Purposeful Parenting

Going for Broke

We all want was is best for our kids but what does purposeful parenting look like in practice?

Follow the creator of Anton’s Antics’ as he negotiates the challenges of being a parent.

“The blog's slogan started off as a joke between my wife and I, as it can be tough making ends meet and parenting is not easy. I want to hear Jesus say ‘well done, good and faithful servant’ with what He has entrusted to me.  We have to go for broke don’t we?

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Parental Exhaustion: When to say no; it could save your marriage!

“Stop going to Bible study, now!”

Bet you never heard that, right? Well if you’re not a churchy then that’s understandable. But as a regular Christian, my wife got a shock when someone who is respected in our church told her she should cease going to a weekly Bible study.

Why?
Not because it was a waste of time. Not because it was dodgy. Not because it was full of unsympathetic people.
Instead it was because my wife had far too much on her plate and Bible study was an expectation that needed to take a back seat for a while until we got our heads around a new situation.

That’s the thing about parenting isn’t it? The goal posts keep changing. You just get into a rhythm or a feeling of stability and bam…something goes off keel and you have to climb the rigging, reef in the jib or some other sailing cliché. But sometimes we don’t respond to the change of wind. We just keep plowing on, doing all the same stuff when the conditions have changed. We suffer for it, failing to read the wind and adjust.

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Honour your Father? How to celebrate Father’s day and reclaim its Christian origins

The pamphlets are coming thick and fast in the mail aren’t they? Buy this, buy that. Do this, do that to show dad how much you love him. The implication is that gift buying equals love. Father’s day has become another day overtaken by commercialism.

I’m a dad. When I had my first child my life changed forever. I’m now defined by my kids and they will be my greatest achievement.
A friend of mine, Graham McDonald, pointed out a few weeks back in an email, how Father’s day didn’t originally have its identity forged in materialism. The origins are actually Christian and the core reason for honouring fathers applies to all families.

Historical background of Father's Day

Here’s a quick grab of the historical background:
“In 1909, John and Sonora Dodd attended the Mother’s Day service at their church. As Sonora listened to the sermon and heard the virtues of mothers and motherhood from the Scriptures, her mind went back to her childhood. She thought of how important fathers are in raising children and she thought of the notion of a Father’s Day.

Sonora’s father William, a Civil War veteran, lost his wife as she gave birth to their sixth child. Sonora was sixteen at the time of her mother’s death and being the eldest child, much of the responsibility to raise her five brothers fell on her shoulders.Through the difficult years following her mother’s death, Sonora watched her father care for the six children with love and devotion and saw him make sacrifices in order to give the children better lives. After the Mother’s Day church service in 1909, Sonora felt inspired to campaign for equal recognition of fathers.

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Power Games: The biggest challenge for any parent

You see in the supermarket a parent being walked all over by their toddler’s bad behaviour.
You see parents excusing their primary age kid’s disregard for rules because he/she has an ‘adventurous’ spirit.
You hear of teachers dealing with teenagers in high school without any respect for authority in class.
What’s the common thread? Power games.

Power is desired and fought for by every human being and when we get it, power corrupts.

We’re not surprised when war general’s seize power and trample their own people with a military fist. We’re not surprised when democratically elected presidents abuse their office (think Nixon), nor are we surprised when actors and artists carry on like spoilt brats.

So why are we surprised when kids try to seize power or even abuse it?

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Should parents encourage modesty for girls at the beach: Burkini or Bikini?

modesty for girlsIs the burkini as dumb as it looks?

A colleague of mine noted on Facebook this week how ironic it was for France to be forcing people to expose themselves on its beaches to ‘support good morals’. You’d think if someone didn’t want to take their kit off at the beach and be more modest that this would be respected. But now it’s an offence to not get naked on the beaches of France. Check out the article in the Guardian here

Okay, there’s been a lot of violence in the name of Islam perpetrated recently in France, so we can empathise with the reaction to ban full body coverings that might make it difficult to assess the risk to other people on the beach: ‘Do you think that’s a body board under that burka?’

