Explore Your Own Town or City: Have a Summer Family “Staycation”

I have written previously about taking family vacations during the summer.  However, it may be that you are on a tight budget and a family trip may have moved down the list of priorities this summer.  But, you can still have a vacation with your family without breaking the bank or crossing state lines.

“Staycations” are the perfect alternative to expensive out of town trips.  You might think that you have seen everything in your area, but there are possibly  many hidden gems still waiting to be found and this is the perfect opportunity for you and your family to do just that.  In addition, there usually are a variety of local discounts available from museums, historic sites, and other ‘tourist attractions’.

If you want to leave your home, you could stay at an inexpensive hotel to have the full “vacation experience”.  Many hotels give local residents discounts during the summer.  However, there are plenty of ways to have the luxury feel of a hotel in your own home.  For example, one of the best parts of any good hotel stay is the breakfast spread.  Plan on cooking a big breakfast (the kids can join too!), similar to that of most hotels, and serve it buffet style. Set the table with white tablecloths and a simple centerpiece and enjoy your private, yummy breakfast with the family.

After breakfast, select one or more popular tourist attractions to visit.  Try something new and different.  It may seem silly to be a tourist in your own home, but it can be fun and educational.  One of the main advantages is that you do not have to worry about the cost of transportation because you can drive to each destination in your own vehicle!  Try visiting museums, having a picnic in the park, going backyard camping, or just taking a stroll through the city or town.  In the evening, consider talking the family to a drive-in theater.

You can make a day or a weekend out of it. The schedule is completely up to you because transportation, location and the struggle that comes with being in a new place will not be an issue.  By the end of it all, you and your family will have seen, done, and learned so much about your own community that you never imagined you could.  Who knows? It might even become a family tradition.

Keeping the Children Mentally Stimulated and Entertained During Your Summer Vacation Road Trip

Summer is officially underway! This means that the math and science books have been put away and the kids are ready for some fun.  Last year in my blog, I talked about the importance of involving children in the trip planning process, and how that can be a wonderful learning experience for them.  My blog today is a continuation of that one.  The vacation is planned, your family is ready, and soon enough, the time will be here.  There are plenty of ways that your family members can enjoy themselves while continuously stimulating their minds, especially on road trips.

Here are some suggestions.  A friend told me about a game that she enjoyed playing on car trips as a child.  It was a game called “yellow car”.  Since there are so few yellow cars, the premise of the game was to count how many of them passed on the way to your destination. When one is spotted, you must be the first person to yell out “yellow car” and the person with the highest score at the end of the ride wins.  It sounds simple enough, except for the yelling part.  At the time, she had no idea how entertaining this ‘simple’ game could actually be!

This game was meant to be a onetime occurrence, but months had passed before she and her mother had realized that they were playing it every day.  Try playing “yellow car”.  It will keep the children alert; activate their eyes and brains to spot these objects amongst everything else they see; and help them keep numerical track of how many they have seen.  Little do they know all the learning that is involved!

There are many variations to this game.  Try changing it up to “blue truck” or any other color and vehicle.  Depending on what your destination is, you can select any item to spot and count.  At the end of the trip, ask one of the children to tally up the total score.  Setting the terms are part of the fun of this game and both children and parents can play and enjoy.  Make it a competition and the winner wins a prize.  Your imagination is the limit!

Finding the Balance between Your Children’s Activities and Their Well-being

In a prior blog post, I wrote about the importance of having your children participate in a variety of after-school activities and the benefits that doing so provide.  Today, I would like to extend a cautionary note that those activities should enhance their childhood experiences, not inhibit them.  Children who are overexposed to activities can suffer from headaches; feel tired, anxious or depressed; and suffer a drop in their grades.  Here are a few tips on how to have your children involved in extracurriculars, while still giving them the chance to be children:

  1. Time: According to most experts, children should not spend more than 10 to 20 hours a week participating in out of school activities. If they spend any more time than this, they will not have enough time to do their homework, adequately prepare for tests, and be with their families. Choosing activities that meet bi-weekly or monthly could be healthier options for children, rather than those that meet once or several times a week.
     
  2. Request: Before enrolling your children in an extracurricular activity, it is best to ask if they want to join in it. This way, it will be an activity that they want to do, not an activity that they are being forced to do. Also, try not to pressure your children to outdo themselves or anyone else in their respective activities. Never compare what they are doing or not doing with other children.
     
