Tag Archive | parenting advice

Doing It Differently

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It’s been a while since I’ve connected with you. I apologize for my absence. For the past year, I’ve been pursuing some professional goals: working as a magazine editor, publishing a book; Genuinely Georgetown (http://www.genuinelygeorgetown.com/), both requiring speaking engagements and book signings, working on a book for moms, and finally, seeing a child off to college.

But all the while, I’ve been thinking of you and my calling to encourage you. I’m glad to be back with a post for the first day of 2014. I’d like to start by encouraging you to try new things.

5 Ways To Do It Differently

Sometimes as moms, we get stuck in a rut; doing the same dishes, driving the same route to work, getting up and going to bed at the same time. Why not try something new because variety keeps life interesting. Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Spread out a blanket and have dinner outdoors.
  2. Get up before the kids and have coffee or a walk with a friend before the busy day begins.
  3. Ask your kids to memorize the way to school and have them be your GPS as you drive.
  4. Have a no-cook night. Invite your friends with children over for potluck dinner. You provide the dinnerware and a movie, they provide the food.
  5. Read a magazine you’ve never read before: try outdoors and fishing or crochet and paper crafts—something you wouldn’t normally read. You may find new subjects to peak your interest.

Think of other ways you can climb out of the pit and add spark to your life! Happy New Year!

Short Sheeted at Face Value

One of my favorite places to shop is the local thrift store. I find great bargains and my purchases help support those in need. One day in the boutique section of the store where they sell higher end items, I found a brand new, brightly colored sheet and pillowcase. The striped fabric was dyed in vibrant shades of fuchsia, gold, orange and purple. The set was very pretty but I didn’t really need it nor did it match anything in my house. However, the price tag caught my eye. They had marked it as $12 but the original purchase price said MSR 499.00. What a deal! Even though I didn’t need it, how could I pass up such a valuable purchase?

When I got the linen home, I looked at the tag again. I saw the letters “Rs.” in front of the amount. I hadn’t noticed those letters in the store because my eyes were stuck on 499.00. I looked up “Rs.” on the internet and found that it stood for Indian Rupees. The US equivalent: eight dollars! I had paid more for the sheet set than it cost when it was new.

I bought the linen because I thought it had great value based upon the price tag. It had face value. As a mom in search of parenting wisdom, I have also been enticed by parenting philosophies because they were popular or were espoused by someone who had a row of initials behind their name.  They had face value. Sometimes this “wisdom” comes in packages whose contents we don’t really need and aren’t as valuable as they appeared on the surface.

Perhaps you too are looking for wisdom to be the best mom you can be. While wisdom can come from many sources, true and unchanging wisdom comes from God through His word.  And it doesn’t cost anything but time and a teachable spirit.

What is some of the most useful parenting advice you’ve been given, whether it was from the Bible, your mother or anyone else?

Pleasing Wanted

A young woman named Pleasing gave birth to a child she named Wanted. Pleasing’s goal in life was to make sure Wanted was always happy. Pleasing’s childhood was fraught with sadness and she wanted a different life for her child.

She fed Wanted only the foods that made him happy. She let him pull the dog’s tail and bite the neighbor kid because it brought Wanted joy. As Wanted grew older, Pleasing made sure to attend to his every need so that he would remain happy. She did all the household chores and protested when his teachers admonished him for not turning in his homework. Schoolwork made Wanted feel stifled and kept him from what really made him happy: sleeping in late and playing video games. When Wanted became an adult, Pleasing made sure he had the money he needed for dates and gasoline for his car. She continued to clean his room, cooked his meals and did his laundry. These things made Wanted happy.

In middle age, Pleasing had gone bankrupt and was weary after all the years of making Wanted happy. She couldn’t figure out why other mothers in the neighborhood had the energy to do fun things and why their children seemed self-sufficient. They had all started careers and families of their own. Wanted, on the other hand, was still living at home, had become overweight, unhealthy, dependant on others and had no friends. Pleasing couldn’t figure out why Wanted felt so empty and depressed.

Hadn’t she done everything to make him happy? Pleasing wondered.

My sweet mother, this is a fictional story of course.  Nevertheless, through it, I pause to think about my role as parent. Perhaps you can relate on some level with Pleasing. She wanted to save her child from the unhappiness she innocently experienced as a child. Perhaps you too want your children to experience a happiness you never knew. While there is nothing wrong with being happy, can I persuade you to think about wholeness over happiness? What you needed as a child and what your children need is a wholeness that comes with proper perspective. What makes a child whole are love and nurture, but also teaching and discipline. That means our children will not always be happy. They will not like us sometimes. But that’s just fine because what we want them to have is something better: the joy and confidence that comes with a personal character that is in alignment with God’s design.

