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”

Advertisements

Four Tips to Disciplining your Introverted Child

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!

 

Slow Down and Breathe (guest post)

You don't have to meet someone in person to respect and appreciate them.
Leigh Ann is a wise and thoughtful parent who lives with purpose, like 
Intentional Parenting should be done. I've benefited from her thoughts many
times, and I know you will here. I'm so glad to welcome her here today.  Be
sure to connect with her using the links at the bottom.

I leaned against the wall of the clothing store changing area and worked to stay upright and attentive. My older daughters had an “urgent” need for new jeans, so I had promised a quick shopping trip after an already long school day and several hours of ball practice.

The week had been a flurry of practices, out-of-town ballgames, and church youth activities—the typical whirlwind of (dis)organized chaos.

So I sighed. And I leaned.

The changing area was empty (other moms fortunate enough to be home starting dinner) so the girls grabbed adjacent rooms. I closed my eyes and waited for the fashion show.

Until I heard a giggle. I looked, and there they were—just beneath the changing room curtains—three beautiful pairs of feet.

Three pairs. Three dressing room stalls. Three places in life.

Tiny baby feet—well, not so tiny. Six years old, mesmerized by her own reflection. Dancing to piped-in music. Thrilled to be a part of what her big sisters were doing. Bright-eyed and eager to follow bigger footsteps.

Middle-sized feet—stretching, yearning to slip into jeans perhaps “too old” or “too big.” Coming into her own. A girlish beauty with one foot in the teen years, one in childhood. A pair of feet on the threshold of possibility.

Almost-grown feet—stylish and trendy. Lovely, feminine, approaching womanhood, but still so much a girl. Feet that “must have” this or that. Always longing for something new, only to discard it a moment later.

Three pairs of feet. Different, but the same. A three-dimensional picture of the glorious spectrum of childhood. Innocent, hopeful, budding. Dreaming of possibilities, of a future.

Imagining life in the next dressing room.

As I waited for my daughters to model their favorite finds, I paused to take in the now gold-hued moment. My heart reached out to God: Please, Lord, let me remember this day. May this image be engraved on my heart and mind, a reminder to be thankful, and to pray for the girls individually and often. May I never be impatient with their life-seasons or push them into the next dressing room. Help me to nurture them where they are, in this time. Thank you, Father, for slowing my frantic pace and opening my eyes.

In the blur of the everyday, we need to stop and simply be. To open our physical and spiritual eyes and see what is before us. To gather priceless snapshots in time and tuck them away for another—quieter—day.

To be still, breathe, and be thankful. To live Psalm 90:12—Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

This day, this moment is a rare treasure. How will we breathe it in?

*

(Originally published on Just18Summers.com)

“In the blur of the everyday, we need to stop and simply be. To be still, breathe, and be thankful.” #IntentionalParenting wisdom–even on a quick shopping trip–from @LThomasWrites, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet) 

Have you had one of those “I have to remember this!” moments in parenting? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

 

IP - LeighAnnThomas_headshot2Leigh Ann Thomas is a wife, mother, grammy, writer, and chocolate enthusiast. She has penned four books, including Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace—Inspiration for the Mother of the Bride (SonRise Devotionals) and Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone—Inspiration for Women in the Middle (Elk Lake Publishing, 2019 release). A regular contributor to Just18Summers.com and InTheQuiver.com, she has also published with Southern Writers Magazine, Power for Living, Southern Writers Best Short Fiction, and other magazines and compilations. You can find Leigh Ann on her front porch daydreaming story plots or blogging at LeighAThomas.com. Connect on Twitter at @LThomasWrites.

 

Stack the Stones and Tell the Stories

I love those historical markers you see along the roads. They’re embossed metal, with print so small you could never read it from the car, even if you weren’t zooming past. Some stand beside busy thoroughfares, but some are on quiet streets or by scenic overlooks. We stop if we can. (I guess we’re history nerds.)

