By Becky Hayes
I had been praying for my son, Denith, to develop a close and personal relationship with Jesus while he was young, capitalizing on how much faith and capacity to believe two-year-olds have. I prayed that he wouldn't only come to know Jesus as his Savior, but also as the close and personal Friend that Jesus desires to be to everyone. I wanted Denith to sense His Spirit and to hear His voice.
One night something very special happened that encouraged me and made me determined to teach my son more about how to hear from Jesus on his own.
Denith had received a teddy bear when he was a baby, affectionately named "Teddy," and he was very attached to his stuffed friend. Everywhere Denith went—to preschool, to lunch, or to the supermarket—Teddy came along. One day Teddy was misplaced and could not be found. For three days we searched the house. I pulled everything out from under the bed in case he had fallen behind the bed and gotten stuck.
The third night that Teddy was lost, I was putting my nine-month-old, Leilani, and Denith to sleep. The lights were out, and the children were all tucked into bed and ready to pray for the night, when Denith asked, "Mommy, where's Teddy?" "Honey," I said, "Teddy's lost. We need to look for Teddy during the day when there's light. Right now it's dark and we can't see. But why don't we ask Jesus to give Teddy a good night, and to help him be warm and cozy and sleep well." "Mommy, where's Jesus?" asked Denith. "Jesus is in your heart," I replied. "He's also in my heart, and He's all around us. If you talk to Him, He can hear you speak, and if you listen, you can hear Him talk to you." Without any further questions Denith promptly asked aloud, "Jesus, where's Teddy?"
A short pause followed, and then in an excited but matter-of-fact manner, Denith exclaimed, "Oh, Mommy, Teddy is in the crib!" My body tingled with excitement. I knew that my son had heard Jesus answer his question. I didn't hesitate for a second. I began removing the toys and stuffed animals from the baby's crib. Sure enough, under the other toys, I saw Teddy.
I was so touched by Jesus' love for Denith in rewarding his faith by answering him so clearly. It was also a good opportunity for me to show Denith that Jesus always has the answers.
Courtesy of Activated! magazine. Used with permission. Photo adapted from Wikimedia Commons.
Dr. Bob Pedrick
Coming home from college was usually a joyful occasion for Peggy Painter. But this time she felt a stomach-knotting fear, and each step from the bus stop deepened her anxiety.
Peggy's parents were Christians and generally understanding. But the story she had to tell of an unwanted pregnancy, ended by abortion, would both shock and sadden them.
Would they hear the anguish in her voice? Would they recognize all she had gone through? Or would they, in their own pain, lash out and condemn her?
Peggy's story has a happy ending. Her parents listened. They heard; they felt. And their response showed that they understood her feelings and accepted her. For Peggy, it meant the beginning of a new life.
Peggy's parents not only rekindled her smothered life but focused attention on her future opportunities rather than past failures. They exhibited what we call responsive listening--a process of listening with a person, not just to or about him. Responsive listening restrains the temptation to judge or give advice. Responsive listening helps a person clarify and communicate his feelings. It creates a climate of understanding, reduces defensiveness, and clears the way to positive changes in behavior.
"I Want to Understand You"
Responsive listening is not an easy skill to acquire. It takes practice. It means attaining some verbal dexterity. More important, it begins with a caring attitude.
Responsive listening presupposes that parents really want to know what their children have to say. It does not necessarily mean agreeing with them. Rather, it is an attitude in which a parent says, "I want to thoroughly understand--and let you know I understand--what you say before I respond." Once the parent understands the message, he has the option to agree or disagree.
The effectiveness of our hearing apparatus may get us into or out of trouble, but we're not talking about hearing. Listening is something else. Listening is how we comprehend and react to what we hear.
Through extensive research, Xerox Corporation has discovered that most people operate at an efficiency level of only about 25 percent in general listening situations. If similarly low levels of attentiveness are typical of family relations, then many crises may well be traced to poor perceptions of what someone else said.
Usually when our children come to us, we respond with some kind of verbal or nonverbal message, but the messages we send often do not achieve the desired results. As a result of his experience with parent training courses, one researcher found that over 90 percent of parental responses to children fall into one of twelve nonproductive categories:
4. Ordering or commanding
6. Name calling
These twelve response categories often reap undesirable results, although there are always exceptions to this general rule. Children, parents and situations vary and cannot be handled in a "rulebook" fashion. Many times, however, these types of responses not only illustrate parent-child dialogue today but are similar to the responses Job's "comforters" gave him several thousand years ago.
