Tag Archive | jennifer flanders

Why God Made Mothers

I woke up this morning with the following verses forming in my head, so in honor of Mother’s Day (and at the risk of stating the obvious) here’s why I think God gave us mothers:

Happy Mother's Day from www.flandersfamily.info

Why God Made Mothers

by Jennifer Flanders

For giving birth — as moms do best,
For nursing babies at her breast,
For singing lullabies at night
For soothing fears and hugging tight,
For wiping teardrops from my eye
And sympathizing when I cry
While kissing boo-boos on my knee,
For bringing out the best in me,
For teaching me to tie a lace,
For using spit to clean my face,
For rocking me upon her lap
Cajoling me to take my nap,
For baking cookies by the batch,
For making sure the doors are latched
At night before she goes to bed,
For placing cold rags on my head
Whenever I am feeling sick
And fetching throw-up buckets, quick!
For bringing me “just one more” drink,
For understanding how I think,
For daily lifting me in prayer,
For combing tangles from my hair,
For teaching me to blow my nose,
For scrubbing stains out of my clothes,
For reading stacks of picture books,
For complimenting my good looks
And calling me endearing names,
For driving me to football games,
For watching o’er me as I play,
For spanking when I disobey,
For letting me help wash the dishes
After dinner — so delicious,
Coaxing me to eat green beans,
For being patient in my teens,
For measuring how fast I grow,
For holding on, for letting go,
For all the many things you do,
I’m grateful, Mom, God gave me you.

Great Advice for Busy Wives

Great Advice for Busy Wives | a book review and giveaway from Loving Life at HomeI’ve been seeing advertisements for Heidi St. John’s book, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance, for years now.

From the first time I spotted that adorable picture of Heidi on the cover, I knew it was a book I would enjoy. But being the busy homeschool mom that I am, I didn’t get around to ordering a copy until a couple of weeks ago.

Once it arrived, I blazed through it quickly. It’s a fast read, but chock full of godly wisdom and practical advice for busy wives at every age and stage of life (whether they’re homeschooling moms or not).

In it, I found such jewels as this:

“…the best mothering is borne out of an overflow of a strong, committed marriage. Loving your husband is a choice. Seeing him as God’s gift to you is a powerful thing. Every day that you share with the husband of your youth is a day that you can choose to love him with the kind of passion that God meant for you to enjoy.”

And this (which is applicable not only to homeschooling, but to any other job or extra-curricular involvement, as well):

“Remember, your calendar will reflect your priorities. Most busy homeschool moms don’t choose curriculum with their husbands in mind. But I’m here to tell you that if your curriculum leaves you cold and exhausted at the end of the day, it’s time to find a curriculum that is more suited to helping you put the priority on your marriage.”

And also this:

“To ignore the sexual needs of your husband or to reject his advances is to tear at the fabric of who you are as a couple. Don’t be fooled into thinking sex doesn’t matter. It does. Neglect this part of your marriage and you will suffer devastating results.”

At the same time, Heidi offers hope, even for marriages that seem irreparably lost. I love the analogy she uses of Jesus speaking life back into the dead body of Jarius’s 12-year-old daughter (Matthew 9:18-26). Just as Christ quickened that beloved child and restored her to health, He can breathe life and warmth and beauty back into a desperate, dead, or dying marriage.

Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your HusbandI am so convinced you will be blessed by this book that I’ve decided to give a copy away for Valentine’s Day. And because romance goes hand-in-hand with respect, I’m also including a copy of my new book (25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband) in the giveaway. Enter here for your chance to win:

DISCLOSURE: This is NOT a sponsored post. Although it does contain affiliate links, it was written without Heidi St. John’s knowledge or consent, and the books offered in this giveaway were not donated for that purpose, but have been bought and paid for by me.

Turn Your Thinking Around

Have you bought into society’s low view of marriage? It’s time to turn your thinking around. Read through the following statements from top to bottom, then bottom to top. Which better reflects what you believe? (Personally, I believe this is one instance that backward thinking makes the best sense).

