As a parent, you’re constantly looking for things that can harm your child. Remember the “baby-proofing” you did? If you’re anything like me, you actually got on the floor to scope out things that could potentially harm your little one. Well, as they grow, so does your intuition. Maybe you’ve got a “gut feeling” that something is going on, which can be more challenging to handle. You start to see new behaviors or don’t see actions you’re used to seeing. You may wonder, “Is my child depressed?”
Facts on Childhood Depression
It’s common for kids to feel all kinds of emotions due to family situations. For example, a loved one’s death or moving away from friends and family may cause sadness and grief. But because there’s a range of severity in depression, it’s essential to know the difference between simply being sad and being clinically depressed.
According to the CDC, 3.2% of children ages 3-17 have been diagnosed with depression. Your child’s pediatrician can be an excellent resource for you.
How You Can Help
First, strengthen your relationship with your child by communicating. Instead of doing most of the talking, ask questions and listen to what’s happening in their lives. Be curious about their friends, school, and social media. If your child has been through any significant changes, give them space to process. Still, continue to monitor what they watch on television or streaming services and what they search for online. Pay attention to their sleeping and eating habits. (Read How to Prevent Depression From Affecting Your Child.)
Signs to Look For (from CDC website)
Depressed children show several behaviors that are pretty consistent and persistent over time. According to the CDC, the actions include:
Feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable a lot of the time
Not wanting to do or enjoy doing fun things
Showing changes in eating patterns – eating a lot more or a lot less than usual
Showing changes in sleep patterns – sleeping a lot more or a lot less than normal
Having a hard time paying attention
Showing changes in energy – being tired and sluggish or tense and restless a lot of the time
Feeling worthless, useless, or guilty
Showing self-injury and self-destructive behavior
(Please note: This list is ONLY for your awareness, Some of these symptoms may be part of normal development. Think growth spurt, hormones, etc.) This list is not for you to diagnose to confirm or deny what your “gut” feeling told you.
How to Get Help
Perhaps you’ve monitored your child and kept an eye on their screen activity/social media. And now, you recognize that they have shown behaviors from that CDC list over time. What do you do?
First, call your child’s primary care provider. Your child’s doctor can help rule out any physical causes like low Vitamin D, anemia, or something else. Your pediatrician may do a behavioral screening.
If nothing physical is going on, seeking out a mental health professional who specializes in children might be your next step. Your pediatrician can recommend what to do and where to go from there.
Parenting is the most challenging job on the planet. You feel totally responsible for another person. You feel the need to protect your child from anything that can hurt or harm them. But when you can’t do that, you may feel guilty, like it’s your fault that this thing happened or that you’re a terrible parent.
I’ve been there, too. But here’s the deal: we can’t control or prevent anything from happening in our child’s life, no matter how hard we try. If there’s a problem, the best thing we can do is get them the help they need.
As you begin this journey, your child needs you to be their touchstone. Surrounding yourself with loving, supportive friends and family can build up your strength, but if it comes down to it, seek your own professional help. Continue to care for your own body by making sure you’re exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating right. You have what it takes to support your child.
A while back, 23-year-old Alonzo Johnson made the news for helping an elderly gentleman down an escalator. When asked about what happened, he said his mother raised him to be nice and kind.
“It’s really the way I was brought up and raised,” he said. Johnson went on to say that all the attention was very humbling.
The woman who witnessed the act posted it on social media. She ended her post by saying, “Whoever this young man is, YOUR FAMILY RAISED YOU RIGHT! THANK YOU! So, please look for the silver linings – as I was so fortunate to witness this evening.”
Most parents would hope their children would do the same thing if they found themselves in that situation, but who wants to leave it to chance?
There’s a good reason for teaching children how to be generous. Multiple studies found that generous people tend to be happier and are more likely to be healthier, friendlier, smarter, and stronger.
Wondering exactly how to raise a generous child?
