Archives for August 2010

Can You Top This Funny Story?

spidermanlunchboximages.jpgMy wife took care of the back to school shopping this year. Before she took the boys, she pulled out last year’s backpacks and lunchboxes to make sure they were OK with the old ones or really wanted something new. Twelve-year-old Jonathan was OK with his backpack and lunchbox. Six-year-old Christopher said he really wanted a new backpack but was OK with the Spider-Man lunchbox he had carried in Kindergarten.

So imagine my surprise when on the first day of school, with lunches already packed, Christopher informs us that he was embarrassed by Spider-Man and didn’t want to take last year’s lunchbox to school! I guess Spider-Man became so-o-o Kindergarten (little kids stuff to a 1st grader)!

So on the way to school, we made the switch. I put my lunch in the Spider-Man lunchbox and Christopher took the older, more drab Daddy lunchbox to school the first day. So I proudly carried Spider-Man into work (and even posted it on FaceBook) so that my boy could have a great first day of school! The lengths that parents will go for their children!

Can you top this funny story? Did you know we publish funny stories each month in ParentLife as part of our "Funny Life" column? You can receive $20 and see your funny story in print if we choose yours! Just e-mail it to us at parentlife@Lifeway.com and put Funny Life in the subject line.

Fun Friday Photo — August 27, 2010

Who says boys can’t be creative? In some downtime this summer, our boys decided to make their own baseball cards! Christopher, age 6, sports his best pitcher pose for his card!

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Thanks to William S. 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!

Giveaway Reminder

Have you forgotten about our August giveaway? It is one you don’t want to miss!

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During the month of August we are giving away 5 copies of singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson’s new number-one album Counting Stars. Check the album out on Centricity Music’s Web site. I have the album and it is quickly becoming one of my favorites!

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We are also giving away 5 copies of Andrew Peterson’s great juvenile fiction novel North! Or Be Eaten — the 2010 Christy Award winner for Young Adult Fiction.

Everyone* who posts on our blog during August will be entered. So let us hear from you!

For more on Andrew Peterson, visit www.andrew-peterson.com or www.rabbitroom.com.

*LifeWay employees are not eligible for this giveaway. Multiple comments do not increase chances of winning. Winners will be announced on September 1, 2010.

Caution: Check All Labels! by Carrie Bevell Partridge

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"It’s all about me."

"I know everything."

"I’m really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me."

"If you don’t like my attitude, quit talking to me."

"I hate everything."

"My attitude . . . your problem"

"I’m the boss around here.  The parents are just for show."

"Saw it. Wanted it. Threw a fit. Got it!"

If your child made any one of these statements out loud, wouldn’t you have something to say about it?  Why, then, do some parents allow their children to wear T-shirts with these exact words on them? Yes, these shirts are for sale, and these are among some of the tamer ones available both online and in regular retail stores.

I don’t think that any parents would necessarily say that they want to encourage selfishness, self-centeredness, and sassy attitudes in their children, but I think that if you allow your child to make these declarations on her clothing, you are basically cultivating these very ideas — especially if you are the one buying these shirts for your child. It doesn’t matter that the words aren’t coming directly from the child’s mouth; they are on her chest for people to read over and over again.

Some people find these messages of self-absorption, rudeness, and disrespect to be humorous and maybe even innocent, but even if the shirt is meant as a joke, the opportunity is not there for the child or parent to explain that to each person who reads it. I believe that you have a responsibility to guide your children in the messages they are sending by what they wear. And if you don’t start giving guidelines about it when they are young, how can you expect your children to listen to you when they are teenagers and want to display even worse messages?

There are many facets to the subject of children’s apparel, but I feel that these spelled-out messages are pretty black and white. You wouldn’t want anyone to label your child as "Spoiled," "Royal Highness," "Troublemaker," or "Little Terror." So why would you allow your child to literally label herself that way? As I was taught in psychology and education classes in college — and also in life — if a child is labeled, there is a good chance that she will eventually live up to that label. So be careful. Be a parent! Heed the warnings of those who warn against labeling. Or the next shirt your child puts on might be the one that says: "Blame my parents."

Carrie Bevell Partridge is a columnist and freelance writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Visit Carrie’s blogs: www.stuffmamaslike.blogspot.com and www.oncarriesmind.blogspot.com.

Fun Friday Photo — August 20th, 2010

"You’re a real dog, but I love you anyway."

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Thanks to Jerry S. 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!

 

A Child’s Understanding of Death

About one year ago, both of our cats died. Samantha died of cancer. Tobey was killed by a coyote. At that time, Jonathan was newly 11 and Christopher 5. They had very different understandings of what death meant. Christopher really wanted to see Samantha’s body before I buried her. Jonathan did not. Christopher had a more limited understanding of what death meant than his older brother. He saw another black cat and wondered if it was Samantha. Jonathan understood the permanence of death.

111_sick-child.jpgHave you had to talk with your children about death? This month in ParentLife, Dr. Mom writes about grief in "Mommy, What Happened? Helping Children Grieve" (p. 45). It is often helpful to know how children grieve differently at different ages. Dr. Mom provided us the following information on these ages differences exclusively for our blog.

A child’s ability to understand the concept of death varies by age, maturity level, life experiences, and faith beliefs:

  • Infants and Toddlers. While children under 2 have no concept of death, they react to separation from their caregiving adults and notice when their caregivers are sad.
  • Preschoolers. Preschoolers do not understand the finality of death and think it is reversible. They may repeatedly ask when the deceased person is coming back. Because they believe their negative thoughts have power, they may feel responsible when something bad happens.
  • School-age Children. School-aged children can understand the finality of death but tend to think it happens to others.
  • Preteens. Preteens understand that death happens to everyone. They often seek comfort from peers, as well as their family.

