Oct 24, 2017
To prepare, I cut up some inexpensive sponges, dug out an empty glass jar (see-through plastic works, too), and filled a pitcher with water.
I laid the sponges and the jar on the table and asked my daughter to name some things that fill her day. She came up with many things, from brushing her teeth and hair to doing school work and playing with her toys. For each thing she named, I asked her to place one piece of sponge in the jar.
Soon I said, "It doesn't seem like there's room for anything else, does there?" We then took a few minutes to discuss whether she had filled her jar with time wasters, less important things, or truly important things. "If we remove some of the less important sponges - like maybe watching cartoons - will you have room for more important things, like visiting with friends?" I asked. She readily agreed.
Then I touched the pitcher of water. "Jesus is like this water," I said, as I slowly poured the liquid into the jar. She wasn't sure she understood, so I explained: "It seemed there was room for nothing else in the jar, didn't it? But there was plenty of room left for this water. Sometimes our lives seem so busy - much too full for us to spend time with God. But there is always time for Him. And what do you notice about the sponges now?"
She said they were bigger. "Yes, the sponges grew, didn't they?" I said. "That's what Jesus does to us. When we make time for him, he fills us up with lots of good things."
It's a lesson she never forgot.
This post was originally published in a slightly different form on 10/9/09.
Jan 12, 2017
So often in parenting, we parent for the right now. We need them to behave...right now. We need them to obey, be quiet, do their school work, do their chores...right now. But how often does the future come into play as we parent each day?
Recently, I've been reading Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard, and one small section really grabbed me:
"[God] created Adam and Eve as grown adults. He saw His creation in its adult form, and then He worked backward. We must be able to see our children as adults if we are to start putting the traits in them today that we deem important for tomorrow...You can apply this method in a couple of different ways. One is visualizing how you would like for them to be as adults and then prioritizing and teaching them those behaviors."
Prioritizing the behaviors you most want to see in your adult children? This is parenting for the future, for sure.
How might that play out in real life?
Well, I have one child who is stubborn and strong willed. This doesn't necessarily have to be a negative thing. How can I teach her to use her strong willed personality in a way that's pleasing to God? I can teach her about Christian martyrs, for sure. (The Torchlighters DVDs are an excellent resource for that, by the way.) I can teach her the difference between being true to God and being worldly. I can teach her to stand up for others. I can teach her to be stubborn for God. In fact, recently I've been telling her, "Be stubborn about doing what's right."
When I visualize the man I hope my youngest child will become, one thing that comes to mind first is that he be willing to work hard - for his family, for God, for what's good and right. Right now, he can honestly be a bit lazy. So if I want him to grow into a hard working man, I need to start training him to embrace work now.
What about your kids? What kind of people would you like them to become? How can you start training them to be those people today?
Nov 21, 2016
Both statements are true. A yearly holiday that's at least supposed to make us think of all the things we're thankful for is a good thing. But cultivating a thankful heart every day is really what the family of a Proverbs 31 Woman aspires to. Indeed, an attitude of thanksgiving is readily recognized as a balm for much that plagues our society today.
But as parents, just how do we go about encouraging a thankful heart?
* Show gratitude yourself. Parents have a tremendous influence over their children. If your kids see you expressing gratitude on a regular basis, they are more apt to dwell on the things they are thankful for, too. Action Ideas: Say thank you more often than you need to; express grateful moments out loud ("Mrs. Smith is so kind to think of us this way!"); show how gratitude leads you to do for others ("Mrs. Smith gave us her son's old books, so I think it would be nice to make her a batch of cookies.")
* Show them the world. Americans, even those who are considered poor, mostly have it easy compared to people in much of the world. It's a big mistake to shelter your children from the difficulties so many other people experience - or to simply neglect to teach them about those who have less. Instead, make a point of regularly talking about, learning about, and seeing people who have less than you do. Action Ideas: Take a family trip to a third world country; look at photos from National Geographic (or an online search) showing how the less fortunate live; read articles about daily struggles in other countries or communities; volunteer at a homeless shelter; think out loud about other people's needs ("Did you notice that Judy seems lonely? I wonder what we could do to cheer her?").
