Successful Parenting




8 Ways to Bring

Out the Best

in Your Family

Dear friend,

The booklet you hold in your hands is

one in a series designed to help you with

practical “hands-on” information in your

personal search for a better life and to

help those you care most about.

No matter who you are or where in life

you are looking for answers—whether it

be marriage, health, parenting, the loss

of a loved one, overcoming an addiction,

or working through stress or financial

problems—there is help available and

there is hope.

We trust this booklet and others in the

Peacefinders series will be a blessing

to you and your family as you journey

through each passage of life.

—The Publishers

Copyright © 2011

PROJECT: Steps to Christ, Inc.

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Fort Covington, NY 12937

Printed in the USA

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,Inc. Used by permission.

All rights reserved.

y Victor Parachin

Jane Riggs of Phoenix, Arizona is a single parent

who is fiercely proud of her five children,

the four girls (two are twins) and a boy. “I

have kept them involved in all kinds of activities—

choir, band, sports, chores at home,” she explains.

“They attend church with my father every Sunday.

Their grades are good and they have aspirations

of attending universities. That will be tough for

a single parent like me to afford, but we’ll manage,”

she adds. Recently, her 75-year-old father

had two femoral bypass surgeries. One became severely

infected, resulting in a longer than expected

hospital stay.

When he was released, doctors recommended

placing him in a nursing home. His leg had to be


flushed every four hours and his IV changed every

eight hours. It meant around-the-clock nursing. “I

work 10 to 14 hours a day, but I just couldn’t put Dad

in a home; and my kids wouldn’t hear of it either,”

Riggs says. Here is how her family worked together.

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth packed up and

moved into her grandfather’s house. The nursing

service taught her how to take care of him.

Kit, Kate and Ashley rode their bikes over daily to

wash, cook, clean, shop, or do anything else which

was necessary. Michael, the 11-year-old, mowed

the lawn. All of the younger children took turns

watching TV or visiting with their grandfather so

their big sister could get some rest. “Their entire

summer was devoted to taking care of the only

man in their life. They skipped going to the movies,

swimming with their friends, visiting the mall,

attending slumber parties, and birthday parties,

and everything else kids do in the summer. I was

so proud of my children,” Riggs adds.

That single mother has every reason to be

proud of her children. Strong and healthy families

know how to work together for the common

good. Often, the test of a family comes when there

is a crisis. Then, some families pull together while

others pull apart.


Here are eight ways to bring out

the best in your family.


Be a Positive-Thinking Parent

Set a tone in your home which gets everyone,

including yourself, thinking, speaking

and acting positively about each other. “Whatever

things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever

things are just, whatever things are pure,

whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of

good report, if there is any virtue and if there is

anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”

(Philippians 4:8).

Avoid belittling a child by saying, “You’re a

bad girl.” The problem with that kind of negative

language is this: tell a child she or he is bad and

they may, indeed, grow up to be bad. However,

call your children good, talented, creative, and

they will, in all likelihood, grow up to be good,

talented, creative individuals. As a parent, always

accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

Do this even when issues and problems emerge in

the family.

Mary G. Durkin, author of Making Your

Family Work, offers this sound advice:


“Even if you must discuss problems in the

family, you’ll have much greater success if you accentuate

the positive. Instead of beginning a discussion

on a critical note, begin by complimenting

those involved. Because you’ve made lists of each

person’s good traits, your compliments will be sincere

and hard to resist. They’ll also set the stage for

openness to your other comments, which might

be more critical.”


Pray Together

There is much truth in this popular proverb:

“The family that prays together, stays together.”

Let regular worship be an integral part of

your family lifestyle. Take your children to church;

enroll them in activities for their age; get them involved

in youth groups; have them sing in the choir,

etc. In the context of church and worship, you and

your children will learn new spiritual truths, receive

hope and inspiration, establish friendships with

other Christians, and continue to grow spiritually,

intellectually and emotionally.

In her book, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts

on Faith, author Anne Lamott has a fascinating

chapter titled, “Why I Make Sam Go To Church.”

Anne Lamott admits her son, “Sam is the only

kid he knows who goes to church.” Nevertheless,

his mother insists that he attend church with her.

