Christian parenting

The Lost Skill of Parenting

I felt strongly that this post needed to be written. I fully expect adverse reactions, guilt, rudeness, and insensitivity to transpire, but my prayer is that all would take a step back and understand what state our country is in right now. My intention isn’t to start an uproar, but to cause a fire to stir in your heart.

We don’t talk about this topic often enough, and I was terrified to publish it. I had at least 6 colleagues and friends look over it before even considering to share it.

Please know that my heart on this subject is not to talk about medicating ourselves and our children, but making our society realize that there is something very wrong in our country right now, and I truly believe it starts at home.

With that said….let’s begin….

I recently read a report that alerted the reader to the declining fertility rate in the United States. I don’t like that term, “fertility rate”. It makes it sound as though some of us are choosing not to have children. I think I’d be more concerned with the infertility rate, meaning, how many women can’t have children because they are infertile due to genetics, chemicals, free radicals, toxins, and more.

But that’s not what this blog is about…
I went on to read about how women are choosing not to have babies, and how the country is in distress, scrambling to find an answer, because they are afraid there won’t be enough children in the next generations to help take over the workforce when their elderly parents can no longer work. Also known as, “we’re headed for economic collapse because we have a smaller population”.
But that’s just one part to this story….
The issue at hand here is something greater, I believe.
Could it be that we’ve simply forgotten how to parent?
In this same report it talks about how teenagers and women in their 20’s aren’t having as many babies as they used to be. Now, if you ask me, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It simply means women are realizing they are worth more, and they are choosing to wait until they are comfortable with themselves to choose a spouse and have children. What a wonderful gift to give to a child—a steadfast family.
Here’s what the report said:

According to provisional 2016 population data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, the number of births fell 1 percent from a year earlier, bringing the general fertility rate to 62.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The birthrate for women in their 30s and 40s increased — but not enough to make up for the lower numbers in their younger peers. 

A country’s birthrate is among the most important measures of demographic health. The number needs to be within a certain range, called the “replacement level,” to keep a population stable so that it neither grows nor shrinks. If too low, there’s a danger that we wouldn’t be able to replace the aging workforce and have enough tax revenue to keep the economy stable. Countries such as France and Japan that have low birthrates have put pro-family policies into place to try to encourage couples to have babies. The flip side can also be a problem. Birthrates that are too high can strain resources such as clean water, food, shelter and social services, problems faced by India, where the fertility rate has fallen over the past few decades but still remains high. — The Washington Post

And yet, I still think there’s something more….

Our school systems are riddled with children who have been diagnosed time and time again with behavioral issues. Certainly, some of them have a rightful cause and diagnosis. I know plenty of children, first hand, who very seriously have conditions that need to be addressed. They can’t help it. Truly, they can’t. They have doctors that work endlessly to help them and their families, and for that I am truly grateful. These families don’t apply in the situations I’m about to share with you.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, consider this….

In 2011, 6.4 million children (1 in 10) received a diagnosis of ADHD, and were treated with therapy and/or medication. In just 10 years we saw a 42 percent rise in this diagnosis, and in that same year, 1 in every 25 children were prescribed an anti-depressant.

Read that again…

1 in every 25 elementary school students is on an anti-depressant.

Before we go any further, let me once again reiterate that there are certainly people who need medication, therapy, and treatment for these conditions. These are very real conditions. You wouldn’t decline treatment for your child who has diabetes or a chronic illness, right? It’s the same exact thing. However, in many cases, we’ve become a generation who depends on modern medicine more often than not. We depend on a diagnosis when what we should really be thinking about is the crisis our children are currently in.

Why?

Why are 6 year old children taking anti-depressants? Why are children lashing out and acting out?

And then I stop and wonder, what is their home life like?

We haven’t excelled in science….we’ve failed at parenting. We’ve failed at raising the “village”.

The thing that struck me the most in this report, however, wasn’t just the rise in numbers or the amount of children on anti-depressants. What struck me most was this…

Others noted Dr. Visser’s observation that “one out of five children had a diagnosing provider who relied only on information collected from family members.” This goes against American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines that information should be collected from multiple sources, such as teachers, coaches, and other adults involved in the child’s care. It indicates that one-in-five ADHD diagnoses in school-age children are heavily reliant on the way family members interpret that behavior. —psychologytoday.com

I know this isn’t something we want to hear, but I believe it’s something that we need to hear. 

I believe that we need to get real with ourselves, because that’s the only way a society grows.

I believe it’s something that not enough people are saying, and so, well, I’m going to say it. 

We’ve forgotten how to parent. 

We’ve forgotten how to raise children.

We’ve forgotten how to have a family.

We’ve reached an era where we are relying on doctors to hand us reports that tell us how to be good parents.

