The MOB Society

How to Know the Difference Between Sin and Childishness

Jessica ThompsonComment

Being a parent is hard; being a parent who wants to raise their children to love God is even harder. To know when to discipline, how to discipline, why we should discipline, is enough to make one want to give up out of utter confusion. The books, the blogs, the conversations at the park that revolve around those questions are endless. We want to be sure we are doing the right job, being the right parent, so that we can raise the right kids.

With all the emphasis on our parenting, we have forgotten that we are raising children. We have forgotten that they are actually just kids. They think like kids, they speak like kids, they reason like kids.

They don’t have 20 or 30 or 40 years of experience under their belts like you and I do.

We so often expect our kids to think like us. To have the life experience to be able to reason like an adult. We expect them to know that when they swing the rope that way, it will probably hit someone in the face and knock their eye out. We expect them to think through the fact that when they sit on the dog—which is such great fun, and the closest thing to the horse they want but you won’t buy—the dog might bite them or might get hurt. We expect them to think like an adult.

The tragic thing is, in our desire to raise godly children, we punish their childishness as though it were sin.

We forget that they have only been alive for eight years and only have eight years of knowledge. We accuse them of being unloving, or unkind, or foolish as though they actually thought through what they were about to do and decided that jumping off the highest branch and landing next to/on their sister was the best course of action. Talk about exasperating. When I am next to a techie and I do something stupid on my computer and hear the inevitable sigh of displeasure, I feel like an idiot. “No, I actually didn’t know that if I hit that button, my entire computer would blow up.”

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying we should excuse sin. When we see sin, we must talk about forgiveness and a Savior. I am all for disciplining a child when they sin. But I would love to ask the questions—and have you ask yourself—“is this truly sin?” or “is this child just thinking like a child?”

We can take those opportunities of child-like thinking and use them to gently, patiently explain what all our years of living have taught us. As I write that, I laugh; there is so much more I need to learn too. I am sure my parents would agree.

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

*affiliate links

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Thompson grew up in Southern California, the second child of Phil and Elyse Fitzpatrick.
After graduation from high school, she completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and married her sweetheart, Cody Thompson. The Lord has blessed Cody and Jessica with three children: Wesley, Hayden and Allie.

Together they serve at Westview Church, an Acts 29 church plant in north San Diego county. When not writing, Jessica helps her mother with correspondence and scheduling conferences
and speaks at women’s conferences. Jessica believes the truth that salvation is naked confidence in the mercy of God.                            

How to Raise Respectful Kids

Jeannie CunnionComment

My three older boys were playing basketball in the backyard when the fight began. 

“He won’t share the ball.”  “They’re teaming up on me.” “He’s saying I stink at basketball.”  Rest assured, this isn’t an unusual scenario in our home. These boys of mine are competitive creatures.  They like to win (I get it). However, it’s one thing to be competitive. It’s another thing to be cruel, and they often have to be reminded of the difference.

As the tension between them escalated, so did my frustration. After several failed attempts to encourage them to be good teammates, I came down on them pretty hard. I flung open the back screen door and demanded new, kind hearts from them.  My face was angry and my tone was harsh.

Still in fighting mode, one of my boys responded disrespectfully to me.  His face was angry and his tone was harsh.  When I quickly corrected him, he responded with confusion. “But Mommy, that is how you just spoke to me.”

Ouch.

When I first became a mom, I was very much focused on raising respectful boys, and I still believe this is a good and right and essential thing to instill in my boys. However, it was several years into my parenting journey when this thought occurred to me:  We tend to think that children should respect their parents, but do we believe our children also deserve to be spoken to and treated with respect?

If we remember that respect is not just the state of being regarded with honor or esteem but also a willingness to show appreciation and consideration, then our answer to that question is going to be yes.

When our children struggle with respect, I find it’s usually rooted in pride. Pride rears its ugly head when our children inherit a glorified sense of importance or superiority, or when they do not like the fact that they must submit to God and to us. The Bible, and particularly Proverbs, is loud and clear about the destructive results of pride — our pride brings us low; it breeds quarrels; it brings disgrace.

