Parenting like an “expert”

Parenting is ridiculously hard. From newborn to young adult, we as parents are confronted with EVERY kind of crazy. We think we’re prepared… ūüôā but then it hits and we’re scrambling to find someone…. ANYONE who has the experience, the wisdom… the freaking sanity to walk us through the chaos that is our kid!¬†47146

From issues with breastfeeding infants to the scourge of pre-adolescent personality disorders, we’re walking the tightrope of parenting life.

Occasionally during those transitions we find moments where we’re comfortable and somewhat confident that we know what we’re about, but so many times we panic inside! Desperately wondering what to do and how to do it!

Parenting experts are all over the web…. from best-selling books to podcasts, there are ‘expert’s everywhere on everything, sharing freely and confidently how to fix the things in your family that are out of ‘whack’.

Each of these experts will have a certain focus or perspective that they believe will carry the day for you. Each expert will have the aura of invincibility that only comes from successfully parenting their kids from diaper to college degree! (Some are excellent resources, others not so much. Kevin Leman is great)

Sometimes… watching, reading, or listening to the ‘experts’ not only doesn’t help us… it makes us feel worse. Guilt, regret, and a sense of inadequacy start to pile up… weighing us down and pushing our parenting shame through the roof.

IF…. that has happened… IF… that IS happening… take HOPE!¬†All is not lost. There is another expert to consider…

The reality is, no one on the planet knows your kids better than YOU. No educated expert can come close to grasping the nuance’s of your child’s personality, character, spirit, and gifting better than you.

Ask yourself… would God appoint you to be a parent of a specific child randomly? Like some kind of cosmic soul lotto, whipping ping-pong balls around heaven to match parents with babies like a crazy game of chance. I don’t think so.

The precision of God’s creation is so intricate and intentional we can KNOW for certain that He has plans and purposes in everything He touches. No detail is too small, no coincidences allowed.

God hand-picked YOU to parent the children in your home. No one else got the assignment or the privilege to raise your kids to adulthood, only YOU were chosen for that Holy duty. 

So… deep breath, and exhale. Now breath again with fresh confidence and hope.

God is in your parenting life. He is with you to counsel and affirm you. The presence of the Holy Spirit as our guide and support in the roughest moments of parenting is assured to all Christians. Your not all alone, isolated, and unprepared for this.

True, we all can use help with keeping perspective or seeing important things that are obvious to others… but when the-push-comes-to-shoveyou’re the EXPERT that knows what your kids need. Guided by the Holy Spirit and secured by a community of faith to help you ‘stick-with-it’, there is great hope for your situation.

May God give you the wisdom and grace to discern His will for your family and the strength and patience to hang in there until the fruit of those choices comes into sight.

Blessings from Pastor B.

Ephesians 3:14-21

14¬†For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15¬†from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16¬†that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17¬†so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith‚ÄĒthat you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18¬†may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19¬†and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (ESV) РBibleGateway.com 

 

Christian Tradition… ADVENT

Advent is an ancient Christian tradition of intentionally ‚Äėwaiting‚Äė and ‚Äėlooking‚Äô for God‚Äôs coming. As early as the 4th century, Christian converts were preparing for Christ‚Äôs return. Over a period of four weeks, starting in late November they would fast and pray in an earnest attempt to renew their hearts and minds for Christ‚Äôs coming.

This has evolved into a modern day tradition of lighting four candles (Hope / Love / Joy / Peace) ¬†over four weeks, each¬†candle representing¬†a specific theme and truth about Christ. We anticipate the arrival of Christmas and by parallel the birth of Christ‚Ķ or ‚ÄúAdvent‚ÄĚ. But we also should consider the original intent of our ancient Church fathers who sincerely believed that Christ was about to return to earth.

Advent Candles

Advent Candles

So as millions of Christian families light their advent candles or hang their Advent wreaths this Christmas season… consider the possibility that we are anticipating more than a baby’s birth, but a King’s return to earth!

For families looking to re-emphasize the deeper meaning of Christ-Mass, ADVENT is a wonderful way to keep the reason for the season fresh and real for our kids. Simple and easy to do… Advent candles allow for families of faith to ponder the virtues of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace… a time to reflect on our amazing heritage.

Merry Christmas from Road Trip Parenting! 

PS ‚Äď To find out more about the history of Advent¬†or to start your own family tradition ‚Äď check out Ann Voskamp‚Äôs book ‚ÄúOne Thousand Gifts‚ÄĚ or the free onlineAWANA Advent Devotional!

Breaking the Turkey Day rut!

Thanksgiving is upon us. Officially.

So rushed and pushed we are, scrambling to fit everyone, everything in. Family, friends… spouses, in-laws and outlaws. Life is crammed to the brim, a day of celebration and gratitude can quickly shrink into a drag.

Dreading the stressful stretch of uncomfortable almost-family moments, some of us are simply yawning our way through, hopeful it will all end in time to get back to what we ‘really’ want to do. For many, this Holiday forces unwarranted obligations to do and be something other than who we really are.¬†Cure girl at the dinner table during Thanksgiving day.

