Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Sermon on the Mount for Parents: Salt and Light

Matthew 5-7 has always been one of my favorite Bible passages, and it really contains the core of my parenting philosophy: treating others as we would like to be treated.  The Beatitudes are a treasure trove of incredible parenting advice for me, but I'd like to make my way through the rest of chapter 5 and the following chapters, because there is so much richness in how we relate to our family members here.

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:13-14 ESV

We are the salt in our family.  Salt is known for a couple of things: it gives flavor and preserves food.  Our attitude flavors our home.  My kidlets are Betazoids when it comes to picking up on my emotions, and if things start to spiral, I am never successful at helping them get back on track until I have dealt with my own attitude first.  
Salt Crystals
Image credit: Dawn Endico on Flickr

Are we allowing the things that should be nurturing our family to spoil?  This can apply to so many things, but my first thought was, "Let your speech always be full of grace, seasoned with salt."  Our words can bring life giving flavor or rottenness and decay.  And it isn't always the words themselves, but the flavor that surrounds them.  Sometimes my words are fine, but the expression on my face and my tone of voice are poison, and it spoils any good that my words might have given.

Lights allow others to see where they are going.  The Proverbs verses that have been twisted to seem as if they promote spanking can mean the presence of the parents being like a sun that beats down on their children, providing light and warmth and a constant presence.  

Another thing that comes to mind when talking about night lights and children is helping them not to be afraid.  I don't ever want my children to be scared of me, or to feel as though they have to hide.  "Hiding my light" could also mean deliberately taking away the things that help them to feel safe and secure, not giving them the direction that they need or denying them my presence and comfort.  

Ironically, so many Christian authors want parents to hide their light from their children.  They want kids to be afraid to come to their parents, whether it is tinies crying alone at night or older kids who make mistakes and know that there will be "consequences".  That is not the way of Jesus, the light of the world, who promised never to leave us or forsake us, the one whose kindness leads us to repentance.  
an Orthodox book cover
Image credit: Violette79 on Flickr

I am sure that there are many things that Jesus meant when He called us to be salt and light to our children, but they have an important attribute in common: they make life more pleasant, delicious, and nurturing, by their presence.  They protect us.  I want my kidlets to want me to be around, to feel happy and secure because I am in their lives.  I want to be salt and light, and glorify our Father in heaven.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Starlight Teething Giraffes

My daughter has a new friend:  Chompy, her super-cute, organic teething giraffe from Starbright Baby.    Starbright giraffes are the creation of my lovely friend, Suzi.  Her daughter had received one as a gift, but her three year old niece also wanted one.  Suzi decided to make her own, and her friends were so excited that they shared with their friends, who loved them and told theirfriends.

 I know, I know, amber teething necklaces are pretty and all that, and I am pretty sure that ours helped and all, but there were still some days when my little one was biting everything she could cram into her mouth.  These giraffes are made with a pre-washed, 100% cotton cover (available in organic cotton) that has just enough texture to soothe irritated gums.  The fill is hypoallergenic.  No worries about BPA or other issues with plastic teethers!

Besides being insanely cute, these things are tough!  My little princess demands a pretty high level of durability from her toys (which often get involved in tug-of-war challenges with a sibling) and I was initally concerned that the stitching might come loose or that the fabric would rip.  It still looks brand new (it has gotten a bit grubby, but we wiped it down and it cleaned up well.  They are machine washable, although they might get a bit bent out of shape.)

My little one is no longer teething, but she loved to carry Chompy around and snuggle him.  She is approaching 2.5 and the meltdowns are gaining momentum.  Her giraffe is the perfect calm-me-down tool for a tantrum: it is comforting, soft (both for cuddling and in case it gets thrown :shifty), she can even bite it to release frustration.

We have several friends with little ones, and these make such perfect gifts!  Here are some reasons to get one of these adorable giraffes:  they are awesome, my kidlets loved them (my four year old was seen snuggling with it several times, too!  And chomping it once), they are safe, multi-purpose (lovey, teether, a tool for calming down during tantrums) you are supporting a WAHM, they are gender neutral, and made by a gentle mother.  :happy sigh  Can it get any better than all that?

Yes, as a matter of fact it can!  She is offering a 20% discount code to all of you with the code: DLC20.  Whoohoo!  Check out her shop and don't forget to like her Facebook page so that you can see any new designs.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spirit-Led Parenting: Finding the Freedom to Enjoy Co-Sleeping

In April of this year, a long hoped-for dream came to fruition: my dear friend and co-author Laura and I published Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby's First Year . In it, we encourage parents to lay aside the advice of the experts and call upon God for direction in parenting through infancy. We are vising the blogs of friends to discuss chapters of the book, and we are so thankful to Dulce for sharing her space with us today!

It seems silly to me now, almost eight years later, that I would feel like there was a parenting choice that I was so uncomfortable discussing that I resorted to lying about it. But it's true! That's the extent to which I felt I had to cover and hide the fact that we were *gasp* co-sleeping with our oldest daughter when she was a new baby.

The books I had read prior to her birth cemented the idea in my mind that there was no way a baby should be sharing sleep in the same bed as Mom and Dad. Some of the objections were practical ones dealing with safety and long-term sleep problems, while other objections were spiritual, grounded in the idea that a baby had no place in the sacred "marriage bed."

It was these messages about the wrongness of co-sleeping that played over and over in my head every night as our sweet new baby lay sleeping between us. I was so conflicted about it myself - there was no way I could talk to any of my friends or family members about it. I already knew the idea would be condemned and we would be compelled to change what we were doing.

But I didn't want to change.

As Laura and I began the process of writing Spirit-Led Parenting, we heard from so many other parents who founds themselves facing the same conundrum - they loved co-sleeping with their babies but felt like they had to keep the whole matter secret. In the book, we explore some very valid reasons why one or both parents might be opposed to the practice of co-sleeping (and how to navigate a compromise if that is the case). But what we found most interesting was that across the board, the main reason couples felt they couldn't share the truth about their co-sleeping practice with others is because of the strongly-held belief that co-sleeping is bad for marriage.

