Christmas is not my Favorite Holiday!

I loved Christmas growing up. Big family, big dinners and lots of presents; it was great! Undoubtedly , no expectations! You had to be good or else!

Growing up and moving away, getting married, divorced and becoming a single mom, whew….. life just happened! Your expectations change with each life role. Some are good and some just awful.

Let me explain.

As a single parent, life sucks! Especially when it comes to money. Not every every single parent gets help with raising their children or any household expenses. Most of the time, we work two or three jobs, try to go back to school to better ourselves and our situation or rely on our parents to help us make it through.

As any parent does, a single parent wants the best for their children, too. It just is a little bit harder to do when you can’t make ends meet. Bills come first and then I always have to decide between gas for my car and groceries. Sometimes I split it in half and pray, as God is my provider. Birthdays aren’t as hard because you’re only buying for one person. But at Christmas, you are buying for a bunch of people including your own children.

My kids had to find out early that Santa doesn’t bring all the presents. But that his spirit of gift-giving exists in all of us. I had them make Christmas lists in September and then chose, usually the least expensive things, to buy them.

They are young adults, but I still struggle. Just because your kids grow up, doesn’t mean your bills and responsibilities go away. They’re still there in great number and Christmas doesn’t go away either.

It’s an emotional time for me. I feel like a failure and inadequate as a parent. There have been times I bought Christmas presents with bill money and there have been times I paid the bills and not had very many Christmas presents. I realize it’s not about them and the way they feel, but about me and how I grew up and feel about myself. I wanted my one parent household (me) to look and feel like my two parent household (my parents).

I know my kids love me no matter what they get because they tell me. They know how hard I’ve struggled all these years because they tell me. I know they appreciate the life I have given to them because they don’t want to grow up. But the feeling of loss doesn’t go away with words or actions. You must grieve and then move on. You must allow yourself to feel the pain of what once was so that forgiveness and redemption can cover the loss. Then you can move on.

Even though Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday, I do have one! It is Thanksgiving because there are no expectations! I just bring the rolls!

Children and Technology: What is Appropriate?

In our technological society today, we pick up a child from school and give them a phone or tablet and we don’t have to engage with them, talk about their day or even speak to them. I am so guilty of this also. It’s so easy to do this, but what happens is we allow our children to learn from the internet. Do we really want our 3-16 year olds watching YouTube videos of whatever in the car or in their rooms all alone? Do we really know what they are watching? Do we want to have to re-teach simple skills to our children because we were too busy or to lazy?

I find myself in this web (literally) every Sunday afternoon. It’s my quiet time, my me time, time to myself. But when my grandson is finished playing outside with friends, he goes into his room to play video games and watch YouTube. I’m not saying YouTube is bad, I’m saying we need to monitor what our children watch and listen to. They can learn a lot from what they see on the TV, internet and video games, but not in a good way.

Then they bring this knowledge to school, church, shopping, etc. And it is not appropriate. They can’t separate from what they see because they haven’t been taught the difference. Some children believe that what is happening on TV is real or what is being said they can say. But they can’t!

Children need to see us, hear us and listen to us. We need to see our children, hear our children and listen to our children. The worst scenario is at a restaurant where mom and dad are on the phone and the children are bored because they aren’t doing anything. So they are fighting with the silverware, sugar, ketchup or whatever they can find and get reprimanded because they are making a mess.

Talk to your children, find out what they are interested in and let them know what you’re interested in. Have a conversation! Make up a story! Sing songs, make up songs, read a book together or tell a joke and laughed so hard you want to pee on yourself. Be all there! I know, that’s me too! My grandson and I have the most fun doing this at bedtime.   And what really funny is we are not getting ourselves sleepy by doing this. We are actually keeping ourselves awake, but we are having fun.

Find some way to connect to your child and keep them away from things you know are too old for them and things they spend way too much time on. The internet is an interesting and helpful place, but only if used appropriately.

 

Teach your child at home!

I know this message will step on some toes as well as mine. But this needs to be addressed.

Children are born with no knowledge of how to do anything but cry, eat, sleep, poop and pee. Everything else is taught! Not by the teacher, but by the parent. Your child learns everything from you and the people they are around, good or bad! The Bible, written a long time ago said, “Start off children on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Before leaving home to attend school, with exception to special needs, children should know how to sit in a chair and at the table, respect adults, eat with a spoon, treat others nicely, listen to adults, use the bathroom by themselves, wash their hands, put on their clothes, say please and thank you, maybe “Yes, mam” and “No, mam” or (Sir), wait their turn, and clean up after themselves. This only names a few.

I teach and some kids can’t do these things. A teacher has more than just your child in their class. They have a lot of children who also cannot do these things. Our job is to enhance skills already taught by the parent. Not to teach skills that should be taught at home.

