Basics of Motherhood – You don’t need to fix your child.

This week on the podcast, Amerey and Kathleen finished up the Back to Basics Series with Basics of Motherhood.

Are you a mother?
Do you often feel isolated or alone?
Do you feel as if you need to “fix” your child so they are like everyone else?
Do you have doubts, struggles and wonder if other mothers have the same issues?
Then this is for you!

You don’t need to fix the child.

On the The Whole House Podcast  this week, Amerey and Kathleen talk about a lie that mothers often believe. What is that lie?
That your child needs fixed. From the time our child is an infant we encounter people who tell us:

The child isn’t sleeping – fix it.
The child needs to be rocked to sleep – fix it.
The child is not reading by the time they are 4 -fix it.

It’s a never ending list.
While there are guidelines and stepping stones of development, your child doesn’t need pushed through them. God made her the way she is. Your job as a parent is to meet her where she is, not to fix her.

Your child can’t be wrong in her makeup. She is born a certain way. You can’t say that a baby’s sleeping/eating/coping patterns are wrong. You don’t need to fix the child. Don’t stress yourself. Don’t say, “Her child is right and my child is wrong.”

If you just accept your child as she is then you will feel free. You will be free to parent the child the way she needs parenting.

Don't believe the lie that your child needs fixed

You have probably already found things that work for your child.

Don’t feel guilty for doing those things. Don’t look at other parents and measure yourself against their yardstick.  You’re not failing just because you aren’t parenting like another mother is. You are doing exactly what your child needs right now. That’s good parenting.

 You are doing a great job! Go YOU! Your job is to make them feel safe, secure, and cared for. If a child has a capital letter syndrome, then we make special accommodations for her (or we should).

Even if a kiddo doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, we should parent her in the way she needs parenting. Cecilia is Amerey’s little one who has trouble sleeping. She doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, but at age five, she uses a weighted blanket and needs melatonin to sleep.

Adults are picky. Why can’t kids be picky?

Our culture expects kids to conform to whatever we tell them to do. Kids are humans. Each child has a personality. They will have likes and dislikes just like adults. It’s okay. Don’t force your kiddo to like something because you think she should. It will backfire. Don’t try to shove a square peg in a round hole.

Eating Issues.

You want your child to feel comfortable at the table. So, if she doesn’t like what is always being served, don’t make it about the food. Make it about nutrition and relationship. Family dinners should be about connection.

Do unto other’s as you would like to be done unto you.

Listen to your kiddo when she is expressing a need, fear, like or dislike. That’s what adults want. Kids want the same thing. Think of your child as a person.

Motherhood is steeped in whatever is going on in the current culture.

When you’re born, whatever your culture is doing, we naturally do it. That is dangerous.

We have a family culture. A church culture. A culture.

Ask yourself these questions:

Why are we parenting this way?

What is my purpose as a mother?

What are my morals and values? What are my morals?

Am I living out those values.

Pause. Examine yourself. We should be laying up our treasures in heaven. Do we want to not invest in our children so when they grow up they are floundering. They are asking – is this the right religion? Is this the right religion?

Find a Group of Moms who support you.

You can feel isolated. You can feel like a lone wolf.  Then you isolate and the then hyper focus especially if you are a perfectionist.

Moms tend not to talk about the things they really struggle with. They tell poop stories and other things, but are often afraid to tell the truth about the struggles they are going through.

 You need to reach out to other Moms and find some who are going through similar situations.

Walk away from groups/friends that don’t encourage, equip and educate you! Friends who support your on your journey and don’t judge your child or want you to fix her are the kind to keep around.

Keep in mind your mission is to raise up a well-balanced child. Your mission is NOT to create a carbon copy of everyone else. Parenting a child as if she is “right” not “wrong” will help her navigate life with confidence. The end goal is heaven and a “Well done good and faithful servant” from God, not an “Atta boy” from the world.

Want the rest of the story? Listen to the podcast!

 

 

 

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How Having a Large Family Taught us to Have Joy During Trials

Ever have one of those moments when you look around and time seems to be in slow motion? You have one of those sparks of realization that your life is different than those around you? I had one of those recently, concerning trials.

I was sitting in church and Pastor W. was talking about suffering. We have had some serious health things come up in our church body and everyone is reeling from the stress of it. We did a massive prayer service a few Sundays ago which I highly recommend. The following Sunday, Pastor W. gave some super helpful tips about suffering. I looked around and realized how many people only experience suffering in blips. It’s not an everyday occurrence. Weird. Not like my life at all. My life has been a series of trials. Not on a daily basis, on an hourly one. I’m not complaining. Just a fact that my adult children and I have talked about before. We’re used to trials. They’re pretty normal to us. I’m not talking about major trials, although we have had our share of those as well, I’m talking about those “death by paper cuts” ones. The trials like storm clouds that keep rolling in.

