Tag Archives: parenting

10 Survival Tips for Introverted Parents

Being an introvert can make parenting a challenge.  As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I had a personality/giftings expert tell me that, based on my personality alone, I should never have kids.  I function best with plenty of solitude, being able to start and complete a task in one sitting, and to have my day structured and organized.  In short, I am an introvert.  In this expert’s opinion, child raising and introvertedness create a difficult pairing that is almost too great to overcome.

While I wholeheartedly agree that being an introvert and being a parent create unique challenges, I also believe that it is absolutely possible to do, all the while remaining sane.  There are a few strategies that I’ve found can be put in place to help the process go more smoothly.  I wanted to take a minute today to submit several ideas that I’ve found that make parenting as an introvert a bit easier.

#1  Require a no-unnecessary-noise zone.
One way for me to cope well is to keep noise to a minimum.  I recognize that having kids around intrinsically means there will be noise, and often times fun and noise go hand in hand.  I realize that I can’t have (and really don’t want) a completely noise-free zone.  However, we do have a rule that there will be no unnecessary noise.  Unnecessary noise means things like tapping, yelling, repetitive mouth sounds, loud singing, etc.  The phrase, “No unnecessary noise…” is heard often in our home.

#2 No two noisemakers going at the same time.
This relates closely to point #1; however, it zeros in specifically on things that make noise that might compete with one another, such as:   TV, computer game sounds, radio, toys that make noise, instruments, videos, singing, etc.  In our home, no two noise makers are run simultaneously.  And yes, there have been many fights discussions as to whose noise maker wins out – but in the end, it is better for me to wade through the dispute and have a relatively quiet place to reside.

#3 Mandatory nap/quiet time.
This suggestion incorporates creating emotional and physical moments of rest. When my four were little, we had mandatory nap time.  As they grew older, we shifted to enforcing a mandatory quiet time.  That time included reading books, resting in bed, or drawing.  Any activity that involved me or involved a potential fight between the siblings was nixed.

#4 Early bedtime.
Of course the time is negotiable, but having your kids go to bed early gives you space to rebuild your reserves for the coming day. My kids’ bedtime was always 7pm.  Even as they got older, we still maintained that time.  (Even until they were 10 or 11, they still went to bed at 7.) They could read in bed, listen to tapes in their rooms or play quietly, but they knew that I was “off duty” at 7pm. Since the time that my kids have barely been able to have real discussions, we have talked about how their early bedtime was much more about my need for replenishment than their need for rest.  I explained that it was motivated by my personality, and that I would be a better mommy if I had time in the evenings to recharge and refuel.

#5 Having kids stay in bed in the morning until an agreed upon time.
Even from the youngest of their ages, my kids have had a set time when they could get up.  When they were really little, they were to stay in their beds until we came to get them.  As they got older and could tell time, they knew to stay in their rooms until the designated time arrived.   That gave me a predictable beginning to my day, and allowed me to get mentally and physically prepared to handle the busyness that was to come.

#6 Have the day planned.
For me, having a structure/schedule is essential to my peace of mind.  Looking at the day as a blank slate is paralyzing; therefore, having a general agenda planned is so helpful.  Taking the few minutes that it takes to plan out events is well worth the mental energy saved throughout the day.

#7 Plan quiet activities for yourself (journaling, walking outside, etc).
Having activities that provide refilling, that fuel the introvert within you, are so key to being able to stay positive and pleasant throughout the day.  Find those things that restore your soul and regularly participate in them.  Plan your day with those elements included.

#8 Find activities to do with your kids that replenish you.
It is important that you recognize which activities throughout the day fill you or drain you.  The activities that both entertain my kids and replenish me are reading to them, playing board games, going on walks, etc.  I encourage you to think through the activities that you do with your kids and pinpoint which ones have a better chance of being replenishing to you.  When you plan your day, plan more activities that fall into that replenishing category.  Recognize which activities are draining, and if trying to creatively craft (or something like that) stresses you out, schedule it in very limited amounts.

#9 Use your introverted strengths.
As a whole, introverts are good with attention to detail and researching. Schedule your day so that most of your energy is spent moving in your strengths.  In one of my previous posts, I talked about how one of my daughters wanted Valentine’s Day cards handmade.  Not considering myself very creative, I realized that I could use my strengths of research to look up what handmade crafts might be available on the internet.  Instead of stressing over completing a task that took me out of my natural abilities (which is always draining), I found a way to use my strengths to see her project completed.

