Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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31 Days: How Fear Can Make us Over-Shelter our Kids

{art: Léon-Augustin L’hermitte}

Years ago I attended a conference by a man who traveled all over the nation claiming to teach about fearless parenting.

He didn’t use the word fearless.  He used a synonym, one that means dauntless, valiant, audacious.

He proposed some radical means of parenting “fearlessly,” which mostly amounted to cloistering your children from any bad influences and hiding from the culture at large, setting lots of extreme rules and controlling your children’s every move.

Furthermore, he had an extensive list of plans and rules for his children’s future spouses, such as that they must live in close proximity to his family and have a habit of eating healthy foods.

The funny thing is that it’s hard to parent this way unless you are very scared.  Scared of society, scared of bad influences, scared of other Christians, scared of your kids and even yourself and your ability to disciple them in a hostile culture.

So this parenting method is not audacious at all. 

I believe that it’s a reactionary method rooted in fear and disbelief.

Dauntless, valiant, audacious parents trust God.  

They view their parenting through a greater framework of their total relationship with God and understanding of his Word.

They practice wisdom and protect their children from evil with the knowledge that our world is broken and bad things are going to happen—but God is able to either protect us from them or help us through them.

They let their children wrestle through questions and struggles to come out the other side stronger.

They disciple their children to live courageously in the culture,but not of it. 

They are OK with making mistakes as parents, because they understand that we are dust and that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness and he can fill the gaps we lack. 

They expect their children to fail, as fellow sinners, and they do not hold them to higher standards of perfect obedience than they hold themselves.

Parents should use wisdom.  A certain amount of sheltering is appropriate, I believe.  Each family and each child is different and we want to be wise about what we expose them to and when.  There are no rules for this.

But what a fallacy to believe that we can protect them from everything forever!

I’ve heard it said that if your children are never aware of sin and perversion, then when they’re confronted by it, they’ll recognize it immediately and be repulsed.  This isn’t true.

Even as we shield our children from the worst of the world when they are small, we also have to realize that in an increasingly decadent culture, the worst of the world will quickly find them.  We should act sooner rather than later.

It’s our job to proactively help them recognize evil, how to think wisely about it, and how to protect themselves from it.  If you’ve waited until your children are teens, I guarantee that the world has beaten you to it.  We worry that if our children know about darkness, that we are somehow throwing them to the wolves.  But I believe that by not walking and talking with them through it, we are leaving them open and vulnerable to a very loud, aggressive society.  That’s truly throwing your children to the wolves.

We don’t want to talk to our kids about the tough stuff in a way that dumps too much sordid detail on them.  Not in a way that tries to scare them silly.  Not in a superstitious way.  But with wisdom, grace, and common sense—all the while, trusting God through it.

This is fearless parenting.

A little disclaimer: I’ve lived most aspects of this post at one time or another, but I also haven’t finished raising my kids.  I’m finding my way too, and I’m sure I’ll make mistakes.  But these are my thoughts as they stand right now.

What about you?  Are you tempted to over-shelter or avoid talking to your children about sensitive, hard topics?  How to you talk to your children about these things?

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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31 Days: Fear of Culture

Culture can be a scary thing—especially when the common views of the culture push against your spiritual beliefs.  When we see evil being called good, and good being called evil, it’s easy to panic.  How are we supposed to raise children in this environment?

Often parents respond to this fear by withdrawing from and demonizing the culture.  It’s an easy out.

But we forget that the culture is made up of people, people God loves, people made in his image.

We forget that culture was his idea in the first place—it’s just been polluted by sin.

And we forget that there are many amazing and beautiful elements of culture—even modern culture—art, music, architecture, film.

So rather than pulling back, let’s engage.

We want to protect our children, of course.  We don’t want to throw them into the basest cultural environments.

But we must relinquish our fears and trust that God is greater than culture, and that he wants to redeem culture!  Our children will benefit from meeting many people from many walks of life, from learning to critically engage movies, books, and music, and from learning to live in the world without letting their hearts be taken by it.  This, I believe, best happens from the safety of parents’  love which wisely protects (because we don’t want to foolishly expose our children to too much, too soon) while gently guiding and instructing.

A bunker mentality is likely to backfire.

Faith-filled, guided discipleship that embraces the beautiful people God made and the good work they create will grow our children into compassionate world-changers.

I’m still a young mom.  I am not sure where the line is sometimes.  That is why I try to look to scripture, communicate with my husband, and listen to older women who have been there and done that, who stayed the course spiritually and who have raised great kids.

I am sure I’ll get it wrong at times.

But far better to move forward with our children, I believe, teaching them to think critically and with discernment, than to do nothing.

