Two Things To Instill into Our Kids Before College

UnknownTypically I embrace summer with a slowed-down schedule, but the first two weeks of it have been anything but slow. Even with my kids leaving for camp in a couple of days, there will be no true respite this season since my second manuscript is due in August and plans for our church-plant’s particularization service need to be underway!

Finally though after a long-weekend out of town I have had time to at least sit and process some very significant events I have been a part of over the last few days: an adoption, a graduation, a wedding and a meeting with a university president.  There is much I could say about any one of the first three events as they were sweet reminders of God’s faithfulness and the blessing of family and dear friends. But with my daughter nearing college  it is the meeting with Baylor’s president, who also happens to be a famous Judge (think Clinton-era), that is at the forefront of my mind. 

images-1

Specifically, it was his answer to the question my daughter asked him:

What makes a successful student?

While many things could characterize a successful student, what he said, without missing a beat, sounds more descriptive of a student from a bygone generation than it does today. And to be honest, I think it’s more telling of our parenting than anything else.

The two things he listed:

  1. Determination
  2. Service

What followed was a conversation reflecting on today’s world of “iPhones, iPads and selfies” as indicitive of our me-mentality and self-first mindset.

While we do service projects they are often done to boost resumes or to help us feel good about ourselves. Though there are genuine acts of service, for most students and parents alike our overall concern is for Self. We do not love others as we ought and we care way more about ourselves being first, getting ahead, receiving recognition and achieving what we want than we do about diving in, rolling up our sleeves and walking alongside someone else.

When it is convenient, sure, we will do something nice for another. But, if it encroaches upon our time, not so much. If it costs us little, okay, but how often we bail when it requires major sacrifice of our time, money and emotional well-being – Self!

Along those same lines is a sense of self-entitlement. A belief that we deserve something – not because we have worked hard – but because of who we are. In today’s world our kids are accustomed to getting what they want, when they want. Whether it be the newest fashion, constant entertainment, special exceptions to the rules, extentions on projects or extra opportunitites, they know how to manipulate for the betterment of themselves.

I am not saying there are not kids who work extremely hard against all odds to acheive goals. There definitely are, but by in large we as parents do everything in our power to shield our kids from disappointment, hardship and consequences by coming to their rescue or doing things for them.

But how is this preparing them for college and beyond when we know the real world does not always give us what we want? What is going to happen when for the first-time they experience rejection, can’t talk their way into something or lack the funds to do what they want?  Will they sink into a self pity-party or be able to rise above?

From the president’s assessment of what a truly successful student looks like, I am reminded of something my husband often tell my sons in regard to their sports. That is most coaches would hands-down take a kid who is a hard worker and a team player over the one with most talent because hard work beats talent every time. And someone who works to make others great knows what it means to be great.

So how about instead of leading our kids to believe success comes from being the best, making it to the top, earning the most money, receiving the most accolades, getting the wins or what they want, we reorient them to these Biblical truths:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…” Colossians 3:23

… love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

To see these things in my kids is what will make them Valedictorians in my book!

Unknown

Growing Up Along with our Kids

IMG_7905After twelve consecutive years in an elementary school, the curtain is closing on this chapter of our lives. When my first two moved on to middle school it felt like such big steps, but this time around my youngest and I are more than ready. 

Watching him transform into a teen-in-the-making this year has reminded me of how he was back in half-day kindergarten– just chomping at the bit to move up with the big kids. So though my baby will bid goodbye to a place he has called home for six years and to teachers whom we adore, there will be no tears.

IMG_7942

Thank goodness, no tears, considering how often I’ve cried lately over my oldest who is sailing into her senior year.  Makes me wonder based on our readiness for the youngest’s next stage, if by the time he is graduating high school that will be different too. Is that even possible to be ready for empty-nester-hood?!

I can’t imagine that now. It sounds so sad to have them all grown up and out of the house, but I am guessing just like now, he will be more than ready to spread his wings. And, maybe (just maybe) seeing him ready and having watched the older two go through it, I’ll be ready too. 

