The Love Languages of My Children

Psalm 127:3-5 New International Version (NIV)
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.

If I said my love language is “words of affirmation,” would you know what I am talking about? God designed many of you the same way. Others of you love giving and receiving gifts. Still others feel and give love through acts of service. The huggers in the crowd live for heart-felt moments of physical touch. And many people think that love is spelled T.I.M.E. and desire quality time with those dearest to them.

Collectively, these 5 ways of expressing and receiving love are known as the five love languages, developed by well-known Christian author Gary Chapman. People who have discovered their love languages have learned how to be better spouses, parents, and friends. Not only can adults find out how God has designed them to show and receive love, Chapman has also written quizzes for teens and children (https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/).  I recently encouraged my kids to take the assessments, and there were a few surprises in the results.

My oldest, Allison, shows and receives love primarily through quality time. As a teenager, she loves to spend time with her friends, but she also invests time in the lives of her siblings. She will invite her younger sister to hang out in her room, or to grab fast food with her brother. One thing I need to do is intentionally invest more one on one time with her.

Nathan, my middle child, also desires quality time. Many times, he has asked me to shoot baskets with him and challenged me to a game of around the world. He is not just driven by competition. He also enjoys the one on one time with his dad. He would rather play with someone else, no matter the activity, than spend time alone.

Audrey, our youngest, is the one who surprised us with her results. My family thought her primary love language would be physical touch. She loves to give hugs. I mean lots of hugs. But more than that, she loves to give and receive words of affirmation. She writes notes and draws pictures on sticky notes and leaves them for others to see. She is a nurturer who lets those she cares about know it.

One of the surprises is that, for all three of my kids, receiving gifts and physical touch were the least desired ways for expressing and receiving love. I would have thought otherwise, but it is not surprising that children raised in the same home would have similarities in their preferences. Now as a dad, it’s my responsibility to show love to them in ways that speak to their hearts, and fortunately for me, the current coronavirus crisis has given us lots of quality time together. What an unexpected blessing!

PARENT CHALLENGE – take the quizzes at https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/ and see how you can better love your family!

Leonard Prater
Associate Pastor of Adults

Creating a Grace-Filled Home in a Stress-Filled Time

As parents, we all know that feeling when…your rambunctious kid is doing that annoying habit one more time, your patience is running out, and it takes all the self-control you can muster not to BLOW UP! We live in a challenging time right now, with the stay at home order passing the 30-day mark, and families feeling the stress of staring at the same four walls. But, there is hope, and it is possible to balance grace and discipline as we shape our children during this chaotic and historic time.

Extending grace and consistent discipline are two of the biggest challenges of parenting. A deficiency in one area will undoubtedly affect the other. Kids will be kids. They will mess up and get on your last nerve, but there are some principles that can guide you to maintain consistent discipline while showing grace.

Foremost, get on the same page.

As parents, husband and wife must agree on the same philosophy when it comes to grace and discipline. When it comes to maintaining proper discipline with your kids, consistency is key. If married, make sure you act as a team when dealing with issues so that one spouse does not bear the burden alone. If divorced, first get on the same page with your former spouse, and if that is difficult, develop your own grace-filled approach and follow through as best you can. Seek the support of others who know what you are experiencing.

Sometime parents think leniency equals love, but in fact it’s a very dysfunctional form of love.  Some parents think punishment equals love, but there is a big difference between punishment and discipline. Children desire a safe, orderly environment, and most expect their parents to discipline them. Children need to learn that wrong choices have consequences. Godly discipline has more to do with teaching responsibility than forcing obedience.

One word best describes how God deals with His children: grace. God helps imperfect parents, recipients of God’s amazing grace, to shower their children with the same grace. As a parent myself, I have felt that gentle tug of the Holy Spirit to bestow grace on my kids – a great lesson was learned by both father and child.

When parents work together for the same outcome, raising responsible kids, it is necessary to create a common language with expressed expectations.

6 essentials to think about:

  1. Rules without relationship equals rebellion.
    Knowing when to lay down the law and when to engage in relationship-building is greatly important to practicing grace and discipline.
  2. Choose your battles wisely.
    If you find yourself becoming easily agitated when your children misbehave, you may be fighting too many battles on too many fronts, and you may lose energy to fight the really important battles later.
  3. Nagging doesn’t work.
    It stifles intimacy and sets your kids up for future failure. Are you planning on following them to college and nag? Your children could get used to decision-making spurred on by nagging, and then have an unhealthy relationship with their spouse. The Bible has this to say: “And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice” (Ephesians 6:4 TLB).
  4. Yelling crushes and shuts down your child’s spirit.
    The more you yell at your kids, the less they hear. They will only think you are mad at them. A wise person once said, “Parents need to out-mature, not out-power, their kids.” Parents, yelling accomplishes nothing and ultimately is a signal that something is not right in us.
  5. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes.
    Apologize for wrongs done or said. Your children will not disrespect you for it. The opposite is true. Model confession and forgiveness.
  6. Clearly express your expectations.
    Your children need limits and boundaries, and when they meet your expectations, they feel good about themselves. Be consistent in following through with consequences or your kids will learn rules are not for them. Parenting expert, Kevin Leman, once said, “Inconsistency is how to raise a yo-yo.”

Parents, please know that there is grace available for you if you have made mistakes in your parenting. The Bible clearly says that we all sin, and one area we illustrate that truth is how we sometimes parent our children. But remember God is the God of second chances, and modeling that to your children is a lesson all by itself.

*Inspired from Jim Burns’ book, “Confident Parenting”

Leonard Prater
Associate Pastor of Adults

A Pastor’s Heart for Families

A word from Leonard Prater, Associate Pastor of Adults…

In the summer of 1997, I felt God’s call on my life for full time ministry work. It has been a great joy to witness God’s faithfulness time and time again as I attempted to take one step of obedience after another. Those steps of faith led me to my wife, 3 beautiful children, 4 wonderful churches, and an appreciation for God’s perfect timing. I am reminded of one of my life verses, Proverbs 3:5-6 that says, “Trust in the Lord with all your hear and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.”

I am so thankful that in February of 2017, through an incredible series of events that led two churches to merge together as one, I became a part of the history and legacy of Champion Forest Baptist Church. I am amazed at the goodness of my Lord to give me this opportunity to serve at Champion Forest.

And to add blessing upon blessing, recently I was given the privilege to champion the cause of marriage and family enrichment at the Champions Campus. This new responsibility includes oversight of two great programs that take place in the spring and fall on Sunday nights: Merge, for engaged or seriously dating couples, and Re-Engage, for married couples seeking to reconnect, reignite or resurrect their marriage.

Leonard Prater with wife, Deena, and children: Allison, Nathan, and Audrey

What a joy to see God work in couples’ lives through these great ministries! I am also working to provide training, resources, and encouragement to the parents of CFBC. That’s why we are planning events like “Family Talk for Parents” this January. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have ideas about how to better minister to the families of CFBC. Strong families make up a healthy church that is used to fulfill our purpose of making disciples in this community and around the world. Disciple-making starts in the home, and I’m excited to help in any way God desires.