Purposeful Parenting

Going for Broke

We all want was is best for our kids but what does purposeful parenting look like in practice?

Follow the creator of Anton’s Antics’ as he negotiates the challenges of being a parent.

“The blog's slogan started off as a joke between my wife and I, as it can be tough making ends meet and parenting is not easy. I want to hear Jesus say ‘well done, good and faithful servant’ with what He has entrusted to me.  We have to go for broke don’t we?

Get FREE Purposeful Parenting updates when you subscribe!
(We will respect your privacy and do not share email lists)

Is Santa real? What parents should tell their kids about Santa

I’m being asked to perform Anton’s Antics for a large private school in Sydney but before they confirm the booking there’s a catch. They want me to give an outline of what I’ll be teaching. Fair enough you say, so do I. But here’s the thing.  It’s not a concern over what part of the Bible I’ll be teaching from or what topic I might cover. It’s not about whether the show will fit or enhance the school values. It’s not about whether what I’ll say will be doctrinally sound. No. The big skeleton in the closet is something far more sinister.


What is it?

“What will you say about Santa? Will you tell the kids he doesn’t exist?”


You can hear my gasp of relief…that’s the biggy!?


They’re worried that Anton come and spoil Christmas by saying there is no Santa. I thought I was going to be grilled about doctrine or about how I might present Mary Us Protestants aren’t known for giving her much of the limelight. But no, it’s not a concern about Mary’s portrayal or what Christmas is really about, it’s a concern that the school might be embarrassed and be having to apologise to family’s they love and support because some goose came in and spoiled the fun.


Fair concern it is and I’m glad to say, Anton is no party pooper when it comes to Santa. Folks, Santa really exists for Anton and he can’t wait for Christmas day.


What's your family's take on Santa? 


How do you make the real Christmas complement and not compete with Santa?

Read more ...

How to teach kids Christmas

Cue cute sheep, glamorous wise men and a comfy looking manger under a brilliant star and you’ll deliver the expected, the predictable.

Read on if you’d like to:
-    Teach the Christmas story in a fresh way that will make your community listen again
-    Truly engage kids through enjoyable activities that are purposeful not just filling in time
-    Give parents talking points and even resources they can use to reinforce the Christmas story at home

Now let me apologise and say it is OK to go cute and predictable. Look at Carols in the Myer music bowl in Melbourne. Same-same every year. People love that sentimentality. People come back every year for that same singer, singing that same song at the same time on the same night for the past 20 years.

But here’s the downside. You might not be heard. You might just reinforce people’s comfort and artificial appropriation of Christianity for one night. Yep, just like the syncretistic Israelites in Solomon’s latter days, people will worship anything for a night if you don’t raise the stakes.

Want to do more than just entertain people for a night with sentimental memories of a bygone era and reinforce their attitudes that the Bible promotes an outdated faith?

Ofcourse you do.

So how do you take a fresh look at Christmas?

Read more ...

Trump or Clinton: Why parents should teach their kids about politics

clinton trump splitMost of us would prefer to ignore politics. In the US people have the luxury or some would say disadvantage of non compulsory voting. In Australia we winge about having to vote especially in light of recent years where no particular party seems worthy or capable of running the country. With all the media attention it’s impossible for our kids neither to have noticed the US election nor to have missed the name Donald Trump.

Our attitudes towards politics and government will also shape what our kids make of them.

Is there anything good about human government?

Should we vote? Should we teach our kids it’s a waste of time?

What is the role model we should be offering our kids on politics?

Christmas will soon follow the current political race in the US (but not before Thanksgiving) and the great thing about having all this political election stuff going on is that it actually ties into Christmas really nicely. I was so struck by the political nature of Christmas I wrote a live show and publish a sticker story for kids to enjoy that  highlights this key aspect of Christmas. Both the live show and the sticker story are called ‘Who’s For You?’

Why politics is essential to understand Christmas

Christmas is ‘the greatest political event of the all time’, yet we rarely hear or see anyone talk about it in such terms. Sure we see rustic mangers and sheep, wise men and moving stars, but not voting booths or polling banners. What, you didn’t see those in the gospels too?

Read more ...

Should parents ban Halloween?

should parents ban halloweenIs Halloween evil? Does it have satanic undertones?
Let’s face it, kids love dressing up and who’s to stop that?

I mean what could go wrong with a couple of little kids getting dressed up and going around to stranger’s houses asking for lollies?!  What about those scary clowns…?!

For a satirical take on Halloween check out my short vlog video Should Parents Ban Halloween?

Read more ...

Should parents use corporal punishment?

For some of us, any form of corporal punishment has gone out the window. But ask most teachers and they will tell you the decline in discipline in our schools started when we throughout the baby with the bath water. Some argue that slapping, smacking a child will teach a child it’s Ok to slap, hit or be violent toward others. But I believe this fails to take into consideration the considerable difference between the two events. One event has a child hitting another out of jealousy or anger. The other has a parent smacking or slapping a child out of judgment against a wrong action. Is a child is stupid enough to confuse the two and think ‘well mommy hit me on the wrist so I can hit my sister’? One is retaliation, the other a public pronouncement that a behaviour is not Ok. Judgment versus violence, the two are very different.