1. Questioning: Bildad answers, "Who are you trying to fool? Speak some sense if you want us to answer!" (Job 18:2). Such unnecessarily aggressive questioning often triggers rebellious thoughts and behavior.
2. Judging: Eliphaz answers Job, "It is because of your wickedness! Your sins are infinite!" (Job 22:5). Such commonplace judgmental statements, if made to our children, can breed exaggerated attitudes of guilt, which can become permanently imbedded in their personalities.
3. Lecturing: Again Bildad tells Job, "Read the history books and see--the wisdom of the past will reach you" (Job 8:8,10). Lecturing often makes the unwilling recipient feel inferior, inadequate, or resentful. The good-old-days syndrome illustrated here is especially destructive to good family communication.
4. Ordering or commanding: Now Zophar replies, "Stem this torrent of words. Is a man proved right by all this talk?" (Job 11:2). Or, "Shut up!" If repeated often enough, this command can destroy mutual respect.
5. Warning: Bildad warns Job, "Your bright flame shall be put out" (Job 18:5). A warning is all too often an invitation for a child to test the firmness of the parent's resolve. Do you really mean it? The child will soon find out.
6. Name calling: Eliphaz taunts Job, "You give us all this foolish talk. You are nothing but a windbag" (Job 15:2). Want to destroy a child's self-image quickly? Start calling him names.
By Lisa M. Cope, adapted web reprint
It’s a heartbreaker. Our child comes home from school one day and says he doesn’t have any friends and that nobody likes him—the dreaded words no parent wants to hear. We’ve been there; we know how cruel it can be on the playground and how quickly friendships seem to come and go throughout life. We want to wrap up our little guy and protect him from the world, and most of all, we want to ensure that he has plenty of friends.
Every child is born with an innate need to attach or be in a relationship, but how he goes about forming those relationships depends largely on his temperament. Children can start to develop real friendships around the age of four or five. When everything goes smoothly, it can be exhilarating and great. But when we see our child hitting some bumps in the road to having his own “Best Friend Forever (BFF),” we can help.
To support the development of friendships in our child’s life, we can try some of these techniques:
There are several ways to accomplish this at home:
1. Help your child realize his own strengths.
2. Have a sense of humor about yourself and your shortcomings.
3. Listen to your child without criticism.
4. Be kind, give compliments, wave to a friend, and open the door for someone.
5. Be understanding of what others are going through by showing empathy.
6. Don’t complain. Instead, teach your child to accept what can’t be changed by working hard to change the things that can.
Learning to build friendships is one of the ways children develop into well-rounded, emotionally healthy human beings. By giving our children the skills they need to be confident and compassionate, we increase the likelihood that the friends who come into their life will provide a richness and happiness they will always treasure.
Friendship Making Skills
Here are more top friendship-making skills to model and teach your child:
• Making eye contact
• Listening to a conversation
• Resolving conflicts
• Introducing oneself
• Meeting new people
• Starting a conversation
• Joining in
• Handling rejection
• Staying calm
• Saying no
• Encouraging others
• Asking permission
• Sharing and taking turns
• Bouncing back
• Problem solving
• Using good manners
• Suggesting an activity
• Identifying emotions
• Sticking up for yourself
• Expressing feelings
• Accepting criticism
Text courtesy of Motivated magazine. Used with permission.
Young people can drive you up the wall at times! But keep trying to reach them and relate to them. Try to get on their level and be one with them. If you can develop a link, a connection, then you can start getting through to them and making some real progress.
Frustration is the price you have to pay when you work with young people. That’s just the way it sometimes is; that’s just a fact of life.
Your knowledge and experience comes from years of ups and downs, successes and failures, and quite a few trying situations, whereas these teens are just starting out. Keeping that in mind will help you to have patience. Also, try not to compare this group with other teens you have worked with; some kids are slow at wanting to grow up, others are quicker. You can’t let yourself get overly frustrated about these things.
Let them break the mold
As young people grow up, they generally need more freedom to make their own choices without someone trying to fit them into a certain mold. Some people just don’t and won’t fit into the mold you try to put them into! You’ve got your mold, you’ve got your idea about how they should be or act, but you can’t expect even your children to be that way, to be just like you and totally conform to your ideals.
You may need to start changing your perspective. You may need to change the way you look at these young people, and start looking for things that you admire about them—for how well they do in spite of the pressures and difficulties they face.
