LIFE SKILLS: GIVING

My husband likes to read financial books and websites. He likes consulting with financial gurus. In our home, he’s the one who handles the budget, because he’s simply better at it. Year after year, we have made adjustments in our budgeting and I believe we are better at it now compared to when we first started.

We have learned a lot about saving, investing and living below our means from all the financial advice we’ve heard. But there is one principle that we’ve both learned from our parents that is not normally mentioned in “How to Get Rich” articles.

It is found in Proverbs 11:24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

We want to raise our children to be generous. We want them to give freely when there is a need, or even when there is none, but just so they can be a blessing to others. I remember years ago, on a plane to the US, Janina wrote a card to the pilot and put a dollar bill in it from her allowance, saying that the pilot has been working hard to bring us all safely to the States.   I also remember a time when we were in the car, and Ryan saw a street child without slippers, and he removed his slippers to give them to the boy. Nathan, too, many years ago, decided to give his Play Station to a friend. During the typhoon Ondoy, they all cleaned out their closets to give clothes to the flood victims. There are times when it’s effortless for them to give, there are times too when they withhold and need a little prodding from us.

A few months ago, our kids decided to pool their savings and sponsor a feeding program of the Real Life Foundation. We scheduled it last Saturday at the Real Life Center in Pasig with our family and friends who volunteered to help.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Giving is an exercise of the heart. Not only will our kids learn to love people more, but their faith will be strengthened as they see God providing for their needs and beyond.

Luke 6:38

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

WHY OUR KIDS MISBEHAVE part 2

If you haven’t read part 1, click here.

The 2nd point I wanted to comment on from the video presentation was this:

Punishment and rewards are the biggest time-wasters and the least effective ways to get any child to really listen and respect you.

On the contrary, I think it is very dangerous not to let our kids experience the consequences of their actions because it is not like that in the real world.

Again, there are many new parenting methods that come out every year, and in the 14 years of parenting experience I’ve had, I still see that the old, time and tested ways of the Bible is what works the best.

Eph 6: 1-3 says “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

The Bible often talks about promises that accompany those who obey God’s commandments. God rewards His obedient children.

On the other hand, the Bible is clear too about the place of discipline and punishment whenever there is disobedience.

Heb 6: 6 says “because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

Proverbs 13: 24 says “He who spares the rod hates his son but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”

An important principle our kids should learn at an early age is that there are always consequences to our decisions and actions. That’s just how it is. Everything we do has a consequence.  If my toddler keeps on insisting to touch the stove, I will swat his hand, rather than let his hand be burned. If he associates the swatting with the touching of the stove, he will eventually learn that he is not supposed to touch the stove. I would rather be the one to inflict the pain, than see his hand burned, which is far more painful than my swat.  If I ask my teenager to clean his room, and he does it without hesitation, I might take him out for coffee or ice cream to reinforce his behavior.  Punishment and rewards are great teachers. Not only for a child, but even for an adult. When we allow our kids to suffer or enjoy the consequences of their actions, it is not because we want to manipulate them to do what we want, but it is because we want to equip them to make the right decisions in the future.

Ultimately our goal is for our kids to honor God, obey Him and please Him in everything they do because they love Him. Not because they are afraid of God’s judgment or because they are just after God’s rewards. We also want them to obey us, their parents, out of their love for us, not out of fear or so we will give them what they want. Punishment and rewards, among other things, if used properly and with balance, can help us achieve this.

Hebrews 12: 11  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”


ACCEPTING AUTISM

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI had a lengthy talk today with a mom who had a child diagnosed with autism. I was so amazed at how this friend of mine talked so openly about her son’s condition, with neither shame nor anger. Her son was diagnosed with autism before he turned 2. Since then, it’s been a life of research, attending conferences and therapies for her son. After 6 years, her son has shown a lot of improvement and is very functional.

I asked her what single, most important advice would she give to other parents who are going through the same thing. She said it in one word: Acceptance. Unless a parent accepts that her child has autism, he really will not take the necessary steps to deal with it. And with autism, the earlier you intervene, the higher chances for improvement. That is why acceptance is key.

According to her, it is not hard to identify the signs. Usually, an autistic child does not socialize with others. He prefers to be by himself and does not establish eye contact. He doesn’t like to be in loud, crowded places like parties or malls. He likes to line up things like blocks, or toy cars or anything he can get his hands on. And he has language delay. If you see these signs in your child, it is best to have him checked right away.

Psalm 127:3 says that “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.”

I honor this friend of mine, because inspite of her son’s condition, she sees him as a reward, a blessing. A child’s value is not based on how he looks, or how smart he is or what he can do. It is based on who he is, and every child is a child of our Heavenly Father.

That makes every child special.

GUARDING YOUR EYES

We were at a convenience store the other day with the kids. While I was getting the stuff I needed, I noticed Ryan standing by the magazine rack and he looked like he was shuffling and rearranging the magazines that were neatly stacked in rows. I gave him that glaring “what-are-you-doing!-leave-those-stuff-alone” look while walking quickly to where he was. As I was getting closer, I realized what he was doing. He was turning the magazines the other way, but not all the magazines, only those that had skimpily-clad women on the cover. He told me “It is not good for people to see these.”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I felt so proud of my little boy. At 6 years old, he understood what it meant to “guard your eyes.” One of the biggest challenges we parents face these days is how to protect our kids from images that can mar their innocence and purity. Whereas years ago, you would need to go to “adult stores” to see explicit material, now you just need to drive down our highways and there they are, left and right, and a million times magnified before our very eyes. It is sad that we’ve had to ask our kids many times to cover their eyes and turn away while in the car on the road because of those graphic, uncensored billboards that are supposed to advertise clothing brands, yet their models are hardly wearing any.

