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!

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.

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. 

 

All Christians Should Join in Celebrating Black History Month

February has been designated Black History Month.  No matter what race or national origin you and your family are, there is so much that we can learn about ourselves and our nation by studying and celebrating African American history.

An online editorial by crosswalk.com editors entitled “The Importance of Black History Month to Christians” is worthy of reading to understand why Christians should participate.  The editors quote writer David Mathis, who acknowledges being a white American who grew up as an unsympathetic youth to the struggles of African Americans, but has changed:

“Such is not the spirit of Christ, nor is it walking by his Spirit to suspect the worst of non-blacks who rush to join the annual celebration. Nor is it Christian — not in this nation or any other place on the planet — to keep silent with our children about the realities of ethnicity in view of Christ. If we don’t cast a positive vision for our children about the glories of God-designed ethnic diversity, we leave their inherent ethnocentrism to swell and take root.”

“Black History Month isn’t simply about ethnic diversity in general, but remembering the horrors of our shared history and celebrating the progress that has been made, in God’s common kindness, and specifically the many successes of black Americans despite such a history. Christians honor this month, at least in part, because it helps us understand the awful plight of a people made in God’s image, many of them fellow believers, and acknowledges God’s goodness at work in remarkable achievements…in and through a people who often have been treated with utter wickedness.”

Plan to read to your children or have your children read at least one book about a famous African American.  Here are a few Christian African Americans to consider, many of whom you have probably never heard of before:

1.  Bishop Richard Allen – said to be the “Father of the Black Church”;

2.  Bishop William Seymour – started the fiery Christian teachings in California in the early 20th Century that ultimately led to what is known as the Azusa Street Revival and the beginning of the charismatic movement;

3. Thomas Dorsey – musician and composer who helped develop Gospel music;

4.  Mordecai Johnson – educator and pastor who became the first African American president of Howard University; and

5. Rosa Parks – a devout Christian who relied on her faith to refuse to give up her bus seat because of the color of her skin.

You can read the entire editorial by CLICKING HERE.

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.

 

Helping Your Child with the Fear of Failure

It is often said that the fear of failure is now a childhood epidemic.  Fear of failing causes children to not participate in sports and other activities or even try to do their best.  Children learn to make up excuses for not succeeding.  Parents can contribute to their children’s fear too by conditioning their love for their children on their children’s abilities to achieve success.  For example, a parent may indicate to a child through words or behavior that the parent only loves the child if the child is the lead scorer in a game. 

As human beings, we know that failure is a part of life.  How we deal with failure is also an important part of life.  As Christian parents, we should turn to the Bible for guidance.  God knows that we will suffer anger and disappointment but we should not forget that God is always with us, no matter what happens.  Proverbs 24:16 says that “Even if good people fall seven times, they will get up. But when trouble strikes the wicked, that’s the end of them.”

There are many examples in the Bible of great men and women who suffered from fears but became overcomers, trusting in the Lord.  One of the best examples for me is Joshua, Moses’ right hand man and a great general.  After Moses died, God told to Joshua to take the people of Israel into the promised land.   In Chapter 1 of the Book of Joshua, God repeatedly told Joshua “Be strong and courageous”.  Why did God have to tell Joshua this many times?  I am certain that Joshua was fearful, even though he had been through many successful battles already.  What God was asking him to do was huge!

God explained to Joshua how he would become strong and courageous.  He said that Joshua was to keep the Bible before him, always studying and speaking it.  Additionally, God told him that He would be with him, wherever he went.  Joshua did encounter some failures, but he always came to God to understand why.  And, importantly, he never gave up.  Joshua is known for being a great man of faith.

What Are You Believing For Your Children?

I am a living example that children are likely to grow up to what their parents believe of them. When I was growing up, my parents would tell me that I could become anything I wanted.  They stressed hard work and a good education.  Back then, there were not very many women attorneys or judges.  But, that didn’t deter me because my parents had instilled in me to dream big.  I worked diligently in school and if I brought home anything less than an “A” on my report card, my parents would be disappointed, telling me that I could have achieved an “A”.   I would work even harder to achieve that “A” because they had told me I could.

