Book Review 5: Kingdom Parenting

Most people who follow the ministry of the late evangelist and gospel minister, Dr Myles Munroe from the Bahamas would know him as someone who preached and taught about the Kingdom of God a lot. He was also a prolific bestselling author who wrote many books on the subjects of Purpose, Potential, the Kingdom of God, Marriage, and Leadership. Munroe was one of the two authors of the book being reviewed today.

Kingdom Parenting is co-authored by Dr David Burrows, founder of Youth Alive Ministries and formerly the youth pastor under the ministry of Myles Munroe. He is currently the Senior Pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries Church. He has also authored many other books.

Written from years of personal experiences of the two authors as parents, and from garnered professional understanding as counsellors and pastors to children and their parents, Kingdom Parenting offers valuable insight into parenting for Christians especially during the teenage years. Interestingly, it is the first book I have read which includes chapters for teens to read.

Divided into four sections comprising of the first three sections as the main book and the last one as a study guide, Kingdom Parenting is an easy read. There are numerous examples that make the book relatable and practical. The three sections are in 15 short chapters.

The first section is by Munroe and it focuses on Foundations – the foundational goals of parenting. He writes that these goals are to reproduce the nature, character, and behaviour of the parent in the child. Early in the section he encourages parents to raise their children without fear and to be sincere imitators of God in order to give children the right model to pattern their lives after.

Intentionality in parenting was stressed.

“No one parents effectively by accident. Effective parenting must be intentional; it must be planned, focused and have an expected end in mind. Good parents don’t leave the job to chance; they do everything they can to prepare themselves and to know what they are doing.” (Pg. 15)

The importance of training a child with conscientiousness right from the formative years is mentioned in section one, as well as the benefits of consistent and age appropriate discipline. The section closed with the example of Jesus who grew in wisdom, stature, favour with God and men, the author cited these as four areas that parents should focus on in raising their children.

Raise Your Child to Serve God Without Pressure

As a mother with young children, one of my greatest desires was to raise my children in such a way that they would love God and serve Him without pressures from me or their dad. I had realised while I was growing up that the fact that parents were fervent in serving God did not automatically translate to the children following in their footsteps.

Sometimes the more fervent the parent(s) were in the things of God, the less interested the children were. When I was a child, pastor’s or vicar’s children were notorious for being very hypocritical at the best or completely anti-God at the worst. They were the ones who flouted the school rules the most even though they pretended to be saints at home. As soon as many were away from their parents, all they wanted to do were the exact things that their parents forbade them from doing.

For many of these children who departed from the godly training they were given, they saddened their parents hearts by their ungodly choices. The consequences of wrong actions made their own lives more difficult as well. I desire neither of these situations.

I do not want my children to live double lives – pretend to love the Lord when they are at home and under my influence but have nothing to do with Him when they leave home. Of course trends like this were reducing in some areas by the time I became a parent, it was still quite rampant in other quarters. Many factors within the society were not helping matters too.

Years ago, life was simpler and less complicated than it is these days. The advancement of technology has made life easier on one hand, but on the other hand it has introduced new challenges. For example, it is great to use social media to connect with friends and families around the world, the same means now quickly disseminate ungodly trends everywhere you have a mobile device and internet connection.

So, what is a parent to do?

In my opinion, there are a few things you can do. It must begin with a desire that you take to the Lord in prayer. After you have prayed, believe, and start to act.

In my case, I looked back into my own upbringing to see if there was anything that I could use to help me. I found a useful arsenal that I could use in this battle. Yes, it is a battle for your child’s soul. It was the way my parents modelled their love for the Lord and His service. A story comes to mind.

Parenting by Revelation

The advancement of technology has made life much more interesting than it ever used to be. For example the ultrasound scan in pregnancy is impressive in the degrees of resolution available these days. It is truly a wonder to see how much detail it can give you about an unborn baby!

