Today I’m answering several questions about how we parent small children. From character building (and my favorite parenting books) to the way we handle gifts at Christmas, it all matters to the Lord!
Does your heart skip a beat when you think of all that could go wrong in the parenting years ahead? Anxiety is normal, but your worst fears don’t have to become reality. Speaking both as a therapist and a father―and drawing on a landmark study of thirty-five thousand parents―Dr. James Dobson helps you . . .
- prevent child-rearing troubles before they happen
- banish your guilt about hard-to-raise children
- protect your sanity during a child’s adolescence
- restore your energy when you’re facing burnout
- enhance your relationships with your kids
The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman
Does your child speak a different language? Sometimes they wager for your attention, and other times they ignore you completely. Sometimes they are filled with gratitude and affection, and other times they seem totally indifferent. Attitude. Behavior. Development. Everything depends on the love relationship between you and your child. When children feel loved, they do their best. But how can you make sure your child feels loved?
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Dr. Meg Meeker
In today’s increasingly complicated world, it’s often difficult for parents to connect with their daughters–and especially so for fathers. In this unique and invaluable guide, Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician with more than twenty years’ experience counseling girls, reveals that a young woman’s relationship with her father is far more important than we’ve ever realized. To become a strong, confident woman, a daughter needs her father’s attention, protection, courage, and wisdom. Dr. Meeker shares the ten secrets every father needs to know in order to strengthen or rebuild bonds with his daughter and shape her life–and his own–for the better.
Parenting by The Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child by John Rosemond
Picture respectful, responsible, obedient children who entertain themselves without television or video games, do their own homework, and have impeccable manners. A pie-in-the-sky fantasy? Not so, says family psychologist and bestselling author John Rosemond.
In the 1960s, American parents stopped listening to their elders when it came to child rearing and began listening instead to professional experts. Since then, raising children has become fraught with anxiety, stress, and frustration. The solution, says John, lies in raising children according to biblical principles, the same principles that guided parents successfully for hundreds of years. They worked then, and they still work now!
The New Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson
Is a willful little darling driving you to distraction? The New Strong-Willed Child is the resource you need—a classic bestseller completely rewritten, updated, and expanded for a new generation of parents and teachers. Challenging as they are to raise, strong-willed children can grow up to be men and women of strong character—if lovingly guided with understanding and the right kind of discipline. Find out what Dr. James Dobson, today’s most trusted authority on parenting, has to say about what makes strong-willed children the way they are; shaping the will while protecting the spirit; avoiding the most common parenting mistake; and much more. If you are struggling to raise and teach children who are convinced they should be able to live by their own rules, The New Strong-Willed Child is a must-read!
TRANSCRIBED VERSION OF THE PODCAST BELOW
Hi friends, this is Heidi St. John welcome to the podcast!
You guys, today is the first Monday in December. This is Monday, December 3rd it’s episode number 696. It’s mailbox Monday here at the podcast.
I have a lot of questions to get to today stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged!
All right, so today is December 3rd and a couple of great things about today – First of all, today is the birthday of my now 8-year-old daughter, our youngest child, has turned eight!
I’m finding myself a little melancholy today as my little ballerina flits around my house, and I told my husband this morning that – it’s more and more every day that I am very very thankful for all the years that we had with little children in our home.
I’m going to get to more of that a little bit later. But just know, if you hear a little melancholy in my voice say that’s why – I’m watching the last of our seven as she is just sailing through childhood. So lots of lots of things on my mind today.
Also, today’s the first day of the MomStrong International Bible Study. For the month of December, we are doing a study that I am calling: In search of Joy. And I know that you guys are going to love this. We live in a culture that really struggles to find joy. We find it a struggle to be content with what we have and it’s never more obvious in the Christmas season.
And so this is a great study for you to dig into with your kids. Don’t forget to download the free copy work that’s available for your children. it’s available at MomStrongInternational.com.
