Do We Need a Mother's Union?
by Mary Pride
It's almost exactly ten years now since I first became aware of a major change in our society's attitude toward mothers. I was shocked to see even the Christian media adopting the same view I had held as an radical feminist, namely that out-of-home careers are all that count.
Since my own conversion had required changing my careerist life direction 180 degrees, I was not about to buy the idea that careerism was God's suddenly-revealed will for Christian women, while motherhood should be downgraded to the level of playing with dolls (you pick them up when you want them and put them away when you don't).
After years of praying for guidance, the Lord finally led me to start writing The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality in 1982. The book took me three years to write. Through a miracle, Franky Schaeffer (whom I still have never met in person!) became my book agent, and Crossway Books published it.
I thought at the time, "That is that. I have done what I can." Then the mail started. Hundreds, then thousands of women started writing to me, asking if I knew of resources for living a Biblical lifestyle, telling me their stories, and offering encouragement.
I began noticing after a while that many of these women were suffering what could only be called persecution. I got literally scores of letters from women telling how they had been put down by (a) their families, (b) their churches, and (c) their "friends." I got scores more letters asking, "What do you say when people ask you, 'Do you work?' or 'What do you do at home all day?'" So many, in fact, that when we started HELP we put in a regular "Zippy Answers to Snippy Questions" column.
Now, it seems, the persecution has moved beyond name-calling to actual oppression. Senator Chris Dodd, aided and abetted by "conservative" Senator Orrin Hatch, has re-introduced his infamous bill to set up a federal daycare bureaucracy, taxing mothers who stay home to pay for the daycare of those who don't. The bill has other ominous features, such as the way it channels money only to rigidly counterChristian daycare institutions.
Why is Senator Dodd doing this? Get this: Welcome Home of April 1989 reported Dodd as saying at a subcommittee hearing, "I don't see why we should give a Child Care Tax Credit to women who are at home doing nothing, when we could be supporting women who are out working, making a contribution to society!"
How long are the mothers of America going to put up with this? Imagine if Dodd had insulted blacks, or the Jews, or even the homosexuals, like that. He'd be out of office before you could blink. But because, in all these years, nobody has gotten across the message that mothers at home DO work, and that our work is valuable, U.S. Senators feel free to insult us.
The people who publish Welcome Home, recognizing our lack of representation, started an organization to represent mothers at home, called (appropriately enough) Mothers At Home. Now comes the really bad news. In the last issue of Welcome Home-the same one containing Dodd's infamous comments-was an editorial urging us to make common cause with "working" mothers. The way we were supposed to do this was by recognizing that they are just as good mothers. In fact, even better mothers. In the words of the editorial, careerists are "experts at organizing, accomplishing errands, and helping children become more responsible." Meanwhile, moms at home have these great contributions to offer: "watching a shoelace being tied [and] sewing a special stuffed friend while dinner is burning." In other words, moms at home have no legitimate reason to exist. Careerists do everything good that we do and are more organized besides. Moms at home are not needed. And these are the people who are going to represent us and give testimony in Washington?
I think at-home mothers need a union. I envision this not as another activist lobbying group, but as a membership/benefits group that can also give some tangible expression to our combined point of view. If we could get a reasonable chunk of the millions and millions of at-home moms to join, people like Senator Dodd might start to notice we exist. We also plainly need encouragement, training, and direction. All this could be supplied by a Mother's Union.
Let me tell you what I have in mind. I'm thinking of a group you pay, say, $20 a year to join. In return, you get a magazine and scads of benefits. Some ideas: a sample week of free diaper service . . . free flowers when you have a baby . . . a Mother's Network so you can find new friends wherever you move . . . an Old Wives' network of experienced mothers to help us with our questions . . . free business cards with the group's logo . . . group health and life insurance . . . credit cards for members with no annual fee. The magazine would locate books and other resources useful to us in our profession, and alert us to opportunities and threats. The leaders would do their best to educate business, government, and other groups as to our worth and role in society. All this would be run along the lines of the American Association of Retired Persons, which incidentally is one of the most powerful groups in the country.
