Just married couple, holding hands and walking in nature

10 secrets to a successful marriage (Article)

By Mitch Temple

Successful couples are savvy. They read books, attend seminars, browse Web articles and observe other successful couples. However, successful couples will tell you that they also learn by experience – trial and error.

Here are 10 principles of success I have learned from working with and observing hundreds of couples:

Happiness is not the most important thing. Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness will come and go. Successful couples learn to intentionally do things that will bring happiness back when life pulls it away.

Couples discover the value in just showing up. When things get tough and couples don’t know what to do, they need to hang in there and be there for their spouse. Time has a way of helping couples work things out by providing opportunities to reduce stress and overcome challenges.

If you do what you always do, you will get same result. Wise couples have learned that you have to approach problems differently to get different results. Often, minor changes in approach, attitude and actions make the biggest difference in marriage.

Your attitude does matter. Changing behavior is important, but so is changing attitudes. Bad attitudes often drive bad feelings and actions.

Change your mind, change your marriage. How couples think and what they believe about their spouse affects how they perceive the other. What they expect and how they treat their spouse matters greatly.

The grass is greenest where you water it. Successful couples have learned to resist the grass is greener myth – i.e. someone else will make me happy. They have learned to put their energy into making themselves and their marriage better.

You can change your marriage by changing yourself. Veteran couples have learned that trying to change their spouse is like trying to push a rope – almost impossible. Often, the only person we can change in our marriage is ourselves.

Love is a verb, not just a feeling. Everyday life wears away the “feel good side of marriage.” Feelings, like happiness, will fluctuate. But, real love is based on a couple’s vows of commitment: “For better or for worse” – when it feels good and when it doesn’t.

Marriage is often about fighting the battle between your ears. Successful couples have learned to resist holding grudges, bringing up the past and remembering that they married an imperfect person – and so did their spouse.

A crisis doesn’t mean the marriage is over. Crises are like storms: loud, scary and dangerous. But to get through a storm you have to keep driving. A crisis can be a new beginning. It’s out of pain that great people and marriages are produced.

Quarreling kids - boy shouting at little girl, isolated

Stop refereeing your kids (Article)

By Megan Hill

My sons had each decided their individual happiness depended on playing exclusively with our green baseball bat. Every day, I heard them argue over it. I frequently asked, “What’s wrong with the yellow one? Or the red one?” But, no, green apparently hits faster, higher, better.

As a result, I found myself trying to solve every sibling squabble. At the first sound of trouble, I would swoop in and ask questions such as, “Who had it first?” and resort to solutions such as, “I’m just going to take it away.”

As parents, too often we allow ourselves to be ever-present police, detectives, mediators and judges. In the heat of the moment, this reaction is understandable, but it poorly equips our children for independence. Instead, we should invest time teaching our children to keep the peace. In much the same way that parents prepare their kids for “stranger danger” and peer pressure, we can prepare our kids to look for resolutions to conflict.

Teach three directives

How I parented sibling conflict changed once I understood that children could be trained in this area. Corlette Sande, co-founder of Relational Wisdom 360, suggested the use of three conflict resolution steps for children: overlook, talk and get help. Corlette says, “Young children can learn how to respond to conflict if we model it and show them how to put peacemaking into practice.”

With my own preschoolers, I began by teaching them to overlook the offense, talk the issue over, and then get help. I first introduced conflict resolution to my children during a quiet moment when they were receptive listeners. We talked about their usual conflicts: toy-grabbing, shouting or throwing game cards. I explained that when a sibling offends them, they first need to try to overlook the offense. Then I gave them a script: Say, “That’s OK,” and stop thinking or talking about it.

If this is impossible (because overlooking an offense takes many tries and much grace), the child has the option to talk about the situation with his brother. He can calmly say: “Please don’t do that” or “May I please have that back?” His brother must answer in a kind tone. The goal of this step is for the children to reach a mutually agreeable compromise.

If my sons can’t reach a satisfactory resolution, the offended child can finally get help. He finds Mommy or Daddy and says: “Would you please help us?” In this step, he knows his parent will hear both sides of the disagreement and then make the final decision.

Sometimes, one of my children forgets the first two steps and immediately runs to me for help. Before intervening, I ask whether he has tried overlooking and talking. If not, I coach him to try again.

With repetition, this process has become a familiar family expression. “What can you do if you have a conflict?” I ask. “Overlook, talk and then get help,” my kids respond.

