Child Character – Take the Long View

Many young parents (and some not so young) wrongly believe that rotten character in kids is just a phase, and they even glorify it by posting videos of young children mouthing off to parents, flagrantly disobeying and then lying about it. These kind of videos are laughed at routinely on social media. Anyone who notes that this conduct is not funny and is, in fact, harmful, is howled down and ridiculed for being too uptight.

You would have to be a blind fool not to see the working out of rotten character into all areas of society. The breakdown of respect for authority is real, and it threatens every one of us who try to live in peace with our families. Lawlessness is the new normal.  Looking at the state of American parenting in the last two generations, this should not be a surprise.

I wrote this piece at Medium.com today, noting how important it is that we correct our children when we see traits like selfishness in them. Left to grow,  things will not end well for children or those they touch.

 

 

The Coddling Trap

I wanted to share a  little insight into the problems frequently cited in young people today — their sense of entitlement and their  emotional incontinence. A few years back I was reading a book called, The Christmas Mouse (published in 1973) by a British author who used the pen name, Miss Read. It isn’t a children’s book, it is  a charming story set in an English village with some female characters (along with some children.)

In the course of the plot, one of the female characters, recently widowed, is home alone on Christmas Eve and has a run away child break into her pantry that stormy night. The boy was a foster child from a good family she knew down the road. What struck me reading the book was the response of Mrs. Barry to the hungry, crying child eating her pies in the pantry. The boy being fostered at the farm down the road was upset, because he felt the kids of the foster family had a better set of gifts than he received, and he felt left out not having his own family, so he ran away.

Initially, I found myself thinking, Oh, poor child!  So alone and sad on Christmas Eve without his own family!  But the response of Mrs. Barry set me back very quickly. Rather than emotionally surrounding the shivering boy with a blanket of emotional comfort and understanding, she proceeded to address the core problems. The core issues were that he was A) ungrateful for the warm, safe family home where he was living B) ungrateful for the wonderful family that had taken him in and their buying him gifts he otherwise would not have had C) That he had worried this good family by running away D) That he felt he had the right to break in to her home and steal her food, because he was unhappy.

In short, she rebuked his sense of entitlement and brought him to see, eventually, his wrongheadedness on every front. She let him warm by the fire, met his needs and then called his foster family.

This is the set of values that made Britain and the US strong.  In the West, we  long ago departed from this way of handling children. We are prone to coddle kids when there are core character issues that need addressing. The results are all around us.  Didn’t get what I deserve!You have ‘privilege’ and I don’t!, You have better stuff and it’s not fair!,   I’m entitled to what you have cause I have nothing!

Christian teachings – as found in the Bible – emphasize humility, gratitude and respect for others. When a culture at large ceases to value that and it is no longer taught in homes, you get the atrocious state of things we are now witnessing. I DEMAND this !, I DESERVE WHAT YOU HAVE! , I’M A VICTIM AND YOU OWE ME!I’m UNHAPPY AND YOU NEED TO FIX IT!

No loving,  responsible parent is going to ignore the emotional needs of their children. But there is a difference between idolizing happiness, as though anything that threatens happiness is the problem – in essence, allowing for the tyranny of emotions in a child’s life –  and making sure a child is not carrying unnecessary emotional burdens  I tell this to our young daughter  when she is very unhappy and very unhappy that she is unhappy. “Your happiness is not the most important thing. Obeying and doing the right thing comes first.  Sometimes we are sad, angry, and unhappy. That’s just how life works. But how we ultimately pick ourselves up and respond to it  is what matters.” That’s what I try to get across to my children (and myself!)

Something to remember is that the ongoing mindset of victimhood wars against acknowledging the GRACE in our lives and squelches gratitude. It kills it.

The Christmas Mouse is a wonderful little book by Miss Read, but I found something deeper there worth recognizing, I think.

(There are still copies of this book in some libraries, and there are used versions of this little book available online with a simple search. Sometimes it is combined with two other Christmas stories by Miss Read, all of which are a joy to read.)

Influence on Wheels

I have written before about the importance of conversations with children.  Moms or dads who do the school run each day have prime time with their kids if they recognize it.

I have been the primary school driver, and there are many great memories (and some not so great) of conversations that have taken place in my van through the years. I mention the not-so-great ones, as conversations with kids are not always all sweetness and light. The teen years come to mind. In any event, if you’re listening, you can hear what’s going on in the minds of your kids.

