Several days ago I tweeted “What’s best for our kids and what’s best for God’s kingdom generally aren’t mutually exclusive.”
I have thought about it every day since, in a variety of different situations other than the one that prompted my tweet. We want our kids to be safe, happy, and successful by American standards: well-educated, socially adept, able to earn a comfortable living. The problem is when we value those things above everything else, that’s what we impart to our children, as their beliefs are shaped by our actions more than our rhetoric. More and more American Christianity has turned to Moral Therapeutic Deism.
The fact that most Christian teens in the US believe the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself should be very sobering to the church. The good news isn’t that if you work hard, you will be successful and happy.
I’m not sure how this fleshes itself out in everyday life, but our children have to know that though they are loved and valued, their happiness, comfort and safety are not the top priority in the life of our family.
We are united to Christ in salvation, and so we share in the great work he is doing in redeeming the world. We share in his sufferings, so we can share in his glory. How can that define our family life? What difference does the gospel make in our choices for our children?
Last year, I gave you a peek into Lexi’s particular taste in music. Kate is a little musical sponge and likes a lot of different things, rarely asking for me to skip a song. She hasn’t been obsessively devoted to any one artist or genre since that Josh Ritter phase when she was three. So, all these songs also meet Kate’s approval, her list would just be really really long. Many songs are beloved because of their use in Ramona and Beezus, and their tastes are starting to be shaped by other people as well. But I still get last word on what gets downloaded (sorry Justin Bieber.)
Even though Lexi tolerates the rock and pop standards I rotate into their playlists much better than she used to, she refused to include any of them in this list. I thought “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” might make the cut or something by the Beatles. Nope. Truly, these are her choices. I don’t loathe any of these songs, but none of them are on my list of current favorites, either.
Say Hey (I Love You) . Michael Franti & Spearhead
I Gotta Feeling . The Black Eyed Peas
Whip My Hair . Willow
Shackles (Praise You) . Mary Mary
Hello Seattle . Owl City
Live Like There’s No Tomorrow . Selena Gomez & the Scene
What I Am . will.i.am (sesame street)
Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag . Minnutes
Edge of the World . Mat Kearney
A Place in This World . Taylor Swift
More to Luv . Minnutes
Everybody . Ingrid Michaelson
Over the Rainbow . Jason Castro
All Joy & No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting. It weaves around but is ultimately a really fascinating read about happiness, purpose and parenting.
I’m a trendsetter, apparently. Why the Next Pop Culture Wave Might Be Libraries.
After Haiti: The Chaos of U.S. Adoptions An in-depth look at some of the expedited adoptions post-earthquake that brings up some very important questions about international adoption I’ve been wrestling with for a long time. Why are people giving up their children in the third world? What is the best way we can intervene? For the record, “orphan” doesn’t necessarily mean what it does to us around the world. To the U.N. if you’ve lost (or never were connected to) one parent, you are an orphan. In some countries, it is applied to any child who is abandoned.
This is a great day for babywearing. The Infantino SlingRider is being recalled. That seems strange, but its true. Babywearers want mothers to use slings SAFELY. The SlingRider was impossible to use safely, and they were in every big box store, the most accessible “sling” to the general public. For over three years, Infantino has been warned of the danger. They’ve finally caved, but not until a MILLION of these carriers were sold. You probably know someone with one. The wrap and tie carrier they are offering in exchange is much safer. It’s a copy of a mom-made design, and mass produced, and not “perfect”, but it’s safe. Pass the word on.
This beautiful story from this week’s New York Times is a must-read for parents. Life presented all sorts of complications, but one father and daughter let books bind them together, and kept up a streak of 3,218 nights of reading at least ten minutes, all the way through high school.
You might have seen the CPSC warning about slings last week. As a certified volunteer babywearing educator (through Babywearing International) I wanted to give my two cents. If you’ve ever been to a local meeting here or met up with me in person and talked about slings in the last three years, I’ve mentioned infant safety. NONE of this information is new in the babywearing community. Common sense is key. Our local group issued a press release that summarized our thoughts and general warnings to parents that we routinely give, with some easy guides you can use and pass on. You CAN use slings safely. You need to be aware of your infant’s positioning and breathing. If your child was premature or is at risk for breathing problems, be extra cautious. And NEVER ever use the Infantino Sling Rider or other “bag-style” carriers that bury a baby deep in a pouch and don’t allow you to position them safely.
A must read post by a friend-of-this-blog. This post is sensitive in nature as it mentions an adopted child’s death at the hand of her parents – cardiac arrest brought on by spanking. Please pray for her sister, in critical condition, and for all families struggling with difficult to discipline children that this would not continue to happen.