Be willing to get your hands dirty
Don’t give up! Just get in there and don’t worry about getting your hands dirty. It is a bit like gardening—you can’t really be a gardener unless you are willing to get your hands dirty. Plants aren’t going to thrive or grow if all the gardener is willing to do is just watch them and water them. Sometimes plants need re-potting because their roots are getting too long and numerous for the pot they’re in, or the soil they are in needs to be changed because it has lost its nutrients or is getting moldy.
So it is with growing young people—they may need some personal attention from someone who isn’t afraid to get right in there and help them find solutions to their problems. Sometimes they get tangled up and just can’t help themselves, and they need the help of the gardener. Watch out for them like the gardener watches out for the warning signs—leaves turning yellow or getting spotted or drying up, soil getting moldy or plants drooping from insufficient water. There are shade plants, and there are sun plants; there are plants that need a lot of water, and there are others that hardly need any. There are plants that need much care and have to be misted daily. Then there are cacti that hardly need any care.
Your part is to just be a faithful, loving, caring gardener—to keep your eye on those plants and do what you can to help tend and care for them. The gardener learns what he can do, and does what he can to help the plants. And like any gardener, you can only give it your best, then you must leave the rest up to God.
Excerpted from “Parenteening”, by Derek and Michelle Brookes. © Aurora Productions. Photo by Kristin via Flickr.
As a parent, temper tantrums are one of the most stressful and frustrating things you'll have to deal with, especially once your child hits the terrible twos. However, according to child psychologists, most children don't throw a tantrum just to be naughty or manipulative -- rather, the screaming is a symptom of the child's anger and frustration when they don't have the vocabulary to explain what's really wrong with them. Therefore, staying calm and learning to identify what's really bothering your child will help you to handle the situation quickly and effectively. Start with Step 1 below for more detailed information on handling your child's temper tantrum.
William J. Bennett; book excerpt
All parents have solemn responsibilities for the education of their young, but nowhere are such duties weightier or more difficult than when a child has a disability. If yours does, or if you have observed a worrisome delay in his development, you are surely upset and at least a little bit confused. Some parents in this situation also find themselves feeling angry, guilty, and beleaguered. Here is how Patricia McGill Smith, director of the National Parent Council on Disabilities, describes these reactions:
When parents learn about any difficulty or problem in their child’s development, this information comes as a tremendous blow. The day my child was diagnosed as having a disability, I was devastated—and so confused that I recall little else about those first days other than the heartbreak…. Another parent describes the trauma as “having a knife stuck” in her heart.
Do not despair. You are in a difficult situation, one you did not seek or expect to be in, but much can be done. There are many sources of information and help. Millions of other parents who have trod this rocky road ahead of you are glad to offer guidance, encouragement, and assistance.
The next few pages will introduce you to this complex topic. Educating children with disabilities spans a host of issues, however, and we are able only to touch on a few key points. …
We begin with three general guidelines:
What Is “Special Education”?
The term “special education” means individualized instruction designed to meet the unique needs of students with physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, or learning-related disabilities. In other words, it is education for youngsters who have some sort of problem that hinders their ability to learn successfully in a regular classroom using conventional teaching approaches. There was a time in this country when children with disabilities did not get a good shot at a proper education. That began to change in 1975 (earlier in some states) with passage of federal legislation now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. This law requires school districts to provide “free appropriate public education” to children with disabilities and learning problems.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, about five and a half million children—approximately twelve out of every 100 students—are presently classified as disabled. For example, youngsters who have difficulty seeing, hearing, or walking might be categorized as having an educational disability. So might children with mental retardation, chronic illness, emotional disturbance, brain or spinal cord injury, genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, or serious social maladjustment. The key is that the child’s condition must interfere with his ability to learn.
“Disabilities” come in many different categories, often in combinations. Every youngster is a unique collection of capabilities and limitations. The idea of modern special education is to tailor an education program to the specific needs of a particular child, maximizing his strengths, compensating for (and where possible circumnavigating) his weaknesses. To the greatest degree appropriate to the child, he must be given access to the standard curriculum, helped to attain the academic standards of his school or state, and included in the life and activities of his school.
This can take some doing. If a child has a disability that affects his learning, placing him in a conventional classroom staffed only by a regular teacher may not work well. More is often needed. That may mean speech or occupational therapy, special tutoring, or medical assistance. It may involve physical accommodation (e.g., wheelchair access), special learning tools (e.g., Braille books and computers), or extra help (e.g., a nurse or classroom aide).
All this and more is possible in U.S. schools. Indeed, if your disabled child needs it for his education to succeed, he has a legal right to it, and you have the right to be involved in making these decisions.
