Linkage

I enjoyed this post from Karen Campbell today. My relationship with my grandma was so much like Karen’s with her grandma. My grandma made me feel treasured and enjoyed, and I’ve remembered that and have tried to bring the same kind of attitude into my own parenting.

Being a “yes” mama doesn’t mean you’re a permissive mom. It’s more about enjoying your children and treasuring each moment. And I can’t get enough of that kind of perspective each day.

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Published in: on January 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kids, Mealtime, Picky Eaters, etc.

Hello out there! It’s been a while since I’ve stepped out and written anything on this blog. I’ve been silent partly out of busy-ness and partly out of an understanding of what a fool I am and how little I know about anything worthy of blog-space. I love being a teacher, which is why I started this blog–to explain to others the things I have been learning–and yet I have become afraid of the greater criticism that comes to those who try to teach. So, I’ve decided to be mostly silent and keep my teaching realm at home among my very forgiving sweet kids. For now.

That being said…..today I’ve decided to come back for a brief chat and talk about something highly controversial: picky eaters and what to do about them! (You’d think I’d come back with something a little more mild, huh?) My husband’s side of the family is amused right now if they are reading this, because they KNOW that I am no expert at what I’m about to talk about. I really am a fool and am not saying that anything I do is right for anyone else, but I hope to explain the thoughts behind my actions in order partly to explain myself and partly to encourage others to make their own decisions based on good thinking and not on pressure from others or a desire to make your family look good on the outside. This topic has come up several times lately among young mommies I know, so I’ve decided to stick my neck out and share my two cents. So….here goes!

As I begin, I want to share some verses with you that have helped to shape my choices:

Matthew 15:11 “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Mark 7:15 “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”

Romans 14:16-17 “So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

As I’ve pondered these verses, I’ve been challenged to not communicate to my children that they are “good” if they eat a lot, eat fast, eat all their food on their plates,  or that they are “bad” if they eat little, eat slowly, have a small appetite, etc. Eating well does not make them “good” in God’s sight, and so I wonder why, many times, parents and grandparents put such grave importance on “cleaning your plate”, being a “good eater,” having a “healthy appetite,” etc. Sometimes, I think our values come from tradition more than they come from biblical thinking.

If you’ve read many of my other parenting posts, then you know that I am always striving to reach the hearts of my children and I bristle against any teaching that stresses outward performance or conformity without reaching the hearts of my children. I try to take the long, messy road of teaching to the heart rather than using a discipline method that will produce immediate obedience but may reap rebellion, hurt, or confusion in the future. (Of course, no one intentionally chooses a method that will reap rebellion, hurt, or confusion in the future, but some parents just don’t stop to look ahead and calculate the long-term effects of choices that bring pleasing temporary results. Don’t assume that a pleasing result now equals a pleasing long-term result!)

Here are the things that I value when it comes to mealtime and teaching my children:

1. Kindness to others: I try to explain to my children that it is polite to eat food that has been prepared for them by others. I’m trying to teach them to think of others when it comes to mealtime and to let love overrule when they are served something that they don’t like. (At the same time, sometimes I am amazed when an adult would expect a child to show that type of maturity and yet would show such immaturity as to be offended that a child did not like or eat the food prepared!) At the stage my children are in, we ask them to take some “thank you” bites of foods they don’t love, but if there is a food my children are very averse to, I treat them the way I would want to be treated and let them off the hook. (C’mon, now! Aren’t there foods that you really can’t stand? So why are you expecting more of your children than you expect of yourself? Most of us have polite, socially acceptable ways of avoiding the foods we don’t like.) I expect that my children’s ability to eat foods they don’t like will grow as they grow physically, so, in the meantime, I “remember their frame” (Psalm 103:14) as God remembers mine and lets me take baby steps in my own growth.

2. Good stewardship of our bodies: I try often to teach my children about nutrition, and we try to model it with our own choices, too. They know about saturated fat, they ask me what vitamins are in different foods they eat, and they know about the food pyramid. Every once in a while I will sketch out a food pyramid and ask them to list all the foods they’ve eaten that day. If they are low in fruits or vegetables, I’ll point that out and suggest that maybe they have a carrot or apple for a snack rather than a granola bar or cheese stick. I try to help them make good choices for themselves so that someday, when they’re on their own, they WANT to eat wisely. I could just dictate every choice for them, but then I think they’d run a greater risk of choosing Doritos and Mountain Dew everyday for their snacks when the choice is finally theirs.