This year let’s be straight up. You/We can’t do everything… be everywhere and appreciate everyone in 2 days. But we can decide who we should be with, where we should spend our Holiday’s and how we can truly look for ways to love and affirm and rejoice with each other! Making space to consider all of God’s goodness.

Thanksgiving can slip into an ‘almost memorable moment‘ status in the shadow of its dark cousin, ‘Black Friday‘ if we’re not careful. Take a moment now to plan ahead for your holiday schedule.

Be practical, be pragmatic and be honest. Make sure your children have a chance to be and do things that bring life to them. Monitor your heart, when you feel the burden of hosting or sharing growing so heavy your chest tightens and your teeth grind… it’s time for an audible.¬†family at fall pic - HRes

GO to a great movie, leave for ice-cream or the zoo or a hike. Break out of the proper and traditional, and stagnate, for something that breathes, lives, and inspires.

Share your spontaneity with your closest friends and visiting family. Leave the leather couch behind, avoid the mania at the mall… go and do something truly spectacular with your Holiday.

Get out, go see the world with fresh and simplified eyes… these wonderful moments are more than picture-perfect -pressure -cookers, they are opportunities to savor.

Happy Thanksgiving !

Pastor B.

 

The “Giver” is a “Gift” for parents!

Just watched ‚ÄúThe Giver‚ÄĚ ¬†– if you‚Äôre out of the loop, this is the latest of the tween-teen best-selling books to make it to the big screen and features a fantastic cast. (Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift)

It‚Äôs a teen story about personal discovery and the way in which we choose to engage our world, it opens up so much discussion. I would recommend parents taking their 13 and up kids to see this, it‚Äôs cinematic beauty and style is amazing for the metaphor it supports and although a bit ‚Äėslow‚Äô in the pace, it kept my interest.

thefandomnews.net

thefandomnews.net

It’s a film appropriate for further discussion, as it raises some big-picture¬†concepts about life, society and God that pre-teens and teens are wrestling with already.

Remember, media can be an amazing tool for us as parents to use in assessing and shaping our kids values and perceptions of morality. Pre-teens are constantly absorbing information and ideas, and making the effort to participate in that dialogue is an essential role we should play in assisting in their maturation emotionally and socially.

A few great ideas/concepts to consider after watching; 

What¬†is so significant¬†about our Free Will ? Why would God allow us to keep it , when we so obviously consistently make ‘bad choices’ ?

Can mankind choose to change itself or are we as a species….doomed to repeat our mistakes?

Are emotions safe ? Why or why not ?

Can we experience life without emotion or is it a dangerous distraction for a Christian?

Parents, I am so grateful for movies and media that can open the doors to our kid’s hearts. Recognize it as a rare and wonderful moment in time when we can push “pause” on our crazy busy lives to just enjoy being together as a family. ¬†It’s important to let our children share freely what they think afterwards… and for us to practice “listening”, instead of us always being the ‘talker or teacher.

Pre-teens need to process ideas… to learn to form their own ‘filter’ for truth. To begin to think critically and to internally separate the good from the bad. Media is especially adept at combining awesome themes like redemption and love with moral crud. Often it will interweave senseless violence, inappropriate language and sexuality with beautiful life concepts, fulfillment and gorgeous people, suggesting to our kids, they can’t be truly happy¬†without sinning. Our kids need to grow in their understanding of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong and why.

I rate the “The Giver” a 3.5 out of 5 stars for entertainment appeal and a solid 5 out of 5 for being a rich discussion starter!¬†

Pastor B.

For more movie and media reviews, check out¬†Plugged In ‚Äď MOVIE REVIEW from Focus on the Family!

The Dating Dilemma

Especially for parents with daughters… a blog on dating.

There are always the extremes in Christian parenting on this subject, ranging from uber conservative and restrictive to the barely aware and unconcerned. I’m not a fan of taking either polarized approach, believing each to be difficult to navigate safely.

Some parents advocate a careful isolation from boys, doing their best to build a barrier from the impending dangers of dating; warning and restricting their daughters from their budding sexuality and the powerful pull of amped teen hormones.

Other parents approach the whole situation with a laid-back…’kids will be kids posture, maintaining only the mildest of restrictions for after hours and unsupervised free time with the opposite sex.

Having raised two daughters I can only tell you that each child is as unique as a winters snowflake and there is danger in making sweeping generalities and dating rules as a parent without some reflection and prayer.

The larger issue at stake is the consideration of your daughter’s heart.

The standards of conduct and rules for dating are only secondary considerations for protecting and teaching our daughters about relationships, what’s primary here is the condition of the heart.

As a dad, I’m only too aware of the dangers of dating boys. I have made SOOOOO many mistakes in how I approached my girls and their potential suitors, acting out of fear and not love. My raw emotion posturing into ¬†dire warnings and threats against any testosterone fueled mini-man who dared to even consider asking one of my girls out on a date! I didn’t handle that so well and in venting my fear I isolated and excluded my daughters from the equation. Not one of my better moves.

Dating is and always will be a huge deal in a family, and sitting down with your spouse before hand is essential in laying out the boundaries you need to have respected by your teen children. Unity in parenting is paramount in effectively guiding your kids into how to explore their emotions and their need for love and acceptance from a future husband or wife.

