Book Review: Parenting Children for a Life of Faith

 

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Following on from reading The Sticky Faith Guide For Your Family, I was keen to fit in another ‘parenting’ book before giving myself some time off for some fiction reading over the summer.  I settled on Parenting Children for a Life of Faith by Rachel Turner and it couldn’t have been a better choice!  Like the Sticky Faith book, it proved easy to dip into and full of inspiring and practical advice for helping your children in their faith journey.

In her book, Turner focuses on how we can help our children to develop a relationship of their own with God.  She writes:

We instinctively know that there is a difference between a child who knows about God and a child whose heart and life are connected to him…Somehow, though, we only get as far as building God-smart children, hoping that eventually, somehow, God-smart will turn into God-connected.

Towards the start of the book she focuses on how we can allow our children to have glimpses into our own personal relationship with God by allowing them to see us spending time with God and by us talking with them about what God is doing in our life.  She then goes on to look at how we can enable our children to develop their own personal relationship with God.

Much of Parenting Children for a Life of Faith focuses on prayer and on how we can help children have a two-way conversation with God.  She writes about how we can encourage them to pray in a way that they’re comfortable with by removing some of the ‘rules’ that we sometimes associate with prayer such as how we should sit or the kinds of words we should use.  She also shares how we can help our child to hear or ‘catch’ messages from God.

Towards the end of the book Turner shares some real-life stories of under fives ‘catching’ from God and they were incredibly heartwarming and encouraging.  I shared them with Daniel and Joshua to show them that God really does speak to young children and to encourage them to listen out for God in their own lives.

There is so much I have taken away from reading this book and will look forward to putting into practise over the summer.  It’s not too long or too heavy a read and I would urge anyone who has a desire for their children to own their own faith to read it.

Book Review: The Sticky Faith Guide For Your Family

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I have just finished reading The Sticky Faith Guide For Your Family and have absolutely loved it!  I have been singing its praises to various friends over the last few weeks I’ve been reading it and really feel that it has the potential to impact families in significant ways.

I hope and pray that my children will grow up to be Christian adults but am well aware that growing up in a Christian family in no way guarantees this.  The author of this book, Dr. Kara E. Powell, and her team at the Fuller Youth Institute in America, conducted comprehensive research into what helps children and young people to develop a faith that ‘sticks’ into adulthood (‘Sticky Faith’).  They have published a number of books outlining their findings and, following my attendance at a Sticky Faith event last spring, I chose to delve into this one that was specifically aimed at families.

Although I want my children to grow into a Christian faith of their own, I do not believe we can or should force them into this.  For their faith to be real, it needs to be a faith they find and choose for themselves.  Thankfully, the Sticky Faith research backs up this view and there are no overtones of brainwashing or forcing children to adopt certain beliefs.  However, in the same way as there are ways parents can help to shape their children’s moral values as they grow up, we can also influence their faith development.

Dr. Powell recommends that as you read the book, you choose up to five ideas that you want to have a go at with your own family.  There are many, many ideas within the book, covering a wide range of family situations and ages.  As such, I’m sure it will be a book I choose to dip into again as the boys get older and some of the other ideas become more relevant to us.  For example, there is a really helpful section giving advice for parents whose teenage children don’t want to go to church.

Many of the ideas don’t seem to directly relate to faith, but the research shows that the relationships we have with our children can influence how likely they are to want to adopt our own values and beliefs for themselves.  Therefore, things such as building warm loving relationships, showing an interest in your child’s interests, communicating well, and practising forgiveness are all key.  I made a number of notes as I read through the book and wrote down quite a few quotes including these:

As long as we have relationship with our kids, we have the potential for influence…It is our responsibility as parents to keep the relationship with our children, not theirs…

One of the most dominant themes in our interviews with parents was their commitment to step into their teenagers’ worlds instead of expecting their kids to take part in theirs.

In fact, there is a lot in this book that mirrors advice in many of the secular parenting books I have read.  For example, the importance of spending quality time with each child on an individual basis e.g. through regular ‘mother-son dates’ with them, and the importance of ensuring they have other responsible adult males who they have good relationships with and who they can turn to when they don’t want to talk to their parents. There were of course, though, other ideas that related more specifically to aspects of faith such as sharing the Bible with them.