3. I want mealtime at my home to be a time of enjoyment, togetherness, and celebration, not a time for fights and battles and anxiety about food. Food is given by God for our enjoyment and nourishment. Click here to read a piece that has inspired me to make mealtimes about more than just dinner.

Things I want to avoid:

1. Giving my kids the impression that they are “good” or “bad” kids based on what they eat:
My nephews and one of my nieces eat anything and everything put before them. And lots of it. Sometimes I’m tempted to say something like, “Wow! Look at So-and-so. He ate ALL his food! And he ate it so quickly! What a GOOD eater you are! *patting him on the back*”  When I do that, I am doing an injustice to all the kids. I am communicating to my nephew that I value him more when he eats a lot of food, setting him up for overeating, and I am communicating to my own children that I would be most pleased with them if they would eat a lot of food, tempting them to put their personal value in what they eat, rather than who they are. This is not what I want to value. I want to value those things that come out of their hearts: righteousness, kindness, love, peace, etc.

2. Teaching my children to eat for the wrong reasons:
When I’m around people who value “good eaters,” I’m tempted to cater to those people rather than to follow my Spirit-guided mommy heart, and I’m tempted to make my children eat in order to make me look good and for them to be loved more by others. The fear of people should never rule my choices.

2. Inadvertently teaching my children to overeat:
I’ve read it in many books, and I believe it to be true: children know when their own tummies are full better than we do. When my children were bottle-fed babies and pushed the bottle out of their own mouths, I knew they were full. I never forced the bottle back into their mouths and made them finish it just because there was more left in the bottle. In the same way, I don’t expect them to finish a plate of food if an adult not used to their normal portion-size mounds their plate with food. They know best when they are full, and I don’t think it’s virtuous to make them eat when they are full. At worst, I believe it teaches their bodies to overeat.

So, practically, this is how all this works in my house:

I take the recommendation that seems to be the overwhelming favorite of pediatricians. I try to serve healthy, delicious, balanced meals. I try to model good nutrition by what I buy, prepare and eat. I don’t make something different for my kids if they aren’t happy with what I’ve prepared: dinner is what’s on the table and nothing else, with rare exceptions. I make my two older kids try a bite of everything, for the most part, unless it’s something they are very averse to. (A child with abnormal eating difficulties needs to be treated uniquely under a doctor’s care. The type of pickiness I’m addressing is the type that seems to affect the majority of children, from what I’ve observed, not something more extreme.)

We are a work in progress. My 17-month-old would happily eat cheese and granola bars for every meal and hands back any piece of meat, fruit, or vegetable I put on her tray. My older kids often dislike the meals I prepare and usually are skeptical of new things. Sometimes I entertain thoughts of being a “meaner” mom. It would make the here-and-now a lot easier. But I feel confident that the path I’m on is the one God has for me. Other parents with different personalities, backgrounds, strengths, and weaknesses and their kids with different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, have different mealtime expectations than we do. And that’s ok. Whether you feel confident in this area or whether you feel inadequate, we’re all works in progress, after all, as God teaches our kids through us and us through our kids. And that’s a good thing to remember about one another.

Parenting Like God Parents Us: Remembering Our Frame

On a road trip, several years ago, my husband and I listened to Ramona, The Pest by Beverly Cleary. It was a book we had both enjoyed as children, but we listened to it with very different ears, as adults. Beverly Cleary has a gift for understanding how children think. Dan and I kept finding ourselves saying things like, “I remember feeling like that. I remember being excited like that. I remember feeling confused like that,” etc. We concluded that all new parents ought to read the Ramona series in order to help them understand their children better: to help them remember what it was like to be a kid and to use that understanding to “look inside of” their children more often.

God keeps our frame in mind as He parents us. Rather than being frustrated with our humanness, he pities us. Rather than feeling frustrated with our children because they’re being…..childish (it’s an inherent part of being a child), we ought to model the way God parents us.

