The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

RELATIONSHIPS: Boys and girls, birds and bees

We recently received this question from one of our readers. It’s a good question and we pass it on to you. Feel free to weigh in with your own comments.

I'm seeing that my husband and I need to formulate a position on preteen/teen physical interaction, specifically kissing, hand-holding etc. Instances are creeping up when my kids are being exposed to examples of this; and I find myself being silent because I have no clear plan. I've noticed that parenting goes better when I can set clear boundaries before troubles begin brewing, instead of doing damage control later.

What is your position on this issue? How is it enforced?

Here are some thoughts:

As our children were growing up, we would read from Proverbs each night, matching the date with the Proverbs chapter. We didn't read the whole chapter, but we read a portion. For example, I would read through one month selecting verses 1-10. The next month, I would go for 11-20. [We found that too much Scripture becomes tedious and causes children to feel negative towards Bible reading. Our principle has been to give little doses throughout the day.] Anyway, in the course of reading, we passed through Proverbs 5, 6, and 7. My initial reaction was similar to yours. I wanted to skip those chapters. I felt that my sons were too young to deal with those issues.

Over the course of my interactions with my children, various school situations, and life, the Lord helped me to see that I could not shield our boys from natural processes and dynamics. What I needed to do was to help them prepare. Preparation comes from the investment of the truth, lots of talking and listening, and a definite position of openness [stated often].

I remember standing in the school breezeway with Patrick as school was dismissing. He was about seven years old. Kids were running around everywhere, being kids. I was talking about a situation with another mom that had occurred that day in school--not an immoral situation--just the boy-girl thing beginning at such an early age! In that moment, the Lord spoke to me about using those very Proverbs as a springboard for discussions. I understood that I couldn't shield my children from this natural part of life [not that we encouraged it!], but they needed a foundation for discerning what was right, what was wrong, what was appropriate, what was inappropriate, and what are the consequences.

Keith added this:

Timing: Eccleciastes 3 says that there is a time for everything. Teaching our children to wait for the right time involves all of life. In our day, most people teach their kids that they can have things when they want it; they don’t have to wait. Wait for dinner, wait to open gifts, wait to drive, wait to hold hands, wait to have sex until you are married. All of these “waitings” are connected. They strengthen each other. Waiting intensifies the joy when the right time comes.

Setting: God established boundaries for boy-girl relationships; the clearest boundary is “sex within marriage.” Stay in groups and do not be alone as a couple; the temptations are greatly lessened. Until you begin to get ready for marriage, the boy-girl things are best just kept as friends and not boyfriend/girlfriend. These boundaries also include areas on the body not to be touched.

Purpose: Kids need to understand as early as possible that the purpose of marriage and romantic love is to have children and a family. There is too much childhood to enjoy, too much fun to have when they are young. Encourage them that God has a good plan for them when the time comes for marriage. Protect their childhood.

We hope that this is helpful. Feel free to comment or to ask more questions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Discipline: Settling Down for Slumber

(Q and A from one of our seminars, A Parenting Workshop)

“Whenever it is Abigail’s bedtime, she cries and cries and cries. There is no relief for us or her and eventually, she climbs into our bed and I have to put her back to her own bed when she is asleep.
~What can I do?”

In order to help someone get to a place of resolve with this difficult, but common, situation I would begin by asking a few questions.

How is your relationship with your spouse?

Your child’s emotional security is based on the Oneness that you and your spouse share. Demonstrations of sacrificial love and care for one another go a long way in helping your child sleep securely at night.

· Do you honor one another with words, acts of service, and reasonable affection in front of your children?

Remember the Lord Himself prayed, “…on earth as it is in heaven…” We model our lives after the heavenly pattern. Our own eternal security stems from the truth that the Son so greatly loved the Father that He willingly laid His life down. This truth gives us great peace and assurance. Our children feel the same way about us.

Do you have a bedtime routine?
A routine helps to say the message for you. It’s similar to when I go to the gym. As much as I don’t want to go to work out sometimes, I’ll argue with myself all the way until I get in the door. At that point, the battle is over. “Oh, well,” I concede, “it’s time to exercise.”

Bedtime routines accomplish the same purpose. Whatever your steps are: (for example)

· Bath time

· Brush your teeth

· Story time!

· Prayer

· Special-just for you-finale (toe kisses? a love secret whispered to her waiting ear?)

performing the same customary steps will help give the “bedtime message” to your child. Most moms (or dads) can make this a soft, warm, cuddly, experience. Letting soothing lullaby music play is also comforting in your absence and can help your child feel that he is not alone, that there is still a connection between himself and everyone else in the household.

Does your child sense in you a “rushing--I’ve –got-to-get-this-over-quickly” spirit?

Children wear antennae. Their perceptions are amazing. Feeling that mom or dad is hurrying and eager to “get through” with the tasks at hand can cause a lot of resistance, may prolong even simple routines, and may cause your child to be clingy like a fabric softener sheet.
Try these few ideas:

· Be 100% present [mentally and emotionally], fully engaged, so he has all of you for the time you are with him. But, keep the whole process to very simple steps. Bedtime is not the time to elaborate.

· Give your child a story choice out of selected books [your choosing—short ones.] Hopefully, you will have planned other shared reading times during the day, so no feelings of deprivation will linger.

· Understand that it is in the simple routines of the day that we have the biggest opportunity to reflect the nature of God to our children. As Deuteronomy says, “teach your children . . . as you rise up, as you lie down.”

· One extra tip: You take the initiative to say, ”I’ll be back to check you in five minutes.” By doing this, you maintain control of situation, and your child feels secure in this fact: he will see you again—if he needs you, you’ll be there. Just be sure you keep your word!

