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Read a great post today from Dr. Jim Taylor about self esteem.

Parenting: The Sad Misuse of Self-esteem

Self-esteem is the most misunderstood and misused developmental factor of the past thirty years. Child-rearing experts in the early 1970s decided that all of the efforts of our society should be devoted to helping children build self-esteem. I couldn’t agree more. Children with high self-esteem have been found to perform better in school and sports, have better relationships, and have lower rates of problem behavior.

The Wrong Message About Self-Esteem

Unfortunately, these same experts told parents that the best way to develop self-esteem was to ensure that children always felt good about themselves. Parents were told to love and praise and reinforce and reward and encourage their children no matter what they did. Unfortunately, this approach created children who were selfish, spoiled, and entitled.

Parents were also led to believe that they had to be sure that their children never felt bad about themselves because it would hurt their self-esteem. So parents did everything they could to protect their children from anything that might create bad feelings. Parents didn’t scold their children when they misbehaved. Parents didn’t discipline their children when they didn’t give their best effort in school. In sum, parents didn’t hold their children accountable for their actions, particularly if they made mistakes or failed-”Gosh, that would just hurt my little one’s self-esteem!”

Schools and communities bought into this misguided attempt at building self-esteem by “protecting” children from feeling bad about themselves. For example, school grading systems were changed. I remember between sixth and seventh grade my middle school replaced F for failure with NI (Needs Improvement). God forbid I’d feel bad about myself for failing at something! Sports eliminated scoring, winners, and losers in the belief that losing would hurt children’s self-esteem. My four-year-old niece came home one day from a soccer tournament with a ribbon that said “#1-Winner” on it. When I asked her what she did to deserve such a wonderful prize, she said that everyone got one! Though Woody Allen once said that 90 percent of success is just showing up, it’s the last 10 percent-the part that requires hard work, discipline, patience, and perseverance-that true success is all about. Children are being led to believe that, like Woody Allen’s view, they can become successful and feel good about themselves just for showing up. But showing up is just not enough in today’s demanding society. By rewarding children just for showing up, they aren’t learning what it really takes to become successful and showing up definitely won’t build self-esteem.

The supposed benefit of this mentality is that children’s self-esteem is protected. If children aren’t responsible for all of the bad things that happen to them, then they can’t feel bad about themselves and their self-esteem won’t be hurt. This belief has been bolstered by the culture of victimization in which we live-”It’s not my fault, it’s not my kid’s fault. But someone has to be held responsible and we’re going to sue them.” In its poorly conceived attempt to protect children’s self-esteem, our society caused the very thing that it took such pains to prevent-children with low self-esteem, no sense of responsibility, and the emotional and behavioral problems that go with it.

Of course children need to feel loved and protected. This sense of security allows them to feel comfortable venturing out to explore their  world. But we have gone way too far in protecting our children from life’s harsh realities. In fact, with this preoccupation with protecting our children, those so-called parenting experts neglected to tell parents about the other, equally important contributor to mature and healthy self-esteem.

The Missing Piece of Self-esteem

The second part of self-esteem that those parenting experts forgot to mention to parents is that children need to develop a sense of ownership of their actions, that their actions matter, that their actions have consequences; “If I do good things, good things happen, if I do bad things, bad things happen, and if I do nothing, nothing happens.” The antithesis of this approach is the spoiled child; whether they do good, bad, or nothing, they get what they want. Unfortunately, without this sense of ownership, children are thoroughly unprepared for the adulthood because in the real world our actions do have consequences.

This sense of ownership, and the self-esteem that accompanies it, is two sides of the same coin. If children don’t take ownership of their  mistakes and failures, they can’t have ownership of their successes and achievements. And without that ownership, children can’t ever really feel good about themselves or experience the meaning, satisfaction, and joy of owning their efforts. Also, without the willingness to take ownership, children are truly victims; they’re powerless to change the bad things that might happen to them. With a sense of ownership, children learn that when things are not going well, they have the power to make changes in their lives for the better.

