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Archive for May, 2012

Terrific Twos

May 25th, 2012

If you’re a parent with children of toddler age or older, you can probably relate to the stereotypical scenario of the public meltdown in aisle seven of the local supermarket, and perhaps, understand why the phrase ‘the terrible two’s’ is applied to children at that stage of life.  I’m a dad to a 2-and-a-half year-old (who is already planning her 3rd birthday party), and I have to say that my experience so far is that this is the best age yet! Let me give you some examples of why.

So we’re trying out the see-saw at the playground and my daughter says ‘I’m happy’. Rewarding enough! I then ask ‘what makes you happy’, to which she replies ‘you make me happy’, at which point I nearly fall off the see-saw, overcome with parental joy.

Here’s another one: ‘Daddy, I don’t like your singing’, ‘why not?’, ‘because I’ve got finger paints’.

How can anyone talk about the terrible twos when your toddler comes out with gems like that?!

Now don’t get me wrong, there are definite challenges of this stage. In fact I’d say that as well as being the best age yet, it is also the most challenging yet (although admittedly I’ve only a couple of years’ experience to draw on!). But the delights of daily seeing my daughter develop as a person and discover the world far outweigh the difficulties. The main reason I can say this is because I have the perspective that being a Christian parent gives me.

Firstly, the perfect model that my Heavenly Father is for me as an earthly one.

Secondly, the fact that there is a purpose to it all, which Colossians 1v28-29 explains well; to present our children mature in Christ. No mean feat! But this can be done with all the wisdom, power and energy that He provides!

Thirdly, the fact that being a parent is a faith thing. We can walk in utter dependence upon God, and while we can’t do it without Him, with Him we can prevail and have a healthy family life and fulfil the purpose of seeing our children develop to maturity in Christ.

Fourthly, the dreaded ‘D’-word! In the last 6 months we’ve had to discipline our daughter in some form on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. This is a big challenge and my wife and I have wrestled with questions like ‘are we being consistent?’ and ‘are we going to ruin our relationship with her?!’ But again, the Bible has much encouragement! Hebrews 12v11 says “no discipline is pleasant at the time, but painful”. That pain is felt by the parent as well as the child! But it also talks about God’s disciplining of us, and how it means that He is treating us as sons and dealing lovingly with us. God’s discipline means that He is shepherding us, not leaving us to our own devices, and that He has a plan to make us more like Jesus. Discipline is an act of God’s grace!

Knowing God’s discipline has definitely helped me to reflect His grace-filled approach to disciplining my daughter (although I don’t always get it right!). And the more I have to do it, the more I understand that discipline is a good thing, and an essential tool in reaching the parenting goal of our child’s maturity[1], and salvation[2].

So if you’re a parent to a toddler, or to a smaller tot who will soon be running around, talking non-stop, and pushing at those boundaries, be encouraged! God is using you to bless your children, and there is a purpose and a goal to it all. Oh, and don’t forget – enjoy every minute!


[1] Proverbs 22v15 & 29v17

[2] Proverbs 19v18 & 23v13

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No more Mr. Nasty

May 16th, 2012

What on earth has happened to Simon Cowell! I wonder if at last he presents us with compelling evidence for alien abduction. A couple of years ago, he was in his X Factor judge’s seat, dishing out the cutting, pompous put downs that had become his trademark, then after a year in America, he returns with a saintly smile and a newfound love of puppies.

In fact, it’s not just Mr Cowell who has undergone this amazing transformation. Saturday evening’s plethora of talent shows has become full of Katarina Witts, Danni Minogues and Craig Revel Horwoods queuing up to out-mean Mr. Nasty. But not any more. The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent have been most notable for their judges’ camaraderie and general nice-ness.

The bodysnatching theory seems to fall flat when confronted with this cross-channel sea change in the tone of our prime time viewing. I don’t think it can be explained by a genuine moral change in the individuals involved either. Surely this is all calculated and deliberate. The only sensible explanation for this flurry of encouragement and pleasantness is that the market research has convinced the TV executives that the British public has had enough of nastiness (at least for the time being).

I think that, as Christians, we need to take this to heart. In offices full of gossip and slander, it is so easy to be sucked into the habit of character assassination. We can be led to believe that abstaining from such conversations (or even worse, combating the tide of viciousness) might cause us to be regarded as irrelevant and trite. Similarly, sometimes as Christians, living in a world that is often so hostile to God and his values, we get the idea that we should be openly and aggressively oppositional towards our culture- being the first to criticise unwise government policy or ridicule public figures who hold views that we consider anti-Christian. You don’t have to spend long on Facebook to find Christians even slagging off other Christians who veer from their theological position.

However, we are called to be the light of the world. This means that we should show people a way to live that is different but also attractive and winsome. Deep down, the world is fed up of back-biting and an over critical spirit. Let’s show them something different. Are you known as the type of person who builds people up or cuts them down? Would people expect you to be critical first or encouraging?  In your defense of the gospel, even in the face of hostility, do you speak with pride and aloofness or with ‘gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15)?

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