We’ll see… But I have noticed typically when we are in a certain life stage looking to what’s ahead seems scary, sometimes causing us to want to cling tightly to where we are.  

Just think about prior to becoming a parent and feeling unprepared to raise a child.  Then upon having one, God instantly gave just what was needed to care for the baby only now you are already looking in fear to what’s next.  Again, God gave you the ability and wisdom and before you know it you are onto the next stage that had also seemed overwhelming in the past.

I remember dreading when we would no longer have quiet evenings at home with the kids in bed at 8pm. Just the thought of having to be out of the house every night for all the kid activities sounded exhausting. And while it can be and an unexpected night at home is nice, the thrill of watching my kids play ball and do what they love while also socializing with the parents of their  teammates is something I love. In fact, with all the rain lately forcing our games to be cancelled I have felt sad stuck in the house and not out on the ball field!

Today I would never trade our life with teenagers to go back in time. Although easier emotionally back then, the joy in seeing my people mature and the conversations we now have is amazing. Six years ago though when my oldest was headed into the middle school years it was scary. 

Something wonderful I’ve discovered along the way is God is growing us alongside our kids! He makes us ready and gives us the grace to walk in what He has put before us. He grants us wisdom, experience, the ability to endure and to persevere through it all.

Knowing this has been true gives me hope for tomorrow (or rather next year) that even with college looming it too will be a stage to fully embrace and love as much as every other. Until then – you’ll find me clinging to where we are, wishing I could stop the clock!IMG_7947

Grace Admist the Noise

While there has been silence in my writing from the house of hatton this week, our true House of Hatton has been anything but silent. It hasn’t been “noisy” like households with younger children, but the noise of chaotic activity and emotional frittering has kept me from processing. And for me writing helps process. That is why I continue blogging. It’s like my own therapy.

So this week while we had two “snow days” my husband has been on the sunny beaches of Cabo which meant I was the one primarily in charge of our 4 1/2 month puppy. This extra responsibility alone, mointoring where he is and what he is grabbing or chewing on, consumes way more time than this non-dog lover want to give. 

How cool is this Sea Lion that came up on my husband's fishing boat?!

How cool is this Sea Lion that came up on my husband’s fishing boat?!

This picture was taken about 20 lbs ago. At not even 5 mos. he is now about 50 lbs!

This picture was taken about 20 lbs ago. At not even 5 mos. he is now about 50 lbs!

I also got to shovel my driveway so we wouldn’t be too iced in to make an appointment on the second snow day. And, I (the one who can barely keep her eyes open until 9:30pm) had to stay awake until my daughter got home at night. Never mind that twice, I accidentally locked up the backdoor and didn’t hear her banging on it 🙂

If only my husband had a picture as evidence of me shuffling the driveway!

If only my husband had a picture as evidence of me shoveling the driveway!

But there was grace this week, too. First, because of the snow days my boys’ sports were cancelled on the night I was most stressed about how to get them both to where they needed to be. There was grace in my kids helping extra with household chores. Grace in having slowed-down time at home with them. And even more grace as I’ve been faced with and thinking about the issues my daughter has been struggling through.

If you are a parent, isn’t the hardest thing when your child hurts or is struggling and you not being able to change it?

That’s where I am. I want to control what I can’t. I want to fix what is broke. I want to make right what is wrong. I want to speed a slow process of change. And the reality is, I can’t do any of it.

But this is where the grace comes in. As hard and as hopeless as things feel sometimes, I praise God for some personal experiences enabling me to identify with my daughter and know first-hand there is hope. I also praise God, as hard and as mixed up as it sounds, for her struggles (even though they make me cry). 

He is making the broken, beautiful.

I am watching it happen before my very eyes. He is growing and transforming her to see her great need and dependence on Him and there is nothing better. This is exactly what I want for all of my children – for them to know they are weak, but He is strong. And with only 1 1/2 years to go before she goes from us, I am confident what she is learning now about herself and about who God is for her will help her abide and help me to trust Him when she is even more outside of anything I can control.

