Raising Truly GREAT Kids

Last weekend (March 7-8) Jon and I attended a Family Matters conference in San Antonio, lead by Tim Kimmel, called “Raising Truly GREAT Kids.”  Great kids is something I think we all desire but is it possible?  I believe that it is possible and I appreciated his wisdom and encouragment shared. I will try to share a few highpoints.  Visit their web site and I recommend the following resources I have read:

  1. Raising Kids For True Greatness;
  2. Grace Based Parenting;
  3. Little House on the Freeway
  4. plus many others.          

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  Psalm 127:1a

Obstacles to Raising Truly Great Kids:

1) The Antagonistic culture we live it.  Many parents encourage their children to grow up to fast through placing an enormous emphasis on:

  • Education
  • Beauty
  • Sports

Parents are raising their children in a society that does not recognize moral absolutes and without moral boundaries parenting is extremely complicated.

Parents are encouraged to embrace the success illusion based on the accumulation of things, accomplishments, and recognition at the expense of close relationships. 

2) Our hurried lifestyles are counter-productive.  I’m sure you all would agree that families are under constant stress.  Tim Kimmel wrote a great book “Little House on the Freeway” that greatly helped our family when Caryn and Courtney were in grade school.  A few wisdom winners we applied:

  • Eating together as a family at least 5 nights a week.
  • Our girls were limited to 2 outside activities which allowed for evening meals together as well as weekends together. 
  • We’ve attended either a marriage or parenting conference every other year for the past 20 years.
  • Celebrating each other and special milestones.
  • Reading together as a family.
  • Reading from the “Children’s Story Bible.”
  • and much more.

3) Our ineffective parenting styles mislead us.  This was true for us early on as we would buy into a particular parenting philosophy. We learned to listen to the differing philosophies out there but sought God as to what we needed to apply or discard based on each of children’s personality and bent.  There are many parenting styles out there such as:

  1. Fear Based parenting.
  2. Shame based parenting.
  3. Image control parenting.
  4. High control (helicopter)parenting.
  5. Duct tape parenting.
  6. Life support or 911 parenting.

4) Our job as parents is complicated with unexpected challenges.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a book or conference out there with all the answers and a clear job description?  Well there is not as I have read many books and learned the need to depend on God for direction and insight.

Raising Truly Great Kids [Grace-based parenting] Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  Psalm 127:1a

God desires us to raise children who love Him, live for Him and make an eternal impact in their world.  I recently heard someone say,  “many young Christian adults never go to the mission field because of their parents.”  These parents insist their child needs to get a college degree, then the right job or mate, etc… Often as parents we default into 2 dangerous extremes when it comes to raising children –  legalism or license (over-permissiveness). However, the happy medium is grace based parenting which is a balance between grace and truth; focusing how you do what you do vs. what you do.  It is treating your children the way God treats His! 

Grace-based parents:

  • Accept children regardless of merit.
  • Serve children’s needs without a sense of obligation.
  • Joyfully recognize their child’s God-given potential and do what they can to develop that potential for God’s glory. 

Grace-based parents give their children: 

  • freedom to be different (weird, bizarre, strange, goofy, quirky, etc.) 
  • freedom to be vulnerable.  Children are allow to express their fears, feelings, inadequacies, short comings, etc. knowing they will be heard.
  • freedom to be candid making it easy for them to voice things that may be troubling their hearts.  As a family we would hold weekly staff meetings and at times we would give the girls an opportunity to confess anything weighing upon them without fear of consequences.  This was a time to come clean of sin.  Also we would ask have we done anything to damage our relationship with you?  We desired to keep short accounts and ask forgiveness if necessary. 
  • freedom to make mistakes.  A grace based home is a place where disappointments are endured, moral setbacks are properly processed, and a relationship is never ended because of sinful actions.  When a child is the hardest to love, that is when they need love the most. 

This was a video shown that so wonderfully displays grace.    Also read and reflect on the Prodigal son story in Luke and how he was received back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MIJShOqh8Q



What God is teaching me – part 1

I had no idea how great my need for parenting encouragement was until this past weekend.  I realized that there are times we give and give; do and do forgetting to replenish ourselves along the way.  This eventually leads to burnout and possible feelings of bitterness.  Thus, find those things that fill you so you can continue to pour into others knowing this  is a balancing act.

