Our children go through a strange and wondrous metamorphosis as they grow up. Besides the physical and intellectual changes, their relationship with us changes. Things that once caused belly-laughter in our kids turn into those moments that embarrass and even mortify our kids. Or, we do or say something in response to a normal parenting situation which causes our kid to squirm. How we handle our child’s reaction to those things can go a long way towards determining the overall environment in our homes. What happens between those times and why embarrassing moments are OK is the subject of this post.Continue Reading...
Archives For Child
My wife and I were discussing vacation plans this week, so Kami (my wife) asks our daughter Ashley where she would like to go on vacation. After mentioning the typical places that we have been to before, Kami asks her if there is any place she would like to go that she’s never been to. Ashley’s response became the title of this post – “How Do I Know Where To Go If I Haven’t Been There Yet?”Continue Reading...
Kids need to understand that work is how money is earned. Allowances are a common theme in childhood but they may send the wrong message. The biggest problem – when they come without work or chores attached.Continue Reading...
Imagine that you’ve just gotten off of an airplane in a different part of the world that you’ve never experienced. All of the people, things, places, that you encountered were a new adventure waiting to be explored. That’s as close as we can get to understanding what it’s like to be your child. They come into this world as a blank slate and everything they experience is a new impression on them.
Think for a few minutes with me about how your child sees the world. Can you imagine going back to the days when almost everything was a new learning experience? How did you figure it out? Mom and Dad. Your job as their parent is to teach your children what you want them to know. You teach them the names of things, how things are used, what sounds they make, and what is safe and what is not. They learn from you what things to eat and drink and what things to play with and avoid. They learn what appropriate language is and, if you use it, what inappropriate language is. Are you actively showing your child the differences?
Your children learn how to behave from you. Your kids see how you treat others, how you spend your time, your habits and mannerisms, and the way you talk. They learn emotion from what they see. Your child sees what it is like to be happy, sad, angry, excited, bored, and so forth. They learn what it means to be patient and when enough patience has been extended. They also learn how to hate from you, and how to love from you. Do you exhibit love, care, and compassion for others, or does your child see discord, conflict, and anger?
Your children learn relationships from you. It begins with your relationship with them, extends in the home to your relationship with your spouse and other children, and outside of the home to friends and family. Are you nurturing those relationships and giving them the time and attention that they deserve? They learn what it means to be selfish and to be giving from you. Which of these does your child see most?
Your child also gets morals and ethics from you; that is, you become their guiding compass. They pick up on right from wrong. They learn what hard work is supposed to look like. What you believe becomes what they believe; that includes religion and spirituality. Parents have been known to say they will let their child decide these things for themselves – is that really the responsible thing to do? Or, is it an excuse not to take them to church? If you don’t teach morals, ethics, values, and beliefs to them, there is a world full of people waiting to teach them. Do you want to leave it in their hands?
You are larger than life to your child. You are their whole world, and your responsibility for them is an awesome one. Be intentional in teaching and training them. Don’t leave it to chance that they will pick up the right things from the rest of the world.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (King James Version)
Application Question – Do you just assume that your children are learning the right things from you, or are you being intentional about it? Do you want them to see the real you or the you that others talk about?
Remember when you were a child? You probably started out like the rest of us – your parents were the greatest things on earth and could do no wrong. As you entered school and the world around you, Mom and Dad lost their luster and the cool factor was found in your friends. It’s no different today; at some point your child will value time with their friends more than time with you. But you need to know what to look out for and know about their friends.
The most important thing to know, in my opinion, is that regardless of where you live or what you think, you cannot assume to know anything about what goes on in the homes of your child’s friends. I believe that if your child is going to spend any time in the home of their friends that you know the parents and even accompany your child for the first visit or two. They could be unwittingly exposed to something that can steal their innocence in a split second, and you’re left to deal with the aftermath. You would never trust just anyone with your money, so don’t trust just anyone with your kids. You know the adults that you like and trust, so you can steer your child to spend time with the children of those families.