As you may have guessed, Bill and I are considering starting a Mother's Union. We also would like to start a Father's Union, to inspire and energize American men to protect their wives and children and to take up their rightful leadership role in society.
As far as we can see, the Lord has prepared Bill and me for the job of starting these unions. We have diligently reinvested a good portion of our earnings in equipment, so we have the capability to do a lot of the union's work already. With a fax (which we have) and modem (which we are about to get), I could contribute help to the office without leaving home. We know some people who know some people, so we can at least hope we would be able to find good helpers. Above all, we have fighting spirit and faith in God to make a lot out of a little.
Now I'm asking you-what do you think of this? Write and tell us. It could be that nobody but us (and the few leaders we have contacted) think a Mother's Union is a great idea. Or it could be that a Mother's Union would find tremendous support.
We're not going to throw ourselves into this unless we can see that enough people out there, quite frankly, deserve our efforts. If American mothers actually enjoy taking it on the chin every day, nobody can help them. But if you, like us, think it's about time real mothers and dads got some respect, tell us so, and we will give everything we have to serve you.
HELP FAMILY N-E-W-S
Greg and Evva Hoover wrote to announce the birth of their baby, Lincoln Gallagher, born February 27, 1989 weighing 7 pounds 14 ounces. See Evva's letter about the loss of her last child in the Grief section in this issue.
Pamela and Michael Boswell also report the birth of a beautiful baby-a girl, named Arianna Daisy Sarah, born December 30, 1988 [Just in time for a tax deduction! See how God plans things?-Ed.] Arianna was 7 pounds 12 ounces. And if I read Pamela's last letter right (you may not believe this) she is expecting again in December.
This item is a little (!) out of date, but still worth including. Paul Boner reports the birth of Sarah and Clara, identical twins, born at home on July 6, 1988. Paul says, "We were wonderfully surprised when Sarah was born, to find there was another blessing within. We feel greatly honored that God would bestow this double blessing upon us. And just to think that if my wife and I had decided for no more children after the fourth, we would never have known the wonder of these twins, Sarah and Clara. Our midwife was as excited as we, for this was her first twin birth. All went well. I'm still excited!" The twins were both a nice healthy size: Sarah Elizabeth (the same name as our oldest daughter!) was 6 lbs. 13 oz. and Clara Esther was 7 lb. 13 oz.
Tom and Liz Adleta have volunteered to either help with or plan a Family Camping Jamboree for the HELP family for this summer. They wrote, "We felt that possibly Colorado would be a good central location, but would need to connect with someone there for arrangements for a site and local needs. Is anyone in Colorado interested in helping plan in this way?" The Adletas also would like to know what sorts of activities you would like to see at such a Jamboree. Some possibilities: "Simply a location for a family camping vacation . . . workshops . . . group discussions on various topics . . . inspirational speakers . . . family worship times." They also raised the possibility that some might want to help them come up with a Resources and Reference List to hand out to the attendees. Summer is almost upon us, so get in touch with them quickly if you'd like to attend or help! Their address and phone number is in the HELP Network Corner at the end of this issue.
All the Way Home is finally done. It's an oversize quality paperback, $12.95 plus 10% shipping from Home Life. This book contains many wise comments and tips from HELP readers! It is a follow-up to The Way Home-a "how to" book, whereas The Way Home was a "what to" book.
I am now just finishing my second book co-authored with Paul deParrie, Ancient Empires of the New Age (to be available mid-summer). As you might suspect from the title, this book is the story of the ancient struggle between paganism and revealed Godly religion. It proves the "New Age" is not new and its reappearance is not necessarily a sign that this is The End. It also shows why the pagan empires are no longer with us, and why they sometimes were allowed to temporarily conquer God's people.
I have received all sorts of letters about Linda Dillow's book, Creative Counterpart. Some accuse her of being soft on abortion; others say she is OK. The source of this confusion has now been unearthed. Some editions of Creative Counterpart take a neutral stance on abortion (my copy of the fifth printing, for instance). Others take a pro-life stand.