My elder brother and I were catching up over the holidays one year, I shared about three of my seven kiddos. “Ania almost drove into the ditch and had to get help, Gregory wrecked his car and Amerey had a baby!”

“All in one month?” he asked.

“No. All in one day. Actually within a few hours.”

Raising a huge family with some kids from hard places can be chaotic. It can be organized chaos, but chaos nonetheless. Let’s just say, the sort of chaos I’m talking about is suffering/trials of various levels. Those are good teachers.

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.- James 1

 

Large (Adoptive/foster cause that’s my experience) families face trials of many kinds on a minute by minute basis (especially if you homeschool). This scene from Cheaper by the Dozen is real life for us. We did this whole scene minus the frog with spaghetti. Five plates of spaghetti on the floor.

 

Three Things Large (Adoptive or Not) Families know about trials/suffering.

 

  1. We take on the belief that “This too shall pass.” We get used to the waves of trials. Large families realize that milk can spill, be cleaned up and spill again. I’m sure other families do the same. We just have more trial runs (pun intended). One year we had a Christmas party at our home for friends and a toddler pulled an opened liter of sprite off the counter. I remember so distinctly because of her mother’s expression. Yes, I would be horrified if my toddler spilled something at someone else’s house, but it’s a minor trial, not a major one. If there isn’t someone hurt, it’s just a thing, a mess that can be cleaned up. People are more important than things.
  2. We learn how to be calm in the midst of the storm. This point really goes back to number one. I think of Jesus sleeping on the boat in the midst of the storm (kind of like a mom trying to get a few winks on the couch while kids are playing) and the disciples wake him up, “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?” Our kids have a similar version of this “Mom, don’t you care if _________.” Moms with multiples learn how to stay calm in the storm. Why? Because, there is always a storm. You have to have a big perspective and little actions. And also, expending energy for things that we can’t control becomes way too counter productive. WE learn how to persevere. In the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh” that God has given him to keep him from becoming conceited. Paul has asked God three times to remove it…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.– 2 Corinthians 12: 9Text placeholder (3).png

 

  1. We learn to set aside our self interest for those of others. We become spiritually mature. It’s sink or swim. Trust God or remain in constant stress. You either rely on the grace of God or you fall apart. You either set aside your self or you end up frustrated and angry all the time.

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2: 3, 4

It’s an interesting dynamic. Once you get used to telling yourself “no” for the interest of other’s a few times, it gets easier. After a while, it gets downright joyful. I am not talking about letting someone walk all over you. I’m talking about sacrifice. Staying up late to make a costume, help with a project or bake cookies with your kiddos or turning off Netflix to read aloud with a child on your lap.

4. We realize our joy doesn’t come from our circumstances. This is a biggie. I will be the first to admit, this is almost an hourly struggle. It’s hard to admit that God is in control when my circumstances are out of control or feel as if they are. Often we get the big call of God on our lives, to raise children, stay home, homeschool. start a blog, write a book or volunteer at the food pantry and the list goes on. Those are the big picture things. You can write them on a sticky note and put them on the calendar. But, what happens when you know you are supposed to write a book, but circumstances keep getting in the way, those circumstances might even be your children. What if you blocked off a chunk of time and a child ate up that time, literally and figuratively. My experience has been when I wallow in frustration, it effects me physically. I feel sick. My muscles ache from the tension.  When I realize that God directs my path and I accept it, things go so much smoother. If God gave you a job, He will equip you for it. He will if you trust Him.

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].- Proverbs 3: 5,6

I’m sure you can learn all of these lessons without having a large family, but having one definitely offers many more trial runs. I’m speaking from my experience. I’m sure you have your own. However you get there -practicing perseverance helps us work towards maturity. Trials are opportunities. 

Three Things to Expect if You Host Thanksgiving

Do you find yourself hosting the Thanksgiving feast at your home this year?

*Warning – Do not read this post if you don’t have a sense of humor or understand the gift of sarcasm.

Not sure what to expect? Use this handy guide to help!

