Posted on June 21, 2014 by Doug Flanders
I spotted a photo in my newsfeed yesterday of the T-shirt a feminist father made to explain his expectations to anyone interested in dating his daughter. His “rules” sent a clear message: “What my daughter does is her own business, and you’ll answer to her, not to me.”
As the father of four daughters myself, I found this man’s laissez-faire attitude to be a little unsettling. I believe a dad has a moral obligation to protect his children from harm, to prepare them for life, and to provide wise counsel along the way — all of which calls for a hands-on approach to parenting.
I agree with Feminist Father on his first two points (I don’t make the rules and You don’t make the rules). However, I disagree with his conclusions, so I decided to create a little T-shirt of my own — a Christian Dad’s response to Feminist Father, if you will:
GOD makes the rules. And His way is better than anything we could dream up.
I know that none of the men who date (or eventually marry) my daughters will be perfect.
I don’t expect them to be.
But I do expect them to have hearts on fire for Jesus. I pray that they’ll follow His example. I want them to love my daughters with an enduring, committed, self-sacrificing love.
All others need not apply.
What sort of rules or guidelines have you set for your sons and daughters when it comes to dating? Tell us about them in the comment section below.
Want a “Dating Rules” T-Shirt for yourself or someone you love? They’re available here in a variety of colors. (Please note that the graphic is on the front of the shirt, not the back).
A Christian Father’s Rules for Dating My Daughter first appeared on All Truth is God’s Truth.
Filed under: Current Events, Family Life, Parenting | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 26, 2014 by Doug Flanders
Children may not be born with an instruction manual, but there’s still lots of good guidance available, beginning with the Bible.
Here are seven simple but scriptural principles my wife and I have found useful in raising our twelve children, five of whom are now adults.
Never underestimate the power of prayer in the life of your children. Pray for and with them. Prayer is a great way to let your kids know Who is in charge. (Colossians 4:2)
We actually begin praying for our children before they are even conceived. Our foremost prayer is that each one comes to know Christ. It would be better never to be conceived than to spend eternity separated from God.
Children spell quality time: Q-U-A-N-T-I-T-Y. Be intentional about establishing everyday routines with your kids, as well as creating special memories with them. If we’ll tend to the hours and days, the years will take care of themselves. (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 90:12)
We are always surprised by what our children consider the most significant moments in their lives. Often our best talks are ones on the way to the grocery store to grab some milk, and our best “vacations” are the unplanned ones arranged for us courtesy of the US Army Reserves.
Many of life’s oldest lessons are brand new to your children. Treat them the way you’d treat a technologically illiterate employer how to use the latest computer software update — treat them with humility, respect, and genuine gratitude for the opportunity to invest in their life. (Ephesians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Proverbs 14:29)
Patience has two varieties: The first is in dealing with the day-to-day stuff that can really get on your nerves. The second type is more in the category of perseverance and involves hanging in there for years at a time while your child slowly finds their place in the world.
All children long for their parents’ approval. They want to please you — so be sure to let them know when they do! While it’s important that we deal swiftly and consistently with our children’s wrongful behavior, it’s equally important to acknowledge and encourage their good behavior with sincere and appropriate praise. (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Proverbs 31:30-31; Romans 14:18-19; Philippians 4:8)
My wife and I were both blessed with parents who always told us we could do anything we set our minds to. Because we believed them, neither of us have ever been afraid to try anything new or challenging. We’ve been determined to pass that same blessing on to our own children.
Life is full of dangers — both physical and spiritual. Ask the LORD to help you recognize and stand guard against anything that would pose a threat to your children’s wellbeing. Develop a culture of safety and common sense with your kids, and pray that God would grant wisdom and discernment, both to you and to them. (John 17:15; Psalm 127:1; James 1:5)
The Internet didn’t even exist when my wife and I started our family. Now we have a four-year-old who knows how to access learning videos on her mother’s smartphone. Likewise, a hundred years ago, you were more likely to be thrown from a horse than run over by a car. New dangers are constantly appearing on the horizon, and your child’s best tool for dealing with them will be the one resting between her two ears, assuming you train her to use it well.