Therefore, as parents, we must be thoughtful about helping our children understand the destructive results of pride and take time to help them understand the belief (It’s all about me, me, me) that motivates pride.

What I’m continually reminded of in my own parenting is that as we model respect and consideration for our children, they will learn to return that respect and consideration to us. This does not mean, of course, that their respect for us should be conditional on our respect for them.  This is simply acknowledging the power of modeling in the parent-child relationship.  And in the scenario above, I modeled the very thing I desired to eliminate.  

Modeling has an enormous impact on our kids, and we are wise as parents to recognize that impact and use it purposefully and constructively.

In fact, an often overlooked but significant way to raise respectful kids is through modeling communication with our spouses. For instance, if Daddy bosses Mommy around, our children
wonder why they can’t be bossy with Mommy. And if Mommy belittles Daddy, our children wonder why Daddy is deserving of their respect. Even in an argument, we can teach our children about respectful communication by avoiding insults and resolving the argument with affection. And most importantly, apologizing when we don’t!

Teaching respect, even in the little things, begins at home in their relationship with us. As one of my great heroes, Billy Graham, has said, “A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.”

So let’s keep on doing the hard work required to raise respectful kids.  But let’s not forget to model God’s heart of gentleness and patience and grace while we’re at it!

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

About the Author

Jeannie Cunnion is a Jesus lover and a grace clinger. She is the author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child, and her passion is encouraging women to live from the freedom found in being fully known and fully loved by God (a message her own heart needs to hear daily).

Books for Boys: Preparing for Summer Reading

Alle McCloskeyComment

THIS ARTICLE IS A READER FAVORITE AND WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN JUNE 2013.

That first week of summer is fast approaching! We're all ready for the sun and that bit of relaxation in the rhythm of our days. But before you clean out the backpacks, transition all the clothes to shorts and t-shirts, and grab the pool pass — remember that this is a perfect time of year to rekindle or even introduce a love of reading in the heart of your boys! Being transported to new worlds, learning new skills, and getting lost in the beauty of story is one of the best gifts you can ever give, and we've got some great ideas and recommendations for your summer reading journey!

Please keep in mind as you read through these suggestions and book ideas that selecting appropriate reading material for your children is a highly subjective and child-specific process. Please review each and every item of reading material you bring into your home before passing it along to your kids.

Journey Through a Summer Reading Program

Check with your local library and see if they offer a special program to encourage reading during the summer months. Often, kids receive special treats and coupons for local restaurants and activities as incentives to complete their hourly reading goals! If your library doesn't offer this kind of program, create your own (check out this fun printable set) or hook up with something similar online. For example, PBS Kids has some great resources and tips for encouraging your young readers.

Build New Skills through Books

If your boys begin to complain of boredom this summer, have a few tricks up your sleeve ahead of time to introduce a new experience or skill. Pick up some kid-friendly cookbooks and encourage your boys to try out a new recipe and serve the rest of the family once a week! Or have Dad pick up a DIY book with age-appropriate projects to work through on the weekends! Or head to the non-fiction section of the library and get some books on animals, nature, weather, and science experiments and send the boys outside to explore and create! In our family, we LOVE the Crinkleroot series, the Sandbox Scientist, and Camp Out! The Ultimate Kids' Guide.

Encourage a Sense of Literary Wonder

Look for small ways to make the world of reading a magical place! Find space in your home to build a reading nook or perhaps start a Friday Reading Fort tradition. Move beyond the stories your boys love and investigate the lives and passions of the authors who wrote them. Introduce them to good poetry, encourage them to write some of their own, and hold a Family Poetry Reading. See if your library has some of these "big books" to explore. Surprise your boy by collecting a set of books on their favorite subject or introduce a new one you know they will fall in love with! You could search for all the Star Wars books you can find, or get the ball rolling on a Titanic or weird sea creature obsession, or gather a variety of fiction and non-fiction pieces on castles and knights. The possibilities are endless!

