awesome. She has always been my cheerleader, and as I’m raising my kids, I find myself deferring to her wisdom on a fairly regular basis.

Grandma Rita has a neat way of packaging her wisdom in memorable phrases. And growing up in her house meant that I got a whole treasure chest of them!

Today, in honor of my wise grandma, I’m kicking off a series of Grandma’s Old Adages, beginning with my favorite: “Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.”

What do your friends reveal about your character and your interests?

If you met my friend Anne, you’d know I have an artsy, creative side. If you met Randy, you’d see I’m gregarious and strong-willed and fascinated by the nuances of human behavior. Both would reveal that I strive to be authentic. Everyone who knows Jody, knows that I aim for a high level of professionalism, but that strong relationships and having fun are equally important.

So what do your friends reveal about you? And more to the point, what do your teens’ friends reveal about them?

Yesterday we talked about using social media to help your kids understand the image they are portraying to the world. We can use those same tools, to help our kids evaluate the identity they are forming by the friends they choose.

Proverbs 13:20 tells us that if you walk with the wise, you become wise. But it goes on to say that if you walk with fools you…what? Become fools? No. It says you suffer harm! The King James says those who walk with fools will be destroyed! Yikes.

Here’s a great family Bible study. Read one chapter of Proverbs a day for a month (there are 31 chapters), and ask your kids to notice everything it says about a fool. By the end of the month, they’ll have a pretty sensitive fool radar.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about being critical or judgmental, and we’re not talking about gossiping and slandering your teen’s friends.  We’re talking about a careful, biblical discernment of character. Let’s teach our kids to love their neighbor, and to honor their peers, but to choose their inner circle wisely.

Read 1 Samuel 18-20 with your kids and ask them to evaluate the friendship between David and Jonathan. What words would they use to describe this relationship?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 shows that God wants us to have friends. Ask your teens what these verses say about true friendship.

Proverbs 27:17 says that friends should sharpen each other, like iron sharpens iron. Do your teen’s closest friends make her stronger, wiser, more creative, more compassionate?

And in light of all she’s learned, what kind of friend is she?

Stop back in tomorrow to learn why 50,000 Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong!

Grandma Rita
Grandma Rita

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Parenting by the Book – FACEbook, that is!

Our kids are native to the digital world, and no matter how tech savvy you may be, if you’ve ever stuck your finger in a hole and swung it around a circle to dial a phone number, you are an immigrant to this land. As immigrant parents of native children, we have to work overtime to learn the language and understand the culture.

On one hand, technology offers our kids great opportunities, but the dark underbelly of cyberspace is subtle and unpredictable, and we have to wisely guard its borders as our children’s allies and mentors – not as prison guards.

Some parents take the ostrich approach – head in the sand means there’s nothing to worry about. Other parents go militant, banning what they don’t understand. Still others do the helicopter, hovering anxiously, hoping to remove any threats before they do damage.

In spite of its challenges, social media offers a unique opportunity that parents of earlier generations didn’t have. Facebook and Instagram (and all of their digital counterparts) are a window into our teens’ social world. They allow us to see our kids as their friends see them, and as they want their friends to see them.  The social media window helps us discern what our kids value and what their friends’ value.

Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than good riches.” God cares about our reputation. Social media can open discussions with our kids about how they are presenting themselves and the kind of reputation they are building.

It starts by knowing how they are using social media and then carefully (and prayerfully) talking to them, remembering our goal is to mentor, not to condemn.

Find opportunities to talk.  The car is good place, and right before bed is often a good time.

Whenever possible, use the sandwich technique. Open with something genuinely praiseworthy. Then move gently into the concern. Whenever possible, put your concerns in the form of questions, and help kids discover truth for themselves. End with something honest and positive.

Below are some helpful tips from AG Youth Pastor Casey Casal at Church of Hope, in Sarasota, Florida.

1. Place the computer in a central location in the home. When computers are accessible to teens in their room, they are more tempted to post and look up inappropriate images.

2. If your child has an inappropriate picture and has not removed it, report the picture. They won’t know who did it, and it gets removed without incident.

3. Know the lingo. Certain letters are used to replace curse words. Although not an exhaustive list, these are frequently used:
“FML” – “F” my life
“LMAO” – Laughing my “A” Off
“KMA” – Kiss My “A”
“WTF” – What the “F”

5. You are able to look at most of your childs friends’ wall posts even if you are not on their friends list.

6. Type in a password for your child, so they have to ask permission when they want to get on Facebook.

7. Teach your kids to never open chats from people they don’t know. This could bring in a virus or may be a direct link to pornography.

8. Watch for a site called Formspring.com, which lets people ask and say whatever they want. It can be emotionally abusive and create a forum for depraved conversation.

9. Make sure your child’s contact information  is hidden. Child predators look for this information to locate a potential victim. Understand the nuances of the privacy settings, and make sure your child’s account is well protected. Similarly, tell your child to never accept friend requests from people they don’t know.

10. Install a porn filter. www.k9webprotection.com is free and easy to use. This will help prevent damaging images and content from appearing.

If we approach this with wisdom, it could very well be one of the greatest teaching tools in parenting history. So let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, but also not throw caution to the wind.

 

 

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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A Generation of Teens In Danger

How well do you know today’s teenager?

When Jody and I first saw this, we were concerned, to say the least. This is a population that trusts more in themselves than in wise counsel.  Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust not in your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  And Jeremiah 17:9 warns, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Clearly, trusting in themselves above everything else is not a plan for success.

On the flip side, Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. ” Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.”  And Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

No matter how you slice it, teens who trust primarily in themselves are setting the stage for disaster in their lives.

When they do seek advice, who are they asking? Their parents? Pastors? Wise adults? Nope. They turn to their social network. Yikes!

First of all, Proverbs 22:15 says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Then, Proverbs 13:20 tells us that he who walks with the wise will become wise. It goes on to say that a companion of fools will…what? Become fools? No. It says they will suffer harm. The King James Version says they’ll be destroyed! Parents, this is serious stuff. We need to help our kids have a radical paradigm shift.

The video also says that this generation equates happiness to success, which could spell major heartache later in life. An adult who measures success by their momentary state of happiness will quit a job when the going gets tough, file for divorce during the difficult seasons of marriage, and escape into selfish pursuits when parenting becomes hard.

Is it any wonder that 1/3 of this population has already contemplated suicide? If happiness is all that matters, and you feel like there’s no hope of finding happiness any time soon, why live?

Clearly the problem has to be addressed from the foundation up. We need to start by helping them build a solid base of truth upon which they can construct every other belief and value.

But it’s an uphill battle because this generation has already been slow-cooked in a pluralistic crock pot. They are steeped in the public mindset of moral and religious relativism, which preaches that every belief is equally valid. Not only is this purely illogical (how can two directly opposing views be equally valid and true?), but it stands starkly against the message of the cross.

Our kids NEED a strong foundation in apologetics. They need to know what it means to call themselves Christians and why they believe the Bible is truth.

Please take some time to watch this excellent video, and share your thoughts and ideas about how parents can help teens navigate some of these issues with true and lasting success.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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A Three Cord Strand

When it comes to friendship, there is a prevailing myth that three is a crowd – an assumption that with three, two will team up and overpower one. That’s not a biblical message. In fact, we should actually encourage our kids to seek out groups of three.

The Bible says a threefold cord is not quickly broken. So the idea that three is a crowd an anti-biblical message. We need to understand that every idea is either a Christ message or an anti-Christ message – anointed or not anointed. God said we are either for Him or against Him. There is no in between.

When it comes to groups of three, think of it this way: God is a triune being. We are created in His image as a body, a soul, and a spirit. Three is not a crowd. In fact, there is protection and accountability in three. Even if two have a wrong idea, the third may disagree and bring discussion before a bad choice is made. We have seen first hand, in the lives of our own children, that three kids who are living for God are more powerful (and have more fun – in case that counts!) than two.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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How Do You Define Forgiveness?

Johnny hits his little brother Tommy.  You tell Johnny it’s wrong and that he needs to apologize.

Understanding his mistake, Johnny says, “I’ m sorry I hit you, Tommy. It was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”

Tommy replies, “I forgive you.”

But what does that mean? What does forgiveness really look like?

Forgiveness means, “I will not talk badly about you.”

Proverbs 10:18 says, “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.”

We can teach our kids to pray, “ Lord, thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for speaking life over me and believing the best in me.  Help me to speak life over others, even when I have been hurt. “

Forgiveness means, “I will not think badly about you.”

Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “casting down arguements and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (NKJV)

Let’s face it, when someone hurts us, it’s not easy to think good thoughts about the person. But that’s exactly what God chooses to do with us. Psalm 139 tells us that God’s thoughts toward us are precious, and there are more of them than we can even count.  This is how God wants us to think about other people, even the ones who have hurt us.

We can teach our kids how to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Teach them to pray whenever a hurt or angry thought comes to mind: “Lord, help me to think good thoughts about this person. Every time a bad thought comes, help me immediately speak out a blessing upon that person.”

Forgiveness means, “I will love you as I love myself.”

Mark 12:31 says, “ ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

We can teach our kids to go to the Lord and pray, “Teach me to love this person as you do.  Show me how to pray for him.  Help me to pray for him just as I would pray for myself.”

Forgiveness means, “I will not bring up the incident again.”

Our Heavenly Father has separated our sin from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He has blotted out our transgressions and will remember them no more (Hebrews 8:12).

Micah 7:19 says, “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquites. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (NKJV)

We can teach our kids to pray, “Lord, help me forget this incident,  just as you have forgiven my sins.  Remind me that you cast my sin into the depths of the ocean, and teach me to also cast this memory into the depths of the sea and remember this hurt no more.”

Mark 11:25 reminds us, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

I have a very dear friend who has a beautiful habit that I have also made a habit in my home.  She lays in bed at night and prays, “Lord, clean out my heart and make it pure.  Cleanse me of any thoughts, words or deeds that have been sinful today.  Bring to remembrance anything I need to repent of at this moment.  Reveal to me any offenses deep in my heart. Make me clean.”

Holding on to an offensive, gives the enemy a foothold in our lives, and as we disciple our kids, we can teach them how to truly forgive and allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely through their cleansed hearts.

 

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired
tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan
organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy.

As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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