When ultrasound scans were first used for pregnant women in the mid-1950s, only the foetal head measurement could be carried out to assess the size and the growth of the foetus. By the late 1970s, more advanced machines were developed, and the moving foetus could be visualised easily. The two-dimensional (2D) image of the foetus could now be captured, and information about the foetal heart was obtainable.

2D greyscale images of the foetus became possible because of higher resolution in the scanning equipment towards the end of the 1970s. However, in those days only doctors or sonographers could interpret the scan. You had to believe that they really saw what they claimed to see, because you assumed their eyes were trained to see it.

In more recent times, greater resolution in ultrasound equipment has resulted in more information and greater details of the unborn baby. Now the gender, birth weight, and the due date can be predicted with high levels of accuracy. You can get a three-dimensional (3D) scan of the baby which shows you fine features of the baby; you can even see resemblance between the unborn child and members of the family. These days there is also a 4D scan which shows you the movement of your baby like a video; you can see your baby doing things in real time.

Technology is definitely a marvel! However, my husband likes to point out whenever he has the opportunity to speak with parents of a new-born baby that despite the advancement in technology, a lot remains unknown about the child. He reminds them that the source of all that is to be known about a child is the Lord, the maker of the child. He usually cites the example of Rebekah in the bible.

Rebekah was the wife of Isaac, Abraham’s heir. When Rebekah was pregnant, she had an unusual experience; the twins in her womb struggled with each other. She decided to ask the Lord why that was happening to her. The Lord answered and gave her detailed information about the children she was carrying. The Lord told her she was going to have two sons and that they would become two nations. The destinies of those nations were also revealed to her.[1]

While an ultrasound scan can let you know some things about the baby physically, only the Lord can give an insight into who the baby would become.

In other instances in the scripture we see examples of parents being intimated by the Lord about the future of their children. I will briefly examine the story of Samson in the old testament and John the Baptist in the new testament.

Parenting Lesson: From new brooms and old ones…

A friend called and asked me a question about the process of weaning her baby. She was about to begin supplementing breast-feeding with other foods and wanted to know the right kind of jar food to give. On this particular occasion, I could not really help her.

My inability to help my friend was not because of an unwillingness on my part, neither was it due to a lack of experience of weaning a baby. In fact, I had gone through the process twice in the past with my own two children, and on both occasions I had done quite well. The evidence for how well I did cannot be denied even now, years after. Both children are alive and well…

I’m sure by now you are wondering if I had the experience and I was willing, why could I not give my friend a helpful answer to her simple question?

The answer is not far-fetched, it is simply because I do not have the relevant up to date information or knowledge that was required to answer the question.

Why would my answer have been irrelevant? There were two reasons:

First, my weaning experience was in a different context. I weaned my children in Nigeria where they had both been born. The practice in my community was to wean the baby anytime between the age of four and six months onto some semi-solid or light adult meals. I weaned my daughter at six months by introducing Cerelac cereal and some local Nigerian meals as was customary with us. I never used any food in the jar. Nearly three years later, I followed the same pattern with my son.

The second reason why my answer would not have been beneficial was that the last time I weaned a baby was 15 years ago.

While it may be taken for granted that I would have helpful knowledge or information on some topics as a friend and parent of older children, on this occasion I was not the right person to call. Another parent with younger children (compared to mine), who also weaned a child in England in the last one to three years would offer a more useful advice. Their experience would be more recent, and the context would be the same.

As I thought about the story, I recalled a proverb that I had read many years before about old brooms and new brooms. It says, “A new broom sweeps clean, but an old broom knows the corners”. It is claimed to be a Jamaican wise saying with Irish origin.

Supporting the Mental Health of Your Child during COVID 19 Pandemic – Conversation with a Certified Psychologist

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week 2021 (1-7 February), courtesy Place2Be (Children’s Mental Health Week 2021). I have recently completed a Youth Mental Health Awareness training, so as I thought about this post, it was easy to decide what to write about.