When I became a mother, I too passed on to my two sons that they could become anything they wanted.  Ask yourself – what are you believing for your children?  

When I was a judge, I heard many parents tell me in the courtroom what a disappointment their children were and even call them derogatory names.  All the while, their children are in the courtroom listening to what they are saying.  Often, the child would be hanging his or her head down while the parent was speaking.  I often cringed wondering if that is what they are saying about their children in a courtroom, I would hate to hear what they are saying to their children at home!

Proverbs 18:21 says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”.  Examine what you are speaking about your children.  Is it life, health and prosperity?  Those should be the only words that you speak over them as words have no end in time and affect their eternity.

How Should Christian Parents Respond to Bullying?

Now that our children are back to school and settled in, I would like to discuss a subject that seems to be increasing in frequency – bullying.  As Christian parents, how are we to handle bullying, whether our children are being bullied or are the bullies or are the persons standing by watching or video-taping the bullying?  This is a challenging and complicated subject because as Christians, we immediately think about Jesus telling us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).

But is that really what the Bible instructs us to do?

The following incident just recently occurred at a high school.  A teenage student walked off the campus and was pursued by another student, who kept verbally taunting him.  The victim hung his head and did not respond to the constant taunts.  The bully caught up to the victim and hit him in the jaw, breaking it.  There were other students who were standing around watching and some were even video-taping the incident with their cell phones.  Adults passed by in vehicles.  No one did anything to intervene and stop the violence.  It was only when one of the videos was posted on the internet, did the community find out about what happened. My heart ached as a mother to hear about this victimization and brutality.

Bullying is too difficult a subject to fully address in a short blog, but there are a number of helpful websites.  I especially encourage parents to visit and read the information on THIS WEBSITE.  One of the leading experts on bullying is Paul Coughlin, the founder of The Protectors, an anti-bullying movement, whose own daughter was bullied.  Mr. Coughlin helps parents learn about bullying and teaches what they can do, in turn, to help their children.  He calls it “bully-proofing” your children.

Bullying can be very devastating to children.  Prepare yourself and your children for it so no one is caught by surprise if and when it does happen.

Inspirational Back to School Quotes for Your Children – Build Honesty

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8 NLT

This is my third blog post for the month of September on back to school inspirational quotes for your children. Today, I would like to stress the importance of honesty.  Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  John 14:6.  Since He is the Truth and our example, we should strive to be truthful in all that we say and do.  

Being honest all the time is not easy.  When your children are in school, there will be times that they will be asked questions.  Will they speak the truth or lie?  Help them to be bold in honesty.  In doing so, it’s important to remember that your children are watching and listening to you.  If you do not tell the truth, it will be difficult for your children to do so.  Be a role model of integrity for them. 

For the Month of September – Inspirational Back to School Quotes for Your Children – Stress Their Uniqueness

You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.

Psalm 139:13-14

    Since the month of September involves our children going back to school, I would like to give parents some inspirational, back to school quotes for their children in my blog posts for this month.  This week’s blog focuses on encouraging your children to stand out in their classrooms and among their friends.

In other words, they should strive to be the special, unique persons they were created to be, and not try to blend in with the crowd.  Build up their self-confidence.  Talk to them about their God given gifts and talents.  Speak blessings over them in the mornings and pray with them before they head out to school.  Read Bible verses that refer to how special they are.  Don’t let this be just another start of an ordinary school year, but seek to make this school year exceptionally different and special.  It’s up to parents to set the stage for their children’s success. 