Because eventually, culture will find them. 

Have I helped them become ready?

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

*********

Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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How Many Children Should We Have? Part 2

{Read Part 1 here.}

Here’s the thing.

Biblically, I know that we live in a broken world.

I believe that in a perfect world, every person would be able to fully care for as many children as they could biologically produce.

In a perfect world there would be no pain or sickness, no conditions that require intense times of special care (of children or parents), unlimited energy, time, emotional resources, finances, mental resources, food, and help.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.  Sin and Satan have conspired to break everything good.

In light of the fact that God does not condemn birth control, and that we live in a broken world where sometimes people are too sick or exhausted or poor to care for another child, I still don’t believe it’s an easy decision.

To me, it’s choosing the better of two bad options, the only options given us on this sin-shattered planet.

One is to disallow the life of another human being in order to steward the resources God has provided us for those children He’s already given.

The other is to have more children, realizing that it may be difficult to adequately care for them (financially, emotionally, or in some other way).

Yet I have to know that God sees our hearts, and that we can be blameless if our hearts are right before Him.  Do we seek Him?  Do we have His heart toward children?  Do we view them as a blessing or a curse (both those we have and those we might conceive)?  Do we have children, or not, according to His directive?  Are we willing to do whatever He asks us to do, whether it’s to have more children or not?

These are questions and thoughts I struggle with.  I wish there were an easy answer, a solution at the snap of our fingers.  But there’s not.  It comes back to our relationship with the Author of life.

And seeking God brings peace.  Following Him brings peace.  Obedience brings peace.

In peace, we can rest.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!


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How Many Children Should We Have? Part 1

I don’t have a Mentor Monday post today.  Instead, I’m going to share about a topic I have wrestled with for many years, and the fruit of those years of study, thought, and prayer.

“Should we have another baby?” 

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of conversations with other women about family size.  It’s a decision that is supposed to be easy to make in our culture, but usually it’s not.  When my friends share their hearts about this topic, I so appreciate their transparency and boy can I identify.

I grew up in a large family and loved it.  I have always wanted a large family.  And now I have one.  No regrets.

I know some Christians don’t struggle with the idea of family size at all.  They view it as a decision for them to make, they make it, and they don’t think twice about it.

Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum, like the Duggar family, who don’t believe in limiting family size at all.

I believe the Biblical view falls somewhere in the middle.

I believe what God says when He tells us that children are an unqualified blessing.

Any child conceived is an eternal soul, made in the image of God.  I think we forget this sometimes in our cavalier attitude toward not having them.

I don’t believe that it’s ever a mistake to have another child.  Children are not a mistake.  They are precious to God and should be to us also.

I realize that, according to Jeremiah, God knows our children BEFORE they are conceived.  I have always had a great fear (respectful fear, not terror) of not having a child God has planned for me.

Our desire should be to have God’s heart toward children—He views them as a blessing, a reward, a gift, He loves them and He calls children to come to Him.

The Bible doesn’t address the issue of birth control at all.  And yes, it existed in Bible times, albeit not in the sophisticated forms we have today.  Scriptures used by “quiverfull” advocates are twisted and pulled out of context, proof-texts turned around to support their view.  God does not forbid limiting family size.

I respect the decision of any couple to have as many children as they desire, including the decision to forego all ways to limit or space children.  I believe that if God leads a family in this way, He will also provide for them sufficiently.

I believe that if a couple chooses to limit their family size, they should choose a way of doing so that does not threaten the life of a child they might inadvertently conceive.  Some common methods of birth control are potentially abortifacent.

I know that a lot of people claim that they can’t afford more children when in reality they don’t want to do without luxuries.

I have talked to many, many older people who wish they had had more children.

I have never talked to a parent of many who regrets any of the children they have.

I believe that most people pray more about whether to get married, change jobs, move, or buy a new puppy than about whether to conceive another child, another eternal soul made in God’s image.

But there’s a caveat.

{Read Part 2 here}

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking to Better Mom Monday

A Pause on the Path

Deep Roots at Home

New Life Steward

*For those who have linkies in which I participated this morning…I am having difficulty linking back.  Please be patient, I do want to link to you!*


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How to Tell Your Brain It’s Time for Sleep

Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of August is Rest.

So how did it go this week?  Did you get to bed earlier?  Do you feel more rested?

Some nights were better than others for me, but I found that making a plan to go to bed earlier made me more intentional about hitting the hay at a decent time.

Here’s this week’s challenge:

Turn off any glowing screens after 7 PM.

The blue light from computers, TV’s, and phones tells our brains that it’s time to be awake.  This interferes with our sleep and makes us feel less rested.

