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Summer 2013

A battle for the heart Raising compassionate children in a me-first world De - stressing in a stressful world Christian parenting The call to push “send�

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013


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SUMMER 2013

Contents 8 18 22

Features

Christian parenting: The call to push “send”

Learn some ideas from Jeff and Susie Thompson about how to rear your children to become adult kingdom leaders.

ABCs for a fun-filled family summer

What are you going to do this summer? Possibilities abound! Check out this alphabetical list to get you started in keeping your family mentally, physically and spiritually strong all summer long.

A battle for the heart: Raising compassionate children in a me-first world

How do you develop a compassionate heart in your children, especially in today’s me-first society? Jennifer Booth has a few ideas to get you started in doing just that!

6 7 10 12 14 16 20 24 26 28 4

Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

More ...

Post from the editor A merry heart A refuge unshaken: Discussing headline tragedies with your children De-stressing in a stressful world Prepare financially for your child’s future Why questions talk Laying a financial foundation for children Is this normal? How to leave a spiritual legacy Internet safety: How to protect your children from online dangers


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magazine

Publisher

Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine, Inc. Perhaps never before has the influence of a Christian parent been more important.

Editor

Tim Yarbrough

As society continues to shift away from traditional Judeo-Christian values, the family that looks to the unchanging Word of God can provide stability and the assurance of salvation found only in Jesus Christ.

Special Projects Coordinator

Arkansas Christian Parent is published as a resource for parents to help them make sense of the world that surrounds their children growing and maturing in the 21st century.

René Zimny

This edition of Arkansas Christian Parent addresses a number of important issues such as sending your children into the world, raising compassionate children, discussing today’s headlines with children, helping bring simplicity and clarity to a stressful world, preparing financially for your children’s futures and much more. Arkansas Christian Parent is provided free of charge to churches across Arkansas, which is possible through the generous support of our advertisers. So if you like our magazine and want to continue to receive it, please support our advertisers and be sure to tell them that you saw their ad in Arkansas Christian Parent.

Margaret Dempsey-Colson

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Special Projects Advertising

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Assistant Editor

Jessica Vanderpool

Staff Writer

Caleb Yarbrough

Administrative Assistant

Gayla Parker

Business Manager

Becky Hardwick

Tim Yarbrough Editor

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www.arkansasbaptist.org Arkansas Baptist News 10 Remington Drive Little Rock, AR 72204 Phone: 501-376-4791 Toll-free: 800-838-2272 email: abn@arkansasbaptist.org

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013


by Margaret Dempsey-Colson

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”

C

ould truer words ever be spoken in regard to becoming parents? Perhaps those seven words should appear on bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets and cross-stitch creations everywhere just so parents can give each other an understanding nod and wink. As soon as our first wonderful newborn baby was placed into our arms so many years ago and we left the hospital, a certain naïve confidence soon gave way to sheer panic. There was so much I didn’t know, and even as a “veteran” parent now, I am quite certain there is still more that I don’t know than I do know!

Here is just a sampling of a few things I didn’t know .. . I didn’t know that when you change the diaper of a baby boy, you have to move with the speed of an Olympian. “Showers of blessing” isn’t exactly how I would describe the result of a tooslow diaper change. I didn’t know that shadows could be so quick and relentless. Trying to outrun a shadow with a preschooler is a game that never ends, until at least one person collapses in exhaustion. I didn’t know that an imaginary friend, “Danielle,” could become a real-life spouse, Daniel, for one imaginative daughter. I don’t think we will inadvertently be leaving Daniel behind in the grocery cart, only to have to return later to retrieve him. I didn’t know that the extensive laundry list of very specific rules when I left my oldest child home alone for the first time somehow wouldn’t cover every possible activity scenario. Who would have thought she would bake a cake? I didn’t know that a mother wasn’t supposed to run out onto the playing field when her son was injured in a team sport. OK, to be fair, my husband had clued me in on this one, but he wasn’t there at the time, and my motherly instincts took over. Sorry, Son. I didn’t know that teaching a 16-year-old to drive would provide an opportunity for unexpected home renovation. The whole carin-the-dining-room scenario wasn’t the look I was going for.

I didn’t know, in trying to be cool and text with our children, that LOL stands for “laughing out loud,” rather than “lots of love.” Somehow, “Good luck on your test today. So proud of you, Sweetie. LOL, Mom,” just doesn’t quite cut it. Go ahead, add to the list. These things become the stuff of family folklore, passed down for generations! They are good for a laugh or two. Yet what we “didn’t know” and “don’t know” won’t keep us grounded as parents. We need a good case of “I know” to keep us grounded and focused. What do we know? We know that God knew our children even as He was creating them in the womb (Psalm 139:13). He knows them inside and out. He knows them even better than we do. He knows their likes and dislikes, their favorite colors and favorite foods, their innermost thoughts and dreams, their fears and concerns. He knows them! We know that Jesus, as He walked this earth, loved children. He absolutely and perfectly loved them. Even when the disciples wanted to shoo them away, Jesus beckoned them to come to Him (Matthew 19:13-14). And the children flocked to Him; they loved Him! We know that, even as imperfect as we are as parents, God wants us to love our children and teach them His ways (Proverbs 22:6). Those biblical teachings will be a foundation for them as they mature and, quite possibly, become parents one day. Don’t let what you “didn’t know” and “don’t know” get you down! Let’s change that family mantra from, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” to, “You know what you know.” What do we know? We know God and His limitless knowledge, unbounded love and hopeful future for each child. Margaret and her husband, Keith, are parents of four young adult children. For the record, the home renovation project went well, and the dining room has been the setting for many a family celebration since that fateful car-through-the-wall day.

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B

efore we push “send” on an email, text, tweet or Facebook post, we are aware of the need to proof its purpose, effect, recipient, content and spelling. We fill a similar role in the lives of our children as they grow up in a fastpaced, opinionated, conforming, liberal and impatient culture — a culture desperately in need of Jesus!

Christian parenting: The call to push “send” by Jeff and Susie Thompson

Our sons, ages 19 and 21, are now leaving home, and there is “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). Despite many mistakes, we are blessed as they serve and personalize their own faith and calling. Our past few years have also been focused on investing in Arkansas students as they discover God’s call (check out www.kaleoarkansas.org). One thing is clear, for this culture to see Jesus, we must rediscover and reemphasize God’s plan for the family. Parenting as a Christfollower carries with it the huge privilege and responsibility of preparing our children to hear and follow God’s call. They are surrounded with countless influences ready to “auto-correct” them according to the world’s standards. It is urgent that Christian parents firmly take hold of the call on our lives to develop adult kingdom leaders. Picture in your mind the moment God placed your child in your arms. At that moment, you were called to push “send” on that child’s life. How do we, as parents, do that?

