Real Men

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I nominate my dad for sweetest and handsomest dad and my kids nominate him for best grandpa ever.

If I had to describe my dad in one word it would be “kind.”

I said to my kids (not telling them my word), “I want you to tell me the first word that comes to your mind to describe your grandpa.”

“Stalwart,” Rebekah answered.

“Kind,” said Seth.  “That’s the first word I thought,” Hannah agreed.

I think those two words are what every dad and grandpa should be:  kind and stalwart. 

And if he has giant dimples and an ever-present grin, well that’s just gravy.

18 Years Young

file4671308346759 Eighteen years old.  A graduate!  Old enough to join the Army and shoot people.  Old enough for Mom and Dad to send out into the world so that they can get on with their own lives.  Old, I say!

Wrong.  Who, at eighteen, knows how to handle the adult world with skill and wisdom?  What child, at eighteen, isn’t in as much need of prayer and guidance as ever?

Don’t be in a rush to push that child out of the nest.  Make the nest more welcoming and comfortable than ever.  Be sure your child knows, in spite of all the world’s voices, that you are perfectly fine with God’s timing, be it leaving at eighteen or twenty-eight.

Dr. James Dobson calls eighteen to twenty-eight the “critical decade” — that time of decisions and choices which shape the rest of life.  I, for one, made some really dumb mistakes at eighteen years young, and could have used some uncompromising guidance, some Holy Spirit-inspired wisdom and timing.  And the world I faced was much friendlier and less threatening and dark than what today’s kids face.

Shall we get off the world’s (and the Military’s) timetable, and have a little rhythm and grace?  Our son, Benjamin, always knew he wanted to join the Army, but he waited a bit, leaving home at 19, and turning 20 before he was in Basic Training.  During his final months at home he got in shape physically, and grew mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  There is a lot of maturing between eighteen and twenty, and we believe it’s made all the difference for him.

Be prepared to ignore other people’s nosy questions and opinions.  My daughter Hannah (www.thewarmjournal.com) hasn’t yet decided where or when or if she’s going to college.  The hardest part, she says, is ignoring the judgement and disapproval of other people.  A good life lesson right there:  Other people’s opinions don’t matter.  What matters is what Hannah is seeking:   God’s opinion.  “Until I know where God wants me to go, I’m not going anywhere,” she says.

And then, amazingly, she wanted to know if I and her dad were OK with her “sticking around a little while.”  Was she serious?  “Your dad is fine if you never leave, but I think you should leave in the next decade or so,” I answered.  She liked that answer.

A warm and cozy nest is the best kind to leave.  We want our children to set out in God’s timing, all flags flying high.  Eighteen or twenty-eight, or whenever they’re ready.

We can either properly launch our children, all systems go, into an outer space life adventure, or we can push them out of the nest prematurely, and watch in agony as they falter and crash, often with severely damaged wings.

Remember, it’s 18 years young, not 18 years old.

P.S.  If you’re grieving because this has already happened to your child, turn up the prayer!  God is the God of restoration.  I have long claimed the scripture, Joel 2:25, and called on God to restore what the locust has eaten in the lives of my loved ones, and myself.  Again and again, I have seen Him bring healing and restoration.

Family First?

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Or last?

One of the many beauties of home education is that family comes first, naturally.  The fruits of that, provided grace is in place, are unlimited, and this was brought home to me recently when I read an article about eliminating negative people (especially those who hinder living in faith and love) from our lives.

I respect the author of this article, and gave serious thought to her words.  Was I not eliminating such people out of fear of conflict, or perhaps because I’m too nice?  Were they truly a hindrance?  There was no question that these people are difficult and tiring, but were they really a problem?  A spiritual roadblock?

No.  And here’s why:  My family keeps me strong, on track.  We pray with and for each other, and with and for others, every single day.  When I am brought down by someone or something and make my fall evident with frustration and negativity, someone in my family will do as I’ve asked them to do:  Don’t let me get away with it!

We learned from Pastor Keith Moore’s example to say, in response to negativity (anything contrary to scripture), “If you say so.”

Aaaargh!  It makes us wanna box someone’s ears (I’ve been reading too much Georgette Heyer, if there’s any such thing as too much Georgette Heyer ).  But, instead, we take deep breaths, roll our eyes, wrinkle our noses as though at a very unpleasant odor, and change our words.

Example:

Me: I’m sick to death of his crap and I’m gonna give him a piece of my mind.”

Brat Child of Mine with Snarky Grin:  “If you say so.”

Me:  Really deep breath, mutterings, stomps, yeah-buts, etc.  Another deep breath.  “I am taking his nonsense as an unconscious cry for help, and I’m not giving him a piece of my mind because obviously I can’t spare it, and I’m going to stop and pray for him right now.  Will you, dearest child, agree with me in prayer?”