Psalm 103: 13-14 “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

My parents are good to have around. Sometimes I’m ready to pull my hair out over my children’s impulsiveness, silliness, messiness, etc. Then I’ll look over at my parents who are biting their lips to stifle a laugh, looking the other way, covering their mouths, and it gives me perspective: Should I expect my children to act like adults? No. It is my great privilege to lead them into adulthood, but it takes many years to get there. I need to remember their frame.

In Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel, there’s a story in Chapter 3: A Secure Love that moved me to tears. This is a somewhat long excerpt, but it’ll be worth your time if you allow it to give you some perspective on your children:

“I was sitting in a hotel restaurant in Portland, Oregon. It was a Sunday morning. I was catching a plane around noon, which afforded me the luxury of enjoying a leisurely breakfast. This restaurant offered an all-inclusive breakfast buffet, with a lower price for kids.

A mom arrived with her two children: an infant and a boy approximately four years old. I noticed the boy right away. His face was filled with excitement, and his mouth was running a mile a minute as they circled the buffet line so that Mom could see the options. His mother held the infant while the boy followed along. He could barely contain his excitement. He saw the fruit, the varieties of cereal, the pancakes and waffles, and the station where the chef made omelets to your specifictions. Then I watched his eyes pop out of his head as he studied the trays full of breakfast “desserts”–blueberry muffins, bear claws, and assorted Danish. This brief chance to watch this enthusiastic boy check out the breakfast buffet quickly became the highlight of my morning. I was watching a boy designed by God take a big breath out of every moment. He was absolutely in love with his surroundings. He looked like a boy who had gone to food heaven. (more…)

Published in: on November 29, 2009 at 6:31 pm  Comments (3)  

The Chief Task of Parenting- Showing God to our Children

I recently discovered this quote from John Piper (Here is the source):

The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation. The children will have years of exposure to what the universe is like before they know there is a universe. They will experience the kind of authority there is in the universe and the kind of justice there is in the universe and the kind of love there is in the universe before they meet the God of authority and justice and love who created and rules of the universe. Children are absorbing from dad his strength and leadership and protection and justice and love; and they are absorbing from mother her care and nurture and warmth and intimacy and justice and love—and, of course, all these overlap.

And all this is happening before the child knows anything about God, but it is profoundly all about God. Will the child be able to recognize God for who he really is in his authority and love and justice because mom and dad have together shown the child what God is like. The chief task of parenting is to know God for who he is in his many attributes, and then to live in such a way with our children that we help them see and know this multi-faceted God. And, of course, that will involve directing them always to the infallible portrait of God in the Bible.

The idea of parenting our children as God parents us has gripped me for over a year. I’ve had a few friends and a few books steering my thinking in that direction, even before I came across this Piper quote. I haven’t fully wrapped my mind around the idea yet, but I’m fascinated by it and would welcome any discussion on the topic.

How does God deal with disobedient children? This has been the hardest facet of this topic for me to understand. The punishment for my sin was paid in full by Jesus Christ, and I am no longer under condemnation for my sin. God has shown me grace. When I first began thinking about this topic, I wondered, “So, in order to parent my children as God parents me, am I to show grace toward my children and overlook their sin?” Is that how God parents us? Overlooking their sin didn’t seem right, and it didn’t line up with other parenting verses in the Bible.

Because I am God’s child, there is no punishment in store for me, but does He let me continue in sin? Look at Hebrews 12:6-11:

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

So, God does not punish his children, but He does chasten his children. What does “chasten” mean? According to Strongs Concordance, the word means, “to train, educate, discipline.” And the word “rebuke” means “to convince, tell a fault, reprove.” The word “scourge” refers to corporal discipline.

Here are some keys that I’ve taken away from this passage:

1. I no longer “punish” my children. Instead, I correct or discipline them. You might think this is just a matter of semantics, but, really, punishment and discipline have different goals. The goal of punishment is to make my children “pay” for their disobedience. The goal of discipline is to correct their behavior and to teach my children. You’ll often see me guiding my children in “doing it again the right way.” We try to use lots of scripture to show them God’s ways. We remind them whose “team” we’re on.

