Friday, October 31, 2014

Be There

I don't know about you but I've had a lot of teachable moments in the past 31 days and I'm sure my children can say the same. In a lot of ways I feel like I've failed miserably practicing what I preach this month. I don't know if that's because I've been focusing on it so much that I've made myself over think it, or maybe I'm just noticing it more because I've been writing about it. One thing is for sure though the enemy loves to tear us down and make us feel like we're not good enough. I've had several people from friends, to my own husband and my mother tell me (in reference to this series) how they feel like they are not parenting the right way or that they didn't do things the right way when they had a chance. 

That is not the result I was going for when I set out to write about Teachable Parenting. And this is what I would like to say to everyone that is reading this: 

Stop beating yourself up. I am talking to you. You, wiping your child's nose. You doing the dishes. You getting disapproval from others because you let your child sleep with you, and you getting disapproval from your child because you won't let them sleep with you. You who are late to get your child to soccer, and you who feels bad that you can't afford soccer. To the bottle feeders, and the breast feeders, the loud mom, the mean mom, the Pinterest mom, and the laid back mom. 

You are enough. 

Please be encouraged. You are doing an amazing job. Your sacrifice is meaningful. You are capable and equipped. You are chosen. You are qualified. You can do this. 

To sum it all up I'd like to leave you with some advice from a young man who spent most of his life in prison. I met Brandon Young this past Sunday when a ministry group called Hope Royale came my church. The men were different ages and had different backgrounds, but their commonality was that they had all spent a good deal of time in jail and now have come to a place of restoration with powerful testimonies to share about their journeys. At the end of the service a panel was opened up for question-and-answer time. We were all encouraged to ask them anything we wanted. It could be about drugs, alcohol, jail, suicide attempts, anything. I hesitated because this was a big group and we had to speak into the microphone, but then I thought why not, this is a great opportunity for me. So I stood up and I briefly mentioned the project I'm working on about parenting and my question was "What advice would you have for parents? What one thing would you say to help them steer their children away from such hardships? Brandon looked me in the eye and he just simply said, 

Be There.

As he paused my eyes began to well up with tears with the gravity and complexity of the statement. He expounded just a little bit by saying "My parents weren't perfect, but they weren't even there. Just be there for your kids." I thought it was interesting this 24 year old young man would say he didn't need perfect parents. He just needed parents that were there for him. 

I'd like to repeat what I said that the father shared with his daughter at her 16th  birthday which is that no matter where she finds herself he will be there for her. Just like Christ promises us, just like the prodigal son. Hopefully our children don't have to go through all these dark struggles that we so strongly want to keep them away from, and there are things we can do to help them for sure. Of course  listening is important, chores are important, our words are important, our actions are important, but after 31 days and tons of tips telling you what I've learned about Teachable Parenting I'd like to leave you with one simple piece of advice from my new friend Brandon. 

Just be there for your kids.

 Be There.

This is the end of a 31 day series. For the rest of Teachable parenting click HERE.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Practical Tips Recap

Wow! I can't believe we are pretty much finished with all 31 days! Tomorrow is the official final day and I will wrap things up, but today I just want to highlight some of the main points of Teachable Parenting. A simple cheat sheet if you will.

Let’s start with the “bad news” first and look at the top five stumbling blocks to AVOID. These are behaviors that can interfere with teachable parents and teachable kids too.


Getting angry. I know it's easier said than done, but remember anger short circuits learning. It also gives a child the impression that they have power over you. 

Giving one size fits all discipline. Try to find a consequence that is related to their offense. 

Lengthy lectures.  Be concise. The more words a teacher or parent uses, the greater the odds that a child will tune you out. 

Shaming them with words. Communicate in a way that is short, firm, and measured rather than belittling or personally attacking.

Short cuts to behavior modification.  Whether it's bribing and coddling during a temper tantrum, or threatening and manipulating through external discipline, try to remember that our long term goal is the condition of the heart.

The good news is we can embrace a ton of teachable moments at times when we simply ALLOW things to play out. 


Allow children to learn from their mistakes

Allow children to have a range of emotions.

Allow opportunity to work and earn money

Allow kids to be kids within the confines of clear cut boundaries.

