Boycott the Book?

I have read many parenting books.  I have learned many things from them.  Sometimes though, parenting books can be discouraging at best.  Sometimes, I feel like boycotting them altogether.  I wouldn’t because I know that a wise person does not close themselves off to truth.  Yet, these books are ideas — ideas from men.  Because of that, the reader must read with discernment.  People are also unique and with souls so formulas aren’t full-proof and normally don’t work.

This past week, I was reading a parenting book.  It was a good book — is a good book.  I put it down, unfinished with reading it.  I tried to implement many of its suggestions.  I came away frustrated.  Frustrated because the book stated that you can change your child’s tone, facial expression, and behavior.  Okay, maybe you can.  I was frustrated though because I couldn’t change my child’s heart.  Yeah, I know I can’t, but isn’t the heart what we all say we are working on changing?

As Christian parents, we have a responsibility to raise our children in godliness and towards godliness.  We read lots of books, hoping to find the secret ingredient or formula to guarantee that our children will be the perfect fruits of our training and labor.

We get so confused in this.  I get so confused in this — trying to produce outward godliness and trying to follow formulas.  Thinking that we can somehow control their hearts as well — that we are in charge of them.

I read a great little booklet that addresses so many of these fallacies.  It convicted me by a few great words of wisdom that especially stood out to me.  They’re in the following quotes:

“Fruitful Christianity comes from the inside out — from who we are — not from what we do.”

“As Christians we cannot ask, ‘What must I do?’  We must ask, ‘What must I be’?”

[As parents…] “It was not what they did.  It was what they were.”  [… that influenced their children.  Of course who we are does manifest itself in our actions.  If we focus on the outward too much, it speaks of a heart of pride and legalism.]

“If we are to have significant influence of our teenage children, we must have their hearts.  Having their hearts means gaining the opportunity to influence who they are, not just what they do.”

“Are we more concerned with protecting our kids from that which is bad or putting into them that which is good?”

“Our children learn what’s important to us not by what we verbally emphasize, but by what they see us passionate about.”

“Take them into the world on the offense not defense.”

“Cultivate a loving relationship with them, which will allow you to speak into their lives and influence their values.”

“Help them find security in their relationship with you.”

“Trust in formulas is really dependence upon ourselves.”

“It is critical to understand that God wants us to trust not in principles, methods, or formulas, no matter how ‘biblical’ they seem.  God wants us to trust in HIM!”

“Our success in raising children to be lovers of God and others, is not going to be contingent upon achieving perfect sheltering or using the best Bible curriculum.  It is going to be based on doing what we must as parents, but trusting God for the outcome.”

“God will not reduce Himself to being an ingredient in a formula or method.”

“It is critical that we realize our children are people whose hearts, as they mature, are influenced more by relationship that by external controls.  In all our intensity, we can sometimes treat them not as fellow humas but as dehumanized ingredients in a cake we are baking.”

“The more we focus on formulas or principles, the more children become ‘things.’  The more they become things, the less we have significant relationship.  The less we have relationship, the more we lose hearts.  Without their hearts, the less we are able to influence their values.  Without their hearts, the best we can do is control the outside (for a while).”

“A formulaic mentality is chiefly concerned with doing the right thing to produce the right result.  Our children need us to not merely act like Christians, but to be genuine Christians.”

“We cannot simply implement loving actions into our homes, we must truly love.”

“Loving Him isn’t about our children — it is about HIM!  God intends that the side effect of loving Jesus and enjoying the grace of the Gospel will be that all people, including our children, will be touched by the Savior in us.”

These quotes were taken from: http://www.familyministries.com/HS_Crisis.htm.  So much good food for thought!  I have been convicted each time I read it.  I am recognizing is that what my children need most of all from me is not for me to read one more parenting book and to try one more formula.  It is for me to grow in my relationship with the Lord — for me to love Him more.  That happens as I learn to recognize His love first of all for me.  If I focus on that Love, I will be transformed by it and loving my kids will come naturally as a fruit.

Note: This doesn’t negate all parenting books or negate trying to make practical changes or implementing wise ideas.  What it does do is focus our attention on the heart issue.  The heart issue of disciplining and training our children has always been the heart!

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My Home — A Cathedral Where Glory To God Reigns!

The past few days have been amazing!  Let’s just say that I feel as if a cloud was lifted off me.  I know my dad, my husband, and my secret prayer sister have been praying — maybe many others.  I just know that I have sensed those prayers.

I have been loving my earlier morning risings; I am able to have devotions, read some from a wonderful parenting book, get a shower, raise the blinds, prepare breakfast, and then lovingly welcome my children to a new day.

Here are a few tips from my new parenting book that I have been implementing that has been so helpful:

1. Anger is good for indicating a problem but never for solving it.  Separate the two.

2.  Establish the relationship before addressing behaviors.  Do this by first getting your children to come to you or going to them.  Then lovingly give clear instructions.  First, state the goal for what you want to accomplish and then ask the child to do their part.  This emphasizes team work.

3.  Ask three questions following a discipline:

“What did you do that was wrong?”

“What was wrong with it?”

“What can you do differently next time?”

4. The goal of discipline is to work your children to reconciliation and to be able to wisely respond to correction, to respond to our vocal commands without needing a repeat or consequence.

There are so many other wonderful things in the books, but those are some of the best for our family so far.  The books are called: Say Goodbye to Whining and Good And Angry.

I have been so thrilled by hearing my children respond with good attitudes, by them not resorting to hitting as a means of solving a disagreement, etc… So much victory, and I am humbled and amazed.

My heart is at peace and joyful.  The Lord has given me so much patience, and His wisdom is what I seek and then try to share with my kids.

Here is a note I wrote along those lines:

“Just wanted to say that God is so good! He has filled my heart to overflowing with joy! I am amazed by His grace — so rich, so unfailing, so full of light and life! Tears fill my eyes as I ponder these moments, these evidences of His grace… in the eager smiles of my children as they run obediently to me, in the cheers as we play a game together, in the muddy boots that are running with my boys, in the victory to not yield to sin’s temptation to impatiently answer my children but to lovingly demonstrate…”

“And time, this moment, slowed and entered into, might be a cathedral giving glory to God…”
Some recent special moments:

A shelf that holds our printer broke.  The printer was precariously hanging above our monitor. I tried lifting it but couldn’t. I unhooked the monitor and moved it out of the way.  I then unhooked the printer.  Again, I tried to lift it but couldn’t.  I knew if I left it, we would probably have a broken printer plus more.  I loved Drew’s response to the problem, he said, “Mommy, let’s pray.” So, we did just that. The Lord then gave me the wisdom to know how to lift the shelf so that I could then get a better grip under the printer and then finally lift the printer out of the way.  The boys and I were then able to stop and thank the Lord for his help.   Another exciting example for the boys and I in how God does answer prayer!

Bubbles, Books, & Blocks

My morning with the boyz consisted of building garages with blocks, blowing bubbles in our DR for them to pop, and then having them pick books for me to read to them.  Overall, I think it was a fairly good morning… some discipline issues, but that is the life with toddlers.  I find that I enjoy building things with blocks, Legos, or train tracks.  I guess that’s a good thing since I have three boys! 😉

Books At (Almost) Three Months

I have been reading aloud to Luke every day — particularly knowing how studies have shown how important it is to read to, not just toddlers, but infants too.  Luke appears to be as interested in books as his older(s) brother(s).  Will, in particular, loved books at an early age.  I read six books to Luke this afternoon, and he was mesmerized during the reading of all six books.  He definitely has an attention span that can handle looking at several books at one time.

Books & Friends

Today, a good friend from my first-grade year and since visited my boys and I. We had fun taking a trip to our revised library. It is a fabulous place! They have stores, a post office, a baby garden, a toddler lighthouse and beach place, a house, a tree house, a construction zone, a theater, dress-up clothes, a garden, etc… inside the library for the kids to enjoy, while reading their books. The boys had a blast and so did I, watching them play and experience many new sights. Luke enjoyed himself too. We left with a backpack full of books for the boys and some books for me to read while I nurse Luke. The funny thing is that my friend and I gave each other books for our upcoming birthdays. It’s great to have a friend who doesn’t mind joining in with kids’ stuff — even though she is single and doesn’t have kids herself!