  3. Your schedule: Ask yourself whether you or your spouse have the time to drive them to and from each activity.  Adding too many activities can wreak havoc on your schedule too and cause a lot of stress. 

The balance between school, homework, play, and family time can be difficult.  The important issue is that you try to balance all four, with an emphasis on what works for the family unit as a whole.   No activity should take the place of spending quality time together as a family or put too much stress on family life.

African Americans and Women Played an Important Role in the Fight for American Independence

Tomorrow is the 4th of July or as Americans have come to know it as Independence Day.  It is well known what this day celebrates- our hard fought independence from the British almost 250 years ago - and the many people who played key roles in the fight.  We frequently think of our founding fathers as the central figures in the war.  What many may not know, though, is that there were also African Americans and women who played a critical part in securing our freedom.

Salem Poor is one of those people. He was born in Massachusetts as a slave, but at the age of 22, had saved up a year’s salary so that he could buy his freedom.  Once freed, he enlisted in the army and this would bring him his notoriety only a year later.  Poor was instrumental in the Battle of Bunker Hill- an important battle in the fight for America’s freedom- defeating several British officers and inspiring paintings commemorating the victory.

Also Massachusetts-born was former slave Peter Salem. He was not only an important soldier in the Battle of Bunker Hill, but also in the entire American Revolutionary War.  At the time of his recruitment, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety only recruited free African Americans.  He traded his life as a slave to fight in the army.

Women such as Margaret Corbin also played major roles in the war. Corbin and her husband helped in defending Fort Washington, but when he got injured, she took over, manning the canon. She did not hesitate to take it upon herself to do a job meant for two.

These and many other men and women are often forgotten in history.  But, do not let that happen.  Teach your children about this day and all the different people who risked their lives to fight for a cause they profoundly believed in.  It makes our history much more vibrant and interesting by doing so.

Extracurricular Activities Ensure Excellence In and Out of the Classroom

Study after study has shown that extracurricular activities provide many benefits for students.  These activities have been known to not onlyprovide children with a break in the day from the stress and anxiety that comes with academics, but also to assist them with copingwith all of the many different things happening in their lives.

Programs such as a language club or a debate team reinforce many classroom-based skills, while sports and musical programs have been known to ‘wake’ the brain up.  Additionally, these type of activities give children a sense of routine, and by allowing them to choose activities they are interested in, parents will inspire them to continue with these routines throughout their adult lives.  Moreover, students who participate in these sorts of activities have been shown to earn higher scores on college admission’s exams.

After-school activities have actually been found to give children energy and help them thrive within their social groups.  All of this is added impetus to later doing homework as well.   On the other hand, students who are not involved in any after-school programs have been known to go through periods of sluggishness, making it difficult for them to even get started on their homework. 

An additional benefit is being able to provide constructive information on a college application.  Colleges are looking for students who are well rounded and sociable, and who will likely survive a rigorous academic schedule.   When your children are able to show what they have done outside the classroom, they will be able to establish their good character, social worthiness, and academic stamina. 

To learn more about the benefits of extracurricular activities, click here.

It Is Essential to Forgive Others as the Lord Has Forgiven You

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
— Colossians 3:13

What is a simple seven letter word that is very hard to do?  Forgive.  No matter how many times we are told that forgiveness is an act that benefits the forgiver more than the person being forgiven, we still often view it as a tough task, usually because of our pride.  Not only can refusing to forgive be detrimental to us physically, but also spiritually.

Forgiveness is not an option in living a Christian lifestyle, but rather a requirement.  Colossians 3:13, our scripture text, actually commands us to forgive as God has first forgiven us.  It does not say that we are allowed to forgive sometimes, depending on what that person has done to us.  We are to always forgive – period.

One of the most poignant stories of forgiveness for me in modern times was when Pope John Paul II forgave the man who tried to assassinate him in 1981.  The shooter fired many shots, four of which hit the Pope.   He lost a great deal of blood but survived.  The shooter was caught and sentenced to life in prison.  Two years later, the Pope visited the would-be assassin in prison and forgave him.  The two emerged from the visit as friends.  But, the Pope even went further.  He requested that the shooter be pardoned, and he eventually was, and became a Christian. 

Now that is forgiveness in action!

