Archive for the ‘Child Rearing’ Category

Keeping Your Children Home

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

by Kristin

I’m in the middle of reading a book by Dr. Raymond Moore (namely, Home Grown Kids). Dr. Moore is a developmental psychologist and a strong advocate of homeschooling and of delaying formal education (see School Can Wait and Better Late Than Early by Dr. Moore). He stresses again and again the psychological benefits of young children staying at home under the loving care of their parents.

I find it deeply saddening to see so many parents following the popular culture in sending their precious children off to school at an increasingly younger age.

Granted, some families are in a position such that they have little choice but to enlist childcare outside the home. However, at the same time, there are many parents who do have a choice but don’t seem to realize that their personal love and care and training is far more important to their child’s development than anything the best preschool or daycare could provide.

Having said this, I realize that many mothers and fathers lack confidence to keep their children at home. We have been brainwashed as a culture into thinking that everything needs to be done by experts, most especially the delicate business of raising children. We have pediatricians, child psychologists, early childhood educators, teachers, school nurses, child psychiatrists, etc., etc. From the moment the child is born until the time he reaches adulthood, we have someone with a degree telling us when he should sleep, what he should eat, how he should play, who he should socialize with, what he should learn and when, and on and on and on, ad infinitum.

But is this really necessary? Did Abraham Lincoln have a child psychologist? Did Mozart need an early childhood educator? Did Thomas Edison need a school teacher?

The point is, No, you as a parent do not need a panel of experts to help you raise your child. This is a modern development, and quite frankly, it’s had more of a negative impact than a positive one. For example, simply compare the level of education today with what a child received 100 to 200 years ago, and you’ll see what I mean. For all their “expertise,” today’s experts don’t have much to show for their efforts.

This may be true, you say, but where is a parent to begin? How will a parent know what to do? What about specialized areas?

[Granted, there are times when you as a parent need specialized help, for example, when your child is very sick, when he has a disorder, when he needs more specialized training/education, etc.].

First questions first. Where do you begin? How will you know what to do?

Start with the Bible. Learn all of what God says about raising children. He made them after all, so He knows how they tick.

Then find solid Christian child training resources that are based on God’s Word (e.g. Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp). Remember, your first priority as a parent is always moral instruction: shaping your child’s character, teaching obedience to God, etc. This is the foundation for all other education.

Don’t believe me? Try teaching arithmetic to a child having a temper tantrum.

See what I mean? The moral training is necessary before any other training or instruction can take place. Even if you find ways to get around this, you won’t score any points in the end when you produce evil geniuses of your offspring. (Note: you’ll observe that schools nowadays are woefully lacking in any moral training [or rather, they’re excelling in immoral training], which is another good reason to teach your kids at home!).

Furthermore, this moral training — or “soul training” if you will — is foundational because it is the eternal aspect of parenting. One day your child will stand before God. Preparing him for that moment is infinitely more important than preparing him for highschool, or college, or his first job, etc. We must be so careful as Christian parents not to put on the same narrow blinders that the secular parents around us are wearing. This life is not all there is, as our secular counterparts so naively believe. We need to prepare our children first and foremost for their eternal future, and equip them to do the eternal work Jesus has prepared for them to do on this earth.

If you are interested to learn more, check out my small sample of resources below, and stay tuned for my next post, “What is Homeschooling?

 

Resources:

See this website for a list of great men and women of history who were homeschooled: http://www.homeschoolacademy.com/a/famoushomeschoolers/

Repairing the Ruins, ed. Douglas Wilson

On Secular Education, R. L. Dabney

The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis

Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp

Home Grown Kids, School Can Wait, and Better Late Than Early by Raymond Moore

 

The Best Job Ever

Friday, January 30th, 2015

You know what?

I love having children. I love being able to stay at home to raise them. I love homeschooling them.

