‘Dad, what’s wrong with her?’ (4 things to teach your kids about disabilities)

‘Dad, what’s wrong with her?’ (4 things to teach your kids about disabilities)

My oldest son was munching on French fries and looking around the restaurant, as the rest of our family finished a meal on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

His mind, though, was not on the topic of conversation. Instead, he was staring at an adjacent table, where another family was sitting.

“Dad, what’s wrong with her?”

Almost immediately, I knew what he was referencing. Sitting at the table was a woman in a wheelchair, maybe in her 20s, who was mentally disabled. Every now and then she would look our way and smile, and I would smile back, but my son – who at the time was in the second grade – did not know what to do.

“She keeps looking over here, Dad.”

My son was confused, not knowing what to think, and I was searching for answers. And I knew that this conversation would apply to every area of his life.

No matter where he goes – to school, to church and (one day) to work – he will encounter people who look different, sound different and act different. His friends might be tempted to say “she looks weird” or “he acts goofy,” but I pray he will respond with the heart of Christ, and not with the words of a bully.

After all, the entire point of the Gospel was to help those who are helpless. Sure, the core of it was Jesus saving sinners, but if we study His life on this earth, we discover He had a heart for the disabled: the leper, the blind man, the lame person. And what about the story of Zacchaeus (a despised tax collector who was so short he couldn’t see over anyone) or even Paul (who had an undefined “thorn in the flesh”)?

If my son gets this lesson right early in life, then he will have the courage to stand up for the humanity of the mentally disabled woman in the restaurant … or even the skinny, acne-prone boy in science class.

As we walked away from that restaurant, I made several points: Continue reading

‘Dad, what is abortion?’ (4 ways to discuss society’s most-debated issue)

‘Dad, what is abortion?’ (4 ways to discuss society's most-debated issue)

As a parent, you don’t always get to pick the perfect moments for discussing life’s big issues with your children. In fact, sometimes they take place at the absolute worst times — like on a Sunday morning, when you and your spouse are frantically trying to get all the kids ready for church.

But that was the situation I found myself in recently when my 8-year-old son, in between brushing his teeth and combing his hair, broached the issue of politics, boldly declaring who he was for in a major election.

“And that’s who my friends are for, too,” he said.

His choice, though, was not my choice, and it boiled down to one issue: abortion. I have never supported a candidate who backed abortion rights, and this race was no different.

“What is abortion?” he replied.

Perhaps my son’s naive political position was my own fault. I enjoy talking about government and politics with my kids: We’ve toured presidential historical homes (so far, four as a family) and we’ve attended campaign rallies (of both major parties).

It’s been sort of a Civics 101 lesson for my kids, yet I’ve never gone into detail about why Mommy and Daddy support one candidate and not the other. It’s always been a generic “we’re not for them because they believe things that go against the Bible.”

Yet here I was, on a stressful Sunday morning, wondering if it was possible to explain the most divisive and debated issue of our time to my 8-year-old son … and preferably in less than three minutes.

Of course, a conversation about abortion will look different within different families, but most of them – within a pro-life framework – will share similar points. Here are four suggestions: Continue reading

3 lessons for kids and parents in ‘The Secret Life of Pets’

3 lessons for kids and parents in ‘The Secret Life of Pets’

Each time my young son and I walk into a movie theater, I give him a friendly reminder: Let’s look for a few lessons in the film we can learn. Most of the time after the credits roll, he’s great at rattling off a few ideas, but after we watched The Secret Life of Pets, he was stumped.

“What can we learn from that one?” I asked.

“Umm, I’m not sure,” he responded.

Perhaps that’s because he and I spent more time laughing at the movie than analyzing it. But upon reflection, there actually are several significant lessons in The Secret Life of Pets that all of us can teach our kids.

Here are three: Continue reading

4 lessons your family shouldn’t miss in ‘The BFG’

4 lessons your family shouldn’t miss in ‘The BFG’

Movies that include giants or tiny creatures can be some of the most enjoyable films on the big screen — and they often are accompanied by great life lessons for children and parents, too.

Consider, for example, the film and book Horton Hears A Who!, which included the famous phrase “a person’s a person no matter how small.” It originally was written by Dr. Seuss as a message about bigotry against Japanese people, but in recent years has been used by the pro-life cause in a powerful way.

In the biblical realm, the true story of David and Goliath displayed the power of God in the midst of a seemingly impossible situation, yet it also has been used by many pastors as a symbol of how God can slay everyday problems.

Steven Spielberg’s newest film, The BFG (PG), gives us another story about giants. It is based on the popular book by Roald Dahl and follows the exploits of a 24-foot-tall “Big Friendly Giant” (the BFG) and a 10-year-old girl named Sophie.

It is among the most family-friendly films I ever have seen and is full of lessons for children – some obvious, some subtle. Of course, this isn’t a faith-based movie in the technical sense, but as Augustine once said, all truth is God’s truth. So what can we learn? Continue reading

‘Finding Dory’: 4 incredible lessons for children AND parents

‘Finding Dory’: 4 incredible lessons for children AND parents

Kids once learned lessons about life through books. That’s still the case for many children, but for the rest of them, movies have helped fill the gap.

That can be scary thought when you consider what Hollywood is putting in theaters, but for families who watched Finding Dory – which set an opening-weekend box office record for an animated movie – it’s a good thing.

The Disney/Pixar flick is full of positive life lessons for both children and adults, as I discovered when I took my 8-year-old son to it on opening night. As we drove home, he and I discussed what we could take away from a film that, yes, was both entertaining and hilarious but that also had a great message.

Here are four lessons for families: Continue reading