Search Results for: sleep train

Get Your Child on the Sleepy Train

Sleep is crucial for a child’s healthy development and mental health. (See Your Teen & The Importance of Sleep to learn how important sleep is for teen health.) Unfortunately, our world of constant busy-ness and digital stimuli does not lend itself well to healthy sleep routines. In fact, they make it all the more important for parents to help their children develop a healthy, effective, and independent bed-time routine. Even then, our children sometimes “lose the routine” because of bad dreams, transitions, changes in schedule…all kinds of things can impact the routine. I recently discovered three ideas to help establish an effective bed-time routine or get it back on track after it has been derailed. Maybe they will help in your family.

  • Have some practice sessions. We encourage our children to practice their sports, their spelling, their instruments. Why not practice their bedtime routine? These practice sessions don’t actually involve going to sleep. But they do involve going through the pre-bedtime routine. Brushing teeth, saying prayers, getting a snack, reading a book…whatever the routine you have established, go through it during the daytime. As you do, acknowledge how well your child does each step. Gush a little over their efforts and success. Make it fun and light-hearted. You want them to enjoy the routine and find it rewarding in and of itself.
  • Take a break. As you go through your child’s bedtime routine, lie down with them. Then let them know you need to take care of something (like use the restroom or turn off a light) and will be back in a minute. Leave the room, do something that takes a minute or so, return to your child, and lay back down with them. The next night leave for two minutes. The third night, 3 minutes. Each night leave for a minute or so longer. You get the idea. Always return just as you said but let the “break” take longer and longer. Your child will become more independent falling asleep alone.
  • “Excuse me” is an exercise very much like the take a break. However, in this one you note some chore (a 15-20 minute job) you have to get done. You let your child know you’re going to go take care of it and then come back in to check on them. Always keep your promise and come back to check. Even if they fall asleep (which we hope they do), check in and give them a kiss on the forehead. The next morning, acknowledge that they had fallen asleep when you returned. Let them know you kissed them on the forehead and, most important of all, let them know how proud you are of their ability to go to sleep on their own.

These ideas are not difficult. They take some time on your part as a parent. But, think of yourself as their sleep coach. Coaches always take a little time to teach their players a new skill. An added benefit of being your child’s sleep coach? You get to enjoy the time you spend with your child  coaching them in the skill of sleep. (In fact, see The Top 4 Times for Parent-Child Talks for the best times to connect with your child.) Sleep tight.

“Ping…” “Zoom…” “Plop…”

You can hear it wherever you go…ping, ping, ping. The group text messages pour in while discussing the current topic…ping, ping, ping. Emails, mostly spam and a few of import, arrive…ping, ping. Someone’s at the front door and your Ring notifies you…ping, ping, ping. Instagram, reels, ping, ping, ping.  Push notifications can constantly invade our lives.  In the process, we become conditions to feel an edge of excitement because “we got mail” or some other important, funny, nonsensical, interesting input. In fact, we feel the same pleasurable excitement that a person who gambles feels at the sight of a poker machine. And when the cell phone “pings,” our attention goes “zoom,” right out the window. The constant “pings” and pull of the cellphone distract us from whatever task we have at hand. Some studies even suggest that the average person checks their phone (ping, ping) around 85 times a day! That’s once every 15 minutes that our attention is distracted from the task at hand. Unfortunately, with the constant checking and pulling of the cellphone, our mood can go “plop.” Stress and “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) increase as does our sense of sadness, loneliness, and depression.

Maybe we can just turn our phone on “silent.” Then we won’t hear the “ping, ping, ping.” Unfortunately, we remain conditioned to the expectation of a reward each time we look at our phone—a new reel to see, a new funny cat video, another email, an Instagram to catch our fancy, a tweet from a friend. The silent ping has caught our attention and, “zoom,” we find ourselves distracted, our mind wandering to the question, “Have I gotten another message?” “Zoom,” we set aside the task at hand and off we go to check our phone. It’s a powerful call isn’t it? You may even feel that call as you read this.

All these interruptions can leave us with a mood “plop,” an increased feeling of stress and “FOMO.” They contribute to our procrastination and decrease our productivity. These constant interruptions distract from our family. “Plop”—increased stress, FOMO, more procrastination, less productivity, and distracted from family. So, what do we do? We have to learn to better manage our technology.

