What’s Your ‘Mom’ Thing?

We all have at least one—that mom thing we like to do for our kids. That little gesture that we use on a regular basis to communicate without words that we love our kids. For example, one mom makes her kids’ lunches for school every day. Her mom did that for her, and she enjoys passing on the tradition to her three children.

I do hair. Each morning, I brush and braid my two teenager daughter’s hair. Once a month or so, I cut my two boys’ hair. Sure, the girls could do their own hair, but I enjoy it and they enjoy having me do that in the mornings before school.

It’s wonderful that we each have a regular way we connect with our kids. The trick is not to have so many “mom” things that your kids aren’t doing things on their own.

Please share your “mom” thing!

A Parent’s Back To School

At the start of the school year, it’s not just the kids who face an adjustment—parents do too. From homework to teacher conference to after-school activities, this time of year can be overwhelming and chaotic.

But don’t despair—help is right around the corner! Join me, along with five other parent coaches, on Friday, Sept. 15, for A Parent’s Back to School Facebook Party, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:10 p.m. Eastern time. Here’s the lineup of topics each coach will discuss, along with giveaways and answering audience questions. Note: All times are Eastern time.

5:30 to 6 p.m. Coach introductions—the giveaways start.
6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Parent Coach Laura Gray on Getting Your School Day Off to a Great Start
6:30 to 7 p.m. Parent Coach Susan Morley on Creating a Family Mission Statement
7 to 7:30 p.m. Parent Coach Trinity Jensen on Avoiding Homework Hassles
7:30 to 8 p.m. Parent Coach Sarah Hamaker on Scheduling Your School Year
8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Parent Coach Liz Mallet on How to Avoid Micromanaging
8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Parent Coach Wendy Faucett on How to Have a Great Parent-Teacher Relationship
9 to 9:10 p.m. Final thoughts.

On Friday, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1892016571016178 to join the fun–you can ask questions, interact with the coaches or just enjoy the party. Hope to see you all soon!

 

Separation Anxiety

Q: I need any advice on how to approach separation problems for my 3- (almost 4) year-old son. My husband and I teach his Sunday School class every other week, but the weeks with other teachers, we have trouble dropping him off. He has asked me almost every morning for the past year if we’re going to church that day. The second question is if we’re teaching his class. Today, we were not teaching and he became upset, tried to run away at the door, and when forced to go in, tried to hit another friend. We took him out and calmed him down before trying again. He had gotten to a point where he would go in fairly willingly, but it’s gotten much worse lately. I don’t know what has changed or what to do about it.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A: It sounds like you’re playing Parent Detective in trying to discover why your preschooler suddenly doesn’t want to be without you in some social situations. But because he’s three, he probably has no idea why he doesn’t want to be alone in a classroom without mom or dad there. What is clear is that he’s not ready to be on his own at this time.

Sometimes, when kids are growing into a new stage developmentally, they regress a bit socially, and that sounds like what’s happening with your son. And because he’s becoming more physical in demonstrating his anxiety, you’ll need to simply stop trying to make him do this.

Each week you’re not teaching, tell him that he has a choice—he can go into his classroom by himself or he can sit quietly with you in your classroom. When he says stay with you, remind him that he must be quiet (and make sure you’ve brought a coloring book or something to occupy him during your class) and take him in with you.

What you shouldn’t do is try to convince him there’s nothing to be afraid of or to force him at age 3 to go to class by himself. And don’t discuss this other than to ask him once what he wants to do each time. The more you talk about a problem at this age, the bigger it looms in the child’s mind and a molehill morphs into a mountain.

He will likely outgrow this and start to want more independence, but until he does, you’re better off not forcing the issue.

Clinginess, Tantrums, Screaming…Welcome to the Twos!

Q: I have boy/girl twins who just turned two years old. We are experiencing an increase in several behavior issues that seem to be compounded by a very recent move and also minor illness, from which they are now recovered. Here are my specific questions:

1) How do I manage my son’s clinginess? Specifically, he wants to be constantly carried (up and down stairs, into school, to the car, etc.). He has always been a very challenging personality, but even more so recently. I have been complying when he asks properly (saying please and without whining), but it is becoming very difficult with him getting bigger. I would prefer he walks most of the time like his sister.

