Guiding Our Children in a Sexualised Society

Pole dancing kits for girls, high heel shoes for babies, pornography symbols and images on children’s pencil cases and sexually suggestive slogans on children’s clothing. These are some of the more shocking examples of the landslide of sexualisation that is sweeping our children as they helplessly stand in it’s passage.

Sometimes a landslide isn’t always dramatic, landslides often happen as little by little it creeps forward and erosion gradually occurs before a catastrophic result.  There are examples of subtle forms of sexualisation everywhere.  Music videos with suggestive lyrics, dance moves, skimpy clothing, airbrushing in magazines, billboards flashing bare skin and adult content and innuendo in advertising.

The result of our kids being caught in this landslide is grave. Girls who get caught in this sexualised society can have low self esteem, unrealistic body image, anxiety, eating disorders and depression. And that is just the beginning.

Boys can also have these side effects. The other danger is that boys are receiving an inaccurate message that girls are a commodity. We need to raise our young men to value women and not think of them as a sexual service station.

Sexualisation is defined as making something sexual in character or quality, or to become aware of sexuality, especially in relation to men and women.  Thanks to our hyper-sexualised society, adult sexual concepts have crept into children’s worlds. Of course kids are simply not cognitively ready to handle sexual content. Before coming to terms with your sexuality, you first need to be confident in your own self and your own worth. Becoming a secure and balanced person should be the focus during childhood and teenage years. There should not be a pressure to be sexy or sexual.

Wishing for a future with no sexualisation
Wishing for a future with no sexualisation for our children.

Sadly sex is cheapened and it’s value diminished as it becomes a major cog in the wheels of popular culture. So often children growing up in families who are very cautious to what their children are exposed to still receive mixed messages in the sexually saturated society.

So how can we guide our children through this sexually saturated society?

There is a lot to be said for limiting exposure to sexual images and content. I make no apologies for keeping my children sheltered from concepts they are not ready to deal with.  I think it would be naive to think that you can simply shield your child from all the sexual onslaughts that seem to soak every street corner. not to mention the dangers lurking online. (For heavens sake, a child searching for a You Tube clip on Dora can inadvertedly come across a whole heap of “Dora” that would make Boots and Diego blush.) I think it’s important to speak to our children and teach them to be critically aware of issues so they can be on guard and responsible.

Here are some ways:

Watch TV with your children
Yes, this can be a chore. But hey, you may have noticed that parenting is full of chores. ABC 3 isn’t always compelling viewing for an adult or you’d prefer to be catching up on work rather than viewing a music clip. However, as you watch, there is a good chance that you will start noticing hidden messages (or perhaps not so hidden?) that are in these shows that are not part of the values your family upholds. Discuss with your child, (not lecture), the issues which will gently guide their awareness so they are not blindly being indoctrinated. This applies to all forms media and popular culture.

Set Boundaries
Don’t be afraid to not let your child watch certain things. Or wear particular clothing. Or listen to inappropriate music. Explain to your child why you have set those boundaries and communicate that you make these boundaries because you love them. If they’re not feeling the love. Remain strong. The love will catch up to them someday!

Role Model
Mothers be careful about what you are communicating to children through your actions. Don’t obsess about your weight and image in front of your children. Eat healthily with them and resist the urge to do fad diets. Fathers treating your family, and women in general, with dignity and respect is a particularly strong role model for your kids. A Father’s positive words and actions have enormous influence on his daughter and his behaviour is a guide for a son’s attitude toward women.

Challenge the Status Quo
Don’t just protect your own family from our sexualised society. Speak out for the benefit of your own children and those voiceless children who are suffering from the side effects of this sexual pollution. Sign petitions, write letters of objection, speak out against sexualisation or post links to articles on social media. Join websites such as Collective Shout and become aware and engaged in the fight for purifying our culture. The challenge may seem insurmountable, but little by little our collective voices can make a change!

The Australian Psychological Society has more detail on helping girls have a healthy self image.

Let’s call our families and our society to a higher level. Remember, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

This is another post in the series I am doing for my friend Letitia. She is cycling 40km in 40 days Cycling Challenge and seeking to raise awareness about women’s issues for her 40th birthday. Tish speaks on this video about sexualisation.