Special ed is complicated and fraught with challenges. It is often controversial. (Those extra services, people, and equipment make a dent in the school system’s budget, and the federal and state dollars supplied for these purposes are rarely sufficient to cover the full costs.) From the parent’s standpoint, however, your job is to get the best education you can for your child. And that begins with an accurate evaluation of his situation.
Parents teach their children how to read, ride a bike and tie their shoes because they know their kids will rely on these important skills throughout life. For exactly the same reason, they should also teach their children how to be frugal.
But parents must be careful how they approach these lessons. Going overboard with frugality can send the wrong message. Think twice before buying cheap raisin bran cereal in bulk and spending hours picking out the raisins -- as one Reddit user did with his son -- simply because it's cheaper than individual boxes of raisins. Doing so probably won't be a cherished childhood memory for your kid.
Lecturing your child to be frugal might not be much better. No matter how many times you explain that turning the lights off after leaving a room will lower the electricity bill, it's unlikely to get the job done.
"The most important thing is parents need to lead by example," says Dr. Taliba Foster, a child psychiatrist who has a private practice in Ardmore, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. "Being frugal is more of a lifestyle, not a lesson. It has to be part of the family lifestyle."
Instead of telling your child that saving money is a good habit, show them why and how. Delaying gratification is one way to show kids the benefits of saving money. Take the money you would use buying a toy that your children beg for at the store and save it for a family vacation several months down the road.
Parents have many other ways to teach their children about saving money. Here are 10 easy lessons you should try:
Set a savings goal. By itself, a savings goal doesn't sound like much of a way to be frugal. But a goal, such as saving for a vacation to Disneyland, can be a way to get kids to see the benefits of saving money for other purposes. Foster, who has an 8-year-old daughter, says she uses this when her daughter wants something at the store. If they decide it's a "want" instead of a "need," Foster will point out that the money would be better saved by the family for a Disneyland vacation.
Since children want to please an authority figure during preadolescence, it's a key time to try to teach them smart financial habits, she says. "Right now, they're really ripe for following rules, the difference between right and wrong," Foster says.
Get a library card. Going to the library to check out books and DVDs is a habit every family can use to save money. It saves on buying books and renting movies, even though it may take a few weeks on a waiting list to get the latest releases.
Kristen Hagopian, a talk-show host in Philadelphia with two children, ages 9 and 6, estimates that a family of four will spend $720 a year if they share a tub of popcorn and two large sodas while watching a movie at the theater once a month. The same family will spend $180 a year, she says, if they buy a $15 DVD each month. Watching movies for free at home is clearly a lot cheaper.
No drinks. When you do go out to eat, show your children the price difference when you order water with your meal instead of buying a drink like soda, juice or lemonade. Jamie Ratner, founder of Certifikid.com, a deal site for parents, says she never ordered drinks when she was growing up. Now when she takes her children, ages 4 and 6, out to restaurants they have free water. "We save a fortune on our tabs at meals just by getting water," Ratner says.
Price comparison. Showing a child that time is worth money can be difficult, but comparison shopping can help get that message across to them. The more money saved, the less you'll have to work for that money. The less you have to work, the more time you can spend with your family or doing other things you enjoy.
"Teaching your child that their time is a currency, just like money, can be very powerful," says Denise Winston of Bakersfield, Calif., who owns the website MoneyStartHere.com. "Taking a few minutes to research a product to find the best price, and if it gets good reviews, translates into money saved that you don't have to earn. This also helps you plan for purchases and teaches delayed gratification."
Shop from the low shelves. The grocery store is full of money lessons, and is an excellent place to practice math skills. Sherry Thomas of Boca Raton, Fla., president of Palm Beach Etiquette, a life skills training business, says she used supermarkets to teach her children, now 17 and 19, to find the best bargains on the lower shelves.
"The supermarkets make more money if you purchase what costs more," Thomas says. "We tend to buy what is within our sightline. So, if we don't see it, we don't buy it. Thus, the savings are usually lower on shelves that are more difficult to see."
She also had her children pick up a 1-pound bag of rice and a 2-pound bag, comparing which would cost less for the long term. Sometimes two 8-ounce cans of a particular food costs less than one 16-ounce can, for example.
Stay organized. Leaving piles of things around the house not only leads families to become messy and disorganized, but it can also cost them money. Teaching your children the habit of putting clothes, toys and other items where they belong helps you keep track of your belongings, which saves you money because you don't have to replace them or buy more stuff because you can't find what they already own, says Sarah Mooers, a professional organizer who owns a business called Organized Efficiency in Ambler, Penn.
