Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Family Toolbox Review #familytoolbox #heartparenting

I have no idea why I ever thought parenting would get easier as my children got older.  I had no idea that parenting 13-, 15-, 18-, and 20-year-olds would be so challenging.  When they reach these ages, you think you've hit the sweet spot.  Or at least I did.  You know, four kids, same house, same parents doing the same thing?  A Christian family actively involved in our church and community -- parenting should be easy.  Or so I thought.  Who knew just how crazy life could get?  Who knew how differently each of my children would react and interact?   It should be easy the fourth time through the drama-filled 13s, right?  And surely a 15-year-old boy can't be all that much different from when his older sisters were 15, right?  WRONG.  Parenting has definitely been a wild ride and this year has been a tough one.  I was excited when I first heard about The Family Toolbox and couldn't wait to have this resource in my hands to strengthen my parenting skills and enhance my relationship with my children.  It is very much the desire of my heart to make sure the doors of communication are open with the Princess and Eagle Scout and make sure not to repeat some of the mistakes we've made with the Graduates.

I've found that parenting is never easy, and there may never actually be a sweet spot.  There is so much that I can continue to learn and do to improve my parenting skills.  It's not easy, but it is worth it to sit together and talk and learn and train and care.  Even though times get tough and tears may fall (from parent's eyes as well as teenager's eyes), we absolutely MUST not give up.  Family IS important and we must always yearn for more because we can always work towards strengthening our relationships with one another.  And that's where The Family Toolbox offers hope and grace and encouragement.  These are three things that I crave and need to survive these years.  How about you?

A basic description of The Family Toolbox shares this:  
The Family Toolbox is a DVD/video-driven program that brings parents and teens together for constructive dialogue around significant issues of discipleship.  Conversation is sparked by engaging video clips. Sixteen Life Success Principles are communicated through eight lessons that give parents and teens biblically-based, practical topics for discussion. The format grabs teens and gets them interacting. The Family Toolbox has 8 lessons. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue between parents and teens and a 10-minute teaching session for parents featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away.

So, 12 - 15 minutes and we should be done?  That is entirely true.  BUT . . . The Family Toolbox is so much more.  In all of my years of reviewing, this one review has been the single most difficult to write because it touched us in a place we never thought we'd be.  As my older daughters struggle to discover who they are, my younger teens struggle to find their places in the new dynamic of our family.  It's been a year of change for all of us and a year of introspection for me.  I'm praying circles around all of my children and am reminding myself of Proverbs 22:6 which promises that if we "train up" our children in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it.  The Family Toolbox offers help in the training.  

We've discussed each lesson much more than 10 minutes -- and there have been several that caused continued discussion throughout the week.  Each session helps us to understand more of each other yet we are not intimidated by the topics because the Family Drama video sequence focuses on "other families" which leaves us free to discuss problems without personally insulting one another. The Family Toolbox offers us a chance to recognize issues withouth pointing fingers.  Each session serves as an opportunity to find successful ways of interacting and reminds us that we do love one another.  It's been an important time of discipleship for our family and a humbling time of motherhood training for me.  

The Lessons covered include:
  1. It Starts with the Heart
  2. Follow Instructions Well
  3. Handle Pressure Withouth Losing Your Cool -- perfect for this mom to remember
  4. The Value of Correction
  5. The Importance of Responsibility -- a great lesson for my kids
  6. Accept No as an Answer
  7. Deal with Your Own Anger and
  8. Consider the Needs of Others
Each lesson teaches two Life Success Principles.  These are basic principles that, if followed, will help bring success in life.  They are:

  1. Be Respectful Even When It's Hard.
  2. Develop Internal Motivation.
  3. Develop Healthy Habits for Following Instructions.
  4. Look for Ways to Contribute to Family Life.
  5. Solve Problems Instead of Generating Conflict.
  6. Instead of Sarcasm Develop the Skills of a Peacemaker
  7. Learn to Value Correction.
  8. Apologize Well.
  9. Develop a Plan for Being Responsible.
  10. Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes.
  11. Train Yourself to Accept No as an Answer.
  12. Avoid Arguing.
  13. View Your Family as a Team and Look for Ways to Work Together.
  14. Learn Self-Control to Manage Anger.
  15. Practice Flexibility When Plans Change.
  16. Learn to Handle Unfairness Well.
All eight of these lessons will bless your family and draw you closer to one another.  The Discussion Guide will aid you as you read scripture, pray, and talk about the Life Success Principles together. With high-drama hormones around here, we've been most helped by the principles that remind us all to curb the sarcastic tongue and be aware when we are generating conflict instead of solving problems.   And most important of all, The Family Toolbox will help you to firmly establish relationships that are rooted in love.  We often forget that we ARE Team McInnis and we need to work together to build each other up instead of tear each other down.  I, for one, am thankful for the grace and humbled that I can share it with others.

I serve on church staff as the Children's Minister (birth - 5th grade) AND the Middle School Minister (6th - 8th grade) and am using The Family Toolbox as an opportunity to host a pre-teen/early-teen parent/student small group discussion time using these videos.  It is all about the heart and we are working together to protect the hearts of those we love most -- our children.

You can find out more about the National Center for Biblical Parenting and The Family Toolbox through the following links:  

You can purchase The Family Toolbox for your family as a physical DVD ($99.95) or as a download ($79.95).   Please also take a moment to commit to Parent the Heart of Your Child and sign up for your free Parenting is Heart Work book.  At the end of it all, it's really all about the heart and I'm praying that the hearts of my children turn to JESUS.

Won't you join me as we commit to train our children up for HIM? 

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