All right, there’s lots of stuff going on today. I have been searching and poring through my e-mails. I want to say thank you to everyone who’s listening to this podcast. It is such a joy for me to know that God is using it in your life and that you are growing. I saw a great review over at iTunes I wanted to read to you today. It says:
I am a high school girl and my passion is getting involved in politics and engaging in the process for the glory of God. Heidi St. John provides a solid Biblically based voice for the Christian worldview that blesses and challenges me. In a world of lies and noise Heidi clings to the Word of God as the ultimate authority and the ultimate truth. And it’s so refreshing. Thank you for allowing yourself to be humbly used by God.
That encouraged me so much! So whoever left that review thank you so much. I want you to know that my team and I read almost every single one of these reviews as you put them out over on iTunes. We love it that you leave reviews there – it’s very encouraging for us to see those reviews and to be able to have other people see them as well. So thank you so much, everyone, for taking the time to do that.
If you’re wondering how to do it it’s very simple. Go over to iTunes, click on the little gear shift and it will allow you to rate the podcast and leave a review for it – so be sure that you do that.
I want to thank you guys for listening and for reaching out to us with your questions for Mailbox Monday. If you would like a question addressed at the podcast – please shoot us an email email@example.com.
All right I want to get to the first question today. There are so many questions coming in every day over at the podcast that sometimes we try to put them into categories. And today is no different. I’m going to take a particular question from a mom – I’m going to try to answer some that I think are gonna be relatively easy to answer because last week I kind of got hung up a little bit – particularly because we were talking about Canada and politics. Today I’m not going to be talking about politics.
Heidi, you mentioned on your podcast a few weeks ago about setting down the homeschooling to focus on the heart and character building of your children. How are some ways that you can do this? I have a four-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 6-month-old.
Jessica this is a fantastic question, so thanks for writing in. And I want to just let you know this is a fantastic time for those of you who are homeschooling to put down your homeschooling stuff today. We’re getting really close right to a winter break. And part of me thinks this is the most wonderful time of the year because we can take a break. right?. And we appreciate that. But it’s also a really great time to turn the hearts of your children toward the Lord. And the way that we do that, the first way that we do that – always is by setting an example.
And so Jessica one of the first things that you can do is to let your children see that you place a priority on knowing and studying God’s word for yourself. It’s so important for your children to see you doing that. They are going to take their cues from you our children take their cues from their parents.
And it’s so important for you, parents – if you want to see your children walking in victory and walking in right relationship with the Lord – they need to see you doing that.
Let them see you walk in and right relationship with the Lord. Let them see you on your knees in prayer.
A couple of things too Jessica, that came to my mind immediately when I read your email, was that you have a 4 and a 2 and a 6-month-old. And I would I just would encourage you – Your kids aren’t really old enough to be spending a whole lot of time in homeschooling. And I know that this question is not really about homeschooling but you are in something I like to call: The Wonder Years.
These are the years when everything that you do your children are going to look at with wonder and they’re gonna want to be with you in everything that you do. They want to do it too, right? Even when you go to the bathroom – they want to do that too, right?! And so I want to just encourage you to sit down and read with your children. Put them on your lap. Talk to them about who they are. We are living in such an upside-down culture right now and there has never been a better time for parents, especially when you have young ones at home, to teach them who they are according to God’s word. And who God says that they are that they were born exactly how God wanted them to be born – born in the right body with the right gender, at the right time, to the right parents.
Our kids need to know that and that comes first from our parents. So one way, Jessica, that you can encourage your children to have a heart for the Lord and focus on building their character is – simply by reading to them. I think we live in a culture that’s moving really fast it’s hard to sit down and read and the thing that I think most influenced my children in the years that we had all seven of them at home – was the time that we took to read to them especially when they were very young so find good books for your kids. I have a list of them over at HeidiStJohn.com. You can look for Christmas books – I have a Christmas book list that’s out. I have a regular reading book list that’s out. I cannot stress enough the importance of reading to your children. There has never been a more important time than now. And really read to them the stories of the Bible! You can get children’s Bibles you can read to them. You can read them about the things that God does. You can go through a Psalm a day with them or a verse a day. Those little things – when you see that your children are having character issues can I just encourage you to stop what you’re doing and address it.
