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Love in the Form of “Not Now”

In general, parents want to give good things to their children. They desire to meet the needs of their children. They also want to converse and participate in activities with them. Doing so requires time and attention. All children need a healthy amount of attention, but you may wonder if your child can feel loved even when you choose not to respond to their every request for attention. The answer is yes. Ironically, parenting requires 24/7 responsibility and awareness but not 24/7 personal attention.     ashton-bingham-113943-unsplash

There is definitely a place for “not nows” in parenting. This post will focus on older preschoolers through young elementary age. I plan to discuss infants and preteens in the next post. Children are little humans who innately know they need attention and will seek it. However, they may be too immature or selfish to be balanced in their demands or may diligently test the waters of parental response.

What does attention-seeking look like in a young child?

  • Becoming louder
  • Responding negatively to authority
  • Picking on/bossing siblings or other children
  • Doing behavior they know is unacceptable
  • Asking constant, unnecessary questions
  • Needing to tell you something constantly
  • Pretending to be sick/afraid/hungry/thirsty, etc.
  • Showing off
  • Interrupting
  • Clinging
  • Screaming/whining

As parents, try to determine the motive behind the attention seeking.

  1. Does the child simply need a quick connection such as a quick hug, a moment of your undivided attention, a reassuring word?
  2. Does the child need to be refueled? Some people refuel by spending time alone. Some refuel by being with others.
  3. Is the child simply attempting to manipulate, knowing they will get the pay-off they desire. For example, they may wonder if they whine that they are hungry, will the parents finally wear down and give the cookie they want?
  4. If the attention seeking is new or obviously increased, try to decipher whether the child is struggling with an issue or has had a major change in life. During life transitions or struggles, some children can temporarily become a “leaky cup,” that can seem to never be filled with enough attention. These scenarios may require you to stop what you are doing and give a reassuring, lingering hug or words, but not to the point of manipulation.

When you have to say “not now”

  • Know why you need to say not now. ( time is short, more demands at the moment, someone else needs the airtime, you are not in a good frame of mind to respond properly, the child is being selfish, the child is testing limits, the child needs to settle down…)
  • Provide an alternative for the attention: “I want to hear what you have to say, watch you, read you a book, etc. and I will when… I get off the phone, have a few minutes of quiet, finish this task, etc.”
  • Explain why not if the attention getting is self-centered or manipulative:” I won’t give you another drink, because I know you are stalling to go to sleep or I know you are trying to show-off in front of…”
  • Do a self-check. Is your child seeking attention because you have not been intentional to spend time with him, admire her achievements and talents; speak value into them, etc.?
  • Have you unintentionally sent signals saying certain things supersede your attention: perhaps the phone, an adult who interrupts, etc. When you anticipate something may interrupt your focus, give your child a heads up. “I’ll color with you, but if the doctor’s office calls, the baby cries, daddy calls, etc. I’ll need to stop for a minute and answer it.” Set a timer if you need to and explain, “Let’s read until the buzzer rings, then I have to start supper.”

To try and ease the disappointment of “not now,” parents can take some simple, proactive steps day to day.

  1. Point out a child’s value. Value indicates that a child has worth, talents, purpose, and is respected. A child who is valued is more assured that they are secure. Security builds trust.
  2. Allow children to contribute to the family: household chore, display of talent, help plan a special family activity night, etc.
  3. Carve out individual time for your children where they have your full attention. (day-to-day or planned times together, etc.)
  4. Express your love to them in words, appropriate physical touches, and caring actions.

No one knows your children like you do. Parenting requires trying ideas and learning what works for your household. No one knows your child better than God knows them. Ask God for wisdom. As a loving Father, He is bent down ready to listen and hear your heart. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:2 NLT

Do you have thoughts or questions to add to this post? Feel free to comment.

Sources: sueatkinsparentingcoach.com; positiveparentingconnection.net; empoweringparents.com; focusonthefamily.com

 

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Inside or Outside the Home?