"In one small office, I reorganized their stationery and supplies closet, and their spending on stationery went down dramatically for six months while they worked off the piles of paper and envelopes they didn't even know they had," says Mooers, whose children are 8 and 3. "The same is true in homes -- women who cannot find all their winter shoes when winter rolls around again have to go out and buy new ones."
Save a little of everything you earn. It can be as simple as having a family coin jar that everyone drops their change into at the end of the day so they can save for a meal out. Or it can mean taking your child to the bank each week to deposit half of an allowance into his or her savings account.
Ozeme Bonnette of Fresno, Calif., has been saving a portion of everything she earns as part of a family lesson her grandfather started by teaching her dad when he was a boy. The savings lesson has helped family members afford buying something on a whim or handle an emergency. Bonnette's daughter, 10, saves 10 percent of her weekly allowance and money she gets at birthdays and Christmas, which has helped her amass hundreds of dollars in savings.
Thrift store shopping. Like shopping at a grocery store, shopping for deals at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets can be frugal lessons that will stick with kids even after they become an adult. Kenyetta Kelley, owner of Luvvy Public Relations, doesn't have children yet, but says she learned as a kid how to find quality, long-lasting items at thrift stores.
"I do remember buying children's books as a kid at these places, but I didn't enjoy going back then as much as I do now," says Kelley, who lives in Dothan, Ala.
Set an allowance. As soon as children can grasp the concept of an allowance -- for some, this is as young as age 3 or 4 -- it's a good idea to have them to do chores at home so that they learn the responsibilities of being part of a family, says Kim Abraham, a mental health therapist in Flint, Mich., who specializes in treating families and children. Abraham gives her children "responsibilities" not "chores," and they're paid for as much work as they do.
If they're not earning money, children can get a sense of entitlement from parents who enjoy the good feeling of giving them something, she says. "The only thing the child is learning is the joy of receiving," Abraham says.
The worst case is raising a child who is either too dependent on their parents for everything and never wants to move out of the house, or an independent child who doesn't have empathy and doesn't work well on a team.
"What we really, really want is to raise interdependent people" who trust others and work well with them, she says. Earning an allowance with responsibilities at home can help get them there, she says.
Don't buy something just because it's on sale. If you don't need something, it's not a bargain. Instead of saving 50 percent when something's on sale, save 100 percent by not buying it at all. It's a lesson that Alina Adams, who writes about being frugal in New York City for Examiner.com, has instilled in her children, ages 14, 10 and 7.
"My grandfather used to say, 'When they have a 100 percent sale, call me,'" says Adams, who first encountered the concept of sales and having a choice in what to buy when she emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States in the 1970s. Her children now accept the lesson.
"They've internalized it to a point where, when one says they 'need' something, another will pipe up to say, 'Or do you just want it,'" Adams says. "And then, when we decide the item isn't really necessary, one of them will observe, 'We've saved 100 percent!'"
Of all of these frugal lessons, maybe the best is to value time, not just monetarily, but with the time you're able to spend with your children. It's invaluable and spending time with your children teaching them smart money habits, instead of buying them a book or new gadget, is time well spent.
Courtesy of Yahoo News
I can’t forget a particularly dreary, rainy Saturday several years ago. The kids had not been able to go outside all day, and they were definitely starting to get on each other’s nerves. I had sidetracked them, separated them, and even secluded them in attempts to maintain some modicum of peace and tranquility. By the time dinner rolled around, everyone was in a lousy mood. The griping and complaining didn’t stop when they came to the table. I turned the radio on and tuned it to an oldies station, trying to liven the mood a little, but even that didn’t seem to help.
Then one of the kids had the audacity to make a very disparaging comment about my cooking abilities. The gist of it had to do with the fact that if they had to go to school to learn to read and write, perhaps I should have to go to school to learn to cook. I don’t recall who said it, but I do remember that things grew very tense as everyone waited for my response.
For the first few seconds, I was hurt. Then … I started to laugh.
“Well, you’re right. I might not be able to cook, but I sure can dance,” I exclaimed, and started jiving to the rock-and-roll song that had just come on the radio. (I am a notoriously lousy dancer!) Soon four little boys were twisting all over the kitchen floor and up on their chairs. Everyone cracked up and we boogied together until the song was over. I promised everyone ice cream if they ate all their broccoli—and my husband promised to do the dishes if I stopped dancing. Somehow the complaints vanished, and we finished our meal. Every last morsel.
