Tag Archive | raising kids

What Have You Done Today?

fullsizeoutput_97ccMany years ago when my husband and I went through counseling to try to firm up some sagging places in our marriage, our counselor told him that when he came home from work, my husband was not allowed to ask me what I had done that day.

We had small children at that point, and I was volunteering at our eldest’s parent-involved school 2 days a week. I was lucky to get dinner on the table each day.

I am not a high-energy person when it comes to physical labor. I can’t work in the hot Florida sun for more than about an hour before I’m just done. My husband can go on for hours at a time.

Sometimes I feel guilty for being inside in the air conditioning. Maybe I’m reading a book. Maybe I’m playing a mindless game. Or maybe I’m working on my computer, actually accomplishing something.

Wait, what was that I just said?

That’s exactly the problem. If I’m just resting or reading or playing, I have the mindset that I’m not ACCOMPLISHING anything.fullsizeoutput_97cd

And that needs to change.

There’s a saying: God made us human BEings, not human DOings.

Yes, there are chores that need to be done. But sometimes just BEing takes precedence.

 

This post is a part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun! Today’s prompt is “done.”

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Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind—a book review and a giveaway!

IMG_9112You often hear the saying, “Parenting isn’t for cowards.” Oh, how true that statement is. Even if your kids aren’t running off the rails, there are challenges and fears and missteps all along the way.

As kids approach adulthood and get ready to leave our little nests, the anxiety can ramp up even more. Did we teach them all they need to know to survive? What if they never want to come visit? How will I know that they are still making good decisions?

The truth is, we can’t know all the answers to those kinds of questions, but we can trust that God has our kids in the palm of His hand, no matter what direction they may presently be going.

After reading Brenda Yoder’s Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind, I am reminded that all along this journey of parenthood, I am not alone.

Writing mostly to women, Yoder, who is a licensed mental health counselor, addresses the big issues we face as we prepare our kids for independent life: Mom grief (which is most definitely a real thing), building family ties, setting boundaries, self-care, marriage during the fledging years, among many others. I found myself with a crick in my neck from all the nodding I was doing in response to what I read.

One such nod-inducer was this statement: “Being a mom is something you do; it’s not IMG_9113who you are. When you accept this, you’ll be more peaceful, confident, and free as each child walks out the door.”

Yes!

So many of us moms have centered our lives around our children, that we have no idea who we are apart from them. But the natural order of things is for our kids to move out and move on. And when we are so wrapped up in trying to make sure our kids turn out just the way we want them to, their mistakes can shake us to our core.

Yoder says, “Your children’s struggles can paralyze you if you let them define your faith, your family, or your parenting. It’s not accurate to define yourself by the choices your kids make.”

How freeing is that? Our job is to follow hard after Jesus. What our kids decide about their own faith is theirs alone. We influence, we guide, we counsel, but someone once said that parents take too much credit when their kids succeed, and have too much guilt when they fail. Yoder says, “Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your responsibility to raise godly kids. It’s your responsibility to be a godly parent.”

IMG_9114In many ways, our clinging to our kids can be a detriment to them. Yoder says, “Our children need permission to say no to our expectations so they can say yes to God’s gifts and callings.”

Filled with much more godly wisdom and counsel, Fledge is an excellent book for anyone facing or in the midst of the empty-nest years. There is such joy we can find in these years if we lean into the Lord and trust Him with our kids.

You can preorder Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind” on Amazon before the March 16th release date by clicking here.

Consider joining the Fledge Parent Forum on Facebook as well by clicking here. A community of people in the same season is a great encouragement!

Enter a chance to win!

Leave a comment about why you need this book for a chance to win a free copy of Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind. One winner will be chosen on March 15.

 

*disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

 

 

Rules and Relationship

It’s been a tough few months.

And when it affects my kids, it makes it tougher still.

Here’s the question: Does relationship trump rules?

checkoff-listI’ve been a parent for more than 21 years now, and I think I have a pretty good relationship with my kids. But I’ll tell you, they know there are rules. If I tell you to do something, you do it. Whining and fussing doesn’t get you anywhere in my house. My kids trust that I’m not going to tell them to do something immoral, illegal or impossible (although keeping their rooms clean does seem impossible at times). They trust that I love them and what I tell them to do is going to be for their benefit somewhere along the way.

Now, I’m human, and sometimes I want them to do something for my convenience. “Can you bring me my phone that I left on my bed? (because I’ve settled in my chair in the other room and you’re right there by my room)” But in the context of our relationship, they know that I’m not always doing that. And they ask me the same kinds of things, and more, because, well, kids.

