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Parenthood house group

 

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Our church recently had an interesting and useful house group discussion about parenting. Here are my husband Jon’s memories of the evening…

“Perspectives on parenting

 Becoming a parent is one of the most challenging phases in life – your fairly established lifestyle is turned on its head. At a recent home group on parenting, we talked about some fundamentals of godly parenting. As is often the case, this raised more questions than answers, but I got a lot of interesting ideas out of it specifically around: leading by example and the power of imitation, the best way to discipline children, introducing a spiritual diet in the home, and seeing myself (to a degree) as a fellow-child with my children.

Kate T put us onto this short video by Gary Thomas and prepared this handy crib sheet (including a useful list of resources) to prime our discussions.

Faith is more easily caught than taught

 When children get to a certain age, they start to imitate you – alarmingly accurately. I like to ride my bike, and our eldest son Joey recently got out some tape to strap his water bottle to his bike, just like mine! It perhaps goes without saying that children will imitate the good and bad in their parents, so having young children is one of the hardest times to keep faith strong, but it is also one of the most important. ‘Our faith is more easily caught than taught. It is what our children see that will impact them most.’ (The Parenting Book, Nicky and Sila Lee.) This idea goes beyond raising children – if we want to share the light of God’s gospel, the best way we can do this is to live it, so that those around us (at home, at work…in the supermarket) see our lives and say “yes, there’s something attractive about that”.

Spare the rod…

 We spent much of the time talking about discipline. All agreed that the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ idea taken from Prov 13:24 need not be taken literally. However, we do need to find effective ways to discipline our children – after all, God disciplines us, his children, so that we can grow to be more like him (Heb 12:6). A couple of useful principles seemed to emerge from the discussions: discipline should be positively slanted (more sticker chart than naughty step), it must be delivered with a clarity of mind not clouded by anger, consistency is hugely important – and probably more important than where you choose to set your boundaries, and what will work for one child may not work for another (e.g. some are more bribable than others)! Tim W notes here, “I would only emphasis the need for the parent to be a consistent parent in discipline and also as a role model – we cannot expect our children to do what we ourselves don’t do…..plenty of food for thought”

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Milk of the word

 Every Christian parent is keen to introduce some sort of spiritual diet into their household at the earliest opportunity. However, one of the parents shared an experience that was similar to ours: they introduced a simple Bible story at a set time in the day. This worked well at first, but the child soon got restless and disruptive making the whole thing counterproductive. We have recently changed tack here, and introduced some bible-based stories that we know our boys like that we read together before they go their separate ways for age-appropriate stories; the older one gets an extra story, and the younger one gets a story with the older one, so they are both happy!

Become like little children

 We have as much – if not more – to learn from our children as we have to teach them! There are some important Christian qualities that children have in spades: faith, trust, hope, inquisitiveness, resilience, obedience (well, sometimes), love. And these qualities are why we need to ‘become like little children’ (Matt 18:3). My children have also brought new insight on patience, love, and forgiveness. But how does this change our perspective on parenting? It is quite helpful for me to think of myself as continually learning to parent. This leaves more space to make mistakes and learn from them than a more ‘authoritarian’ view of parenting. Chris P notes here that, “children are resilient and the odd mistake will not detract from a normally consistent and loving approach to their care.”

Summary

 I left the home group feeling reflective. Do I need to make any major changes to my parenting style? Have I got my priorities right? And, perhaps most importantly, would my children vouch for my Christian character? “

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Who is my neighbour?

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How is it three months since I last posted?! Crazy. This week has seen both my little cherubs heading off into higher places of learning, and so I had one hallowed (unlike the previous four harrowing) morning of peacefulness when I actually looked around my house rather than rushing through it, and I noticed something chalked up on the top of our blackboard. It occurred to me that this was the perfect quotation to read this week – I have been introduced to a whole new myriad of actual neighbours whilst hovering anxiously in the playground – and my holey brain has retained a sum total of two of their names (never mind all their kids names!). Who is my neighbour indeed.

