Parenting Resources

The Five Rails of Early Family Life 

1. The Rail of Setting the Example
2. The Rail of Our Marriage
3. The Rail of Training Our Children's Minds
4. The Rail of Training Our Children's Hearts
5. The Rail of Worship

Ideas for Family Time
Morning/Breakfast (Because we our children attend the Christian school where David teaches, our mornings are typically busy with getting dressed, having breakfast, doing hair, and gathering belongings so that they can be on their way by around 7:30.  Homeschoolers have the unique opportunity to use the morning as a substantive time of devotions, Bible time & training.  These are some ideas we like to incorporate when we can, but aren't always strict habits.) 
  • Kids kneel in living room and have their own personal prayer
  • Older kids read their own age-appropriate devotional 
  • Listen to worshipful music
  • Read a Psalm together

Our Dinner Time Routine (Approx. 5-7 minutes)
  • Quote a creeds and/or scripture, 
  • Sing hymns
  • Say or sing a prayer
  • Dinnertime Songs:  The Doxology, God Our Father (to the tune of Frere Jacques. Beautiful sung as a round) 
"God our Father, God our Father
Be our Guest, Be our Guest
Thank you for our Blessings, Thank You for our Blessings
Amen, Amen"

    Our Bedtime Routine  (Approx. 30 minutes)
    • Sing hymns & worship choruses.  (We use these personal-sized hymnals for our school-aged children. We are planning to give each of them one of their own with their name engraved on the front.)
    • "Conversational Catechism"  
            (TALK!  About what you believe, how you live, and why.  Name a subject.  Kids ask questions.
            Discuss the answers together.  If you don't know, be honest.  Do your homework and get back
             with  them.)
      • Take prayer requests, Have family prayer, Quote the Lord's Prayer, 
      • Sing our family bedtime song ("We Love Each Other, We do!  Daddy and Mommy, Kayla, Karissa, Caiden & Corin and all the Doggies - we love you!  Toot! Toot!"), then hugs and kisses and off to bed

      Family Nights
      Our kids beg for family nights!   They can be once a week, Bi-weekly, Once a month, or whenever you have the time and energy. It is a special fun evening together as a family. Sometimes we use resources like the ones listed below - but sometimes our family night involves frozen pizza and just having some fun - like coloring, board games or just a couple rousing games of Twister and Duck-Duck-Goose!

      Hymns for a Kids Heart
      K10C (Ten Commandments curriculum with videos, game, activities, projects!)
      Heritage Builders Family Nights (We are crazy about the Family Nights Toolchest books.  You can get used copies very cheap here on
      Our 24 Family Ways

      The 18-List
       When David was in Grad School in Mississippi, expecting our second child, we sat together under Matt Friedeman in his Discipleship in the Home class.  Our parenting was strongly shaped under his mentorship.  Much of the parenting ideas I have spoken of have their roots in this class.  The class is now a book!  One of the foundational ideas he suggests is making an 18-list.  This is a list you and your spouse create that lays out your plan for what you'd like your child(ren) to have learned by the time they are 18 and old enough to leave for college.  It fosters purposeful parenting in areas like theological training, finances, music lessons...whatever you as parents decide are the most important areas! 

      Discipleship in the Home - a highly recommended book!
      They also have a book/DVD set

      Training their Minds

      Hidden in the heart (A Catechism for Children)
      Conversational Catechism 

      Train Them Diligently Website

      Scripture Memory
      Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System  We love this!  It helps you review old memory passages while learning new ones in an organized rotation.  It's cheap and easy and it works.
      Ten Commandments Song (from Phil & Marianne Brown)
      Armor Up (from Melanie Clemens)

      Nichole Cassady developed an amazing way of helping her very young children memorize huge chunks of the WORD.  She typed the verse out and replaced key words with clipart.  She sent me pictures of hers, but I have misplaced them.  So I included a couple examples of my attempt at her awesome system.  I am a very visual learner, so I am really expecting this to help me with my own memorization.  I am working through our Scripture Memory Box (see above), typing out the verses and adding clipart in Microsoft Word.  As I get them completed, I print them and put them in a page protector.  Each of us has a black 3-ring binder to hold all of our picture-Scripture pages.  David uses the box to keep us working through the review system.  I am planning to put tabbed page dividers to break up the Scripture pages into books of the Bible in our binders.

      Put the WORD on your walls -
      "Put something where you can see it so your eyes will remind your heart." - Martha Zimmerman
      Post it on your walls in vinyl...
      Or invest in Scripture art:


      Training their Hearts
       Shepherding a Child's Heart
      National Center for Biblical Parenting (Lots of resources available)  My friends Robbie and Rachel England have used the Hero Training Camp as a family resource during the summer.  Rachel also uses this in a spiritual training class at church.  I love what I see here, and am anxious to start using some of these resources.  They are very heart focused, and work on training the conscience!  Deals with more than just fixing behavior.

      Devotional Books We've Used:
      Bedtime Blessings Volume 2- John Trent, Ph.D.
      The Jesus Storybook Bible - Every Story Whispers His Name

      Our main focus - Attitude of Worship
      One Thousand Gifts
      The Jesus Storybook Bible - Every story Whispers His Name
      Celebration of Praise
      Gratitude Journal

      Habit, Budget & Chore Training

      What we do for chores & budget:
      This changes with us as our kids grow.  Here is a summary of our current system (our kids are 8, 6 and 4 years old):  The kids have chores they  must do to be part of this family.  They are not paid for their regular daily chores (making the beds, gathering laundry, cleaning their rooms, helping in the kitchen, etc.)  But on Saturday we have weekend chores.  They dust, clean bathrooms, clean appliances, etc.  When they are finished, we gather in the kitchen for payday.  They each receive $3.00 - one for savings, one for spending, one for tithe.  We experimented with different amounts, but the found that this simple system was much easier than trying to split pennies over percentages.  It is so fun to watch them take their money to church that they earned themselves working hard on our house.  And they really save up their money for some neat things.  The girls have saved for months towards horseback riding lessons this summer!