* Do something about it. Praying for the needy is very good. But come up with other ways you and your children can help those in need. For example, my sister's family has made it a tradition to cook dinner for the homeless each Thanksgiving. Whatever you do, though, don't limit it to the holiday season. Each month, aim to have a project that helps others. Action Ideas: Have your kids focus on earning money so they can give to their favorite charity, like World Vision; encourage your child to mow your neighbor's lawn or help the neighbor with weeding; as a family, visit the elderly; at least once a week, have each child find one way to be kind to a sibling.
* Make thankfulness an important part of daily prayer. When you teach your children to pray, be sure to insert prayers of thanksgiving on a regular basis. Action Idea: There is always something to be thankful for! Make sure you acknowledge that before your Creator - and during family prayer times.
* Write thank you notes. Growing up, I was never encouraged to do this, and where we live, it seems to be a dying tradition. Let it not be that way at your house. Action Ideas: Children who can't yet write, can draw a thank you picture; kids who can scrawl a few words should; young children needn't write a thank you note for every single gift (that could be an overwhelming and negative experience), but perhaps they can write one big thank you note and send copies of it to every gift giver.
* Think of others first. Gratitude is the natural outpouring of the greatest commandments: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind'....and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt 22: 37-39) Therefore, teach your child what true love is: Putting others before yourself. Action Ideas: Talk about specific ways to love others in everyday life; when you see someone put others first, point it; think out loud about showing love ("I'm going to bring Mrs. Jones her mail today, just because.")
* Everyday traditions. Consider adding some traditions to your life that encourage every day thanksgiving. Action Ideas: Have one night a week where everyone at the dinner table talks about things they are thankful for; once a month make gratitude rolls; keep a family gratitude journal - a list of things you are thankful for.
* Memorize Scriptures about being thankful. Do it as a family! Some suggestions to get you started:
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thesselonians 5:18
"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
"Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"
How do you teach your children thankfulness? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments!
Sep 27, 2016
A shame, because my parents lost the opportunity to teach me the truth about sexuality.
That was in the 1980s. Now imagine your child today learning about sex from her friends and acquaintances. And, since we've become such a sex-crazed society, the media, too.
Because make no mistake about it, if you don't teach your child about sex, she will learn about it elsewhere. And the messages the world sends about sex today is twisted and untruthful and hurtful.
Did you know that some researchers believe the average age American boys first see porn is 8? (Other experts say "before the age of 18.") Or that each year one in four teens get a sexually transmitted disease? That by age 18, most American teens have had extra-marital sex? That teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have STDs as any other teen? That the average American teen has been exposed to 0.93 hours of sexuality in movies? (This seems a low estimate to me!) And that for each hour of exposure to sexual content in films, the risk of initiating sex at each age increased by more than five times? Did you know that 7 percent of high school kids have had sex before the age of 13? And that by 9th grade, a third of students have become sexually active (and by 12th grade, two thirds are sexually active)? And 60% of teens overall regret they started having sex? And while I have no stats to prove it, I believe the age of sexual activity is lowering rapidly. This is based on anecdotal evidence, such as someone telling me their 9 year old son attended a "rainbow party" where all the girls wear a different color lipstick and the boy with the most colors on his penis "wins."
Undoubtedly, most parents need to start talking to their children about sex earlier than they think they need to.
But how does a Christian parent go about this? First and foremost, I encourage you not to have one big, informational-dump "talk." Not only can this be overwhelming for your child, but it doesn't encourage children to come to you with their "embarrassing" questions. More than anything else, you should strive to become the human source your child comes to when he has questions about sexuality. (Actually, the human source when your child has questions about anything.) The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to talk to your child regularly about sexual matters, starting from a young age.
How young, you may ask? As soon as they start asking questions about private parts - and maybe sooner. My recommendation is preschool. I know that seems very, very young. But my recollection from preschool is that children were already showing each other their private parts - and more. How much more likely are they to do that today?
For this mama, the rule is: Answer all their questions honestly, in an age appropriate way.
This doesn't mean going into nitty gritty details when they are very young. Usually, simple (but honest!) answers are enough to satisfy young kids. An example: If your preschooler asks you why Tommy's bottom looks different from hers, a good explanation might be: "Because God made boys and girls to look different down there. But we keep those parts private most of the time and share them only at certain times: When a doctor needs to look, or Mommy or Daddy need to help you with the potty or maybe some medicine, or, once you're grown up and married, when you're with your husband."