Following these steps may initially seem unrealistic for preschoolers — a peaceful resolution is not their natural inclination. But with frequent reminders, it’s possible.

I have a son who was adopted shortly after he turned 3. He came to our family trained by orphanage life: uninterrupted squabbling with 30 other children over a handful of toys. Hitting was his conflict-resolution strategy. Mere months later, he could tell me the steps for resolution and began learning to implement them with his siblings.

Teaching conflict resolution to children is a wise investment of time. This basic, three-step process is not instant or easy, but it has changed my family and how my children relate to one other.

Megan Hill is a freelance author and mother of three.

Uncovering secrets to a happy marriage (Audio)

Best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn offers insights from research she’s conducted on what makes for a happier, more fulfilling marriage. She also outlines practical ways to develop a more Christ-like relationship with your spouse.






Effective child discipline (Series)

There’s not a responsible parent on the planet who hasn’t struggled with getting a child to obey, and it can be an excruciating experience. How do you get your children to mind without losing yours?

Focus on the Family have an incredible series on the topic that I would recommend for every parent.
Click on each one to see the article.

1. The four parenting styles
2. What the Bible Says About Discipline
3. 5 characteristics of biblical discipline
4. Discipline is worth the effort
5. Punishment vs Discipline
6. Discipline with action and words
7. The biblical approach to spanking


Kids make lousy housemates (Article)

You have kids, then you will be able to relate to this…when talking to parents about their kids, we need to see the funny side of much of what happens.

Living with people is hard. You have to take into account their habits and foibles and constantly re-negotiate the terms. Sometimes, when there is a personality clash, you just have to accept that you shouldn’t be living together. Here are 7 reasons my kids make lousy housemates:

1. They talk to me before I’ve had my coffee

Anyone who lives with me should know this is a non-negotiable. I can’t human until I’ve coffee’ed. Despite explaining this a million and one times to my kids, they still insist on talking at me first thing in the morning. Granted, my explanations are expressed in grunts, but, sheesh, they should get it by now, yes?

2. They talk with their outside voices

In a former life, I was a librarian. I understand the need for silence. And inside voices. Not so my kids. They all talk over each other, at the same time, and at 200 decibels. It’s especially bad when they think they’ve said something funny. Then, not only is it said at 200 decibels, it’s repeated 7 trillionty times for maximum impact. I would have had strong words with any other housemate about this by now.

3. They suck at washing the dishes

Okay, not all of them. The 15 year old is fairly good at washing the dishes… every 2 weeks or so…. But my 12 year old seems to have a visual disability when she washes them: she doesn’t notice that she’s left half of supper on the plate before putting it on the drying rack. And my 8 year old can’t even figure out how to stack the drying rack. What’s that about?

4. They allow weird things to grow on crockery

I’ve often asked my 15 year old whether his arms were broken, because he hasn’t managed to carry dishes from his bedroom to the kitchen for days. When they do find their way back to the sink, they have things that look like science experiments attached to them. Seriously unacceptable behaviour for a housemate.

5. They don’t understand the concept of personal space

A friend has implemented the arm’s length rule. At the end of any given day, her kids are no longer allowed anywhere nearer than within an arm’s length of her. She got this rule from her mother, a very very wise woman. I’m going to implement the same thing. If I don’t, I fear my body will become fused to my 8 year old son’s arms, or my face to my 12 year old daughter’s lips. They’re IN MY FACE wherever I go: on the couch, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, hiding in the closet (What? Don’t you do this?). This is unacceptable. Any other housemate would have been out by now.

6. They eat all the treats before I get a chance

My treats are no longer my own. I’ve been reduced to hiding in my room when I want to eat a bar of chocolate. Treats last a total of 3.5 seconds after landing on the kitchen counter. I’m seriously considering building a secret entrance to my house and a treats cupboard in my bedroom, just to avoid the ravening eyes of my children.

7. They don’t practise personal hygiene

I have to tell them every day to shower and brush their teeth. Um. Do they have daily amnesia? Surely after hearing it every day it becomes a habit? Plus, my 8 year old stores dirty underpants under his bed and my 15 year old’s socks smell.


5 things kids will remember about you (Article)

by Dave Willis

My wife Ashley and I just had our fourth baby. Having a new baby in the house has made me feel more nostalgic than usual and I’ve reflected back on my own childhood. I’ve thought about the memories that stick out in my mind and I think about the memories I want my own children to hold onto. I want to be intentional about every precious moment.
Jerry Seinfeld jokes that, “Babies’ sole purpose is to replace us! That’s why their first words are, “Mama, Dada…Bye Bye.”