It's Time to Turn Your Thinking Around : Re-examining What We Believe about Marriage | Loving Life at Home

What Society Teaches about Marriage:
(read top to bottom)

Modern day marriages don’t last
That is why
You should only look out for #1
It is foolish to think
You can live happily ever after
By giving your all
To build up your man
Take whatever measures are necessary
To maintain your autonomy
Don’t worry about trying
To give 110%
Always remember instead
That marriage is a 50-50 proposition
Don’t think for a minute
Your husband will respond in kind
If you treat him with respect
That’s a lie
Being a submissive wife makes you a doormat
I don’t believe
Marriage is worth the sacrifice

What Christianity Teaches about Marriage:
(read bottom to top)

“Turn Your Thinking Around: Time to Reconsider What We’ve Been Taught about Marriage”
Copyright Jennifer Flanders, 2014. First published on Loving Life at Home

New Devotionals for a New Year

The Reason for the Season

In an effort to keep the focus on Christ at Christmas, I offer you this poem as a humble reminder of the miracle we celebrate this season. May it ever echo in our hearts!

Heaven Song: May the miracle of Christmas ever echo in our hearts!

Heaven Song

A girl once lived in Galilee–
Let Heaven and nature sing
Whom God sent Gabriel to see.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
Her name was Mary. She was young.
The angel called, “Hail, favored one,
“The Child you bear shall be God’s Son.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Then Mary asked, “How can this be?”
Let Heaven and nature sing.
“I’ve never known a man,” said she.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
“Fear not,” said Gabriel, “it is true.
“God’s Spirit shall o’ershadow you.
“The Babe will bring salvation, too.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

So Mary paused to testify,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
“The Lord’s handmaiden am but I.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.
Then joy within her heart was stirred,
“My soul doth magnify the Lord.
“May it be according to His word.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Soon Caesar issued a decree,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
Commanding all to pay a fee.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
So Mary, being great with Child,
Was put upon a donkey mild
And led by Joseph through the wild.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

They traveled unto Bethlehem.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
The inns there had room for them.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
Yet one innkeeper pity took
On seeing Mary’s heavy look
And showed them to a stable nook.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

There it was God’s Son was born–
Let Heaven and nature sing
In the wee small hours of the morn.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
‘Twas in that dark and dusty place,
The Virgin Mother, full of grace,
First looked upon her Savior’s face.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

As shepherds watched their flocks by night,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
Lo, they beheld a wondrous light,
Let Heaven and nature sing.
To them an angel did appear
Who told the shepherds, “Do not fear,
“I bring you tidings of great cheer.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

“Good will be yours, and peace on earth,”
Let Heaven and nature sing,
“For I proclaim Messiah’s birth.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.
“A Child is born to you this day
“And in a manger now doth lay
“Upon a bed of fresh, sweet hay.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Then hosts of angels filled the sky,
Let Heaven and nature sing:
“All glory be to God most high,”
Let Heaven and nature sing!
And when the angels went away
The shepherds all began to say,
“We must go see this Child today.”
Let Heaven and nature sing.

In haste to Bethlehem they trod,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
To find the infant Son of God.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
All wrapped in swaddling clothes was He,
The One the shepherds came to see
With humble hearts, on bended knee.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Some wise men traveled from afar–
Let Heaven and nature sing
Led by a bright and burning star.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
“Frankincense, gold, and myrrh we bring
“As homage to the newborn King,”
They spake as they were worshipping.
Let Heaven and nature sing.

May all join in this song of old,
Let Heaven and nature sing,
The one the prophets long foretold,
Let Heaven and nature sing.
Emanuel, this Babe so small,
Was born within a cattle stall–
The Word made flesh, the Lord of all!
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Almighty God, the Prince of Peace–
Let Heaven and nature sing
Did come to purchase our release.
Let Heaven and nature sing.
He came to open Heaven’s door
To you and me forevermore.
O come, ye faithful, Christ adore!
Let Heaven and nature sing.

