Using Boundaries

Could you imagine driving the day our government lifted all traffic laws? It would be a great start to get on the open road and put the pedal to the metal without the worry of getting pulled over by the police. Most likely, you wouldn’t make it to the open road. The chaos of multitudes of drivers driving every which way would make your journey treacherous to say the least.

Traffic laws were put in place to save us from ourselves. Do you know where I am going with this? We pay attention to the lines in the street. Just like the painted white lines in this highway keep the drivers and their passengers safe while enroute to a destination, so do the universal boundaries that govern the areas of our life: our health, money, career, and our family. I believe that God put them in our lives to bring benefits to our lives not hamper them. People have tested boundaries from the beginning of time. I can tell you that gravity does not exist, but the moment jump off the roof it doesn’t matter what I believe. I will be going down in a hurry and injury and pain will be the result. These boundaries exist.

Take this perspective and apply it to your parenting. Use the boundaries to guide your children to keep them on the road to well being.

Make the boundaries clear and consistent. I recently drove through the local mountains in a thick fog. Visibility was very poor. In some stretches of the mountain road I had to rely solely on the reflective center line to navigate through the fog. Make the boundaries clear for your children. Write them down. Put them on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror. Tell your children. Have your children repeat it back to you what the boundaries are. Don’t be wishy-washy. Don’t change the boundaries based on your feelings or your convenience. By doing these things you are making boundaries clear and keeping them clear.

Follow though. I have been in of countries that had traffic laws but didn’t have the traffic officers to enforce the laws. I remember in one city street, the drivers made 8 lanes out of 4 marked lanes. It was nuts. Men got out of there cars to handle their disputes that turned into fist fights, meanwhile bringing traffic to a halt. The chaos and violence were a direct result of a lack of follow through. Whatever you decide as the correction part keep it consistent. It isn’t based on your temperment. It should be based on your children’s development. The purpose is to get your children to think about their actions and attitudes.

You might be familiar these words that start off Psalm 27, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” King David, the writer likened himself to a sheep and God as his shepherd. David stated that the shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me.” Isn’t it interesting that the “sheep” said that it was the instrument of correction that brought him comfort. That is because the rod isn’t just for correcting. It is more than that. The rod is used to protect. David himself was a shepherd and killed a lion who preyed on the sheep. The staff he used to prod and correct the sheep was also used to eliminate danger as well.

The point of discipline is to help your children create those boundaries in their hearts to guide them when you aren’t around. Your discipline of your children should go beyond telling them, “No,” and correcting them just because you are at your wit’s end. Help your children establish the boundaries for themselves. Who’s old enough to have taught your teenager how to drive a car? I am sure that you didn’t decide to permanently stay in the passenger seat to teach your child how to drive. It was a much shorter process than that. You intended for your teenager to know the rules of the road for him/her to operate the car without you. Shouldn’t we have the same intentional process with our children?

What are your thoughts? Your input is appreciated.

Lead Your Family Above the Noise

We get bombarded all day and night with messages. We are pounded with billboards, website banners, pop ups, commercials on tv, and jingles to name a few. I don’t have a long commute but do listen to sports radio while running errands. My kids and I sing 1-877 Cars 4 Kids. Why? Because it’s stuck in my head! And yes, I sing it with a heavy twang like the singer in the commercial.

I don’t know the exact formula of marketing, but I do know it’s powerful. Kids programming is about 10 minutes or less of the actual show before the kids are hammered with a commercial. Of course they are going to ask you for to buy stuff all day. Did you know by the way, Sea Monkeys are still around? Yeah, the same Sea Monkeys that we read in the comic backs back in the day?

So much of the tv shows and radio programming out there is just noise, and we have to rise above the noise ourselves as individuals and bring our families with us.