The goal is to raise children with both components of real self-esteem, in which they not only feel loved and valued, but also have that highly developed sense of ownership. Yes, they’re going to feel bad when they make mistakes and fail. But you want your children to feel  bad when they screw up! How else are they going to learn what not to do and what they need to do to do better in the future? But, contrary to popular belief, these experiences will build, not hurt, their self-esteem. By allowing them to take ownership of their lives-achievements and missteps alike-your children gain the ability to change the bad experiences, and create and savor the good experiences.

Developing Real Self-esteem

Your challenge is to help your children understand how self-esteem develops. Much of your parenting should be devoted to helping your  children develop this healthy self-esteem rather than the false self-esteem that is epidemic in our society. You must allow your children to experience this connection-both success and failure-in all areas of their lives, including school, sports, the performing arts, relationships, family responsibilities, and other activities. Your children’s essential need to have these experiences will require you to eschew the culture of victimization that pervades modern society. You must give your children the opportunity to develop real self-esteem so they can fully experience all aspects of life, including the failures and disappointments as well as the accomplishments and joys.

Recommendations for Building Self-esteem

Love them regardless of how they perform.
Give them opportunities to demonstrate their competence.
Focus on areas over which they have control (e.g., their efforts rather than results).
Encourage your children to take appropriate risks.
Allow your children to experience failure and then help them learn its essential lessons.
Set expectations for their behavior.
Demand accountability.
Have consequences for bad behavior.
Include them in decision making.

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From Mark Driscoll,

’Tis the season for Dad to drop the holiday ball, stress out as the money is being spent for presents, and miss yet another providential opportunity to lovingly lead his family. So, this blog is intended to help dads not fall into the same old rut of holiday humdrum, sitting on the couch watching football and eating carbs, but rather intentionally plan out the upcoming holiday season. Our children grow quickly and if we miss the sacred moments God opens up for us to connect with and bless our families, everyone suffers and we set in motion generations of missed opportunity.

#1 – Dad needs a plan for the holidays to ensure his family is loved and memories are made. Dad, what’s your plan?

#2 – Dad needs to check the local guides for what’s going on to make fun holiday plans for the family. In Seattle it’s here.

#3 – Dad needs to carve out time for sacred events and experiences to build family traditions that are fun and point to Jesus. Dad, is your calendar ready for December?

#4 – Dad needs to not let the stress of the holidays, including money, cause him to be grumpy with Mom or the kids. Dad, how’s your joy?

#5 – Dad needs to give experiences and not just gifts. Dad, what special memories can you make this holiday season?

#6 – Dad needs to manage the extended family and friends during the holidays. Dad, who or what do you need to say “no” to?

#7 – Dad needs to ensure his family is giving generously during the holidays. Dad, who in need is your family going to adopt and bless?

#8 – Dad needs to schedule a big Christmas daddy date with his daughter. Dad, what’s your big plan for the fancy daddy date?

#9 – Dad needs to schedule guy time with his son. Dad, what are you and your son going to do that is active, outdoors, and fun?

#10 – Dad needs to help Mom get the house decorated. Dad, are you really a big help to Mom with getting things ready?

#11 – Dad needs to ensure some holiday smells and sounds. Dad, is Christmas music on the iPod, is the tree up, and can you smell cookies and cider in your house?

#12 – Dad needs to snuggle up and watch some fun shows with the kids, especially the little ones. Dad, is the DVR set?

#13 – Dad needs to take the family on a drive to see Christmas lights while listening to music and sipping cider. Dad, is it mapped out?

#14 – Dad needs to help Mom get the kids’ rooms decorated. Dad, do the little kids get lights or a small tree in their room?

#15 – Dad needs to read about Jesus and pray over his kids. Dad, how’s your pastoral work going with each of your kids?

#16 – Dad needs to repent of being lazy, selfish, grumpy, or just dumping the holidays on Mom. Dad, are you a servant like Jesus to your family?

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I received an email from a parent this week thanking me for inviting all parents to the Speaker Series event we recently held at PDS. She took such great notes that I thought I would share them with you:

I attended the speaker series at Second Presbyterian Church today- Building Boys, Making Men-What Every Child Needs in a Parent- and I thought it was great.  Below are a few notes that I took and plan to apply starting as soon as I get home.