When we read those signs, we learn a little bit of relevant history. But more importantly, we’re reminded that we’re standing where many others have stood: living, fighting, succeeding (and failing), dying. Continue reading “Stack the Stones and Tell the Stories”

Praying for Our Children and Grandchildren (guest post)

Connie Wohlford is one of those people with whom I connected the moment we met. She has the heart of a grandmother, and I mean that as a great compliment. I’ve watched her encourage her social media followers to pray for over a year now, so I’m happy she agreed to be my guest on Intentional Parenting! Learn more about Connie and connect with her at the end of this post.

Every day my parents prayed for me. Do you have any idea how comforting that is? If you have or had parents like that, then you know.

I didn’t realize this until I was grown, but when I did I was flooded with gratitude. That awareness triggered feelings of love to well up in my heart—love for them and receiving of love from them. Only God knows the bad things I escaped because of their prayer covering.

Have you prayed for your children (and grandchildren) today?

Six reasons to pray daily for the children in our lives

  1. It’s our responsibility.

Most likely no one else on the planet will be praying for our child daily. If you’re a grandparent or concerned adult, although you don’t have the responsibilities of parenting, you can still pray for the children you love.

  1. Jesus set the example for us.

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.Matthew 19:13

We have no greater example in all matters.

  1. We are setting an example for our children.

Our children need to know that prayer is important to us and that we pray for them daily. Our own example is our chief teaching tool as we instruct children in spiritual matters.

  1. We want our children to understand their need for salvation and that Jesus is the only way.

Even young children can comprehend this at a level that makes sense to them. The Holy Spirit knows how to work in each young spirit.

Growing up in an evangelical church, I knew at a young age I needed salvation found only in Jesus. At age nine, I’d been pondering this for months. I remember mentally listing my sins. Then one Sunday I decided it was time. I walked forward and gave my hand to Pastor Rushing and my heart to Jesus.

  1. There’s a war going on, and the lives and souls of our children are the spoils.

In the spiritual realm, warfare is taking place between God’s angels and Satan’s demons. Rest assured, Satan is real and wants our children. We can pray with confidence, knowing our Heavenly Father wants our children too.

  1. Pray for wisdom in parenting.

The role as parent is our most important job. Doing it well pays great dividends. We’d be hard-pressed to be great parents without divine wisdom and intervention. Consistency is key and that takes effort. Help from above is necessary.

Regarding His statutes, God spoke through Moses:

You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.Deut. 11:19-21 NKJV

Parenting is a daily responsibility that requires daily invoking the help and power from our Creator. God loves our kids and wants the best for our them. Only with God’s help can we do our very best to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6 NKJV).

Now we know why to pray. Here’s the what to pray.

Seven important things to pray for our children

  1. Pray that, at a young age, they will realize their need to have a relationship with Jesus and will believe in and receive Him as Savior and Lord. If your children are already older, it’s not too late. Still pray they will accept this Great Salvation (Hebrews 2:3-4).
  2. Pray they will develop a keen sense of right and wrong, based on biblical principles and a Christian worldview.
  3. Pray they will love God’s Word and yearn for its daily encouragement and instruction.
  4. Pray they will hunger and thirst for righteousness which will be reflected in their behavior and thought lives.
  5. Pray they will develop a strong prayer life that leads them into intimate fellowship with their Creator.
  6. Pray they will be tuned in to the Holy Spirit’s voice leading them day by day. This will help them avoid such things as being unequally yoked in relationships, especially marriage (2 Corinthians 6:14).
  7. Pray God’s Word over your children. As you read your Bible, when you come across a passage you desire for your kids, pray those words over them. Even speak it out loud. When I do this, I sometimes write the name of a certain child or grandchild next to the verse.

So. We need to pray! We need to pray big time—every day—for our children and for ourselves as parents, grandparents, and mentors.

IP-Connie Wohlford imageI’ve seen the results of allowing children to figure out spiritual matters for themselves, and it’s often not a pretty sight. It’s true that sometimes they find their way to God without parental involvement. Nonetheless, from what I’ve observed, the results of much sewing to the wind has reaped the whirlwind indeed (Hosea 8:7a). What does the whirlwind look like? Addiction, sexual promiscuity and confusion, prison, mental and emotional insecurities, animosity toward God and parents, spiritual confusion, and all manner of chaos.