Emily, our youngest, begins talking before she’s even fully in the door of the car at pick up.  She is full of information about her day. She opens her lunch box to retrieve whatever leftovers she can find to assuage her after-school hunger and she then begins to update me on the state of the Third Grade.

Who played with whom at recess, what books she chose on library day, the song they are singing in music class (would you like to hear it, Mom?), those are just a few of the items she shares while munching a half eaten cookie or carrot from lunch.

But if I listen well to what she is saying, I can pick up on some important things. This morning Em shared with me that the teacher has a poster on the wall of the classroom. “It says ‘Do All Things in Love.’ And then, Mom, it listed things you can do to show love.” The teacher who placed that poster up on the bulletin board may not realize it, but  her classroom decoration had an influence on our daughter. It gave us fodder for conversation as we drove down the road on the way to school this morning.

“There was a girl that nobody was playing with,” Em announced the other day. “I went to talk to her.”  Another conversation started that reinforced the right thing that Emily did. “Someday, that might be you without anyone to play with,” I added. Em nodded. She gets it.

Our culture is tremendously noisy.  Media of all kinds can pervade our lives. I have  antipathy for radio noise running in the background in the car or at home. My mom never had radios or TV’s blaring night and day. In fact, it was rarely on at all.  I feel the same way about it. Not only does it clutter up your mind and thinking (I’m not good at shutting it out), but it robs you of conversation time with your children, particularly as you travel.

Each moment with kids is precious, because it is fleeting. I have two kids in their 30’s now, and one nearly 30! Two are already 21. Childhood is a terribly brief time. Children’s character is formed through everyday conversation where values are inculcated, and hopefully, reinforced by what they see at home. Someone is influencing your child’s character and view of the world. Is it you?

Children are hard-wired to sort out what they learn about the world from their parents. We can help them through the increasingly ugly culture they are growing up in by seizing each opportunity we are given  to underscore truth, in love, in their minds. These truths serve as an anchor for their thinking–bedrock upon which to build their lives. Two apt metaphors.

This is also a reason to seek wisdom from God – the source of ALL wisdom and truth–as we attempt to guide our children. These times are perplexing and treacherous. Lives can be so easily shipwrecked with the lying siren song of the world playing in our children’s ears, forever drawing them to the dangerous rocks.

It’s our job as Christian parents to continually point to the beacon of light that will guide our children through this life. God’s Word is the piercing beam of light that will warn of the jagged rocks that endanger them. It cuts through the fog and darkness like a laser.  “Danger here! Watch out! Go this way instead!”

With a new school year upon us, I intend to make the most of our travel chats. Whether listening or speaking, it’s a daily opportunity not to be missed!

 

 

Savor Them Now

The photo below was posted at a Texas daycare. Parents were too busy on their phones to look into the faces of their dear children who had waited all day for the moment they would have a parent back. Imagine being that child, so proud of your handiwork, waiting to show Mama or Daddy what you’ve made, only to find that they don’t care enough to get off their phones. It brings me to tears.

If such a thing were possible, I wish I could have one day with each of my six children back when they were small. I can remember the feel of each their skin, the bath times, the bed time stories, the meal time fun we had, the times they were sick and I was worried, the hugs and tuck-in rituals, the kisses on their chubby faces. I love each of them more than words can say, and I always will.

Advice from older generations to the younger is not generally received well anymore. Young people don’t want to hear it. The terms “Grandma”and “Grandpa” are used as an insult online frequently to dismiss something an older person has to say. But here is what I would tell a young mom if I could. You have absolutely no idea the speed with which time flies. You hear it often, because it is true. That baby who wakes you up every two hours is a toddler by the end of their first year. Walking. Away from you. Do not resent your children’s impositions on your time. The echo of their small voices in your mind will soon be all you have, and regrets are terrible to live with.

I have to remind myself of these things every day. We have a young child, and some days, I think (as I once did when I was a young mom), I can’t wait until this child can do this herself. But what is different is that now I stop myself from that line of thinking. She will be eight years old this summer. EIGHT. How did that happen? The little girl times will come to an end so very soon that it chokes me up.