To look with awe at the tiny hands and the delicate features of my newborn’s face…

To playfully chase my toddler around the room and hear him giggle uncontrollably…

To watch my preschooler working enthusiastically alongside his daddy building a snowman…

To see my five-year-old’s face light up as he reads a little book all on his own…

Yes, being a homeschool mom of four has its challenges. Sleep deprivation, laundry piling up, clutter stacked here and there, and toys and socks scattered everywhere. Dirt and grime building up on floors and walls. Making meals while juggling a crying baby and correcting a disobedient toddler. Breaking up fights and settling disputes. Dealing with a student who’s struggling with a subject or growing disinterested in schoolwork.

It’s certainly not all glorious.

But I wouldn’t trade it for any other job.

God made me for this. He gave me, as a woman, the ability to conceive and bear children. He uniquely wired me, as a woman, with the nurturing spirit to meet the needs of these children. Everyday, He grants me a certain measure of strength and wisdom for the job of raising these precious souls.

And I love it.

-Kristin

Making the Most of the Little Things

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Kristin

Sometimes I find myself wondering whether I’m doing the right thing.

When you are a mother with multiple young children, you don’t have a lot of free time. Your days are taken up with the essentials — clean ’em, clothe ’em, feed ’em — and all the other myriad tasks that naturally fall to you as a homemaker. You are caught up in a monotonous repetition of little chores — dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc. — and are at the beck and call of little people who seem to need your attention every 2 minutes and 47 seconds…at least, some mornings it seems that way.

You ask yourself every once in a while: Shouldn’t I be doing something bigger and more important? Volunteer opportunities come up, and you are eager to jump on board and help, but your husband reminds you that you don’t have the time. So with a sigh, you settle back in your chair and think of the basket of laundry that needs to be sorted and the dishes piled in the sink.

It’s easy to forget what lies in the little things. It’s easy to forget just how important the little things are.

Think of that sinkful of dishes: There are dirty bowls and plates, dirty cutlery and cups, dirty pots and pans. This big job has to be broken down into several little tasks: clean this plate, then that plate, and then the next one; this cup, that cup, and each piece of cutlery; this pot, that pan, and so on. Each of those little, individual tasks adds up until — voila! — you can step back and survey with satisfaction the stacks of clean, shiny dishes in the cupboards and drawers.

Life is made up of the little things. Little tasks adding up into big accomplishments. Little moments adding up into years. Little decisions steering life’s course.

Oftentimes when we look back on our lives as a whole, it’s the accumulation of the little things which largely determines whether we view our life experience as mostly positive or negative: a smile, a hug, a small word of praise, a fun game, a good laugh, versus a scowl, a critical remark, a slammed door, and a promise unkept.

So what does that mean for me as a mother, wife, and homemaker? Simply this: That by doing my best in the little things, I am laying the foundations for life. A little sweep here, a little scrub there, a picture frame hung on the wall — I am creating a home and a haven. A smile here, a hug there, and time together — I am nurturing the souls of my family and endowing a treasure chest of memories to share and enjoy for a lifetime. A Bible story here, a prayer there, and grace extended — I am planting the seeds to grow a faith which will move mountains.

Making the most of the little things is no easy task. Such an undertaking requires, among other things, cheerfulness, patience, graciousness, willingness, diligence, wisdom, self-control, a servant heart, faithfulness, understanding, humility, and unconditional love.

Making the most of the little things means choosing patience over frustration, hope over despair, forgiveness over resentment, hard work over laziness, humility over pride, and selflessness over selfishness. Consistently. Faithfully. Minute by minute. Day in and day out.

Let us not despise the little things. God grant us wisdom to recognize the eternal value of our work as mothers, and give us grace and strength to meet our calling.

 

Unexpected Challenges

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

by Kristin

I never knew when I first had children just how much they would challenge my skill and wit as a philosopher.

Patrick especially seems to be gifted in testing the limits.

At the breakfast table….

Me: “I need to go shopping today.”

Patrick:  “Can me and Patrick go with you?”

Me: ? ? ? ?

**********************************

Another day in the boys’ bedroom…

Patrick: “I want the nightlight on.”

Ryan: “But it’s daytime.”

Patrick: “No, it’s nighttime.”

Ryan: “No, look out the window.” *Holds up Patrick to window* “See? The sun is shining. It’s daytime.”

Patrick: “No, it’s not. It’s nighttime.”

