Tag Archive | parenting

Well Check Your Heart

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “well.”

All parents know the drill. Every few months of a new baby’s life, they go to the pediatrician for a “well check.” This would be as opposed to a “sick visit.” At our pediatrician’s office, and I’m guessing at most similar offices, there are two separate waiting rooms for the well and the sick.

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As a parent, I was always grateful for that. I wish there was such a thing at an adult doctor’s office!

But I digress.

At these well checks, height and weight would be recorded, lungs and heart listened to, eyes, ears, nose and throat checked. The doctor just wanted to make sure that everything was progressing as it should in our babies.

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When our second was 4 months old, the doctor noted at his well check that he wasn’t gaining enough weight. That led to the dreaded “failure to thrive” diagnosis. He was thriving as far as we could see, doing all that he was supposed to be doing, but we had to do all this testing to rule out anything bad. Turns out—and his doctor figured this the whole time—my milk just didn’t have enough calories.

So we supplemented with formula and he was fine. So when the same thing happened at our youngest’s 4-month appointment, we didn’t have to go through the tests. We just started giving her rice cereal.

I was thankful for their doctor, and I was thankful for those well checks. It was always good to know that, for the most part, everything was going just fine.

Have you well-checked your heart lately? Listened to it? Checked its pulse? Determined that it’s staying soft?

20120722-083057.jpgPsalm 139:23 & 24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

That’s a very good place to start.

 

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Help! I Have A Teenager!

Today’s post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I write for 10 minutes, give or take, without any heavy editing, on a one-word prompt. Today’s prompt is “teenagers.”

People tend to think that parenting teenagers is pretty scary. It can be, if you’re not prepared for what you might encounter.

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For me, preparation for parenting teens started when they were born.

I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? If you are a constant source of rules and punishment and harshness when they are little, the rebellion they are going to feel when they are beginning to spread their wings and figure out what they are capable of will be greater. But if you are there to build a relationship with them, give them solid boundaries and are a safe place for them to process, then the likelihood of constant turmoil in your household will be diminished.

OK, stop right there. I’m going to make a big statement right now.

There are no guarantees. Your kids’ decisions are their decisions. All the best parenting you think you’re doing may not be enough to keep them from making stupid and life-altering choices.

Just like us, our kids are endowed by their Creator with free will. So don’t think that if your child starts down a path of destruction that the fault is yours. If you have been doing the best you can and leaving the results to God, then you have a clear conscience. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes.

Maybe I let me baby cry in his crib too long when I was wanting him to take a nap. Maybe that’s why he chose to walk away from a path of faith.

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Maybe the time I yelled at my daughter for not doing something I had asked her to do made her try to find friends who would tell her what she wanted to hear, but ultimately led her into a destructive lifestyle.

We can second guess ourselves all day long, but in the end, we do our best to love our kids and bring them up to love and serve the Lord, but they ultimately have to decide how they want to live.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned over the past couple of years is that prayer is absolutely essential. And so is community. If my kids make bad choices, I can’t carry the burden of their behavior. To be able to share what’s going on in vulnerability and safety with close friends is life giving instead of life draining. I only have one teenager left in my house. In three and a half years, she’ll be 20. It’s been quite a roller-coaster ride, but God has been faithful as always.

FledgeI recommend a few books for those of you in the throes of raising teens.

  1. Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind, by Brenda Yoder. This book was definitely life giving to me as Yoder said, “We are not called to raise godly children, we are called to be godly parents.”
  2. Parenting Today’s Adolescent: Helping Your Child Avoid the Traps of the Preteen and Teen Yearsby Dennis and Barbara Rainey. It’s been many years since I read this book (it was written in 2002), but from what I remember about it, the principles were solid, #1 being have a close relationship with God yourself. Seems to echo the “be a godly parent” quote from above.
  3. Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teensby Paul David Tripp. Again, it’s been many years since I read this book written in 2001, and I can’t find my copy (I probably loaned it out to some parent of teens), but I remember most that Tripp talked about not being afraid. Of using every opportunity you have with your kids to build relationship. I do hesitate a bit on recommending something with a subtitle like “a biblical guide,” but I don’t remember this book being a “do this and get that” type of thing.

For me, the bottom line is that we are trusting God to keep writing our kids’ stories—and our stories as well. Our goal should be heart change, not behavior change, and only God can change hearts.

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Strong Willed Or Resolute?

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I take a one-word prompt that a friend has supplied and write for 10 minutes without any heavy editing and see what comes out of my head. Today’s word is “strong-willed.”