  1. Expect people to come to your home and complain about how full they are from the last three stops. Yep. True. You may have spent the week cleaning things you don’t normally clean like your oven (on the inside) and making sure all the closets look neat. You may have prepped, shopped and baked for the whole week while the guys are out hunting. And to top it off, you probably baked cinnamon rolls and made coffee for everyone that morning. You’re wearing nice clothes, you set the table and you have make-up on. What’s the thanks you get, a complaint? If you expect it, maybe you won’t be so shocked and slap someone. Just think, it only means more turkey for you, plus when that overstuffed relative tries to play speed scrabble with you, he won’t be able to think straight and you’ll win.
  2. The person who starts the political discussion will disappear and park himself in front of the football on TV while everyone else continues to discuss. True story. It’s okay. Politics will probably come up with family together. The important thing to remember is being in total agreement with each other on issues of politics, theology, child rearing and fill in the blank isn’t the qualifier of being part of the family. Just ask God. How many of His kiddos got along? Or take it one step further, he’s got a batch of the Hunter/Allen/Craven/Guire/ family members in heaven that didn’t agree one bit in the political, theological or fill in the blank arena.They sure liked to discuss the topics though. If your family likes to have discussions, just have some guidelines. No fist fighting (just kidding, not really). Our boundary is when people start yelling, Jerry shuts it down. It’s a pretty firm rule. *Just a note, if someone brings up abortion, adoption, human trafficking or anything to do with kids from hard places, I’ll be sure to blubber. It’s okay. It’s all part of the family experience.

You will have a fresh batch of memories at the end of the day

3. You will have a fresh batch of memories at the end of the day. Even the worst Thanksgiving moments become written in the family history. No one will ever forget when someone dropped the whole turkey, told the joke that no one got, listened to Grandpa say, “Did I ever tell you when…?” for the 500th time. Those normal, irritating. loud, innocuous moments are treasures. Store them up for the years you don’t get to see everyone. Save them to retell when Grandpa is no longer with you. Do the turkey crafts. Drink the coffee and talk about everything under the sun. Go for the walk after dinner. Throw the football around the yard. Fill your memory bank this Thanksgiving.

I know hosting at your home is hard work. I can say this from personal experience. I took over hosting over twenty years ago when my mom died. It’s hard work, but good work. I love having family here. If you are hosting today and you’re exhausted, leave the dishes for a moment. Take a few deep breaths. Smell the smells. Watch the animated conversations. Hear those kids running around the house dressed in their pilgrim and native American costumes, chasing each other with plastic forks? Drink it all in. Savor it. And if no one else says it, “Thanks for hosting this year! You did a great job!”

THREE THINGS THE CHURCH NEEDS TO DO TO PREPARE FOR THE LOST COMING HOME PART 2

A few weeks ago in church, a prophecy was given about an influx of people coming in from “the hollows” (this is WV, people). We were instructed to “get ready” multiple times. When I left the service, the phrase was echoing in my head, get ready, get ready, get ready. Why aren’t we ready? More importantly, why don’t we stay ready? Or why do people come and check out church and promptly turn away?

These are some hefty, thought provoking questions that I don’t know all the answers to. After some thought, prayer and conversations with God and whoever else would listen, I came up with three simple things we regular folk could do.  You can find the first here. Here’s the second:

  1. Become relationally oriented, not rules driven.

Before you think, I don’t have that problem, stop and think for a minute. How do you respond to people behaving in ways you don’t think are appropriate? Do you have an unwritten set of rules in your arsenal that shoot out when people don’t adhere to them? Confession- I do! If you do, you’re not alone.

We all have expectations and perceptions that are based on our nurture and our nature.

In our homes we were nurtured to behave in certain ways: don’t burp at the dinner table, do enter in conversation, brush your teeth before bed, we will have a bedtime story, we don’t scream at one another to get our point across and the list goes on. Our nature puts in its two cents.  Introverts may not appreciate lengthy parties full of noise and surface conversations. The point is, we all have our isms.

The problem is when we extend the expectations of these unwritten rules or isms to new visitors in our home or the church- relationships are risked. This takes some forethought and self examination.

Is this rule fulfilling an eternal objective or just contributing to my comfort right now?

When a newbie comes into our church smelling of weed, speaking loudly with expletives or standing when we sit, what is our response? To build the relationship or the rules? What if a child comes into our kids church who can’t regulate, not won’t but can’t? What sort of accommodations do we make for him? Do we favor sitting in a seat over a child receiving unconditional love and planting the seed of an eternal relationship?

Build relationshipsnot rules.png

We aren’t the first generation to struggle with this issue.The early church had the same struggle. In Acts 15 we find some history of the early church. Some were being recited:

Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”

The modern version of the directive may be different:

You can only be saved if….