In many reports and suggestions that parents receive from therapists and doctors for their children, they are often told to do these things:

 

  • Remain calm when your child has an outburst, your reaction will be the deciding factor on how well your child responds to correction.
  • Decide which behaviors are acceptable and which behaviors are not. Setting a standard will help your child.
  • Define household rules but allow for flexibility. Sometimes your child will just have a bad day.
  • Manage your child’s aggression by using time out. If they have a public outburst, remove them from the area and correct them away from the public eye as not to embarrass them.
  • Create structure and stick to a routine. Routines and schedules help your child know what’s planned for each day and causes less stress.
  • Limit distractions. Television, video games, and the computer encourage impulsive behavior and should be regulated.
  • Simplify your child’s life. Over-socialization can be hard. Encourage quiet time and reading. Mind stimulation will do wonders, imaginations are amazing.
  • Believe in your child and encourage them. Praising your child for all of the good things they do, instead of constantly focusing on the bad, will create good moral and encourage a sense of appreciation and need.
  • Don’t be negative or derogatory. You are your child’s rock. When you’re negative towards them simply because you are annoyed or rushed, it can cause hard feelings and a sense of being unwanted.
In the 1950’s, these things were just common parenting skills. Today, you have to get a doctor’s report and note on how to parent your children.
I’m really sorry. I know that made so many of you mad. But let’s get real here.
Have we lost it? I mean, have we lost our flipping minds? Have we forgotten?
 
Instead of taking the time to talk to our children, make time for them to release frustrations, or even sit down to dinner at the family table, we’ve decided to ignore them, let social media and the TV babysit them, and they have no structure in the home whatsoever.
They don’t exercise.
They don’t eat right.
They aren’t given alternatives.
We don’t talk them through their emotions anymore.
They don’t have to lift a finger.
In fact, the newest trend is to try and belittle your children into submission so that you don’t have to deal with them….yeah, that never works.
Our grandparents lived hard lives, raised us differently than our parents, and they will tell you just how easy we have it now.
Could it be that our children now days don’t have enough to do? Are they bored? Are they lonely?

Could it be that if we parented differently and involved our kids more, that we’d see a decline in such need of these medications?
Just as we’ve lost the skill of serving our families, practicing mutual submission in marriages, and loving like Christ does—we’ve lost the skill of parenting our children well. Be it because of our societal changes, the working family where both parent’s aren’t home (and usually both have no other choice but to work), or the simple fact that we are just too busy for our children. 
The decline of birthrates in the United States isn’t because people are educated and making decisions on their own. Let’s call it for what it is. 
The decline of birth rates in the United States is because people don’t want to be parents. 
 
We are choosing careers and ourselves over raising a family. And that’s absolutely ok. But the greatest concern, as a mother and Christian, is that we aren’t just losing children….we’re losing the backbone of our country—the core values and existence of the American Christian family. We are, essentially, what holds our country together.
Families that influence their children positively are the families that we need more of. Parenting through the Lord. Raising children that are hardworking and contribute well to society. Creating a family that knows the meaning of good work and bad work, good character traits and bad character traits.
One of Satan’s greatest tasks is to devour the Christian family. Why? Because when there is division in the family, or no family at all, then there is no structure. We’re all on our own…self-absorbed.
In today’s world, terrorists are having more children than Christians. Let that sink in for a minute.
Christianity rates are dwindling because people of different religions are having more children than Christians. What? Is this for real? Aren’t we supposed to be raising our family in Christ? Aren’t we supposed to be taking care of the orphans and widows?
I get it. 
There are people who can’t have children (or more children)….uh, hello. Raising my hand over here. 
There are people who feel that they can’t afford children.
There are certainly people who aren’t in their right mind and have no business having children (yet seem to be the ones who have them the most).
But what about the rest of us?

 

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. —Psalm 127:3-5

 

The Bible talks extensively about raising a family, about having children, about being a good parent. In fact, many of the things therapists and doctors advise as good parenting skills are actually in the Bible.
Did you read that?
The ultimate doctor told you how to parent long ago.

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” —Mark 9:36-37

I don’t know what the future holds for our country, or our world.

I don’t know what people’s situations are and I won’t even pretend to know.

But I do know this—we’ve lost the skill of parenting. Something is wrong. We’ve lost the ability, the want, the need, to raise a family efficiently. We’ve lost the desire to raise them properly and in the ways of the Lord.

And more than anything, we’re losing our children that are already here. 

WE, the American family, need to start raising our children differently.

We need to get our hands dirty.

We need to plant gardens.

We need to eat better and exercise.

We need to teach our kids the meaning of hard work.

We need to put them to work!

We need to teach responsibility…actions and reactions.

We need to be more kind and gentle, and less harsh and demanding.

We need to sit down at the family dinner table again.

We need to guide our children, not just expect them to know how to live.

We need to be less social and more intent on raising mini-adults.

We need to keep ourselves in check before we can ever expect our kids to be kept in check.

We need to respect our kids so that they respect us.

We need to stop losing our cool. We’re parents! Stop arguing with your kids and trying to reason with them and start being the adult! 

We need to stop having pity parties and temper tantrums if we ever expect our children to act appropriately.

