My Books

Friday, March 23, 2012

TV Choices for Children

I clearly remember being very choosy about what TV shows were OK for my kids to watch. That was a while ago. My youngest is 16 now.

Overly active shows or ones with fighting made my son overly active and combative.  Mean characters transformed my sweet children into meanies. Calm shows soothed and calmed them. You get the idea. They were influenced by what they watched. I think most children are, even if it doesn't show so much outwardly in their behavior.

I'm not about to tell you which shows your kids should or shouldn't watch, but I will give you a few guidelines that might help you choose for yourself.

1. Choose shows that model the behavior you'd like to see in your child. This includes what attitudes are portrayed, how the characters dress, and the way people speak to one another.

2. Choose shows that reflect your core values. These might include honesty, respect, faith, kindness, caring for our world, or caring for the poor or elderly.

3. Choose shows that educate your child. There is so much to learn as a child! They may learn academically, spiritually, socially, how things are made, or about the world around them, just to name a few.

4. Choose a variety of shows. Let them watch some strictly for entertainment, others for education, some for social or core values.

5. Limit the amount of TV  your child watches. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. I'd recommend spending more time doing things with your kids than watching TV. Play games, go for a walk, read books, bake cookies. There are tons of things more fun than TV to do!

Finally, if your child watches something questionable, use it as a teachable moment. Saying "I don't like the way that kid talked to his friend, do you?" or "What do you think of the choice he just made?" is a good way to stimulate discussion and thought about the things they see. You can counteract negative models with correct teaching.

Have fun with your kids! TV can be a fun family activity as long as it isn't overdone. Use good judgment and explain to your kids why some shows are off limits. They will learn from your example.

Happy viewing!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Letting Go of Your Kids

by Linda McQuinn Carlblom
We're in the letting go phase of parenting. Our youngest is sixteen and as I write this, she's in another state with a trusted adult friend from church for spring break. I miss her! But it's part of the gradual releasing of a child that every parent must eventually do.

In April, she'll go on her first mission trip and will be in the Philippines for two weeks. I'm so excited for this opportunity for her, but at the same time, I have my share of apprehensions too. Will she stay healthy? Will she manage well in another culture? Will her cell phone work? Will she do her missionary duties with ease or will it be excruciating for her? Will she be safe?

I am not a worrier by nature. I have great faith in God's ability to care for her and faith in my daughter's ability to handle herself well. But as a mom, I think about those things that might come up. But I've been letting go of this child since she was born.

She was only two when she spent her first night away from home with someone other than Grandma. I thought she'd never make it until morning without crying for us, but she did. Our friends called the next morning to say she wasn't ready to come home yet and could she stay until later in the day? Relief and grief swept over me. Hooray! She did fine! She doesn't need me! Boohoo!

As parents, life with our kids is a series of letting go moments. That first sleepover. The first day of school. A birthday party. Summer camp. Their first job, first date, graduation, wedding. Little by little, that soft hand in ours slides away and learns to cross the street without us. It's how it's supposed to be. But that doesn't necessarily mean it comes easy.

So hold that sweet hand in yours while you can. Let it slide softly away as it grows. Pray hard, love deeply. Trust that you've taught them all they need to know to succeed out there on their own. And rest assured God's eyes are always on them, even when yours can't be.

Links on letting go of your kids.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Entertaining Kids in Church

by Linda McQuinn Carlblom

As a parent, grandparent, children's minister and author, my heart beats for kids. But things have changed a lot since I was a kid and even since my children were young. One of those changes is the way children are viewed in church.

Most churches offer a Jr. church option of some sort or at least provide packets of worksheets and puzzles for kids to do during church. I admit I'm conflicted about this. On the one hand, I know it makes it easier for parents to worship when the kids are occupied. And genuine learning can take place as kids do Bible puzzles and worksheets, especially if they must look up things in their Bibles to come up with the answers.

But is it the church's job to keep kids entertained? As a children's minister, one part of me says to do whatever it takes to keep the kids engaged and keep the parents bringing them. But another part says parents should provide whatever they deem necessary to keep their kids busy and quiet. Or instead of bringing quiet activities for the kids, should parents help kids stay engaged in the service by encouraging them to sing along with the congregation, sit and stand at the appropriate times, put money in the offering, and help them find the scriptures the pastor uses?

I don't have the answers to any of these questions. But I'm wondering where parents stand on this. What do you expect from your church in regard to your kids?

So parents, what's your take on this? When your kids are in church with you, as opposed to being in Jr. church, do you like the church to provide activity packs to keep them busy during the service? Or would you rather teach them to sit quietly and participate in grown-up church, bringing your own bag of tricks if necessary? Do you feel it's the church's job to provide quiet activities for your children? If none are provided, does it keep you from attending that church? Let me hear from you! And don't worry--there's no right or wrong answer and no judgment here!