We see a lot of parents right now who are either helicopter parenting or, you guys really talk several months ago about lawnmower parenting, and those – neither one of those things are good for our children. What they need is loving discipline.
My friend Dr. Dobson wrote a book a long long time ago called Parenting Isn’t For Cowards. One of my favorite parenting books of all time. The subtitle of this book is simply – dealing confidently with the frustrations of child-rearing. OK. Wow. I mean really – parenting isn’t for cowards. And you know what I see in the culture today? – a lot of chicken parents, a lot of cowardly parents. Cowardly parents don’t discipline their kids. Cowardly parents give their children whatever it is that they want. And if we want to raise children that are going to be lights in a very dark world. We’ve got to raise them with intention and with love and with truth. And so every opportunity that you can take to instill those things into your children – take the opportunity and do it. I hope that you are in a community with other moms who love the Lord and want to raise their children to be a bright light in a dark world as well.
have tons of parenting tips and tons of homeschooling tips for you online. If you just google “HeidiStJohn.com homeschooling” or even beginning homeschooling. I wrote an article called character trumps curriculum and I think that’s true – I think character comes before curriculum.
We can raise our children to be very very well educated and if we haven’t been instilling in them the things of the Lord and we haven’t been correcting them — For example, if you notice that your child is disrespectful, if you notice that your child is lying to you, or if he’s being a bully to his younger siblings – correct it. Don’t be afraid to discipline your child.
So much of what happens in character building when our children are young comes from the loving correction and loving discipline of their parents. And so, I want to just encourage you to do that. There are lots and lots of great parenting books out there. I noticed in your email that you said that you weren’t raised in a Christian home. And so, I will link back to some of my favorite parenting books in the show notes today.
Parenting Isn’t For Cowards is an old book but it’s a great book. And Dr. Dobson has had a tremendous impact on my life. I was raised in a Christian home but my parents, as many if you if you’ve read Becoming MomStrong, my parents did not have a good marriage. My home was an unhappy home and the Lord has been very gracious to me to surround me with Godly women and also with wonderful resources. And so I’ll link back to those in the show notes today.
All right the next question comes from an anonymous listener. And she writes to me about Christmas and I actually resonated with a lot of what she said. So here’s what she said:
Heidi, I am writing because I hate Christmas. I use to enjoy it but it’s become a source of constant stress for me from November 1st until the end of December.
That is two months out of your year my friend. So let’s see if we can help you today.
I have six children and come from an extended family that is quite large. I really enjoy buying one gift for each of my children and for my husband. However, I have come to dread the buying of presents for all the in-laws, the nieces, nephews, and others in our large extended families. Nobody needs anything. Many of the children in our extended family are destructive and spoiled and I feel like I’m wasting my money buying gifts for them and angry at myself for not enjoying gift giving more than I do. I feel like I’ve turned into a regular Scrooge.
All right. So I can kind of identify with you on a couple of levels here. First of all, I also do not like the pressure of gift buying. That’s why I told you guys my favorite holiday is actually Thanksgiving because it’s all the family get together and none of the pressure of gift buying. So I love Thanksgiving. But I’ll tell you what – I also have an extended family and we used to do a gift exchange – and about seven or eight years ago I bowed out of the gift exchange.
Now there’s a couple of ways that you can bow out of the gift exchange. You can do it by complaining and saying how much you hate it or you can just say – you know, I really love you guys but I need to focus on my own family.
And you know what I think’s going to happen. I think the vast majority of your family members are gonna go – Oh thank you! – because they may feel the same way that you do. There is no reason, especially for those of us who are on a tight budget and we already have a hard time getting presents for our own families -there’s really no reason to extend it to the nieces, and nephews, and aunts, and uncles, and in-laws, and all these things.
