Working Parents: Have a Plan for Taking Time Off From Work When Your Children Need You

Whether your child has an illness or injury, or the babysitter could not make it, taking unexpected time off from work can be tricky.  When both parents work, this can cause unnecessary tension because of arguments about who is going to stay home and take care of the child.  To prevent this from happening, it is very important to develop a plan ahead of time with your spouse about unanticipated “at home” days.

One important consideration is who has the most flexible schedule on any given day.   It may be that an arrangement can be worked out where both parents  divide the caretaking day in half.  If one spouse has mostly morning meetings and the other spouse has them in the afternoon, you can both work around your schedules.  My late husband and I did this.  His schedule was generally more flexible than mine, since as a lawyer, my schedule could be extremely busy.  We worked it out though between us, always keeping our focus on what was best for our children.  Compromise is very important as it reduces the parents’ stress levels and aids in flexible decision making, which of course, leaves more time for you both to focus on your child who needs you.

Speak to your office manager or human services representative ahead of time about the protocol for working from home or having children in the workplace. Many companies allow a parent to work from home if he is unable to come to the office and some allow children to be in the office under special circumstances.

If you and your spouse are not able to do any of the above, research alternatives.  Often retired relatives or friends will assist for a short while.  What is critical is that you do not wait until you need assistance to find a solution.

Raising children can be filled with ups and downs.  Having a plan and being willing to compromise - those are the key elements to surviving a sudden at-home stay.  Life is always going to throw curveballs at you, but being proactive can make them a little easier to catch

Happy New Year, 2018!

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"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves."
Bill Vaughan

As you enter into the new year of 2018 and leave the old year behind, are you an optimist or a pessimist? As Christians, our hope is in God and we must be optimists!  Philippians 4:8 states: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (New Living Translation).

As we focus our thoughts on all that this verse says we should, we hold firm to the promise that all will be well with us, not because of who we are ourselves, but who we have our faith and confidence in. Our lives are not our own – we were bought with a price.  Have confidence that God continues to order our steps.  “I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.” Jeremiah 10:23 (New Living Translation).

I pray that you will receive your heart’s desires this year as you put Him first and foremost in your life.  Dream big and grow in faith because He is a God of big dreams!  Happy new year!

This Christmas - Allow God’s Light to Shine Through You in Everything You Do

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
Matthew 5:14

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus, it’s important to remember that He was the light of this world.   When Jesus was born, the wise men saw His bright star and followed it from the east to find Him.  Matthew 2:2.  Then, when they were in Bethlehem, they continued to follow the star and it led them directly to the house were Jesus lived.  Matthew 2:9. God is light and as His children, He passed that light down to us.  God does not want us to hide the light He gave us - He wants it to shine brightly, as a star, in and through us. He wants us to display His light in ways that are pleasing unto Him.

Consider using your gifts to serve the Lord and shine brightly.  God has blessed each one of us with our own unique talents and abilities, but it is up to us to choose how we use them.  There is no better way to be a light to this world than to use your gifts to honor Him.  If your talent is singing, join a church choir or sing songs that give glory to the Lord.  If you are a writer, write creative and informative books or stories or other written works based on biblical themes, characters and histories. There is so much that you can do!

Being a light in the world also involves volunteering to assist those who are less fortunate, and I have written about that before.  1 Peter 4:10 states, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Our gifts were bestowed upon us to be a blessing to others in the same way that God has blessed us.

Passing on His graces and mercies is the ultimate expression of His love for us and what He continues to do in and for us. God’s light is life and we should use the life He gave us to light up the world - as He intended it.  And, just as the wise men followed that bright star to find Jesus, others will follow us to Him.

Should My Children Have A Pet?

Parents are thinking about purchasing those ubiquitous Christmas gifts and often high on the list is a pet for their children.  Of course, children love the idea of owning a pet.  Who would not want small, fluffy (or scaly) creatures to show them unconditional love at all times? But pets can be much more than that.  In fact, studies have shown that pets can be catalysts for your children’s increased well-being.

Whether a dog, cat, lizard or bird, pets can provide their owners with countless benefits - especially children.  Here are a few great things that these wonderful creatures bring into our lives.

1.    They Teach Companionship. I think philosopher Martin Buber put it best when he said, "an animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language."  Though they do not speak the same language or have the same mannerisms that we do, our furry friends somehow understand us enough to show us love when we want it and comfort when we need it.

