The Joy of Kids

JonahPirateYesterday Jonah told me he wanted to be a pirate. He brought his red cape to me and asked if I would tie it around his head. He then made a makeshift sword and started saying “Arrrrr…” Then Elijah got in on the act. He put on a Santa Claus hat and told me he was a pirate too. What is more, he took another Santa hat and put a bunch of toys in it and told me it was his treasure.

A while later, I saw Elijah spinning in circles. When he got done, he started walking in zigzags around the living room saying, “Room is spinning…room is spinning”. Kids are awesome. This morning, it continued. When it was time to get dressed, the boys decided that one pair of underwear wasn’t enough. They both, on their own, put an extra pair on their head and started running around laughing hysterically. Ahhh….the joy of kids!

I love the sound of laughter and activity in the house. I love it because it is sweet and fun and playful. The more I thought about how much I loved hearing those sounds the more I realized that it won’t always be that way. There will come a day when the house will be quiet. No more running around. No more pirates. No more underwear on their heads. Just quiet. When it happens I hope I can say we raised them right. I hope we can say we did everything we could to help them love God and love others. My prayer is that we found a healthy balance between loving playfulness/freedom and discipline/boundaries.

It is important that we are our kids parents and that we are their friends. One without the other is harmful to their well being. That tension is real and it is powerful. It reminds me that the same is true of my heavenly Father. He is my disciplinarian but He is also my friend. He puts me through the fire that refines me but also would want to spend playful time with me as well. I hope that doesn’t sound like I have lost my sense of wonder and awe of God. Quite the opposite…it makes me even more in awe of a God who can love me like that.

I am certain there will be a lot of laughing in heaven. I am not so sure about the underwear on the head thing but I can definitely hear the laughing!

Postmodernism and the Death of Santa Claus

Before you read further I want you to know that I am not wishing Santa an untimely demise. Instead, I am asking about his future in light of cultural headwinds. The more I think about the Santa Claus issue the more I wonder if Santa Claus is not going to have difficulty moving forward. In Chris Altrock’s book, “Preaching to Pluralists” he lays out seven characteristics of postmoderns:

  1. Uninformed about Christian basics
  2. Interested in spiritual matters
  3. Anti-institutional
  4. Pluralistic
  5. Pragmatic
  6. Relational
  7. Experiential

Santa may have a hard time making the cut with this group. How are you relational with a guy who isn’t real? How practical is jolly old saint Nick? What is more, postmoderns are pluralistic, that means they are open to relativism and less inclined to believe in absolute truths or that one way is the best way over other options. That means they don’t buy into things as a package deal. Instead they pick and choose what is practical (See #4 above). Santa could feel like a relic of a bygone age to many of them who grew up in less than happy, healthy homes.

Besides culture, there is another obstacle to Santa that many postmoderns face. That is the idea of their parents not being transparent and authentic when it came to Santa Claus. To be fair, I agree with the comments on the last post that there are some magical memories of Santa as a kid and that Santa can be healthy for the imagination of children. But what if the family is dysfunctional and lies abound? What if the kids already learned to distrust their parents because their parents were not consistent, abusive, etc? Postmoderns put a big emphasis on being real and authentic. Santa doesn’t cut it.

So how many of out there are postmoderns who have embraced Santa vs. rejected Santa when raising your kids or future kids?

When Our Kids Teach Us About God

Today Jonah, our two year old, shed some light on why God doesn’t always give us the things we really want. Missy had baked some cupcakes and he really wanted one. He threw a fit trying to get one so we didn’t let him have one until he calmed down and asked nicely. Then he wanted another. He proceeded to throw another tantrum trying to get said cupcake but this time we didn’t let him have any. He was told he had to wait until lunch and if he finished all his food he could have another. He didn’t like that answer and stormed off into his room. When lunch came he said he wanted a cupcake. We told him again what he had to do to get one. He didn’t like that answer and whined through the first five minutes of lunch before he finally started eating his food. Once he finished all his food he got what he so desperately wanted.

It reminded me of my relationship with God. Sometimes there are things I really want but God makes me wait because he knows what is best for me. It was best that Jonah eat a balanced meal. It was best that Jonah learned to wait. It was also best that Jonah is learning how to ask politely for things. Imagine what kind of child he would be if we gave him everything he wanted the moment he asked or the moment he threw a tantrum. I doubt he would make it very far in life. God knows what we need and He knows when to give it. So the next time you wonder why God isn’t giving you something remember that what He does give you will be just what you need.

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.    9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:7-12

Elijah Is Four Months Old Today!

It was four months ago today that Elijah entered our lives. Things have never been the same. He has brought us so much joy, laughter and hope. He is a bundle of energy, smiles, and sweet little laughs. Jonah could not be a better big brother and we are blessed to be in a situation where they get along, so far. I am sure challenges will come and there will be some really tough times but I am blessed to know that the four of us will go through them together and that we will not be alone…God is with us. So Elijah…thanks for a great four months. I look forward to the next fifty years!

We’re Expecting!

Missy is pregnant again, due in November! We are so, so excited and could use your prayers. Our pregnancy with Jonah didn’t go so smoothly, so Missy could especially use your prayers for her health and the health of the baby. We will find out in a couple of week if it is a boy or a girl. Something tells me it will be a girl. I will get some sonogram pictures up here eventually. It is hard to believe Jonah is already 19 months. He is going to be an awesome big brother!