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When people hear the term “strong willed,” they probably jump to the idea of a strong-willed child. Oh, you know how hard they can be! They are stubborn, obstinate, tantrum throwers when they don’t get their way. There has to be special books written about how to parent them.

Nobody has ever seen a book called Parenting the Compliant Child. We think that would be easy.

But what if we started looking at being strong willed in its positive form? What if instead of being obstinate, these people were considered resolute?

I think about Jesus who resolutely set His face toward the cross. I would say His will was very strong.

Trouble is, I know with kids who are considered strong willed, their will is usually against whatever it is their parents want them to do. I didn’t have a strong-willed child, so I don’t have any parenting advice, but I wonder if a mindset change could make a difference.

Can a 3-year-old be reasoned with?

“You sure seem to have your mind made up about what you want to have for lunch. It’s too bad we’re not having that today. I wonder what we can do about that?”

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Makes me chuckle to imagine it.

I know the struggle is real, you parents of strong-willed children out there. So I would just like to offer hope. It won’t come immediately, in fact, it may take them into their 20s to figure it out, but your resolute child could be one who has great perseverance. Once they’ve made up their mind, they go after that thing with gusto.

Think about Jesus. When he was 12 he was left behind in Jerusalem because he was sitting in the temple teaching the men there. Teaching! At 12 years old. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

He knew what He needed to do, and He did it. Now, granted, He was the perfect Son of God, but what lessons can be learned from His life about being resolute?

Huge differences with our kids, I know that. But I think it’s not just a sin nature that is at play. Guiding a child to submitting their will to that of their parents is an arduous process. Parents have no easy task figuring out how to mold their child without crushing them.

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I don’t envy them the task.

But a compliant child also needs to be molded. They need to know that they have a mind of their own and that God has a plan for them. Every whim of someone else doesn’t need to be followed. It’s not a bad thing to question directives in the right manner and at the right time.

Does that make sense? We don’t want our compliant children to become doormats that others use to get what they want. And I think as parents we need to be careful to make sure our kids have a voice. Can compliance become apathy? Can these children become people pleasers?

I’m not a psychologist, so these are just rambling thoughts. But I do wonder.

I’d love to hear what you think.

I See You

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up where we write for 5 minutes on a one-word without heavy editing and see what happens. Read all of today’s post here.

Like any typical American parents, we were armed with our video camera (this was in the days before cell phones with cameras) and waiting expectantly for our sweet tow-headed 4-year-old boy to appear on the stage for his end-of-year performance for Mom’s Day Out.

When he came out with his classmates, dressed in his green collared shirt and cute khaki pants, I looked through the viewfinder of the camera to make sure I could get him in focus before things began.

 

What I noticed as I watched him through that lens was that he was looking all around the crowded church sanctuary, searching for us. I could read his little lips saying, “Where ARE they?” as his gaze grew concerned. David and I waved our arms and halfway stood trying to get his attention, but the lights were too bright on the stage, and there were too many bodies in the auditorium.

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He couldn’t see us.

Once the music started, he was happy singing along and doing the hand motions as he’d been taught, and I recorded him and clapped when it was done. But my heart was a little sad. I so wanted him to know that we were watching him. That we were there. That we cared.

Now, 18 years later, that little 4-year-old is 22 and searching for who he is. During a crisis time just a few months ago, I wrote him a letter reminding him of that night all those years ago and asking him, “Do you see us now? Do you know that we see you, that we’re here for you, that we love you?”

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Hagar gave God the name El Roi in Genesis 16:13, “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”

 

 

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What Do You Mean It’s Not All About Me?

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. I write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt with no heavy editing. Today’s word is “convenient.”

It’s very rarely “convenient.”

I’m very selfish with my time.

p1000653But I made the commitment to say “yes” more often to the things my kids want to do. Of course, I only have one kid still at home full time, but there are many other daily decisions that poke at that idol of convenience that I wrestle with every day.

I watch my 1-year-old grandson for his parents when they go to work in the evenings 5 days a week. It’s not convenient to have my days interrupted, but there’s no higher use of my time than helping to raise this tiny image bearer of God.

nqlflrg5to+idg0qntanygMy daughter does not yet have her drivers license, so if she desires to go clothes shopping or anywhere else that isn’t within reasonable walking distance, I am on the hook for taking her there. Her timing isn’t always convenient for what I want to do, but I know that I won’t always have the responsibility and I treasure the time we can spend together.

Sometimes I have friends that need a favor which could look like picking up one of her children at school if she’s running behind or is with another child on the other side of town. Or maybe it’s the use of a car if hers is in the shop. Or maybe it’s visiting her in the hospital. The list goes on and on.