By Spreading Love Rather Than Gossip, You Grow as a Christian

As much as we hate to admit it, we have all participated in gossip at some point in our lives. Whether the information we were spreading was based on truth or just pure speculation never really mattered, because there is a strange thrill in sharing some information between you and a few of your friends. There are those who say the act of gossiping is and has always been a part of our social lives, used to learn what is and is not acceptable. Some have described it as harmless banter, but it is actually an opportunity to say hurtful things about a person, with no regard for the consequences, including the person’s wellbeing.

If we really want to stay informed, or have a better understanding of social niceties, as has been suggested, there are so many productive and non-threatening ways to do so. Instead of talking about someone, try to talk to the person.  Get to know him or her better.  We, as humans, are social creatures and by doing this, we use the same amount of energy and can make a new friend in the process. You might even be able to learn a few things from the other person, as that person can from you too.  At the end of the day, we should constantly try to lift others up and encourage them, rather than drag them down, and once we are willing to lift and encourage, it is easier to be lifted and encouraged in turn.

Once you make the decision to no longer be a part of the toxic lifestyle that comes with gossip, feel free to distance yourselves from those who choose not to follow that principle.  The Bible states “as for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” Titus 3:10.

Creating some distance does not mean you have to cut those people out of your life, completely and immediately.  At first, you should encourage the people around you to consider the consequences of their actions.  Try to inform them and give them some of your tips on stopping this type of behavior.  Your role is never to be judgmental, but to be helpful.  If they persist, however, do not be afraid to now maintain distance from them, surrounding yourself with people who believe as you do.

The next time you are told a piece of gossip, no matter how interesting it may seem, be that wise person and walk away.  Let it die at your ears.  Always remember that your children are watching you and listening.  Be a good role model for them.

Patience is a Virtue That You Must Develop on a Day to Day Basis

 

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

-Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV)

Patience.png

Patience is hard to develop in this fast paced world we live in.  When I read Habakkuk 2:3, it deeply resonates with me, especially the last words, “though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come.”  I speak not only for myself, but also I’m sure for many others when I say that once I make a prayer request to the Lord, I usually expect an immediate response. That is not what God has promised us, however.

This verse stands as a reminder to me that there is a season for everything, including the answers to my prayers. If I continue to trust and believe while I wait, I know that everything I have prayed for will come to pass - in God’s time. His timing is always perfect!

I once read about a scenario that I would like to share.  Have you ever ordered an item online that you were really excited about and it was scheduled to arrive in 3-7 business days? Now it is the 6th day and you are beyond anxious, maybe even angry that the package has yet not arrived.  So, you check the tracking number over the internet several times a day, just to see how far it has travelled since you last checked it. You do this until the seventh day, and then you get the notification that your package has arrived.   But, you still have to wait until it can be delivered.  When the package finally arrives, you are filled with so much excitement that you almost forget to sign for it and while in a fit of eager anticipation to see what’s inside, you slam the door in the face of the person who delivered it to you without so much as a “thank you”.

Note: You became angry and impatient even before the deadline has passed.

That was a simple example, but one I think we all can relate to.  As it applies to Habakkuk 2:3, your answer to a prayer is that package, and God is who you were tirelessly monitoring and eventually slammed the door on without a second thought.

It is easy to get caught up in the anticipation and anxiety of receiving what you have prayed for.  In fact, despite God’s promise that “it will certainly come”, you may even doubt that it will ever be manifested.  You are constantly checking up with God to make sure He has not forgotten you, not realizing every time you do so, you are actually questioning whether the Word of God is true. 

God makes no mistakes and our prayers are answered in God’s timing, not ours.   Continue to be patient and trust Him daily in all aspects of your life and your children’s lives.

Have the Entire Family Commemorate Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.  It is a day that has been set aside for us to honor those who have died in the fight to serve and protect our wonderful country. While it is always fun to dust off the grill and invite friends and family over for one of the first barbeques of the season, let us not forget the important sacrifices behind this holiday.

Teach your children about why Memorial Day is celebrated. If explaining the holiday in a child-friendly manner seems difficult for you, there are several articles online that you can use for assistance.  Also, libraries and bookstores have many age appropriate books.  Once your children understand the reasons behind the holiday, participating in activities will be more memorable and heartfelt.

Here are a few examples of activities that the whole family can participate in before or even after you fire up that grill:

  1. Children love crafts. Encourage them to make letters or cards for veterans and families of fallen soldiers.  They can then deliver them to the people whom you know, to veterans’ hospitals or Veterans Affairs offices. Feel free to join in on the fun. Crafting can be a great bonding opportunity and give parents the time to address any unanswered questions about the day and any other activities that are planned. 
     