And it really does put stress! And nothing is more frustrating for a person to than to watch their gift get opened and realize it got kind of a lackluster response because you just really did not know what to get. And so I think there’s a couple of ways that you can do it. I would maybe go to some of these family members and just say – hey you know what, our family has decided that for gift giving we are going to focus on our kids and our family – and release them from feeling like they have to buy something for you, right?. Just release them from it and do it with a smile on your face.
And you know – the other thing that you can do, because I know that you don’t want your kids to pick up a bad attitude or hate Christmas or any of those things, right? — so the other thing that you can do is maybe make cookies. That’s something that we’ve done with our kids for years. We do it in our neighborhood. We’ll make a batch of fudge and some white chocolate covered pretzels and take them around to the neighbors. One time of year we get to reach out to our neighbors. And maybe you say – hey we’re going to turn our focus toward very simple gift giving and really try to refocus our children on the importance of honoring Jesus at Christmas.
My friend Ann Dunagan was here last week and we were talking a little bit about mission minded Christmas – a mission focused Christmas. And one of the things she said really resonated with me.
She said – you know Heidi, Christmas – we’ve made it so much about getting things. But Christmas was Jesus giving up everything. He gave up everything. He left his home.
We talk about coming home for Christmas. Jesus left his home. He left a glory. He left being seated at the right hand of God. He left all the pleasures of heaven to come down to earth to experience life as a human being – to die for us on the cross so that we could have eternal life with Him. He became sin for us so that we can enjoy eternal life with Him. And what would happen in our families if we really turn that focus to Joy, for our children? And joy isn’t found at Wal-Mart. It just isn’t. It’s not going to be found at Wal-Mart. It’s not going to be found on Amazon.com. And I just want to encourage you. It’s OK to bow out.
So I know a lot of you are listening to this and if your passion is gift giving, and you just love it and you’ve been disciplined enough to save money all year for Christmas – then more power to you. Bless you. There are people who need to experience that gift that you have.
And for those of you who are struggling with it, it’s okay to bow out. There doesn’t need to be a dark cloud hanging over Christmas because you’re worried about gift giving. And so those are kind of my suggestions for just simplifying and communicating, lovingly, how you’re going to do Christmas with your family. And as your family grows – and I experience this with my own family because now I have grandchildren on top of the seven children, and in-laws, and aunts and uncles — as your family grows they’re going to understand that. So give it a try.
And the other thing that you asked at the bottom of your email if I could give some suggestions for Christmas planning for busy homeschool moms who already feel like they’re on their last thread.
So, I hear from a lot of homeschool moms this time of year I’ve actually written about this. If you search Heidi St. John Christmas you will find articles that I have written on Christmas and how you can make it a little less stressful. But I think making your Christmas a time of focusing on other people and – even I love your heart for wanting to maintain a good financial stewardship, and have joy in your heart, and a smile on your face during the Christmas season. One of the ways that we do that, homeschool moms- is by putting down the books. So I’m preaching to myself, as usual. It’s putting down the books, it’s having enough energy where you can be impromptu in what you’re doing and maybe go out and look at Christmas lights, and take your children out to hear some carolers ,or put some hot chocolate in a in a mug and sit down and watch It’s A Wonderful Life. Oh my goodness it doesn’t get any better than that.
Teach your kids how to make Chex mix because every child needs not to do that. And focus on the simple things. And honestly, when your kids are older – I know this from experience – their Christmases they remember are not going to be the ones that you went bankrupt to give them. They’re going to be the ones where they remember stringing popcorn, and making fudge with you, and learning how to cook a Christmas turkey, and all of these things.
Those are going to be things that are going to carry the most reward with them and yield the best dividends. So, I hope that encourages you!
Get off the crazy train, unpack your bags, don’t go on anybody’s guilt trip – but communicate lovingly what it is that you’re trying to do. So I hope that helps you and all the other moms who listen to this who are feeling the same way you do.