There are a number of ideas that I will take away from this book and see how they work within our own family situation.  I found the book easy to read and get into to and it wasn’t at all discouraging or judgemental.  It was also easy to dip into for five minutes here and there which is ideal for me.

There is no secret formula for ensuring your children will have a strong Christian faith as adults.  However, I am so grateful to the team at the Fuller Youth Institute for investing in this project to help equip us with strategies and ideas that can help us take positive steps towards this goal.  For anyone who shares this desire, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

The Super Secret Adventures of Kylon!

Daniel came home yesterday with a story that he has been writing in school.  It’s his first proper story so I was delighted to read it and thought I would share it with you all.  For your information, Kylon (to the best of my knowledge a name invented by Daniel) is pronounced Keylon.

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Here is my attempt at typing it up with corrected spellings:

This is a story about Kylon the scary, brave, nice spy who lives on half of the good side and half of the bad side.  He had a gang of dangerous and clever spies!  Unfortunately he had to share a bed with his brother and friend!  He doesn’t like it because they made fun of him!  One morning he sighed and said “I wish I had a bouncy bed to myself!  I’d be so happy without my brother.”  So he decided to make the ultimate lie!  Did you know what happens next!

Suddenly he rolled out of bed and quickly ran to the airport.  He felt sad because he thought his friends won’t like him.  On the airplane all his friends were there.  Kylon shouted in everyone’s ear “I’ve got a bedroom to myself!”  Everyone turned around in their comfy seats and they gasped.  They all shouted “How lucky are you?”  “I feel bubbly” he said because I’ve told a lie.  Oh what a dilemma!

The next day Kylon knew what he had to do.  He had tell the truth.  He wobbily walked to the airplane.  He kindly wittered in everyone’s ear “I’m sorry I lied.  I hope you still like me.”  The end.

The moral of the story is don’t lie because you might get a punishment!

Questions about Daddy 2016

It’s that moment you’ve all been waiting for…  The answers to Questions about Daddy 2016!

1. What makes Daddy happy?

D – Not being so naughty that Mum has to get him.

J – Cuddles.

2. How does Daddy make you laugh?

D – When he tickles me I laugh.

J – Tickle me.

3. What was Daddy like as a child?

D – Small.

J – A boy.  [This is an improvement on last year’s answer which was ‘A scarecrow’!

4. How old is Daddy?

D – 33.

J – The same age as Mummy.

5. How tall is Daddy?

D – I would say about 199.

J – Really tall.

6. What is Daddy’s favourite thing to do?

D – Laugh I guess.

J – Be cross.

7. What does Daddy do when you’re not around?

D – Play with Josh.

J – Have lunch.

8. What is Daddy really good at?

D – Football.

J – Being bad.

9. What is Daddy not very good at?

D – Sleeping because sometimes he goes to bed after the middle of the night.

J – Shouting.

10. What is Daddy’s favourite food?

D – I think it might be fish and chips.

J – Rolls.

11. What do you and Daddy do together?

D – Play games.

J – Play games and play puzzles.

12. Where is Daddy’s favourite place to go?

D – Work.

J – To work.

13. What does Daddy like most about Mummy?

D – You marrying him.

J – Being cross.

14. What does Daddy do for a job?

D – Work for a church.

J – Work.

15. How are you and Daddy the same?

D – Hair is the same colour.

J – We’ve got brown hair.

16. How are you and Daddy different?

D – Dad’s taller.

J – We wear different clothes.

17. How do you know Daddy loves you?

D – I’m his child.

J – Because he loves me.

18. What makes Daddy sad?

D – Fussing.

J – Mummy being mean to him.  [As if I ever would!!]

19. What makes you proud of Daddy?

D – Him carrying something really heavy.

J – Being naughty.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Last spring we took advantage of a great Amazon Local deal to get a family ticket to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard which, like all their tickets, was valid for a year.  Throughout the past year we have made numerous visits to the Historic Dockyard and would wholeheartedly say that our visits there have been fantastic.

