Parenting

Overthinking Imagine Dragons: A Parenting Story

It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are in fact two ideal circumstances in which to talk to your teen:

1. At 11:00 at night, usually a school/work night when you are tired but your teen is wide awake, and

2. Sitting side by side in the car, preferably when you (and not your teen) are driving so you can stare straight ahead and not make eye contact.

Over the past decade or so, I’ve made use of both of these times as much as possible, and it’s paid off. I found out in just this way that my oldest son was intending to enlist in the Marines. In fact, it was both 11:00 at night (coming back from seeing a musical together—yes, my former Marine still loves musicals, my work here is done) and we were sitting side by side in the car.

And when you spend time in cars with your teens, sometimes you end up enjoying music together. Sure enough, I bonded with my two oldest over music as I drove them back and forth to the learning center where they were taking classes. Around 2012, we discovered Imagine Dragons, and it became the first band (“alternative” band at that—bonus!) that we all loved. And I mean loved. We listened to their first album, Night Visions, until we knew the lyrics by heart, and eventually we started talking about them.

And, in true mom fashion, I started overthinking them. Or at least one of them.

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Homeschooling · Parenting

Homeschool to Public School … and (Sometimes) Back Again

Tips on making the transition when you’re considering public school

We’re an 85.9% homeschool family (I did the math). We started out intending to be a 100% homeschool family, and in my heart I’m a 100% homeschooling mom, but Child #3 and Child #4 required different approaches to their education, so we’re going to end up at 85.9% overall. Kids will throw you a curve ball like that sometimes.

During the time that I was considering other schooling options for my two out-of-the-homeschool-box boys, I searched in vain for real-life experiences, examples, walk-throughs—anything to guide me in uncharted territory or even just encourage me in taking these huge steps into the unknown. I couldn’t find much, so now that I’ve walked this path myself—twice, in two different ways—I decided to write about it in order to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

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Faith · Parenting

Finding Hope When You’ve Made Mistakes with Your Children

Many years ago when I was a young mom with an intense and challenging preschooler, I was getting coffee at Bible study next to an older, well-respected woman in the church. She had heard through the church grapevine that I was having trouble with my son, and  she casually said to me, out of nowhere, “Isn’t it great, Rebekah, that we can get all the parenting help we need right there in the Bible?”

That out-of-the-blue comment really threw me. Even though I was a fairly new Christian, I was pretty sure there was not a lot of direct parenting advice in the Bible that dealt with my specific issues with my young son. I honestly didn’t have a clue what she was even talking about. Feeling awkward, I smiled and nodded, and she went on her way, never mentioning it again.

To be honest, I didn’t take her comment very well. Her well-meaning advice had no follow-through, so it felt a little like I’d been the victim of a hit-and-run. But as the years went by, and I grew in spiritual maturity and Bible knowledge, I found that God did indeed offer parenting hope and help to me in his Word. I just needed to learn how to recognize it.

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Parenting

Blue Star Mom, Times Two

I’m a blue star mom. This banner on my house means that I have a close family member who is currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. It was on my house from 2014 to 2018, had a break for a couple of years, then went back up again in the summer of 2020.

It’s uncommon to have a son or daughter serving in the military. Only two percent of high schoolers choose to enlist or pursue officer training. Each spring, when the rounds of “So, what’s [your son/daughter] going to do after graduation?” begin among moms, if your answer is Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, whether officer or enlisted, eyes will open wider and jaws may drop.

Marines boot camp photo / Army basic training photo

Back in 2014, when I began telling people that our oldest son was planning to enlist in the Marines directly out of high school, the most common reaction I got from other moms surprised me. The look of concern, the furrowed brow, the leaning in to quietly ask, “And how do you feel about that?”

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Parenting

Love You Forever … Or Hate It Forever?

Still polarizing after all these years.

I thought the controversy was over. I thought that surely by now, moms were no longer arguing over this book. I thought emotions had cooled, invectives were no longer flung about, and we were at peace with (or at perhaps had just forgotten about) this little children’s book.

But no. The debate rages on.

Love You Forever was written by Robert Munsch and first published in 1986. If you’ve ever seen it, you’re not likely to forget the image of the toddler on the cover, sitting next to an open toilet in the middle of a toddler-made mess, gleefully contemplating what to toss next into the commode. If you’ve read it to children, they’ve likely pointed out the toilet to you each time you’ve read it, while (depending on the child) giggling in embarrassment or snickering in naughty delight.

In short, it’s the story of a mom who sings her baby to sleep with a certain lullaby every night (“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be”), and as that baby grows, she continues to love and sing to her son, even as he becomes a man with his own home and family. At the end of the book, when the mother is old and sick, the son sings the song back to her and then goes home and sings it to his own baby girl.

So from that brief synopsis, you can maybe see why Love You Forever is on its way to 35,000 Amazon ratings, 94% being five-star reviews. In 2001, fifteen years after it was first published, it was in its 63rd printing, and who knows how many times it’s been printed by now, 20 years later.

So people really like it. That is, except for the people who hate it. And I mean, HATE it.

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Faith · Parenting

Light of the World, or 120 Watts of Jesus

When each of my children was around 5 years old, we did a “Names of Jesus” unit together during our Advent homeschool time. Each day we would focus on a different name that Jesus is called in the Bible, such as shepherd, king, Alpha and Omega, or light of the world. Each lesson had an activity, craft, or lesson associated with it, most of which I’ve forgotten now … except for the object lesson I used for “Light of the World.”

To begin this lesson, we would look at Bible verses together such as John 9:5, where Jesus says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” It was very clear to even a young child that Jesus understood his role in the world as a light to shine in the darkness. I then proposed that we go into the darkest room in the house, a small bathroom with no windows. Always eager to get up and move, and intrigued by continuing the lesson in the bathroom (of all places!), each child would eagerly comply.

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Faith · Parenting

Putting an End to Generational Sins

In one of the most famous first lines in literature, Leo Tolstoy boldly states, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Now, I haven’t read Anna Karenina, but I can say with confidence that, while he certainly captured our attention and still has us quoting him after nearly 150 years, he is wrong about happy families being all alike (although they may look that way from the outside). But he has a point about unhappy families.

Unhappy families can have an endless number of reasons why they are unhappy, and many of us are sadly familiar with one of them: generational sins (a.k.a. generational trauma or generational dysfunction). This is the tendency of persistent sinful behaviors to be repeated or “handed down” from one generation to the next, contributing to the unhappiness of that family and its individual members. This might be a particular problem with one member of the family, or an overall environment that permeates the day-to-day life and outlook of each person.

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Parenting

That Kid Who’s Been Pulling Away for His Whole Life

That one kid.

The one who’s been pulling away his entire life. The one who blended in with the rest of the family at first but then subtly, in small but unmistakable ways, began distancing himself until he was fully in his own orbit, still revolving around us but always looking outward toward more interesting stars, more exciting galaxies.

That one baby.

The one who saw an obstacle in front of him (a no-frills, first-generation Exersaucer) and unlike his siblings who carefully and wisely crawled around it, plowed unhesitatingly right through it, to get to the other side in the quickest way possible. The one who refused to be quietly cuddled and read to before bedtime, instead wanting to ride his push car around and around and around the open floor plan of our house, endlessly going and going … anywhere.

That one toddler.

The one in the picture above, who walked early, and right away I saw that this would be my view of him from now on: one hand out to steady himself, one hand holding a useful tool, and a determined stance that kept him moving inexorably away from me, on his own path. Who, at two and three and four, straddled the arm of the couch in full western gear, singing cowboy songs and announcing that he was moving to Texas to herd cattle, or maybe Montana.

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