Why are they like this? Can’t the parents do something? It’s a spiritual issue – they just need to pray/evangelize/serve more. Get some meds–that’ll fix them. Just repent!
Perhaps you’ve heard or thought these comments before. All of us either know or are raising children with any variety of mental illnesses. From ADHD, to depression, to anxiety, and any number of other challenges, we live in an era of unprecedented mental health diagnosis’. Below are a few ideas that may help with your parenting.
Be aware of the shame that may be there for you as a parent. Often in the school and church environment, we may find ourselves living in the shadows, afraid of the differences in our children, feelings of judgement of those by “perfect” parents (by the way, no one gets through this life without major challenges), or simply burnt out at the daily grind of parenthood. Be open with others about your specific challenges, get parenting and marriage help as needed, read ample materials about your specific challenge, and continue to love your kid unconditionally.
One of the greatest challenges is to decipher the difference between your child’s diagnosis and what a “regular” child needs in regards to discipline. Remember that your child still has their normal development to grow through. Is this behavior a result of their diagnosis or simply teenage rebellion? Is this temper tantrum a result of their mental health issue or a selfish tirade to be corrected? This can be tricky as we can either over correct (in an area they don’t have much control in) or we can make excuses for them and miss valuable opportunities to discipline and mature our children.
Think resources and team work. Are you working closely with your child’s school counselor? They can often help with counseling, offering resources, and making valuable connections with your child’s teachers. How about a mentor in your church? Often mentors can help by saying the same things we do, but since it comes from someone “cooler” it sticks–whatever works! Use Google and Amazon to find useful reading materials. You becoming an “expert” in this area will not only pay great dividends in raising your child, but will be a blessing for those who come after you with similar needs!
Spend time with your child looking at the heart of Jesus as He spent time with those with special challenges. Show them that sometimes we have challenges in order to draw us closer to Jesus, to see his heart, and bring glory to God (John 9:3). I’ve seen many people become Christians or be strengthened in their faith over the years because of significant challenges they are undergoing.
Finally, realize you are not alone. You are a part of a community in your school and church. You have much to give and much to learn. God has “given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) and He will not desert you in this noble task of raising you child. God Bless!
Dr. Timothy Sumerlin is a school counselor and adjunct professor at the University of Denver. He is the director of In Motion Counseling, a church based counseling ministry which includes Disciples In Motion (recovery), The Grief Journey (grief groups) and a variety of seminar style counseling classes. He is a member and elder of the Denver Church of Christ and has been married to his wife Jackie for 32 years. Both of his children serve in churches in China. Grief in Motion is available at DTMedia.com
For more information on In Motion Counseling, go to: inmotioncounseling.org
"Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate." – Matthew 19:6b
Many of us are in blended families. Most of us didn't plan it that way, nor would we have. We may have arrived there through death, divorce or single parenting. We would like to share the mindset that we believe rescued us many times over as Satan attacked and tried to divide our family.
Kindergarten. That’s where Cheryl’s son was first exposed to pornography.
How could this happen? Cheryl [not her real name] had taken every precaution to prevent this. As a certified sex addiction therapist, she had a fierce determination to protect her son from pornography. Her home computer was protected by the best filtering systems, and she was cautious about where her son played. She had even invested thousands of dollars to send her son to a well-respected Christian private school.
In the heart of every Christian parent is the desire to give their child the blessing of a relationship with God. In this season of giving, we invite you to invest in your children’s spiritual future by registering for the 2017 All Generations Family Conference at www.2017familyconference.com.
Our vision is to strive towards God’s dream of a thriving, multi-generational church that will reach every generation in every corner of our world with the gospel of Christ.
10 Tips for positive Parenting
1. Be consistent. Children get confused and don’t know what to expect when rules change (NCPCA)
2. Be a role model: Children learn many things including kindness, compassion, tolerance, patience and honesty from watching you. They learn how to handle stress and a crisis by watching what you do in those situations.
3. When you are wrong, say you are sorry. Your children can learn from you when you take responsibility for your actions. They can learn from your mistakes too if you take the time to explain what you did wrong and how you would like to handle it next time. You can even make it a lesson for family devotionals and have them help you practice the wrong way and right way.
4. Get down to their level. Eye to eye communication let’s both of you know that you are present and clearly engaged in the moment. If your child is easily distracted, ask them to repeat back what you told them.
