Archives for June 2010

July 4th Safety

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Keep your family safe this summer by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

FIREWORKS SAFETY

  • Fireworks can result in severe burns, scars, and disfigurement that can last a lifetime.
  • Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and can burn users and bystanders.
  • Families should attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.
  • The AAP recommends prohibiting public sale of all fireworks, including those by mail or the Internet.

BOATING SAFETY

  • Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
  • Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices.
  • Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.
  • Adolescents and adults should be warned of the dangers of boating when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and even some prescription medications.

SWIMMING

  • Never swim alone.  Even good swimmers need buddies!
  • A lifeguard (or another adult who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children whenever they are in or near the water. Younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water – use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away.
  • Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
  • Never let your child swim in canals or any fast moving water.
  • Ocean swimming should only be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.

How do you plan to celebrate the 4th of July this year?

The Perfect First Pet

default-dog-health.jpgAs kids gear up for summer vacation, parents might notice an increased interest in pets, specifically adding or adopting a new one into the home.

“Non-traditional animals which range from fish to guinea pigs and lizards, make fantastic pets because they teach children how to care, love and appreciate their new family member,” says PetSmart’s Specialty Pets Expert John Gerstenberger.

Selecting the best pet depends on each individual family, and considerations should include the age and personality of the children, as well as the family’s lifestyle and schedule. Parents who have children ages 10 and under can consider small animals because they are easier for kids to care for and interact with.

PetSmart created a list of good first pets and some of their fun features. They include:
 

  • Bearded Dragon: They get their name from the spiny skin found under their throat which when puffed-up looks like a beard. Bearded dragons are active and gentle by nature; children will love watching them climb all over rocks and branches in their terrarium.
  • Betta Fish: These tropical fish come in a variety of beautiful colors and may greet you by pressing their “faces” against the tank.
  • Guinea Pig: They are naturally social creatures and enjoy the companionship of other Guinea Pigs as well as interaction with pet parents.  Guinea pigs are diurnal which means they sleep at night and are active during the day, so children have ample time to play and engage with them. 
  • Leopard Gecko: These lizards are clean, docile and easy to hold, but they require careful handling, making them better pets for children 10 and older. Leopard geckos like to chase their food (live insects), which is fun to watch.
  • Parakeet: They are social, active birds who love to play with toys and interact with their pet parents. Children will enjoy teaching their parakeet tricks such as such as how to “step up” and “step down” from one’s hand.
  • Aquatic Turtle: These creatures are highly entertaining pets because they like to swim, as well as hang out on land.  Kids will get a kick out of seeing turtles go back and forth between the two environments.

Parents can go to www.petsmart.com to learn more about these small animals, their characteristics, habitat and nutrition needs, as well as why they are good first pets for children. 

Put Safety First

All animals have special handling and maintenance needs that are important to maintain for both the health of pets and children. Since pets can be sensitive to dirt and chemicals found on human skin, PetSmart recommends pet parents wash their hands and arms before and after holding or touching the animal to lower the risk of transferring bacteria. Parents should supervise every pet care activity and interaction between their children and pets to ensure the proper care and attention is given.

DId you get a new pet this summer?

The Chapmans Show Hope

005075230_2010-06_l.jpgMany of you have commented how you enjoyed seeing Steven Curtis Chapman and his family in the current issue of ParentLife. Please check out the lead feature on the Chapmans if you have not been able to yet! We wanted to update you on the Chapman’s latest venture this fall.

Show Hope presents Steven Curtis Chapman and his family embarking on a new journey together this fall as they venture out on a “A Night with the Chapmans.” The special family affair kicks off September 10 in Lancaster, Pennyslvania, and will hit 34 cities before ending on November 21 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The night of music and hope with the multi-platinum selling and award-winning artist will feature some of his most memorable hits from his two decades plus career. Songs to expect include “Live Out Loud,” “Cinderella,” and many more of his extensive catalog loved by all. Chapman will also bring back by popular demand his request time where attendees can ask that their song be added to the set via www.StevenCurtisChapman.com.

"We’ve prayed for months that each evening of this tour be an opportunity to ponder important things, and to celebrate the hope we have in Jesus, the great hope I’m so thankful continues to carry us all," comments Chapman.
 

scaled_e1276488938.jpgAs a part of this very special season, Mary Beth Chapman will join her husband for the first time ever on the tour. “There are three things I told God I would never ever do: homeschool, adopt, and speak in public,” she says. “Well, we’ve already homeschooled, you know we’ve adopted, and now this fall I’ll be on stage speaking at Steven’s concerts." With a smile Mary Beth adds, "Now I’m telling God I will not go to Hawaii for three months."

