Month: February 2016

Never Say No…

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Not that long ago my husband found a book by the parents of Jon and Tim Foreman, from the band Switchfoot. The book is shown above and titled Never Say No. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has just had children, interacts with kids, has grandchildren/nieces/nephews/teaches. It is a book about parenting but goes so much deeper than that and I believe could be beneficial for anyone who interacts with children in any capacity.

When we had the twins, Kidran and Cohen, it became a pivotal moment in our lives. At the time Bryan was working in a film business called Gravity Films and was able to create this lasting memento for us. When I watch this video it reminds me of all the desires and passions I had and have about being a parent. We eagerly anticipated the arrival of our beautiful sons and once they were here our parenting started.

In those early days I was sleep deprived so researching books on parenting was not high on my priority list. Still I knew I wanted to be the best parent I could be. I had ideas about how we would raise our children, thoughts on parenting, etc. Over time we looked at many books, blogs, websites and read quite a bit on parenting. Yet nothing seemed to capture the essence of what we hoped to pass on to our boys. Then Bryan found this book. Both Bryan and I are reading it and there are great discussion questions at the end of each chapter that come up in our conversations as we read. It puts into words so much of our natural instincts as parents and also challenges me on the days when I am tempted to sit back and not practice my parenting skills.

The other day I began reading a chapter on Creative Space. I read this passage and paused on it:

Are we helping our children kindle their own interests, or are we always the ones carrying the match and wood? I must continually ask: Is this opportunity going to destroy or enhance my child’s ability to choose? How am I enabling that God-given incentive—or am I usurping its power?

Give a toddler a dazzling rainbow-colored gadget, with push-button tunes and automated movement, and the child will end up playing with its box. What every child wants are open-ended choices, not scripted options. It may seem that the kindest work of a parent is to ease this burden of choice, but this cripples the child for real life that demands muscular decisions in adulthood. (Page 106-107 Never Say No)

As parents we want to make our kids lives as memorable and enjoyable as possible. I have seen many people over the years interpret these desires. Some give their kids everything under the sun, ensuring that their child is not without every new gadget or article of clothing. Others interpret it as a mandate for safety, wrapping their kids in cotton wool to protect them from the harsh realities of a sometimes cruel world. Other times parents interpret it to mean praising your child whether they are deserving of the praise or not, encouraging children in areas where maybe a more realistic view would have been appropriate.

Hands up, I will admit that I have a bit of each of these approaches in me. Still there is something deeper that rises to the surface. I want my children to be able to leave my house someday and enter the world knowing who they are, what they are good at, not afraid of the world, excited to embark on the adventure of their one precious life.

In order to do that, I have to daily take my hands off the steering wheels of their lives. I have to let them make choices. So many times I catch myself wanting to step in and make the choice for them, or help them choose the option that keeps them from falling off the couch. Our house is their miniature world to explore and adventure in. If I keep stepping in and protect them from making choices in our wee world I stunt their personal growth ability to make choices on a grander scale. Of course this is within reason. If I see impending serious danger approaching I will stop them. Yet so much of their life right now is exploration, wonder and a sense of awe at the small and big things. Every time Cohen sees a bird fly by our window he lets out an ‘Oooooooh’ and gets excited. Sometimes Kidran jumps and ends up falling down because his coordination is developing. They are experiencing life and are starting to make their own choices.

I am not saying that we never step in as I mentioned earlier but maybe the next time you go to protect or preserve your precious little one, look to the future. Are you helping them build the mental muscles that they will need in adulthood?

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Savour…

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The past few mornings have not been so enjoyable. Bryan has been away since Monday morning on a pretty intense coaching course in Belfast. All of us seemed to come down with another dose of the cold right before he left. This means the boys have been grumpy, hard to please and a bit on edge. So these last few days have felt long and more like an endurance race to get to bedtime than anything else. (Thank you to my friends who called and hung out, helping to see the end of those days:) )

This morning was different. The cold seems to be shifting. The boys were laughing and playing more like their normal selves. We even attempted their first bit of art. At least that’s what I call giving my boys watercolour pencils and paper to play with anyway. I love seeing their little hands in this picture. The moment caused my breath to catch and I stood back in awe. It literally lasted all of 5 seconds so a moment was all I had.

Later on in the morning though I gave in to turning the TV on for a few minutes before nap time. Don’t judge me but our boys love music and their videos. They love to dance and bop to nearly every tune they hear. I guess that’s why I allow it, because when Cohen shakes his booty it’s about the cutest thing you ever saw and when Kidran gets his arms pumping you know he feels the music. I. Love. It. May music always fill our house!!

While the TV was on, Cohen crawled up onto my lap, snuggled in and pressed his cheek to my cheek. We stayed like that for at least 15 minutes which in Cohen’s fast-paced world is nearly eternity. A lump caught in my throat and a tear crept into my eye. My little boy wanted to be with me and I wanted to be with him. Full stop. There was nothing more to it. But yet there was so much more. These were the moments I dreamt of all those years when we couldn’t get pregnant. These precious little hands, toes and cheeks were what I longed to hold. And yes, some days feel very long but already the years feel short. While I sat there holding Cohen, I could see him and Kidran at 18. I could see them as young men. I could see the depth of life that will fill their big, blue eyes. I could see how beautiful and rich these memories would be in the years to come. Thank you God for moments such as these. I encountered you today through my sons. Through their smiles. Through their laughter. Through playing hide and seek with them. I worshipped you when I fed them breakfast and changed their dirty nappies. My relationship with you these days is a lot less books and journaling and a whole lot more tangible. I am learning what true delight is and I love it. Thank you Abba for the gift of Kidran and Cohen. They are hands down our richest gifts from you.