In addition, they teach responsibility. They show children that to love something also means to take care of it - to feed and nurture it. From a large dog to a small fish, taking care of pets requires a lot of work. Exposing children to caretaking at a young age develops many critical skills for the future.

2.    Bye-Bye Allergies! Studies have shown that children who grow up with cats and dogs are less like to be sick compared to other children their age, and they are also less likely to develop pet-related allergies. Being exposed to pet dander at an early age reduces their chances of developing these allergies by 33%, according to a study by pediatrician James E. Gern, as it strengthens their immune systems. Before you rush to get a pet though, talk with your pediatrician because it is still possible for your children to acquire allergies.

3.    They Promote Activity. Animals, like dogs, need to be taken out for walks everyday - sometimes more than once a day.  Doing a couple of laps around the neighborhood is nice, but you and your children can use this task as an opportunity to explore so much more and become increasingly active.  Walk to the dog park and meet new people; go hiking with your pet; or have a run on the beach.  Keeping active is essential for both children and adults.

4.    They Make Life a Little Brighter. There is just something about the company of a pet that makes most children and adults happy. It is said that when we interact with animals, our dopamine and serotonin levels increase. In other words, the happy hormones in our brains are released!

5.    They are Learning Companions! Parents oftentimes find their children doing homework with or reading to their pets.  This is because there is no judgement with pets.  The comfort that they provide creates a safe space for children when doing academic tasks (or any task they may not be confident in).

Above all these benefits, the best thing a pet has been known to provide is the strengthened bond between family members.  They bring out the spirits of love and cooperation in people.  So, if your children ever ask for a pet this Christmas, please keep these points in mind when making your decision. Hopefully, it ends in adding a new member to the family under the Christmas tree!

Keeping Children Occupied During Airplane Travel

Soraya Coffelt Airplane Travel

During the holidays, families frequently travel on airlines.  For some of us, it is just a short one or two hour trip, but for others, it can be for many hours.   When traveling with children, there are numerous things to consider regarding how your children spend their time and how they behave toward other passengers.  No person wants to be a victim of a child kicking the airplane seat from behind out of pure boredom or a lack of manners (I have been the victim of this many times) or having to deal with a cranky, restless child.  Parents are encouraged to be prepared.  Here are a few fun-filled activities to keep your children occupied during flights:

1.    Reading. Bring some of your children’s favorite books on board. You can read them to your children or let them read the books themselves. If your child is a fast (or indecisive) reader, it may be best to have a digital version of several books on a tablet or E-reader so they have options from which to choose.  Pop up books are especially entertaining for toddlers, but for smaller children, hard back books and pages are better!

2.    Crafts. Crafts can get fairly messy and many are not appropriate for planes, but one that has garnered a lot of popularity is sticker art. All you will need is a book of stickers and another book with blank paper.  Or, there are books with both stickers and blank sheets of paper together- how convenient! Your children will definitely enjoy making their own creations with the stickers.  In fact, you can encourage them to even leave a little decorative art piece for the crew.

3.    Movies. This is one of the easiest and hassle-free ways to pass the time. Watching their favorite movie - or a brand new one - will keep your little ones entertained for an hour or two.  There are children’s portable DVD players as well as small laptops that can be accompanied with headphones.  You can also search beforehand for episodes of their favorite TV shows and download them.  My sons would often watch the same shows over and over again.

4.    Doodling.  A nice alternative to a bunch of crayons is an Etch-A-Sketch.  It allows your children to create several drawings without dropping (and having to search for) a single crayon.

Bringing along their favorite snacks and drinks is also very important, as it satisfies their hunger and thirst and further prevents their ears from popping during takeoff and landing.  Often, it does not matter if they ate before they get on board a plane, as children always seem to be hungry or thirsty. 

All parts of family travel should be enjoyable experiences for you and others.  The key is to prepare beforehand.   Happy travels!

