Tag Archives: parenting

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The A-Z of Coffee

Over on thebeanstalker.com (that’s my Coffee blog – you should read it, and “like” it on Facebook, and like St. Eutychus on Facebook) I posted my little hospital room project. Did I mention I have a daughter? She is lovely.

I’d like her to learn about coffee. So I made a set of coffee alphabet posters. Think of them as a Christmas present from me to you.

Check them out.

Expand your LEGO horizons with Rebrickable

I have no idea what set numbers our family’s lego collection contains. But as I start investing in a Lego collection for my own children (it’s not too early, right?) I’ll be keeping tabs on Rebrickable – which calculates what sets you can form using the sets you own. It’s like getting a whole new spaceship. You can also get schematics for user generated constructions.

You can make stuff like this Lego Gundam (a Japanese transformer type robot). You’ll need 501 pieces, spread across 155 varieties of part. But it looks doable.

A swordid invention

For those parents who want to foster their children’s imagination on the cheap, who simultaneously don’t have any issues with children playing with violent toys, will join me in appreciating the simplicity of this invention which turns any stick into a sword.

From a designer named Naama Agassi.

A four year old plays Grand Theft Auto

Are you a parent? Would you let your child play one of the most popular, and violent, video games of all time? What if it was an open world kind of deal – and your child taught you a lesson about how perverted your methods of having fun are. That’s what happened to this guy who let his four year old play Grand Theft Auto IV. Here’s how the kid started playing, after having the mechanics of the game explained to him in general terms.

“He finally entered an unoccupied car and began driving. He was very mindful of the other cars and pedestrians. He didn’t know the rules of the road, so he ran red lights and turned down one-way streets in the wrong direction. However, he did stop at intersections if a group of cars gathered waiting for the light to turn green.

At one such intersection he attempted to brake, but he was traveling too fast. Instead of plowing into the rear of the car ahead of him, he swerved to the right and popped up onto to sidewalk. In doing so, he accidently ran over a woman walking towards his oncoming car. He was incredibly ashamed of himself and profusely apologized…”

At that point the father had to explain the difference between games and real life. The girl wasn’t real. The kid was able to continue.

“Only seconds later, he witnessed a policeman jump out of his patrol car to pursue a criminal of San Andreas.  His eyes lit up as he asked if he could drive the police car. I reminded him that it was only a game, and it was fine to take the car. As he drove the squad car, I pressed L3 to turn on the lights and siren.  He asked very excitedly if he could get the bad guys too. With a huge smile I pressed R3 to initiate the Vigilante Missions.  It was as if his imagination had come to life. He was taking down delinquents left and right. As expected, the dangerous work of an officer brought an ambulance.

At this point my son was familiar with the game’s mechanics and hopped into the ambulance. As he put the crime fighting behind him, he wondered aloud if it was possible to take people to the hospital. I instruct him to press R3, and then he was off to save a few lives. He was having a blast racing from point to point, picking up people in need, and then speeding off to Las Venturas Hospital.”

He ended up taking a fire truck and putting out fires too. What a civil servant he’ll grow up to be.

via BitMob.

Letter from a kamikaze to his children

Letters of Note. If you’re not reading it already. Do yourself a favour.

Here’s a letter from a Japanese kamikaze pilot to his children.

“Even though you can’t see me, I’ll always be watching you. When you grow up, follow the path you like and become a fine Japanese man and woman. Do not envy the fathers of others. Your father will become a god and watch you two closely. Both of you, study hard and help out your mother with work. I can’t be your horse to ride, but you two be good friends. I am a cheerful person who flew a large bomber and finished off all the enemy. Please be an unbeatable person like your father and avenge my death.”

A bit chilling. A bit sad. Very interesting. Imagine growing up with that letter in the place of one of your parents.

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Keeping kids safe online…

I don’t often give serious parenting advice here. I know my audience. But my purpose for this post is twofold – first, to congratulate Steve Kryger from Communicate Jesus for this piece on Sydney Anglicans that has been syndicated on Gizmodo.com.au, and second, to share Steve’s list of ten tips for parents. I think they’re good, and a great acknowledgment that clean feed, or no clean feed, the issue requires a thought out approach from parents not a government mandate.