  2. Visit monuments of fallen soldiers. Some of the most famous in the country are found in Washington D.C.  However, if visiting the nation’s capital is not an option, you can always find graveyards and memorials in or around your town to visit.
     
  3. Carry flowers to honor the fallen.  One of the most appropriate flowers used to pay homage are poppies. In the poem In Flanders’ Fields, poet John McCrae venerated the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives in service during the First World War.  He wrote about poppies being in the fields.  The flower has been associated with war and remembering the fallen.  Explain to your children the history behind the flower and take some to a veterans’ graveyard, memorial, or even to a veteran.
     
  4. Go see a Memorial Day Parade.  Parades can be such fun to watch.  They are not only an excuse to get out of the house, but also a wonderfulopportunity for the entire family to experience a town, city or county coming together to honor and commemorate truly extraordinary people, people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
     
  5. Observe the National Moment of Remembrance. Since December, 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance has been set to begin at 3 p.m. wherever you are in the country. This is a time to for you to stop whatever you are doing and pay your respects.

There are countless other activities that can be done today.  What is important is that you participate in them together as a family and give honor to those who first honored us.

Parents - It’s Important to Stay Involved in Your Children’s Homework Process

Last week, I ended my blog by stating that the implementation of a homework schedule and a quiet place to work gives children the basics they need for concentration and a good homework product.  I suggested that parents set aside time to assist their children. Today, I will dig deeper into parental involvement in homework.

When it comes to homework, take time to, at the very least, oversee the homework process. Ask questions to make sure that they know what the homework is and what is expected of them. 

Engage and respond when given the chance. Working with your children not only gives them an opportunity to discuss what they are learning, but also gives parents the opportunity to know what their children are learning. Even the smartest children will sometimes need help and that is an opportunity to step in.  In regard to making corrections, while it is important for you to make a correction when a mistake is made, you should give critiques constructively, not with judgment or name calling. 

As children grow older, their work becomes progressively harder, making it more difficult for both students and parents to keep up.  Never “make up” an answer if you do not know how to solve a specific problem. Your job is to help them to the best of your ability.  Giving false information does more damage than good for a child’s education. Instead, make a note of the problem that was giving you both trouble and speak with or email the teacher, so the teacher knows exactly what to review with your child during the next class.

When it comes to homework, there is no expectation for you to be the perfect parent. There will be some areas you can assist with and there will be times when you are just as confused as your children, maybe even more.  Being a part of that process is what is most important for your children’s development and what will eventually cause them to thrive.

Spending Time with Your Children While They are Doing Homework

Homework is an integral aspect of your children’s education as it ensures that they can comprehend every lesson taught to them.  Spending quality time with them and assisting when necessary, shows that you care for them and their success. 

I remember that, as a child, my mother was by my side to help and guide me whenever I had homework challenges.  One such challenge comes vividly to mind.  When I was in 5th grade, I had a homework assignment due the first school day after the four day Thanksgiving holiday.  Even though I had four days to complete it, I kept procrastinating and waited until late Sunday afternoon to begin it.  What I discovered was that it was not a short, easy assignment.  I had to study all about Thanksgiving Day and create an art project about the Pilgrims.  I panicked and went straight to my mother for help.  Not only did she spend the rest of that afternoon and evening assisting me putting together the art project, but she also enlisted all of my sisters to help.  We had the dining room table covered with crayons and markers, pictures of turkeys, Pilgrims and Indians, and glue.  

My mother was not happy that I had procrastinated and she made that very clear.  I can honestly say that I never procrastinated on another homework project again! 

Every child handles homework differently. Consider developing a homework schedule as an integral part of your children’s academic development.  It should not only be consistent, but also work well for the child, making the experience less of a chore.

Once you work out a schedule, set up an environment where your children are able to complete their work without problems or interference.  After doing all this, you should set aside time to help them complete their assignments.  Remember, though, not to do their homework for them!

How Our Love For Our Moms Matures As We Get Older

Today’s blog is a celebration of moms as Mother’s Day is on Sunday.  What more can be said about how wonderful our moms are that has not already been said?    What I would like to focus on is our relationships with our moms. To me, the statement on my blog shows how our views of our mothers change at different ages and is very accurate.