Joy is something we can learn. It is a decision we can make deep inside our souls—a decision to look at the positive side. The bright side. The crazy side of a situation rather than dwell on the darkness. …
I want my children’s memories to verify without a shadow of a doubt that I had a fun time raising them. … I want them to recall with joy all the times I made them smile and all the traditions, games, and memories that we shared together.--Gwendolyn Mitchell Diaz
My good intentions to have tea time alone with my [older] daughters were thwarted [on] the first day. Apparently one of the little children had gotten wind of the plans for a tea party. Of course, they were sure they would be invited for tea. Our tea for three ended up being tea for the whole tribe. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but the tea party turned out to be one of those special moments for all of us. Briana showed us how mannerly she could be when she said in her sweetest voice ever, “This tea is delightful. May I please have some more?”
Even the boys got in on the act. (They never want to be left out of anything.) There they sat, six little children around the table drinking tea with their pinkies extended.
Memories are different than traditions. Although both can be intertwined, traditions are carried on, but memories are carried within. Someday when my children are watching their own children have tea time, I wonder if they will get a far-off look in their eyes as they drift back to memories of pinkies and raspberry leaf tea? Will smiles creep across their faces, as if they have a special secret? That is really what memories are … special secrets.
Will they remember the Christmas Mom spent hundreds of dollars on gifts? Or will they only remember the day after Christmas when she made snow angels with them?
Will they remember a kitchen full of dirty dishes? Or will they think of all those meals with homemade whole wheat bread every time they smell fresh bread?
Will they remember that they had ground beef every Tuesday? Or will they remember the day every meal was blue? I still remember when my mom made green mashed potatoes, and I must have only been two or three.--Terri Camp
There’s a special relationship between a dad and a daughter, something God designed on purpose, I think. It’s not lost on me that of all of the names God could have asked us to call Him, we most often refer to Him as “Father.” I think that’s because He has the same kind of relationship in mind for us that I had in mind for my kids. I think a father’s job, when it’s done best, is to get down on both knees, lean over his children’s lives, and whisper, “Where do you want to go?”
Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.”--Bob Goff
Success as a parent comes through doing your best, giving your all, pouring into your children, and trusting Me for the outcome.
The wisdom you have imparted never goes to waste. It doesn’t go down the drain. It doesn’t disappear. It doesn’t ever come to naught.
Some things in life are never wasted—things like love, My Word, spiritual input, spiritual training, time spent reaching out to others, and especially time spent pouring into children.
By pouring into your children, you’re giving your children things that will never grow old, things that will never fade away—living gifts that will always be a part of their lives, even if they lie dormant for a time. The gifts you give of love, time, training, and truth are permanent parts of your children’s lives that they will never lose.--Jesus, speaking in prophecy
There are going to be times in the day-to-day routine of parenting when you feel overwhelmed by situations and circumstances. The baby’s crying, your eight-year-old won’t do her homework, your teenager’s stereo is shaking the house, your toddler didn’t make it to the potty in time—and your dinner guests will be here any minute! You feel pushed to the brink.
Every parent faces days like this. You’re not alone. And you’re not alone in a greater sense: Jesus is right there with you. He understands, and He waits with encouragement and solutions. If you have the opportunity, talking with someone else—maybe your spouse or a friend—can help you see things differently, calm your spirit, and give you a chance to pray together for the Lord’s help. You can even ask your children to pray with you. Their faith and simple prayers, even of your youngest, can be a wonderful encouragement.
Whatever you do, don’t give up! Don’t give in to feelings of frustration and discouragement. Shoot up a prayer and ask Jesus to give you power for the hour and grace for the space—and He will. Ask Him to help you see your children as He sees them, to see what they are going to become. He will help you view the situation optimistically and with hope. The outlook may be bleak, but the “uplook” (looking up to Jesus) is always bright.
Because children are a reflection of their parents, it’s very easy to get discouraged and feel that you have failed when one or more of your children isn’t doing well in some area. But remember they’re also God’s children, and they are a work in progress—just like you are. “It is God who works in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
All He expects is that you try your best, give them your love, and leave the rest up to Him. Now that doesn’t mean you should just throw up your hands in despair, let “God take care of it,” and quit when the going gets rough. He probably intends for you to be part of His solution. You need to find out from Him what He wants you to do—and do it; then put the rest in His hands and let Him do what you can’t do.--Derek and Michelle Brookes
Compilation courtesy of Anchor.
By Gregory M. Lamb, Christian Science Monitor
Parents want their kids and teens to care about others—whether at school, in their community, or in need a continent away.