Do they ever question my directives? Yes. Do I pull the mom card sometimes? (You know the drill: “But why?” “Because I’m the mom, that’s why.”) Yes. But they know that I love them. They know that they’re safe with me. They know that I ultimately want them to become fully functional members of society, and people who follow after God’s own heart.

When my kids have been pushing back against some of the things they’re told to do, child fighting with parentwhat I say to them is this: If you have a hard time obeying me, whom you can see, how much harder will it be for you to obey God when He requires something of you? This is practice for listening to God and doing what He asks because you trust Him and you know that He loves you.

I would think it should not have to be said that blind obedience to every authority is not wise. I’m talking about obedience in the context of relationship. Every parenting expert worth their salt knows that children thrive in an atmosphere of stability and boundaries. Allowed to run free with no rules, children will flounder. Loving guidelines and abounding grace create a healthy atmosphere for kids to thrive.

If my kids tell me over and over again that they love me, that’s going to mean a lot to me, but if they continually question my authority and break the family rules, some tough love is going to have to come into play. I wouldn’t stop loving them, but there would be consequences for their actions.

So how does this apply to our relationship with God?

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15 ESV). He didn’t say, “Keep my commandments or I will stop loving you.” In fact, in context, He’s just been telling His disciples all about going to prepare a place for them in heaven and sending them the Holy Spirit to help them. But He knew it would be important for them to do what He has told them to do. For their sake. Not under compulsion, but because they love Him and want to do what He says. Did they mess up? Sure. Look at Peter as a classic example. He denied Christ 3 times. But oh, the restoration that took place on the beach before a fire after Jesus was resurrected. (See the 21st chapter of the book of John.)

grace tattooI love my husband. We have been married for almost 27 years. He doesn’t want me to get a tattoo. I want one. Just a little one. Nothing huge. I don’t personally think there’s anything wrong with tattoos. But he doesn’t want me to get one. So am I going to go out and get one when he happens to be out of town? No. Why? Because I love him and I am going to respect this desire of his that I not get one. I do what he asks because I love him and I know that he loves me. He’s not asking me not to get one just to keep me under his thumb. I know he would love me even if I did get one, but it would be disappointing to him that I made this choice. And I would feel the break in our relationship.

Do I give rules to my kids and then reject them if they don’t follow them?

Will my husband stop loving me if I get a tattoo?

No. And we’re broken human beings who make mistakes.

We can be assured that God will not abandon us if we break His rules, put into place for our protection. But our disobedience is not without consequences. God’s love for us is not measured by how well we follow His rules, but our obedience can be a thermometer of how much we truly love God.

The gospel opposes earning but is not opposed to effort.

 

Images from agingwithpizzazz.com; whatisoppositionaldefiantdisorder.com; pinterest.com

It Starts With Spilled Milk

After my post the other day regarding lying, I had a conversation with several young moms about how to encourage an atmosphere of grace in their homes when they are more prone to be rule followers.

spilled-milkThat’s a great question. I think it starts with spilled milk.

Surely every parent, sometime in their parent life, has experienced a child spilling milk or some sticky drink either at the dinner table or in the car or on the carpet. Your reaction to these accidents helps set the tone for bigger mistakes in your child’s future.

Mistakes are opportunities to grow and learn.

Here’s what I suggest could be said in different circumstances.

Your child spills his/her drink.

Oops! Well, I’ve spilled my share of drinks, too. Let’s clean it up together and see what we can do to be more careful in the future.

Your child breaks a favorite item of yours on accident.

I’m sad this got broken, but I know you didn’t mean to break it. It’s just a thing. You’re more important to me than that [insert broken item].

You forget to do something you promised your child you’d do. 

I’m sorry I forgot to do [insert whatever it is]. I was wrong to not follow through on what I said. Will you forgive me?

These are all common circumstances that every family can relate to. Building an environment where your child is not afraid to tell you they did something is critical to helping them understand that grace reigns in your household. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences for their bad choices, but choosing to do something wrong and having something happen by accident are different.

Open dialog happens from a very early age. Listen to your children with your full attention. Ask them questions. Help them come to their own conclusions about issues. Let them express themselves in an appropriate, respectful manner.

With my kids, I found that there was a little bit of a Catch-22: We had such a close relationship that they didn’t want to disappoint me, even if I had never made performance a priority. The notion that lying to me is more disappointing than the original act doesn’t seem to get through their heads!

The most important thing I think I do is to keep telling them, “I love you.” And it’s never the person I’m disappointed in, it’s the choice. That is emphasized time and again.

 

Amongst many other forgotten things, I’ve had countless items borrowed and lost, and a favorite bowl knocked off the counter and smashed, all accidents. All covered by grace because the lossshattered-trust was unintentional.