We have to stop this…or else we’ll die from it…we will surely devour ourselves if we don’t start stepping up to the plate.

So wherever you are in life, and whatever you do, consider these things…

Am I kind?

Am I raising my family in the image of Christ?

Are my children acting out because I’m acting out?

Could I show myself and my child a little more grace that I normally do?

Could parenthood not be as scary as everyone says it is?

Have we lost the joy of parenting and raising a family?

Could it be that our children are suffering because our society ignores them?

I think as an American, and certainly as a Christian, these are very real question that we have to ask ourselves. At some point we have to stop it with all the rainbows and butterflies and really get real with ourselves.

I fail as a parent each and everyday. I don’t have it altogether. But each and everyday I learn more and more that our actions and reactions as parents cause our child to be better or worse. Each and everyday I hope my growth blocks out my failures.

We forget that children need to be trained. They aren’t born knowing how to act. They aren’t born knowing how to deal with their emotions. And when we are a society that is an emotional train wreck….can we really expect more from our children?

Today I encourage you to take some quiet time and ask God to search your heart as a parent, as a spouse, as a future parent, or as a single person who just has an interest in the American family.

And as He works in you, be open to the dark spots in your life that He wants to reveal.

I haven’t given up hope on the American family…the Christian family…and neither should you. But in order to bring it back, we must spend more time on our knees, and less times with rectangles in our hands.

And instead of a doctors note and pills, maybe the ultimate Doctor just calls for laying in the grass and looking at the clouds with your  kids more often….and opening the Bible after a family dinner.

Don’t forget your children….

 

Sons and Daughters (Part 1) | Raising Our Boys to Be Men

Part 1 in a series about raising boys to be kind men, and raising girls to be courageous women.

In society, I’m a brand new mom. I’m only (almost) 7 years old in motherhood. But I would like to think that my soul is an ancient one full of wisdom and knowledge. I cannot look at a woman who has been a mother for 25 years and tell her I know more than her. I don’t. But I cannot doubt that there are women in this world who can go through the motions and never actually learn. While there are other women who go through the motions and crave more knowledge. I’d like to think I’m the later.

And so, my journey of motherhood didn’t begin when I became a mother, in fact,it began when I became a young woman who was interested in men. And even more so, when I married my husband.

Growing up, we can all say our parents made mistakes. Heck, our parents will tell you they made mistakes. And I’ll tell my adult child (when that day comes) how many mistakes I made. But the reality is that when we, ourselves, are children, we often think we can do things better than our parents. And thus begins the course of trying to find what we really want in life.

For me, I wanted to graduate high school, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after. But, I failed to understand one thing…

…I had absolutely no idea what a real man was.

And so I tried to find a real man in a high school boy I barely knew…

I tried to find a real man in a man who didn’t even know himself, but wanted to know me…

I tried to find a real man in a boy who, to this day, is probably still one of the most childish people I know…

And I tried to find a real man in my now husband.

Oh, how I wish I would have waited for him.

What a naive girl I was, as most young women are.

I sing that song in my head sometimes, Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

Mama’s, don’t let your babies grow up to be men who disrespect women, are unkind, lazy, rude, and useless.

Mama’s, raise your babies to be strong and courageous men. Raise them to be kind and gentle, and yet strong and manly. Raise them with soft hearts and strong skin. Raise them to the highest standard. Raise them to the standard you deserve. Raise them to the standard that one day she, his future wife, will deserve. 

When my husband and I first married, we both had a lot of growing up to do. A lot. I am grateful we “grew up” together. Though there was a time when we thought we might not make it. Honestly, I’m grateful for that time too.

And as I look at my son now, I see his father in him. All of the good parts, and a few of the bad. Some of my good characteristics, and some of my bad as well. But I am constantly reminded that, no matter what….

I have been given one of the greatest tasks in life—raising and training a man. 

2012 – ©Courtney Anderson Photography

It has been challenging, and I mess up, daily. And the sad reality is that so many times, he is training me, rather than me training him. Parenthood is a calling, of that I am certain. It’s the calling that shatters our hearts, mends them over, and breaks them into a thousand pieces again…followed by hugs and kisses. It forces us to face our biggest flaws, and to celebrate our smallest of victories. It makes us realize that we weren’t right about everything when we were 13, and sometimes, our kids might be able to teach us a thing or to.

During these years, I have had to remind myself of these things. Daily.

And while the emotional and characteristic side of manhood is necessary, there are some practical things to teach him as well.

:: How to Raise Our Boys to Be Men ::

Teach him kindness. With his words….with his body language…with his heart. Teach them to have a kind heart when someone is being picked on. Teach them not to pick on anyone. Show them love and tell them it’s ok to love. Loving them unconditionally will allow them to love unconditionally when they become men.

Teach him to work through emotions. And let them know that emotions are ok…even for a man. The human body was created to have emotions, for good reason. But little boys still must be trained on how to properly handle them. Crying is ok (if you’re hurt, really sad, or not feeling well), whining is not. Being happy and excited is ok. Loving on mama is ok, and daddy too. Being angry when someone has hurt you is ok, but there is also grace and forgiveness to be taught.