You can raise your child to be generous and cultivate generosity by putting these practices in place all year long.
Read “The Giving Tree” together.
Model generosity. Let your children see you being generous throughout the year. It doesn’t have to be huge. Get extra canned goods while grocery shopping and take the children with you to drop them off. Walk together as a family for a worthy cause or bake cookies and take them to your closest fire station or police precinct.
Make it a part of your family’s DNA. Talk about what generosity looks like. Help them see the need and possibilities. Encourage them to help you make a family generosity plan.
Have a “Giving” jar. Once you have made your plan, let your children decorate a jar for collecting money throughout the year. Decide on a specific time when you will take the jar and be generous.
Expose your children to worlds beyond their own. Take your children with you to volunteer in places where they can meet the needs of others. All it requires is the gift of your time. You don’t have to have a lot of money to share your time.
Host Birthday Parties for a Cause. Many young people are asking for donations like dog food for the animal shelter, canned goods for a food bank, or blankets for a homeless shelter instead of birthday presents.
Make Blessing bags. As a family, you can put together blessing bags for the homeless and include things like socks, snacks, washcloth or wipes, lotion, shampoo, a package of tissues, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, conditioner, body wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and a bottle of water. You might want to add other things as you see fit.
Acknowledge when you see your children being generous. One way to encourage generosity is to call it out when you see it. Let your children know you noticed what they did. Ask them how it felt and what they learned from the experience.
Although the topic of how to raise a generous child seems to get a lot of play during the holidays, learning to be generous is a year-round effort. Generous children often become generous adults who give back to their community. Help your child discover that generosity is a gift you give to others as well as yourself.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/pexels-cottonbro-3662845-1.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-12-02 14:36:462021-03-30 08:48:01How to Raise a Generous Child
The goal of parenting is to raise competent and self-reliant adults. You may be shocked because parents often think about raising “their” children. In reality, you’re raising someone’s future spouse, someone’s prospective employee, and someone’s future parent. For your future adult to be successful, things like communication, conflict management, and interpersonal skills are necessary. Additionally, being self-aware and confident is vital.
For your child to have confidence, it’s important for them to appreciate or value their own ability to complete a task. They build confidence by doing something or even attempting to do something they have never done before, not by just your words complimenting their ability.
Sohow do I help develop a confident child? What are the ways to help my child be more confident?
Here are 5 ways to help your child be more confident.
1. Teach them to learn new skills.
To build confidence, your child has to learn new skills. We have to actually teach them the skills. You can’t make the assumption they can or will learn by you telling them. I remember several times being frustrated with my son when I asked him to clean his room. Of course, we differed on what “clean” meant. At the point of frustration, I thought about how I wanted him to learn how to clean his room, so we used this process.
I do. You watch. Modeling.
We do it together. Collaboration.
You do. I watch. Oversight.
You do it and make it your own. Confidence!
The goal of this process is for your child to develop their skills over time. This is not an overnight or one-day process. You have to be fine that it takes as long as it takes. You have to “get over” the fact they don’t do it exactly as you would. You’ve provided your child with a process to acquire new skills that will benefit their future. It’s about their self-confidence. Get over that it doesn’t have to look exactly like yours.
2. Help them find their interests.
Give your child opportunities to try a variety of activities (not all are at the same time of course). Encourage your child to participate in academic, athletic, and artistic activities to find what they enjoy most. Once they find their passion, embrace and encourage their strengths.
3. Effort matters, so don’t quit.
As your child builds confidence, it’s not about perfection. The effort really does matter. Not effort for a participation trophy, but giving the effort to try something new and out of their comfort zone. Discourage quitting as an option because it takes time to learn something new. Your child is developing a growth mindset as well as building their confidence amid struggle.
4. Let them fail.
It’s natural for parents to want their children to succeed at everything they try. Failing doesn’t make your child a failure. You learn more from failure than from success. Encourage them to do hard things and let them fail.