Think about the way you were taught! Someone, before you came to school, taught you how to do these things and more. No one comes to school not knowing how to walk unless there is a medical issue.   Teaching basic need skills are taught by parents from babies all the way to forever.   You will know what your child is learning by what you are teaching them. I know what the children in my class can and cannot do. I know what they need and don’t need. I’ve only had them for 6 months. You have your kids forever, do you know what they know or don’t know? Do you know what they need and don’t need?

A child does not know how to do anything unless they are taught, good things or bad things. What we teach them is what they give back. What someone else teaches them is what they give back. Words, phases, gestures, body language, etc. are taught to them. They see and they do, they hear and they say, we act and they react. If something we do or say or act is wrong or inappropriate, we have to let them know it’s wrong and why. We can’t just laugh it off or ignore it. It will continue until they are taught it’s wrong. We don’t want it to be too late.

Our kids will one day be adults who live on their own and have jobs. What will we see then? Young adults with manners, integrity, honor and respect or rude, jobless, live at home, rebellious children. I chose to believe that wrong can be made right, but it takes more than just the one teacher in a classroom full of children to set the record straight.

As the saying goes: It takes a village to raise a child (African Proverb) that means it takes everyone!

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Genesis 2:18-25

During a sermon at church Sunday, my pastor, Richard Myers, preached this message, Blood, Sweat and Tears. It is a sermon series about relationships. Sunday’s message was about marriage, but not being married, I saw it a different way. But for your benefit, you can insert the word marriage where I inserted children/parents.

Being a parent is hard work. You can’t have a kid and expect it to be easy peasy because it is not. It will be fun and interesting, but never easy! So while I was listening to this message I realized that after all these years, I haven’t done such a bad job! They are not dead and I’m not dead. We survived! I mean, it’s not like they come with an instruction book! But there were things I could’ve done different or even should’ve. With this new found knowledge based on the bible, I had a second chance to teach my young adult children and my grandson what I had missed.

  1. I won’t act like I am single or have no children. We have to shift our perspective from “Me” to “We”. There’s no room for “Me” when you have children. Ask yourself, how will this impact my children? That’s a tough question. I know I should do this when I watch TV. (Hawaii five-0 and Bones) I know my grandson shouldn’t see shooting and sometimes hear a curse word or see bloody bodies, etc. Maybe I could watch them when he goes to sleep and watch TV or play video games with him. “Just because we are in the same house doesn’t mean we are spending time together”, my daughter use to say; a very wise girl.
  2. I need to show action not just intention. Work on your relationship with your children. Your relationship with your children is a work in progress. Children do not know how to do anything unless they are taught! Let me repeat that! Children do not know how to do anything unless they are taught! This means things that are good and bad for them. We can’t expect our children to know what we mean when we say, “Pick up your toys”, when we haven’t shown them how to do it. They need your help with everything! I mean EVERYTHING! Don’t wait until they get to school and say,” Let the Teacher teach them!” Their first teacher is you and should be YOU! Remember, whatever they learn, they learn from YOU first! So be careful, they repeat words, actions, patterns and attitudes. When we ask them, “Where did you learn that from?” We immediately want to blame someone, but when they say,”You, mom or dad” we have to forgive ourselves, let our children know we make mistakes and try to do better.
  3. Every good relationship deserves encouraging words. Try this: If you think of something good about your children; say it out loud and to them, even to others while in front of them. As a Teacher, I correct kids all day, every day. I also need to remember to encourage my students by looking for ways to praise them; as well as my own kids and grandson at home. It’s really hard to see the positive and praise it, when you can’t look past the negative. I need to do better at this. When I pray, I want God to change my children and students, but God wants to change me. I can’t change them, but I can change me! I should be the best I can be, do the best I can and let God do the rest!
  4. Forgiveness is not fault-finding. Stop keeping a record of what your children do wrong and start keeping a record of what they are doing right. Don’t bring up past things. Keep the past in the past. We don’t like it when our children bring up what we promised to do and didn’t do, again. Our children don’t like to be reminded of their wrongs either. We all have feelings, the same feelings. What hurts us hurts them. When God forgives us of our sin, it’s gone, never to be known again. He doesn’t bring it back up every time we ask for his forgiveness for the same thing or a different thing. It doesn’t exist! We should follow our Heavenly Father’s example. Forgive and Forget. A new day, a new start! A do-over! Things change when you’re a parent, as they should.  Healthy parenting consistently lives with an attitude of forgiveness. (Ephesians 4:32)

Being a parent has been the most scary, rewarding, hard, loving, maddening, meaningful journey of my life. Having a healthy and satisfying relationship with my children has been an on-going battle, but one I’m willing to fight! Keep pushing, keep pounding, keep loving and learning. Do your very best and let God do the rest! You are a GREAT PARENT!