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013


From a dad’s heart To engage lostness helps your child use the platforms God gives him or her. Our youngest son announced to me before his sophomore year that he wasn’t going to play football; he was ready to engage lostness. Tyler excelled at and enjoyed football, so his announcement caught me off guard. His plan was to invite children in nearby apartment communities to a backyard Bible club, as he had done on previous mission trips. His stated desire was to maximize his evangelistic impact on Greenwood. I asked, “Why backyard Bible clubs instead of football?” “So I can share Jesus,” he responded. I reminded him of Olympic runner Eric Liddell in the movie “Chariots of Fire.” Liddell said he felt God’s pleasure when he ran. Racing for him was a platform to share with teammates and fans. I asked, “How many of the boys on the football team are lost or struggling to truly follow Christ?” He guessed at least half, maybe more. Then the lightbulb went off, and he realized he didn’t have to quit football to share Christ; football could be the microphone that amplified his witness. When we prepare to push “send,” we develop decision-makers as we allow

P U S H S E N D

ray

Samuel // 1 Samuel 12:23

nderstand God’s call David // 1 Chronicles 29:19

ee the end goal

Hannah // 1 Samuel 1:27-28

opportunities and space for our children to clarify and understand God’s call on their lives. Our son Hunter responded to a call to ministry leadership in high school. He is a gifted singer with a big voice. Our home church, First Baptist Church, Greenwood, encourages and uses the gifts of all its members in service. Therefore, Hunter had opportunities to lead through music. He presumed God’s call was to music ministry. I wasn’t sure; Hunter’s attitude to people who aren’t musically gifted was, “If you cannot sing on key, be an usher.” God calls leaders to equip others; Hunter did not enjoy trying to equip others to sing. I saw how passionately Hunter explained God’s Word in discipling young men. I saw a preacher who could sing! Still, Hunter saw himself as a singer, so we encouraged him in every way we could. About three years after his call, he joined a praise team that led music at the Arkansas Baptist evangelism conference. God used anointed preaching to change Hunter’s perspective of his call. The day after we came home, Hunter and I were in the car together. He looked at me and said, “I think He wants me to preach.” I said, “That’s great son!” thinking I could have told him that two-and-a-half years ago. A child must discover his or her call personally. We can help provide the right environment, but the child must hear God’s voice with his or her own ears. We can remind our children that, though some are called to ministry leadership, all are called to Christian service and growth, as seminary president Jeff Iorg describes in his book, “Is God Calling Me?”

onor God ’s Word and church

From a mom’s heart

erv e togeth er

We were returning as International Mission Board missionaries to the Philippines after spending Christmas in the states, and I spent the entire first leg of the flight crying with our 5 year old son, Tyler, who was sad to leave family again. As I held him, I asked him if he thought we should have stayed in the states, thinking he probably

Mary and Joseph // Luke 2:42 Joshua // Joshua 24:15

ngage lostness Barnabas // Acts 15:37-39

u rture indep endence Jesse // 1 Samuel 17:34-37

evelop decision - mak ers Mordecai // Esther 4:14

couldn’t even begin to understand God’s will. He looked at me and wailed, “No, Mom! I know God wants us to be in the Philippines, but I’m still sad that we can’t live closer to family! I’ll be OK; I just need to cry.” I began to understand one of the hardest things in being a mom — how to serve together and, at the same time, see the end goal.

Years later, in the midst of our son Hunter’s ninth grade year, the four of us prayerfully followed God’s call to Greenwood. I prayed both boys would see God’s purpose in moving them, as well as Jeff and me. In the midst of great excitement and peace, I also hurt deeply for 18 months as I watched Hunter search — hesitant, angry and confused — until he allowed the Lord to show him his place, friends and calling. In both of these situations, the “mama bear” in me wanted to rush in to protect, explain, fix, control, shelter and return to a place of comfort for my boys’ sake. Yet, God was not only calling me, as a godly mom, to hurt with, pray with, serve with and nurture them, but also to back off ... to release them, to nurture independence ... and trust God to do His work — preparing them for a future I could not yet see or imagine. Moms, God has extraordinarily gifted us to love and care for our children, but, in so doing, let us not prevent them from finding and fulfilling God’s call because of our own selfish need for control and involvement in their lives. I want to be like Jesus’ mother, Mary, and Samuel’s mother, Hannah. I want to be part of a generation of Christian mothers who bear, prepare and send — who mother with a mission! It starts as we abide in Christ ourselves, as we honor God’s Word and church. Jeff and Susie Thompson live in Greenwood, where Jeff is the associational missionary for Concord Baptist Association and Susie serves with KALEO Arkansas.

Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

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A

refuge unshaken:

Discussing headline tragedies with your children

by Derek Brown

BY

the time my first child made her debut into the world, I was established in my career as a counselor. I spent many hours each week helping parents understand and better relate to their children. If anyone was prepared to be a parent, surely I was ... so I thought. When that beautiful little baby entered the world with a big cry, I immediately knew a daunting task awaited — a task that consisted of much more than changing diapers, singing lullabies and being a human jungle gym. God entrusted my wife and me with this child to lead her in the way that is right despite a world that has gone wrong. As Christian parents, we are somehow to be a guide for our children as they learn to navigate the world as well as a refuge for them to escape the ways of the world, and grow in the way of Christ. My wife and I desire for our home to always be that refuge for our children, but as recent events have revealed, the trouble of the world can easily invade our homes and rob our sense of security. The news isn’t likely the top broadcast preference for your children, but social media does not wait around for the 9 o’clock hour to share the current events, nor are the troublesome details screened because of sensitivity. The difficult truth is that we must be equipped with an understanding of how to address the terribly troubling national or world events that invade our homes and create turmoil for our families.

Accept that you will not have all of the answers Believe it or not, you hold the greatest potential for influence in your child’s life. While you may not have the opportunity to be the first to share the news, your response to a major tragedy could really shape your child’s response. Thankfully, for Christian parents, with great responsibility comes great power: “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1, HCSB). One of the most powerful actions you can take is to express confidence in God through prayer with your child. While you may have a great deal of uncertainty about the tragedy, you can convey assurance in God as a helper in this circumstance. •

Do: Calmly talk to your child as soon as possible about his or her experience of what has happened even if you aren’t entirely sure of the details. •

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

Don’t: Assume that because your child has not mentioned it that the event has not affected him or her.

Do: Take advantage of your influence as a parent by initiating a discussion about the event. •

Don’t: Spend countless hours watching the news in order to gather the facts, especially with your child at home.

Don’t: Make up answers to questions you don’t have the answer to.

Do: Be willing to admit when you don’t have an answer and, if needed, return to the conversation with an appropriate response.


Make listening a major priority

Regardless of whether your child carries an endless supply of words or is a master of one-word answers, listen to him or her with your eyes and ears to observe any changes that may be due to the tragedy. Once your child has heard about the tragedy, be sure to discuss your child’s experience, including any fears and concerns. • •

Do: Observe and comment on behaviors that you notice are out of the ordinary (e.g., “I notice that you didn’t eat much of your snack today. How are you feeling?”). •

Don’t: Use listening as an opportunity to think of what you will say next.

Do: Use verbal and nonverbal responses to communicate understanding as you are listening to your child’s experience (e.g., making eye contact and gently responding, “I hear you saying that you were afraid when your friend told you [what happened]”). •

Don’t: Make an assumption about what this experience must have been like for your child.

Do: Ask your child to explain what he or she knows. •

Don’t: Simply lecture your child about the event.

Don’t: Try to lead your child into a certain feeling or criticize your child for feeling or not feeling a certain way.

Do: Accept your child’s feeling and experience as valuable and important information.

Do: Understand that with all ages, a response to traumatic events typically involves a fluctuation of emotions including shock, fear, denial, anger, bargaining and sorrow, so an ongoing discussion may be necessary. •

Don’t: Create a traumatic response where there is not one by displaying panic and intense fear or resolving to isolate your child from school or routine social activities.

Do: Seek help from a professional Christian counselor if the traumatic response is persistent or too intense. A resource directory for Arkansas can be found at www.abchomes.org/counseling-services.

Focus on what you do know Have you ever looked forward to watching a movie only to have someone reveal the ending before you were able to see it? The anticipation and suspense are ruined at first, but then you get so into the current scene that you forget you know the outcome. As a Christian, knowing the ending is not a disadvantage in life. As a matter of fact, great assurance is found when we remember the ending. Jesus said, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky” (Mark 13:26-27, HCSB). The ending is clear, concrete and specific — Jesus wins! No matter how many questions we have about each new tragedy, we have the final answer. While we cannot neglect current events, we can join Paul in saying, “In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well-fed or hungry,

“As Christian parents, we are somehow to be a guide for our children as they learn to navigate the world, as well as a refuge for them to escape the ways of the world and grow in the way of Christ.” Provide developmentally appropriate responses The most important element in providing a response that is developmentally appropriate is understanding your child. Younger children usually communicate in more concrete terms, whereas most teenagers can understand abstract concepts and, despite their egocentricism, they have an ability to empathize and see different points of view. •

Don’t: Speak to your younger child in abstract concepts (e.g., evil, freedom, courage) or generalizations (e.g., “Sometimes bad people hurt children.”).