True, these things are rarely “convenient,” but, honestly, it’s not all about me.

Shocking, I know.

Each daily interruption is a chance to affect the lives of those around me. And that’s what really matters in the end.

 

Curious About Curiosity

This post is part of my 10-minute Tuesday collection. Today is Wednesday, I know, I know, but yesterday got away from me. So today’s prompt is the word “curiosity.” Written in 10 minutes, no big edits, just free flow writing. Here we go.

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Besides killing the cat, what else does curiosity do?

As a journalist for many years, I was expected to be curious about people. I was going to be writing their stories, after all. I found in that job that I wasn’t a very curious person. I like people, and I liked listening to their stories, but I wasn’t very good at asking questions.

Kids are instinctively curious. Spend some time around a 3-year-old, and you will figure that out pretty quickly. Why? Why do I have to go to bed? Why does the dog drink his water that way? Why does the cat lick herself? Why do I have to eat my peas?

And then it gets harder. Why do I have to learn algebra? I’m never going to need it in real life! haha I’ve heard that plenty of times.

Answering our kids questions to the best of our ability will help ensure that they maintain that curiosity throughout their lives. If they are shut down, they will stop asking questions. Can it get tiring? You bet. But a gentle answer about maybe how that question can be answered another time might help.

I’m a big tech fan. I love using my computer and my smart phone, my iPad and my Apple Watch. But I’m only slightly curious as to how they work, whereas I have a son who will take things apart to figure out how they work. I have another son who read copious amounts about nature and animals, and he is our go-to person when we have a question about a species or geography or things like that. I also have a daughter who is attuned to people and likes to know what makes them tick.

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Curiosity leads to creativity, it seems to me. Curious people say, “If we could put these things together in a certain way, I wonder what would happen.” Creating new recipes, or works of art, or works of literature, all these have an element of curiosity in them. I was recently part of a conversation about writing fiction, and one of the principles the authors agreed upon was that being a people watcher was important to building good characters in your writing. Being curious about what they’re like and what their stories are will help you create a believable world.

I have an 11-month-old grandson who is not yet talking, but we’re gearing up for the “why” stage. I hope that I am able to have all the patience I need to feed his curious nature so that his creativity can grow strong.

Oh, and the second part of that old saying I started with? Curiosity killed the cat? But satisfaction brought it back!

 

Parenting By Osmosis

This post is part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. Today the prompt is “osmosis.” Let’s see what I can do with that.

IMG_0191My 11-month-old grandson is getting about by himself these days, so we’re having to be more vigilant in the hours that we take care of him. One of the things he loves to do is check on our parakeets in their cage. And by “checking” I mean banging repeatedly on the side and squealing when they move about.

I know that loud noises like that are not good for the birds, so I am constantly having to tell him to be gentle. But I know that just saying “gentle” isn’t going to get the point across since he doesn’t know what the word means. So I take his hand and put it softly on the side of the cage while saying, “Gentle, Zayne, you need to be gentle with the birdies.”

As soon as I remove my hand, bang! bang! bang! He’s at it again. So I need to move him from near the cage to some other activity.

LLIW+lRCRBSRCaKubl4MWQThe same goes with the cats. One of his favorite things to do is put his head down on their soft fur and stick his thumb in his mouth, using them as living pillows. Again, we say, “be gentle, Zayne,” but we also know that the cats have the ability to run away if they’re not happy with how they’re being treated.

I know, though, that I can’t just sit on the couch and tell Zayne to be gentle. He’s not going to get the idea simply through osmosis. His learning is going to have to be hands on training. So I sit with him and guide him, knowing that at just 11 months old, he’s not going to completely grasp the concepts I’m trying to teach him. It will take time.

But we can go through a lot of parenting that way. If we say it often enough, our kids will just get it. Somehow, their brains will be able to assimilate the information simply by hearing it over and over.

“Improve your attitude!”

What’s an attitude?

“You need to show more respect!”

What’s respect?

“Be more careful!”

What’s being careful?

I asked my 19-year-old the other day when we were playing with Zayne if he remembered everything he didn’t know when he was Zayne’s age. Obviously, the question was not serious, and his answer of, “Um, I don’t think that’s how it works,” acknowledged that, but the point remains. Unless we are training our children, they’re not just going to suddenly understand what we mean.

We see that every day with Zayne, and we need to understand that others in our world—and we ourselves—don’t simply learn by osmosis, but by hands-on, down-on-the-floor with them training.

After all, haven’t we always heard that actions speak louder than words?