Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Countering discouragement April 29, 2009

Filed under: Books,For moms,Parenting — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:23 pm

do_hard_things“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)

 Tough day on the mothering front yesterday…  Was already weary and hormone-laden and not feeling up to the task of parenting my little ones.  You know those days when you wonder, ‘Would it really be all that bad if I just stuck a video in for the next, say, 4 hours — till dinner?’  And felt much less-than-up to appropriately and consistently meeting the onslaught of rebellion and defiance that was presented to me by my three-and-a-half year old. 

I prayed that God would send me clear and direct encouragement…  and he didn’t fail me.  In the midst of a google search for a specific phrase about obedience I was looking for, I stumbled upon a blog called “Metro Moms,” affiliated with C. J. Mahaney’s Metro Life Church in MD.  In March they did a series of parenting-related posts based on the book Do Hard Things (about which I’ve been reading great stuff, so I’ll have to get my hands on a copy).   Here are a few of the quotes that God used to touch, convict, and encourage me yesterday:

–Why is training and disciplining my children so hard?  Because we want an easy life.  We want things to go as we plan; easy and without a fight.  When things don’t go the way we think they should, or our children don’t respond the way we want or as quick as we would like them to then we have conflict. What makes training our children hard is our will.  We want control and when we don’t get it we give in to anger and critical judgments. I need to be more interested in my children’s soul than my convenience. (more…)


Practice makes perfect April 27, 2009

Filed under: Books,Correction,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:09 pm

When I was potty-training our son last fall, I sought input from a friend who has five children.  She said one of the big training tools she used was practice.  If her child didn’t make it to the potty in time and wet herself, they would practice up to ten times after the accident…  Return to where the child was when the accident occurred, and ‘dry run’ the event a number of times in detail (the way it ideally would have occurred) to help her remember what she needs to do the next time.  She said she used this type of  “practicing” strategy with excellent results for numerous issues in her household – forgetting to take off shoes at the door, not putting laundry in the hamper, whatever.  No anger, no rebuke – just practice, pure and simple, to reinforce memory and capacity in the desired skill and goal.  I filed the notion away in the back of my brain.

I was reminded of her advice when I read about using rehearsal of correct behavior in training children in righteousness.  In Don’t Make Me Count to Three, Ginger Plowman writes,

“It’s important to rebuke our children when they do wrong, but it is equally important, if not more important, to walk them through what is right – to put off as well as to put on (referencing Eph 4:22 – 24)… First, work through what a biblical response would have been.  Second, have the child follow through with it…  When we correct our children for wrong behavior but fail to train them in righteous behavior, we will exasperate them because we are not providing them with a way of escape.  This sort of neglect will provoke them to anger…  Anytime you correct your child for wrong behavior, have him walk through the right behavior.” (more…)


Adoption: reversing wretchedness April 23, 2009

Filed under: Mothering role — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:34 pm

cfr0105Once per pregnancy, it seems, I watch a movie that completely undoes me… breaks my heart, sends my emotions into a tailspin, keeps me awake at night.  Pregnancy #1 (2005) was Hotel Rwanda.  Pregnancy #2 in 2007: Blood Diamond.  Pregnancy #3, this week, it was Slumdog Millionaire.   What these films share is a close-up view of fact-based, unmasked evil – injustice, manipulation, cruelty, despair. Genocide in Rwanda; child slavery in Sierra Leone; child beggary in India.  My emotional response to these movies, beyond simple pregnancy hormones, has been twofold: 1) what kind of horrific world is my unborn child being born into?, and 2) what if it were my child, defenseless and naive, facing the terrible cruelty and evils these children face?  These questions haunt me.

My environment is pretty insulated.  A bad day for me is a computer crash, lost cash, or misbehaving kids.  So being confronted with unmitigated and raw cruelty – especially involving young children – shakes me to the core.  And frankly, it should.  God  despises injustice and opposes the wicked who promulgate it… and, conversely, loves and advocates for the world’s defenseless.  And he makes it abundantly clear that we, his followers, are to do the same.  In Isaiah 1:17, we’re commanded to “seek justice, protect the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”  And Jesus, in Mt 10:42, says, “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple will certainly not lose his reward in heaven.”  He’s not okay with our ignoring the defenseless, the orphans, the ‘little ones’ and just going about our business as if all were well.

