family

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….

 

Don’t Leave Your Family Behind…

I love gardening. I love my chickens and the warm egg in my pocket on a crisp fall day. I love picking tomatoes off of a dew dripping vine. I love the process of adding new and exciting animals to our homestead, hopefully soon to include a dairy cow. All in good time. We’ll see.

My brain goes 100 mph each and every day.

I love this life. But you know what I love more?

my family…

I am absolutely in love with my family.

I am absolutely nothing without them. I couldn’t do this without them and their support. I would literally have no real reason to want to be here without them. Homestead in one hand, family in the other….I’d choose family every single time.

I love the little boy giggles in the morning, when he crawls into my bed with just his cute little boy underwear on because, well, I just can’t keep clothes on him most days. That white skin, though. It sure is bright first thing in the morning.

I love the touch of my husband, when he wraps his arms around me and kisses my shoulder while I’m washing dishes. I love how boyishly playful he can still be when he expresses his love to this woman that he married over a decade ago. I love how hard working he is, how dedicated he is, how strong he is.

But there are days when I become distracted. This or that needs to be done, or my life revolves around a farm animal or project, writing a book, researching until my heart is content. And, my family goes to the wayside.

And it’s then that I remind myself of these words…don’t leave your family behind for homesteading.

 

You have 18 summers with your children. Only 18 summers. In my case, I only have 10 more left. Just 10 more summers left. My heart aches.

There’s no telling how long your spouse will be around. You may only have 3 more years, or maybe it’s 30. But who can tell? Though, I pray mine lives for at least 60 more years.

Take the vacation…

Take a weekend and camp at the river…

Take a day trip and enjoy quality time with your family…

There will always be animals to feed, milk, and care for.  There will always be a garden that needs weeding and vegetables that need canning, bread that needs baking and a house that needs cleaning. But there will not always be a family that needs tending to.

In the homesteading world, you make connections with people locally, even family, that can tend to your farm while you’re away. People who would gladly barter for the milk they milk, the eggs they collect, and the vegetables they pick while you’re way. The farm will be fine, if you can let go of the reins a bit. It will all be ok.

And if you can’t financially make it happen, then the amount of quality time you spend with your family is equally as important, even if it’s right in your own home. Play the game. Tell the jokes. Roast the marshmallows.

As homesteaders, we believe in a better quality of life. We believe in living a natural lifestyle. That doesn’t mean we believe in leaving our family behind while we go and live it.

Love your babies. Love your husband. Make them feel special. Because you have a limited amount of time with your family. Make the pancakes your kids want in the morning. Stretch your time a bit and play that card game they’ve been begging you to play. Instead of rushing out to do chores, sit a little longer with your husband who’s just come in from a long day of work. And when he says, “let’s get away”, smile and say, without hesitation “ok”.

And we did…we went right down to that river right behind our house. And we loved being a family…

Don’t leave your family behind for homesteading. Because your family needs you more than anything else in the world. You, mama. Just you.

The Lost Skill of Serving Your Family

My grandmother’s house is always clean. Even to this day, when she can’t get around much, it’s clean. She still makes dinner most evenings. She takes granddad’s plate to him, pours him an ice cold glass of milk, and then makes her plate. When she was in her prime, you wouldn’t see her sit down once during the holidays. She was in the kitchen all day, cleaning up while everyone sat down to eat, and then after almost all of us had left, she’d finally eat her food. She would tell us that she wanted to enjoy our company, so she wanted to clean up quickly and then she would sit down and enjoy her family.

Her household was her sanctuary. It was her priority. It was the one job that she was taught to do well, above all else. And you know what? She loved doing it.

I have to admit, being a housewife is not my greatest accomplishment.  It is a daily learning experience for me. I am constantly learning new things about being a good wife, a good mother, and a good housekeeper. I am constantly becoming. And while we seem to have more distractions in today’s world, it’s no excuse.

Serving your family is just as much a needed skill in today’s society as is chopping wood, building fences, and being self-sufficient. And it’s almost looked down upon in our society of “everyone can do everything”. But I think there’s something to say about the touch of a woman. The gentleness, even the toughest of women can exuberate. The quiet spirit when making coffee before the sun rises, or kneading bread in the dead of winter.

Have we lost the joy of serving and tending to our families?

Maybe it looks like making your husband his dinner plate in the evenings, or teaching your children how to put their clothes away. Maybe it looks like sewing your husband’s ripped jeans, or even the simple act of freshening up before he gets home after a long day at work. Sometimes it looks like preserving summer’s garden bounty while your babies play in mud puddles—it looks like sweaty kisses and hard work with your hands in the dirt. Other times it looks like laying in bed with your son, talking about all the frogs and lizards he caught today, before his precious eyes fall asleep. Or maybe it’s the simple gesture of rubbing your husband’s back after a long day outside.

But more importantly, it means that you put your family first—before your career, before your wants, and before your homestead or feminist world views.

 

As I grow as a homesteader, I grow as a homemaker. And there is something that shifts with each passing day. While I often brag about how I tend to smaller livestock on my own and garden on my own, or how I’m a strong and independent woman, the reality is that I am just as any other woman. I am just as any other wife who loves to lean on her husband at times, and who has a husband who willingly allows me to. Because he is just as any other man who values the simplicity of a woman. I am a woman who wants to be loved and who wants to love, but who is not afraid to work alongside of her husband, nor one who needs validation from him. For me, in all of these years of marriage and few years of motherhood, I have grown to realize that I fall more and more in love with homemaking everyday—with serving my family every day. As each year passes, I get a little better with housework…with home cooked meals…with having a clean kitchen and getting the laundry done.