So, let’s pray. Let’s pray every day for our children and grandchildren. Their eternal destiny may depend on it.

What is your greatest prayer for the children in your life? Tell God, right now. Release it to Him and take heart in knowing He hears. Thank Him and worship Him because He loves, He knows, He cares, and He can work in ways that astound us.

6 reasons to pray for our children and 7 things to pray for them. #IntentionalParenting means we #prayforkids, via @Carole_Sparks and @Wohlford_Connie. (click to tweet)

What is your greatest prayer for your children? Please share it in the comments below because someone else (namely me!) may not have thought to pray about that. Any other thoughts you’d like to share about prayer? That’s what the comment section is for. Connie and I both look forward to hearing from you!

IP-Connie Wohlford head shotConnie Wohlford, has been a Bible teacher and ministry leader in her church for many years. Having a BS degree in education, she formerly taught in public school. She has taken numerous biblical studies classes and has written several Bible studies.

Connie has published five children’s books, a devotional, and is a contributing author for the Bible study, Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character. Also, she has had several articles published, edits for ministry publications and enjoys speaking for civic and church groups.

Passionate for God and His Word, she desires to see individuals come to know Jesus and deepen their intimacy with God. As well, she adores her family, (which includes eight teen grandchildren), and enjoys travel, cooking, and reading.

Connect with Connie: FacebookTwitterConnie’s BlogInstagram.

Connie posts a scripture-based prayer for children on her Facebook page every day. Each one is a good springboard for an appeal to God on behalf of the children in our lives. You can see the prayers at this link.

Want more on praying for our children? 

Why We Let Our Kids Cuss at the Dinner Table

Our plates were full. We had said the blessing, and our forks were busy. We were talking about our day, like we usually did around the dinner table, when my seven-year-old dropped an F-bomb in the middle of her sentence.

I swallowed my steamed broccoli without chewing.

The look on her face told me she knew she’d done something…questionable. “Hey sweetie, where’d you hear that word?”

“What word?”

As if she didn’t know!

I made myself say it as casually as possible.

She answered just as casually, “At school.”

Of course. (I could probably have guessed which child said it, but we won’t go into that here.) I glanced at our four-year-old, then back to the older child. “Do you know what it means?”

“Not really. Is it a bad word, like the s-word?” (By which, she meant stupid.)

Um, yes! We talked about the definition for a few minutes, treading lightly toward the level of detail her young mind needed. Then someone changed the subject—thankfully.

We could have shut her down, scolded her for saying such a terrible word, and refused to discuss it. But what good would that do? We would have created something dangerous, something worth trying again.

Instead, we demystified it. We made it not-a-big-deal by explaining the word and why we didn’t use it.

Before you start busting out Bible verses on me, let me assure you this is where we always end up:

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

That little girl is fifteen now. She’s learning to drive.

In the intervening eight years, we’ve had several other inappropriate and/or disgusting conversations at the dinner table, in the car, and on the couch. We’ll probably have more in the next few years, too. At least I hope we do.

Here’s why we chose to parent this way and what I want my kids to know.

  1. My children can ask me anything, and they won’t get in trouble for asking it. I want to be their source of information because I speak from a Christ-centered worldview in an unchristlike world. That’s means sometimes we say words I would never voice on my own and talk about topics I’d rather not discuss. They will discuss these things with someone. Better that it’s me than their peers or the internet.
  2. I was a kid/teenager once, too. I know all the filthy language, all the rude gestures, and most of the dirty jokes. They can’t shock or offend me. (Okay, sometimes these days, my oldest child explains slang terms to me. I’m okay with that.) Therefore, I’ve already made the choice not to talk this way, and I have good reasons, which I will gladly share.
  3. Language becomes offensive in how we use it, not in the combination of letters. The F-word, the B-word, and the S-word have a history. They actually meant something in the past, but our culture has corrupted them. Other aspects of culture are corrupted as well. We can step back and talk about those things with our children, recognizing what glorifies God and what doesn’t, or we can create barriers to their understanding.

