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Monthly Archives: May 2011

End of the Year Celebrations: Parent Resources

As our mid-week programs are wrapping up at our church, I thought I’d share an idea that we put into practice last year and are still in the process of refining.

A few years ago, as we handed out awards and recognition for our students at the end of the school year, I began wrestling with how empty our awards ceremony felt.  There we were, with a ton of our committed parents in the room, handing out ribbons, certificates and trophies and then sending families on their merry way for the summer months.

So, last year, I decided to turn part of the night into a vision casting session for parents.  First, we show this video:

this video is courtesy of Orange and 252 Basics which we use as our Sunday Morning Strategy at our church

Then, with moms in the room getting all teary-eyed because they think of their baby leaving the house in a few short years, we give them a vision for making the next years of parenting count.  We explain that our church desires to come alongside them and partner with them to raise their children to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.  With the term “partnership” in mind, we then offer them resources that we feel will help them a) catch the vision of partnership with the church and b) equip them to parent more confidently over the next year.

This year, we offered three resources for parents to choose from.
You can read about them here: http://www.glenkirkchurch.org/articles1-170/ParentingResourceList

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So… here’s my question, have you done something like this and, if so, what resources are you putting in the hands of the parents in your community?  If you haven’t… tell me why not.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Kidmin, Resources, Thoughts

 

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Kids in Alabama Need Your Help

Speaking of talking with your kids about death, I was just informed of an amazing organization that is coming alongside families who are recovering from the devastating tornadoes that hit the South last week.

Mitzi Eaker has put together a really neat project that is a very practical way for your family to lend a hand in bringing hope and love to kids who need to know that God and the Church are still looking out for them.  Think “Operation Christmas Child” – but in May.  Here’s some quick info I was provided by some friends who are close to the project.

“We are asking that families and children’s ministries across the country get involved by creating “Boxes of Hope” for children which will be distributed in disaster relief centers, emergency shelters, and area hospitals to storm victims. These boxes will contain a personal note to the children with scripture for encouragement, fun activities such as a coloring book, small toys or games, and a few toiletry items. “Boxes of Hope” are aimed at providing a distraction and encouragement to children who have lost everything in this heartbreaking disaster. As parents, we know that seeing our children receive such a gift in this circumstance would help put our minds at ease as well.”


Read more,  including how your family can be involved by visiting kids4al.com.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Talking with your Child about Death

There’s no way to avoid this simple fact: death happens

And, when it does, we often struggle with how to approach talking to our kids about the subject.

Recently, in our community, a young mom passed away suddenly – leaving behind her husband and two children, a 1st and a 5th grader.  In other parts of the country, recent tornadoes have devastated communities and left hundreds of families grieving the loss of loved ones.  Across an ocean from us, Japan is still reeling from one of the largest earthquake/tsunami combinations many of us will see in our lifetime – with a death toll that has surpassed 10,000 lives lost.

In the midst of dealing with death, our children often approach us looking for answers.  At the same time, we’re faced with the daunting task of balancing our own grief with guiding our kids through the process.  Here are some thoughts that I keep in mind as I guide families tackling important questions surrounding death and mourning.

The question I’ve been asked the most in my years of ministering to families and communities who are grieving is whether or not a child should attend the funeral of someone outside of the family.  When answering this question, it’s good to think about where a child is developmentally.  As parents, we often project our emotions and desires on our children – for better or for worse.  If one of my closest friends lost a family member, I would want to be there for that person to provide a sense of community in mourning.  My four year old son, however, wouldn’t provide that same sense of community for a peer – children’s friendships are different than adult friendships and parents often lose sight of that during times of emotional crisis.

I encourage families to talk openly about the grieving process, but forcing a young child to attend a memorial service might cause more harm than good.  However, if a child wants to attend a service with their parents, I see that as an opportunity for a family to share the grieving process together.  I discourage families from having their younger children sit amongst peers – again, they aren’t looking to each other for support – adults are most often viewed as their protectors/comfort.  Peers rarely operate in this role for young children.

The most important thing I try to tell families during the grieving process is that children need to know that they aren’t alone.  Parents don’t have to have everything “figured out” in order to give children a sense of safety and comfort.

I have found the following online articles helpful in shaping my conversations with parents talking to their children about death:

One of the best articles I’ve read on natural disasters and our response as Christians was written by my Senior Pastor and friend, Jim Miller

http://pastorjamesmiller.com/2011/03/14/religion-disaster-and-japan/

Children’s Ministry magazine provides more than just information on the subject, they actually provide suggestions for how to talk with kids about death

http://www.childrensministry.com/articles/helping-children-deal-with-death

http://www.childrensministry.com/articles/helping-children-grieve

iVillage gives an in depth answer to the question “Should my child attend a funeral?”

http://www.ivillage.com/should-your-child-attend-funeral/6-n-146437

The most useful article I’ve ever read on the subject is from hospicenet.org

http://www.hospicenet.org/html/talking.html

If you don’t want to click through right now because you don’t have time, I encourage you to at least read their summary of how children mourn, based on age and developmental stage. (below)

Characteristics of Age Groups (to be used only as a general guide)

Infants – 2 Years Old:

  • Will sense a loss
  • Will pick up on grief of a parent or caretaker
  • May change eating, sleeping, toilet habits.