  • Turn off as many push notifications as you can. Rather than receiving notifications of every tweet, every text, every message, every Instagram, every…you get the idea…set aside 2-3 periods of time to check and respond to them during the day. Perhaps you can check once in the morning, once during lunch, and once before bed…you can determine the times that work best for you.
  • Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” during sleep time. Only allow numbers you may need for emergencies open to notification through the night.
  • Train yourself to set aside your phone and focus on your work at hand. You may need to put your phone in a drawer to help you do this. If you worry about the messages you might miss (the “Fear Of Missing Out”), remember you will still view them later.

Don’t let the cell phone send you on a downward spiral of “Ping…Zoom…Plop.” Manage the technology in your life. In doing so, you’ll feel better. You will also model effective technology use to your children, which they may imitate in the long run and feel better as well.

After-School Exhaustion: What Does It Mean?

Another school year has arrived. As we start the new year, I am reminded of parents and students telling me about their after-school struggles. One struggle in particular comes to mind—the struggle of after-school exhaustion. A student comes home from school and suddenly feels exhausted, physically and emotionally drained. There are chores to do and homework to complete, but they don’t want to do anything but sleep.

Before you think this is a sign that your child is lazy, consider the results of studies published in Current Biology on August 1, 2022. These studies “used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to monitor brain chemistry over the course of a workday.” The findings suggest that thinking hard (aka—doing challenging cognitive tasks) over several hours produces fatigue through a buildup of glutamate in the brain. Rest and sleep are essential to eliminate this excess. In other words, the mental exercise of attending school and focusing on academic work all day may actually bring a child to a state of mental fatigue. And mental fatigue is a signal that we need stop working and rest. If we ignore that signal, we will likely shift toward investing little effort and accepting short-term rewards for that effort. In a practical sense, that means doing shoddy work (whether on chores or homework) just to say it’s finished.

What can you and your child do to overcome this mental exhaustion? Here are 2 simple suggestions.

  • Allow your child some down-time to rest after school. Don’t become harsh or critical because you assume your child is lazy and telling them so. Accept that they may have worked hard all day and need a break. A 20-minute power nap can do wonders.
  • Establish a positive bedtime routine to encourage a good night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep is important to our mental and physical health. It may not prevent after-school exhaustion, but it will help promote more success in with school and overall health.

What the COVID Lockdown Taught Us About Our Children

We have heard a lot about the negative effects of the COVID lockdown on our children’s mental health; and that is definitely a concern we need to address. However, negative effects were not uniformly reported. Some studies suggested positive effects of the lockdown on our children’s mental health. This lack of consistency aroused the curiosity of Emma Soneson, a PhD student and Gates Scholar at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge. She and her colleagues collected data from over 17,000 students (age 8- to 18-years-old) participating in a large, school-based survey called the OxWell Student Survey. For this study, the students completed questionnaires about their experiences around the pandemic, school, home, life, and relationships at the end of the first lockdown. Based on their answers, the students fell into three categories, each continuing about one third of the participating students:

  1. Those whose well-being improved during the lockdown
  2. Those who experienced no change in well-being during the lockdown
  3. Those who experienced a deterioration in well-being during the lockdown

What was different for these three groups? The answer to that question may give us good information about how to promote our children’s well-being in general, pandemic or not. So what’s different?

  • Nearly half of those reporting improved well-being also reported feeling less lonely or left out. 41% reported improved relationships with friends (as opposed to 26% in the no change group and 27% in the deterioration group).
  • Over half [53%] of those reporting improved well-being cited getting along better with family members, as opposed to 26% in the no change group and 21% in the deterioration group).
  • Those who reported greater well-being also noted a decrease in being bullied. In fact, 92% of those reporting improved well-being noted a decrease in being bullied, compared to only 83% in the no change and 81% deterioration group. Interestingly, that’s a lot of people saying bullying decreased in their life during the lockdown.
  • Another factor involved sleep. 49% of those who reported improved well-being reported sleeping more (compared to 30% in the no change group and 19% in the deterioration group).
  • Those who reported greater well-being were also those who remained in school every day
    or nearly every day versus attending once or twice. (In many areas, those with special educational needs or those whose parents feared their child falling behind through cyber school remained in school.) Some factor contributing to this group noting greater well-being may include more flexibility to tailor teaching styles to meet different learning styles, smaller classrooms, more focused attention from teachers, later waking times since the schools often had later start times, and more freedom during the school day.