I believe Thomas Edison said it best: “I haven’t failed. I just learned 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” Or I think Albert Einstein said it well: “Failure is success in progress.”
5. Model confidence for them.
You have to remember your child is always watching you. As you embrace new tasks and challenges, you’re providing a model for your child. First, learning never ends. Also, you get to show your child how you learn and continue to build your own confidence.
Raising a confident child is raising a future adult who will be the best version of themselves. They recognize that confidence is not just something they can have in the activities they attempt, but it is who they are as a person. You see, confidence leads to more confidence – even in things your child is unfamiliar with. Confidence leads to competence.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/pexels-cottonbro-3662800-scaled-e1605542949531.jpg236600Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2020-11-16 11:09:402022-01-07 10:16:035 Ways To Help Your Child Be More Confident
You can connect and grow closer as you cheer them on.
She’s never going to want to run ever again. I told myself this watching my then-10-year-old daughter run in her first elementary school track meet, lagging behind the faster runners, red-faced, and breathing heavily. She wasn’t last, but she certainly wasn’t first. My heart sank for her. As she (finally) crossed the finish line and I went to meet her, nothing could have made me guess what would happen next.
The girl loved it. She went on and on about the strategy her coach told her to use, the fact that she had passed another runner (albeit the one that came in last place), and how she felt herself “kick it in” on the last leg. Well, I’ll be darned.
Fast forward three years later. (Warning: total dad-brag about to happen…) Today I watched my daughter run in the second cross country meet of her 8th-grade year… as a member of the varsity high school team. She came in 8th place overall. And afterward, she went on and on about her strategy, passing the girl in front of her (actually, several girls), and “kicking it in” over the last hill. She’s found something she loves.
It’s so amazing to see your kid discover and develop their strengths. And although I can’t take much of the credit (because let’s face it—I’m not about to run three miles in the hot August sun in the middle of a field), I’d like to think that my wife and I did something right to help her develop her love of running.
Have you seen that spark in your child’s eyes when they’ve found something they’re strong in?
Whether it’s an external activity like running or painting, or an internal quality such as compassion for others, you can use some definite strategies to encourage your child’s strengths.
Kids in that 8 to 12-year-old range are in a stage where they are naturally “trying on” pieces of themselves. They aren’t quite sure if they’re into competitive sports, artistic activities, problem-solving tasks, specific topics of study, or a combination of these! In our house, we’ve always had a philosophy of “if it piques your interest, let’s just try it.” There were definitely activities that were off the table; neither of my daughters had any kind of an interest in softball or basketball, so we didn’t push it. But if there was any hint of I wonder what that would be like, we did what we could to find short-term opportunities to try it on for size. (We prompted our runner-daughter to attend a week-long cross country camp the summer after her 5th-grade year, where she fell in love with the sport, and the rest is *current* history!)
Here’s another approach: a friend of mine has a rule with his family where each of his children is to be involved in one artistic activity and one physical activity. This is a brilliant idea to encourage your children to discover and build on those strengths.
Throw them in the deep end of the pool.
After falling in love with cross country at summer camp, it was a no-brainer for my daughter to want to run on the middle school team the following year. My response to her: Okay, but if you’re going to commit, you’re going to commit. What are you going to do to prepare yourself for the upcoming season? The result: several days a week over the summer, she ran as far as she could while I biked beside her (Did I mention I don’t run??).
When your child has found that thing they are interested in, encourage them to dive in headfirst and soak up every ounce of experience they can with it. Coach them and encourage them in experiencing both the joy as well as the gritty work that comes with their strengths. (Running is fun when the conditions are right, but you have to be willing to run in the rain and the cold if you want to get better.) Obviously, approach this with a strong dose of grace. But help them see the value in improving upon what they are passionate about.
Ask lots of questions.
