Archives for May 2013

Friday Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

When Everyone Isn’t Happy In Your Re-Marriage

My friend Denise was a beautiful bride. She was in her early thirties when she married Matt and took on the challenges of stepparenting Rylee, his 10-year-old daughter. To others, it seemed like a seamless transition. Denise had been an assistant leader in Rylee’s Girl Scout troop. She had taken special care to make sure that Rylee was often included on her dates with Matt, and she had even spent many “girl days” with Rylee for some one-on-one time. Even Rylee’s biological mom had a good relationship with both Denise and Matt.

But sometime between the wedding kiss and the limousine ride to the reception, Rylee had a meltdown. Running to Denise, she buried her face in her new stepmom’s arms and burst into tears—loud, heaving sobs. Everyone was baffled and wondering, Why? What’s wrong?

A newly married couple is floating on the high of marital bliss, excited to have finally found the right person. Unfortunately, many parents assume that their biological children are as happy as they are about this new marriage. “When divorced parents remarry, they see it as a gain, but a child sees it as another loss,” Laura Petherbridge, author of The Smart Stepmom, explains. “The reason stepfamilies are so complicated is because whether death or divorce has occurred, there has been loss. With loss come grief, fear, depression, and discouragement.” Families take those emotions with them into new relationships. While Mom or Dad may think they have had time to heal, they don’t realize that children tend to be about two years behind adults in the grieving process.

Years later, as a young adult, Rylee explained the emotions behind the tears on that wedding day. Once her daddy was officially remarried, she realized there was no way that he would ever go back to her mother. Sure, she liked Denise, in fact, she really loved her. But as a child, she had long been fantasizing that one day her father and mother would marry each other again, and her home would be put back in place.

“It’s wise for a stepparent to recognize that they need to move very slowly into the life of the step child,” urges Laura. “It takes approximately seven years for a step family to bond. The mistake is when a new couple thinks that since they are happy, the children should be equally as happy.”

Rebecca Ingram Powell is a wife, mother, author, and national conference speaker. Connect online at www.momseriously.com

His Children, Our Children by Jessie Weaver

joshuanewborn

The longer I am a parent, the more convinced I am that God told us to be fruitful and multiply so we could have a small taste of how He views us.

There’s the baby stage. We’re needy, but altogether loving. I think of all the hours we spend staring at our little ones as they lay on the floor, or toddle around, or clap their hands together. Does it put a big grin on the Heavenly Father’s face to see us in the early stages of knowing Him?

And then comes the terrible twos. And threes.

We are so rebellious it can be funny sometimes. We question everything, absolutely, just to see what the limits are. We are wild in our rebellion and yet needy to the core.

I imagine, somewhere, that it tapers off. (At least I pray that it does. My daughter is still 4, and if her rebellion doesn’t dissipate soon I may have to go to the asylum.) When I consider my Christian walk I think it’s much like growing from a child to an adult: there are some rough patches, some times where I don’t even want to be close to Him. There are times of sweetness. There are times when I fall on my face and wonder what on earth I did to deserve such trials. And there are times when I just am, passing through without wonder but without hurt, either.

I can’t imagine all the lessons I will learn as a parent as my children travel through adolescence. It’s scary, and crazy, but the best visual aid about God I’ve ever been given.

Do you find yourself wondering if God sees you as a toddler sometimes? What things do we do as Christians that are an awful lot like a small child?

Real Life Solutions with Dr. Linda Mintle

My son seems to have the idea that he should always get what he wants. I admit that we do tend to spoil him. His toy closet is full of toys that he rarely plays with once the novelty wears off. Last night, he pestered me for something at the store and I said, “No.” He threw a fit and would not stop until I gave in. I’m worried that I might be raising a child who feels entitled.  

 

Your concern is warranted. We have too many kids who feel entitled because of well meaning parents who overindulge. By nature, children constantly ask for things, but when they regularly get whatever they want without any work or stipulation, they can develop a sense of entitlement.  For example, instead of doing chores as part of contributing to the family work, children are paid. It is not true that giving more stuff to your children makes you a better parent. Yet, parents often feel pressured by media and advertisers to provide the latest phone or technical device, the best designer clothing and expensive shoes that will be outgrown in a few months. It’s time to pull back and look at the bigger picture. By giving your child whatever he wants, what are you teaching him? Start setting limits. When my daughter wanted a cell phone at an early age, I said, “No.” I could afford it and many of her friends had one, but she didn’t need it. She didn’t get it and that was an important lesson. Also, create opportunities for your children to earn rewards. All of this requires a shift in your thinking as a parent. Your child is not a co-equal, doesn’t make his own decisions, needs to learn respect for money, things, and you, and should be refused when arguing or being disrespectful. You are in charge, so stop allowing your child to bully you into giving him things. These may sound like tough words, but you will thank me later!