I just strengthened myself, lightened the load of the child who has to listen to MY crap, and prayed myself right out of Satan’s way of thinking and doing, and changed things for the person I prayed for.  Rather than a piece of my mind, he got a piece of God’s love.  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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Just a Little Spanking for You, Mommy, Should You Choose to Accept it

For kinder, gentler parenting advice and admonitions, go directly to the end of this post and read about Sally Clarkson’s book, The Mission of Motherhood.

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Counting to three.  Counting to three loudly.  Counting to three with threats (or rather, promises about to be broken). Is there anything sadder, sillier, more tiresome, or less effectual than a counting mommy?  I think not.

I ask myself, “Why?”  I ponder the questions, “Why can’t they see it doesn’t work?” and “Who is responsible for this parental drivel?”

Hell.  Hell holds the reason, the source, the blindness, and the responsibility.  Worst of all, the outcome is Hell–the Hell on earth of frustrated and angry parents living with bratty kids, and frustrated and angry kids living with witless parenting.

And books from Hell, written I surmise by:  men, or women who have nannies, or perhaps women who have never had a child, and yet, unbelievably, think they have the tiniest clue what they’re talking about.

What are the clues for me, the reader, that such authors have no clue?  A listing of some of the most glaring offenders begins with “The Fairness Doctrine,” reminding me that yes, there is something more tiresome than counting.  It’s grown-ups (well, in age at least) whining, “It’s not fair,” and teaching their children that fairness is their birthright, that everything and everyone should bend over backward to make sure they get their “fair” share.

Perversely, Fairness advocates, having taught their children greed, and disrespect, will insist they share and even give away favorite treasures to the neighbor’s even greedier get, or a whiny sibling. The child with the strongest will and weakest mother will win (and lose) in such encounters.

Fairness Doctrine devotees are also often proponents of “reasoning” with their little geniuses, and vehemently opposed to spanking.  I can hear it now, echoed by more than one lily-livered mommy, “Spanking is violence,” she says with pious horror and superiority.  “We don’t hit,” she adds in that valley girl affectation which makes real women squirm.  And yet, these children are often violent–screaming at and hitting their parents and siblings, without the slightest beginnings of the self-discipline necessary for life.  I submit to you where there is no natural order (that would be parents, rather than children, in charge) the most tyrannical and least qualified will rule.  Yes, there are households where two-year-olds reign.  Could anything be more ridiculous?

Yes.  We progress!  There is yet a further level of ridiculousness in today’s anti-logic parenting mantras.  They don’t spank, but they whine, wheedle, gripe, groan, endlessly and mindlessly repeat themselves, raise their voices, scream, and even cry.  “You made Mommy cry,” she blubbers.  PA-THET-IC!  Very probably she isn’t smart enough to spank.  Indeed, if she thinks spanking is violence, if that is what it is when she does it, perhaps she’s at least right in this one thing–she should not spank.

“Boys will be boys,” she smirks.  And criminals will be criminals, Mommy Idiotica.  Anything, it seems, is preferable to training your son that the world wasn’t expressly created for his amusement and debasement.

 “Safety first!” she mimes to justify keeping her listless, pasty-faced children indoors just because it’s nippy outside, as though it is actually good parenting (or even doable) to protect kids from any and all possibility of physical harm, even as she parks them in front of the TV at every opportunity, paying little or no attention to the mind-numbing and soul-bending messages bombarding their malleable psyches.

“Oh, kids are tough,” she explains as though she actually believes this lie, and also believes she possesses the wisdom of the ages.  Kids are humans, and therefore complex and beautifully fragile and sensitive beings, affected for good or bad by every single moment of their lives, and even more so, by every thought, word and deed of their parents.

These are a few of my (non) favorite things, and I have the credentials to talk about them–I have successfully raised world-changing (as opposed to weak, whiny, selfish, indecisive, crowd-following, world-destroying) children, and I have loved (almost) every minute of it.

P.S.  Villages are nice addendums, perhaps, but they cannot make up for ignorant, lazy, and irresponsible parenting.  Effective parenting is very hard work, so just accept that and get on with it. Prepare yourself for the long, long, long haul of teaching, re-teaching, training, praying, searching, paying attention, reading that same book over and over and over, praying, reading the Words of Jesus, and did I mention praying?  You don’t get overs on this, so live in the now–you have NOTHING more important to do than getting to know your child’s heart. Know that this parent/child training is ongoing and rigorous, and will stretch and grow you like nothing else on earth. Know also that the rewards are beyond compare and comprehension.  They are, as my daughter Hannah used to finish each night as we said her prayers, “peace and love and joy!”

P.P.S.  Should I write a book, entitled perhaps, “No One Loves a Brat, Be She Mother or Child”???  Speaking of books, the very best book on parenting I’ve ever read was by a woman raising world-changing children:  Sally Clarkson, bringer of great light via her masterpiece, The Mission of Motherhood