My Child was Sad, and that was BAD

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There was lots of fun stuff happening, and I was loving every single minute of it, except when I looked at Rebekah’s tight, sad, face.  I gave her hugs, I asked her if she was OK, I mentioned it to John (husband/dad), and I queried her siblings, “Do you know what’s bothering Rebekah?”  I gave her more hugs (she seemed to want lots of them) and finally, I prayed.

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Rebekah is a writer, and we’ve had an ongoing issue about her using up school, chore, family and personal time on the computer–not writing, but looking up and reading about the somewhat ridiculous antics of various celebrities.  Recently when I asked her if she was writing she fibbed to me about it.  I don’t mind lies as much as I mind a child acting like I am the village idiot.  “Shut the laptop,” I instructed firmly.  “Do NOT get back on there until I say so.  You can write in longhand on your legal pads for now.”

And I went about the business at hand: celebrating:  Hannah was born on my and John’s anniversary and this year was, as all years, a celebration of the unmerited, beyond-all-I-could-ever-ask-or-think-or-imagine LOVE of Jesus.  Still, I noted and pondered and watched the expressive and beautiful face of Rebekah.

Hannah had her birthday date with John, John and I had our anniversary date, we celebrated both with a steak dinner and birthday/anniversary party, I went on my Hannah date, and finally, last night about midnight, Hannah, John and Seth were off to bed, and Rebekah found her way to a bit of quiet with me.

“Mom,” she said, “I got on YouTube today.  And yesterday. And the day before.”

“Why?” I said a bit sharply, reluctantly looking up from watching Creflo Dollar teaching about what the Bible says about speaking in tongues (very interesting stuff).

She looked utterly miserable and I was filled with compassion.  I scooted over on the couch and told her to come curl up next to me.  I took her in my arms and kissed her head.  “Rebekah, God forgives me absolutely when I make a mistake, and I forgive you absolutely.”

She began to cry, and I recognized that look, the sound of those sobs:  I try and I try and I just can’t seem to do what I say I will do.  I’m such a loser, blah, blah, blah.

It’s OK, Sweetheart,” I told her.  “Tomorrow we will talk and pray and make a plan about exactly what you want to be learning and doing and enjoying.  I want to see you practicing your violin.  Do you want that?”

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She began to cry again.  “I don’t know why I haven’t been doing that.”  Back to the self-chastisement, the recriminations and condemnation.

I was inspired as I thought of the “roaring success”  of breakfast (cooked by her and her brother, Seth, while Hannah and I were gone).  “There’s no reason you and I can’t cook more together (she loves doing things with me).  We’ll put that on our petition of things we want to learn and do.  Now, you just don’t worry about anything at all.  We’ll work everything out tomorrow.”

She was still curled up next to me, in my arms.  She sat up.  “I feel better now.”

I did a few things right:  I paid attention to my child, amidst all kinds of diverting activities; I responded correctly to all those hug requests; I shared my concerns with other family members, so that everyone would be kind, aware that “something’s bothering Rebekah”; I made myself available; I listened and suggested solutions, and she listened to me, because of the most important thing of all:  I said, GOD FORGIVES YOU ABSOLUTELY AND I FORGIVE YOU ABSOLUTELY.

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The Bible tells us that it’s His kindness that leads to repentance.  In receiving His kindness, we are able to extend kindness to our children and to our mates, and to ourselves.  Let’s do it! Amen.

Fathers, (and Mothers) Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath

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My motives are pure:  I love children.  They are of exceedingly great value in my eyes.  Therefore, when I see them, as in the grocery store not long ago, screaming at and hitting their mothers, I am more than grieved, shocked, and appalled.  I am mystified.  Or was.

I drove home sick at my stomach.  “I don’t understand, Lord,” I prayed.  “Why would a mother put up with this?  How does this happen?”

And insight came:  She hasn’t done the nurturing, she knows deep inside she has no right to admonish.  Ah yes, Ephesians 6:4, KJV–And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

That child was provoked to wrath, in this case I surmise by the mother as well as the father, because of the absence of balance.

I, for one, have always preferred nurturing to admonition.  John (my husband) told me long ago, that if I had to err, my children would be better off with a little less nurturing and a little more admonition.  My response was that I don’t have to err, not if my nurture and admonition are directed by the very Spirit of God Himself, and that I will nurture my children until their cups runneth over, thank you very much.