I look at my own relationship with my mother.  Although I never felt that my mother was “annoying”, I have had many of these feelings at different ages.  When I was young, my love for my mother was characterized by an exclamation mark: it was a love for a mother who was the world to me and the center of my universe.  As I got into my teens, I was ready to get out of my mother’s nest and spread my wings. However, after leaving home and living every day in the real world, by my 20s, I knew my mother had been often right.  Now, later in age, I really don’t want to lose my mom.  I spend the major holidays with her and try to stay in contact with her as much as possible.  She can’t travel now because she suffered a stroke, so I visit her.  I am certain that as I get older, I will appreciate and love her even more!

As I look at my sons’ relationships with me, I see the same pattern too.  My sons are now in their 20s, so I get to hear “Mom, you were right.”  But, that was only after years of being “annoying” to them and their wanting to leave the house and spread their wings. 

No matter what stage of life you are at, it is very important to love your mother.  Allow your relationship with your mom to grow and mature, as you do.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Are Your Children Consuming Too Much Digital Media?

We have all seen it.  Parents are busy so they give their children some form of digital media to occupy their time while the parents get things done.  Often, it is a cell phone with games.  Other times, it is a laptop or other small device with games or a movie.  Have you ever stopped and thought about how much digital media your children consume each day and whether it is good for them?

In October, 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics held a national  conference and discussed new health regulations for children for 2017.  One of the main topics was children and digital media.  The Academy had previously recommended limiting the amount of television viewing to children who are 2 years or older and no more than two hours a day.  However, since we have become saturated with all sorts of digital media, the Academy reviewed its recommendations and issued some new ones.

According to Dr. Jenny Radesky, “Families should proactively think about their children’s media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep.”  The Academy stresses the fact that problems begin when digital media takes the place of what children need to be doing in the real world and can negatively affect their health.

Some of the new recommendations are:

1.    For children 18-24 months, do not allow them to use a screen except for video chatting.

2.    For children 2 to 5 years old, limit screen use to 1 hour of high quality media a day.

3.    For children 6 and older, parents should place consistent limits so that their children do not lose sleep and miss out on all the many fun things that children need to do. 

Next time, when you want to keep your children occupied, get them a good book to read.  They will learn new words and improve their comprehension skills.  Nothing can or should replace a good book!

To read more about the Academy’s recommendations, CLICK HERE.

Encourage Your Children’s Curiosity by Reading Rather Than By Being Nosy

 
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business
— 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NASB)

When I read the above quote and saw the picture, I laughed out loud!  It is so appropriate, isn’t it!  Our children are naturally curious and will ask a lot of questions.  As parents, we should encourage their curiosity and help them search for answers, but not allow being nosy to be a part of their behavior.  Reading is the best way to find answers to questions.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “nosy” in the common English for students as “wanting to know about someone else’s business.”  This has a negative connotation.  It does not mean that you are sincerely curious so that you can assist and provide consolation and prayer for the other person.  Instead, you are trying to find out about the other person so that you can make derogatory comments, often behind that person’s back.  The Bible encourages us to spend our time diligently working, not having idle time to be a busybody. 

 
We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down...
— 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 (NIV)
 

Most of our children’s behavior is modeled after us, as parents.  Take a moment and analyze your own behavior.  Do you have your nose in someone else’s affairs?  Do you talk openly and in front of your children about what other people are doing in a condemning way?  It may seem harmless but it isn’t at all.   Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about those things that are honorable, pure and worthy of praise.  Being a busybody is not among those mentioned. 

Plan A Parent-Child Date Night Every Now and Then

Last week, I wrote about how important it is for parents to have regular date nights away from their children so that they can develop a deep relationship with each other.  Today, I am focusing on a parent having a “date” or “date night” with a child.  Why would such an event be important?  The answer is simple – because it is a special time specifically set aside just for the parent and child to bond.

Each child is unique.  In order to learn what is truly distinctive about your child and the gifts God has given him/her, you need to spend time with each of them apart from your busy day.  As you do, you talk, ask questions, listen without being judgmental, laugh, hold hands and do whatever else makes you both have fun and enjoy each other’s company.  There should be no cell phones, lap tops, or other demands on a parent’s time and attention, as your full concentration should be on spending quality time with your child.   And, you can stay home or go out for an activity; you can go to a free event or an expensive one, such as dining at a fancy restaurant.  You can do them once a month or more frequently.  The choice is yours. 