One source for this concern for what sharing sleep means for marriage is a misapplication of Hebrews 13:4 which speaks to the idea of keeping the marriage bed pure. Most readers of Scripture can look at that verse and understand that the writer is speaking to the purity of marriage in its entirety - not just the mattress where a husband and wife lay down to sleep.

But beyond that, there are often questions about how a couple can maintain a healthy sex life when co-sleeping is involved. Many couples with more than one child (or more than two or four or even more!) who practice co-sleep find this objection to be entertaining! If nothing else, co-sleeping allows and encourages couples to find a way to think outside the bed when it comes to enjoying time spent alone together.

We go to great lengths to emphasize that co-sleeping is not a requirement or a must-do for parenting that is spirit-led. On the contrary, we hope that parents can be empowered to feel free to practice it in the short-lived season of life with a baby, and to have the freedom to know they aren't doing anything wrong. Because:
Those sweet sleep gowns and footed pajamas are all too quickly tucked away in memory boxes as time grows our little ones into Big Kids who are so fiercely independent. Someday there will be curfews and slumber parties and all-night study sessions and eventually these babies will be teenagers who have to make space in their busy schedules for us. These nights filled with squirms, grunts, and sighs are just a whisper in the lifelong conversation that is parenting. If it's possible, if it's safe, and if it's desirable, this is a precious time to make space for the warm little bodies and sweet little sleepy sounds of the ones born from the unity cultivated in our marriage beds. -- Spirit-Led Parenting, p. 187
We would love to hear your story! Is co-sleeping a taboo topic or openly accepted in your circle of friends? How is it viewed in your faith community?

Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby's First Year is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.

Megan has been an amazing role model for me in so many ways.  I feel so incredibly honored to have her post here, and to be able to collaborate with her over at A Deeper Family.  This post brought back so many memories of when my eldest was a newborn, and my anxiety over doing things "the right way" and the nervousness I felt at the disapproval of our pediatrician (of course, this was the same guy who gave us a copy of To Train Up a Child with his recommendation, whereupon we found a new doc.  Our current doctor thinks it is wonderful that our babies sleep with us!).  In our case, it was actually my husband who suggested bed sharing.  Ariana had outgrown her pack and play and I mentioned putting her in her own room, even though my heart really wasn't in it.  He looked at me in shock and horror and asked, "Do you see how tiny she is?  How could we have her be all alone?  Just bring her in bed with us."  We now have four children (obviously, a family bed hasn't hurt our marriage!) and even when toddlers starfish or it seems like a bizarre dance some nights as we move around getting comfortable, there is something incredibly precious and secure about having all the people that I love most in the world with me while I sleep.

image source

Friday, November 23, 2012

Strangers at the Table

Seated around the Thanksgiving table, smiling sincere but tight smiles. We are family--it shouldn't feel awkward, but somehow in their presence any social polish I have acquired is stripped away and I revert to a gawky twelve year old.  

Say something. We've already talked about how much the kids have grown, work is going well. Um, now what? Not the elections. Definitely not the elections. We didn't spend the last three months politely ignoring each others' political posts on Facebook for it to all blow up now.

Sports. Hunting. Cars. I don't even know enough about those topics to ask intelligent questions.  I'm pretty sure I should avoid parenting stuff.

 Another bite, another strained smile. Could you please pass the rolls? Wow, your turkey is delicious. What did you put in the dressing this time? We sit at the table together, while I frantically construct a Venn diagram in my mind of topics that we are both interested in.  The areas that overlap are ones where our viewpoints are diametrically opposed.  I suck at small talk.  And underneath it all is so much love and fear of hurting them or of being rejected, but we must not quite be doing it right because perfect love casts out fear and there is still fear here.

Join me at A Deeper Family for the rest of the post!  :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Adorned by Crystal ~ Review and Giveaway ($20, Worldwide, 11/19/12) Closed

OK, before I get to the actual review, I have to tell you how excited I am about this.  Some people go wild for superstars.  I really don't.  When I worked the Olympics, one of the directors was surprised that I had never once acted the least bit star-struck by the athletes, and even offered to get me any autographs I wanted.  In retrospect, I should have milked that and then sold them on Ebay or something, but while I appreciated their talent, they were just people for me.  However, when the package arrived from Crystal Lutton, I danced around the room squealing and pretty much acted like a teenager with a crush over the gracious card she enclosed. 

Why am I so impressed?  Crystal literally wrote the book on Grace Based Discipline.  Eight years ago, when I was agonizing over the thought of having to spank my baby in order to obey the Bible, I was directed to her site and found both Truth and Grace.  Her teachings changed our lives in ways I would never have imagined.  Her book, Biblical Parenting, gave me a brand new paradigm for discipline.  Then I read Grace Based Living, and began to see how God's grace applied to marriage and other relationships.  Crystal is also a rabbi/pastor, and her ability to share Hebraic perspective has enriched my understanding of the Scriptures.  Along with all of this, she regularly serves as a Titus 2 woman to many, giving practical and loving help to other moms.

Crystal's talents extend far beyond writing, however.  She also creates lovely hats and jewelry for her Etsy shop, Adorned by Crystal.  She offers a wide variety of custom knitted hats as well as fun steam punk jewelry.  After some of her delighted customers commented on how much they loved the baby hats, she began to offer them in adult sizes, as well.  I was so happy to receive one of these for the review!  The intricate work and the variety of colors and materials are lovely and so festive.

I had one slight qualm, however.  I love the look of hats.  I love the warmth of hats during winter.  I also hate anything scratchy or itchy near my ears or head (and I seem to consider many things scratchy or itchy that don't bother most people).  This one was so soft and fit so perfectly that I was actually comfortable wearing it.

Crystal's hats are beautiful and unique.  They would make a fabulous holiday gift, too!  My grandmother adores hats, and I know that one of these would be very special to her.  The softness makes it ideal for someone who has undergone chemo, and their loveliness would complement both women and children.

Lately, I have become more mindful of where my money goes, and supporting someone who is helping families to find freedom and grace makes my heart sing.   Each of these hats is knit with love and prayers from a woman of valor.

So, how can you get one of her fabulous creations?