Let all creation find its voice–
Let Heaven and nature sing
And in the Lamb of God rejoice.
Let Heaven and nature sing!
Christ came to take away our sin
If we’ll but put our trust in Him
So that we might be born again.
Let Heaven and nature sing–
All Heaven and nature sing!

– Jennifer Flanders, 2013

Then Comes Baby in a Baby Carriage

Children Produce AdultsPeter DeVries once said, “The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults.”

I think both processes are important, but have nonetheless found his point to be true. Having children does tend to mature us faster and better than we might expect to mature without them.

When my husband and I first married, the prevailing wisdom of the time was that a couple should wait five or six years before starting a family. They should get on their feet, perhaps buy a house, and certainly take time to get to know one another before bringing a baby into the picture.

Life didn’t work out that way for us.

God overruled any half-hearted attempts we considered making to prevent pregnancy (which were essentially none at all), and I conceived just two short weeks into our honeymoon.

Thus began our true metamorphoses into adults.

My husband and I were both firstborn, and we both had the stubborn, selfish, self-centered personality so often associated with that birth order. Thankfully, children have a way of working such things out of a parent. Of knocking off the rough edges. Of teaching us to put another ahead of ourselves. (The fact that we still struggle with selfishness at all — even after twelve children — is an indication of just how bad the problem was to begin with).

We have found that having children, having a lot of them, and having them early has been good for our mindset. It has caused us to look at the world differently, giving us a heightened awareness of danger and a fierce desire to protect our little ones from any and every threat, be it physical, spiritual or philosophical in nature. It has shifted our focus away from self.


From the moment I first found out I was expecting, motherhood has compelled me to consider carefully the foods I eat, the hours I sleep, the words I speak, the books I read, and the company I keep. It has forced me to think through where to store cleaning supplies, sharp objects, fragile heirlooms, and photo albums. It’s helped me remember to take my vitamins. It has kept me on my knees in prayer.

I-never-knewHaving babies has been good for my marriage, as well as my mindset. Not only has being a parent changed the way I look at the world, but it has changed the way I look at my husband.

I never knew how much I love him, until I saw how much he loves them.

As newlyweds, we were told that we should get to know one another before having a baby. In reality, having a baby allowed us to get to know each other in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without the baby.

Watching my husband kiss and cuddle and coo over our firstborn simply melted my heart. (He has done this with every one of our babies, to the same effect).

Hearing him spontaneously break into song — usually some silly rhyme or nonsensical verse he composes on the spot, such as “Oh, my smokin’ goodness, this little baby is a toodness” — has never failed to bring a smile to my face or to theirs.

I’ve enjoyed watching him teach our children to tie their laces and scramble eggs and ride a bike and swing a bat and start a lawnmower and drive a car.

I’ve admired his clear instruction, his boundless energy, his patience, and his sense of humor.

I’ve watched my husband keep vigil over a sick child, have marked the concern in his eyes, have heard him pray earnestly on their behalf. When at 23 months, our first son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, he spent a week at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, and Doug never left his side.

My husband works tirelessly, gives lavishly, and loves wholeheartedly. He walks in integrity (Prov. 20:7), and his wife and children are blessed because of it. He chooses to do the right thing and to do it faithfully, even when his motives are misunderstood and his sacrifices unappreciated.

Watching the way Doug parents, seeing the tender care with which he leads our family, has filled my heart to overflowing with a deep, abiding love and appreciation for the magnificent man I married.

And so, on Father’s Day (and the day after, and the day after), I want to honor the father of my children and to thank him for his willingness to be a father twelve times over (or more, should God so bless).

Thank you, Doug Flanders. I love you dearly. It’s been great growing up together.

What Spiders Know that Moms Forget

What Spiders Know That Moms ForgetMoms are amazing. They birth babies. They make milk. They keep their household humming.