I did a double take when I saw the shirt she was wearing at first! I get so mad when I see blokes wearing shirts like that. How dare they expose my children to soft porn. How.Dare.They. I hope Tish burned the shirt when she was finished with it. It did help her make a good point though.

Fighting for Our Daughters Ride | Week 3 from Toowoomba City Church on Vimeo.

If you want to support Letitia and make a donation, head to City Women and follow the links.

Has the sexualisation of our society ever made you mad? What limits do you set in your family to protect your children?

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Simple Ways to Celebrate Valentines Day as a Family

Simple ways to celebrate Valentines Day with your Family

As a family we celebrate Valentines Day together. Why should we not? It is a day to celebrate love. Love is not always the manifestation of romantic love. Families are mostly the first place children receive love and where they are loved and learn to love. It doesn’t need to be a huge fanfare, it can be simple but sincere. Celebrating Valentines Day can be a great opportunity to build security, pride and belonging into the family.

1. Giving Gifts

My husband and I give gifts to each other most years – we’re not religious about it. Sometimes only one of us will give the other a gift, sometimes both, sometimes none. It’s not an expectation, but we view it as an opportunity to do something to physically demonstrate our love. I’ve started doing something little for the children. A small car or little lollipop, maybe wrapped up or placed at the dinner table when they aren’t looking. (Last year I popped a chocolate at their place setting when I thought the kids were pre-occupied with something. They have a sixth sense for these sort of things and within a minute the chocolate was sussed out, the word had spread and the two year old triplets were doing their best to eat all chocolates at the table and there was a very (unloving) battle brewing in the defence of uneaten chocolates. They might be a year older, but immaturity still reigns I think I will re-think my strategy this year! (Plus three year olds are always spoiling for a fight. Another reason to encourage love!)

Place setting chocolate on Valentines day

This year, when I mentioned to the children that it was Valentines Day tomorrow, spontaneously three of the children disappeared doing a craft activity for a gift. “Because,” my sensitive little five year old project leader told me, “I wove you and evweyone in our family vewy much Mummy.” Cue heartmelt.

2. Demonstrating Physical Affection

Mum and Dad, have a kiss and cuddle in front of the kids! This doesn’t gross our kids out yet, but if/when it does, we’ll continue doing it anyway. Because no matter what they say, there’s a sense of security that children have when they know their parents are in love. If you’re not particularly demonstrative it doesn’t need to be a big deal, but just try a new little romantic gesture. It’s kind of nice.

This is also a great chance to get affectionate and cuddly with the kids. A snuggly cuddle for the little ones or a loving embrace for an older child. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget to be demonstrative with our love. Let Valentines Day be a reminder to reassure your child of your love for them.

3. Speak Loving Words

Valentines Day can also be a great prompt to speak words of love to your partner and children. Think of specific things you love about each person and find a moment to tell this to each member of the family. Alternatively, write some loving words into a note or a card. Even if you feel cheesy doing it on this particular day, loving words that expressed sincerely will always make an impact. During a family meal talk about what you love about your family unit and how we make one another feel love. Make your children proud of growing up in a love rich environment!

4. Craft Activities

Doing some simple craft activities with younger children is a great way to talk about love to the children while physically doing something. It gets it into their vocabulary and it sets the scene for later celebrations.

5. Food

There are so many fun ways to present food on Valentines Day. Do some baking and present it with a heart shape. Find heart shaped sprinkles or try to theme your food as red or pink. Cook a special dinner that the family all enjoy eating. Set the table particularly special. Light candles. Children love candlelight eating! (I’d recommend advising the children before the meal starts what the action plan is for blowing out candles. Otherwise you may be re-lighting them all night or dealing with meltdowns over who blew what out!) Use this opportunity to teach children how to think creatively to set the table for a special occasion. Pick flowers together or make place settings or table decorations.


So Happy Valentines Day to you and your family! I hope you all have a loving day!

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An Anniversary Getaway

I have discovered that one of the great delights in life, now that I am a parent, is to escape to a five star retreat with my husband. I explained in my last post that it is tiring having two year old triplets. Conveniently, it was our anniversary last Friday night and we had organised to escape overnight to Brisbane. After such a hectic week, the opportunity to relax and unwind was certainly appreciated.