Adding “Thanks” Back into Thanksgiving Day

We will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day this Thursday in America.  It’s a national holiday set aside for us to remember all that we are thankful for.  However, as the child says in this cartoon, God has blessed us immensely so one day a year is certainly not adequate to give thanks!  In this week’s blog, instead of writing about the history of Thanksgiving Day or a similar topic (which you can find in my previous blogs), I have chosen to focus on some Bible scriptures instructing us on giving thanks regularly.  As you enjoy the day with family and friends, I encourage each of you to spend some time reading and practicing these verses as a family:

1 Chronicles 16:24 – “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever”

Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”

Psalm 95:2 - “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms”

Psalm 100:4 - “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name”

Psalm 107:1, 8-9 - “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endures forever… Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness”

Phil. 4:6 - “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God

Colossians 4:2 – “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful

There are many other Bible verses, but these are extra special to me.  Don’t let this Thanksgiving Day be one filled with just eating, drinking and watching sports.  Spend time thanking the great I Am for all He has blessed you and your family with and then remember to do it again and again each day thereafter!

Fight the Good Fight of Faith on Halloween

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"Fight the good fight of faith..." - 1 Tim. 6:12

Halloween is coming up on Tuesday, and as Christians, it is difficult for us to see people celebrating this day when they truly do not know the true history of it and what it commemorates.  As Christians, we are not hopeless as we can fight Halloween and all it represents by using our faith.

It has been reported that after Christmas, Halloween is the biggest holiday for retailers.  From early September, everything from lawn & house decorations, to costumes, to makeup and music are advertised openly in stores and online at many websites.  Of course, the designs are centered on evil and scary images.  How can Christians respond?  Here are some suggestions:

1.    Put Bible verses and phrases everywhere. On lawn posts, indoor and outdoor signs, candy, even carved into pumpkins, include Bible verses. The verses should be positive in nature and short. A verse such as 1 Peter 3:11 that says, “They must turn from evil and do good” is perfect as it is to the point.

You do not have to limit yourself to Bible verses, as Bible phrases are excellent and can be just as effective.   For example, you can decorate a makeshift tombstone in your yard with the phrase “He is Risen”.  A tombstone is very much in the theme of the day, but the message is about the resurrection of Christ rather than an evil purpose.

2.    Decorate wreathes with Christian symbols.  Wreaths are popular decorations for homes.  However, instead of filling your wreath with black cats and bats, fill it with crosses, doves, and olive branches.  All of these are symbols of Christianity that promote the message of Christ.

3.    Greet trick or treaters with Bible verses.  When children come to your door to trick-or-treat, plan on giving them something unique.  One recommendation is candy wrapped with a short Bible verse.  Again, there are many short verses that are effective:  

  • Psalms 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
  • Mark 10:14 “Let the children come to me.”
  • John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.”

You can also look up more inspirational verses online and select the ones that you and children would like to share.

It is important that your children do not answer the door alone.  You should be there to greet everyone and your children can assist you with passing out candy and verses. 

By using our faith to fight Halloween, you and your children will have a lot of fun carving the pumpkins and making the decorations, all centered on the Word of God.  Importantly, they will not be missing out on the fun and will learn unique ways to spread the love of God.

Support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  It was established to honor children fighting cancer and support the development of treatments.  You do not have to know someone with childhood cancer to commemorate or contribute to this extremely worthwhile cause.

There are many ways that you and your children can show support for children affected by cancer, and here are a few:

Volunteer.  There is an abundance of volunteer opportunities to choose from and you should include your children too. If there are any children’s cancer centers or hospitals in your area,  donate your time to read to the patients.  Your children can bring toys to play and spend time with them too.  Consider baking cookies and other sweet treats to pass out to patients, doctors, nurses, and volunteers.  Showing you care by spending your time and having friendly interactions with the patients makes a loving and lasting impression on them.

Donate.  Consider making a monetary donation to a reputable charity, hospital or research lab that strives to benefit the lives of children with cancer. Whether you have $1 or $1,000,000, a donation is always valuable.  Additionally, talk with your children about making a donation too.  Emphasize the goal of the organization or hospital and explain how their donation will benefit it.  By using a portion of their allowance, they can contribute to the cause and help children in need. This teaches them to become more considerate and loving of others and it gives them a sense of accomplishment knowing that their generous deed benefitted someone else.

Another idea is to have a group fundraising event involving food or bake sales, car washes, or even yard sales.

