082 – The Power of Positive Reinforcement

How to influence your family with positive reinforcement

Welcome to episode 82 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss the power of positive reinforcement to influence your family.

The concept of positive reinforcement involves a reward given for a desired behavior. Positive reinforcement is used in applications ranging from training a pet to influencing high performance teams. In today’s podcast, we will discuss how to use positive reinforcement in your family and the benefits you can expect.

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Podcast Sponsor

This podcast episode is sponsored by the Call to Me Prayer Journal by Jeannine Moffitt. 

How can Christians transform the daily call to prayer, with all of its challenges, into a purposeful, organized, and enjoyable routine?

Call To Me provides an easy to use prayer journal that helps keep individuals on track and allows them to see their entire week of prayer at a glance. They can organize prayer requests, concerns, and praises into labeled columns across a spacious two-page spread. With plenty of room to journal, they can reflect on answered prayers, continuing requests, or even the impact of certain verses, all in one convenient location.

Along the bottom of each spread, Call To Me includes scriptures speaking to everyday topics that help spark prayer life. The journal’s creator, Jeannine Moffitt, has provided example spreads to nudge hesitant individuals past the starting line until they settle into their own rhythm.

With its beautifully laid out design, many find Call to Me a user-friendly tool for combined journaling and prayer. By taking care of the organization, it allows Christians to focus on the prayer itself and truly enjoy an enriched prayer life.

Jeannine is a wife, a mother, sister, mother-in-law, grandmother, friend, recent cancer survivor, speaker and author. Her husband is a pastor, so she can relate to other women who are also pastor’s wives and all that that brings! She is a woman with a lot of life experiences!  She’s worked in the corporate world and legal field as a certified paralegal. She’s worked in the Christian realm and non-profit arena. She (and her husband) homeschooled for 12 years. She is a recent cancer survivor and understands the difficulties and challenges of dealing with cancer. She can identify with women from varied backgrounds, various ages, and all stages of life.  She likes to use her sense of humor and quick wit to drive home truths that may be difficult to hear and even more difficult to apply!  She enjoys speaking to women and encouraging them to reach their God-given potential and become all God intended for them to be.

No matter where you’ve been—fatherless, abused, abandoned, or divorced—or where you are presently—sick, a single parent, addicted, in financial trouble—you can become the person God intended for you to be.  Jeannine will tell you that our past does not dictate our future. God has a plan for our lives regardless of our circumstances. We have a choice in what we do, and that first, critical choice is to trust God with our lives. He promises when we give our life to Him, He will show us how to live victoriously each and every day.

Jeannine has a passion for prayer and created this journal with that in mind, to help others have a deeper prayer walk with Jesus.

The Importance Of Forgiveness Inside The Family

My son’s lesson in forgiveness

It must have felt like the end of the world for my son. The deal he and I brokered a couple weeks back had already been broken. His mom had already notified me as to how upset he was. What Jacob needed in that moment was forgiveness, not a lecture on personal responsibilities. It was then that I was reminded of the importance of forgiveness inside the family.



Our family has a wonderful Labrador Retriever named Nelli that is four human years old. She is an outside dog, but don’t worry, she is very well cared for. She has acres of woods in which to roam, endless supplies of food and water, and a warm, dry building in which to escape from the rain and cold. Each evening, I put Nellie up in her doghouse, which is the Taj Mahal of doghouses, and let her out to roam early each morning.

Enter the deal made with our son Jacob. Jacob has wanted the German Shepherd for a long time. I’m not sure where his affinity to German Shepherds started, but he’s made it clear he wants one. About two weeks ago, I made a deal with Jacob. The deal was simple. He had to take complete care of Nelli for one month and then we would look into getting him a German Shepherd. This means he was responsible to provide Nelli with food and water, play with her, work on basic dog training with her, and check her in & out of her Taj Mahal each day.

Two weeks into the deal, Jacob forgot the let Nelli out of her doghouse one morning. Luckily, I was still at home, so a simple text message from my wife solved the dilemma. It solved the dilemma for my wife and me, but a serious concern was brewing in the heart and mind of Jacob. He wants a German Shepherd so badly, and he knew he had now broken the deal we made. A simple mistake on his part. He forgot to let Nelli out of her house, just as I’ve done a few times in the four years we’ve had her.

As his dad, I had a choice to make.

081 – One Flesh Finally Explained

Have you been confused by this biblical reference?

Welcome to episode 81 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss the real meaning of the biblical phrase “one flesh”.

I’ve heard so many Bible teachers and preachers stumble over their explanation of this biblical reference to marriage. The real meaning of “one flesh” is actually rather simple. Once again, science has finally caught up with the Bible.

Today’s podcast will help you understand this mysterious reference to marriage.

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Restoring an Estranged Father Son Relationship

4 reasons for restoration

My children know little more about their grandfather than his name. That’s because my father and I have been estranged for many years. Years of anger and bitterness have allowed me to convince myself it’s best we part ways. However, parenting my own children convicts me of the need to restore our father-son relationship.