So, as much as I love my five munchkins, it was a happy heart indeed that I had as I waved them all goodbye and Grandma drove them out to her farm for a sleepover Friday afternoon. I then ran into town and did an errand, rushed about and was still late when The Accountant arrived home early to pick me up so we could be on our way. (Confound the 24 coloured pencils that I had decided to start labelling for school when I should have been showering!)

10 minutes later I was ready to go, and we headed to the Stamford Plaza, Brisbane for a beautiful overnight stay. When we arrived, there was a slight moment of panic when we realised our online booking had not been received. Luckily there were still rooms available, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled to be placed in a room on the 21st floor. We adore a room with a view! Not to mention beautiful decor and l’Occitane products in the room. Devine! We smelled so sweet!

We then rushed down to George’s Paragon at the Eagle St. Pier and just managed to get there for our dinner reservation. We had a very yummy and generous meal. When I was 23 weeks pregnant we had gone to Aria, which was just downstairs. It has been one of the dining highlights of my life. Alex much preferred the seafood, and particularly the size of the portions upstairs at the Paragon, especially his “Paragon Platter”. I must admit my schnapper was delightful as well.

We had a lovely table on the balcony, (thanks to a delightful waiter who upgraded us!) overlooking the Storey Bridge.

We happily dined and wined and chatted the evening away before ending it with a brief stroll to our hotel.

Another delight when getting away is buffet breakfasts the next morning! The Stamford had a great summer package with breakfast and parking included. Alex and I have now developed a routine when we go away. Alex reads his free newspaper and I read whatever novel I am consuming on my kindle. It is so nice after all the years of marriage to sit in companionable silence participating in an activity the actually is really unwinding for us. We look up and have a chat occasionally or share something about what we are reading. We always eat at a leisurely pace and head up to our room ready to start our day refreshed.

After breakfast, we both did a little more reading before we left!

This time it was only a quick getaway, so after breakfast we checked out, more problems, this time with the bill, but that was happily sorted out without a fuss also and we went for a walk in the drizzling rain down beside the Brisbane river and then back through the Botanic Gardens. A quick walk into town, Alex grabbed a coffee and then before we knew it, it was time to go back home and pick up the kids.

We are very blessed that we live close to three of the children’s four grandparents and the children are more than happy to stay with them on the odd occasion. It makes it so much easier to arrange these little getaways. If you are able to getaway and do something that you love with your spouse, it really is lovely to return to your children’s with the fresh glow of love for one another. I know it is not always possible, but for a child to have a Mum and a Dad who are very much in love, is one of life’s great gifts. It gives them identity and security so it is always worthwhile taking the time to escape and recharge when it is possible.

Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess.

*PS. It’s not that I’m opposed to doing so, but I wasn’t paid or gifted by any of the commercial venues mentioned above. I just wanted to mention some places that we have had a great time at – you know, in case you want to copy, because we feel very flattered when we are copied. Yes, really, we do!

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Practical Strategies for Parenting Strong Willed Children, Part 2.

If you are parenting a strong willed, or spirited child, it is always useful to have some strategies up your sleeve to work through various issues with them. The strong willed child can be a challenge today, but stay strong, because ‘tomorrow’ he will be an amazing adult, and all the antics he (or she of course!) have performed will make great stories to tell! When we channel the strong willed energies and train our child self control, obedience and respect, the strong will becomes an asset in their life. Sometimes it helps to remember the bigger picture during their childhood. Because some days your pure objective (if you are like me) is to get to the end of the day without committing homicide. (That was a joke people!) Seriously though, I did explain earlier in the week the emotional toll that parenting challenging children brings.

So in the meantime, strategies help us to get from day to day. These are quite simple really, and you are probably already doing a lot of these things. If you are like me though, it’s always good to be reminded and put them into action, even with a slight twist. Yesterday I gave some strategies – check it out here. Here are five more that might be helpful, or at least a good reminder.

1. Give Them Cool Down Time

When the situation has become tense or out of control, allowing your child to cool down is useful. I often think that it is akin to pressing the ‘reset’ button. It is important to remember that the child is very aware that the cool down time is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Whatever you require of him/her still needs to be done. However, a cool down time gives them to pull their emotions together and re-enter the situation with a good attitude.

It sounds ideal. My experience is that this strategy is not always guaranteed success. Sometimes your strong willed child will use the time to strategise more hideous approaches to bad behaviour. Don’t give up though. Also, it’s important that during the calmer times, you sit down and discuss the benefits of correctly using the cool down time. If you can talk things through when the situation is not heated, it will have more impact when that time is required. You can also brainstorm with your child ways that they think could help them cool down. This way the strong will child feels a part of the process and doesn’t strive to buck the system as much.