The good news is that children “are sort of hard-wired” to want to help others, says Michael Ungar, author of “The We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Kids.” “They want to take on responsibility.”
While adults do wonderful things to help others, even more amazing is the number of children and teens who are “making a difference,” too.
"Childhood projects are a great time to sort of step back and let the child develop those skills, from time management to seeing the impact on others if they don’t fulfill their obligations," says Dr. Ungar, a family counselor and professor of social work at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The bottom line: Support, but don’t shove. “Our kids are really watching us,” he says. “If we’re showing empathy to others, if we’re cooking a casserole for a neighbor who’s fallen down and broken her hip, if we’re doing those small things in our community,” kids will notice, he says.
Below, we highlight five outstanding young differencemakers—children and teens who have turned their care for others into impressive actions. They show that there’s no age barrier to becoming a force for good.
Wyatt: Making clay wiggle to save the oceans. Wyatt Workman was conducting his phone interview from a closet in his house.
It apparently was the 7-year-old’s private office, a place to speak with an inquiring reporter in some confidentiality.
The second-grader from Glendale, Calif., is a budding environmentalist, clay sculptor, book author, blogger, and auteur. His colorful, six-minute clay-animation movie (“Save the Sea from the Trash Monster!”) is attracting hits on YouTube and at his website, wyattsworks.com.
Next spring he’ll show his film at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., and speak on his favorite topic: cleaning up the world’s oceans.
"They want me to talk about the ocean," Wyatt says. "It’s going to be a big process!"
He’s contributing the proceeds from all his various artistic ventures to Oceana, a nonprofit ocean advocacy group (oceana.org).
Wyatt attends Wesley School in North Hollywood, Calif., which emphasizes community service.
As a 6-year old, he came home with an idea.
"I said ‘I want to make a movie,’ and my mom, like, freaked out," he says.
"He knew exactly what he wanted to do," says his mother, Timathea Workman. "He had me sit down for about 3-1/2 hours one evening while he dictated to me.
"He wanted me to write down all the things the characters would say and what would happen. Then he would work on the clay."
When Wyatt was ready, he’d call her in to take a photo with a camera, since his hands were covered with clay. The photos then were pieced together to create a stop-motion movie. (His cats—Chewie, Toulouse, and Marie—“helped out” by jumping up and making holes in the clay with their paws.)
Wyatt’s clay modeling (he’s made more than 70 sculptures of animals that he hopes to sell to fund ocean cleanup efforts) and moviemaking have led to additional ideas.
"I said, ‘we need one more thing to be cool,’ " Wyatt tells his interviewer. "And my mom said, ‘What’s that?’ And I thinked and I thinked and I thinked…. [Finally] I said, ‘I want to have a book.’ "
True to his word, still images from the movie will be published in book form, too.
"I want to be like Martin Luther King Jr. and do something to make the world a better place."
Alexa: Building schools for the disaster-struck. Alexa Peters loves drawing—and her dog, Cooper.
Now she’s turned that into a way to help others. The 12-year-old from Andover, Mass., has illustrated a picture book for children called “Cooper and Me,” the story of a young girl very much like Alexa who longs to take her dog with her to her first day of school (cooperandme.com).
Three dollars from the sale of each book goes to the Happy Hearts Fund (happyheartsfund.org), created by fashion model Petra Nemcova to improve the lives of children in countries hit by natural disasters. (Ms. Nemcova herself barely survived the tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004. Her fiancé was swept away by the floodwaters and perished.)
Alexa hopes to raise $10,000 to help build three schools in Haiti through Happy Hearts. “We came upon the Happy Hearts Fund through a friend,” says Monique Peters, her mother, who wrote the story for “Cooper and Me.” Last February, they contacted Nemcova, and she eventually visited Alexa’s home. Nemcova was so impressed that she made Alexa the youngest “ambassador” for her program.
In June, Alexa and her mom went to Peru to visit three schools supported by Happy Hearts. The children “love going to school. It’s their safe haven,” Ms. Peters says. Homes often have no running water, refrigeration, or indoor plumbing. “They appreciate everything. They have so little,” she says.
Alexa is planning to illustrate a new book, with the story set in Peru. It may center on a 12-year-old boy they met named José, who walks for an hour each day to a larger city to sell candy to support his family.
Alexa’s advice for others who want to make a difference: “Keep going. And if it’s something you’re passionate about, really follow that dream, and you can be successful.”
Dylan: ‘One Starts Many’ to clean up the Gulf. Dylan Stock was in first grade when the Gulf oil spill began last April.
