What Good are Your Yearbooks Now?

Ahh, the end of the school year…

It’s “that time of year” for many things, depending on the ages of our children: field days or proms, end-of-year parties or graduations, pool passes or job applications. And yearbooks. We didn’t do yearbooks in elementary school, but my children did. Then of course, they have middle and high school yearbooks.

So many yearbooks!

freshman class pic
My freshman class pic. It was 1987.

My husband and I recently—finally—unpacked some boxes and pulled out our old high school yearbooks. The kids laughed at the outdated designs of the covers before we even opened them. Then they laughed at the hairstyles, shoe choices, clothing, club names…just about everything. I’m not offended. Styles change, and one day, my grandchildren will laugh at my children’s yearbooks, too. (So there!)

They laughed, and I laughed with them for a minute. Then I began looking into my own eyes, staring back at me from those pictures. My yearbook reminded me of a few things I had forgotten in the thirty years since I was a teenager.

I was once awkward, too.

I once spent too long in front of the mirror, too.

I had braces. And glasses. And pimples. And all the worries that go along with them.

I had broken hearts and broken friendships.

I stressed out over a junior prom about which I can’t remember a single detail, even when I see myself in the yearbook photos. (Well, I remember that my date was a really nice guy.)

yearbook most likely
1991: My Senior year, voted “Most Likely to Become a Millionaire” – LOL!

Have you looked through one of your old yearbooks recently? Have you taken hold of them and looked into your own eyes until you remember all the emotions and uncertainty of that age? That’s what your teenage kids are feeling right now.

When it comes to our children, we need to remember the other side of this verse.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  –1 Corinthians 13:11

It’s okay that our children talk, think, and reason like children. That’s what they are.

Yearbooks aren’t good for much, especially if, like me, you prefer to look forward rather than backward. But they helped me. You see, I had forgotten. I was expecting my teenagers to be entirely too reasonable, too rational, too efficient. I wasn’t reasonable, rational, or efficient at that age, and I came out okay.

I’m thinking my children will, too.

God used my high school yearbooks to remind me what it feels like to be a teenager. I needed that. #teenagers and #IntentionalParenting via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

Have you looked through your high school yearbooks recently? Is there something else that helps you remember what it was like to be a teenager? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

 

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How to Talk to Your Kids About Childhood Sexual Abuse – part 2 (guest post)

Oh, how I wish we didn't need to know these kinds of things! But no family
and no child is immune to this kind of abuse. Please read Lyneta's words
and share it with others who need to know. And like Lyneta, I hope you 
never have to say these things to your child.

Last week, I shared some ways to talk to children about preventing sexual abuse and our duty as parents to protect them. But the sad fact is, no matter how diligent we are, some parents are faced with helping our children heal and recover after the damage is already done.

When I finally got the courage to tell my husband how I was traumatized as a child, and how dismissive and insensitive my caregivers were, he said, “It sounds like you could have healed a lot faster if you’d been heard and validated.” Continue reading “How to Talk to Your Kids About Childhood Sexual Abuse – part 2 (guest post)”

How to Talk to Your Kids About Childhood Sexual Abuse – part 1 (guest post)

It's often in the news these days, and Intentional Parenting means we get
real with our kids about it (even though it's often uncomfortable). I'm so
thankful for this month's guest! Lyneta not only grounds the issue of
childhood sexual abuse in scripture but also offers practical advice for 
helping our kids be strong. Read more about Lyneta and connect with her at 
the bottom of the post.

Early in the history of man, the beautiful way God created for husband and wife to connect in intimacy got twisted into something harmful. Ever since, the enemy has been able to use even a few minutes of inappropriate sexual contact to do significant, long-term damage to the innermost spirit of any person.

Apparently, he employs this tactic often. In the United States, 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys are molested or assaulted by an adult by the time they’re 18. Continue reading “How to Talk to Your Kids About Childhood Sexual Abuse – part 1 (guest post)”

Imperfect Parenting

Go read this. Really.

https://just18summers.com/the-myth-of-perfect-parenting/

Because no matter how intentional we are, we’ll never do this parenting thing perfectly.

