General Parenting


Another school year and yet again I struggled with helping my only child adapt to going back to school. I try not to label, but let’s face the facts…he doesn’t do well with change. It isn’t just that he would rather be home with me (while that is the case). He just freaks out inside when he isn’t familiar with a new situation. Daddy does too, so he is in good company.

Every year, I try to talk myself out of speaking with the school counselor and I usually succeed, but this year was THE year…4th grade at Trinity Christian Academy. The year they get binders and learn responsibility and manage massive amounts of work. Add to that the fact that his teacher last year was as laid back as possible, and this year his teacher has very high expectations and you have a recipe for disaster.

In any case, when the tears started early on and restarted after I thought he had made progress, I broke down. I went in to let his teacher know what he was feeling. I learned a couple years ago not to worry about being “that mom”. You know the one that is always in there telling the teacher what to do and checking on their child to make sure they are ok. I am my child’s best advocate and if I don’t tell the teacher what he is thinking and feeling, she isn’t going to know. It’s a good thing I told her because she had no idea. He is apparently very good at putting on the appearance of being fine.

God bless her, Mrs. Miller is a gem. High expectations, yes. But she also clearly cares deeply for the children in her care and wants to know what is going on with them. She encouraged me to let her know when there are tears at home and I did. She suggested I wait for the first parent teacher conference before talking to the counselor.

I couldn’t resist, I stopped in to see the counselor to get her perspective on whether or not I should make an appointment. She told me the same thing…wait for conferences. Her experience is that 90% of students adapt in the first quarter without intervention. Then in 5 minutes she proceeded to make the most astute and obvious observation…he is stressed because he doesn’t KNOW Mrs. Miller. He doesn’t really understand her expectations and is afraid he is going to disappoint her. So I started encouraging Joshua to get to know her. To not stress when he didn’t know what she would do next and just rest in knowing she is super-pleased with him. When she admonishes the class to “get a move on”, she isn’t talking to him…just the ones who are daydreaming.

Fast-forward to parent conferences. He was one of the only ones to get all A’s and all “+” behavior grades in the class. Mrs. Miller couldn’t be happier…but Joshua was still stressed. He still didn’t want to go to school, so my husband and I made an appointment with the counselor. She listened to us and said she would talk to him in the coming weeks. She checked in with him a couple times, but finally I sat down and did some serious research online. What I found was so obvious, it was almost dumb. I already knew he wasn’t stressed about the work, he is stressed about disappointing his teacher. While it was not likely he WOULD disappoint her, I had to help him understand how to deal with his stress. The obvious discovery was that I have a little perfectionist on my hands. I was one when I was younger, so I guess it is in his genes. Now that I had a definitive reason for the stress, I could start to address the issue.

My only child, Joshua is 9.  He is officially entering the “tween” years. God give me strength. LOL

Joshua has always told me everything…from what he had for lunch to what the kids on the playground did, said, etc. Other moms said their boys gave them monosyllables at the end of the day. “How was your day?” “Fine.” Meanwhile Joshua talked a blue streak.

joshua

Then about a month ago, his attitude started to deteriorate.  So I did what I thought I should do – cracked down.  Corrected every bad attitude, every roll of the eyes, every backtalk.  Those of you who have raised children into their teens know what I effectively did was alienate him.  He clammed up…stopped talking to me all together.  I was confused. I was doing the right thing – expecting him to be respectful to me and his dad…right?

Then I prayed.  I should have prayed long before I did, but I think God was letting me learn a hard lesson. Always pray first – not after you talk to friends, read books and research on the internet.  Pray first.

It wasn’t immediately apparent what I should do, then it struck me.  I was effectively telling him he wasn’t allowed to vent.  When he complained about his homework, I told him to stop being negative.  When he got overtired and didn’t want to get ready for bed, I told him to obey. No wonder he clammed up.  Jeez…I vent all the time!  About the cable guy, about the lady in front of me on the highway, you name it.

So I tried something new the next day after school.  I told him he could tell me anything he wanted to tell me in any tone of voice he wanted for 5 minutes. Guess what…after about 3 minutes, his whole demeanor changed he started telling me everything about his day and he was happy and animated again! Yay! It worked.

The following week, I mentioned it in passing to a wonderful friend who has older teens.  She said that her son used to get in the car after school so angry that he would be spitting nails.  She told him he had 10 minutes to spew and then he had to have a better attitude.  World.of.difference.  Apparently I am not the only mom to try and succeed in giving out the “vent” license!

So – if you are having trouble with bad attitudes in your tween – give them the opportunity to get stuff off their chest.  Don’t take it personally, don’t correct it, don’t tell them what the Bible says about it, just let them vent. You just might find that your child’s overall attitude will improve by leaps and bounds like Joshua’s did. : )

happy

Ripe Pumpkins in a Field

Before I start this article, I want you to hear my heart.  I am not writing to judge or say anyone is a bad parent if they celebrate Halloween. You alone are responsible for making decisions that affect your family.  You alone answer to God for your decisions. But I feel that it is my responsibility to share my belief and how we came to decide not to celebrate Halloween.

We don’t celebrate Halloween.  There – I said it.  I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I see the decorations start come out.  There is a family in an adjoining neighborhood that literally transforms their front yard into a horror-fest.  They must have spent thousands of dollars on her props. Seriously??

