Category: family/parenting

To My Friend, On Seasons of Change

Winds of change: my daughter and her fiance, Kyle

We might as well just get some things out in the open. It will make life so much easier for both of us.

I know life is about change and that some change is very good, but it’s still change and so, can I just say, “I don’t always like it”?

And I see that your life is changing too–that’s just how life works–but I’m guessing that sometimes you don’t like it too, but maybe you’re just smiling because everyone else is and maybe, you just want to say, “I don’t always like it.”

You and I, we’ve built our lives around rhythms and seasons and we grow in the cadence of an ordinary day. Like sunrises and sunsets, our days wrap us comfortably in their habits and routine.

But wait, the seasons are changing. Our routines are getting interrupted by driver’s licenses and engagement rings and now a reading of “Goodnight Moon” isn’t quite enough to hold everyone’s attention. Can we just sit again on the floor, all of us, and stay there?

No. The answer is, “No, we can’t.” Because a life that doesn’t ebb and flow becomes stagnant. A routine that doesn’t stretch and change is a routine that prevents people from growing.

The truth is, I don’t like change, but a parent who wants healthy children must be flexible (and selfless) enough to bend with the inevitable. Do I want what is good for my children, or do I want to keep myself comfortable?

So if you see me crying as I plan a wedding or watch my son growing into a man, know that I know this is all good and right. Change just hurts sometimes. And it’s OK to cry.

And when I see you looking wistfully back at a nursery full of toddlers, I’ll understand your tears, and gently nudge you on, the two of us reminding each other that life is full of good things, even the change.

“I have no greater joy than to hear my children walk in truth.”

If King David Had an I-Phone (Technology Threatens Creativity)

We mused over the Psalm of David this morning, and I stopped mid-sentence, because that’s when it came to me, and said to my kids: “Aren’t you glad David didn’t have an I-phone!”

Imagine it: Selfies with sheep. Status updates about how bored he is. Tweets about what a rough life he has. No doubt photos of the lion he killed WITH HIS BARE HANDS, the perfect makings of a narcissistic hot-head.

Despite all that we’ve gained with fast-paced technology, I’m afraid much has been lost. Having the world of information in the palm of our hands, alerting us to every message, update and Tweet, tempting us to record each moment instead of live it, does something tragic to our creative side: it distracts it away.

Not only are we too distracted to create and produce meaningful things, we lose the very ability as the world of instant, fast and byte-sized, short-circuits the mental inertia and stamina great creations require.

King David produced some of the most magnificent literary works in the world because he had time, quietness and focus. Those are important things. Important enough to fight for in this era where “newer and better” fiercely compete.

Perhaps expression and creativity will simply evolve and adapt to this new challenge. But still I wonder if the great works like the Psalms will become fewer and farther between.

My challenge to you as a parent, as I combat this technology over-load myself, is that we would resist the pressure to let our children hop on the hamster wheel of social media, especially at young ages, in an attempt to give them plenty of room to create, think and become. They won’t die without a device, or with hefty restrictions, or whatever you choose. They WILL thank you when they’re older, and they recognize what a gift they have been given by your taking.

Raising Children is a Terrible Waste of Time

I think I finally agree with the feminists that raising children is a waste of time. After all, anyone really can do it. So why not let a paid day care worker handle the messes, settle the squabbling, feed the babies, change the diapers and keep them happy so you can do something meaningful, contributing to society?

Few will come right out and say it like that, but they should. Why aren’t we being honest?

Motherhood isn’t treated like an important position-like a profession, because raising children isn’t important. And I agree.

In fact, raising children isn’t just unimportant, it’s exceedingly destructive.

What we should be doing is raising men and women. That’s real parenting. And that’s where we’ve missed it. Tragically. Monumentally. Ignorantly.

No one wants to raise children–and who can blame them? Raising children is cleaning up messes and never getting help. It’s settling squabbles and never seeing change. It’s changing diapers and laundry and preparing more food but it’s never more than that. It’s continually sacrificing for the needs of others with no reciprocating sacrifice and no reward. So we either hire someone else to do it, or we grit our teeth and suffer through it.

Now we have a crisis: a society raising children while few want to do the hard, but incredible work of raising people. Adults who will take our place as cogs in the wheel of life. Do you want to contribute to society? Every other profession pales in comparison to your contribution of raising men and women. Because everything depends on who we bring up to carry out life in the next generation. Everything.

We got so short-sighted. In our world of instagram, instant news and instant gratification, we stopped raising people because people take time and sacrifice and work. But maybe more than that, we lost our ability to look past today and saw just a child with demanding physical needs, and forgot his becoming a person–a person of strength and courage and wisdom and love and compassion (if that’s what we put into him)–and how much that involved and how much it takes mothers and fathers and family pouring into the life of another person to ensure that he really becomes a whole person.

Instead, we have generations of people who grew up and remained children. Adult-children who get mad and have never learned how to handle anger or love their enemies and so they walk into companies and open fire at their “play mates” that hurt them.

Adult-children who blame everyone but themselves when things go wrong, and who fully expect the government to fix all their problems because no one ever taught them how to handle life and difficulty and change. They never learned to take responsibility for their actions, and believe they deserve whatever they want.They were given everything except the few things they really needed so now they borrow money to get the things to fill the void.

We’re surrounded by grown-up-children who never learned to be content with simple things, to find satisfaction in hard work and enjoy the crowning sunset at the end of a long day.

We have adult-children who are having their own children and they don’t like them because raising children is frustrating and this cycle spins at dizzying speed and we are all paying the price.

Oh that we would find our love and zeal and passion for raising people!