Full disclosure: I’m a fan and occasional guest contributor at Just18Summers. And Edie Melson, who wrote this piece, is the director of Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

How to Hug a Lightning Bolt (flash fiction)

Here’s a flash fiction piece I wrote awhile back. I thought you all, in the throws of Intentional Parenting, might like a little something lighter…and sweet.

Aubrey twisted around on the couch, tucked her feet under her legs, and stared out the window at the rain. She sighed deeply, in the way she imagined characters in books sighing.

The couch bounced an inch closer to the window before Aubrey finished her next breath. It was Zadie, plopping down with a sigh of her own. Aubrey kept her eyes trained out the window. Mom and Dad were right to choose opposite ends of the alphabet for our names, Aubrey thought. We are as different as A is from Z.  Even our sighs are different. Continue reading “How to Hug a Lightning Bolt (flash fiction)”

It’s the Little Things (guest post)

So I did something crazy. I caught a ride to a writers' conference with a 
complete stranger. Okay, I knew her on-line, but I'd never actually met her 
before. The four-hour (each way) trip passed in minutes as we talked about 
anything and everything. At some point, she told me about her family's 
Friday night traditions; I knew she needed to share their story with you! So 
please welcome Stephanie Pavlantos, now my actual face-to-face 
writer-friend, to Intentional Parenting. Read more about her at the end.

Three children under three. That was my world. My husband worked long hours at our family restaurant, making me feel like a single mom.

When I went to the doctor for swollen lymph nodes, pain all over my body, and a sore throat, she said, “You have mono, but we rarely see that in women your age, are you under a lot of stress?”

“Ha! Does having three children under three years old count?” I asked.

I had two-and-a-half year old preemie twins (boy and girl) and a one-year-old son. My oldest son, who has cerebral palsy and was just learning to walk, needed a lot of extra attention, including therapy, not to mention extra daily help.

I needed to make life as simple as I could.

Like all children, mine wanted to have fun and be entertained. But I was only one person, and taking them out by myself  was not only nerve-racking (hence, the mono) but also expensive.

Matthew had physical and occupational therapy every Friday morning. During the summer, the local Children’s Hospital had a really inexpensive outdoor lunch for the outpatient children and their parents. It wasn’t the most nutritious, but it was easy! We got a drink, chips, and a hot dog at the hospital’s playground, and my kids loved it. I thought, I can do this. So, at different times of the month I would pack up their lunches, put each in their own little lunch bag, and take everyone to the park. They played, they ate, they had fun, and it cost me very little.

ip - little things image
Stephanie’s husband and young sons, watching TV (c) Stephanie Pavlantos

Another tradition involved Fridays. After physical and occupational therapy every Friday, the first thing we did was go to the library for books and movies. These were going to last them all week, so they could each get two movies and as many books as they could carry, or, um, I could carry. From there, we went to the local drug store where they could each pick one of the discounted snacks to eat later. When we got home, they popped in the first movie while I straightened up my house. Dinner was always pizza. My youngest is almost twenty-one now, and he still wants pizza on Friday night. “It’s a tradition,” he says.

We all watched an age appropriate movie while enjoying our pizza. Then, all three kids went to the twins’ bedroom and watched the next movie on another TV while eating their special snack. That’s when I finally got to sit and watch something I wanted to. My twenty-two year old daughter recently told me this is a favorite memory. She enjoyed the routine and looked forward to it each week.

We have done many other things with our kids over the years—big and small trips. But sometimes it’s the little, inexpensive things which bring us together and let our children know we want to be with them. This is what they remember.

Sometimes the simple family routines become special memories when you’re spending time together. An #IntentionalParenting guest post from Stephanie Pavlantos via @Carole_Sparks. #familytime (click to tweet)

Does your family share some simple but special habits? Do your older kids remember a childhood pattern you thought was insignificant? We would love to hear your stories in the comments below!