Grace, He is giving her through the trials and grace He is giving me.

Grace is what I needed most this week. Actually what we all need most all the time! But sometimes with all the noise we don’t see where God enters in. We stay focused on what we lack instead of what He gives.  In our obsession with ourselves and the here and now, we too often miss seeing how He is at work for our good and His glory – all the time.

Behind the Scenes of a Selfie Society for a Teen

images-2If you have a teen or tween, cell phone use and social media has most likely been a concerning conversation.  I have had countless conversations with other parents frustrated by their kids’ constant phone use and worried about what they are exposed to.

I too am concerned and have seen first-hand the effects on my own daughter. But you wouldn’t know it from the outside because these are inward struggles and sin she and other teens are wading through in the confines of their own head and heart. That is why my greater concern is that as parents we either miss the real problem or we see it but don’t know what to do about it. Either way opportunities for deeper sheperding of our kids’ hearts are often missed.

imagesWe know social media is not going away but the solution is not taking away their phones, prohibiting all online interaction and keeping them completely sheltered.  Although tempting, “law” does nothing for their hearts.  How much better if we helped them evaluate the real issues – the underneath the surface issues – these external forces are pointing to.

Unknown

As my husband says if you detect a crack in the ceiling of your home, the crack is not the real problem. The crack is pointing to something more foundational – somthing behind the scenes.

Same is true of social media and cell phones. They are not the root problem. Just as the real problem with bad behavior isn’t because of the temptation or something outside of us, but what is going on inside us.

So how do we uncover what is hidden in our kids’ hearts? Do we even see what is hidden in our hearts?

UnknownThese are tough questions and unless we dig below the surface to uncover the ‘soul holes’ and how they are falsely being plugged, our kids (and us) will sink deeper and deeper into Self.

If we don’t help them see, believe and rest in Christ as their identity, righteousness and worth, we will never adequately address social media stress.

To this end, I have created a couple of online anonymous surveys, which some of you may have already taken or seen. One is for teens, the other for parents of teens. Some I have already received back with many of my own conclusions confirmed and to be shared in future posts.

imagesIn shedding light on ‘Selfie Society’ issues, my hope is to help us see how to practically apply The Light of the gospel on to the lies eating aways at lives. Perhaps in some small way by sparking conversation, initiating public parent forums, small group gatherings and/or potentially a future book:), together we will be instruments of true change impacting our kids far beyond their teen years.

But I need your help. I need hundreds of surveys submitted back. I would appreciate greatly if you woud share the links below with teens, parents of teens and also youth pastors and leaders, Young Life or other ministry staff members, coaches, teachers – really, anyone who works with teens or parents of teens who would help circulate this around. Would you please?

Here are the links:

FOR TEENS: http://www.surveyface.com/study/Behind-the-Scenes-of-a-Selfie-Society-for-a-Teen-15022.php?l=y

FOR PARENTS: http://www.surveyface.com/study/Behind-the-Scenes-of-Parenting-Teens-15061.php?l=y

For future survey results, be sure to subscribe to this blog. In the meantime, Joy in the journey.

Good Parents Let Their Children Fail!

“GOOD PARENTS LET THEIR CHILDREN FAIL!” 

This statement made by Barbara Duguid at a conference I attended earlier in the fall has been in the back of my head ever since. I think because everything about it goes against our nature of what we think is good. 

I mean, how is letting my child mess up, get hurt, rebel, experience pain or fail good? Especially, if I could have somehow stopped it. So as helicopter parents, we quickly jump in to rescue and prevent.

As my husband and I were talking about all this he reminded me of the time our youngest, who was just a pre-schooler at the time, took a plastic child-size lawn chair up to the fort and on to the top of the slide. As he was trying to position himself on it to go down the slide I see this from the window and come rushing out to stop him.

My husband on the other hand, stopped me by saying, “Wait. Let’s just see what happens.”

I’m thinking, “What kind of parent allows that? He could get hurt!”