I secretly thought I would just leave most of the admonishing to him, and I know I have plenty of sisters who think this way.  Not good.

My daughter is acquainted with a young woman who said she wished her mom had married someone else.  This is a family where the mom never disciplined, so the dad had to be the bad guy.  Not fair, not healthy.

We must all be brave enough to examine our parenting in the light of scripture, and let our child’s behavior be the indicator of where we might be missing it, be it nurture, admonition, or simply complete disregard for the author and finisher of good parenting–that would be our child’s Creator.

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It’s “Raising Mannerly Children,” Not, “Ignoring Aggravating Miniature Terrorists”

Note:   This picture was taken Mother’s Day, 2015, but I am pairing it with an article written in 2010, as I consider it worth repeating.

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The Importance of RAISING MANNERLY CHILDREN cannot be overemphasized. Manners are, in essence, simply the thoughtful consideration of the needs and wants of others.

The Golden Rule is so named because if you learn it, all else of value follows.

And if you don’t . . .

A life of misery–for you, your child, your child’s spouse and children and coworkers, neighbors–is what’s in store if you don’t teach your children manners.

Or, let’s look at it another way: Teach your children to think of others and they will naturally have manners.

This is an ongoing task (see the article’s end for how to begin with ease and quick results), but the rewards are commensurate with the effort.

Seth, (a 10-year-old), has an excess of energy, and sometimes tears through the house like a dervish. Recently he raced past the girls and me, who were having a pleasant conversation, yelling and brushing against us.

It was time for conscious parenting. Time to heed that little voice in my head that said, “Stop what you’re doing, stop having a nice chat with your girls, and deal with this.” So I stopped.

IT’S MY JOB.

Not fun, but necessary. I will not be the mother of a hellion, who thinks the conversations and happiness of others beneath his time and consideration.

Yes, we all know someone like this. An adult. Not a pretty picture.

Remember: If you don’t care enough to teach your child to be kind and considerate, who will?

But how?  Where to begin?  An excellent place to start is with Munro Leaf’s books, those loved and still remembered by my kids–Manners Can Be Fun, How to Behave and Why, and How to Speak Politely and Why.

Fun, funny, great illustrations, and effective:  Munro Leaf.

Tea Cozy?

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You may think a tea cozy is a quilted teapot cover, and if so, may I recommend the knitted pineapple cozy found in Jane Brocket’s inimitable The Gentle Art of DomesticityBut I’d like to introduce the idea that a tea cozy is also a gathering of bliss wherein tea plays a part.
My first tea party was at friend’s house, and it was given in honor of our dolls, with a tiny painted metal tea set.  The dolls had tea (water) and raisins, and were quite happy with their fare.  After all, they got to sit at a little red wooden table in matching chairs, and be served. To this day, that is one of my all-time favorite teas cozies.
Such cozies may occur on quilts in the backyard with toddlers, peanut butter and crackers, a great book(s), and of course, tea.  Tea may be nice and hot in a thermos if fall is hinting at winter, or it may be iced to be enjoyed with berries picked alongside the road as you hike to a clearing under a nice big oak tree.

Other lovely tea cozy ideas include but are not limited to::  making breakfast special with tea, history teas, tea parties on a budget, literary teas, dress-up teas, teas on the balcony amid falling snow, slumber party teas, If-I-Could-Travel-Anywhere teas, Christmas teas, and tea parties for no particular reason (I think of these as conversation teas).

The only rule for a tea party is:  Conversation must be kind and intelligent.  Tea is a most excellent place to teach etiquette, and in fact when the kids were small I often brought a favorite etiquette book to our gatherings, Manners Matter by Hermine Hartley.

Now if you don’t have etiquette books, tea sets, knitted tea cozies, and a variety of gourmet teas, don’t be discouraged.  Have a coffee cozy (I use swiss water decaf mostly when having coffee with kids), or serve milk and cookies and call it a milk.  A milk?  Maybe a milk cozy.  If it’s cool outside, heat the milk and add honey and maybe some cinnamon and nutmeg.

There are endless possibilities, but the bottom line is simply this:  always be on the lookout for a tea cozy opportunity.  Bliss!