#10 Be intentional about face time with your kids.
If you spend quality time with kids – make eye contact and listen actively – they will feel really heard and connected to.  Parenting children who truly feel heard makes the parenting interaction so much easier.  Throughout the day when they get annoying, try to stop and intentionally listen to them (instead of brushing them off or making it clear how busy you are).  You might just see that the escalation of distress will cease.

Your unique personality, whether it be a demonstrative extrovert or a reserved introvert, is a gift from God.  As a parent, you have unique gifts that you pass on to your kids, and understanding your personality and working with the gifts that you have make you more effective in your role as a parent.

Let me know what other techniques you use to thrive as a parent!

 

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The Art of the Great Mentor

We all need guidance.  Our lives are complicated and challenging, and we are all asked to perform roles in which we have limited or no training. Whether that role be in our work, in marriage, as a parent, with our finances, culturally, with our cooking, etc., we all are in over our heads in some area.

When I got married, I knew that I needed guidance on how to create a great marriage.  To this day, we still are in contact with the pastor who performed our wedding ceremony, and he is a great source for accountability and counsel.

When I had kids, I definitely knew I was in over my head.  I knew what kind of kids I wanted to produce, but I wasn’t sure of how to accomplish that feat.  One of the first things that I did as a new mom was to set up a lunch date with an experienced mom who’s kids I greatly respected.  With my infant in hand, I asked this lady if we could create a relationship between us where I asked her my parenting questions.  She agreed, and I did.  Over and over and over.

For those of us who aren’t physically close to family (or for those who don’t have family that they want to emulate), we need to establish relationships that serve as family for us.  We need to have people from whom we draw for the various roles we fill in our lives.  We need to have people in our lives to guide us.  And because we play so many roles, we need to be open to having many mentors, or many people to whom we turn for advice and counsel.

The mentoring relationship won’t happen on its own.  It is important for you to have specific, measurable objectives and to find a mentor you will respect and trust to help you reach their goals. Once the partnership is under way and working, it is up to the partners to make the relationship thrive.  It takes time to find people who are both willing and able to help give advice.  It takes time to establish relationships based on trust and respect to whom you can go.  But believe me, it is worth it.

So how do you find a mentor?

* Take some time to think through the areas in your life in which you are struggling, or not performing the way you’d like to.

* Think of people who are doing that task well and who you respect in that area.

* If you already have a good relationship with that person, then make the ask. Be clear with them what you’re asking, and let them know why you’re asking specifically them.

* If you don’t have a strong relationship yet, then start making strides in that direction.

“I’ve learned… that the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.”  – the late Andy Rooney

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Maneuvering Net-less Flight – The Beginning of our Homeschool Journey

It seems that in so many areas of my life, I am flying without a net.  What I mean by that is being in situations where you make a choice to go against the traditional route of society, often times resulting in no one to blame your failure on but yourself.  Some of those flying-without-a-net areas were chosen for me, and some of them I chose myself.

Educating my children at home is one of those areas.  While homeschooling is much more accepted these days, it is still an arena in which the success or failure of the children rests heavily on the shoulders of the parents.  And then there is the conversation about what success or failure really is…but that is a topic for another day.

When my oldest was 4/5 and getting ready to enter her educational journey, I could tell that she would have a little difficulty with learning if we chose a traditional education path.   She is an artist who gathers her information more from her senses than from linear, academic thought.  She is a really smart girl, but I had a hunch that she might struggle in a traditional setting where the main way to source information is visually.  I knew that I wanted to give her as much a head start as I could.  I didn’t intend to homeschool past the earliest of grades, but just long enough to make sure that she knew the basic math skills and knew how to read.

The first couple of years I spent as much time researching homeschooling as I did actually educating my daughter.  I interviewed everyone I knew that home schooled, and spent much time researching on the internet.  I answered some of the big questions of homeschooling (like socialization and salt/light), realized that I really loved teaching, and developed my philosophy around home education.  By the end of those first years, I was committed to home education, not only for the entirety of my daughter’s educational journey, but also for each of the kids that I would continue to have.