For the last 10 years I have attended “The Wholehearted Mother” conference held in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  I have missed a few but not many.   I consider this time my vitamin B12 shot for a balanced mothering perspective.  Unbeknownst to Sally Clarkson, she has been one of my greatest mentors as she has a beautiful heart that seeks to know HIM and shares her joys, sorrows, struggles, life, etc… which I can totally relate to.  I recall first hearing her speak in CA in 1996 at a home school conference where my desire to home educate solidified and became achievable as I too desired to raise our children in the training and instruction of the Lord.  What a joy it has been to shape our girls hearts to be followers of Christ.  Today we are seeing some fruits of our labor as both older girls love God, are passionate about Him and serve Him.

When we moved to Austin in 1998 and I was able to hear Sally share “Educating the Wholehearted Child.”  Ok I feel like a groupie as I made it a yearly commitment to get my dose of encouragement as it related to being a better mother and wife.  Over the years she has brought in other speakers such a Linda Dillow, Jean Fleming, Zan Tyler, and her daughter.  I guess I share this as the role of having Godly (wise) mentors in your life is invaluable and it looks different for each of us.  It’s best to have someone you can meet face to face however with our many moves, home schooling of the girls, the added blessing of Cayley, life, etc.. I found it easier to run to a (conference, book, my past notes) when I needed a little perspective on life not to mention encouragement. 

The conference this weekend was titled “Seasons of a Mothers Heart” after her revised and updated book; which I  recommend for those looking for a dose of mothering encouragement.  I enjoyed how she related the various seasons and changes to our lives as mothers as I am visual.  I know you have heard it said, “before you know it, your baby will be grown.”  It is true and each stage of life is a season.  Use your time wisely and know where you are going.

She began with SUMMER being a time of RESPONSE.  This is a time to plant when we as mothers want to reach our children’s hearts.  To be a planter we must invest our time (mentor).  This investment of time and mentoring has been very intentional with Caryn and Courtney who we desired to know God, be like Him, and serve Him.  I realized this weekend that when Cayley came into our lives I was not as intentional about what the end would look like for her given the 10 year gap and the urgency to finish well with our big girls.  Hence the need for my attending the conference as I desire to clearly define our vision for Cayley’s life.  It is imperative to know where you are going as you will end up somewhere.  We sought God’s word in helping us develop our road map as parents.   I can’t give my girls (others) what I do not have and my help comes from the Lord.   I implore you to spend daily time in the word.  A little adds up over time.  One of my favorite ways to fill/renew my mind with truth is listening to the bible on CD at bedtime.  It is calming and peaceful to fall asleep to truth renewing your mind.  Be sure you attend a bible teaching church. Carefully pray about the various activities you and your children will be involved in.  If you want to make family meal time a priority you might have to say no to other things.  Live your live intentionally.

Next  is FALL a season of RESOLVE sort of where you adjust your expectations, reassess, stand back and gain perspective.  Currently this is one place God has me with all three of the girls.  My expectations have to change now that the older girls have their own schedules (college and work) and we have ours.  We aren’t all able to have a consistent breakfast or dinner time together.   Connecting with the older girls has to be more intention on my part when they are open and available.  Cayley is growing up in a very different decade than her older sisters. How I did things in the past require me to reevaluate them today.  Throw in ministry opportunities, real life, and my bent to be organized and wanting do it all = burnout.  Guess what?  I can’t do it all and especially well.  This is when I tend to fall into many feelings of self condemnation as I allow others opinions/suggestions/request to matter more to me than that of my family.  Thus, I resolve 1) to step back reevaluate what all is on my plate and be sure my priorities are right (God, Jon, the girls, and then other things); and 2) to let go of many of the expectations I have placed on the older girls and our family.  I am thankful for new beginning and knowing it is never to late to start afresh in the grace I am given by my heavenly Father. 

Coming soon part two ( WINTER and SPRING) insight.