3 Ways to Stop Arguing with Each Other

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Amos 3:3 asks the question,  “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” The implied response is, “no”. It is very difficult, and not very fun, to walk with someone you are continually disagreeing with.

What most couples end up doing if they disagree over money, the kids, hobbies, etc. – is argue. They get frustrated; that leads to getting angry; and so they fight, say things they shouldn’t say, hurt each other’s feelings, retreat, sulk, and walk on egg shells for days (or longer). Others get angry and simply stuff it. They avoid the difficult conversations; they don’t like confrontation; so they swallow it and hope it will go away…..but we all know it doesn’t. So, eventually those feelings of hurt and resentment resurface and things are even worse.

So, how do we keep from getting to this awful place?

1. Decide that arguing/fighting is not Biblical and you will not go there anymore. God says we argue because we’re selfish and we’re not obeying His word. Galatians reminds us that if we are walking in the Spirit we will produce fruit in our lives….and arguing/fighting is not on the list. Jesus also commands us to love each other “as he loves us”, and that means sacrificially and unconditionally. So, stop being a spoiled kid, stomping your foot and pouting when you don’t get your way.

2. Allow your spouse to complain without losing your temper, getting your feelings hurt or retaliating. Jesus loves us when we mess up, don’t do things right, or treat him unkindly. He requires the same from us. We must allow our spouse the grace and freedom to come to us and share their heart. If they have a complaint or hurt, we need to be man enough (or woman enough) to listen with grace and respond appropriately (i.e.: say we are sorry, ask for forgiveness, pray together, etc.). Your relationship is far more important than proving your innocence or that you are right all the time.

3. Make it a priority to go on an annual marriage retreat. Instead of disagreeing or battling all year long, schedule a weekend retreat together to discuss the “state of your union”. Enjoy yourselves during most of that time; have fun; relax – but schedule some time to pray, then sit together and decide you will come to agreement on the key issues you have agued about in the past – kids, money, sex, hobbies, etc. Write all this down so you can refer back to it during the year and remember that you agreed together, and what you agreed to. Pray over every decision and commit it to God and ask for His help to live accordingly.

Finally – remember neither of you will be perfect at this (or anything for that matter), so don’t expect perfection. Worry about keeping your end of the bargain and choose daily to walk with Christ and agree with him when he said “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Live each day desperate for His presence and power or you will try to do everything yourself,,,and you will end up right back at square one…..selfishly fighting for your rights and the things you feel like you deserve….and that’s not pretty.

Don’t argue…walk with Him.

Rob

The Best Marriage Advice Ever.

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As I read again the story of Jesus’ first miracle, I was struck by the profound life truths and marriage advice found there. You remember the story in John, Chapter 2 –

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus *said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother *said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus *said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He *said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. 

Advice for life and for marriage:

1. Jesus was invited to the wedding – we must invite Jesus to our daily lives if we want Him to enjoy it as it was intended.

2. When there was a need, Mary went to Jesus for help – 1 Cor. 7:28 promises all married couples will face many trials in this life. When these trials come (and they will), we need to take them to Jesus, not try to figure things out on our own.

3. Mary gave the very best marriage advice ever given – she turned to the servants and said “whatever he tells you to do – do it”. Other translations say, “listen to him and do what he says”. If more husbands and wives would simply do this, they would experience life and marriage to the fullest. Marriage was never intended to be lived apart from God.

4. Jesus turned ordinary water into fine wine; not cheap, watered-down wine, but expensive, delicious wine. And not just a pitcher or two, but six 20-30 gallon water pots full. If we will invite Him into our daily lives, ask for His help with life’s issues, listen to him and do what he says – he will bless our socks off. He will provide for our needs above and beyond all we can ask or imagine.

So, Mary’s last recorded words are the best marriage advice we will ever receive. We get to choose whether or not to “do” it. Every single day we choose whether to listen to ourselves and do what we say – or listen to Him.

Our marriage will thrive if we invite Him in, give him our needs, listen to him and do what he tells us to do……

Let’s start now, and see what a difference it makes in our relationship.

Rob

 

 

Keeping Your Marriage Like New

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My wife and I bought new car last at the end of last year. We would normally choose a late-model used car, but the deal we got was truly a good one, so I went for it. There’s just something about a brand new vehicle with 10 miles on the odometer.

It smells so good, and rides so well. We don’t have to worry about the transmission going out, the tires going flat or the pumps/belts failing. If we could only keep it this way…..

