Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Getting Old Doesn't Need To Mean Getting Worse

OK, so I have to admit I'm not a kid anymore, in fact I'm creeping out of middle age and perhaps getting closer to Middle Earth! I saw that common sign again today at most big box checkout counters that says something like, If you appear to be under 40 we reserved the right to ask for ID if you purchase alcohol. No one is carding me that's for sure.

And yet it seems like so often in our society we write people off who don't fit our nice, beautiful and useful profile anymore. The gray hair is increasing, they walk more slowly and have certainly lost a lot if not most of any physical attractiveness.

But I'm convinced (and so is a lot of research) that people in their 60's and beyond still have much to offer God, their community and families. For that to happen of course requires that they themselves don't bail on life, quit being productive and think they should just sit on the sidelines. Some need to be reminded that people's 50+ years are the most productive and their 60+ years are second on average.

Think of Billy Graham and Paul Harvey who both have flourished personally well into their 90's.  Mr. Harvey died recently still busy and fruitful, doing amazing things known all over the country. As we age we also bring that much more experience and wisdom with us and it needs to be shared. Some of us need to start or continue writing, teaching, perhaps even putting some of our ideas on video for people to see and hear for decades to come.

Families need to also enlist the elder men and/or women  from time to time and let them tell their stories and share their insights with the younger ones.  That's Biblical, too, you know?  Some of the best mentors on the planet are people nearing retirement or already there. We just need to give them a forum. Why not bring t he old and young together more in churches?

So if you're getting up there in years don't think of this as the end, consider it more as a new beginning, an opportunity to pass on things for the next generations.  And if you know someone who might feel relegated to the sidelines, invite them into your conversations and let them still make a difference. They won't always be around, you know?
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaching Your Kids Life's Not A Free Ride

My daughter Amy was talking to one of our three-year-old grandsons about doing some easy jobs for his age to earn part of the money he needed to get a bike he liked. However he responded, "But I'm not a grown up. I'm just a kid. How about you earn it and I just ride it?"

Sounds like a lot of older kids these days. "Mom and dad, you pay for it and I'll just enjoy it."  That's said or at least expected about many things kids have these days from cell phones to video games to clothes and much more. Now of course, we parents are to provide for our children and we can't expect them to earn or even save huge amounts of money for everyday expenses.

But we're missing golden opportunities to teach our children about the value of both hard work and saving up for something if we don't give them a chance to actually try those things. Is it any wonder that so many adults, young and old, are burdened with huge amounts of debt? Many, at least, were never taught that things in life don't just show up and that we're not simply entitled to things because someone else, including the government, will pay for it.

I heard of some parents once who took a week's paycheck and got it in one dollar bills.  They placed it in piles on the kitchen table dividing it up into the parts it would take for that week's expenses or budget. Their kids got an eyeful when they realized that there wasn't this huge pile of money that could just be spent on them!

It's that kind of illustration and giving our kids a chance to earn some of their own way that teach them vital lessons about life and money in general.

And if they don't have any actual financial earning power outside the home, let them earn something within the home like our daughter is doing. Of course, you have to be reasonable. You can't expect a three-year-old to be washing the car. We limited our three-year-olds to just doing all the laundry. OK, I'm kidding, but there are things they can do. Keep a chart so they can see how they're doing.  The chart may have to be different depending upon their age so that they can really tell if they're making progress.

Sometimes you can go halfway with them as they get older. "I'll pay the second half of that game once you earn enough for the first half."  That can be great motivation if the goal is realistic. If they get an allowance teach them to save a portion, give a portion to God and to put aside another part for something special.  If they're old enough it becomes a very practical lesson about fractions, too.

So, if you haven't started your kids on learning what it's like to be in the workplace this week would be a good time to begin. Remember, your kids are going to be the parents someday in a home. It would be nice if we helped them out with the finances now.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love: Sacrificial Acts, One At A Time

I was in a store the day before Valentine's Day and watched a harried businessman briskly walk in to buy a card. Since I was also getting one for my wife, he walked up right next to me to choose his. And he took all of twelve seconds to pick it out. Obviously, his feelings were really deep for his sweetheart.

OK, maybe he truly loves her and was feeling especially guilty and short on time. Nonetheless, the image of that man in a hurry to "love" reminded me that true love is really so much more. Our culture has often made love into something merely syrupy, temporary or sexy.

And yet if we're honest we know it's far greater than that. The book of I Corinthians places it the highest on its list with faith and hope.

And while no one can ever totally describe love maybe we can look at a few of its components to remind us of its richness and what we might want to model better this year in our homes.

Love is sacrificial. Anyone in a marriage or other relationship must never expect 50/50 relating. There are times when it's equal and both partners should learn to love well. But sacrifice means just that - we give up something. Sometimes we have to give totally because the other doesn't or is incapable of it for a time. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice of love for us as our example and got little in return from us.

Love is long-term. It's one thing to do a loving act a time or two, but it's far more to love over and over, year after year. Too many people go into marriage thinking there is an expiration date on their need to love. But real love lasts and endures through even the worst.

Love isn't selfish. Love isn't done for what we'll get in return, how we'll look or to have good feelings. Love totally focuses on another for their good. That means that sometimes we have to have tough love or set up boundaries with people. We do even those hard things because we love them.

Finally, love is God-directed. The Bible says that God is love so we need to get our strength and direction from the source. If we try to love on our own, we'll mess up. We won't sacrifice, last for long or we'll probably take the glory for ourselves.

So, as Valentine's Day for another year fades, don't let your love wane. Make it richer and stronger and more giving than ever. Love really is the glue that holds us all together.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

When Does A Parent Let A Child Quit?

Our son was in the 7th grade and wanted to quit band. He played the trumpet and from what we could tell was pretty good and had some potential. However, we also didn't want to be the pushy parents who made a child do something they both hated and would ultimately resent.

Been there? Sure, most parents come to these crossroads with sports, piano playing, art lessons or some other potentially enriching activity for a child wondering just when to pull the plug on their involvement when they object.

I remember wanting to quit my lessons as a kid when they became too hard and my parents simply said, "Right, over our dead bodies.  We've spent too much for you to quit now."  As tough as that sounds I'm glad they didn't allow me to stop since I've used and enjoyed my musical background most of my life in some way.

So what does a parent do in those situations?

First, it always helps to consider a planned, strategic trial period. That means that you and your child agree that you're going to try if for another marking period, few months, summer, etc.  However, during that time you have to be assured that you get their best or the deal is off and they will just have to stay at it.

Second, you might also try some options. With our son, he had done a significant trial period in band so we gave him a choice.  He could either stay in band or would have to take private lessons for the next semester.  Then we would evaluate whether he would continue either of those or just stop.  The lessons option, however, required that he still give playing the trumpet a significant shot before we just dumped it.

Third, be sure to listen to your kids about their feelings.  No, most young kids don't have the maturity to decide on their own whether an activity or training should be stopped or not but their feelings are real.  We're glad we listened to Tim because there were some genuine concerns he had that we needed to know about and we were able over the next year to help him navigate a good course rather than a destructive one.

Too many parents are pushing their kids to do what the parents want and end up injuring their child physically, emotionally or intellectually because they didn't listen to the child at all.

So, as you come to those watershed moments, don't just cave in or push insensitively.  Be the parent but be sure that you walk alongside your child and make good decisions together.  Because like us the results can be good. We got to watch Tim playing first trumpet in the Rose Parade. That ain't bad.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.