In the end, whether it’s bad words or dirty jokes, our standard is biblical. When we (and our children) know why certain words are off-limits, we can all make better choices about the language we use. When we make good choices about language, we’re already making good choices about our thoughts, and we’re on our way to making good choices about our actions.

That time my 7y.o. dropped the F-bomb at our dinner table and what I’ve been doing ever since. #IntentionalParenting sometimes means delving into #offensivelanguage, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

Have your kids even busted out a “bad word” at an inappropriate time? Most have. We’d love to hear/read your funny story! Don’t forget to include how you handled it.

Do you have any good advice on helping our children understand and control their language? Please share in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

When Letting Others Help Raise Your Child is the Best Thing You Can Do for Him (guest post)

I already knew I wanted Vanessa to share with my readers here, but when she
wrote on her own blog about getting help for our children when they need it,
it was clearly time! I am so thankful she sat down in the middle of 
everything else and poured out her heart for us. This is long (even though 
I edited), so go heat up your coffee (or whatever) and then "listen" to 
Vanessa for a few minutes.

The first few times I said special needs, Autism or something similar, I brawled, I sobbed, I cried. I grieved actively (by which I mean I cried every day) for several months, then on and off. I’d be fine for awhile but then the grief would hit me for a few weeks, and I’d be a weepy mess again, just able to do the day to day things, and nothing more.

But since then I’ve been—and am still—broken. I’ve allowed God to do what He wishes in my life. In other words, I accept what has happened. I’m not fighting, and I’m not running in the opposite direction.

I’ve also been restored and refreshed and held in loving hands. He has walked with me and watched me…and He knows.

Three years ago, our son was diagnosed with Autism. He was 3 years old.

Before the diagnosis, he had already had speech therapy at home, then with our school district. They transferred him to the Early Childhood Program for the Autistic Preschool, where he received his diagnosis. When we received approval from the insurance, we transferred him to home ABA therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis) for 30-35 hours a week, and after being on the waiting list for a year and a half, we transferred him to a center-based ABA therapy.

This has been a long three-year process for all four of us. My husband and I have struggled and survived and thrived. My daughter has learned to live with a brother who constantly needs us and requires a lot of attention. She has matured and grown and knows how to ask for her needs and for attention from us.

Our little boy has a fun personality and a great sense of humor. Even with his rigidity and obsessions, he’s adaptable and easy going. I promise you that is not an oxymoron!

I struggled with my identity through all the changes and have slowly and reluctantly let go of what I expected to do and be for my son. I’m his mother, and love him to bits, and I’d go through fire and storm to keep him safe, but… BUT. Sometimes I don’t know how to help him. Sometimes I have no idea of what he wants or what he is trying to communicate. Sometimes I don’t know how to deal with him.

At such times, it’s annoying and embarrassing to know that others (who are not his mother) know better. Therapists who knew what to do walked in and out of my door daily for the two years we did home therapy. Most of the time (99.9%), they were younger than me. Frequently (90%) they did not have kids. And they still knew what to do.

Therapists have firmly and gently let me know that they will deal with his meltdowns (they did not want my son to run and hide behind me every time they asked him to do something). Therapists have explained what they did that worked (which I wouldn’t have know to try). When I was baffled, therapists told me “I think he’s feeling…,” and they were right.

Through this journey, I’ve learned to let them do what they are good at while I tried to step back. I’ve learned my boy still needs me as his Mom (He runs to me for comfort and security.), but I’m not necessarily the best person to help him with challenging behaviors. I’ve also learned that my daughter needs me as much as her brother, and so when there was a therapist at home to focus on my son, I’ve spent with her. I had to let go of my expectation of doing everything for both kids.

