Tag: Parenting (page 3 of 3)

Prolonging bedtime

image via Naima Williams

At night, the last thing my wife and I do with our son is pray for, and with, him. One thing we always do is ask him who he’d like to pray for, because we want to get him in the habit of praying for people that he knows and loves. And he’s gotten pretty good at remembering people.

It’s a cool thing to be able to tell our friends and family, “Hey, Rex prayed for you by name last night.”

But lately, I think he’s picked up on the fact that the more names he suggests, the longer that “bedtime” is prolonged.

The more names he suggests, the longer mom and dad stay in my room.

The more names he suggest, the longer the light stays on.

He’s even begun naming, and praying for, things like his Mac Truck, the light (which he immediately reminds us that “Daddy” and “Poppy” fixed), his “Chloe” (a stuffed animal dog he likes to sleep with), his trains, and our family car. He’s prayed for fireworks, monkeys (jury’s still out on why he wants to pray for monkeys…), and lightning bugs. He’s prayed for his hat(s), his sucker, and himself. He’ll pray for my truck, “work,” and church.

And after a couple of these “extras,” I always say, “Ok, Rex, that’s enough. It’s time to go to sleep.” And I kiss him on the forehead, turn off the light, and close his door.

Faith like a child

But I wonder…is this really a ploy by my son to become more manipulative? Or is it a great example of the faith of a child?  Faith that says, “God’s provided these people in our lives…hasn’t He also provided these ‘things’ for our enjoyment and benefit?”

It’s reminded me to slow down. Because I don’t pray for the things he’s praying for. When was the last time I thanked God for my truck? Or for the lights in our home? Or for the beauty and wonder of lightning bugs?

When did I thank him for the simple joys of fireworks and…ahem…monkeys?

Have I ever thanked God for fun things like toys?

Or suckers?

I’ve got a lot of growing up to do. Never thought I’d learn that lesson from my 2 year old.

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” – Luke 18:17




The most difficult part of parenting

I asked this question recently on Twitter and Facebook:

What is the most difficult part of parenting?

I got some fantastic responses…so great, in fact, that I thought I’d share them with you.  I think some of them will resonate with you.

The most difficult part of parenting:

My answers (thought I’d throw my own thoughts in, too):

  • Consistent discipline
  • There are no step-by-step instruction books on parenting.
  • My child has a will and so do I
  • So much of who you are comes out in their personality
  • You don’t get a break. Even when you’re apart, you think about them.
  • It can be embarrassing.
  • $$$$
  • Getting them to eat (my son is 2.5)
  • Helping them understand why they should do the right thing.

Your answers

  • Putting my kids’ needs before my own. BradHuebert
  • The most difficult part of parenting is having kids.  It would be much easier without them! Jeremy_Riggs
  • Not being perfect myself. JCWert
  • Discipline with consistency. Lori Prine Clayton
  • The children. Justin Henne
  • The other parent. Elizabeth Clark
  • Being stern, with them knowing it’s in love. Brenda Taylor
  • Being constantly humbled by my sinfulness. It’s a very real picture into my idolatry of myself.  Courtney Shelton
  • Discipline and tough love.  Sarah McAfee
  • Guilt. Bonnie Bowers
  • Letting the poop slide right off of you…literally and figuratively.  Theresa Milton
  • Patience.  Joseph Smith
  • Not having kids to practice on…thanks for rubbing it in, Ben.  Tyler Aman
  • Letting them go to grow.  It is natural for us to want to shelter and protect them.  It is difficult to step back, even when it is good for them.  Keith Davis
  • Letting them go when they are grown, letting them be who they want to be without question, I really can’t answer this fully, wow!  And I have raised 3 kids already, on the 4th and last! 🙁  Jackie Olvis
  • I just wish my children were still at home!!!  (I also mean when they were younger and I was younger too!)  Mary Jane Ross
  • When someone hurts them and you can’t do anything to stop it.  Hazel Tindle
  • Different at every stage.  There are changes I welcome joyfully and those that pass with sadness.  I do agree that letting go is hard and has been present and progressive at every stage.  Camie Green
  • Letting go when they are adults.  Beth Bunch
  • Not giving them so much attention that gets them looking at themselves instead of God.  Granny Piper

What do you think the most difficult part of parenting is?


The words of a father

I’m a father.  I have a 2 year old son that I love dearly.

And I’m often thinking about the future for him, and how I can raise him so that he becomes a great man who loves God, loves his family, and ministers the Gospel well.

I love that I get to be around him so much, and get to play a huge role in his life.  I don’t take that for granted at all.  I mean, we eat dinner as a family every night of the week…how awesome is that?!?

But when I read THIS STORY, I was immediately convicted, and began thinking about what I would do if I were to die young.