Do: Talk to your younger school-aged child in specific terms without becoming too detailed. •

whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12b-13, HCSB). We have the option of only one world in which to raise our children, and it is a world with many tragedies but none too great to change the Victor. With the triumph of Jesus in sight, face the present with boldness and courage knowing, “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence and his children have a refuge” (Proverbs 14:26, HCSB). Derek Brown is the Little Rock area director for Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries.

Don’t: Overshare unnecessary details because of your own traumatic response. Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

11


De-stressing in a stressful world

by Garrick Conner

I

t’s no secret that children today are growing up way too fast — much faster, in fact, than the generations before them. This fact is evidenced by earlier onset of puberty, particularly in girls, and by the kinds of things that worry our children. In a recent article for Christian Broadcasting Network, family therapist Linda Mintle wrote that children today worry about not only the usual issues of health, school and personal harm, but also more global issues like war, money and disasters. My experience as a minister and marriage and family therapist confirms her findings. Anxiety is a very real issue with people of all ages and life stages, even for children. And it’s no wonder, as they are exposed to a barrage of messages and psychosocial stressors in today’s fast-paced culture. It is difficult to be a child in our hectic and frenzied world! From behind the veil of pop culture and social media, our children are crying out to the adults in their lives, begging us to slow down and pay attention to them. In her article, Mintle wrote, “When you ask children what they would like to change the most in their lives, the answer is frequently

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

to have parents who are less stressed and tired.” Indeed, our children not only notice the frantic lifestyles we keep, but they follow our example and take on issues that should be reserved just for adults. Parents can help their children in several key ways with regard to stress:

Recognize and manage the stress in your own life Acknowledge the amount of stress you take on. Whether it’s family conflict, work-related matters, financial problems or something else entirely, examine your own life and work to appropriately manage stress. As a Christian, you can turn to your relationship with God as the starting point for sorting out your feelings and know that He cares for you. There are many stressors in life over which you have very little control. However, there are other stressors that you allow unintentionally to eat away at your quality of life, especially the quality of the relationship you have with your children. Rectifying the stress in your own life may mean drawing some clear lines and saying no to some really good things. Nowhere is this issue more evident than in the lives of working moms who need to work in order to make ends meet financially; yet they also want to be involved in their children’ schools, field trips, church and extracurricular activities.

For many moms, the popular social media site Pinterest has created a whole new level of need to keep up a superhero image. Whether it’s preparing healthy meals or being a resident creative expert who can whip out life-changing crafts in a moment’s notice, many mothers have bought into the notion that they could and should do everything with excellence. Of course, the trouble is that time is a precious commodity to be used wisely. Often that starts by setting more realistic personal expectations.

Set healthy personal boundaries with your children The most important thing parents can do for their children is to focus on the quality of their marital relationship. For single parents, this is a moot point. However, single parents must be extra vigilant about the tendency to lean on their children for emotional support they would ideally be receiving from their significant other. When you confide in your children about grown-up issues, you place them in the impossible position of knowing about your stressors but having little or no capacity or authority to make things better. If you have no spouse (or have an emotionally unavailable spouse), find a same-gender friend who can be a sounding board for you. If you need a deeper level of support, consider seeing a pastor or counselor in your church or community to help sort out your problems.


Set limits on your children’s technology use This includes TV, video games, Internet and social media. Regardless of their age, children and teens need to be active. For that matter, so do you! When we get sucked in by technology and all its timewasting gadgets, we automatically expose ourselves to more and more layers of messages, and we deprive ourselves of the time we need to effectively de-stress. Whether it’s the latest Facebook game, the most popular reality TV show or the constantly evolving online world, setting — and enforcing — healthy limits can help keep your children from being unnecessarily exposed to frequent and often subtle messages that create stress.

tell your children: “I need you to pray for a relationship problem I have with a co-worker.” Or maybe it’s something more tangible: “We need another car. Let’s pray that God will provide one for us.” Your goal is not to artificially insulate your children from the reality of stress in life, but rather to teach them to put it in proper perspective. Don’t forget to praise God for answered prayers and for just being so awesome and caring. Teach your children to praise Him no matter what. Take some time to honestly assess how you and your children are currently experiencing and coping with stress. Work with your family to identify a key Bible verse that reminds you not to worry and stress, but rather to trust God with troubles big and small. Come what may, He’s still got the whole world in His hands. Garrick Conner is discipleship pastor at Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock. He and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Jackson and Caroline. You can find more of his writings at www. garrickdconner.com.

It’s equally important to set limits on your own technology use as well. Children are smart. They know when you’re more interested in your phone or computer. At my house cell phones are strictly prohibited from the dinner table, and homework is first priority.

Encourage your children to be children When sports and extracurricular activities become more of a stress than a stress relief, consider cutting back on something. Having two children myself, I see the way many parents and coaches approach youth sports — with the no-holds-barred strategy that seems to forget that most of us aren’t raising the next superstar. Be intentional about having fun together as a family, and don’t downplay the simple things. Play games as a family. Exercise together. Bake cookies. Laugh together. Make the very most of the time God gives you.

Pray and praise God as a family There’s always going to be stress in your life. Like so many people in the Bible, you will grow stronger in your faith and more dependent on God as a result of life’s challenges and struggles. Take time to pray for situations that create stress. You don’t have to be too specific, especially about adult-related issues. Maybe you can just

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

13


Prepare financially for your child’s future by David Moore

A

rkansas is famous for its “19 Kids & Counting” TV family, the Duggars. That couple has been blessed with a large number of children, and their notoriety and publicity have made them well-known across the country. The question most of us ask, however, is, “How do they afford that many children?”

Recently I was talking with a friend who told me about his wealthy brother. It was a typical story: great job, excellent salary, wonderful promotions, etc. Then this comment was made, “And they have no children. It’s amazing what you can accumulate if you have no children!” My friend has several children and knows the cost of raising children. In his particular case, his brother is not a believer in Jesus Christ. With all their wealth, he and his wife live for themselves and to themselves. A third party who knows both brothers would tell you that my friend is so much happier and more fulfilled than his brother. Children can be a costly part of any family budget, but the end result of productive, happy offspring is very satisfying to Christian parents!

According to www.babycenter.com, the cost to raise a child for a middle-class family in Arkansas is now $303,790, and that only covers a public university education. The cost is greater for a private university. As a parent, how do you plan for such an expense for one child, much less nineteen? For some, the cost is prohibitive, at least in their minds. Their decision is to not have children or to limit the number of children. For most of us, however, we want to raise children if possible, and that involves finding a way to afford the process. What then shall we do?

Establish a savings plan A wise couple will establish a savings plan early in their marriage. For example, a 10-10-80 plan could be implemented: give 10 percent, save 10 percent and live on 80 percent of income. While the savings will need to increase over time, this does teach discipline and sets aside some savings each month. In full disclosure, my wife and I were not able to save 10 percent in our early years. We were struggling just to survive, and we needed to use some of the savings portion for food, shelter and seminary expenses. The end result was that we only saved 6 percent or some other amount less than our 10 percent goal, but we were able to save something each month since we had a plan. By the time our children were born, the plan was already in place. Our emergency fund was ready for unexpected issues with the

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

savings plan) can be established for a child any time after birth. An adult, usually a parent or grandparent, is the “account owner” of the account, and all earnings are tax-free if used for qualified educational expenses for the child beneficiary. The beneficiary can be changed later to other relatives if needed. There is a limit to contributions and a penalty for withdrawals that are not qualified educational expenses. Arkansas has even provided an incentive on state taxes for establishing a 529 Arkansas plan. There are two Arkansas plans: the iShares plan is sold through advisors and www.thegiftplan.com is an online plan.