Right now, my son is at a center. I drop him off in the mornings and pick him up in the evenings like I was dropping him off at school. During the day he’s in the very good hands of several therapists. I get updates when I pick him up, but I’m not watching every minute of his therapy. I have options to go to the center and watch (with permission) a couple days a week, but so far I’ve only done that once!

Here’s where I think the therapists are helping to raise him. Children “catch” things and are not really “taught” everything. Do you remember telling your child a carrot was orange and an apple red? I didn’t for my daughter and she still knows the difference, but we had to teach my son such facts with pictures and 3-D objects, and it took several years. For him, everything needs to be taught: from body parts, to being kind, to looking when his name is called, to a myriad of things that make a child successful in society. He has taught himself things he is interested in, including alphabets, spelling complex words, numbers up to 1000 or more, and now colors and numbers in Spanish.

Everything he learns at therapy is designed to make him successful in society. When my daughter was five and six, she received stickers or a “good color” on the chart for listening, for obeying, for being quiet when she asked to be, or for sitting still/doing her work while the teacher helped someone else. She did not really receive stickers for her academic knowledge. It was her behavior that made her “a lovely child to have in class.” My son, her younger brother, will beat her for knowledge (he’s reading at a 3rd grade level and math is quite high as well), but for behavior he’s far behind.

He’s not the only one who’s been learning for the past three years.

  • I have learned it is all right to accept help from these (younger) therapists.
  • I have learned to let them teach him and me what to do, without it affecting my ego and my pride.
  • I have learned to be his mom and only his mom, while I am still my daughter’s mother and teacher in so many ways.
  • I have learned this is a season in which God has us for His Glory, as always.
    • It’s a season (even if it lasts all my life) in which He refines me and breaks me and molds me in His image.
    • It’s a season in which I take the comfort I have received, and I reach out to comfort those going through something similar.
    • It’s a season to mourn, yes, but also to rejoice.
    • It’s a season to acknowledge my weakness, and to lean completely on His strength.

He who made the heavens and the earth, made me in His image to reflect His Glory (Psalm 8). He made my son as well.

He who has plans and a purpose for me and created me in advance to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). He has a plan and purpose for my son too.

In John 9 the disciples asked Jesus about the man blind from birth. They wanted to know who had sinned, the blind man or his parents. Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3), and then He healed the man. I hold on to this promise for my son. This happened so that the works of God will be manifested in him.

Asking for help, especially for our children in areas where we are deficient, is a blow to our self-esteem, our pride, and our identity. BUT. We need to find our identity in Christ alone. We need to look to Him to pat us on our back and say, “I see you, precious child. I love how hard you’re working. I know your sorrow. Lean into me, Take My strength. Accept help, it’ll be all right.” We don’t have to accept what society expects of us to do for our children.

Sometimes letting others help us raise our children is the best thing we can do for them.

When letting someone else raise your child is the best thing you can do for them. An #IntentionalParenting guest post from @VanessaSamuel85, via @Carole_Sparks. #autismspectrum (click to tweet)

As I told Vanessa when she first sent these words to me, this is one of the most raw and beautiful things I’ve read in a long time. I see her putting her foot down, standing firm on what is true of herself, her son, and our God. Send her a little encouragement in the comments below and/or connect with her via the links in her bio. If you’re willing, we would also love to hear (in the comments) how your life has been affected by Autism.

 

IP - Vanessa SamuelVanessa Samuel is wife to a pediatric specialist and mother to two children, one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum. Her family has lived in three different states for her husband’s work. She’s constantly putting down roots and pulling them up again. Her one Rock through it all, however, has been Her Savior. She loves writing. Through her blog she desires to help people discover the beauty and wonder found in Scripture, and so turn their eyes upon The Author.

Social media connections: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

 

Except for That One Kid

Your child comes home from the first day of a new school year. He sits down at the table, and you refrain from plying him with questions about every single detail. Instead, you focus on what’s most important to him: which friends are in his class.

He lists some familiar names.

You: “So you like everyone in your class?