The lost modesty of Christianity?

It wouldn’t surprise me if many Muslims look at westerners at the beach and by erroneously, but understandably, equating our nations with spread of Christianity, think that Jesus encourages nothing but hedonism and immorality. Flesh, flesh, flesh. That’s what you see at our beaches. Really, it is like a meat market. Swimming costumes leave little to the imagination, especially the bikini.

Now I love the bikini. But it is pretty much the same as underwear right? 

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Mum can I have Skype? How to let your kids loose on social media

protecting kids on social mediaI read a story a while ago of a public school in Sydney that was requiring all parents to provide an iPad for their kids at kindergarten. One parent objected noting that ‘iPads are not educationally proven – we think our kids should get concrete learning in writing and the basics throughout the whole of primary school’. However, by far the biggest concern for me would be the difficulty in protecting such young children who really are just starting to negotiate the world of real friendships, from the precarious and often narcisstic world of social media.

When it comes to teenagers, kids starting high school in Australia, you begin to realise that even if you want to say ‘no’ and shut down all access to social media, it’s actually quite impractical. You see, all their peers are on to it and they’re all organising stuff without your child. It’s not that friends are being deliberately mean spirited and leaving your child out. More likely it’s just practical; your child’s not on Skype or Instagram or whatever, so they miss out on being invited out for the movie on Saturday. Other times they might miss an update about an assignment or a last minute detail about an excursion; all easily answered in social media, but if you’re not on it, you’re out of the loop and miss the update.

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How to teach your kids about miracles and protect them from unbiblical, secular assumptions

So you’re diagnosed with cancer that is super aggressive. All the tests show that most of the available treatments won’t help you much, but may be worth a shot. Then surprise to all and sundry occurs because the cancer is suddenly gone or reduced to the point of being non-threatening. Wow that’s a miracle right? Or is it? Are we allowed to use such language anymore?

Now cancer is a hideous problem and we all know too many people that we love who are suffering from it, so this is not cheap matter. The reason I chose this disease to look at miracles came from an article I read the other day that told of scientists who are undertaking close study of groups of cancer patients known as ‘exceptional responders’. In brief, they are looking at the genes of groups of patients who’ve suddenly got better from dire cancers to see what’s going on genetically. The benefits of this research are obvious; imagine finding something common that is a trigger for fighting cancer that might be applied to save other people’s lives.

Some of us would still want to call such ‘exceptional responders’ miracles. Though a cancer sufferer in the article chose otherwise saying:

“I don’t believe it’s a miracle…because that would mean there can’t be an explanation and it can’t be benefitted from others". (The Sun Herald, August 7, 2016, Extra page 24).

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Angry young men join IS: How parenting can stem the flow to violenc

Ever wondered why young people, especially boys run off to the deserts of the Middle East to join IS? Well, perhaps ‘running off’ is just it really? Perhaps it’s to seek adventure. Or perhaps it’s something to give their life a higher profile; something by which to make a name for themselves. Boys, men…often seek significance. These days anyone can create a profile online and try to drum up an audience: “look at me” is a whole lot easier when you’re holding an AK-47 and sporting a beard.

But why IS? Why not just carry a gun and shoot random people? Joining IS seems to make the killing more noble, more purposeful. Angry young men often just behave badly to act out their frustration. Domestic violence. Crime. I think joining IS is a new extension of this, only it gives a self righteous podium to mount oneself upon to legitimise one’s actions and not just be labeled a common crim.

The Lindt Café murderer in Sydney it seems evident, was not a big IS fan. But it seems he attached himself to the brand late in life, just before he took the hostages in Martin Place to seek significance. Tired of no-one listening to his ‘self proclaimed imam’ rants; frustrated at his lack of recognition… he found away to get an audience. At the same time behind the IS flag he could legitimise his appalling behaviour. But in the end, he was just another angry man devoid of a sense of belonging and self worth that comes from the acceptance that is found in the intimacy of good family life.

