Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without the advice of others.
Prov 20:18

Uncommon Ways - Raising children

It takes a village to raise a child

Why reinvent the wheel? Every time Ali and I encounter a new phase of life – marriage, first car, first home, first child, debt, toddlers, school and teachers, teens, the first one leaves home, we would inevitably look to those who’ve gone before us and ask them what they did. We listen, we talk, we ask questions, and then…
…we synthesized. We listened to each other – what had we taken from all the counsel, what does the Bible say, what do our leaders recommend, and then we act.
It saved us from a lot of unnecessary battles and failures. Sure, we still made mistakes – loads of them – but I can only imagine how many more we would have made if we hadn’t taken counsel.
Counsel doesn’t mean just in times of difficulty. We constantly amass good strategies for tackling life in our home. At one point I thought we’d eventually have our lives running on all cylinders, but each season seems to upset some aspect of our groove. There’s always need for adjusting, and realigning, so good counsel never goes out of style.
There’s an old adage that says “It takes a village to raise a child.” I think we have lost some of this over the decades with the prominence of individualism, political correctness and pluralism. We are largely for “what is good for me” marriages and families. As a result, we’ve seen people foray into ubiquitous partner swapping and infidelity. We’ve seen the rise of the child as the centre of the family – where the child’s needs and wants outweigh what’s best for the family. Heaven forbid if social standards for manners and socially acceptable boundaries are thrown aside – tried and true standard of respect and honour are abandoned. This leads to unbridled and undisciplined children who are free to speak unruly to their parents and other adults, have temper tantrums that are left unchecked, because we as parents have encouraged our children to think we’re equals and they are not in need of discipline.
We have such a wealth of knowledge in those whom have gone before us. People who have walked the walk and learned which way to go and which way to avoid.
As a result, Ali and I – since our children were babies – have fostered extensive interaction between our children and those in our church. We are grateful for the families who said they wanted to take our children for an evening or afternoon, or even overnight. We knew that our children were being parented by other adults we trusted and we knew that they would grow with a healthy respect and honour of those in our community. And, they would recognize their part of a bigger community than our nuclear family. It has helped shape them to be very comfortable seeking counsel from many advisors now. They reach out to people in their 20s to 80s for insight, advice and to listen to their stories. But that would not have happened, I don’t believe, if we hadn’t started with them when they were young, exposing them to our wider community and trusting those individuals with our most precious possession – our children’s well-being.
It is true that it takes a village to raise a child. And I, for one, am grateful.


Wise lips and protected ears

Keep their ears from harm

#grace #discipleship #parenting #tenderhearts

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is incredibly powerful. The ultimate desire is to teach my children to value and honour the gift in others, the life that others have lived. This requires a laying down of hurts or failed expectations that I have for myself or others, and walking out in understanding and compassion. Heaven knows that they must have compassion for me. So, who am I to judge someone for failing to meet my expectations when for sure I have failed to meet someone’s at some time in my life. This is sobering.

But, as much as I can, I live the life I want my children and those I lead to aspire to. When my children were young, they saw things but their grace and forgiveness level was enormous. But, as they get older, their opinions about how I live become more developed. They see how much time I spend away from the home supporting others. They see how often I have my device in my hand. They see the way I touch and care for Ali. They see the way I speak of others when they’re not around.

That’s a perfect example – a community is built not through disharmony and strife but through acceptance and encouragement. I am grateful that Ali and I have worked incredibly hard to speak well of others around our children – even when we struggle with their actions or intentions. We may cry in private, but in public we honour the person. We want our children to make their own judgments about people, and not be held to their parent’s feelings or emotions. We can do more damage to their development. If they take on any of our hurts or failed expectations, then we are asking them to make mature decisions to walk that out as we would as adults. That’s not fair to their psyches. They are capable of a lot, but having to walk out our issues with people is not one we should put on them.

Thus, my children have wonderful relationships with people young and old. They speak well of others, and if there is offense or misunderstanding, they assume the best of the person and come to us to understand why something went south. And, as safe as we can be, we walk them through their emotions and help them recognize that each of us has an opportunity to bless and cover other people’s weaknesses. That doesn’t mean we excuse them, or don’t put up boundaries when we need to, but it does mean that when something does go wrong, we recognize that this is where humanity meets grace.

So, as I walk through my day to day, I recognize that I have four little people in my home, and countless others around me who are watching me as I act and react. It’s not to put pressure on me to be perfect. No, not at all. But what it does remind me of is the desire to “shine like stars in the universe.”

Discipleship 101

“Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future lies before those who love peace.”

Psalm 38.37, NLT

#uncommonways #discipleship #parenting #relationships

#followtheleader #uncommonways #discipleship

Getting married or having children can be daunting to consider all the things we don’t know. There were many times Ali and I could have been overwhelmed at the prospects of what to do. What if we make mistakes? What if we are absolutely clueless on what to do? We began to talk, even before we were married, about what kind of life we wanted to build. But, how were we going to learn how to do it? Our parents had taught us things, but there was so much more to learn.

So, one of the first things Ali and I did when we spoke about our relationship was finding people – couples and families – that emulated what we wanted in our home.

We spent a great deal of time watching – observing families and couples to see how they interacted, how they showed love to each other. Not only how they loved their kids, but how their kids loved them back.

As we saw what they were like in private and in public, we began to describe what we saw. We found this the best way to determine what hallmarks we wanted for our family.

Discipleship can be as simple as that – making yourself known to others in authenticity and vulnerability, allowing others to learn from your successes and mistakes. And, for those who want to be discipled – the best way to be discipled is to offer to serve those who can disciple you. Run with those who are running because if you want them to stop running to take time with you, then you aren’t seeing them in action.