Archives for January 2010

Fun Friday Photo — January 29, 2010

Sammy is enjoying a "hat hair" kind of day!

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Thanks to Becky W. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to parentlife@lifeway.com. Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!

Faith Differences

What if only one parent is a Christian and the other parent has very different beliefs? ParentLife has a monthly department "Single Parent Life" that addresses the needs of single parents. This month ParentLife writer, Tammy Bennentt, asked this question about parents with different beliefs. See her practical helps below that will help any family dealing with faith differences.

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This question is common, not just after divorce, but in traditional families as well. Many times a mom and dad have been raised with different belief systems, or they may have a change of belief later in life. One parent who used to attend church and confess to be a Christian then decides this is no longer true for him. With divorce, there is a high level of frustration that happens to Christians who, unfortunately, may feel judged or isolated by their church because outsiders do not understand or agree with the reasons for the divorce. And there is the all-too common concern of a believer who may become angry or distant toward God because he wanted God to save his marriage and it ended anyway. There are many reasons a person might decide to turn his back on God after divorce — or even before divorce. If you are coparenting with someone who finds himself frustrated and confused about his beliefs, here are a few suggestions.

Remember the most important impact you have. What your child sees in your daily living will speak louder to him than anything. You cannot control what the other parent believes or what happens related to church when your child is with the other parent. What you can do is be the Christian example you want for your child to become. This does not mean being a perfect person or a perfect parent; it simply means letting your whole life radiate Christ and His love and life lived out through you! Years and years of this example will stand strong as a foundation to the faith being built in your child.

Pray for the other parent. Sincerely and fervently pray for the other parent but do not confuse prayer with control. It is not your job to fix or change the other parent. It was not your job when you were married and it certainly is not your job now. The power of a praying parent can reap invisible but valuable rewards — for your child and for the other parent.

Do not openly criticize the other parent. There is a big difference between criticizing the other parent’s beliefs and having neutral conversation with your child about lifestyles, belief systems, and faith. Always be available to listen to your child’s thoughts and be prepared for these “deep talks” at the most unexpected times. If you badmouth the other parent with hopes of getting your child to “side with” you, it will probably backfire! Not only will he feel the need to protect the other parent and stand up for him, he will likely begin to resent you (silently) and a wedge will build between you and your child.

Be respectful. The words your child hears you speak about the other parent will be life or death to his soul. Choose words of life so your child can live find other details (besides religion) that you can point out that are good and positive about his other parent and say them aloud to your child.

Find an appropriate support system. Find an outlet to talk to another adult or counselor about these concerns and problems, but do not process these with your child. Be the parent and let him be the kid.

Enlist a leader at your church. Depending on the age of your child, enlist the leader for his age group and have an honest dialogue with that leader about your concerns. Encourage your child to spend time with that leader, outside of regular church activity time, to develop the friendship. Many times the extra outside voices you help cultivate with your child can be the best influence ever! It also can allow your child to have someone objective to bounce ideas off, ask questions, and to talk about the differences they see between his parents’ beliefs without the worry of hurting feelings or making a parent angry.

No matter the other parents’ beliefs, be the example your kids can follow!

Tammy G. Bennett, The Coparenting Coach, is the founder of Christian CoParenting. She and her daughter, Angelia, live in Nashville, Tennessee. For free e-newletters and resources, see www.ChristianCoParenting.com.

Recommended Reading: Spiritually Single Moms: Raising Godly Kids When Dad Doesn’t Believe by Nancy Sebastian Meyer (Navpress, 2007)

Challenges & Blessings

If you know me at all, you know that I don’t cook … especially on the weekends. So eating out most meals on the weekend has become a habit. A habit that is about to dramatically change. Our 18-month-old, Jack, is getting to the age where it is difficult to go out to eat with him. Sunday was a perfect example. 

One of my favorite burger places opened a new location in our town, and I was super excited. We decided to try it out on Sunday after church … our first mistake for two reasons:

  1. The restaurant had only been open a couple of weeks and apparently everyone had the very same idea we did. It was packed!
  2. Sunday lunch is not Jack’s best time. He’s hungry, exhausted, and ready for a nap. (In case you are wondering why we don’t head straight home for this reason, we eat somewhere close to church to ensure Jack gets lunch before falling asleep on the way home.)

