Posted in Prayers

Prayer for the Foster Parent

Gracious and Loving God,
You are the Great Foster Parent,
When we were lost, orphaned, and alone,
You found a way to make us your children.

Thank You.

Each and every day, You “foster” us into being a people
who reflect your Spirit to the world.

Thank You.

Foster in us those qualities that You so richly
pour out on us;

You are loving.
Help us to show unconditional love
to the children You have placed in our care.

You are patient.
Help us to be patient even when we despair
of seeing progress.

God,
You are kind.
Help us to always be full of kindness with a
gentle and firm hand.

Most of all, God,
You are faithful.
You never give up on us,
even when we blow it.
When we are hurting You are always there.
Help us to be like You;
May we never give up on our children.

God,
You showed how much You honor foster parents
by giving your only Son into the care of Mary and Joseph
who helped raise him to be the man You wished him to be.

Thank You.

And thank You for allowing us to be a part of helping
children discover your purpose for their lives.

We ask for your blessing upon the food.
When so many the world over are hungry,
help us to be grateful and generous.

As we celebrate together today,
we look forward to the day when all
of your children will be safe, healthy, and
can truly live in that wonderful place
all of us long for,
that is known simply as “Home.”

In your precious and holy Name,
we pray.

Amen

Shared at a Foster Parent Appreciation Luncheon May 2008

Posted in Longreads & Essays

Midweek Essays – Parenting as a Laboratory for Peace

In the twilight of the evening, I build shelves of wood to the sound of a neighbor shouting at her daughter about homework.

I do not gloat. I do not think to myself, “Glad that isn’t me or my family.” For to think that would be dishonest. Been there. Done that.

I have a graduate degree in Conflict Transformation. I am certified as an Anger Management Specialist. I have designed and taught a Peace Education Curriculum. I am the co-founder of a peace organization. I have designed and led a series of Anger Management workshops for youth, parents, and teachers. And so on and so forth.

Then I became a parent and so began my ultimate education in peacemaking. When we were visiting his house recently, a wise uncle gave me some gentle advice. He suggested that I see parenting as a laboratory for discovering what it means to be a peacemaker. I wonder if he saw the lack thereof in some of my interactions with my children. Regardless, his words struck home.

I have never been angrier with anyone more than I have been with my children. I too have lost it over homework. And many other things.

I know that no one pushes my buttons. Someone says or does something that I don’t like and then I decide to push the button. I know that anger is a cover for deeper emotions like fear. I know that a child’s misbehavior is a symptom of other needs. I know many things.

But knowledge is not synonymous with wisdom.

And wisdom does not come about simply through experience – it occurs through reflective experience – with a heavy dose of humility.

I ponder over an action (or an inaction). I pray. I reflect upon my response (or lack thereof). I pray. I learn from my mistakes (or successes). I pray. I admit when I am wrong. I pray. I believe that God is in the midst. I pray. I believe that I can do better. I pray. I believe that love conquers all. I pray. I acknowledge that I cannot do this without God’s help. I pray. I acknowledge that I cannot do this without the help of God’s people. I pray. I acknowledge that I cannot do this without the help of many others. I pray. I trust that God is at work in the lives of my children whether I can see it or not. I pray. I trust that God loves my children more than I ever can. I pray.

Knowledge is useful, but to acknowledge is more important I think –  it is the beginning of humility and wisdom.

For as my uncle alluded to in his comments – parenting is not necessarily a laboratory for my children to learn from me. Rather, parenting is an opportunity for me to learn deep down what being a peacemaker truly means.

If I am willing, it can be a powerful catalyst for the great experiment that God is working on in me.

Posted in Research

Pay Attention To Your Attention To The Screen

In one of my first posts (The NEW Virtual Babysitter), I cautioned parents to be vigilant in the amount of technological interactions that they allowed their children to have. I listed several statistics about TV viewing in particular due to the amount of research that has occurred on that subject over the years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no television for children under the age of 2 and 1 to 2 hours per day for children older than 2.  My premise was that these might be good guidelines for parents for screen time in general. As the research has caught up with the new media habits of children, specifically with regards to video games,  I have been anticipating the results of these studies.

One recent study in particular is most pertinent to those of us with children who have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). “Television and Video Game Exposure and the Development of Attention Problems,” published in the August print issue of Pediatrics (published online July 5), found that children who exceeded the 2 hour a day limit to screen time that the AAP recommends were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to have attention problems. More information can be found on the APA’s website.

Another study has linked anxiety and depression with excessive gaming. The research focused on adult gamers and compared those who played 33 hours per week (4.7 hours per day) with those who played 21 hours per week (3 hours per day). Those in the excessive group were 25 times more likely to experience anxiety and depression than in the more balanced group. They also had more difficulty in managing anger and handling real life situations.

“Excessive gamers displayed higher avoidance coping and lower approach coping styles compared to balanced gamers,” Researcher Daniel Loton from Victoria University said, “This may be reflective of video games being used as a coping mechanism to relax and as a distraction from difficulties.” Though, in what could be an alarming trend, both groups averaged levels of stress, anxiety, and depression well above the normal parameters reported in past studies.

While my primary concern with video games and other new media has been their use as portals for violence, these studies reflect the power video games have to generate other emotional problems within children and, if not limited, in adults as well. This research should serve as a catalyst for parents and caregivers to continue to monitor the screen time of children and provide intelligent boundaries so that they can grow up to be as healthy as possible.

Posted in Longreads & Essays

Peaceful Parenting ≠ Shooting A Laptop

I am sure you have heard the story, maybe even seen the viral video, of a father, who being upset at his daughter’s mean comments on Facebook, filled her laptop full of holes from a .45 caliber gun.

Normally I post a link to these kind of stories but not this time. I am not interested in contributing to the hype.

I find this disturbing in several ways.

One of course is the violent nature of the incident. Being a parent who has had to deal with disrespectful behavior, I too have gotten extremely angry, so much sometimes that to be honest, I wanted to kick some butt. But if I expect respect from my children than I need to be respectful. If I expect them to be peacemakers than I need to be a peacemaker in my relationship with them.

The other problem I have is the public airing of the family’s dirty laundry. So you’re frustrated, big deal. That is part of parenting. To be honest, it is as if the dad is looking for kudos to justify what he did. And he’s got them. Which is the other disturbing thing about the incident. 1300 “likes” with most people lauding his “parenting technique.” I beg to differ. Pulling a gun and shooting your daughter’s laptop isn’t parenting. It is scary.

Parenting is not easy. Being a peaceful parent is even harder. Being a peaceful parent with media boundaries is near impossible. Sometimes our peaceful home has felt more like a war zone. But “when I became a man, I put away childish things.” In every incident with my children, I need to remember that I am the adult. And that every incident no matter how tough is a teachable moment. So what is the message the daughter in the story is getting? When does the computer become flesh and blood?

My children’s therapist said it this way, “Parenting is the toughest thing you will ever do. And for the most part it is a thankless job.” So why do it? I have made a ton of mistakes. I will make a ton more. But I am unwavering in my commitment to peaceful parenting.

You see my children are too important for me to send them into the world with any inclination that violence is an acceptable response to their behavior, or that of anyone else.