2. In verse 10 we see that discipline is for our children’s profit. It is not to make my life easier or to give me a vent for my frustrations. I think we all know this in our hearts, but it’s easy to react in the moment and make it all about me.

3. From verse 11, the goal at the end of my discipline is “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” I should not walk away from a discipline situation still holding my child accountable for his disobedience. I should not walk away angry, nor should he. My goal is for my child to realize that his disobedience is wrong and to help him make the right choice. I want us to be hugging and smiling in the end, not walking away feeling resentful toward each other. This goal in mind affects my attitude toward my child when he has disobeyed. I am working toward restoration, rather than vindication.

I am in no way the perfect example of this type of parenting, but I think it’s right, and I’m growing and become a better parent, I think, as I strive to parent my children as God parents me.

I welcome your thoughts on this topic. My thinking is always sharpened by thoughtful, God-loving friends.

Published in: on November 28, 2009 at 3:28 pm  Comments (3)  

How We Should Be Talking to Our Kids

Ephesians 4:29-30 “Let no (not a single one!) corrupt (rotten; worthless) communication (more than your words–your tone of voice, your expression, etc.) proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying (building up spiritually; encouraging), that it may minister grace (help; kindness; good will; favor ) unto the hearers.”

I’d like to address a topic that has consumed me lately: the way parents ought to talk to their children. I think this Ephesians passage is a good place to start: as parents, we ought not let a single word come out of our mouths that will tear down our children. Instead, every word should be spiritually encouraging, edifying, and helpful to them.

One way I believe parents “corrupt” their children is in the way they handle discipline situations. Most of us would probably agree that it is important to teach our children to obey and to correct them when they do not. But some parents seem to believe that obedience can be taught at any cost: through yelling, screaming, belittling, manipulating, etc. Oftentimes, we employ these “corrupting” methods because we are viewing their disobedience as more of a personal offense against us (“Why do you put me through this?” “Why do I have to tell you this over and over again?”, “Can’t I just have some peace and quiet for awhile?”) rather than an opportunity to teach and guide our children.

From John Younts’s book, Everyday Talk:

“Parents, when you give in to anger, resentment or self-pity at your children’s bad behavior, you make yourself the center of the problem. You are loving yourself first and most. You must love your kids enough to show them the danger of their behavior. They need to see that their first problem is with God, and only secondarily with you. … You must be more concerned for them than for yourself, and you must be concerned most of all for God. By modeling patience, love, self-control–and all the fruit of the Spirit–you teach your children how extraordinary God is.”

From Tim Kimmel’s Grace-Based Parenting:

We need to “realize that (our) children will struggle with sin. …Consider it an honor to be used by God to show (your) children how to find true forgiveness in Christ. (Don’t be) intimidated by the dialogue that brings the discussion of sin into the light. In fact, (be) grateful to be able to come alongside (your) children with an unconditional love during some of their toughest hours. ”

I believe there’s a better way to correct our children when they’re disobedient, rather than anger, manipulation, exasperation, or belittling. And I believe it’s the biblical way:

Proverbs 16:20-24 “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he. 21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning (persuasiveness). 22 Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly. 23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. 24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 15 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly… 4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.… 28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”

If you are a parent, grandparent, youth worker, or anyone who leads children or teenagers, I urge you to shed the tough-guy, heavy-handed approach and adopt the gentler, more pleasant, biblical approach which, perhaps, has not ever occurred to you before. The “corruption” that comes from yelling, belittling, or manipulation may not be evident  until your children are older and no longer hiding their true problems behind a facade of outward obedience.

*I’ve struggled over how to construct this post for days, and I’m still not satisfied with it. I think this is a HUGE issue, and I keep seeing and hearing antecdotes that make me want to share God’s Word far and wide on this topic. Maybe at some point I’ll be articulate enough to do it justice, but for now here is my feeble attempt to share the treasures of what God has been teaching me lately. May it spur you on to further thought and study.

Thoughts on Toys and Playtime

What are the best toys for children? The most enjoyable? The ones that hold a child’s attention the longest and make the best memories? As I think about that question, I think about one childhood which I happen to be an expert on—mine!