A surefire way to encourage your child in their strengths and interests is to show interest yourself. Assume the role of the complete novice and allow them to be the expert. There have been so many conversations about running simply sparked by my asking a “dumb” question. (So, when you’re in a race, are you allowed to elbow people? And off we go on a great discussion on cross country rules…)
Don’t forget to ask questions like, “Are you sure you still enjoy this?” Just because a your child is good at something doesn’t mean they enjoy it or can’t get “burned out” on it. Sometimes parents try to live out their dreams through their children. Just because you were a great swimmer, and maybe your child is too, it doesn’t mean they share your passion for it. They might hate it. Ask questions to make sure your child isn’t participating in something because they know it makes YOU happy.
Help them find other sources of inspiration for their strengths, especially things to read.
Kids will naturally eat up any kind of extra bits of media and information on the strengths they are passionate about. Art, books, hiking magazines, cooking tutorial videos, photography blogs… all these are great resources to “pass along” to your child who wants to go waist-deep into their strengths. For her birthday a couple of years ago, I bought my daughter a subscription to a women’s running magazine. And now, I am receiving a constant education on the value of spiked running shoes, how to train for marathons, and what you should eat before a race (evidently chocolate cake doesn’t make the list).
Help them find a community that will encourage them in their strengths.
It’s one thing to encourage your kids from the home front to pursue and strengthen their interest. But your encouragement receives an extra boost when you help them find other kids—just like them—who are passionate about the same thing. And let’s face it: not every interest has a ready-made team waiting for them (like, say, cross country). But nowadays, if you look hard enough (like internet searches of what’s in your community), you can usually find a common interest group with just about any activity. And if you can’t, talk with your child about starting a group yourselves. There may be a huge number of kids ready to come out of the woodwork to share their passion for bead art, geocaching, or videocasting with others… just like them.
Help them and encourage them to match their strengths to goals, projects, and experiences.
In his (excellent) book, Artificial Maturity, Tim Elmore says that directing kids’ strengths toward real-life ventures helps them form a clear sense of identity and prepares them for life as an adult. You can’t go wrong with that. And besides, giving your child a sense of mission with their strengths puts meaning behind their interests.
For example (warning: another dad-brag is coming your way…), my younger daughter discovered an interest in videocasting. She formed her own YouTube channel, recorded herself hosting topics from craft projects to how to clean your room to fun family activities. Then she edits and puts the videos out there for family members and close friends to view. (I have had the distinct honor of guest-starring in a number of her productions.)
Again, I can’t take all the credit, but we’ve tried to encourage her as best we can and help her think how she can use this interest to help other people.
As a new 6th-grader in middle school, she has built upon those strengths and has now transitioned to hosting her own podcast, using her school’s recording equipment to interview teachers in her school about their experiences as young people and making it available to the students. (Seriously, I’m totally humbled by my kids. At their age, I was content just reaching the next level of Pac-Man.)
One last thing about encouraging your child’s strengths…
At times I have done the above very well with my kids, and other times… not so well. But I have found that encouraging my kid’s strengths has actually afforded me opportunities to connect with them and have a deeper relationship with them. The conversations that have resulted have been invaluable. And I wouldn’t trade the experience of riding my bike (what felt like) hundreds of miles beside my oldest daughter running or hamming it up on video with my younger daughter for anything. And I’m pretty confident they won’t forget those times either. Value those times and soak it up. It’s amazing to see your kids grow.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/pexels-ketut-subiyanto-4544596-scaled-e1600112790601.jpg221500Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2020-09-14 15:24:162022-04-14 09:28:04How To Encourage Your Child’s Strengths
They told us we had a moderate chance of severe weather Easter night and to be weather aware. How many times have we heard that and the weather amounted to nothing to write home about?
Many went to sleep thinking if there was severe weather in the area, storm alerts would go off on phones and weather radios. Sadly, between 11 p.m. and midnight, a severe storm turning into an EF3 tornado ravaged our community. Thousands were left without power and hundreds with homes that were either destroyed or uninhabitable until repairs are made.