At night, I lie awake thinking of her asleep in her bed with the Hello Kitty sheets and her dolls and stuffed animals nearby, and a kind of panic hits me. Was there something else I should have done—should be doing with her? Have I enjoyed and savored this phase enough? She doesn’t know that some nights I get up to kiss her while she’s sleeping. Because she’s growing so fast, and like her siblings, she will be gone before we know it.

Moms (and Dads), whatever else you have to let go, don’t let it be loving and spending time with your little people (or kids whatever their age.) Emmy asked me to play with her the other day, and I was in the middle of something. I wish I had put it down. I promised to make some muffins with her the other day, and we never did. Muffin making is on the agenda after school today. She will be thrilled.

Don’t rush your children to the next developmental phase. Their “littleness” is precious, and they’ll get to the next milestone before you know it. Those soft little hands will soon stop reaching for yours, because they’ll be too big. Something to remember.

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“Do You Think He’s Seen Jesus Over There?”

The last seven years of raising another little girl has had its challenges and joys, emphasis on joys. Being the mother of a young child is always fascinating and rich with insights. There is a reason that Jesus said we must become like little children if we desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Their faith and trust, lack of cynicism and self-righteousness are what He was talking about.

There are many spiritual lessons to be found almost daily with a young child.  Some stick out in my mind. I remember a moment when Emily was four years old. On Christmas Eve we were talking about the Advent (coming) of our LORD in Bethlehem so long ago. I said to her, “Tonight is the night we remember Jesus coming to us.”

Her face lit up, eyes like two stars. She ran to the front  door and began jumping up and down and shouting.

“Jesus is coming here? When, Mama, when?” She thought He was coming to our door. Literally. In person. That night.

The joy and expectation on her face moved me deeply. The faith of a child, delighted she would meet  her Jesus. No doubt in her mind. Just faith and belief in the goodness of our Savior.

At age seven, she is on that borderline between knowing facts and still having the innocence of young childhood.  The line is frequently blurred. Last night I had an article up about Israel and there was a photo of the Prime Minister prominently displayed.

“Who is that?” she asked, walking up behind my chair.

“Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel,” I told her.

“Israel? Wow.” She thought about that for a moment. “Benjamin was one of the  names of Jacob’s sons. We learned that in school”

Another pause.

Then her eyes lit up. “Do you think that man has gotten to see Jesus over there?”

I reminded her that Jesus walked the earth 2,000 years ago.

Her face clouded. “No, Mr. Benjamin isn’t that old, I guess.”

Lots of laugh out loud moments with children, and also moments that cause tears to come to your eyes.

“Do you think he’s gotten to see Jesus over there?”

A wistful and hopeful question. Maybe he has seen my Jesus.

For now, we see Jesus by faith. Hebrews 11. Some day we will see him face to face. The hands that were scarred for us. The One who loved us so much He took our place and the penalty for sin.

What a day that will be, Emily., when you can run to the One you love, who saved you by His grace. That is the blessed hope that keeps us as Christians going in this dark world.  That is how we continue on when the rebellion and sin around us gets worse and worse.

There’ll be no sorrow there,
No more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain,
No more parting over there;
And forever I will be,
With the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.
What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

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Stopping Abuse (From Kids) in the Home

A mother anonymously went public online seeking help regarding a rebellious daughter. She and her husband were heartbroken that the daughter they had lovingly raised had entered adolescence and had turned into a foul-mouthed, rebellious young adult. The girl rejected any requirements for change by her parents and had created a living hell in the home. The distraught mother sought advice from readers of the site about what to do to “improve her relationship” with the girl. Advice ranged from “Tell her her tattoos and body piercings look nice and don’t judge!” to “Don’t argue with her at all. Let her do what she wants, so she doesn’t see you as authoritarian.” One commenter said, “Rules create rebels.” That’s the thinking out there.

As a mother who has had five teens thus far (all of the five are adults now), my husband and I have certainly seen our fair share of what it is to parent adolescents and the challenges it presents. What I want to address in this post is not run of the mill boundary pushing, attempted (emphasis on attempted) disrespect or occasional disobedience to parents. There is hardly one of us in existence that has not tried this growing up.  What I’m talking about here are the extreme cases where a home is literally being destroyed by a young person who is at war with authority and is engaging in abusive conduct towards his or her parents.