Reso u r ces y ou m ig h t co nsider: www.ultimatemoneyskills.com/educators www.financial-education-icfe.org/ children_and_money

children. Our family budget had to change as well. For example, www.moneyasyougrow.org the cost of clothing for children became much higher on our needs www.moneyinstructor.com/children.asp assessment than our own clothes. As parents, we had to sacrifice David Moore is president of some of the things that we might wish to buy Arkansas Baptist Foundation. to provide adequately for our children. Soon almost 70 percent of our family’s clothing budget was directed to clothes for the children.

Saving for college After you have an emergency plan in place, saving in a college fund for each child can also be helpful. A 529 plan (special education


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15


Why questions talk by Ben Phillips

does t a h w , d a D e to soccer hav og ic? l o e h t h t i do w

T

his question was posed to me by my daughter when she was in the third grade and her brother played soccer. I quietly prayed and discerned what I think she was trying to ask, “What does soccer have to do with theology? What does soccer have to do with God?”

My initial response was to affirm her and then ask her to read two specific Scriptures. After she read 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,” and Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it,” we had a great discussion in response to her question. We concluded that whether we are playing soccer, studying, doing chores or anything that we should ultimately strive to glorify God in all our activities. Children frequently ask parents difficult questions about God, the Bible and other topics. My children have asked a variety of challenging questions over the years. I have had immediate answers to some questions, but I’ve had to do some homework to provide responses to other questions. Many of their questions were theological in nature as they were trying to figure out the world around them. They asked questions about the meaning of different words, the evening news stories, Bible stories they read or heard about and good and bad behaviors of others. Our children have asked about animals going to heaven, if Mickey in the “Rocky” movie went to heaven after his heart attack and how Christian beliefs are different from other world religions, along with a host of other challenging questions that have led me to discover some principles for handling such questions. Deuteronomy 6:7 encourages parents to share Scripture and regularly engage in faith interactions with their children throughout the day. Regular conversations with your children during your normal family rhythm will naturally lead them to ask questions as illustrated later 16

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in Deuteronomy 6:20-21, “In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws, which the LORD our God has commanded you?’ tell him ...” Children are naturally inquisitive. A variety of Scripture passages illustrate how children ask questions and parents are to respond (see Exodus 12:24-26; 13:1-16; Deuteronomy 6:20-25; Joshua 4:4-7, 19-24). Here are some principles to guide you as you respond to your inquiring children’s questions.

Affirm

them for asking questions, and give them your focused attention (Proverbs 1:8-9). Most of us live fast-paced lives and are easily distracted by our cell phone and other forms of media. Children will appreciate your focused attention when they ask questions and you respond like this, “That’s a great question, thanks for asking. Let me turn off the TV so we can talk.” Learn to ignore your phone, turn off the TV (don’t just mute it) and look them in the eye when you answer. This will encourage them to ask additional questions. If you ignore them or castigate them for asking questions,then they will soon stop coming to you with questions.

Base

your answers on the Bible (2 Timothy 3:14-17). The Bible is their ultimate source for wisdom, not the Internet or Siri (for those iPhone users), so learn to use phrases like, “Let’s see what the Bible says.” Open your Bible and read an appropriate verse or story together. Not every question will necessitate a specific Bible verse, but the more you can point your children to Scripture to answer their questions, the more they will learn to turn there for their answers.

Call

on God in prayer (James 1:5). Ask God for wisdom in how to respond to your child’s question. Ask God to open your eyes to His Word (Psalm 119:18). Pray together with your child that God will provide an answer.


Discuss

your answer in an age-appropriate way (Colossians 4:6). Short answers are often best, especially for younger children. If you can explain your answer by sharing a story, “Let me tell you a story ... ” or an example, then it will help them to better grasp the answer.

Expect

some answers to be difficult (Proverbs 2:1-6). Admit when you don’t know or have an immediate answer, “I don’t know the answer, but I will research it.” They will appreciate your humility. You may be able to bluff younger children, but older children will quickly see through your façade. Difficult questions can help you and your child understand and apply God’s Word even in challenging circumstances.

When your children ask questions, then it is a great time to talk. “Your progress as a parent can be measured by the questions your children ask,” according to John Younts in his book, “Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally about God with Your Children.” Such questions, even if you don’t have an immediate answer, are a good indication that you are regularly talking with your children about God (Deuteronomy 6:7), which leads to them asking questions about God (Deuteronomy 6:20). You may not consider yourself a theologian, but when your children ask you questions, then God has placed you in a position to point them to Scripture and to Him, helping them better understand God and the world around them from a Christian perspective because questions talk. Ben Phillips and his wife, Karen, have three children ages 16, 13 and 9, and they enjoy answering their children’s “why” questions. He is the family ministry team leader for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Contact him by email at bphillips@absc.org if you have additional questions or are interested in parent training seminars in your church.

Foster

the relationship by learning to listen well (Proverbs 18:15; 1 Peter 3:15). God has put you, as a parent, in a place to consistently listen to your children and disciple them to grow in their understanding of God and application of His Word. Treasure these moments when they are young, and the conversations will grow richer as they grow older.

Want to learn more? The following resources are chock-full of helpful advice in answering your children’s tough questions: ••

“801 Questions Children Ask about God with Answers from the Bible.” This book includes a specific question, a short response, a verse of Scripture and some special notes to parents.

••

“The Answers Book for Kids,” Volumes 1, 2, 3 and the website www.answersingenesis.org by Ken Ham. These resources provide biblical answers to key questions, particularly related to dinosaurs, creation and evolution.

••

“The Case for Christ,” “The Case for Faith” and “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel. These books are particularly helpful for older children having questions about their faith.

••

The website www.josh.org developed by Josh McDowell also has a variety of resources to help children and adults respond to difficult questions.

••

“Truth and Grace Memory Book 1” by Tom Ascol. This is a time-tested catechism with questions and answers.

••

“Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments” by Kara Durbin. This book does not deal specifically with questions but provides parents with a variety of issues to discuss with their children every day from topics such as anger, complaining, fairness, sharing, etc.

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17


The countdown is over; the lazy, hazy days of summer are here. How is your family planning to enjoy the coming days? Before the first, “I’m bored,” words fill the air, be ready with ideas. Try the following ideas, or tweak them to fit your particular children’s ages and interests, or get creative and come up with your own ideas! Each of these ideas is intended to go easy on the family budget! And, best of all, they will help your family stay mentally, physically and spiritually strong all summer long! Call out the inner Artist in each family member with sidewalk chalk! Encourage creativity and maybe even a little whimsy as the sidewalk masterpieces take shape! Consider giving out prizes in categories such as “most colorful,” “most unusual” and “most seasonal.”

Tell your children to Expect the unexpected! Awaken them one morning to a “surprise destination” day. Tell them what to wear and when to be ready, but don’t tell them where you are going! Laugh with them as they try to figure out the destination as you are on your way.

Read the Bible every day with your children! Consider either a “parable a day” or a “promise a day.” At the end of each week, ask your children to share their favorite parable or promise from the week’s Bible readings.

Take a Field trip to a local venue where your children have never been. This could be a local historic or recreational site, a business that gives tours or even a family-themed restaurant. This could be a “mini-vacation” that is both fun and educational!

Are there people in your Community who might need to have their day brightened up? Perhaps there is an elderly person in your neighborhood who might enjoy a visit from you and your children, or maybe you can take your children to visit the local fire station with a plate of cookies to thank firefighters for their public service.

Game on! Plan a game day with your

Play in the Dirt! Buy a packet or two of vegetable or flower seeds and encourage your children to try their hand at gardening. If you don’t have room for a garden in your yard, finds a few pots of various sizes and start your own container garden.

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children. It’s up to you and your children what these games might be. Depending on the weather, this may be either an indoor or an outdoor game day. Either way, remember it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether or not everyone had fun! Take a Hike! Put on your most comfortable pair of walking shoes and go with your children on a hike. Just for fun, challenge your children to skip, hop or take long steps or baby steps as you are walking.

