Parents, this week we have a guest post from my friend and parenting expert Toni Haas-Williams. Enjoy!

We all want to flyaaaaaaaaaa

… kids included. It’s long been my most wanted super-power. Whether by jet or free-falling, the sensation is amazing. More than one allure draws us to parenting with a hovering helicopter view.

On the flip side, overland travel is work. And slow.

It requires not only sweat and patience, but a map and a method. It means dirty hands and “busted” lips, but when feet make the journey, it insures both adult and child are grounded in every sense, and that each must take their steps, one at a time.

If you’re like me, despite the support of parenting books and blogs, sometimes the only blueprint we have to raise our kids is the one our parents forged with innate love, when we were the guinea pigs.

Certainly, this love is the best motivation, but not always a great guideline. Nevertheless, we all know how to hike, hand-in-hand. And parenting ground-level, side-by-side, has advantages. The tales of near-misses, even the small catastrophes, are often the best stories we bring to the campfire. 

Walking alongside our kids is extra-experiential

… because we experience sights and sounds from their perspective. Our feelings have the opportunity to be affected as our children’s are, because we deal with the same weather and navigate the same rocks.

Although the rocks will seem bigger to our kids and they might be climbing them for the first time, we do the journey’s work together—not for each other. This is unilaterally self-affirming. Better than that, it builds independence—an underrated word these days.

Eyes Really Are Windows to the Soul

The advantage of ground level parenting is that it’s eye-to-eye. When correction is needed, we are right there, reaching out and delving into the face of our young ones as they look back at us.

That’s the best key: it isn’t just about a parent’s perusal of her child. The child is just as able to look back and search out Mom or Dad—invaluable because the best correction works two ways.

And while punishment is sometimes necessary, correction is so much more than marking an “x” on the paper, isn’t it? It’s inserting the right answer plus the justification for that right answer. 

This is the only valid way to learn: the why is more important than the what.

Conversely, hovering above a child omits the “what” and “why” because it’s only about preventing Junior from experiencing any kind of inconvenience.

We’ve all been there at one time haven’t we? Times when we just prefer to do it ourselves because we’re impatient. But ‘helicoptering” simply extends our experience as parent and sadly, robs our child of theirs.

Leading side-by-side means accessibility.

It’s better for a child to cross a chasm on his own two feet with a parent within reach! This way if help is asked for or required, Mom or Dad is available.aaaa

After all, it’s okay to be ready with a hand if our fledgling is headed for a fatal fall.

However when we rush in prematurely and every time to take over the challenge, then the youngster not only can’t face-down the problem—she won’t even learn to see it coming.

The inevitable result is that the first solo blunder comes at a later age when the parent is no longer available, and worse, at an age when the world expects a seasoned problem-solver, not a socially awkward, emotional toddler in the body of an adult.

The best way to assure a child’s success is to place him in increasingly challenging situations. As a parent and teacher, my best solution was to take myself out of the equation—or more aptly—take my sons out of my equation.

When it came to summer camps, church, sports, or academic issues, what these offered was great. But even better, they created opportunities for my kids to make friends (and mistakes) without mom around, whose knee jerk instinct might be to bail them out.

Preparing our kids for life without us means we must learn to hike, not hover. To live successfully, we need to practice. And it wouldn’t be a practice without missteps. Grownup or growing, we all must take and make them. 

 

aaaToni Haas-Williams is a novelist and screenwriter. As a certified teacher, for over 30 years, she devoted her life to children. She founded and administered DreamTenders Academy for the gifted, the artistic, and the creatively curious. She also founded LENK (Ladies Élan and New Knights), a program where young adults immerse themselves in rigorous decision-making, problem-solving, business, service, and social graces. Toni’s protégés today flourish as entrepreneurs and recognized leaders everywhere. To learn more about Toni, go to tonicarrhaas.com

 

 

I love my kids. But like all of us, they are prone to wander from what’s good and right. I’m not talking about childish irresponsibility–that’s a “mistake.” I’m talking about blatant disobedience… which ticks me off!

1

Just being honest.

Sometimes it makes sense. They have wants and desires that often conflict with what they are told from us parents.

What does the Bible say about kids obeying their parents? Disobedience is gonna happen. It’s human nature, but that doesn’t make it right. And we, as parents, have to confront the issue and bring correction.

That’s hard. What battles do I choose? When do I punish and when do I give grace? But even giving grace doesn’t negate the need to discuss the issue with your child so it doesn’t happen again. How do I help them understand that obeying me will lead to blessings?

There’s a passage in God’s word that doesn’t give us all the instruction we need to cultivate obedience in our children or explain how we are to parent, but it does point to obedience as being a key component for a healthy relationship between parent and child. It’s found in Ephesians 6:1-4

“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” (NLT)

So what is obedience?

One of our pastors at church said, “Obedience is setting aside our selfish agenda and submitting to someone else’s agenda.” I love that quote. In other words, disobeying means we want something more passionately than we want to love or respect others.” 

Granted, sometimes that’s a valid reason to disobey. For example, it’s not a sin for a believer in an anti-Christian country to say, ” I want to illegally smuggle a Bible home in my suitcase so I can grow in my walk with God.” Or for a child to say, “No Uncle, I will not keep your abuse toward me a secret.” There are times when disobeying is right. The book of Acts was full of disobedience toward religious leaders and the government authorities. That disobedience helped propel the early church.

But when it comes to sinful disobedience, Christians or not, all humans must learn this basic rule of society. We must submit to our school teachers, our boss, law enforcement, the courts… lots of people. We must also learn to obey laws, natural and man-made. 

It can be difficult to submit to someone else when we don’t feel they deserve it. But when we don’t, our kids see that, and then they try it out–on us. I’m not letting our kids off the hook by blaming us for their sin. No matter how perfect we are at modeling obedience, our little rascals are still going to sin by trying to disobey us.

