Is Your Child Amazing?

Is Your Child Amazing?

The answer to that question if of course, a resounding YES! Every single person on earth has incredible gifts and talents that no other person has . . . and that includes our children. My daughter makes patchwork quilts for refugee babies – you can see what she does here: With Love Baby Blankets for Refugee Babies

blankets for refugee babies

It doesn’t matter how old we are  – adults and children alike can do amazing things – so let’s encourage and support the younger members of the family if they have a great idea, particularly if it means they will be helping others in the process!

Here’s a link to an article chronicling how eight amazing children have made a difference:

Children who have done amazing things . . . and that’s only a small percentage of the incredible ways children have changed or are changing things for the better, all over the world. (There are hundreds of stories all over the Internet, too – you only need to do a quick search!)

So if our children show an interest in doing something for others, however large or small,  let’s encourage and support them. So many children grow up with ridicule, which quickly puts a quick halt to their creativity. Let’s make sure we don’t squash our children’s talents – let’s give them every opportunity to use whatever gifts the Lord has given them to faithfully serve others.

Christian Parenting Challenge #11 – Play With Your Children

Christian Parenting Challenge #11 – Play With Your Children

Challenge 11
Play with your children

Boy playing

Playing is learning, and playing together is learning with added fun!
Small children love it when you play with them. It’s not always easy to find the time to do that, though. With the never-ending round of chores and responsibilities, playing can easily get unintentionally sidelined. However, we are seriously missing out if we don’t play with our children – and they are missing out, too. So today’s challenge is to play together!

Benefits of playing
The benefits of playing are enormous, for you and your children . . . so definitely worth taking time out for. Here are a few benefits (many are on the learning theme, but not all!):
Helps with self-discipline: “keeping the rules”.
Refreshes mind and body.
Playing relieves stress.
Playing can aid creativity and problem-solving.
Some games create a challenge to overcome.
It’s great to win!
And it’s great to learn to lose graciously.
Playing builds social skills, e.g. taking turns.
Playing together aids communication skills.
Playing should be lots of fun.
The simple act of playing with our children can bring about all these amazing benefits. It’s also a great way to balance discipline, and for you to take yourself less seriously. Fancy being a pirate? 🙂

A few random thoughts
If your child needs help in a particular area, you might like to think about a game that could help, e.g. a number game if they struggle with maths. But only if it’s fun, OK? 🙂
Games should give everyone playing an equal footing, or it’s only fun for those who have a better chance of winning, or who are in charge of the “rules”.
Competition can separate rather than unite – watch out for this!

So what could you do?
Games don’t have to be board games – they can be games of chase in the park, ball in the garden, pirates in the living room, teddy bears’ picnic in a bedroom . . . with imagination, there are no limits!
Whatever you play, whether it’s building towers of blocks with a baby, trains with a toddler, snakes and ladders with older children, doing a jigsaw puzzle, building a spaceship, dressing dolls, or competing on a computer game, don’t do it half-heartedly.
Engage fully with your children – make it fun, keep eye contact, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by other things, and try not to be too bossy. (Oh, and don’t allow them to be too bossy either!)
If you have a time limit, say so at the beginning, so your children know you will only be able to play one game, or will have to tidy up at seven o’clock, say. That way there won’t be unrealistic expectations.

The time trick
As parents, we need to cultivate the habit of playing with our children while they are small. If we haven’t spent time with them when they have wanted us there, they might not want us to spend time with them when they are older.
If the years have taken you unawares and they don’t seem to want to be with you, do not feel despondent. Never give up – remember, it’s all up from here, because you have decided to make a change! Sometimes older children can be cajoled to join in a game, but if not, keep asking from time to time. At least that way they will know that you are now wanting to spend time with them. Keep praying that one day they will say yes. You could ask what they would like to play – but be prepared to be thrashed at their favourite computer game!
The time when our children are children is such a narrow window – we absolutely must make time to play with them while we can. It’s a trick of time to say “tomorrow”, because those precious hours tick away and it’s all too easy for tomorrow to become today, then tomorrow never comes.
So, go play today, and have fun!

Over to you!
Decide whether to play with all your children together, or play with them separately.
What do they love to play? What do you like to play? If you can choose something you both enjoy, so much the better! Jot down a few ideas in your notebook.
Go find your children and make some suggestions.
Enjoy your game!
Let us know how it went: www.facebook.com/christianparentingchallenge We’d love to see some photos of you playing together. 🙂

“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

For the future:
Make playing with your children an essential part of your life.