Susan Eipper from PA writes, "As regard the slight debate about Linda Dillow's Creative Counterpart, I think the problem must involve a change in her opinions (perhaps only from doubt about abortion to certainty it's wrong) which is reflected in her revisions for a later edition. . . . I think her earlier statements were flabby and wimpy, admittedly, and certainly they angered me when I first read them eight years ago. But anyone can become convicted and change."
Thanks to all of you who sent me pictures so we can pray for your families. We asked HELPers to send a photo with your names and prayer requests on the back, and have truly enjoyed meeting many of you this way.
It appears that our prayers for sufficient time to do our work are being answered. Our publisher agreed to shift our book publication schedule around so several of our projects would be due next year instead of RIGHT NOW! We are very grateful for all the people who work at Crossway Books-it is a pleasure to work with them.
Now our request is for more energy, especially for me (Mary). I have started a regular exercise program, and it is helping, but I still have a way to go to get back my ol' oomph.
We also ask for prayers for little two-year-old Johnny Guenther, who has lost all ability to communicate, blink, and even swallow due to a tragic accident at a friend's swimming pool. May he recover. Our children pray for Johnny every night.
A reader wrote asking about vasectomy reversals, asking "Do you know of any group that will help couples in our situation to fund a reversal? We would make payments back into it and would gladly continue to do so to help others."
I think such a fund would be an excellent idea. Anyone out there want to start a charitable Sterilization Reversal Fund? The Fund could locate doctors who are willing to do reversals for little money and help with travel expenses and (in some cases) the cost of the operation. In my view, such help should be in the nature of a loan rather than a gift, but an easy-terms loan. The Fund could also publicize the need to NOT get sterilized in the first place; keep statistics on reversal successes and failures; and so on.
Of more immediate interest, note the info on inexpensive reversals under the "You Asked" section.
NEW FEATURE: MIDWIFE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS!
Beverly Miller, a certified childbirth educator and Christian midwife with over 500 births' experience, has volunteered to answer your home birth/baby care/herb-related questions. Send these questions to "Midwife" at the Home Life address, and we'll pass them on to her!
QUESTIONS FOR THE HELP FAMILY
I'm scared of having a lot of babies. I'm afraid of not being accepted by friends and family (my family already thinks I'm weird). I'm afraid of never having a minute to myself, and I'm especially afraid of the pain in giving birth (and ashamed to admit it)....
Tell me, are you ever nervous about the birth or giving birth, the pain and losing your composure?
Do you have any explanation for why grandparents are sometimes so hostile to the idea of more grandchildren, when they are not providing financial support?
Sheila Bice, WI
Could you share in a future HELP issue a specific, detailed discussion of what you do on Sunday [or your Sabbath, for you S.D.A.'s] and perhaps have others share their ideas, too?
Tom and Liz Adleta, OR
Are there any other families in the Central Oregon area interested in pursuing a radical approach to worship -that is, including the entire family in the prayer, praise, and the message? We'd like to get in touch with them! [The Adletas' address is in the HELP Network Corner.-Ed.]
To Jean Slocum-You're right, it was unfair of me to respond to your letter the way I did in #3. I still agree with what I said, but it didn't need to follow your letter. Forgive me?
RESPONSES TO LAST ISSUES
Marilyn Beattie, WA
My heart went out to Liz Messick of Delaware. I would love to encourage her if we could somehow get in touch.
I recommend seeking advice from the Cesarean Prevention Movement. Address: CPM, PO Box 152, Syracuse, NY 13210. They are not a Christian group, but can offer many resources to those seeking natural birth after cesareans. Sometimes women need help learning to labor, so their labors will not be unproductive. (And doctors need to learn to let them follow their own labor patterns!) I also recommend the Brewers' pregnancy diet. I had my healthiest babies (though also my greatest weight gain-60 pounds!) following this diet.
The last issue of NAPSAC News had some marvelous statistics and news about VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). NAPSAC's address is below, under the "You Asked" section. NAPSAC membership is $15/year and is well worth it for anyone interested in good, safe childbirth and family medical rights.
