Tag Archives: kids

How Do You Raise Kids to Love God?: An Interview With Author Shelly Wildman

Today, I welcome Shelly Wildman to the blog! She is a friend I met through my Redbud Writer’s Guild. Among the many titles she wears, author is one of them! Shelly’s new book, First Ask Why: Raising Kids to Love God Through Intentional Discipleship released on April 24. Packed with encouragement, her book addresses the significance of nurturing our children’s relationship to Jesus while providing practical tips for navigating obstacles. Today’s post features an interview with her to find out more about what prompted the book and what we can expect to learn from it.
 
Writing about parenting can be a powder keg—people have pretty strong opinions about raising kids. Why did you choose to write a parenting book?
I kind of feel like I didn’t choose to write a parenting book, but that the book chose me. (Sounds like a scene from Harry Potter, doesn’t it?) I fought writing it for a long time because I knew I wasn’t a perfect parent—I had messed up so many times that I didn’t feel qualified to write this book. I still don’t. But the idea kept nagging at me for so long that I finally felt like God might have been pushing me to do it.
I believe with all my heart that stronger families will make for a stronger society, which is so important today. And I believe that the strongest families are those that have Christ at their center. But so many parents today have lost their focus or their sense of purpose. They spend their time on meaningless, temporal things, when, really, the most important mission field is right in front of them. I’m hoping to encourage parents to look at the bigger picture, to ask why they are doing what they’re doing, and to think critically about God’s purpose for their kids and for their families.
I have three adult daughters now, and my hope is, now that my husband and I have raised them, that they will go out into the world and make a difference. And should they have children someday, that they would also make disciples of their kids. Instilling a Christ-following legacy is important work—I believe it’s THE most important work parents can do—and we’ve got to be intentional about it.
What makes your book different from other parenting books?
So many parenting books are “how-to” books. They seem to say, “Just follow these ten steps and here’s what you’ll get in the end.” But I don’t believe we can parent by formula. I think we have to look at our unique family and ask why.
Why are we doing what we’re doing as a family?
Why are we emphasizing these spiritual values? And are there others we should consider?
Why are we even here as a family? What’s our purpose for being put together in this unique combination of individuals?
Asking why gets to the heart of the matter; it exposes our motivations and desires for our family. Asking why leads to intentionality. And asking why helps give our children a sense of purpose as we lead them.
Why do you think some kids, even though they had Christian parents, don’t grow up to follow God? Is there anything Christian parents can do to ensure that their kids will choose to follow Jesus?
This is such a difficult question for me to answer because I honestly don’t know why. I know that parents can do all the right things—have time in God’s word together every day, take their kids to church regularly, pray diligently for their kids—and still have kids who struggle. I don’t believe there are any guarantees in Scripture that our kids will choose to follow Jesus into adulthood.
But I do believe that Scripture commands us to parent with the end goal in mind: having children who know and love the Lord. We are to be diligent in our calling to present our children to God, and we have to trust Him with the outcome. We have to persevere every day to show our kids that following Jesus is the path to true life, even though some days can be downright hard.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 has been such a guide and encouragement to me as a parent, especially where it says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life that you and your offspring may live.” We have a choice every day, and it’s our job to show our kids that choosing Christ is the only way to a fulfilling life.
What books influenced your husband and you as you raised your three daughters?
Honestly? Not very many. So many parenting books seemed to offer a formula—do this; don’t do that—and we weren’t looking for a formula. We knew that every kid is different and that every family has different needs, and most parenting books didn’t take that into account.
That said, there were a few that made an impact. Our pastor, Kent Hughes and his wife Barbara, wrote a book called Common Sense Parenting back in the ‘90s that, well, made sense to us. Some of the information is a little outdated today, but overall, it really helped us make good decisions about our parenting. And then there was James Dobson’s The Strong-Willed Child, for the obvious reasons. I think the book that made the most impact, though, was probably Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. That book made me realize that my goal as a parent isn’t good behavior, but a changed heart. That, to me, was really impactful. If I were still parenting younger kids today, I’d also recommend Paul David Tripp’s Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Will Radically Change Your Family.
What was your lowest parenting moment?
You mean besides that time I locked my one month old in the car? (True story!)
I think my lowest moments were the times I let my daughters down. When I betrayed their trust by sharing too much with others. Or when I didn’t fulfill a promise I had made. Parents can feel their kids’ disappointment, which hurts so much. But more than that, too many disappointments lead to mistrust or a lack of respect, and I never wanted that to happen.
That said, parents are human. We do mess up. We do let our kids down. And those are the times we have to humble ourselves with our kids and apologize, sincerely. We need to let our kids know that we don’t always do things perfectly or say the right things or even parent correctly. But that we need grace and the help of God as much as they do.
Who do you hope will read this book and what do you hope they will gain?
I hope parents with kids of all ages will read this book, but especially parents of younger children. I hope grandparents will read this book. And I hope it sparks lots of discussion between husbands and wives, moms groups, or even small groups in churches.
My hope is that parents will come away from reading this book with a stronger sense of their purpose as parents and that they might gain a couple of new ideas that they can implement in their own family. I also hope people will read the last chapter very carefully and prayerfully. The last chapter of the book is on letting go, and it’s a concept that I think is becoming lost a little bit today. It’s so hard, but it’s so important, even when your children are young, to start thinking about letting go. We’ve got to be parents who demonstrate faith in God’s sovereign work in the lives of our children.
 
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How to Sit With Sadness at Christmas: A Guest Post

Today, Elisabeth Klein guest posts about navigating through the Christmas season when you are not feeling “merry.” Welcome her!