Along the way, I have collected scores of curriculum opinions, have tried many varieties of schedules, worked on various methods of chores, started and ended many subjects, had many character discussions with my kids, learned a ton about learning styles and methods, had many stellar moments, and had many collosal failures.

I have gone through the journey of helping my eldest graduate from high school, take SAT tests, and get accepted into colleges.  And presently I am continuing to educate my three remaining kids, as well as lend as much support as needed to my college daughter.

Flying without a net isn’t the most comfortable position to take.  There is risk, there is the fear of failure, and there is loneliness.  However, if it works, there is also great satisfaction and growth.

“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller

“Don’t be afraid to take a big step. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” — David Lloyd George (Prime Minister of England 1916 – 1922)

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Raising the Opinionated (Strong Willed) Child – Part II

My two opinionated kids are the spice of our family.  Their ideas are never-ending, their spunk is enlightening.  They have motivation and drive to accomplish anything to which they put their minds.

However, they also need to be parented differently than my two that are more compliant and introverted.  Every strength in our character/personality has an opposite side to it, and the opinionated kids among us are no different.

If you have an opinionated child, you know that:

 – While they have the potential to be great leaders, they have a tendency towards bossiness.
The most opinionated of my children has the capacity to be the strongest leader among us.  She can walk into a situation, assess what needs to be done, and then with ease assign tasks to people.  What a gift!

And yet, as the youngest of four, she has no one to lead.  When she walks into a situation and starts assigning tasks to her older siblings, they look at her like, “Umm…who do you think that you are?  Do you realize that you are YOUNGER than me?!? ”  They are quick to remind her that she has no authority to be bossing them around.

Without the maturity of tact and relational skills, leadership becomes bossiness.  With no one around to train a young leader how to be tactful and strategic with people, they will grow up to be the condescending, bossy, tactless boss that we all know.

I believe it is my role, as her mother, to train and develop those tendencies within her.  It is my job and privilege to help my gifted daughter to temper her strength with character, patience and love.
* * We do that with many reminders throughout the day.  From a very young age, I have found myself so very often asking her to take another shot at whatever she had just said, saying it in a different, more loving, tactful way.
* * We practiced communicating kindly.  In non-stressful situations, I have had her practice phrases that would be more tactful options, and I have had her work through various circumstances where she could either jump into a situation and take over, or jump into the same situation and lead tactfully.
* * We found places for her to practice her leadership gifts (she became a teacher’s helper at dance class, for example).

 – While they are able to express their opinions with great passion and emotion, they have a tendency to be moody.
My two younger children walk in extremes.  I have often said that, with them, when there are tears, you don’t know whether they just stubbed their toe, or cut the whole toe off.  The emotions are the same for either situation.  If you cross their wills, even if it is just a simple command that they don’t wish to fulfill, the emotion you’ll get is as if you just asked them not to save the world from a cataclysmic catastrophe.  It can be exhausting to try to reign in an opinionated child.

Once again, training kicks in.
* * We don’t overlook/ignore the emotional roller coasters, we discuss them.  Even as little kids with limited verbal abilities, we’d talk about where the strong emotion was coming from, and how they could manage it better.
* * We’d offer them tools to manage extreme emotion, such as, as little kids, jumping up and down, or as a little older kids, taking a few minutes alone to depressurize, reflect and pray.
* * We don’t let strong emotions bully us into changing our minds.  If the idea that an emotional outburst, or a display that they feel strongly enough about something, makes them think that they actually get what they want, then they will continue to do so without ever maturing and learning better coping skills.  We don’t allow for emotional manipulation in our home.

 – While they won’t settle for less than what they believe is right and just, they have a tendency to believe that everyone else is wrong.  They have a tendency to test the limits.
Those of you with highly opinionated (strong willed) kids are out there stating a sarcastic, “No…”   This is life with an opinionated kid.

Unlike my more compliant children, my opinionated kids love a good debate. They love to take a rule and test the limits to see if it really applies to them. They love to see if you, as a parent, really mean what you say.  They are the toddlers who, when you tell them not to touch the lamp, walk right over to it, look you in the eye, and touch it.  As they get older, they are the kids that will take a boundary that you set and, without hesitation, will defiantly tell you that you are wrong or unreasonable.