A final thought: it does get easier with subsequent children. The first one seems to have to set the pattern. Once there are others, and it is bedtime, they seem to understand, “This is what we do now.”
More than one child in a room ( a necessity for us!) also helps alleviate fears and provides companionship.

If you have other ideas that have worked well for you, please be sure to post a comment!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

RELATIONSHIP: A Trail of Tears…..and Laughter

Dzzt, dzzzt, dzzzt……Multiply that sound by about one million….it’s a symphony, no, symphony is too nice a word….. a cacophony of complex critters. Busily buzzing with excitement, a million mosquitoes delighted that tonight’s dinner had been delivered. That night’s dinner was US.

It was the first night of a three week camping trip.

Did we plan to get into the park at dusk? Did we plan on wet, drizzly, even a little chilly weather now that the sun had gone down? It was only the second time we had set up the pop-up camper. Did I say the second time WE had set up the camper? I should say it was only the second time Keith had set up the camper. The WE part of setting up camp had not yet evolved.

By the end of this memorable trip, we had honed the set up procedure down to a science: 13 deliberate, ordered steps—each child and adult doing his part.

But, as I said, this was only the second stop. We pulled into historical Trail of Tears State Park overwhelmed by the history surrounding us. But it wasn’t long until our reality overshadowed our wonder with history.

By now it was night time. None of us knew what to do, except Keith. There we were, six offspring (ages 5-15) and the mom, alternating between being mosquito bait and asking, “Are we done yet?” to dashing back into the car for relief. I think it was actually THIS trip when one of our favorite family one-liners was born: “Dad got mad.”

Keith continued the set up process. . . It was a memorable night.

The next morning, we left St. Louis called “Gateway to the West” and began the drive across the plains. The plains, filled with corn and wheat, lived up to their attributed beauty. The vast fields really were “amber waves of grain”.

Driving on Interstate 70 we actually felt like we were on a wagon train, pioneering into the unknown frontier. Driving for hours over flat countryside caused the looming Pike’s Peak to be an incredulous unreality. …..But there it was. Amazing beauty.

This stop actually afforded us more than one memorable moment.

As we ascended towards the peak, the hairpin turns on this gravel road gave even the strongest of us mountain lovers our share of panic as our giant Suburban lumbered to the top. Even though I am a California gal with a great love of the mountains, even this was a bit much. I envisioned our entire family as the headline in the local paper’s next day edition. “Entire Family Falls Off Mountain Road”.

Arriving at the top, the sheer splendor surrounding us was staggering. We understood how song writer Kathy Lee Bates had penned the words to “America the Beautiful” as she stood atop this glorious mountain and looked out at the majestic view.

Our trip down the mountain was equally as breath taking….we kept sucking in breath as we make S-curve after S-curve. It actually proved to be too much for our youngest guy, then 5, who began to vomit incessantly from all the altitude activity!

It was at that point that I began to question the purpose of the journey, “Why are we doing this? Was this supposed to be fun?”

I didn’t realize it at the time but this trip built so many memories that it solidified our family identity. Ten years later, when we as a family sit and talk and laugh, one memory or another from that trip always finds its way into the conversation.

This summer, plan to build some family memories. You’ll be glad you did!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

INTEGRITY: God shows up at the spelling bee!

A few years ago, a popular T-shirt theme emerged everywhere:




Having turned its back on so much of its foundations, our culture had begun to make cool statements instead of true statements. I wondered as I read the slogans, “Do they really know what LIFE IS?”

Knowing the depth of God’s love as LIFE, I wanted to say to all the T-shirt wearers I would see, “You don’t really know what life is!” What is LIFE?

Deuteronomy 30:20 says

loving the Lord your God
obeying His voice
holding fast to Him--
this is your LIFE.

As we come and go, sit down and rise up, eat and sleep, we want the message of LIFE to come through to our children.

I have found that bringing life to my children comes out of my relationship with Father. Taking time to be with Him opens the door of my heart. This helps me communicate with Him throughout the day. When this ongoing communication is taking place, I am able to give to my children out of my LIFE supply. I am able to give them LIFE.

For example, I have come to know Jesus as my Refuge. Many times I have needed to know Him as my place of protection, my place of safety. I have called on Him in troubled times and found Him to be present, to be faithful, and to be able to take me through my various dilemmas. Then I saw God reveal Himself to Anna as her refuge.

Several years ago when Anna was still in junior high, she won the school spelling bee, qualifying her to participate on the county level. It was a competition she did not want to participate in. She had been there the year before and had some anxieties about being there again. I consoled her with this fact: God is your Refuge. Even though this is not the situation of your choice, He ordered it and He will be with you in it. In fact, I used Psalm 46:1 to encourage her: The Lord is my Refuge, a very present help in trouble.

The morning of the Spelling Bee, I could not go with her, so her English teacher accompanied her. There were about 100 contestants at the county level, plus parents and others who had come to watch. The emcee began to call the words for each student in turn. Very soon, Anna’s turn came. It was at that very moment that God revealed Himself to Anna. The emcee called her to the microphone and said, “Your word is . . . REFUGE!”

God personally and significantly spoke to Anna in that moment. It was an eternal moment. It was LIFE. Anna did not come home with the trophy, but she did come home with this: God is my refuge.

Life comes from the Father. As parents, we draw life from Him. As we do, our children notice. As Jesus reveals himself to them, like he did for Anna, they are inclined to choose life for themselves.

Hold fast to Him;

This is your LIFE.