Help a family. If you know a family affected by childhood cancer, there are many ways to assist them.  Consider calling or texting to check up on them and sending hand-written cards with friendly messages.  Make decorating and writing cards a fun family event.  A short message such as “Best wishes from our family to yours. We are always here if you need anything and will continue to pray for you,” can provide comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

Also, volunteering to do chores such as house sitting or lawn mowing can take a lot of extra pressure off adults in the family and give them more time to focus on their loved one in need.

There are so many ways and opportunities for you and your family to commemorate Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  As Christians, we are called to show our love to others, and what better way than assisting children in need.

How Did Labor Day Start?

In the United States, we will celebrate Labor Day on Monday, September 4.  It is not just a day to pull out the barbecue grill one last time before autumn hits.  It is a very important federal holiday commemorating the Labor Movement of the 19th century that sought to end the poor and unfair treatment of American workers.   Take some time to learn about the history of this holiday and share it with your children because there is quite a lot to learn and commemorate.

In the late 1800s, during the period known as the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the majority of people worked in factories, mills, and mines under unsafe and unsanitary conditions, 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, for very little pay.  Children as young as 5 years old were working as well for less pay than adults.  There was no quality of life in the work place. The only way that workers believed their voices would be heard was through forming unions and taking part in strikes and organized marches.  

The first and arguably the most influential march was held on September 5, 1882 in New York City.  This was the same day that the union, Nobel Order of the Knights of Labor, was planning on meeting in the city, so it decided to invite other unions as well.  About 20,000 workers gave up an entire day’s pay to participate and the march soon turned into a parade.  This was the first parade of many to come.  Over a decade later, in 1896, President Grover Cleveland decided to make the day a national holiday while many states, such as Oregon, New York, Colorado, and Massachusetts, had already recognized the day for several years.

There were some workers who were not allowed to participate in these marches or parades, such as African Americans.  While the Knights of Labor union was race inclusive, African American workers could not be members of the majority of white labor unions.  Despite the racism and aversion by the white workers towards them, African American workers were still able to band together and create unions of their own, one of which was the Colored National Labor Union (CNLU).  The Knights of Labor and the CNLU were some of the most powerful unions at the time.

The Knights of Labor union was almost fully responsible for the first Labor Day celebration and the CNLU was successful in arranging employee benefits and fair wages for its workers.  Unfortunately, the two unions would eventually die out before Labor Day was recognized as a national holiday.

It is important for our children to understand the history behind our national holidays, including this one.  Labor Day is not about barbecues and marking the end of summer- it is about ending the unfair treatment of workers and actually celebrating the innovation and creativity of American workers and the many contributions they have made. 

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.

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.

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!

Teaching Our Children About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 16, is a federal holiday in honor of the great civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  What do you plan to do that day with your children?  Is it just another day off for you to spend time doing chores at home or shopping?  I strongly suggest that you take the time to plan celebrating this holiday and teaching your children about all the accomplishments of this American hero and his tremendous impact on us, and of course, incorporate reading into all your activities.

What are some of the things that you can do?  In her online article on Scholastic.com, Teach Kids About Martin Luther King, Jr., author Denene Millner makes some good suggestions.  First, she says to be honest when talking with your children, even though it may be painful.  Explain to your children that there were days when “Colored People” had their own drinking water fountains.  Tell them about being forced to sit in the back of a bus or to attend separate schools just because of the color of your skin.  Show them pictures of the past so that they can see for themselves what actually happened.

Second, discuss what Dr. King did that directly affects us today and how he promoted nonviolence.

Third, attend and volunteer at events that honor him.  Do some research in your community to find out what are the best activities for your family.

In addition to what Ms. Millner recommends, I would like to recommend that parents discuss who Dr. King was.  Let your children find out all about his interesting background, including that he was a brilliant man who started college when he was 15 years old!  I’m certain that he did a lot of reading as he grew up.  Importantly, he was not only a brave leader, but he was also a husband, father, and minister.

There are many wonderful books about Dr. King for every age group.  Visit your local library or bookstore.  He should not be just a memory in history.  Make this hero come alive for your children because there is so much that they can learn from him.

To read Ms. Millner’s entire article, click here.

Helping Your Children To Make New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the beginning of a brand-new year and I’m sure that many of you have already sat down and written a list of resolutions to start off the year right.  Some parents think that new year’s resolutions are just for them as adults.  However, parents can help their children make changes and improvements in their behaviors and habits by encouraging and helping their children to make new year’s resolutions too.