Tell your children to Imagine they live in another country. Work as a family to research a country selected by your children. Try some of the country’s foods and customs. Learn a few new words if the language in the country is not English. Help your children discover Joy in giving! Challenge each of your children to find at least one toy in good condition that they are willing to give to another child in need. Parents, you should find something personal to give away as well! After the selections are made, go as a family to a charity or children’s home to make your donation. Get busy in the Kitchen! Who doesn’t love to cook — or at least eat? Just for fun, create something in the kitchen that will get even the youngest of your children involved! How about a sunshine cake? Use a simple cake mix and cook a round layer cake. Ice the cake in yellow frosting as the body of the sun; attach ice cream cones (again, iced in yellow frosting) to the sides of the cakes as the rays of the sun coming out, and decorate the sun with a nice smiling face! This will make even a cloudy day better!


Encourage your children to have an oldfashioned Lemonade stand, with all proceeds going to your church’s missions fund or to a local charity of your family’s choice. Show appreciation to the Ministers at your church. Challenge your children to come up with a creative way to thank your church’s ministers for all the ways they serve the church and community.

Enjoy a summer Night with the family! Let the children stay up late one evening and go outside. Stretch out on blankets and count the stars, or catch fireflies or, if you are adventurous, sleep outside (until the imaginary bears chase you back into your home)!

Open your home or backyard to a backyard Bible club, a wonderful way to reach out to neighborhood children with the love of God. Ideas and curriculum can be found in Christian book stores or on the Internet. Enjoy a family Picnic in a local park. Let each of your children select at least one of their favorite foods to include in your outdoor feast.

Quell the “what’s for dinner” blues by putting the children in charge of dinner one night. Give them a modest amount of money and a short talk on nutrition; let them check to see what is already in the pantry as they plan their menu; take them to the grocery to purchase other necessary items; keep an eye on preparations, and then sit back and enjoy the culinary creation! Play at least one round of a game called, “I Remember when ... ,” allowing each family member to have a turn in sharing a favorite memory. The children may learn a thing or two new about their parents and vice versa!

Spend a few minutes in prayer with your children daily. Of course, blessings before meals are always an appropriate time to pray, but try to sprinkle short moments of prayer throughout your day. For example, if you are in the car with your children and an emergency vehicle passes, take time to pray for those who might be experiencing an emergency and those who are helping them.

Plan an outdoor Talent show with neighborhood children. Encourage your children to invite a few friends from the neighborhood to your house and to plan a talent show. Give the children a few days to prepare for the show and then encourage parents and siblings to come enjoy the show in your yard!

Unplug the electronics for one day; that’s right — 24 hours with no TV, no video games, no computers. It may be a huge and nerve-wracking decision, but you can do it! You will be surprised at the options your children come up with to have fun. Who knows, you might even decide to unplug more than one day! Check it out! Is there a Vacation Bible school in your church or in a church in your community? What a great opportunity for your children to have fun and to learn about God’s love all at the same time! If your children have outgrown attending a Vacation Bible School, find out if they can help lead a class. Don’t miss out on the fun yourself; see how you can become involved as a leader as well!

Water, water everywhere! Have a wet and wild day with your children! Don’t live near a swimming pool, ocean, lake or water park? Don’t despair! Enjoy water the old-fashioned way. A water hose, sprinkler or water balloons will do just fine! Make activity and eXercise a part of your family’s daily schedule. Be a role model for your children as your family walks, bikes, swims or plays team sports as a fun way to stay healthy! Plan a Yard sale! It’s a great way to de-clutter your house and make a little extra money. As your children become involved in planning and conducting the yard sale, they will not only have fun, but also learn a few organizational and financial skills.

SeiZe the day as the summer begins to wind down and it’s time to do back-toschool shopping. As you purchase school supplies for your children, buy a few extras also for your children to share with a child in need, a children’s home or a school in an impoverished community.

Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013 Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

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Laying a financial foundation for children by Roy Hayhurst

M

any of us have heard the biblical admonition from Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Some of the most important — and sometimes most difficult — lessons we have to teach our children deal with the area of finances and stewardship. Fortunately, stewardship and personal finance are concepts you can begin teaching your child from a very young age. And, thankfully you don’t need a degree in finance to train up your children in making the right financial decisions. Consider these pointers for introducing your children to the basic stewardship tenets of money: earning, giving, saving and using.

Earning God designed us to work, and one of the fruits of our labor is the income that we derive from working. Even before the Fall, in Genesis 2:15, God placed Adam “in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Work isn’t a curse; it’s always been part of God’s plan for His creation. From a young age, children need to understand that everyone in the family has a job. While good arguments exist on whether children should receive an allowance — and if they do, should it be tied to work or not — most children can be encouraged by a small allowance for doing certain extra chores around the house. Those responsibilities should change as they get older and can do more complex tasks, but if they receive an 20

Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

allowance based on doing certain chores, make sure they only receive it for the completion of their assigned tasks. There is a great life lesson in knowing the power of deferred gratification.

Giving After earning their money, it’s important that children understand the importance of giving some of it away. The greatest financial heritage any parent can leave his or her children is to lead them to embrace and practice biblical tithing. Teaching a child that the first 10 percent he or she earns belongs to the Lord will go a long way to teaching children a proper perspective on finances. Look, too, for opportunities to give above and beyond the tithe to help those less fortunate, or for special needs in your community or around the world. Giving is a lesson that is more caught than taught. While it is important to talk to your children about the importance of giving a tithe to the Lord, and to give above and beyond the tithe for other worthwhile causes, your children should see the family put these lessons into action, whether that’s putting offering envelopes together as a family each week, or helping children see the online giving your family takes part in on a regular basis.

Saving Ask any adult what financial lesson they wish they’d paid more attention to, and

likely, saving for the unexpected would be near the top of most lists. Fortunately, it’s not a difficult concept to teach. Even schoolaged children can understand the concept of saving. At that age you can begin to explain the idea of earning interest on what they save. Opening a savings account at your bank or credit union in your child’s name will help them learn to regularly deposit part of what they’ve earned. Saving is also an important concept to teach in training children how to purchase an expensive item they may desire. Working hard and saving for a goal are important lessons that will pay dividends well into adulthood. As your children enter later elementary school and middle school, you can discuss articles in magazines or online, or on news programs that mention the stock or bond markets or investing. Specifically, children need to be familiar with basic concepts of investing their money, such as diversifying investments (using more than one type), how to manage risk, saving consistently over time and the benefits of compound interest to help their money grow. As children age and save more money, it may be wise to seek out some actual investment opportunities. Investing differs from saving in that saving is generally a process whereby money is set aside, like storage. Think of it as a rainy day fund or a vehicle to save for something — an expensive purchase, or a vacation, for example. Investing is where the money is


put to work with the purpose that it will grow and create more money. It is commonly used for longer-term goals. Mutual funds, individual stocks and many kinds of bonds are among tools used for investing, while savings are generally left in savings accounts at a bank or credit union.

re:connect, that includes helpful financial articles, many of which can help you become better acquainted with financial terminology. Sign-up at www.GuideStone.org.

Spending

If you feel ill-equipped to teach your children about investing, there are free articles and calculators available to the public at www.GuideStone.org. Simply click on Learning Center, and select the Personal

For young children, start with the basics of what money looks like and the names of the coins and bills. (You can even make it part of a history lesson by discussing the people whose names and pictures are on our coins and bills.) Later you can move to the cost of items, and the concept of needs versus wants. Explaining the value of an item versus the price of that item helps older children determine if something is a good use of their resources. Help them to develop their own personal budget, and allow them to be responsible for some expenses. If your child is ready for the responsibility, consider

The greatest financial heritage any parent can leave his or her children is to lead them to embrace and practice biblical tithing. Finance or Investing options under Individual Resources. GuideStone also makes available a free monthly eNewsletter,

providing them with a clothing budget or allowance, rather than buying them what they ask for. As they reach high school, you can begin to teach them about the proper use of debt and the danger of reckless borrowing. If your children are getting ready for college, you may have already seen credit card offers in your child’s name. Before they head off to school, make sure you talk to your children about your family’s beliefs on the use of credit and the risks of borrowing. It’s up to us to teach our children to be responsible stewards of money. It will take a consistent effort on the parts of parents and families, but it’s a lesson that will serve them well throughout their entire lives. Roy Hayhurst is senior manager of editorial services at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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21


A battle for Raising compassionate CHILDREN in a me-first world the heart: O by Jennifer Booth

Serving together in your community ••

Volunteer in your local food bank or church’s food pantry.