While we can see the physical devastation from the storm, there is an invisible aftermath. That aftermath is taking its toll on those who lived through the event, especially the children. It reveals itself in different ways depending on the age of the person.
I have spoken to a number of parents who shared with me that their children are struggling to go to sleep at night. Some say their teenager, who has been totally independent, is now clinging to them and won’t leave their side. Others just seem lost and afraid. I thought it might be helpful to talk about some ways parents can provide comfort for their children as they try and deal with the trauma.
As children try to cope with what they experienced they might feel increased fear and/or anxiety that shows itself in different ways. It may be in the form of tantrums, crying for no apparent reason, acting in ways that seem defiant, not wanting to go to bed by themselves or not wanting to be alone, period. They could become especially clingy, not wanting to leave a parent’s side.
As parents try to manage repairs and create some sense of “normal” for their family, this behavior could create additional angst for parents.
Here are some things you might find helpful as you seek to help your child process what happened.
Even though you are juggling a lot of things, be intentional about spending focused time with your children. Although their clinginess may get on your nerves, know that sitting in your lap, holding your hand, snuggling up next to you on the couch or in bed are all comforting to children who have experienced trauma.
For your older children, you may see them somewhat withdraw as they try to process what happened. Provide opportunities for open, honest conversation. Answer their questions as best you can. If your teen asks you if you think this could happen again, tell them the truth: It’s possible, but not likely. Consider how old you are and whether or not you have been in the path of a storm like this before. I have lived through a lot of storms, but nothing like the tornado. This helps give perspective to them as they process their experience.
If you don’t know an answer to a question, say so. You might be able to find the answer together. Or it may just be a question that nobody really knows the answer to.
Where possible, create routines and structure. These two things can help restore a sense of normalcy for your family. People in general thrive on this because it helps them feel more in control (at least to some degree).
Acknowledge the grieving that is going on and the loss of innocence for young children. In reality, they will never NOT remember this moment in time. Take care in how you talk with them, and assure them of your protective presence. Giving them the opportunity to write, talk and/or draw about what they are feeling and then explain it to you will help them process their emotions.
Playtime is important. Even in the midst of trying to get things done, take time out to do something fun. This can help to decrease anxiety and stress and help the healing process – even for the adults.
Adapting to change in general is often hard for people. It can be unsettling for everyone, especially children, when you are uprooted from your home and have to live somewhere else permanently or until repairs are complete. Don’t assume they grasp what is going on. Talk them through it by explaining it clearly. You might say, “Because of the damage to our home we are going to have to live in another place for a while, or we are going to have to look for a new place to live.”
If this is the only home your children have known, there will probably be some sadness and anxious feelings that you can actually talk about. However, don’t underestimate the calm that this can bring even to a 4-year-old who may not understand everything. Keep it simple and age appropriate. It helps decrease surprises which tend to increase anxiety in children. You might have to have the same conversation a number of times and that’s honestly to be expected. Be patient.
There are some things that are adult topics such as money constraints that children don’t need to know the details about. You can always say, “We can’t do that right now, but I will remember that you asked about that and when things settle down we will talk about it.”
Limit the amount of exposure your children have to the ongoing news, photos on social media and even conversations that you have around them. It is challenging as adults – triple that for children. All of the ongoing exposure keeps them from being able to recalibrate and settle down.
Take care of yourself. You’re probably really tired of hearing that phrase, but let people cook for you, help you clean up, provide food. Let others do anything that will allow you to conserve energy and be there for your children.
As you move forward, remember that every family is different. It’s normal to feel traumatized, have some flashbacks and feel on edge (hyper-vigilant) after something like this. These symptoms usually will subside or at least decrease over the next few weeks. There really is no easy fix. Things will not get better immediately. But paying attention to how you engage with your children, what you allow them to be exposed to and being intentional about talking with them and being physically close to them will bring comfort.