2-6 Years Old:

  • Family is center of child’s world
  • Confident family will care for her needs
  • Plays grown-ups, imitates adults.
  • Functions on a day-to-day basis.
  • No understanding of time or death
  • Cannot imagine life without mum or dad
  • Picks up on nonverbal communication.
  • Thinks dead people continue to do things (eat, drink, go to the bathroom), but only in the sky.
  • Thinks if you walk on the grave the person feels it.
  • Magical thinking
  • you wish it, it happens (bring the dead back or wishing someone was dead)
  • Death brings confusion, guilt [magically thought someone dead]
  • Tendency to connect things which are not related.

6-9 Years Old:

  • Personifies death: A person, monster who takes you away
  • Sometimes a violent thing.
  • Still has magical thinking, yet begins to see death as final, but outside the realm of the child’s realistic mind.
  • Fails to accept that death will happen to them – or to anyone (although begins to suspect that it will).
  • Fears that death is something contagious.
  • Confusion of wording [soul/sole, dead body, live soul].
  • Develops an interest in the causes of death (violence, old age, sickness).

9-12 Year Old:

  • May see death as punishment for poor behavior.
  • Develops morality – strong sense of good and bad behavior.
  • Still some magical thinking.
  • Needs reassurance that wishes do not kill.
  • Begins an interest in biological factors of death.
  • Theorizes: People die to make room for new people.
  • Asks more about “what happened”
  • Concerns about ritual, burying
  • Questions relationship changes caused by death, life changes.
  • Worries about who provides and cares for them.
  • May regress to an earlier stage
  • Interested in spiritual aspects of death.

Teenagers:

  • Views death as inevitable, universal, irreversible.
  • Cognitive skills developed
  • Thinks like an adult
  • Questions meaning of life if it ends in death
  • Sees aging process leading to death
  • Sees self as invincible – it will not happen to me.
  • Sees death as a natural enemy
  • Need for adult guidance (grief process, coping skills).
  • Needs someone to listen; to talk with.
  • May feel guilt, anger, even some responsibility for death that occurred.
  • Not sure how to handle own emotions [public and private].

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Other thoughts or questions?  Do you have resources you’d like to suggest?  Share them in the comment section below!

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Kidmin, Resources, Thoughts

 

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Review: Spiritual Parenting DVD Curriculum

I recently had an opportunity to continue reviewing products from the Spiritual Parenting series produced by David C. Cook and written by Michelle Anthony. Michelle Anthony, by the way, has served as the Pastor of Family Ministries at ROCKHARBOR Church, the Family Ministries Architect for David C Cook and is the author of the book Spiritual Parenting (which I previously reviewed here: http://westcoastcm.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/kidmin-book-review-spiritual-parenting).

Here’s a quick video intro from Michelle, herself:

I want to keep this review concise, so let me jump straight to the Digs and Dribbles…

Things I Dig

I love, love, love the quality of these videos.  All too often, DVD curriculum is simply footage from a fixed camera that someone clearly pushed record on and walked away during a conference.  This is not the case with this curriculum.  This DVD set is creatively put together with multiple shots and great editing.  Seriously, my hat goes off to the guys and gals over at David C. Cook who put this package together – well done!

I’m also blown away with the depth of the content provided in this series.  Michelle and her team didn’t hold back when they put this series together.  There’s a ton of information to be gathered from this curriculum… I’m impressed with the effort that was put into this series.

Things that Dribbled

If you read my last review of Spiritual Parenting, you’ll know that I’m often asking what the parent who’s not already engaged in the church should do with this resource.  I’m still asking those questions with this curriculum.  As a church, we would offer a series like this on Sunday mornings at our parenting gathering/fellowship – which, believe it or not, is not a room full of Christian parents (some are… but not all).  With that said, this could be a great resource to pass on to families who are already committed believers – that’s just not our target audience.

I’d also have to agree with my friend, Gina McClain, when she noted that these sessions are LONG.  When you factor in discussion and activities, these sessions will clock in at nearly 90 minutes… an amount of time that I think is a stretch for our programming – on campus or in small group settings.  Again, it’s not a knock against the content – it would be 90 minutes of greatness.  We just don’t have that time in our context.

Wrapping Up

Overall, this is a resource that I’m going to pick up and give to a small group of parents in our church who are looking for a “next step” in nurturing their family’s faith journey.  I’ll probably even take the DVD’s for a test run with my wife as we wrestle through some of the great questions that Michelle brings up.

You can purchase the series here.

Follow Spiritual Parenting on Facebook here.

Follow Michelle on Twitter here.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Resources

 

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