The current global climate as a result of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has an impact on the mental health of everyone including children. It is imperative that parents are aware of this and empowered to know what to do in ensuring a good mental health for their children.

There is evidence that COVID-19 along with its related interventions, such as social distancing, stay at home guidance and school closures, have likely had a negative effect on some children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the March to May 2020 period.[1]

A recent NHS survey (November 2020) on Mental Health of Children and Young People showed that there is an increase in probable mental health problems affecting 5–16 year olds in England, from 10·8% (one in nine) in 2017 to 16·0% (one in six) in July 2020 across age, gender, and ethnic groups.[2] The report further indicated that children and young people were likely to say that lockdown had made their life worse).[3]

Most parents would be worried by these figures. However, you and your child or young person can be supported. This post is written to make you aware of the impact of the present climate on the MH of young people, the signs that you should look for as a parent and what you can do to promote mental wellbeing in your child. There is expert advice on what other help is available if you are struggling as well as how to develop resilience in your child.

To enlighten you as a reader of this blog, I decided to interview a professional with adequate and relevant experience on the Mental Health of Children and Young people. My interviewee is Dr Tomilola Oyekunle, a qualified medical doctor, psychologist, and author with several years of experience in education in the UK. She works with young people, professionals, and educators across the globe. Her book, How Are You discusses wellness and wellbeing with an emphasis on the impact of self-awareness.

Impact of COVID 19 on young people’s mental health

My first question to Dr Tomilola was on the impact of COVID 19 and the various restrictions on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, and also their parents.

Commenting, she said, “COVID 19 is having a huge negative impact on the mental health of children and young people. For example, from the education angle, there is a lack of access to resources like library, teachers, human-human interactions with the mental health support that is available in school via wellbeing staff or counsellors.”

Dr Tomilola posits that the lockdown is having a detrimental effect on the academic attainment of young people especially the disadvantaged children and those with mental health difficulties. In a situation where a child is not doing well academically, and grades drop, it can have an effect on their self-motivation and self-esteem. She claimed that teachers are being encouraged to give a lot of positive points during home learning in order to boost their morale and make them want to join in. The more teachers motivate them, the more they want to come online, and the better the effect on their academic attainment.

Another impact of COVID 19 on children is anxiety as they transition between the key stages and worry about the future especially for those in KS4 and KS5. Dr Tomilola says, “The fact that they did not sit the exam can be a psychological challenge for some students who would have preferred to say, “I did my exams myself,” instead of “The school awarded me these grades.”

Loneliness (in particular during break time). is a major risk factor to mental health during lockdown. This has made some children to join gangs or get on social media platforms that they should not be getting on, according to Dr Tomilola. She claimed parents are now giving their children mobile phones at younger ages, this is exposing them to vices and negative behaviours such as bullying, etc.

Book Review 4: Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions by George Barna

Preamble

As I thought about what book to review as my first book in 2021, I considered the few parenting books on my bookshelf and decided I probably need to buy some more even though I still have over half a dozen to choose from. While I pondered on the most appropriate one, I remembered that this is January, the beginning of a new year.

January is the time of year when people are making important decisions and setting goals as they look ahead. Parents are likely to be making plans about what needs to change in the way they are raising their children. With this in mind, I chose a book that I have had for a number of years and even though I had read it before, I am absolutely glad that I get to read it again before I write this review. My choice today is Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions by George Barna.

Barna is the leader of a marketing research company which specializes in research for Christian ministries and a best-selling author of several books. Though Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions was written primarily for churches, it will benefit any parent interested in their children developing spiritual strength.

Summary of the book

The central argument of Barna in this book is the need for churches and ministries to see children as the primary focus of ministry not merely as a “thrown-in” from reaching adults. The great responsibility that parents bear in raising godly children is discussed in an in-depth manner and the role that churches must play to equip and support parents in carrying out this responsibility is thoroughly explored.

Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions is well researched and written with passion. The intent of the author is that churches will see the possibility that children can be transformed into spiritual champions and would actively engage in the process.

Written in seven chapters, the book begins with the author’s presentation of the state of (American) children with a focus on the 5-12 years age group. He concentrated on this age because he claims that these are the crucial years when lifelong habits, values, beliefs, and attitudes are formed in many people.

Early in the book, emphasis is laid on the role that the spiritual state of children (and adults) play in their lives. Barna asserts that “the most significant aspect of every person’s life is his or her spiritual health” because this forms the foundation for every decision they make. It determines whether their choices will be based on God’s judgement or not.

Parenting Lesson: Let there be light!

Bearing Forth the Light of Christ — Joy In Truth

There is a proverb in the part of the world where I grew up (South West Nigeria) which is expressed as “Ki agbado to d’aye, nkan ni adiye nje”. Literarily translated, the proverb means that the fowl (hen/chicken) does not depend on the corn for its survival, as it was feeding on something else until the corn came along. The diet of the local chicken usually consists of corn principally. So, presupposing the creation of the chicken first, the proverb gives the impression that before the corn came into existence, the chicken had a means of sustenance. It is used to play down the reliance of one thing on another.

For many years, I embraced the proverb and never questioned its literal meaning. However, I was having a conversation with my younger brother one day and I was hoping to make a strong point, so I used this proverb. In my culture, one of the ways of driving home an important point in your discussion or making an emphasis is to use a proverb.

Immediately I said the proverb, my brother looked straight at me and asked, “Which was created first, the chicken or corn?” I was forced to stop and think about it. I went back to the creation account and guess what I discovered? The corn (as part of vegetation – grass, herbs, trees) was created on the third day, while the chicken was created on the fifth day.

The sequence of creation showed me a clever and orderly Creator. God did not create the chicken first and wondered what it would eat. He made the provision for the chicken before He brought the chicken on the scene. What a thoughtful God!

As I prepared to write this blog post, the story came to mind. This is the start of a new year (2021) and it is vital to look at the example of God the ultimate parent as you continue your parenting journey.

A new year is an opportunity to look at things with fresh eyes and begin again. As a parent you can learn from God’s creation account in Genesis chapter 1.

Let there be light!

The first thing that God created was light. I have often wondered, why light? God could have chosen to make man first, or the trees, or the seas, but no. His first choice was light. If He chose light first, you and I must choose light first as well. In order to appreciate the importance of this, we must know what light is and what light does.

Welcome to 2021

Stunning Happy New Year 2021 Wallpaper | Happy new year wallpaper, Happy  new year images, Happy new year message

More than 21 years ago, back in the year 1999, plans were being made for the coming year 2000. Different preparations were made by various individuals and groups. Rumours were being peddled of what could happen when the clock strike at midnight to herald in the new millennium. Some people claimed the world would come to an end.

Many people presumed that all computers would crash as they would need to be reset because of the Y2K scare. Even though the world wide web had been launched in 1993, Microsoft operating systems was only on its fourth generation software, Windows 98. Most devices in those days stored the year as a two digit value, so it was kind of expected that when it rolled over to 00, the Millennium bug would cause lots of computers to malfunction.

Many countries raced to make their technology systems Y2K compliant, some worked hard at it and some did very little.

With baited breaths on New Year’s Eve we all waited… midnight came, and we wished each other happy new year 2000. As you probably know now, all computers did not crash, neither did the world come to an end. Although there were a few problems, we are still here.

I wonder what your expectation was at the start of this year (2021). Maybe you were holding your breadth for an important announcement or you were simply relieved that 2020 was over. 2020 was a difficult year but thank God, it is now behind us. 2021 is here, we must begin to look forward and ahead.

If you are yet to write your goals for the year, I will suggest that you put in personal development as one of them. Recent global events have shown us that we must constantly be learning and improving.

As a parent, decide that you will be more intentional in equipping and empowering yourself this year so that you will be a better parent. The outcome will benefit both you and your child.