••

Serve meals at a homeless shelter.

••

Visit a children’s home and play with the children who live there.

••

Adopt an older neighbor and help them out by taking care of their lawn, cleaning their home, running errands for them or taking them to doctors’ appointments.

••

Volunteer at your local animal shelter.

••

Sign up to walk in a benefit for a charity. Most 5k events have a shorter family walk. Learn about the charity before the event and commit to raising funds for the walk.

ur children are born with a mefirst mentality. As newborns they demand our time and attention to feed, diaper and entertain them. And as they grow older, they began to stake a claim on what is “mine.” Today’s society provides many opportunities for our children to practice me-first thinking. All too often our children are caught up in what’s “theirs” or what their friends have. They have a difficult time having compassion for other people. Yes, some children are born with more tender or sensitive hearts, but in general being compassionate does not come naturally to children. As parents, we have the difficult task of developing compassionate hearts in our children. We are battling messages from the media and the world that tell our children they should live life to the fullest and do the things that feel good. Very rarely do we see compassion in action portrayed on TV.

On occasion, news shows will report about “Good Samaritan” deeds. But more often than not, we are bombarded with all the bad that goes on in the world.

What is compassion? Compassion is defined, on www.dictionary.com, as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” In other words, it is seeing a need and wanting to do something about it. Why should we teach our children to be compassionate? God commands us to be compassionate in His Word. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV). And, if we are to model Christ, then we are to be compassionate, just as He was. Matthew 9:36 (NIV) tells us, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” So, how do we develop a compassionate heart in our children? For starters, they have to see compassion lived out in us. If we are not providing the example, they will not take our efforts to teach them seriously. We don’t have to be perfect to set a good example. Our children need to see us make mistakes and acknowledge the times when we could have been more compassionate.

Compassion begins in the home. Before children can exercise compassion toward others, they must learn to be compassionate toward their family. Teach your children to say, “I’m sorry,” when they’ve wronged a family member.

1

Encourage your children to do random acts of kindness for family members. Examples would be making a sibling’s bed, taking care of another family member’s chores or doing an unexpected “good deed” for a family member.

2

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Encourage them to be kind and thoughtful to their friends and classmates. Too often our children are faced with choices to retaliate when someone is mean to them. Teach them to express emotions in a healthy way.

3

Show them how to be a good friend. With bullying incidents on the rise, your children need to know how to stand up for a friend. Your children can report the bullying if the friend is afraid to do so.

4

Open their eyes to the needs of others. Consider serving meals at a homeless shelter on a regular basis. This will provide the opportunity for your children to see their personal blessings of abundant shelter, food and clothing.

5

Have your children go through their closets, dressers and toy chests to get rid of excess items that could be used by a child in need. Encourage your children to give not only the items they don’t need or want anymore but to sacrifice by giving away some of their “better” things. They need to learn all children deserve nice things, not just what someone else doesn’t want.

6

Talk with your children about compassion. Discuss scenarios where compassion would be the appropriate response. Ask your children what they would do if they were in the other person’s shoes. Lead your children to come up with a compassionate response for each scenario you discuss.

7

Teach your children manners. When children learn how to be kind and respect others, compassion will follow. Tell them everyone deserves their respect and kindness no matter their position in society. Model this for your child by being polite and respectful to everyone with whom you come in contact.

8

Encourage your children to be generous with their money. If you give your children an allowance, teach them how to save money to give to charity. Teaching charitable giving at a young age will enforce a life-long habit that will benefit many in the long run.

9

Volunteer together as a family. Spending time together strengthens family ties and shows your children how important it is to serve others. Sit down together to plan specific times and places to volunteer. Let your children have input. You may be surprised at what they come up with! (See sidebar for places to serve together.)

10

you see your children making the effort to be compassionate, let them know. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in developing the habit of compassion. Monitor your children’s media intake. As mentioned earlier, our children are hammered with media messages that encourage anything but compassionate behavior. Talk about what you see on TV. Discuss when a person should have been compassionate.

15

Jennifer Booth and her husband, Steven, are trying their best to develop compassionate hearts in their children, Harrison and Elizabeth. She writes from her home in Little Rock, where she also blogs about having a more organized life at www. jenniferbooth.com.

Go on mission trips together. Getting outside the familiarity of your community provides the chance for your children to learn more about the world. Whether you serve in another state or choose to go out of the country, your children will gain valuable experiences that will change their worldview. (See sidebar for mission trip resources.)

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Study what the Bible has to say about compassion. Any discussion about compassion must be based on God’s Word. Discuss the following verses as a family: Exodus 34:6; Psalm 119:156; Psalm 145:8; Zechariah 7:9; Matthew 14:14; Philippians 2:1; Colossians 3:12. Point out how God is compassionate toward us, and our response is to show compassion toward others.

Mission trip opportunities for your family

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Model the importance of respecting leaders. Spend time together praying for government officials, the military and local police and firefighters. Make an effort not to bad-mouth leaders in a disrespectful way, even if you don’t agree with them. Show your children how to disagree without being disrespectful.

••

Contact your local church or denominational office to see where you can plug in to upcoming mission trips.

••

Visit www.wmu.com and click on the “ministries” tab. There you will find pre-packaged mission trips in which your whole family can participate. There are both domestic and international opportunities available.

••

Many charities such as Samaritan’s Purse and Compassion International offer mission trip opportunities. Visit www.samaritanspurse.org or www.compassion.com for more information.

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Praise compassionate behavior. All too often we call out our children when they are doing something wrong. How often do you praise your children for modeling good behavior? When

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Is this normal? by Charles Chamblee

I

s this normal? As parents, this is a question you have undoubtedly asked yourselves numerous times in regards to a behavior from your child.

How would you answer that question in these two scenarios? Sarah is an 8-year-old girl, and she has consistently been known as a respectful, well-behaved young girl in church and in school. Sarah’s parents received a call from the administrator of her school to tell them that Sarah had recently been bullying another child in her class. The administrator informed the parents that Sarah would be suspended from school for one day in adherence to the school’s bullying policy. Is this normal?

Josh is a 9-year-old boy who has always been active in “every sport that has a ball” and a “bit of a roughhouser.” He has two older brothers who have been actively involved in sports. The boys have had typical sibling rivalries. Josh’s parents have recently noticed that Josh has been spending an increasing amount of time alone. Additionally, Josh has stated that he does not want to participate in baseball this year. Is this normal? In both of these examples, a change has occurred in the behavior of these children. One of these children is displaying normal adolescent behavior, and one is in need of

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

counseling. The keys in identifying when a child’s behavior is “normal” and when a child’s behavior indicates the need for the assistance of a mental health professional are something that every parent can determine if they know what to look for.

a parent know so that they can best care for their children? Here are three basic areas for parents to consider when answering these questions.

First, let’s look at a few further details surrounding Josh and Sarah, and then we will examine a few factors that help parents determine if a child needs the assistance of a mental health professional.

