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A Word from a Parent

January 28, 2010 — Leave a comment

Tourists looking at mapThis post is for all of you young parents who are struggling at being the mom or dad you think you should be.  This is also for you youth group students who eventually want to have children.  I am very close to the person writing this as I consider him (that’s as close as you get to the identity) one of my mentors.  I learn from him so much.  The topic for discussion: “Things I wish they would have told me before I had children.” 

If I had only known…………

Raising children can be very challenging.  I was very fortunate to have had this expectation drilled into my head from an early age.  Therefore, the difficulties that we have faced in raising our children did not come unexpectedly. I also remember being told on numerous occasions that our love for our children would not be possible to comprehend until we were actually holding our own child.  This too, was no surprise when it came to fruition. 

The most surprising element of parenthood for me has been how much our lives have truly changed since children come around.  I guess that “surprising” might not be the best choice of words.  It really was not a surprise that life changed dramatically.  However, just as we can not comprehend the love for our children before we have them, we can not truly grasp how different life is when a helpless human being is suddenly and completely dependent on our care.  The days of focusing on your own needs are quickly replaced by the constant attention given to see that the needs of your children are met.  It can be difficult as you try to balance the needs of your children with that of your spouse, your career, and last, but not least, yourself.  All of this while trying to keep our relationship with God at the top of the priority list.  I must admit, this can be a struggle.

What a tremendous challenge God blesses us with when he blesses us with children!  The difficulty of the challenge is directly proportional to the satisfaction of the reward!  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the love of God developing itself within the soul of the children with whom God has blessed us with!

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A Word from a Parent

January 21, 2010 — 1 Comment

As I am writing these words I am in the delivery room where my wife gave birth to our son Samuel Edward yesterday.  Trying to get sleep with him crying and then with so many other things going on I realize that I am at a loss for something called patience.  I asked one of our youth group parents to write a guest post for me with this title: “Tools of the Trade: Patience.”  I think what you will learn is contrite statements of the heart about parenting and patience.  Enjoy. 

Patience is something that I don’t consider my best attribute, but am learning that patience is one of the most important tools that should be used when parenting a child.  If you raise a child in the way He should go, you should be able to take a few steps back when they are trying to grow and allow them to make a few mistakes.  That is where your patience kicks in. When my children make mistakes, they want to be guided, not criticized, or controlled.  I tend to want to control my children’s steps, where actually God can handle that better than me.  I have found that life lessons have strengthened my faith considerably.  If those life lessons have helped me, shouldn’t I want my teenage and young adult child’s faith to grow also?  Does that sound like I want my children to stumble and fall?  No I don’t.  But I do not need to control everything that they do.  I need to notice when the time is right to slightly step aside and be there for them when they ask for help.  Be patient with there mistakes and questions and PRAY PRAY PRAY.  God has plans for each one of our children and we patiently need to help guide them in the direction that He wants them to go.  I don’t have a clue what He has planned for mine, but I know that it will be good and I pray that I will have enough sense to let go and Let God.

A Word from a Parent

January 14, 2010 — 2 Comments

Father and sonEach Thursday I hope to bring you a lesson from a parent in our student ministry who will guest post on this blog.  This post is from a dear friend of mine who has supported me ever since I came to Main Street.  Without this person’s help (and a host of other parents) I simply would not be at Main Street.  This post is about 6 things (I told this person “5” but they rebelled and did 6 😉 ) a youth minister should know from a parent that will help his job.   Enjoy!!!

1. Family history is important.

All families have at least 2 other family influencing the makeup of their own families. The parents’ own personal views, feelings, traditions, and values as a family unit are indirect influenced by the way were raised. Knowing some family history about the parents helps to understand some of the decisions parents make about their own children.

2. Technology is a wonderful tool but can be used to harm as much as help.

 I’m afraid our children and ourselves are getting lost in the conveniences of communicating thoughts but not feelings. Some things should always be said face to face so one can sense the sincerity, feel the “vive”, and/or read the body language of another person. Besides sometimes an old fashion hug is worth more than a 1,000 words on a new fan-dangle gadget.

3. Punishment is a two way street.

 Helping to explain this to a child, especially to a teenager is tough. When you per say ground a child you ground the parent.  Someone has to be there for the child to make sure they understand the hardship not only for themselves but the hardship it puts on the family unit. Example: A disobedient 11 year receives a grounding and the family had planned a movie outing. One of the parents has to stay home with the child while the others go to the movie, or you punish the whole family by all staying home, or you go to the expense of getting a sitter (who will probably let the grounded child do whatever) which is a burden on the financial side. However it goes down; it is still a cause-and-effect situation. Sometimes you may have the opportunity to mediate especially between older teens and parents. Since we have raised our children that the Bible teaches us to go to each other when we have a problem and if need be take someone with us …well, just be ready. What’s so hard is sometimes we as parents have difficulty accepting our child is growing up and the punishment doesn’t fit the infraction. Other times the child has a difficult time accepting that the punishment seems harsher because it wasn’t so restrictive the first time they broke the same rule. Just remember tough love is tough and meditating is a gift that comes with prayer, age, practice, and wisdom.

4. Parents should always know the good things and the bad things about their children…but don’t or don’t want to.

I noticed as my children got older they were very good at giving the truth as they saw it. They were and still are good at hiding the negative things that happen in their lives away from us. Even though parents eventually find out what’s going on, sooner is always better than later. As one who deals with youth and youth have the confidence to confide, you need to be aware of confidential lines that should be crossed no matter how much the child begs you not to. Often times children need only a gentle hand urging them or willing person to stand by their side to talk to their parents. But if the child will not talk to their parents, sometimes you must…and you must be ready for anything from a slap, a hug, or just complete denial from parent and child alike. But the truth as we know is always best.

5. Parents are people too.

Often times growing up I would forget my parents had feelings, wants, and needs as much as I did. To me they had it all together. They never, until they filed bankruptcy, let me or my siblings know that they had problems.  Encourage parents and yourself to share their hopes, dreams, and failures about their own personal lives past and present with their children.  It not only makes their parents more of a person but it also helps children see that mistakes and rewards happen to everyone, even parents.  By opening up parents can share with their children how God played a role in their lives through the choices they made good, bad, or indifferently.

6. Patience, consistency, and understanding are all part of the same lifelong adventure.

At every stage in our lives God is patience and understanding and allows a chance to grow and make choices. He never forces his will on us but greatly rewards us for doing his will. We tend to forget our own children need to be afforded the same opportunity.  We need to be patient with them and guide them along this path we call life. We need to be consistent like God, not changing the rules in the middle of the game. Coming together and making decisions as a family about the values of a family whether it is about dating, movies, curfews, or the use of certain language will only strengthen the family and bring them closer together and closer to God. When topics are discussed out in the open in a non confrontational way boundaries can be set, rules can be agreed upon and everyone understands where things stand.   Yes, patience, understanding, and consistency do go hand in hand and with God’s help we can survive the raising of our children.