Part of your child’s natural development is to absorb input and information from their surroundings and begin to develop ideas and opinions of their own. Normally, this is a healthy behavior if the right inputs are being absorbed. But children pick up on things from one another, and a friend who has differing values, religious views, morals and beliefs from yours can easily convince your child to see things in a way that you would not approve of. I’m not saying that you should brainwash your kids and turn them into little versions of yourself. However, knowing who they are hanging out with and where their influences are coming from should play a big part in your decisions about who they associate with.
Your kids are naturally curious, and sometimes their friends are eager to provide them with answers. While sometimes the answers will be technically correct, other times they will be very wrong. Whether right or wrong, you may not want your child exposed to this information from another child and maybe not at this particular stage in life. Knowing their friends can give you some idea of the types of conversations they have and whether you may need to intervene.
Beginning around the tween years, peer pressure begins to kick in. Your child’s desires to fit in may lead them to do things that their so-called friends cajole them into. Knowing your child’s friends can keep you on the lookout for this type of behavior and help you talk to your child about peer pressure.
To summarize, the steps you can take towards knowing that your child’s friends are a good influence are:
- Target who you want your child to befriend
- Know their parents
- Visit with their parents
- Observe your child with their friends in supervised play
- Ask your child questions and answer their questions
- Build your child’s self-esteem and they won’t seek it from others
- Set clear expectations for your child
- Let them see your moral code in action
- When something feels wrong, it probably is – act on your child’s behalf
Outside of the home, nothing influences your child more than the interactions with their friends. During the school year, they spend as much waking time with their friends each day as they do at home, so it is important to know who they’re hanging out with. By intentionally guiding your child through the development of their friendships, you set them up for success in the development of their adult relationships.
Some other articles you might like on this topic:
And related posts that I’ve written:
Chime in with your comments below or share if you like this post!
Application Question – Am I involved enough in my child’s interactions with their friends?
We’re nearing the end of tax season and kids play a big part of your bottom line. Whether they’re newborns or away at college, there are tax considerations that come with having children. In this post we’ll look at a few of the provisions of the tax code that applies to children, but by all means consult a tax specialist if you have questions concerning your particular situation.
First of all you want to make sure that your child qualifies as a dependent for your tax purposes. If you are still married to your child’s other parent and they are under 18, then the answer is likely yes. Once they move on to college, the answer can still be yes as long as you continue to provide for more than half of their support. If you are divorced, then your divorce decree may spell out which parent claims the child for taxes.
A child can only be claimed on one income tax return every year as a dependent. As was mentioned above, in divorce situations where the agreement does not specify the tax situation, only one parent can claim the child. And, if your child is off at college but has income, they cannot claim themselves if you have claimed them on your taxes. Be sure that you have these conversations to stay out of trouble with the IRS.
The most common component to your taxes regarding children is generally the exemption that you get for having a child. The exemption amount per person for the 2011 tax year is $3,700. Right off the bat, this saves you $925 in taxes if you are in the 25% tax bracket.
You can get credit for hiring child care in order for you to work. If you pay someone to care for your children under age 13 while you work or look for work, those expenses can be claimed as a tax credit. To claim this credit, you must identify the persons or organization that you paid to watch your children, but this credit can result in up to 35% of your work-related expenses being credited to your taxes. Certain rules, conditions, and restrictions apply so be sure to check with your tax professional
There is also the child tax credit. As opposed to an exemption which merely lowers your taxable income, a credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of taxes that you owe. For the 2011 tax year the maximum is $1,000 per child, and there is a provision to file for an additional child tax credit if you do not receive the maximum amount of credit per child. There is an income limitation for claiming this credit based on your filing status, so not everyone is eligible.
For a child with income, there are certain limits above which they are required to file an income tax return as well. Those limits are based on the types of income, whether earned, unearned, or a mix of both. For income below these amounts, the parent may be required to file the child’s income on their tax form, particularly for certain types of investment income. Even if your child is not required to file, it might be beneficial for them to do so in order to claim a refund on any income taxes paid in during the year from working.