Providing for your children’s material needs is important, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “More money” does not automatically mean “more happiness.” Provide for your children in all aspects of life, through your example and encouragement, as well as their education. Use areas of personal strength to compensate for areas of financial need. (1 Timothy 5:8; Proverbs 20:7; Psalm 37:25)
Money is of limited usefulness when it comes to having a happy and fulfilling life. Too little, and life is a struggle. Too much, and life quickly becomes materialistic and vain. The optimal window is actually quite small. Learning to be content with what we have, so we can focus on weightier things, is a challenge for us all.
Three of the most important decisions our children will make are choosing Christ, choosing a career, and choosing their companions. Prepare them to make wise choices in all three areas by setting the example, setting standards, and then setting them free. (Proverbs 3:1-6; Romans 10:9; Psalm 90:17; Proverbs 13:20; John 13:15; John 8:36)
God has no grandchildren, only children. Your children’s life and relationship to God is ultimately their own. We are privileged to participate in what God is doing in their lives. To think that we own them is like thinking that we own the earth or the sky or the sea. To quote Kahlil Gibran, “[Your children's] souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”
Want a free printable summary of this post? You’ll find it here: 7 Peas of Parenting
Filed under: Family Life, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged: child-training, children, free printable, parenting | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 15, 2014 by Doug Flanders
Protecting our children is one of the primary jobs of parenthood, and the list of dangers seems to be growing exponentially.
- There is BPA in your bottled water and hormones in your meat.
- There are predators on the Internet and cyber-bullies on social media.
- There are addictive drugs and addictive video games.
- There are terrorists hijacking our planes and the TSA hijacking our dignity.
It makes you long for the days when seesaws and merry-go-rounds were still allowed on playgrounds.
The fact is that new dangers are popping up every day, and it is impossible for even the most vigilant parents to keep up with them all.
That doesn’t mean you can’t protect your children. It just means that doing so will become increasingly complex and require some added intentionality.
There are three general principles that can help guide the process:
- SET THE EXAMPLE.
A culture of safety — whether at work or at home — starts at the top. If you want your kids to wear helmets when they ride bicycles, then you probably should, too. Same rule goes for seatbelts, overeating, cigarettes, alcohol, or anything else. Most values are “caught” not “taught.”
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,and sound speech that cannot be condemned…”
- Titus 2:7-8 (ESV)
- SET THE STANDARD.
Talk with your kids. Point out the dangers as you become aware of them. Let them know what your expectations are. Set a curfew. Curfews aren’t tyranny; they are parents showing that they care! Then enforce the standards you have established. A rule that isn’t enforced is no rule at all.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)
- SET THEM FREE.
The ultimate goal of parenting isn’t to have large children, but to have fully functioning adults. The only way to achieve that goal is to gradually shift responsibility from your shoulders to theirs. This is probably the hardest, but most important, part of the whole process. You will never be able to make enough rules to protect your children. They must internalize safety consciousness themselves. They must make it their own. Making it their own often means making mistakes. It can be hard to watch as our children attend the school of hard-knocks, but sometimes “experience is the best teacher.”
“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NASB)
The temptation is to simply be “helicopter parents” — ones that are always hovering, always micro-managing, always trying to smooth the way and make the decisions and manipulate the circumstances — but that is a fool’s game. No parent can child-proof the world. A parent’s job is to world-proof the child.
Filed under: Family Life, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged: child-training, curfew, helicopter parents, parenting, responsibility, world-proof the child | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 7, 2014 by Doug Flanders
I commissioned my wife to do a little subway art for me this week. Here’s what she came up with:
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it might serve as a good reminder for husbands that showing love to your wife is something you should do every day of the year — not just on special occasions.