Whenever we have visited the Historic Dockyard we have always used the Park and Ride which is so simple and convenient and gives added excitement to the children who love going on the double decker bus.  The bus stops right by the Historic Dockyard and is an ideal way to get into the centre of the city.  It is also situated close to Gunwharf Quays which we have sometimes visited for a meal or a quick bit of shopping after our visit to the Historic Dockyard.

On our first visit, the boys were captivated by the sight of HMS Warrior as we first arrived.  To them it looked like a real pirate ship and they were desperate to go on board.  As well as HMS Warrior, you can also look around HMS Victory (Lord Nelson’s Flagship and my personal favourite) as well as The Mary Rose.

Alongside visiting the ships, there are plenty of other things to do at the Historic Dockyard.  A huge favourite of the boys was Action Stations which had many interactive things for them to play on.  They loved Sky Tykes, a small rope course, as well as the climbing wall and a helicopter simulator.

On our final visit with the annual pass, we took advantage of the Waterbus to the Submarine Museum at Gosport.  Both the Waterbus and the Submarine Museum were included in the annual pass so there was no extra cost.  We really enjoyed having a look around the submarine and the adjacent museum and the boys especially enjoyed trying out real periscopes!  The Waterbus across to Gosport was so enjoyable that we also went on a Harbour Tour, again included in the price of the ticket.  This was a great way to see some of the modern navy boats around and get an insight into some of the navy buildings you can see from the harbour.  For example, the 100 foot deep swimming pool used in submariner training.

We have just about managed to see everything we wanted to before our tickets expired.  I am certain that in the future we will look to get another annual pass as the boys (and us) have got so much out of our visits to the Historic Dockyard.

 

Book Review: Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline

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Over the last few months I have been reading Becky Bailey’s Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline.  Central to Bailey’s message is the need for us to reevaluate the way we as adults behave and discipline ourselves.  Bailey asserts that the way we treat ourselves will have a direct impact on the way we treat our children and the way they learn to treat themselves.

Bailey highlights some useful ways in which we can communicate effectively with children.  There is a lot in her book which complements some of the other books I have read such as How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk and Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting.  She includes an excellent summary of her teaching in the epilogue:

  • Give children the communication skills they need to solve problems rather than getting them to act or be “nice.”
  • Give children encouragement by attributing positive motives to all their acts rather than forcing them to feel bad in order to behave better.
  • Give children lifelong skills they will need to contribute to society rather than getting them to behave in ways that impress others.
  • Give children a model of happy, loving, responsible living rather than getting them to “act like they should.”

There are a number of things I have been attempting to apply in my own parenting as I’ve been reading Bailey’s book.  For example, encouraging my children to be more assertive rather than running to me to tell tales.  If one of the boys pushes the other, their first reaction is generally to come running to me to tell me about it.  I will now ask whether they have said, ‘Don’t push me, I don’t like it’ to the offender before coming running to me.  Many parenting books encourage you to let your children sort out their problems for themselves and Bailey has helped to equip me with effective tools to help make this happen.

Despite the fact that what Bailey says is rooted in really valuable advice and I desperately wanted to like this book, I confess that I found it quite a slog to get through.  At times I found her style of writing to be too wordy and in parts critical and demoralising.  I can’t help but feel that her key messages could have been shared more concisely and this would be more useful for busy parents.  She has a lot of good lessons for us to learn but I would suggest going to other books such as How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk before this one.

 

Easter Holidays

Despite the fact I’ve had a horrible virus over the Easter holidays, we’ve done our best to make the most of the boys’ break from school and pre-school.  They’ve enjoyed a couple of day trips with Chris to the farm at the Countryside Education Trust in Beaulieu and to Adventure Wonderland.  Last weekend we also went to Moors Valley Country Park.

As well as a few day trips, we have loved spending time with a number of visitors including Chris’ parents and his aunt and grandmother.  Another of our guests was a hamster called Alfie who came to stay for a few days.

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We also did a bit of baking…

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Yesterday Chris took part in the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive and cycled nearly 70 miles around the New Forest.  We loved cheering him on at the start and finish line and at Beaulieu half way round.  In this picture you can see Daniel clapping him as he crosses the finish line.

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The Easter holidays have passed all too quickly and I am looking forward to the next school holiday when hopefully I’ll be up to getting out and about a bit more with the boys.

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