Allow fun and spontaneity

If you have come this far with me during this series I would like to extend an enormous thank you. It's been a lot to take on, but I am so grateful for the experience. If you are just discovering this series, and these points look like something that might be helpful to you, then I encourage you to check out all 31 days. You can find the index page HERE. I have loved all the feed back and your comments have been such an encouragement. Check back tomorrow for (I can't believe I am saying it)
DAY 31!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Teachable Parenting Opposition

I'll be closing up this series in the next couple days, but before I do I would like to close up some holes that might be potentially lingering. You see, everyday that I have written on teachable parenting something comes up that says “oh yeah, well how are they supposed to cope in the real world when they are just being bossed around?" Or “what about what the Bible has to say about cheap grace huh?” Every time I take action there is an equal and opposite reaction! But here are just a couple little rebuttals to some of the questions or concerns that pop into my head about this Teachable Parenting stuff and I hope to diffuse some of the confusion for anyone else that might be ready to shut this whole concept down due to a misunderstanding.

1.     What about spare the rod spoil the child?

This is the biggest hot button of all when it comes to new covenant Biblical parenting. First of all when it comes to questions you may have about this parenting style feel free to ask me, but also there are a lot of things that are covered in the books that I haven’t mentioned. This series isn’t a synopsis of all three books, but I do draw from them a lot. My series is 31 days, The books that I am referring to are over 600 pages combined. So I am not going to be able to expound on nearly as much ground on this blog. EVEN THEN I didn’t agree with everything in those books. I really loved them and gleaned so much from them, but all three books had at least one thing that I disagreed with or that I knew wouldn’t work for my family. Take everything with a grain of salt, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, and any other idioms you think might apply. As for the verses about the rod I think of Psalm 93 "Your rod and your staff comfort me" I believe the rod is correction and authority, but I am not a scholar. I think people need to use their own discretion and seek the Lord on the matter, but all three books deal with the spanking topic so I don’t want to pretend like that isn’t a big question in this teachable parenting thing.

2.     What about when reality hits? Who can really keep up with all this stuff?

It’s easy to talk about gentle parenting or dream about being the perfect role model, but it’s like one of my favorite meme’s says “You are making it difficult for me to be the parent I always imagined I would be”.

The truth is we aren’t going to be the perfect parent and I talkedabout this earlier in the series, but even more so it’s healthy to be real and candid with your children. Just as we can turn their mistakes into opportunities to make deposits into their wisdom accounts we can turn our mistakes into opportunities to make deposits into their wisdom accounts too.  Sometimes we are the ugliest (emotionally) with the ones we love the most. At first glance this can be disheartening because it looks like you are respecting others outside of the home more than you do your own family, but I’ve always been flattered when my kids seem like angels with the babysitter or at school, but act up at home. I know that means that they feel safe and comfortable with me, like they can air out their dirty laundry per se. There are certainly extremes to this, but don’t be too worried if you feel like you are giving or receiving  your true colors at home in a way that isn’t appealing. Chances are your also seeing a lot more intimacy and camaraderie than all those strangers that see the cleaned up version.

3.     What happened to the good old fashioned winging it technique?

As much as I wish I didn’t pigeon hole my parenting philosophy it’s kind of something I have fallen into naturally. I can tell you that I never TRY to fit in a certain group. If I do then it usually lasts less than a week.  So, while I envy moms that don’t read parenting books or essays on Pinterest I feel empowered by the research I’ve found and I consider it a guide. Just when you think you’ve got someone that fits in a box you learn something about them that blows that stereotype, so let’s not label everyone and call it a day. When I suggest Teachable Parenting it doesn’t have to be this rigid thing that you try to follow to a T.  It’s more of an idea that you follow with your heart. Take what you will if it jumps out at you. See if it works for you, or as Dr. Sears says, if you resent it change it. Parenting is personal and it’s fluid. There is no one size, one method fits all.

4.     Doesn’t some of this seem a little extreme?

I have worried that some of the ideas of Teachable Parenting are going to brainwash my child. Are they always going to expect empathy with their authorities? My answer to that which was covered in the books I read, is that there are plenty of lessons on the harshness of the world that they will learn naturally. Our job is to show them the love of Christ. My other worry was that kids would learn to always expect choices.  However, if you read the books you would find that you aren’t supposed to ALWAYS give choices. The main point I want to make right here though goes hand and hand with question number 3. This does not have to be an all or nothing approach. We aren’t going to come up with the perfect formula to produce these robotic kids and that is what teachable parenting is actually all about. I don’t think I am going to brain wash my kids ESPECIALLY considering I am never going to follow this thing line by line because I am human. I look at it like dieting. If I were morbidly obese and chose not to try to diet or exercise because I worried that I would be anorexic that would be illogical and unhelpful. So until further notice I am not going to worry that I am overly obsessed with a certain parenting style, because I still have plenty of off the cuff tendencies to prevent me from coming anywhere near overkill!