What are your favorite memories of playtime as a child? One of mine is of playing “restaurant” with my next-door neighbor, Christy Belcher. Mud, of course, was chocolate cake, grass was green beans, rocks were baked potatoes, crunchy leaves were chips while green leaves were paper money, and rose petals (Sorry, Mom!) were strawberries. I also loved playing kickball in the street with the neighborhood kids, “statues” or “tag” in one of our back yards, or the spontaneous water fights we had where all the neighborhood kids ganged up on Tom Coil, the single firefighter who lived two doors down from me. My brother and I enjoyed turning our bedroom into a roller-skating rink (Yeah, my parents were laid-back—thanks Mom and Dad!) or our bunk beds into apartments. When I think about it all, I almost wish I could go back and enjoy those days again.

Did you notice that all of my favorite memories involved next to nothing by way of material goods? And, probably, your favorite memories are similar to mine. All the glittery, high-tech stuff that lines the toy aisles is not nearly as entertaining as the little-bit-of-nothing my best memories are made of.

So, what makes for good playtime? I think the best toys are ones that have limitless options for creativity or “transformations.” For instance, a piece of paper or a lump of play dough can be transformed into a million different things, limited only by a child’s imagination.

Here are the kinds of toys that helped me make the best memories as a child and ones that my own children enjoy:

  • Art stuff: construction paper, scissors, markers and crayons, felt, pipe cleaners, glue, glitter, googly eyes, paint, empty toilet paper rolls, etc. I keep all these supplies in a large bin along with a plastic tablecloth, which I use to cover the kitchen table whenever the kids are working on art.
  • Play dough (add cookie cutters, plastic knives, etc.)
  • Building/ construction stuff: Legos, Tinker Toys, blocks, etc.
  • Dramatic play items: costumes, dishes, kitchen sets, dolls, etc. We’ve contributed old phones, an old keyboard, etc.
  • Outdoor gear: bikes, balls, buckets, shovels, etc.

Speaking of outside toys, there’s no better play place than the great outdoors. There are so many wonderful natural materials to play with: mud, leaves, rocks, sand, water, etc. Purposely put your kids in play clothes and be willing to let them get messy!

If your kids aren’t used to being creative and don’t know what to do at first, get them started. Sit with them and start making or building something—maybe something you remember that you enjoyed creating as a child. Before long, your kids will catch on and will come up with ideas of their own. When you’re outside with them, help them mix up the mud. Teach them the games you enjoyed as a child. Play with them! After all, if you’re longing to go back and enjoy those simpler days, there’s one way to do it: Enjoy them with your children!

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm  Comments (2)  

Bible Story Books and Verse Memorization for Young Children

We’ve used several books for Bible reading time/ verse memorization with our young children. I thought I’d share with you some of the resources we’ve used, and you can feel free to respond with some of your favorites. Also, I’ve put these in developmentally appropriate order. We used the first book when our children were barely talking, and we’re using the last few resources now with our two pre-K children.

1. The ABC Memory Book: Our children learned several verses around the time they were also learning their ABC’s: “A- All we like sheep have gone astray. B- But He was wounded for our transgressions. etc.” We would recite these verses and talk about them at breakfast each morning. I was amazed at the number of verses our toddlers learned.

2. The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth N. Taylor: I should mention that there is a new version of this classic book with more cartoony pictures, which I don’t care for. The original pictures are beautiful and, in my opinion, needed no update. Each Bible story is short enough to hold the attention of even young children, and they love to look at the pictures.

3. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones: This is a unique, gospel-centered Bible story book. The thing I love about this Bible story book is that each and every story, including those in the Old Testament, points to Jesus. I just love it. Now, I know a lot of people who love the art in this book, but, personally, I’m not overly fond of it.

4. Kids4Truth: My church hosts a Kids4Truth club with incentives for memorizing verses. Kids4Truth is a unique, doctrine-based program that includes not only verse memorization, but also catechism-like questions and answers to teach children about 12 basic doctrines of the Bible. If you have no Kids4Truth club near you, you can still use the resources in your own family. They’re excellent.

Feel free to comment and share with us some of your favorite resources!