Pamela Boswell, CA
Congratulations for perfectly describing what it is that bugs me about those "Should we have a second baby?" articles. [Pamela is referring to the lead article in issue #4, "Motherhood: Hobby or Career?"-Ed.] For years I have been trying to figure out exactly why those types of articles and the magazines they're published in irritate me so much. I used to think it was because the editors and writers seemed to be totally oblivious to my existence and others like me (those of us with more than two children and/or those who wanted to have large families). Reading those magazines became so frustrating and, at times, even enraging to me that by the time my second child was born I no longer subscribed (yes, I'm ashamed to admit that I once was a subscriber to Parents) or even picked up free copies of those types of magazines. Unfortunately, since then (because of poor planning!) I have several times found myself in a waiting room somewhere with one of those magazines screaming at me with such provocative titles as "Is Breast Really Best?" or "House Husbands," and have proceeded to read them. Once I get over the shock of discovering how far out of the mainstream I have drifted, I then am filled with grief that this type of propaganda is all the information most new mothers are exposed to. Your idea for a booklet with truly useful time-, child-, and mother-tested advice is great. In the meantime, those of us who are "master" or "journeyman" moms should do whatever we can to be supportive, encouraging, and inspiring to the "apprentices" in our midst.
Karen Rhodes, VA
How thrilled I was to see my letter on the front page of your newsletter [issue #3]! Your answer so encouraged me, and has really helped me with my time management, although I still panic at times.
As for why people write to you when they can search the Scriptures for themselves, I certainly feel that I check out others' opinions by the Bible, but the Bible doesn't give specifics on how to teach reading and clean house at the same time.
Someone has said that asking for the lessons learned by others' experience is getting for free what they obtained at great cost. It's time-efficient for me to ask a mother of six for tips, as well as those in your readership with even more children and experience.
I am writing to dispute something I saw in HELP #3. The article said, "We have found that if parents . . . saddle the older ones to babysit constantly, that these girls grow up and don't want to have children, saying, 'We've been caring for children for years.'"
I am the oldest of five and enjoy babysitting to a degree. I find it frustrating sometimes because they (my younger brothers and sisters) don't always listen. I find it easier to babysit outside my family.
My big dream is to have a dozen children. So maybe what the article said is true for some-but not me!
Judy Traffie, NH
My heart went out to dear Ruth Beckett from MI, whose letter was printed in issue 4. I was wishing I could write to her personally. Would it be possible to include complete addresses at the top of the letters? . . . [What do other readers think?-Ed.]
Regarding Ruth's question, yes, I know of others who have conceived while nursing completely. I personally have not been able to nurse due to an insufficient milk supply. This has been a heartache for me! It has pretty much been determined to be an inherited physical problem. (I feel like I've been told or read every hint on nursing! . . .)
Our children are 4 years 3-1/2 months, 3 years 2 months, 2 years, and 11 months old. So you know I can understand the fear of getting pregnant right away. I had a most difficult time with that fear after our third child was born. I know God's Word says that children are a blessing-but I had difficulty believing it, when I felt so overwhelmed.
Then after our fourth child was born, I again felt a fierce inward battle, and lo and behold my sister found The Way Home at the Bible Store. My heart rejoiced! I felt an inward peace after reading it-just to rest in God's promises!
Our baby is now eleven months old, and I am not pregnant! Sometimes it feels weird, and sometimes it feels normal! I just experienced a miscarriage, so that was a lesson to remind me that God is in control-I am not just a baby machine!
So, to dear Ruth all I can say for encouragement (?!) is that others have had similar experiences. Just continue to trust and obey, and pray to God for strength every day-it's a daily journey....
GLAD YOU ASKED . . .
Janet Aldridge of GA asked in HELP #4 for plans for inexpensive multifamily houses. Barbara Wiedenbeck, WI, replies:
I'm not sure if I have the answer or not, but Antiquity Reprints has house plans from the 1890s, which are wonderful fun to look at and ponder. Back then they made houses huge too, so even though kitchens would need some redesign, etc., there are wonderful possibilities with these plans, both for large and extended families. The cost depends on how many of the books they want, but the address is: Antiquity Reprints, Box 370, Rockville Centre, NY 11571.