      Laying Down the Rails:  A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook
      Dave Ramsey's Budgeting System for Kids
      Junior's Adventures (Books & CDs)

      Managers of Their Chores - Steven and Teri Maxwell of
      (This is a pretty intense resource, but adaptable to fit your situation.  LOTS of good tips to glean, whether the whole system fits you or not.)

      Prize Basket
      Our "prize basket" idea came from my mom.  It is a drawer, box, or basket full of inexpensive gifts.  (Pencils, candy, gum, notepads, happy meal toys, hose (when we were older), tape, glue sticks, etc.).  My kids get to choose a prize every time they finish practicing violin, piano or cello with a good attitude.  Mom used to also have larger prizes that we could earn by saving up several practice credits.

      The House Fairy -
      (This is a fun system where the "House Fairy" does secret room checks. She leaves sparkly fairy dust and sometimes certificates or surprises for chores done well.  We are firm believers in positive reinforcement.  Obviously, work and discipline are necessary...but there's no harm in making it fun!)

      Good Parenting Books
      Aside from the Bible, no one book has all the answers and formulas for parenting.  But each book can be a reminder of what we already know, a motivator, a shaker-upper, or just a source of ideas that get our brains going.  We take what we like and leave the rest.  The books we read work together to shape and mold the way we do family.

      Disclaimer:  While we do recommend these books as some of our favorites, we do not fully condone every single concept found in every book.  Every reader must read with a "sifter" in hand.   The principles of God's word are the ultimate grid through which good advice must fit, but there are many times we must take the good of a book and leave the parts with which we don't agree.  It's a world of ideas, and we must all learn to develop strong beliefs without being swayed with every wind that blows.

      Discipleship in the Home
      Bringing Up Boys - Dr. James Dobson
      Bringing Up Girls - Dr. James Dobson
      Raising Kids Who Hunger for God
      John Rosemond's Six Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children - John Rosemond
      Disciplines of a Godly Family - Kent and Barbara Hughes
      Point Man - How a Man Can Lead His Family - Steve Farrar (Great section on giving the Sex Talk)
      Everyday Talk - Talking Freely and Naturally abut God with Your Children - John A. Younts

      Recommended with caution:
      To Train Up A Child

      Special Days

      Holidays and special days give us more chances to train, focus on the true meaning of the holidays, and just make some lasting family fun memories (we call this "family glue")!

      Much of our thinking surrounding holidays and special days has come from the book:  Celebrating the Christian Calendar by Martha Zimmerman.  Something I read in her book stuck with me and has shaped a lot of what we do around here.  She says to "put something where you can see it so your eye will remind your heart."  We have found this true.  When we do even little things to remember the special days of the Christian calendar, it keeps our minds more focused on the meaning of those days.

      See our Holidays & Celebrations page for some ideas.


      Celebrating Biblical Feasts in your Home or Church (The Passover Seder, just before Easter, is becoming a very meaningful tradition for our family.)

      Holiday Family Journal - This tradition has become a treasure.  We use a large, thick red journal (from Walmart, I think).  We started the tradition at Thanksgiving gatherings.  We would pass the journal around to family members and guests and each would write a little something about the day or the blessings of the year.  Now, with entries from our grandmothers, it is a priceless heirloom.

      Marriage Resources

      Free Phone Counseling & referral - Focus on the Family 1-800-A-Family
      Counseling.  It's biblical.  Counseling is not of a worldly mindset nor does it attempt to solve all problems humanly while leaving God out out of the picture.  A good, biblical counselor will help a person to apply principles of God's word to grow personally or deal wisely with crisis situations.
      Marriage Matters Retreat
      Family Life Marriage Conferences
      Love & Respect
      Mars & Venus (Not written from a Christian Perspective, but foundational in understanding some practical differences in how men & women function.  This book helped us a lot in our dating years.)

      Sex Education

      While I will not address this in my 6-minute IHC talk, we feel that it is an EXTREMELY important issue for our conservative Christian kids.  We are determined that our kids are going to hear about God's awesome gift of sex within marriage from us first!  We believe that many, if not most, conservative Christian parents wait too late to talk to their kids.  They miss the opportunity to be the first one to influence and train their children's young minds about this very important subject.  We believe that children should know the basics by the time they are 8.  Certainly before they are 10.  And we don't just mean "Boys and girls are different."  We mean a basic understanding of the gift of marital sex from God's perspecive.  Otherwise, even in Christian schools, they will begin to hear references that they do not understand before you've had a chance to program them.  They must be taught about temptation and addiction early so they know how to respond biblically and bravely when they are faced with the temptations of their developing minds and bodies.  No matter how much we may try to shelter - they WILL be exposed to nakedness.  (Been to Walmart lately?)  Our 4-year-old boy already has strong opinions about the nakedness he sees at Walmart.  He knows it's wrong and he's learning how to deal with it.  One of his favorite verses is "My son, if sinners entice you, consent not!"

      The first time David talked with the girls about God's gift of intimacy they were 5 and 7.  It was absolutely beautiful.  It wasn't embarrassing or weird.  They were innocent and curious an not the least bit embarrassed.  He presented it simply and clearly using proper terms and a medical (not sensual) perspective.  As they develop and mature we will continue to have deeper and more specific conversations.

      Most people balk at the idea of talking to their kids about this at a very young age.  But it is much easier than waiting until they are 12 and you're both so embarrassed you want to hide from it.  We know many, many Christians who never did receive sexual advice or training from their parents.  Pretty big mistake.  Pretty big issue.

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