2) Screaming/tantrums are occurring almost constantly by both. They are well-fed and rested, and we have good routines in place. The tantrums are a result of not getting what they want right away, especially not having my husband’s or my full attention.

3) Do we make a temporary exception to any of these issues due to the recent move and illness? And if so, what and for how long? With the move last week their normal routine was totally abandoned, but everything is back to normal this week.

Image courtesy of marin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A: First of all, this is normal behavior. Truly it is! Toddlers are volatile creatures, that’s for sure. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde wrapped into a dynamo package. And twins sometimes feed off each other, making the typical toddler challenges doubled. So, to answer your questions…

The son’s clinginess: He might not be getting enough time with you each day, so try to have more touch points. Read him a short book right after breakfast. Give him more unexpected hugs. Hug him when he wants to be carried, then put him down. Hold his hand when walking. That should lesson some of his clinginess, but stop carrying him around.

The tantrums: At this age, I’d stick with containment in a crib if possible or just hold the screaming child tightly (if you can) to calm him or her down. Yes, this is a child who wants what he/she wants when he/she wants it, and no one’s going to tell him or her otherwise. Hence the screaming.

The other factors: 3. You take into consideration the mitigating factors which help you not lose your cool, but you still handle the tantrums the same. It will take a little while for your routine to reassert itself but don’t be surprised if your toddlers want to forge a new one (like dropping a nap). This is the high growth stage mentally and physically, so expect ups and downs in personalities and behavior.

Above all, remember that this is only a stage, and it won’t last forever. Hang in there and keep loving on those little munchkins! Soon this will be all in the past and you’ll have moved on to the threes.

Forgiving Yourself For Your Failures as a Parent

By Christine Lindsay

Parenting is a bumpy road, especially if your family is blended in some manner through adoption, or divorce and remarriage, or any other number of life stresses.

But when you fail—and believe me, you will fail—the worst thing you can do is wallow in guilt. What your children need, no matter what their age, is that you forgive yourself. With this caveat: Learn from your mistakes to become a better parent.

My parenting skills were put to the test when I began to search for my birth-daughter, Sarah, the baby girl I gave up for adoption in 1979. Sarah and I never saw each other again, until 20 years later at our adoption reunion. The intense emotions of the search, during and after the reunion, put me as a woman and as a mother through the emotional ringer. I failed my children; my daughter Lana and her two brothers, and my birth-daughter Sarah.

Below is a slightly abridged excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me that focuses on our journey as a family back to wholeness:

~*~

Lana and the boys are so ready to accept this shift in their family orbit. But as much as I love their biological sister, Sarah, if for one minute I thought meeting her would hurt the kids I’ve raised, I’d stop everything. The paradox hits me between the eyes. These are my kids. But Sarah is my firstborn, and the distance between us is creating a constantly widening rift in my soul. Still, as much as I crave a relationship with Sarah, I can’t even meet her if it risks hurting the children who live safely beneath my roof.
Relief shores me up—my kids are reacting positively to the reunion, and the appointment is set. I don’t have to make that awful decision, which is good because I’m not sure how much more shifting of my orbit I can take, or how much longer I can deny my maternal feelings for this daughter I relinquished. I’ve often wondered how God managed to properly love the ninety-nine sheep he left behind to go out searching the hills for that little one that was lost.
Is my love for my “lost sheep” starting to overshadow my love for those safely within my fold?

~*~

The excerpt above shows the cracks in my mothering. As I focused much of my attention on my birth-daughter, I didn’t realize that I was laying the foundation for great pain in my daughter Lana’s heart. Years later, Lana would exhibit that sadness in ways that would break my heart as much as losing her sister to adoption had.

So often, we can pay great attention to a prodigal child, or the child who suffers from severe health issues, or just simply the more needy, demanding child. The quiet—seemingly unruffled child—can be quietly suffering, and we as parents have no idea.

In this excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me, I realized my failure as a mother:

~*~

My fear stretches across the expanse of my desk toward the woman from Student Life as she says, “Lana is in the hospital. She took an overdose of pills last night.”

