Thanksgiving Thoughts on fairness

by Stacey Schifferdecker

With Thanksgiving approaching, I am struck by thoughts of fairness and gratitude. I never really thought of these two concepts being related, but we are currently in a phase of "That's not fair!" at my house. W, the middle school boy, says it isn't fair that his friend B has a cell phone and he doesn't. J, the elementary school girl, says it isn't fair that W gets to eat pizza at the church youth group meeting and that everyone has a later bed time than she does. And K doesn't think it's fair that he has so darn many math problems to do every night.

So why does all this whining make me think of gratitude? I sure don't feel grateful for the kids' bad attitudes! Unfortunately, many times a cry of "It's not fair!" is a symptom of an ungrateful heart. W, for example, should be grateful that he gets picked up from school instead of walking home like B does. J at least has food to eat and a warm, safe bed to sleep in. And K has a nice graphing calculator to speed up his Algebra II homework.

All of this reminds me of the Bible parable that my Sunday school class seems to have a hard time grasping. As Jesus told the story, a man sent workers into the vineyard in the morning, after agreeing to pay them a denarius for their day's work. A few hours later, he sent more workers to join them, and a few hours later even more workers. The end of the day came and all the workers received the same payment, whether they had worked one hour or the whole day. The workers who had been there all day protested with the classic cry of "It's not fair!" And the response of the master? "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'  So the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matthew 20:13-16).READ More on Its Not Fair! – Thanksgiving Thoughts on Fairness and Gratitude


by Stacey Schifferdecker

My husband tells a story about an ice cream social on his family’s farm when he was a boy. His family and some friends were sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather and eating delicious homemade ice cream – the kind made with an old-fashioned wooden churn that you had to crank for hours. It was high summer, but this was Bible belt Kansas and the conversation turned to God’s blessings. Everyone began sharing what he or she was thankful for, just like many of us do around the Thanksgiving table. The adults were all thankful for the big bowls of ice cream, the good weather for crops, jobs that paid well, healthy kids, and other big stuff. When it was little David’s turn, he said, “I’m thankful for the water!” The adults all got a good laugh at the little boy who was enjoying a bowl of homemade ice cream but was thankful for the glass of water he was drinking with it. But to David, that water made his enjoyment of the ice cream even greater by cleansing his mouth between bites. READ More on What Children Can Teach Us about Being Thankful

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by Stacey Schifferdecker

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, but the idea of an annual celebration to thank God for his bounty stretches back through time and around the world. Here are some ways other cultures celebrate Thanksgiving. Maybe you can find some ideas to enrich your own family’s Thanksgiving celebration this year.

The ancient Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Chinese, and Egyptians all held harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations. These celebrations continue today in various forms. Jewish families celebrate with a seven-day autumn harvest festival called Sukkoth. Sukkoth commemorates how God cared for Moses and the Hebrew people as they wandered in the desert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land. During Sukkoth, families build small temporary huts out of branches and foliage. Inside the huts, they hang fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, corn, and pomegranates. A special ceremony is held each day to remember their Hebrew ancestors and to thank God for the harvest. Families eat in the hut at night and sometimes sleep there as well. READ More on Thanksgiving Around The World


Teaching Empathy by Lori Ramsey

Teaching children empathy helps to build good character. Empathy is the ability to both share and understand in others' feelings. It starts with self-awareness and in distinguishing the feelings of self separate from the feelings of others. Empathy moves on to the ability to put yourself in the other’s shoes so you can feel from their perspective. Empathy is knowing your own feelings and learning how to experience what the others may feel. Teaching children to do this properly should start at a young age.

Meet Your Child’s Emotional Needs – Lead by Example

A truly empathetic person is one who can rest secured in the emotional health they receive from their family. You do this by example. You care for your child. You empathize with your child. You offer help when they experience emotional or physical distress.

Encourage Your Child to Think Through Things

As parents, it may be too easy to take care of things without talking it out with the child.  You need to talk with your child about their feelings and help to steer them to the correct way of processing thoughts. In other words, your child has a mind, let them use their mind. Talk through their distresses and help them to understand why they experience the emotions the way they do. Help them to take on better thought patterns that will help create a kind and caring character.

Opportunities to Empathize

Every day your child will face situations in which they can empathize. When a child faces a situation where they don’t have a pleasant encounter, use the opportunity to teach them empathy. Encourage them to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.  Dig deep with this, when children encounter other children who they don’t like, or who are a bully or mean spirited, have them look for the under lying reason behind it.

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10 Things a Child Should Never Hear from Their Parents

Parents will do more harm than good if children hear these words from the ones who should be encouraging to them. A top 10 list of what not to say to your child includes:

ONE – Anything that induces guilt over the parent’s mental well-being. For example, don’t say, “You’re driving me mad.” Or “You make me crazy.” While this may sound like a good comeback in the heat of the moment, a child need not hear these words from their parent. Guilt gives a negative impact over what the child may understand what they are doing to their parent. Accusing a child of making you crazy could possibly give the child low self-esteem.