Win it!  Crystal is offering a $20 store credit as a giveaway.  To enter, leave a comment telling which hat you like best, and be sure to include your email (winner at mail dot com).  For a bonus entry, like her Facebook page for updates on new designs and products and leave a separate comment.  :)  The winner will be chosen by a random number generator on Tuesday, 11/20/2012.


Buy it!   Be sure and check out her full selection, and remember that because each one is custom made, you have an incredible array of options!  This is a perfect way to keep both your head and your heart warm this winter.


Disclosure:  I received a hat for review purposes.  All of my opinions are given honestly.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How Would Jesus Parent? ~ Guest Post from Sam Martin

I am so incredibly honored to have a guest post from Sam Martin, author of Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me:  Christians and the Spanking Controversy.  Sam is a Biblical scholar for whom I have tremendous respect, and his work to support more families in a greater understanding of grace-filled parenting is bearing tremendous fruit.  Along with his excellent work regarding corporal punishment, I am very excited about his studies and writings regarding the role of women.  He has some amazing articles in the works that you will not want to miss! 

How would Jesus parent? This, in fact, is a topic of great interest on the web. Numerous magazine articles, a book, scores of blog posts and opinions with a whole range of views and counterviews.
Dulce has a wonderful post titled: Biblical Instructions for Discipline: How Should a Christian Parent?  I found this post to be a real blessing.

Before reading Dulce’s post I was thinking on this issue, so we’ve both decided to give a go at talking about a specific text in this light of asking the question of: How would Jesus Parent?”

I think most of us will admit that there are not too many specific texts where we could point to and say that this is a definitive text which shows how Jesus would parent. People have very strong views on that issue to be certain, but I think that most would agree that this is up to interpretation. That is fine, but I think we have to be willing to look for examples of how Jesus would parent through texts which might not be so obvious right of the top of one’s head.

Dulce’s post has covered many of these in a really beautiful way. So, let’s consider one more. It is found in John’s Gospel Chapter 8:1-11 and it says the following:
“but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]] (John 8:1-11 ESV)
The basic approach that I want to take to this text involves a type of dynamic orientation. I’ve used this same type of approach in interpreting the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. I have a blog post about this to be found here.

In this text in John’s Gospel, we have a number of actors and it is my belief that one can assign familial roles to the actors and based upon those assignments, one could determine with some certainty some basic ideas about how Jesus would parent.

To parent, you have to a be a parent. God is, of course, a parent. (Matt. 6:8; Acts 17:28) One not need to belabor that point because it is fairly obvious to all Christians that this is the case.
God has many children as Acts says: “For we indeed are His offspring.” (17:28). Paul is just as explicit: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,…” (Romans 8:16)
Now, Jesus Christ is God. He is the “Emmanuel”, the “God with us.”

So, when we read John 8, we can say with absolute certainty that in this story, Jesus takes the role of a father. Now, that father in this story is going to “parent” some of his children in this story.
In the story, the parent (Jesus) is approached by His children. The children in John 8 are also obvious. They are first, the scribes and the Pharisees. Some of these children were “older” (v. 8) and one of these children is a “woman.” (v.3)

The parent has quite a large family of many ages and in this story, the male children come to their father asking him to punish their sister, who has broken a serious family rule.

But what does their father do?

First, we have to note that the children are testing their father to see what He intends to do and He remains totally calm.  He bends down and writes each of the names of the accusing children on the ground without saying a word.  This is not the end, because the accusing children still want their father to punish their sister.

But, their father says: And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 ESV)

In other words, you are accusing her of something. You be the first one to punish her.
But, then He bends down again and writes one by one names next to the names of His children and these names represent individuals with whom His older children had done the same thing that they were accusing the young girl child of.

Then all of the older children left starting with the oldest to the youngest and no accuser is left.
Then, the father tells the young daughter that no one remains to accuse Her. He acknowledges that she did in fact sin, but tells her in this instance, don’t do it anymore.

What can we learn about Jesus’ parenting style?
1.      It is based upon knowledge. He had greater knowledge than His children. This is generally the case for parents. We have more knowledge than our kids and they need to be reminded of that.
2.      His older children were accusing the young, defenseless vulnerable youngster in the family. Jesus as the parent treated all equally.
3.      Jesus as a parent shows that He is not going to put up with accusations from a place of hypocrisy.
4.      Jesus attempted to gently “in secret” attempted to show His older children that He knew their claim against their sister was hypocritical. [Jesus did this first writing the names of women who those accusing the woman had been with.]
5.      When His older children did not heed His first “in secret” warning, He made a more public, specific announcement of their hypocrisy. [By then kneeling down again, then Jesus wrote the names of the various men next to the women they had been with doing the very thing they had accused the woman of.]
6.      Jesus, as the parent, did not punish His daughter, the woman for the first offense, for which she had violated the family rules. He warned her and told her not to do it again. There is also an implicit warning to the older children by His first instance of writing on the ground. Only when they did not listen and follow his warning, they were then judged publically before all and punished.
7.      The punishment was meant to touch the soul, not the body and we see the action of the accusers, who one minute were calling for the immediate death of a woman, but in the next minute, were leaving never to come back having disgraced themselves before all.
Jesus gives an example in this story of how He parents His children. His punishments are designed to touch the heart, not the body and his forgiveness is given due to repentance and a willingness not to continue in sin.
Your thoughts welcomed.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First Born

My husband and I are both the eldest in our families, so we experienced both the pitfalls and privileges firsthand.  I distinctly recall making a promise to myself at age nine that the phrase, "But you are older and should know better!" would never cross my lips.  The words might not have, but the sentiment has stuck in my subconscious lately. 

Our first born is nearly nine years old.  Like most first-borns, she has always communicated well (she was using complete sentences in both Spanish and English at 13 months), and even though I know better, I have often fallen into the trap of expecting more of her than I should because she sounds older at times.  Academics are very easy for her, she reads above grade level, she loves to cook full meals, gladly helps with her younger siblings, and we have a lovely friendship.  She is closer and closer to becoming a woman, but is still very much a child.

We have had several transitions lately, and the one that affected her the most was a change away from our family bed.  Of all the kidlets, it has been most important to her to be next to me, and the youngest still nurses several times at night, so she would be on one side and the baby on the other.  However, with four kidlets, it got to be too much even for our king size bed, as somebody was always inadvertently kicking someone else and the little ones still starfished.  A few weeks ago we switched so that only the two younger ones were in bed with me.