Integrate Books and Reading into Every Day Activities

We're all good at packing up a small bag of toys, coloring supplies, and stuffed animals for trips and playdates — don't forget to pack new books or your latest library find! You can even work on good listening skills with your boys by incorporating audiobooks in the car. Start another fun tradition by reading chapter books as a family each night. Think through the books you loved as a child and if they are age-appropriate, begin working those into your summer nighttime routine. We love The Boxcar Children, anything by C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia for the younger crowd and The Space Trilogy for teens), Nate the GreatThe Redwall seriesThe LittlesThe Hardy BoysThe Adventures of Flat StanleyThe Wings of Dawn series, etc.

Instill a Love for the Library

We've started early with our boys and take 2-3 trips to the library each week! To them, the library is just as exciting as a visit to our local zoo, pool, or park! Perhaps this is the summer you get library cards for your boys. Give them some responsibility and put them in charge of knowing due dates and paying fines for late materials. Check out the events being held at your local library as well — weekly storytimes, special theme days, and concerts, movies, and book signings are typically part of the summer calendar. And if you live in an area that has a larger library system, be sure to take special trips to other libraries or "the main" downtown library for a new literary adventure. We recently discovered an older library in a neighboring town that has a Story Garden-themed children's area that is still within our larger library system, so we can check out books there as well! Additionally, you can expand their access to books by linking arms with your neighbors and friends to create a small "Friend's Library" — let them name their library system, create materials to "check out" books, and plan a rotating playdate afternoon where friends visit and get to take home 1-2 books from their friends' selection. If you want more ideas for specific books to introduce to your boys this summer, check out this great list from The Story Warren!

What books are on your summer reading list?
Any other ideas to add to ours?


How to Call Your Prodigal Back Home

Guest ContributorComment

THIS ARTICLE IS A READER FAVORITE AND WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN February 2013.

The Prodigal Son — a story that undoubtedly strikes fear into the hearts of BoyMoms everywhere.

In this well-known story from Scripture, we read of a wayward son who demands his inheritance early, and ends up leaving his home and squandering his money on everything from sex to gambling. The prodigal eventually finds himself broke and broken — literally sitting in the mud with pigs, while sweet memories of home run through his mind.

He sets his mind to return to this safe place where he grew up and beg for forgiveness. His hope is that his father will allow him to return as a servant in the household. However, upon his arrival, he finds a feast and celebration in his honor, instead of the bowed heads of disappointment he expected. He is embraced by the loving-kindness and forgiveness of his parents and welcomed home.

I think this story is one we can all relate to. Whether you are the prodigal, or the parent of one, The Prodigal Son is a story that will speak to almost anyone living in this fallen world. That being the case, over the years I have heard countless people dissect, teach, and react differently to this story as it pertains to them:

  • As parents, the immediate inclination is to ensure that this story never becomes a reality for their children.
     
  • As pastors and teachers, there is a need to show the detriment of selfish desires and sinful living.
     
  • But as a son, who has been a prodigal once or twice in his life, my interest lies in something different...

What pulls the Prodigal home...

I want to hear the voice that spoke inside of the Prodigal—the one that called him home when he was at his darkest hour. Why was this once over-confident and headstrong boy suddenly willing to humble himself to the lowest position, just for a chance to be back in his parents' care?

I think back and remember the times in my life when I found myself surrounded by the consequences of my poor choices and willful rebellion, trying to recall what it was that called me home. And as I ponder and remember what guided my steps toward redemption, grace comes flooding back to me. The driving force in my return to the straight and narrow wasn’t in the thousand teachings I'd heard in church that warned against rebellious living. It wasn't the countless warnings against sin.

Instead, it was something so much more personal, real, and tangible.

It was the song of my home that would play in my ears as I would sit with my head in my hands, trying to find the light in a dark situation. It was the forgiving embrace of a loving family and an inviting home. It was the overwhelming grace I knew my mistakes would always be met with. It was the warm meals, good conversation, and the personal connection I missed with the ones I loved most. It was the beauty of what home was truly meant to be.

Essentially, my reason for choosing to leave my prodigal tendencies in the past and to return home to my loved ones, was having loved ones and a home worth returning to.

