Adapted from Kick the TV Habit, by Steven and Ruth Bennett
What kids generally want more than anything else in the world is your focused time. And they have a marvelous, built-in “presence detector”; they know when you’re really focused on an activity with them or when your mind is somewhere else, thinking about paying bills, resolving work issues and the like.
Also, if you’re fully engaged in the play, your child is likely to learn how to sustain the activity on his or her own over time. Here’s a list of things to think about to make your activities a success.
* Remember that the more experience children have with appropriate and enjoyable non-electronic-based activities, the more skill they’ll develop at inventing their own. This ability will likely be greatly satisfying to them.
* Offer them the choice between different activities. Involving them in decisions about what to do with your time together provides them with greater motivation.
* Be open-minded. If your kids have a better idea than what you had in mind, or a different way to achieve the same goal—let them go for it! It’ll encourage them.
* Be patient. If your child’s play has become imitative because of heavy exposure to television and “single-purpose toys” associated with TV shows or video and computer games, he or she may need a hand in relearning how to play in creative and imaginative ways. Encourage activities that draw on his or her direct experience.
* Use the activities as opportunities to observe and cherish your child; doing so will sustain your interest and enhance the fun during repetitive play.
* Try to do activities when you’re rushed or hassled; you’ll just frustrate your child if the idea is to finish the game or project as fast as you can.
* Focus on the competitive aspects of an activity. If a “winner” is called for, deemphasize the importance of winning by praising all family members for putting forth their best efforts or topping their previous scores.
By Megan Dale
It was 6:30 am. I had gotten up to go to the bathroom, only to be met by the sight of a rained-out world on a day our extended family had planned to go on an outing together. I didn’t mind the rain much. Heaven knew our bit of Southern California needed it. On my way back to bed I paused and looked out into our garden to see a fat little brown bird hopping around, eyeing the soggy earth in hopeful expectation of finding a meaty feast in the form of a hapless almost-drowned worm.
At the moment I felt like that poor worm. The months previous had seen dark clouds slowly gathering over our little family. Our young son was facing developmental delays that affected his happiness on a daily and sometimes hourly basis in the form of frustrated, heart-wrenching tantrums. He often even awoke in the middle of the night crying out. When he was himself, he was a sweet, sensitive, affectionate, and delightful little boy. But we needed to know more about his challenges so we could better meet his growing needs, and we needed to know now, while he was still young and malleable, before the secondary and sometimes more tragic effects of low self-esteem and depression entered his tender little life as a result of his challenges.
To make matters even more challenging for us, four days earlier my husband and I had received the news that his place of employment would not be available for much longer, and as a result we would have to find a new job and a new house. In the past I had always leaped with dizzy anticipation into the arms of an unknown future, hopping the globe and chasing my destiny wherever the breeze seemed to blow me. But now I cowered in the face of such a major change coming right at this crucial time in my son’s life.
Four days had seemed like four years as I clung hour by hour to some straw of hope, usually in the form of a Scripture or quotation, in the midst of the deluge. So many great men and women down through the ages faced dark and trying times, and lived to write anecdotes or poems or hymns about them, and I clung to each one now. Sometimes I quoted one line over and over, like a mantra, just to keep my presence of mind as I continued to care for my children and tend to household duties. It was working, too.
Standing in my doorway, looking at that little brown bird, I heard the voice of comfort I have come to know so well as my Savior’s. “You’re not the earthworm, dear, but the bird. The rains and storms that I have allowed to fall on your world have provided for you a feast that you would otherwise have to dig for.” Suddenly my perspective changed. Jesus was bringing about a spiritual feast in our lives through this seemingly dark and dreary time. Treasures we would normally have to dig for were coming to the surface, the special gifts of greater closeness to each other, greater love and appreciation for our friends and family, and a fervent desire to commit my daily needs and fears to Jesus in prayer.
Has the rain stopped? Not yet. Many challenges still lie ahead of us on all fronts. But we will remain bright and happy little birds even through the rain, because odd as it may sound, we’re feasting on worms!
P.S.: As if on cue, the day after my rainy day revelation, our neighbor’s eight-year-old bounded up to me and held out a handful of wiggly worms. “There’s tons more in the leaf pile if you want some,” he suggested.
That’s okay. I’ll stick with the metaphor.
Shaken by Life’s Changes
Helping our children through their growing pains changes us nearly as much as it does them. When those dearest to us go through upheavals, it affects us too.
We can’t escape changes, but we can learn to make the most of them. Here’s how:
§ Identify the issues. Separate the aspects you have some control over from those you don’t, and commit all aspects to God, who is ultimately in control of everything.
§ Understand the issues. Differentiate between the practical aspects and the emotional, and deal with each accordingly. Together they may seem overwhelming, but individually they are usually manageable.
§ Keep an open mind. What you’ve been doing or the way you’ve been doing it may have worked reasonably well so far, but there may be better alternatives.
§ Enlist God’s help. Circumstances may overwhelm you, but God cannot be overwhelmed. “There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything.” That’s the God factor.
§ Stay positive. Focus on the opportunities, not the obstacles.
§ Find and give support. Communicate and find ways to make things work out to everyone’s advantage.
§ Be patient. Progress is often a three-step process—one step back and two steps forward.