Mary Beth will share her journey as reflected in her inaugural book, Choosing To See, available this September and co-written with Ellen Vaughn. Discussing her courtship and marriage to Chapman, struggles for emotional balance, and living with grief, she will open up about how she has wrestled with God even as she has allowed him to write her story–both during times of happiness and those of tragedy. Mary Beth’s transparent style will surprise audiences with the depth of her faith struggle and her hilarious sense of humor. Mary Beth and Steven will also proudly introduce audiences to the band Caleb, a new band featuring their sons Caleb and Will Franklin. 
 
Show Hope, the title sponsor of the tour, is a ministry founded by the Chapmans that enables individuals and communities to change the world for orphans by not only addressing a child’s need for food, shelter, care, and spiritual nourishment, but by also addressing the root issue for an orphan: the lack of a family.

About Show Hope:
 A ministry founded by Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman to help care for the millions of orphans around the world, Show Hope helps to provide waiting orphans with forever families by giving financial grants to those adopting. To date, Show Hope is now an internationally recognized voice for orphan advocacy and has given over 2,300 financial grants, affecting the lives of children from 45 different countries, including the U.S. In addition to giving financial grants, Show Hope also empowers families, churches and communities with adoption and orphan care resources and advocacy efforts to change the world for orphans.
 
In the summer of 2009, Show Hope opened the doors to Maria’s Big House of Hope, a six-story healing home facility located in Luoyang, China, which provides surgeries and medical care for special needs orphans. The mission of this healing home is to provide the highest level of care for these orphans who are in desperate need of surgeries and medical attention, thus enabling the children to thrive and increase the orphans’ chances of being adopted.
 
For more information, please visit www.ShowHope.org.

 

Safety Information — Crib Recall

On Thursday, over two million cribs made by seven different companies were recalled due to the concern that babies can suffocate, become trapped, or fall from the cribs. Is your crib one of them? Be sure to find out. For all of the recall information, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)’s Web site … or click here.

Fun Friday Photo — June 25, 2010

Zackary shows his super-silly side!

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Thanks to DeAnn L. 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!

Is Your Child Homesick?

June-24_homesick_teen.jpgFor many families in today’s plugged in society, camp is the first real separation they have experienced — and many parents may be worried about homesickness — both for their happy camper and for themselves.

Research indicates that it is common for campers and parents to feel a tinge of homesickness at some point during the camp session. So how can parents help?

The American Camp Association® (ACA) recommends the following do’s and don’ts families can use to help deal with homesickness.

  • DO encourage independence throughout the year. Practice separations, such as sleepovers at a friend’s house, can simulate the camp environment.
  • DO involve your child in the process of choosing a camp. The more that the child owns the decision, the more comfortable the child will feel being at camp.
  • DO understand the camp’s philosophy on how issues, like homesickness, are addressed. Talk candidly with the camp director to understand his/her perspective on your child’s adjustment.
  • DO discuss what camp will be like before your child leaves. Consider role-playing anticipated situations, such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.
  • DO reach an agreement ahead of time on calling each other. If your child’s camp has a no-phone-calls policy, honor it.
  • DO send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day of camp. Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss your child. For example, you can say "I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp."
  • DO pack a personal item from home, such as a stuffed animal.
  • DON’T bribe. Linking a successful stay at camp to a material object sends the wrong message. The reward should be your child’s new found confidence and independence.
  • DON’T plan an exit strategy. If a "rescue call" comes from the child, offer calm reassurance and put the time frame into perspective.
  • DON’T feel guilty about encouraging your child to stay at camp. For many children, camp is a first step toward independence and plays an important role in their growth and development.
  • DO trust your instincts. While most incidents of homesickness will pass in a day or two, approximately 7 percent of the cases are severe. If your child is not eating or sleeping because of anxiety or depression, parents should work with the camp director and other camp staff to evaluate the situation.
  • DO remember that camp staff are trained to ease homesickness.
  • DON’T make your child feel like a failure if their stay at camp is cut short. Focus on the positive and encourage your child to try camp again next year.

For more information on homesickness or expert advice on camp, visit www.CampParents.org. Families can search ACA’s Find a Camp database, which allows families to look for a camp based on region, activity, cultural focus, budget, session length, and much more! In addition, families can follow ACA on Facebook and Twitter for helpful hints and camp information.

 

Punishment or Discipline?

June_22_preteen.jpg“What did you say?” I asked my almost 12-year-old son. When he admitted his guilt of intentionally using an obscene word, I responded with a small tirade, complete with restrictions from video games, an explanation that God insists we not talk that way, and threats for washing his mouth out with soap if it happened again.