Him: “Well, I don’t know a few of them, but I like the rest…except for Whit.”

He sighs. You sigh. You look at each other. “Whit” is a familiar name (that I picked entirely at random for the purpose of this example), but not for good reasons. Whit disrupts the class during reading. He cheats on math tests. He bullies and manipulates on the playground. He refuses to eat the cafeteria food then complains about his stomach growling during social studies. He tries to be friends in all the wrong ways. And he lies.

You sit down across from your child, stalling while you silently pray your guts out. How can you help him honorably deal with the difficult kid in his class?

I’ve faced this situation with my children in both elementary and middle school. I’ve learned the answers to the following four questions helped us show Jesus’ love to “that kid”—not always perfectly, but consistently.

4 Questions to Help Us Love “That Kid”

  1. What do we know about him?

Help your child remember things Whit has said in the past, situations he has faced, comments he may have overheard.

a. What is his home situation?

  • Maybe he plays video games from the time he gets home from school until 2am. That shows a lack of supervision and no set bedtime.
  • Maybe he faces older siblings who are bullies themselves.
  • Maybe there’s one parent/guardian in his home, and that person works all the time.
  • Maybe he’s in a fostering situation.
  • Maybe his home address keeps changing or he’s staying with grandparents “just for now.”
  • Maybe his family has constant financial concerns. I heard somewhere that one in five children now live below the poverty line in the United States.

b. Does he face learning challenges?

  • Maybe he’s dyslexic or ADHD.
  • Maybe he struggles with math or another aspect of education. Kids who “act up” are often trying to distract everyone from the fact that they can’t do the work.
  • Maybe no one has taught him how to sit quietly or how to study on his own.

c. Does he have a spiritual influencer, someone who shows him Jesus?

The answers to these questions will help us understand some of the reasons for Whit’s behavior. You’ll probably need to help your child connect the information with the issues behind it, as in the video game example above.

  1. How would you feel if your life were like that?

Help your child put himself in Whit’s shoes.

You might need to start: “If I were a kid and I knew my family didn’t have enough money to buy food, I would feel worried all the time, even at school. My stomach would probably hurt, and I would eat anything I could find, even if it wasn’t good for me. Or I might be embarrassed about getting free lunch, so I would pretend I wasn’t hungry.” Take whatever circumstances your child has noticed and help him imagine if his life were similar.

  1. How can we pray for Whit?

Let your child lead out on this one. After he thinks about life from Whit’s perspective (no. 2), he’ll probably have some amazing insights into praying.

How can we pray for ourselves as we spend time with Whit?

You’ll think of many Christ-like qualities, but you can start by praying for kindness, patience, and the ability to show friendship even when he acts out.

  1. In what other ways can we show Jesus’ love to Whit?

Brainstorm ways your child—and your whole family—can be generous toward Whit and his family without embarrassing him or drawing attention to his situation. It starts with the way your child interacts with Whit at school, but there may additional possibilities. I’ve spoken to teachers privately and made donations of school supplies or lunch money. I’ve volunteered to help with reading in the classroom. We’ve invited our Whit to birthday parties.

Perhaps most importantly, remember this won’t be a one-time conversation. Continue to encourage your child and follow up regarding how he deals with Whit. Join your child in praying for Whit.

Your child can to do more than endure a school year beside “that kid!” It takes some courage—on our part as much as our child’s—but he (or she) can grow in Christlikeness and represent Jesus to this child who may have no other Jesus influence in his life.

Who knows, they might even become friends.

Your child can do more than endure a school year beside “that kid.” 4 #IntentionalParenting questions to help him/her learn to love even the difficult ones in class, via @Carole_Sparks. #backtoschool (click to tweet)

Do you have some suggestions for helping your school-age child deal with the difficult kid in class? What’s a good Bible verse to supplement these four questions? Add to the conversation below. We would love to hear from you!