She eloquently describes why this is so important

to her, and ultimately, to Sam: “The main reason

I want him in church is to give him what I have

found in the world: a path and a little light to see

by. Most of the people I know who have what I

want—which is to say; purpose, heart, balance,

gratitude and joy—are people with a deep sense

of spirituality. They are people in a community

who pray or practice their faith… people banding

together to work on themselves and for human

rights. They follow a brighter light than the glimmer

of their own candle; they are part of something


“Our funky little church is filled with people

who are working for peace and freedom, who are

out there on the streets and inside praying; and

they are home writing letters, and they are at shelters

with giant platters of food.”


Always Keep the Lines of

Communication Open

For her book, Traits of a Healthy Family,

author Delores Curran surveyed 551 families.

Responding to an extensive questionnaire, those



individuals shared with her their insights on what

makes for a healthy family. “Communicating and

listening were chosen as the number one traits

found in healthy families by my 551 survey respondents,”

she notes. They indicated that without

communication family members don’t know

each other. If they don’t know each other, then

the level of caring for each other diminishes considerably.

“Communication is at the top of the

family list because it is basic to loving relationships,”

Curran says. “It’s the energy that fuels the

caring, giving, sharing, and affirming. Without

genuine listening and sharing of ourselves, we

can’t know one another. We become a household

of roommates who react rather than respond to

one another’s needs.”

So, always keep lines of communication open

with children. And, when they speak, be an active

listener—that is, one who puts things together, understanding

the feelings behind the words. When

your children are truly heard, problems shrink

considerably and parental influence soars.



Involved with Your Children

Every child needs a strong attachment with

their parents. Playtime, physical contact

and conversation produce an emotional investment

which yields positive results. Never allow

work demands, the shortage of time, or the general

stresses and strains of life to keep you from being

closely involved with your children. Strong and

vibrant families only emerge when parents take

an active interest in their children and their concerns.

A good example of this kind of involvement

comes through the life of actor Michael Clarke

Duncan. Although he is enjoying immense success

from his roles in The Green Mile and Planet

of the Apes, Duncan grew up on the rough South

Side of Chicago in the 60s and 70s. After his father

left home, Duncan and his sister Judy were raised

singlehandedly by their mother, Jean. Although

she was a single parent whose discretionary time

was limited, Jean took an active role in the lives of

her children.

“My mother taught me how to play baseball,

how to ride a bike,” Michael says. “She would come

out and bat with us. I used to be embarrassed.

I was like, ‘Mama, nobody else’s mother will do

that.’ I didn’t realize that nobody else’s mother

could do that,” he adds. Jean Duncan also taught

her son the importance of legible handwriting,

pressed clothes, holding doors for women. She



warned him about drugs and alcohol, pointing out

neighborhood losers addicted to both. “I’ve never

tasted a beer, smoked or gotten high. Cranberry

juice is as crazy as it gets for me,” he says.


Apply Discipline with Wisdom

and Compassion

The Bible reminds parents: “Do not provoke

your children to wrath” (Ephesians 6:4). When discipline

must be applied, healthy and strong families

apply discipline with wisdom, maturity and

compassion. The discipline applied is constructive

rather than destructive. They know the objective

is to correct improper behavior rather than to humiliate

a child. Thus the end result of discipline

leaves the family strengthened, not weakened. In

his book, Single Parenting From A Father’s Heart,

Steve Horner shares an incident which took place

when his son, J.J. (Joseph James) was nine years

old. Horner, a Minnesota resident, remembers it

was New Year’s Day and a fresh snowfall made for

ideal snowmobiling conditions. “My 1970 Polaris

Charger is a rare model that Sears sold for only

one year before dropping out of the snowmobile

business. I had kept it in immaculate condition

and was proud of it,” he explains.

During the course of the day, Horner gave

children rides and let adults drive it on their own.

Late in the afternoon he asked where his son, J.J.,

was. He learned that J.J. was giving a friend a ride

on the snowmobile. “I was frantic,” he recalls. “J.J.

isn’t supposed to drive the snowmobile by himself,

much less give someone else a ride.” After a quick

search, Horner spotted his son and friend with

the snowmobile across a cornfield at the edge of

a row of trees. “As I ran through the snow, I was

concerned that the kids might be hurt. My second

concern was J.J. disobeying a standing order not

to drive the machine alone. My third concern was

that my beautiful, cherished snowmobile might

be smashed,” he says. As he approached the boys,

it became evident that the boys were not hurt.

However, J.J., in an attempt not to get bogged

down in deep snow, accelerated the snowmobile.

Quickly losing control, he smashed head on into

a tree. “The chrome bumper was mangled, as well

as the fiberglass hood covering the engine. It was a

mess,” Horner laments.