When Tom and I were first married 21 years ago, friends of ours were going through this with a high school aged child. We would hear them describe what the daughter, raised in a Christian home with love, was doing (things like stealing from her own grandmother’s checking account, leaving school to have sex with her fast food manager, etc.), hear about the scenes she was creating in front of the other kids in the home, and we would wonder, how can they let this go on indefinitely? What is being accomplished here other than destroying the home for the other kids and destroying their own mental and physical health?

Getting back to the anonymous account from the devastated mother I referenced at the start of this post, she said her daughter was screaming at her husband and her, using the ugliest profanity, reserving the ugliest for her own mother, hurling f-bombs and then slamming the door (of the home they paid for), breaking things in her room, saying she hated them, and so forth and so on.

I will get to the point. Allowing any resident of your home, minor or otherwise, to behave in this fashion and keep residency, is to do the following: A) Send the message that abusive speech and behavior towards you is OK B) Train other children in the home that this is how conflict and disagreement is handled and how parents can be treated C) Demonstrate that your home can be turned into a war zone by anyone who so chooses D) Signal that you are not a full human being with boundaries that must be respected.

I have seen enough of the “unconditional love” of modern parenting, Christian or otherwise, to see that the current interpretation is a disaster. I believe in unconditional love, but not if it means that you and/or your spouse willingly serve as a doormat, punching bag, and a slum landlord who must accept anything and everything your tenant (that’s what an angry rebel becomes) dishes out. You also become an enabler of domestic abuse. Yes, abuse.

These young people are abusive. When this is a lifestyle pattern that harms others, it’s not “hormones”, “typical adolescent angst”, or anything else. It’s abuse. Nobody in my home will call me filthy names, accuse me with lies, and use profanity and anger in my presence. Nobody. My home, our home, is a haven from the rest of the world that has gone morally insane. This is our refuge of peace, and we will have peace. Tom and I are in complete agreement and always have been (spousal agreement on these things is crucial) about these issues. We did not allow any one of our kids to turn our home into a hell hole of rage and anger. When a child is at war with the parents, it’s time to seek alternative living arrangements for the rebel. There’s a time to work and pray with a child. There is also a time to acknowledge that their problems are doing gross harm to others.

Parents need to enter parenting having these thing straight in their minds. Our warped culture, as I pointed out earlier, thinks that having foul-mouthed, abusive teens who spit on the parents who have raised them, loved them and provided everything they have, is normal. It may be normal in America, but it should not be.

Some of the horrific headlines of parental abuse and even murder are an outgrowth of the kind of parenting we have today where parents try to be friends, shower kids with stuff instead of inculcating values, while kids morally rot in front of their eyes. Then these sociopaths and psychopaths turn on parents when they (in desperation) take technology away or make some 11th hour attempt to regain control they lost long ago.

There are some parents who have parented with love and discipline, however, and the spirit of the age takes hold in the heart of a child anyway. It is all the more devastating when you have invested your heart and soul into the life of a child only to see them wander away from truth and love. Having seen this as a parent, it can be devastating and inexplicable. That’s because we sometimes see parenting as a formula that, if adhered to, will provide certain results. That line of thinking, common among conservative Christians, is also incorrect. Sometimes kids reject what they are taught outright. They are not machines that you can program. Down the road, living in the rubble of their own bad decision making, sometimes they return to the light and to the truth.  I have seen this. Sadly, some do not. Those things are not in our hands. It’s our job to love and teach them what is right and true. What they do with that is firmly their own choice.

So what is in our hands? That is the point of the post. We must, emphasis on must, not allow any one child to destroy our homes with their sinful warfare. Love must be tough, and sometimes that means finding a residential option that removes a minor child from the home they so despise. It can be the only hope they have of seeing that their willful rebellion and abuse of others has long-term consequences. When you have a young adult living in your home who is showing complete and ongoing disrespect, the answer is obvious. Stop enabling it. Lay down the expectations of the rules of the home for young people early on, and let them know that they have one warning, after which, they will face the consequences.  Write it up as a contract so things are perfectly clear. Stick to it. Failure to do this will result in you making a mockery of your own boundaries, authority and your requirement of personal respect.