As I stormed off, the thought of “at least he was honest with me” made me pause.  He was honest.  I did not want to squelch that with an excessive reaction.  What I wanted was his understanding that this wasn’t about me, but about God’s direction for his life.  He needed to understand that cursing was a choice against God, not a choice against me.  My son was at a critical point in his life where he was increasingly choosing his own reasons and influences for his behavior.  I wanted him to see God’s Word as a positive source of authority in his life.  If his choices were solely to gain my approval or to avoid punishment, what would motivate him when he was alone?

So breathing a silent prayer, I returned to my son.  I thanked him for being honest with me and reiterated, calmly this time, how it is God’s Word that directs us not to curse.  I explained that using those words can easily become a bad habit, one difficult to break.  I wanted to spare him that by helping him to not even get started.  Therefore, I was going to offer him a choice, and he could decide which one would help him not to talk like that again.  He could be on restriction from video games for 24 hours, or he could learn a verse from the Bible where God says not to talk that way.  He would write the verse and learn it so he could recite it anytime I asked.  He eagerly chose to write the verse rather than give up his video games.  It felt like he’d chosen the easy route, but after he’d memorized it within 36 hours, I wondered just what I had stumbled upon. I had never thought to do this before.  Had God just introduced me to a new discipline technique?

In my own life, when God brings a struggle to my attention, I often do a word study in Scripture or search out related verses and then saturate myself with God’s Word to help me overcome the issue.  Didn’t it make sense to teach my son the same process?  As a teacher, I had always avoided using writing or reading as venues for punishment.  But God helped me see that this process wasn’t about punishment.  It was the training mentioned in Proverbs 22:6.  This was about building a lifelong discipline into my son’s life, not just a momentary punishment for an isolated incident.

When I overheard my son correcting another individual several days later for using some choice words, I knew the process had helped him.  Looking at Scripture, I understood why.  When we read about the armor of God in Ephesians 6, we are introduced to many protective pieces, but only one weapon: “The sword of the spirit, which is God’s Word.”  By committing Ephesians 5:4 to memory, my son had picked up a spiritual weapon against the temptation to speak obscenely again.  And this was a weapon always with him, even when alone.

I also realized that when I instituted excessive consequences as punishment in my desire to eliminate the behavior, I was teaching the wrong motivation and authority.  If my son behaved out of fear-fear of making a mistake, fear of rejection, fear of my wrath-I was actually reinforcing a negative stronghold in his life.  If his behavior was shaped by avoiding punishment, wasn’t his motivation more about serving pleasure and self rather than the Word of God?  If I wanted the Word of God to be the authority in his life, it is important that I follow God’s pattern of correction.  When Jesus confronted the adulterous woman, he did not expend his energies on judging and condemning her actions, but rather providing God’s standard for her to follow.   

This has been a radical change in my approach to raising a preteen.  It is now about discipline rather than punishment; about grace rather than judgment; about the future instead of the past.  It honors his growing need for autonomy, and it makes God’s Word his authority.  I’ve found it important to keep the verses short and very specific.  Using multiple translations helps me find the best wording for the most powerful impact.  It has brought an added bonus in that our entire family learns the scriptures, not just the individual.  Most importantly, it is creating a life-long discipline that will serve my son well for his entire life.  And isn’t that what parenting is supposed to be about?

Sample scriptures for memorizing:

Anger- Ephesians 4:26
Arguing/Complaining- Philippians 2:14
Attitude – Philippians 2:5
Bickering – 1 Thessalonians 5:13
Bragging- Galatians 6:14
Cursing – James 3:10
Greed – 1Timothy 6:8
Grumbling – James 5:9
Laziness/sloppy work – Colossians 3:23
Lying – Colossians 3:9
Obedience – Colossians 3:20
Peer Pressure – Galatians 1:10
Pride – 1 Peter 5:5
Respect – 1 Peter 2:17
Retaliation – 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Juli Lubelczyk is a freelance writer from Elkridge, Maryland, where she lives with her husband and preteen son.  An elementary teacher, she is currently on leave to care for her son who battles mitochondrial disease.

Name Calling by Carrie Bevell Partridge

June_21_hair.jpgAs I was brushing my 5-year-old daughter’s hair the other day, I was teasing her and acting like I didn’t know her name, which made her giggle. Finally I hugged her and said, "I know your name. Your name is Katie." And then it struck me. The first verse of Isaiah 43, which says:

"Now this is what the LORD says — the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel — ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine." 