Encourage the child to request cool down times as well. It is actually teaching them self control and awareness of the signals that they are becoming angry. The ideal is to get the child to regulate their own emotions after all. Be aware, if your child is like mine. They will try to manipulate the system, so make sure you make the boundaries clear. My child started to run outside at the start of being corrected claiming he was needing to cool down. I had to explain that he needed to obtain permission to cool down by asking politely. This in itself was a battle. But if I let him run out whenever he wanted, I could clearly see that he was not making a heart response and was avoiding being truly repentant.

“Cool Downs” I have used have been:

  • A simple time out. Especially when the child is younger.
  • Going outside for five or ten minutes. 
  • Read a book together.
  • Do a different activity together and then return to the topic that had caused dissension.
  • Go for a run. (I talked about this yesterday.)
  • Send them across the road to the neighbours for half an hour.
  • Go over to Grandmas (or someone you trust who can handle a child that is in an agitated state) for a little while. (This is after big meltdowns, it’s been one of my most useful reset button. Although if the child is too agitated, you need to know that the person will be able to handle any continued bad behaviour.)
Use an App to Reward Behaviour

For realz! There’s an app for that? Yes, there is! This is one my most recent strategies! I have recently downloaded Story Bots Beep and Boop onto my iPhone. The kids love it! I’m sure there are other apps out there. I haven’t gone exploring yet. If you know of a brilliant one – share it! Because at some point in time I’m sure Beeps and Boops will get boring, so I’d love to have something else to fill the spot.

Basically, it’s like a sticker chart, only on your phone. Which suits me, because I am hopeless at sticker charts. You get a beep for doing good things (and you can label the behaviours, such as being kind to bro/sis, or tidying room) and boops for bad. I actually am very sparing with my use of boops. I prefer to utilise this tool for pre-dominantly positive reinforcement. Mind you, the boys are always dobbing one another in to get black marks against each others name. (That’s a whole different issue.)

Spend Time Alone With Your Child

If you know anything about “Love Languages” some children value quality time more than others. That’s my Jonty. But like all love languages, it should be applied to all children whether it’s as important to them or not. I often look for excuses to take the kids somewhere alone. (Although, I really need to start doing it more regularly with the triplets.) According to the personality of the child, it depends on how you do it. Jonty will pretty well flourish with any alone time, even if it’s just holding my hand and chatting while we go shopping. We’ve often done this and he often comments how nice it is. A little stop for a bite to eat is also a big favourite of my little sweet toothed child.

We went to the night church service, just the two of us and stopped at Maccas on the way home.

Trent is a bit more about the action. I will often take him to a park. Being a little extrovert he will then normally make friends with other children on the playground and launch into a game with them. (Where he will reign as supreme leader.) It sometimes feels a bit meaningless to me, but it isn’t. His eyes have a shine by the end and he will talk about it for weeks. I do prefer feeding ducks with Trent over playgrounds though, there tends to be more time with just us, and I do so enjoy time with my little fella.

Another good thing about alone time is it gives you an open opportunity to discuss some of the issues that have been arising in their lives. Talking this over in a relaxed setting is far more effective than trying to correct behaviour in the heat of the moment.

Cuddle Your Child

This is capitalising on another love language, “Physical Touch”. This
is Trent’s primary love language.  When he is in the middle of a meltdown, I will often say, “Trent, hang on. Do you want a cuddle?” He will almost always come straight into my arms, I cuddle him until he lets go, and normally the situation is diffused.

I’ve recently tried it to Jonty during an intense moment, and I was surprised that it completely diffused the situation for him too. I’ve used it several times since. I am also finding it helpful with the triplets. If they are having a two year old tantrum, I will pick them up and cuddle them. When they have calmed down, and it may take a while, everything is so much more calm. Somehow it just allows them to know that despite any bad behaviour, I love them unconditionally. We are then able to continue a discussion calmly and if there was something the kids needed to do, there will normally be less or no complaining as they do it.


Did I surprise you with that heading? If so, that’s because it’s not a strategy that is promoted normally, especially by the experts! But hey, I live in the real world here! And seriously, bribery does not have to equal corruption.