Weapons and Little Boys

Several months ago my 3-year-old little guy was exposed to toy guns and swords at a friend’s house, and it was love at first sight. Instantly, he began “shooting” his sister, mommy, and daddy. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought a lot about how we would handle weapons at our house, but I knew it was time to formulate a plan that would help us teach good virtues to our children.

We’re book-lovers in our house, so of course I turned to stories to help me teach my son about virtuous weapon-use. After much searching, I found some delightful books that have not only entertained us but have also taught us some wonderful lessons about bravery, duty, following wise counsel, etc.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to our new book-friends:

St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges: This is a Caldecott winner. Though the vocabulary is way out of my son’s range of understanding, the pictures are magnificent and keep him looking at this book over and over again.

The Making of a Knight: How Sir James Earned His Armor by Patrick O’Brien: This story chronicles the life of a boy who desires to one day be a knight. After serving faithfully as a page and then a squire, his dream becomes a reality. This is a good book for learning the terminology (What is a lance? jousting? a squire? etc.). And the theme that James’s faithfulness in the little things led to his eventual knighting is a good lesson in faithfulness to responsibility.

Tales of King Arthur: Excalibur by Hudson Talbott: This is one of a series of books, and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest, because this is my favorite of the three I’ve reviewed here, and my son loves it too. My 3-year-old son understands that King Arthur didn’t listen to wise counsel and behaved foolishly, which resulted in his precious sword being broken. But Arthur’s repentance brings a special blessing: the Excalibur sword. With this blessing comes a great responsibility to use it wisely.

And my son’s favorite weapon story is the story of David and Goliath. We tell this one over and over again. We have several different story Bibles that we use with our children, and I think that, in each, the “David and Goliath” pages open on their own by now!

What are your favorite “weapon” stories that teach good virtue? How have you handled this situation in your house?

Published in: on October 19, 2008 at 3:25 am  Comments (8)  

Proverbs 15 and Parenting

Today I was searching for verses that address specific struggles my preschool children face as they’re learning to obey and show kindness to others. I’m assembling a document that Dan and I can use when teaching and disciplining. We’d much rather use Biblical language (“When your brother yells at you, use a soft answer in return.” than “When your brother yells at you, don’t yell back.”) when we can.

Well, my study took a bit of a detour, because I kept finding verses that apply to ME! (So now we have a “Mommy and Daddy” document going too…)  Look at these verses from Proverbs 15 in the context of parenting, and see if you aren’t as convicted as I am!

Prov. 15

1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly… 4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.…17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it. 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.… 22 Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. 23 To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!… 28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. 29 The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

Published in: on May 4, 2008 at 5:08 am  Comments (3)  

Teach….repeat…repeat…

An interview at SharperIron the other day caught my eye. Hebrew scholar Phillip Brown explains how digging into the meaning of the Hebrew words helped him to understand Deuteronomy 6:7 better. The verse reads:

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Dr. Brown explains that the Hebrew word for “teach” can be translated as “repeat.” So, in essence, you need to teach your children principles from the Word of God over…and over…and over again for them to actually sink in and take root. I wish I would’ve comprehended this idea a little earlier. You see, I was an “expert” parent before I actually had kids. I figured it took about three times of repetition to teach a young child to say please, obey right away, share toys, etc. When I saw others’ children disobeying or being unkind, I haughtily thought that my future children would do better, thanks to my amazing grasp on child training. (Ugh. Please pass the barf bag….)

And then I had children.

I was discouraged and figured I must’ve been doing something wrong. I had repeatedly taught my daughter how to pick up her toys, and she still was getting distracted easily without help. I had repeatedly followed all the potty-training advice I could find, and my daughter was still not getting it. A wise friend told me to just keep at it. It wasn’t that I was doing anything wrong; it just takes time–more time than I had realized.

She’s four-years-old now. She’s potty-trained, she cleans her room, and she’s the sweetest daughter I’ve ever seen. There are still lots of things we’re working on, but I now know that teaching her and her brother important truths and life skills is more than a 3-steps process. So, when it seems like they’ll never learn, I just remember: teach….repeat….repeat….etc.

It’ll come.

Published in: on April 17, 2008 at 3:08 am  Comments (3)