In many ways, it reminds me of a new marriage. Everything about it is wonderful. The sights and sounds; the feeling of adventure; the feeling of confidence that all is well. In the beginning, everything is pretty much on auto-pilot. Like the new car, there’s not much to fix or maintain for a while.

The manufacturer of every car includes a maintenance guide in the vehicle. In it, there is a recommended schedule of actions that the owner(s) should take in order to keep the car running at peak levels and be able to enjoy the vehicle for many years to come. These actions typically include: regular oil changes, regular tire rotation and an annual checkup by a professional to see that all systems are working as designed.

You see, cars can’t take care of themselves. As we add mileage the oil gets thicker, the tires get thinner and the parts begin to simply wear down. The key to enjoying a great vehicle for many  years is to do what the maintenance guide says to do. Change to oil, rotate and replace the tires, and monitor all the vital engine parts to make sure they function well for the life of the car.

Marriages too can’t take care of themselves. As months and years go by, our heads get thicker, our skin gets thinner and the our hearts begin to wear down. All of these happen sooner as we tow addition along with us – multiple children, illness, stressful jobs and simply a hectic lifestyle. All of these add additional pressure to the vital components of our marriage while taking away time for critical maintenance.

A lack of regular care and maintenance will make our new car age faster and make us lose our sense of confidence and joy. The same will happen to a marriage. In the same way you can’t expect your vehicle to hold your excitement and confidence if you neglect to care for it – your marriage will begin to run poorly and even break down without regular care as well.

Do we take better care of our things than we do our most valuable relationship? Do we regularly and deliberately maintain our marriage? Do we read the maintenance Manual regularly and do what the Manufacturer says?

This year, let’s pay closer attention to how our marriage is running, and ask God to show us regularly how we can keep it running in tip-top condition. If we don’t, we don’t have anyone else to blame but ourselves when something goes wrong.

Stay deliberate,

Rob

 

Stop Arguing and Start Obeying God

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Did you know that arguing and fighting are not Biblical marriage concepts? There is no such thing as “fighting fair” in the Bible. In fact, God says He doesn’t want husbands and wives to fight at all. No offense to those fine authors who write about such things, but my Bible left out those verses.

What the Bible does say is that people, even Christian folks, will disagree and should find a way to come to agreement on things. It leaves room for difficult conversations and for allowing each other room (and grace) to express our feelings and even to complain. But fighting and quarreling are not be allowed in our marriage.

Proverbs 17:19 says, “He who loves a quarrel (fight, argument), loves sin”.

Proverbs 18:1 tells us that a person who starts quarrels is “unfriendly, selfish and lacking sound judgement”

Proverbs 15:18 reminds us that quarrels and conflicts are stirred up by “hot-tempered” people, and that a “patient” person (a fruit of the Spirit by the way) calms a quarrel.

Then there are Proverbs 19,21 and 25 that spotlight a “quarrelsome wife” and how awful it is to live with such a person. I am sure it holds true for a quarrelsome husband as well.

So, stop it!. If God says that arguing, fighting, quarreling/nagging are “sin”, then the short answer is – stop sinning. Don’t look for a way to candy coat it, or justify it, or do it “fairly”.  We don’t do that with other sins.

God is very clear that it is not a sin to “be angry”, but in our anger we are to refrain from sinning, i.e.: not fight, quarrel or argue about it. See Ephesians 4:26. And, by the way, we are supposed to settle such disagreements before we go to bed or else we open our home and relationship open to invasion by the enemy.

James 4 tells us that “fighting and quarreling” come from a battle that wages within us. The battle of selfishness; of not having our expectations met or our deserve-its catered to; a battle we have waged internally since birth – not getting what we want. A four year old responds by stomping his feet, crying or throwing an all-out hissy fit on the floor. As grown-ups we have learned to take the frustration inward. We steam, we stew, we cuss, we fuss, we try to suppress until one day it can’t be held back any longer and the dam breaks. The result is a grown up hissy fit. We nag, we nip, we diss, we jab with sarcasm. Our words and our tone destroy the oneness/intimacy we so desperately long for.

We lash out, we yell, we accuse, insinuate, blame, berate. We have not learned to harness our anger – so, we sin. We hurt, deeply and saying “I’m sorry” hours later simply doesn’t make up for the hurtful, hateful, sinful behavior we have unleashed.