Tom and I have lived through these things through the years. When I see Christian parents in total dismay at young adult rebels wanting to sit around gaming or refusing to do the most basic chores, expecting to enjoy the fruit of their parents’ hard work while contributing nothing but mouthiness and disrespect, it’s evident where the problem lies. You get the respect you expect. It’s that simple.

I saw a teen comment on the same post online written by the dismayed mother. The teen wrote, “Parents treat us with disrespect and think we’ll respect them back.” This is the attitude I am talking about. It is the job of the parent so say, “You have clearly rejected us as parents and are most unhappy with the job we have done. We respect your right to hold an opinion. Now you can view us as landlords instead. All landlords have expectations and rules for tenants. Here are ours if you expect to stay in this home and also listed are the consequences if you decide to do things your way. Then be ready to calmly enforce it. Dispassionate, calm enforcement of the rules, and a refusal to be drawn into emotional screaming matches is essential. Letting them push your buttons puts them in control, not you.

Cause and effect. Teaching that to young people is critical. Teaching respect for others is crucial. Start early and reinforce boundaries, something that modern parents-as-friends fail to do, beginning in early childhood.

Parents are people, too. We sacrifice the best years of our lives when we have children, pouring our time, energy and resources into our kids, because we love them. Don’t send the fatal message that they can turn around and spit on you. That is the wrong message.

Addendum: To those who say this is not parenting with grace and forgiveness, understand this: Repentance is turning around. When a son or daughter is truly sorry for their behavior and treatment of parents, it will be evident by conduct, not just verbal promises. If you hastily restore fellowship with someone in your home who has been abusive as described above, you only destabilize your home and invite further chaos. We are called to forgive seventy times seven as Christians.  We are not called to lightly re-expose ourselves to health-threatening stress and abusive conduct from someone who may be manipulating to re-enter the home. This is true of any abuser, whoever they are. Forgiveness is not the same as renewed fellowship. That can only come where there is ample fruit of real heart change. Remember that.

Remember something else. When dealing with a full scale rebel who has turned your home into a war zone, be prepared for ignorant and hurtful judgements from others, some even within your own family or extended family. When you decide to be proactive and find an alternative living situation for the child/young adult, you will be accused of various and sundry parenting failures. “It must be something in their home. They are too (fill in the blank with accusation here.)” To parents already in pain, this can be doubly hurtful. I urge parents in this situation to refuse to discuss the situation with anyone placing themselves in a seat of judgment. Only you as parents know what has gone on and what drove you to an extreme decision. The response to such judges should be, “That is not your call to make. We are not interested in discussing it with you for privacy reasons. ” If they persist, cutting off contact with busybodies not showing respect for your own experience and decision making is the only wise course of action. Those who judge without the facts serve to further divide and injure you emotionally, something you don’t need at a time like this.

No Kids Allowed?

A recent question posed on a parenting website sought public opinion. The question had to do with whether or not readers supported adult-oriented restaurants banning young children. The answers were interesting to read. They ran the gamut from, “Absolutely not. Kids should be welcome anywhere”, and “Society in the West is way too anti-child,” to “Yes, they should. Adults should have a kid-free zone if they want.”

I gave my own answer which I will re-share here. To underscore one of my points, I really believe that much of the hostility towards children in public places like planes and restaurants is the direct consequence of too many children  who are not under control of their parents. If wise pet owners know the importance of obedience training (a dog not trained can be a major problem), how much more important is it to teach and train our children with eternal souls? Without child training our kids become a menace to others.  This is wholly unnecessary.

Young parents will read something like what I wrote (shared below) and sneer, “Oh, wow. Your  kids are so PERFECT! How could we ever measure up to your perfection?” I’ve seen hundreds of comments like this from moms insinuating that teaching obedience, respect for authority and respect for others is some peculiar and unattainable thing, and that any parent (no matter how  experienced) who claims they have trained their children this way is either lying or bragging.

It is sad to see the wrong-headed ideas about parenting absorbed several generations deep now where kids running rampant, screaming, throwing fits (I just saw a cartload of this at the grocery store the other day) is the norm. It is the norm now, but it should not be, in my  own opinion.

Both my husband and I grew up in homes where obeying parents and not being a public nuisance was the norm. My mother only had to look at us to achieve compliance in public places and church. We were not allowed to ask for things at other people’s homes and not allowed to whine for candy in the grocery aisle or anywhere else. No meant no. We loved our mom, which was the foundation for her child-rearing success. But we also knew she meant business. We were not terrorized by her nor repressed by her parenting. She was the final word. It was that simple.