While the other statements I previously made have been more about training the child, I believe this one is more about training the parent.
* * With an opinionated, strong child, you have to mean what you say.  You have to give direction and boundaries without hesitation, but don’t require something of this child that you don’t really feel strongly about.  The reason for that is that they will test you, cause you to question what you’re asking, and more times than not, will convince you you’re wrong.  If you’re  not careful, you will end up backing down on the majority of rules that you put in place.  Sometimes you’ll back down because you change your mind, but  more often than not, it will be because the requirement isn’t worth the fight you encounter.  On some days, this will be how you spend most of your day.
* * Pick your battles.  This is very similar to the suggestion above, but brings parenting outside of just the rules, and takes it to the specifics of your day.  An opinionated child can argue about anything:  whether they will wear their coat today, whether they want cereal out of the green or red bowl, whether they want their hair color to be green or red.  In each situation, decide whether or not this is a battle to be fought, or a situation to let go.
* * Offer them choices.  Choices where you can agree with either option.  Such as, “Do you want to wear the striped shirt or the orange one?”  “Do you want to want to eat cereal or oatmeal?” “Do you want to ride with your leader, or do you want to walk home?”  Giving your child options helps them have an outlet for their opinions.  They will feel a little more in control of their lives, and you should have fewer arguments.
* * Find support for yourself.  Surround yourself with others who will either back you up on the stands that you take, or will be a source of encouragement and building you up.
* * Journal/write/be well rested/have you day well planned out.  Being organized, being at your best, and taking time to review your day are all helpful strategies to staying filled.  Being with a combative, strong child can be quickly draining, so you need to make sure you are ready and organized for each day.
* * Look for the delightful aspects of your child.  Maybe it is just me, but in the heat of a confrontation, it is easy to lose sight of the gentleness within your child.  It is easy to see your child as one-sided, as the one who makes life difficult.  Stop, take a break, and remind yourself of all of the beautiful things about that child.

 – In their weakest, most tired moments, or when they’re under stress, they tend to move into control.
I state this just so that you, as a parent, can be aware of it.  Most opinionated kids will become more bossy (controlling what others do), and more disagreeable (controlling their circumstances).  That doesn’t mean that you let all training slide, but it hopefully will give you understanding, that in turn will give you more patience, and therefore allow you to parent with more love.

I want to close with that idea that in our home, we place very high the value of knowing what our personality styles are and accepting each other for who we are.  We teach them that we were placed in this family together to make each other stronger, and that we are not to put down, belittle, or judge each other based on our weaknesses.  However, we also recognize that we are not perfect, there are more areas of immaturity than maturity, and we don’t expect our kids to react lovingly every single time.  I hope that these ideas shared help you feel normal and give you some ideas on how to parent (and enjoy) your highly opinionated child.

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Raising the Opinionated (Strong Willed) Child – Part I

I was one of those mothers who’s firstborn child made her look really good.  My firstborn was (and still is) a really easy kid, really laid back, and geared at pleasing.  When my eldest was very little, a friend shared that she seemed to be an ornament that I carried around with me to make the world more lovely.  She made me look so good that I had almost come to believe that I was the world’s greatest parent.

As a matter of fact, my first two children were really easy.   When the second one came along and was equally obedient, polite, gentle, and brilliant, he confirmed my suspicions about the world’s greatest parent thing.

What I asked them to do, they did.  When I told them where we were going, they were excited about it.  When I told them to go to bed, they did without fussing.  They made eye contact when being introduced, were quiet when I needed them to be, and were flexible with my schedule.

And then my third came along.  He was different from day one.  He was born with opinions about everything.  He cared about when he ate, he cared about the condition of his diaper, he cared about who was holding him, he cared about the position of his head and how he was being held.  He wasn’t a cranky child, per se, but just one that came into the world with ideas about how the world should listen to him.

He made parenting an adventure.

And then my fourth came along.  From day one, she ruled the roost.  She was a healthy baby, but from months 3 – 10, she cried constantly if she wasn’t being held.  (I’m not kidding.  I played a “game” with her during that time where I could pick her up and the crying instantly stopped, or I could put her down and the crying instantly started.)  And being that she was my fourth child and I had 3 others to care for, she wasn’t held all that often.  Those months were very, very loud.

If I thought that my third born had opinions, I found that I was redefining what that meant based on my fourth child.  My youngest came born to rule, and she let everyone know it.

