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Everything Changes

Once upon a time there was a preacher boy in seminary who fell in love and married his sweetheart. Shortly after graduation from seminary, he and his wife had their first child, he was assigned to his first church and he was inspired to preach a sermon on parenting. He reflected on his sweet bride, lovely child and went to his study. The following Sunday, he delivered his first sermon on parenting entitled, “The 10 Commandments of Parenting.”

Five years later, this same preacher had a 6 year old and a 4 year old, was at a new church and again was inspired to preach a sermon on parenting. He dug out his previous sermon and realized it needed editing. When he delivered it to the people, it was titled, “7 Guidelines for Raising Kids.”

Three years later, he was at a new church, had a 9 year old, 7 year old, and 3 year old. Again he was asked to preach on parenting. So he went back to his study, pulled out the old sermon and realized it needed some editing. By the time he preached, it was titled, “3 Helpful Hints for Raising Kids.”

Six years later he was sitting in his office reflecting on his life. He had a 15 year old, 13 year old, and a 9 year old and he thought to himself, “I should preach a sermon on parenting.” He didn’t preach that sermon because now he was selling real estate.

Things change, don’t they? When I was 23, I was a youth pastor, married with a 1 year old daughter and I knew everything about parenting. Now I am 57, have 3 married daughters, 10 grand kids and wonder if I will ever learn what I really need to know to be an effective parent.

Years ago, Julie and I read Ross Campbell’s book, How to Really Love Your Teenager. In hindsight it was probably the best, practical book we ever read in giving us handles on how to proceed in this parenting role.

To summarize what he says: Our kids need to be loved in ways that are meaningful to them.

First: they need “eye contact.” This is looking deep into their eyes and closing our mouths. Teens have a greater need to be heard then they have a need to be taught. I have found this is true for wives as well.

Second: they need “meaningful touch.” This is a reassuring hug, a hand held or a squeeze on the shoulder. Chuck Swindoll says we need 4 hugs a day. A friend of mine used to say, “Dad’s, if your not hugging your daughters, someone else is.”

Third: Our teens need “focused attention.” This is time set aside where they are convinced nothing matters more to you than what they say, feel, fear or hope. Dates with dad, recreation or trips are all ways and means to accomplish this.

These are simple things but if you are not careful, you will turn around and your kid will be driving, going to college, getting married and gone and you’ll wish for more time.

Reminding us both,

Matt Barnhill

#parenting #parentingteens

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