Friday, November 17, 2017

Bringing Up Boys: Lessons from Dr. James Dobson

What characteristics come to mind when you think of boys? Perhaps, rambunctious, energetic, intelligent, strong, fearless, difficult to manage? Boys are definitely unique. They were made stronger; they were made to protect their families. They were made first for a reason.

As parents, we can find it challenging to raise boys. They can be strong-willed, but sensitive at the same time. They can be wild, but deflated if we are not careful with our actions and our words. They can be great listeners, or they can learn to be rebellious. Fortunately, we can seek wisdom in parenting.

Dr. James Dobson is a great place to start for gathering some timeless advice on family and parenting. He has been known as one of the most influential Christian leaders of our time. He founded the radio program, Focus on the Family, in 1977. In 2002 he wrote Bringing Up Boys, which I will highlight for you now.

Dr. James Dobson tells us that General Douglas MacArthur, who was among the greatest military leaders of all time, said "It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle, but in the home." He said, "A soldier destroys in order to build. The father only builds." That is our opportunity: to build our home in such a way that provides our kids with peace, love, and direction.

Why is the family important? Families bring stability and mental health to children. Character, self-discipline, respect for authority, commitment to the truth, work ethic, love of Jesus can all be learned in the home. Boys can learn to be men, who are unwavering in their desire to live according to the truth. They can learn to stand for the only message that can teach us who we are, why we are here, how we got here, and where we are going for all eternity. They can learn to be men, who impact this world.

What's the bad news? Our children need us. They need us to be around, to teach them how to cope with life. James Dobson tells us that, "I believe the two-career family during the child rearing years creates a level of stress that is tearing people apart." He also says that "We live our lives as if we're on freight trains that are rumbling through town. We don't control the speed - or at least we think we don't - so our only option is to get off. Stepping from the train and taking life more slowly is very difficult." But he suggests we do just that65% of children go home to an empty house! They have no one to talk to if they had a bad day, no one to tell them they are worth it, no one to comfort them and give them strength when they most need it.

Dobson tells us that when parents are present, kids are much less likely to be affected by drugs, violence, and criminal activity. Particularly, the absence of fathers is the the biggest contributor of criminal behavior in boys and men. They desperately need parents to lead them in the right direction. When parents are not present for much of the day, children are more likely to rebel, causing these temptations to be even greater. Josh McDowell tells us that "Rules without relationship lead to rebellion."

Dobson also tells us to not be too distracted or exhausted to care for our children. They need us, for what will seem like a brief moment in time, and then they will be on their own. That time is valuable. "I would give anything to go back twenty-five years and live another day with the two kids who graced our home."

What Do We Do About It? Researcher George Barna reports that kids age five to thirteen have a 32% chance of accepting Jesus Christ as their savior. But, from ages fourteen to eighteen, there is only a 4%, and for adults there is only a 6% that they will become Bible-believing Christians. Kids, in their formative years, need parents around to teach them right from wrong and to teach them that, contrary to everything they hear in our culture/at school, there is truth. That truth comes from the Bible. "Phony research has been used effectively by liberals to advance their agenda."  ...of tearing down the family unit. They do this by claiming that families are better without the father in the home, stronger when the mother works, less affected by crime because of abortion, more normal when they allow their children to choose their own identity, etc. We need to defeat those phony teachings in our own homes. Dobson tells us that if the teaching sounds nonsensical, chances are it is. For example, marijuana retards the growth of normal brain cells, has exponentially higher cancer-causing capacity than normal cigarettes, and has the ability to lower the white blood cell count by 39%, damaging our immune system. For these reasons, we must be present to teach our kids to be counter-cultural Christians.

What Does Christian Parenting Look Like? Research tells us that only 34% of all children born in America will live with both biological parents through age eighteen. Just being present, loving, and married to your spouse will make a big impact on your children. Boys need structure and supervision, and they need to be civilized. They need to be taught to pick up after themselves; they need to be taught to have respect for women and authority. In disciplining them, Dobson tells us that "a few quiet words spoken with conviction by a mother or father can often convey this confidence and authority better than a barrage of empty threats and wild gestures." Children will remember how we treat them more so than they will remember the bad things that they might have done.

What Is The Mother's Role? Kids need their mothers a great deal more than our culture teaches. It is not just the cooking and cleaning that matter. It is all of the love and support that we can show our kids throughout the day. We need to listen to them, encourage them, teach them the Bible, and bring them peace. We need to let them have fun, let them learn, let them know that they are wanted. If possible, Dobson suggest to homeschool your kids. Immorality is pushed so heavily in the school systems, so home-schooling is a great option.

What Is The Father's Role? Dobson tells us that the father should be the provider, leader, protector, and spiritual teacher. Protect them at school, at home, in public. Prevent them from being bullied at all cost, even if it means moving or changing schools. Teach respect by showing respect. Have fun. Shoot hoops. Wrestle. Play games. Eat together.

Dr. James Dobson gives us much advice here in his book, Bringing Up Boys. I hope you are able to implement some of it in your life. I think you will be rewarded greatly in your heart and in your life as you value God's gift of children.

Thanks for reading!

~Melissa Seng

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Friday, November 3, 2017

How to Become Part of Their World

Dr. Tim Clinton, writer and psychologist for Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk, recently said, "Every time a child is born - so is a mother." Motherhood is a journey that begins and never ends. The same is true of Fatherhood. God gives us family and we become part of their world, and they become part of ours. We get to pay attention to every part of their lives, watching them learn to walk, talk, and eat real food for the first time. We get to see them smile, and we get to see how they understand so much of the world around them. Kids are incredible, talented, smart, and such a fun addition to our world.

But, sometimes life gets busy. We get busy. And we forget to be a part of their world, like we once had been. We get so wrapped up in grocery shopping, cooking, and running our kids around, that we don't take the time to pay attention to them. We throw on their coats, demand that they be quiet and listen, and then days pass without paying attention to them. So how do we change that routine? How do we become part of their world once again?

We can start by making a regular attempt at getting out of our own world. Work, hobbies, and paying too much attention to everyone else, can rob us of paying attention to our kids. Yesterday, I realized, when I was driving around town, feeling unfulfilled, that I was only thinking about myself all morning. It is natural; but, then, we need to make an honest attempt to refocus and redirect our attention.

You might be thinking of all the things you have to do in one day and say that you do not have much time to focus on your kids, you barely have enough time to focus on God. Well, I say to you, from the great words of Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid, "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat. Wouldn't you think my collections complete? Wouldn't you think I'm the girl, the girl who has everything." She has everything, but it's not enough. "I wanna be where the people are; I wanna see, wanna see them dancin." She wants to be part of that world, she wants to be where the people are, because the people are more important that the things we worry about.

Being a part of their world means thinking about them, paying attention to them, searching for their needs, enjoying them. Then, we can understand what it means to be a part of Jesus' world. Living for Jesus is not a phrase that is easy for most people to understand, but when we begin to live for others, think about Him, and see the world through God's eyes, we are beginning to live as Jesus lived.

Thanks for reading!

~Melissa Seng