The session was presented by Robert Lewis, author of Raising a Modern Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood

As parents, we have been trusted with greatest gift on earth-a human life. In his pasturing and counseling, he’s found that people who make the job of parenting their top priority-over work, travel, etc-have few regrets later in life.  Conversely, those who make parenting a lesser priority have lots of regrets later in life.

He said if your child could stand before you at thirty years old and say what they needed as a child, they would tell us to:

1.Be there for them in their early years.  Our kids need face to face time with their parents and the first 6 years are the most important because that’s when their brains are being hardwired for who they will be.  Research shows that a personality forms by the time they are six.  What happens early in life lives with them forever. Children need the law of love and that’s us being there for them.

2.Give them a balance of discipline and love. He presented a parenting chart with four quadrants with love and discipline on the x and y axis.  The quadrants were permissive, neglectful, authoritative (reliable), authoritarian (strict).  We all fall somewhere in that chart but we have to find the right balance.

3. Know their personality and honor it. Be able to name their personality type (I’m going to give my son Myers Briggs or another test).

4. Discover their bent and actively support them. Recognize and nurture their gifts even if they aren’t like yours.

5. Too much is too much.
-Control-kids need freedom and for us to show we trust them.  He gave an example of a little boy holding a bird tightly to protect it, but squeezing it killed it.
-Money. It pacifies them if they gets everything they want but also stills their will. They don’t learn to earn things and can’t work through problems and figure things out on their own.  Lose appreciation for things and for you.
-Too high expectations destroy and wound. Kid thinks they are never good enough. Be careful not to push too hard becomes always pushing for better can make kids bitter.

6.Show them what to believe in by living it. Balance what they see with church life and home life. Ethics will only be caught at home-not taught. Live it and show them everyday.

7.Words they need to hear throughout their lives-I love you, I’m proud of you, you’re good at…

8.Make some great memories for them. People’s lives are primarily based on childhood memories. A baseball game, a trip, a desk you built…create memories with your child that will outlive you.

9. Love God and share Him with them. Many kids will ask questions about God.  Be able to answer them or find the answers with them.  Lead them to Jesus and live it.

You have to read the story and watch the video
Finally, he shared a great Erma Bombeck story (below) and a touching video about a father’s love for his disabled son doing a triathlon.

Erma Bombeck
The Green, Green Grass of Home
by Erma Bombeck, written November 1971
When Mike was 2, he wanted a sandbox, and his father said:
“There goes the yard We’ll have kids over here day and
night, and they’ll throw sand into the flower beds, and cats
will make a mess in it, and it’ll kill the grass for sure.”
And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
When Mike was 5, he wanted a jungle gym set with swings that
would take his breath away and bars to take him to the summit,
and his father said: “Good grief, I’ve seen those things in
back yards, and do you know what they look like? Mud holes in
a pasture. Kids digging their gym shoes in the ground. It’ll kill the
grass.”
And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
Between breaths, when Daddy was blowing up the plastic swimming
pool, he warned: “You know what they’re going to do to this
place? They’re going to condemn it and use it for a missile site.
I hope you know what you’re doing. They’ll track water everywhere
and have a million water fights, and you won’t be able to take
out the garbage without stepping in mud up to your neck. When we
take this down, we’ll have the only brown lawn on the block.”
“It’ll come back,” Mike’s mother said.
When Mike was 12, he volunteered his yard for a campout. As they
hoisted the tents and drove in the spikes, his father stood at the
window and observed, “Why don’t I just put the grass seed out in
cereal bowls for the birds and save myself the trouble of spreading
it around? You know for a fact that those tents and all those big
feet are going to trample down every single blade of grass, don’t
you. Don’t bother to answer. I know what you’re going to say.
‘It’ll come back.'”
The basketball hoop on the side of the garage attracted more crowds
than the Olympics. And a small patch of lawn that started out with
a barren spot the size of a garbage can lid soon drew to encompass
the entire side yard.
Just when it looked as if the new seed might take root, the winter
came and the sled runners beat it into ridges. Mike’s father shook
his head and said, “I never asked for much in this life – only a
patch of grass.”
And his wife smiled and said, “It’ll come back.”
The lawn this fall was beautiful. It was green and alive and
rolled out like a sponge carpet along the drive where gym shoes had
trod … along the garage where bicycles used to fall … and
around the flower beds where little boys used to dig with
iced-tea spoons.
But Mike’s father never saw it. He anxiously looked beyond the yard
and asked with a catch in his voice, “he will come back, won’t he?”