Restoring an Estranged Father Son Relationship

Restoring an Estranged Father Son Relationship

An addiction to alcohol has driven a wedge between the two of us that has caused us to live completely separate lives though we live only a forty-five minutes’ drive from each other. I’ve witnessed the incredible influence and hold alcohol can have on a person. I don’t understand the addiction to alcohol, but I know it is real. I’ve lived through the abuse an alcohol addiction can inflict on family and friends.

Protected somewhat by my parents’ divorce at a young age, I’m one of the lucky few capable of breaking the generational cycle alcoholism tends to exhibit. I live my life in total abstinence from alcohol; primary because it truly scares me. I could likewise become a nonfunctioning alcoholic. Additionally, I believe the Bible offers very serious warning and commands to stay away from “strong drink.”

However, a major downside to my defiance against alcohol is the divide I’ve allowed it to cause in my relationship with my father. Now, I’m certainly not saying abstinence from alcohol is a bad thing. Rather, I’m saying I never should have let this separate my father and me. Likewise, I’m not saying I condone my father’s abuse of alcohol. We can have a good relationship regardless of our differing opinions regarding alcohol.

But I mentioned that my children brought about this conviction related to my relationship with my father. What do they have to do with it?

My Failure As A Dad

As if I just have one

We recently spent a week on the beach for our annual family vacation. I enjoy the break from the normal rigors of life for obvious reasons. But I also enjoy the retrospective time such a vacation provides for me. Unfortunately, this retrospective time pointed out my failure as a dad.

My Failure As A Dad

My Failure As A Dad

I go into every family vacation with a personal goal to say yes to almost any request from my children or wife. When one of the kids say, “hey dad, we want to bury you in the sand.” My answer is yes. “Dad, can we go get ice cream tonight?” Yes. Thankfully, my family doesn’t abuse this goal of mine by making outlandish requests.

You might ask why this personal goal is so important during our vacation time. Well, it’s because I recognize one of my largest failures as a dad. I say no to my children way too often. Back home and during the typical work week, I receive various requests from my children. “Dad, come play basketball with me.” “Dad, do you want to play Xbox with me?” “Dad, can we go to the grocery store? I really want some milk.”

“No” is often my response. Now I don’t usually respond with such a harsh and short response. It usually sounds something more like, “buddy, maybe in a minute. I’m really tired right now.” Or “Sweetie, I really need to work on this blog article right now.” Softening the response in this way seems to soothe my conscience. But it is still equally disheartening to my children.

So what do I do about this failure? How can I change it?

Recognize my failure

Each time I decline to spend time with or do something special with one of my children, I’ll telling that child something else is more important. Remember, they are just asking for my time and energy in these requests. There are appropriate times to say no. “Hey dad, can I get a pet rattlesnake?” Um, no! But when a legitimate request to play basketball with my son comes my way, I must recognize if I decline he now thinks I have something more important than basketball with him. And if I decline his similar requests on a consistent basis, his perception shifts to the notion I have more important things in my life than him.

The purpose of recognizing my failure isn’t to beat myself up. It is simply meant to be an acknowledgement of the impact my rejection has on my children. All too often, this impact isn’t even recognized by us dads. It is only through recognition that we can begin to change our no into a yes.

Examine my motives

At times, there are legitimate reasons that I have to decline a child’s request for my time. I recall one time my son wanted to play basketball but I was suffering from serious back pain. I couldn’t play basketball with him due to the pain. Other times I’m truly busy with something else at the moment. In these cases, it is okay if I decline their requests (as long as I explain properly – see next section of this article).

On the other hand, occasionally I will decline a child’s request simply because I’m tired. Or maybe I’m watching something on the television. It could even be that I’m writing a blog article. And other times they may be asking me to do something I really don’t like doing. After examining my motives, I have to face the fact being tired, watching television, or writing are just excuses. Those things are not more important than time with my children.

Say yes or explain

So obviously if I say yes to my child’s request for my time, the problem is solved. But in those cases I find myself saying no, I must force myself to explain to my child why I’m saying no. Too often we dads just brush these requests aside with a simple “not right now”, “give me a minute”, or “maybe later buddy.” No explanation is given.

But when I force myself to explain my reasons to my child, excuses are quickly identified. Consider again the basketball request from my son. “Dad, will you come outside to play basketball with me?” Now imagine my attempt to look into my son’s eyes and explain to him “Son, I can’t play basketball with you right now because I’m watching the news on television.” Having to say it our loud and to my son forces me to recognize that my son is much more important than watching the news. Besides, the news will just be more of the same tomorrow.

Change my language

What started as my failure can now become a raging success. Simply because I chose to recognize my failure, examine the problem, and take action to resolve it. It would only remain a failure if I do nothing about it. Now that I’ve worked to resolve the issue, I think I’ll go back and change the title of this article to “My Success As A Dad.”