Get clarity for yourself first. You are in control of the screen door to your mind. What are you allowing to influence your mind? What are you screening out? My email inbox is at least in the hundreds daily. Twice a day, I do a mass delete of emails and save the bill reminders and the handful of emails I will actually read. One of those is a Bible-verse-a-day. Here’s what was in this morning’s inbox, “There is a way that seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death.” Proverbs 16:25. My purpose for getting that daily verse emailed to me is to entice me to read the entire proverb to get the full context. I will meditate on that like chewing on some beef jerky and set the course of for the day. It will show up in my speech and what and how I talk with my family.

Next thing, is just to turn it off. Turn off the news. Turn off the reruns. Put the tablet running YouTube videos down. Get outside. If you stay inside do something else. The main thing is to turn off the noise when you have the ability to do so.

What do you instead of watching tv all day or having a device in your face? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and we will continue on in a couple of days. Make it a great Monday above the noise!

Lessons from the 3 Foot World

I get to work with children and have been for over 25 years, but working with 2 and 3 year olds who are not my biological children is not always the easiest task. Last year, one of the toddlers frantically ran to me for me to pick him up. He wasn’t a talker and of course wasn’t going to tell me that he was within a microsecond of throwing up. If you can imagine the nightmare of a 3 foot human being rushing you with chunks of half-digested food ejecting out of his body towards you. Ok, way too much information, but I had to give you the illustration. 

I have learned a few things from observing these toddlers:

  • Fart jokes don’t work. Fart sounds sometimes do.
  • Bubbles are magical. They are.
  • If it can fit in their mouth, it is highly likely it will go there.
  • Tight hipster jeans have no place in this world.
  • Mucous. It’s all over the place.
  • If all else fails, just cry. That’s what they do.
The bulleted list may not be the most important of important things to know about toddlers, but if you are about to become a parent of little people or want to, then hopefully it helps. The best thing you can do for your little one is be there. They like holding hands. They like sitting together reading a picture book or watching a video. They look doing something together like solving a puzzle. They like showing off their skills going down a slide. In my observation, little ones like being together with the people they love and trust. If a parent asked me in church, “What is the best thing I can do for my toddler?” My answer would be, “Be with your child as much as you can.” Be present and really be present. As my wife would say to me to put down that phone, it could be turn off that tv, or stop reading the magazine for you. Spend time with your little ones and pay attention to them. The majority of the time, they aren’t going to tell  you to leave them alone. 

I once had a 2 year-old who is now old enough to be a parent of one. He just asked me the other day if I wanted to watch a movie with him. I am learning that even adult kids want to be with their parents every now and then and that you never really graduate from being a parent. What is it that you do with your kids in everyday situations? If you have some tips, please share!

Your Children And Social Media

girls playing on street

Would you let your child freely interact with strangers? That question is the basis for my thoughts and opinions on children using social media. It is hard to have a simplistic grasp of the explosion of social media. We can share our lives via photo, video, sentences, and a song in an instant. We are interacting in ways that we couldn’t imagine years ago. My 80-year old low-tech dad just followed me on Instagram. Times have changed. Social media has opened avenues of communication that allows the participant to access dozens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. Where do our children fit in the social media picture that is increasingly becoming an integral part of our daily lives?
That brings me back to the first question. Would you let your children freely interact with strangers? The answer for my children is no. In public situations, when strangers approach my children, I make sure I redirect the interaction between me and the stranger. When I’m shopping, I don’t let my children leave my side to interact with people I don’t know. Why would I allow my children to do that on the internet?

Things to think about…
  • Predators are rampant on the internet. They are all over the internet in every social media platform: FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Personal profiles can be easily be created to misrepresent the user. A predator wouldn’t typically identify himself as one on his profile. People are not who they say they are. I just checked into my Instagram account and someone started following me. The profile pic was stock photo of a model. Who knows who the real person is behind the account? I don’t. Neither does your child.
  • Peer pressure to post things for shock value. We are a “like-hungry” society. We crave more likes and reposts on the photos, videos, and words we post on social media. People pay money to buy followers on social media platforms. “Likes,” “Favorites,” “Repins,” and “Reposts,” are the fuel that make social media go. That pressure is on our children to fit in their digital world as well as their physical world. We all know that the easy way to get attention to internet activity is to promote sex and vulgarity. The pressure is on our children to promote the same things!
So when can my kid join in?
I’m going back to my theme. The permissions I allow my children to be in the physical world is similar to the interaction I would allow my children to have on the internet. If I allow my son to work at the local movie theater, where the bulk of his interaction is with people he doesn’t know, then yes, I would allow that in his digital world as well. With boundaries? Yes, and I will set them. Freedom without responsibilities and accountability is not freedom. The process is all about trust, and trust is earned, not given.

