Honour Your Marriage this Valentine’s Day

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Five ways you can honour marriage beyond the romantic meal for two. Click the photo above to read on.

The Ways to Your Daughter’s Heart

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Help your daughter open up to you. Click the photo above to read on.

How to Raise Sons of Honour

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Bringing up boys who are pleasing in His sight. Click the photo above to read on.

F.A.M.I.L.Y – what does it mean?

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Fathers and mothers play distinct roles, and both are equally important in a family.
Click the photo above to read how “Father and mother, I love you” works.

My Princess is Growing Up

My Princess is Growing Up

Click the photo above to read how you as a father can cope as your daughter, your little girl, becomes a young woman.

 

Five Tips to Make Christmas Conversations Meaningful

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By Focus on the Family Singapore
11 Dec, 2015

Christmas is just around the corner, and before you know it, you’ll be at Christmas dinners and gatherings. Being Singaporeans, there will be a lot of eating, but also a lot of talking over food. Sadly, conversation is an art form some families have slowly lost over the years. Part of it has to do with fewer families eating together due to busy schedules. Another reason is that so many of us are bringing our smartphones and other digital devices to the table. This could be a good time to improve your family dinner conversations, because a family that talks to each other stays together.

You’ll likely soon find yourself seated around the table with loved ones, perhaps including a few friends and maybe even some distant relatives you only see once or twice a year. Are you tired of the same small talk each year – the weather (the haze this year!), transport issues, and aches and ailments?

Why not take this time before Christmas to think about how to make your conversations with family and friends more meaningful? Here are a few tips to help kickstart meaningful conversation around the table:

  1. Ask Some Great Questions

Conversation is like playing catch with a ball. It only works if the object is tossed back and forth. If you never throw, it’s not a catch. Nor is it a catch if you hold onto it after it’s been thrown to you. As you think through what questions or topics to include in your list, consider your family’s personality. Goofy, lighthearted families might enjoy silly “would you rather” type of questions, which are sure to bring lots of laughter. More serious families might appreciate recounting some of their more significant experiences that year.

No matter what the family’s temperament, this is also a good time to reflect on this question: What are you thankful for this year?

The Internet is full of sites with suggested conversation topics and questions. You might want to look up phrases like “icebreaker questions” or “conversation starters” on the Internet.

  1. Put Down The Phone

As mentioned earlier, our gadgets can sometimes create an invisible barrier between us and others. Other times we use them as a “safety net”: Bored? Check Facebook or Instagram. Things get tense? Hide in your email. Is it absolutely necessary to post or tweet a picture of that plate of food while you’re at the table?

Be intentional about putting digital devices away. Perhaps you want to set a basket in the next room where guests can place their devices. Or maybe you want to make a game of it? Heard of Phone Stack? Have everyone stack their phone, one on top of another in one place, and the first one to check their device has to clean up!

  1. Step Carefully Around Controversy

Perhaps the challenge you’re encountering doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of conversation, but with too much tension when there is talk. Some families struggle when it comes to controversial subjects that might provoke hard feelings.

If someone launches into a speech about a controversial topic, do your best to withhold a judgmental response. Saying something like, “I can see you care passionately about this” or “That’s very interesting” is a diplomatic but polite response. Just remember, you’re not going to save the world or likely change their mind by debunking or rebuking a personal opinion. Just relax, and smile.

If you really see the need to engage them, do so civilly. Present your views factually while respecting the other person’s perspective. If the discussion gets too intense, agree with the other person to disagree, then steer the conversation to a safe topic. Remember that your relationship with person is more important than “winning” the argument.

  1. Don’t Expect Perfection

It’s okay if your Christmas meals aren’t going to be perfect. Some years are just harder than others. Maybe it’s your first time around the table without a loved one who has passed away, or perhaps the family is reeling from the shock of bad news. Or maybe you have a restless toddler who screams a lot or likes to hide food all over the place.

Set realistic expectations. Focus on simply being together and giving each other grace. Not every year has to be a “good” time, after all. There is meaningfulness in walking together through hardships. So if your family has lost someone dear, don’t avoid talking about them – that can often be therapeutic. If someone is going through a difficult personal situation, don’t be afraid to ask them what they need most.

  1. Pray and Give Thanks!

Give the day, and the meal, to the Lord. Take a moment right now, or tomorrow morning, to pause and ask God for His presence to reign over your time together as a family. Ask for Him to intervene between family members who’ve hit a rough patch, or to guide the conversation. So many times we try to do everything right, yet we forget that our best efforts will often fall short without His blessing.

No matter how your Christmas gatherings go, anchor yourself in God’s presence and love. As Christians, we know that we can have thankful and joyful hearts despite dashed expectations or in the midst of trials, because we can always look to Him as the source of all blessings and comfort. Jesus, after all, is the reason for the Christmas season.

Adapted from Five Tips for Making This Thanksgiving One of the Best Ones Ever by Jim Daly © 2015 All rights reserved. Used by permission from Focus on the Family.

Living out Faith at Home

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By Focus on the Family Singapore

Many Christians faithfully go to church, but of greater importance is whether they live a life of faith and are truly in love with God with all of their being. As Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Christianity is meant to be more than attending church one hour a week; it should be lived out 24/7.

One of the many reasons why this is important is that the lives we lead leave an impression on our children. We may not realize it, but they observe our every word and action. If we only go to church but not live out our faith in all aspects of our lives, that may lead them to turn away from God. We cannot be an active member of the church and also watch pornography or constantly tell lies or practice unforgiveness. If we live and act one way in church, and then become a totally different person outside of church, our children, who can see clearly the disconnect between the faith we proclaim to have and the life we are actually living, may want nothing to do with Christianity.

We as parents have the responsibility of making the home the primary place where faith is to be lived out and nurtured. This does not mean that the home must be the only place for children to learn about faith – the church can also come alongside with biblically-grounded children’s programs. However, what we are doing at home is far more important than what is happening at church, because our children spend only one day of the week (and even then, only for a few hours) in church, but they spend seven days with us.

Jesus is our Emmanuel, and that means “God with us”. We need to demonstrate to our children that we have an intimate and thriving relationship with Him, and that they too, can connect with Him all the time, not necessarily just in church.

So how do we establish the home as the primary place of imparting faith? How can we as parents be the primary influencer of our children, and even our grandchildren? The following questions might help you get started:

  1. What is one thing you have been doing which models faith for your children? Can you think of other ways in which you can do this?
  2. Is there any area in your life that needs working on in order for you to become a more effective witness of faith to your children?
  3. What is one thing you can start doing to bless your children more intentionally?

Hopefully when our children are asked, “Who helped you know Christ?” their answer would be, “My parents”. It’s the dream of every parent that whatever love we show for God, our children could show even more passionately, and their children too and the cycle carries on. Let us as parents intentionally build a robust faith that will last in the lives of our children, and in the generations to come after them.

Adapted from Rev Mark Holmen’s session at the Whole Life Symposium 2015.
© 2015 Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd. All rights reserved.

Race to Praise

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Our conversations with our children revolve around their academic performance – how they did in their tests, and how their friends did in comparison.

Sure, it’s important that our children thrive in school, but we also need to affirm them for all that they are doing right and have done well!

Get tips on raising secure children with a free parenting e-guide,
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Tap the picture above to download the e-guide!

We have links to other useful articles for you:

  1. The 5 ‘A’s for Your Family
  2. The Problem with Comparing our Kids
  3. A Letter for the Future- To My 16-year-old Son

Partnering with Focus on the Family Singapore