In addition to making these talks a regular part of your lives, I can also recommend using a few Christian sex ed books. I really like what we've read of the God's Design for Sex series. I began reading The Story of Me, which gives the basics of where babies come from, to my kids when they were about preschool age. When they were in the first or second grade, I began reading the second book in the series, Before I Was Born. However, I omitted certain phrases (one in particular), which I explain in detail here.
There are books for older kids in the series, too, but I haven't yet read them to my kids. (You can see reviews for some of them, plus other Christian sex ed books, on my old blog Christian Children's Book Review.) In addition, when I wanted to teach my daughter about menstruation, I read her The Care and Keeping of You. This American Girl book does a good job of explaining the changes that happen during puberty. My only complaint is that it assumes girls don't want to talk to their parents about this topic. Since I read the book aloud to my daughter, I was able to omit that part of the text.
One other recommendation: Don't be wishy washy.
When explaining matters of sexuality, teach from God's Word with confidence.
Don't let worldliness taint the conversation. For example, don't say, "Wait to have sex until your married...but if you decide to have sex before then, use a condom." This is such a mixed message! It makes sex outside of marriage seem permissible, and worse, it makes God's Word sound like something you can ignore or change! I understand the desire to protect our children from STDs and per-marital pregnancy, but the world is already pushing condoms onto our kids. Stand firm in God's Word.
Finally, do your best not to preach. Remember, you're not telling your children how to follow your opinions about sexuality; you're explaining to them God's design for sex.
And that is a beautiful thing.
Aug 1, 2016
Whether you're moving to an apartment across town, or making a big move from urban life to country life, or moving to a new state or country, there are things you can do to help make the transition easier for your kids. Here are a few ideas that worked well for us.
1. Talk about the good things. This works best if it's part of a natural conversation, rather than a "let me sit you down and tell you something" sort of thing. Engage your child. Ask her what she can look forward to at the new place. Help her come up with more things to look forward to. (Just make sure they are realistic.)
2. Talk about the sad things. What will you miss about your old home? What memories do you have there? Remind your child that he will always have those memories, no matter where he lives. Allow your child to vent or speak freely about what he'll miss. Encourage your child to talk to God about these things, too.
3. Talk about her new room. Help your child imagine her new room. How can it be better than her old one? How would she like it to look? For my daughter, I browsed Pinterest ahead of time (so I could weed out unrealistic images) and made a board with ideas for her room. She loved looking at the Pins with me, and dreaming about how nice her new room would be.
4. Capture the old. Help your child find ways to capture his memories of his old home. For example, if your child likes to take photographs, encourage him to take some of the old house and put them in a special photo album. My daughter was especially fond of an old maple tree in our yard. Unbeknownst to me, she picked a leaf off of it as a keepsake and was in tears when it got lost. So we got another leaf from the tree and she did a leaf rubbing of it, which she plans to keep forever.
5. Say goodbye. There's a certain closure in saying goodbye out loud.
6. Take special care the first few nights. Many children don't like sleeping in unfamiliar places, so go out of your way to make things comfortable for your child. Use plenty of night lights (one in her room, one or more in the hallway, one in the bathroom). Make sure your child has all her favorite lovies (teddy bear, special blanket, etc.). And consider letting all the children sleep in one room together (even if they don't normally) for a few nights; this will add to their feelings of safety and security.
7. Make dreams come true. Tackle your child's room as soon as possible after the move, making it comfortable and homey. Think about the things your child dreamed for her room and make them a reality (as long as they are within reason). All those things your child was looking forward to about moving? Don't put them off; start doing them soon, so your child can quickly adjust to her new life. As an example, my daughter had been pining for a new pet rabbit ever since her first one died over a year ago. She knew she had to wait until we moved to get a new one, and about a week after we took possession of our new home, she fell apart, sobbing. Her heart just couldn't take the waiting any more. We picked up her new rabbit that weekend, and she's been a happy child ever since.
8. Be thankful. Talk about what you like about your new home, and thank God aloud for these things during the course of your day and when you're praying with your children. Encourage your children to do the same. Nothing heals a heart faster than thankfulness to the Lord!