Answer? If you profess to be a believer in Christ, the answer is…… stop it. Turn to Him for help. Walk with Him. Be filled (continually) with His Spirit (Galatians 5). If you are an addict – get help, now. Find a mentor. Do whatever it takes to change. Like other sins, we cannot change ourselves. Only God can do that for us, but we have to want to, we have to choose to. Then, we have to choose to live differently and walk daily with His help.

Fighting, quarreling, nagging, yelling and arguing have no place in a Christian marriage, or home. Christ came to bring”peace on earth and good will to men”. Let’s embrace His gift and start enjoying it this Holiday season.

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife – Proverbs 20:3

Rob

 

 

I Love Christmas…..but

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For most of us, Christmas is a favorite time of year. We go to great lengths (and expense) to buy special gifts, cook special foods, plan family gatherings and become much more benevolent. We seem to see life and those around us through different lenses. Things seem happier, there’s a spirit in the air, a childlike joy, an anticipation – an adventure.

It seems people ban together to help the poor, the orphan, the elderly. People volunteer more, give more and generally seem to get along better….except on Black Friday.

We just love Christmas at our house. Our bank account shrinks and our waistlines expand, but we plan for it now. We decorate, knowing we will only take it all down in a few weeks. We shop, sometimes when we aren’t even looking for anything specific. Like salmon in a stream, we just get caught up in it all…… but we still love it.

But why Christmas? More specifically – why only Christmas? Why do we seem to be able to do these things and be these kind of people only around the Holidays? Sure, we get to focus on the real reason for Christmas, and that it what it’s all about – but I bet Christ would encourage us to act more like this on the other 364 days of the year.

What would it be like if we kept that same benevolent attitude toward the poor, the orphan and the elderly. What if we volunteered every month, or gave more money to worthy causes, or had family and friends over for a feast more often?

Somehow, after Christmas comes and goes, and we watch football, then put the decorations back in the attic – life speeds up and hits us in the face again on January 2nd. We shift back to “I’m too busy” mode and that volunteerism, generosity and upbeat attitude all get pushed to the back burner….to a season several months from now when we drag it out for a few weeks.

Maybe we could remember to remind each other this year, after the Holidays, to keep Christmas alive. If only in our hearts, maybe we could remind each other to view our busy lives through the lens of Christmas. I think it would please Christ very much. I think He would agree that His coming meant a while lot more than for an excuse to be upbeat and generous for a few weeks.

So, here’s the challenge. Let’s see who can post, tweet or Facebook some Christmas reminders throughout the year…say in March, or July – to remind us to lift our eyes up from our routines long enough to remember those less fortunate, or to volunteer a day, or to invite someone over for dinner. Maybe it wouldn’t feel like Christmas is so far away. Maybe it will feel like Christmas, and Christ’s coming can be experienced more often.

I love Christmas, but I need to be reminded to live like Christmastime – all the time.

Immanuel – “God with us”.

Rob

The Best Gift to Give Your Wife This Year

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Boots are in. Clothes are always a hit, if they fit.

Jewelry is awesome, but most of us can’t afford what we really want to give him/her.

Technology? Something useful? (hint: never). What size? What color? What store? Geeeezz…….

What would be the perfect gift – meaningful, affordable, useful, appreciated and doable?

As I scoured websites and walked through retail stores aimlessly this year, I felt a strong impression that maybe God might have something to tell me on the matter. Maybe a hint, a tip or some specific direction from on high…

So, as I so often do, I went to Him last, after exhausting nearly every other option I could come up with on my own.

You know what He said?

“What she really needs this year is: tangible and unconditional love; deep and satisfying joy flowing out of a heart that is full of gladness; soul-satisfying peace in her heart, in her home and with her husband; 12 months of really trying to understand her heart, her feelings and her needs and a boatload of patience in the process; abundant grace and kindness from the one closest to her; a true sense of goodness in her life – the kind that keeps her smiling and provides her a constant feeling of “life is good”, “my marriage is in a good place”, and my God is so good to me”; the faithfulness of a man she can trust explicitly with her life and her heart; the gentleness and humility of a man who knows God and walks in step with Him; all of which culminate in a deep-seated sense that life is not out of control. In spite of the whirlwind pace of life all around her – she is content, she is at peace, she is loved and secure”.

