Don’t let kids off too easy

kid mowing lawn morguefile0001427147596Sometimes, in an effort to show kindness to their children, kind and compassionate parents make the mistake of not holding their children accountable. In their effort to be loving, these parents fail to recognize that parental love requires them to set limits, ask kids to do their fair share, and teach children about sacrifice. If you see hints that your child is adverse to hard work or is looking at the world in a rather entitled way, do a quick check of your own parenting to see if you help your child to see the needs of others.

• I love you so much that I’m making you take out the garbage. Every child should have daily chores that they’re expected to do that benefit the family. School-aged children should be involved in tasks like doing dishes, emptying the dishwasher, and setting the table in addition to their personal responsibilities—making their own bed, cleaning up their room. Older children can be expected to do bigger jobs on weekends, such as mowing the lawn or doing the laundry. Continue reading

Let kids learn from loss

angel crying RGB stock dMBY9CMark Jelacic, a funeral director and father of four, has devoted his career to walking with families in times of grief. “Grief shared is grief diminished,” he says. “This is an old adage but a good one. Let children ask you questions and try to answer them in a supportive, yet simple manner. Honesty works the best; tell them the truth. Tragedies happen, but they need to know their adults, mom and dad, will be there for them. Continue reading

Anger management, part two

pink mums RGB mOZ6hNmPart one of this piece appeared last week. 

Lose the “but…” Practicing the art of apology means stopping at “I’m sorry” and not adding the “but” that often comes afterward. “I’m sorry, but…” does not count as a true apology—what the other person takes away is the reason for your action, not that you are remorseful.

Jason notes that in teaching this to his daughters, he and his wife have been able to remove the “but. . .” in their own apologies as well. “This has vastly improved our ability to get over disagreements and diffuse conflicts that might easily have escalated between us,” Jason says. Continue reading

Anger management

iStock_000001612857MediumWhen Sarah’s husband (whom we’ll call Mark) had an affair, Sarah’s sister, Jessica, had trouble forgiving her brother-in-law—even after years had gone by and her sister’s marriage, with the help of counseling, was back on track.

“I went to confession after being angry for so long, and the priest talked to me about giving the anger to God and being loving instead,” Jessica says. “I can’t tell you the strength I received when I chose to forgive Mark and love my brother-in-law once again. It took a long time to get there, but it was worth it. I now think forgiveness is the most important lesson we have to learn in life. And it’s also one of the most difficult.”

Family is the first teacher of forgiveness. From our family of origin we can learn either a healthy or a dysfunctional way to react to hurt. Continue reading

How to rate your mom

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost of us have had to undergo the dreaded Job Performance Evaluation, or whatever they call it at your job. Sometimes it’s a simple, “You’re fired!” Or it can be a laborious process of filling out forms, rating yourself, and meeting with your boss and other higher-ups so they can grill you. Afterward you heave a sigh of relief.

For our most important job, however, we parents don’t have to face such a firing squad. That job, of course, is raising our kids. Usually we’re left to face our own regrets, to acknowledge where we fell down spectacularly or subtly. Some parents crack wise about putting money into the “couch fund” to pay for the inevitable therapy bills their kids will run up when they seek help to deal with the effects of their bad parenting. Continue reading

Rise to the occasion

imagebase_amesjumpThe story of Jesus’ resurrection is the gospel account most central to the faith of Christians, yet, in a paradox, it’s arguably the most difficult gospel story to believe. Healing the sick and even walking on water begin to seem like minor miracles when compared to being killed on a cross, being dead for three days, and then rising to new life.

Yet if we believe in the resurrection of Christ—if we truly believe—it should change everything about the way we live. Continue reading

You have what it takes to forgive

Aug coverWhen Jesus forgives those who had unjustly convicted him and nailed him on a cross to die, his prayer, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,” alludes to the reason all people sin—in the moment of making the sinful choice, the person steps out of God’s grace.

“They know not what they do” doesn’t excuse their behavior, but rather explains that outside of God’s grace, we are unable to access the wisdom or understanding that we need to make a holy choice. Outside of God’s grace, we are left, like the leaders of Jesus’ day, to make decisions out of fear or selfishness, rather than decisions that come from a place of love.

To forgive someone, perhaps we first need to look hard at the factors in that person’s life that led them to step outside of God’s grace. Continue reading


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