In her online article 8 Ways to Help Kids Make New Year’s Resolutions, author Wendy Schuman gives some good advice.  First, she encourages parents to be role models for their children in making and following through with resolutions.   For example, if eating healthy is at the top of your list as a parent, make sure that you do your best to purchase healthy food and eat it.  Include your children in making healthy food choices and planning healthy meals.  And, ensure that there are plenty of nutritious snacks around, as we all know that kids love to snack.

Second, have your child write a short list of resolutions of just 2 or 3.  Ask your child: “What is the most important improvements that he would like to make?”  A long list can lead to frustrations when your child does not achieve every single item listed.

Third, be positive.  Don’t look for every time that your child has not followed through on a resolution and nag about it.  A nagging or criticizing parent can cause a child to develop a lack of self-confidence.  Instead, if your child does not follow through, try to remind him of the many successes that he has had in the past.  Encourage him to not give up and continue toward making the resolution a reality.  Each day is a new day and your child can always begin again.

Fourth, develop a family ritual around resolutions.  Get together as a family and share each person’s resolutions.  Make them meaningful. Be kind and loving to each other rather than critical and judgmental.   This is the beginning of a fresh new year that God has blessed you and your family with.

To read her entire article, CLICK HERE.

 

Raising Thankful Children

I came across this quote and was taken aback by how simple yet forthright and impactful it was.  Saying “thank you” is such an important part of our relationship with God, our Father, yet how often do we truly do it during our busy days?  How are we teaching our children to be thankful for all that He has given us?  1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “Give thanks in every circumstance for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

It’s the day after Christmas and I’m certain that we all had a lot of gifts to open and indulge in as well as scrumptious meals to enjoy.  We should be thankful for all that He has given us, not just for these physical, worldly gifts, but most importantly, for the intangible ones - our lives, our health, our family, etc., etc.  I could go on and on naming what we can be thankful for each and every second of each and every day.  

Whether we like it or not, we are role models for our children.  If we are not verbally expressing our thanks and showing thankfulness through our actions, the likelihood is that our children will not either.  To raise thankful children, we must first be thankful as parents.  Try expressing thanks out loud each day as part of the family routine, such as when you are driving them to school.  Make it fun and playful.  Point out how they can thank each other for simple acts of kindness.  As a parent, you can thank your children for things that they do, and they should be thanking you as well.  Nurture a thankful spirit within your children and they will be kinder and more loving to you and others. 

Help Your Children To Be Gift Givers and Not Just Gift Receivers

As we approach Christmas Day, we, as parents, spend a lot of time thinking about and planning what to get our children for Christmas.  We want our gifts to be very special for them.  But consider this: God gave us His Son Jesus as the greatest gift for mankind.  God loves us so much that He is a giver!  During this holiday season, what about spending just as much time and effort teaching your children about being givers of gifts?  

Gift giving involves quite a bit of caring and planning.  First, select someone for whom your children can purchase a gift this Christmas.  That person can be a relative or someone who does not have a family.  Or is there someone in the hospital?

Second, have them find out what the person would like as a gift.  That involves getting to know the person deeply, not just in a casual or random way.  What are this person’s likes and dislikes?  If the person enjoys music, find out what specific kind of music.

Third, gift giving involves taking the time to find and purchase the appropriate gift.  Where can that special gift be purchased?  Is it available online or do you have to actually go to the store to purchase it?

Fourth, the gift should be wrapped with festive paper and ribbons, to make it look colorful, attractive and appealing.  This also takes time to select the specific paper and other ornaments to go on the package and then to carefully and lovingly wrap it.

Fifth, have your children add a special name tag or card to the gift.  Encourage them to use their creativity in creating and drawing the images.  This can be a whole project in and of itself.

Sixth, set aside that special time when your children can give the gift.  Make it unique.   And, remember to carefully observe the response of the person receiving this gift and the tremendous joy it brings.

Your children will remember these exceptional times and gifts.  They will also learn to be generous and to love and care about others, rather than just focusing on themselves.  

 

When Planning What Gifts to Buy Your Children This Christmas, Remember This: Your Presence is More Important

As parents, we often spend much of our time planning what presents to buy our children, particularly as Christmas approaches.  Another video game? Another DVD? Music lessons?  Dance lessons?  The newest fad watch?  The list can be endless.  For this holiday season, stop and think about the fact that your children would much rather have time with you than with a gift.