Teach him to be helpful and independent. No matter how little, teach them how to clean, do their own laundry, how to wash dishes, how to keep a clean house (I royally suck at this), how to keep their bodies clean. Teach them how to live on their own, rather than them waiting for a wife to come along to do it for them. You want to talk about culture shock when I got married? I came from a household where dad cleaned up after himself and did his own laundry. My husband came from a household where he didn’t do a darn thing. We have since found our happy  medium. That happy medium is called “clean it up yourself, or it will sit there until I have the time, and don’t you dare complain about it.”

Teach him to be a provider. Not only for himself, but for others. Teach him work ethic and independence. Teach him how honorable it is to be a man of stature and provision. Teach him the Biblical standard of a hard working man.

Teach him to respect women. Teach him that her body is her body, not his. And that even after marriage, he can’t just treat her however he wants to. Teach him that she is a daughter of a King. From a young age, they should be holding doors open for women, even mom. But of course, they will forget most days. Teach them “ladies first” and how to be proper. Sure, there are women out there who like to act like men, but not a single one of them will complain if treated like a princess. But that brings me to my next point…

Teach him to be courageous, and to never be walked all over. There are some very strong women in this world, and if given the chance, they can walk all over a kind hearted man. Teach him to be courageous and respectful, but to never tolerate being walked all over. Teach him to stand up for himself when another person comes against him in life. But also teach him to have a teachable spirit in case he needs to learn a lesson.

Teach him to work with his hands. Because he will need that skill more than either of you realize in the real world. A little dirt goes a long way. And you never know when he might have to fall back on that skill.

Teach him to be self-sufficient. Does he know how to take care of a family? That’s a big deal when it comes to learning manhood.

Teach him to hide the word of God in his heart. There will be trials and tribulations—temptations and personal demons. Teach him, from a young age, to hide the word of the Lord in his heart. So that if ever he strays away, he will remember. And that when he does find his wife, he can share it with her as well.

Teach him to be a leader. But with humility and justice.

Teach him right from wrong. This is a given, but unfortunately so many parents just think their children automatically know right from wrong. Trust me, if you are not actively teaching it to them, someone else will…and not necessarily in the way you wish.

Make sure he knows that he owes no one anything, that he doesn’t have to depend on someone else to live this life (other than Jesus), and that he was fearfully and wonderfully made by the same hands that created the entire universe.

But most of all? Teach him who he is in Christ. If nothing else, mama, teach him this. Who does God say he is?

List them all, one by one…

He is a child of the most high King. (Galatians 3:26)

He is greatly loved by his Father. (Romans 5:8)

He is a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15)

He has been redeemed. (Romans 3:24)

He is a temple of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

He is predestined in Christ. (Ephesians 1:11)

He is a workman of God. (Ephesians 2:10)

He is bold and confident. (Ephesians 3:12)

He is guarded by peace. (Philippians 4:7)

He is dearly loved, chosen, and clothed in compassion. (Colossians 3:12)

…and the list goes on and on.

Mama, I know the days are long sometimes, and the road is hard. But never ever forget what you’ve been entrusted with. And most importantly, never forget that we are constantly in training, as we train our own young boys to become incredible young men.

 

 

The Smallest of Salvations is the Biggest in the Kingdom

When I was growing up, salvation and “getting saved” to me always meant believing in Jesus so that you wouldn’t end up in hell. What kid wants to end up going to hell, away from his/her parents for all eternity? I surely didn’t.

Salvation was never really explained to me the way it should have been, and it was often just assumed that I understood since I had been submerged into Christianity my entire little life. I was baptised when I was young (5 years old, if I remember correctly). And I can remember being terrified of the water…that’s about it. There was no huge inside change or glorious feeling. I was just happy to be out of the water once it was over. I had a sense of pride for myself — I had just gotten baptised and that was awesome. But nothing changed. I finally rededicated my life to Christ as a teenager and again in early adulthood. I was great at talking the talk before that, and I loved Jesus with all my heart, but to honestly say I knew Him? Probably not.


My goal in life is to make sure my child understands salvation a lot differently than I did (or didn’t). He has always been very curious and loving when it comes to having a relationship with God, and I’ve never pushed it. Christ is part of our daily routine here, it is second nature at all times. Sure, as parents, we mess up, but we are quick to ask forgiveness and when it boils down to it, he understands grace….because he receives it as well.

So we’ve been dancing this dance of give and take and mistakes and grace for the past (almost) 6 years of his life. He believes in Jesus, he loves God, and he earnestly tries to do right when he thinks about it. But he’s also a 5 year old little rambunctious boy. And we can’t expect him to do “right” all the time.

I knew the salvation conversation would come eventually, but I didn’t want to have it too soon. Building blocks and stepping stones have been my base with him from the beginning, but in the past 3 weeks, he’s been building and stepping all by himself.