I understand that sometimes we may have husbands who want to watch a movie later in the evening.  Don’t fight it.  If your guy prefers to decompress this way, that is fine.  But for yourself, try to put away the screens and choose a more soothing activity.  Just try it for one week and see if you feel a difference.

I think this is extra-important for our kids.

Older children are losing huge amounts of sleep because they stay up late texting.  They start checking their phones and texting before they are even out of bed in the morning.  This is exhausting!

Our children have to turn in all devices (phones, iPods, kindle) around 7PM.  We have a little lock box that we store them in if we think they will be tempted to retrieve them.

This might seem extreme, but consider removing TV’s from your children’s rooms.  YES, it will probably cause a huge fit, but they will get over it.  Make sure that you offer some kind of alternative—put on some soft music or an audiobook and let them read or draw for a little while before sleep.  Try it for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference in how they sleep.

I used to always check Facebook and my feed reader last thing at night before bed.  I have stopped doing this for the most part.  It will all be there in the morning.  I thought it would be a difficult habit to break, but as I have focused on changing the place these rituals have in my heart, it has actually been very easy.  For this weary mama, remembering how nice it is to feel rested helps me make better choices too.

Lastly, if you don’t do anything else, stop watching or reading the news right before bed.  The world is a negative, scary place.  The media makes it about 100 times more negative and scary.  They notify us (in sensational fashion) about every horrible thing that happens locally and around the world.  This does not make for peaceful sleep.  So stay informed, just not at bedtime.

Instead, read something peaceful.  I love the Bible book of Psalms (which are songs/prayers to God) and the Gospels—the stories of Jesus.

How are you most tempted to use screen time in the evening?  Will you try turning off your screens at night for just one week?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday


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How to Tame the Internet Dragon

I was raised kind of Amish.

Well, not really.  My family liked electricity and our rotary phone.

But my parents thought the Amish were the bomb dot com, and decided to live counter-culturally and pattern our lives after the Plain People as much as they could.

The results were a mixed bag.  You can imagine how awkward this was when we tried to interact with normal people.

But the positive side is that we kids learned some good skills and habits, like a great work ethic and the disciplines of silence and solitude.

As for technology, we didn’t know how to reboot a computer, much less how to get online.  On one hand, again, this was a major handicap when we joined the modern world.  On the other, we knew—and still do—that we didn’t need the internet to be happy.

Several years ago I saw a blog challenge to unplug for 24 hours.  This gave the person issuing the challenge a lot of anxiety.  She was asking herself, “Can I really do this?”  A lot of her readers echoed her anxiety.

At the time, I just laughed.  Seriously?  We had gotten to the point that living for 24 hours without the internet was almost unthinkable?

While I still think my unconventional upbringing gave me an edge in my ability to disengage from technology, it’s much smaller than it used to be.  The more I’m online, the more I want to be, and the more restless I am when the internet is not available.

I also see how the internet sucks in my kids.  Even though we have some strict limits on what and how much they are allowed to access online, it feels like fighting a three-headed dragon with a dagger.

So what’s going on?

This week, Michael Hyatt hosted a podcast calledWhat the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (And What We Can Do About It).”  In the podcast, he summarized a Newsweek article called, Tweets, Texts, E-mail and Posts: Is the Onslaught Making Us Crazy?”  Turns out, the internet is doing a lot of damage, especially to our kids.  Michael then shared his thoughts and ideas for how to harness the positive power of the internet, while guarding against its negative impact.

Michael outlined five disciplines that can help us avoid the crazy-making of the internet: rest, reflection, reading, recreation, and relationships.

At first glance, this might seem like a common sense list, but do we actually make room for them in our lives?

I’m not against technology.  In fact, growing up without it gave me an incredible appreciation for the opportunities of the internet.  But along with Michael and the authors of the Newsweek article, I fear that it’s horning in on our lives so pervasively that it’s causing us and our families a lot of harm.

Anyone who lives in the modern world is impacted by the addictive power of the internet.

How is it affecting you as a mom?  How is it affecting your marriage?  Your children?

Go listen to the podcast.  It gave me a fresh determination to keep the internet in its place and to, as Jeff Goins says, “live a life worth writing.”  What good is all this information if it doesn’t stem from something real?

On Wednesdays from August through December, I am going to focus on one of Michael’s five disciplines on my blog (and in my life).   Each week, I will issue a simple challenge related to the current discipline as it relates to family and mothering.

First up: Rest.

Come back on August 1 for the first challenge.

Let’s tame this monster and take back control!  The sanity of our families is at stake!

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!


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Are You Over-Sharing About Your Kids?