What is your involvement?
Parenting is active. Anytime, you don’t interact with your children or you do not actively supervise your children’s activities, it is very likely that your children will go beyond the boundaries. Street signs remind me about the rules while I drive to keep me and others around me safe. Those road signs are not consistent on the internet. The parent must be guiding his/her children, and that includes setting limits on time, content, and interaction. I can and will tell my child, who can and cannot be his internet friends.

The key rule in my house is that all devices stay in the living room. All interaction on all devices happens here. My pre-teens in the house and friends that wanted to video chat today. It had to happen in the living room. I did not have to be in the chat with them, but at least I was within view and earshot of their conversation.

Our children need boundaries the same way a river needs banks. When there are banks, the river is a source of life. When the banks are gone the river becomes a flood. I believe in saying no with purpose. I believe that setting boundaries for your children will help them create boundaries for their own lives.

What are the boundaries in your house for your children? Is it clear? Are you actively involved? Do you have any ideas and tips to share? Comment below.

Memory Go Round

His memories of this place were as vague as he chose them to be, but this day, this man relived this one a little longer. 

He sat on a wooden horse 35 years ago and watched his mother bury her face in her hands as his father walked away. He never saw the man again. 

His thoughts were interrupted by the laughter of his 2 children going around on their wooden horses. 

He clutched his wife’s hand a little harder and waved at his children,  determined to give them different memories. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this 1-minute fictional piece I wrote a couple of years ago. You may have had more than your share of painful memories as a child. You do not have to repeat them. Even if you did repeat them you can commit to break out of the cycle. The greatest security blanket you can give your children is you.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children?

A Voice From the World 5 Foot and Under

girls playing on street

First of all, thanks for visiting my website. I have been writing on my blog here for the past couple of years, and at least 3 times a week for that past year. For the most part, I have been sharing about my interests in mobile photography and sharing micro-fiction stories and poems. As I have been posting over the past few weeks, my heart has moved towards writing about what I have done for the past 3 decades; and that is working with children. I realize more than anything else that I am a voice from the world 5 foot and under.

I have decided that the majority of content on this blog will shift to benefit anyone who works with or raises young children: parents, grandparents, step-parents, foster parents, teachers, coaches, social workers, pediatricians, dentists, therapists, Sunday School teachers, etc. If you are any of those listed and want to hear another voice from the world 5-foot and under, then keep following and give me the opportunity to share my experiences and perspective.

Although I do not consider myself the highest authority on the subject of children, I have worked with children for 30 years and been a parent for over 20, so at least I can share with you some mistakes and learnings. Yes, I am still learning. And yes, I am a preacher, and preachers preach. Be forewarned, I might start singing, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” because He does!

About 3 times during the week on the blog, I will be sharing thoughts that I believe will make you smile, nod your head, chuckle and even shed a few tears. Since I still love writing what I call 1-minute fiction, I might squeeze in one every now and then. I am working on publishing some works, and you will get to see the process. I hope you join in and enjoy the journey with me by tapping the “Subscribe” button at the top of this page. Cheers!

When the Kids Hijack my Phone 


When friends and co-workers hijack my phone the results (without consent) are typically a marital status change on my FaceBook or a tweet about me loving Hello Kitty (although I do have much love for Batzmaru.) I don’t think my daughters are well versed in practical jokes yet, so I will gladly accept any hijacking they do as long as it doesn’t involve them buying something. Here are the latest.

I am thankful for my kids. I don’t bat 1.000 as a dad, but I will keep swinging.