But spiders are pretty savvy, too. They spin silk. They weave webs. They provide for public pest control.

I’m not saying spiders are smarter than moms, but many mothers — myself included — could learn a few things from spiders in general and from one spider in particular: Charlotte A. Cavatica, the extraordinary and especial friend of Wilbur the Pig.

  1. Life is Full of Changes
  2. The sooner we accept this fact, the better. Seasons change. Circumstances change. Friends come and go. We grow older. Children leave home. Time passes. There is no stopping it.

    Charlotte lived her life to the fullest, savoring the small pleasures each day presented. She chose to be grateful for what she had instead of resentful over what she lacked. Shouldn’t we do the same?

    “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

  3. The Work Never Ends
  4. A spider doesn’t build one web and expect it to last forever. She knows her work must be done and redone (sort of like laundry and housecleaning), and she labors at it without complaint.

    This is the nature of both life and work: both call for much repetition. Grumbling about that fact does not make the tasks any easier.

    “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” – Colossians 3:23

  5. Calm Begets Calm
  6. When Wilbur first learned that he was destined for Zuckerman’s dinner table, he went immediately and understandably berserk. His hysterics might have worked the entire farmyard into a frenzy had Charlotte’s coolheaded composure not diffused the situation. Her confident reassurances helped soothe the pig’s nerves and settle him down.

    That’s the sort of woman I want to be: not one who is easily agitated or upset, but one whose presence calms and comforts everyone around me.

    “Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”
    – Michael Caine

  7. Worrying Won’t Solve Anything
  8. Worrying may be many mothers’ modus operandi, but it accomplishes nothing except to make yourself and everyone around you miserable. And to what end? “Which of you, by worrying, can add a single moment to your life?” (Luke 12:25)

    Charlotte told Wilbur — just as Jesus tells us — to STOP worrying. She would save him; he needn’t fret or despair. She suggested Wilbur attend instead to matters over which he exercised some measure of control: he should eat well, chew slowly, get plenty of sleep, and keep fit (all very good advice, indeed).

    She assured him it would all work out. She would find a solution. He could sleep in peace. And to the degree Wilbur was able to trust her promises, he was able to rest undisturbed.

    “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” – Philippians 4:6

  9. Patience Is a Virtue
  10. Charlotte was no slacker. She was a meticulous craftsman, versatile and industrious. She knew how to work.

    But she also knew how to wait. She didn’t expect immediate results or instant gratification. Even after her web was spun and her trap was set, she realized it might be awhile before some stray bug became ensnared in it. But she was content to wait. She was patient.

    She tackled Wilbur’s problem in that same methodical, unhurried manner. She thought about it. She mulled it over. She gave it careful consideration. She slept on it. She hung upside down, so her blood would go to her brain, and patiently waited for an idea to come. She fully expected a solution would eventually occur to her. And in time, it did.

    We live in a culture that worships speed. We want everything, and we want it now. But faster is not necessarily better. Those things we gain instantly and with little effort are seldom as satisfying as those for which we must work and wait.

    Waiting builds patience. Patience is good. And the most important things in life take time.

    “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams

  11. Mind What Matters Most
  12. Like other spiders, Charlotte could spin silk with five times the tensile strength of steel (pound for pound). With it, she constructed webs that were absolute marvels of engineering. With the webs, she fought against all manner of menaces to society: pesky flies, disease-spreading mosquitoes, and various other annoying insects.

    But unlike other spiders, Charlotte was also a good speller. She wrote words that attracted the attention of folks far and wide. The messages she worked into her webs were photographed and publicized in headline news. And the entire ploy allowed her to strategically and single-handedly save the life of her endangered friend.

    Yet in Charlotte’s estimation, all these other accomplishments paled in comparison to the importance of giving life to the next generation. She recognized that soft, white, inconspicuous egg sac for what it truly was — her most lasting achievement, her greatest work, her magnum opus.

    And here again, Charlotte was right on target.