I have purposefully never once mentioned the second coming of Christ to him, for fear that it would sway his “salvation” decision at such a young age. Let me just say, I understand my little one is only 5, but he is not treated like a “little one” most days. He’s intelligent, he asks questions and demands answers, this kid it going places…

We were laying in the hammock like any other day — it’s the place where him and I have deep conversation one minute and play “I Spy” the next. I think we’ve “spied” everything there is to be seen from that hammock. The question finally came, “mama, what happens to Satan…how does Jesus win in the end?”

If you’re a Christian parent, you understand how crucial this information is. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the rapture or not. It doesn’t matter if you are pre- mid- or post trib believing. You have to get it right the first time without fear mongering or using large terms that may confuse or upset a child. You want your child to understand the whole story, not just bits and pieces.

He took it like a champ. He had about 50 questions….questions that most adults don’t even ask. I answered on his terms and in ways he could relate to. And then I thought, now that he knows the entire story, why not talk about salvation? But before I knew it, once again, he was one step ahead of me. “Mama what does that mean, saved?”

Some parents would brush it off and give a short run down of it. They’re much too busy to worry with it, their kid is already saved….right?

Other parents would feel as though it wouldn’t make a difference, he’s only 5.

But scripture says…

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said:’Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’” Matthew 18:2-5

And so we talked about salvation, and he told me the story of Jesus, and it all clicked. I could see it in his face and his eyes, he understood it. And then he said, “well, Jesus is already in my heart, but maybe I should officially ask Him, huh?”

….and so he did. He prayed, while placing his hand on his heart and with his eyes closed as tightly as possible.

…and there was peace…

…and there was laughter…

…and there was joy…

…there was understanding and love….

He wanted to scream it to the rooftop what he’d just done, because he thought it was one of the most important decisions he had ever made. He wanted to tell his friends and his cousins. He wanted to tell people he didn’t even know….because “what if they don’t know Jesus”.

But the most amazing change happened, not just in him, but in my own heart.

I’ve had more grace in my parenting.

I’ve had more love.

I’ve been more patient.

I’ve been more gentle.

I’ve always known that my job is to train him, but to really sit down and realize just how young in Christ he really is….he needs a lot more training than I ever imagined. But with gentleness and love. And lots and lots of grace. It doesn’t mean he’ll never be disciplined or that I won’t make a mistake in motherhood. But it does mean that it just got real. It just got real because I realized that not only am I training and raising my child, but I’m now training and raising a child of God. What an incredible gift it is to be handed this responsibility. And I want to make sure that he’s getting the best of me, not just the rest of me. Because he’s definitely going to need it from this point on.

I want to pour into his life without ever expecting anything in return from him, because after all is said and done, he wasn’t put on this earth for me….I was put on this earth for him. One day he’ll walk out my front door and go home to a family of his own (if that’s what he wants). One day he’ll teach his own children the same grace and love that we have taught him. One day that hammock will be empty, and we won’t get to have those conversations or “I Spy” games…..and I’ll miss them….but I’ll know to Whom he belongs, and I will have no fear of the life and journey set before him.

The smallest of salvations can have the biggest impact in the kingdom of God. We are kingdom minded people living in a world that needs Jesus more and more everyday. I don’t want him to be frightened by it. I don’t want him to live in fear because of his beliefs. I want it to be second nature to him and I want him to be so close to the Lord that he is unwavering, even as a little child. I want him to impact the people around him in a positive way. I want him to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit (which has already started, it’s incredible to see) and become more aware of the presence of God all around him. I want him to feel free to talk about Jesus and ask questions….even if he might think they seem silly.

And I want my life to be a living reflection of Jesus to him, because after all, I am the very first “Jesus” that he’s ever met. If his view of me is tainted, then so also will his view of Christ be.

 

Why I Let My Child Help Process Animals on the Homestead

Recently, I read a blog post condemning families who allow their children to help process animals. Saying it was disgusting and vile (probably written by someone who doesn’t even eat meat). I read another blog post a few days later, that even went as far as calling these parents insensitive and uneducated when they allow their kids to pose with their dad’s hunt of the day. From what I gathered, apparently I needed to prepare myself for my child to be an ax murderer when he grows up.

** I should tell you now, there are some graphic photos below in the rest of this post, and none of them are from a future ax murderer.
The blogs were riddled with photos of families who probably have no idea that they were the picking party for these bloggers’ posts. Talk about uneducated. I was (and still am) so tempted to email those photos to those unsuspecting families and say “can you believe this person you don’t even know used your kids photo as a beating bag?” I’m pretty sure they’d have some kind words to say to those bloggers, along with a lawyer.

We get that all the time though. We’re used to it. We get the “you’re really going to let him do that?” and the “oh my word, that’s not natural for a child his age”.

You know what’s not natural for a 5 year old boy? It’s not natural when he doesn’t have dirt under his fingernails. It’s not natural when he doesn’t know where his food comes from. It’s not natural when he is forced to sit and play video games or watch tv all day…inside…with no fresh air. It’s not natural when your child doesn’t understand life and how precious it is before the age of 5. Well, it’s not natural for my child, and that’s the beauty of it. My child doesn’t have to be like everyone else.

