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Parenting Advice From Professor Harold Hill

Mothers of River City!

Heed that warning before it’s too late!

Watch for the tell-tale sign of corruption!

The minute your son leaves the house,

Does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee?

Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger?

A dime novel hidden in the corn crib?

Is he starting to memorize jokes from Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang?

Are certain words creeping into his conversation?

Words like, like ‘swell?”

And ‘so’s your old man?”

Well, if so my friends,

Ya got trouble,

Right here in River city! With a capital “T”

And that rhymes with “P” And that stands for Pool.


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Being Parents Who Are Failures At Perfectionism (via Chad Bird)

Contemporary parenting undertakes the burden of providing a perfect life experience for children. It is an expression control on the part of the parent, taking the role of a God in the life of their child. And the more micro-controlled that the upbringing of children is becoming is being accompanied by an increase in anxiety among them.

From Chad Bird:

God knows that if there’s anything our world needs, it’s certainly not more superparents. We need plain old boring moms and dads. The kind who are more concerned with modelling humble, loving service to their children than hot-housing them into superbabies who out-SAT and out-GPA their classmates. The kind of parents who are more concerned with teaching their children “the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears,” as William Martin writes, than the thrill of guzzling the intoxicating liquor of success. The kind of parents who are utter failures at perfectionism, at being heroes and heroines, at maintaining complete control of their child’s upbringing — in short, who fail at being a god — in order that the grace of God might succeed in our lives as moms and dads as well as in the lives of our children.
Most of all, we need the kind of parents who see their primary identity not as parents but as children. Before I am a father, I am a son of God. Before my wife is a mother, she is a daughter of God. Before we are anything else — parent, spouse, worker, citizen — we are children of our heavenly Father.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 94-95.


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The Gifts Parents Give Their Children That Break Our Hearts (via Sammy Rhodes)

Sammy Rhodes’ book This Is Awkward evokes a lot of familiar emotions as he writes about his own experiences with his father, and the impact those experiences have on his life and relationships with his own children.
Our first gifts to our children are the characteristics they’ve either inherited or learned from us.
And sometimes when we see in them what has come from us it breaks our hearts.
The beginning of our consolation and hope for change is based in a better Father whose love never scars.

A few years ago we were at a wedding in Augusta, Georgia. My daughter was six at the time, old enough to figure out that she loved to dance. As we walked through the doors of the reception, she made a beeline to the dance floor and was by far the first one out there. It’s funny how different your children can be from you. My happy place at a wedding is in the corner with a plate full of food and a beverage in my hand. Hers is the dance floor.
As she was dancing, a few older girls showed up, and they really knew how to dance. And as they started breaking it down, I watched my daughter crumple on the dance floor, eyes burning like lasers through these girls. I could tell she was angry, jealous, and insecure. Later as we climbed into the minivan (I could write a whole other chapter on the shame of owning a minivan) to head home, she was still upset. I asked her what was wrong, doing that thing parents do when they try not to laugh and cry at the same time.
Through gritted teeth, she said, “Those girls. I hate those girls. They’re better dancers than me.” And my heart broke. Not because those girls could dance, but because I saw the same perfectionism I’ve lived with for almost thirty-five years worming its way into the heart of my six- year-old daughter. That perfectionism robs all joy because it fixates you so desperately on your own performance, with the promise that if you can just be perfect everything will be okay. What perfectionism doesn’t tell you is that nothing will ever be perfect, you most of all.
Anne Lamott wrote, “Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pgs 28-29.


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The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short (via Sarah Condon)

Though parenting young children can be the most demanding of seasons in a person’s life, it is also a time that our minds return to with an increasing fondness as the years pass.
Sarah Condon writes an essay on The Work Of Love which is parenting:

It is hard to recognise that you are in the sweetest time of your life when you are in it. People often say to young parents that “the days are long, but the years are short.” They are right. In a very short time my children will be adolescents, and then teenagers, and then I will have one very quiet house. I know that there are happy years beyond these. But for some holy reason, these are the years we return to in our memories, even decades later. I am convinced that the work of love we do stays with us no matter how much time has past.

Sarah Condon, Churchy, Mockingbird, 2016, pg 59.


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He Knows If You’ve Been Bad or Good…and Fills Your Stocking Anyway (via Carrie Willard at Mockingbird)

We never really did the Santa Claus thing, but we made sure everyone got lots of presents.
Regardless.
One mother’s struggle to observe some of the cultural expressions of Christmas without yielding to its anti-gospel narrative of performance rewards.
A taste:

My six-year-old asked my nine-year-old this question in the backseat of my car recently, and I tried to squelch the “of COURSE he is!” that was dying to escape from my throat.
The nine-year-old, who is the tallest innocent I’ve ever met, said that yes, he believed that Santa is real. The six-year-old had his hang-ups. “What would make you say that he isn’t?” I asked from the driver’s seat, imagining a list of logistical challenges that one man might have distributing gifts around the world.
Instead I got:
“I just can’t believe that he thinks we’re so good,” he said. “I mean, everybody sins. All the time.”
Read the whole post here.


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A Basic Rule Of Parenting

A basic rule of parenting: No one wants to play with it, until someone wants to play with it; then everyone wants to play with it, but not together.
To illustrate:


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If Parents Were Honest With Their Children

I heard a scrap of a conversation about the fine practice of not lying to your children yesterday.
It requires a bit more finesse than this.