    “Many people want to leave a better world for their children. I’m trying to leave better children for my world.” – Carlos Slim

I had hoped to publish this post on Mother’s Day, but I was too busy mothering to finish it in time. Instead of writing,I was taking family bike rides, cheering at basketball games, bandaging boo-boos, and tutoring math. I was folding laundry, preparing meals, sweeping floors, and shopping for groceries. I was reading stories, giving baths, rubbing backs, and singing lullabies. And I was spending alone-time with my husband, in hopes of maybe even conceiving again!

In other words, I was doing all those things mothers do that normally go unnoticed: Things that seldom make national headlines or attract public attention. Stuff that — unless I photograph, tweet, or update my status — won’t get liked on Facebook or pinned on Pinterest.

These tasks, taken individually, appear rather ordinary and mundane. But cumulatively, they amount to my most important work of all.

And doesn’t that job deserve to be done with my whole heart?

25 Ways to Raise Capable, Confident Children

25 Ways to Raise Confident, Capable Children
The fourth of our twelve children will be leaving the nest in another couple of months, and it has my husband and me reexamining the job we have done (thus far) raising our children.

Of course, we’ve made lots of mistakes (that’s another post for another day), but by the abundant grace of God (and by following the great example that our own parents modeled for us), there are many things we’ve done right — things we want to make sure we continue to do as we train up the remaining eight children still under our care.

And so I offer you “25 Ways to Raise Capable, Confident Children.” These are in no particular order, beyond the first, which should be our starting point in every endeavor:

  1. Pray without Ceasing:
    Parenting is one of the most demanding (and most rewarding) jobs any of us will ever do. As such, it requires an extra measure of wisdom from above, as well as strength, endurance, and consistency. Pray for yourself, but pray also for and with your children. The best parenting practices in the world will fall flat apart from God’s blessing. Pray that He will soften your children’s heart, that He’ll give them a teachable spirit, that He’ll begin this work early, and that He’ll be faithful to complete it, as He promises in His word. (Philippians 1:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  2. Clearly Define the Rules:
    Make sure your children know what you expect of them, then oblige them to obey cheerfully and completely. Well-established and consistently-enforced boundaries are both a protection and a comfort. Do not allow children to disregard the rules without consequence, or to speak to parents (or anyone else) in a disrespectful manner. Bad behavior should be penalized and good behavior should be rewarded. (Ephesians 6:1)
  3. Teach Them to Listen:
    Everything in life comes more easily to a child who knows how to pay attention. Fortunately, listening is a skill which can be practiced from infancy — train your baby to track your voice as you call his name from one side then the other, play “Simon Says” with your toddler, insist that your energetic grade-schooler stand still and make eye contact when you are giving him instructions, call your teen by name and use a key phrase (such as, “Listen to my words…”) to communicate the fact that what you are about to say is important and should be taken to heart. (Proverbs 4:1)
  4. Bid Them Be Happy:
    Cultivate contentment in your children, and you will all live happily ever after. No whining allowed! If you make certain your child’s whining is never rewarded, he will cease to do it. Conversely, when you give in to whining, you reward and reinforce the very behavior that drives most of us crazy and thereby encourage your kids to whine all the more. Of course, it should go without saying that we need to maintain a happy, positive attitude ourselves. The irony of an enraged parent screaming at a child, “Why can’t you just be happy?” is not lost, even on very small children.(Philippians 2:14)
  5. Nurture Your Marriage:
    One of the most important things a father can do for his children is to love their mother, and vice versa. If you are married, do all that you can to invest in and safeguard that relationship. Let your children know that you are 100% committed to making sure your marriage lasts. Kids who are given cause to doubt that fact spend a lot of emotional and psychological energy worrying that their parents may divorce (then feeling somehow responsible when they do). This can completely undermine a child’s sense of stability and security and will often sidetrack the normal development of confidence and competency in multiple areas. (Mark 10:7-9)
  6. Show Them You Care:
    Dr. Anthony Witham once said, “Children spell love T-I-M-E,” and it is true. Spend time with your kids, individually (use errands as an opportunity for one-on-one time) and as a group. Get excited about the things that excite or fascinate them. Take delight in their company, and let them see that delight in you eyes and your smile and your manner. Children need quality and quantity time, so give them plenty of both. There is no substitute for your intentional, fully-invested presence in the life of your child. (Isaiah 49:15)
  7. Put Them to Work:
    Assign household chores. Give them real and increasing responsibility from as young an age as possible. Kids who do chores grow up to be more successful than those who don’t. One of the most important lessons you can teach your child is to work hard and to take pleasure in a job well done. (Colossians 3:23)
  8. Enjoy Them at Play:
    Regularly enter into your child’s world of play. Take pleasure in relaxing with your children, especially after they’ve spent time working alongside you. Get up a rousing game of catch or tag or Spoons or Scrabble. Shoot hoops in the driveway or toss a frisbee at the park. Work a puzzle together. Teach your child how to play chess or bridge or dominoes. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
  9. Encourage Them to Try New Things:
    Expose your children to as broad a range of experience as you are able: music, sports, travel, missions, charity, social and cultural events, etc. This will furnish them with a more well-rounded view of the world and will hopefully make it easier for them to find their place in it. Give them the freedom and the tools to pursue the things that pique their interest. Let them know that by God’s grace, they can do anything they set their minds to. (Philippians 4:13)
  10. Point Them to Scripture:
    Let the Word of God permeate, influence, and inform every facet of family life. Read the Word of God to your children. Teach it to them diligently. Memorize it as a family. This is something that comes especially easy to children, so take advantage of that fact! Hide God’s Word in your heart. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21, Psalm 119:11)
  11. Protect Them from Harm:
    Vigilantly guard your kids against harmful influences, as well as physical threats. This is fairly easy when they are little, while you still enjoy complete control over their schedules, you pick all their friends for them, and they have not yet discovered a way around those child-proof locks (a skill some kids acquire at an exasperatingly young age). This task becomes more challenging, though no less important, as children grow older and begin to make most choices themselves. Even then, parents should be aware of the company their children keep, the movies they watch, the music they listen to, and the websites they frequent — not for the purpose of micro-managing or being legalistic (that plan will backfire, for sure), but in order to discuss freely and frankly any potential hazards of which parents are aware. (Ezekiel 33:6, Proverbs 4:14-15)
  12. Help Them Stay Healthy:
    Work to establish good habits in the areas of diet, sleep, exercise, and hygiene. Feed your children square meals, and if you want to nourish their souls as well as their bodies, preserve the family dinner hour. Use it as an opportunity to discuss and dissect the day’s events, both within your family circle and in the world at large. Teens whose families eat dinner together at least five times per week are far less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol or engage in other risky behavior. They also tend to eat more fruit and vegetables then children in families who do not consistently dine together.
  13. Give Them Good Manners:
    Common courtesy and respect are no longer as common as they ought to be. Teach your children to say “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “you’re welcome,” “yes, ma’m,” and “no, sir.” Well-behaved kids are such a novelty these days. Good manners make a young person stand out in a crowd in a more memorable way than the wildest tattoo or body piercing can ever do. (1 Timothy 4:12)
  14. Read Them Great Books:
    Read well-written and beautifully illustrated picture books aloud to your children when they are little, yes, but continue to read engaging novels, inspiring biographies, and thought-provoking non-fiction aloud, even after they grow too big for your lap. Children are never too old to be read to, so choose well and discuss at length. Sharing books together this way is the surest way to foster in your kids a lifetime love for reading, which itself opens whole new worlds of knowledge and experience to them. Thanks to public libraries, this is a practice even the poorest of families can afford.
  15. Equip Them to Lead:
    Stress the importance of integrity, humility, self-discipline, and willingness to stand alone. Model servant-leadership, and challenge them to follow Christ’s example, who came not to be served, but to serve. Encourage them to take initiative and do things that need to be done without being asked. (Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:3-8)
  16. Treat Them with Understanding:
    Kids are people, too! Be patient with your children and treat them with kindness. Do not be unnecessarily harsh with them, and be quick to forgive when they repent of wrongdoing. Be sympathetic. Try to remember what it was like to be in their shoes.(Ephesians 6:4, Ephesians 4:32)
  17. Turn Off the TV:
    Set reasonable limits on screen time of any sort, including but not limited to television, computers, smart phones, tablets, and video games. It would probably be both unrealistic and impractical to attempt to eliminate all electronic media usage from our homes, but any child who spends 53 hours a week staring at a screen could probably find something more productive to do with much of that time. (Psalm 90:12)
  18. Inspire Good Sportsmanship:
    Teach them to lose with grace and to win with humility, conscious that their natural talents and abilities are gifts from above. Stress the importance of always playing fairly and if you must err, err in favor of your opponent. Better to lose the game than to be thought a cheater. (Philippians 2:15)
  19. Lead Them by Example:
    Model for your children the character and behavior you wish them to exhibit, but do not pretend to be perfect (or expect your children to be). Be honest about personal flaws and quick to admit mistakes, apologizing and asking your children’s forgiveness when you wrong them. (1 John 1:8-10)
  20. Train Them to Think:
    Education is more than regurgitating facts; our kids must also learn to reason and to think through things on their own. We can ask questions of them to help the process along (Socratic method), but we must not shy away from their asking questions of us, as well. Anticipate, encourage, and answer their inquiries in a way that is intellectually honest, morally upright, scientifically accurate, and neither defensive nor overly-dramatic. And for those questions for which we have no good answer? Admit you don’t know, then pray about the matter and search for a solution together. (Jeremiah 33:3)
  21. Grant Them Some Space:
    Beginning with letting your two-year-old choose what she wants to wear, allow your children to make their own decisions whenever possible, and be supportive of their choices. You can offer your kids guidance and encouragement without smothering and micromanaging them. But be forewarned: Their thoughts, tastes, and values may not always line up with yours 100%, which is okay. They are individuals and are entitled to have their own hopes and dreams and opinions. Parents can reserve the right to overrule younger children whenever they deem it necessary, but as your kids grow, look for ways they can express their individuality in a manner that is acceptable to both of you. (Romans 14:5)
  22. Bless Your Children:
    Let your sons and daughters know that you are proud of them. Don’t get so focused on correcting your children when they do wrong that you forget to praise them when they do right. Our kids never outgrow the need for approval and affirmation, so give it freely. (Genesis 27:34)
  23. Don’t Overreact:
    Whether your toddler takes a spill while learning to walk or your grade-schooler makes a C on his spelling test or your teenager makes a wrong turn while learning to drive, swallow your fears. Remember that we ALL have mishaps and we ALL make mistakes — surely this one is not the end of the world. Don’t be negligent and reckless, but don’t be hovering and over-protective either. Keep calm and carry on! Take failures in stride and don’t give in to worrying.(Philippians 4:6)
  24. Entrust Them to God:
    Instill in your children a clear vision of what they can accomplish for God’s glory. Do your best to give them an eternal perspective. Pass them the baton. Our kids are in His hands: only by His grace do any of our efforts succeed.
  25. Let Them Grow Up:
    Our ultimate goal is not to raise oversized children, but to raise mature, responsible adults. This will not happen overnight. Neither can you expect to cling tightly until the day your child turns 18 (or 21 or 30), and then let go all at once. It is a gradual process, like the letting out of kite string. Keep a firm hold on the end while they are younger, yes, but be willing to spool out the thread smoothly and steadily as needed. (Proverbs 22:6, Luke 16:10)

So that’s my list. Is there anything you would add? Leave off? What types of things have you found most helpful in raising capable, confident children? I’d love for you to share them in the comments below.

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