Several readers have written deploring the high cost of sterilization reversals and asking if we knew of any doctor(s) that did this operation for less than the normal $5,000 or so. Charlotte and Henry Siems of OK gave us this info in a postscript:
The doctor who did Henry's reversal was an extremely skilled surgeon who feels that God has given him a gift for surgery. Being poor college students, we checked around on prices and found that surgery here in Oklahoma City would run about $5,500 with a two-day hospital stay and general anesthesia. Talk about depression! Then we found Dr. Streeter and could hardly believe that his fee was $1,000, including facility and local anesthesia. It was worth it to fly to Chicago and stay in a motel two nights.
Dr. Streeter said that this surgery is really not all that complicated (and I think that doctors are just trying to make a buck and discourage people from having children).
Would any readers be interested in his address? Here it is: Dr. Dennis L. Streeter, D.O., 1212 North Broad St., Griffith IN 46319.
A good male friend of ours went with Henry while I stayed home with the children. They flew up on Friday morning and were home Sunday evening. Henry was able to return to work by Wednesday. The surgery itself was only 30 minutes (usually 45 minutes) and his recovery was uneventful. The hospital that I called in OKC told me that the surgery was "four hours under the microscope."
We are now JOYFULLY expecting our fifth child....
Liz Lynn, MD
I read with interest the question in issue 2 about submission when your husband doesn't want any more children. I feel that you should submit, but pray and ask God to change his mind or overrule your husband by sending the children anyway. That's how I was blessed with my youngest two children (we have four).
Denise Kuppinger, WA
What is the Brewer diet that you mentioned in issue 4?
It is found in a wonderful book, What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know: The Truth About Diet and Drugs During Pregnancy by Gail Brewer, R.N., and Tom Brewer, M.D. Dr. Brewer has made an extensive study of the causes of pregnancy problems, notably toxemia, and his diet (which stresses lots of protein and salting to taste, among other things) has been proven to prevent these problems. The book is available from NAPSAC, Rt. 1, Box 645, Marble Hill, MO 63764, for $4.95 plus $1 shipping, and also from Great Christian Books.
BOUQUETS & BRICKBATS
For quite a while now I have been sitting on a pile of very nice letters, wondering if it would be "tooting my own horn" to publish any of them. Then Teaching Home ran two issues in a row in which they only published letters critical of my articles (even though people had also written in with positive comments), and I suddenly realized that to only publish negative comments about yourself gives a very skewed view! So feel free to write in with your constructive criticisms and your encouragement! Some of the latter is reproduced below.
I thoroughly enjoyed HELP #4. There were times when I thought I had the odd view of motherhood, etc., but judging from the articles in HELP I am very normal. What an encouragement! Some of your concepts and ideas are new to me, but I am certainly giving them lots of consideration and thought.
Liz Ensley, LA
I get so much out of HELP that I was a little flabbergasted at Kathy von Duyke's letter [in issue #4] pointing out the "whining" in the letters you receive. Then I remembered how confident I felt before we made our last move. I had friends in my church who shared the same views I have and we could share problems and needs from a common value base. Once I moved, though, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. We have a good church full of fine people, but they have not grappled with a lot of the issues which are so important to me. I came on rather strong at first (expecting agreement) and now I am considered nice but rather "strange." So knowing there are soul sisters somewhere out there has been a true life-saver to me.
Nellie Myers, KS
Thanks for HELP. It's great. I am amazed and in agreement with your boldness to tackle any topic-sensitive or not.
Since we are at a very liberal, East-Coast "mainstream" denominational seminary, we have absolutely no support for our views. Sometimes it gets very lonely and I begin to wonder if I'm really as crazy as everyone here seems to think. Usually, just when those feelings are at their worst, an issue of HELP shows up and reminds me that there are other people out there who believe in family life.