His class at The Principia School in St. Louis studied the spill’s effect on birds. He even went to a hair salon to gather human hair to be used on booms to capture the spreading oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
But Dylan wanted to do more. He created a website, onestartsmany.com, with help from his mother, Carrie Silver-Stock. “I was really worried about the sea creatures,” Dylan says. “My mom asked me if I wanted to make a website, and I said ‘sure’. And I came up with the name One Starts Many.”
The website includes Dylan’s ideas on how to protect the oceans.
At a November fundraiser he collected $1,145 to send to two Gulf charities, Kids in Need During Disaster (kindd.org), which buys clothing for children in a fishing town hit by the oil spill, and the Audubon Institute in New Orleans (auduboninstitute.org), which treats stranded and injured marine wildlife.
With support from WitKids (witkids.org), a program that supports kid-based projects (its motto is “whatever it takes to make the world a better place”), Dylan traveled to the Gulf last summer on his own “fact-finding” mission, which included meeting New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
In September, the 7-year-old spoke to first-graders through fifth-graders at his school to tell them about his trip. He also invited them to become members of his new Ocean Club, which he established at the school.
The club already has helped to clean up a local creek.
"It’s inspiring for us that he felt like he could make a difference," says Mrs. Silver-Stock. She and her husband, Steven Stock, wanted "to nurture that in any way that we can," she says. And Dylan says he isn’t done.
"I think I’ll stay interested in the ocean for a while," he says.
Danielle: A kid-run network spreads peace. Danielle Gram spent her childhood in Maryland in the years following the 9/11 attacks.
"I really didn’t understand why people from different cultures wanted to kill each other," says Ms. Gram, now 21 years old and a senior at Harvard University.
After her family moved to Carlsbad, Calif., she continued to think about the concept of peace and how to achieve it. She read the nonviolent philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi and studied what Buddhism and Christianity had to say on the subject.
In 2006, together with Jill McManigal, a mother of two young children, Gram, then 16, founded Kids for Peace (kidsforpeaceglobal.org), a nonprofit, child-led group that inspires kids to work together toward a more peaceful world.
Today Kids for Peace has more than 75 chapters in several countries. In August, its Great Kindness Challenge, where children try to see how many acts of kindness they can perform in a single day, drew thousands of participants in 50 countries.
Members also sign a six-line “peace pledge” in which they promise to “speak in a kind way,” “help others,” “care for our earth,” “respect people,” and work together.
Beyond that, kids in each chapter design their own projects.
"We really want the kids to be the leaders," Gram says.
"The passion to create a less violent world has really followed me throughout my life," Gram says. But a family tragedy last year brought it closer to home. Her only brother was murdered while on vacation.
"The police still have no idea what happened," she says. "He was found stabbed to death on the side of a road…. It’s certainly been a struggle for all of us. But every single one of my immediate family members has a deeper conviction that nonviolence is the way to respond. We see my brother’s death as just more of an inspiration to make sure that no other family has to experience this."
Jordyn: Removing dangerous drugs from homes. Jordyn Schara was shocked “to see the insane amount of medication people have in their homes that have been lying around waiting to be abused or stolen.”
Unused drugs create two huge problems: They are abused by teens trying to get high, who then can become sick or even die. Or they are flushed down the drain and creep into drinking water. “It means men are taking birth control [pills] and children are taking heart medications,” she says. “It’s definitely not a good thing.”
But when the 14-year-old in Reedsburg, Wis., asked state officials what she could do to help, they told her she was too young.
That didn’t stop Jordyn. She founded a Wisconsin branch of Prescription Pill Drug Disposal (p2d2program.org). She organized a drug drop-off day for her town, and recruited pharmacists and police officers to supervise the event.
The drug return day was “extremely successful,” she says. “People lined up around the block to get in. That was just a really great feeling to know that people were willing to participate.”
Hauling away and incinerating the drugs costs about $2 per pound.
"I had to get a lot of donations and grants to support the cost of this program," says Jordyn, who is now a 16-year-old high school sophomore. "I was the youngest person [at 14] to apply for and receive a state grant in Wisconsin" to help fund her project, she says.
The Save a Star Foundation (saveastar.org) in Highland Park, Ill., donated a prescription drug drop-off box, the size of a street-corner mailbox, that’s been installed at the police station. Her project has now become an ongoing part of the community.
"Sometimes it’s hard as a teenager. You think that people don’t listen to you or don’t pay attention to you," Jordyn says. "But, honestly, if you do a service project, people will start listening."