On the way home, Horner told J.J. how he felt

and listed the many reasons why his son should

not have been driving the machine. When they got

home, J.J. was sent to his room. “The next morning



I drew up a plan to make this lesson memorable.

We were going to fix the snowmobile together.”

Over the next few weeks, J.J. and his father faithfully

worked at straightening out the bumper,

rechroming it, and repairing the hood with new

fiberglass. “J.J. spent many hours sanding the fiberglass

until it was smooth and ready for paint.

He didn’t complain once. I think he realized he

was getting off relatively easy, and, besides that, he

was enjoying the fruits of his labor. I was proud of

the way he stuck with the job until it was finished.

He had learned a valuable lesson in perseverance,”

his father says.


Allow Children to Suffer and

Learn from Their Mistakes

“Parents in competent families tend to allow

their children and themselves to experience

the cost of irresponsibility more easily then parents

in other families,” notes Dolores Curran. She

stresses that “competent” parents allow children

to suffer the consequences of their actions. “If a

library book is lost through carelessness, they insist

their children make restitution out of their

own allowances. If children offend others because

of their behavior, they, not the parents, do

the apologizing. If a major homework paper isn’t

turned in on time or there is a tardy at school,

the students face the consequences in the form of

a lower grade or after-school penalty; they don’t

expect their parents to come up with an excuse to

soften the teacher’s reaction.”


Practice the Fine Art of Seeking

and Extending Forgiveness

Parents and children are bound to disappoint

and hurt one another from time to time.

These small hurts can fester and grow into large

resentments, which can destroy mutual trust and

respect if not dealt with. Be a family that practices

the art of seeking and extending forgiveness.

Saturate your mind with these various biblical

commands to forgive:

Matthew 6:14—“For if you forgive men their

trespasses, your heavenly Father will also

forgive you.”


Mark 11:25—“And whenever you stand praying,

if you have anything against anyone, forgive

him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive

you your trespasses.”


Luke 17:4—“And if he sins against you seven

times in a day, and seven times in a day

returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall

forgive him.”

Ephesians 4:32—“And be kind to one another,

tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as

God in Christ forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13—“Bearing with one another, and

forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint

against another; even as Christ forgave

you, so you also must do.”

Psychologist James Dobson provides a personal

example of this in his book, Solid Answers.

“A number of years ago I was burdened with pressing

responsibilities that fatigued me and made me

irritable. One particular evening I was especially

grouchy and short-tempered with my ten-year-old

daughter,” he says.

“Through the course of the evening, I blamed

Danae for things that were not her fault and upset

her needlessly several times. After going to bed,

I felt bad about the way I had behaved and I decided

to apologize the next morning.... I approached

my daughter before she left for school and said,


‘Danae, I’m sure you know that daddies are not

perfect human beings. We get tired and irritable

just like other people, and there are times when we

are not proud of the way we behave. I know I wasn’t

fair with you last night. I was terribly grouchy, and

I want you to forgive me.’” Immediately his daughter

placed her arms around him saying: “I knew

you were going to have to apologize, Daddy, and

it’s OK; I forgive you.”


Pray Diligently for Your Children

Regularly and fervently, lift your children up

to God in prayer. Today’s children are surrounded

by violence, drugs, alcohol, and sex. This

means the peer pressure on them is tremendous.

Tap into spiritual resources, asking God to guide

them, give them wisdom in their choices, and, ultimately,

to protect them from various vices they will

face. When you pray, pray with confidence, knowing

that the God who created your children loves them

even more than you do and that God will hear and

respond to your petitions. “He shall call upon Me,

and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble;

I will deliver him and honor him” (Psalm 91:15);

“Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you

shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’”(Isaiah 58:9).


* * *

By cultivating these kinds of bonding traits,

the individual members of a family become a

team, which provides love, security, safety, friendship,

and comfort. Then, when other relationships

weaken and when life becomes a battle, it is the

family which can become an oasis of hope amidst

life’s dilemmas and difficulties.

Other titles available in

the Peacefinder book series:

You Can Stop Smoking

Addiction Free

Ten Ways to Improve Your Marriage

A Dozen Ways to Defeat Loneliness

Hope in Times of Trouble

Money Management

Stress Management

Survival Tips for Single Parenting

Successful Parenting

Living with Loss

The Healing of Sorrow

Life After Death

Medical Miracle

Gentle Ways to Ease Depression

To order additional titles, visit our online

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