Most of us respond well to rewards, and bribery is simply capitalising on that human instinct. The key to using bribery successfully is to use it sparingly. Choose your moment, and consider your wording, because if you say it correctly it’s not so much as a bribe, but rather the consequence of making wise choices. For instance. Instead of saying, “Tidy up your room and then you can play a game.” Say, “Your room needs to be tidied so that things are more organised in there. Once you have tidied it up, we will play a game together in there because there will be room to play comfortably.”

I think the reason why bribery is discouraged is because there can be so many dangers attached when it is done incorrectly. Children can learn that they don’t need to do anything unless there is a reward attached and it can encourage greed.

Sometimes, bribery is simply a sanity saver for a mother. If you do use bribery infrequently, abolish guilt if you have to say, “Sit quietly and then you can play my iPad”. There are mounds of guilt we feel as parents. It’s not useful. Be aware of the pitfalls of bribery and make every effort to avoid them. But hey, if you’ve just had a really stressful week and you need to use the DVD as a babysitting service for a few hours, go ahead. There’s always next week, and you can plan heaps of face to face activities to make up for the screen time. Sometimes a parent’s sanity needs to be saved so that we all reach the next week!

Do use any of the above strategies? Got any good forms of bribery which work a treat on your kids? Is there an app that assists your behaviour management strategies?

PS. I’m finding it very motivating letting you know what is coming up next. That way I don’t back out of writing a post! So, next week I’ll share a great book to read with your kids and let you know of some activities we did with it. Also, since I’ve talked a fair bit about my older two boys this week, I’ll give you an update on what life is like with 25 month old triplets!

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Practical Strategies For Parenting Strong Willed Children

Having a strong willed child requires a lot of strategies to help your darling offspring grow into a valuable member of society. The key is to stay positive and never, ever give up on your child. That is why it is so important to keep on the lookout or be reminded of strategies to help you both along your journey.

On Tuesday I shared a raw and emotional post on my Insecurities while raising a Strong Willed Child. I also promised to share some strategies today to include in your parenting toolbox. This is not an exhaustive list, and these are pre-dominantly strategies, there are a lot more methods for administering discipline and order in your home. I will share the strategies first, because even though a lot of parenting experts believe you need to understand the method first, I know as a parent, I’m always hunger for some ideas, some how-to’s. Even if it’s to give me some temporary respite while I further research the ways to tackle the underlying issues. Having said that, most of these strategies will actually work towards addressing the root behaviour anyway.

Of course these ideas can be applied to your child that is not strong willed also.

So here are 5 strategies to help parent a challenging child.

1. Say, “I’m proud of you.” 

Be on the lookout to praise your child. I will regularly lean across to my kids, whether they are actually doing something really fantastic or even just looking cute and whisper, “I’m so proud of you.” quite often it is in the middle of something, so I don’t even say any more than that. But when I do this, his little face lights up and whatever he is doing, he does with renewed vigour.

I’ve often done this during a church service. When we are shopping I might whisper this in his ear. At home when I see him exhibiting a pleasing behaviour I will tell him I’m proud of him and then tell him exactly why that behaviour is something I’m proud about. This morning I told him I was proud of him sharing a special car with his brother and how important generosity is.

Another little phrase that also makes him lift his shoulders and head higher is, “I missed you.” After we have been apart for some reason. Jonty now often asks if I missed him.

On the beach recently without kids. I made sure I told me kids I missed them when I got home.

2. Follow through the strong willed child’s threats.

When my two eldest are angry, they make all types of threats of things that they want done or are going to do. Of course they don’t want it done most of the time, and are just trying to get their own way, and sometimes it is even their intention to hurt you as much as possible in the process.

I have been trying to teach my kids that they need to “Say what they mean, and mean what they say” (Right Horton?). Following through on their threats is one strategy that they use which has slowed down their use of rash statements.

On my post on Tuesday, I shared how my son went and threw his birthday presents in the bin during a tantrum. (I’m sorry if you are one of the people who gave him a present, it really wasn’t personal or any reflection of the quality of your gift!) Of course he fully intended to retrieve them, but when I went and got them and locked them away in my cupboard. I didn’t just give them back either. I made him earn back presents one at a time, or I have produced a present to do together (like puzzles or activities) as quality time.