 

About Stephanie

ip - stephanie pavlantos headshotStephanie Pavlantos is passionate about getting people into God’s Word, where they can discover God’s love for them, their identity in Christ, and healing for the wounds of this life, while forgiving those who caused their pain. She has been a Bible study teacher and speaker for over fifteen years. Stephanie’s work-in-progress, a Bible study called Yeshua, God’s Son, our Treasure: A Quest through the Book of Hebrews, recently won an award at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

Stephanie and her husband, Mike, have been married for 26 years and have three college students: Matthew, Alexandria, and Michael. Stephanie also loves animals. Her brood currently includes has two dogs, four ducks, three goats, and many chickens.

Get to know Stephanie through her blog, or on Facebook.

 

A New Season of Firsts (guest post)

I love hearing from parents who are further along the parenting path. This
month, Carol Roper reflects on how Christmas has changed through the years.
If you're one who likes the holidays to stay the same, these may be just
the words you need to hear/read. Make sure to learn more about Carol and
connect with her at the end of the post!

I remember so many of my kids’ firsts. Their first birthdays, haircuts and sleepovers. First days of school, first friends and first dates. One of the most anticipated occasions, however, was their first Christmas.

My husband and I were married eight years before our oldest was born, so I was ready to celebrate the wonder and excitement of the season in a new way. I have to admit, though, it was a bit of a letdown. Six-month-olds don’t really get into Christmas. They’d rather chew on wrapping paper than open all those new toys.

As for my second-born, we were a little more practical and got him an exersaucer for his big gift. But when we set him in it, he promptly threw up and spiked a high fever. That wasn’t the dream Christmas I’d envisioned either.

But since then we’ve had many great Christmas holidays—it’s still my favorite season.

I’ve always loved to play Christmas music during the evenings in December. I remember when my daughter, Elise, was only two and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” came on the radio. I’d crank up the music and we’d laugh and dance wildly across our little den. I can still see those big curls bouncing around her little cherub face. To this day, when we hear that song, we’ll look at each other and grin.

There were the annual Christmas card pictures I had to cajole my son, Jacob, into posing for. The magic reindeer dust we’d sprinkle on the lawn on Christmas Eve to make sure Santa would find us. And the holiday baking that always made such a mess but brought lots of smiles.

As they got older I realized I needed to make Christmas more Christ-centered so I began a new tradition that included three gifts for each family member to represent the gifts of the Magi: gold, frankincense and myrrh. This new tradition brought more depth to our Christmas morning, reminding us of the reason we celebrate.

This year will be our newest and most difficult first as a family: the first Christmas since not just one, but both of our children, have moved out—less than six months apart.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…  Ecclesiastes 3:1

My son married a wonderful young woman last July and my daughter built her own house. My husband and I are suddenly empty-nesters. Grappling with what that means for us is something I really hadn’t spent much time pondering. In the back of my mind I knew it was coming but didn’t think it would arrive so quickly.

I’m not sure what to expect this year. Elise says she’ll spend Christmas Eve night in her old room, so she’ll be here Christmas morning. But Jacob and his bride will be visiting her family, so we’ll see them later in the day. Marriage means sharing our children with their spouse’s family.

No. Christmas morning won’t be the same.

But I’m determined to be intentional about adding new traditions to our growing family—ones that will stir the hearts of my children and, hopefully someday, grandchildren. My goal is to always have our home be a place of respite, love and joy. A place where Christ and family are cherished and celebrated. I’ll just have to be a little more creative in implementing these traditions, remembering they’ll look a little different from here on out. But different doesn’t have to mean bad. After all, we’ve gained another daughter.

Don’t be afraid to change.

You may lose something good but you may gain something better.

 – Pelfusion.com

Let your #Christmastraditions change as your family life changes. Just-in-time #IntentionalParenting reflections from @CarollynnRoper via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

How have you prepared yourself for the holiday season after your kids leave home? Are there any new traditions you’ve added that your kids (or you and your husband) appreciate? I’d love to hear your ideas!