Happy Friday!

p.s if you’re looking for a spiritual boost, this blackboard quotation writing has been working really well for us as a family. Jon chooses a different quote for each week, and not only does it give me inspiration for the day, it also provides an insight into what Jon has been thinking about spiritually this week. Not always easy to find the time to sit and talk about those things.

What about you mums and dads? How have you been finding these going back to school weeks? Has it made life easier or harder? Has it raised any spiritual questions? Let me know, so we can all share any tips or answer questions.

 

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What if this is as good as it gets*? Or TOLO

Good morning! Today we have a guest post by Miriam White, friend and mother-extraordinaire, on a really pertinent topic. Enjoy!

“These are the best years.  They grow up so fast – make the most of them.  They’re only little once.  Enjoy every moment!

I seem to have been told this a lot recently.  Maybe I don’t look as though I’m enjoying myself and need the encouragement.  Or maybe seeing my three young boys running me ragged brings out the wistfulness in parents of grown up children looking back with rose-tinted glasses to an elusive golden age of parenthood.

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My response is pretty negative.  Really?  This is as good as it gets?  How depressing.  I was hoping that at some point it might actually become more enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding!  Surely people wouldn’t continue to have children all the time if this is really the best it can be.

I know parenthood is about the children and not the parents.  I know it’s not about what you get out of it, it’s what your children get from you.  But I didn’t have children for their sake, I had them for mine.  I wanted them – I felt that in some way I would enjoy having them, loving them and caring for them.  And I would benefit from the reflected love and pride in who they are and who they become.  It’s not as if we have a duty to have children, it’s a choice we make (in most cases).

It can be very easy to lose yourself in the hard slog of motherhood in the early years.

To get through, you tell yourself that there’s ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.  Most things are just phases and they’ll come out of them eventually.  So, the early sleepless nights will eventually get better.  At some point you’ll be able to leave the house again.  When they’re a bit older, going out for a meal won’t be quite so exhausting and might even be enjoyable.  And then they’ll start school and you’ll get some time back to yourself.  The tantrums will reduce; you might be able to reason with them occasionally.

And these things are all true.  But it can feel like there’s not much reward for all the hard work in the early years.  And to be told that it doesn’t get any better is not helpful!

However, I read a few things recently that have made me think differently about my reaction.  One of them is this:

50 things about motherhood that will make you smile

The reality is that every age has its ups and downs. So, while some things will get better, new challenges will come in.  It’s too easy to miss the good things about the early years while you’re waiting for the hard things to be grown out of.

What if these ARE the best years?!  Let’s not live in the future all the time but learn to be content in the state we’re in (1 Phil 4).  I don’t want to look wistfully at someone else’s children when mine are grown, wishing I’d enjoyed the early years with them more.  I want to enjoy any and every moment I can of every age.

Links that might be of interest:

http://www.stevewiens.com/2013/03/12/to-parents-of-small-children-let-me-be-the-one-who-says-it-out-loud/

http://happinessisajourney.com

Lovely poems here  especially ‘just for this day’

Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one (Glennon Melton).

Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans (John Lennon).”

*Quote from the film As Good As It Gets

Image credit:Miriam White
A Quick Recommendation

A Quick Recommendation

This week has been a week of illness and displacement, as the entire back section of our house is being rebuilt – so I’ve been slow with writing up my blog post! So today I thought I’d send out a little recommendation (for those who haven’t seen it already) for a fantastic Bible app for kids, called ….. Bible for Kids app (clever), before sending a more detailed post later in the week.

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This little app is a wonderful goldmine for children. It contains simple, animated and interactive re-tellings of Bible stories in bright, Disney colours, with great little questions to answer, things to collect and funny animals. You can choose whether to read the text yourself, or have it read the story aloud. This app is great on a phone, and really great on a bigger-scale iPad or laptop. Hours of fun, seriously. And it affords some valuable child-occupation minutes whilst teaching them about the Bible, and therefore guilt-free on the children-using-technology scale (up there with the CBeebies and Peppa Pig app which I’m sure are educational). Enjoy!