Intentional Parenting

You show up for dinner at a friend’s house and older kids begin bullying, then excluding your kindergartner.  The parents laugh it off.  A trip to the neighborhood playground ends up a nightmare because 10 year olds are playing on the equipment expressly reserved for younger children and your daughter get knocked down by kids chasing each other across the rope bridge.  The mother seemingly ignores the situation because she is in deep conversation with a friend, or other case scenario, there is no adult. Your 5 year old son hits your year old daughter for taking his Hot Wheel.

WHAT TO DO?

In a recent discussion I was a part of with parents under 30, the question was asked:  Where do you get your parenting advice?  The overwhelming agreement was that parents get their advice from peers, in other words, from each other.  Research backs this up.  This is a shift from the days when parents considered advice from the family and ”experts” and read books.  Because of our cultural shift from book reading to short snippit articles on the web and social media, it’s much easier to hop on Facebook and ask, “What do you do with your strong-willed child?”

Although there is nothing inherently wrong with peer advice, the problem arises when parents only seek solutions from peers and when challenges arise.  Or they decide that kids need to just work out issues themselves, or worse, that somehow the kids are responsible for figuring it all out and the parents are off the hook.

Here is some helpful encouragement about how to be an intentional parent:

1)  DON’T WAIT FOR THE BIRTH!

There is no greater joy and fear wrapped into one cute bundle than when you strap that baby into a car seat and drive home.  You probably decorated a nursery, friends threw you baby showers, and you made sure you had all the safety equipment like a proper car seat.  BUT…did you read up or talk to people while you were pregnant?  When we are in school, we prepare for exams and papers, when we are at work, we prepare and get trained, but oftentimes, we approach one of the most important jobs we will ever be given – that of a parent- as something that will just work itself out.

Looking for some good books?:

No More Perfect Moms by Jill Savage

No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are by Jill Savage

Praying Circles Around Your Children  by Mark Batterson

Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel

Five Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman

The Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent

1) PRAY

No, it’s not a typo that “pray” is also #1. Praying for our children, over our children, blessing them with scripture are the most powerful words we speak.

Pray blessing over them: Numbers 6:24-26

Pray for them to be secure and not anxious: Philippians 4:6

Pray for them to encompassed by God’s physical protection and shield: Psalm 3:3

Pray that they will shine God’s light and that others will see it: Matthew 5:16

Pray that the Holy Spirit of God will give them power, love and self discipline: 2 Timothy 1:7

Pray that they will show justice and mercy and walk humbly with God: Micah 6:8

Pray that they will know how all encompassing God’s love is! These are some of my favorite scriptures in the Bible: Ephesians 3:16-19

2) IT’S OKAY TO ASK  YOUR MOM

…Its wise to listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15b

Or dad, or grandmother, or aunt or sister.

It’s always good to have a couple of people you respect available for an emergency text.  And your mom or aunt or grandmother might have the right piece of advice from experiences, or from learning from her mistakes.

3) ESTABLISH A PLAN OF ACTION before you go somewhere.

Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

One of our daughters was a crash and burn type when she was a toddler.  If we were at the mall, at the store, at a friend’s house, it didn’t matter.  Hunger, fatigue and over stimulation were not her friends, nor mine.  You know the signs of a toddler about to melt down?  Yeah, well as soon as I saw them, I would gently tug on the arm of my husband the talker.  “It’s time to go, ” I would whisper. “Em’s ready to go home.”

We had a plan.  Now granted, sometimes my husband the talker would keep talking.  Or I would get pulled into another conversation.  Sometimes, people just didn’t understand.  When we were young parents, it was embarrassing.  But ask yourself, would you rather A) leave with a child who you can sooth in a car seat with a healthy snack, who may fall asleep on the way home, or B) force a screaming, tantrum throwing mess into a car seat?  Me, too.  Let’s go with Option A.

There should be established rules for places like the playground, grocery store, Target, the mall.  Affirmative praise and small rewards help encourage good behavior for next time.  Questions to ask yourself: How do you handle discipline in a public place?  How do you handle toy sharing at the playground or pool?  How do you handle whining and asking for toys?  What about when grandparents visit and they may want to spoil your kids a bit?

COMMUNICATION and PLANNING are all essential.  Intentional parenting raises GODfident, healthy kids into GODfident, healthy young adults.

Coming soon…part 2!  Decide what works for your children and pick your battles.

 

 

 

 


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The Sign

A slightly stooped man carefully stepped out of his red truck, his thinning gray hair blowing random directions in the gusty autumn southwest winds.  The truck was not old and was not new.  It wore the dents and scratches of his craft.  He walked around to the truck bed and began unloading gray cement foundation blocks.  A new sign for the small church on the corner? I wondered.  Everything I knew about the denomination, well, plain, simple and functional fit.

That corner was one of the busiest in our area.  No matter where I was coming from, I had to turn on it every day.  And so I watched, fascinated, wondering what the sign would look like.  My husband joined in the guessing game.  Maybe it was just going to be one of those signs that required information to be manually lettered.  There were no electric wires that we could see.  Why would they use only gray foundation bricks?  Why are they going so slowly??  Why is the primary builder one man?  Oh, others came and went, helping with the basic masonry, but the slightly stooped man with the thinning gray hair that blew randomly in the gusty autumn winds as fallen leaves swirled around him slowly wielded his tools mostly by himself.

One day, beautiful and distinct brick-colored bricks appeared over the gray cement foundation blocks. The slightly stooped man now wore a jean jacket and sometimes a red ball cap over his thinning gray hair, as the winds turned toward the northwest and blew the dried up autumn leaves into the harvested corn field across the busy road.  I wondered how many other people who drove past the corner with the small church watched and wondered.  How many other people wanted to know why they didn’t just put up an electronic sign, because you know, that’s progress.

Once the man completed the bricks, he added large lighter color limestones, carefully selected for their shape and shade,  around the edges of the sign.  A curved piece appeared on the top of the sign and dark, opalisque tiles filled it, and smaller limestones bordered it, bringing out the colors in the tile.  Still, no writing, no church name, no information.  What good is a sign with no information? I thought.

For a few days, the wheel barrow and stones sit idly around the sign, and I lose interest. The days grow shorter and the dusk takes over the sky at 3:30 pm now.  It’s as if I look through a lense that has finger prints on it and nothing quite comes into focus.  Although I love the holidays, the waning daylight makes me often feel half functional.

But yesterday…yesterday, lamps appeared at either end of the sign with no information.  Large black wrought iron lamps with old world Dickens charm, warm flame-shaped bulbs shining through the foggy afternoon.  How could this be?  We had seen no electric wires.  The slightly stooped man with the thinning gray hair and the jean jacket stood with his sometimes helper gazing at the sign, a tool in his hand.

And that’s when God whispered.  I AM like that stooped man with the thinning gray hair that blows randomly in the wind.  You are like that sign that he creates.  You may feel like ordinary gray foundation blocks but I craft extradorinarily ordinary souls from scratch.  Let me take my time.  Let your light shine for Me as I finish my work.

God is not finished with you.  He fashions a one of a kind work of art, building the foundation first.   That foundation is Jesus Christ.

 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16 ESV)

 

 

 


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Lessons From Baltimore

Because Christian mother, writer, speaker and activist Jen Hatmaker writes it so much more eloquently than I could…thank you for making us think, Jen.  We pray for the larger issues at hand.

Click on the link below to read her article in the Washington Post.

I, as a white mom of two black children do not share Baltimore’s pain. Instead, I grieve with you.  by Jen Hatmaker


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