I’ve had a difficult time writing this post. You may have noticed that our last post was in August. In the world of blogging, a two-month gap is similar to putting an “Out of Business” sign on a storefront. My difficulty comes with wanting to share my heart, not sound “preachy,” and squelch the assumption that I am taking a side. I also wanted to do due diligence with my research. Therefore, to carry on, I’m envisioning you and me sitting down with a cup of coffee, talking, and trusting that my words convey that very scenario.mothers

Motherhood is amazing. It would be easier to count the grains of sand under the shadow of a beach umbrella than to explain the bond between mother and child. Yet, in spite of this bond, it seems that mothers are frequently put into two categories—those that work outside the home and those that don’t. The moment we move into motherhood, we also move into one of these two classifications. Sad to say, this classification is often presented as a “line in the sand” that can make Christian mothers feel they must choose between right and wrong–sin and not sin. So where does the believer go to determine right from wrong? God’s Word. So, for the matter of work outside the home, I did some research into the three primary passages that distinctly discuss the role of the woman in the household—I Timothy 5, Titus 2, and Proverbs 31.

I Timothy 5:14 contains the phrase “keep house.” The phrase comes from the Greek word oikourgos meaning “to rule or care for a household.” Note that Paul is addressing the topic of young widows, most likely without children, and urges them to remarry and set up a home. Culturally in this time, the identity and primary place for a woman to occupy was the home with few other options. With no home to oversee and no one to care for, the young widows were idle, wasting their time, gossiping, and being non-productive. Paul admonishes that idleness can open the door to slander and give Satan a foothold in life.

Moving to Titus 2 we notice a similar phrase “busy at home” applied to women. Contextually, Paul is instructing Timothy on how to admonish the people of Crete—to straighten them out. Some of the women of Crete felt that once they became a follower of Christ, they were to leave their homes and households and “be on the road,” so to speak. The premise was used as an excuse to release them from home responsibilities. Paul wanted that thinking challenged and corrected.

Do either of the contextual explanations nullify the phrases “keep house” and
“workers at home?” No. However, neither do they clearly state that this is the only responsibility or role a mother should have. So, can a woman work outside the home and meet the responsibilities of keeping house? For that answer, let’s look at another passage often used in this discussion, Proverbs 31.

There is debate on whether the Proverbs 31 woman is a real woman or a figurative example. Either way, there is no definitive answer as to whether the woman completed all these tasks routinely throughout her entire life or if they are a depiction of various accomplishments she had throughout her life. Real or figurative, routinely or independently, this woman in Proverbs 31 can be overwhelming to women. Take a breath.

Contextually, this passage is written to men. It is advice from a mother to her son, and we cannot overlook the fact that it follows the advice in verses 1-9. To sum it up, this mom is telling her son to make good choices, including looking for the right kind of woman to marry. He should marry a virtuous woman. Proverbs 31 is not a report card to grade women. It is a depiction of the traits of a virtuous woman.

The word virtuous comes from eshet chayil, meaning “woman of valor” and “strength.” This woman guards her family, fights for them, and is capable, strong, and self-assured in doing so. The word was also used to describe Ruth (Ruth 3:11) It denotes character, and not a performance list. Indeed, a woman can complete a performance list and be uncaring, ruthless, lazy, or any other number of poor qualities.

A close look at the Proverbs 31 example shows us the woman took care of the physical needs of her family. She valued her husband and children. She was also a woman of business. She invested. She shopped for real estate. Because her husband sat at the gates, he may have been nobility. This could imply that the woman did not need to work to meet financial needs. She did business because she had the expertise to do it. Perhaps her children were with her when she did business; perhaps they were not. She prepared ahead and assigned tasks to her servants, etc. (She had household help.) The bottom line is—the Proverbs 31 woman is industrious, organized, and oversaw her household. However, rather than looking at the tasks she performed, concentrate on the qualities we see in her that made her virtuous. She was not idle; she contributed with her talents; she was responsible to oversee the household need; she partnered with her husband; she treated her family with value (I doubt no husband or child would praise a woman who devalued them). She was prudent, compassionate, and loving. She used discretion. These qualities existed while she worked both inside and outside the home.