All right. Here comes my next one. This one says:
Heidi, I have to say I had quite an awakening after last night while browsing Netflix after my husband went to bed (next time I’ll simply go to bed with him)
That’s good for a lot of different reasons.
I took note of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch remake which they recently released. I remember the whimsical 90s film with Melissa Joan Hart and thought nothing of pressing play. I instantly regretted it. I have never been so disturbed and distressed by the sheer glorification of Satan worshipping and witchcraft as I have by the unfortunate witnessing of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The premise was preparing Sabrina to enter the witches coven of her aunts by literally selling her soul to the devil that they worship openly with frequent ‘oh think the Dark Lord and praise Satan’ – as someone would normally say ‘Praise God’. I have not had nightmares in years and was tossing and turning with disturbing dreams that I now know came straight from the enemy himself. I felt compelled to offer a warning for anyone making the same mistake as I did. I have always been relaxed when it came to my media choices as I enjoyed horror stories as a teen as easily separating reality from movie magic for the sake of a good scare and story. I have hereby changed my mind on this approach.
I love that you said that ‘I have hereby changed my mind on this approach’. Can I just say – we need to be able to change our mind. It’s all right to change your mind. When I was a kid I used to watch some of the horror movies in the ’80s. I think I watched Nightmare on Elm Street and I can’t remember what else. I would never watch those things now. Why? – Because I realize more than I ever had before that the enemy is real, and the darkness is real – and I don’t want to flood myself in darkness because we have our time getting out of it.
And so your question is:
How do I go for protecting my own mind and that of my family within our home?
So the first thing to tell you is don’t overreact. Right? Because there’s a good way and a bad way to react to situations like this. The good way is to say – Father thank you for showing me that this is not for me. Right? – we go back to Philippians: whatever is good, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is honorable, whatever is of good repute. Think about those things. And so we thank the Lord saying – thank you for softening my spirit so I could see that this is something that’s not good for me and it’s not good for my children.
And then, don’t wallow in it. Move on, move forward. Turn up the Christmas music. Turn on the worship music. I think we protect our minds by guarding them in Christ Jesus. And we do that by filling our heads in our hearts and our minds with things that we know honor the Lord. And you can do that by being in His words. So I want to encourage you to do that – get into the Word of God.
And there’s lots of great stuff on television that you can watch. Lots of great things for your children to watch. Our kids have been well versed in The Waltons. This is a great time of year to pull out The Waltons. It’s a great time of year to watch some of the old Christmas movies and really allow the Lord to just minister to your spirit because Ge wants to do that.
So I’m out of time for today. Thank you, Chelsea, for that email.
For those of you who would like to have your question featured here at Mailbox Monday please shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, I want to remind you again today is the first day of the Bible Study for the month of December.
Becoming a member at MomStrong International is just two dollars a week. And your two dollars a week really does help this ministry. It really does go a long way, and we appreciate that! And for that two dollars, you’re going to get a fantastic Bible Study!
You will notice that starting this month we’re changing our format a little bit. We’ve added a component for those of you who want to go even deeper in your Bible Study. We’ve added a little bit of a digging deeper section for your reflection, for you.
We are also beginning a Spotify playlist! And so those of you who are on the Scripture Writing Challenge and have subscribed to the Bible Study – you will see that we are starting a Spotify playlist for you as well.
We’re trying to make this a little bit deeper, and a little bit richer for just two dollars a week. And I want to just tell you that your membership is helping us to get this podcast out there and to have a staff that maintains what we do here. We really appreciate that.
Also this time of year it’s a great time to give to the nonprofit organization that we run. It is called Firmly Planted Family. And you can reach out to us with your letters and your giving at 11100 NE 34th Circle Vancouver, Washington 98682.
Thanks for listening everybody and for leaving a review for this podcast! We greatly appreciate it! Have a fantastic day and I’ll see you back here on Wednesday!