For educational expenses, two types of credit are available for 2011 - the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) and American Opportunity Credit (AOC). The AOC can only be claimed for the first four years of education and creates a credit of up to $2,500. The LLC, on the other hand, is up to $2,000 per year and there is no limit on the number of years it can be claimed. You cannot claim both during the same year, but these are also a direct credit against the taxes that are owed. Conditions apply so be sure you understand the rules for claiming these credits.
Tuition and fees can be deducted from your taxable income as well, but again there are income limits. The IRS also restricts you from taking this deduction and either of the two credits mentioned previously, but if your situation does not allow you to take those credits then this might be your only option.
For your high-achieving students, any scholarship money awarded in excess of the qualified educational expenses incurred is treated as taxable income. Please note that room and board for a child away at school is not considered a qualified educational expense. The excess income might be claimed by the child or it may need to be claimed by the parent, depending on the situation. The excess amount will be reflected on the form 1098-T that your child receives at the end of the tax year.
Taxes are confusing, but having children in the mix generally brings a lot of benefit to your tax situation. Be sure that you don’t overlook any of these credits or deductions as you file your taxes.
The information contained in this post is to be used strictly as a guide and is not meant to convey professional tax or accounting advice. Consult your tax professional for more information. Also, the following IRS publications are the primary guides that address children and the tax situations described above:
Sitting in church yesterday morning, I realized something. The pastor was speaking in a series on life change, and today’s topic was on change agents. He mentioned how others have invested in us to get us to the point where we are in our lives. Consequently, it us our responsibility to invest in others to make sure that their lives are lived to the fullest. As parents doing this for our children, it is our highest calling. If you want to raise good students, you have to raise them as quality young people.
How do you invest in your children? I’ll get to some of my thoughts in a moment, but in a nutshell you invest in them by giving of yourself and being the parents that God appointed you to be. Your child had no choice in the matter – they’re yours. You, as the adult, are wholly responsible for your child. It is an awesome responsibility.
Now, before you go breathing in a paper bag to keep from hyperventilating, realize that children are very resilient. There is room for error, but just be sure that you don’t keep making the same error. As long as you’re trying with your kids, you’ll do just fine.
So, here are a dozen ways on how you make investment deposits with your child.
- Spend time with them. There simply is no replacement for time.
- Listen to them. Children often feel like they’re second-class citizens when they’re in the company of adults. Listen to them, but don’t coddle to their every need.
- Help them with their schoolwork, get involved in their school, and let them see you learning something new. The goal is to get them enthusiastic about learning for a lifetime. Your child cannot afford to graduate high school and never pick up another book again.
- Let them see charity and concern for others in you. It is not the responsibility of the government to take care of us; when the community at large takes care of its less fortunate then we all thrive.
- Don’t be afraid to discipline. The simple definition for discipline is to teach. Your child needs to know right from wrong and the boundaries when dealing with others, so be sure to teach them. Reward good behavior and correct bad behavior.
- Tell them how unique and special they are. Don’t go around comparing them to others. If your child’s self-esteem is high, then there is absolutely no limit to what they can accomplish in this world.
- Be their parent, not their friend. Your child will have plenty of friends, but you are their parent, their anchor, their safe place. Being the cool parent can have disastrous consequences.
- Model healthy practices for them. Eat right and get proper amounts of sleep and exercise, and require the same of them as well.
- Give grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Jesus modeled these behaviors for us, so we should do as much for our children.
- Never give up on them. At times parenting is the hardest thing in the world. You will be frustrated and not know what to do next. Just never, ever let them see you give up. You can’t – they’re your children.
- Be consistent. To feel safe and connect with you, your child needs to know how you’ll react to different things. Doing what you say, and following through, teaches them so much.
- Virtues, values, morals, and ethics. We must teach these to our kids if we want them to have any.
I could go on all day, and you probably have lists of ways that you invest in your children. The thing to remember is that you alone are the single most important influence in their life. Anyone can be a father or a mother, but it takes effort to be a parent. Mold them into the person that you expect them to become. Not only is it your duty, but it will be the most rewarding thing that you ever do.
For all the advice and banter that I give in this blog (and there is plenty), I feel like these three simple things, done consistently, will put your children in a position to win. This is not to say that the other things that I blog about aren’t important or that you should ignore them. But for your child to feel safe and secure, these three things need to happen every day (hint – they’re not breakfast lunch, and dinner).