Parents don’t need to be developmental specialists, but every parent needs to have at least a basic understanding of what is ageappropriate behavior. Especially in today’s “grow-up fast” world, it is more important than ever to know what reasonable expectations of your child are. A couple of realities to keep in mind are:

In the case of Sarah, a discussion between the family and school administration revealed that Sarah’s best friend had moved away during the school break and that Sarah had not been able to establish a close friend since her departure. Sarah experienced a significant loss and didn’t know how to direct her emotions. Once the family and school administrators were aware of this fact and began to discuss it with Sarah, they were able to determine a plan to help her adapt through this transitional time. In the case of Josh, further investigation revealed that Josh felt an overwhelming need to “out-do” his brothers, especially in their previous sports accomplishments. At some point, this self-imposed pressure became too much for Josh, and he decided his only recourse was to not do what his brothers had done. Despite his parent’s attempts to encourage him to “be his own person,” Josh continued to increase his reclusiveness and grow increasingly resentful of his family. Josh benefitted greatly from a counselor who was “outside of the family” to help him identify his feelings and handle them in a healthy manner. So how do you know the difference between “normal” and “needing help”? What should

First, know what normal is.

Reality One: The things that were ageappropriate when you were a child are probably not the same today. Remember that things have changed dramatically in the last 20 to 30 years. The incredible advancement of electronics alone has made the world a vastly different place. Reality Two: Your child’s school, athletic team, scout group or even the best church in the world cannot determine what is best for your child. Although all these organizations may have their place in our lives, none of them take the place of involved, interested parents!

Second, evaluate yourself as closely as you evaluate your child. Parents often have “blind spots” in relation to their children. One basic question that parents need to ask when they notice behaviors in their children is, “Is this behavior something that I have modeled for them ... either intentionally or unintentionally?” Although we have


Jennifer Adkins R E A LT OR

all heard that “children are sponges,” parents sometimes have selective memory that this takes place in all areas of life. Children will pick up the good, as well as the bad, habits that parents model for them. One far-reaching example is that the television shows that are appropriate for adults are not the same television shows that are appropriate for children. No matter how much comedy or how much animation a show may have, it may still display attitudes and behaviors that parents don’t want to instill in their children. Children learn to do and say what they see and hear! Parents cannot expect a child to do what they say if they themselves are not willing to do what they say.

Third, honestly answer this question, “Do my children know what is expected of them?” Many behavior problems can be solved by clearly communicating with your children, on their level, what is expected of them. Consider establishing a contract with your child that lists expectations of them and expectations of you. The contract doesn’t need to be extensive, but remember that clear expectations lead to clear results. Demonstrating to your child that you will do what is asked of you sets the right example. Let Matthew 5:37 be the basic guide for you and your children, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’” (NIV). If, after looking closely at these three areas, you still have concerns about your child and his or her behavior, consult a mental health professional. Most are willing to answer some questions for you on the phone and point you to some basic resources. As a pastor for more than 18 years, I would always encourage parents to consult their pastor or youth minister and utilize the wisdom and experience God has given them, but realize their limits. They are uniquely prepared to help your child spiritually, but they are not (and should not be expected to be) mental health experts! Combining the insights you gather from your family, church, school and maybe a mental health expert, you will be prepared to answer the question, “Is this normal?” Charles Chamblee is a therapist for Baptist Health Counseling Center in Little Rock.

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How to leave a spiritual legacy by Travis McCormick

H

ave you ever thought about the impact your life will have on others when you are gone? Can you help lead future generations to faith in Christ and affect someone’s eternity even after your earthly life is over? The answer is Yes. But you must begin now to build a godly legacy that will provide opportunities for others to know Christ and grow spiritually for years to come. Here are some tips that will help you leave a spiritual legacy for generations to come:

1. Focus on your personal spiritual growth. Don’t neglect your own spiritual growth, and don’t be satisfied with just knowing that you will go to heaven one day. Don’t let rituals take the place of your most important personal relationship — your relationship with God. Get involved in a local church as more than just an attender. Go to church to learn, invest and grow. Spend personal time each morning getting to know God better. Make an intentional effort to know what the Bible says and then do it. Pray without ceasing. As you grow to become more like Christ, you will be guaranteed a lasting spiritual legacy.

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

2. Take responsibility for evangelism and disciple-making. Start with your children by not passing this responsibility off to the pastor or the church. Simply attending church does not assure that one day your children will make a decision to follow Jesus. You must tell them, lead them and model Christ for them. In the process of helping lead your children to faith in Christ

3. Support missions and missionaries. Take time to learn about missions and the work of missionaries around the world. Pray for missionaries and for the mission. Support missions through financial gifts from your family. Go on mission trips or participate in local missions and ministry projects. By supporting missions and missionaries, you will help ensure that the good news of the gospel will carry on for generations to come.

“A great way to ensure

that godly wisdom is passed on to future generations is to keep a written record.

and helping them grow spiritually, you will begin to understand what Jesus meant when He told us to “make disciples.” This process doesn’t stop with your family. Seek out opportunities to share the gospel with others and to help lead them in their spiritual growth.

4. Share the journey. With the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commanded us to go and multiply. We are to make disciples who make disciples. In order to do this, we must invest in the lives of others and take them with us on our spiritual journey. Along the way, we must model the Christian life for them. Bring


others to church with you and take them along on a service project, mission trip or evangelistic visit. Use everyday situations to teach spiritual truths. Ask spiritual questions. Pray together. Intercede for them and pray for their needs, but don’t stop there. Teach them how to pray. Sharing the journey means you don’t just tell people what to do. Take them with you, show them how to live for Christ, walk alongside them as they take their first steps to tell others about Jesus Christ, and encourage them to continue to deepen their relationship with Him.

5. Write it down.

written record. If you don’t currently keep a spiritual or prayer journal, it’s not too late to start. Use this journal as a “spiritual diary,” documenting your spiritual journey. Write down your prayer requests as well as answers to your prayers. Take notes during your quiet times, sermons, etc. Keep the journal with you during the day, writing down any nuggets of truth and wisdom that God may give you. List those things you’re thankful for and share your struggles. This written record will help you in your daily walk and ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to grow spiritually as they glean wisdom and understanding from your spiritual journey.

A great way to ensure that godly wisdom is passed on to future generations is to keep a

Take a look at your life. What kind of legacy will you leave for those who will follow?

It’s not too late to make the necessary adjustments and live your life with the purpose of pointing others to Christ, both now and for generations to come. Travis McCormick is a member of the missions support team for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Travis and his wife, Teresa, have three children. Travis enjoys watching his children play ball.

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Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

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I

t was 2001 when Billy’s parents came into CompUSA with a problem: Billy was into violent, deviant pornography online, and they needed software to block his access to it. Buddy Knight, who worked at the store at that time, knew just the software they needed. In the following days, Knight encountered a number of others with similar problems. When Billy’s parents came back 10 days after buying the software, God revealed to Knight his calling. Billy was still into porn, and his parents were furious, assuming they had been ripped off. Knight asked if they had reset the password. Billy’s father went from furious to embarrassed as he explained they hadn’t understood and had asked Billy to set it for them. “And that’s when the Lord put on my heart that the children are so far ahead of the parents that we need to educate and equip the parents,” explained Knight. So he established Knights’ Quest Ministries, based out of Fort Worth, Texas, a ministry “dedicated to addressing the unique problems posed to individuals and families by the advent of our high-tech, ever-changing society.”

Internet safety: How to protect your children from online dangers

“The primary focus of Knights’ Quest has been the damage being done to individuals and families by Internet-based pornography, online predators and the new ‘cyber-sexuality,’” said Knight. “This focus has led to the development of seminars for youth, parents and professionals which address the dangers posed by the Internet and modern media to our safety and moral purity.” Knight, director and principal speaker for Knights’ Quest, sat down recently with Arkansas Christian Parent to answer key questions regarding parenting children in today’s technology-driven culture.

Q Regarding A pornography, what is out there and how are children accessing it?

by Jessica Vanderpool

The pornography children are finding is violent, abusive, manipulative, degrading and exploitive. It’s very damaging to healthy sexuality. Parents think, ‘If I put a filter on the computer, I’ve done my job.’ What they don’t understand is, yes, the desktop and laptop computers are compromised, but so are tablet computers, game systems, cell phones, portable media players, Smart TVs and Smart DVD players. Even online Internet streaming media or video rental has what you would call ‘soft-core porn.’ And there are a lot of R-rated movies available on many services that are basically soft-core porn. Plus, if you have even one of many popular apps, children can just surf and watch all their stuff, including the late-night stuff.