112_eating-out.jpgWhen we saw the crowd, we were tempted to turn around and head somewhere else, but I was determined we were going to make it work. I really wanted that burger! The trouble started when we realized there were no available high chairs. We tried just having him sit in a big chair and on our laps with no success. Luckily, by the time our food arrived, a high chair became available. However, by that time, Jack had reached his limit. He began screaming and pointing at random things on the table. I would offer him the things he was pointing at (his drink, a bite of his lunch, etc.), but nothing seemed to help. He just kept screaming and randomly pointing. We tried to calm him down for what seemed like an eternity. (Luckily, it’s a very loud restaurant so I’m thinking we didn’t disturb those around us too terribly much.) I was getting ready to make a quick exit if necessary. Finally … in an act of desperation, I offered Jack a french fry! (I know, I know … a terrible choice … but like I said … I was desperate!) That apparently was what he had wanted all along. (Not sure why that didn’t occur to me earlier. I guess I was in denial … only offering him the better choices.)  We were able to speed through the rest of our lunch offering Jack a steady supply of french fries!

So … what exactly did I take away from this experience? As a parent embarking on this new phase of toddlerhood, I am reminded of how each new phase has its unique challenges but also its many blessings. We may not be able to eat out as often as we used to, but it is amazing to watch Jack as he learns new things every day and is beginning to show so much personality! I’m also amazed at how sacrificies (such as not eating out, being too tired to stay up late, and not getting to sleep in) don’t really feel like sacrifices in light of the tremendous blessing that our little man is! It makes me hesitant and excited all at the same time to see what each new phase of Jack’s life brings!

What are the challenges and blessings that you are facing in your child’s particular phase of development? Share your thoughts with us. 

Preteens & Cell Phone Safety

 

images-3.jpegAfter much soul searching, we bought our preteen son a cell phone for Christmas. We have put all kinds of limits on its use. He has never taken it to school or to church. In fact, we bought it primarily for him to take with him for any overnight trips when he is away from us. Additionally, we blocked use of the Internet and texting on his phone.

Many parents are worried about cell phone use. Stories abound of teens who have gotten in trouble for sexting, sending sexual messages or photos via cell phone. Recently we received these tips for parents who are worried about cell phone issues such as sexting, bullying, and sexual predators.

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  1. Learn the lingo. Learn the pre-established acronyms like LOL, TTYL, and BRB.
  2. Invade their text space. Text your kids constantly so they consider their phone a space where you are present and watching.
  3. Set “no-text” times and other boundaries. Don’t allow kids to text constantly; they shouldn’t text at the dinner table and a curfew should be set. Clearly set boundaries of what is inappropriate.
  4. Limit use. Choose a plan that keeps track of how many texts can be sent and received.
  5. Read text faces. Just like verbal communication, nonverbal cues are important. Text faces help you tell if someone is disturbed or joking.
  6. Monitor other messaging forums.  Sexting doesn’t start and end with texting. Monitor IMs, e-mails, photos, and other digital forums.

For more about preteens and cell phones, read the 9 to 12 Years Growth Spurt "Can I Have a Cell Phone?" in the January 2010 issue of ParentLife.

 At what age will you buy your preteen or teen a phone?

*Information provided by Predicto Mobile.

Keys to Safety

Keeping your infant or toddler safe from harm is a difficult job. Many dangers lurk even in your own home. But there are things you can do to reduce the chances of accidents. Keep the following keys to safety in mind.113_childproofing.jpg

  • Never underestimate your child’s ability. Be safe rather than sorry.
  • Stay one step ahead of your child by thinking ahead to what she might get into next.
  • Emphasize safety in all you do with your child. For example, point out traffic signals that tell you it is safe to cross the street.
  • Be a model of safe behavior. Always wear safety belts, bike helmets, life jackets, etc.
  • Never leave your young child unattended.
  • Take safety precautions in your home. Keep medicines and cleaning products locked away.
  • Make sure activities are age appropriate.
  • Keep emergency phone numbers posted in the home and saved in your cell phone.
  • If your child has an allergy or medical condition, such as asthma, epilepsy, or diabetes, make sure she has a medic-alert bracelet or necklace.

For even more child safety information, be sure to read the Growth Spurts article "Child Safety" in the January 2010 issue of ParentLife.  
 

Fun Friday Photo — January 22, 2010

Morgan and Mayci enjoying the winter snow!

47_FunFridayPhoto_Jan22.jpgThanks to Jeanne F. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to parentlife@lifeway.com. Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!

Blog Feedback

The ParentLife staff strives to bring you relevant, practical content both in the printed magazine and on our blog. In order to do a better job, we would love to get your feedback. Leave us a comment with answers to the following four questions and help us make the blog better meet your needs!