Our kids’ tiny minds will almost immediately soak up images they see, whether good or bad. We need to teach them to guard their eyes. They need to know when to look away, or flip the channel, or close a window in their computer. And we need to train them early. Or media will train them otherwise.

Job 31:1 “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.”

Janina, who just turned 11, was relating some of her experiences to me from the last schoolyear. She made a conclusion that made me laugh out loud! She said,

“I think girls are the more advanced species.” LOL

WHY OUR KIDS MISBEHAVE

Another message from facebook:

hi ms. jenn, i just stumbled upon this video link and i thought of sharing with you and want to know your thoughts. questionable though
http://happychildguide.com/presentation/v1/how-to-get-your-child-to-listen_1/

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I clicked on the link and watched the video presentation for about 15 minutes and decided i didn’t want to buy the book they were selling. There are a lot of new books out there on parenting and it is quite tricky to choose what to read and apply. I always use one filter to choose which books to read : the Word of God. For this particular book, though I didn’t read the whole material, there were 2 points the author raised from the 15-min presentation that to me are questionable: ( I will discuss the other point on my next blog)

1. The real reason why kids misbehave is found in the child’s brain chemistry. When a child experiences stress, there is an increase of cortisol in the brain and therefore, they are unable to think clearly. An increase in cortisol will cause a child to be hyperactive, argumentative, defiant, annoyingly whiney, throw tantrums and not listen and even become physically aggressive and violent. Whenever cortisol level goes down, children will listen, behave and relate better to the world around them.

(Again, I wanna make it clear that I didn’t read the whole book, and this is not a book review. I am basing my comments on the stuff I heard from the video presentation alone.)

I feel the point stated above is a bit off in 2 counts.

First is, though I am not a neuroscientist, and I am sure that there are things that happen in our brain whenever we are stressed, the real issue is not in the brain, but in the heart. The book talks about “Scientific Tricks to Stop Misbehavior”. Any parenting method that doesn’t address the heart, but only focuses on external behavior falls short. It is just like putting a band aid on the wound but not really treating the infection.

Matthew 15:19
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
Luke 6:45
“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

Our kids sin because they are sinners. When a child grabs a toy from another, it is because there is selfishness in his heart. When a child hits another, it is because there is anger in his heart. Our kids need a Savior who will transform their hearts to be more like Him. We need to introduce our children to Jesus.

Second, we need to teach our kids to behave even in the midst of stress. Parents these days have overly used stress as an excuse for their children’s misbehavior… “Oh, he’s just sleepy” or “he’s hungry.” As much as we try as parents to be sensitive to our children’s needs, we need to teach them to do what is right inspite of their circumstances. I remember Joseph, when he was seduced everyday by Mrs. Potiphar, he still stood by what was right, inspite of the fact that his stress levels were off the charts… he was forsaken by his brothers, sold into slavery, working in a foreign land, (seemingly) forgotten by his God… yet he did not misbehave, but did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. A lot of criminals have committed their crimes because they were stressed… maybe one desperately needed money for his wife’s cancer, or another needed to feed his kids. But stress is not an excuse.

John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Even Jesus made it clear that trouble will be a part of our lives. But if we help our children cultivate a relationship with Jesus, they will know how to overcome.

The most important thing we need to do as parents is to introduce our kids to their Creator. It is not about external behavior. It is about what happens in the heart. It is about teaching our kids to surrender their lives to our God and loving Him and pleasing Him in everything. A changed heart results in the right behavior. If our kids understand that their lives are to honor God, they will strive to do it…even under stress.


WILL YOU EVER SEPARATE?

A conversation with Ryan, our 6-yr old as we were driving home:

Ryan: Why do couples get married and then separate?

Paolo and I try to explain the different reasons.

Ryan: Dad, Mom, will you ever separate?

Dad, Mom: Of course not! We love each other very much and we will stay married until we die!

Ryan: That makes me sooooo happppyyyyyy!!! 😀

It is my hope and prayer that every couple realizes how secure their children feel when they know Dad and Mom love each other and will stay together. Security is not found in material things, but in the relationships that really matter.

SETTING BOUNDARIES FOR OUR KIDS

Today our little Joaquin got hold of a marker and started drawing on a small board. After a few minutes, to my shock, I realized that his marker started to wander off the board and onto our floor. Had I not caught him in time, I’m sure his marker would have made it to our walls, and bedsheets, and clothes.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Joaquin drawing on the floor
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Good thing he was using a washable marker

I wonder how our house would look like if Paolo and I didn’t have boundaries for our kids. According to my daughter Janina, this place would look like a “dumpster.” Empty bags of chips all over, dirty clothes in the hallway, wet cotton balls stuck on the mirror (yes they’ve done this), drawings on the walls, CD’s on the floor, kids screaming at each other and possibly hurting each other, etc, etc. You get the idea.

We set boundaries for our kids at home for a long-term goal. We want them to be able to know how to live within the boundaries of God’s word. I know a few well-meaning parents who allow their kids to do everything they want and realize that their kids have a hard time adjusting to the rules of their school or behaving in other people’s homes. The worst part is that they will have a hard time living according to the will of God. If kids got used to doing their own way, they will have a hard time being in submission to any kind of authority.

Psalm 119:9
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Janina and Joaquin having fun at their 2nd cousin's Luis' 1st Bday Party