“Buddy, be gentle!” “Soft hands, soft hands, soooooooft hands.” “We don’t grab our friends in the eyeballs.” “Oh, buddy, we don’t greet our friends with our teeth!”
Teaching my ten month old son social skills has been a bigger challenge than I anticipated. Honestly, I thought because he is such a personable, loving, friendly, outgoing baby, social skills would come naturally. I never considered I would have to TEACH him how to interact with his peers. So, when certain behaviors (small things, nothing major) started creeping up, I was shocked.
Can I tell you the truth? I was embarrassed.
I hate admitting that to you, especially because I am SO INCREDIBLY proud of my boy. As in, I’m THAT mom who gushes about her kid nonstop. Yet, I felt embarrassed when my son acted less than perfect in childcare among his peers.
After a couple of weeks feeling this way, I paused and prayed and thought about WHY I felt embarrassed. Two reasons came to mind: First, I struggle with a good bit of insecurity that goes all the way back to elementary school, and I really want my son to be well liked. Second, I feel like my son’s behavior is a direct reflection of my parenting, which means I feel like everyone is judging me by every move my son makes.
Right in the midst of this struggle, I started reading Total Family Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra. She encouraged me tremendously in the introduction of the book. Seriously, if I had stopped reading before chapter one, this book would have changed me.
Spoelstra encourages her readers that our children are not our report card. We need to lift the pressure off ourselves that causes us to feel like good parents when our children succeed and terrible parents when our children fail. She points to the example of Adam and Eve. They had the perfect parent, and they still disobeyed. We don’t look at God as a terrible parent because of their sin. We need to give ourselves and our children grace.
The remainder of Spoelstra’s book is packed with practical steps we can take to disciple our children in the Christian faith. Each chapter focuses on one area of discipleship, and I love the way she organized the content. The chapter starts with a section on modeling a certain habit and then shifts to practical ways we can train our children to practice that habit. We can’t teach our children to develop disciplines in the faith that we don’t practice ourselves. (If we try, they’ll see right through us!)
As a mother of a baby, I found Spoelstra’s book timely. I have wondered on many occasions how I would disciple my son. When should I start? Is he too little now? He isn’t too little for me to start modeling disciplines of the faith to him. He can see me spending time in God’s Word. I can read to him at bedtime, pray with him, and sing him songs of the faith throughout the day. As I continue growing in my own faith, I will have more to model to him. As he grows older, I can refer back to Spoelstra’s book for practical ideas to transition out of modeling into training.
If you’re in the stage of parenting where you’re surrounded by littles looking to you to meet their every need, this book is a good fit for you. If you have children who are seeking some independence, this book is for you. Maybe you have teenagers and fear it’s too late to start discipling them. This book will encourage you as well.
The thing I appreciate the most about this book is that Spoelstra doesn’t approach discipling our children as something else to add to our checklists. She doesn’t provide her readers with 100 things to do to be better parents or to be more spiritual or to gain God’s favor in their lives. Instead, she points to Scripture over and over again, constantly showing how Jesus modeled and trained his disciples in the spiritual disciplines. She is encouraging and suggests trying a few small changes that will have a big lasting impact. I don’t think you’ll read this book and walk away feeling guilty or burdened with the weight of discipling your children. Instead, I think you’ll feel encouraged and see that you can, in fact, disciple your children and point them to Christ.
Intrigued? Want to read Total Family Makeover for yourself? Enter to win the Total Family Makeover Family Night Giveaway!
Begin to build your family discipleship and become the key disciple-makers in your children’s lives with Melissa Spoelstra’s new book, Total Family Makeover. Disciples are made, not born. Whether your children are babes in arms or teenagers getting ready to leave the nest, making disciples at home starts with you! Give your family a makeover with this practical approach to helping your children learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Plan an evening of fun, pizza, devotionals, and games with your family! Melissa is giving away a Family Fun Night Prize Pack.
One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 7. The winner will be announced October 10 on Melissa’s blog.
The other day, I did something I didn’t like, and I chose to apologize to my son for it.
Over the past few weeks, my adorable, sweet, smiley baby has become a ferocious hair puller. OK, slight exaggeration, but he does take joy in grabbing a handful of my long, straight, brown locks and pulling hard, like he’s hoping for a similar result as when he pulls the chain to turn on the light in the den.
I say, “No.” I say, “Stop.” I say, “Soft hands.” I say, “Hair is for admiring, not for pulling,” in a sweet sing-songy voice. I say, “Ow! That hurts Mama. You don’t want to hurt Mama, do you?”
The other day, he had pulled my hair countless times, and the last time really hurt. In a moment of pain, anger, and exasperation, I popped his hand.
Instantly, I felt remorse. This wasn’t a planned method of discipline, thought out and discussed with my husband for the longterm benefit of our child. This was a lack of self-control, and I owed my son an apology.
So, I apologized to my six-month-old. The hand pop didn’t hurt him (he smiled at me when I did it), and he didn’t understand the apology, but it was still important. We want to create a culture of confession and forgiveness in our home, and this was a step in laying that foundation.
Why is a culture of confession and forgiveness in our home important?
Later that day, I apologized to my husband for popping Asher’s hand in anger, and I asked for his forgiveness. I love that he is always quick to forgive. He’s a great model for me! I also confessed my sin to the Lord and asked for his forgiveness. I’m thankful He is a loving, forgiving God who keeps his promises.
So, what does a culture of confession and forgiveness look like in your home and your relationships? Share your stories and what works for your family!