Is there a right and wrong—sin, not sin—to mothers working outside the home? Yes, but in my opinion, it is not what you think. The distinction is not in motherhood. It is in obedience. What God lays out for one mother may not be what He lays out for another. God does place callings on women that take them outside the home for hours, maybe even seasons of time. God does know that some mothers are the financial stability of a household. God does know that some mothers are to be stay-at-home mothers, for a lifetime or for a season.

Whether a mother works outside the home or not, her motherly responsibilities do not change. She is to manage her household, use her talents, guide and train her children, be the friend, lover, respecter, and supporter of her husband, and have a growing relationship with God. Both a mom who works inside the home and one who works outside the home are capable of nourishing or neglecting what is apportioned to them.

The subtle part of this debate is the judgement that often accompanies it. A working Mom shouldn’t dismiss the challenges of a stay-at-home Mom. Likewise, a stay-at-home mom shouldn’t feel superior to a working mother.

Am I advocating that women should work outside the home? No. Am I advocating that a woman should stay at home once she becomes a mother? No. Am I advocating that women should not respect a husband’s wishes in this matter? No. I am advocating that God’s plans for each person are as varied as humankind and that each person should follow God’s plan for their life.

Any mother who is honest with herself knows that emotions pull on them as they seek to balance all their roles. Relating the pull to the topic of this post, a stay-at-home mom may be holding her child close and simultaneously feel pulled to establish her identity outside of her role as mother. A working mom can be accomplishing an important task at work and at the same time miss her child. Emotional pulls are a part of life and relationships. We pray over the pulls in our life and ask God to assure us of His plans for us.

I can relate to this issue and the pull it can have on a mother. I lived with the pull. I ministered with the pull. However, I lived and ministered confidently because I knew that God had not only called me to be a mother, but He had also called me to serve Him in a vocational role. He was not conflicted over those two callings. I chose to trust Him with the matter.

 

Sources:

http://versebyverseministry.org/bible-answers/should-christian=mothers-work

https://preceptaustin.org/titus_25

https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/the-real-proverbs-31-mom

https://equippinggodlywomen.com/homemaking/the-proverbs-31-woman-shes-not-who-you

http://www.gracecentered.com/working-moms-rle-model-proverbs-31.htm

Matthew Henry commentary: Titus 2:5, Proverbs 31

https://bibleref.com

https://focusonthefamily.com/marriage/growing-together-spiritually/biblcal-view-of=women

https://bible.org

 

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Routine. Routine. Routine.

This month’s post comes from Tish Wright who oversees IKids2. Tish served as a preschool volunteer years ago before her family moved to Texas where she led Preschool  & Children Ministries.  Upon her family’s return to Georgia, she joined our staff, and we are thrilled to have her.

 

“Savoring Spiritual sustenance is the routine for all seasons.” — Les Lamborn, “Our Daily Bread.”

As I think back on raising our boys, I remember some of the things that we felt were important. Of course, at the top of the list was showing them Jesus in everything we did; we missed the mark on that one a lot. One of the other things we started early on was setting a schedule or routine and sticking to it the best we could. We did this with eating pm routineand sleeping, especially in those early days. As I was reflecting on the last 20 years, I was wondering why we thought routines were important. Here are some of the things I came up with.

Predictable routines allow children to feel safe; consistency gives a child security. Now, as a parent, you must remember life is not a nice, neat notebook, and things are going to come up and throw your schedule and routine completely off. But, when your children have been taught to live by a schedule or routine, they will rise to the occasion when thrown a curveball of an unexpected event.

Inconsistency creates anxiety. It’s within routines and structure that children learn how to control themselves. This does not mean your child will never misbehave – but what it does mean is that they will know what is expected of them and, with a little redirection, will come back around.

Structure and routines allow us to “internalize constructive behavior.” We can see examples of this in every stage of life.

Baby – When your baby feels safe and secure, they will learn how to sooth themselves back to sleep.

Toddler/Preschooler – When your preschool child knows you are coming back to pick them up from Sunday School, because you have done it week after week, they will calm down and have a great time.