Include Attending Book Festivals as Fun, Family Activities

    There are so many book festivals throughout the year.  These festivals celebrate authors and books – for all ages – often at no entry cost whatsoever.  Many festivals are just for children’s books or have sections dedicated for children, with children’s authors and their books featured and available for sale.  A variety of fun children’s activities also are held, such as face painting, children’s crafts, musical performances and exhibitions geared for children. 

    Not only will your children learn about new books, but they will also have the opportunity to actually meet and speak with children’s authors.  Have the authors autograph their books for your children.  This will make the books more personal and special.   Some festivals have “Read to Me Corners” where authors read their books and speak about their love for reading and writing.  

    Search the internet for book festivals near you.  What a wonderful way to spend a day with your children!   They are sure never to forget their experiences. 

    Please join me on September 3 and 4, 2016 in Decatur, Georgia at the Decatur Book Festival.  I’ll be at booth #629 in the children’s area.  I’ll also be at the Miami Book Festival on November 19, 2016.  I would love to meet you and your children and autograph books.

Throw a Fun Book Swap Party for Your Children and Friends

    Book swap parties have become popular events for children and promote reading at the same time.  They are simple to organize and fun to participate in.  And, they are a wonderful way to add new books to your children’s collection without having to pay the cost.

    If you’ve never been to a book swap party, here’s how they usually go.  Pick a date that will work for you, your children, and others.  Have your children select the books that they have already read and would like to swap with other children.  Be sure to explain to them that once the book is swapped, it no longer belongs to them but to the other child.  That way they understand that the book will have a new home. 

    Encourage your children to write a couple of sentences on an index card or post-it note as to why they liked those books.  This will encourage other children to read the books too.

    The children who are invited should also bring their books to swap.  Plan refreshments and snacks, just as with a regular party.  During the party, the children look at all the books and swap for the ones they want.  For those books that are left over, donate them to your children’s school’s library or the public library.

August is Kids Eat Right Month – Celebrate it with Your Family

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, has declared August, 2016 to be Kids Eat Right Month as part of its initiative to promote healthy eating habits among children.  If good, healthy eating habits are established when children are young, studies show that these habits will continue into adulthood. 

Here are some of the tips that are given:

1.  Teach your children about nutrition.  Here is where reading comes into play.  Find websites and articles that teach your children about the nutritional values of different foods.  Read and discuss these with your children.  This will help them develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for nutrition.  When you’re not around, they will be able to make intelligent decisions for themselves.

2. Take your children grocery shopping and read the ingredients of products off of the packages.  Search the internet for healthy recipes and have them participate in preparing meals. 

3. Help your children plan breakfasts and lunches.  During those busy weekdays, we tend to grab whatever is quick and convenient.  Stop … take time to plan differently.  Fruits and vegetables should be staples of meals.  Additionally, experts say that children love colorful meals.  Have them write down different menus with a variety of items, and then assist them with the follow-through. 

4. Have healthy snacks around the house.  We all know how children love to snack.  Be wise and plan for a variety of healthy snacks rather than just chips, sodas, and cookies.  Here is where different fruit and vegetables with dips can be introduced.    

5. Make sure to include activities for them too.  Kids love to run and play.  Developing an active lifestyle first requires a healthy meal.

For more information, visit the website by CLICKING HERE.

Teaching Your Children Good Manners

“In everything, treat others the same way you want them to treat you, for this is [the essence of] the Law and the [writings of the] Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

    The subject of good manners is not discussed as much as it should be.  As Christians, this Bible verse establishes the basis for good manners.  Essentially, good manners are built on the foundation that you treat others the same way as you would want to be treated and are an expression of love from the heart.  According to Proverbs 22:6, parents have a Biblical duty to teach and train their children: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

    As a parent, what can you do to help your children learn good manners.  First, children need good role models to emulate.  Do you as the parent exhibit good manners?  You can’t demand that your children say “thank you” and “please” if you don’t. 