I then asked the obvious question? Where can all of that be found? He responded with a smile on His face –

It’s not on Amazon or on sale at the mall. The gift is inside you and can be given every day – you just have to open it. The gift is “me”, He said. I am what she truly needs. Everything that she secretly, deeply yearns for – I am. And I live in you. You are my body, my means, my vessel. Through you I can meet her deepest needs, fill her soul with peace and her heart with abundant joy. You were never meant to meet these needs, but if you will allow me the opportunities, I will meet them through you. With your cooperation, your wife, my daughter, will have the best year ever this coming year.

That’s what He said to me. That’s what He is saying to you. Will we cooperate, or will we choose to turn away, reject His offer and settle for the “okay” marriage we live in today?

I told Him I am ALL IN. I want a wife who experiences Him and all He is – every day. If I can help facilitate that – then let’s get started. Christmas isn’t just a day – it’s a lifestyle. We can give His life away – every day.

Are you in?

Rob

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

 

The Real Agenda Behind Same Sex Marriage

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“I should have the right to marry whomever I want. I should be able to marry several people if I want, or my sister or my cousin. The growing movement to grant certain animals “personhood” will spawn the “right” to marry my pet chimpanzee or great dane. After all, it’s my life and I should have the right to do whatever I darn well want with it.”

Truthfully, same sex marriage is not about the human rights of lgbt people. It is about man shaking his/her fist at God and telling Him we don’t want to follow any rules and want to do things our own way. This independent human spirit first showed itself in Eden. Even though God had laid out specific rules regarding the tree Adam and Eve were not to eat from (and the associated consequences) – they decided they wanted to do what they wanted and not what God wanted. They chose to shake their fist at their Creator and seek their own path in life.

Mankind has been selfish and fiercely independent ever since. We want our way and we will stop at nothing to get it. With a willing media and court system in the U.S., if one keeps shouting long enough and loud enough, he/she will most likely find someone who believes in their cause and declares they have a “right” to do what they are seeking.

Gone are the days of absolutes. Right and wrong are now relative; are not taught at school or in most homes; and our individual rights now trump the rights of others. And, those other people (who disagree with the same sex agenda) are expected to not only accept their wishes, but to support and embrace the promotion of them. If not, they are labeled “phobes”, “intolerant”, “haters” and their beliefs, wishes and values are vilified and condemned.

Marrying someone of the same sex today is a “right” that judges and the media have decided is perfectly normal and should be embraced by everyone on the planet. The agenda behind the movement is actually an “anti-God” agenda. For people who believe in God, and that in the Bible He told us what was truly right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable – they believe differently. They believe what God says about the matter and feel they have an equal “right” to believe that way, and to live their lives and teach their children accordingly.

In order for the same sex movement to prosper, they have to be successful in convincing their constituents that God doesn’t exist, or if He does, His Word doesn’t really mean what it says (again, an argument made by Satan in the Garden of Eden). The agenda is to get us back to the place where we once again shake our fists at our Creator, ignore His love and plan for us, and selfishly choose to determine our own destiny in life….to do things our way.

It is obvious to this writer that the real battleground is not gay vs. straight – but a spiritual battle as old as mankind. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our battle is a spiritual one and will not be decided by rallies, marches, judges or the talking-head media.

This conflict is NOT against people who believe differently. This battle (and it is a battle) is part of the cosmic, spiritual battle for the souls of men; a battle raging since before man was created; a battle we are called to participate in.

Hoping it goes away is not an option. The consequences (like those in Eden) will be devastating…..

Jesus told us to pray – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Rob

3 Communication Secrets You Have to Know

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First, watch your tone. Between a husband and wife, tone is everything. We have to be extremely careful about the tone we use with our spouse.

For one thing, tone communicates care. A lack of caring in a marriage is deadly. It is impossible to reach higher levels of communication with a person who does not care.

Secondly, your tone informs your spouse about how you feel about his or her needs. Early in our marriage—during the days when we were struggling—Karen used to tell me “I wish I could record the way you talk to me. I wish you could hear what you sound like.”

When God finally made me aware how I spoke to her, I heard the tone of a husband who was frustrated, angry, and who had checked out of our marriage. My tone spoke loudly to Karen of my dissatisfaction. It caused tremendous insecurity in her.

Second, give your spouse the right to complain. I was dominant in our marriage and became verbally abusive. If Karen shared with me how she felt and I didn’t like it, I would make her pay for it. That attitude destroyed any trust she ever had in me.

A husband or wife absolutely must have freedom to complain about something in your marriage—your behavior, how you treat them, how you make them feel—without having to pay a price for it.