In her blog, homeschool mom Heather Brown gives very good advice about parent-child dates and makes some creative recommendations about what to do with your child on these “dates”.   To read more, visit this link.

Why Parents’ Date Night Matters to Your Family

Ephesians 5:33Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)

Ephesians 5:28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (ESV)

When was the last time that you and your spouse had a specific day set aside just for the two of you or what we have come to know as “date night”?  Parents are so busy with their work, raising children, and participating in extracurricular activities that often, they do not consider their relationship as something to cherish and nurture.  The Bible admonishes a husband to love his wife as his own body, and for a wife to respect and love her husband.   How can a husband and wife do that if they do not spend quality time alone together.

Many spouses believe that setting aside time for each other is too difficult.  Quite the contrary - especially if you set your mind to it.  Begin by making sure that both parties agree on the day and time ahead of time.  Don’t wait until the last minute and then suggest a “date night” because it will be doomed to failure.  Importantly, “date night” does not need to actually take place at night.  For example, it can take place one week on a weekday for dinner at 7 p.m.  During the next week, it can be a picnic lunch, and a stroll in the park another week, and visiting an art show another week.   Plan a variety of things to do, rather than just the same thing on each date, so that there is not monotony and boredom.  You both should plan to make this time special for each other.

There can be date nights at home too.  Be creative.  Plan on putting the children to bed early and have a special night with your spouse.  The critical issue is that the “date night” is planned and set aside.  Guard and protect this time from any outside interference, such as texts or phone calls from your children.  Time together with your spouse is vital for the well-being of the entire family.

For more “date night” ideas, visit this webpage.

Teaching Kindness and Compassion To Our Children

Galatians 5:22-23 lists kindness as one of the fruits of the Spirit that we should develop.   In this fast paced world and with all the negative information on television and the internet, it is even more important that we cultivate kindness and compassion in our children.

What are kind acts?  Jesus modeled kindness through such acts as healing the blind and eating with sinners. There are those acts that you can do in your neighborhood or community and those that you can do at home.  One of the acts of kindness that I have done over the years is to help feed homeless persons, not only during the holidays, but also during other times of the year.  Even when I travel, I try to spend time volunteering in some service capacity.

Once I was on a trip to attend a conference in a certain city and arranged for dinner with a friend who lived in that city.  After he picked me up and we were driving to the restaurant, I expressed my concern about how many homeless people were in his city as I felt there were many more as compared to other places I had visited.  My friend commented that I was the only person he knew who actually noticed homeless persons.  I was shocked by his statement.  

Parents can cultivate kindness by having their children volunteer to participate in many activities in their community.  Cleanups in specific areas of town, mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, babysitting for a single parent – these are all acts of kindness and compassion.

At home, parents are role models as children imitate them.  Parents should not expect their children to be kind if they are not.  Acts of kindness and words of kindness should be a regular part of a family’s daily ritual.  These include helping carry in bags of groceries; thanking each other for a thoughtful word or gesture; and assisting with a chore or a task.   

As the poem in today’s blog states, kindness and compassion never fail, whether in our communities or in our homes.  It is up to parents to nurture and develop those attributes in their children.

Sharing Jesus With Your Children

As a lay children’s minister for many years, I loved teaching children about Jesus in my church’s children’s ministry.  We used a variety of techniques, from puppet shows to funny skits, to dressing up in clown costumes to fun parties.  Everything was centered on the Word of God. Of course, I was trained to do what I did and relied upon the creativity that God gave me as well.

Many parents find it hard or uncomfortable to talk about Jesus with their children.  But, it shouldn’t be that way as parents are the first teachers of and role models for their children.

When talking with children about Jesus, I recommend to focus first on how much He loves them and wanted to be around children.  Describe some of the instances in the New Testament about Jesus and children.  When the disciples tried to keep the children away from Him, Jesus stopped them and made sure the children were allowed to come to Him.  He said that the kingdom of God belonged to them too.  Matthew 19:13-14; Mark 10:13-16.  One day, He took a child in His arms and told the people that if anyone receives a child in His Name receives Jesus and God, the Father.  Mark 9:36-37.  To illustrate the importance of children, He also told the people that children are not to be despised as their angels in heaven continually see the face of God.  Matthew 18:10.  And, He loved children so very much that He said it was not the will of God that any child should perish.  Matthew 18:14.