5. Give choices: give your child choices wherever possible. This teaches them that their ideas are important and valuable. It also helps them to be more willing to give you control when needed.
6. Have some predictable routines in your day. Try to stick to them as much as possible. Family dinners, bedtime stories, bathtub play....these things will help both you and your child get through the day. For older children Family nights and mentoring times can give them a time and place to bring up concerns and know that you will be available to help problem solve.
7. Praise them for what they do. There is always something to praise them for, Effort, creativity, communication, honesty....take the time to find what they are doing right. This encourages respect, positive behavior and self esteem.
8. Nurture yourself. Self care is a tough concept to learn (as many of us know). Saying” I need a break” and taking a few minutes to regroup will teach your children to do the same. Having your own rituals that you make priorities like quiet times, exercise and date nights will give them a good model to follow. It is great to include them occasionally in some of these activities as well.
9. Create memories. A relaxed carry out dinner may be a better option that at 3 course meal if you are exhausted and cranky. Make your standard about “How will my family benefit” instead of “what would Martha do”.
10. Set realistic goals. You and your family can be beautifully imperfect. Don’t set goals that are unrealistic or everyone will be discouraged. Take the time to reassess often and extend lots of grace. Start with yourself!
As I was driving home from Vacation Bible School, my six-year-old daughter randomly started telling me about God...she just kept going on and on from the back seat. She didn't have any papers in her hand or anything. She was just talking....I feel as though God was a part of that.
This was actually the first in a series of lessons I have been teaching in the New Delhi church for mothers. Each short lesson addresses a different age group of children. The first one is for 0 to 3 year old kids, then 4 to 8, then 9 to 12, 13 to 18, and finally adult children. These lessons were tailored to the needs of the local mothers. I am aware there are cultural differences between countries. What may be an acute need in one culture may be less so in another. Other needs may be more pressing. If these lessons are useful though, please feel free to borrow them, teach them, distribute, or just plain ignore them.
Some of the points will be similar in the various age groups since a different set of mothers attended the various classes so there will be some repeating. Also bear in mind that these classes were for meant for a specific audience in a particular culture. Of course, most of the principles apply pretty much anywhere, however there will be some emphasis on ceratin points based on the local needs.
A Shepherd of God's TimeI believe that, just like in other areas of my life, God wants me to be a good shepherd of the time He has given me. Although I know it is God's time that I use every day, do I think about it that way or do I do what I want to do with “my time”?
In Ephesians 5:15-16 Paul cautions us to, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as the unwise but as the wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
When I am feeling overwhelmed I always remember the story about filling a jam jar as full as possible – you put the big rocks in first, followed by small rocks and then finally pour in water. My schedule is no different, first I write down the big things I have to do, followed by the things I want to do today but don’t have to do, and finally I write down the things I would like to do.
This year I am praying to do things the way God would want me to, and one of the areas to evaluate is my time. One of the most important things for me as a mom is helping my children get to heaven, but does my schedule show its importance in my life? I want to spend time with God everyday myself – but also to help my children, ages four and eight, spend time with God. I want to help them grow in their faith and knowledge of the scriptures. I realize that I have to be very purposeful and plan ahead. It is my job to teach my children the way they should go, not my friends’ or the children's ministry - mine.
When it comes to my children, I do not want to have any regrets. “If only I had made the time to share the scriptures. If only we had talked at the dinner table each night. If only I had read bible stories to them when they were young.” Life is short and every moment counts. As it is, my daughter spends six hours a day being influenced by others at school – and in only ten years she will move out and be on her own.
Here are some things to consider about your time and your children:
1. Evaluate the time spent with my family. – Am I investing time in the eternal soul of my child or do I fill my time with activities and just “being busy”? Am I watching my child grow from the sidelines? Is another adult impacting my child more than me?
2. Be purposeful with the time you have. Am I planning family devotionals, mealtimes, memorizing scripture and praying with my child? How important are these things to me – does my schedule reflect it?
3. Use everyday situations as teaching opportunities. Tantrums, complaints, unfair situations, sharing.... God provides many opportunities for teaching each day and He has very strong opinions about all of these. Do I take the time to talk about them and teach my child about God's opinions?
James says, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14.
The clock is ticking- our children will grow up and leave home. Let's use the precious and limited time we have with our children by investing in their future. Eternal Life!
Let's all get to Heaven with our families!