Thursday, December 18, 2008

School holidays

School holidays are upon us and I think I will remove myself from the blogosphere for a while.

I only have one child at school, so in some ways, it shouldn't make that much of a difference - but I find that it really does. None of our usual activities to fill the week are on, and the family dynamics all change having all three at home all the time.

I find the school holidays a challenge personally. I need to mentally plan to get through the holidays well. I want to give my children the time and energy they deserve and need, and not feel torn towards other activities (like the computer!).

I am hoping to read more over the holidays too, so will return with more book reviews in time.

So, off I go...

Hope you all have a wonderful Christ-filled Christmas and a fun start to the New Year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Santa - yes or no?

As it is coming up to Christmas, some issues that we conveniently ignore at other times of the year rear their head again. And, for us, this year it is Santa.

We decided when we had our first child 5 years ago that Santa would not be part of our Christmas celebrations. Our reasoning was mainly that:
  • We felt it was lying, pure and simple. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but that was our conclusion. We instill the idea in our children that they must always tell the truth, so we must do the same.
  • We didn't like the idea itself - that there is an all-present, all-knowing being (other than God), who judges you purely on your merit, and if you are good you are rewarded with presents. It runs against the entire message of God's grace in the gospel.
  • And practically (and somewhat selfishly!) - why should this pretend person get all the credit for knowing exactly what you wanted for Christmas and getting it for you? No-one loves you more on earth than your parents, who long to give you good gifts.
So, for the last five years, we have managed to avoid most references to him and ignore him in the shops. And, when we told our extended family of the decision not to have Santa, they were supportive, even if they may not have agreed. (As an aside, both G and I were raised with having Santa at Christmas, and yes, we enjoyed it).

However, this is the first year we have a child at school and it is no longer avoidable. Santa is everywhere and the subject of the song for the class Christmas concert. So, for the first time, we are having questions or comments from our 5 year old about Santa:
1. "Santa lives in the North Pole doesn't he?'
2. 'Santa comes at Christmas time and brings lots of presents", etc.

I wondered at first about how to answer, but decided to go the honest and open path, and so said:
1. Well, no. Santa isn't real, he's pretend, so he doesn't really live in the North Pole. But in the pretend story about him he does. (and then went on to explain how Thomas the Tank Engine is not real, even though in the story he lives on the Island of Sodor; and how the Wiggles don't really live in Wiggles World, but with their families).
2. No, Santa doesn't bring you presents, Mummy and Daddy (and other family members) buy you presents so that we can all celebrate Jesus' birthday together.

And for those of you who think we are little too harsh, can I add that:
1. We love Christmas in our family - we have a fun advent calendar, we put up the tree together, all of us have special stockings that I have made, we cook lots of yummy food, we celebrate with family and friends and generally have a great time. I don't think anyone is 'missing out' here without Santa.
2. We try to help them to realise that some other people like to pretend that Santa is real and we don't want to spoil it for them.
3. I know a lot of Christians who do choose to have Santa in their homes and that is fine with me. As long as Jesus is the at centre, everything else is peripherial anyway!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Motherhood

Well, it's taken some time to finally getting around to reading the articles that I had put aside from the October Briefing, mainly on Motherhood.

I found the article from Lesley Ramsay helpful at a number of points. She stated that 'in God's eyes, what you do as a parent matters more than any other job you will ever have'. This is a good reminder that what I do as a mother counts and is important. I found her explanation of how 'not to love your children' extremely helpful. She said that we are not to idolise our children, make them the centre of our lives or make our goals for them the same as that of the worlds: 'They may say, "'You don't love us!" but we should reply, "I do love you. I just love Jesus more. And so should you." ' (I have the eBriefing so if you want a copy, ask me, copyright lets me send it on with some restrictions.)

Nicole had highlighted in her post that there were additional articles available online. I downloaded the ones from JC Ryle on the Duties of Parents (2 parts). It was obviously written some time ago, as the language was more formal than we usually read. However, it was great. Insightful, forceful and biblical. It's long, so you need to be ready to sit down with it for a while. He starts looking at Prov 22:6 (Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it), and then goes on to outline 17 (!) things we should be training our children in. I especially liked the ones on training them to a knowledge of the bible and training them to a habit of prayer. You may not agree with everything he says, especially perhaps in the later points, but I found it a timely reminder nonetheless to continue to think about how we train our children in the Lord.

Both of these articles emphasised the importance of the home as the place of training, and the role of mothers (mainly) in this role. As a stay-at-home mum, I was reminded that just because I do not work outside the home, I cannot assume my kids get more time from me - if I choose to fill it with washing, cooking, cleaning, blogging (!), rather than with them.

There was an interesting article in The Australian paper today "The momification of the US first lady", which reports that Michelle Obama has decided "to the chagrin of Democratic feminists" to be a mom-in-chief and give up her job. The mood from feminists seems to be that because she can be in a high-paying job and she has degrees from Princeton and Harvard she should be using them. Columnist Ruth Marcus is reported as complaining "when the needs of our families collide with the demands of our jobs, it is usually the woman's career that yields".

To which I want to reply 'of course' and 'so what?'. How is the 'feminist agenda' come to this where they think (for example) that a family with two young children who are about to be the most public in the world do not need their mother looking after them, and it is entirely appropriate that she should be the one doing so (seeing her husband was elected, following a path they decided on, to a rather busy job).

I do find the constant belittling of women who choose to stay home tiring. And it is a choice - I feel privileged to have the choice - not all women do. My husband has to work, but I have the choice. And (most days!) I am very happy with my choice.

****

By the way, the article on Children of Divorce (Generation Ex) by Karen Beilharz was excellent. I thought her suggestions on how to reach out as friends and churches to children of divorce very helpful and her general comments were very insightful to someone who has had no personal experience in this.