IP - Carol Roper headshot

Carol Roper is a designer/draftsman and writer who freelances from her home in South Carolina. Her articles have appeared in Guideposts Magazine, Guideposts.org, American Daily Herald and ChristianDevotions.us. She and her husband, John, live on a farm where they enjoy hosting friends and family around bonfires and watching sunsets from their front porch. Visit her at www.carolroper.org, where she encourages women to build strong, godly homes one story at a time.

 

 

Parenting at the Movies

Y’all, I’m excited about this one: I had a guest post over at In the Quiver the other day! It starts like this:

We love to go to the movies as a family, but I don’t always love what we see on the screen. Sometimes my gut reaction is to cover my children’s eyes and ears until the scene passes, but that’s not always practical, especially now that they’re older and watch movies with their friends. Continue reading “Parenting at the Movies”

Four Tips to Disciplining your Introverted Child (guest post)

I want you all to meet Kass Fogle, a writer friend of mine who advocates 
for the shy, socially anxious, and/or introverted in our churches and 
communities. She's also a thoughtful parent, which is why I asked her to 
share with us today. Oh, and by the way, Kass has a fantastic sense of 
humor; seriously, if you want a frequent laugh, follow her on Instagram! 
Let us know what you think in the comments at the bottom.

My children have provided some of my most cherished memories. They have also provided memories I’d rather forget.

Like the time I fireman-carried my two-year old son while very pregnant with my daughter, leaving behind a cart full of groceries.

Or the time my five-year old daughter chose to share her “texture-aversion” to shin guards 5 minutes before a game. To this day, I will attest they were lined with fire ants.

IP - Kass Fogle ducks
courtesy of Pixabay

While the cherubic memories far outweigh the demonic snapshots of our lives, one thing is for certain: kids are kids and will behave in illogical and immature ways.

Our challenge as parents is to respond differently. Easier said than done. In fact, I’m quite guilty of throwing my own tantrums. (For more on momtrums, read When Good Moms Lose It)

But, God’s word instructs parents not to provoke their children.

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.  –Colossians 3:21 NKJV

One way we can avoid provoking our children is to pay attention to how we discipline them based on their personality type. Introverted children respond very differently to discipline than their extroverted siblings.

Introverted children (and adults) tend to be more reflective, self-aware, and judicious, therefore very responsive to discipline that matches their personality.

While discipline is based on many factors, here are four tips to guide you when disciplining your introverted child:

  1. Instead of, “Answer me!” consider telling them, “I want you to think about why this is wrong.”

Your child is introspective. Try not to assume he is ignoring you or trying to make up a lie just because he is quiet or not responding to cues immediately. He is likely processing the situation. Consider giving your child time to think about your request then provide the option to respond in writing. Introverts typically share their thoughts or feelings more easily in writing, even with those they love.

  1. Instead of asking them, “How does this make you feel?” consider asking, “What will you do differently in the future?”

Introverts are already hyper-aware of their feelings so calling them out shames them. Instead, have them develop a plan for what they will do next time. Introverts are problem solvers and will rise to this challenge.

  1. Don’t assume a time-out is always the answer. Instead, match the consequence to the situation and child.

Just because your child is an introvert, does not mean they do not want to be heard. Locking them away in a room may not bring the change in behavior you seek. They may enjoy solitude, but no one enjoys loneliness.

  1. Don’t be afraid to share your experiences. Instead, speak up – tell them you’ve made a similar mistake or that you’ve made bad decisions too.
IP - Kass Fogle mom-daughter
courtesy of Pixabay

Introverts tend to exaggerate their offense and worry themselves into quite a state over it. While they may not be as open to sharing their own feelings, they are usually great listeners. Hearing about your experiences and mistakes puts their own transgressions into perspective.

When you combine these four tips, you are creating a safe environment for your child to learn and grow from their mistakes.