This beautiful picture of grace and redemption has been woven throughout the whole of Scripture. All of humanity has decided to rebel against the way of life that God had created for us and make their own way. But instead of giving up on us, God in His loving-kindness gave us a chance for redemption through the forgiveness of our sins in His Son's sacrifice on the cross. But He doesn't stop there: His redemption plan includes a personal relationship with each of us and the gift of eternal life with Him in Paradise. 

God looks down on us, after our display of rebellious independence, and calls us home to the loving embrace of a forgiving parent and the perfect vision of home...Heaven.

BoyMoms, in light of this beautiful story God has given us, the question I have for you, is NOT...

What are you doing to ensure that your sons don't become prodigals?

But INSTEAD,

How are you going to create a home your prodigal would feel the freedom & call to return to?

All of us sons will fall short — we will rebel to some degree and we will, in at least some sense of the word, make ourselves prodigals. But, if you are diligent in speaking grace over us and in creating a beautiful home, that grace and that space will call us back to who we are meant to be. Following the same song that God sings over all of us, we will return to your loving arms of redemption without fail.


Nathan Clarkson (son of popular author, Sally Clarkson) is an energetic, passionate, out of the box young man. Nathan doesn't idle well and to this day has trouble sitting still. He grew up in a family that valued God and excellence and Nathan caught the vision for using his gifts for God at an early age. He is an actor, singer, and writer who has a passion for bringing light to a dark world. You can find his latest writings and more about his work in the entertainment industry at NathanJohnClarkson.com

17 Ways to Create an Adventure with Your Son

Guest ContributorComment

THIS ARTICLE IS A READER FAVORITE AND WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN March 2011.

Boys love adventure. But adventure doesn't need to take us to distant lands or empty our treasure chests (aka savings accounts)! It can be found in the most unlikely places. And with a little creativity and energy, you can create a memory he'll treasure for years to come.

17 ways you can create an adventure with your son:

Be Physically Adventurous

  1. Have a foam noodle (or paper towel tube) sword fight.
  2. Put on your "little boy" glasses and explore your home with him. Together, fight off the bears and giants you probably never knew were there!
  3. Plan a treasure hunt for when he wakes up and make the treasure a special breakfast or snack with you.
  4. Explore your neighborhood and let him lead the way. You could even help him make a map as you explore.
  5. Decorate a box or bag as a "treasure chest" and search your backyard or the park for nature's treasures. Take this time to point out the creativity God used to make our world.
  6. Go geocaching or letter-boxing with your son — let him hold the compass and lead the way.
  7. Have a pillow fight and build a fort when you're done and need a rest.
  8. Head outside and play your son's favorite sports — until he gets tired.
  9. Go hiking together.
  10. Have a jumping contest on a trampoline.

Teach Him To Be Spiritually Adventurous

  1. Make a batch of cookies and deliver them to a lonely neighbor. Challenge him to see if he can make your neighbor smile on your delivery run.
  2. Pray together regularly for big things.
  3. Teach him to pray every time he hears a siren. Pray for the policemen, firemen, doctors, and the people who need help.
  4. Go to the store and have a "smiling contest" whoever can make more people smile wins. Pray for the people as you shop.

Make Chores An Adventure

  1. Turn a trip to the grocery store into a treasure hunt. Take pictures of items in the pantry that you'll need on your next trip and them put him in charge of "discovering" them in the store.
  2. Don't have him "sweep" the floor. Ask him to "swab the deck" and keep a pirate patch handy for him to wear during this chore.
  3. Hide puzzle pieces around his room under messy piles. When he finds all the pieces then you can do the puzzle together.

Anything can be turned into an adventure. Create a few with your son today.
What are some of your favorite ways to be adventurous with your boys?


Kat Lee is a writer, speaker and creator of the Inspired To Action Planner. She is not nearly as organized as one would imagine the creator of a planner to be, but she is dedicated to living with God-given passion and purpose and loves to help other women do the same. Kat is the founder of HelloMornings.org and hosts the popular InspiredToAction.com podcast. Kat and her husband Jimmy live in Waco, Texas with their three children.