Not long ago, I read a mom’s regret:  After years of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, she felt like her children were “exposed.”

I’m sure that as she posted each status, each picture, each small bit of information, it didn’t feel that way.  But all those things add up to a digital timeline (thanks Facebook), the record of our children’s lives, pictures, stories, right there for anyone to view.

Truly, privacy is almost completely lost in today’s digital world.  Even if you opt out of the internet (impossible unless you’re a hermit), there is no guarantee that someone won’t post something about you or your children online against your knowledge or wishes.  (And even if you’re a hermit, someone might blog about you!)

It takes my breath to see how public some people are with their lives.  How will they feel about that in 5 years, or 10?  Will they really want the details of every relationship or youthful stupidity on display?

There’s certainly nothing wrong with talking about our lives and families online, but as we do, I believe we should ask ourselves: Will our children one day feel exposed?

I was very naïve when I first got online 12 years ago—late to the party—but I’ve tried to be discreet about what I share.  Not perfectly, I know.  But more so now than ever find myself saying, “No one needs to know that.”  It’s not bad things or even super-personal things.  But does the world really need to hear that I hate wire hangers or what I had for breakfast?  Do they need to know where my children struggle or fail?

Remember what it was like before the internet, when only close personal friends knew the details of your life? 

These days, what I choose not to tell provides a sort of inner sanctum, a large collection of habits and events that are not shared.  It is also a way to shield my children a bit from the whole world knowing everything about them.  If they choose to share their stories with the world one day, they can.  Their stories are not mine to tell.

It’s different for every family.  There is no one right way to know how much to share.  And I am so thankful for many people who are very transparent online, and write to encourage!  It’s something you have to settle in your own heart.

Just ask yourself: How will this expose my children?

Have you ever felt like you or your family was exposed by too much sharing?  What kinds of boundaries do you put on your online life?       

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!


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Raising Strong Kids in a Fifty Shades World

Are you reading Fifty Shades of Grey?  I’m not.  Dannah Gresh sums up my thoughts pretty well.  (And if you don’t know what the buzz is about, hop over and read her post.  I’d like to keep my blog closer to PG.)

As I’ve listened to the conversation on blogs and Facebook, I’ve found it ironic: In a day when women are supposedly freer than ever before, they are falling all over themselves to read an erotic tale of pain and subjugation.  Because no matter how “consensual”, a lifestyle that includes the purposeful bondage and hurt of another is degrading, sinful, and abusive.

We can trust Jesus with our children.  If not, it would be a scary time to raise kids.  How will they navigate relationships and marriage in a world where books, movies, and one-click porn have made disordered sex mainstream and taught young people to expect and even crave it?

We parents of young ones can’t wait and see.  As we trust God, we must also be proactive.

Even before the Fifty Shades phenomenon, I saw parents react to our perverse culture in two radical ways.  On one end of the spectrum—admittedly the less popular end—I have seen parents over-shelter their children.  I believe this sets their kids up to be victims.  In this paradigm, loving parents want to protect their daughters by assuming all-encompassing responsibility for their protection even into adulthood.  This results in naïve young women who can’t defend themselves.  Also in this paradigm, guys are sometimes emasculated as they rely on rule-keeping and parental involvement to keep them from sexual sin.

On the other end of the spectrum are parents who give their kids no guidance about relationships.  The children are left to figure it out on their own.  They are discipled by the culture, AKA thrown to the wolves.

I’m certainly not an expert, but I propose that a middle way might be wisest.  We should seek to create strong, stable family structures that will shield our kids from the worst of the world.  But we should seek to raise our children to be strong individually as well.  They are not ours to keep forever.

Here are some questions we might ask ourselves about our kids.

Are my children discerning?  Our kids should be trained to spot obvious signs of a predator, but they should cultivate that spiritual sixth sense that says “danger!”  Foolproof?  No.  But important in today’s insidiously deceptive society.

Are they spiritually mature?  Are we teaching them to walk closely with God?  Do they know God’s Word and recognize ideas that oppose it?  Are they “God’s friend,” who can hear his voice?  A deep faith and spiritual toughness won’t happen by accident.

Do they have a secure identity?  Do they look to anyone—man or woman—for self-worth, or are they fulfilled in their position as God’s child?  Do our girls understand that beauty is a gift but it’s not what gives them value?  Do our sons understand that manliness isn’t about lust, sexual prowess, and domination, but about being God’s guy and stepping up to the plate to respect women?  Does their worth come from performance or from God alone?

Have they received unconditional love at home?  Really.  Do we parents love them even when they mess up?  Do we extend grace as God has extended it to us?  Do our kids have to go elsewhere for total acceptance?