I thought I was done with this post, but have a few more thoughts that need to be expressed. I spend a majority of my waking hours working as childrens pastor, and I see tons of children who do not have a father present in their lives. Many of them have never met or know their father. Much respect to the men who take the responsibility of being a father to their children. I had the privilege of having a father in my life. His constant presence in my life created a stability that I have taken 30 years into my own adult life. As imperfect as I am I have always had some kind of level-headedness because my dad was and still is. If you are a male and have children then be a man and be a dad to your children. So many of them do not.

Father & Son

Father showing his son

how to find the right one.


That’s my latest Twitter poem. I snapped this picture in 2008 in Palos Verdes, California. Looking back at this image reminds me that this is how is should be between a father and his child. Does it have to be a physical task? Does it have to be a traditionally masculine activity? Is this form of mentoring exclusive to sons? The answer is “No” to all of these questions, but I believe fathers should make it their highest priority to invest their time into their children.

I remember the last time that I took my son fishing was a complete failure. We went to a local lake totally unprepared. I ended up buying the wrong bait on the hot day. The only thing we caught were sunburns. In that massive failure of a fishing day, bonding occurred between my son that day. I’m glad that I didn’t have a smartphone then.

Your children may witness you failing at a lot of things, but they will win when you invest your time with them.

Children On Social Media

social media icons

Social Media and kids

Would you let your child freely interact with strangers? That question is the basis for my thoughts and opinions on children using social media. It is hard to have a simplistic grasp of the explosion of social media. We can share our lives via photo, video, sentences, and a song in an instant. We are interacting in ways that we couldn’t imagine years ago. Even my 75-year old low-tech dad is FaceBooking now. Times have changed. Social media has opened avenues of communication that allows the participant to access dozens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. Where do our children fit in the social media picture that is increasingly becoming an integral part of our daily lives.
That brings me back to the first question. Would you let your children freely interact with strangers? The answer for my children is no. In public situations, when strangers approach my children, I make sure I redirect the interaction between me and the stranger. When I’m shopping, I don’t let my children leave my side to interact with people I don’t know. Why would I allow my children to do that on the internet?
Things to think about…
    • Predators are rampant on the internet. They are all over the internet in every social media platform: FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
    • Personal profiles can be easily be created to misrepresent the user. A predator wouldn’t typically identify himself as one on his profile. People aren’t who they say they are. As I type, I’m looking at a spam account on my Instagram. It’s a stock photo of a model. Who knows who the real person is behind the account? I don’t. Neither does your child.
    • Peer pressure to post things for shock value. We are a “like” hungry society. The more likes and reposts on a post, then the better. People pay money to buy Twitter followers. “Likes,” “Favorites,” “Repins,” and “Reposts,” are the fuel that make social media go. That pressure is on our children to fit in their digital world as well as their physical world. One easy way to get attention to internet activity is to promote sex and vulgarity. The pressure is on our children to promote the same things.
So when can my kid join in?
I’m going back to my theme. The permissions I allow my children to be in the physical world is similar to the interaction I would allow my children to have on the internet. If I allow my son to work at the local movie theater, where the bulk of his interaction is with people he doesn’t know, then yes, I would allow that in his digital world as well. With boundaries? Oh yes, and I will set them. Freedom without responsibilities and accountability is not freedom. The process is all about trust, and trust is earned, not given.
What is your involvement?
Parenting is active. Anytime, you don’t interact with your children or you don’t actively supervise your children’s activities, it is very likely that your children will go beyond the boundaries. Street signs remind me about the rules while I drive to keep me and others around me safe. Those road signs aren’t consistent on the internet. The parent must be guiding their children, and that includes setting limits on time, content, and interaction. I can and will tell my child, who can and cannot be his internet friends.
Our children need boundaries the same way a river needs banks. When there are banks, the river is a source of life. When the banks are gone the river becomes a flood. I believe in saying no with purpose. I believe that setting boundaries for your children will help them create boundaries for their own lives.