*Long pause*

Patrick: *With a laugh* “Oh, it’s daytime.”

*****************************

And today, Justin posed this question at breakfast…

Justin: “Mommy, can I have hemlock milk on my granola?”

Me: *amused smile* “It’s called hemp milk. Hemlock milk would be poison.”

Justin: “Oh, okay. Can I have hemplock milk?”

Keep trying, Socrates.

 

Common Objections to Having a Large Family

Friday, February 1st, 2013

By Kristin

Ever since I was twelve years old, I wanted to have a large family. I was the second oldest of five children then, and I remember begging my parents for more siblings. When my mother became pregnant again, I can distinctly remember my parents’ apprehension about breaking the news to extended family.

Having large families is not “popular” in our day and age. Children, in large measure, are viewed as expensive, burdensome commodities, not the blessings that God says they are. Even within evangelical circles, family sizes are shrinking to just two or three kids. Every couple has their own reasons for limiting their family size, and I respect each individual choice. However, I would like to take the time to address some common objections to having large families, in hopes of persuading some to reconsider whether or not having more children is right for them.

 

Too Expensive

You’ve probably seen the figures, and they are enough to send you reeling: $100,000 to raise a child to age 18. One money sense website went so far as to pin the number at $243,660!

But raising children isn’t necessarily as expensive as we are led to believe. Sure, if you feel your children MUST have their own individual rooms with matching bedroom sets, wear brand name clothes, attend expensive daycares, play hockey, have extravagant birthday parties, etc., etc., then the figures mentioned above will probably reflect your total cost per head. But all that expenditure isn’t necessary.

Babies and children don’t care whether they are wearing brand name clothes, living in 5 bedroom mansions, surrounded by expensive furniture, or playing with the best toys on the market–they would be just as happy with a cardboard box! I grew up largely with second-hand clothing, modest birthdays, mismatched furniture, and no Christmas presents, and I don’t remember feeling “deprived” as a child. Neither does my husband, who grew up with somewhat less. We were fed and clothed, loved and cared for, and that was all that mattered. And I’m sure friends of mine from large families would say the same about their childhood.

 

Too Much Work!

It’s hard to deny: raising children does require a LOT of dedicated time, effort, energy, and sacrifice. As a mother and homemaker, I can assure you, it’s a full-time job–and with no paid vacations either.

At some level, this is a valid and important consideration. Pushing one’s self to the breaking point in order to honour an ideal is neither wise nor healthy. We need to honestly assess ourselves and our abilities. But at the same time, here are some questions to challenge ourselves with:

Are we clinging to unhealthy standards of perfectionism (e.g. immaculate house), and thus viewing another child as a “mess-waiting-to-happen”? Are we as women so caught up with our career ambitions that we aren’t giving family and children proper priority in our lives? Are we over-stretching ourselves in other ways that prevent us from having another?

Or, to look at it from another angle, are we failing to teach the children we already have to take responsibility and contribute to the economics of the family? Children take pride and joy in their work, it builds character, and furthermore it is a necessary preparation for their future. How can we expect to raise balanced, productive citizens if our children never lift a finger to anything beyond school-assigned paperwork till the day they turn 16? How can we expect our offspring to successfully manage their own house and children one day if we never give them the opportunity to learn nor train them in the necessary disciplines (e.g. cooking, cleaning, saving, planning)?

Think about it.

 

Not Enough Love & Attention to Go Around

This is a legitimate concern, but one that is plagued with misconceptions. For example, can you really claim that Baby Johnny, #10 in the Smith family, surrounded by loving and doting brothers and sisters, is “deprived” compared to little Jane, only child of Mr. and Mrs. Doe, whose parents are so busy pursuing their own careers that she only sees them evenings and weekends? Who is really missing out on love and attention here? Personally, I would much rather be in Johnny’s shoes than Jane’s.

This is not to suggest that a sibling’s love is a suitable replacement for a parent’s love. It isn’t, nor should any parent consider it to be. Children need the love and attention of their mother and father. But whether you have a family of four or a family of fourteen, the requirement is the same: you still need to make time for each individual child, and I would submit that this can be just as much a challenge for one-or-two child families in which both parents are working as it can be for large families in which the wife is a full-time mother and homemaker.