To support your growth in parenting this year, there will be additional features coming up on this blog site. Please watch out for your usual encouraging and educating weekly posts including a monthly book review.

A new feature to expect is a monthly interview of parents who have succeeded in raising godly and successful children, or professionals who work with children. They will be answering specific questions on parenting and giving practical tips to help you.

I will implore you to sign up to receive each blog post. Please click the “follow” button on the bottom right hand corner of your device. Doing this will ensure that you get new posts delivered straight to your mailbox.

As you parent with the Lord this year, His grace will be sufficient for you, and His power will work where you are weak. At the end of the year, may you say, “It has been my best year of parenting so far!”

Happy New Year! Welcome to a new beginning!!

Immanuel: God is with us

What does Immanuel mean? | NeverThirsty

A songwriter referred to Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year! It truly is a special season; commemorating the birth of the saviour Jesus and celebrated by billions of people worldwide. It is a time of feasting and of giving; of family and social gatherings. In many countries of the world, the Christmas day, 25th December is a public holiday.

Over the years, there has been a gradual move away from the true meaning of Christmas – celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The season has become more popular for festivities and retail sales. Christmas is getting increasingly more commercialised as the years pass. For the Christian parent, the challenge to draw your child’s eyes away from the mundane to the spiritual is higher than previously necessary.

When my daughter was four years old, her five year old best friend who happened to be our neighbour at the time had an opinion of what Christmas means. She said, “Christmas is when you get lots of presents.” I know parents who would wrap up to 20 gifts for each of their children for Christmas. It seems the bigger the better, or the greater the number of presents, the merrier the Christmas. But is this right?

It might appear as a tall order, but I must constantly and deliberately steer my children away from the idea that Christmas is only about getting “stuff”. The greatest gift of all time has been given to us by God in the person of Jesus Christ. Everything else that we can possibly need, or desire is already in Him.

This year as we celebrate the birthday of Jesus (though theologians told us the actual day is sometimes in October), I have been meditating on one of his names, Immanuel. I have been considering its implication for me as a parent.

The Ministry of the Comforter

One day, a little over eight years ago, I got a call from my children’s primary school. Most parents know that feeling… when the school number comes up on your phone during a school day; depending on your personality, you may first go into a panic mode wondering if all is well with your child(ren). My children’s school is usually good at reassuring you that your child is ok if that is the case. However, on this particular occasion, my son was not quite well.

The lady at the end of the phone knew my family reasonably well because both of my children were in the school at the time. We had been a part of the school community for over six years. The voice was familiar, but her news was most unexpected. She relayed that my son who was in year 2 (aged 6 years) at the time was feeling ‘poorly’ or ill and crying in school. Her exact words were, “He’s absolutely heart broken! He is complaining about earache and would not even let anyone near the ear.” Of course, my mama heart strings were pulled when I heard that.

I hurried to the school as quickly as I could and took my boy in my arms and comforted him. We went to the family doctor who examined him and confirmed he had an ear infection. He was prescribed a dose of antibiotic medication and asked not to attend swimming lessons until the infection cleared. Fortunately, it was not very long before he was completely recovered.

That experience was not an isolated one, there were few other instances when I had picked up either of my children from school, birthday parties, extracurricular activities, etc. etc. and they were crying because something had happened. Sometimes it was a dignified cry but at other times they would be bawling their eyes out.

Every time I have had the ‘bawling eyes out’ episodes, I have momentarily felt inadequate to handle it. On a few occasions I had been confused as to how best to deal with the situation; do I join the child in the crying, or do I just asked the child to pack it in? Of course there isn’t a blanket approach to dealing with it, each situation and child must be considered carefully and individually.

I am sure other parents can relate to this challenge of sometimes not knowing how best to respond when a child is upset or devastated by circumstances or other people. One thing that I am glad and grateful to God for is the fact that I can ask Him for help.