Other examples of following through his threat:
I don’t want dessert. He didn’t want to eat his dinner. So I have packed up the dinner he wasn’t eating and sent him to bed. Trent is very slow to make this statement now.

We ALWAYS have dinnertime battles with Trent when pumpkin soup is served. This time he has safety goggles on ready for the occasion.  

I don’t want to go to the park. They didn’t want to do their jobs first. Guess what? They did the jobs. Then found the reward was missing.

I don’t want to share {that toy} So I took the toy away. And then they didn’t have to share it anymore.

Jonty also has made statements insisting he wants to do extra jobs when he is trying to get his own way and not do what I have asked him to. I have then allowed him to do those jobs, and then I still insist on him doing the original job I asked him to.

The thing with strong willed children, is they want to remain the one who is in control. If they learn that their loving parent is truly the one who is in control, they actually respond better in the future knowing the boundaries are secure and unmoving.

3. Go for a walk with your child.

I did this recently with Jonty and it had great results. We had been head butting a lot and Jonty had been losing his cool several times within a short time period. I left the other children with someone else, and drove him to a nearby short nature walk along a tiny little creek.

Jonty loved exploring. We got to talk about nature, such as rings on trees, birds and ecosystems. Towards the end, we sat down. I had brought my Bible and had a list of Bible verses on patience. We actually only read one passage. (The love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 – there’s a lot to discuss there.) Despite wanting to further explore, he did listen and start to ask questions. We then both prayed together. This was a great time to also apologise to Jonty about my own behaviour. Unfortunately, a lot of Jonty’s temper is my genes. So, he regularly sees me lose my temper also in a striking example of “Do what I say, not what I do.” And of course, that approach has very little success. It softens the relationship when you admit, apologise and ask forgiveness for your own inadequacies. It also gives your child the ability to observe how you work on your own issues. If I’m feeling angry, I have said to the kids. “Mummy is feeling really angry now and I’m about to lose my temper. I need to cool down before I speak to you anymore.”

We only have explore to the right of the track. I have promised Jonty to go back (it needs to be soon, because he keeps asking to return) and walk along the left of the track. I’m real

ly looking forward to it. And I still have my list of scriptures to keep sharing together.

4. Physically burn of the negative energy.

This is a great strategy to use when you see a storm brewing. Whenever possible, try to diffuse the situation before it becomes explosive. (While not giving in to their will. Work together if it’s possible, but don’t allow your child to make up the terms and conditions.) Rather then launching into a battle I will often send the agitated child outside with some instructions to do something physical to burn off that negative energy that is starting to surface. I might tell him, (because my girl is too young to use this strategy on yet), to bounce as high as he can 20 times on the trampoline.

Putting shoes on and run around the house, if you have a small yard, you will need to put a number of times to run around it too! I would get older kids to run around the block if necessary. A grandmother shared with me that she used to send her kids to run around the block when they were getting to difficult. This tip stuck with me, and since she has fantastic grown up kids now, I always thought I’d give it a try! She made her four kids run around the block in the rain once! They had been fighting indoors endlessly, and after the rainy block run, they came back best of friends! I have found a simple run around the house helps my little guy calm his emotions a little.

Make an obstacle course or physical challenge stations and tell them to complete the course three times. Record the time each time, and see if they can get quicker. Climb something.

A word of warning. If a strong willed child is dedicated to fighting a battle, this will not always diffuse the situation. But hey, it’s worth a try, because sometimes it does work. And you get to know the signs when distraction is futile.

5. Pray for your children at night.

Well, pray for children when you can and at all points of the day or night! But find a routine where you pause to pray for them regularly. For me it’s at night.

When I am tucking my children in before I go to bed, I will often pause, place my hand on them and pray. I will pray over a specific incident that has occurred during the day and ask God to heal any hurts. I will pray peace over our relationship the next day. I will pray that God gives me the right approach and strategies for dealing with each individual child. I will pray blessing upon their life. Sometimes, it will take awhile to do this, sometimes it will only be very short prayers. Sometimes I will notice a difference the next day if I haven’t prayed, and I stop for a midday prayer session by myself praying for the kids. Often, I don’t know the implications of praying for them, but I do believe with all my heart that holding our kids, and our parenting before God in prayer makes a huge difference in their lives. It also helps me to remember that my children’s lives belong to God. Their lives are his to mold and shape and grow. I am an instrument that He uses to assist this process. But at the end of the day, God is the one in control, and I don’t want it any other way!