I’d like to address it publicly, because quite honestly, I’m tired of having to deal with it. Here are the facts…the real ones, not the googled ones, or from the bloggers who have no experience in homesteading and real life.

Here are the reasons we choose to allow our son to help with harvesting animals on our homestead:

  • It teaches him the circle of life. Such a cliche, I know. But it’s true. It teaches him that animals were put here for our entertainment and love, but also to provide for our family. And when done properly, and constantly handled in a loving way, there’s absolutely nothing unnatural or insensitive about it. It teaches him the importance of respecting animals, from beginning to end.
  • It teaches him that food doesn’t come from a grocery store. And that it doesn’t have to be overly processed and full of chemicals. Dinosaur shaped spongy chicken nuggets aren’t the normal. Homemade, crunchy, tender fried in lard nuggets are.
  • It teaches him to be independent and disciplined. I’m not just talking about a 5 year old, I’m talking about preparing him for the rest of his life. He has to take instructions and heed to them, otherwise the entire process is messed up. He has to listen intently, and then act. He has to discipline himself so that he doesn’t rush through it.
  • It teaches him self-sufficiency. Should an EMP bomb go off or a natural disaster occur where there’s nothing on grocery store shelves because they’ve all been looted, my child will never ever feel anxious or upset about not knowing where his next meal is coming from. In fact, he’ll be the first one to say, “let’s go squirrel hunting”. He will never, ever, be dependent on a grocery store aisle.
  • It teaches him the art of manliness. Because it has been lost in our nation. Too often our boys are taught to be like girls. They are taught that they should want to grow up and get an office job, because that will pay more and they can live a luxurious lifestyle. They are taught to find women who are independent and career minded. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with any of that.  But they are taught that if they have rough hands and dirty shoes, that they are worthless. No, not my son. The sad reality is that my son will be taking care of those people and would give them the shirt off of his back if he had to. My son will know how to take care of his family, whether he has a job or not. My son will know how to be independent, self sufficient, rough hands and all. My son won’t be pressured into believing that he has to live a certain way and do things a certain way to be “worthy” of the economy, an education, or a woman. My son doesn’t have to do everything your kid does — that’s the beauty of having the freed to raise our children differently.
  • It teaches him what the original “normal” was, and still is for many. Do you realize how many kids this is normal for outside of the United States? Do you realize how many children under the age of 10 years old go out, kill animals for food, bring it home and process it themselves while their mothers clean the dirt hut floor and their fathers are either no where to be found or off working in the garden? Please tell me again, how kids don’t understand “life and death”? No, YOUR kid may not understand life and death, but those kids and my kid, they fully understand it. Which brings me to my last point that the other bloggers tried to turn around and say “we knew nothing about”…
  • It teaches him the true meaning of life and death. From beginning to end, he is walked through the process. We cuddle our meat rabbits before harvesting them. We pet our roosters and thank them for their service while they were here, before harvesting them. While the initial shock of blood and flailing is “cool” to a little boy, it quickly becomes serious and solemn. He understands that this animal will never return to us, ever. He knows when and when he shouldn’t kill an animal. He knows what happens when an animal dies. And most of all, he knows it can never be compared to a human life. He has not been, nor will he ever be, desensitized and sheltered from death. Because whether we like it or not, it happens every single day. And whether you want to admit it or just suppress this simple fact, death is a natural thing.

Since the age of his existence, we have included our son in any and all things when it comes to learning about life, especially where his food comes from and anything homestead related. There were many times at the age of 3 when he helped Mountain Man skin a deer. By the age of four, he knew when hunting season was. And now at the age of five, he cannot wait to put dinner on our table.

You see, it starts with the parents. Certainly, there are parents who abuse the right to hunt and/or kill animals, and lack the skills to properly educate their children about it. But please, don’t stick us all in that category.

If you were to ask my son what happens when daddy kills a deer, he would say something like this…

“Daddy shoots the deer, and after he finds it, he thanks it for its sacrifice for our family. He thanks God for the meals that it will give us. Then he comes home and we get to turn it into dinner. But I don’t get to use his cool knife because he says it’s too sharp for me. One day I’ll be big enough to hunt with daddy, and then I can come home and you can be happy that I got a deer too!”

When asked what the difference is between killing for food and killing for sport, he would respond…

“We’re only allowed to kill chickens and animals if we are going to eat them, or if they are sick. But if they are sick, we don’t eat them, because they’ll make you fart and stuff.”

Spoken like a true little redneck boy. No shame…

But most of all, when he is asked what should be killed and what shouldn’t be killed, he always answers with big bulging eyes..

“Oh mom, you KNOW we should never kill people…why do you even ask that when you already know the answer.”

He’s right. Why do people ask stupid questions when they should already know the answer? Shouldn’t that be something we teach our kids? Why has society become so desensitized to death, some might ask? Because we refuse to accept it….we refuse to teach it….