  • You don’t drink
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t cuss
  • Don’t follow my rules of behaving in church

The early church struggled with the adoption of a new culture and melding the old converts with the new Gentile converts. What kind of rules must be instituted?  What sort of language should they speak? Should they memorize the Torah? Should they abstain from unclean meats? Be circumcised? How far did grace go and how much of the law should be observed?

It was decided that a letter should be sent with a few instructions. Don’t eat things that have been sacrificed to idols and keep yourself from sexual impurity. Simple and to the point.  

It seemed good to the apostles not to overload the newly adopted Gentile brothers and sisters with too many rules (Acts 15:28-29).

By the same token, church newbies are learning to be part of a family and the instruction has to be limited and meted out with grace.

God sent His Son to die for each of us. God wants us to be in relationship with Him. We can’t behave our way to Christ, it’s because of our sacrifice that we are part of the family of God. If someone crosses the threshold of your home  or home church, welcome them! Work on relationship. Pray. Let the Holy Spirit draw him. Rules won’t. Unrealistic expectations won’t.

 

Ten Lessons from Camp Lemon Lime

Every year our family has a family camp here at the Guire Shire. My kids, grandkids and some friends join us for four days of swimming, eating, trampolining, crafts, camp fires, hammocking and berry picking.

Life likes to show us things. They may not be new things, but how many times do we need to learn a lesson before we get it?

Here’s some observations from the family:

1. Have a plan. If the plan doesn’t work for the moment, pitch it.

I made up cute index cards with chores for everyone. They got handed out to the first family who arrived. I picked them up several times and thought about handing them all out. I didn’t. I pitched them. It was a great idea, but my family seems to work like a well oiled machine and they just do the stuff. The cards suited my planner-type personality, but they were just paper reminders that we didn’t need.

2. You are going to be uncomfortable. It’s okay.

Being comfortable has become a goal in our culture. We want the temperature perfect, food just the way we like it and all of our circumstances to be favorable (count me in for all of the above). It’s just not reality when you are building relationships with family or anyone for that matter. There is a lot of denying oneself for the greater good of family. It means not always saying what you want to say. It means not getting your turn first or the fourth S’more.

“When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy – if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this easily managed.”
― C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters

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3. There are going to be meltdowns.

When people are out of there comfort zone, especially kids with capital letter syndromes, there are going to be meltdowns. Sometimes, it’s the adults melting down. Sometimes it is a kids. Often the fix is as simple as a snack, water or a nap for both of the above.

4. Don’t wait until you are too tired to make a pot of coffee.

One afternoon, one of the adults promised to make a pot of coffee. An hour later, there was still no coffee made. Isn’t that human nature? We wait until we are at the end of our rope before we ask for help. Coffee is help in this house, incase you are wondering. When adults can’t regulate because we are too tired, neither can the kiddos.

5. Don’t let five little girls vote on a movie.

Yep. That’s it for that one. Just pick the movie.

6. Keep the rules simple and short.

Our camp rules this year:

1. Be kind

2. Clean up after yourself

3. Have fun

*The rules are a modified ‘yes’ sandwich.

7. Have fun applies to the adults too.

This family has this lesson down pat. See the pictures above. No couch potato parents here which makes me proud. Swim with the kids. Play on the trampoline. Read stories. Have a tea party. Do the crafts. Enjoy the moment.

8. By the end of camp you drink from anyone’s water bottle.

We had a great system. We did. It involved a sharpie to put a name on water bottles or Gatorades. It worked well until the last day. I brought Moira up on the deck after swimming and she grabbed a Gatorade that was on the coffee table. No name on it. She took a big swig and so did I. Hunter was drinking it too. He admitted he had no idea who it belonged to. We share things, guys!

9. Kid mirror whomever they are around.

 Six month old Merrick watched his baby cousins escape the blanket and the family room by crawling. Soon, he followed suit. He is now crawling. Another child was afraid in the pool. Another child followed. It’s a chain reaction. Watch what you say. What what you do, because it will come back to you through a child. This is also a great thing. When we have great actions and reactions, the kids eventually follow suit.

10. Be thankful and say so.

There are so many things to be thankful for. We often forget these when everyone is cranky (I’m speaking of the adults here). When the whole family is together, we must remember what a blessing that is. It’s not something to be taken for granted. It’s a gift. My kids are a gift. They are amazing parents (the ones who have kids). All of them work together for a common goal such as getting kids changed for the pool, from the pool or making dinner. They get along. I know that is rare. It is a blessing.

We had a great family camp this year! It’s well worth the effort. If you missed the podcast about it, you can listen below or find us on iTunes!