Outwardly, she handled it very well.  She didn't fuss at night and I thought things were going pretty smoothly.  She made a couple of comments about things being unfair with the little ones, but I brushed them off, being preoccupied with all the other things going on in our lives lately.  Sometimes, I am really dense.

The truth is that both of the tinies have had some particularly challenging behaviors (they are tenderhearted little Klingons whose rages are terrible to behold and arise out of the most seemingly insignificant things).  I was in the middle of finals and all the extras of turning in grades and end of the semester stuff, and in the midst of it all, I expected my eldest to be "easy" so that I could spend my energies on the others.  That was incredibly unfair.

Even worse, I used Biblical truths insensitively.  I reminded her of things like the importance of children obeying their parents, forgiving others and kindness and whatever else she seemed to need.  Because we weren't connecting well, it came across as bullying and letting her know that this was just one more area where she was falling short.  

Thankfully, she has a safe circle of friends to whom she can vent.  As embarrassing as it is to have her openly sharing my shortcomings (and as aggravating it is when it seems like she has exaggerated them!), on more than one occasion it has helped to open my eyes to things that I was brushing off or oblivious to.  I read her posts about her hurt and resentment and saw that she was terribly missing the extra closeness we had had.

We had a tear-filled, heart-sharing time of reconnection.  I apologized and she graciously forgave me.  We also talked about the difficulties of being the oldest and how it can lead to unfair expectations.  Together we brainstormed on different ways to strengthen our connection to each other.  When she weaned so many years ago, we started having times of cuddle-leche.  Now her preferred way to connect is for the two of us to go to Starbucks.  :)

We also talked about the promises and privileges that come with being the oldest.  Over and over in the Bible, firstborns were specially dedicated to God.  Both of her names actually mean that she has been consecrated to Him, and I am convinced that there is a reason this amazing daughter was the first of our beloved kidlets.  As she looked back and began to realize some of the things that she has been able to do that her siblings haven't, she also realized that while not everything is fair, she has received many privileges from being the oldest.

I still make so many wrong turns as a mom.  I am so very thankful that grace is for mamas, too, and for the open and tender heart of my lovely first born.  I want to protect her from the perils of perfectionism and all the other traits that can so easily entangle firstborns, and do everything I can to help fulfill all the beautiful promises for who she is.  And for all the times when I make mistakes, I want to fall into grace for both of us.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cuddle Leche for the Soul

I am over at A Deeper Family today, sharing about cuddle-leche and how it helps to quiet my soul.  Come on over and check out the other posts while you are there!  I am so honored to be a part of this incredible team of writers. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

10 Commandments for Parents: Forsaking All Others

OK, with all of the other commandments it is easy to see how they can be specifically applied to parenting, but the one against adultery stumped me for awhile.  I really don't want to get into anything icky, although the creepiness of father-daughter patriarchy teachings is worth noting.  But I believe that adultery is about more than sex--it is about breaking covenant and giving someone else a place that doesn't belong to them.  It is choosing someone else over your spouse.  In that context, there are some important parallels with parenting.
Holding hands
Image credit: Terence Yim on Flickr

The parents that I know love their children dearly and value their relationships with their kids.  Yet it is so easy fall into the temptation of allowing our desire to please other adults to edge out our covenant to our kids. 

Why is it assumed that we should always side with any adult against our children if there is a conflict?

When our children are born, most of us are filled with tenderness and compassion for them.  We want to meet their needs, even if it means sacrifice.  I don't know of any parents who enjoyed letting their babies cry it out.  Most of them tell me that their own heart was sobbing right along with their little one.  But they listened to someone else who led their heart to be hardened against their baby.  Others faced similar situations with weaning, circumcision, vaccination and other issues.

Samuel Martin has done some interesting research and found that many mothers have a heart that was inclined to gentle discipline, and that they felt uneasy or distressed at the thought of spanking their children. Ultimately, if they did go on to spank, it was often because of pressure from others, whether family, friends, church or society in general.
What parent of a toddler hasn't been in a public situation where the child is having a meltdown and we feel temptation to parent for the crowd?  Recently a missionary friend was visiting, and described a church service where she was on the platform with the eyes of the entire congregation trained on her.  Just at that moment, her three year old began to act...well, three.   She could see the expectations on some of the faces to punish him into relative quietness (my snort here--like you can really punish a three year old into being quiet!  The ones I have seen typically get louder).  Instead, she smiled and took him in her arms and comforted him.  She politely expressed to the congregation, "My first ministry is always to my family."

It is hard for some parents to choose between their children and protecting their image of a perfect family.  I have seen some of my dear friends be rejected by their families in favor of their abusers once they decided to get out of their marriage.  Some of those parents were seduced by the manipulation of the abuser or bribed with promises of more access to their grandchildren.  Other friends were abandoned by their families when they came out.  All of those parents broke their covenant to their children because they placed a higher priority on their own rightness.

Marriage vows are pretty well defined, but we don't have the same ceremony when we become parents.  Honestly, though--shouldn't our commitment to the our vulnerable, helpless children who are a part of our family because of our own choices entail just as much love, and promises of faithfulness, to cherish them?  And shouldn't our responsibility to them come before our choice to please people outside of our family?

It is difficult to forsake the parenting book gurus, the callous opinions of preachers, doctors, friends and more to be faithful to our own hearts.  But it is still worth doing.  As a daughter, grand daughter and daughter in law of pastors, I echo my friend Femke.  Our commitment should always be to our family over pleasing anyone else.  As Eli learned, very little matters if you haven't been able to reach your own children.  There will always be judgmental stares and disapproving sniffs over our parenting.  Our covenant is to our families, and our choice should always be for them. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Morning

Sunday mornings are probably the most ungodly times of the week for many Christian families.  It's sad, but true.  Church is stressful when you have kids.  Regardless of how organized you are, something will come up to cause things to take longer than they should.  Somebody dawdles.  Somebody else can't find what they want to wear.  Another somebody snaps at someone else.  A couple of somebodies need to have their hair fixed, again, and you don't have time.  Breakfast was rushed or unsatisfactory or they weren't hungry, which practically guarantees a meltdown from empty little tummies in a couple of hours.