 

Resource: The Entitlement Trap: How to Rescue Your Child with a New Family System of Choosing, Earning, and Ownership by Richard and Linda Eyre (Avery trade 1, 2011).

Horses and the Bible

horsey art

 

“Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses. But we trust in the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7, NIrV

Each week this summer, I am hoping to do a themed week with my kids. This week our theme was HORSEYS, at my 2-year-old’s request. As I outlined on my personal blog, we did lots of crafts, read books, and danced to music all about horseys.

But I also wanted to touch on where horses are in the Bible. I wasn’t sure how much I would find – aren’t there mostly donkeys in the Bible? And are donkeys horses? – but there are a few good instances!

  • Pharaoh’s army chased the Israelites on horses when they left Egypt (we had a good coloring page of this in our Gigantic Coloring Book of Bible Stories – love that thing!)
  • When Elijah is lifted to heaven in a whirlwind, there is a chariot of fire and horses of fire (2 Kings 2:11).
  • King Solomon had 12,000 horses. Can we even imagine that many horses? (1 Kings 4:26)
  • In the Book of Esther, Mordecai rose a horse through Susa when he was honored by the king.
  • And of course, and most exciting, when Jesus rides victorious He’ll be riding a white horse! (Revelation 19:11)

Any of these biblical stories could be told and made into a craft to go along with a horsey-themed week at your house. And Psalm 20:7 makes an awesome memory verse for the week.

Stay tuned for more in this series as the summer goes on!

Faithful to Foster by Joanne Kraft

What do former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, award-winning actor Eddie Murphy, and legendary songwriter John Lennon have in common? They were all in foster care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, over 400,000 children are living with foster parents in the United States today.

A staggering number of children are displaced each year, seeking a safe place, a home where love reigns and hurts can heal. While working as a 911 dispatcher, I saw first-hand the need for foster families. Many times our officers would arrive at a call where the parents were rushed to the hospital, or arrested for criminal activity; it was the children who suffered most. They’d wait quietly in the police station, broken little souls awaiting social services to arrive and place them in a foster home. I couldn’t help but thank God for the parents who opened their homes to receive these little ones.

Jeff and Kim were parenting two beautiful teenage girls, Allison and Katie, when they adopted their daughter, Ruth age two, from Ethiopia. When international adoptions became almost impossible, they prayerfully pursued foster care. They are now fostering a brother and a sister ages three and five years old.

I spoke with Kim on the phone and she shared a couple statistics, “Most moms with kids in the foster care system have eight to ten children in the system. 85% of all foster kids have been abused or come from drug addicted environments.”

I could hear little ones playing in the background as she spouted off tough truths. I had to ask, “If this is so hard, why do you do it?”

“Because in 2003 God redeemed me. That’s why I do it. I love the children but I do it for Him.” She went on, “Sure, it can be tough, but getting to see God work, well, it’s incredible. I remind myself it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. It’s an amazing feeling to know the children are here in a safe place. And, when the days are really hard, I remind myself; it’s a rough ride, but I know who’s driving.”

What You Need Before You Proceed

Before you run head first into foster parenting, there are a few things you need to be successful.

  • Prayer. Seek the Lord fervently. Pray with your husband. This is a decision you need to make together. Remember, a three-fold cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
  • Prepare. Do your homework.  Look in your area for your local foster agency. Meet with them and discuss your goals and theirs. Talk to other parents who are already in the foster care system. Understand that there will be training classes and social service appointments to make-ready your home for a little one. (Matthew 11:10)
  • Peers. Do you have a strong family/support system? It takes a village to raise a foster child. You will need encouraging people around you to assist when times get tough. (Proverbs 18:24)
  • Patience. The most necessary fruit of the Spirit for a foster mom and dad. You must be willing to give of yourself in ways that will stretch you physically, emotionally and spiritually. (Galatians 5:22)

There is no greater sacrificial love than parenting. Is God asking you to partner with Him to nurture and encourage a foster child? Are you up for an adventure and quite possibly the ride of your life? Then, foster parenting just might be for you.

 

Find out more from Joanne at www.joannekraft.com.