Want to print a copy to keep? You can click on the image above to download a free printable PDF of the graphic.
You’ll find a matching “Respect Your Husband” graphic on my wife’s blog this week. Follow this link if you want to print that one.
Filed under: Holidays, Marriage, Uncategorized | Tagged: free printable, how to show love to your wife, love, loving your wife, subway art, valentines day | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 31, 2014 by Doug Flanders
This is a short but powerful blog, the lessons of which apply to parenting as well as ministry.
Originally posted on ctkblog:
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given in ministry came from a man in Houston, Texas named G.B. Shelbourne. He is a life-long missionary and has spent decades of his life working with people on the continent of Africa, and is a man I love and respect tremendously. He told me something one day that I’ve never forgotten, and I’d like to share it with you and invite you to be curious about how this might impact you.
G.B. and I were talking about ministry, and as a very young pastor, I was complaining about some of the more tedious tasks of ministry, and all he said was…
“When you build a house, people brag about the windows and the rooflines, not the foundation.”
Hey, nice siding!
As I asked him to explain to me what he meant, and I learned a lot in a short…
View original 375 more words
Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 14, 2014 by Doug Flanders
Jesus tells the story of a slave who was forgiven a great debt by his master. The slave went out and almost immediately began beating a fellow slave in an attempt to extract a much smaller debt. Needless to say the master was not pleased to discover the first slave’s merciless behavior.
Yet, how often do we act just like that ungrateful slave when it comes to sin?
Invariably, we want mercy for ourselves, but justice for everyone else. The things that ensnare us always seem SO minor compared to the heinous crimes committed by our fellow-man.
Jesus’s message was clear: Stop beating the other slaves! Learn to forgive, just as you have been forgiven.
Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel and the heart of every healthy relationship. This is especially true of the marriage relationship. The sheer volume of time a husband and wife spend together — day after day, year after year — translates into ample opportunity both to offend and to take offense. Your marriage will not thrive, and it may not even survive, unless you learn to forgive.
A successful marriage, Ruth Bell Graham reminds us, “is the union of two good forgivers.” I believe that’s true.
What follows are six principles that have been helpful to me in seeking and extending forgiveness to both my wife and others:
When requesting forgiveness of anybody, we should always begin with God.
Ultimately, all sin is an affront to Him. We must go to Him first. The price has already been paid through Christ’s blood. We must repent of our sin and ask Him to help as we seek forgiveness from others. (Psalm 51:1-4; 1 John 1:9)
When seeking forgiveness from others, we must be prepared to make restitution.
Sometimes seeking forgiveness requires more than just saying I’m sorry. We should convey sincere remorse for the wrongs we have done, certainly, but we must also seek to make amends to the best of our abilities and to the degree that restitution is possible. (Numbers 5:7)
When extending forgiveness to others, we should work towards restoration.
Ideally, forgiveness is just the first step in restoring a broken relationship. When grudges are held, the relationship suffers or is non-existent. Forgiveness allows healing to begin. It is like draining an emotional abscess. The only true way to conquer an enemy is to make him a friend. (Luke 17:3-4; Galatians 6:1)
When restoration is impossible, forgiveness is still important.
Even if the person we need to forgive is dead or in jail, forgiveness still has its place. Learning to forgive others is as much for our own benefit as it is for theirs. Maybe even more. (Mark 11:25; Ephesians 4:31)
When walking in God’s forgiveness, we need to also forgive ourselves.
Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do. We may have asked God’s forgiveness and even made restitution, but we just can’t let it go. We must stop beating ourselves up! Self-flagellation is not only unhealthy on multiple levels, but it implies that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was insufficient. (Romans 8:1; Psalm 103:12)
To live a life of forgiveness, we must learn to forgive God.
This may seem like a strange concept, but look around. The world is full of people who are angry with God.
