Posts by wendyclark:
In Romans 1:20 Paul writes, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (NIV).
God’s eternal power and divine nature are clearly see and understood through creation. So one way that we can know and understand more about God is to spend time observing and reflecting on nature.
One thing that I recommend that we all do regularly and teach our children to do is to get out and walk (if we can), and as we do, to look and listen and breathe and pray and think about what God is revealing about Himself all around us. Ask your children what things they see in nature and what the things that God created reveal about God the Creator. If you see something that is diseased, decaying, or dying or otherwise affected by the brokenness of our world, talk about what our Creator might feel when looking at his broken creation. Talk about how God’s plan is in motion to restore all of creation to its perfect state. How would the world look if there were no more disease or decay or dying? If nothing in nature was torn up or broken down or misused?
Another thing you might try is to spend some time with your kids closely observing the finer details of nature. Sit down with a sketch book, and try to draw what you see. It doesn’t matter much whether your drawings are any good; it is the process of closely observing and trying to draw what you see that you should most interested in, the activity of focused seeing that is important. Try drawing just one leaf of a tree or one petal of a flower. Make the effort to really see, and then to think: What does creation tell you about God? What does it reveal about His eternal power? About his divine nature? I have noticed that sitting quietly and really focusing in on tiny details helps me to see things that I’ve never really noted before and to think about God in new ways.
How long has it been since you have spent time working out in your yard? Digging, planting, watering, weeding—what do you think about while you are doing these things? What do you see? What can God teach you through these simple, repetitive activities? How does it feel to see things sprout up and grow? To watch a plant shrivel up and die? These are all things that are good for you to do and good for you to teach your children to do.
The Apostle Paul teaches that nature reveals something about God. And even many who are not people of faith concede that being out in nature makes them feel peaceful and more hopeful, and spending time in nature is even often prescribed for those who struggle with depression. So while the weather is nice and the days are long, let’s make a point of taking our kids with us as we get outside, and let’s take the time to stop and observe and think and breathe and be reminded of how great and amazing and truly artistic and creative God is.
Wendy spends time enjoying nature in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Roy and her three daughters. Visit her website: wendyclarkministries.com
Next Week’s Author: Scott Turansky
Are your kids content and full of gratitude or do they whine and complain?
Sometimes discontent can seem reasonable in light of the circumstances our kids may face, and parents can fall into allowing and even accepting their ungracious and ungrateful kids’ whining and complaining. Some parents will even tell you that having “an attitude” is a natural part of growing up.
Don’t believe them.
When you see the tiny sprouts of discontent and ungratefulness begin to spring up in your children, jump into action and weed out the attitude right away.
The problem with discontent is that if left unchecked, it always grows, and it bears rotten fruit, things like envy, boastfulness, anger, bitterness, and rebellion.
But what is the appropriate plan of action? If you are at the beginning stages of your kids’ complaining, and your kids are young, you can make it a habit to stop them any time a complaint passes their lips. Draw attention to the complaint and ask your child to start over with a different attitude and grateful words. Learn Bible verses about gratitude and thankfulness together as a family. Read and tell stories about grateful people.
What if the whining and complaining has become commonplace, and your child is bitter about something? Some kids are bitter about where they live (or don’t live), the family life they have (or don’t have), or all sorts of other things that involve comparing themselves to others and seeing themselves as lacking or even suffering. The quickest way out of bitterness is to take the focus off of self and focus on giving to and doing for others who have even greater needs and bigger challenges to face.
Strategically push ungrateful kids into situations where they are uncomfortable and confronted by the needs of others. You can do this by volunteering together at a nursing home, food bank, homeless shelter, or rescue mission. You will need to join in and work side-by-side with your child; the acts of service should not seem like a punishment but part of growing and learning together as a family.
State as a matter of fact—not up for debate—that the family will be serving together and where and when that will be. Talk about why acts of service are important. Prepare your kids in advance, so they know what to expect.