Overall, this provides important information about ways in which we can promote our children’s overall well-being. Here are some ideas.

  1. Provide places for your children to engage in healthy peer relationships. This may include various clubs, sports, activities, churches, or even having their friends to your house. Provide an environment that can promote positive peer relationships.
  2. Spend time with your children. Build a strong relationship with your child. Engage them in fun activities, not just work. Invest in their interests. Share your interests with them. Enjoy your time together.
  3. Develop healthy sleep hygiene in your home. Model healthy sleep and so model for your child. Put limits on social media and cellphone usage so it does not interfere with sleep. Develop healthy bedtime routines.
  4. Watch for bullying. If your child is a victim of bullying, address it immediately. Go to the school to talk with the school staff about your child’s experience of bullying. Develop a plan to help decrease bullying. Build your child’s self-image so they can stand against bullying. If it continues, take your child out of the situation in which they are being bullied and find another place, a safe place, for them to learn.

Hopefully we are moving past this pandemic. There are, however, things we can learn and implement even after the pandemic is past. These four practices can improve our children’s sense of well-being even after the pandemic.

What Every Mother Already Knew

I love looking at research, especially research about families and mental health. But sometimes the results seem so obvious.  For instance, a study published in 2020 confirmed something every mother already knows. The study had two parts: a lab study of 147 participants and community daily-diary study involving 202 participants. Both parts of this study revealed what mothers already knew—lack of sleep amplifies anger. More specifically, decreasing a person’s amount of sleep by 2 to 4 hours a night for two nights decreased their ability to adapt to frustrating conditions and increased the likelihood they would react with anger. And who doesn’t have to adapt to frustrations on daily basis? So, lack of sleep puts us all at risk, parent and child alike. In other words, less sleep increases anger. What mother didn’t already know that?

But these results do raise a few other important questions. First, how much sleep does a person need?  Sleep experts recommended that:

  • Those 6-13 years old need 9-11 hours of sleep per night.
  • Those 14-12 years old need 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
  • Those 16-25 years old need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Those over 25-years-old need 7-9 hours of sleep per night as well.

Second, what can a parent do to help themselves and their child get enough sleep? Here are 4 tips to that can help you create good sleep environment for you and your family. Remember, by building a good pattern of sleep, you are proactively reducing anger in your family.

  • Establish a consistent bedtime and bedtime routine. Start the bedtime routine 30-60 minutes before bedtime. A bedtime routine might include personal hygiene activities. It might also include setting out clothes for the morning. A bedtime definitely needs to include quiet time to connect with one another, a parent with a child, a spouse with their partner. You can do this through reading a book together, talking about the day, sharing things for which you are grateful, or offering support around any struggles of the day. Overall, a good bedtime routine offers one of the best times to connect with your child and spouse. So get your child on the sleepy train with a good bedtime routine.
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark, quiet, and comfortable. That may mean no TV in the bedroom (link) and no social media in the bedroom after bedtime. It will involve a comfortable temperature. For children, it may include stuffed animals or blankets that promote a sense of safety. Work to create a comfortable environment in the bedroom, an environment that is safe and promotes rest. 
  • Do not use electronic devices for an hour before bed. Electronic devices tend to interfere with sleep, either through the blue light they emit or through the outright stimulation of peer drama, gaming, or exciting shows. So, turn off devices once you start the bedtime routine. Put on some enjoyable music instead.
  • Do not eat large meals too close to bedtime and avoid caffeinated drinks close to bedtime. Both tend to interfere with quality sleep.

Do everything you can to promote quality sleep for your child and yourself. Doing so will help increase everyone’s ability to manage frustration and anger. It also has many other physical and mental health benefits (see also . And, it contributes to an overall happier, healthier family.

Cuddle Up A Little Closer

Ah, the cuddle. Whether it be a hug, a snuggle, hand-holding, or a “smooch,” we love ’em all. And why not? Cuddling does wonderful things for us and our relationship. Let me just name a few: 

  • Cuddling releases a “bonding” hormone (oxytocin). When we cuddle, we bond with the one to whom we cuddle. In other words, we feel closer to one another. So, snuggle up and bond. Enjoy the intimacy. You might even find yourself talking a little more.
  • Cuddling increases happiness. Who can stay grumpy when snuggled up with the one you love?
  • Cuddling reduces stress and anxiety. There’s just something about snuggling into the arms of our love and feeling the stress melt away.
  • Cuddling also lowers blood pressure. Increased happiness, reduced stress, and lowered blood pressure all add up to increased heart health too!
  • Cuddling releases oxytocin which helps block pain signals. As a result, cuddling reduces pain.
  • Cuddling also helps us fight colds and other infections. When we feel good our body doesn’t want illness to interfere. So, it fights infections even more.
  • Cuddling helps us sleep too.