What am I doing to pave the way for the future growth of my family?

What if I die in the next couple of years…is my family prepared for something like that?

Have I invested my time in the things that matter most?

Check this video out.  And think through your own life and family, the way you spend your time, and the preparation you’ve done for the future.

(HT: @BenArment)


Pee Pee and steps of faith

(Rex on his 4-wheeler, 2-20-2011)

On Sunday, my son ran up and down the halls of our church building (a high school, in fact) yelling, “Pee pee!!  Pee pee!!”

Obviously, we’re in the middle (well, that’s probably a stretch.  We’re probably closer to the beginning of this stage) of potty training.

I could’ve gotten frustrated.  Embarrassed.  Angry.  Or indifferent.  But I was none of that.

I chose to laugh.  Why?

Because it’s funny!  My 2 year old son is telling the whole world that he just peed in the toilet, not his pants.

Was it embarrassing?  Yep.

Was it frustrating, especially because he also peed in his diaper?  Yep.

But in that moment, I chose not to focus on the growth that still needed to happen.  I chose to celebrate with my son.

And we’d do well to remind ourselves that our Father rejoices over even a small step of faith.  Good fathers don’t punish their children when they pee in their diaper, even though they’re learning not to.  I don’t scold my son, even though I’ve told him countless times that he’s supposed to pee in the toilet.

Because I have the future in mind. I know that, at some point, the battle with this will be over.  We’ll work through this.  This is just a step in his journey towards maturity.  He’ll mature out of this, and in the meantime, I’m going to celebrate small steps in the right direction.

And I can’t help but think that God has the future in mind with us, too.  He has the bigger picture of our growth and maturity in mind at all times.  And yes, at times, we need discipline.  But He celebrates small steps in the right direction because He can see what we cannot.  And while we’re sitting in our own guilt and shame, God’s seeing the future, and is ready to offer us grace if we’ll just step towards Him.

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. (Luke 15:32)

Do you need to remind yourself that a step in the right direction is worth celebrating?

Do you need to remind someone else of that?


Family Devotionals

To me, family devotions are kind of cheesy.

I mean, I like the concept of sitting down as a family and talking through the truths of the Bible together.  But when it comes to sitting down and actually doing it, in my head it just comes off being silly.  I keep imagining a family all cozy in their den, with the children in the pajamas, sitting around a fire.  Dad gets out his guitar, and they sing a song together.  The children are gleaming as mom and dad, in their footed pajamas, talk about how God changed their soul…at breakfast that morning.

Weird, no?

This Christmas season, though, I’ve found a new resource I’m going to try.  And I won’t be wearing any footed pajamas when I read it.

Because I really want my son to understand the beauty of the Christmas season.  Why we give gifts.  Why we decorate our house.  Why we visit family.

Because in all of the hustle and bustle of getting ready, it’s incredibly easy to forget to instill in my son the values that are driving our generosity.  I want to raise a son that understands our traditions, and celebrates them with as much life and vigor as we do.  And not just because he’s excited about getting gifts from a fat man whose belly jiggles.

Here’s the new ebook, called Christmas Reboot, written by a good friend of mine, Alan Danielson.  You should pick up a copy.  It’s only $8.

My family and I are going to be working through this throughout the holidays.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  I’m pretty stoked about it.

Will you join us?


Thanks, Dad

I ended up buying a card for my dad for Father’s Day, but felt lame doing it.  I think that most of that canned stuff is lame…I didn’t write it, but I’ll sign my name to it as if I did!  Anybody else feel like that?  Basically, in getting a card, I feel like I’m saying, “How can I be heartfelt and lazy at the same time?”  Can those two even go together?

I’ve been ruminating a lot about my relationship with my dad and my new relationship with my son (he’s 8 months old this week!).  In honor of him, and of his day yesterday, here’s what I’ve got going through my head.

If you don’t know my dad, I wish you did.


Thanks for taking time to show me

how to swing a club and sink a putt,

kick, shoot, throw, and catch a ball,

run, jump, and practice,

drive a stick shift and start a mower,

dig a hole and cut the grass.

You’ve modeled for me

how to be a good dad to my son

and a good husband to my wife,

how to read my Bible

and memorize a verse

and live out my faith.

You’ve shown me

that it’s important to work hard at everything

and strive for excellence in all I do

but that work is never more important than being with family.

I’ve seen you laugh, cry, teach, coach, love, serve, grow, succeed,

invest in church, community, your work, and your family.

You’ve gone out of your way to show me how to be a man.

A Christ-follower.

A leader.

A servant.

A friend.

A husband.

A father.

You’ll probably never see the full fruits of your investment.

But it’s worth all of your effort.

Thanks for 27 years of being a great dad.