3 Daily Prayers For Our Children

3 Daily Prayers For Our Children

3 Daily Prayers For Our Children

I pray the Lord’s prayer (aka the Disciples’ Prayer) every day on waking, but praying it specifically for our children is a great idea, because it is Biblical, simple, and, like a onesie (all-in-one garment), covers everything!

Praying hands on a Bible

“Please provide them today with their daily needs.”

You can go on to elaborate! These might be physical, emotional, spiritual, relational.

“Please forgive them their sins, and help them to forgive those who have sinned against them.”

Job prayed in this way for his children. Our children need to know God’s forgiveness, as well as the release of being able to forgive – we can pray for this!

“Please keep them away from temptations and all the plans and schemes of the enemy.”

The enemy likes to kill, steal and destroy, but Jesus came to give us abundant life! We can pray for the Lord’s protection over our children, whether it’s worldly pleasures luring them away from walking with God, battles with their own sinful nature, or other external evil influences.

We do not pray to a God who is far away, but a God who is near, and He loves our children even more than we do, so we can pray with confidence. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. So let’s pray!

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Thank you for reading – may you be blessed as you pray!

Janet

P.S. If you find this helpful, please leave a comment and share the blessing with your friends!

 

 

 

 

Christian Parenting Challenge #30 – Make Today A Special Day

Christian Parenting Challenge #30 – Make Today A Special Day

Challenge 30
Make today a special day!

Family having fun together
The final challenge
Congratulations on getting right to the end of the Christian Parenting Challenge! So here’s the final challenge – making today a special day. Hey, you deserve it!

Every day is a special day
Somebody once argued with me that if every day is a special day, then that means there’s no such thing as a special day, because they are all the same!
I know what he meant, but still, if we are honest, there are so many special things about today. If we stopped to count our blessings, wouldn’t today feel like this is such a special day?
Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is unknown – none of us know what is going to happen in the future. But today is unique, beautiful, filled with grace, blessings and promises!

The final challenge
So, what can you do to make today a special day? What would make it special for you and your children? Maybe you could:
Repeat one of the challenges – what did you enjoy doing most?
Go out for a coffee and cake/breakfast.
Enjoy an ice-cream.
Play a favourite game.
Read a story by candlelight.
Go out for a walk with a torch in the dark.
Have a bonfire.
Share a bag of doughnuts.
Have a laugh and a chat.
Go out somewhere special.
Light candles at dinner.
Make a list of all your blessings.
All through the day, think of other things you can do or say to make the day special . . . tell your children you love them, praise them for something they have done well, pray with them about something on their mind, remember a Bible story together, take some photos. All these little things make such a difference, and really do add up to make a day special. When your children have grown up and flown the nest, you will look back at these special days with nostalgia and so will they.

Over to you!
Congratulate yourself for having made it this far!
Write in your notebook any ideas you have for making today a special day.
Pick one item from the list, or choose with your child!
Enjoy your special day.
Let us know how your special day went, and how you feel, now you have completed the Challenge. We would love to hear how you got on: Come over to the Christian Parenting Challenge facebook page! 🙂

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’.” Hebrews 3:13

For the future:
Go back and do the challenges as many times as you like. And if you make today a special day, every day will be special, because every day is “today”!

Christian Parenting Challenge #29 – Communicate

Christian Parenting Challenge #29 – Communicate

Challenge 29
Communicate

dad and son
Communication is the foundation for relationships
We communicate in different ways with different people. We communicate differently with our colleagues than with our partner, for example. The child/parent relationship is different again. It would be inappropriate for us to share our innermost thoughts and fears with our children, but we do want them to be able to open up to us. How can we encourage them to do this?

Trust, time, care
Trust is essential for deep, authentic communication to flourish. We won’t open ourselves up to someone we don’t trust. Conversely, the people we share with on the deepest level are the people we trust the most. We know that they won’t hurt us, break a confidence, laugh at our fears, or manipulate us. Our children need to trust us, or they will not share with us. If we can raise their confidence in us and allow them to talk to us now, when the issues are small, they will have confidence to talk to us when the issues get bigger, and they really need our help.
We also need to give them time to open up, and to know that we care about them.