Nancy Campbell, Australia, Editress Above Rubies
I was so excited about your book, The Way Home. It is the best and most challenging book that I have ever read on family life....
Thank you too, for the HELP magazines which you sent to me. I loved reading every word of them....
Karen Rhodes, VA
I just want to say that your book The Way Home took away my fear of aging. (I turn 30 next month.) I realized life could become more full, not less, with time, if it is family-centered. Thank you!
Sheila Bice, WI
I just completed Bill's book Flirting with the Devil today, and had to write to say the book is so WONDERFUL with a POWERFUL and TRUTHFUL message! Kevin has started it too, and likes it. I think each chapter is better than the one before and all are great!
Liane Jablonski, MA
I've also just finished Flirting with the Devil and it was also excellent! Carl has just started it, and may I encourage Bill by saying that just the fact that he is a MAN goes a long was in making that message acceptable to men. . . . There are so many points in the book that I agreed with so strongly, and what an encouragement! Things like: constant sin struggling, prayer demands and gimmicks, problem Christians getting never-ending counseling and attention, bogus salvation lingo, church dictators, etc!! One point that I knew but never really understood was: to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who does not have, it shall be taken away. It seems sometimes that to suggest that God actually rewards a Christian for doing right is equated with teaching works-after-salvation-for-approval-by-God. Somehow, it's not supposed to be fair that God sees any difference in Christians' day-to-day living! ....
FREE P.R. FOR LARGE FAMILIES
Mira Pence, OH
Our seventh son, Jethro Moses, was born August 10, 1988. He weighed 10 lbs. 3 oz. We had a wonderful labor and delivery in the birthing room at our local hospital.
The public relations director of the hospital contacted the city newspaper about the birth of our seventh son. The newspaper wanted to do an article on us immediately. So they took our picture as I was leaving the hospital. A news reporter came out to our house that Friday night. We were shocked to see the article on the front page of the Sunday paper. We thought maybe they would put us in the back of the paper. Incidentally, we live in a university town . . . and believe me, it is full of liberals.
Of course, Mira's story is a little unusual in that her seventh child is also her seventh SON!
TEACHING CHILDREN TO SPEAK RESPECTFULLY TO ONE ANOTHER
Jackie Torkelson, AK
My husband has always maintained that the way you speak to a person is one of the most important things in life. He has always spoken to me with respect, and I know the children pick that up from him. We have been married for 19 years and I can count on one hand the number of times he has not spoken properly to me. A few times the children have been present. When this has happened, he has gathered the family together and apologized to me in front of them.
From the time they can talk, our children have heard how they are to talk to each other. To make it stick we have a money incentive. We have 11 small cloth bags hanging on the side of the refrigerator (like old-fashioned closet shoe bags-I just made them easily myself). Each bag has a family member's name on it. In each bag are ten pieces of money, all of the same denomination, depending on the age of the child. Rebekah has ten pennies, Dad dollars, and everyone in between nickels, dimes, and quarters. The idea is for each person to have something different, but we couldn't get the government to make 30-cent and 60-cent pieces just for our family! So more than one child has nickels, etc.
When one child does not speak respectfully to another, he must take one of the pieces of money out of his bag and put it in the other person's bag. If two are arguing with each other, they must exchange a piece of money. This makes the older child the loser, as he may lose a quarter and only gain a dime. This is to keep an older child from teasing a younger one to the point of getting the younger to yell at him. Also the older child is held more responsible. The exchange of money also must be accompanied by an apology.
Once a week we have what we call Family Night. At this time you may have all the money that is in your bag! The bags are filled again and the new week begins.
Mom and Dad are held responsible, too. I once yelled at all of my 6-9-year-olds at once. I had to give five pieces of my money away!
This has been very effective for us. Some children are able to keep all of their money for a week. Others will lose one or two pieces, but rarely more.
A variation on this theme: We thought this was a neat idea, but didn't have time to make or buy bags, so we are using unmatched socks! Also, in our family, a fracas will frequently go beyond yelling to physical stuff (Irish blood!), so money is exchanged over every unpleasant interchange!