Are they both strong and gracious?  Scripture tells us to couple truth with grace.  In a hostile world, have our kids learned to defend their convictions firmly while seeking to hear, understand, and extend compassion to the other side?

Are they sexually confident?  The world SCREAMS to them about sex and relationships.  This is no time for parents to be shy.  As we teach our kids to make moral choices, they should know what they are saying “no” to and what they are saying “yes” to.  Parents should be specific without being inappropriately graphic.  Our kids should know that they can ask us anything, because if they can’t ask us they can sure ask Google.  You won’t like what they find there.

My children are not grown yet.  I might get it wrong.  My kids will make poor choices—hopefully not lasting ones.  There are no guarantees.  But parents, I do know this: God is on our side, and we can’t afford to be passive with our children when there’s a Fifty Shades world ready to devour them.  So let’s raise them strong.

How about you?  What are you doing to prepare your kids for the world they live in?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook!  I would be thrilled!


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A Prescription for Tired Hearts

Our hearts were tired yesterday.

It’s been one of those weeks.  Nothing tragic, just recurring struggles magnified in the lives of some of the littles.  Struggles that bring stress to us all.  Mama, Daddy, babies.

Sometimes we just need a down day for our weary souls to rest and recover.

I try not to make this blog too homeschool-centric, but I have to say—this is what I love about homeschooling.  In an ordinary setting, the littles would be rushed off to school like any other day, but instead…

Our exhausted one sleeps in.  We move slowly through the day.  Our regular seat work is suspended and we fill our time with documentaries, The Magic School Bus, play doh, drawing, quiet learning games, library books.  I wear the one-year-old who has been a bit short on snuggle time during the past couple tumultuous days.  He falls asleep against me and the Ergo carries his sweet, sleeping, heavy little body on my chest as I go about my work.  It forces me to slow down.  Solo piano station on Pandora.  Encouraging reading.  Nourishing food.  Rest.

 And it’s a beautiful, healing day.

~Linking to Simple Lives Thursday~


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Internet Safety for Kids (and the Rest of Us)

~painting by Frederick Lufkin Freer~

My 11 year old is learning to navigate the internet.  My husband and I have been extraordinarily cautious with how much we have let our kids be online, but the internet is here to stay and it’s an essential part of how our culture operates, so it’s key that she learns to be safe and smart online in this strange new world.  Here are a few things we are doing and teaching her.  Feel free to jump in with your thoughts and ideas!  I know you all have lots of wisdom to share!

Use an internet filter.  I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to protect your kids from things they may stumble across (or search for) while online.  No internet filter is perfect, but we’ve been very pleased with Net Nanny.  Not much gets through.  We also take advantage of all the safe search and security settings available on other devices.  Our home computers, handheld devices, and Netflix on the Wii all must be accessed with passwords.  Our kids are not allowed to be on a device that has unfiltered, unrestricted internet.  There’s too much perversion too readily available.

Keep your computer in a public place—no internet access in bedrooms or other hidden places.

Don’t share personal info.  We tell our kids, “Don’t sign up for things without Dad and Mom’s permission, don’t give your real name, don’t tell where you live, where you are, where you go, when you are going on vacation, what your personal habits and routines are,” and so forth.  The kids know that they can’t post their picture publicly.  It’s easy for a predator to piece together personal info and figure out who you are and where you live.

Don’t mistake online interaction for real friendship.  Recently I joined a forum using all my normal caution.  Most of the people on this particular forum were my age and younger—many of them in their late teens and early 20’s.  I was blown away by how much personal, personal info they shared with total strangers, how quickly they trusted each other, and how few inhibitions they have about meeting in person.  I guess I have been naïve, but apparently this is part of today’s internet culture.  These people grew up with the internet and this is how it’s done.  I believe genuine friendships can spring from online encounters, but more often I think it promotes a false sense of intimacy.  Personally, I can think of 3 people I have “met” online that I have one-on-one contact with after 10 years of internet use, and then only after YEARS of very cautious and careful online observation.

Remember, anything you put online is there forever.  Even if you delete it, it’s cached or archived somewhere.

No secrecy.  My husband and I have all passwords to any accounts our children have.  We also have each other’s user names and passwords for all accounts.  We have access to each other’s accounts, whether email, forums, or Facebook whenever we like, although truthfully we rarely do—the point is that we are free, honest, and open with each other about our online lives.  We don’t hide our internet histories from each other.  We discuss the sites we visit and what we read.  We don’t have secrets.  Secrets destroy lives, families, and relationships.

What about you?  How do you teach your children about internet safety?  How do you keep yourself safe online?

 

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