That’s right mom’s & dad’s it’s time to head on over to the naughty step, castaway corner, or the time-out chair or whatever it is that you call it. No spankings will be doled out today – in fact the intent is not even to punish but possibly promote some pretty awesome ideas.
Now before anyone gets all high & mighty and begins blasting me for even “remotely considering” that I might have some advice on kids & parenting or anything related to either. Just be patient and sit quietly in the chair until you hear me out. Trust me I know how dangerous the waters are that I am about to tread into. I can remember quite vividly an occasion where some good friends of mine and I were enjoying the festivities of another friend’s wedding. As we were hanging out at the reception the friends (who were parents of young children) had a disagreement over the handling of a discipline issue with one of their kids. To the horror (and probably more likely, embarrassment) of my guy friend who was the father – many of us at the table agreed with & sided with (in his eyes) the wife. While many of us shared our sentiment I probably was the strongest voice (I know – imagine that ha ha). Which precluded a firestorm of emotion from him, basically explaining how dare I sit there with no children and try to be involved. Even to the point of uttering something to the effect that he would “never take parenting advice from someone without kids”.
I probably should have just realized the hurt and emotion behind it and let it go, but being somewhat of a “hot-head” myself (again I know this one is tough to believe ha ha) I decided to defend myself. Seeing as how we were both ministers and trained in Christian Colleges – we knew enough about scripture for the following to be applicable. I fired back something to the effect that it would be interesting to take that stance seeing as how the Apostle Paul (who wasn’t marred and had no kids that we know of) wrote some pretty powerful things about the parent – child relationship and how to raise a family. Needless to say we found ourselves at an awkward impasse and decided it best to leave it alone!
Again let me say – my point today is not to embarrass or ridicule or dare to venture that I in any way shape or form might know better – but instead I want to share insights that I’ve gained FROM OTHER PARENTS. Ideas that I’ve found intriguing and if the Lord ever sees fit to present to me the situation to have and raise a family to honor Him – I would like to instill some of these aspects.
So basically this is how it will work. I want to share 3 insights I’ve learned from others. Then a powerful example and lesson I have learned from my own parents, in whom I believe are tremendous examples of great & godly parents. Then at the end I will share a random thought & idea I have had on my own from observing family life from the “outside” with a totally different perspective. So I feel the first 3 and the next 1 are tried and true and are not MY IDEAS so I would strongly encourage considering – then finally consider the last 1 – a total bonus that you may deem as total bogus so take it or leave it as you may wish.
FRIENDLY ADVICE – 3 lessons from friends of mine
1) A couple of friends from college took a trip to a major family destination down south. They were taking their kids on a big holiday trip and wanted to give them an exciting adventure. This is not “out of the norm” for many families. But what they did on THE WAY THERE was the cool part. They took time to stop in at hospitals to visit sick children. They took time out to brighten the days of children they didn’t even know as well as show their own children the tough things going on it other little kids’ lives. Thus I believe making the entire experience better, showing God’s love, teaching proper perspective and probably enjoying the final destination with a much richer understanding of true blessings.
2) A buddy from way back in grade school just recently shared something from his own life with his son. He said on the boy’s birthdays he does something for him called “Spend, Share, Save”. He gives him a set amount of money (for example – $30) for his birthday. Then he splits it in 3 equal amounts. Then he allows he son to spend $10 however he wants. Then he gets to decide in what manner and to what cause he gives $10 to something else. Then finally he has to put the last amount of $10 into some form of savings account. I believe this is an EXTREMELY POWERFUL lesson in how to USE money and LOVE people – instead of USING people to LOVE money. I’m planning on incorporating this with my own nieces in the coming years.
3) The final lesson I’ve learned from a friend of mine has been more recent. He is a church planter in the western part of the United States and believes firmly in showing what it means to Love God & Love Others to his children. He explained that the night before his kids start school each year they drive over to the schools that the kids will be attending. They spend time praying as a family for the school year and for the student to realize that being a part of this school isn’t mostly about learning but instead loving God and loving others in a way to draw them closer to God.
PARENTAL PRACTICE – A lesson from my own awesome parents
1) MAKE PROMISES – NOT THREATS. I hear so many parents in this day and age and they spend WAY more time making “threats” in order to keep their children in line. My parents made promises – if they told me they were going to do something – whether good or bad in my eyes – THEY DID IT. There was never a question in my own mind of whether or not my mom or dad would carry out the consequences of something they promised. And maybe in the early years I only stayed in line due to fear (which is never the BEST motivator I admit) but in my later years it also taught me a respect. That they would stick true to their own words (even when that may mean the pain of punishment for my own stupid choices) so I should stick to my words as well. I cannot tell you the number of homes I have seen ruled by small children because they learned VERY EARLY ON that their own parents totally didn’t mean what they said. It is a very dangerous cycle to get into. Plus I believe the idea of promises is a more positive thing than there always being this looming feeling of threats hanging around.
MY OWN OBSERVATIONS & IDEAS
“WHAT IF?” – I think that is a good way to start cause what I may suggest could be crazy – but WHAT IF – someone stopped for a second and considered it and put it into practice. So what might it look like if I ended up having children of my own I instilled a 20% “Christmas & Birthday” Gift rule. What in the world to I mean by this. Okay let’s stop for a minute and just think about how many piles of toys junk up our American homes from the plethora of gifts from family members and friends down through the years for Christmas and Birthdays. I have 2 nieces and we don’t have TONS of extended family (and I also believe my Sister & Brother-in-law do a great job of not allowing the girls to focus on material things) but even in their house sometimes it looks like Toys-R-Us absolutely THREW UP! It’s crazy. And even in the day and age of “Toy Story” 1,2, & 3 pulling at the heartstrings of how sentimentally important those children’s toys are, ultimately I wonder how much more time is spent putting money toward kid’s toys than for a child’s future & education.
So I thought about this 20% rule (it doesn’t have to be 20% – it can be whatever you like). So my thought is asking immediate family (I’m not completely crazy, I’m not telling you to get friends and neighbors and you trying to order them around what they get your child – but more so with close family who you may discuss gift prices with anyway). Basically you would tell those relatives who normally get your kid a gift – to consider what they were going to spend on the child. Then instead to take 20% off that amount and set it aside for a savings/college fun and spend the rest of the money on a gift to be unwrapped – (for example they would normally spend $25 on a Christmas or Birthday gift – so now instead they give $5 cash for savings/college and spend $20 on a gift for the kid). My thoughts are if they are gonna spend crazy amounts of money ANYWAY – why not spend less on some piece of crap that will break in 3 weeks or that the child (especially during younger years) will spend more time playing IN THE BOX than with the actual gift. Then turn around and help start preparing more for their future – cause come on people, that just ain’t no “jelly of the month club” and really IS the gift that keeps on giving!
Those little amounts may seem silly or insignificant but involving enough relatives – over enough years – could turn into quite a lil helpful amount for your kids. Think how much more they will appreciate a lower college loan, or more money for books, or some extra spending cash in the years where they will need it the most – WAY MORE than some “buzz lightyear” action figure sitting on a shelf with their name written in faded sharpie on the bottom of his foot!
Okay I guess your time is up – you’ve been a good boy/girl – you can get back up out of the naughty chair and get back to your life – take it or leave it but I just felt like I needed to share!