Being a parent of young children can sometimes be a confusing experience. You face many new challenges that you don’t always know how to handle. Thankfully Scripture provides the clarity we so desperately need. And God has provided wonderful teachers to help us apply biblical principles in parenting to our every day lives.
On Saturday, my brother-in-law, Brian Chesemore, hosted a morning seminar on Parenting Ages Infant to Five. I’ve heard great things about it from my friends who trekked across the river to attend. You can listen and benefit without leaving your house. Simply download all three sessions:
Biblical Principles of Parenting
Training, Discipline, and the Rod
Questions and Answers (w/ Kristin Chesemore and Ben & Erin Wikner)
Q. How do I keep my child from getting out of bed multiple times every evening?
A. I asked my mom about this recently because I needed an answer! I would put my daughter Caly (4 years old) to bed, and for the next two hours or more, she would come out with a myriad of excuses—my favorite being the time she said she had “internal bleeding.” It’s amazing all the things a child can think of when they don’t want to go to sleep!
I was starting to lose my mind; or, to put it biblically, I was having difficulty with the fruit of patience. Instead of my day of training and caring for the kids ending at bedtime, it would drag on late into the evening.
It was also a problem for my babysitters (often my family). There were a number of nights when we came home to find her watching baseball with my dad—way past her bedtime. (But then, it doesn’t take much to convince Pop-Pop to change the rules!)
So as usual, I turned to my mother for help with this little problem, and you know what? She solved it! The “potty block” was born.
After our bedtime routine (the typical, reading, singing, praying) I give her books to read on her own and turn on her favorite music. Then I place one block (like a building block, but you could use whatever you want) at the end of Caly’s bed. This is her “pass” to come out of her room one time to use the bathroom. She brings the block with her and gives it to me or daddy (or babysitter when we are gone).
After potty, we tuck her back in and she is instructed not to get out of bed again. No more block means no more times out of bed. If she obeys, then she gets a sticker on her chart when she wakes up in the morning. (For the chart I just took a blank sheet of paper, drew a bunch of circles on it and hung it on the back of her door. When there are stickers covering all of the circles, she gets a surprise.). I play the sticker/chart thing up really big! But if she comes out of her room again without a block, then there is a specific consequence.
I’m telling you, it’s working! Took about a week of training for it to really stick and now she is doing great. I have started using “potty blocks” for other times during the day such as her rest time and play alone time. And ya know what? We are all happier! She’s happier, Mommy’s happier, and of course this makes Daddy happier! Thanks Mom!
We began this series by asking: “How does the mom with young kids make the best use of her time when she doesn’t feel like she has any time?” We’ve looked at a few essential deals for this busy season:
1. Preach the gospel to yourself (pt. one and two)
2. Prize your husband (pt. one and two)
3. Parent all the time (pt. one, two and three)
4. Pay attention (pt. one, two and three)
5. Pursue help in parenting.
I want to close the week by reminding you of one of my favorite promises from God’s Word. Galatians 6:9 says: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
This verse was a source of strength to me when I was carrying my one year old, chasing my two year old and correcting my four year old. I didn’t feel like I was bearing much fruit, but this verse provided faith for the future.
My kiddos are now five, six and nine, and the challenges are a little different. I’m dealing with arguments between my five and six year old and the heart issues of my nine year old. But I’m still holding on to this wonderful promise.
May I encourage you to hold onto this verse as you seek to faithfully sow into the lives of your little ones? The harvest won’t come today. And it won’t come tomorrow. Maybe not even next year or the year after that.
But we must be faithful to sow today. Faithful to train. Faithful to teach. Faithful to discipline. Faithful to love. Or, as it says in this passage, faithful to “do good.” And we must trust God that He will fulfill His promises, that we will reap a harvest in due season if we do not give up.
My expectations are not for today, or even tomorrow—but my hope is in God who has promised that, someday, my labors will bear fruit for Him. Even though my body is weary, my soul gains new strength from this promise.
I pray it strengthens you as well.
—from the archives
The new Sovereign Grace kid’s album, Walking With the Wise, debuted this week and today we have ten CD’s to give away. Hmmm…maybe we’ll start that girltalk music department after all.