Elementary Child – When your child knows what is expected of them, they will sit downroutinehomework at the appropriate time and do their homework. They will follow whatever pattern you have set for them, whether that is snack then homework; or snack, playtime, and then homework. Do whatever works best for your family and make sure it’s something you can stick to most days.

Teenagers – When your teenager has internalized constructive behavior, they will be willing (not always excited about, but willing) to do unpleasant tasks.

Structure and routine can increase efficiency. When you have a list or a schedule, staying on task and getting everything done generally will create a buzz to finish well.

Routines can help with self-confidence when the routines are laid out with clear expectations.

Routines can help with transitions. When children know what is next, it makes moving to the next activity a little easier.

Routines can help when figuring out extracurricular activities. Knowing the family schedule and what all the family can handle will help keep you from over-committing.

familycalendarRoutines can help kids sleep better, and everyone knows that a well-rested kid is a much happier child.

I think the best way to describe my parenting motto for kids’ schedules and routines is structure with flexibility. This allows for a spontaneous run to the park for a playdate when you wake up to a beautiful sunny morning in February, or a special run for ice cream after staying on “green” all week.

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” — Isaiah 40:31

Cozi

 

Looking for a good family calendar App? Check out Cozi.   http://www.cozi.com/

 

 

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The Value Menu

I must confess that I eat fast food. Yep. I don’t try to  survive off fries and burgers, but I do find myself eating them from time to time to time — enough to be familiar with value menu craze at the arches, the king, the queen, the bell, the chick, and so forth. The word “value” used in this scenario could be a discussion in itself, but the point is,  customers can choose and consume without paying a high price.Mcdonalds

Oh, if living life were only like that. Choose. Enjoy. Don’t count the cost. However, a person’s life is not cheap. It’s valuable. In fact, it is valuable enough that God created people to have a relationship with Him, and Jesus paid the high price for that to happen. And in my opinion, the valuable life displays itself beautifully in children. Most every parent can surely be awestruck by a new, young, growing life.

That being the case, I challenge parents to create their own value menu for your family. To explain what I mean, let’s play a game. Think hard, then name ten things you value (examples: loyalty, fairness, honesty, humor, excellence, grace, preparedness, commitment, kindness.) From there, pick your top five, then your top three.

Once you’ve  determined your top three values, ask yourself three questions. (1. Are these the values I want to instill into my children? If not, consider what you do want to instill into your children.  (2. What does the Bible say about each value?  (3. How do I teach/demonstrate each value to my children? From there, set out to intentionally teach these values to your children and connect the values to God’s Word.  For example, if you value kindness, have your children plan a kind act toward someone, then explain to them that Ephesians 4:32 teaches us to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward others, just like God is toward us. As your children begin to demonstrate these values or mature, add more “items” to your Family Value Menu.

Values determine how we look at life. They impact how we make decisions. They tell us what frustrates us. They tell us what makes us feel at peace and complete. The truth is, we teach with our lives, so take time to consider how you demonstrate these values in your own lifestyle. If you’ve ever heard me speak, you may recall that my mantra for parenting is “be intentional.”   You WILL teach your children, whether you plan to or not. So, be intentional to make sure your lifestyle teaches them what you want them to know and what will bring glory to God.

Parenting is time-consuming work, but it is also rewarding work.  Along the way, be creative and have some fun teaching your children.  In other words, enjoy eating from your own Family Value Menu!

Special Note:

Character BookAs I was writing this blog, I stopped to pull an old book from my bookshelf — How to Have Kids With Character. It came to mind as I wrote my challenge to you because it gives parents twelve character traits (values) to instill into children and shares ideas on how to creatively do this in your home.  We used this book when my children were growing up. So, yes, the book is slightly dated, but the concepts are timeless!  I was happy to find that it is still out there floating around in Amazon space.

 

 

 

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Dandelion Determination

This month’s post is an interview with Preschool Staff member, Julie Wilson.  Her family had a teachable moment that we’ve asked her to share with you. Get to know Julie somewhat, and enjoy her story.   wilddandelions

Julie, tell us a little bit about your family.

