Mini Blog #4: Teach Your Kids to Not Interrupt

Kids interrupt. When my grandchildren want to ask or tell me something they begin to talk excitedly, often without pausing to think that I might be in a conversation already. Sometimes three or four of them will try to get my attention all at once. Eight-year- old Kate was the family’s “queen of interruptions.” But that is changing because she is learning better ways to get the attention she needs.  On the way to school last week she began to recite an assigned poem, but midway through both her cousin and her brother interrupted her. Frustrated, she cried out “I can’t remember my poem when I am being interrupted.”  She personally experienced how interruptions disrupt focus and feel very annoying.  With 4 to 6 grandchildren with me on Tuesday home days, interruptions can make all the difference in my ability to effectively attend to each individual as well as their ability to stay focused. Plus interruptions eat up time. That’s why I am making it a consistent aim to teach my grandkids a more prudent way to get my attention. If I give in (which is often easier at the moment) and pay attention to their interrupting, I reinforce this bad habit, whether my responses are positive or negative.  Kids interrupt to get what they want or to get our attention. They just need to learn better alternatives.  Last week, I gave my grandchildren two simple choices; they could either raise their hand during our school time to let me know they needed something OR they could put their hand on my arm or shoulder indicating they needed me for something....

Mini Blog #3: Teach Your Kids to Journal

There’s something about writing things down that helps me remember.   Whether it’s a grocery list, a to-do list or a list of people to pray for, writing information down makes it far more likely to be remembered.  Throughout the years I have recorded many things in my journals, which include times when my life seems to be crumbling as well as times when everything comes together perfectly. Overall this stack of journals form a record of prayers as well as my spiritual journey AND they form a reminder of God’s promise-keeping faithfulness in my life. Because this practice has been so life-giving, I decided to begin journaling with my grandchildren. I am blessed to have one school-at-home day each week with my grandchildren. After a morning group meeting, I hand them their journals, which include a note I have written to each beforehand.  I usually include both affirmations and suggestions. Then ten minutes of silence follows during which they write a response to my note (as well as anything else they wish to write about).  Their statements are heart-felt and often define behavioral expectations they plan to work on. At the end of the day, I ask each child how they felt they did in hindsight.  The girls in particular choose to write again reflecting on the day after it’s completion. I am reminded of how reflecting on our experiences can be a better teacher than the experience itself.   Journaling is definitely a means by which to intentionally foster reflection. At first the process felt awkward to them, but in just a few days, their journaling is...

How Would Jesus Parent Your Children?

  Writing Free to Parent has made me ponder what it would look like if Jesus were to parent children in today’s world. His heart for children is clearly seen in the following verses, although the culture in His day granted little importance or respect to children: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:3-6  “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples  rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:13-16  And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he...

Free to Parent

  It’s finally here….. ……the book I have been writing for over 40 years and actually accomplished recently, as a co-author with my precious daughter Erin MacPherson. Free to Parent isn’t based on clever strategies or lifeless rule-driven control. (It very likely would have been had it been written years earlier.) Instead it’s about how parents can break free from parenting tactics that do little to nurture a child’s heart, and instead raise up their children in the freedom and joy of the Lord. Writing a book as a mother-daughter team has been a delightful journey, uniting not only our hearts around this project but also weaving together stories from both of our generations. You can order a copy today on Amazon! The best preparation for me to teach from this book, (as well as gain insight for the accompanying workbook coming soon ) have been the trials of this past year. This is especially true of my most recent challenge while traveling in Finland, when I suffered a retinal tear that left one eye temporarily blind. In hindsight, it is no surprise that Free to Parent was completed under the strain of challenges, where I would first need to authenticate the message in my own heart. I am still recovering from the resulting Vitrectomy, an eye surgery that involves the placement of a vision-impacting gas bubble within the eye, that slowly dissipates over time. Thus, for the past few weeks, I have viewed the world around me through very distorted lens. But God is using my distorted vision on the outside to bring clarity and focus for me...

Resist Complacency

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. Carl Bard Continued from last week’s blog…. To grow is a lifetime pursuit.  I am convinced of that.  Growth promotes growth When we are not growing, we become complacent;  something we must resist our entire lives. But it’s hard work to stretch ourselves.  To change. Harder still to even admit we need to change. Complacency and pride are the easier choices.  But they lead to an unteachable, hard heart, off the path of growth. We find our vitality in the struggle of growth.  And our purpose. This is true at any age. Caring for a mom with Alzheimer’s is the struggle I find myself in right now. While I deeply desire to help her, if I am honest, it can be the last thing I feel like doing.  It’s hard work emotionally. Her daily calls for help;  her desires to be restored to all that she once knew; her anger and frustration.  It’s an intricate walk;  a walk of sadness intermixed at times with hope, of guilt intermixed with resolve,  of frustration coupled with compassion. I wonder what good can come out of a disease that slowly kills the mind.   How can mom still grow in all this?  And how does all this help me grow? Does this leg of the journey really need to be so hard for her?  For us? How do I reach her?  How can I ease her anxiety? In response, God gently whispers the same answers to these questions that...

Handicapped Royalty – Today’s Quickly-Rescued Children

“All the fear in the world does not prevent death – it prevents life.” Lenore Skenazy Author of The Blessings of a Skinned Knee, Wendy Mogel calls kids who are raised by today’s helicopter parents “handicapped royalty.”  She says it’s about “good parenting gone bad.” She encourages parents to broaden the definition of what they consider an “emergency.”  It’s not a bad mood or small pangs of hunger; nor a bit of sadness, disappointment or anxiety. All these things develop the muscle kids need to face the challenges of life. Parents may be trying to protect their kids from the world’s perils and from failure but when kids aren’t given space and time to struggle through things on their own, they experience life-long consequences. Failing to learn problem-solving skills, they fail to gain confidence in their own abilities to navigate life.  Kids need lots of practice at using good judgment when the stakes are low – while they are still kids – so that when they enter the adult world they have adult skills of their own to stand on. Dr. Mogel travels around the country lecturing parents about “good suffering.” She tells parents that it’s good for kids to be bored, unhappy, disappointed and confused, to feel deprived, to tolerate longing, and to be cold, wet, or hungry for more than one and a half seconds before they graduate from high school.  Parents who “do-it-all” shield their kids from failures, speak for them, settle disputes for them, negotiate and intervene in perceived frightening situations and even make phone calls on their behalf. Some even do their kid’s homework...