I recently read the book, Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave, by Joey and Carla Link of Parenting Made Practical, and I love how they not only explain the importance of teaching children to obey, but also teach the practical side of how to do it!  The Links get to the heart of obedience and provide practical tools to help train your kids that are easy to understand and implement. I have listened to a lot of the Links’ podcasts over the years and have applied the principles that they discuss with great success. I am delighted to have the opportunity to ask them some questions about parenting, so they can share their wisdom with us!    Because I had so many questions, and they did such a wonderful job answering all of them, I am going to split this interview into two posts.  Make sure to check back next month for Part Two, which you will not want to miss! 

GKFTK:  Tell me a little about yourselves and how you became parenting experts.  Teaching kids to obey

Links: Joey was a youth pastor for 9 years in southern California before a church in Iowa asked him to be a family life pastor. With Carla’s experience in social services, God knew what He was doing when he brought us together to work with families. It was frustrating seeing teens grow in their faith and find their commitments didn’t stick because of the influence of their parents at home. This is when we transitioned into family ministry with the goal of encouraging, equipping, and empowering parents to raise obedient, respectful, and responsible kids in today’s challenging world.

While looking for a proactive parenting curriculum for the church, Joey found Growing Kids God’s Way. Over the years the founders of that ministry have asked us to coordinate ministry nationally for them, and we teach parenting throughout the country at conferences and seminars. In 1994 we began serving as missionaries to families making parenting practical and helping parents raise kids to do what God created them for. Thus our website www.ParentingMadePractical.com.

We hardly consider ourselves parenting experts. A better term is parenting educators. After 25 years of working with families, God continues to give us insight and wisdom for every question parents ask us.

GKFTK:  Why do you believe it is important to focus on teaching obedience to children?

Links: First the Bible says that children are to obey their parents in everything (Colossians 3:20). We see obedience as the foundation for relationship. There is never a time in anyone’s life they will not have to obey some authority figure, whether that is who they work for or governmental law, so if kids don’t learn this from their parents, who is going to teach them? If children are not obedient to their parents, they will find it difficult to train them up in the way they are to go.

The biggest reason to require children to obey their parents is so they will eventually be able to obey God and his Word regarding how He wants them to live their lives.

GKFTK:  It seems everyone has their own ideas on parenting and discipline. Some are more relaxed and let their kids do pretty much whatever they want, as long as they don’t burn the house down.  Others are so strict that their kids end up rebelling.  How do you find the balance between being firm, yet letting kids have fun being kids and showing them God’s grace and love?

Great question! First, what is your parenting philosophy and where do you get it from? Since most parents don’t want to raise their kids the way their parents raised them, they usually turn to ‘Dr. Google’ which in our experience you will find everything from A-Z and who knows what is in-between or what credibility the writers have? We use the Bible as our foundation and look how to make it practical for everyday parenting.

Typically we find one parent will lean towards legalism (tight control) and the other is usually more permissive (free-spirited). Both typically try to compensate with the kids in their training for each other’s parenting style by becoming more controlling or laid back, which really causes problems for the kids.

The way to find balance is for parents to talk, talk, and talk some more to determine what their standards and preferences are, and why they think they are right. Like other different issues/perspectives between a husband and wife, they need to look for common ground and what they think is morally right and what they can live with. Big picture, they need to look at how their parenting will look in their kids 2, 5, and 10 years from now, and if that is really how they believe God wants their kids to be as adults.

GKFTK: Some parents might say they don’t want to be too “strict” or they might crush their child’s spirit.  What are the most effective ways to teach your children to obey without “crushing their spirits?” 

Links: The difference between crushing their spirit and crushing their will needs to be defined. Their will is what drives them. It needs to be guided by parents, teaching them the do’s and don’ts of life, like submitting to authority whether they want to or not. Even requiring them to say please and thank you is requiring them to do something they don’t want to do.

The same is true for the parent who won’t let their child hit a sibling or another child even when they want to because they didn’t get their way.

Their spirit is in essence who they are, their soul or what is in their heart. It is crushed by a lack of love, positive attention and affirmation.  A parent can be stern and yet fun loving, by simply having a standard and holding to what they believe is right and wrong. We believe the Bible is the best place to find that out.

GKFTK: Because parents have their own unique personalities and temperaments, we know that some gravitate more towards parenting curriculums than others. How can parenting strategies work for those who naturally don’t like being structured, but still want their kids to behave? 

Links: God is the one who devised structure, order, and even routine. How our earth rotates, our days and nights, even how we eat three times a day and go to bed at the same time to best function is order and routine.

It is best when parents can separate what they like versus what their kids need. All kids need structure and routine throughout their life. It is how they learn to manage their days. Some like structure more than others and that’s okay as long as they don’t get rigid about sticking to it. Those who don’t have a bent towards routine can always look for resources that can help them with that like our Mom’s Notes presentations, “Structuring Your Child’s Day, Part 1 & Part 2”. It is a blessing for parents when they realize much of the bickering between siblings goes away with a good routine.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom about the importance of obedience, how to work together as parents to determine parenting goals, and how to tell the difference between shaping a child’s will verses crushing a child’s spirit.

Parenting is not easy, especially when done without any guidance, which is why it is a blessing to have people like the Links who can help us learn ways to teach our kids obedience and godly character. 

Please check back for more great questions and answers from Joey and Carla on more specifics about teaching obedience next month! 

And you can find their book, Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave on my website under the resource tab. You can also check out their website and resources at www.ParentingMadePractical.com. Parents can sign up to get their biweekly blogs by email, and follow them on Facebook for great parenting tips as well!