Learning to Breathe As A Christian Parent, Ages 3-18

I love that definition of prayer.  Simply putting oneself in the hands of God.  One thing my experience as a Christian parent has taught me:  Breathe, pray and don’t take everything so seriously. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect parent.  If we believed that God created them and has plans for their lives, then realize that God is there to talk to them when you’re not. 

Casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7.

God is not this judgmental ogre who stands there waiting to condemn you at every turn.  He does not force us or even micromanage our affairs. He simply teaches and loves. I’m learning to imitate that part of the divine.  

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved  children. Ephesians 5:1

Our children are wonderful human beings that we’ve been blessed to raise.  Each one of them is different in their own manners, thinking process, emotions and character.  As I pull away from toxic things I see my kids for what they are: individuals.  

There is something about looking at my children this way and not as an extension of my own image that is freeing and refreshing. So often as Christians we tend to focus on how our children make us look since there is this duty to bring them up in “the fear of the Lord”.

So to continue my discussion of child development, here we go:

Ages 3-5

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Experts tell us this is an “assertive” age with a lot of activity and questions.  Kids want to initiate and interact. As much as possible, try to support their desire to learn or  avoid over controlling them at this age. If they’re constantly criticized or overly controlled they will learn to withdraw and develop guilt about normal behavior.  Try not to make them feel like they’re a nuisance even when they ask questions over and over again. Of course some guilt is necessary so that the child will have a conscience. 

I used to wonder why highly controlled children seemed to have little initiative and seemed almost blank in creativity. Maybe this is why.

Age 5-12

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If children are encouraged and reinforced for their initiative, they begin to feel industrious (competent) and feel confident in their ability to achieve goals. If this initiative is not encouraged, if it is restricted by parents or teacher, then the child begins to feel inferior, doubting his own abilities and therefore may not reach his or her potential. If the child cannot develop the specific skill they feel society is demanding (e.g., being athletic) then they may develop a sense of inferiority. Resource

To learn competence, the child has to experience failure. Kids learn by initiating, doing and seeing if they can be successful in things they started.   If they are not allowed to do anything on their own, the skill and power of feeling competent is a struggle. I’ve seen children, including my own that have grown up in a highly controlled existence. Usually they struggle with self-esteem and feeling accomplished.

Adolescence

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 Any of us that have teens knows that our relationship with them changes during this time.  We have to move along with their maturity. Teens are looking toward, careers, relationships, family housing and becoming independent and wanting to find out who they are.  It’s a critical stage. Sometimes in religious settings it’s styled as an age of rebellion. I prefer to think of it as adult discovery. They are discovering relationships, sexuality, their own thoughts on subjects, what careers they might be good at and even their own belief system.   They may not want your religion or lifestyle and it’s ok because they are finding out about their own identity. Many Christian parents are afraid of this stage because the questions come out and doubt comes in and the parents are afraid they will lose the child forever. Just pray for them.  

f God loves and understands them at this stage so should we. The child needs to understand that you’re there for them and will listen to them and talk to them like the adults they are becoming.

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Hannah’s Angst: Desires Stuck On Pause

The real lesson in Hannah’s story is her worry about a situation in her life that needed healing. She could not have children, and it was a constant source of worry, hurt, and concern

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In the bible, God leaves on record the story of a woman named Hannah. She was the mother of the great prophet Samuel. On its surface, it’s the story of how Samuel was dedicated to the Lord from birth. The real lesson in Hannah’s story is her worry about a situation that needed healing. She could not have children, and it was a constant source of worry, hurt, and concern.

Continue reading “Hannah’s Angst: Desires Stuck On Pause”

The Things I Allowed.

No matter how badly other people behave, you have to heal by looking at yourself and how YOU are handling their actions.

One of the first questions my therapist asked me was not about my religion but about me.  She was getting me to focus on MYSELF. I had to stop talking about everything wrong in my life.  I am usually very intense about everything, and when I would come, I would talk about all of the weird things that were going on at church and in my life.  Then it finally hit me. I realize that the things that I was complaining about in life were the result of the things I allowed.

No matter how badly other people behave, you have to heal by looking at yourself and how YOU are handling their actions.

Continue reading “The Things I Allowed.”

And Now…Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program – LIFE

In the interest of life balance and having time for spiritual reflection, here’s a piece about life balance and social media.

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The glitter covered black hole we call social media has slid its way into our hearts and homes, and we have welcomed it with open arms. Well, most of us, anyway. It introduced itself as something fresh, exciting, and full of potential. It became our communication, entertainment, relaxation, our eyes into parts of the world we couldn’t see; even a source of income. It was everything we needed in our new found relationship.

Then like any relationship, the true colors and intentions started to reveal themselves. Now there’s a decision that needs to be made by us. Do the negatives outweigh the positive? Are we willing to give our whole beings to this entity? Have we done so already?

You were born an original, Don’t die a copy – John Mason

There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.– Aristotle.

The understanding and meaning behind these philosophies have died with us. In this day and age between Instagram, reality tv shows, and going “viral,” everyone is becoming everyone else. We need to all have the same bodies, the same mindset, the same clothes. If you god forbid dare to be different, you’re not “in”; you’re lame, primarily, you’re not enough according to the younger population. A lot of people are generic while screaming authenticity. All while shaming and gossiping about those who are so bold as to just live, being themselves.

Social media has pulled the curtain over our eyes and told us the lights were off. There have been several cases where based off of what people have posted or said on Facebook or Twitter, someone else has ended up fighting, dead, or in the hospital. It was supposed to be an outlet for us to express ourselves without criticism or hate. Yet, the world we live is has turned that dream around and twisted it into something we can’t get rid of.

Everyone is watching everybody else and forgetting about loving themselves.

The negative side of social media has shown its horns while convincing people
that it simply comes with the territory. Humans are already fickle, to begin with, so we begin to make excuses. We have become slaves to what we see and hear. The way that we all in some way or form depend on our phones and apps as ways to escape our everyday reality is disheartening, but it is honest. With the media and social media, we are rarely given the opportunity to make a truthful decision for ourselves. Although I believe social media has its perks, it also can pit us against each other. It can pit us against ourselves and who we truly are. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and what we’re seeing is tainting us.

There should be a balance, we can’t let this outlet for communication and connection destroy our communication and connection to those around us. Social media has rudely interrupted our regularly scheduled program called “ Life’. It’s not just going to go away, but sometimes it’s good to put the phone or laptop away and read a book, go outside, talk to a stranger. There’s more to this cycle that we’re living. It’s time to live our lives, and not from behind a screen. Besides, it’s just social media.

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Written by Guest Contributor

Sydney Milton

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My daughter Sydney is a professional stylist, a mom, and a student at Harold Washington College.

Be sure to share your comments below!

Being Hopeful, In Spite Of…

Hope doesn’t have to be found immediately but if I wait, I can FIND possibilities instead of dead ends

One of the scriptures that comes to mind during my struggles is Romans 5:3-4:

 knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Continue reading “Being Hopeful, In Spite Of…”