"SERVANT OF THE WEEK"
Jackie Torkelson, AK
Another tool we use is what we call "Servant of the Week." The initials are SOW because we are trying to teach that you reap what you sow. If you sow kind thoughts and words, that is the way people will speak to you. The servant of the week is the child who has been the most helpful to his brothers and sisters during the week, willingly helping a younger one get strapped in his car seat or some other such help without being asked. The key is seeing someone who needs help and going to his aid. It's part of our attempt to cultivate a servant's heart. When you have a servant's heart, you treat each other with respect.
The reward for being Servant of the Week is threefold. We have a large, colorful poster that says, "Servant of the Week." We have large name cards for each child. The winner's card is placed in the appropriate spot on the poster. We also have a small trophy that has a spot for a small name card. That is his for the week. Then he gets some unique honor, like staying up late with Mom and Dad to play a game and have a special treat. During the week, Clarence may bring home a variety of donuts. The Servant of the Week, will get to pick first. Etc.
We sometimes have more than one servant if two children tried particularly hard. Some weeks we have none!
DON'T WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR!
Liz Messick, DE
People are constantly remarking on what exceptional children Keith and I have, and how remarkable it is that they act the way they do, and can do the things they do. This makes me uncomfortable, and also very sad. It isn't that I don't think my children are wonderful-they are! And I could go on for pages telling you about them! What saddens me so is that these other parents don't believe that their own children are exceptional or remarkable, and none of them are taking the time to find out....
I hear so much talk from parents about "getting through it"-surviving the terrible twos, hanging on until this or that stage is past, gritting their teeth until the teenage years have been negotiated. Even the wonderful times aren't treasured, because they are anticipating a better day.
When Tim's first Christmas came, he was eight months old. While we were enjoying it, savoring all the precious moments of a crawling baby batting at low-hanging ornaments, opening his present for him while he chewed on the wrappings, and nursing quietly in the glow of the Christmas lights, it seemed like everyone else was saying to us, "Just wait 'til next year! Christmas will really be fun then!" The next year, at about 1-1/2, Tim happily crowed, "Ope, ope!" as he handed us packages, he still chewed on the wrappings, and he clapped and cried, "Sing, sing!" as we sang carols around the tree. And everyone said, "Just wait 'til next year!" Now Tim is 3-1/2, a veteran of four Christmases, and we have so many treasures in memories of all we have done together, at Christmas and all year through. But still there are some who say to us, "Just wait 'til next year!" It is sad. There is so much joy in every year, in every moment, that they are missing.
At least these Just-Waiters were cheerful! My pet peeve is people who say, "Just wait 'til next year . . . when it'll be terrible twos . . . or when your teenager will start rebelling . . . or when your daughter will want to date". Personally, I think we are better off ignoring both the prophets of gloom and those who try to prevent us from enjoying the present!
KIDS R KIDS
Liz Ensley, LA
Our society expects children to grow up so fast. How awful that can be for both child and parents. Weaned by six months, potty trained by 1-1/2-heaven help you if they suck their thumbs or want their momma, school at three, etc., etc.-followed by drugs at ten, sex at twelve, and suicide at fourteen...
Connie Goodhart, CO
I wanted to respond concerning child training, especially "sibling rivalry." (I think a better title is "sibling disobedience.") I was raised in a family where fighting among the kids was thought of as normal. But I think it is very abnormal, typical maybe, but not normal.
We do not allow our children to fight with each other. If they can't act in love to each other at home, how can we expect to be a witnessing family in public? Especially a home-schooling family, which needs to set an example.
How do we deal with it? The Bible is very clear on child training and behavior. Prov. 13:24 says, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he that loves him chastens early." Discipline needs to always be done in love. So if my children fight or treat each other unkindly they get disciplined for it. There is much more peace in the home when children are taught from a young age to love and respect one another. There will be differences, but they can be handled and forgiven.
Also, at times it is necessary to discipline your children in public or at another's home. I encourage parents-be bold, handle the matter then, in love, even if you need to leave the room or go outside. The reason children aren't thought of as blessings is that most parents don't really TRAIN their children!
