Do Teens Need Privacy?

Do Teens Need Privacy?

In the past week I have had three phone calls with desperate moms who need help in handling a teen who keeps crying out about the injustice of having their privacy invaded. I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts about this with you all too….in case any of you are also dealing with this issue.

The truth about teens demanding their privacy....

The thing about teens needing privacy is…’s bunk.  This is a “rule” of life that the teen just made up.  Then society and psychology feeds it by telling them that they deserve it.  I’m sorry, but it simply isn’t true.

Yes, we all need times that we can be alone with our thoughts to figure out problems or rest or help a friend occasionally.  But the idea that we should be able to keep secrets about what we are doing or planning or that kids should be allowed to hide their texts from their parents is pure craziness.

You, the parents, are responsible for your child’s actions and you are providing for and protecting them.  They have no right to privacy from you.  You give them the privacy that YOU think they need, not that they demand.  In fact, the more they demand it the less I will give.  That just tells me that they are hiding something and that’s not OK.

God gave us all a built in private place through our thoughts, dreams and prayers.  Your children have that automatically and they have complete control over how much of that they will share with you.  Parents definitely should not try to push their way into their child’s thoughts.  It’s disrespectful.

BUT they do not automatically get privacy over what’s in their drawers or who they talk to on the phone or where they are going.  That privacy is earned by proving you are trustworthy.

Now let me say here that I have never gone through my children’s drawers or made them show me their texts.  When we have a problem, I may tell them that because I am not trusting them in a certain area it would be best if they show me those things.  If they refuse (which has never happened so I am just thinking here) I would take the phone, contents of the drawer, etc. from them and hold it until they agreed to show it to me and discuss it responsibly and face whatever consequences come with their choices.  I would not just look through it behind their back unless I felt something dangerous was happening.

I work hard to make sure my kids can trust me not to overreact when they tell me they have done something they shouldn’t.  However, I have no problem taking a phone away, putting restrictions on it, holding favorite toys, whatever it takes to teach the lesson.  I love my children too much to let something like an ipod or toy come between them and their godly character.

The very idea that a child (and yes, teens are still children no matter what they think) can demand to have secret phone conversations or hide what is in their purse is simply the result of a world losing touch with righteousness.

Here’s what God has to say on the matter from Luke 12:2-3, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.”

He also says in Romans 13 that we are not to resist the authorities that God has appointed for us.  It is clear on that subject, but never says anything about 13 year olds having a right to use their phone at midnight.

I know this seems harsh.  I do think that a responsible, respectful teen should be able to have some private areas, as long as he knows that he is subject to being asked to share those places if a problem arises.  The main point is that YOU decide where privacy is allowed and not.  A young person does not yet have the wisdom, no matter how smart they are, to understand when that is necessary.  They also do not carry the weight of the financial, emotional, legal, physical or spiritual responsibility if something serious happens as a result of their actions.  You have every right to know what they are doing.

As long as my children are doing their work, taking care of their things, being respectful and kind….I give them privacy.  Although what’s funny is they don’t really feel the need for it as much if they aren’t trying to hide anything, which leads to me being happy to give it to them….the beautiful circle of trust.


5 Thoughts That Really Help When Marriage Gets Difficult

5 Thoughts That Really Help When Marriage Gets Difficult

No marriage is perfect.  This is by a woman with a happy marriage but still willing to admit that it's not always easy! -- The Pennington Point

As tax season rolls along I get lonely.  And sad.  It’s true….9 kids and a home business, but sometimes I feel lonely for my husband and I want him to stop working and give me some attention.

As wives we all have something that makes our marriage a challenge.  If he doesn’t work too much then maybe he doesn’t work enough, or manage the kids like you think he should or even simple things like sloppiness or picky eating can be hard on a wife.

No matter what imperfections your husband has, God gave him to you and wants you to learn and grow through your struggles.  I’m not excusing your husband’s flaws, but this is not about him.  This is about us.

From the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, “But what if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy . . . but holy? And what if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?”

For me every tax season is an opportunity to turn to God to meet my need for attention and affection.  AND I learn more and more every year better ways to sacrifice my need for my husband’s.  It ain’t easy, sister.  But the riches that go along with these lessons are immeasurable!

Maybe you’re one of those amazing wives who will say that pleasing her husband is her life’s mission and nothing satisfies her more.  I admire those women so much.  But I am not one of them.  My flesh wants to fulfill its own desires and be petted.  Sad but true.  I like getting my way.