These thoughts have knocked around in my head this week as I reflected on the sadness and discomfort of soul that Slumdog Millionaire roused in me.   And it’s been against this backdrop that I’ve been pondering adoption.  Two close friends of my husband’s and mine, brothers whom we’ve known for 15 years and whose families are dear to ours, are nearing the end of their adoption processes.  One is in Ethiopia with his wife right now, collecting their 14-month old son.  The other just received word on Monday from the Rwandan courts that their 6-month old son is officially theirs.  Both families already have two biological children, and both families are overcome and overjoyed at the reality that their adopted sons are truly theirs, and soon to be home with them and their families. (more…)


Outlasting April 21, 2009

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Books — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:19 pm

One principle I’ve found extremely valuable in Elizabeth Krueger’s Raising Godly Tomatoes is the idea of “outlasting” your child when you’re training in obedience.  Krueger describes it this way (emphasis mine):

“Each time you confront your child, you must win. If you don’t – if you distract or relocate, or give in, or anything else – you’ve wasted your time. Your little one doesn’t need more time. Since he already understands what you want, it’s clear he’s just refusing to comply, knowing you’ll eventually cave and not require obedience from him… Outlast him. Every time he challenges you, let him know exactly what you expect and make sure that his little world stops until he obeys.” (more…)


The call to consistency April 19, 2009

Filed under: Books,Correction,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 9:50 pm

All of us moms have been told, at one time or another, that being consistent with our kids is important – that they need to know what to expect, that our rules don’t change, that we mean it every time.  So there’s nothing or unique in novel in childrearing advice about consistency. 

That said, I found Krueger’s definition of consistency within parenting (in Raising Godly Tomatoes) to be particularly insightful and practical.  She says (emphasis mine):

“Consistency doesn’t mean ‘do exactly the same thing with every child’ or ‘discipline the same exact way in every instance.’ Not every child has the same personality or emotional makeup. Not every circumstance is the same. The age of the child will factor in. Some children are more strong-willed and stubborn than others… These and other things must be taken into consideration as you determine how to handle each child and situation, but this should not interfere with true consistency. Consistency really means that every time your child requires correction, you get up and do it, remaining there to supervise and outlast until the message gets across.

She goes on to describe the moment she realized what setting and maintaining a high standard of consistency would require – and then began implementing it.  (more…)


Mothering as tomato-staking April 17, 2009

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Books,Parenting — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 3:35 am

food0361A couple months ago I encountered a Christian parenting book (and website, actually – the entire book is available chapter by chapter for free online) called Raising Godly Tomatoes about which I’d never previously heard.  I was a bit surprised since usually the resources reviewed and discussed in intentionally Christian parenting circles are few and familiar – but thankful because it’s got some great content. I’m not sure I agree with all the author’s methods or conclusions but I appreciate the thoughtful and biblically sound fodder she provides parents as they reflect and pray through appropriate methods for godly childrearing.


Author Elizabeth Krueger has raised ten children and speaks very practically and quite specifically about parenting issues.  She and her husband developed the methods she uses and describes in her book (which she refers to as “tomato-staking”) when her third child turned two, so her input is offered with the advantage of some “what I now believe” versus “how I started out,” which I also find helpful. She kicks off her book by asking readers to: 

“ponder a few of the problems I run into over and over again as I speak to parents about their families. Failures in parenting today can frequently be traced to the following four underlying areas: (1) what your priorities are, (2) what your beliefs in regard to authority are, (3) how willing you are to separate your children from the world, and (4) your willingness to reject worldly parenting theories and adopt biblical principles and godly standards instead.” (more…)


Evaluating “enrichment” for our kids April 13, 2009

Filed under: Culture,Routine — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:35 pm

I’ve been thinking about the modern concept of “enrichment.”  You know, exposing your kids to stuff, getting them out there, helping them learn and experience all manner of things.  There can be a lot of pressure on moms to involve their children in a variety of age-appropriate activities…  and a commensurate amount of pressure, I think, to assess our own households and judge them as lacking in this department. 

A few months ago I was chatting with my mom about possible fall preschool options for my son, who will be four in November.  I made some passing comment about all he’d do and learn there – how much he would get out of the activities.  I must have unconsciously disparaged our own quiet, normal household routine to some degree, because her response was to affirm what she sees that I am doing to build into him and ‘enrich’ him (in a different sense).  The overarching goal for a three-year-old, she suggested, should be less about finger-painting or plunking on various instruments or meeting live animals (not that any of that’s bad) and more about living life alongside an invested parent whose primary goal is character-building and instilling skills for godly life.  (more…)