This post featured at
May 26, 2016
I grew up performing in theater - a profession where true modesty tends to be ignored. As a teen, I became a pro, but before then, I often performed in community productions where there was very little dressing room space. It wasn't unusual for me to have to strip down to undies in the wings - and though my mother had me wear teddies in such situations, I really never considered why.
Even as an adult, modesty didn't much enter my thoughts. I recall the crew of one musical I was performing in jokingly giving me an award for "best cleavage." Looking back at photos of that show, I can see how the folks in the lighting booth must have found it difficult to look at anything but my cleavage.
It really wasn't until I began having children that the topic of modesty even crossed my mind. So, unlike a lot of Christian bloggers talking about modesty, I have a bit of an unique background in this area; I've gone from someone who never thought about it at all, to someone who's gradually learned its importance.
As has been mentioned by many writers, the trouble with the modesty discussion is that it tends toward legalism. In fact, I see many Christian women who were raised with strict rules about modesty rejecting all teaching about modesty because modesty was used as a control device in their childhood households.
To be sure, we should never become like the subjected women of some other religions. As Christians, we are free. Nobody should use our looks, what we eat, what we drink, etc., to control us.
However, as Christians we are also called to wisdom. As Galatians 5: 12 - 14 says:
"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'”There's no doubt we are visual creatures and that what we see can cause us to sin. Although many women reject the idea that females are responsible for men's thoughts, as Proverbs 31 women, we must not think as the world does; we must not put ourselves above anyone else - including men who may sin because of our short skirt or low-cut blouse. Because if we love one another, we cannot be a stumbling block for each other. As Romans 14: 13-15 says:
"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister...If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died."Or, as the ESV version says (emphasis mine):
So as I teach my children (both my boy and girl) about modesty, I focus on the basics. I started when they were toddlers, with conversations that began like this: "God wants you to keep your private parts private. They are called 'private' because they are for you, your doctor - and someday, when you're married - your husband to see."
But we don't just focus on our bodies - because the root of modesty isn't how we dress, but how we think and feel.
The definition of modesty isn't "long skirts" or "not wearing low cut blouses." The actual definition of modesty is being free from vanity, pretentiousness, and a general attitude of "look at me!" The jist of the most famous Bible verses on modesty are nicely summed up in 1 Timothy 2:9: We should not wear (or do) things in order to draw attention to ourselves.
So modesty is all about the heart. (Isn't that just like God?)
Therefore, our conversations often sound like this:
"Are you feeling humble? Or are you feeling vain, wanting others to notice you?"
"Are you putting yourself above others by acting this way? What would Jesus say about that?"
And yes, even:
"If you wear that skirt and bend over, will your undies show? Or will onlookers expect that your undies will show? Will that draw attention to you?"
"Are those pants so tight, your private parts are obvious? Will that draw attention your way? What does Jesus say about that?"
"Why are you so worried about how you're dressed? Are you feeling pretentious? Or humble?"
It comes down to this: The modesty issue does not have to be complicated if we simply know the definition of modesty, and recall that God calls us to serve and love others.
Aug 13, 2015
|The give away pile.|
Because in addition to packing and working on and off for clients, I'm prepping for school. My daughter is begging to start, but I'm not quite ready yet. This year of homeschool will be my most complicated ever, since my son is starting kindergarten and 1) it will be the first time I've really taught two grades at once (to my way of thinking, preschool is so easy, it doesn't count) and 2) I'm working hard to make kindergarten as interesting as possible for my son, who is an unwilling school kid. So there's that.
Plus, I'm preparing for a birthday party. Every year, my husband and daughter share a party, and most of our local family comes. As it happens, this is also the year my daughter turns a decade old, so it feels like a bigger deal than usual. So as I pack, work, and prep for homeschool, I'm also working up games (like a bean bag toss, pin the tail game, and pinata). The good news is, my daughter wants to help with everything. Finally, her "I want to do it myself" attitude is paying off!
At any rate, you can see that all this doesn't leave much time for blogging. So today, I just want to point you to some archived posts about getting the kids back to school. I hope they help you!
* Back to School Breakfast Ideas - Quick, healthy ways to get your kids off to a great start each day.