Having a Tantrum Before Church
Image credit: The Artist Formerly Known as Batgirl
Impatience, squabbling, irritability, frustration.  By the time we walk in the door, few of us feel focused on God.

Then it gets worse.  Little ones start squirming and making noise, expressing needs at inconvenient times and in inconvenient ways.  You feel eyes boring into the back of your head, whisper angrily as your face heats up and then finally march out into the hall way, clutching just a bit too tightly at the small hand in yours. 

Anger, pride, fear and crushing guilt at the hypocrisy of it all.  Discouragement at another seemingly wasted morning when you are trying so hard to do the right thing.  "Is it even worth it to try to go to church at all?"

Breathe.  Let His peace, comfort, mercy and forgiveness wash your soul.  Soak in His patience and remember.  God is glorified in the love and grace you show your family. Your ministry is in how you treat "the least of these," not in how well you meet other people's expectations of a Christian family.

I don't know what Sunday mornings will look like in your family.  Maybe God will lead you to a different church, or to a different worship time, or just to a different way of approaching it all.  But church isn't meant to be a burden.  I am confident that what Jesus really wants is to refresh our spirits and shower us with mercy and grace, to join in the celebration of redemption with us, and to help our little ones see what His love, His family is all about.                                                                                                                                           

Friday, September 7, 2012

What Would the Neighbours Think?

Welcome to the second edition of the "I'm a Natural Parent - BUT..." Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and our feminist {play}school. During this carnival our participants have focused on how mainstream society has affected their natural parenting and how they have come to peace with this.


I'm not so sure a "natural" parent is my title...more like "gentleish" parent. I have two little boys whom are my focus right now, although my almost 3 year old would swear he is an only he is the majority holder of my attentions these days. I'm not going to lie, people say it will get easier...but I just don't see it yet. And with the need for my help at every bodily function, it's challenging just to survive. 

So here's my big confession.....ready....since May I've been letting my older son pee outside in our backyard. It's the only way he will go on his own and seriously, with a baby in my arms I need him just to do this. We actually didn't think it was such a big deal until my mother-in-law came to town and was mortified the first time he did it. "what will the neighbors think, he's going to think its "normal" behaviour, that's just plain rude!" rang in my ears. Then I started thinking maybe she was right; and it's too late now...what am I going to do? *laughs*** It's not like he will do it forever....will he? I'm sure once the cold weather hits all will right itself in our world. But until then...what will the neighbours think?

Teresa Goldstein is a self professed "gentle-ish" parent of two boys; who spends the majority of her time laughing, loving and living the daily high jinx life has to offer.

This post made me laugh!  I, too, have a son who takes advantage of his male anatomy to urinate in unusual places.  For awhile he loved to use a large cup or bottle, and for a few weeks he would try to time things so that someone else was using the toilet and he could then use the shower.  Now that he is a little older, he is much more conventional, but I have no intentions of mentioning this post to him lest it give him ideas!  Thank you for letting me host this, Teresa!  :)


I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that "natural parenting" means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Friday, August 31, 2012

In which I am fascinated by my own navel...

You know the message board posts that get the (bloggy) disclaimer in the title?  Yeah, this is just going to be a bunch of self-absorbed musings, so read at your own risk. :)

The first (and pretty much only) time I ever thought of myself as a writer, I was five.  I wrote a little story about a rabbit called, "Where's my PJs?".  I never said PJs, always pajamas.  But I knew that this little rabbit would say PJs.  He just would.  It was exciting to have this character in my head that did and said things because he was, not because I was consciously creating it.

I was always making up stories in my mind, but they didn't make it to paper.  I actually disliked the physical writing.  And if it was a requirement?  Well, obligation can destroy the joy in just about anything.  School just about strangled any pleasure in writing permanently.  By sixth grade, I would skip over any written exercises and pencil in D.L. (for Do Later), and just go over the exam sections.  I never did go back and do them later.  When I got to college, my distaste for writing was so cemented in that I only took the two required Freshman Comp classes, and chose electives and instructors based in part on the probability of not having to write papers for their classes.

I have never, ever, ever been able to write from an outline.  My mind simply won't work that way.  It doesn't go from A to B to C.  It loops from A to Q to F to J to B to X.  In classes where I was required to provide an outline, I would write the paper first and then go back and create an outline.  I also found that I stink at editing.  I very quickly reach a point where I can't see it anymore.  I am just done.  Even when it doesn't feel right and I know it is messy, I simply can't force myself to clean it up once I have spent a certain amount of time on it.

So, I have never considered myself a writer.  Even blogging has always just been for fun to me, a way to mount soapboxes and process things that I was wary of boring my real life friends with.  Whenever someone would compliment me on a post, I would inwardly laugh one of those awkward, embarrassed laughs because I couldn't quite imagine that anything I wrote would matter to anyone else. 

When I started this blog, I fully expected to write a few posts with weeks in between them, and drop it altogether within a few months.  Somehow, that didn't happen.  I began to write more and more. And I found a whole world of amazing friends.  Now to my complete shock, I am finding other people who are interested in what I have to say, and it is scary and wonderful and surprising and exciting.  

I have had the honor or working with some amazing authors whom I admire with all my heart, and their encouragement can literally bring me to tears.  Today I asked myself for the first time, "What if this is really more than just playing?  What if I should take it seriously?"  Not seriously as in turn it into a burden and strip the fun out of it.  Been there, done that.  But seriously as in, maybe this is really something important.  What if this is a part of who I am created to be?

It makes me tremble.

I keep shying away from that idea, but when I think of all the times that you and I have connected somehow, my gratitude just spills over.  I know that your comments have, without exaggeration, changed my life.

It is only 8:00 PM, but this is the kind of stuff that is really my 3:00 AM ponderings--all emotional and dramatic and stuff.  ;)  Sometimes it was just too many tacos for dinner, I think.  But sometimes there is truth there, too. I am starting to believe that maybe it deserves more than an indulgent pat on the head.