    Second, in teaching good manners, start with a few basics such as “thank you” and “please” and “excuse me” and “sorry”.  Don’t make it complicated.  Notice when your children are using good manners, and praise them for it.  Once these basics are mastered, move on to other words and actions.  Before you know it, you and your children are on the way to becoming the best mannered people in your neighborhood.

What are Some Interesting and Fun-filled Summer Activities for Children?

    It’s summer.  Are you wondering about what to do with your children?  You have a lot of work at the office, but your children need summer activities to fill their time.  I came across this online article by Jen Hatmaker discussing 10 summer activities to do with your children.  She’s a wonderful writer and has come up with many fun and creative ideas.  

    Some examples are:

  1. Let your kids make videos or movies with a smart phone.  There are many free apps out there to help.
  2. Do “Mystery Thursdays” (or any other day of the week that fits best with your schedule).  The kids know that the family is going somewhere that is fun but it’s a complete surprise.
  3. Go through your children’s closets and toy bins and donate what they do not use anymore or have outgrown.   Try connecting with a needy family.
  4. Cook some very special meals with them.  Take out those cookbooks and search together to find the best recipes.  Have fun buying the ingredients, following the recipes, and then cooking.  Ms. Hatmaker mentions that she and her daughter cooked some meatball subs that were so delicious that they couldn’t stop talking and bragging about them. 
  5. Have a family boot camp and exercise together. 

To read her article and more of her ideas, CLICK HERE.

More Summer Reading Programs for Children

    I can’t write enough about the importance of having your children read during the summer.   The diagram with this blog today illustrates how children can actually drastically lose reading skills during the summer months if they do not have access to books.  For children in high and low income households who read during the summer, their reading skills improved up to 25%.  For children in low income households who do not read, their reading skills actually dropped by almost 10%.

    On an online article, Liz Haskins lists 10 free summer reading programs.  She also explains how to access free books on a Kindle or E-Reader.  Read her article by CLICKING HERE.  There is no excuse for not having your children read, and read, and read this summer.  Your child’s performance in school during the coming year depends on it.  

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. 

Include Summer Reading Programs in Your Children’s Summer Plans

Please do not let the summer go by without having your children be a part of a summer reading program.  There are many everywhere at no cost whatsoever, so search for the best ones for your children.

Typically, children enroll in a reading program and then read a certain number of books.  If they reach the required reading goal, they are awarded some sort of a prize.  This helps children continue to improve their reading skills, set goals that are both short term and long term, actually accomplish goals, and then receive a reward.  

Usually, the public library where you live will have a good summer reading program.  Many companies now offer them as well – such as HEB, Barnes and Noble, Scholastic, Chuck E. Cheese, Pizza Hut and even Pottery Barn.  Again, research what programs are available.  Your children may be able to enroll and participate in more than one.  They’ll be surprised how fast the summer passes while reading good books.

Choosing a Good Summer Camp for Your Children

As summer vacation approaches, many parents are searching for a good summer camp for their children.  First, you must decide if you and your child are ready for an overnight camp or just a day camp nearby.  And, then, what type of a camp should you send them to.

It is recommended that children under 12 years should not attend an overnight camp away from home. I fully agree with that.  We sent our older son Zachary to an overnight camp at the age of 8 for 2 weeks.  His father and I thought he was mature and independent enough to enjoy it.  He told us that he did enjoy it, but did not want to attend an overnight camp again.  Of concern to us was the bullying stories he told us about after the camp concluded.  He certainly had some adjustment issues being so young.  

In regard to a day camp, I encourage parents to spend time investigating the camp and its counselors and supervisors.  Also, speak with other parents and get their recommendations.

Importantly, visit the camp location.  Find out what is on the daily schedule.  Just do not put your children in a day camp because they need a babysitter.  Look for camps that will accentuate your children’s gifts and talents.  Zachary is very athletic, so we often put him in a sports camp.  Our youngest son James is artistic, so we tried to put him in a camp that would help him develop that gift.  

Take the time to research and investigate what is the best camp for each of your children.  You will be happy that you did.