Scriptures: The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice. Proverbs 23: 24-25

The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. Proverbs 29:15

Prayer: Lord, please help me to raise my children in the way you have lovingly directed. Please help me to teach and discipline them and not grow weary. Help me to see the big picture of their lives and not give in to their unhealthy wants today.

Photo compliments of Wikipedia

What’s Your Handle?

Photo courtesy Microsoft Images

 

Eric Blair, who wrote under the pen name, George Orwell, tells the story of his childhood in an English boarding school. In his short story, Such, Such Were the Joys, he recounts the cruelty he endured at the hand of his Head Master at Crossgates, a preparatory school. When he arrived at Crossgates—“an expensive and snobbish school”— at eight years old, he began wetting the bed as children sometimes do when they experience trauma or significant change. Considered an intentional and rebellious act in the early 1900s, bedwetting sometimes resulted in physical punishment. Hence, his Head Master would beat him with a riding crop. On one occasion, the bone handle of the crop broke off during the beating and even for this, the Head Master blamed the young boy. And the young boy believed the lie.

“. . . .I accepted the broken riding crop as my own crime. I can still recall my feeling as I saw the handle lying on the carpet—the feeling of having done an ill-bred and clumsy thing, and ruined an expensive object. I had broken it: so Sim told me, and so I believed. This acceptance of guilt lay unnoticed in my memory for twenty or thirty years.”

My beloved sister: What guilt are you carrying from the past? Are there things you still hold on to that were not your fault? This question is important because guilt can be a vile and clutching monster that latches onto to the human soul, holding us from being the best that we can be, including mothering in freedom.

Whether you feel guilt for something that wasn’t (or was) your fault, take it to God in prayer. Go confidently with full expectation of God’s permanent forgiveness. Go boldly, knowing that He has already ripped the putrid monster of guilt from your back. And if you begin to feel eerie remembrances of guilt’s disgusting presence, remember that these are feelings, not reality.

Scripture: He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Scripture: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Scripture: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

I Don’t Know

When I became a mother, I felt like I had to have the answer to all of my child’s questions. What if she thinks less of me when I don’t know the answer? If I don’t give her an answer, maybe someone else will and it’ll be the wrong one. What I have discovered since those panicky first years (and beyond) is that I don’t have to have all the answers. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know”. As a matter of fact, if we always have the answer, we give our children an unrealistic perspective about knowledge. Knowledge isn’t just knowing the answers to stuff, it’s knowing where to find the answers.

So now I may say, “I don’t know but I’ll find out”. Or even better: “I don’t know but let’s find out together.” And as our children grow older and more capable, the best thing we can sometimes say is “I don’t know, why don’t you look that up and let me know what you find”.

Do I always give these wise answers? No. I’m a creature of habit and I still find myself shooting off an answer in haste. But on the days when I’m thinking fast on my feet, I try to involve my child in finding the answers.

Many questions await our children in the world beyond our front doors. Let us use the opportunity now to teach them how and where to find the answers they will need.

James 1:5

Photo courtesy Microsoft free images

Smart Work

Do you feel you have to do everything yourself?  I used to feel that way until I found myself in an exhausted heap.  That’s about the time I discovered that some of history’s most accomplished people learned the secret of smart work.

Do you remember the story about Moses appointing judges (Exodus 18)? Moses had led thousands of Israelites out of Egypt. He served as their only judge, hearing and resolving all of their disputes. (Mediating our children’s disputes is a tiring job. Can you imagine breaking up spats between thousands?)

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law saw that Moses was going to wear himself out and wind up in a loony bin (my description).  When Jethro asked Moses why he was doing all the work by himself, Moses said, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will.”  (Exodus 18:14-15)

I can relate to Moses’ response—doing things because they need doing. But sometimes I need to stop and ask myself about the “why” and “how” of my work.  Jethro told Moses that there were other well-qualified men standing around doing nothing and that Moses needed to delegate.  (Sounds like Moses was working hard but not smart.)

Some of us need a Jethro—someone to shake us out of the belief that we have to do everything ourselves. Can I be that person for you today? YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF. Hire a babysitter periodically or swap babysitting with a friend. If you are able, get someone to help you with housework. They may not do it exactly as you would. But, so what? When our kids were toddlers, my friend and I joined forces and cleaned our houses together while our kids played. We finished a lot quicker than when we cleaned our houses separately.  When either of us did shopping at the big warehouse store, we’d pick up things for one another. Figure out your own way to delegate and share duties. You’ll be happier and so will your family.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Photo courtesy Microsoft free images

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