Archive for the ‘nurturing’ Category

“I don’t know what to do with my teenage daughter,” one of my young mom friends told me the other day.”My daughter is so different from me! She loves lace and frilly things, and I’m just not that way.”

“I published a parenting column years and years ago on that subject,” I told her. “When my daughter was in her twenties, it helped me a lot to re-read it. I’d ask myself, ‘Do I still believe this?’ And I did. Maybe you’d like to read it.”

She wanted it, so I emailed it, and she told me later that it helped her. Maybe some other mother will find it useful, too. So here it is:

Letting Daughters Grow

When our daughter Jessica was about 11 she went through an annoying phase in which she seemed to be putting me down all the time. “I like to be on time,” she’d say, “but you’re always late.”  Or, “You’re always forgetting things, Mom. I’m not absent minded like you are.”

I felt defensive and irritated by the barrage of apparently critical remarks until the day it dawned on me that Jessica was observing, not criticizing. She was looking at me closely, then looking at herself, and then trying to figure out which of us was which. (more…)

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Mom used to call my dad the Pied Piper. When he showed up in the yard, kids began appearing like magic. (more…)

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Recently a friend asked me how she could do a better job getting her three active boys to behave in the car. She described the family’s last car trip. They were hurrying to a church meeting on a school night, but the boys (ages 4 to 10) kept fighting and arguing loudly while she and her husband tried to talk. Finally she lost her temper., which made her husband upset, and there they were, in a  family meltdown. (more…)

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On Sundays… Don’t forget to include space for play times when you plan the family schedule for this week. Staying home to play with your children nurtures them and builds trust and communication. It can be a great stress reliever for you, too.

On Mondays… Remember that children need lots of warm approval. So try to express your appreciation not only when they do a super job, but also during their awful stages when they do only passably well after being told what to do.

On Tuesdays… Be sure to encourage your children in their efforts in school. Show an interest in their schoolwork and hobbies. Listen to and talk with them. Praise their work and display it.

On Wednesdays… Let your children snack on the salad you plan to serve for supper if they are ravenous during meal preparation. Or else put out a big plate of fruit slices or raw vegetables—carrot and celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, etc. This will take the edge off their appetites with one of the most nutritious parts of the meal.

On Thursdays… Remember that an allowance is a good tool for teaching children age 9 and older to save and to budget money for different purposes. Children under age 8 or 9 may not have the patience yet to save money or the emotional readiness to make the kinds of decisions required for a simple saving and spending plan.

On Fridays…Be aware that creativity tends to be messy. So teach children how to deal calmly and efficiently with the inevitable messes that are part of the creative process. Show them how to cut paper over a wastebasket or cover working surfaces with newspaper before starting to paint. Let children know that cleaning up after themselves is part of the creative process.

On Saturdays… Keep in mind that children get their first impression of God from their relationship with their parents. Constant unrealistic demands from a parent can have a bad affect on children’s spiritual development, building a sense of failure and false guilt. As adults, these children often reject God as non-existent or view God as a stern, distant being whom they must constantly placate.

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For eight years I wrote a short parenting tips column for The El Paso Scene. The column featured one tip for each day of the week, and I tried to give parents a balance of tips that would address their own priorities & attitudes as well as their children’s physical, social, intellectual and spiritual development. The column was formatted so that parents could easily cut out the column and keep it as a handy reminder through the month. Here is a sampler for the month of October

How to Be a Better Parent in October

On Sundays… Remember to take regular walks for health, perspective and renewal.

On Mondays…Try to avoid the mistake of assuming that anything that belongs to your child is really yours, so you can borrow it without permission or do whatever you please with it. Respect is a two way street. If you want children to learn to respect your property, you must respect theirs and insist that siblings respect it, too.

On Tuesdays… Remember that children need to practice reading aloud every day. So encourage older children to read to younger siblings, and let beginning readers read to anyone in the family with the patience to encourage them.

On Wednesdays… Remember the power of action. Although it’s a temptation to sit and yell “Don’t- don’t-don’t” at children, it only makes you frustrated and hoarse. Children consistently test their parents’ words. So discipline yourself to get up (now! after the first request) and match your words with action. When you are consistently firm without losing your temper, children learn to pay attention.

On Thursdays… Make a list of recipes your family likes, take a few minutes to refer to it each week, and plan a week’s meals before you go to the grocery store. Keep alert for recipes that can easily be made in the crock pot. These few minutes of planning will help keep everyone in the family healthy.

On Fridays…Remember that puppets invite creativity. They stimulate preschoolers’ natural acting ability and encourage older children to devise plots, produce sound effects, design scenery, and create special effects. A lot of household junk can be recycled into puppets.

On Saturdays… Cultivate contentment. It will move your family into a deeper level of gratitude than mere etiquette. Contentment involves recognizing what can and cannot be changed for the better. It means accepting what cannot be changed, changing what can be improved, and concentrating on whatever is positive in a situation.

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Recently several people have asked me how I think Christians should respond to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people coming to services in the church. My pastor asked. One of the moms in my Bible study struggles for wisdom to know how to respond to her son, who has come out as gay. Another Christian mom recently  asked me about her son, who was the one who got her going to church and now tells her that he has same sex desires. I think we will face this issue more and more because in the local high schools, being gay is the new cool. Since it has become popular, more kids will experiment and some will choose gayness simply because that’s the cool thing to be.

Behind the question, when Christians ask, is the idea that we should somehow straighten out gay people who attend services, that we should somehow try to make them change into heterosexuals. But that idea misses the point. (more…)

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