Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Helping kids build a good reputation September 12, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Culture,Education — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:33 pm

I was thinking this morning about reputations, and the importance of having a good one. This came to mind for two reasons. First: I’m using a new babysitter this morning for the first time. And second: it’s my son’s first day of (a type of) school. And in both cases, the concept of reputation comes into play in a big way.

This year my son is participating in a Christian homeschool academy called Artios that meets every Monday morning from 8:45 to 12. This morning was his first day of school, and he was excited and nervous, as every kid is on that auspicious occasion. As we were driving up in the car, we talked through the school’s rules again and reviewed the kind of student he needs to be. Attentive, polite, respectful, obedient, etc. “Is it ok to be mean to other kids or to tease people?” I asked him. “What if the teacher tells you to do something you don’t want to do?” And the like. Surprisingly, he was very interested in this and wanted to ensure that there were no other rules he needed to know that we hadn’t covered. We talked about the importance of timeliness, and I assured him that I’d see to it that we arrive on time – despite traffic – because yes, being on time matters. When I pick him up afterwards and we debrief the morning, I will ask him about these things as part of the conversation.

A reputation, I was thinking as he and I talked, is built on such things as these. You behave righteously because God calls us to do so, not because you want to impress other people, but the impression you give to other people also matters. Because how you behave reveals the kind of person you are: polite or rude, obedient or defiant, attentive or spacey, timely or late, rowdy or calm, dependable or flaky. Is my kid viewed as a positive influence on people or a negative? The fact is that course of a person’s life is, to a real degree, shaped by the character traits he displays to the world. When a person hears my son’s name, what impression of him will come to mind?  (more…)

 

Praise for simple birthdays December 4, 2010

Filed under: Culture,Holidays,Materialism and entitlement — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:39 am

Advent is upon us, and at our house we’re ankle-deep in nativity books, open-the-door calendars, garlands, and gingerbread house planning.  But I’ve had a post in my head for weeks about birthday celebrations, and before I get into Christmas topics I thought I’d throw this one out there.

The thing that pushed me over the edge was this November post by Molly Piper about her son’s sixth birthday party. [If you haven’t checked out Molly’s blog, you should.  The daughter-in-law of John Piper, she’s a gifted writer herself and especially powerful on topics of grief and grieving since her daughter’s stillbirth in 2007.]  Molly wrote:

“We do birthdays pretty simply. I don’t kill myself over a cake. I let the kid pick what they want to eat, and so it’s usually a simple menu (this year it was mac & cheese with hot dogs in it). I don’t do favor bags. I let my mother-in-law host it at her house (!). We invite a couple families we’re close with, and that’s it. Voila! Kid birthday party! I didn’t grow up with a birthday “party” every year. We had one every few years, and that was good! I don’t personally think that kids should get used to a huge party every year. I know it’s their special day, but making it special with family is sufficient, in my opinion.” (more…)

 

Safety, Jesus, and what we’re teaching our kids October 25, 2010

Filed under: Culture,Fear,Parenting,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:24 am

Salon recently put out a thought-provoking article called “The War on Children’s Playgrounds;” definitely worth a read if you haven’t seen it.  The byline was: “By trying to make kids’ spaces safe and risk-free, are we taking all the fun out of growing up?”  The article discusses our cultures’ trend toward prioritizing safety above all else, using the lens of playgrounds, and describes the losses our children will ultimately face from this mindset. “What we’re bequeathing our children is a childhood designed by lawyers,” author Lenore Skenazy writes.  Too true.  We’re also implicitly teaching them that the most important thing in life is staying safe.

The problem is that being safe isn’t the number one goal in life; at least it shouldn’t be if we’re following Jesus. We follow a God who was hated by many when He walked this earth as a man, who was murdered by his enemies, and whose followers often came to similar ends.  He was not a man who prioritized earthly safety above all else by any stretch of the imagination. Jesus told his disciples, “‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”

Our culture idolizes health, safety, and longevity of life; this is a flawed viewpoint even from a secular perspective.  From the Salon playground article: “‘It’s as if we think that there’s a world in which, if only people did things properly there would be no accidents, ever,’ says Philip Howard, author of Life Without Lawyers.” Howard’s right, and it’s ludicrous.  Accidents and injury are as old as the earth and an unavoidable part of life; more than that, they’re part of our inheritance as humans since our first parents fell.  They come with living in a sin-stained world. (more…)

 

Teaching children about friendship October 2, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Culture — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:42 pm

When I was a kid in elementary school I had my best friend and then my “second best friend” – each identified and aware of her rank.  In some seasons – say, third grade – I probably had a third and a fourth too.  At summer camp I was inseparable from my two best camp friends – we called ourselves the three musketeers.  This kind of thing is likely not news to you since you probably had similar friendship-ranking structures of your own.

