Tag Archives: Parenting

Make This Summer With Your Kids Count

kids togetherAh, summer. For many of us, the word is synonymous with any number of good things: long, sundrenched days, vacations, going to the pool, the smell of freshly cut grass, baseball, etc. But the summer months also offer a great chance for parents to help their kids grow and develop in an intentional manner. Toward that end, my wife Rachel—who does a great job thinking this through for our own three kids—weighs in with today’s guest post. As you read, keep in mind that each family’s goals will be different given all the variables, including the age of kids, work responsibilities, summer school, etc. And remember that reality sometimes falls short of even the best intentions. It’s a lesson we’re taught regularly at our house!

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I love the idea of using summertime with my kids in a way that makes a lasting impact. But when it comes to parenting, if we don’t have some goals in mind for our kids–whether long-term or short-term–it’s easy to lose sight of where we are going. It’s easy to waste the precious little time we have with these young souls in our charge. (I’m speaking from a “guilty as charged” place myself!) That’s why it’s helpful to think through some specific goals for our summer with our children. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about that process.

What If Kids Really Get the Big Idea of Kids Club 2016?

Kids Club logoKids Club at The Crossing is many things. The fruit of endless hours of planning and a huge volunteer effort. An impressive array of color-coordinated t-shirts. A logistical puzzle on the order of a small army. A time for kids to play, create, and build friendships with their leaders and each other. A place where getting slimed is a feature, not a bug. It’s even the reason my wife is now banned from participating in mud obstacle courses. (Turns out there’s a reason we have a medical team in-house. But I digress).

But it’s also a place where we communicate the gospel to kids in a variety of fun and creative ways. We do that because kids, just like everyone else, very much need the the transforming grace of what God has done for us in and through Jesus. Our hope is that these few days will help kids establish a solid foundation on which they can continue to build their lives in the right way.

How does that happen? Take this year’s “Big Idea,” the one big truth we hope kids walk away with after a week of teaching about God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 12 and how they ultimately are fulfilled by Jesus. It reads like this:

The Anxieties of Getting Ready for a Newborn

We’re two months away from welcoming baby number two into our family, and all I can seem to think about is making sure we have the perfect floral crib sheets picked out for the nursery. How did I spend so much time online the other day searching for the picture-perfect one? As we get closer to the reality that this baby will be here in no time, I’ve found myself fixated on the color of the nursery, the wall décor, and making sure the clothes we have for this baby girl are all washed and separated. I could go on and on about the things that can keep me up at night – do I have my hospital bag packed? How far away are we from James being settled into his new room? What’s on our to-do list that we just really need to make sure gets crossed off?

But oh how I wished I spent as much time praying for this new life as I spend thinking about all of the anxieties of the material. These things aren’t bad things – of course I want to have a relaxing nursery and of course I need to know what the plan is for our toddler when we go to the hospital. But I am so easily tempted to spend my (limited) energies on embracing the comfort that I can build for myself here on earth – the American dream – rather than remembering eternity, and remembering my true role that God has given me as a mother. How do I refocus my heart on the eternal? Here are a few reminders that I need daily:

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

41X60GfIrIL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_We moved to a new school last August. My 3rd grader in particular has a hard time with change, so Nathan and I were nervous for him. Overall he did very well with the transition. However, one of the new parenting challenges that reared its head at that time was an intense “I need to fit in” complex. “Mom, all the kids wear brand named athletic clothes! I need Nike and UA shirts and shorts!” Of course I didn’t want my son to feel out of place at his new school, but was giving into his persistent requests for more what was best for him?

As parents we love to give our kids good gifts. And, I think this desire reflects our Father in heaven who also loves to give good gifts to his children. But, maybe you have noticed like we have that oftentimes the more we give our kids, the more insatiable their appetite for more becomes. More toys. More sports. More treats. More time on the Wii. And a curious thing happens at least in my house. More stuff does not equal more grateful attitudes. It often breeds discontentment and entitlement instead of a heart overflowing with thankfulness.

Parenting Is Like Doing the Dishes, Poorly

Getting my daughter to accomplish the various tasks of her bedtime routine can be…difficult. It’s a lot like me trying to eat with chopsticks. It can be done, but it will inevitably require several failed attempts and a lot more time than it should. For example, brushing her teeth in front of the bathroom mirror might involve lots of dramatic gestures with her toothbrush—I think a drama teacher would see promise—but very few of them seem to incorporate her actual teeth. And when I say, “You need to get into the shower,” she—in one of the great mysteries of the universe—apparently hears something like, “I would love it if you could invent ways to avoid getting wet and clean. Be creative!”