 

Why Bring Children Into Such a Bad World?

Let me ask this: What generation in the history of the world has ever escaped hardship? If peace, freedom and prosperity were preconditions for having children, then very few would have ever been qualified to become parents!

Consider for a moment how many great men and women of history rose out of difficult circumstances (poverty, oppression, etc.) to change the course of the future, not just for themselves, but for entire nations.

And consider what the Bible says. After Israel’s exile to Babylon, God sent word to His people through the prophet Jeremiah, instructing them to settle in the land of their captivity, and to–of all things–have more children (Jeremiah 29:6). God wanted them to increase in number in the midst of their oppression and hardship, not decrease. This is an example for all of us.

 

Overpopulation & The Carbon Footprint

First of all, overpopulation is not a problem in Canada. Nor is it a problem in North America, or Europe–or the world for that matter. Many countries are actually facing the opposite conundrum: that the birth rate is insufficient to sustain the economy or the culture. Russia and others are actually offering certain bonuses and incentives (e.g. great maternity leave, cash prizes, tax breaks, etc.) to try to encourage their citizens to reproduce.

As for those environmentalists who claim that having another child would be one “carbon footprint” closer to destroying the planet: their position is unbiblical. While God instructs us as Christians to be responsible stewards of creation, environmentalists take their tree-hugging to the extreme of being anti-human. They use propaganda and force to impose their population control agenda on people and nations, and attempt to suppress the economy through laws and regulations in order to achieve the “higher ideal” of protecting the rain forest or the whales. The objective appears to be: man must diminish, so the planet can flourish. This is a fool’s errand. As Christians, we are to care for and oversee nature in a responsible and sustainable manner, but the dominion mandate does not usurp our privileged position within God’s created order, nor does it trump God’s command to be “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).

 

Conclusion

The Bible teaches that children are gifts from God (Psalm 127:3), and we as evangelicals need to adjust our thinking to reflect God’s thinking on this matter. Yes, there are important factors to take into consideration before we add another bundle of joy to our families–such as finances, health of the mother, work load, etc.–but we need to be careful that we are not allowing societal expectations and unbiblical philosophies to hold us back from accepting the blessings God is giving us. The fruit of the womb is His reward (Psalm 127:3).

Raising Toddlers: Cleaning Together

Monday, April 4th, 2011

My toddler probably couldn’t care less whether the house is clean and tidy.  But he likes to clean — because Mommy does it.  Toddlers love to work one-on-one alongside their parents. It’s the highest form of play for them, as my mother-in-law learned through Montessori.

Justin and I have done a lot of cleaning together and have had fun doing it. My little boy will even go so far as to fight me for the mop or feather-duster on occasion! This is not to say that cleaning with my toddler has been a painless experience though. Frustration has been a large part of the process, but I’m slowly but surely learning how to involve my toddler(s) in everyday household tasks without making much more of a mess than there was before.

The following are some pointers (and important sub-points) from my own personal experience and observation:

1. Provide the toddler with cleaning items of his own. This means a child-sized broom, his own scrub brush, spray bottle (with water only!), etc. This will make cleaning more fun for him, and will prevent him from fighting you for those items.

(1a)  Never give a toddler a sponge unless you intend to have large soapy puddles all over the floor.

(1b)  Keep in mind that a broom handle can double as a bat to knock things off shelves and counters, and as a pole to poke baby with, so keep an eye on your toddler when he has it.

(1c)  I’ll reiterate, while your toddler will love having a spray bottle of his own, only put water in it…and not too much either!  The toddler has nothing to inhibit him from spraying everything, including himself and the baby’s face, and a lot of spraying concentrated in one spot will leave a puddle which could damage something if it goes unnoticed.

2. Have your toddler work with you on the same task; that is, never send him off to tackle another cleaning project while you take care of this one.  I can tell you right now, it won’t work.

(2a)  If Justin is representative of all toddlers, then toddlers do not have the attention span to stick to a task all by themselves.  Simply telling him to clean up his toys and books — without seeing the task through and calling him back to it continuously — will result in nothing done.