Many people criticize a modern homemaker. The belief that we don’t have a job or that we sit home and twiddle our thumbs all day is often heard. And while I do have a work from home position, I find my mind wandering more and more to the daily life of serving my household with joy. I find myself wishing I had more time to tend to the ways of my household. I find myself making more time to tend to the ways of my household.

And do you know what is most beautiful? The art of this lost skill, and the joy that abounds within it.

There is so much joy in stepping back and looking at a clean kitchen before bedtime, knowing you won’t be stressed come morning when it’s time to make lunches for those leaving early, and breakfast for those staying home.

There is so much joy in providing your family with home cooked meals that provides necessary nutrients for their body.

There is so much joy in knowing that you’ve put away canned goods for the winter time, or that the wood stove is going for when the boys come inside from working hard, or that they will never be in want of clothing, because you can mend them. “When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.” Proverbs, 21:21

There is so much joy in knowing that your husband and children have clean clothes in their closets and drawers. Though, this is one of my hardest chores to complete. I’m a work in progress, what can I say.

There is equally as much joy in teaching your little girls to be helpful, but hard workers as well, and to teach your little boys to be hard workers with loving spirits….and that it’s always ok to love on those you love.

And there is no greater joy than having your husband wrap his arms around you and say, “thank you for joyfully serving our family”. Or having your children hug you and say, “mom, that was the best meal I’ve ever had.”

Through out scripture there were many strong women, many homemakers, many warriors. We all had a place, it was always a different place. But if one thing connected all of us, it is that we made sure we tended to our families and served them if we had a husband and children. I consider homemaking one of the greatest treasures you can provide your children. A testimony of unconditional love and self-giving. A trait that not only builds your character, but theirs. A skill that provides your children with organization, and the knowledge to know how to survive. Because after all, a good homemaker isn’t just doing it all, she’s an example to all. 

Listen, we all fail. I fail every single day at being a homemaker. We always fail in some way or another. Some days I am short tempered, I just hide it well. Some days I am ready to throw in the towel and say forget about it. Some days I don’t want to do it—some days I wake up at 4:30 a.m. to send my husband off to work, and I moan and groan about being up at the butt crack of dawn. Yes, I just said butt crack of dawn. I’m normal…sue me…

But the older I get, the more joy I find it this homemaking skill. Is it a gender role? Certainly. I firmly (spiritually and scientifically) believe that women are more unconditionally loving than men. We are more emotional and tender-hearted. We are driven by different desires. I believe that women offer a character trait and gender trait that a men cannot provide. Just as I feel that men offer character traits and gender traits that women cannot provide. We were created differently in God’s eyes so that we could fit together and fill the empty spots that the other lacks, or be full-filled by the overflowing cups that the other sustains—our cup runneth over. But I also believe that we all must work together in the grand scheme of things.

So today, as I challenge myself to continue to grow in the lost skill of serving my family, I encourage you to join me if being a successful homemaker is something you desire. It has taken me many years to finally “desire” to be a homemaker—to love the job of wife, mom, homemaker, homesteader, personal chef, chicken wrangler, harvester, and preserver. It’s not just about putting away laundry and wiping runny noses. It’s not just about making home cooked meals and mopping the floor. It’s about serving.

It’s about knowing the ins and outs of home medical needs. It’s about knowing the best ways to preserve and sustain. It’s about understanding the need to have organization, and a servants heart. And for the past several years (since having a child), it is something I have grown in, and will always grow in, because joy overflows in the midst of it all, and I am forever a student.

That very same joy runs deeply through the veins of our entire household, pumping life into each limb. When our household is in order, all of us are in order. Our minds are less cluttered, there is less tension, there is more time to spend quality time together.

Serving your family isn’t something to be ridiculed, but something to be honored, embraced, and perfected as a skill, especially if you’re on a journey of homesteading.

And if nothing more, who doesn’t enjoy having a clean house, a home cooked meal, and a happy husband and children.

Happy Homesteading…and Happy Homemaking.

 

 

Thanksgiving On Our Homestead

My grandmother and Jr striking a pose!
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday. Mostly, because we get to eat lots of food and not feel guilty for it. If you feel guilty, stop it. Stop it right now.
Thanksgiving is always very wishy washy for us. When we first got married, we tried to go to “everyone’s” house. And then, we decided to go to no one’s house. And then, we decided to mix it up each year. In year’s past, we’ve had an early Thanksgiving with extended family up at Graves Mountain Lodge. They have a buffet style lunch and dinner every weekend, and we just love it. It’s one of our favorite places to go.
So we decided to go up the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It was fantastic. And then, for Thanksgiving day, I decided to make my own meal for just the three of us—of which we’ve been eating off of ever since!

I cooked a traditional Thanksgiving meal for us on Thursday, and it was a hit. In fact, my husband followed it with, “you’ve really doomed our child….he’s going to be disappointed if he marries a woman that doesn’t know how to cook!” I laughed, of course. But deep down inside it gave me a sense of gratitude and pride. It’s nice to be able to raise the bar high for my son, but I simply pray each day that he’ll be blessed with the woman that he wants to marry, not who I want him to marry. Of course, we’ll strive for that farm girl who knows how to cook biscuits….though, I don’t think we’ll have to push him too hard!

So, here’s what was on the menu….

The regular stuff, you know. We bought a 20 lb turkey from our local grocery store for only $8. Yes, hallelujah, praise the Lord. And you better believe we stocked up on turkey too. A deal that low, you can’t pass it up.
Then we had sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, yeast rolls, corn pudding, a homemade pumpkin pie, stuffing, turkey dripping gravy, and I think that was about it!

You can watch my morning of cooking below….

We hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving!!

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