With lyrics drawn from the book of Proverbs, this album includes songs such as: “W-I-S-D-O-M,” “Lazy Bones,” and “A Cheerful Heart.” What’s more, the catchy music is fun for kids and easy on a mom’s ears.
Speaking of ears, one of my favorites songs already is “All Ears:”
I wanna be all ears when Mom is speaking
All ears when Dad is teaching
There’s a lot I don’t know
And they’ve been around a whole lot of years
And have covered some ground
Their words will make me wise, so I’m all ears
I’ve always disliked listening to songs on repeat. But I’m making an exception with this song. We are going to wear it out.
One more thing I love about Sovereign Grace kids CDs – there is always a special surprise track, just for moms. At least, that’s how I like to think of it. On the last album it was “Peace.” Every time it comes on, Jack says, “This is your favorite song, isn’t it, Mom?” You betya, my son.
On Walking with the Wise, I think the secret song for moms is “Who Can Say.” Listen and see if it doesn’t reduce you to grateful-for-the-gospel tears.
So, for the giveaway—be one of the first ten people to email and tell us your favorite line from a Sovereign Grace kids album. And thanks to Sovereign Grace Ministries for providing these CD’s.
UPDATE, 4:50 PM: We have our winners! Thanks to all who entered.
School is almost out and it’s time to make summer plans—swimming and biking, eating dinner on the back porch, and berry picking (I guess Janelle has already gone to the Strawberry patch).
But here’s an idea for you—in addition to the fun activities, do one thing this summer that you’ll be really glad you did come Fall.
Last summer, when we knew we were going to homeschool our oldest son Jack (at least for first grade), I ordered curriculum and got advice from other moms. But I also needed to prepare someone else—my (then) two year old Tori.
If I was going to teach Jack, I needed more than five minutes of peace at one time. And I didn’t want Tori to sit in front of the TV all morning! So, throughout the summer I eased Tori into a new daily rhythm.
Each day she had “kitchen time” and “puzzle time” and “coloring time.” She also had lots of breaks where she and Jack ate their snack and played together. I gradually increased these times from a few minutes to 30-45 minute blocks.
The strategy paid off and our transition into homeschooling—though not without its challenges—was smoother than I had expected.
Whether your kids (or you) are going to school this fall, or if you are homeschooling or teaching a class, think about one thing you can do in June that you’ll be glad you did come September.
As any mom with small children will tell you, “getting out the door” is an exercise in craziness and chaos. Screaming fits and blow-out diapers, lost keys and runaway children all wait for the moment you want to go somewhere.
Just. Get. In. The. Car.
But when my four-year-old daughter Caly was younger, I read a suggestion from one mom about training your children to sit quietly in one spot. I decided this would come in handy for when I was trying to leave the house.
I worked with Caly and she soon got the hang of it. And a few weeks ago, I began to teach eighteen-month-old MJ.
Every morning after breakfast we have “sit time.” Even though MJ only says a handful of words, she knows exactly what I’m talking about. She and Caly go to the stairs and sit on separate steps until the timer goes off. We started with one minute and increased the time bit by bit as the weeks went on.
It’s hilarious to watch. Every muscle in MJ’s body wants to stand up, but she’s learning to sit still and can now do so for a grand total of five minutes! Caly loves “being a good example” and showing MJ how to obey. We cheer and clap when that little timer goes off.
This little exercise makes the “getting out the door” process a lot more peaceful. The girls sit quietly while I search for my lost keys! But more importantly, MJ is learning obedience and self-control—the peaceful fruit of which I pray she’ll reap for the rest of her life.
Your mission, dear mother, is not to make your children happy, but to prepare them for eternity…You must relentlessly evangelize their never-dying souls.” (Womanly Dominion p. 127-128)
In chapter eight of Womanly Dominion, Mark Chanski highlights the most important job we have as mothers: to preach the gospel to our children. This passion should infuse every part of our daily lives, whether in word or action. God has graciously provided many tools to help us evangelize our children. Here are a few age appropriate ideas:
Your Child’s Profession of Faith
Newborn (and up):
“The Gospel Song” (I sing this as a lullaby to my two girlies every night)
Toddlers (and up):
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name
The Gospel for Children: A Simple, Yet Complete Guide to Help Parents Teach Their Children the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Of course we can’t save our children or force them to turn to Christ: “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9). But we must intercede for their never-dying souls, and daily, passionately, tell them the good news:
Holy God in love became
Perfect man to bear my blame
On the cross he took my sin
By his death I live again
(“The Gospel Song”)
On Thursday we received a special new book from Pop-Pop: Fool Moon Rising by Kristi Fluharty and T. Lively Fluharty; so I took a break from school to read to my two younger boys.