(2b)  Toddlers want to work with you.  So giving them a separate task is to miss the point of cleaning together.

3.  Be selective.  Some tasks are appropriate for toddler involvement, and others aren’t. You have to consider safety, the toddler’s ability, and whether toddler inclusion in the task at hand would be a positive experience overall or have you pulling your hair out.

(3a) Transferring clothes to the dryer, cleaning windows, sweeping the floor, scrubbing the floor (if it’s not water sensitive), and picking up toys, are tasks which can be more or less compatible with toddlers.  Mind you, in my experience, sweeping the floor with a toddler isn’t easy, as it requires defensive maneuvering to prevent your dust pile from getting scattered everywhere.

(3b) Cleaning dishes (unless they’re tough plastic) and scrubbing toilets are not good choices for toddler involvement. Even mopping/scrubbing can be hazardous, as toddlers have no comprehension whatsoever of ‘slippery when wet’, and will run across the floor as usual.  Justin hit the floor enough times that I finally gave up and would only do my mopping when he was contained in a playpen or highchair.

4.  Remind yourself that this is for a good cause and that it will (hopefully) pay off in the future.  You are teaching your little one important life skills. He is learning step by step how Mommy cleans, and developing the coordination to do it himself in the future.  He is forming a good work ethic, and, just maybe, by the time he is five or six or seven he will be able do it all by himself.

Think of it this way: You are multi-tasking. You are getting the cleaning done (albeit more slowly and with some complicating factors) and you are spending meaningful time with your toddler.  It’s a win-win!

5.  Relax and try to stay calm, cool, and collected and keep an up-beat attitude while doing this. I have had to catch myself a number of times when frustration was getting the better of me.  Yelling at your toddler won’t accomplish anything good.  So if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, just quit that task and leave it for later.  Think through whether your toddler can be involved in a different way, or whether this task is just not appropriate for him.  Or maybe you are just having a tough day and tomorrow it will go better.

If you are a perfectionist, try to lower your standards a bit, and accept that this is going to be a messy process and that the house will be a bit dirtier than you like for this stage of your life.  Your children are not going to stay little for long.  These are their most formative years, and once they are gone, you will never be able to get them back. So I would encourage you to let the cleanliness of the house slide a bit for now and invest yourself in relationships with your children.  You will never regret it.  😀

-Kristin

Equipping Maniacs

Monday, June 21st, 2010

In fact, Americans, taken as we find them, who do not get their moral restraints from the Bible, have none. If, in our moral training of the young, we give up the “Thus says the Lord,” we shall have no hold left. The training which does not base duty on Christianity, is, for us, practically immoral.

If testimony is needed, let us quote Dr. Griffin: “To educate the mind of a bad man without correcting his morals is to put a sword into the hands of a maniac.”

John Locke spoke to the same point. “It is virtue, then, direct virtue, which is the hard and valuable part to be aimed at in education. If virtue is not settled in the student, to the exclusion of all vicious habits, all the education in the world will do nothing but make the student worse or more dangerous.”

Taken from R. L. Dabney’s On Secular Education (updated version by Douglas Wilson)

My Humanitarian Work

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Every day, I feed the hungry.

I nurse the sick.

I clothe the naked.

Every day, I serve and protect. I rescue people from dangerous situations. I identify new ways to keep people safe. I have not yet joined the peacekeeping force, but I expect to soon.

I teach English and help people with their Physics lessons. I also teach History, Ethics, Theology, Music, and the other Sciences.

I’ve donated my organs to the cause of giving people life and health.

Every day, I strive to improve the living environment of others.

I counsel and comfort those in pain. I give encouragement. I wipe tears away.

Every day, all day.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I’ll never get a paid vacation. I’ll never be offered a promotion or a raise. I’ll never be awarded the Nobel Prize or an honourary doctorate.

I’ll face the disapproving looks of many of my peers. They thought I should do something “useful” with my life.

As if raising the next generation of world-shapers wasn’t a good use of my life.

I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I am not ashamed.