  1. Understand what your child is doing online (put the computer in a public space, talk to your children, use accountability software).
  2. Ask your child to explain to you what they are doing, and why they are doing it.
  3. Talk to your child about your values, and how these should be lived out, regardless of the environment.
  4. Filter the content that your family views online.
  5. Understand the minimum age requirements for different websites and technologies (children under 13 should not be on Facebook).
  6. Understand how these popular websites are used, and what the opportunities and threats are.
  7. Understand what avenues are at your disposal if something goes wrong (e.g. your child’s Facebook account is hacked).
  8. Consider how you will respond if you discover your child is acting inappropriately, or viewing inappropriate material.
  9. Decide when or if your child will get a mobile phone.
  10. Understand the new functions of mobile phones, and what the opportunities and threats are.
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How to not bring up bitter ministry children

Mikey has posted helpfully on work and rest in ministry recently (while Al posted on play, generally). Mikey’s “ministry as lifestyle” framework is pretty on the money I reckon. But someone in this picture has to think of the children (he did respond (as did his wife) in the comments on that post with some wisdom).

I like claiming to be an expert on things based on my own personal experience. I’m not claiming to be unique here, just claiming that I have a possibly relevant insight as the “son of a preacher man” – if I can’t reach you, then what hope do you have? My dad is a minister at a fairly successful church, he would also somewhat unfairly be described as a (possibly reforming) workaholic. Both he, and my mum, invested their time pretty heavily into their ministry. It’s taken quite a few years for them to appear comfortable taking holidays (and now they can’t get enough of them – they’re currently blogging their way through Europe). I am not bitter, though I can’t speak for my sibblings, in fact I’m in the process of entering the family business… So if you’re in ministry and you’re asking “how do I get my kids to grow up not hating me for making sacrifices for ministry” then this might be a post for you. I don’t want to endorse everything my folks did, nor paint them as perfect parents the nature of raising a headstrong lad like myself meant there were plenty of “interesting” moments. But here are some things they did that I think were helpful (and some things I would change).

  1. Make sure your children know the eternal importance of the Gospel – this is a bit of a given, but it will help them to understand why you (possibly) gave up a much more exciting and lucrative career in order to tell people about Jesus. Frame it as a job of eternal significance. As a little kid there’s nothing cooler than thinking your parents are doing something as cool as the guy whose dad is a fireman or rocket scientist.
  2. Read the Bible together – I’m pretty sure mum and dad test drove some of their Sunday School material on us (including, if I remember our little Bible/craft folders they made for us – the Bible in Ten Easy Lessons/King, the snake, and the promise).  You want your children on board (especially as kids) and other kids will inevitably ask them hard questions running around after church.
  3. Everybody is looking at your family as standard bearers. Everything from the clothes they wear, the shows they watch on TV to how much they know is an area of comparison. And they’re fully aware that this is happening. Other kids tell them. It was my fault that my friends couldn’t watch the Bill, and I was used as a justification in another friend’s campaign to watch the Simpsons. Make it clear to your children that you don’t judge them like other people do, and discourage this paradigm.
  4. Involve your children in your ministry – ask them for feedback, listen, take their ideas on board – two of my proudest moments as a child are suggesting a lolly jar in church, and spotting something significant (a comparison between Psalm 23 and the feeding of the 5,000) that dad used in a sermon (with attribution). Developing some sort of sense of involvement (though a balance) is useful.
  5. Try not to talk about them too much – either in the context of your parenting, or in illustrations where they look silly. For a long time if you googled my name the top result was the text of one of dad’s sermons that said “Nathan Campbell has lost his shoes“…
  6. Make sure your children understand pastoral sensitivity – if you practice hospitality it’s likely your kids will overhear stuff they shouldn’t (especially in a small house with thin walls), or be involved in awkward moments. Don’t leave these unexplained – and make confidentiality a big deal.
  7. Encourage your children to get involved with their own ministries as they get older, let them know that this makes you proud. Don’t ever take their participation in church stuff for granted. Encourage them to participate as members and as leaders, and let them know that you like that they do.
  8. Be available – while your children will no doubt want to take advantage of your presence (probably for games of table tennis) take advantage of the fact that you work from home and recognise that your flexible hours free you up to say yes to doing some fun stuff during the day. Particularly do things that allow for conversation. Talk about theology stuff, answer questions, that sort of thing. This is one of the greatest privileges of being a preacher’s kid – you’ve got your minister on tap.
  9. Give your children access to visiting speakers who are staying with you – access to your own father is a plus, but access to a network of incredibly gifted guest speakers for your own post-event question time is without doubt one of the things I’ve appreciated most. I’ve shared a room with Chappo. I’ve picked the brains of guys like Mike Raiter, David Cook, and dad’s contemporaries, and once I played a game of table tennis with Leigh Trevaskis.
  10. Try not to make sacrifices on your children’s behalf in every area – One of the things I am the most bitter about is how frugal some decisions my parents made were (they once bought me brown shoes and black shoe paint for school – saving $5 on a pair of black shoes and forcing me to paint them fortnightly). For a long time, I attributed this to the terrible pay ministers get, in hindsight we probably sacrificed in some areas so that we could do extra-curricular stuff like sport and music… which has turned out to be pretty valuable.