Thank you for listening.  I think the fact that you are here and that we can encourage each others' souls deep down is my answer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gentle Discipline and the Strong Willed Child

the boy
Image credit: slightly everything on Flickr
I am posting over at Natural Parents Network today on Gentle Discipline and the Strong Willed Child.

"The truth is that if you enter into battle with a strong willed child, your entire life will turn into a war zone. We will not back down, will not give in, will not surrender. If it truly becomes a fight, chances are good that one will have to defeat the other, in spirit if not physically. And that is to destroy not only part of your child's God-given personality, but also your relationship. Either your child will be deeply imbued with shame and believe that she deserves to be treated that way, or she will continue the fight once she is older and has greater resources."

The conflict for many parents is that they have been told that Godly obedience means that children will comply first and understand later.  That is *not* the Hebrew understanding of obedience.  From a Hebraic view, it is a process of hearing, understanding and then obeying from the heart. 

Another common objection is that parents don't have time to argue over every detail of an instruction before the child complies.  Here is the thing: you don't have to.  True emergency situations will have a number of differences, including how your child responds to your emotional stress.  It is also likely that physically helping a child will be a part of an emergency situation.  Furthermore, a history of good reasons for your instructions and connection between you are *more likely* to result in trust when it really counts.

I have come to celebrate my strong willed children, and cannot wait to see how they will change the world.  Head over to NPN for the full article!  :)

Christian Women Should Not Eat Chocolate

Before you rise up in righteous indignation and decided to unfollow this blog, allow me to say that I do eat chocolate and support others who do.  I also support women who choose to wear two piece swimsuits.  That isn't quite the non sequitur it seems.

I believe that there is an important topic that many in the body of Christ have neglected to address. It has to do with the whole issue of women eating chocolate. Now I know that our society seems to believe that we can eat whatever we want and flaunt it. The thing is, though, that we as believers are called to a different standard, and while it may seem to be a matter of personal freedom to you, you are causing others to stumble.
What you may not understand is that it is just a part of the way that God designed us. When we see chocolate, we are provoked to gluttony. That may or may not be your intent, but the truth is that when we see our sisters in Christ with chocolate, we are just wired to respond to it. We want it. So I am asking, as a godly woman, that you refrain from tempting us by eating chocolate. Will you, as a humble and sincere sister in the Lord, make a commitment to give up the chocolate that is causing us to stumble?
Can I get an “amen”? No?
I suspect that some of you would respond, gently and with love, that the issue really is not about condemning those who eat chocolate, but perhaps more about dealing with my own self-control. Some might even go as far as to point out that simply liking chocolate and wanting to eat it is not necessarily gluttony unless I refuse to control myself. Others would remind me that as a Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit, I can resist the temptation. And a few might be slightly confused why I am only addressing my sisters in Christ and wonder about whether men should be held to the same standards. These are good points.
Yet I have read many appeals to Christian women on the issue of modesty and swimwear, particularly if you get into the debate on one-piece versus two-piece, that sound just like the condemnation against chocolate.
I hope that you will go read the rest of this article at the Home Educating Family Magazine's blog.  :)

And for those of you who are curious, here are a few pics of my kidlets at the beach this summer in their favorite swimwear.  They were happy, comfortable and, in my opinion, perfectly appropriate and modest.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ditched my Diva, Glad I bought my Rags

Disclaimer:  This post is about period products, not about parenting.  It will contain graphic discussion of menstruation, etc.  You have been warned.

When I think of the benefits of breastfeeding, it isn't just the nutrition or bonding that comes to mind.  No, I rejoice that it kept my cycles at bay for exactly 14 months every single time.  It isn't that I believe periods are a Curse on anything.  In fact, I really, really want to love my body and honor my moontime.  The problem is that my periods always involved very heavy flow, cramps and leaking.  It is hard to be a flowers-and-rainbows-hippie-mama when all you really want to do is devour chocolate like a rabid beast.

Between pregnancies and breastfeeding, I only had six cycles over nine years.  (Thank you, lactational amenorrhea!)  But once they were back for good (well, at least for another decade or so), I decided I wanted to stop using disposables.  For one thing, they are expensive.  For another, I really disliked the idea of all those chemicals next to my yoni.  I have had allergic reactions in the past, and besides, my hooha deserves better than paper.

So I read up on all the cool reusable products that are out there.  Several of my friends were happy with the Diva Cup, it wasn't too expensive, and it sounded like a great idea.  Like a tampon, only better (and never moldy :shudder).  I know some people get squicked out by the idea of emptying it, but really?  If the idea of eating placenta doesn't gross me out, I knew I'd be fine with the contents of the cup.  (Another disclaimer:  I didn't actually eat my placenta, but everything that I have read about it makes it sound like it could be a great thing for many women).

I ordered the size for women who have already given birth.  Maybe there should be a different size for women who have given birth four times?  (Cheap cracks about Kegels are Not Appreciated, thankyouverymuch).  I folded it into the requisite shapes, but after a few minutes it always became uncomfortable.  I cut off the stem that seemed to be poking me to no avail.  I read about turning it inside out and other contortions, how to twist and turn for proper suction (and um, yeah, that is a little squicky to me, even though I recognize the necessity and all), but nothing seemed to help.  With regret, I decided to ditch my Diva.

I had initially steered away from the idea of cloth pads for several reasons.  The biggest one is that I am a cloth diaper drop out.  I loved my Fuzzi Bunz for the two middle kidlets and they pretty much never used 'sposies, but by the time our fourth was here, I had no energy for extra laundry.  I felt horribly guilty, but she is potty trained now, so that is all peepee under the bridge.  Er, well, whatever the appropriate metaphor is.  Anyway, I really wasn't sure that I wanted to use cloth.

I looked into them rather skeptically, and saw a huge variety of designs and colors.  I admit it, I decided to buy some because they were pretty.  What?  Yes, I know what they are going to be used for!   I dare you to look through enough of them and not feel a few material-girl stirrings yourself.  For some reason, the idea of the PUL backing on some of them didn't feel right to me.  I have a lot of confidence in the Natural Parent Network reviews, so when I saw that they were a sponsor, I went ahead and ordered some Glad Rags.