Tony and I were high school sweethearts and just celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. We have two adult children that are both married with children and we have two younger children, ages thirteen and ten. Our oldest daughter and her husband have two boys under age two, and our son and his wife have a six-month-old daughter, so our family is growing quickly!

The two sets of children are both a boy & girl set, correct?

Yes!

What are some of your favorite pass times?

cheesecakesI enjoy baking, hiking with my family, and attending my kids sporting events. I am also involved in the Saints Prison Ministry. We go into the women’s prisons in Georgia and share the gospel through the avenue of softball.

(Interviewer insert: Her cheesecakes deserve a shout out!)

Since you and your husband parented two sets of children, do you have any bits of wisdom to share with our parents?

Yes, there are ten years between our two sets of children. We always say, “Tell God your plan, and He will show you HIS plan.” We learned so much and do quite a few things differently with our younger ones. With our older set, we were very strict, almost to the point of being legalistic about many things. We had a lot of dos and don’ts, but did not give adequate reasoning as to the why. If we want our children to have the same convictions that God has laid on our hearts, it is so important that we explain how God led us to that conviction and have the scripture to back it up. If we do not lay the proper foundation, the world will give them plenty of reasons to do the opposite. We learned what is important, what can be overlooked, and when a parent needs to step in. Life is too short, and the time we have with them goes so fast, so focus on the eternal things and the life lessons that are in every day living.

DandelionsTell us the dandelion story that your family experienced and the teachable moment that came with it.   

Such a cool, God-orchestrated, teachable moment for all of us! Just about a month ago the family was out in the yard, and the kids picked me some beautiful yellow dandelion flowers. By the time we got into the house, they had wilted, and their bright yellow color was already fading. I almost put them in the trash, but I went ahead and put them in a mason jar with water and set them on the kitchen counter. They were put in the corner by the coffee pot, forgotten about, and remained there for well over a week.

Upon getting a cup of coffee the morning after we returned from a weekend away, we noticed that these flowers had continued in their journey to become a ball of parachute seeds. Not only had they been taken out of the soil, they were put in an area that had no sunlight at all! In fact, they were in complete darkness while we were gone for the weekend.

However, they were undeterred by the tragedy that had happened to them, and they fought the good fight and finished their course. This visual spoke volumes to Tony and me, not to mention that it was a great lesson for our children.

Change is hard and being taken out of your element and placed in a new, dark place is scary. However, God has an intended purpose for each one of us, and it will come to fruition. It may be dark and painful along the way, but no matter what life hands us, we have a Hope and an expected end.

Never give up (Galatians 6:9). Fight the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7). He who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13).

Thank you for sharing this personal story. FBCW Preschool sure appreciates all you do to serve our children and families.  

 

 

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Through the Eyes of A Child

My husband and I are basking in the birth of our first grandchild — Judson.   This precious little boy made us grandparents and sent us into a completely new dimension of life.  I am captivated by his sweet face that is graced with big, alert eyes. See for yourself.judsonbath I’ve watched him begin to focus, and observed him turning his eyes toward a sound. I’ve seen him stare into the face of his Momma and his Daddy.

Right now, his world is very small and his focus is limited. As Judson grows, his world will grow with him and his life-focus will adjust somewhat to help him take it all in.  He’ll become aware spiritually, emotionally, physically, and intellectually that he is part of this big thing called life — a gift bestowed upon Him by his Creator.  But, he’s gonna need the guidance of his wonderful parents to make his way and follow God’s plans for his life as he becomes aware. I happen to know that they are excited to fulfill this role in his life and are looking at the Creator for guidance as they guide. Whether they realize it or not, children look to their parents as role models, and whether adults realize it or not, we are role models — intentionally or unintentionally.

Through the eyes of a child,

Trust means

  • My well-being depends on you
  • I can mimic your behavior and not be ashamed, embarrassed, or betrayed.
  • You have my best interest in mind
  • You’ll teach me the things I should know.
  • I may not always understand  the WHY, but I  will understand the WHO.

Security means

  • I am safe under your care.
  • You will always love me.
  • I belong.
  • You will show me how to handle my emotions.
  • I may not always know the way ahead, but I can safely follow the one guiding me.