A new documentary I read about recently called ‘Jihad Selfie’ shines a light on the young men seduced by Islamic State (“If I carry an AK-47, maybe people will look at me as a brave young man”, Sunday Extra, The Sun Herald, July 24, 2016 by Jewel Topsfield).

The doco focuses on one young man from Aceh and his journey of being groomed toward radicalisation and finally the anguish as he pulls out of going all the way to join IS.

Why didn’t he join IS?

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Skin cancer and your kids: How high schools are dropping the ball

skin cancer and kidsLook out across most primary schools in Sydney and you’ll see kids dressed to battle with the sun. Thanks to motivated Parents & Citizens (P&C) groups and the support of teachers our little Johnnies have never been better protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Trendy but ineffective caps have been replaced by broad brimmed hats; light breathable long sleeves have replaced short sleeve shirts and of course there’s plenty of sunscreen available when kids need it. Playgrounds too are now often shaded with expensive shade cloth sails and even the barren, sun parched assembly areas now have permanent roofing to keep sun off our kids while they play or listen to those tiring speeches.

So it would seem that the message is getting through and parents and schools are taking notice: kids need protection from the sun and shouldn’t be exposed to harmful rays especially during peak periods of the day.

Except the news in the larger community isn’t so encouraging with the latest press saying skin cancer is on the rise in our hospitals.

“Cancer Council Australia chief executive officer Professor Sanchia Aranda says there has been a 63 per cent increase in melanoma hospitalisations in the past 11 years and 39 per cent for non-melanoma hospital visits” (The Leader 14th June 2016)

It seems those of us over 40 have given up or ignored the dangers of too much sun exposure, leaving any new protective trends to the children and youth behind us.

However you’d be giving yourself a false sense of confidence if you thought the battle was won in primary school. Vanity mocks the good work we’re doing with our kids to protect them from the sun as soon as they step into a high school.

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Getting kids to sleep: what to do next time

Daddy I can’t get to sleep!

We all know the feeling of trying to get ourselves to sleep. It’s like if we try real hard we’ll force sleep upon ourselves. We all know where that leads, tossing and turning and cursing our way through the night. You just don’t own that part of your body do you? It’s like you have this mysterious project manager that you never see but sure enough he turns up every night to switch the lights out. Trouble is when you try and do his job you discover how bad you are at it. Where is that guy?! I love that guy…I’m sorry, I promise to never do it again…you’re so good at what you do…please, please come back.

But what do you do if your child can’t get to sleep?

“Well you just have to…lie there, keep still and stop coming out!” says exasperated parent. After all it’s like an hour after lights out.

Well that went well. Great strategy dad! A real winner; guaranteed to send any child into frustrated tears.

So chastising your child is a clear no-no. You just can’t get to sleep by focusing on getting to sleep. So what can you do?

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How to build resilience in your kids when a loved one dies

People often buy pets for their kids to teach them responsibility and allow them to experience one of life’s hardest experiences, grief. But if you don’t have pets or they haven’t passed away yet, what can you do to prepare your kids for the death of a loved one?

Go to funerals

A few years back we could have left our kids at home instead of taking them to the funeral of a relative. He didn’t mean much to the kids and they only knew him in his old, smelly stage of life. So why risk upsetting them? Kids certainly don’t hold back in their honest appraisals of people do they?! I remember being appalled as a kid at the wrinkles, the makeup, the blue rinse, the frailty and the smell of old age. Where had the vigor gone? Even as a child you don’t need someone to tell you this is decay. Of course attending the funeral of a ‘distant’ relative is actually a soft way of educating your kids about loss, grief and mortality. The topic is introduced for you and there are lots of opportunities to answer questions related to life’s end. So I say, go. Talk about what the day will involve, who will be there, how they’ll dress and what it means. Of course you may not be able to avoid the most difficult parenting questions of all, ‘Mum, what happens after we die?’ ‘Will I see you again?’

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