And God knows that! I know because 2 Timothy 3:2-4 is a whole list of selfish struggles and since I can see myself in so many of them, I know God understands!  It is only through God’s grace and mercy that we are able to overcome these issues.  Being in His Word shows me clearly that God is ready to help me through my hard times in everything….even the tiny problem of wishing my husband were more available.

Here are 5 thoughts that help me find peace when marriage gets difficult:

1. We must not seek satisfaction in anything but God. 
Sometimes I wonder if I would have the deep relationship with my Lord if I had an easier life.  My trials bring me closer to Him and allow me to see the eternal joy that He wants to give me.
Psalm 16:11b you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand”

2. We are responsible for our actions, not our husband’s.
I don’t have to answer for what my husband does.  But I do have to account for my own actions, so it is important to behave and respond with loving kindness even if he doesn’t deserve it.  I sure wouldn’t want him constantly trying to change me, so why would I do that to him.  And besides, only God can change hearts.
Psalm 26:2 “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.

3. There is peace even in unpeaceful conditions.
It’s so much more about where our focus is than our circumstances.  I notice that when I am doing my morning run if I think about my legs and how tired they are then I constantly want to quit.  But if I think about what is up ahead, even imagining God with His arms open waiting for me, the running is much easier.  I’m still running the same path, no circumstances have changed.  But when my focus changes the task becomes lighter and joyful.  It’s the same with marriage.  What we focus on can make or break our attitude.
Philippians 3: 14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

4. You’re not so perfect either.
It’s true.  I’m no picnic to be married to.  The things that are important to him are not my strong suits.  He likes orderly receipts and spreadsheets and our finances to be all neat and tidy.  This is not something I am good at and it probably looks to him like I don’t care about it.  I need his understanding in these areas and I should be willing to give him the same when he doesn’t seem to appreciate my desire to discuss my ideas about home decorating.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

5. It is your behavior that can win over your husband.
Seeing your grace and humility may be just what your husband needs so that he may seek righteousness for his own life.  Even though this verse refers to unsaved husbands, it cannot be denied that being forgiven has a deep impact on our husbands.  When I forgive him for hurting me or inconveniencing me, it leaves room for the Holy Spirit to touch his heart and do a good work.  That’s not even mentioning the impact your behavior has on your children….the influence you have as a woman is far reaching.
1 Peter 3:1-2 if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

This tax season I have learned to be more patient.  God has given me the husband I needed to sharpen my weak areas and as much as that hurts sometimes, I can feel myself becoming the woman I really want to be.  One who is willing to be selfless and caring even when it isn’t deserved.

Let’s build one another up and encourage each other to look to God for our support and strength.  I’m excited to see what God can do with a group of women who are willing to set their needs aside for the husband and let God fill in the gaps.

Women encouraging women

10 Bible Verses for Brothers & Sisters

10 Bible Verses for Brothers & Sisters

Many moms talk to me about how their kids fight and don’t get along.  People will tell them that’s just the way it is and they should accept it.

No!  My guide through life is not what society tells me is OK, but what God says is OK.  And He says fighting with our brothers and sisters is WRONG.

I put together a list of great Bible verses to learn as a family that will help your kids understand what God says about getting along.  Memorize them, talk about them, have your kids copy them in an artful way and frame them, write them on notes….get them into your heart  and mind any way you can!

10 Bible verses for brothers and sisters! -- The Pennington Point

1. Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and reconcile to them; then come and offer your gift.”

God says we can’t even come to Him unless we try to work out our problems with our siblings.  This is a great example to point out when your kids want something from you but they aren’t getting along.  You could point out that you will listen to them after they go and reconcile with their brother.

2. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Kindness and forgiveness….it’s at the heart of Christianity.  We are the example to the world that we are different.  We teach our children to ask for forgiveness when they hurt or wrong someone else.  But we also teach them that you should forgive another person even of they don’t ask for it.

3. Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”

I love this verse.  Teaching our children to love discipline is a challenge, but you can do it.  In the case of siblings, they need to be willing to take correction from their siblings and not get defensive about reproof.  I encourage my children that while they don’t have the authority to be bossy, they do have the responsibility to help each other learn and grow.

4. 1 John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

No one is perfect….this is an important lesson in getting along with others.  Knowing that you are imperfect is key to being understanding when other people mess up.

5. 1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”

We do not all have the same talents.  You may not be good at what your brother is good at.  We teach our children to rejoice in each other’s gifts and talents and it makes or a very sweet family life.

6. Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Having your children serve one another is a gift to them for their entire lives.  Helping with chores, moving out of someone’s way, just doing what you can to bless someone else is how we all need to treat each other.