Is it any wonder we like to cuddle? It soothes us and lifts our mood. It melts away the strain and stress of the day. It relieves the pain. All the while it bonds us to the one with whom we snuggle. So, grab your spouse and “cuddle up a little closer.” You know you want to. Sing along with Andy Burrows with full sincerity, “I’d rather have cuddle than a video; I’d rather have cuddle than anything I know. I’d rather have a cuddle than ketchup, chips, or peas. A computer can be lovely, but a cuddle’s what I need!”

Managing Your Child’s Schedule…or, Seeking Balance in the Devil’s Playground

“Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” I have heard that statement many times…and, I know the truth in it. Laziness, the habit of doing nothing, leads to trouble! However, in our culture Cute Teenage Girl with Serious Expressionwe have swung to the opposite extreme with our children’s schedule. Rather than having “idle hands,” our children are overscheduled, pressured to be involved, and pushed to achieve. In an effort to give our children “every opportunity,” we fill their schedule with multiple activities. Because we fear they might miss out on future opportunities and successes, we pack every evening with at least one children’s activity…and two to four activities on the weekends. We rush from one activity to another, handing our children a protein bar or a happy meal between activities and letting them veg-out with a game on their IPad during the car ride between events. Slow down for a second and consider: What are we really accomplishing with this frenetic, child-focused lifestyle? What are our children learning? What will the long-term impact be?


When our children are overscheduled they become exhausted, agitated, and irritable. They snap at their friends and us more often.  They have a difficult time settling down and even getting to sleep at night. They become more easily upset and exhibit a more difficult time managing their emotions. We seem them grow moody, hyperactive, and impulsive…all resulting from a hectic schedule with little to no rest.


Filling our children’s schedule with activities may actually backfire, too. WebMD (Read article here) reports that the number of children involved in youth sports has doubled over the last 20 years while the number of teens involved in high school sports has dropped to an all-time low. Three out of four youth who start sports before the first grade drop out by the age of 13. Many experts suggest this has occurred because our children are getting burned out. The constant pressure to succeed and the constant drive to participate leaves them burned out and in need of rest.


In addition, with no unstructured down-time, our children never learn how to entertain themselves. They need outside sources to constantly entertainment them and motivate them. They do not learn how to manage their own schedule. Even more, the implicit messages heard by our overscheduled child include “You need constant self-improvement to please your family and be a person of worth” and “Unstructured time is wasted time; relaxation produces guilt.” In overscheduling our children we have not planted seeds of success but seeds of a stressed-out workaholic with few coping skills and a great potential for strained relationships in the future.

Happy family playing

We need to replace the “idle hands is the devil’s playground” with another saying…like, “Take rest, a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop” or “It takes a little work and a little play to teach a man to live.” Let me make a recommendation based on several sources.

  • Allow your child to have some unstructured down-time every day–no scheduled activity, no TV, no video game; just time to relax and figure out what they like to do.
  • Engage your child in an activity of their choice for at least 20-30 minutes each day. Play catch, play checkers, run to the store, or simply sit on the porch and talk. The activity really does not matter. The most important thing is to enjoy time with your child.
  • Consider the impact of your child’s schedule on your whole family. Remember travel time, impact on siblings not involved in that particular activity, impact on meal time, impact on finances, impact on homework, etc.
  • Limit your elementary school age child’s involvement in structured adult organized activities to no more than 3-4 hours per week. That means no more than one sport activity and one church/social/community activity per week. I realize this sounds limiting, but the benefits for your child and your family will be well worth the challenge. And, as your child moves into middle school and high school involvement time will change.

Our children need us to manage their schedule. They need us to help them find balance in the devil’s playground.