Because I didn't have a lot of money to invest, I ordered the cheapest ones I could find on Amazon, which didn't allow me to select the pattern.  Even so, the ones I got were pretty!  They were also incredibly soft and comfortable.  I could adjust the number of inserts for lighter or heavier flow, and wonder of wonders, I made it through the night with their night time rags without leaking!  Also, TMI (you know, since none of the rest of this post is?), but towards the end of my period I always had a couple of light days where disposable liners seemed to not absorb at the correct rate and would leave me slightly chapped.  The cloth was perfect and I never felt the slightest bit sore.

The inserts
Laundry wasn't a problem.  I just dumped them in with our regular laundry and washed in hot water.  (Cough.  I didn't see a need to mention that to my husband, and he doesn't read my blog, so we can keep that just between us, mmkay?  He gets grossed out much more easily than I do).  To my shock, they didn't even stain!  See?  (Yeah, I know that showing pics of used menstrual products isn't generally a good idea.  I think you deserve to know what they look like in real life.  And of course they are a bit wrinkled.  I don't iron anything, least of all my period products!).
The pads themselves.  The bigger ones are the nighttime pads.

I am a convert. I am so, so happy with the Glad Rags. I've been using them for a few months and no longer have conflict with my red tent convictions now that my period doesn't mean leaking and uncomfortable paper products. Also, my flow and cramps seem to be easing up. It could be pure coincidence, but I have heard so many similar stories that I suspect it is related to having less irritation. It is almost enough to make me want to twirl around a meadow in my hippie skirt! But I still want chocolate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Discipline Meme--This is What it is About

My lovely friend ReadingMommy created this beautiful photo that so perfectly describes what gentle discipline is about.  There have been so many ugly, shaming, punitive memes floating around.  I am delighted that she made this one and graciously allowed me to share it.  <3  I believe that gentle discipline "works" for our children, but I know that it is working in me to build character, maturity and grace.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Price of Trust

I'm over at Natural Parents Network today sharing about a second chance that I had at protecting my daughter. 

Our society has conditioned us to consider the convenience of other adults above the well-being of our own children. We are expected to take the side of the teacher, the doctor, the dentist, or anyone else whenever there is a conflict. I am so, so glad that this time I chose to listen to my daughter.
I know that protecting her this one time didn’t make up for caving the first time, but it went a long way. She is not at all afraid of going back now. She knows that I will make sure her voice and body are respected. The price of the appointment was nothing compared to the trust of my little girl.

Read the whole post here.  :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mama Moments: Self Care in 60 Seconds

A romantic night out with your partner? Afternoon coffee with a friend? A couple of hours of indulgence at the bookstore cafe? Sounds lovely, but in the times when I most desperately need a couple of hours to myself, I’m lucky to get a chance to pee alone, let alone time for a massage!

Sometimes, taking a day off simply isn’t possible. Yet by sprinkling enough of these mama moments throughout your day, you can bring some desperately needed refreshment and peace. All of these can be done one-handed (helpful when your child is nursing) or in the few seconds it takes to count for a game of hide and seek. They won’t take the place of a massage, a coffee date with friends or dinner out with your partner, but they just might help you hang on till you get there.

Read some of my favorite coping tips over at Natural Parents Network!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Giveaway: Basic First Aid Naturokit from NaturoKits - $75 {7.17; Worldwide}

This is a joint giveaway with Dulce de leche and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked "Win it!" for the mandatory entry and optional bonus entries.

NaturoKits is offering our readers a giveaway of their First Aid NaturoKit, a value of $75.

The Basic First Aid NaturoKit contains a wonderfully convenient variety of natural and homeopathic remedies for stings, scrapes, bruises, burns and other injuries or illnesses.

From our reviewer, Dulce de leche:

With four very active kidlets and an intensely crazy summer, I was overjoyed at the prospect of testing the Naturokits first aid kit. We get plenty of bumps, scrapes, scratches and all the rest! We have been moving away from things like typical antibiotic creams to more natural remedies, but it was a bit intimidating. What did I really need to include? Which products were essential, how should I use them, and could I trust the manufacturer?

The Naturokits first aid kit was ideal for our family--it covered all the most commonly needed items with a helpful usage guide. Bonus: it is all beautifully organized into the perfect little carry bag, large enough to hold all that I needed (as well as any band-aids or other small items I wanted to add) and yet small enough to easily tuck into a diaper bag or purse.

NaturoKits was created by moms who are also licensed naturopathic physicians. They saw a need for an easily portable package that would contain all the most-needed naturopathic remedies. The Basic First Aid NaturoKit includes activated charcoal, apis, arnica, calendula, cantharis, Crisis Calm, hypericum, ledum and the Wild Weed Salve, along with a comprehensive and thoughtfully designed usage guide.

We acquired a kitten the weekend that the kit arrived, which also meant a few scratches. We used the Calendula succus to clean them and the Wild Weed Salve to help them heal. The Wild Weed Salve quickly became a favorite go-to product for us. It doesn't leave your skin sticky or super greasy, and the herbal scent was so light that it didn't bother my ultra-sensitive kidlets at all. Also, I have a toddler who immediately insists on treatment for a host of invisible ouchies as soon as she sees one of her older siblings get one. I felt comfortable giving a light swipe of the salve to her skin, which I would never have done with antibiotic ointment, and she was happily satisfied that her booboos were well-tended.

We also tried out the Crisis Calm flower essence during a particularly stressful morning. I felt much better--focused and steady, with none of the jitteriness of caffeine or the grogginess from other supplements. My eight year old, who is the most sensitive to any anxiety, came to me a little bit later with her eyes shining, telling me that she felt so relaxed. She asked me to please bring it with me to her next dental appointment so that she would be calm and not scared or worried.

I had also noticed a persistent, itchy bump on my toddler's face. It was hard to tell if it was an allergic reaction or a bug bite, but since apis is indicated for both, I gave her some. By evening, it was smaller and no longer raised or itchy. We gave her one more dose, and the next morning it was much better. We have also used arnica in the past with great success, although I haven't needed it yet from my kit.