Trust and security are both a picture of salvation. We trust in Christ’s death on the cross to secure our souls for eternity.

In trainings that I lead with parents and teachers, one thing I encourage adults to do is to be childlike. I don’t mean be childish — which can be self-centered or misappropriate due to lack of understanding. To be childlike is to view the world through the eyes of a child.   Think about the world through your five senses.

Enjoy little moments.  The demanding things in life can overshadow the small pleasures if we let them. Ride with the top down or the window open in your car. Play your favorite music. Sit next to someone you love. Enjoy your child’s voice. Be thankful for the sound of the dryer that will soon offer up clean, dry clothes.

Appreciate simple things.  The need to have bigger, better, and more can create stress. Sometimes we don’t enjoy what we have because we are focused on what we don’t have.

Notice the wonders around you. Be still and enjoy the night sky. Pay attention to the colors of flowers. Listen to birds tweet. Appreciate the laugh of someone you love. Gaze at your child; enjoy their talents.

Have childlike faith.  Children don’t understand all the facts and data that we adults do, but we ask them to trust us anyway.  It’s no different from God. We don’t understand everything, but He asks us to trust Him. And just like the small child who thinks Momma can “make it all better”, we have to accept that God is in control, and that He is working all things to our good, even when it hurts.

Ironically, you may have to calendar your demands in order to slow down and gaze at life in a childlike manner if you are a task-oriented person. On the other hand, if you are nourished through social activities, you may need to be specific about time with your family and getting “chores” done.

  • Put the technology away for a bit each day.
  • Draw a boundary around the number of activities or engagements you take
  • Calendar time with your spouse and time with your children
  • Assign your household/miscellaneous tasks to days of the week and work on them that day. If you can’t, roll it over to the next week.
  •  Notice captured moments and use them to talk or be engaged with each other: the car; the dinner table; bedtime; bath time, etc.

Alas, don’t think I have all this down pat. I don’t. My children are grown, and due to my natural bent,  I am still working on “being still.”  I think what I need to do is hold my grandson all day –perhaps then I will be still. Ha!

 

 

 

 

 

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Be a Hero of the Faith

A hero of our faith has recently passed away.  I suppose that as the news of Billy Graham’s passage into Heaven circulated, many people recalled their own memories of this great man. I certainly did. I have numerous recollections of watching his crusades Grham3on  television. In fact, while watching a crusade on TV in 1968, I told my parents that I was ready to get saved. I had been previously asking them questions. That same week, I did make a profession of faith at a local city-wide revival in town. In 1971, I attended the Billy Graham crusade in Irving, Texas as an eleven year old girl.  My parents moved our family to Atlanta not long after that event, and when his crusade came to Atlanta in 1994, my husband and I took our own young family. I remember telling my then, eight-year-old daughter to remember this day because it was a marked time in her life. She noted that statement and recalls it to this day.  Graham

Do you realize parents (and teachers as well), that you have the opportunity to become a hero of the faith? Children seek out heroes — whether animated or flesh and blood — so give them a real hero in their home to emulate. The truth is your behavior impacts your children far more than your instructions.  I have thoughts on some behaviors that make a person heroic:

  •  Authentic in character:  Lives a consistent lifestyle that honors Christ; practices integrity; is genuine.     “I want to have his reputation,” says the child.
  • Positive role model: Controls emotions; treats others respectfully; completes his tasks; shows appreciation.  “I want to behave like her,” says the child.
  • Does admirable things: Uses the talents God has given them; continues to learn and grow; admits mistakes; does the right thing even if it is difficult. “I want to do what he does,” says the child.
  •  Invests in others: Teaches and guides those in his care; spends quality time with those he loves; makes others feel valued;  listens; “I want to be around her,” says the child.
  • Submits to a higher authority: Places God first in life; honors God’s Word; trusts God to be in control. “I want to trust Him,” says the child.

graham2In truth, God’s Word has told each of us how to be a hero. I Corinthians 11:1 says “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”

So, whatever your day to day circumstances are, put on your cape (God’s Word calls this armor. See Ephesains 6:10-18)  and be a hero of the faith for your child.