Perhaps they are angry about the way He made them: Too short or too tall, too skinny or too fat, ears too big or feet too small, no good at math or music or sports.
Perhaps they’re angry about their life circumstances (often understandably so!): Why did I get laid off from that job I loved? Why did my spouse leave me after twenty years? Why did my sister die so young?
They reason that if God is ultimately in control, then He is ultimately to blame. We may never have intellectually framed it in those terms, but emotionally we all need to forgive God for something.
Such forgiveness springs from the knowledge that God has a purpose and plan for our life and that He is able to work even bad things together for our good and His glory. If we are harboring bitterness and resentment against God for perceived wrongs of any kind, the real problem lies not in His actions toward us, but in our attitude toward Him. (Romans 9:20; Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28)
And there we have come full circle. The list begins with God and ends with God, as all things do. (Revelation 1:8) The good news is that once we’ve learned to “forgive God,” we actually begin to trust Him. As our trust in Him grows, we one day find that we are learning to love Him just as He loves us. It is a love rooted in forgiveness, and that love and forgiveness can then spill over onto our fellow-man, so that these principles really start to become second-nature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Filed under: Devotional, Uncategorized | Tagged: christian living, christianity, doug flanders, forgiveness, getting rid of bitterness and resentment | 3 Comments »
Posted on January 11, 2014 by Doug Flanders
My father-in-law used to watch a lot of television. He was a little hard of hearing, so he usually kept the volume turned up pretty loud.
My wife’s mother would sometimes try to talk over the television to tell him something, but instead of muting the program and focusing his attention on her, Dad would just cup his ear and lean in closer to the set. Rather than tuning out the TV, he tried to tune out his wife!
Although we don’t have a television at our house, my wife still catches me “tuning out” occasionally. She’ll be in the middle of telling me a story, and I’ll be staring off into space, mentally rehashing some event or conversation from earlier in the day. Whether the distractions are internal or external, our wives can easily tell when we’re not paying attention.
Calvin Coolidge once said, “It takes a great man to be a good listener.” And do you know what? He was right.
So how can we learn to listen better? Here are five basic things husbands can do to hone their listening skills:
First, minimize distractions.
Kids who are being boisterous should be made to settle down or sent to another room. Televisions and radios should be turned down or completely off. Laptops should be closed and cellphones pocketed. I normally place my phone or tablet face down beside me to physically demonstrate to my wife that she does, indeed, have my full attention.
Second, make eye contact.
It may feel awkward at first, especially if you are accustomed to staring at your shoes or at the newspaper, but this is essential to letting your wife know you care about what she has to say. Look into her eyes, even if it’s hard. One of our sons had a difficult time looking people in the eye when he was younger. Even so, we insisted he do it, because we realized his habit of avoiding eye contact would cripple his ability to communicate and might even make him appear untrustworthy. With practice, he was able to overcome that unconscious quirk and is now one of the most comfortable, confident, and outgoing young men one could ever hope to meet.
Third, give frequent affirmation.
Do you get what your wife is saying? Nod your head in understanding. Do you agree? Let her know that. Say positive things like, “Uh-huh” and “I see.” These things will communicate to her that you are paying attention and following her train of thought.
Fourth, ask questions.
If you don’t understand something your wife has just told you, don’t pretend like you do. Instead, ask insightful, intelligent questions. This allows you clarify any ambiguities in what you think you heard her say (and it also helps her know for sure when she’s gotten her point across).
Fifth and finally, summarize.
Repeat back, in a nutshell, what your wife just told you. This serves to cement what was discussed into your memory and reassures your beloved that she has truly been heard.
Although these five suggestions may seem difficult initially, they will begin to flow more naturally after you’ve gotten a little practice doing them. The best part is that, once you really begin to listen, you’ll be amazed at what interesting thoughts your wife has to share!
Filed under: Marriage, Uncategorized | Tagged: be a better listener, communication tips, list for husbands, listening, television | 1 Comment »