On April 5th, I am beginning a blog series on how to help children thrive, entitled Help Along the Way. Years ago when I began this work I told a dear friend of mine that I would never write or speak on anything close to parenting. (I also said my kids would never have a phone before they were sixteen. Humble pie tastes like old shoes.)
My reasons were many, but some of them stem from my own resistance to offer advice of any kind. Over the years, I’ve been offered truckloads of parenting “tips” and much of it left me with a sense of shame and guilt. If you are like me, you can generate enough of that on your own. You don’t need a handy-dandy-know-it-all to add to it.
Another reason is that very little is one size fits all. It wasn’t true for the mini skirt I bought in the eleventh grade and it’s not true for raising children. Heck, it’s not even true in the same house, with the same kid on a different day.
Lastly, it’s risky to talk about raising children. To do it with any authenticity will require me to look at my own parenting, to confront my shame and guilt, to come face to face with my need to control and to reflect on when my choices were helpful and when they weren’t. It will require keeping an open hand with what we’d all like to believe is a closed topic.
So why the blog?
I’ve got friends and family who are raising children and they’d like some help. Their lives are full and in our world of fake news and thin research that supports any hare-brained idea, they’d really like some sound knowledge on raising children. We all could use some help along the way.
While I do have some education and experience under my belt, it’s been a while since I’ve read up on child development. And while I do have two daughters of my own, I’m learning too.
(Cue the expert.) Early last Fall, I came across a course in the Great Courses series entitled Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive by Peter M. Vishton. I found this series very insightful and thought provoking. As I was listening I couldn’t help but think of all the ways these “secrets” (which they are not so secret) intersected with spiritual formation with children.
If indeed we are interested in a whole person formation for our children, we can learn from Dr. Vishton. In his lectures he presents research that is careful, systematic and published.
This series has 24 lectures and each week I’ll blog on the highlights of the selected lecture and how it interconnects with spiritual formation with children.
You can pop over to the Great Courses web site and purchase the series. Listen along and engage the blog as we glean what is helpful and see where it may or may not speak to the spiritual formation of our children.
Or you can just read the blog and join in the discussion.
On all good adventures there are ground rules and the main rule for us is this a shame free zone. Shame does little to motivate and loads to debilitate.
I was a new teacher at Lincoln School #22 in Rochester, NY, fresh from my Master’s degree in education and thinking I knew everything. (I was wrong, by the way.) During my rant over a parent the Principal of the school, Mariam Vasquez, said something that first shocked and later set me free in many ways.
She said, “Lacy, every parent is doing just about the best they can.” She was so right.
That’s the rule we’re going to live with here, we are all doing just about the best we can.
In this blog I hope to pass on the knowledge that has been given, from Dr. Vishton and from my study and experience in spiritual formation. But this knowledge is not helpful if it shames.
So let's hold each other and even hold ourselves with the generosity of Jesus. Jesus, arguably the smartest man who ever lived, never used his smarts to shame.
We will learn together, Moms and Dads, Grandpas and Grandmas, Aunts and Uncles, Friends, and Teachers.
It is my hope that this series will be just a bit of help along the way.