Posts tagged #raising older kids

Growing Grateful Givers: Beginning steps toward stewardship with your children

growing_grateful_givers.png

Here it is sweet friends...the article on finances. What does is look like to teach our children about money? Talk about a daunting task! Thankfully, the Lord calls us to it and this is one more thing we can do through Him! Are you ready? Let’s go!

Several factors play into how we teach them about money.

The greatest determining factor is likely based upon how we were raised and what we were taught. Maybe you grew up with very little or maybe your family had a lot. Perhaps you were never taught as a child how to steward money. Today I hope to offer a smidge of wisdom from both the perspective of how I was raised along with some things I’m still learning.

My dad was a pastor of a very small church and we didn't grow up with a lot of money, but we always had what we needed. If my parents were ever weary in that season, I don't remember them complaining. In fact, they made every effort to bless us when they could. Little gifts or even eating out was such a treat and a joy and were never taken for granted. The sacrifice and conscious choice to walk in obedience to what God had called my parents to made a lasting impression on my heart.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are the vacations we took growing up. Every year we took a road trip to explore different states: Maine, Washington, D.C., Texas, Florida, Colorado and many more. They didn't spend a lot of money but we were able to experience and create memories as a family that will last a lifetime.

Whatever background you come from, here are some principles that hold true.

1. The importance of teaching our children the value of money. My friend had a wonderful idea of creating three mason jars labeled with the words, tithing, saving and spending on them. These jars provided an ideal opportunity for our girls to tangibly place their money in each jar and for us to talk about what each stands for.

growing_grateful_givers-2.png

2. The importance of teaching our children to give back to God through tithing. All we have is from the Lord. What a privilege it is to offer a portion back to Him out of that which He has graciously bestowed on us. This is our chance to lead by example. Can you say conviction? Yikes! My heart is feeling it. I often forget to teach them this. An easy way to demonstrate this principle is by simply allowing them to see us tithe or let them be a part of the process. I want them to grow up with a giving heart and to learn to give back to the Lord, regardless of having much or little.

growing_grateful_givers_quote.png

3. The importance of teaching our children to give to others. Do you ever find yourself holding onto something tightly? If I am being honest, there are moments I find myself in that place. I don’t want my kids to struggle in that way. A simple way to help them have a giving heart is to annually go through their toys with them. Ask them to be willing to pick some things out to give to those in need. Let them give out of their own hearts. If they don't want to, gently use this time to reinforce how much we have been blessed and what a joy it is to give out of what God has given us. Don't force them, just keep pressing into the conversations and continue to be an example for them to see. You’ll find this is a good lesson for your heart as well!

4. The importance of teaching our children to save their money. Saving money teaches them discipline and hard work. I remember saving up for a 10-speed bike when I was in 3rd grade and making a savings goal thermometer and filling in that line to see how much money I was saving. When I was able to take the money out of the bank and buy that bike with what I had saved on my own, it was thrilling! Likewise, when I was in high school and saved up for my first car all on my own, I was so proud. You would have thought I was driving around a BMW, not a blue Ford Escort (insert laughter here).

5. The importance of teaching our children to be grateful and not entitled. We need to be proactive in communicating the things they receive or get to do, as a privilege. Not in order  to make them feel guilty, but rather grateful. Our season of living with my parents yet again afforded us the opportunity to have many teaching moments of why we can't “get or do that thing.” As heart wrenching as it was to not be able to do all the "extras" for our girls, I wouldn't trade that season for the world. Any entitlement they previously had was stripped to the core. At one point in that season, I had a dear friend send me a box in the mail. She had put markers and color pencils with coloring books in for the girls and me to express that God was at work and we could still color in the season we were in. Honestly, you would have thought the girls received $100 each. I was overcome by their joy and so deeply touched by my friend's thoughtfulness.

There are many different approaches and factors that play into teaching our children about money. What a blessing it is to be able to instill the truth of our loving God and His provision for us. Are we willing to engage in that truth with our children and help point them down the right path? Maybe like me, in the process, you'll find you needed some of these reminders and perspective shifts in your own heart.

Posted on May 17, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

Kids & Tech: Boundary Lines

kids_and_tech-png

At my house, we have a policy that, to my knowledge, none of my friends have. We don’t allow our kids to have electronic devices in their bedrooms. Period. No phones, no Kindle, no iPad, no FaceTime or laptop or TV or wii or any other thing with a screen and an on-button.