Independent Walker by Ellen Stumbo

I walked into the school office to pick up Nina’s walker, her mode of transportation for the school hallway every morning. The walker was missing.

“Nina, sweetheart, what about you start walking towards your classroom. I’ll sign in and catch up with you so I can help.”

“Okay mom.”

By the time I caught up with Nina, I realized her gait was sure and steady (although it is obvious she has cerebral palsy when she walks). Rather than holding her hand, I took out my cell phone and started recording her as she walked down the hall.

She did not stop for balance even once.

When I first became a special needs mom, I feared the limitations our family would live with. The truth is, cerebral  palsy does present us with challenges due to mobility issues. Our trips require extra thought. Will we be walking longer distances? Do we need to bring her wheelchair? Will she be okay just with her walker? Can she participate in the activities other kids will be doing? Will she require an adult with her at all times?

Yet this was one of those moments that fill you with pride, happiness, and an overwhelming sense of gratefulness you get to witness a miracle. Because walking is not something that all kids accomplish by age two. Some never do. For many of us parents of kids with special needs, “your child will never…” is a statement we have heard. And maybe it is true, our children “should have never…” but then they do.

I played and played that video when I got home. I smiled like a fool taking in those beautiful awkward steps. I know how hard she has worked to be able to walk independently. I know the tears and even the physical pain of stretching her tight muscles so that her body can work properly.

I could watch my daughter walk all day. She is closer to more and more independence. I know she’s proud.

 

Weekly Links

I’m doing our links early this week because I have something I want to share with you on Friday about what we’ve been doing this week!

I hope any Oklahoma readers we have are safe and sound.

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.

Tips for Being a More Relaxed Parent by Sophie Hudson

You know those moms who look calm and cool and collected at every stage of their parenting journey? The ones who post pictures on Facebook five minutes after they give birth and look like they just sat down to rest for a second after a refreshing workout?

 

Well, I am pretty much the opposite of those people.

 

Because if my own new baby pictures are any indication, my personal post-partum goal must have been to establish a new precedent for record levels of swelling.

 

Mama here was a little puffy. That’s all I’m saying.

While the swelling eventually subsided (unless you factor in the fact that I’ve been carrying around approximately 20 pounds of baby weight for the last nine years), it took me awhile to find my groove as mama. I was surprised by how the smallest things could just stress me out: how much our little guy was or wasn’t eating, how well he was sleeping, whether or not he was crawling, how many words he was saying, etc. Every milestone seemed to bring a fresh wave of panic right along with it, and as I look back on what was undoubtedly one of the sweetest times of my whole life, it makes me a little sad that I wasted so much energy on worry.

I’m certainly no expert on parenting – I have learned that lesson the hard way – but I do think that I have the benefit of perspective in terms of knowing that life with a little one could have been a good bit easier if I had just dialed down the obsess-o-meter a little bit.

Here are three things I wish I’d been more relaxed about. 

1. Sleeping habits – Before Alex was born, I told anyone who would listen that our first order of business was going to be establishing a sleep schedule. Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad that we had structure – but I drove myself crazy trying to stick to that schedule. I’d lose my mind if I thought something was going to interfere with it, and during the times when he wouldn’t nap or he woke up four times in the night, I was tense as could be. In retrospect I wish I’d been a smidge more flexible about the schedule – and really soaked up the sweetness of our time together. 

2. Potty training – One time when I was pulling out my hair over potty training, a friend of mine told me that more than likely my child was not going to go to kindergarten in a diaper. She was exactly right. I acted like I was trying to reinvent the wheel, but history shows us that potty training is a habit that most of us eventually figure out.

3. Play date activities – When our son first started having friends over, I always felt like I needed to have “something” for them to do. I bought canvases, rounded up paints, filled up baby pools, pulled out HotWheels – anything to keep them entertained. When he was around four or five, though, I realized that they just wanted to play. Their activities might not have made a lick of sense to me, but they were having a blast, and I didn’t have to play camp counselor to make that happen. There’s no need for a sixteen-step craft station. Just let ‘em play. They figure it out.

What about you? What are some ways that you wish you’d been more relaxed when your kids are little? Or if your kids are still in the toddler or preschool phase, what are some things you’ve learned along the way?

 

Read more from Sophie at www.boomama.net.

Friday Links

Did you read or write something you’d like our readers to see? Leave a link in the comments, on our Facebook page, or send us a Tweet!

Added to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife.