Life Skills Series 3: Give Your Children Financial Education

An important phrase that I read early in my parenting journey gave me a clear perspective on time and the way I raise my children. The phrase says, “Parenting; the days are long, but the years are few.” Over the years I have reflected on those wise words and done my best to maximise the lesson they teach.

As my children got older, I realised that the dynamics of the time I spent with them shifted. By the time they started primary school, they began to spend less time with me because they were away from me for at least six hours in the day. By the time they were in secondary school, that time away became even longer. As my daughter approached that point where she goes off to university, my husband and I began to assess ourselves and ask if we have equipped her as best as we should for her independent life.

One area where we had been teaching over the years is in the area of handling finances. Different situations have afforded us opportunities to talk about money; our attitude to money as parents, and God’s expectation for handling our finances. We have modelled as well as we could, godly attitude towards money. However, we felt the need to begin to teach more intentionally the vital subject of money. We began to listen to teachings together as a family, discuss and read books on it.

Some of the things we encountered as we sought to find the best ways to equip our children with financial wisdom are quite enlightening. I have found myself wishing I knew them at the beginning of my journey. The wonderful thing is that I can now begin to practice them, but more importantly, I can pass these on to others who would have a longer period to implement them and train their children in safe and godly practices in their finances.

I have not yet become perfect at this, but in this post I will share some nuggets that will be helpful. You may ask, why is it important to teach children about money? Afterall most of us did not have any deliberate lessons on how to handle our finances while growing up, and we seem to get by, or not!

Why teach about money

  • Money is very important in life as a medium of exchange for time, resources, knowledge, expertise, and favour. Money gives individuals power and influence over others.
  • God expects us to handle money properly as good stewards because all things belong to Him.
  • Lack of understanding of money has made many people poor and subservient to others.
  • Misappropriation of money can lead to breakdown in relationships and family life.
  • Money worries cause anxieties, depression and sometimes lead to suicide.
  • If you do not teach your children the truth about handling money wisely, they would buy into the lies that the society is selling about money.

Listed above are cogent reasons why you should teach your children about money. Hopefully, you are now convinced that it is important. How then do you do it?

Life Skills Series Part 2: Teach Your Children How to Handle Setbacks

While watching the 2020 UEFA Football Championship (Euro 2020) which concluded last month, I was busy routing for the English team because England is my country of abode. I must confess that I am not much of a ‘footie’ fan, but this was a big game as everyone was just emerging from the lockdown due to the coronavirus 2019 pandemic. In fact the competition should have taken place in 2020 but it had to be postponed to 2021. It was a much anticipated competition all over Europe.

I did not watch every fixture, however, I keenly followed and attempted to watch at least a snippet of each match that England was playing in. I was excited to see England in the final, going against Italy on Sunday 11th July at the Wembley stadium in London. I was not in London physically but my family and I (including my mother who is not a football fan either) were glued to our TV set, we did not want to miss any part of the game.

When England scored the first goal within two minutes of kick-off, I started to think to myself, “We have it in the bag. This Euro 2020 cup is coming home.” Those who are more experienced than me in watching football warned me not to rejoice too prematurely. The game ended in a 1-1 draw and the winner had to be decided by a penalty shootout. As things turned out, the cup did not come home, it went to Rome because Italy won.

The result of the game was not pleasant for me at all, but I had to spare some thoughts for the English team who worked really hard and were so hopeful. I considered especially the three young players who lost their penalty kicks; they were good players; judged by their coach as capable footballers based on their performance during trainings and personal competence levels. Unfortunately they had ‘a bad day in the office’ and things did not go as they hoped on the day… I wondered what their parent(s) said to them that night. I asked myself how I would prepare my children for similar experiences in life.

It is a fact of life that things would not always go the way we want. How we handle disappointments and setbacks or seeming failures are important, because it determines whether we will bounce back and recover or not. I believe that teaching our children how to respond to these is a vital life lesson.

People respond differently to setbacks; some negatively and others positively. A negative response makes an individual sink into despair and depression but a positive one helps to overcome the setbacks. Here are a few important things to help your child adopt a positive attitude when things do not go their way.

  1. Accept your factual reality.

It is important to come to terms with the event or experience even though it may not be palatable. In the example above, I went to bed feeling sad for the English team, but I had to face the fact that the cup was not coming home. No excuses needed, it was the reality that the country had to accept, and one from which we must move from.

2. See failure or setback as an event, not you.

For the boys who lost the penalty kicks, it was important for them to remember that they were not failures, losing on the day was an event. Teach your child not to personalise setbacks, they need to separate the event from the person. This is vital as it affects how they see themselves.

Life Skills Series Part 1: Teach Your Children House Chores?

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Col 3:23 ESV

A very recent event led me to decide on doing a series of blog posts on life skills that are important for parents to teach and train their children in as they are growing up. I recall a conversation I heard many years ago between two local radio station presenters that made me think again about the role of parents versus the role of the state in the way children are raised. It was quite an intriguing talk, I had to listen on…

One of the presenters spoke about a young adult she knew who was in the university and away from home. The university student would send his dirty laundry home to his mother by post because he did not know how to clean them. His mother did the washing when he was growing up and continued to do them when he posted clothes from university. After washing and ironing the laundry, the mother would also post them back. After relaying the story, the presenters invited the listeners to comment on whether skills like doing the laundry should be included in the school curriculum for teachers to teach.

It was agreed that life skills such as cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry were essential for everyone to have while growing up, however, opinions were divided on who should teach these skills. A number of people commented that teachers were already busy doing their best to give the children in their care a good education, and they did not need any more things added to the curriculum they were delivering. This group of people believe that the parents should do this. Another set of people argued that since teachers deliver cookery lessons and sewing lessons, they should also take on the task of teaching children how to do the laundry.

At first, I found the whole thing funny and was laughing, but after listening to the views of some of the people who contributed their opinions I began to wonder if there have not been a serious mix up between the roles of parents and the responsibilities of the state on children’s upbringing.

Parents are the primary educators of their children in every aspect – intellectual stimulation, reading, writing, arithmetic, life and social skills, sex education, moral and religious education, etc. Parents are the biggest stakeholders in their children’s lives. It is in the instances where parents failed that the state had to step in to pick up the pieces.

Even though we live in the times where some government authorities are willing to take on much more than necessary, parents must not abrogate their responsibility to train their children and equip them with life skills. The role of a parent is to prepare their children for an adult life in which they can live and operate independently and also contribute positively to the society.

As a Christian parent, you have a greater responsibility because the bible makes it clear that you must live as light (shining as examples) in the midst of a crooked generation. This means that if other parents are getting it wrong, you should get it right because you know better. Your vision and expectation should be that by the time your child is ready to leave home you would have armed them with skills to live independently of you. This will happen when you train them to do house chores.

What are house chores?

These have been defined as “the regular or daily light work of a household”.[i] They include tasks such as cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn (or cutting the grass), washing dishes, ironing, hoovering, washing the car, etc. These skills are vital for running a household.

18 Lessons from 18 Years of Parenting (Part 4)

In about three months, my older child will be 19 years old, and as she counts down to her last year as an ‘official teenager’, I should also bring a conclusion to these series of write-ups on the lessons I have learnt over my first 18 years of parenting.

In this final post, I bring five lessons. Like I am usually quick to say, I have not finished learning, neither am I a perfect parent, but I desire to improve daily and also pass on my knowledge to anyone who may benefit from it. The previous three posts are Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Enjoy your reading.

Lesson 14: Prayer is an essential requirement

As a Christian parent, I have had and still have opportune moments of divine interventions in my parenting journey. Right from the moment I held my first child as a new mum, I realised that I was going to need a lot of resources that are beyond me to look after her. Prayer has afforded me insight, direction, and strength on my journey. I will share a story.

When my second child was three years old, I began to notice some behaviours that were making him exceedingly difficult to handle at home. I was very disturbed and quite puzzled as to how these came to be. I prayed about the matter, and a short while later it occurred to me that the bad habits he was exhibiting had been picked up in a particular play group setting that he was attending. Praying about the matter gave insight into the cause of the problem.

The privilege of prayer is always available for everyone who would take it. Prayer invites the Lord into the details of parenting. In prayer, you can commit your children to God, that they would love and serve Him, you can also ask for His direction, blessing and protection to be on them daily.

Lesson 15: The power of a company

An African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child”. I have found this to be very true in my journey. Having the right parenting company has been a tremendous blessing to my children and me.

My definition of a parenting company includes one or more friends who are likeminded as myself and who are also raising their children. These are people that I bounce ideas with, share my parenting stories and challenges with. They are also friends that I turn to for wise counsel when I need it.

The right friends will hold your hands when the parenting journey is tough, they will give you encouragement and reassurance when you need it, they will be the ones who see your ‘blind spots’ and warn you about them. They are also able to support you and your child in many different ways. Most importantly, my parenting company prays with me regularly; we commit all our children to God. Over the years, we have shared our pains and joys.

Choose your company intentionally and wisely. Be willing to add value to them and they will do likewise for you.

Lesson 16: Promises are for claiming; not a prey but praise

The bible is full of great and wonderful promises of God for families and children. It is important to search the scriptures, know these promises and speak them over your child.

In the past few years, my husband has taken inspiration from the story of the Israelites on their journey to Canaan. They had come out of the wilderness, and Moses their leader sent men to spy out the promised land. On getting the report of the spies, the people began to grumble and say that their children would be prey in the land. The Lord got angry with them and said that the adults would not get into Canaan, but none of the children would be a prey.

Combining God’s verdict on the Israelites and the words of Jesus in Matthew 21 which says that the Lord has perfected praise out of the mouth of infants, we began to confess over our children that they will not be a prey (to the world system or the enemy), but praise to the Lord.

Every promise of God is for claiming. Go ahead, find these precious promises, and claim them for your children. Over the course of time you will see the reality of it lived out in their lives because God does not lie.

18 Lessons from 18 Years of Parenting (Part 3)

Recently, I saw on a friend’s WhatsApp status some lovely pictures of a day out in the sun with her children aged seven and below. The pictures brought back nostalgic memories of when my children were at similar ages. I am grateful to God for those years and the wonderful memories He enabled us to create.

As I write the third part of these four series lessons on what I have learnt from being a parent in 18 years, I hope it has been an encouraging write up to you if you are coming behind. Of course, there is still a lot for me to learn, after all, we would never say an 18 year old has seen and known it all. However, as I continue my learning, I am eager to pass on some lessons.

Part 1 of the series can be found here, and part 2 can be found here if you missed either of them. Here goes part 3…

Lesson 10: Seasons come and go

Just like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, my children were once aged seven and below, but that time has gone. Now I can look forward to years of parenting older teenagers/ adult children and everything that comes with those terrains.

It is vital to be aware that just as the earth operates in seasons, so do human lives and your parenting journey. No season trumps the other in life, every season has its wonderful benefits and its peculiar challenges. In the temperate zone of the world where I live, winter, spring, summer, and autumn (fall) must occur every year.

As a parent, recognise your season and know the opportunities you have to get the best out of that season. Your child goes from a fully dependent baby to a toddler, later to a school age child, and then the wonderful stages of teenage, young adulthood and an independent adult. Each stage is great in one way and tough in another way.

Learn to adapt and manage the challenges in the season. When a season is difficult, try not to let it weigh you down, remind yourself that it will come to an end at some point. No matter how hard or harsh a winter is, spring will surely follow it in due course.

Lesson 11: Celebrate your successes

Every parent is already a success! The fact that you were able to partner with God in the creation process of bringing another individual into the world makes you an achiever. Or if you have taken steps to adopt a child, you have achieved. What you continue to do as you go on in parenting is to build on the success.

More often than not, parents are quick to judge or criticise themselves or other parents because of a shortcoming. The truth is, the perfect parent is a myth, we are at best imperfect humans doing what we can by the grace of God. Each birthday that your child celebrates should be a reminder to congratulate yourself for the valuable role you are playing in his life; feeding, clothing, comforting, correcting, supporting, etc.

Whether your children are young, or they have become parents themselves, celebrate yourself and be glad for the contributions you have made to humanity. Learn to pause sometimes on the journey, give yourself a pat on the back and say well done to yourself! When you celebrate yourself, you give others permission to celebrate you and you are sending a wonderful message to your children; that you matter.

When You Are Greatly Distressed, Act Like David

In my current season of life, I am parenting two great teenagers (16 and nearly 19!). I have often wondered where the time has gone. It seemed it was only yesterday that they were both under five. It feels as if I went to bed one night with my children as toddlers and I woke up the following morning to see that they had become teens. Time truly appears to have flown by.

Being a parent to teenagers is no mean feat as anyone who has been there would tell you. There is a lot going on in the brain, mind, and the world of the teenager than anyone knows or can write down. That stage of transiting from a child to an adult can be challenging for teenagers and those who are raising them. Scientists have advised that an intensive remodelling of the brain takes place during adolescence, and this continues until the mid-20s. During this period, the brain cannot yet function like a full adult brain as the prefrontal cortex (decision making part) is still developing.

The lack of full development of the decision making part means that the teenager uses another part of the brain (amygdala) to make decisions. The amygdala is reportedly associated with emotions, impulses, aggression, and instinctive behaviour. That explains why your teenager sometimes makes mature decisions and at other times impulsive and emotional ones.

For the most part of parenting teenagers in my home so far, we have enjoyed peace and harmony (with God’s help), but there have been times of misunderstanding. A very recent incident with one of my wonderful teens left me feeling like David in I Samuel 30 when his men spoke of stoning him. I will draw a few parallels between parenting and his story.

The bible records that David as a young adult was anointed by Prophet Samuel to be the next king of Israel after Saul. He was to replace the first king because of Saul’s disobedience to God’s instructions. David came into the limelight when he defeated Goliath the leader of the Philistine army and won victory for Israel. Saul was initially grateful for what David did, but he later became jealous and wanted to kill David. David had to run away to keep his life, so he became a fugitive.

Over the course of time, a number of men joined themselves to David. This group of individuals were described as “people who were in trouble, or in debt, or who were just discontented”, totalling about 400 men. Eventually this number of misfits of all sorts rose to 600. David trained these men, and they became his army or mighty men of war. They all lived together in Ziklag (a Philistine town) with their wives and children until the day tragedy struck.

David and his men had gone with their benefactor Achish, a Philistine prince to battle, but the other Philistine princes did not trust them, so they had to go back to Ziklag. On getting back they realised that in their absence their homes had been raided, the town burnt down, and their wives and children had been taken away. The men were all very distressed and wept until they were exhausted. Now, things took a dramatic turn as the men now began to talk of stoning David their leader, because they were angry over the loss of their children and wives.

18 Lessons from 18 Years of Parenting (Part 2)

A few weeks back I began a blog series on some of the lessons I have learnt in my 18 years of parenting. Please note that I am not an expert or a perfect parent but someone who is still learning. However, I am a reflective person and I have chosen to be intentional about my learning and to document some of the lessons deliberately.

Every parent plays many roles in the day to day care of their child. Today as I continue this 18 lessons series, I will be looking at parenting in the light of a couple of professions. In case you missed the first part, you can find it here. However, welcome to part two.

Lesson 5: Parenting is gardening

There are a number of similarities between the job of a gardener and parenting. The job description for gardeners include ‘planting and looking after trees, shrubs, and flowers; maintaining the health of these plants by watering, pruning, weeding, and applying pesticides where required.’ Parents have to tend their children and watch over them like gardeners do their plants.

A good gardener would plant his seed or seedling in the ground that is best suited for that plant. He would take care to monitor it’s growth and address any problem that might arise as time goes on. To get the best out of the plant, he would apply fertilizer or plant food where necessary, take out weeds which might be competing with the plant for nutrient, prune the plants to get rid of dead and unproductive parts and spray pesticides wherever he sees that they are attacking the plant.

Similarly, you as a parent must provide an enabling environment for your child to thrive at home and your chosen school or church. A good knowledge of your child and an understanding of God’s plan will help you position him/her right. You have to provide adequate support (fertilizer), prune wrong attitudes and unhealthy behaviours that could stop them from being their best. Be faithful to correct and discipline in love so that you can rid them of destructive acts of foolishness.

Lesson 6: Parenting is teaching and training

There are a number of parallels that can be drawn between teaching and parenting. As a trained teacher I know that teaching involves intentionality. Teaching involves passing across some information or instructions with the intention that the learner is able to recall and use them when needed. Good planning and thoughtful delivery produce a great lesson outcome. All of these points are useful in successful parenting.

Parenting involves giving information and instructions to your child. These must be age and ability appropriate, and there has to be a way of measuring the learning that has taken place. You should be able to track the progress that your child is making as well.

Training is different from teaching in that it incorporates the practice of what has been taught. If you have taught your child how to do the dishes or cook a meal, training goes beyond explaining, to showing, and also asking the child to have a go at practising the skills learnt. Raising your child successfully will entail that you teach and train in different areas of life.

Train Your Child to Become a Disciple of Christ

On the 16th of January, I hosted my first parenting seminar of 2021. These seminars take place quarterly with the purpose of enlightening and empowering Christian parents to raise godly and successful children.

In that first seminar we looked at the importance of having a vision for your home and practical tips to making your children disciples of Christ. The audio recording for the whole session can be accessed here. With this blog post I will be looking at some particularly important points shared on how to disciple your children for the Lord.

The speaker was Dr Goke Aiyegbayo, a parent, medical doctor, and a church leader. He introduced his presentation by comparing making disciples to building a house, and he emphasised the vital role of laying a solid foundation. He claims the foundation we have for raising our children is the word of God. He quoted Proverbs 22:6 which encourages the Christian parent to ‘train up’ their child, and Genesis 18:19, citing Abraham as a man that God could vouch for to train up his children to keep God’s commandment.

Additionally, the speaker read from II Timothy 1:5, mentioning the transgenerational faith from Timothy’s grandmother and mother which was passed down to him. Finally, he read Matthew 10:42 where he showed that Jesus expects children to be disciples as well. There is no junior Holy Ghost, so there is no junior disciple in the sense that God is desirous of making disciples of whoever it is, because He is not a respecter of persons.

Definition: According to the dictionary (Merriam Webster), a disciple is “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.

Purpose of Discipleship

Where the purpose of a thing is unknown, it has been said that abuse is inevitable. However, we will first discuss what discipleship is not.

Discipleship is NOT

  • Making compliant children. It is not about producing robots or children who say ‘yes’ and cannot think for themselves.
  • Making ‘successful’ children. It is not primarily about achieving life goals or successes in the eyes of the world.
  • Staving off trouble for yourself. You are not raising disciples because you do not want trouble for yourself in the future. If done well, you will stave off trouble but that is not the right motivation.
  • Making little images of yourself. Discipleship is not about turning your child into a mini-you.
  • Living your dreams through your children, especially your unfulfilled dreams and ambitions.

What then is discipleship? Read on to find out.

The link between Parenting and ‘Nicodemusly’?

‘Nicodemusly’ is a word I have heard about in ‘my Christian circle’ for several years. I must confess that I have also used it many times. While preparing for this blog post I decided to look up the word online to see if there is a proper definition for it. My findings when I Googled the word ‘nicodemusly’ revealed that it means “to do something secretly, under the cover of darkness” or “to be pursuing one’s own agenda”.

The word originated from the story of Nicodemus, a Pharisee who went to ask Jesus questions in the night and became a secret follower. Being conversant with this story, I did not need any explanations the first time I heard the word ‘nicodemusly’. To someone who does not know the bible story, the word would not convey any meaning. It would seem like another language. I am sure many parents can relate to the fact that sometimes when their children speak, it sounds like a foreign language.

Years ago, when my children were in primary school, I went to attend one of the parents’ meetings on internet safety. The meetings were organised to help us parents understand the other world (virtual) that our children now live in. If I recall accurately, the invitations were only sent to parents of children in upper key stage 2 (usually 10 and 11 year olds in England) because in those days they were the ones who had mobile phones and were starting to get on social media sites. I attended every year for about four consecutive years and each year I went, I learnt something new.

Some of the lessons were on how to put security on the home Wi-Fi, and the importance of making sure that your children were accessing sites that were age appropriate. Each of those meetings was an eye opener. I will always remember being told some acronyms that children use to communicate with each other virtually. I was introduced to POS- Parents over shoulder, TTYL- Talk to you later and others.

Fast forward to over five years later, I am now ‘well established’ as a mum of teenagers (16 and 18!). Recently I attended a webinar on parenting teenagers, and I got introduced to many more acronyms as the presenter attempted to aid us in understanding our children. I find it both interesting and exasperating that I have to learn these things. You may think, why bother? It’s important for me to know the language of my children so I can speak to them and understand them.

I can liken this to learning to speak another language. There are many advantages of being bilingual or multilingual in our current world. The world has become a global village where individuals are connected quickly, and migration is greater than ever before due to technology and transport infrastructures.

If parents learn to speak their children’s language, what do they stand to gain? I will give you seven points.

1. Connection.

One of the most rewarding parts of being a parent is the ability to connect with your child. In the UK where I presently live, babies are handed to their parents as soon as they are born for skin to skin contact so that they can begin the bonding process. Beyond physical bonding, it is important to connect to your children at other levels. Being able to exchange interactions in their lingo will communicate to them that they matter, and you are wanting to connect. They may laugh at you, but they secretly admire your guts and appreciate your willingness to reach them.

2. See/ access their world.

The ability to speak another language opens up a new world of possibilities that would not otherwise have been available. In the same way, being able to speak your children’s language opens you to their world and puts you in a great position to understand them. This helps you to be open-minded and less judgemental about their ways. You are not merely looking from the outside, but you have a foot in and can see better and also lead and direct them better as you know where they are coming from.

18 Lessons from 18 years of Parenting (Part 1)

Nearly six months ago, my precious daughter and my first child turned 18. Here in the United Kingdom where I live, turning 18 is a significant milestone. At 18, you attain the legal (adult) age or the age of majority and will no longer be classed as a minor or a child. You can vote in local and general election, stand for election as an MP (Member of Parliament), serve on a jury, get married without parental permission, buy alcoholic drinks, or cigarettes, or drive a lorry (if you wish). The 18th birthday is a landmark one, ushering in wonderful and exciting rights with greater, but not so exciting responsibilities.

On the eve of my daughter’s 18th birthday, it occurred to me that by the help and grace of God, my husband and I have successfully raised a child to adulthood. The thought filled me with gratitude for the journey we’ve been on. Shortly after the birthday, I decided to travel back in time and consider what I have learnt over the past 18 years. Here in this post I will begin to share some of the lessons.

Lesson 1: Parenting requires wisdom

My very first blog post which you can find here, detailed the myriads of advice I received as a first time mum. Some of the advice was conflicting in what the role required of me. I recall that I was nearly confused with the answers I received, when I had questions on how to look after my new-born or myself as a new mum. Seemingly simple things like bath routines and feeding times were areas where healthcare practitioners and my wonderful “experienced mother” friends and relatives could not agree. It did not take me long to realise that I needed the wisdom of God to decipher what was the best one out of all the information I was receiving.

Of course over the years, as I became mum for the second time and as my children grew, the need for godly wisdom did not diminish. I have learnt to pray for this wisdom and to believe that the Lord would give it to me because it is such an essential tool needed to navigate the parenting journey safely.

It is important to understand that acquisition of knowledge does not equate wisdom. The ability to use the knowledge productively to achieve the desired outcome is wisdom. Also vital is the fact that being street wise or current on world issues is not the same as godly wisdom. Characteristics of godly wisdom are listed severally in the book of Proverbs and in James 3: 17; shown by good works, peaceable, gentle, and full of mercy.

Lesson 2: Parenting requires courage

Courage is defined as ‘the ability to do something that frightens one’, or ‘strength in the face of pain or grief’. The word courage is synonymous with bravery.

At many points on the parenting journey, you are bound to face issues that will be scary; decisions that are frightening; options that make you want to turn back if it was possible. Being a parent has given me greater respect and appreciation for what every parent does for their child, especially the countless decisions they make when they don’t yet have all the full details.