Often they do it to find security. To find the boundaries (see #7 in the list below). One of my kids is like that. When she feels insecure, she acts up. As soon as we discipline her, she is suddenly the sweetest and most compliant child, going out of her way to show us love and gratitude. It’s crazy.

Somehow we have to teach them that obedience is always honored with a blessing. A blessing bestowed upon them by us parents, or by God.

So why is it so difficult for kids to obey? 

There are many reasons that make it hard to obey. Here’s a few:

  1. Tension in the home (fighting, sibling jealousy, divorce or remarriage).
  2. An unbiblical model they’ve observed (it’s not always us).
  3. A strong-willed kid (like a wild horse, they can be broken).
  4. Imbalance in nurture and admonition (too much discipline or too much leniency).
  5. Threatening over and over again with no follow-through (“Do that again and you’re grounded!”)
  6. Being a hypocrite. (calling in sick for work to go play golf).
  7. Withholding our expectations from them (how do they know it’s wrong if you haven’t told them?)
  8. Broken promises (don’t promise something you may not be able to deliver).

What about you? What are some things you’ve found cause your kids to disobey you? what have you done to fix that besides (or in addition to) punishment?

Have you been looking for some recommended single dad movies? Check out these below, but be sure to check movie ratings and reviews at PluggedIn.com)

happyThe Pursuit of Happyness

A true story based on Chris Gardner’s one-year struggle with homelessness. The film features Will Smith as Gardner, an on-and-off-homeless salesman. Smith’s son Jaden Smith co-stars, making his film debut as Gardner’s son, Christopher Jr. Based on the best-selling memoir written by Gardner. Released in December 2006, by Columbia Pictures. For his performance, Smith was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

signsSigns

A 2002 American sci-fi horror written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The story focuses on a former Episcopal priest named Graham Hess, played by Mel Gibson, who discovers a series of crop circles in his cornfield. Hess slowly discovers that the phenomena is a result of extraterrestrial life. It explores family bonds, faith and the sovereignty of God.

 

sam

I Am Sam

Sean Penn plays a mentally handicapped man who fights for custody of his 7-year-old daughter (Dakota Fanning) and in the process teaches his cold-hearted lawyer (Michelle Pheiffer) the value of love and family.

 

goofyFinding Nemo

Finding Nemo is a 2003 computer-animated adventure film produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It tells the story of the over-protective clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) who, along with a regal tang named Dory (Ellen De Generes), searches for his abducted son Nemo all the way to Sydney Harbour. Along the way, Marlin learns to take risks and let Nemo take care of himself. The film received widespread critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Watch it with your kids.

goofyKramer vs. Kramer

After his wife walks out, a father fights for custody of his child when his ex-spouse returns expecting full custody. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. Ted Kramer is a career man and sadly his work comes before his family. His wife Joanna cannot take it anymore and abandons the family. Ted is now faced with the tasks of housekeeping and taking care of himself and their young son Billy. After adjusting his life to these new responsibilities, Joanna resurfaces and wants Billy back.

fire

Mrs. Doubtfire

Just how far is a father willing to go to see his kids? After a bitter divorce, a loving dad (Robin Williams) disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend time with his children of whom his former wife has sole custody.

 

goofy

The Goofy Movie

It’s hard to be cool when your dad is Goofy. This animated film follows single dad Goofy and his son, Max, who is now in high school. It revolves around the father-son relationship between the two as Goofy takes Max on a fishing trip out of fear that Max is drifting away from him, unintentionally interfering with Max’s social life, particularly his relationship with a girl, on whom Max has a crush.

 

Beautiful Boy

11111Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, In this painful but touching film starring Steve Carrell, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.

Now let’s hear from you. What about SINGLE MOM movies? Comment below.

 

I’m curious. Who has ever taken your child on an outreach (local or overseas)? How did it go?

I recall my first mission trip. It was Haiti, 1995. It was transformational. It changed my life forever. So much so, I would eventually become a full-time missionary.

Flash forward 22 years.

IMG_3092

My 14-year old daughter and I just finished a 1-week mission trip. Here’s a plug: It’s one of the dozens of Jesus Film Mission Trips offered to the public each year. This family-friendly trip is available for kids 14 and older if accompanied by a parent.

My daughter was very excited and I was thrilled to be a part of this experience with her. This particular trip to London focused on a certain group of religious people from the Middle East who vacation in England each year.

More than 200,000 of these individuals flood into the country to sightsee. So we had the opportunity to meet this friendly people group, form relationships and share our passion for making Jesus the center of our lives.

What I love about Jesus Film Mission Trips is the care they offer us as trip participants and the training you get for this outreach.  

My daughter and I received training on the religious beliefs of these unreached people. And learned how to find common ground in what we know and believe is actually true about God. Finding common ground, rather than arguing over truth and heresy obviously builds trust and friendship rather than building walls that separate and alienate us–making it easier to share our faith.

As part of our in-country training, my daughter and learned some basic conversational Arabic! How cool is that? This helped create bridges and build relationships to more effectively share the gospel. Part of our role included distribution of the “JESUS” film and copies of the New Testament.

My daughter led one person to Christ and had spiritual conversations with dozens more. I was so proud of her. I think one of the most memorable things you can do for and with your child as Christians is to do an outreach together. Whether it’s feeding the homeless with your church on a Saturday morning or flying across the world to share your faith, try it. 

I know one reader (a relative of mine) has taken their kids on mission trips and I’d love to hear from that relative in the comments below. But what about the rest of you? 

What results have you got (positive or negative) from including your kids in a local or overseas outreach? Tell us your story.