Do you know perhaps the most tragic part of all? Since we don’t see past this temporal busy-work that goes along side of raising children into people, children themselves have lost their worth. We don’t value children because we don’t value the process of raising them into whole men and women.

But there’s hope. Change starts with you and me. It’s easy even for those of us who do value the work of motherhood to get short-sighted and forget to see the men and women in the faces of our children. It’s easy to forget the shaping of lives that goes on in the midst of daily life, the lessons learned at a thousand places in the day. Anyone can raise children, but only committed, devoted, my-life-for-yours parents can raise people who will contribute significantly to the human race.

And then we can rally around other young parents and remind them of the life-work of pouring into the next generation for all of our sakes.

The monumental happens in the minutia. Raise people.

(If you need to renew your vision, get When Motherhood Feels Too Hard. Short, daily snippets of powerful reminders of what this business of raising men and women is about in the dailiness of life.)

Don’t Miss Life Waiting for it to Happen

I needed a reminder this morning, so I thought I’d remind you too–all too often I miss life!

Aren’t we usually waiting for something? The next activity, the next appointment, the next break? And we have this false idea that life is a certain kind of moment or event.

But most of life is composed of ordinary moments. How often do I not only miss those, but even ruin them? If I’m too busy preparing for the next thing, then it’s easy to get interrupted in the now. And interruptions cause frustrations; and frustrations cause words and attitudes that do not reflect the kindness of God.

What if stopping to tie a shoe–for the 6th time, was something I saw, not as an interruption, but an opportunity to stop what I’m doing, smile at my little one, and while I’m tying, speak into his heart: “I hope you know how glad I am that you live here.”

Or a potty training moment was seen as a privilege, sharing a milestone in my child’s life–something not everyone gets to do.

What if all those “interruptions” are not interruptions at all, but God’s divine appointments in the ordinary, to test my heart, to see if my treasure is where it should be?

How many smiles are left “unsmiled“? How many sunsets left unshared? How many hurt feelings left unsoothed? Hugs left unhugged? Questions left unanswered?

I’ve said it before, but Jesus’ last “spectacular” act, was anything but spectacular. But spectacular does not equal important. “Wash each other’s feet.” Do the small things. Willingly. Happily. With a heart of love.

Oh that I would remember that as I pour myself into this Mother Work!

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:19

Getting Your Children to Obey

I received this email last week and it is not unlike many I have received, in addition to questions from young mammas in my real life. Perhaps you can relate:

“Kelly,

I am frustrated and I don’t know who to talk to. I have two small children, 3 and 5. They are good kids, but lately I stay impatient and seem to lose my temper over silly things. They obey sometimes but usually not until I raise my voice. But they know what their [sic] supposed to do, so that’s why I get frustrated. I want to enjoy my children, but lately I don’t. I feel sad and know this isn’t the way God meant for it to be. Do you have any suggestions?

Sincerely,

(Name withheld)”

When the Bible talks about children being a blessing, it doesn’t come without a parent’s responsibility to train them in the way they should go. It takes time, commitment and patience. I am so sad when I see young parents not enjoying their children because they have simply failed to implement some basic child-training that would bring joy to both them and their children, and allow them to have the kind of loving relationship God intended.

In a nutshell, parents are responsible for setting healthy boundaries for their children, establishing consequences for disobedience and being consistent. This is a loving thing and should be a priority for parents who desire to help their children grow into mature, healthy adults.

Unfortunately, there are so many opinions of child-rearing floating around that are unbalanced in one direction or another. The Bible calls for a balanced approach, and this is what we must seek.

Six years ago I wrote Getting Your Children to Obey and recently I revised it and added a new section with Scripture to addresses different character issues. (The book is also now only $3.97, $2 off the original price!)

If you want further reading and study on this important topic, I think you’ll find this book extremely helpful.

BUY NOW

Mom Life Hack: Teaching Diligence

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

Moms freak out. I know, I am one. Some days it feels like there are 5,350 important things to do, all at one time. And homeschooling moms can feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders just carrying around the burden of educating their children, besides all the other stuff to do in life.

Sometimes I have to regroup and remind myself of the really important things in life. And there are quite a few. But when it comes to preparing my children for the future, I can simplify my efforts by going back to a few basic things, one of which is teaching diligence.

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29

In a word, Scripture says that a diligent man will be successful.

Diligence is concentration, thoroughness and persistence. And in a culture where instant, fast and easy prevails, diligence is hard to find, and harder to attain.

But we can be deliberate about diligence in our homes and put our children far ahead.

Encouraging them when they face a difficult task, requring them to redo a careless job and praising them for their perseverance are ways we can help them grow in diligence.

Also, begining early is important. Not only can we expect our young children to be diligent in an age-appropriate task, but they thrive on the realization that they are a meanginful part of the family.

My 3 year old wanted to help me with supper last night and cut up tomatoes. I first told him he would have to wait until he’s older because he’s too young to use the knife. But I remembered a dull point knife with just enough serrated edge to cut a tomato that would be safe for him and told him he could try. He sawed away, announcing to all his big brothers and sisters that he was helping make dinner. A small thing for sure, but I praised him for seeing the job through to the end and for his willingness to help and serve.

Limiting their entertainment has important consequences. First, it forces them to do things with their hands–an opportunity to perservere and to find reward in work and productivity. Also, it helps them develop a stronger and longer attention span. They will read more, imagine more, think more, create more and relate more when their access to entertainment is limited.

Teaching diligence doesn’t just set our children up for success though; it is one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself. If you take the time (and it does take time) to teach your children to be thorough and persistent, it will pay off for you down the road.

Little by little, daily reminders and encouragment and purposeful parenting will grow into big rewards for them and you.


 

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