7. Proverbs 31: 8-9 “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy”

This verse shows us how to treat those less fortunate.  If your child thinks his sister is “dumb” or a “pain” then instead of belittling her he should work to build her up.

8. Hebrews 13:16 ” Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”

Sharing.  Yep.  It’s important.  I am not good at sharing either if I’m being honest….but I do it and I do it with a whole heart for God and because I choose to love that other person more than I love myself.  I want to please God.  Sometimes that’s all the motivation we have to offer and we must teach our children that in the end that should be enough.

9. Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

It’s just so hard to think of others sometimes, especially when you’re young and immature.  Building these abilities takes time and patience and perseverance.  Don’t be upset when your child acts selfishly, but keep feeding the Word into them over and over.

10. Galatians 5:26 “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another”

Conceit, provoking, envy.  One, or maybe all, of those will be at the core of sibling problems.  Ask God to show you which of these your child struggles with and help him through it.  Don’t let him get away with acting out and keep on top of him, but let him know that you understand his feelings.  They are something you want to help him conquer.

Learning these verses together and sharing your thoughts about them is the best way to help your kids learn to get along!


March is Homeschool Month!

March is Homeschool Month!

I’ll be pausing the sibling series for March and instead I will be talking about homeschooling.  It’s that time of year when we are figuring out what to do for next year PLUS it really is great for siblings to spend school time together.  So it fits.  Kinda.

A month of homeschooling ideas from a mom of 9

I get a ton of questions, literally a ton, I’ve measured, about what curriculum we use. In case you don’t know, we have homeschooled all of our kids forever, they’ve never gone to school.  Three of the kids have graduated and two will be graduating this year.  I had 7 in school for a while there, which was not easy.  But it is possible and I am still alive to tell you about it.  This year I have 6 in school, but after this it’s all downhill.  Only 13 more years to go….whoop!

As for curriculum, I’m not a one size fits all kind of girl.  Some kids respond to a curriculum then the next kid doesn’t do well with it.  So I have used a LOT of different ones over the past 20 years and through March I am going to share some of my favorites.

In keeping with the sibling series, I love to do unit studies!  We can all study the same thing together.  We sit together, have a discussion about the topic and then I give out assignments based on each child’s ability.  It’s such fun to be learning as a family!

I will be sharing some of our favorites, but you can also just search online for free unit studies.  We’ve done plenty of free ones including spiders, Texas, hymns and clouds.  Just Google it….there’s a lot out there.

I can’t wait!

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Sibling Relationships & Consistency

Sibling Relationships & Consistency

One of the difficulties in helping your kids build godly relationships with each is teaching them to be happy for one another.   It takes maturity to set your own wants aside and let someone else get the attention.  This kind of maturity takes time to develop.  I want to encourage you to be patient about it, but still expect growth.

A great tip is to be very, very consistent.  I can’t stress enough how important consistency is in every area of raising kids.  If you teach them, for example, to act joyful when their brother is opening his birthday presents and not get all annoyingly selfish about it.  Then when they flub up…..hold them to it.  Correct the behavior, don’t let them get away with acting like they should get some of the stuff their brother has.   But also be kind and understanding.

Don’t get mad or irritated by it.  Just keep correcting and don’t give in.

You can’t expect them to show loving care for their sibling if half of the time they get the message from you that being jealous and attention grabbing works.  Spend time teaching them how much God loves them and gives them each what they need.

Keep at it… is possible for your kids to love each other and rejoice in each other’s blessings!

Here are a couple of articles I recently wrote about raising kids.  Parenting is a tough job and it’s always nice to get some encouragement on the journey!

9 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Your Kids

10 Creative Ways to Show Love to Your Kids

And here’s a great one my daughter Grace wrote about how God uses the struggles in life to grow you!

When Life Gives Your Broken Sharks

Have a great weekend!

This is part of a year long series on sibling relationships.  To start from the beginning go HERE.

Helping Siblings Find Their Love for Each Other

Helping Siblings Find Their Love for Each Other

Since it’s the day of love, I have to talk a little today about helping siblings show love for each other.

Sometimes the heart comes before the actions, but sometimes the actions come first.  In this case, you can act like you love someone even if you don’t always feel it.  Being loving toward someone doesn’t require feeling loving toward them.

Do your kids need encouragement in showing love for one another

When I notice a bitterness growing between a couple of my kids, I will give them some assignments.  I will tell them each to do something kind for the other, in secret.  I give them some ideas if they need it, then they are to only tell me what they did.  Don’t tell anyone else!