Read more ...

What happens if you dislike one of your kids?

Ok we all know of annoying kids or people for that matter, right? No matter how hard we try they just keep rubbing us up the wrong way. If we’re honest, most of us also can probably accept that we occasionally annoy other people too. When someone else’s kid grates against you at least you can say to yourself ‘they’ll be going home soon’. But what happens when your own kid annoys you? Like not just occasionally but generally?

Is this even possible? Yes. Can a loving parent find one of their offspring harder to love than some of the others…yes? Can we even talk about this?
You may have seen this in other families or dare admit it even to yourself… “I’ve got one!”  Some kids seem experts at repelling others. Some are really reserved, quiet and shy when one of their parents is loud and outgoing. ‘C’mon Johnny, say hello…to the man…Johnny!?’

Read more ...

How to make the most of a miracle motivator for your kids

I had an email the other day from a subscriber overseas who offered some thoughts on my last post about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivators. I really resonated with his parting words and I’m sure you will too:

“I write this as a parent who is quick to motivate with threats, slower to motivate with praise and weak in praying for God to change my children”

Even when I’m teaching in a classroom (one of my many hats) I often find it’s easier to deal out a bunch of threats while ignoring the kids who are getting on with what they should be doing. Demerit! I find my energy being consumed by putting out the fires of poor behaviour and not being proactive enough to praise and reward kids who are behaving well.  What was that about a merit award system…?

What we all really want to do though is have our kids willingly, self motivatedly, get on and do what’s needed and what’s right. We want them to get on with their schoolwork. We want them to help out around the home. We want them to refrain from fighting with their siblings. Anything else?

Still, I think we should have a good heart to heart. Pause and ask yourself… ‘What do I really want for my kids?’

Read more ...

How to motivate kids: The carrot or the stick?

how to motivate kids?Whether you are a parent trying to get your child to practice their musical instrument or running a classroom or kids ministry…it’s the same question isn’t it?

How do you motivate them? The carrot or the stick?

The old picture of the donkey with the whip ready at its behind and the carrot dangling on a pole over its head reminds us of these two basic motivators: Reward and punishment. But are these the only motivators? Is there anything higher we can strive for as parents?

Extrinsic motivators

Reward and punishment are extrinsic motivators. We touched on this subject in last post. So we might try and motivate our kids to learn their musical instrument with rewards such as pocket money or treats. Similarly at kid’s church we might give prizes to the kids who come every week for a month. At the opposite end we might motivate kids with punishments… ‘If you don’t do your practice you’ll have no play dates this week!”

I heard a good sermon last weekend. My pastor started off with this little illustration and question about how we might motivate our kids. Then he asked if there was a higher way. What do you think…is there any better motivators than reward and punishment? Are rewards bad? Is punishment too negative? Does the Bible show us how to motivate our kids?

Read more ...

When is 'grit' bad for your kids?

Is perseverance a good thing to encourage in your kids?

Don’t you think we give in too easily these days and should stick to our guns a bit more?

I recently read an article (can’t lay my hands on it at the minute, sorry) that said research had shown that families where parents pushed their kids to stick at things they weren’t necessarily mad keen on doing, led to anxiety and possible depression.  The term used was ‘grit’. The Bible would probably use the word ‘perseverance’.

Now some parents are blindly pushy, right? You feel sorry for the kids who clearly look brow beaten on the court. But some of us just want to give our kids opportunities to learn things that they’ll later thank us for…or so goes the rationale.

Who doesn’t wish they learnt that instrument when they were a kid? ‘Why didn’t my parents push me!? If only I could sing, play that harp, bang those drums and bring joy to my soul and a smile to others’. But to get that skill takes dedication and perseverance; years of grit...

Read more ...

Parental Exhaustion: When to say no; it could save your marriage!

“Stop going to Bible study, now!”

Bet you never heard that, right? Well if you’re not a churchy then that’s understandable. But as a regular Christian, my wife got a shock when someone who is respected in our church told her she should cease going to a weekly Bible study.

Not because it was a waste of time. Not because it was dodgy. Not because it was full of unsympathetic people.
Instead it was because my wife had far too much on her plate and Bible study was an expectation that needed to take a back seat for a while until we got our heads around a new situation.

That’s the thing about parenting isn’t it? The goal posts keep changing. You just get into a rhythm or a feeling of stability and bam…something goes off keel and you have to climb the rigging, reef in the jib or some other sailing cliché. But sometimes we don’t respond to the change of wind. We just keep plowing on, doing all the same stuff when the conditions have changed. We suffer for it, failing to read the wind and adjust.

Read more ...