Authentic relationships
Today’s challenge is to talk about something with your children that needs to be discussed (this might be a challenge to do with each child separately). The very first challenge was spending some time listening – today is all about two-way communication. The idea is to talk together about something: to put across your view, and to listen to your child’s.
Whatever topic you choose, pick a suitable time and place. Perhaps you could go for a walk, go fishing, bring up your chosen topic at the meal table, in the car, on the way to school, or in their bedroom . . . whatever you think would be best.
Most of us have topics we know we really ought to deal with, but have been putting off. At this point something may already have come to mind that you know you need to talk about . . . that is almost certainly the subject you need to broach today! In case nothing springs to mind, here are some ideas of topics you might like to talk about:
Sharing.
Chores.
Illness.
Financial issues.
A family matter.
A school issue.
A problem with behaviour.
The facts of life.
Keeping safe on the internet.
Something about church or their spiritual life.
And there are so many more! Anything you may have been avoiding talking about . . . today is your day! You might prefer to talk about a really simple issue, but let me encourage you not to pass up this opportunity to bring up a subject you know you should broach.

Good communication
Jesus said whatever needed to be said in just the right manner. To those who needed a gentle word, he spoke gently. He blessed, rebuked and encouraged, warned, inspired and always spoke the truth. At times he was angry, particularly with those who not only refused to listen, but tried to stop others listening, too. To be like Jesus is our aim! Still, while we’re getting there, here are some tips for good communication:
Decide on the outcome you want to achieve before you start. For example, do you want your children to know how ill grandma is, and be able to talk about how they feel about that to you?
Show that you want to talk and listen, by your body language.
Be tactful, especially if it’s a tricky topic to handle.
Keep your tone of voice calm and cheerful, if you can. If you can sound caring, rather than accusing or judgemental, you are more likely to get a good response.
Be open to new ideas – you never know, your children might have an interesting new take on an issue, or help you to understand something better.
Listen to what your children have to say about your chosen topic. Reflect back what they have said, to make sure you have understood their point of view.
Make sure you understand what they are trying to say, even if they aren’t expressing it in quite the right way. Ask questions if you’re not sure.
Be encouraging. Try to avoid being scathing, sarcastic, forceful or aggressive.
If your child starts to moan or whine, or speak to you disrespectfully, stop them gently but firmly, and ask them to use a different tone of voice.
And absolutely don’t let them overhear you telling your friends what they said. If they do, it might be a long time before they talk to you again.

Doing our best
Some of you will breeze through today’s challenge! Others of you might have to take a big gulp and be bold and brave. If this is you, well, just have a go. The best thing you can do is to practice – to just do it, then keep doing it, and realise that although many times you may seem to fumble around the issue and get all your words wrong, it’s all a step in the learning curve of life!

But my teenagers only grunt . . .
All I can say is, do your best. You may be surprised how much is going in when you talk. Exasperating it may be, but don’t give up, because although the teen years seem to last forever, they don’t, and it’s great to be still talking to them when they come out the other side!

Over to you!
Decide what it is you would like to talk about with each of your children, and what outcome you want to achieve.
Choose a suitable time and place.
Write in your notebook everything you think/feel about this issue, and how you will broach the subject.
Go communicate!
Let us know how it went Come over to the Christian Parenting Challenge facebook page!

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:14-15

For the Future:
Try to keep communicating. When something crops up that you would like to talk about . . . take a deep breath and just do it!

Christian Parenting Challenge #27 – Help Your Children to Help Themselves

Christian Parenting Challenge #27 – Help Your Children to Help Themselves

Challenge 27
Help your children to help themselves

baby sparrows

How much help do they need?
When our children are babies, they need us to do everything for them – they are totally helpless without us. They are unable to look after even their most basic needs. As they grow older, they learn to do more and more things for themselves.
It is our job as parents to help our children, bit by bit, to become confident adults, able to go out into the world and not only be self-sufficient, but to be good, caring citizens, and eventually bring up their own families!

We all need help; we all need each other
We all need help from time to time. Your children may run to you for help at the first opportunity, or they may be the independent type and hate help – it’s as much a question of character as age and ability.
The same thing applies to you – you may be happy to do everything for your children, whether they are capable or not. Perhaps your children really ought to be doing things for themselves instead of watching the TV, catching up with friends on facebook or playing online games? You may be at the opposite end of the spectrum and expect quite young children to be independent and do all manner of things alone.
Whatever our natural character, what is most important is that we have our children’s development foremost in our hearts and minds. We should certainly make it our aim to equip them with everything they need to be successful in the world. We should give them just the right amount of encouragement to take on challenges – first with help, then alone.
So today’s challenge is two-fold – the first part of the challenge is to acknowledge a task or issue that each of your children find genuinely difficult, and find a way to help them with it. It’s important that we help our children with tasks they find overwhelming, and not leave them to struggle alone.
It might be a school subject they struggle with. It might be tying their shoe laces! It might be making friends in a new school, learning to read, being on time for the bus . . . it could be so many things . . . consider for a minute what you know your child is having difficulty with and decide how you can best help them, whatever the issue.
If appropriate, ask them what they struggle with most in life. You might be surprised at the answer. Then, if you feel that they have answered honestly (not pulling a fast one to get out of chores!) ask them how you can best help. Be prepared to leave your comfort zone if necessary, and determine to do what you can to help your children.

Sometimes we need to struggle
The other side of the coin is that if we never struggle, we will never know the satisfaction and the thrill of achieving. It can be tempting to do everything for our children (certainly easier in the short term!) . . . but we risk leaving them with boring lives, becoming underachievers with low self-esteem, believing they are not very good at anything, unable to face the challenges that life will inevitably throw at them.
So we need to teach them life skills, and we need to allow them to make mistakes in different areas of life, because this is the way they will learn. It’s hard to watch our children struggle, but they need to go through the battle in order to come out the other side. If they don’t struggle, they won’t conquer. If they don’t struggle, they will never reach their full potential.
So the second part of today’s challenge is to decide on something that you do for your children that you should stop doing, and teach them/train them to do it, and allow them to keep learning and struggling until they are able to make a good job of it and come out the other side.
Make sure you encourage effort. Keep an eye on how much they can cope with . . . but only step in and take over if you really need to.

A final thought
Don’t forget to pray with and for your children for the things they find difficult, as they grow towards maturity. Encourage them that even in their difficulties the Lord is with them, and you will always be there for them, too. Sometimes the Lord sends trials that seem like more than we can bear, but he is always there, holding our hand, giving us grace that is sufficient for the day. Encourage your children with these things, and be encouraged yourself.

Over to you!
Write a list in your notebook all the things you do for your children. Be prepared for a long list!
Underline any tasks that your children should really be doing for themselves – or that you should be teaching them to do for themselves.
Pick one item from the list, and make the first step to teach/train your children.
Now write down the things you feel your children are having difficulty with.
Ask them if you’re not sure, and decide how you can best help him.
Start helping.
Let us know what you have decided to do and not do. 🙂 Come over to the Christian Parenting Challenge facebook page!

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

For the Future:
Be aware of what your children are capable of, and help them to grow up to be mature adults, able to help themselves and others.

Christian Parenting Challenge #24 – Forgive and Be Forgiven

Christian Parenting Challenge #24 – Forgive and Be Forgiven

Challenge 24
Forgive and be forgiven

Canterbury Cathedral
The power of forgiveness
As Christians, we know the relief that comes from both forgiving and being forgiven. So today’s challenge is in two parts – forgiving our children for things they have done wrong to us, and saying sorry to them for anything we have done wrong to them.

Children are born selfish
Let’s be honest, our children can drive us crazy. They have ways that really annoy us; they sin through weakness, through ignorance and through their own deliberate fault, just like we do.
When they are small they snatch, they yell if they don’t get their own way, they can be selfish and unkind, and need to be taught every social grace. As they get older they scrape the leather off their shoes, lose their trainers, drop their coats and shoes on the floor, leave damp bath towels on their bed, walk mud (or worse!) into the house . . . and all sorts of other thoughtless (and sometimes malicious and sneaky) things. Grrrr! And even when they “should know better”, some really do know how to wind us up, don’t they? All these things are very normal!
Some children, sadly, can go beyond the usual childhood tantrums and selfishness and go on to break the law and/or do things that wound us, shock us, humiliate us, and/or cause us unbelievable pain, anxiety and misery. Some of you may be nodding; you have been there. We still need to forgive.

Here are some particular issues that make forgiveness hard:
Sometimes it is the “faults” that we dislike in ourselves (or our partner!) that cause us the most grief in our children, and we can find these hard to forgive.
Sweeping sins under the carpet. If we don’t acknowledge the wrong things our children are doing, we won’t be able to forgive them. Don’t make excuses for your children. (Divorced or separated parents who feel guilty about their part in the family break-up can easily fall into this trap.)
We find one child much harder to live with than another. This is actually a really common problem for any family that has more than one child! We have to appreciate that we are all made differently for a reason. I have a friend who feels she has nothing in common with her daughter, but she has come to celebrate the differences.
One of the hardest things to bear is when one (or more) of our children are making terrible choices that are not only affecting them, but the rest of the family, too. Remember that we all have to make our own choices, and we all have to make our own mistakes. I have been around long enough to see many situations turn around by the Lord’s grace, including in my own family. Don’t despair, keep holding on, keep praying, keep loving, find someone to talk to, and get help if you need it.
Do any of these strike a chord with you? We need to forgive our children, both for their sake, and for ours, whatever they have done and whatever they are still doing. By all means keep working on any issues (and get help if you need it), but in the meantime, keep forgiving. (Up to seventy times seven.) Bearing grudges doesn’t help anyone.

Why say sorry to your children?
We get it wrong sometimes with our children, too. We can be ratty, snappy, too forceful, not forceful enough, say hurtful things . . . and so on and so forth . . . Apologising doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it’s so much better than making excuses! A simple “sorry” can clear the air in any relationship – and is no different in a parent/child relationship. So why might we find it difficult to say sorry to our children . . . do any of the following resonate?
We feel that we might lose face (pride).
In some cases we might feel that they are more in the wrong than we are (and we might be correct!).
We are frightened of being seen as weak.
We would rather not mention what we have done, because it’s too painful.
We feel that we must always be seen to be right because we are the authority figure.
Some of these overlap, of course, but at the end of the day, an apology doesn’t have to be a big thing. A simple, “sorry I yelled at you,” can be a way to instantly ease tension, even if really, “they started it”! If you say sorry, it can open the way for them to apologise, too.
Apologising can also be a good habit (and attitude) that your children are more likely to copy if they hear it often enough. Here are some more advantages of saying sorry to your children:
It’s a great example.
It teaches them the power and freedom of being able to forgive and be forgiven.
They are more likely to say sorry to you, if you have shown the way.
It’s good for them to know that you are not perfect. That gives them the freedom to know they haven’t got to grow up to be perfect either.
It has the potential to deepen your relationship with them instantly.
After saying sorry yourself, you can always go on to ask if there is anything they would like to say sorry for. You might even like to make a suggestion or two!

Choose your moment
Most apologies are for small things and are better dealt with straight away. However, if you feel you have made a big mistake and that it would be helpful to say sorry, choose your time and place for your apology carefully. Bear in mind the age and sensitivity of your children before you apologise for something that might affect them in a negative way. You might like to leave certain confessions until they is older. If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust for advice.

A slight aside
Some parents insist that their children say sorry for things they have done wrong, even if they don’t want to. It is entirely up to you whether you do this, but it is my feeling that:
Hearing an apology does help the person who has been hurt.
The child who has done wrong may be sorry in their heart, even though they may find it difficult to say the words out loud.
Speaking out the word “sorry” does help to believe it!
Apologising gets easier with practice and is a good habit to get into. The younger your children start, the better.
When an apology is accepted, relationships can move on and thrive.
Forgiveness brings freedom to both parties – the forgiver and the forgiven.

Over to you!
In your notebook, write down all the things your children have said and done that you need to forgive them for.
Decide to forgive each thing on your list. If you have to grit your teeth to do it, that’s fine, it’s a start. Saying it out loud can help. “I choose to forgive X for Z,” for example. The Lord understands.
Now write down something you could or perhaps should ask each child’s forgiveness for; something that you know you have got wrong.
Pick your time and place, and apologise . . .
Then ask your children if there’s anything they are sorry about. If you feel it’s appropriate, tell your children you forgive them. (You could write, text or email your teenager, if that makes it easier or less confrontational.)
Spend a few minute writing down any thoughts about this challenge.
Let us know how it went, especially if you have any advice to offer to others, on the Christian Parenting Challenge facebook page

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

For the future:
Keep short accounts.