Don't wait until they are two years old, either! Search the Scriptures. God gives us a clear plan on how to train our children to be the blessings He meant them to be.
GIVE TIME A CHANCE
Liz Messick, DE
One mistake I have made, and sometimes continue to make, even though I should know better, is in thinking that everything is permanent. What I mean by this is that when one of my children does something like sleeping all night, or refusing to go to sleep, for example, then I immediately jump to the conclusion that the situation is permanent! Children, I have found, rarely "jump" from one stage to the next-instead, they take a few steps forward, then a step or two backward. A child who sleeps all night long at three months of age (is there such a child?!) will not necessarily do so at four months of age, or fourteen months of age, or four years of age! At four months, he may need to nurse in the night; at fourteen months he may be fussing from cutting teeth; at four years he may need to go to the bathroom. And the reverse is also true: spitting-up ends, all children sleep through the night sometime, and your efforts at potty-training will one day be successful. [How true. Have you ever seen a high-school kid who wasn't yet potty-trained?-Ed.] Sometimes you have to give them a little push forward and, more often, sometimes they drag you kicking and screaming to the next stage of their lives. But whether you breathe a sigh of relief when a hurdle is gotten over, or whether you shed a tear for the baby the toddler has left behind, don't lose sight of the fact that, for better or worse, this part of life will not last forever. It sound simple, but all mothers need to be reminded now and then!
THE IMPORTANCE OF DISCIPLINE
Nellie Myers, KS
Two incidents in our family life have illustrated two very basic points of discipline to us.
One day, while upstairs, I heard a thunderous crash. Thinking a child may have overturned my desk, I flew downstairs. Ed was home, thank God, and together we found our oldest daughter, as white as a sheet, in the hall surrounded by an avalanche of books, bricks, shelves, broken glass (from the ceiling bulb and globe), etc. Elizabeth had not been hit by anything.
She confessed (after she had settled down) that she had been climbing to get the toothbrushes just to look at. We could see then how dangerous a "little" sin could be. (We also saw that we should not stack unattached shelves so high.) God had protected our child while He taught us some lessons.
I had stepped outside to call my oldest two children to lunch. My nine-month-old was outside also, standing beside a large bucket about chest-high, splashing his hand in the water there. A house painter had left the bucket, and with the Houston rains it was always full, except this time. I had emptied half of it, just in case little Joseph ever tumbled in.
I stepped back inside the house to change a two-year-old's diaper. My children did not come to lunch. "I'll make them skip it," I told myself. Then the verse in Ecclesiastes came to me about "executing sentence" speedily against an evil work to avoid greater evil. So I got up and made my lazy self go to the door.
As I opened the door, I gasped in horror. There was my baby, partially tumbled upside down in that bucket. I raced to him and grabbed him. His face had been entirely submerged in the water. As nearly as I could tell, he had just fallen in and hadn't yet swallowed any water or become discolored.
I thanked God for giving me His own little verse to save Joseph's life. I spanked the oldest two immediately and emptied all the water in the bucket.
A third "must" in discipline is daily illustrated to me-use the rod.
"Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). I use Proverbs constantly to authorize my handy "rod," and quote Teddy Roosevelt often-"Speak softly and carry a big stick."
Wow! Aren't these stories something! If I were you, I'd gather the kids around and share these stories with them, as part of their training in both obedience (as kids) and diligence in discipline (as future parents).
TO CHILDLESS YOUNG WIVES
Liz Ensley, LA
Oh, how I wish I had begun homeworking before my children were born! I worked up until two weeks before Beth was born and I know I did not get to savor that time as I would have liked to.
Also, I am now trying to learn how to manage my home while I am also trying to learn to raise children. I wish I could have gotten some housecleaning, gardening, and cooking skills down before I added children.
A friend recently shared about how little support she gets for staying home since she has no children. Yet she serves God in her church, in the Gideon Auxiliary, and in a pro-life counseling ministry. The Lord may not grant her children, but He is using her to save the lives of other people's children. We need more women like her in the church!