Fathers who take the time to ‘date’ their daughters and model how a gentleman should conduct himself in the presence of a lady is a BIG DEAL. Wives who seek to support and respect their husbands in front of their teen daughters (even when they disagree) is a BIG DEAL. As parents we are modeling to our kids how a healthy – loving ¬†relationship is intended to work in God’s blue-print for a lifelong marriage.

Dating is more than a social experiment that we as parents oversee. It’s a preparation for a covenant vow between two as they begin the journey of becoming one.

The issues of the heart reflect the source of the love ¬†to be cultivated and shared within the sacred sphere of marriage and family. If that heart is¬†unsure,¬†desperate for affirmation and identity, it will do reckless things to get it. If a teens heart has a solid grasp of their value and purpose in Christ, they are going to make much healthier choices when we’re not around to ‘protect’ them.

secretkeepergirl.com

secretkeepergirl.com

Laying out your family rules on dating is essential, but making sure your child’s heart has been given a healthy dose of self-respect and consistent affirmation is MOST essential.

There are great ministries and advice out there to help parents with Dating issues, and no matter your approach… you’re going to need some help. ūüôā

 

Here are some great resources to consider;

Secret Keeper Girls (Ministry for pre-teen girls and their moms)

About.com  (6 common rules for Christian dating)

Focus on the Family¬† (Biblical Dating – and how it’s different)

Billy Graham Association (The Dirt on Dating)

iShine – (Video series – Advice from Teen Christian girls on Dating )

Growing Up Duggar ( A book by the 4 oldest daughters from their TV reality show)

4 Lies the Church Taught us about sex (Relevant Magazine – Sept/Oct ¬†’14 by Lily Dunn)

Toxic Emotion… Shame

Hanging out with a legit MDiv – MA in Counseling, Family¬†therapist is always enlightening. It’s not always comfortable to be tinkering¬†under my skullcap…but it’s¬†always insightful. The subject of parenting¬†tweens came up…. so naturally my work with iShine, pastoring and parenthood.

I explained how iShine focuses on reaching pre-teens with a message of Value -Identity and Purpose (VIP) before their 13th b-day. I noted multiple studies with stats on establishing that what a kid believes by 13 is what they believe for life.

He soberly nodded and then shared this wasn’t only true in the spiritual¬†and social aspects of person, but in their psychological and emotional make up as well. ¬†Noting that his marriage counseling sessions seemed to primarily focus on¬†parents¬†who were struggling with their own repeated turbulent life cycles with a common thread of “complex trauma” and emotional baggage that re-defined their understanding of not only God but of their “self”.

He connected the dot for me… that most if not all of those marriage and relational adult issues came from events in their tween years and¬†formed the basis for the addictive¬†and destructive¬†psychological conditions¬†in his counseling practice. I asked him… what’s THE most common issue adults within the world of Christianity struggle with… His response… a very toxic emotion called SHAME.

ZINGA ! Light Bulb moment

It finally occurred to me that¬†reaching tweens by the age of 13 was not only about helping them find the truth within our Christian heritage of faith, but also understanding the truth about themselves and the truth about the nature of their heavenly father. After all… if what¬†a 13 year old¬†believed about global warming and Islam was an issue, how critical is it¬†for¬†that same kid¬†to¬†grasp the truth¬†about the nature of sin – guilt and SHAME¬†and the power of the cross to deliver them¬†from all that !

So… parents, pastors and friends, teachers – educators and homeschooling momma’s, can¬†we¬†be sure to add the topic of SHAME to what we teach and tell about God and the truly¬†good news of our¬†Gospel. That our personal forgiveness is not a one time option, to experience or extend, but a lifetime habit to develop!

SHAME is at the top of the list for TOXIC beliefs that rob us of life. Talking with the professional therapist, I realized how poorly the church traditionally¬†responds to a Christian’s humanity in the context of life “after” conversion.

It’s more dangerous¬†than awkward to discuss your personal struggles in most churches, knowing that if you do…the mutterings will begin and¬†your personal relationships will end.¬†So we eventually get wise, move on and rarely if ever dare to¬†do so again. Leaves a vacuum in the psyche of our souls as to the nature of shame and pain and God’s acceptance of us as we actually are…and that empty space can get full of every kind of lie and half truth the pit of hell can fill it with. Starting at 13 and going right up to the point where we run away from faith and never – ever turn back to try again.

Shame

Shame

Parents, it’s essential¬†to be¬†intentional with our pre-teens about their faith and beliefs …but I believe it’s even more¬†valuable to be intentional with our kids to explain and show them about true forgiveness. To talk openly about the humanity of an authentic Christian who¬†“struggles” with their faith, learning and growing¬†through their mistakes and mis-steps, always trusting, always hoping, always believing that God is able when we’re not.

This is¬†a critical insight for our¬†kids, it’s¬†essential for¬†them to¬†see us move past our SHAME and focus on God’s grace and not just our sin. After all…if our faith can’t save us as we are…. what¬†good is it?

Peace out, Pastor B.

PS – Thanks to keith@pathtoliving.com for the insights ūüôā