This series will be a rambling collection of my thoughts. My intention isn’t to guilt or goad, but to encourage, if something doesn’t resonate with you, feel free to disregard it.
Parenting an infant is a baptism by fire. One day you have this tiny being with a stomach the size of his itty bitty fist, to feed and change and comfort all day and all night. One of the things that gave me clarity as we embarked on those early days with a baby was to think theologically about parenting, and come up with some ideas of family life that we could start to try to live out.
You are your child’s first view of God was one of the ideas I gleaned from Andrew Murray’s Raising Your Children for Christ. The one sentence I wanted to live out was “gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.” (I still think of this daily.) I also meditated a lot on how the girls were not just my daughters, but my sisters in Christ through baptism, the least of these in God’s kingdom in many ways. Having a view of their identity in our family, and to God, helped me to filter different ideas of child rearing and care that I came across. Continue reading
Lexi and I spend a good amount of time alone together in the car. One of our favorite activities lately is to put the ipod on shuffle and let her rate the songs. Here are some of her current favorites (in a “playlist” order.) I find her tastes interesting, somewhat unpredictable, and occasionally annoying (how can she reject Wilco and Ingrid Michaelson, for example?)
LEXI’S LIST . 2010.01
I Got You (I Feel Good) – James Brown
Video Killed The Radio Star – The Buggles
What I Like About You – The Romantics
I’d Rather Dance With You – Kings of Convenience
Run With All You’ve Got – Jon Black
You Make My Dreams – Hall & Oates
Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival
When I’m Sixty-Four – The Beatles
Chicago – Sufjan Stevens
The Littlest Birds – The Be Good Tanyas
Wrapped Up in Books - Belle & Sebastian
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
Peace Like a River – Elizabeth Mitchell
Lovely, Love My Family – The Roots
My Girl – The Temptations
Shoo Fly – Elizabeth Mitchell
Beautiful Girl – Andrew Peterson And Randall Goodgame
Great Big World - Pierce Pettis
This Little Light Of Mine – Elizabeth Mitchell
Bedtime Lullaby – Mark Kozelek
I took the girls and two of their friends to see 101 Dalmatians: The Musical this afternoon. It was a good introduction to musical theatre, the story was familiar enough to follow along and the production was whimsical and child-friendly. If we had paid for a babysitter to go see it as a date, I probably would have been disappointed. But, that wasn’t the case, and the kids all had a great time, so I enjoyed it as well.
Parenting is one big adventure of shaping your children’s views of the world, life and everything, and doing things like this makes me consider how much we are exposing them to the arts. It makes me understand how people can get sucked in to over-scheduling with activity after activity because if you neglect one, you might miss a great gift or not develop a passion. I think we can all see how an excess of pursuits can tax a family in many ways, and distort a child’s view of his own importance, but drawing the line between good and too much can’t be easy.
How do you find balance in your family? Is it dictated by time, cost, number of pursuits per child?
Last week a mother lost her son. As a parent it always saddens me to hear when another parent has to bury a child. It’s one of the most classic examples of how things are not the way they are supposed to be.
This story has turned into a controversy. The controversy has mostly centered on whether or not it is appropriate to tweet about an emergency in the midst of it. If your community is online, it makes perfect sense to me. But that wasn’t the aspect of the story that most moved me to address it.
This child’s death was an accident and a tragedy. I would never say otherwise. However, I think parents should take pause to hear that his mother tweeted five or six times in the eight minutes proceeding the 911 call (about everyday matters) while also caring for her backyard chickens. Are we neglecting our kids to get a quick rush from a well-turned tweet or check up on someone we don’t really care about on facebook? How are we showing our children they matter more to us than our keyboards and smartphones?
Let’s not forget that the relationships that take the hardest work are the ones that bring us the most joy and fulfillment over the long haul.
One of the most amazing things about parenting is how much my children teach me about faith and following Jesus. I have been observing Lexi closely lately, we’ve had so much one-on-one time since Kate started kindergarten, and it’s so encouraging to watch her grow.
Of all of the people in our family, Lexi is the most likely to pray with and for me. Even if it’s something routine, that happens everyday, she never tires of praying for it. It amazes me how much she gets sin and brokenness, she doesn’t hide from them, she feels their weight. She shows me consistently how she wants to grow in maturity, praying that God would help her to grow more like Jesus. She wrestles with sanctification, asking the big questions like “why do I keep sinning when I ask God to help me to not sin?” With her tender heart and willingness to serve, I am confident that God will use her to minister to many others, like she ministers to me.
When she joyfully receives the bread and the wine tonight, I will be praying that God strengthens her to always follow after Jesus with the passion and faith that she demonstrates today.