Our son helps us process animals because he enjoys it. He gets excited about helping, being productive, knowing where his food comes from. He gets excited for dinner, and you can see it when he says, “oh boy, is that the rabbit I helped with?” He gets excited because he feels accomplished. He gets excited because he knows the importance of being independent and knowing how to provide for his family. He gets excited because he knows a skill, something that most of his generation will never have. He gets excited because it’s just something that we do here — we get excited, because all of that hard work is finally paying off.

Listen, we all have different opinions and different ways of parenting. I don’t condemn families who eat overly processed food from the grocery store, or who force their children to wear skinny jeans. I am proud of the parents raising their kids to be sophisticated men and women who want to be lawyers and doctors, and I so honor them for raising them that way. All of our friends and family choose to raise their kids differently, whether like us, or not like us. I don’t judge them, and I never once condemn them — they have awesome kids, and they are awesome parents, and that’s just what works for them. But, I only expect the same level of respect in return. Just because your child isn’t on the same level as mine with certain things (and mine isn’t on the same level as yours on certain things), doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent or have bad parenting skills. And that doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent either. We just parent differently, and guess what, that’s ok too….end of discussion.

Preparing for Spring Gardening & Homesteading With Children Underfoot

While we are still in the depths of Winter here in Virginia, we homesteaders often start thinking about Spring, seeds, gardening and new life on our homesteads at the beginning of January. We’ve made our New Year’s goals and wishes, and now it’s time to implement them. We are doers, not just dreamers, and we make things happen.
But not all of us have spare time with which to work. Many of us, like myself, are parents. Parents of newborns and toddlers, while delighted in their children, just don’t have enough extra hands to get everything done in the time frame they wish. And let’s not even talk about when Spring and Summer actually begin.

Preparation and planning are key this time of year for parents of little ones, but so is involving and training them. Here are a few things we’ve found help us train our child to be a mini-homesteader, even at a very young age. Not only will this help you have better efficiency on the homestead, but it will also allow your little one to grow and learn amazing new things.

Involvement and Patience

Even a two-year old child knows whether they are wanted or not. And while many may scoff at the idea of allowing a two-year old to help you dig in the mud, bring you small pitchers of water, and tend to the chickens — it is completely the norm on a daily basis here. And you know what, they love it. But let’s start from the beginning — it doesn’t just begin when the seed planting and other Spring chores begin, it begins during the preparation period as well.

First and foremost, patience is a virtue. If you have a newborn or child that isn’t walking yet, I hate to tell you this, but you’ll probably just have to strap that baby to you and submerge them into your daily chores — however, this might be the easiest of all ages, and they will begin to take a natural interest in your daily routine.

For toddlers and older children, keep in mind that you aren’t just letting your child help, you are literally training your child on how to become self-sufficient, reliable, disciplined and diligent. These are character traits that they will use throughout their lives, not just in homesteading and self-sufficiency. Patience, on your part, is a huge necessity. But, I promise, the outcome will be totally worth it. Your training and patience methods will depend upon your child’s personality and age. You know your child better than anyone. Never force your child to do something they don’t want to do, otherwise, they will never take interest in it. For children that are willingly eager, run with it. For older children that might not have any interest at all, take this as an opportunity to teach them on an educational level rather than just hands-on involvement. Offer them free worksheets and garden journals as an educational resource. You can find many of these for free online. This is also a great project if you homeschool, make it part of your curriculum. Explain to them the importance of self-sufficiency — not that they have to do it, but that it’s a skill that is beneficial to them now and in the future, and it is a skill that came naturally to their great-great-grandparents.

Second, involve your children (toddler and older) in the seed buying and planting process. Allow them to pick out at least one seed packet at the store or in a catalog. Even if it’s something off the wall or that you didn’t plan to plant (as long as it is suitable for your zone and preferably a transplant) — who knows, you might end up liking it! The key is finding something that they want and that they will be passionate about planting and tending to. When ready to plant indoors, set out several planters for your child. Allow them to fill them with dirt while following your instruction. In the coming weeks, whenever it is time to tend to the seedlings, involve them in every step. Do not do their work for them on their seedlings — their seedlings are their project, not yours. Give them responsibility over it. They will imitate what you do under your guidance. When it comes time for the plants to be transplanted, from beginning to end, involve them — again, allowing them to own and be responsible for their own plants. It is their responsibility to transplant, prune and harvest their crop (yes, even a toddler). The best part might be getting into the kitchen with them and letting them help you cook and preserve their harvest.

In the beginning of the process, your child may eventually become impatient, as we often do ourselves when we are excited about new growth. Share in their excitement and in their frustrations. Don’t just blow them off. While it is necessary for your child to want to be involved, it is also necessary for you to share all of the emotions, strengths and weaknesses with them in their involvement.

