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Volume 5 Number 26       July 19, 2000       Norman Bales, Editor

CONTENTS

Just Visiting

Jerry Fielder, Joe Huffman, E. B. Jones and Reggie Reynolds are shepherds of the Southern Hills church where we serve and worship. Recently they wrote a letter to the parents of our congregation expressing their concerns about the challenge of parenting in our current moral and spiritual climate. This week, we're sharing the content of that letter.

Ben Brewster is a brilliant young man who serves a church in our area. He is a wonderful colleague and friend. His thoughts on fatherhood are humorous with a serious point underneath. As a writer Ben has at least two fans - Ann and the church secretary at Southern Hills. We hope to give him a little broader exposure and enlarge his fan base. He has given us permission to print anything he writes, so you may quite possible hear from him again.

We're going on the road again. This time we'll be attending the annual Bible Teacher's Workshop at Abilene Christian University. Your newsletter will probably be delayed next week by one day.

Norman and Ann

* * * * *

LETTER TO PARENTS

Dear Parents: Out of our great love for our families and children, we are writing to you and all of our families' children. All four of us have had children who are now grown. The challenges we faced as parents were great and we know that today's parents face even greater challenges. Our society makes it increasingly difficult to fulfill our God-given role as parents.

We are sure you have seen the "Unsafe Sex" and the "Virgin is not a Dirty Word," billboards around town. These are certainly steps in the right direction. We want to encourage and to challenge you in your role as parents. You are the first line of defense against Satan for your children and for the future of the church. We want to encourage you and all of our parents to be proactive in helping your children pursue purity of mind, body, action, and thought. We want to help you in every way possible in winning this battle with Satan for the hearts and minds of our children.

Our kids today are bombarded with all kinds of wrong messages. They come through TV, through music, through movies, through books and magazines, and through the internet. They are hearing messages about sex, about alcohol, about drugs, about abortion, and about homosexuality. It is time for our kids to hear messages on those topics from the people who know them best and love them most...you...their parents. If you have not already, we encourage you to sit down with your kids and give them age-appropriate guidance on how to face these issues.

We want to get quite specific with what we are encouraging. We hope that if you aren't doing it already, you will get involved in giving your kids good, sensible guidance about life. Talk to them about the music they listen to, the TV programs they watch, the movies they go see, and the books and magazines they read. Talk to them about their friends at school and at church. Encourage good friendships; discourage unhealthy ones. Talk to your kids about the opposite sex. Talk to them about the clothes they wear. Stress the importance of modesty and purity. Talk to them about dress appropriate for the occasion. Discuss the way boys and girls relate. Talk to them about your memories of what it was like to be a teen and to deal with raging hormones. You can do it without opening a "closet door" that might be embarrassing. Believe us, our kids are getting lots of messages daily about sex. They need to get healthy ones from their parents. We would encourage you to be especially attuned to the use of computers and the internet. The Internet has become one of the biggest blessings and curses of today's generation of kids. There are ways to protect your kids from the tons of really bad stuff that is out there on the Web. This is especially important if you have boys, because so much of the bad stuff is aimed at them.

Next, spend time with your kids. What will matter most with your kids is not the moral teaching, as important as that is, but your love and attention. In today's busy world, too many parents... Christian parents… spend too little time with their children. Take time to pray with your kids. Take time to talk to them about God. Carry out the teaching of Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Hug them and tell them you love them...and do it often! Praise their actions when they do something good. Studies show that the best-adjusted adults are the ones who received generous praise at home while growing up. In fact, they say that you pretty much cannot overdo it!

Finally, "walk the walk and talk the talk." No message reaches kids with more power than the message of your actions. When they see you seeking after God, they will want to seek after God. When they see you pursuing purity, they will want to pursue purity. When you mess up (and we all do!), 'fess up! Kids are much more forgiving than we are. When you admit that you made a mistake (you lost your temper or yelled or otherwise acted badly) kids are great about forgiving us.

We hope you will receive this letter in the spirit in which it is written...the spirit of love. We have a great love for this church, for your family, and for your kids. We want to support and encourage you in your role as parents. We want to hear from you about ways that we can serve our families better. We want to dream of the day when our families and youth group will be known far and wide for being dynamic and spiritual. God bless you as Christian parents!

In God's Amazing Love,

Jerry Fielder

Joe Huffman

E.B. Jones

Reggie Reynolds

* * * * *

FATHERING IS EASY;

BEING A DAD GETS COMPLICATED

by Ben Brewster
Bossier City, Louisiana

Life is full of learning experiences (why did a knowing smile just cross your face?). These experiences come in all forms and at every stage of life. Unfortunately, most learn-ing experiences are not entirely pleasant at the time. Such was the case this past weekend as my wife flew across the country to attend a wedding and I (though I do not remember consenting) stayed at the home front with our two hooligans (oops, children).

As Mendy packed her bags to leave, panic began to set in. "Uh, honey, have you put together any lists?"

Not even taking the time to soothe my worries, Mendy continued packing and noncha-lantly asked, "What lists?"

"You know, lists that tell me what to do with the kids while you're away."

Laughter filled the room, but it was not emanating from me. I was in the begging mode by now, convinced that my wife had a measure of wisdom that no man possessed. "Mendy, I've never done this before for this long," I said as I recalled Peter sinking on the water and yelling to Jesus, "Lord, save me!"

"You know what to do, Ben."

Oh, of course. You're not the one charged with taking care of the kids while your spouse flies the friendly skies! You're not the one who's going to have to put them down for naps and feed them and entertain them and ... That's when it hit me. She is the one who takes care of the kids. She is the one who sacrificed a career to rear our children. She is the one with the 24/7 job. What was I thinking?

Needless to say, there are several bulletin articles that have emerged from this eventful weekend. There are stories about a Daddy being tackled and beaten by his children; a little boy jumping on top of a much bigger dog; and, of course, how could I omit the contin-ual reminders from my daughter that always began with, "But, Mommy said..."

Fathering a child is pretty easy. Being a Daddy is much more complicated because it means getting involved in the life of your children. Hey, your kids are going to squirt the ketchup on someone, it might as well be you!

* * * * *

PERCEPTIONS

"It's Not My Fault"

by Penney F. Nichols

Nearly everyone alive has been treated unfairly at some point in time. What can we do about unjust actions that have been taken against us? Sometimes things can be changed and sometimes they can't. Even when we can't change things, we still have choices. We choose our attitudes and we choose our reactions. Penney Nichols says "it may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility." You can read what he has to say on the subject

at

http://www.allaboutfamilies.org/sh/percep200026.html

If you have questions about marriage and family relationships, you can "ASK THE COUNSELOR." Address your questions to Mikal Frazier. Her address is mikal@allaboutfamilies.org

Norman's e-mail address: nlbales@allaboutfamilies.org

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