I went through a period of feeling lost. Sad. Blah. Passion-less. I purchased a book to help me work through the sad state I was in and I was clicking right along. I did everything it told me to do: I came up with a life timeline, listed the negative points, processed the redemption that has come from each, and decided upon my five primary roles. This was all good and fine; I felt like I was accomplishing something.

And then…and then I hit a wall.

So I did what I usually do when I hit a wall: I spent some time with my mentor. And I was telling her about this process that I was making myself go through and how, when I got to the step where it asked what my ambitions were – how I wanted to live out my life in each of my five roles – how I hit a wall and couldn’t think of anything to write down under any of them, after thinking and praying about it for several days.

I told her that for the past twenty years, I’ve had various passions. Mothering young children, then women’s ministry, then social justice. That I’d poured myself into each of these things, wrote about these things, been an advocate for these things. But that right then, I didn’t have a passion for anything.

And she said, “I have your answer.”

“Okay,” I said. “What is it?”

And then she said something like this, “Years ago, when people lost someone they loved, it was expected that they would mourn for a year. They were given black arm bands to wear.  They even put black wreathes on their front doors. They were to rest and grieve and heal. They even had places in the middle of their town called Melancholy Park where they would be allowed to go and just sit.  Can you imagine? No one would bother them, no one made fun of them, no one pushed them to get back into their regular lives. They were not only allowed but encouraged to do the grieving work, for a year.”

I sat there, tears streaming down my face, not even four months past my divorce at the time.

She continued, “You have lost something big. Picture yourself with a black arm band. Let yourself rest. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself heal. I’ll let you know if I think you’re not doing enough. But right now, just rest. Because if you don’t do the work now, it’ll come out eventually.”

I went home and put that book away. The process of finding my new place, my next chapter, my next thing, would wait a few months. (Okay, many months.) Because in that moment, I had the deeper work of rest to accomplish. How I wished I could live in Melancholy Park.  (She says we can only visit…)

Is this you this Christmastime? Do you need permission to visit Melancholy Park? You have it. I’m giving it to you. Go rest and be sad.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. –Psalm 34:18

God, I am sad. Sadness is hanging over me like a cloak that is too heavy for me to wear. Please meet me in Melancholy Park. Please help me not feel guilty for feeling this way. Please help me walk through it with your grace and mercy. Amen.

If this post resonated with you, Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotions to Help You Heal would be your companion through this season.
Elisabeth Klein is the grateful wife to Richard and grateful mom and stepmom to five. She writes, speaks and mentors women in difficult marriages, those going through divorce, single moms, those dating post-divorce, and those who are remarried and stepmothers. You can find her at www.elisabethklein.com.

Why I Grieved When My Son's Friend Moved Away


As my son settled himself into the car seat next to me, his face told me what I had hoped wasn’t a reality.
His friend had moved away. Without notice.

My heart sank.

For him. For Matt. And for me.

You see, my youngest, is in middle school. It’s a season of so many changes: adjusting to six teachers from one, expectations from school that you are now a “big” kid and must take on more responsibilities. Yet, for many, their bodies look no different than they did when they were considered “little kids” two years ago. Furthermore, social circles are in flux. Figuring out who is really by your side becomes a challenge.
My son is described by many to be kind, funny, smart. He is respectful to all but chooses friends carefully. He’s not a group friend kind of guy. He prefers a few close buddies with whom he can trust his innermost thoughts and feel comfortable being his “out of the box” self. So when he shared with me, on that day before Spring Break, that he thought it odd that Matt wasn’t at school and had turned in his science book the day before, we both faced the reality that Matt was moving. And thoughts began trickling into each of our brains and sadness crept into our hearts.
I didn’t know Matt as well as my son did, but what I did know I liked. He shared a child-like innocence in a world where kids are pressured to grow up too fast. Although they didn’t spend much time together outside school, they were part of the rhythm of each other’s day.
It’s what makes getting through those mundane moments tolerable. It’s what gives you reason to go to school or work when you wake up tired and don’t really want to forge through the day.
I grieve not only for my son, but for Matt as well. I know that this move is not the first one. He met my son when he moved here five years ago. His life involves frequent adjustment-new home, new friends, visits between his custodial parent and non-custodial parent.
I grieve because I had hoped to invite he and his mom further into our lives. And it didn’t happen soon enough.
What will happen to him now? Will he befriend kids who will challenge him to be his best self?
The experience echoes similar situations our family has experienced along the way. Several other kids who have graced our lives for a bit and then moved on. I’m not gonna lie-often these are the same kids who can push my (and my kids) buttons. My own kids do that sometimes. But often times, the brokenness in these kids that draws me to them can manifest in ways that can make relationships hard: acting out, lack of social boundaries, different value systems. Yet, somehow in the midst of those tensions, there is a yearning to let God’s deep love seep out of me. They must be reminded of their have value and purpose. Always.
Fortunately, some of those kids have crossed our paths again. Technology, can be a gift in that way. But others, have gone off the radar. I can only hope in the one who knows them far more than I.
“See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:16
I know that my prayers for God’s intervention in their lives are not left unheard.
And that is what we do now. Knowing that my long distance desires for Matt’s well-being are heard by our God who is near him. Believing that there are others who will now walk alongside him.
But it doesn’t make me or my son miss him less.
My son has texted a couple times with Matt and of, course, my heart’s desire is that it continues. But, that’s not a given. For now, we relish the moments we had to walk life together with him and hand him over to the One who even knows the number of hairs on his head. But his name will never leave my head….or my heart.