Q Do you have A

Buddy Knight, Knights’ Quest 28

Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

any statistics you can share?

The average age of first exposure to pornography now is 11, with some exposures down to age 8. In the United kingdom, there was reporting recently that they are seeing an increase in sex offenders, primarily children


streaming box. People don’t realize there are more than 700 channels available, including porn channels. One porn channel allows viewers to disguise it under the name “Spreadsheet Tutorials.” And that wasn’t the only one that did that. So they understand people want to hide.

who are being accused of rape and sexual assault, who are preteens, the youngest being 10. In every case, Internet pornography is a factor because children see it, the adults appear to be having fun and so ‘monkey see is monkey do.’ But it’s not just a boy problem either. Onethird of all visitors to adult websites — not just porn sites, but other adult-type sites — are female, and it’s becoming a growing problem. They’ve found that 90 percent of children, by the time they get into high school or through high school, have seen online porn. Not all of them are searching it. Parents have to not only stop children from being intentional about going and getting it and negating that behavior, but we have to protect our children from the accidental exposure, because God made a very great brain to store things and if they see that material accidentally, it’s there forever. And it can spark curiosity. It can spark sexual desires and arousals that take them down a path to view more pornography. A recent USA TODAY article said children watch porn at ages as young as 6 and begin flirting on the Internet as early as age 8.

You don’t want to get rid of all the tech — that’s a disservice to your children who are growing up in a technology world — but parents do have to get educated and learn how to effectively protect their families.

Q What about A parents and

grandparents who aren’t tech savvy?

Q How can A parents tell if

their child is into these kinds of things?

Another big indicator is your hard drive may be filling up because they’re just downloading porn. So you’ll have hard drive capacity issues or they’ll always want to have a new hard drive, an external, that’s theirs.

Q What steps A do you suggest parents take to preempt their children from seeing porn?

Then you need to look at all the other things. I recently read an article on a popular TV

One clue is if a child is sort of selfisolating — they’re in their room all the time with the door closed or they’re in another part of the house or in the playhouse — especially if they have a portable device. If they get very possessive of things, especially flash drives or CDs they don’t want to share, use your instincts.

The article quoted Bitdefender chief security strategist Catalin Cosoi: “Children nowadays are acting like young adults online — just give them an Internet-connected device, and they will find a way to do things parents would like to ban forever.” The most important thing you need to do is filter the household — not the computer — the household. You need to look at all the different avenues that enter your home, including cable TV, online video rental, all those, and take the appropriate actions to limit accidental exposure. As far as Internet use, I tell folks the basic ‘seatbelt’ for the information superhighway is this free service for homes called ‘OpenDNS.’ OpenDNS is a service you sign up for and set not in your computer, but in your router, so it filters your entire household, Wi-Fi and everything. Then if little Johnny’s friend brings a tablet computer over and hops on your network, it’s filtered. If you get them a game system and they download the browser, it’s filtered. It’s not 100 percent everything — it’s just the Web — but it’s the basic seatbelt.

One thing they can do is find someone — not a teenager or child — who can set up OpenDNS for them. That will at least filter their house. And OpenDNS uses over 50 categories so you can customize it to the age and interest and threats in your home. People just need to be educated. You have to learn some skills, but anybody can learn them.

And if you’re always getting computer viruses, that’s a big red flag because porn sites are known for infecting folks.

Q What can A you do if you

discover your child is viewing porn?

It’s extremely important you don’t go ballistic. The way you react will often condition how your children view sex and sexuality because this is one of the first experiences they will have in that realm. If you say, ‘That’s dirty, nasty, terrible,’ they may take those words that you are using to describe pornography and infer that you are saying the same thing about sex. Unintentionally, you just branded something God made for good with a negative blush. We need to explain to children why we’re concerned about them doing this — all the harmful ways it can affect their lives and futures — and what steps you’re going to take as far as putting filters in place, changing Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

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passwords and limiting access.

Q How do

areas of the brain activated. It becomes a stronger imprint, a stronger reaction. What they have today, especially with it on demand and able to be repeated as often as desired, the impact is much stronger psychologically. And when we were children, we weren’t seeing people being abused to the point they needed medical attention as part of the activity or people having orgies or same-sex encounters.

But any child caught viewing porn — keep in mind they’re going to be probably a little less than honest about how long it’s been — needs to be evaluated by a Christian counselor experienced in dealing with porn addictions and sex addictions because I’ve worked with families who had 10-year-olds who were already addicted. If you do have a problem, and it’s serious like an addiction, at least the sooner you know it and admit it and engage the right resources to fix it, the stronger your child’s recovery will be.

One of the other things I see from my fellow geeks is, ‘Oh, I’ve got it handled. I’m locked down.’ I’ve had some folks who’ve done a good job. But then I had the case of one engineer who thought he had it covered and then his wife discovered their son was into a particularly serious form of porn at age 14.

A

you talk to your You always have to talk about God’s children about safe zone for sexual expression, and that’s these problems? marriage. Outside that zone, nothing’s OK. We need to explain that it’s not sex that is terrible — it’s that they’re expressing it outside marriage and sharing it with others outside that marriage relationship. Any sexual expression outside of marriage is outside of God’s boundaries.

Q What should

They need to understand this is highly addictive. The brain mechanism that’s brought into play when you have an addiction to pornography is the same mechanism as cocaine. There are some very slight differences, but by and large, it’s the same mechanism. And it’s harder than cocaine to break. Someone recovering from cocaine can decide, ‘I’m not going to hang around places and people that are using cocaine.’ Pornography — if I’ve seen it, it’s in my mind. And I take my drug with me. That’s why we need to prevent it from ever starting.

A

parents make I think it’s very important parents sure their impress upon the children there is no privacy children know? on the Internet. Any time you put something

Q What are

some common excuses or mistakes you see parents making with their children?

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out there, there’s a return address. It can be tracked to you. What they do today will be immortalized on the Internet if it gets there, and it will impact jobs, scholarships and getting into college. Children need to understand this is not harmless. It is not just fun. Putting something on the Internet is the same as putting it on a billboard by the interstate.

A

One I see a lot is, ‘Hey, we had porn when we were children, and we’re OK.’ Well, we had a two-dimensional picture. That actually triggers certain areas of the brain a certain way. But when you start adding 24 frames per second, a flow of behavior — the whole episode — and you have sound, then you have even more

Arkansas Christian Parent // summer 2013

Q If there was

We also have to avoid this really bad vulnerability: ‘Oh, my child’s a good Christian child in church all the time. They’d never want to look at that stuff.’ I would have if I had been 12 or 13 and had that technology. That’s what children do until the boundaries are set and protections are made. Just like you lock up firearms because you have children in the house, you need to protect your children from the influence of online pornography and access to predators because children do stupid things.

A

one thing you Don’t assume your children are safe wanted to tell just because you want it to be so. If you have parents, what not taken action to safeguard your children, would it be? to protect your home and to educate both

Q

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

yourselves and your children about the dangers — whether from pornography or sexting or predators or doing other stupid things on the Internet — if you’re not actively parenting in this area, you are vulnerable and your children are vulnerable.

A

If your children are involved with porn, they’re not beyond the power of the cross for healing and restoration. Aside from introducing them to Christ, the best gift you can give your children is making sure their mom and dad are happily married. To learn about Knight’s workbooks, workshops, seminars and more, visit www.knightsquest.org. For articles and information on current issues and today’s ever-changing technology, visit his blog at blog.knightsquest.org. Jessica Vanderpool is the assistant editor of Arkansas Baptist News.


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Arkansas Christian Parent - Summer 2013