Review: Where the Wild Things Are

Have you ever read the childrens book, Where the Wild Things Are? I loved that book when I was a kid! I recently heard about the movie that’s coming out this Fall (update: Released October, 2009), and I’m already getting excited about it. I’ve posted the trailer below, but thought I’d give a few thoughts on the book first.

I never realized how weird the book is. Honestly, it’s a bit strange on first reading. If you haven’t read it in a while, here’s a video of a reading of Where the Wild Things Are:

Here is my take from the book.

The pros:

1. It paints quite an accurate picture of the mind of boys. Boys long for adventure. They long for something bigger than themselves. Max’s imagination runs wild as he sails across the sea, meets monsters, and rules over these mean, dangerous beasts. What boy doesn’t want to rule over dangerous creatures? Boys don’t want to be subdued by them!

2. The book shows that there is punishment for misbehavior. However you choose to discipline your children, you must discipline them!

3. Max’s parents show him love when they put a hot plate of food in his room. Discipline must be followed up by love (though I would argue that discipline is a loving act, I’ll do that in another post). At the time that I am writing this post, my son is almost 6 months old. He would not quite understand discipline yet. However, when he does, rest assured that we will discipline him. Each and every time we discipline him, though, we will end with hugging him and affirming our love for him. We never want him to equate discipline with only punishment. We discipline because we love, and want him to be 100% certain that we love him even though discipline is painful.

4. The artwork is fantastic. This is one thing that I loved when I was a child, and continue to appreciate today. There are many pages of monsters romping through the forest (Ok, I know…even as I write this, I feel silly talking about how I like to see monsters romping through the forest, but hang with me…), who, though they’re monsters, aren’t overly scary for children. The unique artwork is definitely a strength of the book.

The cautions:

1. First of all, be careful what you allow your children to read. Introduce material to your children with caution. Just because a book, or a movie, or a TV show, is for “children” does not mean that it’s appropriate for your child. Be discerning when it comes to stories you share with your children.

2. Is withholding food from your children the best form of punishment? I’m just saying…

3. I know that this may be a stretch, but we never see Max’s parents explain to him why he was punished, or why they gave in after some time. It’s important that children fully understand why they are being disciplined, both before and after. Max showed a heart of rebellion and pride, both in the home and in his imagination. He is disciplined because of this, but it’s important for him to understand why this is a problem, that his parents are the ones with the authority (though not in a smothering, exasperating kind of way (Ephesians 6:4)), and that his words and actions reveal deeper problems (Luke 6:45 says, “Out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”).

4. Max is never required to obey. His parents give in after a while (they really have to give in, so that Max eats, which furthers my point…is withholding food the best form of punishment, especially if you have to give in?). Max does not obey, yet the punishment eases. Is that how real life works? If you steal money at work, and are punished for it, does the punishment simply go away after a short period of time? No! There are steps of reconciliation you must make. Proverbs 29:15 tells us, “A child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” Does Max truly regret rebelling against his parent’s authority?

In conclusion, I recommend reading the book, and doing so with discernment. It is a fun read for your children, and a good way to talk about deeper life issues.

Here’s the trailer for the new movie:

Have you seen the movie?  What do you think?


Me, Rex, and memories


I posted some “Grandpa-isms” last week here. One of my favorites is, “There are 4 P’s that I do for my family: provide, procreate, protect…and make memories.” I have had many laughs as I try to figure out why he continues to call them the 4 P’s. However, I think that the final one, making memories, is an important piece for dads.

I have lots of memories from childhood. Things that will stick with me forever. I still remember Mom and Dad picking me up from school and taking me and my brother to the Smoky Mountains for the weekend. Or spending every Christmas Eve with my whole family at my aunt and uncle’s house eating lasagna. Or throwing the baseball with my dad for hours on end until my arm felt like it was going to fall off. Or my dad teaching how to swing a golf club with an old cut-off, duck-taped driver he constructed for me. Or having to go to sleep early the night before a big trip to Florida so that we could wake up and get on the road before God turned the lights on, only to have to change a tire that exploded while we were pumping it up after the sun rose. These were wonderful family-building times, and memories that I cherish dearly.

I want to make memories that Rex will cherish. I want him to look back on his childhood and have fond memories of the things we did as a family. I don’t want us to be a family who is so tied up with work and ministry that we don’t carve out time daily, and extended time regularly, to be with each other. I don’t have a naive view of life that says that everything will be rosy. But I’m confident that if I invest time in my son and “bring him up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” not “exasperating him,” and work to love him, be patient with him, and encourage him daily, the Lord will shape him into a godly man. I don’t have that hope because I’m some kind of super dad. Instead, I have that hope because I serve a God who changes hearts (Ezekiel 36:26), who loves despite our failings, and ultimately works all things for our redemption (Romans 8:28-29).

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