If you haven’t ever stepped out to serve in your community as a family, this is a good time of year to give it a try. There are lots of opportunities to serve locally. Try to pick service that involves interaction with people in need, rather than doing a project that is separate from the people whose needs it meets. This will help your kids form a picture of the real-life people in need—many of whom are very grateful even though they have so little.
Finally, pray for the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of your kids, to soften them and shape them. Then pay attention to the ways that the Holy Spirit works in your kids and be sure to cooperate with the things the Holy Spirit is doing.
For example, if your child wants to be generous and give away toys—nice ones, maybe expensive ones—to children who would enjoy them, don’t get in the way of that generosity. Encourage your child to follow through. Praise your child for his act of generosity. Resist the temptation to reward your child by replacing the toys. Let your child experience the good feeling that generosity with sacrifice can bring.
If your child has big dreams and wants to raise money to send to people in need, be careful not to reduce her dreams to “manageable” size. Encourage and help your child and do your part to make those dreams a reality.
I was recently encouraged and challenged by the real-life story of a family in Australia who raised $2,000 to buy practical gifts of goats and chickens and other farm animals and supplies* for families in need in other countries. When trying to get their children (ages 9 and 7) to pick out a gift or two to buy out of a missions catalog, the parents were stopped by their kids who wanted to buy all of the gifts. I like that the parents then went on to figure out what it would take as a family to make that happen, including giving up their own Christmas gifts and being creative about raising money.
They raised the money needed in 4 months.
Mom said of her two children, “They were so very grateful and proud to have the opportunity to help lots of people.”1
Let’s all raise such grateful and generous kids. What a place the world would be!
*Heres what the family gave: two chickens, a goat, two rabbits, two lambs, two pigs, a cow, a BioSand water filter, a blanket, a Jesus Well, a sewing machine, 200 Gospel tracts, and nine Bibles.
1”Giving Everything—Two Children Changing Lives.” Gospel for Asia’s Send! November 2012. PP 14-15. Print. (www.gfa.org.)
Next Week’s Author: Janet Mease
Parenting begins the moment your child breathes his first breath (if not before). Training begins then too. Too many parents think they don’t need to give much attention to the training of a baby or a toddler or a preschooler or even a 5-year-old child, but the truth is, whether you choose to actively and purposefully train your children or not, you are training them, every time you interact with them and every time they observe you. And they start observing when they are very small.
We are constantly modeling both good and bad behavior, good and bad speech, good and bad attitudes. By our correction and our praise we confirm what are acceptable behavior, speech, and attitudes in our children. If we withhold both correction and praise, our children will not then grow up in a vacuum. They will still come to an understanding of what is acceptable and unacceptable, and left to discern this difference on their own, children will not naturally gravitate towards that which requires, thought, work, self-discipline, and self-restraint.
A selfish, demanding, whiny 2 year old will not grow into a kind, thoughtful, self-denying teenager without some hard work on the part of the parent.
As parents, we need to be paying attention—always—and then we need to actively and consistently address both the behaviors that we like in our children as well as the behaviors that we want to bring to an end. We need to be careful to avoid the trap of being too busy or too tired or too . . . anything. If we will take up the challenge and praise our children, then lovingly correct our children, then praise our children, then lovingly correct our children—over and over and over again, we will see huge benefits as the years go by.
But if we don’t pay attention, if we neglect to correct and praise our children, to do our part to train them and shape them, they will be shaped by other forces in their lives like TV and movies, video games, books, teachers, coaches, other adults, and classmates.
Some parents behave like gamblers and give up their parenting to the other forces in the lives of their children, hoping that the right balance will simply happen on its own and that their children will come out okay in the end. Often they are disappointed and sometimes shocked by the results.