I have another five strategies to share with you tomorrow. In the meantime, can you share a strategy you have found effective when dealing with your children’s behaviour? Let’s learn from one another!

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A Mother's Insecurities When Parenting a Challenging Child

Parenting is the most challenging thing I have done in my life. I knew it would be difficult and demanding, but I seriously had no idea how much heartache and anguish can accompany it. Of course there is also exceedingly joyful moments also, and always, ALWAYS my heart is overflowing with gratitude and a deep, deep unconditional love. Which is probably why the hard times are so difficult.

And we have been having hard times lately. Hard, hard times. Times where I have frequently been a blubbering mess. Times where I can’t sleep for fear that my child will not learn the important life lessons I am trying to teach. Because I know that if he does not learn these lessons, it will inhibit his ability to get the most out of life.

You may or may not have noticed that I have been a bit slow at blogging in the last few months. I want to blog more. I’m constantly composing blogs in my head. I’m always taking photos for the blog, and yet they so often get filed away and never used. The truth is that blogging is second place to motherhood and parenting is just sapping all the energy out of me. I have wanted to share this on the blog, because I believe that sharing our challenges is empowering for ourselves, and for others, particularly those who need to know there are others out there struggling with similar issues.

Yet, I haven’t. It’s just such a raw issue for me. This parenting business. Parenting my strong willed children. It is a phrase I have heard since childhood, my parents read James Dobson’s The Strong Willed Child. Yet, until you are a parent and have the responsibility of raising one (or more) of these strong willed children, it never hits you. The weight of the responsibility and the knowledge that you cannot make that child do anything. You can only present the best possible alternatives and scenarios and pray like mad that the child chooses the correct road, and when they don’t, you can only stand by, continue to love them, administer appropriate consequences and hope they learn from their mistakes. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.

The first time I just couldn’t face the blog because I was just feeling to emotionally exhausted was back in July. I was looking at Google Analytics today and could see a slight decline in readership since then. I don’t apologise for the lack of blog entries. My commitment should rightly always be to my family before my blog. However, seeing those statistics made me finally write this entry. Because sometimes, if I just had more self discipline, I truly could reach past my exhaustion and still write. Because writing, even when it is initially a chore, actually does re-fuel me. But most importantly, while the emotions are raw, it is often, not always, but often, the time when it can make the most impact. So, thank you readers for your patience, and I’d just like to say, please continue to be patient with me, and in return, I will try harder to not spend so much time trawling facebook haphazardly and flicking through Pinterest pinning things I rarely actually do, and I will pull out my inner reserves and write more – for both our sakes.

To be specific, let me show you where most of my heartache is.

This precious child. One of my greatest joys in life can also makes me heart ache the most.This little guy is an incredible human being. He is animated, talkative, caring and an all around cool little bloke. But he has a terrible temper. He throws things when he is mad. He breaks things in defiance. He hates to be corrected and sometimes I will start talking and he will go blindly running up the driveway in his (successful) refusal to listen. When he does remain for a confrontation, he can be nasty and will say things specifically to hurt you. (And he does that successfully too.)

We had been having a lot of temper outbursts from him back in July. After his birthday party he had a complete melt-down. It involved lots of yelling, crying, he broke a present by throwing it at the roof, (quite a feat when the ceiling is about 5m) and at one point he threw his presents in the bin. Which he instantly regretted because he was doing it for show, but I then took them and put them away in my cupboard, which then escalated his temper to a whole new level.

That night, after he went to bed, (and maybe a few times before), I cried and cried. I was a complete basket case. I was ultra tired from staying up late to make his birthday party a special occasion. And afterwards it all seemed so futile.

I am a mixture of emotions of late.  I am feeling vunerable. I feel like I am the one making the mistakes just as much as he is. I am very aware of my flaws (such as my own temper) and am terrified that the mistakes I make as I parent are going to be costly to my son’s life. My husband keeps reminding me that, Jonty has been created as an autonomous being. He has been created to make his own decisions about his life. We encourage him to make the wise decisions, but when we have done our job as loving parents, we are not responsible for his decisions in the end. They are his to make and his to claim ownership of. Yet, there is always that seed of doubt, because as parents it is necessary for us to guide our child, to teach and train them. I don’t want my lacks to result in him not heading in the right direction. Because after all, the world is full of people who have been injured by bad parenting.