The amazing illustrations captured the boys’ attention right away; they listened closely as I read. Fool Moon Rising is a short and simple story that is beautifully told and rich in content: One proud little moon learns a much-needed lesson in humility.
Warning (as in our case): Mom may experience more conviction than child. How much I am like that proud little moon!
After reading, I asked my son Liam: “What is one way you are tempted to boast?”
“That I run fast!” he replied
Then he paused, smiled, and with a little more authority repeated: “I run fast!”
Hardly the picture of conviction. I think we’ll have to read the book again. Many times. But how grateful I am for this story that exposes his pride and encourages him to glory in the Savior.
I can’t improve on Dad’s endorsement:
As a grandpa, I treasure books I can share with my grandchildren, books that are both theologically informed and beautifully illustrated. Unfortunately, these can be scarce. Fool Moon Rising is a rare find: a children’s book that describes how understanding the greatness of God transforms proud hearts into humble ones—something that can happen only in the shadow of the cross. I’m looking forward to reading it with my grandkids.
Thanks so much, Dad, for this little treasure!
On Sunday evening the Mahaney clan gathered at Dad and Mom’s house for dinner. The weather was mild, so we ate outside on the patio and sat around talking until after dark. The boys played wiffle ball and the girls staked out the sandbox; then, when night came, they all hunted groundhogs with flashlights.
The adult conversation usually covers a wide variety of topics—from theology to sports to politics to humor—all in a matter of a few minutes. But this evening we were focused on one topic: being parents.
That’s because of an interview request from Steve & Candice Watters, authors of the book and blog Start Your Family. This couple’s heart is to “encourage couples to be intentional about their timeline in the early years of marriage and to trust God to help them boldly launch their families.”
We spent a delightful hour talking about the joys of children and the blessing of family and you can read the interview at startyourfamily.com. Due to space limitations, they were only able to publish part of our conversation, so if you are interested you can download the entire interview.
And the giveaway? You can win a copy of Start Your Family:Inspiration for Having Babies, courtesy of Steve & Candice. Just be one of the first three people to contact us and request a copy. To qualify you must be engaged or newly married without kids.
Thanks, Steve and Candice for the opportunity to reflect upon God’s gift of family!
UPDATE: Congratulations to our winners: Hannah, Whitney, & Karen!
My three-year-old Caly often wakes up screaming in the dead of night. Jolted out of sleep, I run to her room as fast as I can only to be greeted with the same two words: “I’m scared.”
“What are you scared of Caly-girl?” I ask
“I’m just scared,” she whimpers.
A few hugs and kisses and she’s happy to be tucked back in to bed.
Well do I remember my own night-time fears as a child. Just ask me about my lobster dream sometime. It still gives me shivers.
So how do we help our small children deal with middle-of-the night fears?
Dr. Russell Moore—himself a father of small children—recently offered this insightful answer:
“The kids know—they instinctively know—that they’re living in a universe in which something’s gone awry. It’s not our job—as parents, or as Sunday school teachers—to disengage that. It’s our job to come in and to provide an answer to that. Yeah, you’re living in an enchanted world. Yeah, you’re living in a haunted world. You’re living in a world haunted by demonic powers. That’s exactly right—what you deeply fear is indeed the case… Your worrying about the monster under the bed isn’t unreasonable; there’s a monster under the fabric of the cosmos. Instead, we give them a story that provides the only comfort that really is lasting comfort; it’s a comfort that the enemies have been defeated.”
I am going to add a few words to my middle of the night hugs and kisses routine. Yes, Caly-girl, we live in a scary world, but we don’t need to be afraid. The monster has been crushed. And the One who crushed him, He’s right here in this room.
HT: Between Two Worlds