Other parents choose to see raising their children as both a privilege and a responsibility—not to be passed off to anyone else. They choose to invest in their children in consistent ways—day after day after day. The rewards for this kind of investment seem so far off, but they are great for those who don’t falter.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up
Next Week’s Author: Rick Mease
Whitney Houston’s recent death has stirred up a lot of conversation—the kind of discussions that we have any time someone talented and beautiful and well liked passes away unexpectedly. The underlying thought that keeps recurring is that being talented and experiencing success should somehow be enough to carry us through to a life well lived.
and abilities we have,
take us beyond the character we have to sustain them.
stealing. It explains the well-known and much respected preacher involved in a very public and disgraceful scandal. It explains the high-achieving student making decisions that strip away the hard-earned scholarship. And it explains the beautiful and amazingly-talented singer making choices that lead to an early end to her career and her life.
and practice and experience keep moving us ahead in our pursuits.
in ourselves and in our children, and what things are we doing and modeling that move us and our children toward or away from those qualities? Honesty, Consideration and Respect for Others, Self-Discipline/Self-Restraint, Compassion, Kindness, Generosity . . . What would you put on the list?
and abilities we have,
to goodness, knowledge;
Perhaps you’ve heard people talk about creating or building “margin” into our lives. The expression refers to freeing up room in our lives for space, rest, and unscripted moments.
As an English teacher I’ve had occasion to reflect on the value of margins. On a typed page the margin is the empty space around the edges—often one inch. Students often don’t understand that the empty space is actually an important part of the page. It has a role to play.
That empty space helps the reader to be able to read and understand the printed part of the page. If the margins are too narrow, the reader may experience annoyance or eye strain, and the message that the writer was trying to communicate may be lost.
A similar kind of empty space is an important part of our lives as well. Schedules that are packed too tightly lead to tension, stress, emergencies, and sleepless nights.
I drop my daughter off at school every day, wait with her in line, and wait for her to go into her classroom. As I head up the hill back to my car, a good 5 to 10 minutes after the morning bell has already rung, I often pass parents who are just arriving with their children. A typical scene is a mom or dad jogging down the hill while yanking on the arm of a small child and prodding that child to “hurry up.” Both the parent and child look frazzled and are often sniping at each other. Imagine how that child feels as he or she begins the school day after parting with frazzled, grumpy Mom or Dad.
Of course, we all have times when we are unexpectedly running late: the alarm didn’t go off, the clothes weren’t done drying, the phone rang before we left the house. Sadly, though, I pretty much see the same parents rushing down the hill after the bell has rung, day after day. What these parents and their kids desperately need is some margin at the beginning of their day. I suspect they may need margin at other times as well.
How about the parents who pick up their child from school, rush that child to piano, then ballet, then baseball. Dinner is often on the go, often consumed in the car. Rush home and do that homework—quick, quick, quick! No time to waste! Go to bed! Get up! Rush, Rush RUSH! Can’t you see the face of the children as they are being yanked from activity to activity?
All of us—parents and children alike—need margin, space, unscripted time to breathe, think, dream, rest, and pray. We need blank spaces around the different pages of our lives. Empty time between activities. Planned time to do nothing at all.
What does it take to build that kind of margin into our lives? We may need to get up a half an hour to a full hour earlier. That may mean going to bed earlier. We may need to use the night before to prepare for the morning: lay out clothes, gather school work, prepare lunch, etc. That may mean giving up some TV time or other evening activities.
Recently a woman drove up the street in front of our school, speeding by, in a big hurry. Some moms signaled to her, telling her to slow down. That prompted her to shift her car into
reverse, roll down her window, and release a slew of abuse about her rights and her life and her schedule.
I suspect that had we been filming her tirade and were to play it back for her, she would be shocked and embarrassed by what she saw–by the rage that twisted her features into a snarl.
Stress, tension, anxiety—they aren’t good for us, and they aren’t good for our children. We all look and feel a whole lot better when we are willing to slow down, be still, and take a deep breath, and some of us will only be able to do that when we take the time to plan margin or space into our busy lives.
Wendy Clark and her husband Roy and their three daughters are learning how to build margins around the pages of their lives while serving Jesus in the Bay Area.
Visit Wendy’s Website: wendyclarkministries.com
Next Week’s Author: Rick Mease
I teach college writing classes and encourage my students to incorporate their own stories of their experiences and observations into their writing. In demonstrating this skill, I often share many of my own stories as they relate to the things we are reading about or discussing. Recently, one student said to me, “Wow! You’ve had a hard life!” He was serious, and his comment stopped me short.