But I’ve also had my trust absolutely demolished like that favorite bowl by a child lying right to my face. Things hidden from me because that child knew those actions would grieve me.

But grace wins every time. God will deal with the sin. I’ve given consequences for the actions to my minor kids. But for my adult children, I’ve cried, prayed, told them truth over and over, but ultimately, their decisions are part of the journey God has them on.

And sometimes that journey goes through the stream of spilled milk. Will it be a sour experience or a sweet one, ending in a pool of grace?

What You Can Learn From Parenthood

ParenthoodPretty much on a weekly basis, I cry over Parenthood. I’m not talking about the actual state of parenthood, I’m talking about the TV show “Parenthood.” I was drawn to the show because it’s about family, but I was also drawn to the show because it takes place in Berkeley, Calif., a place near and dear to my heart. I love seeing familiar places and hearing them talk about the sports teams.

There is much I don’t like about the show: I don’t like the immorality. I don’t like the fact that they take things like premarital sex, abortion and drug use so lightly. Commenters on their Facebook page will tell you that they’re handling things very delicately and all, and, as I mentioned in a previous post (Speaking My Language) I shouldn’t expect people who don’t follow Jesus to embrace the things that He embraces, but it still makes me sad.

But what I love about the show is that they make family important, they don’t make the men into idiots, the adult siblings have a really great relationship, and children are valued, talked to and actually parented, not the way I would parent, but in a loving, concerned, I’m-there-for-you manner nonetheless.

When one of the siblings goes through a separation, her adopted son calls her from his dad’s apartment where he and his sister are spending the weekend. Why? He had a bad dream. All he wants is to talk to his mom.

The teenage boy of one of the sisters gets his girlfriend pregnant. She has an abortion without his consent. Who does he talk to about it? His mom. She loves her kids and they talk to her about everything. She’s been a single mom most of their lives.

Here’s the kicker for me: The patriarchs, Zeke and Camille, are still married after nearly 50 years. She feels like she’s put aside her dreams  for years to raise her family, so now she’s wanting to branch out. She spent a month in Italy painting, without Zeke. She wants to sell the family home, the place where everyone gathers and so many memories have been made. He doesn’t want to leave. It’s his home. But after spending a month without her while she pursued her dream, when his youngest son is indignant that they would consider selling his childhood home, Zeke tells him, “Your mother and I have been together 47 years, and we’ve been through a lot, we’ve been through a lot of milestones. She goes away to Europe and all of a sudden I’m left here at the house, I’m all alone, and I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do. And I miss her. I miss her like crazy. I realize that I love her a lot more than I love this house, and if selling this house makes her happy, then that’s what I’m going to do. So that’s about it, Son, that’s the ballgame right there.”

That is the ballgame. Zeke and Camille might not know a thing about having a godly marriage—one that honors God and is a window into the spiritual realm—but Zeke got it right: Oneness and commitment to his wife supersedes everything. No house is worth promoting isolation in your marriage. No other relationship means more.

Now he just needs to get that little bit of advice into his son-in-law, Joel. Sheesh.

 

Parenthood logo from tv.com

Unclean Lips

drawing-lipsI receive a daily e-devotional from Cru’s ministry to families, FamilyLife. The other day, I was struck by the words of the post about watching what we say and why. Around our house, we don’t allow vulgar language. I have never heard my kids use bad language, my husband and I don’t use bad language, and we even had a foul-language filter for our T.V. for movies that otherwise would be entertaining for our family. I can’t say it any better than FamilyLife founder, Dennis Rainey, so please read his words and think about what might issue forth from your lips. Is it from a clean well or a dirty one?

Potty Mouths

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Dennis Rainey

Fifty years ago, censors were allowed to delete crude terms from books before they were published. When James Jones, for example, included more than 250 vulgar words in his final manuscript of From Here to Eternity, censors eliminated 208 of them from the original hardcover edition. When the book came out in paperback, they deleted all the rest. They simply didn’t want the masses reading profane words. Read more

I’ve gotten behind on my thankfulness list, so I need to step up the pace to make 1,000 by the end of the year. But there is so much to be thankful for, that shouldn’t be too hard. Maybe at the end I’ll compile them all and see what it looks like all together. I know there have been repeats, but that just means I’m extra thankful for those things 🙂

Thankful today for:

710. light

711. the smell of gingerbread

712. glitter

713. Christmas cookies

714. God’s provision for not just us, but others

715. peace

716. mercy

717. grace

718. not having to be in a rush

719. love

720. laughter

721. compassion

722. silly jokes

723. open windows in December

724. the state of my electric bill because of the warmer weather

725. innocence

726. handmade ornaments

727. generosity growing in my children’s hearts

728. natural healing aids

729. a smoke-free environment

730. much to celebrate