My husband and I have taken the same approach with our children. We have the final word. Children are  in training for adulthood, and they were and are (Emily is our last one) not going to run wild and treat their neighbors (those in public) with contempt and disrespect. Concern for the well-being of others, we emphasize with her,  should be the basis for all courtesy. Life is about more than just you and your desires.

Here is my response on the parenting site. If you disagree, feel free to write so in the comments. I want to add this point. I realize that with the rise of autism, some parents are dealing with special needs which my post, for obvious reasons, does not include. Special needs are special needs. Most children simply are not expected to obey today and behave properly in public, and that is the problem.

I am a mother of six children, ranging in age from 7 to 30, also a grandma to 3 toddlers. I absolutely believe that restaurants have the right to ban service to young children. The fact that there are wonderful exceptions to the rule when it comes to young child behavior is not the point. It’s that we have an epidemic of youngish parents today who have no concept of child training and discipline. The fact that young children are not welcome in certain places should be common sense.

Decades of permissive parenting advice, advice doled out by idiotic parenting magazines and “experts” who are anything but, and the simultaneous loss of generational influence in families have resulted in child-driven couples who are more interested in being buddies with their child than teaching them the needed skills for public behavior. In short, kids run the show with their tantrums and demands for total freedom in all places, and parents often act like hapless fools, watching their children offend and interfere with other adults. I truly believe the hostility frequently shown to children in public places is a direct result of parents not having children under control. Children, when in subjection to authority, are a delight. When they are not, they can be little horrors, disrupting and defrauding others of peace and order.

With children (two from orphanages) of many personality types raised in our home, I continue to believe that parents can and should teach respect for authority and respect for others – the two are inseparable – or we are failing. Restaurants field complaints and risk loss of business from loyal customers when they allow out of control children to destroy the atmosphere the customers value. Parents are free to go elsewhere to a family-friendly setting, but when when customers pay for a quiet evening out and then descend into a chaotic atmosphere with out of control kids, it cheats customers out of what they paid for.

So that’s my position. A voice of sanity is badly needed in the wacky world of modern parenting advice. This is just one issue I feel strongly about regarding child-rearing. In the future, I’ll write on the subject of schedules and the importance of order in a child’s development.  But that’s for another day.

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Just Eat It

lunchWhen I was in school, my mother packed my lunch each day. We didn’t have hot lunch but once a month, so all the kids brown bagged it. Some days, everything she sent was what I liked. Other days, not so much. But back then, with two recesses a day out in the fresh air and no snack like they have in many classes now mid-day, by the time lunch rolled around, I was starving. By 10:30 I was starving, for that matter! So whatever Mom sent, I ate it, like it or not.

Twice recently, I caught our six-year-old complaining about something she didn’t like to eat. “I only have ketchup on this,” she said the other night. “I don’t like mustard.”Too late, there was mustard already on the hamburger.

“Eat it anyway. Life doesn’t revolve around our likes and dislikes, ” I said.

She ate it and never said another word. When we were kids, it really was different.  Times were such that our delicate little tastes weren’t catered to. Mom put dinner on, and we ate it.  Less of things we didn’t like, second helpings of what we did like. She didn’t serve up individual meals because this one doesn’t care for that shape of pasta, or this one won’t eat that kind of vegetable.

Much has been written about entitled Millennials, the cry bullies in that generation who are turning campuses into hell with their endless demands for safe spaces, speech censorship, etc. Raising people like this starts early — by catering to a toddler who refuses to drink out of this cup or demands a certain cereal bowl or he won’t eat breakfast.  Go ahead, meet your child’s every demand, but you’re making a rod for your own back and the rest of society as well.

Yesterday, Emily complained mildly  that she had been hoping for this and not that for breakfast “Eat this, and thank God for it,” I said rather abruptly.   She did. Her wishes don’t rule our home, and she knows it. It’s not that her feelings don’t come into consideration – it’s that we have the final say as parents, and whining about what you didn’t get to eat is a terrible way to start out life. The headlines have ample evidence of how that turns out.