I further recommend that parents not limit talking about Jesus and spiritual issues to just Sundays.  All during the week, look for instances to talk about the goodness and love of God such as the beauties of nature; food to eat; a good home to live in; nice clothes to wear; and fun toys and games to play with.  Talk to them about how forgiving God is. The subjects are endless.  What is important is that your children see and hear about God every day. 

When you need assistance, surf the internet to find out what you can do.  There is quite a bit of information available to help parents.          

Sibling Conflict- What To Do If Your Family Has Fallen Victim To It

My sons are adults now but I still look back on those days when they were growing up together and often have to laugh at some of the things they did.  Yes, there was a lot of sibling conflict.  I remember one incident when they both wanted to sit in the front passenger seat of the car, so they raced each other to the car.  One of them got in first and tried to lock the doors with the automatic lock but couldn’t in time.  The other, in turn, tried to keep the door open at the same time as taking control of the automatic lock.  Needless to say, the back and forth between them and the lock caused all the locks in the car to stop working!

Sibling rivalry!  Just what can we do about it?  Based on my research and personal experiences, there are many things that parents can do.  First, encourage your children to be friends, not competitors.  I think that this is harder to do if you have children of the same gender as they often want to outdo each other, especially boys.  Suggest acts of kindness and helpfulness that they can do for each other.  Talk to them about your personal relationships with your siblings and how it is important for your children to have close relationships too.

Also, help each child to develop his/her unique gifts and talents.  Each child is exceptional and your child’s special abilities should be supported.  For my sons, my older son is an athlete and my youngest son has artistic talents, including music and drawing.  We spent some of our time at athletic events, and other time at music lessons.

Some other clever suggestions are: have the older sibling who is arguing pay to the younger sibling $1; if they tell different versions of an argument, have them stay in a room until they come up with the true version; or have them go to separate corners of a room and yell out “I love you” back and forth 20 times as this will get the anger out of them and focus on their relationship as siblings. 

 

Are You and Your Children Regularly Attending Church on Sundays?

The title for this week’s blog may surprise you.  Why would I ask if you and your children attend church regularly on Sundays?  Based on recent studies, there are declining numbers in church attendance, and many point to busy family schedules, including children’s sports on Sunday mornings, as the main reason.   Many people would like to take Sunday as a day off, due to their very busy schedule during the week days and even on Saturdays.  Sleeping in, relaxing, watching television, playing computer games – all these sound very appealing for a Sunday.

There are many benefits to regularly attending church as a family.  In her online article entitled 5 Benefits for Attending Church, writer Megan Gladwell gives a good listing:

  1. Church anchors us.  All day long we face bombardment from the outside world, so much so that we can lose our spiritual perspective: advertisements, social media, demands on our time, and other external forces.  By attending church, especially as a family, we develop closer bonds with each other and God and learn morals and standards by which to live. 
  2. We receive spiritual strength.  Nothing can substitute for what happens in church.  There is singing and praising God, a sermon to listen to, and many other activities that bring you closer to God.  It sets the tone for you spiritually for the rest of the week.
  3. Church provides much needed fellowship.  Often, churches have various groups that meet during the week.  There are functions to attend.  When you need a helping hand, a church member is usually there to assist.
  4. Church presents opportunities to serve.  Our communities have so many needs, and churches help fill those needs.  Families volunteer to provide assistance to others, exhibiting the love that Jesus wants us to show to our fellow man.  Children learn to serve others and be givers rather than just receivers.
  5. We get to know God on a personal level.  This should actually be the number 1 reason to attend church regularly. 

You can read her entire article by clicking here.

I have always been a regular church attender.  As a young mother, I remember a funny incident involving my oldest son who was about 7 years old at the time and wanted to stay home from church one Sunday morning.  He wriggled on the floor over to my side of the bed, moaning and groaning, and told me that he was having such a severe stomach ache that he couldn’t attend church.  I could instinctively tell that this was not true.   I firmly told him that God expected us to be in church every Sunday and would not accept that excuse.  Of course, he complained for a short while.  I made him breakfast, which he ate, and within minutes, he was up and about playing with his toys and then getting dressed to go to church.  He never made an excuse again.   I often wonder what would have happened if I had accepted his excuse.  What would have been the excuse he made up for the next Sunday and the Sunday after that?

This coming Sunday, make a vow to attend church regularly as a family.  The benefits will never end.