Giving a spouse the freedom to complain says to them “I want to know how you feel. I may not understand it or agree with it, but I will respect it. You will never have to worry about how I’ll respond.” This builds security and trust.

An inability to complain causes spouses to bottle up those concerns. This creates bitterness and all kinds of problems. Be approachable to your spouse. Be humble enough that you can accept gentle instruction from him or her. Be prepared to say you are sorry.

Third, speak the truth in love. The Bible says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to follow Him by speaking the truth in love.

This is a balancing act. Truth without grace is mean. It is truth-telling without any compassion—like looking at someone, saying, “You’re ugly,” and walking away. But grace without truth is meaningless. It’s a cheerleader in the 4th quarter of a football game cheering on her quarterback when the team is down by 60 points.

Marriages need truth and love. The truth can be unpleasant, but truth spoken without grace and love destroys trust. Many couples never talk about the things that matter because the truth makes them uncomfortable.

But research shows conflict can be important to the strength of a marriage. Relationships that avoid conflict are not as satisfying as those that experience conflict…then know how to resolve it.

Your tone, giving your spouse the freedom to complain, and a commitment to truth spoken in love: These are the things that must be present in a marriage marked by good communication.

Thanks to Jimmy Evans for a great review of some great insight into marriage communication.

 

Rob

Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids?

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When a college freshman received a C- on her first test, she literally had a meltdown in class. Sobbing, she texted her mother who called back, demanding to talk to the professor immediately (he, of course, declined). Another mother accompanied her child on a job interview, then wondered why he didn’t get the job.

A major employer reported that during a job interview, a potential employee told him that she would have his job within 18 months. It didn’t even cross her mind that he had worked 20 years to achieve his goal.

Sound crazy?

Sadly, the stories are all true, says Tim Elmore, founder and president of a non-profit, Growing Leaders, and author of the “Habitudes®” series of books, teacher guides, DVD kits and survey courses. “Gen Y (and iY) kids born between 1984 and 2002 have grown up in an age of instant gratification. iPhones, iPads, instant messaging and immediate access to data is at their fingertips,” he says. “Their grades in school are often negotiated by parents rather than earned and they are praised for accomplishing little. They have hundreds of Facebook and Twitter ‘friends,’ but often few real connections.”

To turn the tide, Growing Leaders is working with 5,000 public schools, universities, civic organizations, sports teams and corporations across the country and internationally to help turn young people — particularly those 16 to 24 — into leaders. “We want to give them the tools they lack before they’ve gone through three marriages and several failed business ventures,” he says.

But why have parents shifted from teaching self-reliance to becoming hovering helicopter parents who want to protect their children at all costs?

“I think it began in the fall of 1982, when seven people died after taking extra-strength Tylenol laced with poison after it left the factory,” he says. Halloween was just around the corner, and parents began checking every item in the loot bags. Homemade brownies and cookies (usually the most coveted items) hit the garbage; unwrapped candy followed close behind.

That led to an obsession with their children’s safety in every aspect of their lives. Instead of letting them go outside to play, parents filled their kid’s spare time with organized activities, did their homework for them, resolved their conflicts at school with both friends and teachers, and handed out trophies for just showing up.

“These well-intentioned messages of ‘you’re special’ have come back to haunt us,” Elmore says. “We are consumed with protecting them instead of preparing them for the future. We haven’t let them fall, fail and fear. The problem is that if they don’t take risks early on like climbing the monkey bars and possibly falling off, they are fearful of every new endeavor at age 29.”

Psychologists and psychiatrists are seeing more and more young people having a quarter-life crisis and more cases of clinical depression. The reason? Young people tell them it’s because they haven’t yet made their first million or found the perfect mate.

Teachers, coaches and executives complain that Gen Y kids have short attention spans and rely on external, instead of internal motivation. The goal of Growing Leaders is to reverse the trend and help young people become more creative and self-motivated so they can rely on themselves and don’t need external motivation.

Family psychologist John Rosemond agrees. In a February 2 article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, he points out that new research finds that rewards often backfire, producing the opposite effect of that intended. When an aggressive child is rewarded for not being aggressive for a short period of time, he is likely to repeat the bad behavior to keep the rewards coming.

Where did we go wrong?

• We’ve told our kids to dream big – and now any small act seems insignificant. In the great scheme of things, kids can’t instantly change the world. They have to take small, first steps – which seem like no progress at all to them. Nothing short of instant fame is good enough. “It’s time we tell them that doing great things starts with accomplishing small goals,” he says.