§ Think long-term. “He [God] who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Remember how the father [in the parable Jesus told of the prodigal son] acted when the boy returned home? (Luke 15:11-24) Did he run up and sniff his breath to see if he had been drinking? Did he comment on how poorly he had cared for his clothes? Did he criticize his straggly hair and dirty fingernails? Did he inquire about the balance left in his checking account? Of course not. He hugged the boy—the hug of loving acceptance.
This story of a father’s love is immortalized in the Bible primarily, I believe, to tell something of how God accepts us. Should we not consciously use His example in dealing with our children? Can we afford to neglect giving them hugs of loving acceptance each day?
This love is the warm blanket each parent can weave for his or her children—a blanket of love that accepts each child for what he is. Such love is never content to stop assisting the youngster to climb higher and higher toward the plan God has for every life.
—Dr. Bob Pedrick
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One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.--George Herbert
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When I was a kid, my father told me every day, “You’re the most wonderful boy in the world, and you can do anything you want to.”—Jan Hutchins
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Every dad, if he takes time out of his busy life to reflect upon his fatherhood, can learn ways to become an even better dad.—Jack Baker
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My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.--Jim Valvano
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[My father] didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
--Clarence Budington Kelland
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A man’s children and his garden both reflect the amount of weeding done during the growing season.--Author unknown
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Small boys become big men through the influence of big men who care about small boys.--Author unknown
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There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. --John Gregory Brown
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A dad is respected because he gives his children leadership.
A dad is appreciated because he gives his children care.
A dad is valued because he gives his children time.
A dad is loved because he gives his children the one thing they treasure most—himself.
Excerpted from Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
I’m your Shepherd
It takes a lot of love and unselfishness to raise a child, and it takes even more when you’re doing it as a single parent. Some days you feel like it’s too much-that you can’t be both mother and father to your child-yet you keep going. I’m proud of you for that.
One day you’re going to be so happy that you didn’t give up, but kept loving and teaching your child the best you could. When your daughter grows up and looks back and remembers all the love and care you gave her, she will be so thankful and proud to have a mother like you.
I also know it’s tough to be the primary source of support for your family. I want to help and take care of you. Have you heard the Psalm “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”? I don’t want you to lack anything you need. If you pray and ask Me for help, I will show you what to do to take care of the bills, and I will make sure that you and your child are provided for.
Someone to lean on
Children are a blessing from Me. Each of them is a special touch of My love, and they are never a mistake. I create them with love, and then entrust them to parents like you, to be loved and cared for.
You’ve given so much of yourself in order to take care of your children, and you continue to give. I want you to know that I see and I appreciate every bit of that. I also want you to know that I’m always here to help you.
You often don’t feel capable as a parent, but if you look to Me, I will make it easier. It’s a huge job, especially when you’re doing it on your own, but I will help you through the difficult times. I will give you all the love and patience you need. I will give you all the wisdom and understanding you need. I will be your other half, the one you can lean on. I will help you make the tough decisions.
I want to be a part of your family. I want to be the head of your household. You don’t have to raise your family alone. I am here to help you.
Excerpted from "From Jesus with Love - For Women" by Aurora Productions. Used with permission.
Are you just starting the journey to parenthood? Are you excited? Happy? Nervous? Content? Concerned? In need of help? Perhaps you have been a parent for some time and find yourself facing new or increased difficulties? Parenting can be one of the most thrilling, rewarding experiences of life, yet present you with some of the greatest challenges you will ever face.
Parents are by nature idealists, hoping for the best for their child. They want to do more for their child and give more than they themselves have had. Each desires to be someone their child needs, loves, admires, respects, and perhaps even wants to be like. Part of the joy of parenting comes from exploring and rediscovering life with your child. A child’s energy, excitement, enthusiasm, need, and dependency helps to move and motivate us.
Too often though, the dreams of parents begin to fade under the harsh light of the cares of this life, personal and financial problems, marriage difficulties, work demands, discouragement, and the like. Especially during such times parents need to use the keys that will open the doors of hope, peace, joy, fresh inspiration, determination, patience, and especially love—a flow of love in such abundance that it transforms their lives and the lives of their children.
But where and how can one find such keys? Is there really some way that we can exceed our abilities and be lifted above our shortcomings and failings? The simple answer is yes, and all you need to be is you. You don’t need to be someone special, gifted, or perfect to experience this in your life. Perfect people, even if they existed, would probably not make very good parents anyway. You see, part of the secret of parenting comes through realizing your weakness. The Bible tells us that it is through our weakness that the power of God is perfected (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Some of the most powerful keys to parenting cannot be obtained from books on parenting or childcare. Practical tips, techniques, and helpful information on how to raise children are needed, but in themselves they cannot turn you into a great parent. That spark comes from a Greater Source, from our own Eternal loving Parent, and it is free for the asking. God has put Himself at our service. He wants to help us, and He wants to help our children. He wants us to raise and enjoy wonderful children, and for us to grow in love and happiness together.
God wants to be in a parenting partnership with you. You may not think you are the best parent in the world, but you are the one God chose for your child, and with God’s help you can be the best parent in the whole world for him or her. With God as your parenting partner, not only will your parenting abilities improve, but He will more than make up for anything you lack.
Excerpted from "Power for Parenthood" by Derek and Michelle Brooks (Aurora Productions). Used with permission.