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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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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When is it OK to say 'No' to homework?

say no to homework“Dad I’ve got another assignment”

“Oh yeah?”

We both groan.

“We have to prepare a presentation of tourist locations in Australia”

“Oh that’ll be good...which one will you be doing?”

“There’s Cockatoo Island, Fremantle Prison, Kakadu, The Great Barrier Reef”.

“Yes darling, but which one?”

“No, you have to do all dad, both manmade and natural locations”.

“No darling, I’m sure it’s just one”. After all what would be the point of repeating the same exercise four times?

My wife checks the note.

It is four locations. One big presentation of four different locations!

Can’t we just say no?

Will my kid be OK? Am I a bad parent?

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What will be your greatest achievement?

I’m on time and waiting for the manager but I could not have picked the kind of interview this was going to be. I often need to work a few jobs to pay the bills and so this time it was back to being a barista. The hospitality industry is a real hotchpotch and your kids will no doubt be part of it at one time or other…so eyes open right?! The thing is when it comes to a barista job is that nobody expects a formal interview; you can either make great coffee, fast and consistently or you can’t. I mean after the second page of questions was done I almost lost it when I saw there would be another 2 pages! It was pretty funny, I thought maybe I was in a dream.

But one of the things I was asked stopped me in my tracks…what was it?

‘What’s your greatest achievement?’

Now for a coffee job, you might dig deep and conjure up pictures of that perfect latte or the 12 kilo marathon. I joke. I mean if you’ve made it to world barista champion that’s something I guess…but the local barista who just pumps out consistent coffees that put a smile on everyone’s face each day? Is that daily service…an achievement?

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Inconsistency: How to avoid the third deadly sin of parenting

Coffee appreciation travel show -Barista Banter setupEver been hassled by an airline for your carryon baggage?

Rare, right? Well I've never had it happen before.

I was returning from doing some wonderful live shows in Brisbane last weekend. For the first time ever I took both Anton’s Antics and Barista Banter interstate. Anton has travelled before but I never thought I’d be able to do the coffee appreciation show for adults outside of Sydney. Well a church in Queensland just proved with a bit of work and energy, it can be done extremely well, actually. Big thanks to Redlands Christian church who really stepped up. (check out the picture of their set up, with recently serviced Boema espresso machine and a brand new, latte art friendly steam wand installed at my suggestion). I was on such a high that it was a shame to have it spoilt by the airline as I boarded the plane home. But it goes to show how important it is to be consistent in our parenting...Check this out

Watch the video: How inconsistency kills parenting

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How to curb anxiety in your kids

Car gets a flat tyre, your child gets gastro, husband loses job and your first reaction is probably not to thank God.  Sigh, swear, complain or even scream are more likely, right? We don’t associate thankfulness with problems or hard times. Bit like, we don’t associate relaxation and reward with low sugar, non fatty foods. But is that lack of association of thankfulness and hard times a healthy one?

Last Purposeful Parenting post we took a glance at the association we build around relaxation/reward and sugary foods. It goes like this: we end a long day with some tele, a glass of wine and some choccy. Then we start ending every day with some tele, wine and choccy. Or our kids create the habit of consuming multiple sugar treats at the end of the school day to reward their return to home base. It’s a recipe for diabetes or some other health issue if not balanced with exercise and better food groups. But as we saw last time, our minds can master our body so that we retune our bodies to associate good foods with relaxation. This means we start to crave, over time and practice, better food choices or exercise rather than just hitting the sugar bombs.

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