Very early on in the life of my youngest, we realized that we had to completely relearn how to parent.  Things that I took for granted with the other 3 were now complicated.  Ways that I enforced discipline had to be modified.  Styles and tones of communication had to change.

For example, through some unspoken but modeled form of communication, the older 3 knew not to talk to waiters when we ate out – it complicated the ordering process.  We, as parents, found out what they wanted and, in a streamlined manner, ordered for them.   And if the waiter asked if we wanted dessert, we eliminated the screaming of “I do!  I do!” by communicating on behalf of our whole family.

However, when our youngest was old enough to talk, she spoke to waiters, bypassing the system that we had honed for 7 years.  She didn’t see a difference between herself and the adult in front of her.

And boy, did she have opinions.  They were vocal, insistent, and strong.

Some people call kids like my 3rd and 4th strong willed.  I choose to say it is having strong opinions.  The difference to me is perspective.

Strong willed has been portrayed as negative.  A strong will is just asking to be broken, to be put in its place.  It is a challenge to the authority of adults and must be taught who is boss.

But I believe that the opinions, leadership, and strength of a classic strong willed child are gifts that will lead them directly into the will of God.  If we break them, sideline them, or communicate how frustrating they are, then we are running the risk of destroying the very gift that God has placed in them to accomplish things greater than we can imagine.  Their passion, emotion, stubbornness, etc are exactly the kind of traits that can be used in radical ways – and I want to be able to step back and know that I did nothing but encourage and shape those gifts.

In the next post that I publish, I’ll give some specific examples of how I believe that can be accomplished.  I hope that you hang in there with me (it is a long post) to read what techniques can be used to keep yourself positive in the face of combativeness, and how to steward the gifts of the kids in your life!

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To Celebrate, or Not Celebrate – The Halloween Debate

So what do you think about Halloween?

I received an email this week from a very conservative group whose mission is to restore the Christian family culture one home at a time.  Its message was that there are 5 truly scary things that you can do this Halloween, one of them being to not skip Halloween celebrations. The opinion communicated was that Halloween was conceived in evil and has remained a celebration that uses children to promote a fascination with superstitious fear; therefore, it is our duty to skip the traditional holiday festivities.  (It does give alternatives, such as celebrating Reformation Day.)

When we moved from the south to the northeast, we came with many values to which we were very committed.  The avoidance of Halloween was one of them. We didn’t celebrate Halloween, nor did we watch much mainstream media during that time period because we knew we’d encounter all kinds of dark imagery and scary scenes.  Our kids were much younger at the time, and it was very important to guard their hearts from scary images that would trouble their minds.  It also was easy to dismiss a cultural mainstay such as Halloween by simply explaining that we don’t celebrate it.

When we moved onto our street in the northeast, we were quickly informed that this community took Halloween seriously.  It wasn’t the darkness and evil history of the holiday that they celebrated.  It wasn’t the costumes and pumpkin carving that they took seriously.

What this group of people took seriously was making this holiday an opportunity to love on the kids from the projects that are 3 blocks from our homes.

It was the opportunity to welcome kids and their parents from the neighboring streets that might not otherwise ever step foot on our properties.

It was the opportunity to take one more event to cultivate fellowship within the neighbors that sat on their front porches the whole evening, often times straying from their stoops to sit and visit with friends on other stoops.

My husband and I had to make a big decision.  Do we take part in this celebration that had been so easy to dismiss before?  It might be difficult to do because it came into conflict with our present value system – but if we didn’t, we’d miss out on an opportunity to strengthen relationships within our inner-city neighborhood and to join with our amazing neighbors as they celebrated our community.

It wasn’t that this group of people didn’t celebrate other holidays.  They equally valued and honored all cultures, and they made a habit of celebrating Easter with the larger neighborhood, having fall festivals, conducting soccer camps, sponsoring educational summer programs, etc.  All of these celebrations we quickly became a part of with them.  Halloween had just become one more opportunity to live out the values of generosity, openness to others, and community among all neighbors.

Hadn’t we moved from our home in the south to be a part of such things as these values?

The first year, we sat on our porch and shared candy with the huge traffic of kids as they passed by.  We roamed from home to home visiting with other neighbors who were out doing the same.  Our kids stayed with us, not in costume, but observing the way that a heart to love can transform something evil and make it beautiful.