• We’ve told our kids that they are special – for no reason, even though they didn’t display excellent character or skill, and now they demand special treatment. The problem is that kids assumed they didn’t have to do anything special in order to be special.

• We gave our kids every comfort – and now they can’t delay gratification. And we heard the message loud and clear. We, too, pace in front of the microwave, become angry when things don’t go our way at work, rage at traffic. “Now it’s time to relay the importance of waiting for the things we want, deferring to the wishes of others and surrendering personal desires in the pursuit of something bigger than ‘me,'” Elmore says.

• We made our kid’s happiness a central goal – and now it’s difficult for them to generate happiness — the by-product of living a meaningful life. “It’s time we tell them that our goal is to enable them to discover their gifts, passions and purposes in life so they can help others. Happiness comes as a result.”

The uncomfortable solutions:

“We need to let our kids fail at 12 – which is far better than at 42,” he says. “We need to tell them the truth (with grace) that the notion of ‘you can do anything you want’ is not necessarily true.”

Kids need to align their dreams with their gifts. Every girl with a lovely voice won’t sing at the Met; every Little League baseball star won’t play for the major leagues.

• Allow them to get into trouble and accept the consequences. It’s okay to make a “C-.” Next time, they’ll try harder to make an “A”.

• Balance autonomy with responsibility. If your son borrows the car, he also has to re-fill the tank.

• Collaborate with the teacher, but don’t do the work for your child. If he fails a test, let him take the consequences.

“We need to become velvet bricks,” Elmore says, “soft on the outside and hard on the inside and allow children to fail while they are young in order to succeed when they are adults.”

 

Tim Elmore

2012

Who Really Killed Michael Brown

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We are all very saddened by the death of yet another young black teenager. I wish there was this national and even global attention given to the senseless loss of another teenager – of any race.

As I pondered the news coverage and the prosecutor’s press conference it became clear to me what really caused Michael Brown’s death…..he did.

Before you grab a stone and get ready to throw, hear me out. Yes, a policeman shot him several times. Yes, he was a black teen and black teens are often profiled and treated wrongly – but the truth remains….

If Michael had done what the vast majority of law-abiding teenagers, of any race, would have done, he would be alive today. The typical teenager in America would not have robbed a convenience store and roughed up the store owner. The typical American teenager would have responded with respect and obeyed a police officer’s request to stop and talk with him. The typical American teenager would not have reached inside a police car and physically assaulted an officer of the law, nor fled when told to halt, and then approached the officer again n a threatening manner. These are all facts that were investigated and corroborated by witnesses, both black and white.

Who does things like these?

A person, teen or adult, who does not have any respect for another human being, or their place of business, or their authority, or for human life. A person who thinks they are above the law and can do as they please in life. This person is not the normal, everyday American teenager, or adult.

What would have happened if Michael Brown would have paid for his merchandise at the convenience store? What would have happened if he had simply obeyed the officer’s request to move out of the street, and then respectfully engaged the officer in conversation.? In my opinion – absolutely nothing. He, like most American teenagers, would have simply walked home to live another day.

What happened in Ferguson is a tragedy. There are many problems in our system that need to be addressed moving forward, but the primary one is this: families of all races need to instill in their young people a deep respect for others, their property and their lives. They need to teach and model respect for authority, whether at school, public servant or simply an elder. Without this significant shift in the American family, I am afraid our nation is doomed to repeat tragedies like this one in neighborhood after neighborhood regardless of color.

The burden to change our nation and change the future for far too many teenagers – rests with their parents and grandparents. Values such as these mentioned earlier are not taught in our schools any longer, so they must be taught and caught at home, from an early age. These values cannot be legislated or legalized by the courts; they cannot be changed by celebrity endorsement, or special interest groups, or politicians – they have nothing to do with being oppressed or opportunity or with race or religion. Values like respect and honor (not to mention many others) are best passed down from generation to generation – and it seems to me – something is missing today.

BUT, every parent will tell you that in spite of their best efforts at training/modeling – young adults will ultimately make their own choices. If my son drinks too much and runs over someone on a city street on the way home it is no one else’s fault but his own; not his parents, not the bar owner, not the beverage company – he made the choice and must suffer the consequences. Tragedy? Absolutely! Preventable? Yes.

Michael Brown was indeed a victim; but ultimately, he was a victim of his own choices.

God bless the Brown family in their time of loss.