My oldest son, on the other hand, needs very little encouragement to get into the shower. His difficulty is in getting out. He wants time to “relax,” he says. He’s nine.

Left to his own devices, he’s liable to create atmospheric conditions in the bathroom that would rival a tropical greenhouse. This means that I’ve regularly had to brave the humidity long enough to ask him if he forgot something as I simultaneously flip on the bathroom fan. The next thing I hear, emanating from the fog, is usually a somewhat guilty “oh yeah.” If I had to guess how many times I’ve asked him to turn that fan on when he takes a shower, my answer would include an exponent.

Recently, however, I’ve witnessed a slight breakthrough. I’ve actually noticed the blessed sound of that bathroom fan on while he’s taking a shower—with no prompting on my part! Not every night mind you, but on occasion. And since the fan is on, the single tear that rolls down my cheek can’t be condensation.

All this reminds me of the experience I sometimes have when I’m in the kitchen trying to wash off a crusty dish or utensil. Bear with me here.

What Do You Want Most for Your Kids: Pt. 2

“God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.”

Last week I mentioned that C. S. Lewis quote in support of an important, biblically grounded point for parents: while there are many good things that we rightly want for our children (a great education, a good job, a family of their own, etc.), the best thing we could ever do for our kids is to introduce them to and consistently encourage their faith in Jesus Christ.

But that brings up another key question: how might this fundamental truth change the way we parent on a day to day basis? Here are a just a few suggestions:

What Do You Most Want for Your Kids?

Occasionally, my wife and I offer a seminar that’s designed to help parents of newborn and very young children. One of the reasons we offer it is because we remember how clueless we felt when we first had kids. One of the reasons we offer it occasionally is because we need a good stretch in between to forget how poorly we follow our own advice.

At any rate, we’ve always begun the seminar by asking parents a question that I’d like you to consider at the moment: what is it that you most want for your kid(s)?

I think it’s fairly easy to list some of the more common answers that parents in our culture are likely to give to that question:

Does “Pray Without Ceasing” Apply to Moms, Too?

Do you think Paul ever talked to moms of young children when he commanded us to “pray without ceasing?” (1 Thess. 5:17). If you’re like me, your times spent in uninterrupted prayer are brief. Small children often mean time alone is rare, much less time to think! Even with the best of plans and intentions, these little babies wake up earlier than you planned or need a snack or a cuddle or some kind of care, and that prayer time you thought you were going to have never happened. 

A Most Terrifying Prayer for Your Kids

There’s a lot of things I pray for when I’m praying for my son, James: for God to protect him, to keep him healthy; that he would sleep well and fully; that one day he would marry a woman who loves the Lord; that he would grow up in a community of believers, etc. But ultimately, I pray that God would know him and that he would know God.

Of course, this last one is what James needs the most, yet I find that when I pray for this, it unexpectedly terrifies me. It’s easy to pray for the circumstantial things, because there is a part of me that so wants his life to be one of comfort and ease, protected from any pain or grief. I can’t bear to think of him being hurt or made fun of or coming face to face with an insurmountable obstacle. But it is hard for me to give his life to God, to truly want God to do anything in his life in order that James would know and trust him.

Because isn’t that what is true for most of us? In the desperate times of suffering, in the revelation of the depths of my own depravity, and in the trials and somber valleys I’ve walked through – it’s in those times that I have learned to rely on God the most. It’s in those times that I have known his presence more fully and deeply. It’s in those times that I’ve seen my true need for a Savior. I want these things for James, but as his mom, it is terrifying to think that it likely won’t be smooth sailing and comfortable living that will get him there. He just might have to stagger through the wilderness in parts of his own story.

Talking to Your Kids About Sex

My wife and I are the parents of three kids, and though the oldest is just starting second grade, we’ve been occasionally discussing how to talk with our kids about sex. In fact, it might be better to say that we’ve been discussing how to continue talking to them about the subject (more on this below).

To be sure, we’re not having or even planning a comprehensive conversation with them anytime soon (more on this below as well), but we are trying to think through how to approach the whole issue now and as our kids get older. This brings me quickly to two important points:

1. If you’re wondering if we’re jumping the gun with our kids about sex, I’m not sure whether you’ve been paying enough attention. I don’t say that to be annoying, but rather to point out that kids in our culture are exposed to sex and sensuality earlier and more often than ever before. And this is apart from all the naturally inquisitive questions that kids tend to raise at any age (you guessed it: more below).

2. That beings said, we haven’t figured it all out. Not even close.

So while my wife and I will probably never be qualified to write a book and start scheduling seminar tours, I did recently run across an article from Mollie Hemmingway that I found to be full of good, practical advice. I’ll include several of her points here along with excerpts, but I really encourage you to read the whole thing.