I don’t think of myself as having had a hard life. In fact, I think of my life as full of amazing blessings. Sometimes I’ve even thought that maybe I have too many blessings, more than my fair share. The student’s comment caused me to reflect on the stories I’ve told over the course of the semester. What would have given the student the idea that I’ve had a difficult life?
I know that I told of how my family didn’t have much money when I was growing up and how we learned to do without many things that some people think of as “necessities.”
I told of how my family’s house was deliberately set on fire one year on Easter Sunday while we were at church. As far as we know, the culprit was never found.
I told of how I had cancer when my two oldest children were still babies and some of the experiences related to having a serious illness.
I told of how at Christmas one year, burglars broke into our house and sat in our living room opening Christmas presents and of what it was like to come home to find someone had been in our home.
I guess that could all sound pretty bad, couldn’t it? Then why is it that when I look back, I see so much more?
I see how much love and fun my family had together when I was growing up. No, we didn’t have a lot, but we enjoyed each other (and still do), and my parents stayed together (and are still together). Not too many of my students can claim the same.
I look back and see that though we lost nearly everything in that fire, we didn’t have much to begin with, and families from our church gave us amazing gifts of furniture and clothes and everything else we needed. I recall that for the first time in my life I had a bedroom set that matched: a dresser, side table, bed—amazing and beautiful.
I look back and see how though I was very sick for a time, I’ve been well for so much longer. Treatment went exactly as planned, right on schedule, which I’m told is rare. I didn’t have surgeries or any serious setbacks, and I had another child a few years later, something that I was told would be unlikely.
I see how when burglars broke in and stole our Christmas presents (as well as some that family members had sent ahead for a family gathering), friends gave us things to help replace what was missing. Students at the college where I teach bought gifts for my family and left them for me on my front porch. My husband’s boss flew us down to Southern California for an amazing Christmas party. My family still showed up to celebrate Christmas and we still had a great time together.
And though the difficult times haven’t ended, and my husband and I have experienced some devastating financial setbacks, I am so thankful to have a loving, kind, generous, funny, faithful, hard-working husband who is my true friend. I have two amazing teenage daughters who love and serve God with their lives—something I’ve prayed fervently for since they were young. I have a young daughter who is bright, funny, and soaking up the Bible and what it means to serve Jesus.
I don’t know if my life is more blessed than yours, but I know that my life is greatly blessed. I do know that I have experienced difficult times in my life. I don’t believe anyone really makes it through life without such times, but we all get to choose what we see–how we remember.
I could choose to look back and remember the pain, the hurt, the fear, the loss, but instead I choose to look back and reflect on all of the blessings that came in the midst of all I the hard times. I choose joy.
And I teach my children to choose joy as well, by teaching them to focus on the positive and to be grateful and thankful and generous.
Here are some questions to ask to shift your kids towards joy:
What was the best thing about your day today?
What was something nice that someone else did for you today?
What was something nice that you did for someone else?
When your kids face difficult situations, and they will face difficult situations, shift the attention to the future and areas where they have some control with questions like these:
What can you do differently in the future? What other words can you use?
What is something that you can do or say tomorrow that will make a difference in someone else’s day?
What can you do so that you never make someone else feel the way you felt today?
Who is someone that you can count on to give you help or encouragement?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
Wendy Clark © 2011
Next Week’s Author: Rick Mease
Author: Wendy Clark © 2011
Wendy and her husband have been married for 25 years and are the parents of three girls, ages 17, 15, and 6. As a family, they are learning together what it means to love and serve God and to be faithful managers of money. Visit Wendy’s website: wendyclarkministries.com
I can’t stress enough how important it is that we teach our children the value of money and what it means to be careful managers of all that we have.
My two oldest girls are teenagers now, not far from being adults. They understand what it means to work to in order to save up for something that they want or would like to do, to pass by things they want in order to save for something they want more, and to take care of the things they have, knowing they are not easily replaced. These may seem like simple concepts, but I’m finding that many of their very nice friends from very good homes know nothing of the value of money. My girls have noticed this as well and have commented on how many of their friends lack gratitude for all that they have.