Erma Bombeck
The Green, Green Grass of Home
by Erma Bombeck, written November 1971
When Mike was 2, he wanted a sandbox, and his father said:
“There goes the yard We’ll have kids over here day and
night, and they’ll throw sand into the flower beds, and cats
will make a mess in it, and it’ll kill the grass for sure.”
And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
When Mike was 5, he wanted a jungle gym set with swings that
would take his breath away and bars to take him to the summit,
and his father said: “Good grief, I’ve seen those things in
back yards, and do you know what they look like? Mud holes in
a pasture. Kids digging their gym shoes in the ground. It’ll kill the
grass.”
And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
Between breaths, when Daddy was blowing up the plastic swimming
pool, he warned: “You know what they’re going to do to this
place? They’re going to condemn it and use it for a missile site.
I hope you know what you’re doing. They’ll track water everywhere
and have a million water fights, and you won’t be able to take
out the garbage without stepping in mud up to your neck. When we
take this down, we’ll have the only brown lawn on the block.”
“It’ll come back,” Mike’s mother said.
When Mike was 12, he volunteered his yard for a campout. As they
hoisted the tents and drove in the spikes, his father stood at the
window and observed, “Why don’t I just put the grass seed out in
cereal bowls for the birds and save myself the trouble of spreading
it around? You know for a fact that those tents and all those big
feet are going to trample down every single blade of grass, don’t
you. Don’t bother to answer. I know what you’re going to say.
‘It’ll come back.'”
The basketball hoop on the side of the garage attracted more crowds
than the Olympics. And a small patch of lawn that started out with
a barren spot the size of a garbage can lid soon drew to encompass
the entire side yard.
Just when it looked as if the new seed might take root, the winter
came and the sled runners beat it into ridges. Mike’s father shook
his head and said, “I never asked for much in this life – only a
patch of grass.”
And his wife smiled and said, “It’ll come back.”
The lawn this fall was beautiful. It was green and alive and
rolled out like a sponge carpet along the drive where gym shoes had
trod … along the garage where bicycles used to fall … and
around the flower beds where little boys used to dig with
iced-tea spoons.
But Mike’s father never saw it. He anxiously looked beyond the yard
and asked with a catch in his voice, “he will come back, won’t he?”

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DSC_1128Crusader Football season is officially over. It was a tough loss last night but a great year overall. As we were driving home, my oldest son made some very mature comments about the season and sports in general.

“Dad, I don’t like to lose but I know football is not the most important thing in the world.”

I credit our head coach Mark Fruitt for telling our players over and over again to not let their lives be defined by 5th grade football. That’s the kind of guy I want my kids to play for each year.

Driving home I thought about how to evaluate the season with Preston. My mind went immediately to a book called “Raising Kids for True Greatness by Dr. Tim Kimmel. In his book, which I highly recommend, he lists ten ways to be a great teammate. This will be the measuring stick by which I evaluate the season with Preston. My prayer for all of us is that we do not judge a season by wins and losses but by the character of our kids.

1) Show up for practice on time, with a good attitude, and ready to work hard.

2) Decide at the outset that you love (not just tolerate, but love) every member of your team.

3) Never shortcut or minimize warm-ups, calisthenics, wind sprints, distant runs and cooldowns. These are more than just conditioning. They are part of building cohesiveness and endurance.

4) Never whine or complain about the work. It’s sports; it’s supposed to be difficult.

5) Don’t get fixated on winning.

6) Listen to your body. Respond properly when it’s warning you about injury.