When I was little we went trick-or-treating.  As my mom began to understand the roots of Halloween, we stopped celebrating.  Now I don’t feel there is anything to celebrate.  Most people have no idea what they are actually saying when they quip, “Happy Halloween”.  Satan is not stupid.  He’s not going to present Christians with something that is overtly satanic.  We would reject it out of hand.  But cute little princesses and clowns?  No big deal.  I would argue that it is a big deal.  This is Satan’s day, his time of year.  Below are the satanic holidays at the end of October [1]:

 DATE  CELEBRATION  TYPE  USAGE
 Oct 28-30  Satanist High  blood  human sacrifice
 Oct 30-31  All Hallows Eve (Halloween)  blood and sex  sexual climax, demons,
animal/human sacrifice
 Nov 1  Satanist High  blood  human sacrifice

 

Halloween has its roots in the Druid rituals of the Dark Ages. Druids terrorized peasants and burned them scarecrow-like structures.  “Trick or treat”-ing is from the pagan belief that spirits awoke from the dead and arrived at one’s door. If a “treat” wasn’t left for them, a trick was destined to follow. “Jack O’Lanterns” were designed to ward off evil spirits looking for a man named Jack.  The holiday is rooted in ideologies which are dishonoring to God. I just can’t bring myself to celebrate a holiday which elevates evil.

From a parenting perspective, Halloween can put you in the position where every answer is the wrong answer.  For example:

Little Dottie dresses up as a princess, you put some cobwebs and gravestones in the front yard and give out candy to the neighbors.   What do you say when Dottie sees other kids dressed up like scary things such as witches and vampires? Do you tell her it is just fun?  If so, you are teaching her it is ok to pretend to be evil.  Do you tell her that they aren’t Christians, and they don’t know better? If so, you are teaching her it is ok to leave the “lost” without Christ.  Both responses could diminish her ability to discern good from evil.  Let’s take it to the extreme…what if she is presented with an Ouija board by a neighbor or classmate?  What if someone offers to do her “reading”?  Will she think it’s no big deal because that’s what you taught her about Satan and the occult when she was younger?

My son will not celebrate or participate in Halloween because [2]:

  • I don’t want him to underestimate Satan
  • I don’t want him to open up to demonic influence
  • I don’t want him to stumble into an area of the occult unaware
  • I do want him to know that I take the Bible literally
  • I do want him to prefer the light of the Gospel to the darkness of the occult
  • I do want him to know that it is OK to stand apart from the world on these issues
  • I do want him to recognize easily what is evil and stand against it in the name of Jesus

If you are a Christian and think I am over-reacting, here are the scriptures that helped me decide against Halloween:

Romans 13:12a “Let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light!

1 Corinthians 10:20-21 “I say the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in the Lord’s table and the table of demons.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

Galatians 4:8-11 “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Ephesians 5:11-12 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness” / “live as children of light.

Ephesians 6:11-18 “Take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Is it easy standing up against what seems like the entire world (Christian and not Christian)? No.  My 8-year old still doesn’t know what to say when friends and acquaintances ask him what he is going to “be” for Halloween. He knows why we don’t celebrate but isn’t quite old enough to articulate it. Maybe next year he will feel a bit more bold and courageous.

In conclusion, I hope I have not offended you.  That was not my intention.  I do hope I gave you something to think about, pray about and potentially consider for next October 31st.

My son is in 3rd Grade this year at Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, TX. His first Bible assignment is to memorize the books of the Bible from the Old Testament. I remember memorizing the books of the New Testament as a kid and STILL know them to this day. I learned them using a song and decided to find a song to help him remember the books of the Old Testament. There were several on YouTube, but this was the best one by far:

outstretched--hand

I am participating in the fantastic online bible study over at Melissa Taylor‘s blog. The study is based on Karen Ehman‘s book Let.It.Go. Boy have I learned a lot.

This weeks’ chapter is called Micromanaging Instead of Mothering…ouch! With an only child it is so much easier to just do it for him.  It isn’t like I have 6 kids and they HAVE to learn to tie their own shoes or we would never get out the door.  I am ashamed to admit that my son didn’t learn to tie his shoes until he was 7.  It was easier for me to do it for him than to teach him to do it himself.  Rather than teach my son to fold towels, shirts and underwear, I did the laundry myself.

That is, until I was challenged otherwise.  My son goes to a private Christian school.  Yes, we are blessed.  The lower school counselor has a book study in the fall and in the spring.  This past October it was the book called Cleaning House by a lovely lady named Kay Wyma (who hails from the great city of Dallas just 20 short minutes from my house!). The subtitle was “A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.” I almost don’t need to say more, but I will.  LOL

I thought I was helping my child by pampering and doing everything for him.  What kid wants to do chores?? The problem came when he started to expect things to be done:

Him: “Mom, I don’t have any socks.”
Me (thinking): “You’ve been walking past a basket full of white laundry in my room for the last 3 days!”

What starts as an expectation for socks to magically appear in his drawers, can turn into him thinking the world revolves around them. I mean, kids think that way when they are little anyway, then as they get older we reinforce in their developing minds.

  • Junior doesn’t get invited to a party, so we call the parents and ask for him to be included.
  • We “help” with homework because we don’t want him to get a bad grade (he might be disappointed).
  • We give every child a trophy. Heard from the child who actually won a local gymnastics meet, “What’s the point of winning if everyone gets a trophy?”

Entitlement has permeated our culture. It starts out as our tying their shoes because it is quicker, and turns into our clearing away every difficulty before it can slow them down or disappoint them. By the time they are ready to leave the nest, they have no idea what they can do or who they can be. Today’s generation of young adults is self-labeled “Gen Me”.  The world revolves around them, they want what they want and they expect to get it.  And if they don’t get what they want, they will call their parents and they will get it for them!

Stop the madness – teach your child to do things for themselves when they are young. Hold their hand, teach them to succeed. Then they will be able to use their hands to lead the next generation.

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