When I was growing up, my family had a lot of kids, a lot of love, but not a lot of money. I learned early on that what other kids might easily ask for and receive, my family would not be able to afford. I understood that any money I spent was actually family money and would mean that it couldn’t be spent on something else, so I learned to consider if something was really important. If my parents gave me money to buy a souvenir on a field trip or at camp, I was very thoughtful in how I spent that money because I knew it was precious and that spending it was a rare opportunity.
Early in our marriage my husband and I both taught tenth grade Sunday school at a church in Southern California. He taught the tenth grade boys while I taught the girls. We had some occasions to have the two groups together and were once talking about how excited we were to be buying our first new car—a Sprint. I’ll never forget the response of the students who told us of the new cars they planned to get from their parents when they turned sixteen—cars that were far more expensive than what we had saved up to buy for ourselves.
That began a very revealing discussion with these kids, many who had been given too much throughout their lives. They felt entitled to much and grateful for little. They didn’t know how to earn their own way. They had no understanding of the expenses of buying and owning a car. They believed the supply of money for their desires was bottomless and that they should be able to have whatever they wanted when they wanted it.
The sobering reality is that many of these kids were growing up in pricey neighborhoods that they were not going to be able to afford to live in when they were ready to be on their own. How would they do when it came to having to give some things up to survive? What was going to happen when buying a car meant coming up with the money for themselves? In the end, many of these kids lived with their parents well after college and then financed their early years of adulthood with credit cards and massive debt. Some of them found that they could support their spending habits only by working incredibly long hours—sacrificing many more important things in life.
Now I see these same attitudes in some of my girls’ friends, and it makes me sad and ever mindful because I still have a six year old who is just in the beginning stages of learning about the value of money. Thankfully, it’s not that difficult to teach children the value of money; we just need to be thoughtful about doing it.
When your kids are young, start by giving them a small amount of money “to manage.” Using the term “manage” is very important because they need to understand that the money isn’t really theirs—it’s coming from the family finances and it’s important that money never be wasted. You don’t have to give a large amount of money—even a dollar will do. Whatever you decide to give them, it should be regularly—like once a week. Break the money into small amounts so that there is a portion to give back to God (to recognize that all that we have really belongs to God), a portion to save, and a portion to manage. Again, use the term “manage” instead of “spend” since sometimes good management means not spending right now.
One very good book on teaching your older kids the value of money is Mary Hunt’s book Debt Proof Your Kids. My brother gave me the book after he got to know one of Mary’s sons and saw how well he handles money. According to my brother, Mary’s son is generous, a faithful giver, a saver, and not one given to credit card use. I enjoyed the book and found many good principles. Mary Hunt writes about giving over large sums of money to your children to manage. We never got to the point of having our girls manage all of their money, but the part that they did have to manage had a big impact on them.
When they were about eleven or twelve, we gave our girls a clothing allowance to manage. We sat down and figured out about what we spend in buying them clothes during a year and divided that sum by twelve months. Then we gave them a portion each month to manage. We made sure they understood that this was family money—part of the whole budget for the family. We then began to teach them what it means to “manage” money.
Here are few important points to teach your kids when giving them money to manage:
1) This is the portion you have to manage. Once you spend it, you will not get another portion until the allotted time. It is extremely important that you don’t give in and bail out your kids. If they spend all the money right away, they must wait until the next allotment of money is due. Waiting is essential.
2) Make a list of things you need and things you want. Then prioritize that list. Don’t just give your kids a chunk of money and then wait to see what happens. Teach them what it means to make decisions about how that money will be spent.
3) Spend time shopping around and looking before you buy. Compare prices and quality, and don’t make a decision on the spur of the moment. Show your kids ads, take them to different stores to look. Expose them to bargain stores like Target and Ross. Take them to a thrift store and teach them to look for quality, good-condition items and to compare the prices. If something looks really good but wasn’t a planned purchase, teach your kids to go home and think about it rather than making a spur-of-the-moment decision.