 

Since no one else I know has a rule this extreme, I have to question my sanity and strictness, right? As much as we talk at girls’ nights out about the Great iPhone Takeover of the generation we are raising, it doesn’t seem like the “No Electronics in Bedrooms” policy is the norm.

My theory is that among my friends- who all have an oldest child somewhere in the 7-10 year old range—this is uncharted territory. For one thing, our kids still think kitty makeovers and monster trucks are the best thing in a smart phone, which, to be fair, don’t seem like much of a threat to innocence. More than that, when we were kids, we didn’t have smart phones, so we have no frame of reference for how to parent in the Electronic Age. We don’t have teens yet who can help us find the darn buttons we need. And we have NO clue how to work the Snap Chat.   

Electronics have snuck up on us.  

When I was a teenager, I remember being thrilled to receive my very own TV for Christmas one year. And guess what? I watched stuff on it that my parents would not have wanted me to. (Here’s hoping my mom isn’t reading this!)

With that in mind, my husband and I agreed even before we had kids, that ours wouldn’t ever have TV’s in their bedrooms. That was 2004 before the iPhone was invented. Can you even remember a time?! It’s a whole new ballgame now, so our list of off-limits devices had to expand quite a bit!

Here are the Top 3 reasons that have made us want to keep the screens out from behind closed doors, even when our kids were toddlers.

1- When your child is alone with an electronic device, they are not alone.

 Google estimates that over 3 billion people in the world have internet access, meaning that when your child goes into a room with an internet-enabled device, they go into a room with 3 billion other people.

You may think you’re safe if the device doesn’t have an internet browser, but that is unfortunately not the case. Social media apps like Instagram, SnapChat and YouTube give kids access to conversations and images with millions of other users. Even video game apps designed for and marketed to children often include a social component now, where players can form alliances and have conversations. A child can be exposed to unfair play, bullying, and foul language within even the most innocent-seeming games.

The bottom line is, when your child is alone with a device, they are not alone. You won’t be able to protect them from everything, because it’s not like you can watch every second of screen time. But if you are in the room, your chances are much higher of noticing if something is off.

kids_and_tech-2.png

2- Kids don’t have to search for harmful influences; Harmful influences are searching for them.

Once upon a time, kids had to work pretty hard to obtain pornography. Whether through a magazine or a VHS tape bought or procured through a friend, the industry was veiled to all but those who actively sought it out. Sadly, that is not at all the case in the internet age.

The other day, I was searching for a local reupholsterer online. Lest there be any confusion, that is a person who recovers furniture with new fabric. I clicked on the first link that came up, and I was taken directly to a pornographic website. HOW?!

If this can happen to me during the most innocent search of all time, it can happen to our kids. One misspelled word as they work on homework can bring a disturbing result. Again, you can’t prevent them all. But what if you weren’t even in the room?

3- Setting a precedent from a young age makes it seem like no big deal.

We started telling our kids “No electronics in bedrooms” from the very youngest age. I’m not saying that there haven’t been questions or protests along the way, but it’s never been a big deal. They’ve just always known it was off limits, and I know it’s saving me from major battles down the road. It’s much harder to impose rules like this on a teenager than a preschooler. But if you make something a routine starting at age 2 or 4 or 6, then by age 12 or 14 or 16 they won’t think anything of it.

A side note of encouragement on that topic? It’s never too late to go to bat for your kids. If you have a teenager and you want to change the rules, don’t back down because of the backlash. You’re the mom. And you love them. It’s ok for you to do the hard thing.

Everything I just said may make you feel like going to bed with a bag of potato chips. It’s hard to be a mom and it’s a crazy world we live in! I promise my intention is not to scare you—far from it. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and of love and of sound mind. 

No, there is no way we can protect our kids from everything. All I’m saying is that we can rescue them quicker if we’re in the room—or at least listening from the kitchen.

Posted on June 29, 2016 and filed under Building Your Family.

Talking About Making Babies (or How To Avoid Emotionally Scarring Your Children With Awkwardness)

having_the_talk_about_making_babies.png

So there I am on a lazy Saturday morning, sipping on some decaf with my daughter, Phoebe. Aside from being 11, Phoebe is sweet, creative, insightful, and compassionate. She is also very innocent. On this particular morning, Phoebe looked at me mid-sip and said suddenly, “Wait, I don’t get it, how does the baby actually get into the mom’s belly?”

I looked back at her and oh-so-casually said, “Well, I’m gonna need a refill for this.” I can’t say I was surprised. I mean, she was 11, why hadn’t she asked me yet? Biding my time pouring the coffee, I realized I had not really in the traditional sense equipped myself for this moment at all. I had no plan, no bullet points, no book conveniently stashed away, I had nothing but the Lord. I walked back over and settled in on the love seat next to Phoebe and we had a really good chat. It wasn’t until it was all over that I realized that I had, in fact, done my homework, but not in the way you might think.

After the fact, here’s my list of what to do when my daughter asks me how babies are made:

1. Drop the Drama. I wasn’t about to relate to Phoebe that this talk was a huge deal, that it was a rite of passage for both of us, that she would remember it for the rest of her life. Why infuse more drama into an already heavy situation? No, we just refilled our coffees (she loves decaf), stayed right where we were, and talked. Let’s be honest, making babies, while being a gorgeous picture of God’s amazing creation and plan, is pretty weird. It involves boys, and body parts. It’s emotional enough without adding unnecessary pre-conceived drama into it as well. Making it more dramatic than it needs to be will simply stress everybody out.

2. Don’t Prepare. No joke. Not only did I not really pray about this moment (yet God was faithful, Amen and Amen), I didn’t read a pile of books about it to figure out what to say, or how to say it, or what pictures to show her, or really anything. Not that I don’t think those books have value, I just think it’s more important to know my daughter. What I did do was pay attention to Phoebe. I know what she knows, and I know what she doesn’t. Over the years she had asked some questions. They were more roundabout, more obtuse, and when she asked obtuse questions, I would give her obtuse answers. I never gave her more information than she asked for, because sometimes a kid needs a little bit of time to let information sink in before taking it to the next level. I would just answer the question and then wait for the next one, keeping my radar on for how much she could handle. Because I had faith that the Spirit of the Living God would give me the right words to say when I needed them, I didn’t study what to say, but I did study my daughter.

3. Cultivate Closeness. Not only do I know Phoebe really well, but she knows me. I call her my shadow. Yes, she’s homeschooled so we spend more time together than traditionally schooled kids might with their parents, but I would never say to a mom whose kids go to school 5 days a week that I’m closer to my kids than she is—no way. It isn’t about the amount of time; it’s what you do with the time you have, right? When Phoebe and I hang out we do normal stuff like make food, get crafty, watch a movie, listen to Elvis records, do school, and whatever else, but our predominant activity is talking. We talk all the time and we talk about everything. We really KNOW each other. So when she did ask the question about where babies come from, not only did I know she was going to ask it at some point soon, but with the Lord leading my every word, I knew what to say. Almost as importantly, I knew how to say it. A few weeks after the talk, I asked Phoebe if she had any thoughts about talking to me about that stuff. She said, “It would have been super-awkward and weird if it weren’t YOU telling me, but because it was YOU, it was fine. I mean, it's US, you know?” Yeah, I know.

having_the_talk_about_making_babies-2.png

4. Simple is simpler. Of course I had to explain how it all happens. The actual sex part. Without using too many words, I gave it to her plain and simple, didn’t attempt to soften the blow, and I just stopped talking when I was done. I let her sit with it, let her process. After a quick and brutal explanation of which part goes where, the look on her face was pure shock and terror. I mean, she was totally freaked out. So much so that she actually began screaming and laughing into a pillow, which got me screaming and laughing too, so here we are screaming and laughing about how strange and funny sex actually is when you really think about it. That was my favorite part. It was so fun to let her have her reaction, to not attempt to name it or control it, to take the ride with her. I didn’t try to make it fancy, or belabor the explanation with diagrams, or use words that she wouldn’t understand—I just told her and let her have her moment with it. Simple.

5. Some Things Can Wait. Once we were nearing the finish line and wrapping it up, Phoebe was a little more curious. She wanted to know logistics, like how people do the things they do. I thought about it for a second and then finally said, “You know what, Feebs, you don’t really need to be thinking about that yet. You’ve got the facts, let’s leave it at that for awhile.” And we did. I want her to stay a child for as long as she can, because once that’s over you can’t really get it back. She’ll know all that and more soon enough, but for now I think it’s pretty okay that we can scream into a pillow about the weirdness of life once in awhile.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
 Psalm 139:1-6 NIV

Posted on May 11, 2016 and filed under Building Your Family.