Oh, and by the way, I did have to say no to one of my children’s requests while we were on vacation. They ask me to ride on some ridiculous sling shot contraption that flings you half way to the moon. My initial response to their requests was “sure, I’ll ride it.” But then I saw it. While I maintained my response of yes they could ride it, I wisely decided this was a legitimate time for me to decline to spend time with my children. Check out the video from my Facebook page below.

1) Examine your motives for decline requests from your children
2) Force yourself to say yes or explain why you are saying no
3) Enjoy more time well spent with your children
4) Tell me some of the things you do with your children in the comments below

What I hope my kids know about American Independence Day

Happy Birthday America

I remember it as if it were this morning. I stood at the foot of my bunk in the squad bay that would be my home for the next three months. Drill Instructors swarmed throughout the squad bay until suddenly one stood nose to nose with me. Red-faced, veins bulging, screaming, and spraying he ‘politely’ posed a question.  “Recruit Tanner, why did you join the Marine Corps?” With as much courage as I could muster, I yelled back, “to serve and give back to my country, sir.”

Indepedence Day

Indepedence Day

It probably seems trite, but I meant it. I happen to believe America is the greatest nation in the history of the world. I truly wanted to give back to this nation in some humble way.

It isn’t the government, the capitalistic economy, the Founding Fathers, or even the great people that make America great. Not to get political, but this nation isn’t made great by any presidential candidate. This nation is made great through the blessings of God. I believe God is willing to bless this nation because we’ve traditionally held firm to the strong belief in the principles of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The real meaning of Independence Day tends to get lost among all the activities of the holiday.

072 – Best Way To Get Your Teenager To Talk

Utilizing the most influential 15 minutes of your teenager’s day

Welcome to episode 72 of the REAL Men Podcast. This podcast will challenge, encourage, and equip us to be God’s man at home. In today’s episode, we will discuss overcoming the communication barriers that prevents meaningful conversation between parent and teenager.

Best Way To Get Your Teenager To Talk

Best Way To Get Your Teenager To Talk

Few teenagers are forthcoming with verbose answers to questions posed by their parents. In today’s podcast, I share the secret of the most influential fifteen minutes in your teenager’s day. Utilizing these precious few minutes can result in deeply meaningful conversation with your teenager.

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070 – Transgender Restrooms & Other Touch Topics

How to discuss these issues with your children

Welcome to episode 70 of the REAL Men Podcast. This podcast will challenge, encourage, and equip us to be God’s man at home. In today’s episode, we will discuss transgender restrooms and other touchy topics. You’ll learn how to properly discuss these issues with your children.

Transgender Restrooms & Other Touch Topics

Transgender Restrooms & Other Touch Topics

Don’t allow the world to influence your child on this very touchy, but important, topics. Taking a stand for truth regarding these issues requires tremendous courage and wisdom that only you can give to your children.

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To My Future Son-in-law’s Dad

Please teach him to climb a tree

Sir, you don’t know me yet. But rest assured, you will know me well as our children progress in their relationship. More importantly, you will understand well my expectations of any young man that dates my daughter. Maybe you have a daughter also, maybe you don’t. But surely you can understand why I would have such high expectations of my future son-in-law.

To My Future Son-in-law's Dad

To My Future Son-in-law's Dad

Your son has little chance of meeting my expectations without your intentional engagement and teaching in his life. Please do not abdicate your responsibilities to school teachers, youth ministers, church members, or even his mother. If you do, a moral façade will be created that robs your son of the blessing of true moral character and hides your son’s true nature from my daughter. Others can mold a nice façade around your son, but only you can build a proper foundation.

Unlike all the clichés you read about, I have no plans to clean my shotgun while your son is in my home. I don’t plan to take him snipe hunting. I will not be asking my police buddies for any background checks on your family.

However, I will communicate clearly with your son my expectations. It would be much better for him if he hears these things from you first. Let me share a few things that I hope you teach your son long before he pops the question to my daughter.

Impacts Of An Absent Father

4 ways your absence hinders your children

I found myself locked inside a state penitentiary when well hidden memories of my childhood began to surface. Memories of an absentee dad and the negative impacts that weren’t even recognized until adulthood rushed through my mind. It was totally unexpected, therefore I was unprepared for the uncontrollable sobbing that commenced. Standing among dozens of men in their white, prison uniforms, I felt the need to get my emotions under control as quickly as possible.

Returning Hearts Celebration

Returning Hearts Celebration

To be clear, I was locked behind bars in a state penitentiary, but not as a convicted felon. Unlike most of the other men in the room, I wasn’t wearing the white, prison uniform. I was there as a volunteer. I was a part of a large contingent of people desiring to reunite imprisoned fathers with their children, even if it was just this one day.

Heartbound Ministries hosts ministry events in various prisons called Returning Hearts Celebrations. Returning Hearts Celebrations unite children and their incarcerated parent on the prison grounds for an unforgettable day of games, food, crafts, relationship building, and teaching to facilitate the healing process and break the cycle of crime and incarceration in families. I was super excited to be asked to speak to all the men of this state prison and challenge them to act like men.