Book Review: How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm

how eskimos keep babies warmI just finished reading How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm, an excellent book written by Mei-Ling Hopgood and published in 2012.  Mei-Ling Hopgood, a new mother herself, takes the readers on a journey around the world to look at various parenting styles and practices. Each stop offers insights into parenting that we often overlook when raising our children in the zealous child-centered practices of the United States. Her travels take us to meet parents in Argentina, China, Kenya, France, a Mayan village, Tibet, and more. She delves into topics as varied as play, eating, sleep, peer conflict, strollers and potty training. We meet the “best fathers” in the world when visiting an AKA pygmies village and some of the closest extended families in the United States when visiting the Lebanese Americans. Ms. Hopgood, a journalist by trade, uses an easy-to-read style to compile information from sources as varied as anthropology, sociology studies, first hand interviews with people around the world, and personal anecdotes from her own family. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ms. Hopgood does not judge but opens up possibilities for parents. She helps us realize that parents around the world utilize varied, yet effective and loving methods to raise their children. In fact, we might learn a thing or two from some of the practices she discusses. For instance, we can gain insight into developing parent-child relationships from the AKA pygmy fathers. We might learn how to increase the variety of foods our children eat from the French. Polynesians might teach us how to encourage our children to play without their parents and the Japanese how to teach our children moral reasoning. The list goes on: Mayans teaching us about children and work, Asians how to encourage academic excellence, and Tibetans how to cherish pregnancy. If you are a parent, check this book out. You will enjoy reading it…and learn lots of ideas you might want to try.


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6 Myths of the Perfect Parent

There is a fierce competition in the world of parenting. If a child excels in sports, music, academics, or some other area, his parents are grilled by other parents–“What did you do to…?” “How did you get her to…?” “Did you make him practice…?” “What did you do when she didn’t want to…?” This barrage of questions is not mere small talk. No, it is all part of a reconnaissance mission to gather crucial intelligence–information we can utilize to perfect our own parenting and shape our own “super kid,” a kid who can proudly reflect perfect parenting. In our efforts to become the perfect parent, we “tyrannize our children with good intentions,” force opportunities for success upon them (whether they want it or not), and stone them with information they did not request. As perfect-parent-wanna-be’s, we diligently read up on various parenting styles, worry about topics ranging from hyperactive boys to the impact of nutrition on cognitive development, and strive to become our kid’s best friend while giving advice and pain-free, yet effective, discipline. It is exhausting just thinking about it all. Why do we exhaust ourselves in search of becoming the perfect parent? I believe two reasons. One, we love our children and we really do want what is best for them. Two, we are anxious, insecure parents.  Several myths perpetuate our insecurity. Maybe…just maybe…if we could relieve some of our insecurities, we might become more effective parents. With that in mind, here are 6 myths of the perfect parent that perpetuate our anxiety. Check them out and let them go.

      1.   “I must parent perfectly so my kids will turn out OK.” If that were true, you and I would all be in trouble now! After all, have any of us had perfect parents? Has anyone had parents who never made a mistake? Never yelled at the wrong sibling? Never forgot something that was important to their child? Never accidentally said the wrong thing? Always understood? Of course not. Even with imperfect parents, we turned out OK. Granted, we did not turn out perfect, but we did turn out OK.  In fact, our parents’ imperfection taught us some important lessons (see myth number 2).

2.   “My kids will be scarred for life if I make a mistake. I have to parent perfectly or my kids will be messed up as adults.” Actually, kids are quite resilient. Parents’ mistakes and imperfections teach children important lessons. Our children learn how to recover from simple mistakes by watching us make mistakes. They also learn how to apologize and make amends by watching us (their imperfect parents) do so.  Children learn how to manage discomfort and struggle by dealing with us and our imperfect responses to them as well. Our imperfections give us and our children the opportunities to grow and learn!

3.   “The real perfect parent will judge me and think I’m incompetent.” First, there is no “real perfect parent” out there. Second, all of us struggle to the “right thing to do.” Parenting is not an exact science. If it were, we would not debate about “tiger mom’s,” “attachment parenting,” and “mindful parenting” as well as issues like how long to breast feed (if you breast feed at all), how strict a style of discipline to use, how to toilet train, etc.

4.   “I must be my child’s best friend and discipline them perfectly.” How many of us discipline our friends? What would happen if we did try to discipline our friends? If we cannot be both friend and disciplinarian to our friends, why do we think we can be both friend and disciplinarian to our children? Instead, we strive to form a loving relationship with our children–relationships from which we can guide and teach our children to live by positive values. In this process, our children will get angry at us sometimes. They may even say they hate us. We will even experience anger toward them and, at times, feel like we don’t really like them. But, they remain our children. In the end, we still love them. Our love holds them near…and our love holds them accountable.