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  1. How often do you visit the blog?
  2. How often would you like to see new content on the blog?
  3. What kind of content would you like to see on the blog?
  4. Is there a guest parent blogger you would like to see us feature?

And don’t forget … by leaving a comment on the blog anytime in the month of January, you are entered for our January giveaway — a 1-year subscription to ThreeJars.com.

*LifeWay employees are not eligible for this giveaway. Multiple comments do not increase chances of winning.

Cold, Allergies, or Flu?

January is right in the middle of full-blown flu season, but it is often hard to tell if your child is suffereing from a cold, allergies or the flu. How can you tell the difference?

  • Allergies. In general, allergy symptoms are not accompanied by a fever, mucus is clear in color, muscles do not ache, and symptoms occur at the same times each year. Allergies usually can be treated with medication, but if severe, a doctor may order an allergy screening and shots. The chronic mucus from allergies occasionally causes complications such as a sinus or ear infection.
  • 111_sick-child.jpgCommon Cold. Most adults get thecommon cold two to five times each year, children even more often. Symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, and sore throat can last as long as nine days. Antibiotics cannot cure the common cold. Antibiotics are only used when a cold turns into a sinus, ear, or other infection or when the sickness is bacterial in nature (such as strep throat), not viral. Ask your doctor what remedies are safest to treat the uncomfortable symptoms of a child’s cold.
  • Flu. Influenza, like the common cold, is caused by a virus. It is accompanied by a high fever that lasts three to four days and by strong symptoms such as severe coughing and exhaustion. New antiviral medications taken at the start of symptoms can shorten the flu considerably. Ask your doctor whether getting the annual flu shot is right for your family.

If your child has difficulty breathing; a persistent high fever; severe headache; painful swallowing; deep cough; or thick, colored congestion, seek medical attention. These could indicate a bacterial infection that requires prescription antibiotics.

For lots of helpful, practical ways for preventing illness, be sure not to miss Kristen White’s article "Keeping It Clean" in the January 2010 issue of ParentLife.

Pet Allergies

Thinking about adopting a pet? If so, be sure not to miss Christi McGuire’s article "Can We Keep Him?" in the January 2010 issue of ParentLife. However, approximately 10 percent of people are allergic to animals. If someone in your family suffers from allergies, be cautious when choosing a pet. Consider the following tips.

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  • Choose pets that do not have hair, fur, or dander.
  • Know that large fish aquariums can add humidity to your home, causing molds and dust mites to increase.
  • Be aware that turtles can spread salmonella (a highly contagious bacterial disease).
  • Keep animals outside or at least out of the bedroom of the allergic child.
  • Do not hug, kiss, bathe, or pet animals if you are allergic.
  • Restrict indoor pets to only a few rooms.
  • Use a central air cleaner to remove large amounts of pet allergens from your home.
  • Vacuum carpets and rugs often.
  • Wash the pet with water often.
  • Contact your child’s pediatrician if you suspect your child developing an allergy to animals.

Do you have a child who suffers from pet allergies? What kind of pets do you have? Do you have any tips for families looking to adopt a pet?

Haiti Disaster Relief

Haiti.jpgWe have been so moved by scenes of the Haiti earthquake and the call to action that has gone out from Christians everywhere. If you are looking for a place to give, we recommend the work of the International Mission Board. The following is an information release on their disaster relief efforts.

Southern Baptists are mobilizing to assess disaster relief needs after the largest earthquake in more than 200 years rocked Haiti the evening of Jan. 12. The initial Southern Baptist disaster relief effort will be led by Florida Baptists, who have had ministry relationships in Haiti for more than 20 years and currently have six staff members who live and work in the country, said Jim Brown, U.S. director for Baptist Global Response (BGR), a Southern Baptist relief and development organization. The International Mission Board does not have long-term personnel stationed in the country.

Initial funding for the relief effort will be provided by the IMB’s disaster relief fund which operates on a “dollar in, dollar out” basis, which means that 100% of the money donated is used to provide disaster relief. Contributions to the relief effort can be made online at gobgr.org.

Apart from donating to the disaster relief effort via gobgr.org, you can help greatly by joining in focused prayer for Haiti’s 9 million people, more than 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line, said David Brown, who with his wife, Jo, directs BGR work in the Americas.

To see the full article, go to http://www.imb.org/main/news/details.asp?StoryID=8281&LanguageID=1709.

Who else do you recommend and trust for their good work in Haiti?