* Back to School = I Love My Crockpot - Make school time easier by making good use of your slow cooker.
* Age Appropriate Chores for Kids - Back to school time is an ideal time to set up or revise chore charts!
* Sleep Deprivation: The Childhood "Epidemic" - Poor sleep means poor learning; here's how to help your child sleep better.
* 5 Safety Rules for Every Kid - School time often means more time away from mom and dad. Be sure your kids know these important safety tips.
* Why Homeschool Preschool? - Why I, and so many others, choose to homeschool during the preschool years.
* Homeschool Preschool: Thoughts on Readiness - How do you know when your child is ready to learn?
* Letter of the Week Activities - Easy crafts to help toddlers and preschoolers learn their letters and the sounds they make.
* Activities to go with The Little House on the Prairie Books - This series has been a real blessing in our house. If you're considering reading it to your children, consider some of these easy "go-withs."
* Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling - Tips from a mom who's been there!
* 10 Ways to Save Money on School Supplies - In case you missed it.
Jul 27, 2015
I smiled. We've talked about this before, she and I. "There's no reason you can't be an astronaut and a scientist and mechanic. In fact, astronauts have to do a lot of science and need to be able to fix machines. Then maybe you could sing and act for fun - as a hobby. It could even be part of your missionary work. You might have to do that on vacations..." Who am I to squash her dreams?
But you know one question I've never heard anyone ask her?
"What does God want you to be when you grow up?"
Oh, I'm not talking about general character traits like being honest or loving - though of course God wants us to have those traits. No, I mean something far more specific: What are God's plans for your life? What is he going to do with you?
I recently asked my daughter this, and from her puzzled expression, I could see it was something she'd never considered.
I didn't try to answer the question for her. That's between her and God. And just asking the question will have her thinking about it for some time, no doubt. And perhaps that's enough. Too many of us just don't think about what God's plans for us are. Perhaps it's an American trait - part of the idea that as Americans, we can do anything we put our mind to. There's nothing wrong with that, per se. But as Christians, we have a bigger purpose.
Trouble starts, however, when we decide for ourselves what God wants us to do. Like Jonah, who didn't want to minister to his enemies. Or like Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tails, who explains this trouble in his book Me, Myself, and Bob. Once Veggie Tales was taken away from Bischer, he began to realize that he'd never asked God what He wanted to do with his life. He never asked God if he should start Veggie Tales, or any other endeavor. That's why the Veggie Tales empire that Vischer imagined was swept out from under him. Ask God first, Vischer, now older and wiser, stresses.
Of course, if you ask your child what God wants to do with her life, your child will inevitably ask how God will make this clear to her. There is no pat answer. He might speak to your child audibly, as he did young Samuel in the Old Testament (1 Sam. 3). He might put a thought in her head or a feeling in her heart - something that aligns with the Bible. He might speak to her through His Word, making a certain verse or passage stick with her. Or he might just put her in situations that make it obvious - or not - that she should be doing a certain thing. (At his construction job, my brother once injured the fingers on one hand, and had to have them sewn back on. A few months later, doing similar work, he nearly severed the fingers off the opposite hand. He said, "I think God is trying to tell me something." Soon after, he went into ministry.)
We just don't know how God will speak to us. Which means we have to be attentive. We have to actively listen for him, and pay attention when he's calling.
But to do that, children first need to know they should be listening. And that God will use them...if they are willing.
Jun 12, 2015
That was it. I broke into tears. Here I was trying to do right by my children, and all they could do was fight me and make everything more difficult.
My son's heart instantly softened and he gave me a big hug as I reminded him, "I do the things I do, and ask the things I ask of you, because I love you."
He patted my back and I wiped away my tears of frustration and hurt. Then he turned around and did the work I had asked him to do, this time without complaint.
Parenting isn't for the faint of heart, and there's nothing wrong with having one of those days when all you want to do is cry. In fact, crying makes you feel a wee bit better. And if you don't hide those tears from your children, wet cheeks can suddenly put things in perspective for them.
As for me, while my children took new interest in doing their school work, I took up some housework and prayed.
"God, thank you for reminding me how I look in your eyes. I know I often don't listen to you as well as I should. I often take too long to do the things you ask me to do. Sometimes my heart rebels and I say "No!" Sometimes I wonder how a God who loves me can let certain things happen. I am a sinner, Lord. Thank you for showing me grace. And please help me to teach my children about your amazing grace, too."
Apr 13, 2015
All the tips I previously shared worked to a certain extent, yet my dear girl is still a Dawdler Supreme. But here's a tool that's been helpful that I haven't mentioned previously: Using a timer.
No, no, I'm not talking about saying, "Okay, you have 10 minutes to brush your teeth. I'm setting the timer now. Go!"
That sometimes works for my dawdler, but often it just gets her stressed out. And if she's busy being stressed out, she's not doing whatever else she needs to do.
Instead, what I've found is more helpful is to get her started with whatever job she needs to get done, then set the timer for, say, 10 minutes - telling her that this is only to help her feel time passing. When the 10 minutes have passed, I have her evaluate what she's accomplished, if anything. Then I set the timer for another 10 minutes...and so on.
When I use this method, I no longer hear things like, "It can't possibly be time to leave yet! Only a minute has passed!" I don't believe that when my daughter says such things they are an exaggeration. I think that's how the passage of time really feels to her. We often say that our dear daughter just has a different internal clock. By using this method of noting how time passes, we are helping her to adjust her internal clock to become more inline with the rest of the world.
Is this a quick fix? Nope. But it does help her...and I think that over time this method will be a good chunk of the answer to reducing her dawdling time.
Mar 2, 2015
So maybe you can imagine my grumpiness as I, tired from a long morning of homeschool and disobedient children, pulled out the vacuum and began sucking up the mess on the kitchen floor. I found my thoughts were grumbling, resentful, even angry. "Why can't the kids learn to remove their shoes at the door? They aren't new here - and this isn't a new rule. I'm so tired of constantly cleaning up their messes. They need to learn to clean up after themselves!" And so I became grumpier. And more resentful. And more angry.
Then POP! My thought bubble burst. God busted in and I literally stopped vacuuming, stood up straight, and thought, "Why am I grumpy and complaining? Why am I resentful and angry?"
And I began to pray: "Lord, please forgive me for my wrong thoughts and attitudes. Instead, I thank you for the dirt and mud on the kitchen floor. Because that dirt means you've blessed me with young children. Children I prayed earnestly for. One child who is a miracle, escaping death on several occasions. Another who is a miracle because he was born full term. And I am thankful because I have a husband - a man I prayed years for. I am thankful he doesn't take off his shoes! Because the dirt he tracks in reminds me he lives here with me, every day. And that he's an answered prayer.
"Thank you, God! Thank you for dirt to vacuum!"
Feb 3, 2015
We're in the middle of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy, one of our favorite books in the series. It fit in perfectly with what I wanted to say. "Think about Almanzo [the main character in the book]. He had a very specific role in his family. What was it?"
"Chores," my daughter replied.
"Yes, but be more specific. Who was he doing chores for? Wasn't he doing chores to help his father?"
She agreed this was correct.
"What about Almanzo's sisters? What was there role in the family?" I asked.
"They work in the kitchen and stuff and help their mother," she said.
"Exactly. Their role in the family was to help their mother with her work. Now, what is your role in our family?"
She shrugged. And why wouldn't she? Nobody had ever explained to her what her role in our family is. So I clarified; her role is to be a helper - primarily for me, but also to help and serve others in the household. That's part of her job as a daughter in the Seleshanko household.
My daughter's face lit up. She'd never considered that she had an important role in our household - a role that really matters. She just knew she had to do chores she didn't much like. She couldn't see the purpose behind those chose and why her involvement in them helped the whole family. Suddenly, she felt pride that she could help everyone in the family by doing very obtainable things.
I think this is something most modern day children are lacking. In Almanzo's day, children knew if they didn't perform their role for the family, it could have serious consequences. If they didn't help plant the fields, there might be no food to eat the following year. Today, children are rarely told that their role in the household is important.
But as my daughter really stepped things up and not only began doing her chores more quickly and willingly, but offered to do more to help me around the house, I realized that children need to know not so much that they are Important with a capital I - an overstatement that has lead to a self-centered generation - but that what they do is important.
How dare I deprive her of this vital knowledge? Well, no longer.
Jan 21, 2015
So last weekend, I finally got my act together and filled them out for the first time. I didn't tell my children what the kits were for; I just told them I was going to take their fingerprints - a statement that was met with happy squeals. I jokingly called the photos I took specifically for the kits "mug shots." And the kids loved comparing their weight and height, too. A fun time was had by all, and in just a few minutes, I had a complete kit for each child.
Where to Get Child ID Kits
If you don't have a current child safety kit for each of your kids, it really is worth the little bit of time it takes to complete them. If your insurance company doesn't give them away for free, you may feel uncomfortable about ordering kits online. (You might think: "How do I know this is legit and not some weirdo collecting info on children with families?) So the FBI recommends getting kits from the National Child Identification Program - although there is a fee for kits from this source. (I do love, however, that churches can order bunches of these kits to give every child in their congregation or community.) The Polly Klaas Foundation (named after a famously abducted child) offers kits absolutely free, and is a known and legit organization.
But wherever you get your child safety kit, it should include:
- A place to put fingerprints (along with instructions and ink)
- A place for a current photo
- A place to record, periodically, your child's weight and height
- A place to record birth marks and other identifying features
- A place for recording basic contact information (such as address and phone number).
Some Other Important Safety Measures
In addition to having a child safety kit, it's an excellent idea to always have a recent, clear, headshot-style photo of each child in your purse/wallet or on your cell phone. This way, if your child does get lost, security or police have instant access to an identifying photo.
Your child should also play a part in his or her own safety. For a complete list of things you should teach every child from the time they are toddlers - with a refresher every few months, click here.
Jul 23, 2014
Step 2: Explain the Interrupting Rule. When your child wants to speak to you, but you are speaking to someone else, they should say nothing, but put their hand on your shoulder or, if they can't reach your shoulder, you arm. You will then place your hand over your child's as a silent way of saying, "I know you want to speak to me. Give me just a moment, please." Maintain this position; then, within in a minute or two, stop and ask your child, "Thank you for waiting, honey. What do you need?"
Step 3: Explain that if you're having an important phone conversation, one that can't be interrupted, you will warn your child before you get on the phone. In such cases, your child will have to wait until you are off the phone to speak to you - unless there is a true emergency. (Be sure to define this, because usually a child's idea of an emergency is different from an adult's. I tell my children that if someone is dying, bleeding a lot, or gets burned, that is an emergency.)
A few other tips:
* Set a good example. If you interrupt others, your children will notice and conclude that interrupting is no big deal.
* Once your kids know that interrupting is disrespectful, they will tell everyone - adults and kids - this new-found information, often in a way that others will find rude. Teach your children never to yell "I was talking first!", but to instead politely and calmly overlook the interruption. With siblings, this will be harder to accomplish, so you may need to teach your children to quietly and politely say, "I'm sorry, but I was speaking first. May I finish?"
* Don't neglect to memorize some Bible verses about the importance of respect. For example:
"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother' (this is the first commandment with a promise), 'that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.'” Ephesians 6:1-3
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3
"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10
Feb 26, 2014
1. Find at least 5 minutes to tuck yourself away from the kids to pray and read a little of the Bible. Put the kids in front of the television for a few minutes if you have to - because you especially need to focus on God on Really Hard Days.
2. Set aside your plans. Your children are going to need more of your attention than usual, so don't focus on housework or other chores, and try to cancel appointments.
3. Give your children lots of cuddles, hugs, and smiles. Even if they act like they don't want them.
4. Read to your children. If they will cuddle on the couch with you, that's great. But if that causes squabbling, set them on the floor with something to color or draw while you read.
5. Play soothing music. Something like Hide 'Em in Your Heart is perfect. Or maybe some classical music.
6. Take baths. Water is very soothing to many children. Give them each a bath - by themselves - and see if they don't feel better.
7. If it's sunny, make sure the windows are uncovered. Open some windows or doors to let in fresh air. If it's a dark day, turn on some lights. If you can get your child to read, color, do puzzles, or do some other activity under a bright lamp, all the better. If it's near the end of the day, dim the lights.
8. Remove clutter. If the house is a cluttered mess, it's stressful, and that's not going to help anyone on a Really Hard Day. Take a few minutes to pick up.
9. Get moving. If you can, go outdoors and encourage your kids to run or do other vigorous activities. If you must remain indoors, try jumping to upbeat music.
10. Avoid the television. Yes, I know. On Really Hard Days it's easier to set the kids in front of the TV. But the fact remains that TV time tends to lead to poorer behavior in your children. At the very least, postpone TV time until late in the day.
11. End the day well. You may be ever-so-anxious for bedtime, but don't let that make you rush through it. Make sure your children receive your full attention during tucking in. Read. Cuddle. Pray together about the day, asking for tomorrow to be happier. Then kiss them goodnight.
Sep 13, 2013
When you're faced with a lot of decisions that may affect the long-term health of your child, you can feel pretty helpless. While I frequently have to tell my husband "I don't know," I ask a lot of questions where Xander's care is concerned. Write your questions down—it's clichéd, but there's an app for that, so keep a list of questions on your smartphone, if you use one. That way you don't forget what you need to ask.
"There's not to be a bone marrow biopsy today?" he asked.
I stared at him, bewildered. "No," I said slowly. "That's not scheduled for a couple weeks."
Turns out, one of the physician's assistants on Xander's case had seen that Xander needed this procedure, so he thought he'd kill two birds with one stone—but hadn't informed anyone else!
In situations like these, it's easy to be upset—the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing—but the head doc on Xander's case was relieved when I laughed when she told me what had happened.
My pastor, Dan Sutherland, introduced this motto to our congregation in 2012. It became something I clung to during the past year. Very little in life is within our control, and when you're going through a trial, it's important to remember this. With Xander's transplant, we could choose the doctors who would treat him and the drugs they would use, but whether it worked—that was all in God's hands. While we've got a spunky three-year-old now, we know we're still wandering through the woods looking for the meadow as far as Xander's health is concerned.
Jul 10, 2013
I think we all fall into the trap of coveting at least once in a while. Have you ever thoughtL "I wish my husband helped with the kids like her's does" or "It must be great to have a husband who helps with the housework. Wish mine did." Oops. That's coveting. And how many times have I heard other mothers say things like, "I wish we were able to take a yearly vacation like the Smith family." Or, given the right tone of voice, "It must be nice to have a grandma who watches the kids for you once a week." Oops again; that's coveting.
But as mothers, we are concerned not just with our personal sin, but about modeling correct thinking and behavior for our children. I feel pretty certain none of us wants our kids to grow up thinking everything should be given to them, or that if they want something somebody else has to get it for them. But with coveting being such a major feeling these days, how can we prevent them from growing up this way?
* Model good work ethic.
* Avoid speaking covetous thoughts aloud. But if you slip, by all means, let your kids hear you ask God for forgiveness. You might also use such an occasion as a way to start a conversation about what coveting is and how the Ten Commandments show us it's wrong.
* Give your kids chores to do - no matter their age. Even toddlers can learn to work to make the home run more smoothly. (For ideas for age-appropriate chores, click here.)
* Let your kids work for stuff. For example, if your daughter really wants a new toy, suggest that she earn money to buy it herself. Not only does this help improve a child's work ethic, but it helps her learn not to be wasteful by not taking proper care of things. (And no, she doesn't have to go get a job at a local business, or even with a neighbor. It's just fine to give her extra chores around the house and then pay her for them.)
* Encourage your children to give to those in need. Help them to see that it's their personal responsibility to help the needy.
* Volunteer at a shelter or travel to a third world country (even if only via the Internet). Help your kids see how much they truly have.
* Encourage thankfulness. Every day, have your child thank God for at least one thing. Once in a while, have each child write (in words or pictures) things they are thankful for. When times are tough for your child and he is struggling with covetness, ask him to name a few things he is especially grateful for.
* Read 1 Kings 21. In this story, a king's covetness leads to murder. It's an extreme example, but see if you and your child can think of other stories where jealousy and covetness lead to bad things.
* Help your child think things through. If she is upset because she doesn't have the latest video game, ask, "If you had it, would you really be any happier? What if your friend got 10 new games - would you still feel as happy?" Encourage your child to come to the conclusion that things you can't buy are what truly make us happy.
"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25
"No matter how much you want, laziness won’t help a bit, but hard work will reward you with more than enough." Proverbs 13:4
"You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17