  • The convenience. I loved having all the products I needed in one little bag.
  • The variety is also an excellent assortment for my family. We travel often, and having natural remedies for stomach issues, sunburn, stings, allergic reactions, stress/anxiety and everything else is very reassuring, particularly when we will be in places where the products might not be readily available.
  • I also appreciated the detailed usage guide, which is alphabetized according to each condition. It is thorough, but concise and easily navigated if you are in a hurry. For someone like me with only a beginner's knowledge of natural remedies, it is perfectly designed.


  • $75 sounds a bit expensive. However, if you priced each of the remedies on their own (and I have), I found that I would actually save a substantial amount by purchasing this kit.
  • It does not include typical items like bandages or gauze. There is room to add your own, though, and since my kids like picking out special bandaids for whatever their current interests are, we prefer to add our own.

My overall opinion? The Naturokits First Aid kit is perfect if you want to cover all the basics in a natural first aid kit. We will be traveling a lot this summer, and my Naturokits bag will definitely be going with us! So, how can you get one of these yourself? Easy!


You can purchase your own First Aid NaturoKis at NaturoKits for $75.00 + Shipping.

And just for Natural Parents Network and Dulce de leche readers, NaturoKits is giving a 10% discount on all orders from now until July 17, 2012. Enter code DCNPN during the ordering process.

They also offer a First Aid MiniKit for only $22.00 + Shipping that includes activated charcoal, arnica and their Wild Weed Salve, along with a detailed usage guide and cotton gift bag.


For your own chance to win a First Aid NaturoKit from NaturoKits, enter by leaving a comment and using our Rafflecopter system below.

The winner will receive a First Aid NaturoKit. Contest is open worldwide.

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit NaturoKits and tell us one thing you have learned about the company! You must enter your name and email address in the Rafflecopter entry system for your entry to count, after leaving a comment on this blog post.

Leave a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. Email addresses in Rafflecopter are not made publicly visible. Please leave the same valid email address in your mandatory comment so we can verify entries.

This is a joint giveaway with Dulce de leche and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only, and we'll be recording IP addresses to ensure that there are no duplicate entries. That said, please do visit and enjoy both sites!


See the Rafflecopter entry system for bonus entries to increase your chance of winning after completing the mandatory entry. All bonus entries are entered directly into Rafflecopter. Give it a try, and email or leave a comment if you have any questions!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest closes July 17, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Disclosure: Our reviewer received a sample product for review purposes. Amazon links are affiliate links. We try to seek out only products we think you would find relevant and useful to your life as a natural parent. If we don't like a product, we won't be recommending it to you. See our full disclosure policy here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Biblical Instructions for Discipline: How Should a Christian Parent?

The debate over Proverbs and spanking often seems to overshadow our view of what the Bible really teaches parents.  I do believe that it is important for believers to examine those passages carefully.  What often gets lost in the focus on spanking though is that the Bible has a great deal to teach parents in other passages, too.  One of the principles of gentle discipline is that instead of just telling our children what not to do, that we give clear, positive direction of what they should do instead.  I believe God does that with His Word.  Let's examine some other verses that apply to parental relationships!
3.17.08 Prayers
Image credit: robtxgal on Flickr

* "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."~ Deut. 6:4-7 (We as parents must hold God's Word in our hearts and then impart it to our children by spending time with them and taking advantage of every opportunity to share our hearts and teach them.  Discipline is about teaching and making disciples, not punishing them afterwards for our failure to teach!)

* "Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too." ~ Galatians 6:1 CEB  (The goal is restoring relationship, and that requires gentleness and humility.)

* “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"  ~  Matthew 25:40  (Note: In Spanish, it says "the smallest" of these.  What an incredibly powerful thought--how I treat my little ones is a reflection of how I would treat my God.)

* "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment." ~ I John 4:18  (Letting go of fear, letting go of punishment, embracing love).

* "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." ~ II Corinthians 1:2-4  (Whether it is my baby crying in the night, or my toddler having a meltdown, or my older child distressed over a "little thing", my response should be to validate and comfort. )

* "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."  Matthew 7:12  (Would I want it done to me?  No?  Then I shouldn't do it to my children.  What do I want?  Respect?  Gratitude?  Thoughtfulness?  Am I demonstrating those qualities in the way I act toward them?)

* "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.   Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  ... Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. " ~ Colossians 3:12-15, 21  (Compassion, forgiveness, peace, gratitude.  Nothing that will provoke them or cause bitterness or discouragement.)

* "Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It's not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant."  ~ Luke 22:24-26 (The Message)  (My authority as a parent is not a justification for controlling my children; it is the power to care for them.)

* "And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them." ~ Mark 10:13-16 (Jesus showed physical affection to children.  He took them in His arms.  When He laid hands on them, it was an act of blessing, not punishment.  The children didn't flinch when Jesus raised His hands toward them.) 

* "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. " ~ Matthew 18:10 (To despise means to see as of little value.  It is easy to want to depreciate the feelings of children, to consider their thoughts or emotions as less important than those of other adults.  Consider how your would treat an honored friend in the same situation, and how that could affect your response to your child.)

* "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:17-21 (Rather than looking for ways to get back at our children or "make them sorry" for their mistakes, we are to treat them kindly--they aren't even our enemies!--and meet their needs instead.)

There are many passages throughout Scripture that model for parents how we are to treat our children.  I believe that all Scripture is valuable, and when we look at the Bible as a whole, it becomes clear that God's purpose is always to bring about healing, restoration and connection with Him.  I wanted to focus on some passages that I feel are often overlooked by believers, but I also believe that there is tremendous wisdom in the Proverbs verses, the Beatitudes, the 10 commandments and Hebrews, as well. 

When I read over these verses, I see the consistency in the grace that God has lavished on me being poured out on my children, as well.  I breathe in the peace, patience, kindness, love and even joy that is the fruit of the Spirit, and realize that Biblical discipline starts in my own life and in the way I teach my children, and grows in our relationship.  It isn't something I do *to* my children--it is a part of who we are as we follow Christ.

Please join us all week, June 25-June30, 2012, as we explore the world of gentle, effective parenting. We have new posts each day by talented authors providing us with insight into why gentle parenting is worth your time and how to implement it on a daily basis.

We are also giving away several parenting book and other goodies from our sponsors this week. Please stop by and enter to win!

This year's beautiful motherhood artwork is by Patchwork Family Art. Visit the store to see all her work.