But, my husband insisted we were right there if he fell and we should not stifle his creativity.  If it didn’t work he could guarantee our son wouldn’t try it again. If it did work (which it did) he would feel a sense of pride, accomplishment and independence that would carry with him to the next challenge.

Isn’t this what we want for our children- to grow up to be independent of us and for us to feel confident that we’ve given them every tool to be out from under our nest?

How can that happen though if we are always rescuing? Or, if we never let them fail and experience consequences?

For instance, let’s say my daughter doesn’t finish her English paper and wants to stay home the next morning to do so.  She had plenty of time, but had just procrastinated and prioritized extra-curricular above her work. If I allow her to stay home, I rescue her from the consequences of a late grade and maybe the teacher thinking she is irresponsible. It may also possibly prevent a letter grade drop, which of course would effect her GPA which effects her class rank and maybe acceptance to a certain college or scholarship!

With all that at stake it seems like I better let her stay home to finish. On second thought, if she experiences those consequences, wouldn’t she learn a valuable lesson that would serve her better in life than being rescued?

What if my child gets a speeding ticket. Do I just pay it off so she can keep her babysitting money for “fun money?” Or does she learn from the consequence of having to take responsibility and use her own money?

What if the coach isn’t playing my child – Do I demand the coach play him? Do I switch my child’s team? Do I stir conflict in the stands? Or, is there a great character-building lesson at hand?

Letting our children fail goes against everything a parent thinks is good and right. It is good that we want to protect, guide, shield and shape them. That is our job as parents. But when we refuse to let them fail we not only stunt their growth and limit their life experiences, we are failing to trust God knows what is best for them.

We are demanding to be in control and we keep them from seeing their need for a Savior.

To know and abide in Christ is my deepest desire for each of my kids. So if it takes letting them struggle, to be unsuccessful or experience consequences to know His great sustaining love for them then, Lord, help and sustain me when failing sometimes is for their best!

Because Time Won’t Stand Still

Whew – alot has been happening at the House of Hatton this week. On top of the new routines and busyness the beginning of school brings there are a few other things that have filled our time.

First and foremost, our daughter is finally turning sixteen!!! I say finally because she is so young in her grade it has felt like a long-time coming as she’s watched and waited while all her friends have gotten their licenses. Last year on her birthday I posted 365 Days For My Girl and its hard to believe that time is now!IMG_6036

Mostly I am so excited because I definitely need her to drive herself to all her activities. Many days this summer I requested off from work or switched shifts simply because she had appointments to make and a job and activities to get to. So even if she never runs an errand for me (which she will) or takes her brothers to any of their practices (which she will) I will be a little less bound by time:).

On the flip side – Stop The Clock! Seriously, only two more years and she is gone! I want all the time I can get with her and will miss our car convos. I can’t tell you how often I have been teary in recent weeks thinking about friends whose children have recently gone to college and knowing this is just around the corner for us, too.

But somewhere in the midst of mothering, when kids are younger and it’s physically exhausting, it’s tempting to long for the next stage – for things to be easier and have more “me-time.” In the process though we neglect to be fully present and purposeful in pouring into their hearts and giving our undivided time. I, too, have some regrets in this regard and now that it seems so much clearer just want more time!

Speaking of time, another exciting recent occurrence is directly related to capitalizing on time with our pre-teen and teenagers. In fact, it is the #1 reason we have finally taken the plunge and are putting in a pool! 

Yes, it sounds delightful to sit out by the pool in my own backyard with a magazine.  And for my boys to get home from a hot sweaty football practice and cool off by jumping in.  But more than anything we want kids and our friends to gather at our home.

This is happening!

This is happening!

Whether you’ve thought of it like this or not, a pool provides the opportunity for ministry. A time to hang out with our kids and their friends in an atmosphere conducive to conversations. Likewise, my husband has loved doing “fireside chats” with our daughter and her friends gathered on the back porch around the chimenea, now we will have one more reason to host, seizing the time.

And for the last news of the week – I just received my personal trainer certification!  My most recent idea for re-inventing my “career” – as I tend to do every few years :). This path is being taken primarily to keep my flexible schedule so that I am able to write.