On the whole I reckon mum and dad maintained a pretty good balance, we always had food on the table and the assurance of their love. In less lucid and more emotive moments I probably felt a bit ripped off by how much time (and other stuff) their ministry took away from me. But the more I understand point 1 the easier that is to forgive. It’s easy (as a kid) to watch how much time your parents are spending solving other people’s problems and how little they’re spending on yours. So I think it’s pretty important (as a parent) to know what’s going on for your kids and remember that they’re members of both your church and your family.

Creepy bear does your parenting for you

If you’re a paranoid parent – and what parent isn’t a little bit paranoid – and you want to know your child’s secrets, the type they’d only tell their talking teddy bear, you need one of these.

Sure, it might look a bit creepy, but it’ll ask your children questions and then email you the audio of their response.

Product specs:

  • Your child’s closest confidante serves as your eyes and ears
  • Cuddly bear talks to your child, encouraging them to share their secrets
  • Says over 20 phrases, including:
    • “I love you. Do you love me?”
    • “You’re my best friend and I think you’re special.”
    • “Best friends always share their secrets.”
    • “Sometimes I feel sad. Does anything make you feel sad?”
    • “Sometimes I get angry. What makes you angry?”
    • “Sometimes I’m scared. What scares you?”
    • “Do you have a secret, best friend? You can tell me anything.”
  • Trigger phrases turn on the audio & video recording, which continues until child stops talking
  • The confession files are then emailed to the parent (WiFi network required)
  • Integrates seamlessly with Twitter, Facebook and Gmail.
  • Retractable USB cord allows child to “charge” the bear (and secretly transfer files to parent’s computer)

Undercover unbelievers

An article from Freakonomics has caused a bit of a stir. A family from the Bible Belt confessed to feigning Christianity in order to fit in. It’s sad. If the church is pressuring people – either overtly or covertly to conform behaviourally without a change in beliefs first then it is not doing its job. The church should be loving and seeking the welfare of non-Christians – and Christian parents should be encouraging their kids to play with the non-Christian kid next door. If they’re so worried about their kid being converted by the friendly neighbourhood atheist then maybe they should reconsider their parenting strategy lest the kid make up their own mind when they reach his/her 20s only to discover a big and scary world of ideas beyond their sheltered milieu.

Here’s a quote from the article…

We found by experience that if we were truthful about not being regular church attenders, the play dates suddenly ended. Thus started the faking of the religious funk.

It seemed silly but it’s all very serious business down here. We don’t go to church or teach or children one belief is “right” over another. We expose them to every kind of belief and trust that they will one day settle in to their very own spirituality.

I know we Christians want our children to grow up just like us (and I’m not a parent – though I have been a child) but surely we can be just as confident that our children will make the right choice as the agnostic is about theirs… I wonder if there’s a correlation between the parents who don’t believe in vaccination and parents who don’t let their children play with the scary atheists.

This was not the most interesting part of that particular Freakonomics post. Oh no. The most interesting part was this study of the effect of using an open collection plate rather than a closed bag thing – this further demonstrates the hypocrisy inherent in the system.

In these churches, the collection was taken up in a closed bag that was passed along from person to person, row to row. Soetevent got the churches to let him switch things up, randomly substituting an open collection basket for the closed bags over a period of several months. He wanted to know if the added scrutiny changed the donation patterns. (An open basket lets you see how much money has already been collected as well as how much your neighbor puts in.) Indeed it did: with open baskets, the churchgoers gave more money, including fewer small-denomination coins, than with closed bags — although, interestingly, the effect petered out once the open baskets had been around for a while.