Hug your child and tell them how special they are. This one act, done every day, does more to build self-esteem and create an unshakable bond with them. Mom and Dad should both do this, as each has their own way and their own style with their child. This act lets each parent connect to their child and build their relationship in their own unique way. This is an excellent activity to do in the morning because it reminds us of what is most important in our lives, and it sets the stage for an amazing day for your child. And give them a hug. Your teenagers will squirm and resist, but appropriate physical touch from a parent is one of the leading factors that delay the onset of sexual activity
Spend 10 minutes with your child and talk about their day. This is a great activity to do at the dinner table. Instead of watching television or eating in silence, ask each child about their day. For both of my children who are at home, currently 9 and 16, it takes a few questions to draw out more than a simple “Fine” about their day. By asking about their day, you let them know that you’re interested in what they do. You also just might learn something that you didn’t know.
Send each child to bed knowing that you love them. Any anger, resentment, hurt feelings, or other bad mood triggers need to be put away before bedtime. Be sure that when your kids go to bed that you tuck them in and pray over them each night. This gives them a sense of security for their night’s sleep, it lowers any anxiety so that they can rest well, and the prayers ensure that God protects them where our efforts might fail.
Our lives are so busy, but because we chose to have children they are our number three priority behind God and our spouse. Be willing to put things aside to do for your child, but when there simply isn’t time be certain that these three simple acts are done every day. All total, they should take no more than 15 minutes out of our day. Aren’t your kids worth it?
Nothing sets the tone for your day more than your morning routine. Because we are all headed off to our daytime destination, we expect things to go right and we don’t have time for nonsense. Whenever the clock doesn’t go off, the car won’t start, someone wakes up sick or you’re out of milk, those things can throw your day into a tailspin. Some homes, though, just move at a frenetic pace and everyone feels like they are always five minutes late. How do you think this atmosphere affects your child as they are getting ready for school? You can make a huge impact on their day by getting control of your morning routine.
A good morning starts the night before. As mentioned in an earlier post, setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it is very important for adequate rest for your child. It also gives you a chance to relax and have some time for yourself or spend it with your spouse in the evening. But there are other things that you can do the night before. Go ahead and lay out your child’s clothes for the next day. You can get them involved in the selection process, and by the time they enter middle school they should be doing this themselves. Pack up your child’s book bag the night before. Once homework is finished, put all of the papers that need to go back to school in the right folders, make sure everything is signed, and load their bags for the next day. Have your younger children take their baths at night. This will help your child sleep better, lessen the morning rush on the bathroom, and save you several minutes in the morning. If your child takes their lunch to school, go ahead and talk about that the night before so that you know what to pack the next morning.
Just as important as a regular bedtime, waking at the same time every day starts your child off in an expected routine. Work them into a pattern that works for your family; maybe your kids make their bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth and hair, and finally put on shoes, jackets, and book bags. If possible, have everyone in the family sit down at the same time to eat breakfast. This makes for one cleanup and gives you a few minutes to connect in the morning. Don’t overlook breakfast; it really is the most important meal of the day because it stokes that energy furnace inside of you. Ideally you should give your child a well-balanced breakfast, but if both Mom and Dad work then that might be a difficult task to accomplish. No matter what, just make sure that they eat something before school. Many health experts bash the ready-to-eat breakfast but having something in their belly is better than having nothing at all.
Save any arguments or potentially heated discussions till later in the day. Your child doesn’t need to hear those before school because this sets the tone for their attitude and outlook for the day. Briefly go over any afternoon activities to make sure that everyone knows where they need to be and when, and that they have anything they may need to support those activities.
Parents, you set the pace for the day in your household by the way your morning goes. If you need to get up a few minutes earlier to alleviate some pain points in the morning routine, then by all means do so. Some of the unexpected events that happen in the morning are unavoidable, but most of the stress of morning goes away with just a little bit of planning and intentionality on your part. Your child is following your lead, and a cheerful, relaxed environment in the morning will do wonders for their day.