My book release is still a year a way, but I have other Bible studies, book ideas, blogs and grants to write. So in order to keep doing that which I love without a paycheck (yet), I decided to pursue another passion/hobby which is health & wellness. The beauty in this (if I do in fact get hired) is stepping out of my isolating little home office where I write to spend time with people – helping them set and achieve goals, making new friends and again, in a way – ministry.

If you think about it – all of life is ministry. Ministry is not just confined to the church, separate from the rest of life. Nor is it just for pastors – it is for all of us. It means joining in the “dance” as written in my last post Love Does and living your life for the good of others. Investing in more than yourself. 

Because time doesn’t stand still and much of what we are distracted by, consumed with and worried about is fleeting, Lord please help me to invest my time in the eternal: Your Word and Your people!

 

Don’t want to miss any post? Enter your email on the upper right-hand column after “Follow blog via email.”

The 100 Mark!

If you have young school-age kids, they may have celebrated the 100th day of school by dressing up as a 100 year-old or bringing 100 items of something. So recently when I noticed that I was on my 97th blog entry, I decided I should celebrate my 100th. 

th-5

Technically this is #101 since I decided to write my Lent thoughts :), but nevertheless I want to take a look back over what I have written over these past 15 months since starting this blog.  Some posts, like one based off Les Miserables, continue to be clicked on and viewed frequently. While there are others that were more or less missed.  Therefore to commemorate hitting 100, I have decided to simply re-share ten posts that I personally want to bring back to life.

Each of the ten transcend time in the sense that they are always relevant even if they were tied to a specific event that led to me writing it. I hope as you have time you will click on some of these links and find food for thought.

Parenting…

Christian Living/Life/Idols/Suffering/Trials…

If you are not already, I would love for you to follow me into my next 100 posts. Enter your email on the upper right-hand column after “Follow blog via email”.

Commodity or Covenant

I’ve been thinking more on the implications of issues I touched on in my first post in regards to all our relationships.  So my next couple posts will be spin-offs from that; issues I think we all experience but may not have thought through the effects.

HavIMG_1468e you ever found yourself at a restaurant (or in the high school cafeteria) and no one at the table is talking, but everyone is on their phones?   Why is this?  You would think if you are having a meal together then these are probably friends or family you enjoy.  But it seems we are so consumed about what we might be missing that we miss out on enjoying who we are with and where we are.

What about this…you are in your car with your teenager sitting captive to your right.  You complain that he/she is never at home and when they are at home they don’t talk and shut themselves in their room.  But here they are right next to you and you miss the opportunity to talk because you are on your phone talking to someone else.

Or maybe the kid sitting next to you is still a young child and talks your ear off all day long.  You long for an outlet so you stay busy on your phone or computer; only years later do you discover now that you are ready to listen, they no longer want to talk.

One more, I know this hurts. It hits me too.

Are you noncommittal on plans because you are waiting to see what better options might come your way.  Or in my opinion- worse, you commit to plans you break, because something better did come your way?

All of these situations go back to the consumer vs covenant type relationships.  If we are very honest, we too often approach our marriages, children and friendships as if they are not our priority.  We show no loyalty, safety or unity toward them.  This is probably not how we feel, but nevertheless what is communicated.

As parents we are bothered by the pattern of relating that has developed in our kids because of all the texting and social media.  Yet we are no different.  We may not be consumed with the same distractions as they are, but we are distracted – filling our time with trivial things and surface-level conversations.  Indirectly modeling to them that people are simply a commodity.

Let’s just consider this at a basic level in regard to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Matthew 7:12   I would gather we all agree the Golden Rule is important; after all that is how it became known as the Golden Rule.  Where is that philosophy though when we dismiss or ignore people because of our distractions?  When we are not treating them how we want (or demand) to be treated.

So we all fail.  But, seeing your failure and sin is actually a good thing!

When we see our guilt, we see our need for a Savior!   And we are then more dependent on Him for the grace we need, and the only way we can, love others as He loved us.