What are some ways you have ministered to kids in the midst of grief?

More About Tegu Blocks

In our August 2010 "Today’s Life" article (p. 48), Joy Fisher highlighted a cool product called Tegu Blocks. These blocks are designed to make play a simultaneous learning experience. Tegu block sets include shapes such as cubes, long planks, short planks, and jumbo planks, which all connect by a magnetic force.

After our August issue went to the printer, we discovered that by purchasing Tegu Blocks, you have the opportunity to send a child in Honduras to school. So far, over 900 school days have been granted for children who otherwise would not be able to attend school. What a great way to help make learning fun for your child and to help a great cause at the same time!

And just this week, Tegu announced the launch of Tegu Tints.
 

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Tegu Tints adds an extra layer of excitement to Tegu’s traditional block shapes, livening the signature cubes and planks in five different translucent colors: green, orange, turquoise, pink, and yellow. Tegu’s proprietary tinting process, which applies specially formulated water-based lacquers to beautiful hardwoods, has been carefully engineered to highlight the natural beauty of the wood while respecting the environment.  All Tegu blocks incorporate responsibly sourced hardwoods and exceed all safety requirements mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Tegu Tints will be available for purchase at www.tegu.com this September. Visit www.tegu.com for more information!

Help Your Child Make Friends

Don’t miss Rebecca Isbell’s great article "Practical Playtime" in the August edition of ParentLife about helping kids develop social skills through play. Dr. Isbell offers a few additional tips for our blog this month. Check it out below!

Some children are natural at initiating play — and relationships — with other children, while others must be guided. Here are some tips for ensuring your child will learn to make and keep friends.

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  • Start with the Golden Rule. “Have them consider, ‘Would you like it if Jayden did that to you?’” says Corinne Gregory, founder of SocialSmarts, a nationally-recognized program that teaches good social skills, positive character, and values to kids. “Young children are not aware of how much power they have to make other people feel good or bad. To build and keep friends, you have to put yourself in their shoes. Keep reinforcing this concept with your child, praising positive behavior when you see it and gently correcting the negative.”
  • Offer consistency. “Teaching the concept of ‘friend’ comes best when there can be one consistent one-on-one situation, one consistent family with whom you and your child feel comfortable,” says Andrea Gould, Ph.D., president of Lucid Learning Systems. “After mastering the art of playing peaceably with one other youngster, preferably close in age, a child can learn, with guidance, to generalize about friendship, its comforts, and its challenges. Good experience generalizes readily.”
  • Foster empathy. “Learning to recognize and interpret social cues such as a sad face, a laugh, or a child’s need to be alone can determine whether or not your child will make and keep friends easily,” says Jackie Gass, president of Sunbrook Academy and early childhood development expert. “You can promote the process [of developing empathy] through everyday experiences by talking about facial expressions of others and asking, ‘How do you think she feels?’ or ‘How does that make you feel?’ or ‘Does he look happy or sad?’ You can also encourage this by expressing your own feelings or through books and games.”
  • Pay attention and discuss what you see. “Talk to your child about what to expect when you go to the park, attend a birthday party, or school,” says Vicki Folds, Ph.D., vice president of education and professional development at Children of America. “If your child dominates situations, discuss how the other children might be feeling if they never get a turn. If your child stands back and waits for others to engage them, you might want to encourage your child to initiate a game. At the end of a play day, encourage your child to tell you about the day, about the friends they made, and what they did. This helps them remember events and build relationships.”

Not Perfect, But Right for Us by Joy Fisher

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A few days ago I took my kids to play with some friends at the elementary school playground in preparation for school starting back this week. Watermelon and popsicles helped the children ease back into the group dynamic. Moms and dads stood around in the shade talking about how quickly the summer days have rushed by.

Construction has been ongoing on our school campus all summer. A new classroom wing is being added, and the older sections are getting cosmetic upgrades. The day we were there, the parking lot was still littered with construction equipment and storage trailers. It’s pretty safe to say that conditions will be less than perfect on the first day of school.

That experience is a good picture of how I feel about our choice to send our kids to public school. Every year, there’s a lot of pleasantness, but also a bit of clutter. Like many parents in the public school system, we did our homework and moved into a school zone we felt good about. We didn’t know it then, but eventually we needed special education services that included a program for our son who has Down syndrome as well as academic enrichments for our two little scholars.

My children entered grades 2, 4, and 6 last week. The key for getting off to a great start is the same formula I’ve used for many years: Be positive! Greeting administrators with a smile and signing up to help in my kids’ rooms sets the tone for the entire year. When those inevitable imperfections arise, I try to be a part of healthy solutions.

Enrolling in the public school system means there will always be frustrations regarding zoning, aging facilities, larger classes, and budget shortfalls. That’s the clutter. The bright spots are teachers who love kids, interaction with families from other cultures and walks of life, and the challenge of teaching our children to make the best of situations that are sometimes less than ideal.

Joy Fisher was part of the editorial team of ParentLife’s premiere issue over 16 years ago. These days, she serves as contract Content Editor of Bible Teaching for Kids Special Buddies, LifeWay’s Sunday School curriculum for children with special needs. She and David have been married since 1995 and are the parents of Samuel, Jacob, and Lara.  

Do your children attend public school? Tell us about your public-school experiences.

Fun Friday Photo — August 13, 2010

Riley’s first time trying apple sauce! Not what she expected! They must have been sour apples!

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Thanks to Valeska R. 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!