I feel judged. Which is ridiculous, because when I stop and think about all my friends, my true friends would never do this. And they are the opinions I care about most. Yet, there is always doubt, that people are watching me and thinking, “If she only did this, this and this, she wouldn’t be having those problems.” Because, let’s be truthful, there are some people who are thinking this. Or I look at other families, with children who are not as strong willed as mine. I know that they have their own set of challenges, but I feel insecure that those parents do not know that I have tried many of the strategies that have worked for them, yet for my children, the response was minimal. I want to launch into self defence. I want them to know parenting is not a formula. And sometimes I do. But it is unnecessary. I do not need to defend myself. And I do not need to concern myself with their thought processes. Because God knows, I’m trying my best.

Most of all I am scared. I’ve often explained to my friends that I am scared because the stakes are high. And they are. With most other areas in my life, if I identify there is a problem, I will work hard to rectify the situation. I will change my behaviour, I will become more dedicated and persistant, I will conquer the problem. It’s not like that in parenting. You can identify an issue and work on it, but at the end of the day, it is a heart response I am after from all my children. And the thing is, despite my best efforts, I cannot be the one to make that heart response. I can’t make anything happen. That lies with my children. I can do nothing more than be the best wife and mother I can be and pray, pray, pray. Which is quite possibly the most important thing I do as a Mum.

I know that not everyone who reads this is a Christian. I respect that we all have free will to choose our belief systems. My faith is so woven into my life that my beliefs do help guide my parenting. I do not wish to force my children to believe in God. They will grow up learning about God though. Because my belief in God is the most influential area of my life. How can I not teach them something that means so much to me? People who believe in fit

ness as a way of life teach their children to be fit. People who have strong ideas about what foods to eat teach their beliefs to their children. Teaching spirituality to children should not be viewed differently. It is another dimension of life. However, what is important is that children know that spirituality is a choice. I share with my children what I believe, but I also teach them that ultimately their faith is their own. Of course I hope my child chooses Christianity. How could I not when everything I have examined tells me it is truth? But that doesn’t mean I will force my child to believe. For then it is not an authentic faith, and above all I want my children’s spirituality to be a guiding force in their lives.

I just wanted to make that little sidenote and ask for your understanding, not judgement if you do not agree with the facets of Christianity. (Because I have been attacked on this blog before for my Christian parenting.) I hope that you can still read this and know that if you are parenting a difficult child, you are not alone! There are others who share your struggles and your pain. Blogs are all about being authentic, and the real me relies on Jesus to help me through my pain, and he does. If you don’t believe this is a valid belief system, that’s OK. If you haven’t combined spirituality and parenting and the idea intrigues you, feel free to email me (address in the bar on the right) I would be happy to answer questions, or just even pray for your individual circumstance with you.

I’m sharing my insecurities with you to encourage others. Your insecurities are just that. They are areas where your own personal lack of confidence makes you nervous or feeling discouraged. Don’t allow your feelings to be any more then feelings. Acknowledge this the way you feel, but hang in there! It is not a bad thing to have these fears – to a certain extent. Because in reality, a lot of the things I have mentioned above are points I need to remember because if I am complacent in my parenting, then I am not helpful to my son. If I absolve myself of all blame, I leave him on his own, when I should be doing everything I can to help him. But at the end of the day, I need to know that it is not my power that Jonty or the other children need. I am only human. I pray that they will connect with a Higher Power – God – and allow the Holy Spirit to assist them to becoming the people they are designed to be.

People with strong wills are designed to accomplish much. They have a tenacity to tackle problems and fight for the outcome to be achieved. That is a terrific characteristic to possess. Here’s to guiding our children into maturity and cheering them on from the sidelines as we watch them to develop into amazing people who make a powerful difference in the world.

Do you have a child who you find challenging? Do you have insecurities that buzz around inside your head? 
On Thursday, I will share some practical tips that have assisted me with parenting because it’s always good to have some ideas in your toolbox! I know there are some days I’m so hungry for a new strategy, because sometimes you just need a fresh perspective because your own toolkit just isn’t adequate.

Following up this post I have shared some strategies to parenting Strong Willed Children. See Part One and Part Two

I am linking up with Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesday

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