Boys don’t always notice when Mom isn’t all she should be. Daughters are different, as though they’re looking to their mothers as a rough sketch of what it will mean for them to be women, rejecting and incorporating aspects of us as they grow.

During the search and reunion with Sarah, the boys were too young to notice my struggles for stability, especially since they had a great dad who made up for it all. In the years after the reunion, with good therapy and a renewed focus on God’s Word, I returned to the mom I used to be, even striving to be better.

But off and on during those two or three years of Lana’s impressionable teens, I’d let depression, poor self-esteem, and my own suicidal thoughts filter in to my children’s lives. Lana took emotional refuge at her friends’ houses, friends who often only added to her confusion. No matter how much I’ve changed since then, the damage was done.

~*~

Is there a way back from that kind of failure?

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Here is the beginning of Lana’s and my journey back to wholeness, and the joy that we experience today. Another excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me:

~*~

Lana looks up and starts to cry as I near her hospital bed. Even from a few feet away I see her tremble. Something deep inside me dies. I have done this to my child. She lifts a hand to wipe her cheek like the little girl she once was, as vulnerable as when I used to hold her hand to cross the road. Vulnerable but alive! It could so easily have been otherwise, but God protected her. We both still breathe, our hearts still pump. Though we’re both bruised as crushed reeds, there is hope. I’ll give my all to see her find joy.

Sitting down beside her bed, squeezing her hand, I weep as I tell her, “I love you. More than life itself.”

She nods, tears streaking her pale and tired face, and whispers, “I know, Mom. I know you love me.

~*~

You will fail as a parent, but there is hope.

  • Admit your failure to yourself and to your children.
  • But don’t remain there in a wallowing state of sorrow and shame.
  • Pick up your feet, and with God’s help learn from your mistakes and become the parent your child needs, even if they are 3 years old or 30.

Finding Sarah Finding Me is a braided memoir that focuses on the various angles of adoption and parenting when we start out as parents with an extreme sense of loss, such as my own as a birth-mother, that of adoptive parents who felt the loss of infertility, and the myriad of emotions that are part of the whole adoption scenario.

About Christine Lindsay
Irish-born Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction and non-fiction. Readers describe her writing as gritty yet tender, realistic yet larger than life, with historical detail that collides into the heart of psychological and relationship drama. Christine’s fictional novels have garnered the ACFW Genesis Award, The Grace Award, Canada’s The Word Guild Award, and was a finalist twice for Readers’ Favorite as well as second place in RWA’s Faith Hope and Love contest.
Connect with Christine on www.ChristineLindsay.org or follow her on Amazon on Twitter. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, and be her friend on Pinterest , Facebook, and  Goodreads.

Mothers and Daughters

As a daughter (and a mother of daughters), I have firsthand knowledge of the complicated relationship between moms and daughters. As one with two sisters (and a brother) more than a decade older than me—and with a brother and sister more than a decade younger than me—I’m in a unique position to see this in a microcosm of our family.

For example, I experienced how my mom related to adult children while I was in my tweens and early teens. At the same time, I saw how my mom related to babies/toddlers while in my middle teens. I also could see patterns in how my mom raised daughters in particular. For example, how my mother communicated with my younger sister when she was a teenager echoed how she did so with me. When my mother told me how my younger sister adversely reacted to certain things, I sometimes gently pointed out that wasn’t surprising because I acted the same way in response to the same situation.

I well remember saying to myself, “I will NEVER do that as a mom with my daughters.” But even as a teenager or young adult, I had enough self-awareness to know that while I might not do that particular thing that drove the teenage me crazy, I would likely do something else entirely that will drive my own teenagers crazy.

But as I get older and my four children grow older, I’ve come to realize that we all do the best we can in the time we live. My mother had her imperfections—and there are some things I wish she had done differently—but in truth, she hit the target center on all the things that mattered most. I always knew she loved me, that there was nothing I could ever do that would negate that love. I always knew she believed in me, that I would make my way into the world on my own. I always knew she would be there for me, to encourage, to listen, to pray for, to comfort, to rejoice.