5.    I don't want to be a helicopter mom, but what if the learning process involves physical injury?

When it comes to natural consequences or freedom the keys is to be age appropriate. Do you want your 2 year old to learn how to cut vegetables with a sharp knife? Do you think it’s appropriate to ask your 6 year old to find their own ride home from soccer practice? Of course not, Some of these things only make sense when they are applied at the appropriate ages. What ages are appropriate? I would poll my friends and google it, but that’s just me.

6. Does this method spoil kids and turn them into brats with push over parents?

Wow, that is a really specific question I just made up. My guess is though, that some of you are thinking Teachable Parenting is a little too laid back for you. I can see why emphasizing grace, empathy, and gentle correction probably sounds like "namby pamby" parenting without a backbone. It’s really not though. These alternative discipline solutions are actually more challenging both to implement and to be a recipient of. When you allow your children to have more ownership and responsibility you are also going to have to watch them experience some real life consequences which are not always sweet and flowery.

All of the Love and Logic books that I have read have a heavy focus on limits, boundaries, routine, replacing warnings with immediate consequence, and not rescuing them out of the tough spots. So even though I talk about focusing on relationship over behavior that does not mean we have pajama parties and eat donuts all day. Quite the contrary. 

7. If your children are allowed to push your buttons without any "push back" how do they learn respect? 

One important thing I did not have time to get into with this relationship based parenting style is that relationships go both ways. Loving Our Kids On Purpose teaches that “you want your child to learn early on that there are two people in this relationship.” That means that there are two sets of needs. You need respect, honor, power and all of that just as much as they do.  The book teaches that we should not put up with disrespect and misbehavior. We just don't tolerate in a way that bulldozes a child over to prove a point. So just to be clear Teachable Parenting is NOT about being a door mat.

Whew. That's a lot of disclaimers and I don't even feel like I addressed everything. As I worked my way through the past 29 days I began to wonder if maybe I should have picked a topic that was less controversial. Then again, who am I kidding? These days everything topic can become a political minefield. I could have done 31 days of kitten calendars and someone would have come up with an objection and that's what makes us unique independent thinkers.

I do hope that some of these explanations have been helpful. What it boils down to in the end is that I am just a crazy mom trying to make sense of all of this parenting business. For me personally Teachable Parenting has made a world of difference in how I operate. That’s all I can say.

This is day 29 of a 31 day series. For the rest of Teachable Parenting click HERE

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Power of Words

Along with naming your child and carrying an uplifting vision for their future we have to lay the ground work with the words that we speak. Teachable parenting means cultivating a loving and respectful environment in our homes and it is made manifest through the things we say. Words are powerful. We know this right? Proverbs 18:21  says that the power of Life and death are in the tongue.  Ephesians 4:29, Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only that which is good for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Or Matthew 15:18 What comes from the mouth proceeds from the heart and defiles a man. 

Back to quoting Danny Silk from Loving Our Kids on Purpose he says “ Our job is to create a steady steam of life-giving words into our children’s lives. When we learn to look at our children and see their potential and destinies in God, and learn to release the power of life through our words we become a channel for God to broadcast his heart and His grace to them.”  I love the example he gives when his son was in 2nd grade (probably around the same age as my son) and he was getting into some trouble at school (kind of like my son has) and the school called the mother about the issue. I am sure she was ready to tear into him, but before she went to pick him up she said to herself  Here we go. My words are spirit and life. I carry vision for my son. I carry it in my heart. I carry what it is that I want him to have and when she addressed him that day she did so without attacking him with harsh words. I don't want to over spiritualize this topic and make it sound like our words carry that much weight, but well, it's in the Bible so I don't know how else to present it. Our words have impact.  

Sometimes it can be a struggle when you see your children misbehaving not to call them names like “bad boy” “brat” or “selfish”. Teachable Parenting holds kids responsible for their actions, but what they do as children does not define who God says that they are. The book Wild Things suggests naming the behavior instead. You do this by saying things like “that’s destructive” or “talking that way is disrespectful”. It communicates  in a way that is short firm, and measured rather than belittling or personally attacking.  I don’t want to bombard my children with words that accuse them of being bad because if they hear it enough they are going to believe that is what they are. Again, this excerpt from Wild Things is geared to boys, but I think you will quickly see how it can be adapted to apply to girls as well. “By disciplining boys in ways that do not shame them, we honor their desire for strength, reinforce their sensitivity, and encourage them toward valor. If our boys are to stand a fair chance at life, they need to enter manhood believing that they are good men. If they don’t, they will be staring out behind the eight ball."

So anyway, I am feeling convicted! Today my challenge is to cover my children with words that strengthen, encourage and change the atmosphere! I’m ready for a change.