As the years have gone by and our kids have gotten older, we still celebrate with our neighbors this opportunity to reach out lovingly to our fellow neighbors.  You might find our kids in costume, and you will see pumpkins carved on our stoop.  You will definitely see a huge supply of candy being distributed to the variety of kids in our area.

     


The last thing I want to do is to raise kids who blindly fall into every cultural tradition without applying thought and value to their decisions.  But along the same vein, one of the last things I want to do is to raise kids who shy away from opportunities to reach out to people because they value their traditions more than people.

To the organization I referenced earlier, Halloween is a clear-cut issue:  it is clearly evil and is to be avoided.  To me, it is an issue that should be handled with prayer and thoughtfulness.  It should be weighed with the scale of love, and within a greater context of community outreach.

So, what do you think about Halloween?

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The Disconnected Child

One of the hardest aspects of parenting is watching your kids suffer.  Some have had to bear watching their kids physically suffer, while others have to watch their kids emotionally suffer.

I have had four healthy kids who, other than the occasional broken bones and/or stitches, have stayed clear of hospitals.  I am so thankful for that.

But I have walked with one of my children who felt like an outsider, who didn’t really connect with other kids, and who didn’t understand why life felt so harsh to him.  He tried really hard, felt very deeply, and suffered immensely when all of his best attempts at connecting failed.

I prayed and prayed for that little guy.  One time in prayer, God gave me the phrase “circle of 3”, which represented what he was feeling with his siblings. With the exception of him, his siblings had a tight circle of friendship.  They got along well and played creatively and spontaneously.  Their relationship seemed so close and so effortless.  But to this son, it felt like their circle excluded him.

It wasn’t that they were intentionally sidelining him.  In fact, they tried endlessly to include him; but his behavior while playing – taking over, changing the rules, intensely competing – had them walking away frustrated every time.

My response was to train.  It was to show him the socially acceptable responses to interaction.  It was to give him tools with which to cope.  It was to have endless conversations about whether or not he wanted to compete and win, or simply play to have fun and have buddies.  I had him analyzing his goals with people.  I had him realizing how his actions made people respond.

My goal was to steer.  I kind of visualized my role as if I was his tour guide and I was steering him away from all of the potholes in his path.  I felt like it was my job to make his way easier, often times anticipating what his natural response would be and then redirecting him to act otherwise.  After all, I had been there.  I knew what would be received and what would be shunned.  I felt that I could help him by steering him to change his motivations and actions.

Until.  I had a conversation with an older woman about my son.  Her wise wisdom stopped me in my tracks and brought me to tears.  She said that his story was his unique story, and my job wasn’t to stand in front of him and tell him where to go.  She said that his story might include suffering, and that I wasn’t to step in to change that or him.  She counseled that if I took that posture, I would communicate to him that he wasn’t good enough as he was, and he would never learn to navigate life himself.  However, if I stood beside him, even through the hurt and pain and simply loved him with compassion and companionship, he would learn to conquer his issues himself, and he would learn to lean heavily on his God.

I had been shouldering the future of my son on myself alone.  Whether he succeeded or failed had been on me.  With this new piece of advice, I realized that the future of my son was between my son and God.  There was no child that I could force to be his friend.  There was no circumstance that I could arrange that would keep him from hurting.  There was nothing I could do to alleviate his loneliness. EXCEPT to be there with him.

I committed to quit trying to change him.  I still shared with him tools that I thought would help, and I still shared with him answers to his questions when he asked.  But more often than not, I simply stood beside him as he worked through the pain and frustration, encouraging him, praying with him, hugging him and cheering him on.  It was the hardest thing to see him fail and fall down, to see him be rejected and misunderstood – but it was his story, and I wanted my role in his story to be that of unconditional support.

I can tell you that, through his journey, he has discovered so many keys to relying on God and to connecting with others.  If you know my kids, or met them in the future, you would never guess which one this story was about. The transformation is entire and complete, with him being a magnet to young kids that look up to him, and him having a vital role in inner-city outreach. There is no longer a “circle of 3”.

In no way am I taking credit for that.  The reason that I end with that note is to give peace to those struggling with these issues as well, and to testify that sometimes the best solution is training and steering, but sometimes, the best solution is walking alongside in quiet, unconditional support.

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