If they are still struggling to adjust over time, don’t be afraid to seek professional help for them. These things are scary, frustrating and hard to manage for us even as adults. Asking for what you need from others can help you get through the challenges you face. At the same time, it will help you be a healthier parent for your kids.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/DealingWithStormAnxiety-jordan-whitt-KQCXf_zvdaU-unsplash-1-e1596645763397.jpg257400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-04-24 13:18:212020-09-02 12:39:53How to Help Your Child Deal with Storm Anxiety
How can you be sure your child will know that you love them? When I was 6, I was shopping with my mom when my eyes landed on what I thought was very cool Christmas tape. I told my mom I needed that tape. She said no. So, I took matters into my own hands… and slipped two tape rolls into my jacket pocket.
When we got home, I went straight to my room and started playing with the tape. It didn’t take long for Mom to notice the silence. I vividly remember her knocking on the door and asking me what I was doing. At that moment sheer panic set in because I knew I would be in trouble. I tried to take up as much of the tape as possible before she actually opened the door.
She walked in the room, saw the tape and asked me where I got it, knowing full well where it came from. She didn’t say much more, except these words: “Get in the car.” I knew for sure I was in big trouble. I thought maybe she was taking me to the police station, but we actually returned to the store. We walked in and she asked for the manager.
She asked me to tell him what I had done. Through tears I explained that I thought the tape was beautiful and when my mom wouldn’t buy it for me, I just took it. I told him I knew it was wrong and apologized. My mom paid him for the tape and then I paid my mom back for the tape with my measly allowance over a period of weeks.
Back then I thought my mom was the meanest mom on the planet, but I have never forgotten that day.
Fast forward to middle school when I “knew” how smart I was. I wanted to decide for myself when to go to bed, how long I talked on the phone, what chores I would or would not do. They didn’t buy it, not for one second. Again, I knew I had the most unloving parents on the planet, because if they really loved me they would let me do what I wanted to do.
What I didn’t know then, but know now, is they really were loving me.
If you have raised children or you are in the midst of raising children, you know that they will challenge you at every turn – especially the strong-willed ones. You will hear things come out of their mouths you thought you would never hear:
“I hate you.”
“You’re a terrible excuse for a parent.”
“Who died and made you the boss?”
“Why do you have to make my life so miserable?”
“Why couldn’t I be so and so’s child? They really know how to parent.”
Those words can be painful and cause you to question your parenting skills and whether or not you really are loving them well. But how do your children really know that you love them? Maybe a better question is, what do children need from their parents in order to thrive?
First, children need routines, rituals, consistency and structure.
We aren’t talking boot camp, but we are talking about a routine that children can count on – consistent rules and structure in which they can safely operate.
Kids also need loving accountability.
I 100% knew I was going to be in trouble when my mom found out I took that tape because telling the truth and not taking things that don’t belong to us had been drilled into my head for as long as I could remember, but that didn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing. Holding me accountable, standing with me as I told the manager what I had done, and requiring me to pay her back were actually all ways of loving me. She didn’t remind me of my transgression throughout my life. In fact, I really don’t remember her bringing it up again, but I assure you, I have never stolen another thing. It was a safe place to make mistakes and to learn and grow.
Additionally, your child needs you to have the right perspective and know that you are steady.
With age, children typically become smarter than their parents, or so they believe. There is an age and stage where you could say the sky is blue and they would tell you it’s not. They know how to navigate the latest and greatest technology and they’re growing like crazy. If you didn’t know their age, you would swear some of them were much older. As parents, remembering exactly how old they are and no matter how smart they seem, recognizing that they only know what a 12 or 14-year-old would know helps you keep perspective and stay the course as the parent.
Many tweens, when left to their own devices (literally), would play video games all night, eat whatever whenever, forget studying and blame everybody else as their life is falling apart.
My point is this: They don’t know what they don’t know.