Consider instead planning an activity that will become a family tradition.  Your children will have life long memories of all the fun they had with the family rather than the gift.  Such family traditions can include having the entire extended family over for a meal; or volunteering time together to help the less fortunate; or attending church together.

What about planning a family trip together?  You can select a different location each year.  One Christmas, my sisters and I planned a family trip to a popular theme park.  We rented a large home and our parents and all our siblings and their spouses and children came.  We had such a wonderful time and made enduring memories.  

Also be sure to include some relaxed time.  What about simply going outside and looking at the stars?  Or trying a new recipe for a special desert? Or playing fun games with them?  When was the last time that you were the horse and they rode on your back?

Spending time with your children requires planning.  But, these plans will be the most important and life changing plans you can make. 

 

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

As Halloween approaches, before making plans to participate in its activities, I ask Christian parents to research and read about this so-called “holiday”.  One of my children’s books discusses the true origins of Halloween - It’s Not About You Mr. Pumpkin - A Love Letter About the True Meaning of Halloween.

Many Christians do not know where Halloween started or what it involves.  Some think that it is just harmless fun for children, such as dressing them up in costumes and knocking on doors asking for candy.  I believe that it is very important for parents to understand the pagan origins of Halloween and the rituals that were and still are involved.  Shockingly, next to Christmas, it generates the most amount of money for retailers.

In preparing to write my book, I did a significant amount of research.  The celebration was started by people known as the Celtics who lived in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Their priests were known as Druids, who used evil spirts to do dastardly deeds.  They believed that on October 31, the lord of the dead Samhain, would call out from the dead for all the evil spirits to go back and visit the homes where they used to live or the homes of their living relatives.  These evil spirits began “haunting” homes.   People living in these homes would put out food to stop these spirits from coming in and also put up scarecrows to scare them away.

Over the years, decorations became scarier and uglier.  The focus centered on death, witches, wizards, ghost and all things evil and scary. Soon, the aim was to get children involved.  Why not make it appear fun and playful – then children would be eager to participate?   Since children love to eat candy, offering the evil spirits food turned into offering children candy.

There are many alternatives in which your children can participate – especially those activities sponsored by churches.  Usually these festivals involve fun activities that do not involve any of the Halloween aspects.

You can read more about my book and order it by CLICKING HERE.

Teaching Your Children the Importance of What Happened on July 4th

    Is July 4th just another barbeque holiday for you and your family?  Yes, it’s great to have a day off to spend time with family and friends, but July 4th has such important history behind it.  Share that history with your children before you leave home.  

    Just what happened on that wonderful day?  Our country back in the 1770s consisted of 13 colonies ruled by Great Britain.  The colonists became very angry because Great Britain began imposing many taxes on them without their knowledge or representation in Parliament, and began protesting against this.  In response, Great Britain sent in soldiers to quash all resistance.  

    The colonists chose representatives to meet to discuss what they would do.  In 1774, a group of representatives formed the First Continental Congress and met in Philadelphia to begin discussing becoming independent from Great Britain.  They made a list of demands to King George and began forming militias to defend themselves.  The British did not back down and sent in more soldiers.  In 1776, a group of men led by Thomas Jefferson were asked to write an explanation as to why the colonists wanted independence.  This document became known as the Declaration of Independence.  It refers to God five times, as they believed God was very important in guiding them to establish our new country and God had created us all to be free and equal.

    On July 4, 1776, Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence.    This day has been remembered and celebrated since. 

The Greatest Christmas Gift of All Time

As we are busy making our plans and buying gifts for our friends and loved ones for Christmas, let us not lose focus about why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.   As Christians, we believe that Jesus was the greatest gift ever given to mankind.  God gave us His only son Jesus so that we could have eternal life.  Why did God do this for us?  John 3:16 gives us the answer: because of His immense love for us.  

The true meaning of Christmas is found in its name: “Christ”, who is Jesus and “mas” which is a celebration.  Christmas is an extremely special day for us.  I encourage you to spend time worshiping Jesus and thanking Him for all that He has done for you and your loved ones.   From my family to yours - have a blessed and peaceful Christmas!

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt