Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

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I heard Kristen Welch on a podcast once. She and her family run a nonprofit called Mercy House that helps pregnant girls in Africa and provides jobs for these women through their Fair Trade Friday program. She has also written a few books. I recently read Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. Kristen wrote this book with her thoughts about how she is trying to do this with her three teenageers and has some great thoughts.

The most convicting thing I read was probably this:

“As uncomfortable as it sounds, parents who want less entitled kids have to be less entitled themselves, and parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by living more grateful lives.”

My kids aren’t going to learn to be thankful from watching tv or hanging out with their friends. They are going to learn it (or not learn it) from me. I need to get back to my blessings jar or thankfulness journal and help Clarissa do something similar.

She quotes Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane, “The only thing a child is really entitled to is his parents’ love. Not to keep up with the Joneses. Not a brand new bike or iPad. Just love. Every child deserves to be loved by his or her parents. If a child has your unconditional love, he has the greatest asset in the world. If we as parents can realize that it’s love that our children need most, and not things, we will stop trying to buy our children’s happiness with possessions.”

We all want to give our kids good things. The struggle for me as a mom is figuring out how much is too much. I want to bless my children, but I don’t want them to be spoiled brats either. I want them to be thankful for what they have and want to help others.

Some of my other favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “All children need to be bored… Because that’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to fill their time. They don’t need a plan for entertainment. They can create their own.”
  • “I believe one of the ways children learn submission to God and doing what He says is by being taught to submit to the authority of their parents. So yes, require it, but do so with love and grace because deep down, I think our kids want rules and guidance and the structure obedience brings.”
  • “The bottom line is this : All the right from wrong teaching, character building, faith instilling, intentional parenting that you’ve made a priority in your home is producing children who do not fit into the mold our society has deemed normal. And it leaves us with children who sometimes feel left out, different, alienated, and even alone. But this doesn’t mean we have failed them. It’s through this kind of struggle that their own faith is forged and deepens and their relationship with us – – bumpy days included– grows. But mostly, it makes them aware of the costs of following Jesus.”

Our favorite Easter books for preschool and young elementary

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The two biggest holidays on the Christian calendar are Christmas and Easter (Resurrection Day). I feel like Christmas probably gets more press time than Easter. But we still have a list of books that we read every year in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Day.

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  • Peek-a-Bible The Easter Story is a great lift the flap book that tells the story of Resurrection Day. It starts with Jesus riding into town on a donkey, includes The Last Supper, the garden, Jesus on the cross, and His resurrection.
    The Easter Story is a cute little board book that tells the story with nice pictures and easy sentences.
  • God Gave Us Love is a long conversation between Little Cub and Grandpa about loving someone but not always liking what they do. At the end they talk about how God loves us so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins.
  • God Gave Us Easter is another story about little cub. This time, Papa explains that Easter is even better than Christmas because Jesus died on the cross for us. He also talks a lot about how spring can point us to Jesus. I also really like that Papa explains what it means to listen to God and when Little Cub wakes up in the morning she is excited to report that she heard from God too.
  • Lily’s Easter Party has been one of Clarissa’s favorite books since we bought it when she was two. In this story, Lily invites some of her friends over for a special Easter egg hunt. At the egg hunt, the children are instructed to put the eggs in a basket on the table. Then once all the eggs are found, mom and dad sit down with the kids and open the eggs in order. Each egg has a small object inside that tells the story of Jesus and his Resurrection. This is a great book if you have resurrection eggs, but you can also read it on it’s own.
  • The Parable of the Lily is a story about Maggie who receives a present in the mail in the middle of winter. There were instructions to put the box in a cool dark place and plant it in spring. One day, Maggie accidentally made a mess in the cellar and threw her box into the yard and forgot about it. On Easter morning, she woke up to beautiful lilies in her yard. She was excited about new life. She realized that the gift was from her father and she learned a lesson in forgiveness.
  • Holy Week is a new one for us this year. It is a board book that talks about the names of different emotions and places them with a Bible verse and a picture to tell a different part of the Holy Week story.
  • In The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story, Brother and Sister Bear start the story really excited about all of the candy that will be in their Easter baskets but learn the real story of Easter in Sunday school.
  • We love Little Critter in this house, so Happy Easter Little Critter gets read too, even though they have an Easter bunny and do an egg hunt at the church picnic.

You can read our favorite books about Christmas here.

Our favorite books for babies and toddlers

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I have been reading to Clarissa since before she could talk. At first, she chomped on the books as I read them. But eventually she learned to sit and look at the books. We had several favorites when she was really small. These are our favorite books for babies and toddlers.

  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
    I loved the repetition in this book. “It’s time for bed little sheep, little sheep. The whole wide world is going to sleep…” Clarissa loved the animals in the book. I would say goodnight and call her a different animal every night.
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    Clarissa really liked this one, I think because of the bunny. It rhymes and has decent pictures. As a bigger kid, she was confused about why they said goodnight to so many objects because “you don’t need to say goodnight to air.” But as a baby, she loved it.
  • God Made Me
    Clarissa loved this one because of all the animals. She liked to tell me the names of the animals in the pictures. I liked that she was learning that God made everything.
  • Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
    This is another rhyming book with wonderful pictures. I loved that this book taught Clarissa that no matter what, Mommy would always love her. And that even as a grown up she would know that she was loved.
  • On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
    Clarissa preferred this one because of all the adventures the animals had on the “wonderful, marvelous night she was born.”
  • God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    This is one in a series of books about Little Cub and her family. This one explains how Mommy and Daddy were excited that God was giving them a baby and some of the anticipation they had for baby’s birth and then what life was like when they brought baby home. She liked the bears.
  • Time for a Hug by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green
    This was Clarissa’s favorite book for about a year. She loved that the bunny and her mom had a hug like every hour of the day. I think she also liked that Daddy would hug her every time it happened in the book. This would also be a great book to teach little kids about a schedule.

The Read-Aloud Family

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I was determined to only read the books that I already own this year (or at least the ones I can get from the library). But when The Read-Aloud Family was on sale for $2.99 on Kindle, I couldn’t resist.

In my elementary school teacher days, my favorite part of the day was read aloud time (and guided reading). Before lunch and at the end of the day, whenever we had time really, I would read aloud to my class. We always started the year with Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Even my more reluctant readers would beg for “another Wayside.” One year my class wrote the next chapter in the Wayside series, wrote a letter to the author, and only read books by the author, Louis Sachar. I have actually been looking forward to introducing Clarissa to the Wayside series since before she was born.

Reading has been a part of our routine from the beginning. Clarissa has always loved books, even if she was mostly eating them at first. We read multiple times per day and she even “reads” to herself. She has recently been adamant about starting kindergarten so that she can “learn to read for real.”

I have heard about Sarah Mackenzie on one of my podcasts, Cultivating the Lovely. I knew that if she was writing a book about reading to your kids, it needed to be on my wishlist.

  • She talks about reading books being the same thing as eating comfort food. “When we’re in a new city we’ve done nothing but meet new people, eat new food, have new experiences. And yet at the end of the day, whether in a hotel room or a tent or even on a plane, we can open up If You Give A Moose a Muffin or Blueberries for Sal or some other book we’ve read a hundred times, and it’s comfort food. It reminds us this is who we are. “
  • She talks about how reading with our kids gives them the opportunity to live vicariously through the storybook characters, giving them a more well-rounded childhood than we could ever accomplish in real life.”
  • “By the time our children leave our homes, we don’t want them to wonder whether their lives matter. We want them to know they do. If we tell them enough stories, they will have encountered hard questions and practiced living through so many trials, hardships, and unexpected situations that, God willing, they will have what they need to become the heroes of their own stories. “
  • “It is said that a person who reads lives a thousand lives, but a person who never reads leads only one. What better opportunity can we give our children than to live a thousand lives before they leave home?”
  • It is impossible to teach your kids everything they will need for life before they leave your house. You can help them to learn to think and process information by reading to them, even when they can read themselves.
  • ” A good education, then, is not one that results in high test scores, elite college acceptances, or the ability to read Virgil in Latin or War and Peace without Cliffs Notes. A good education teaches us – – and our children – – to love fully and to love well.”
  • If you read aloud to your children, just ten minutes every other day, it will add up to over 30 hours per year!
  • You don’t have to discuss every book you read. “Trust that a book can speak directly to your child, even if you never intervene with a conversation or discussion.” You still want reading to be enjoyable.

Sarah shares ideas for reading journals, conversations, and even reading lists for each age group in this book. Sarah Mackenzie also has a podcast where she regularly talks to authors about kids and books.

Princess Cut Movie Review

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Watchman Pictures

I love a good romance movie, especially one that doesn’t have any inappropriate scenes or themes in it. Princess Cut by Watchman Pictures, is one of those movies. The movie would be appropriate for elementary school students to see, but I think they would be bored with a love story. They use the word “intimate” instead of “sex” in this movie. There aren’t any kisses either. Someone tried to kiss Grace and she stopped him and said, “Not until you put a ring on it.” This is a movie that I definitely plan to watch with Clarissa when she is in middle school because it provides so many discussion points about relationships but also family dynamics.

Princess Cut The Movie

The movie is about Grace and her hard working, Christian family who lives on a soybean farm in North Carolina. At the beginning of the movie, Grace is kind of your typical college girl who just happens to be a Christian. She is so focused on her relationships with boys that she isn’t really paying attention to the people around her. She has two relationships before she realizes that something needs to change.

By this time, her dad has been encouraged by his pastor to study about the father’s role in his daughter’s relationships. He learns that the giving the daughter away during the wedding ceremony actually comes from Jeremiah 29:6. Grace and her dad have a conversation about how things need to shift so that they can do this God’s way. Her dad encourages her that “it’s not as much about finding the perfect person as becoming who God made you to be.”

During the second half of the movie you really watch Grace grow into this beautiful woman of God. She really wants to honor God and her family in the things that she does, including any romantic relationships. She goes to the library for some books about the subject and actually picks up some that I really enjoyed during that season of life, When God Writes Your Love Story and Boundaries in Dating.

A young doctor named Clint does get to know their family and asks for Grace’s parents permission to get to know her better before he even talks to Grace about it. When he talks to her he says, “Your heart is too precious a treasure to play games with.” That is the kind of young man that I would like to pursue Clarissa. I don’t want to give away the whole story. I will say that I really enjoyed it, which means it did have a happy ending.

There are so many good things that I will discuss with Clarissa when we watch this movie.

  • It’s not about waiting for the perfect guy. It’s about trusting God.
  • I want you to be able to talk to your dad and I about anything. God. Boys. Life. No matter how bad you think it is.
  • Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
  • Know what your boundaries will be physically before you start dating.
  • Not everyone believes that same things that we do, so you need to be careful about who you are receiving counsel from.
  • What kind of a friend do you want to be? What kind of friends do you want to have?
  • How should you treat your parents? siblings? How should they treat you?
  • What blessings has God given us that we can share with others?
  • How can we serve other people as a family?

I have seen a few “Christian” movies. Often you can tell they are lower budget than something that comes out in the movie theater. The actors were pretty good in this one. There was one scene that Grace was supposed to be crying and it wasn’t super believable. There were a few times when the camera angles were odd. For the most part, the acting and the sets were great.

Princess Cut {Watchman Pictures Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Parenting Made Practical Review

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parenting made practical
This review is a little different. Most of the products that I have received to review so far have been for Clarissa to use. This time, Parenting Made Practical sent parenting resources for me. They sent me a DVD called Navigating the Rapids of Parenting and a book titled Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think. Both are great resources.

 Navigating the Rapids of Parenting is a DVD by Joey and Carla Link with two 45 minute sessions. The first session covers birth to middle school. The second session continues with middle school and goes through college age. They were easy to watch together in the same sitting.Navigating the Rapids of Parenting DVD

I appreciated this DVD series because it talked about how to parent children from a developmental standpoint but also used scripture to explain the Biblical perspective. I also liked how it progressed across different ages so that I can see what I should be working on now and what the goal is by the time Clarissa is 18. It provided several discussion points for Tim and I so that we can really talk about what we want Clarissa to learn before she “graduates” from our home as a young adult. I also appreciated how they encouraged parents to anticipate your child’s behavior, rather than just react to it. It takes some planning, but it will make life better for your family.

The main goal of the first phase of development (birth to 5 years old) is discipline. I want Clarissa to obey me and recognize my authority because then she will be able to obey God and recognize His authority. They talked about first time obedience. I want to work on Clarissa stopping what she is doing and coming to us when we call her. Then, we can give her an instruction. We tend to just start talking and get frustrated when she doesn’t do what we ask her to. Sometimes the problem is that she is busy playing and doesn’t hear the instruction. But if she has to stop what she is doing to come to us, she will definitely hear the instruction and be more likely to follow it. After we master this, we can move on to the attitude that she follows the directions. The Links said that at this age, the attitude isn’t as important as the obedience.

The goal of the second phase of development (the elementary school years) is training. This is the time to teach Clarissa our values and character. We should focus on things like the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and stewardship. They talked about how you teach these things in elementary school while they are still young and impressionable. If I wait until Clarissa is a teenager to teach her about modesty, she will have other influences fighting for her attention. But at this age, she is more likely to listen to me. I also need to explain why we believe these things so that she can understand them as well.

Once a child reaches middle school he starts to form his own belief system and question the authority of his parents. Carla and Joey recommend having your child read Growing Up Christian during this time to make them think through their beliefs. They also stressed that when a child enters middle and high school, youth group does not become a substitute for parenting. We should still be very involved with our children.

The goal of the third phase of development (high school/college) is coaching. This is a time for asking Clarissa questions instead of just teaching. We can have great discussions about what she is learning in church or her own quiet time. It may also be beneficial to be serving somewhere as a family or doing a mission trip together instead of just sending her on the youth group mission trip. This is a time to find ways for Clarissa to serve in ways that she is naturally gifted in. Some kids will exit this stage after high school. Some will be in it longer.

The Links said that once you become friends with your child, you have lost your authority. Don’t move them to friendship level with you until they can support themselves financially.

Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think Book

I started Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think by Joey and Carla Link on the flight home from Hong Kong. I realized on the plane that I do lecture Clarissa a lot and she does tune me out. So I was eager to read this book. I actually really enjoyed it and finished it the evening after we returned.

One main point of the book was to ask kids questions about his thoughts and behavior instead of just giving a lecture because it gets to the heart of why a child is doing a particular behavior. Another point was that giving an actual consequence (like taking away a privilege) instead of a lecture was more effective at changing behavior. The book also stressed modeling so that a child would know exactly what was expected of him.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • “Pointing out what your kids did wrong makes them feel like failures, and they lose their confidence in their ability to do anything right” (19).
  • “Teaching your kids to do what is right is one thing. To hold them accountable is quite another… Giving your kids consequences is holding them accountable for their actions” (28-29).
  • “Trying to talk kids into the right thing doesn’t work because your words aren’t going to motivate them to change. Lectures aren’t consequences” (88).
  • “Ask God to remove our blinders where our kids’ weaknesses are concerned and help us see the areas we need to work on… Plan to proactively teach your children how to turn a weakness into a strength” (91).
  • “Reminding your kids to get their stuff done is the flip side of lecturing” (137).

Some of the specific ideas in the book are geared toward older kids (age 8 and above), so I won’t be able to use all of these ideas yet. But I plan to try a few. The book also referenced another of their books Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave? so I may need to read that one next as it is geared toward younger kids like Clarissa.

In previous reviews, everyone on the review crew has reviewed the same item. This time, are many products available for review from Parenting Made Practical so I would recommend checking out some of the other posts so that you can see all of the resources that they offer.

Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Made to Crave

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It seems like accountability groups have become popular over the past couple of years. Especially in the online world. I was in an out of a few for a while about diet and exercise. But I would eventually get to the point where I was only worried about numbers and not health. So I would stop for a while and then decide I needed a change and get back into it. I needed something different.

This fall, a friend started an online book club for Lysa Terkeurst’s book Made to Crave. I am really glad that I decided to join. I feel like I have a lot more freedom in the area of health and wellness, even though I haven’t really lost any weight. This book has really helped to shift the way that I think about food being fuel and the way I see my body.

In the book, Lysa talks about her struggles with food in a way that most women probably understand. If I crave something not good for me, I can use it as a prompt to pray. The idea is that you can see your food cravings as something that can bring you closer to the Lord instead of a curse.

There were a few Bible verses and phrases that she kept coming back to that really spoke to me:

  • “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial…” 1 Cor. 6:10
  • “This feels good now, but how will I feel about it in the morning?”
  • “The ultimate goal of this journey isn’t about making me a smaller size, but rather making me crave Jesus and His truth as the ultimate filler of my heart. I am a Jesus girl who can step on the scale and see the numbers as an indication of how much my body weighs and not as an indication of my worth.”

Reading this book in a small group was helpful in trying to keep to a certain schedule in the reading. But I think that you can learn a lot by doing the book on your own as well. There are personal reflections for each of the 19 chapters. Everyone will get something different out of the book because we each have different experiences.