It really isn’t their job to like us at this point. They are in the process of figuring out how to do life, but they aren’t quite mature enough to do it on their own. Being the parent that doesn’t get incredibly emotional, yet is steady, consistent and supportive during this maturation process is powerful and loving.
In all of these things, holding your child accountable and requiring them to be responsible for their actions is sometimes one of the most painful ways you show love. For them, it doesn’t usually feel very loving in the moment or even after the moment. Sometimes it even takes years for them to realize how loving and painful it was for you as the parent.
As a parent, you hurt when your child hurts. But ultimately you know that letting them experience what it looks and feels like to be held accountable and take responsibility ultimately builds their self-confidence and helps them learn for the future when they are navigating life on their own.
Keep them safe.
When your toddler wants to put their finger in an electrical socket and they throw a huge tantrum when you move them away, it wouldn’t matter how much they cried and carried on, you would be confident in your efforts to keep them safe. As they get older, they throw tantrums in different ways and sometimes we become less confident in our parenting skills and we may wonder whether or not we are loving them well.
One of the best things you can do to make sure your child knows you love them is not to look to them for affirmation that you are loving them well, because it may not seem that way to them. Know this: The parenting journey is full of adventure and sometimes insecurity. Find some people who are ahead of you on the journey who can encourage you and support you in the good and challenging times.
Last, but definitely not least, tell your child you love them. When things are going great, when things are hard, when they are least lovable or when all they want to do is sit in your lap, tell them you love them.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/photo-of-woman-carrying-child-3889817-scaled-e1597073305877.jpg148450Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-03-02 09:56:252022-05-19 08:16:466 Ways Your Child Will Know You Love Them
Kelli Day met Shawn Campbell her junior year of college at Texas A&M in College Station.
“He was already on the military track and dreamed of becoming a pilot. We were working together at a coffee shop when he asked me to go mountain biking and the rest is history,” said Kelli Campbell. “We got engaged a month before he left for officer candidate school and got married a week after he came home after completing school, and had four children Tristan, Kenna, Kate and Donovan, who are now 15, 12, 10 and 5.”
Shawn became a Marine and flew the CH-53, the Marine Corps’ largest helicopter, known as the Super Stallion. Maj. Campbell was deployed three times in the Middle East during his 15-year military career.
In 2016, Campbell went on a routine night-training mission at his home base in Hawaii. Just before midnight, his helicopter collided with another. Twelve Marines were killed, including Campbell.
“Years ago we decided that if something happened to Shawn, I would take the kids and move to Kansas City where my family lived,” Kelli says. “We went there not knowing if we would stay. Shawn and I had dreams for our kids, plans for things we would do together as a family.”
While in Kansas, Kelli became familiar with Folds of Honor. It’s an Oklahoma-based charity that provides educational scholarships to the children and spouses of fallen and disabled service members. Founded by Maj. Dan Rooney, a former Air Force F-16 fighter pilot with three combat tours in Iraq, and current Air Force Reserve pilot, the organization has awarded more than 16,000 scholarships in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
“Folds of Honor gave us a way to start over and honor Shawn’s legacy by giving the kids the things we wanted for them,” Kelli shares. “Scholarships from Folds of Honor allowed our three oldest children to attend a school together where they were provided with the educational, extracurricular and personal support they needed. They gave our children a lifeline because they understood their needs at a very difficult time.”
While people typically see Memorial Day as the kickoff to summer, it’s also a day to pause and remember that we get to celebrate because of the brave men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice. From that, we can learn how to support military families.
“I don’t think Shawn would want us sitting around having a pity party on Memorial Day, but he would want us to stop what we are doing and say the names of people we know who served and gave their lives for our freedom,” Kelli says. “We used to make a point of taking the kids to the closest national cemetery to look at headstones and remember friends we had known and lost. We both felt it was important for our children to understand the significance of this day.”