 This is day 28 of a 31 day series. For the rest of Teachable Parenting click HERE.

Monday, October 27, 2014

See Him. Name Him. Draw Him Out.

Yesterday I talked about having a vision for our children. For me a big part of this process was revealed to me through the book Wild Things. They gave three key actions that lead you to a child's heart. 

The first one was to see them.

To see a child is to know how they are uniquely made. To get know their heart and personality, the good and the bad. 

The second one was to name them.

To name them is to declare truth about them, to them, and for them, (like we talked about yesterday) 

Then lastly, to draw them out.

This means to challenge, invite, coax, and direct your child toward and authentic lifestyle of integrity and intimate relationships with himself, others, and with God.

 I heard a sermon recently about Matthew 13:44 where Jesus tells the parable about the hidden treasure. The pastor expounded on this parable by encouraging us to see the treasure in others. Let's review the passage.

 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.”

 I am reminded that in Luke 17:21 that the Kingdom of God is also within us. We can see glimpses of the Kingdom of God through our children everyday. If we apply this parable to the idea of having a vision for our children then we can dig even further into Mathew 13:44. 

1. To “see them” is to discover  the field
2. To “name them” is to actually make the investment and buy the field. We are saying of our children, others may just see the field or a crazy rambunctious child, but I see the treasure and I am willing to give up everything for this vision. 
3. To “draw them out” is taking on the field and protecting that treasure! You hide these words and that vision in your heart just as the man hid the treasure in the field. You are agreeing to take ownership of the land, the weeds, the labor, maintenance, and the dirt. All of it! Again, Teachable Parenting is taking on the mistakes, the emotions, and the growing pains that come along with the process all because you see the value in that treasure. You have a vision.

It's a lot of responsibility, but it's worth it. It is so rewarding isn't it? Today I want you to focus on seeing, knowing, and drawing out your child. Really pray about it and consider what this means for your relationship with your children. Tomorrow we will talk about how to declare these truths by the words of our mouth. It's a biggie!

Today is day 27 of a 31 day series. For the rest of Teachable Parenting click HERE.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Vision For Our Children

When we lived in Texas we were part of ministry that reached out to “edgier” teens and young people through a coffee shop and music venue. One night some girls showed up in in clothing that rivaled a street walker's uniform.  What little they were wearing was super tight and/or see through. It didn’t really bother me that they were dressed that way. I mean, these are the people we were reaching out to afterall, the ones that were rejected by other church environments. It did make me wonder though how it got to be that way for them. I know for a fact most of these kids are from really awful home enviroments. In that moment though I wondered if my daughter would ever dress that way, even though she was chubby little baby at the time my mind flashed ahead to this vision of her as a teenager trying to leave the house in something scandalous and me forbidding her to and her yelling you can’t make me, and then taking off slamming the door behind her. It was an ugly picture. I turned to my friend next me and said, do you ever worry that your kids are going to choose the wrong path? That your daughter might dress like a hooker or that your son might do drugs? She looked at me and with all seriousness she replied NO. The thing I worry about is that I know my children are called to ministry. I just know that God’s leading them somewhere to do big things, and it will be so hard to say goodbye.

I was stunned. It wasn’t this holier than thou comment, she meant it and I suddenly I felt jelous of her vision. The thoughts and words she had for her children's future looked so much better than mine. Even if she was saying should would be sad about it, I know she would be proud and honored to send them out to do kingdom work. I knew then I needed to get a better projection for my chlldren. I know God’s plans for them are not that of destruction, so why would I buy into the fear of the enemy like that?    

She will probably kill me for posting this, but it was too perfect to illustrate my point. Crystal is at the wheel ready to take on the world while I am frantically trying to hold on to the children. We have 7 kids between us and we were both pregnant in this shot. 

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t this major concern that I had, but the thought did cross my mind. The biggest stumbling blocks I have found as I journey to be a godly parent is fear and doubt.  I could focus on the worst case scenario and live in fear or I could call out God’s promises over my children and do as philippians 4:8, focusing on things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

What is the vision that you have for your child’s future? In the book Wild Things it says “Having a vision helps us to structure a boy’s life according to it’s design. When we have a vision of who they are, and who they are becoming, we can engage with them and lead them toward the path they are to follow in their lives. The vision we hold for our children becomes the compass that keeps them on track."

This is the final week for Teachable parenting. As I close out this series I want us be seeking the Lord to give us vision for our children. Then over the next couple days I will be sharing about drawing it out. Even with only 5 days left I am just as excited as when I started to see what is in store! 

This is day 25 of a 31 day series. For more Teachable Parenting click HERE