TWO – “Are you crazy?” Now it’s okay to say this if the child knows you are joking, if it’s said in a relaxed atmosphere. But if you are angry with your child and you yell this to them, you will tear down their self-confidence. Instead of yelling flippant words, go to the root of the matter and speak constructive criticism instead of making them think you consider them crazy.

THREE- Empty threats. We’ve all either given empty threats or listened to others threaten with empty words – “You better do…. or else.” And then who knows the “else” may mean. This is an empty threat and your child will feel intimidated by you or they won’t believe you when you administer discipline. “You better clean your room or else you will be grounded from the game system for a week.” Always follow through with words that make sense.

FOUR- Empty praise. Sure, any kind of praise sounds good to say, “Good job.” But if you don’t follow through with what that job is you are making empty praise that means nothing. Words are cheap and easy and they mean more if you can follow through with the why you are giving the praise. “Good job in cleaning your room.” “Good job with making the honor roll.”

FIVE- Expecting perfection. Words can come across that you expect perfection. For example, if you say, “Practice makes perfect,” you are saying to your child, if you practice this (sports/ music/ whatever) you will be perfect at doing this thing. It may set the child up for failure and guilt if they never achieve the level of “perfection.” Remember, in life nothing is perfect! Instead try to word the sentence like this, “Practice will improve your skill.” Even if it’s just a smidgen of improvement, it’s in the positive direction. And as with anything in life, there’s always room for improvement.

SIX- “Oh, you’re okay.” A flippant remark often said when the kid either received a minor injury or didn’t do as well in a performance. This says to your kid, “You are mediocre. Or you’re not hurt.” Instead, you need to be specific. “Does your hand hurt? The cut is tiny, it will heal if we take care of the wound.” Or “You made a C on the tests? That’s better than a D and next time we will work on bringing that C to a B.”

SEVEN- “Hurry up.” This sends a message to your child they are chronically late. Instead of showering them with a blatant command, soften the words by including yourself in the message. “Why don’t we both hurry so we can make it to school on time.” Or if it’s really a big battle offer a reward, “If we get to school in time I’ll give you a treat on the way.” Or allow extra game time, or TV time, or offer to cook their favorite meal. Maybe make that, “If we’re on time for a week, this weekend we’ll cook your favorite meal.”

EIGHT- “You are too fat.” This statement could blow up in your face if your child grows up with eating disorders because they grew up hearing how fat they are. Instead of pointing out their weight issues, encourage exercise and give them a healthy diet to eat.

NINE- “We can’t afford…” By admitting to financial lack, you will burden your kids with too much information. While being transparent is good, they don’t need the added issue of worrying over finances. Look for other ways of saying it. “We will need to save up if we want to buy that, or go there, or whatever.”

TEN- “Clean your plate.” Meaning you can’t get up from the table until you eat every morsel on your plate. This encourages kids to be gluttons if they are forced to finish the food on their plate even if they are full. It’s better to teach them to stop eating when they feel full. Of course, don’t allow dessert if they can’t finish their dinner.

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veterans day prayer

No matter what our political affiliation is, or what we believe about the wars are troops are involved in, we need to make sure we keep our troops in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season and especially this Veterans Day. I received this picture from a friend and it really stuck me how alone they are. Fathers, sons, mothers and daughters will not see each other this year. Instead they will be doing their duty and helping to protect the United States and the freedom we have.READ More on Veterans Day: Remembering Our Troops and Their Families

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Mom and Son tugawar

Eliminating Power Struggles with Children – by Lori Ramsey

Busy families often meet strife when trying to get through the day. Even after planning and scheduling the daily events moments of power struggles often escalate into full-blown arguments. Parents lead the way through example and remaining calm and in control are paramount to keeping the power struggles at bay. Sometimes you simply must pick and choose your battles and understand when it’s right to go head-to-head and when to back down and compromise.

Empathy is a great place to start, and empathy requires patience with the parent. Empathy starts by respecting our children’s feelings. If an argument is about to ensue, pause a moment and try to place yourself in your child’s shoes. Is this happening for a reason other than the child is just being a brat? It’s easy for us to lose control and think our kid as being difficult when there may well be an underlying reason for the behavior. If you pause and place yourself in your child’s shoes you may understand why they show the need to argue.

Start with asking why the child won’t do as asked. Perhaps there’s discomfort. Example, if you ask your child to wash the dishes and they whine and say no, ask them why. Maybe they have a cut on their hand or extra dry skin. Or perhaps the child doesn’t want to wash the dishes or if the chore is so boring they don’t want to do it. But by asking them why not, or if they have a reason they shouldn’t (and say it in a way that shows true empathy.) Offer a solution why they should follow through without arguing or whining? But let them know you listen to their concerns. Direct with patience and calm. Offer solutions. “If you wash the dishes now, you’ll have more time to play on the game system.” “Wear this pair of gloves to protect your hands.”

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