5 Middle-Grade Heroines You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Everyone knows Katniss Everdeen of Hunger Games and Tris Prior of the Divergent series. YA fiction (especially dystopian fiction) abounds with strong female protagonists. But beyond Nancy Drew, such fictional role models are harder to find for the younger set. We scoured libraries and book stores trying to satiate my daughter’s appetite for good books with great girls in the lead. Her standards were high (still are), but we unearthed some awesome series!

Here are five amazing, fictional girls whose names are now embedded in our family conversations. We enthusiastically recommend these heroines to anyone who will listen.

  1. Ruby Redfort
20180305_173735 (2)
Ruby Redfort – yes, I took these at my local library (c) Carole Sparks

The Ruby Redfort series, by Lauren Child (of Charlie and Lola fame), packs the punch of James Bond with the quick wit of Lisa Simpson. Unbeknownst to her parents, Ruby becomes a spy, implementing all the best spy gadgets (even the ones she wasn’t supposed to take from headquarters) and repeatedly saving the world while just managing to get her homework done on time. Outlandish enough to make you wonder if it could be true, Ruby’s adventures leave her readers feeling confident and wide-eyed.

If your middle-grade reader loves adventure, intrigue, outlandish contraptions, and problem-solving, introduce her to Ruby Redfort!

  1. Kiki Strike

Kirsten Miller has assembled a group of bad-girl geniuses to protect New York City from below. They’re called the Irregulars. No challenge is too big, no mystery too enigmatic, and no risk too dangerous for these amazing girls! Teamwork doesn’t come easy to this bunch, but they learn to combine their skills to solve mysteries they couldn’t conquer independently. (Why no photo? These books were checked out when we went to the library.)

If your child is ready for more sophisticated stories but not quite up to YA yet, introduce her to Kiki’s band of brilliant misfits who will inspire her own curiosity and courage.

  1. Sophie St. Pierre in Red Blazer Girls
20180305_173854 (2)
The Red Blazer Girls (c) Carole Sparks

Michael Beil draws on his experience as a math teacher in a private school to create three friends who attend a private school where, not surprisingly, the uniform includes a red blazer. They’re just trying to help a neighbor when they find themselves following lots of brainy clues and working out geometry puzzles to solve an old mystery. All the while, they’re also dealing with homework, crushes, and typical middle-school drama.

If you just know your young reader would like Nancy Drew (if only she could get past the now-archaic pacing and silly situations), pick up The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour and challenge her to solve the mystery before Sophie.

  1. Princess Annie in Wide Awake Princess

20180305_173811 (2)E.D. Baker has created an anti-princess—a heroine who counters every stereotype of a “good” princess. The younger sister of Sleeping Beauty, Annie is immune to magic and can’t imagine waiting on any prince to come and rescue her. Instead, she repeatedly rescues her big sister and the prince! These books offer a fun, modern twist on well-known fairy tales—one where quick thinking and courage count for more than physical appearance and charm (the feminine kind or the magic kind).

If your early middle-grade reader enjoys the fantastical elements of fairy tales but finds herself frustrated by the classic princess’ inability to help herself, hand her The Wide-Awake Princess.

  1. Emma Hawthorne in The Mother-Daughter Book Club
20180305_173632 (2)
(c) Carole Sparks

In this cute series, Heather Vogel Frederick throws four dissimilar sixth-grade girls together against their wills when their mothers decide to form a book club for them. They can’t imagine talking to each other at school, but when they share Little Women, they discover they may have more in common than they expected.

Each book in the series follows the girls through another year of school and another classic work of fiction (including Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë). Frederick integrates her love of classic literature with the standard problems of middle and high schoolers to create sweet friendships and many laughs.

If you would love for your child to read the classics but she’s not interested, let Emma and her friends whet your daughter’s appetite while they also show her that people who are different can learn to care about each other.

From international super-spy to fairy tale anti-princess, these #middlegrade heroines will knock your socks off and provide hours of reading pleasure for your own young hero or heroine. (click to tweet) #IntentionalParenting via @Carole_Sparks

Have a favorite middle-grade book series you would like to recommend? Love or hate one of the series listed above? “Do tell” in the comments below!