Kelli describes her husband as “not your typical hardheaded Marine,” but soft-spoken, kind, gentle, and fun. She intends to keep her husband’s memory alive for her children by reminding them how he lived and served our country. She also wants to help other families who are on a similar journey. Currently a regional development officer for Folds of Honor, she also serves on their national speakers bureau and Kansas Chapter board.
Here are just a few of many ways we can support military families, come alongside them, and keep the memories of the fallen men and women alive:
Give respite to the single parent by taking the children for a few hours.
Say thank you. These families make a significant sacrifice on behalf of our country. Acknowledging this is huge.
Include the sons or daughters of deployed or fallen parents in your parent/child activities.
Organize meals just like you would for a new baby. Set aside one night a week to deliver food to the family.
Have your whole block tie yellow ribbons around trees to help everyone remember their deployed or fallen neighbor.
Check on the family regularly. The spouse left behind needs to know that another grown-up is around even if they don’t need anything.
Invite the family along on outings with your family even if it’s just for a quick ice cream.
Think about chores the fallen parent would have normally done. Help with the garbage cans each week or offer to change the oil in the car. Help with the window air conditioners or just getting the Christmas tree into the house.
Write letters or send cards to let them know you are thinking about them.
We can intentionally and proactively serve military families who have made and continue to make it possible for us to reap the benefits of their willingness to serve.
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https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/jessica-radanavong-0ZkAINlmtOs-unsplash.jpg12801280Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2019-05-27 06:30:002021-05-26 13:08:459 Ways to Support Military Families
Reading matters for children, but why? While you might be reading bedtime stories to help your child settle down before lights out, you may be doing much more than just a nightly ritual.
An Ohio State University study shows that young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids whose parents did not read to them.
Jessica Logan and her team launched into this research after findings from an earlier study indicated that one-fourth of children are never read to, and another quarter were only read to once or twice a week.
In collaboration with the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Logan and her colleagues determined the average number of words in board books and picture books, and then calculated how many words a child would hear from birth through his or her 5th birthday at different levels of reading.
They found that:
By the time a child is 5 years old, if they have never been read to, they know 4,662 words.
If they’ve been read to 1-2 times per week, their word count increases to 63,570.
Reading to a child 3-5 times per week increases their vocabulary to 169,520 words, and daily reading expands their vocabulary to 296,660 words.
If a child is read five books a day, they know upwards of 1,483,300 words.
Children who hear more vocabulary words are better prepared to see those words in print when they enter school. They are also more likely to pick up reading skills more quickly and easily.
“This million word gap could be one key in explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development,” says Logan.
Logan contends that being read to is different from everyday communication. Why? It’s because books expose children to words that are much more complex and difficult than what they hear by just talking to their parents and others at home.
For example, reading a book about animals, where they live and their natural habitat, will introduce words and concepts that are not likely to come up in everyday conversations.
“The words kids hear from books may have special importance in learning to read,” Logan says. “Exposure to vocabulary is good for all kids.”
If reading hasn’t been a priority in your home, it’s easy to start. Here’s how.
Visit the library with your little ones for story hour. Get a library card if you don’t already have one so you can take some books home with you.
Look for gently-used books at garage sales or used bookstores. You might even have some friends who have been holding onto books that could use a new home or who would be willing to trade books back and forth.
Check out Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a book-gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school (age 5), regardless of family income. Register your child to receive a new book each month. (Yes, please!)
Make reading an exciting time to connect with your child. Change your voice for the different characters or animals. Let your child turn the pages. Point to different things on the page as you read about them. Ask them to find the thing you are reading about on the page.
Place your finger under the words as you read them. This helps your child learn that we read from left to right. It will aslo will help them visually see the word you are saying.
Don’t have lots of books to choose from?
No worries. Almost any parent with grown children can probably still recite to you word for word certain books that their child asked them to read again, and again, and… again. Happy reading!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/WhyReadingToYourChildMatters.jpg4501300Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2019-04-29 06:30:002020-10-02 12:40:31Why Reading to Your Child Matters