4) If you need (or want) something that costs more than you have this month, save your money and wait until you have enough to purchase it. This again is the principle of waiting—delayed gratification—and is extremely important for your kids to grasp. Credit card debt is what is in store for kids who miss this lesson.
5) Look for ways to work to earn more money. Teach your kids to ask your adult friends and neighbors for job opportunities—babysitting, house cleaning, yard work, organizing, pet care etc. Make sure that they are prompt, faithful, and do a good job.
6) Borrowing money is costly and burdensome. Make sure that your kids understand the cost involved in borrowing money and the benefit of saving up in advance. Demonstrate how much something would cost when purchased on a credit card compared to what it would cost if paid for in cash.
7) It is honorable and wise to use money to bless others. Make sure that your kids know the joys and blessings of generosity. Teach them to set aside money specifically for the purpose of giving to others.
Our two teenagers are great money managers. They know what it means to wait for something they want. They have learned that sometimes paying more buys better quality, but that sometimes it doesn’t. They know how to find a great bargain at a thrift store or discount store and are very thankful for all that they have. They realize that sometimes the thing they think they most want, they won’t care about at all in a day or two. They work, plan, save, and as a result, enjoy everything that they have so much more than their bored friends who simply assume they will have what they want when they want it. Our girls thank us any time we take them out to eat or buy them something we know they will like. They recognize these things as treats or gifts and not entitlements. As a result, it is a pleasure to surprise them with something special—they are so grateful and gracious. That’s what I want for my six year old, and so I will be diligent to teach her about the value of money and what it means to be a good money manager.
Next Week’s Author: Rick Mease
Author: Wendy Clark © 2010 Wendy and her husband have been married for 25 years and are the parents of three girls, ages 17, 15, and 6. As a family, they are learning together what it means to love and serve God and are making memories together in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I teach my writing students that it’s not enough to simply “tell” your readers something; you must also “show” them. You must demonstrate—through examples, details, and illustrations–what it is that you want your readers to know and understand.
It is not so different with our children. As parents, yes, we need to teach them the things we want them to know, but a large part of that teaching involves showing or demonstrating for them what we want them to learn, and most of that “showing” happens when we, as parents, live out what we teach.
Do I want my children to be kind? Then I must both talk about what kindness is and show them what kindness is by being kind—to them, to their friends, to our neighbors, to strangers in the grocery store.
Do I want my children to be honest? Then besides teaching them about what honesty is, my children must see honesty demonstrated in me.
Do I want my children to make people and relationships a priority in their lives? Then I need to talk about what that means, point out the choices they face, and live out what it is that I am teaching them.
We are always teaching our children—whether or not we ever stop to think about what it is that they are learning from us.
We may be teaching them how to lie to get out of something they don’t want to do.
We may be teaching them how to avoid taking responsibility for their own mistakes and failings. We may be teaching them to be self-centered and rude or to step over others to get their own way. Perhaps we are teaching them to put in a minimal amount of effort to any task that isn’t fun or exciting. Or maybe we are teaching them that promises and commitments don’t really matter all that much or that it doesn’t matter if our jokes hurt someone else as long as they are funny or that it’s okay to complain about things we don’t like or enjoy or about people who annoy us.
We can all benefit from taking an honest look at what it is that our lives demonstrate to our children because, no matter what we are telling them, our kids are taking that look at us, every day.
Am I . . .
And . . . ?
What am I teaching my kids by how I behave, speak . . . live?
Next Week’s Author: Rick Mease
Wendy and her husband have been married for 24 years and are the parents of three girls, ages 16, 15, and 5. As a family, they are learning together what it means to love and serve God and each other in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Some parents are bullies.
I’m not talking about parents who teach their children to be obedient. I’m talking about parents who bully their children into being obedient, and there is a significant difference.
One way parents bully their children is to silence their children without giving them a chance to be heard. “Do it because I said so” or “Just be quiet and do what I say” are the words of a bullying parent. While these parents may think their approach is successful, for they never have to listen to any challenges to their position, what they get is a silent child, not necessarily a subdued child.