It’s a way of helping them think about what their sibling needs and what pleases him.  To think about another person is a skill that we need to practice and this is a good way since it’s done in secret. Telling only you about the kindness gives you a chance to help them see where the gaps are in their acts of kindness.  Is it really helping their sibling?  Can they do more?  Are they thinking of themselves?  Did they successfully bless their sibling?

You should praise their efforts even if it was small, even if you are a bit disappointed in the lack of sacrifice.  Then give them their next assignment.  Maybe they need some guidance.  But the bulk of the idea should be their own. Of course, they don’t know that their sibling is being given the same task.

Some ideas for secret acts of kindness:
1. make their bed
2. clear their place at the table
3. finish a chore for them
4. help with school work
5. share your dessert
6. let them have first choice on something
7. ask their advice
8. give a genuine compliment
9. offer to do something they like
10. let them have the best place to sit These are just a few ideas to get you started.

Encouraging this kind of love between siblings is a great way to build a godly, loving relationship!

Love One Another: Obedience is Key

Love One Another: Obedience is Key

One of the questions I get asked most often is about siblings fighting.  “How do you keep your kids from fighting?!”

There are many possible root issues for fighting and we will talk about some of those later in the series, but today I am going to tell you my first tip on this.  It is about obedience.

Obedience to parents is key to siblings getting along....great post!

(I know….people don’t like the word obedience, but God uses it in His Word so I am comfortable using it.)

In order for you to have influence over your children’s relationship with each other, they need to be obedient to you.  If you say, “You two need to stop arguing and get your chores finished,” they should immediately do it.

You can deal with heart and sin issues later, but for now let’s just help them to obey you.  If your children are fighting even after you have told them to stop, then I suspect they are not obeying you in many other areas as well.  It’s up to you to pay attention to their willingness to do what you tell them to.

Teaching them to obey you at the dinner table or at bedtime is part of teaching them to get along with one another.  It’s all connected.

So work on obedience in your home and you will be making strides in improving their relationship with each other.

Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

Now hang on….we’ll be talking more about their attitudes toward each other next week!  If you’re wondering how to get your children to obey, here are a few of my posts on that subject:

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What to Do About Tattling

What to Do About Tattling

In my series about siblings, one thing we must discuss is tattling.  I get a lot of questions asking about this and I have a great method.  It’s so simple you won’t believe it.

I wrote about this years ago on my old blog that is now in blog heaven.  So I am sharing it again with you here and I hope it blesses you!  Be sure to read the follow-up posts answering a few readers’ questions.

This has worked beautifully in our home for many years, so I hope it inspires you to conquer the tattling issues you may have.

It’s a problem.  I need to know if someone has done something they shouldn’t have. I don’t want my children running to tell me the juicy details of another child’s sin. So how do we solve this?

Here’s how…and it works!

Let’s talk about Susie and Johnny. One afternoon Johnny catches Susie sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar. Does Johnny run to tell Mom? No! Johnny tells Susie, “Go tell Mom you took a cookie.” Susie must go tell on herself….no matter what. Now stay with me….here’s where it gets good. If Susie refuses to tell (I know, your children wouldn’t do that, but let’s just pretend) then Johnny comes to Mom and tells Mom that Susie refuses to tell Mom something. Johnny does NOT tell Mom what Susie did. Susie is then called to Mom (or Mom goes to Susie) and gets automatically disciplined (whatever is your discipline of choice)….just for not telling Mom something when a sibling told her to. After that is dealt with, Susie must still tell Mom she ate a cookie and that is dealt with however it needs to be handled.

What if, you say, Johnny gets a thrill from telling people to go tell Mom things that are unimportant? If Johnny tells Susie to go tell Mom something unimportant then HE gets automatic discipline. So they will be very careful to only use this plan for important things.

There are times when Johnny may not know all of the circumstances. Let’s say Susie appealed to Mom’s soft side and Mom told her she could have a cookie and Johnny didn’t hear that. It doesn’t matter. Susie goes to Mom and says, “Johnny told me to tell you that I ate a cookie.” Mom says, “OK Honey. He didn’t know you were allowed to have one. Thank you for telling me.” Nothing happens to Susie, but she did what she was supposed to do so all is well in the home (well, except for the matter of Johnny now thinking he should have another cookie if Susie got one, but that’s another problem we will solve another time).