We’re starting to get into this kind of thing with our son, nearly 5 years old.  He has some great friends and enjoys them, but he’s prone to comparing them to each other, stating preferences for the one who’s not there, and general fickleness.  I notice that he’s on both the giving and the receiving end of the fickleness, which shows me that he’s in good company among others his age.

I find this terrain somewhat difficult to navigate.  On one hand I want to encourage him to connect with other kids, develop friendship-building skills, help him appreciate “good friend” behavior, and learn how to navigate less-than-ideal social situations.  On the other hand, I want to get out of the way so he can experience human interactions for himself and learn to work things through on his own.  This latter goal seems particularly important since he’s not in preschool and spends ample time with his mom and sisters.  I want to make sure he has opportunity to sort through relationship stuff with his peers without his mom forever standing over his shoulder. (more…)

 

Kids and TV September 22, 2010

Filed under: Culture — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:16 am

Doctor’s offices have TV’s in their waiting rooms now, have you noticed?  Just one more place to encounter the pervasive talking heads. This week I took my 3- and almost-5-year-olds for dental check-ups, and the Cartoon Network was on as we awaited our appointment. We were the only ones there, and in my previous (kid-less) visits the channel was always the Food Network.  The receptionist confirmed that she’d put Cartoon Network on for us, and she obliged me by switching to another channel since the programming on the Cartoon Network is rough for preschoolers. When she didn’t find my requested PBS, and because I declined Nickelodeon and Disney Channel as well, I suggested returning to the Food Network. When it came on my son said, “Mom! What are we going to do now?”  I said, “The same thing we always do when we’re waiting for something.  Talk, sit quietly, or look at books.”

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Thoughts on being a parenting anomaly July 11, 2010

Filed under: Culture,For moms,Parenting,Prayer — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:55 pm

Sometimes in life you realize you’ve become something of an anomaly, and I’m finding this is just as apt to happen in the parenting world as anywhere else.  Or perhaps more apt to happen.  Three passing examples from the last month:

1. Friends of ours were visiting from out-of-state with their twin three-year-old boys.  Conversation turned to training methods to reinforce a child’s accountability to his parents – specifically in obeying instructions.  I described the success we’ve found in utilizing the outlasting strategy outlined in Elizabeth Krueger’s Raising Godly Tomatoes, role-playing actual scenes in which I’ve used this method with one child or another for them.  Our friends were intrigued and inspired, whereupon one said: “Why have I never seen anything like this used before?”  I could completely relate to his question.  Before I started using the technique after reading the book (three years into motherhood), I’d never once seen it employed either. (more…)

 

The truth about fragility July 7, 2010

Filed under: Culture,For moms,Pregnancy — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:13 am

A few days ago my sweet nephew entered the world, three months premature and weighing just under two pounds.  To say that his arrival threw our whole family into a tailspin wouldn’t begin to describe it.  With my own children arriving at 40 and 42 weeks, I’m a stranger to preemie births; none of my friends have delivered much before 38 weeks.  So I personally have no experience in this realm- to say nothing of my dear sister-in-law (and brother), this being her first pregnancy.  In five years of mothering, I’ve experienced nothing remotely close to just the first hour of her child’s life – the medicalization, the fear, the surrender, the complete lack of control.  The desperation for the health of that tiny child.

Thankfully the sweet babe is stable and faring okay, though of course he’s at the start of a very long road.  He’s bathed in prayers from scores and scores of devoted family members and friends. In my sister-in-law’s words, “God’s faithfulness is great, and we rest in the fact that Sam is in Jesus’ arms.  What better place to be as he continues to be knit together.”   

When I pray for Sam I often see the image of the Holy Spirit in dove form, hovering over his incubator… And I believe that’s what happening in the unseen realm.  Counselor, Guide, Protector – keeping watch there over him.  It brings me great comfort as I ponder his tiny body.  Thirteen inches long and so delicate – to judge from the photo – you’d think he might break during a diaper change.  A picture of fragility.

The thing I’ve been pondering though, is that I’m really just as fragile as little Sam. We all are; according to the Bible, we’re all a vapor. “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  And yet this truth is so far from the American psyche, so far from my own mindset.  The great lie of our culture is that life is within our own control – that we can plan and organize and have things the way we want them (at least to some degree).  A manageable, long, and comfortable life is expected, even assumed.  And our enemy is in the business of propagating this worldview.  His goal is to keep the true fragility of our situation as far from our minds as possible. (more…)