It’s a funny joke, but also an important reminder that life is short and our time with our kids is going to go by fast. With that in mind, I want to make the most of every minute and create the kind of legacy that will endure long after I’m gone. This isn’t a morbid thought, but rather an important way to stay focused on what matters most with every minute we have with our kids.

[quote]As the Bible says, “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.” Psalm 39:4[/quote]

As parents, we tend to stress about things that don’t matter all that much. Our kids probably aren’t going to remember every detail of our home decor, or how perfect our landscaping looked or whether our refrigerator was stocked was name brands or generics. Let’s focus on what really matters. If you want to know what your kids will remember about you, here it is:

5 things your kids will remember about you:

1. The times you made them feel safe (or the times you made them feel unsafe).
There’s a vulnerability and a need for protection in the heart of every child. Your kids will remember those moments you chased the monsters from under their bed or held them after a nightmare, but they’ll also remember the times when your temper became the monster they feared. Our kids are probably going to see us angry sometimes, because that’s part of life, but make it your mission to make your children feel safe and secure at all times when they’re with you.

2. The times you gave them your undivided attention.
Kids measure love primarily by our attentiveness to them. The times you stop what you’re doing to have a tea party or go outside to throw a ball or jump on a trampoline with be memories etched into their minds and hearts forever. Take the time to do the little things with your kids, because in the end, they’ll be the moments that matter most.

3. The way you interacted with your spouse.
Our kids are forming their views of love in large part by watching how we treat our husband or wife. Strive to have the kind of marriage that makes them excited to get married someday. Give them the security that comes from seeing their Mom and Dad in a committed, loving relationship with each other.

4. Your words of affirmation AND your words of criticism.
A child’s heart is like wet cement and the impression made early in life will harden over time. They’ll base their sense of identity, capability and even self-worth largely upon the words you speak to them in those formative years. Part of our job as parents is to correct and discipline, but even in correction, let your words be full of love, encouragement and positive reinforcement.

5. Your family traditions.
Kids love spontaneity, but they also have deep need for predictability. They’ll remember with great fondness the “traditions” you establish whether it’s a weekly family movie (or game) night, a place you regularly travel for family getaways, the way you celebrate birthdays and special events or any other special tradition. Be intentional about creating some traditions that they’ll want to pass onto their own children someday.

Senior man standing with arms outstretched

Living well after middle age (Audio)

You may think as you get older you get wiser, but author Ken Davis says — he just gets weirder! On this 2 part broadcast, Ken will encourage you to beat the middle-age blues by living life to the fullest – through exercise, nutrition and family time. If you’re facing a midlife crisis, or just need a little boost, join us for a healthy, humorous perspective.

Part 1
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Part 2
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Young people jumping on Mission Beach, San Diego, California, USA

Living joyously (Audio)

On this 2 part broadcast hear an inspiring message from David Ring — a man who leaves a lasting impression! Born with cerebral palsy, he suffered through many devastating circumstances – including the loss of his parents by age 14. Kids made fun of him and most of his family rejected him. He was pretty sure that God hated him too. Hear how he beat the odds to become a joy-filled ministry leader.

Part 1
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Part 2
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Social media kids

Social challenges every parent should know (Booklet)

Downloadable booklet from Focus on the Family

The social media landscape is growing and to meet the challenges it poses to our children, Focus on the Family have developed a booklet to help parents wade through this minefield with confidence and hope.

The booklet covers things like :

  • Cyber bullying
  • Self-Esteem
  • Dangerous friendships
  • Age differences

[su_button url=”http://focusafrica.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/social-networking-challenges-every-parent-should-know.pdf” target=”blank” style=”flat” background=”#257D93″ size=”6″ center=”no” radius=”0″ icon=”icon: file-audio-o”]Click to Download[/su_button]


A father’s influence in his daughter’s life (Audio)

You may love your daughter, but does she know that? On this 2 part broadcast, Dr. Kevin Leman explains to dads how to invest in your little girl and build a lifelong relationship that you both can treasure into adulthood. Learn how special your daddy-daughter relationship can be.

Part 1
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Part 1
[su_audio url=”https://ae52daef26231574234331e24001ad519af04def.googledrive.com/host/0B-7_-84W8b7YaVUtLV81LTRPNmc/mar%2005.mp3″ width=”50%”]