5.   “My children’s behavior is reflection on me.” This might be true…IF we were programming robots. But, our children have a mind of their own. Peers and teachers influence them. Diets and sleep influence them. TV, twitter, instagram and minecraft influence them. We do our best to influence our children, but we are not the only ones. Ultimately, our children’s behavior is a reflection on them and their choices. Our response to our children’s behavior is a reflection on us!

6.   “If my children do not have everything they want, I am a failure and my children will hate me.” A good parent does not give their children everything they want; they give them what they need. Our children need food, shelter, clothing, positive attention, guidance, affection, and loving discipline. Parents who provide these basic needs, even imperfectly, give their children a gracious gift; and they will experience their children’s love for years to come.

Let’s be honest. Parents are not perfect. We make mistakes. Those mistakes provide a great opportunity for parent and child to grow. So, cherish your imperfections. Acknowledge your mistakes. Love earnestly…for love covers a multitude of mistakes.

Personality, My Daughter & A Wedding

When my oldest daughter was almost 3-years-old, she played the part of flower girl in a friend’s wedding. She dressed in a beautiful white dress and dropped flowers on the carpet before the bride walked the aisle to marry her husband-to-be. Vows exchanged and pictures taken, we proceeded to the wedding reception. I love wedding receptions—a time of great joy and celebration. Of course, 3-year-olds love them, too. My daughter was dancing, laughing, and having a good time. Soon, the dance floor cleared except for the bride and groom. As the music played, the bride sat on a chair in the middle of the empty dance floor and the groom prepared to remove her garter. Suddenly, a near 3-year-old dressed in a beautiful white dress broke out of the crowd, ran across the dance floor, and tackled the groom. She wrestled him to the ground. The crowds’ laughter slowly turned to stunned murmuring. “Who’s that child’s parent?” I tried to hide, but I couldn’t. Someone had to go get my daughter. Mustering all the dignity I could, and under the watchful eyes of wedding guests and family, I walked across the dance floor to retrieve my daughter. After apologizing, I discovered that the bride and groom really didn’t mind. Apparently, the guests didn’t mind either. They thought it was “cute” and “funny.” But, I have to admit, I was a little embarrassed. Unlike my daughter, I really don’t like being in the center of a large crowd.
“Unlike my daughter”…that’s the point. My daughter and I are different. We have different personalities. My daughter loves to be involved. She loves to be around people and jumps right into activities. She doesn’t mind “putting herself out there.” I admire that about her. I, on the other hand, enjoy one-on-one interactions. I take a while to warm up to an activity; and, I prefer to practice before “performing” for other people. I love my daughter’s personality. It allows her so many opportunities. But, we are different…not just my daughter and I, but everyone in my family. We have different personalities and idiosyncrasies. I tend to get up early. My wife enjoys sleeping. I set my alarm at the softest setting possible. My wife and daughters set their alarm to a deafening roar that causes me to jump out of the bed, grasp my heart, and check to see if I’m still alive.
All these differences remind me of an ancient Hebrew proverb: “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The word used for “the way he should go” actually means “according to his habits and interests” (McDowell). In other words, as family shepherds we need to know our children’s particular bent, their individual personalities and interests. As we do, our children gain a sense of value and worth in our acceptance of their individual differences. We give them an added sense of security when we nurture and discipline them according to their particular personality. That may mean we discipline each child in a slightly different way while holding them all to the same standard of behavior. One child may comply with a request after getting “the look.” Another child may simply stare back and say “Hi Dad” in response to “the look.” I know because these two options describe my two daughters. Still, my wife and I strive to hold both daughters to the same standard even though one requires a more firm directive as we “train them up…according to their bent.”
Those differences, the uniqueness of each family member, add to the beauty and strength of family. Where my “natural bent” falls short, my wife’s “natural bent” picks up…and vice versa. My daughters, who don’t mind “putting themselves out there,” and my wife, from whom they inherit that trait, have taught me how to become more involved and social in a group. I am grateful for that. Hopefully, my uniqueness has also taught them something as well. Our differences help us grow and learn. Our differences add to the complex beauty of our families. As family shepherds, we accept the differences of each family member. Even more, we cherish those unique traits as opportunities to promote growth, cooperation, and love.
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