On a separate but related note, I read yesterday that the average American prom costs $1000 dollars per student,  with kids engaging in ever more exotic “promposals” to ask a girl out. Some of these “promposals” cost hundreds of dollars in themselves, and the more over the top, the more attention you get on Instagram.  The obscenity of this, in the face of the staggering costs of higher education (read debt) can’t be adequately expressed in writing. The schools enable all of this. No, they encourage it.

Rather than parents and schools proactively reversing the trend by dialing back the scale of the prom event and making it a fun time all can participate in, the entitled kids are driving the party bus, and it is completely out of control. Those girls who aren’t asked out, or who don’t have  money for limo rides, after parties, formal dresses, shoes, accessories and getting hair, nails and make-up done for the “red carpet??  Well, kids you’re out of luck. You have a big L for loser on your back. And we wonder why we have depression and suicide on the rise in schools? Nothing is as it should be, that’s why.

We can only commit to teaching our children better in our own homes.  We are not ultimately responsible for the choices our kids make as adults, but we are responsible to do our part to raise grounded, grateful and common sense people. Sometimes that means telling them, “Just eat it.”

Raising Children in a Porn-Filled World

picWe have no idea what even young children are exposed to in this age of technology. The tidal wave of video pornography, made available thanks to things like mobile phones, has swept over our heads in this country, directly impacting our children. So great is the effect of  mass porn consumption that even secular mainstream media is covering the damage and dangers of it. (See recent Time Magazine cover story on it.) Also, see this article from Relevant Magazine, This is Your Brain on Porn. It’s a drug, and a dangerous one.

Chronic use of pornography, brains swimming in it from as young as 9 or 10, has created a health crisis where young men are finding their bodies can’t even function normally without the stimulation of porn, leading to use and abuse of medications once used only by middle-aged men. Porn changes not only brains but bodies. The damage to relationships with women, who are now expected to look and perform like porn stars, and the destruction of marriages are also tragic consequences of America’s obsession.

The Barna Group has just released a study on this. You can read about it here.

If you are concerned about what is coming into your home via the internet, please check out this video below from Covenant Eyes. This company produces software to filter out porn, and it’s available to homes and businesses.

This is not a time for passivity if we love our families. Awareness is the place to start. Wisdom sees a danger to our families and provides for it.  Nothing is more important.

Also, Focus on the Family has a series called When Children View Porn that may be of help to you. If you or someone you love is struggling with porn, back in my radio days I interviewed the Gallaghers, a couple with a ministry that helps those who want to be free from the bondage of pornography to get help.  I highly recommend Pure Life Ministries.

Book Treasures for Children

 

Emily reading a very old book from my friend, Donna. We treasure it.

Emily with a very old book from my friend, Donna. We treasure it.

My mother gave me my love for reading. We didn’t have a TV until we were much older, so she read aloud to us from her brown, upholstered rocking chair that had seen better days. As girls, Mom read to my sister, Lisa, and me from Anne of Green Gables, Mandy, The Secret Garden, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, the entire Little House series, and many more. She also bought us books for Christmas every year, some of which I still have on my shelf.

 

Those are cherished memories with my sweet mother, and I will always be grateful she introduced me to wonderful children’s literature.

Our youngest is now reading some of the Little House books and visits my bookshelves of children’s literature I have saved through the years from our older children. She pulls them off the shelf and asks me what each book is about. I look forward to her getting to know all my old friends.

I came across this post from the Deep Roots at Home blog. The author gives 100+ book titles, age-appropriately listed, for your children or grandchildren. She writes:

We are all aware that there is a battle raging in our culture for the minds and hearts of our children, but how do we as parents prepare them to live in the world? How do we teach values and build character at home on a day to day basis to equip them for a lifetime?

One of the best ways is to choose and read books that will champion and uphold what is noble, good, right and true. Most of these will be found at your library, or you can request they get it in for you, but I’ve also included Amazon links so you can see what the book looks like and read reviews, etc.

The author has compiled  a fantastic book list, and it is right in line with the literature used at our youngest daughter’s school. (I can’t say enough about the classical approach to education. No reading textbooks, just real books! But that’s another post.)

In our post-literate age when being able to read well and understand can’t be taken for granted anymore, we must give our children not only the treasures of literature, but pass on the essential values the books convey.

Dad and Emmy reading before bed. Christmas 2014

Dad and Emmy reading before bed. Christmas 2014