7) Don’t limit your involvement with team members to practice and competition. Think as a team at all times.

8) Encourage the kids who aren’t as athletic or who have extenuating circumstances that might be distracting them.

9) Never speak poorly of a fellow teammate or criticize the coaches.

10) When you win, win humbly. When you lose, hold your head up and never take it out on the coach or teammate.

Seems like a great way to set goals and evaluate to me. I pray for a movement of parents who are willing to evaluate not based on performance alone but on character and the things in life that really matter.

Be intentional!

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imagesThis article was sent to me from my friend and grades PK-3rd grade Bible teacher Darilyn Christenbury. I think it is worth reading and considering where your family stands on this issue.

Not So Fast
The Busy American Family

October 7, 2009

This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship president Mark Earley.

School’s back in session. And between hauling children to and from classes, dance lessons, music lessons, sports practice, and church activities, many parents (not to mention their children) are already feeling frazzled. And this is just the beginning of the academic year!

Busyness is a problem all of us face. In fact, a 2007 study asked over 20,000 teens and adults if “the busyness of life gets in the way of developing [their] relationship with God.” The response? Six in 10 Christians said they are too busy for God.

Are you? That’s the question which Ann Kroeker poses in her new book, Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families.

Of all the groups most affected by the busyness epidemic—perhaps the American family has been the worst hit. A self-assumed pressure to make sure the children get every opportunity to give them an edge academically, socially, physically, and even spiritually, pushes us to push them. But somewhere in the process—something is getting buried. And it might just be our souls.

In her new book, Kroeker quotes Pastor John Ortberg as saying, “For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so busy and distracted and rushed that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.” It is hurry which, he goes on to say, is the great enemy of the spiritual life.

One of the things I appreciate most about Kroeker’s book, Not So Fast, is that she examines the motivations that can get families to this point. These are motivations for safety like: “The best way to keep kids out of trouble is to keep them busy.” They are motivations based in competition, like: “An abundance of activities and volunteer work looks good on college applications.” And they are motivations based on keeping up an appearance, like: “We feel important and indispensible when we’re busy.”

The trouble is when we dig down deeper with motivations like these and others, Kroeker points out, we find that many of them are based on fear, envy, pride, insecurity, and a love of the approval of man. And as we squeeze every last drop out of out of our days, our children are getting squeezed in the process.

For the Kroeker family, it took a serious illness for their family to begin to see what a mind- and soul-numbing pace they had been living. That wake up call was what it took for them to slow down.

I like the fact that the book, Not So Fast, doesn’t suggest mere cookie-cutter approaches for what families should do to regain balance in their lives. Instead it invites us to examine what’s at the root of these choices, and to repent of the motivations when they are based in sin. And then it offers a variety of suggestions for helping families make much more meaningful connections both with each other and God.

As Kroeker says, “For everyone who yearns for the benefits of a slower life, I want to point to Jesus and say, ‘Start here. Start with the One who offers true and lasting peace.’”

She’s right. Not So Fast is a book Christian families need, if only we’ll slow down long enough to read it and heed it.

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Our next Building Boys, Making Men Speaker Series Event will take place on November 11th from 11:30-1pm.

Our featured speaker will be Robert Lewis, noted author and speaker. Robert is Pastor-at-Large for Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he served as Directional Leader for over 20 years. He has authored a number of publications including Raising a Modern-Day Knight (Focus on the Family), the Raising a Modern-Day Knight Video Training Series with Dennis Rainey (Sonlight Productions), Rocking the Roles: Building a Win-Win Marriage (NavPress), Real Family Values (Multnomah Press) and The Church of Irresistible Influence (Zondervan). Robert’s most recent book is Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church From the Inside Out published by Jossey-Bass. He is also a contributing author to Building Strong Families edited by Dennis Rainey and Faith Factor in Fatherhood edited by Don Eberly. His most recent publications are the Men’s Fraternity Bible, and The New Eve.

Please rsvp online and invite your friends. We are opening up this luncheon to any parents that want to attend so please invite your friends.

RSVP here.

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