Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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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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The Making of a Reading Mother

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be –
I had a Mother who read to me.

~from The Reading Mother by Strickland Gillian

I did have a mother who read to me.  Constantly.  We had no TV or videos growing up, and reading together was one of our favorite forms of entertainment.  We usually had a book we were reading in the morning (usually a biography), a book we read together after lunch, and a bedtime read-aloud.  We wore out at least one set of Little House on the Prairie books.  I am guessing we read that series together a dozen times.

But when I became a mom, it was REALLY hard for me to read to my kids.  I just didn’t enjoy it.  Read to myself?  Sure.  Read to the little ones?  Zzzzzzzzz…

I did read my oldest the Happy Little Family series when she was about four.  That was fun.

But for the most part I really could not stand reading aloud and I guess I convinced myself it was not that important.

To be honest, I am not sure when my attitude changed, but it was a process.  I noticed how my daughter’s reading proficiency exploded after she listened to many audio books.  My reluctant reader son started to appreciate books after I made a commitment to read to him.

I just made myself do it.  I promised myself that I would read to them at least a little each day.  Every now and then we miss a day, but most days each of the younger ones choose at least one book and I read to them for a little while.

It has become the highlight of their day.  We pile up on the couch with a favorite blanket and enjoy great stories together.  Even the busy baby wants to join us.  It is not easy to read while he wiggles and climbs everywhere, but he is learning to love books.  He will pick up a story, say “Book!” open it, and “read”: “Bababababa!”  We have no idea what he is saying, but he knows that books have words and he wants to share them!

I have come to understand that there are not many childhood problems that can’t be fixed or at least helped with a good read aloud.

Child hates reading?  Read aloud.

Child needs attention?  Snuggle and read aloud.

Child is sick?  Cuddle and read aloud.

Child is sad?  Choose a funny story and read aloud.

Child is discouraged?  Grab an encouraging adventure and read aloud.

Child is anxious?  Pick an inspiring biography and read aloud.

Child is lagging behind in school?  Find great living books (yes, even for math!) and read aloud.

Child has spiritual needs?  Open the Bible to its great adventures and read aloud.

Child wants world peace? 

Well, OK, maybe it doesn’t cure everything!  But it comes close!

I have grown to really love reading to my kids.  In fact, I hate that I don’t have time to do it more.  But I am excited that in this way I can lay a foundation for literacy, feed their souls, fill their minds with the best thoughts and ideas, and create memories by this one simple act of reading aloud.

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


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“Fall In Love With Reading” for February!

The other day I ran across this great idea for reading encouragement/emphasis during the month of February.  (Do check out the link!  It is very inspiring!) I meant to post it sooner since February has already begun, but it isn’t too late to do this fun project!  I made us a little poster for inspiration.  I see that Allison put her tree trunk on poster board which is probably a better idea.  We quickly realized that we are going to run out of room on our trees, even using small hearts.

{side note: our little clothesline above the picture window has been the best educational tool we’ve employed lately.  amazing what a few feet of twine, a couple nails and some clothes pins can do!}

Mom and Dad have set goals for ourselves too.  I think it is important to set a good example when it comes to reading.  I used to read books voraciously, but thanks to busyness, poor evening lighting, and other distractions (coughpinterestcough), I have not read much lately.  I have three books that I have wanted to read for a few months, so they are on my list of books to complete.  Here they are: (apparently I am on a black and red themed book kick):

Gospel: Rediscovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by JD Greear (so basic, so essential)

Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything by Tullian Tchividjian (close to my heart)

Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb (to be better equipped to help sweet ones who have suffered at the hands of others)

How do you encourage your children to read?  What is on your reading list?


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For the Children’s Sake Friday 1-19-12, and a Winner!

This week’s excerpt from For the Children’s Sake is short but profound.

“Look well at the child on your knee.  In whatever condition, you find him, look with reverence.  We can only love and serve him and be his friend.  We cannot own him.  He is not ours.”

And the winner of her very own copy of For the Children’s Sake is…

Eloise!

Eloise, please email me your mailing address at simplecraftAThotmailDOTcom, and I will put it in the mail to you!  Congratulations!


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Read Aloud Thursday: The Newborn King, Frosty, and Rudolph

Linking up this week with Three Thinking Mothers for their Christmas book roundup.  I wish I had time to write about all my favorites!

Beautiful, pictures, simple text, clear message.  And you can find it cheap on Amazon.  I have the board book version which is great for little hands.

We got oversized versions of these classic Golden books at a library book sale a few years ago.  I’m a sucker for vintage illustrations, as evidenced by the many I use on my blog!  These just make me happy.