 

Involvement In Other Homestead Chores

My son takes more interest in tending to the animals than he does in gardening, and rightfully so. He’s a bull in a china cabinet but he has a tender soul. When we first got chickens, I hated letting him collect eggs because I just knew that he would break half of them on the way back up to the house. And the very first time that happened, I still remember it so clearly. He was so proud of himself. He had carefully walked all the way up the hill with his eggs, meticulously paying attention so that he wouldn’t drop them. He finally made it into the house and was ecstatic to show me what he had collected. He was hiding one of the eggs in his little hands behind his back and said, “Mom, guess what I have!” I turned around, and as he quickly pulled his hand from behind his back to show me the egg, his hand stopped, but the egg didn’t. Splat…right there all over the kitchen floor. His precious little heart was just broken and those big crocodile tears began. I knew then, just how important it was that my reaction not be one of condemnation, but of grace, followed by an encouraging hug and a “you are so big and helpful and you’ll do better next time, I know it.”

I get it, I do. Many times we don’t want to allow our younger children to help in other homestead chores because they are just too complicated and time consuming. Gardening is simple, other things are not. But keep in mind that a ten year old will not understand and be efficient in helping you with larger jobs around the homestead unless you involve that ten year old when he is a younger age. Here are a few age specific jobs that might help you involve your children a little better. Please understand that you know your child’s mental maturity, so these are just age ranges.

Ages 2 to 4:

Learning things by mainly watching rather than “hands-on”.


• Collecting eggs with supervision from the chicken coop.
• Helping with the garden — planting, watering, harvesting with supervision
• Feeding smaller homestead animals with supervision (chickens, dogs, barn cats)
• Crocheting and other crafts
• Watching while preserving and canning
• Cleaning up around the homestead under supervision, this includes household chores (vacuuming, sweeping, folding wash rags).

Ages 5-7:

All of the above, plus…

• Collecting eggs from the chicken coop (unsupervised)
• Helping with the garden — tending to plants under supervision but independently.
• Feeding medium sized homestead animals with limited supervision (tamed goats and livestock, chickens, etc)
• Learning how-to and milking animals under supervision.
• Cleaning up around the homestead, unsupervised for small jobs (leaves, cleaning small coops/stalls/hutches, etc), supervised for more complicated ones. This includes household chores (helping with laundry, helping prep meals)

Ages 8 and up:

If you have been doing all of the above with them, then they can move on to these next steps. Do not allow an 8 year old to do the things listed in the next level if they do not have the basic concepts and experience as mentioned above.

• Collecting eggs, feeding animals, cleaning coops/stalls and gardening independently and without supervision.
• Helping with the preserving and canning process independently and with supervision for more complicated projects.
• Milking independently with you there beside them in case help is needed and to ensure that milk is being extracted properly. If you have multiple goats or cows to milk, get them set up and then milk alongside your child. This gives them independence but also allows you to supervise.
• Helping tend to new livestock births with supervision.
• Aiding in the breeding process of livestock, incubating eggs independently with guidance, tending to smaller young livestock independently (chicks, rabbit kits, etc.)
• Tending to household chores — doing laundry (washing, drying, folding), preparing and making age appropriate meals with limited supervision, sewing and mending clothes.

These are just a few idea’s to get you started. Each homestead is different and each child is different. However, the ultimate goal is starting young (with patience) and allowing that to grow into a very handy helper and a self-sufficient child. Not only is it about having your children help around the homestead, it’s about teaching them life skills that will be so beneficial to them throughout their lives. It’s about giving them responsibility and fueling their desire to learn. And honestly, it’s about spending time with them and teaching them. The best way to learn is to watch and be submerged into it. Do not underestimate the ability of your child. If they are never given the chance to have responsibility, then you cannot blame them when they are older for not efficiently taking on responsibility. At the same time, do not overwhelm your child. Allow them to do the things they are passionate about, while watching what they aren’t as passionate about.

All in all, make planning for Spring and upcoming projects fun for your kids — and I promise, you won’t regret it in the long run!

Review | The Child Training Bible

Several months ago I purchased a Child Training Bible kit. I had seen the kits over the past year all over facebook and the internet, and I kept saying “I want this kit!!”. I knew it would be the perfect addition to our family. I kept putting it off and putting it off, and finally, I remembered to purchase it one evening, and to my delight it was a “buy one get one free” day!! Yay!! So, I decided to share the love and give the extra one away on my blog the following week 😉 That was my very first giveaway!
If you’ve never heard of the Child Training Bible (CTB), it is a wonderful tool that every household (in my opinion) should think about having! The charts fit perfectly in your Bible and the visual index is color coded to tabs and highlighted scriptures in your Bible. The charts include over 200 scripture references, heart and gospel questions, and sample prayers.

 

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*Disclaimer: While I am an herbalist, and herbalism is not regulated by the FDA, I am not a medical doctor. The recipes and tips on this website are geared towards those who want to live a more natural lifestyle.
Please use all herbal remedy recipes on this website only after doing thorough research in regard to your own health needs, and after seeking medical attention if necessary. 
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