That’s the kind of mom I hope I am to my kids—one that tells the truth in love, is a shelter for life’s storms, and loves unconditionally. I pray my mistakes are minor but my love is major. And I hope that my own kids find more to appreciate than criticize in my own child-rearing.

Until next time,
Sarah

Best Mom Ever!
This year, I had the privilege of celebrating my mother with a story in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever! Called “A Mom to Many,” the story gives a small glimpse into this remarkable woman I get to call mom. I will be signing copies of Best Mom Ever! at the Fair Lakes Barnes & Noble in Fairfax, Va., on Saturday, May 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. EST. If you’re in the area, stop by and pick up a copy for the mom in your life! More info here.

Calling All Mothers

If you’re called to motherhood, what does that mean? In the simplest terms, it means you have children, who either came to you by way of birth or adoption (both formal and informal). Chimene Shipley Dupler posits that being a mother is a high calling in her new book on the topic. Hers is the voice of encouragement, whispering in our ears that we can do this mothering thing because God has given us this work.

Written in a breezy, cheerleader tone, The High Calling of Motherhood offers guidance on what it means to be called to motherhood. The chapters flow into each other and cover a lot of ground, from social media feeding our insecurities to the power of prayer in the lives of our children. The book’s strength lies in her biblical grounding that God is sovereign over our entire lives—and the lives of our children. All too often, we let fear reign in our hearts instead of resting in the sovereignty of Almighty God.

Dupler’s sincerity and her passion for helping moms shines throughout the book. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to overcome some inherent problems with the book overall. Her prose exuded excitement—a good editor should have curbed her generous use of exclamation points (!)—as well as repeated phrases and ideas, such as informing us over and over (and over) again that motherhood is a high calling (and that’s just in the first chapter). Subsequent chapters also have the similar repetitive notes that could have been streamlined and beefed up with a more rigorous exposition.

I also had a hard time with one huge assumption Dupler asserts early on in the book: “But motherhood has always been hard, in every generation and in every culture. Mothering is hard because it comes from the heart.” I know for a fact that my mother or grandmother would never have said that being a mom is hard in general. This “mothering is hard work” is a very modern idea, one that is largely American in nature (read Bringing Up Bebe to see how different modern Frenchwomen view motherhood, for instance).

In addition, the book has more of a “you can do it!” tone than practical advice, which is thin on the ground. It’s all good and well to tell us that we are called to motherhood, but how does that fit into our other callings as wives? Or into our work or volunteer opportunities? I wished for more chapters like the one on storyboarding and visioning, which provided tangible ways to envision our children’s future that could help us through a particular season of life. While she gives us insights into her own life and shares a few stories of other women she’s met, I wanted Dupler to provide the voices of other moms in her book.

The Bottom Line
The High Calling of Motherhood is a saccharine dose of encouragement for moms who have lost their way after having children. You will find much in this book to spur you on to rediscovering your calling as a mother. However, for those who are in search of practical ways to be a mother, you might find Dupler’s work a little lacking. For that group, I recommend How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims. For Christian mothers wanting a guidebook to raising kids in the faith, there is no better recommendation than The Mother at Home by John S.C. Abbott, a 19th century American pastor.

Readers can enter The High of Calling of Motherhood Blog Tour Giveaway for a chance to win either a custom made “World Changer” necklace by The Giving Keys or two tickets to attend the Passion4Moms conference being held in Washington, D.C., May 5-6, 2017.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever! is filled with dozens of stories praising mothers: happy stories, bittersweet stories, funny stories and zany stories. My story, “A Mom to Many,” is included in this new edition, just out in March 2017.

Order your copy through my website, and I’ll personalize an inscription, plus include a special Best Mom Ever! bookmark. Place your order today, and receive free shipping to an address in the United States. Order by May 5 to ensure delivery by Mother’s Day (May 14).

Only $14.99–includes shipping to a U.S. address. This item will NOT be shipped to an international address. Please enter your inscription into the text box, then click “Buy Now” to purchase your copy. Sarah will inscribe your book before shipping it.


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