Parenting and Proverbs

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
– Proverbs 22:6

This is one of the most quoted texts of the Old Testament people use when talking about parenting and discipline. Another very popular verse people quote is Proverbs 13:24 – “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” That verse is often paraphrased “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” When we think about discipline from the book of Proverbs we often think about justifying the use of punishment on children to correct and train them. Specifically what is often being justified is spanking or corporal punishment as a means of correction. I am not going to go into that right now and may do that in another post but my point is the Proverbs have a lot more to offer than merely serving as a rationale and justification for spanking a child.

Look at the first verse again. When we read that we normally think “discipline” and “correction.” That is what it takes to “train a child”. But notice the very next phrase “in the way he should go.” Punishment trains a child not to go a bad way. That is one side of discipline but the other side of the discipline/training coin is reward. If you are going to do what the proverb says and “train a child in the way he should go” then we need to make sure that the other half of the discipline equation is in play – rewarding appropriate behavior. Kids need praise. Kids need reward. Kids also need punishment and an awareness of where the boundaries of appropriate and inappropriate behavior meets. But the point is training takes both sides of discipline to be effective.

How many people do you know who got plenty of the rod but very little of the idea of how much they were loved by their parents? How did they do later on? Did they depart from “the way they should go”? I know many who have because they never had motivation to do the right thing. They never had someone cheering for them. They never had someone wiser than them letting them know which way was the right way. We see this in parenting all the time. It is much more likely for a parent to yell at a kid for jumping on the couch than it is to catch them sitting nicely on the cough and letting them know how much you appreciate them using the couch appropriately and respectfully.We have to be diligent in making sure our discipline involves far more than a tutorial in the “what not to do’s” and far more encouragement in the “to do’s”

For more on these concepts see these posts on parenting.

Updated Marriage, Family and Parenting Resources Page

Just a note that the marriage and family resources tab has been updated with many more great links. I hope to annotate many more of the links in the near future. Here is the link.

A Great Babywise Blog – Chronicles of a Babywise Mom

For those of you raising infants with the Babywise method, there is a great blog called Chronicles of a Babywise Mom that you will defintely want to check out. Babywise is a great method and has been really good in helping Jonah get on a decent schedule and at least sleep through the night. The problem with the book is, it is often hard to nail things down as they scatter the relevant information for each age all over the place. This blog is VERY thorough.

25 Lessons from Being a Father of a Two Month Old

There are some lessons you learn very quickly when you are the father of a two month old boy:

  1. When changing a diaper never get careless.
  2. When changing a diaper, always be quick and never, ever do it under a ceiling fan or in a cold room.
  3. Baby smiles make your heart melt.
  4. Babywise is the best book in the world (next to the Bible, of course).
  5. Don’t be afraid to make lots of noise when they are asleep…otherwise they will never learn to sleep unless it is 100% quiet.
  6. Learn their ques and stick to them (hungry, sleepy, needing a burp).
  7. Formula and diapers aren’t cheap. Thank goodness for Target giftcards.
  8. Make sure as a father you spend time with them every single day. Each day starts out so much better when I get to give him his first feeding. There is nothing cuter than picking up a happy baby in the morning.
  9. Don’t forget to love your wife and let her know how beautiful she is and how good of a job she is doing as a wife and mother.
  10. Don’t neglect your marriage,
  11. Continue to date your spouse.
  12. Inform yourself on vital health issues like vaccinations, circumcision, feeding/sleeping schedules, SIDS, and developmental milestones so you can make informed decisions for the health of your child and family.
  13. Find a good pediatrician. Interview them in advance and ask them specific questions and listen for educated answers. We interviewed one pediatrician who was supposed to be really good. He didn’t really have any specific answers to any of our questions. Needless to say we found someone else.
  14. Dads, make sure you change and feed them at least once or twice every single day. There is no better bonding time than feeding a baby and the awake time to follow.
  15. Read to them. They don’t care what the book is about. They just want to hear you talk to them and see the colors and pictures on the page. I think Jonah will be a scholar as he constantly looks in awe at our bookshelf full of books.
  16. Sing and dance (err…choreograph) with them. There is nothing better than being silly with a kid who doesn’t even know what silly is yet.
  17. Encourage them. You can never start too early giving them words of encouragement. I often tell him to “finish strong” when he is at the end of his bottle.
  18. Make sure you kiss your wife first when you get home and then see the baby.
  19. Spend plenty of time watching them sleep. Cute.
  20. Don’t spend much time teaching them poor sleep habits. If you use props to get them to sleep like a radio, swing, the car or car seat, etc they will learn to need that in order to sleep and you will have more difficulty than if you had just done it right the first time.
  21. Don’t mind a little crying. If you pick them up every time they cry they will play you like a fiddle. I am not kidding. Even at two months…they know.
  22. Develop a routine. Babywise is a helpful book for establishing that. Night time and bath time are also great opportunities for routine. Babies like when the know what is coming.
  23. Get a diaper genie. Those things are phenomenal.
  24. Make sure to go up a size on the diapers if they start peeing out the back of them. There is nothing worse than picking up a baby whose clothes are soaked…well, getting peed on is worse.
  25. Go the extra mile around the house to give your wife some relief. Also, go the extra mile spending time with your baby so that she can get out of the house for a while and feel sane. It is so important for moms to have something “non-baby” to look forward to each day.

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firstthumbsucking

First Day Sucking His Thumb

Newborn Care Class…Solo

Well, MIssy is on bedrest for two weeks so keep her in your prayers! We signed up for a newborn care class that met last night and I went solo  because she had to rest. That was interesting. They had all the guys come up and change the diapers and bathe some dolls in front of the class. It is quite a different experience staring back at a bunch of strangers without seeing your lovely wife smiling back at you adoringly as you try your best. I took a lot of notes to bring home and discuss with Missy. We are in for a wild ride…this thing called parenthood.