God has certainly blessed us as parents when He chose us specifically for raising our kids up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). There is never a shortage of methods, theories and tips. Studies will show this and research will show that, but one thing remains the same and that is our Father’s love for us. It is by His example that we lead our children, introverts and extroverts, “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

4 #IntentionalParenting “insteads” to better #discipline our #introverted children–because they think differently. From @KassFogle via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

Have you found that your children respond differently to discipline because of their personalities? Have any helpful tips for the rest of us (introverted or extroverted)? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

IP - Kass Fogle headshotKass Fogle is an award-winning author and speaker. Her weekly blog, The Introverted Believer is shared each Wednesday on Kassfogle.com.

As an introvert with a side dish of social anxiety, she’s struggled with understanding her role in the Christian Community where small groups are the foundation. This struggle has inspired her to learn more about personality types so she can encourage other introverts, and those who love them, to live out their faith in their work, their marriages, and their friendships.

Kass lives in south-central Illinois with her husband, amazing daughter and two crazy cats. Her son, the source for much of her content, plays football at Olivet Nazarene University. Kass welcomes conversation about coffee, chocolate and comfortable clothes, but please, no small talk!

Please visit her website to download Friendship with a Purpose – a journaling page to strengthen your friendships, free when you subscribe to kassfogle.com.

Related: Disicipline is Designed to Disciple

 

 

Little Pitchers, Big Ears

The three-year-old squirmed in his stroller. I said, “Hello” to his mom and smiled at the boy.

She greeted me with a tired smile. “You want him? You can have him. I’m over it.”

I laughed awkwardly. I knew she was joking, but did her son? Maybe he didn’t hear her.

Or maybe he did.

We all have difficult parenting days, and not just when they’re toddlers. We’ve all wished someone would take away just one of our kids—you know which one!—for a day or two. I am not “throwing shade” (as my teenager says) on anyone for feeling that way. In fact, it’s healthy to recognize these feelings. It’s also healthy to take the breaks we need from our kids in order to be completely with our kids the rest of the time. I took breaks. I still do.

But do our kids understand all this? Probably not. Toddlers and young children are very literal, concrete thinkers. Imagine what a three-year-old might think if he heard his mother (or father) trying to give him away.

  • She doesn’t want me anymore.
  • She doesn’t love me.
  • She is sending me away.
  • I’m worthless.
  • I can’t behave.
  • I don’t deserve her attention.

You get the idea.

Little pitchers have big ears.

IMG_1692
This pitcher, which I made back in my before-children, pottery-throwing days, has only one “ear.” (c) Carole Sparks

This old saying means, “Be careful what you say. It might not be appropriate for young children.” Apparently, the imagery is that of large handles which look like ears on pitchers. (I had to look this up. A small pitcher might have two big handles. The imagery is weird, but the truth behind it is spot-on.

We may not use pitchers very often anymore, but our “little pitchers” still walk around with enormous ears.

Oh, be careful little ears what you hear.

There’s an old children’s song in which the singer advises various parts of his body to pay attention to what they take in. (I should have used it in my Reflections on Sunday School Songs series.) All of us should evaluate the images, sounds, and ideas we allow into our minds, but a young child shouldn’t have to filter his parent’s words. It’s up to us to guard our words in front of children no matter how exasperated or tired we feel.

Build Others Up.

Paul instructs us to be sure our language edifies.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  –Ephesians 4:29

Our children are no exception to the “helpful for building up” rule, and they are always listening—especially when it’s about them!

Need to vent? Find someone to talk to (such as a mother with older children) and schedule a time away from the kids. If you’re really struggling, talk to a counselor. Whoever you find to listen, talk about your difficulties and vent your frustrations, but also pray together and look for practical, small-step actions you can take to prevent future frustration.

Do you find yourselves making jokes about your kids that they wouldn’t understand? Listen, none of us are perfect, especially when it comes to our words (James 3:2). But let’s all pay a bit more attention to what our children hear about themselves when we’re talking to other adults.

With what are you filling the “little pitchers” in your life? Those big ears collect more of your words than you think! An #IntentionalParenting approach to what our kids hear from us…because #kidsheareverything, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

Have your words, spoken when you thought your kids weren’t listening, come back to haunt you? We would love to read some wisdom from parents of older/grown children. Or do you know another subject we should keep out of our children’s ears? I always love to hear from you in the comments below!