Inside the child may be seething or intensely frustrated. This just may be the child who says to himself, “Just you wait–as soon as I graduate . . .” and eventually ends up living in opposition to everything he was taught growing up. This may be the child that coming into adulthood puts as much distance as possible between herself and her parents.
Wise parents allow room for their children to express their opinions and feelings and to ask questions. It’s fine to set up boundaries for the time, place, and way these things are expressed, but it’s important that they have an opportunity to be expressed.
Another way parents bully their children is to deny them any control. The parent who walks into the room in the middle of a TV show and flips the channel without speaking to the child has demonstrated that the child has no control. Certainly a parent should take charge and change the channel when needed, but respecting your child as a person means explaining what you are about to do before flipping the channel midstream. The same applies to the parent who suddenly enters the room and says, “We’re leaving” expecting the child to drop everything instantly with no prior warning. How would you respond if someone came in the middle of you doing your favorite thing and asked you to suddenly drop everything and leave? Would you be likely to say something like, “Just a minute while I finish this up”?
Wise parents think ahead and warn their children. “You’re going to need to start cleaning up in five minutes.” Obedience is still required, but is accompanied by less frustration and annoyance.
Similarly, parents bully their children when they deny them any sense of dominion. Dominion is the idea that something belongs to me, and I’m in charge of taking care of it. Parents who make their children share everything, all the time, violate their children’s sense of dominion. A child needs to have a special item or two to hold back, protect, and care for. A wise parent understands this need.
Parents who leave their children wondering whether or not they will have privacy, rob their children of dominion. A child needs some sense of some things being private.
This means being able to dress without someone walking in them or being able to share a private thought without it being repeated to others. Much as a mom of young children wants to know that at least the bathroom is a private place, children need a place, somewhere that they can have privacy. And just as you wouldn’t want your children telling your secrets to their friends, your children need you to keep their private matters private. A wise parent understands and respects this desire.
Bullying parents manipulate, shame, order, and otherwise compel their children to obey. The feelings these words stir up in you as an adult also stir within the heart of the bullied child.
We’ve all been bullied, pushed around, forced into a direction we didn’t want to go at ties in our lives. The job of the parent is not to bully their children into obedience, but to teach, train, coach, and inspire them to obedience. That takes much more work on the part of the parent, but a wise parent understands that obedience that begins in the heart is true obedience. Obedience that comes from being bullied is really just compliance.
Compare the teacher, leader, or boss you despise to the one you would do anything for. Don’t they both want the same thing from you? Which type of person really gets what he or she wants? Isn’t that the one who is wise in the end? Be the wise parent.
Next Week’s Author: Linda Wright
Wendy and her husband have been married for 24 years and are the parents of three girls, ages 16, 14, and 5. As a family, they are learning together what it means to love and serve God and are making memories together in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Over the past few days one of my daughters has been asking me what I want for Mother’s Day. What do I want? When the girls were little, the gifts were things like fingerprints on paper plates or clever creations made from Popsicle sticks. Just the other day, I received a decorated potholder from my five year old. But now that my two older daughters are teenagers, they want to get serious about their gifts. That’s nice, but what do I want?
I’ve been feeling a bit yucky for a day or so, but we have an algebra class that meets at our house in the afternoon. The girls offered to get the house cleaned up, and I’ve been lying on my bed, listening to the three of them working side-by-side in the other room. They are singing to a song on the radio, “This is my temporary home, not where I belong . . . “ and laughing and joking as they work together. My oldest has been coaxing my youngest into picking up her “Pollys,” and I just heard her say, “Good job! High five!”
I know the cleaning won’t be perfect. I will probably straighten a little more, wipe down a counter or two, do one more sweep around the kitchen island. I know my girls aren’t perfect and won’t always get along the way they are getting along right now.
But one thing is clear–though I haven’t taught them everything they need to know, they have learned how to clean up a room, how to work together, and how to encourage and praise each other.
And I just got what I really want for Mother’s Day.
Next Week’s Author: Linda Wright