Let me lay it out in quick, easy steps:

1. If a child sees a sibling doing something they shouldn’t, they tell them, “Go tell Mom (or Dad) that you ______”
2. There is no discussion between them about it.
3. The child goes to Mom and says “Johnny told me to tell you that I _______”
4. Mom disciplines as necessary (it doesn’t always require discipline).
5. If they refuse to go tell on themselves, the first child goes to Mom and tells her, “Johnny won’ tell you something.” (without telling the actual offense)
6. Mom disciplines for not coming to tell because it’s a matter of family trust….someone tells you to “Go tell Mom” then you have to do it no matter what.
7. Then Mom disciplines separately for the actual offense (making the child go ahead and tell what they did).
8. IF a child sends someone to tell something unimportant then THEY get disciplined.  (the root of this may be trying to get other people in trouble, pride, rejoicing in another’s sin, etc.)

The beauty of this system is that it promotes the Biblical principle of confession. It builds the relationship I have with my children and it doesn’t disintegrate the relationship they have with each other. In our experience it builds trust between them when they are faithful to follow through no matter what. If you are consistent and patient….this plan is foolproof. 

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. “

Be sure to check out my follow-up posts on this topic: More on Tattling and When Little Ones Tattle

Love Your Brother, Fair vs Just

Love Your Brother, Fair vs Just

In part 1 we talked about understanding what God has to say about loving one another.  This week let’s talk about fairness.

If you, as the parent, are trying to keep everything “fair” and equal then you are taking away an opportunity for them to learn to handle when things don’t go their way.  OR when they get more then their share….how to be gracious and generous.

God isn’t concerned with fairness.  He is all about justice.  What’s the difference?  Well it’s huge.

Fairness:  Fairness is subjective based on what one person feels.  Take games, for example.  We play a lot of games in our house.  Depending on what we play there is always someone more talented at the skill required for that game.  Fairness would say we should handicap that person somehow to make it fair for everyone.  Maybe they get less time to fill in their answers or they have to go 10 extra spaces on the board.  It wouldn’t be fair for Mr. Smarty to play with the same rules as everyone else or he would win.

Fairness tries to make everyone equal and we simply aren’t equal.  If you try to be a fair parent, you are causing some child to shrink by holding them back and others to be stunted because there is no reason for them to try to improve.

Justice:  Justice is like gravity.  It holds us all to the same ground with the same pull no matter who we are or what we need.  It doesn’t care if we’re the youngest or the weakest or the loudest complainer.  Same rules for everyone.  If you jump in the air you will fall back to the ground.

Justice is holding people to the consequences of their own talents and actions.  It is winning a game because everyone played by the same rules and you were just better or luckier.  If your brother always wins then it’s motivation for you to improve your skills, practice and get stronger in that area.

In other words, fairness creates equality by comparing us to each other, justice creates equality by holding us all to the same outside standard. 

What am I getting at you may wonder?  Well it’s this.  Let your kids be different.  Let some succeed and others fail.  Comfort them, help them up when they fall, but don’t try to soften the pain of the loss.  It is necessary for them to grow.  And also praise your child’s successes, but remind them of where that success comes from.  God gaveth and He can taketh away.

Then teach them to appreciate each other’s strengths and help each other when they’re weak.  Don’t teach them that they should be equal….it will only serve to damage their relationships.

That’s what it’s all about friends.  Justice and kindness.

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”


Love Your Brother

Love Your Brother

With 9 kids we have many different personalities.  Different interests.  Lots of moods…..

Despite all of that, our children have very loving, caring relationships.  We have almost no arguing or fussing and there is never physical fighting.  Our children really enjoy each other.  This brings such delight to my mother’s heart!

That led me to decide to write a series about building godly sibling relationships.  I want you to have that same joy!  I’ll be sharing each week what is happening in our home and how we manage problems.  We will open up and answer questions as we go along.  It’s gonna be great!

So let’s not waste any time getting started……

The first thing we always do when we are figuring out how to manage anything is look to God’s Word.  It has a LOT to say about how we should treat one another.  We should be kind, merciful, put others first….I could go on and on.  So this is what we teach our children.  And we make sure they know where these ideas come from.  Knowing God said it holds a lot more weight than if it’s just Mom’s crazy idea.

You may have noticed that the Bible never says, “Be kind, unless you’re three and haven’t had a nap.”  Nope.  We must treat each other well and set ourselves aside no matter how old we are and no matter how we feel.  Of course, a three year old hasn’t learned how to be selfless and that’s why you need to teach her.  Be patient, be understanding, but do not be lenient about proper behavior.  Kids can’t be perfect… one can.  I am still trying to figure this out and I am 48 years old!  Perfection in NOT the goal.  Learning and growing to be more Christlike is the goal.  And glorifying God instead of ourselves is the BIG goal.

Begin to teach God’s principles for how we are to treat one another.  It’s a good place to start.  Write out a few verses and start memorizing them together.  We will work build on this through the series.

1 John 3:16-18 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

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