As I thought about this verse in relation to what I had just voiced to my daughter, whom I love with all my heart, I felt very comforted. God knows my name! I am His! He is personal, and we have a relationship. He will never leave me, and He will never forget my name.

I remember how much time, thought, and effort Kevin and I put into choosing just the right names for our children. We knew it was important. After all, your name is nearly always the first thing you tell people about yourself. We determined each of our children’s names for specific reasons; it was not a random selection. And we have called them by name (sometimes by their full name, depending on the circumstance) many, many times every day since the day they were born. We absolutely know their names. They are ours.

I love the metaphor Jesus gave us in John 10:2-5.

"The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep … the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out … . The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers."

My children undoubtedly know mine and Kevin’s voices. It gets their attention quickly, even in a crowd. When their name is called by one of these voices, they turn to see where it’s coming from (well, usually). I want to know God’s voice that well — that I can distinguish it from all the other voices in my head. (Yes, there are voices in my head.) When He calls me by name — and He does — I want to stop everything and listen to Him. And a lot of times, He might simply want to tell me how much He loves me and knows me. Just like I do with Callie Elizabeth, Caleb Aeden, and Kathryn Dorothy.

You are MINE!

Carrie Bevell Partridge might confuse her children’s names, but she never forgets them. Carrie is a freelance writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Visit her blogs: www.oncarriesmind.blogspot.com and www.stuffmamaslike.blogspot.com.

Fun Friday Photo — June 18th, 2010

Four-year-old Brianna is enjoying the sand and the waves! Eight-month-old Brayden is not so sure!

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Thanks to Shanna 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!

Jump by Tim Abel

When my daughter was 2 years old, she was learning to climb up and down the stairs in our house. I remember standing behind her, then beside her, helping her up and down the stairs. It was not long before she did not need my help when she was climbing up the stairs. She was a "big girl" and she could do it by herself! However, she still needed my help to start walking down the stairs because the banister started several steps down from the top landing. 

She would stand at the top of the landing and call for me to come help her to the banister. I would climb the stairs and drop to my knees about four steps from the top landing. After I was in place, she would back up, take a running start, and jump into my arms giggling. Once she was in my arms I would set her on the stairs by the beginning of the banister. She would then carefully walk down the steps without any additional help.

It is funny how helping my daughter reminded me of some very important truths that I had allowed to be crowded out by the circumstances and obstacles of life. Sometimes we all need to be reminded that we can call out to our Father and He will always be there.

One afternoon I went upstairs to my office and was quickly followed by my daughter. She played in her room while I was working. After I completed my tasks, I quietly snuck downstairs. She soon realized that I had gone downstairs and cried out for me to come help her. I told her, “You are a big girl and you can do it yourself."  I quietly peeked around the corner and watched her nervously try to take that first big step.

As she peered down that first step, I wondered what she must be thinking. What an obstacle! She finally sat down and tried to crawl down to reach the banister. However, just looking down all those stairs was too much for her. She was scared. She called out for me, her father. I came around the corner and stood at the bottom of the stairs. As soon as she saw me turn the corner she started backing up to jump into my arms. My heart dropped as I realized that she was not going to wait until I was in my normal place before she jumped. I tried to race up the stairs, but it was too late! I caught her in mid-air halfway up the stairs. I was immediately upset that she had done such a crazy thing!

As I angrily carried her down the remaining steps, God stepped in and broke my heart. You see, I had been struggling with a series of obstacles in my life. I found myself overwhelmed by that first big step and then scared as I looked beyond. When my daughter was confronted with her obstacle, she called out for me, her father. When she saw me come around the corner the obstacle before her melted away as she jumped into her father’s arms.

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I learned a very important lesson that day. I can allow the obstacles in my life to become so large that they overshadow His presence. Or I can be so steadfastly focused on God’s presence that He is able to continually contend with and transform the obstacles before me.

Psalm 73:23 says our Heavenly Father is always with us. Just as my daughter knew that I would always be there for her, we can know that our Heavenly Father will always be there for us. We must continually maintain our focus upon Him, especially when we are facing life’s obstacles. We can’t do it alone; we will always need our Heavenly Father’s presence and guidance in our lives. He is always there waiting to catch us as we jump by faith into His loving arms.

Tim and his wife, Tammy, have been married for 15 years. They have three children (Hannah 9, Elijah 8, and Samuel 6). Tim has been called to the full-time pastorate. He completed his Bachelors degree in pastoral studies at Cedarville University. He is currently creating a terminal illness ministry prior to entering the full-time pastorate.

Have you ever learned spiritual lessons through the actions of your child? Share your insight with other ParentLife readers by leaving a comment.