“Raising the Challenging Child, Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict, and Increase Cooperation,” by Karen Doyle Buckwalker, Debbie Reed, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine.

“Bad behavior is generally a cover-up for an uncomfortable emotion the child is feeling or a need they don’t know how to put into words or even recognize themselves.” 

-“Raising the Challenging Child, Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict, and Increase Cooperation,” by Karen Doyle Buckwalker, Debbie Reed, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine.

I chose to read “Raising the Challenging Child,” because I am raising a challenging child. I know what it feels like to experience the stares and the opinions of my parenting and my child. It can feel hurtful and hopeless, sometimes. I can find myself wishing for someone else’s “normal.” I’ve read countless parenting books, but this one is by far the most helpful. “Raising the Challenging Child” meets parents where they are at, in their practical lives, and gives them attainable tools and easy to read explanations from professional people. 

The book is broken up into three main sections: “Be a Leader,” “Dig Deeper,” and “Prepare for Success.” Each Chapter in every section ends with a helpful and easy to read and relate to chart with “Perhaps You’ve Done This …” and “Instead, Try This…” tips for parents. “As parents, we want to protect our children from hurtful comments,” the authors wrote, “but we have to hear the child’s own story (rather than discount or try to talk them out of their feelings) before we can help them accept themselves.” -“Raising the Challenging Child, Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict, and Increase Cooperation,” by Karen Doyle Buckwalker, Debbie Reed, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine.

In my opinion, the biggest take-away parents, caregivers, and other readers will take away from this book is how to be a better listener to our children. We often forget how important it is to simply be still and listen to them. The author’s provide amazingly helpful ways to defuse tense conversations and situations by asking questions. This book in no way condemns parents for making poor choices, but rather comes alongside them in all of the ways we wish to be better and do better for our children. 

Though an easy read, this book is not a quick read. It is packed full of great information, tips, and easy to understand stories to go along with each point. This will be a book that I keep for reference, and will refer to often. “When we make a mistake, a lot of us beat ourselves up, thinking, I should have done this and I should have done that,” the authors wrote, “But the more grace we can have for ourselves, the more grace we can have for our children. The more we can forgive ourselves, the more we can forgive our kids.”

Click here to purchase a copy of “Raising the Challenging Child.”

(I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

“God Confident Kids,” by Cyndie Claypool de Neve

“God Confident Kids, Helping Your Child Find True Purpose, Passion and Peace,” by Cyndie Claypool de Neve is a wonderful resource for parents and those who work in youth ministry. The current generation of youth lives in a world that the parents raising them have a hard time navigating. This book gives parents the ability to peak into the world of their children from their perspective, one that has their mental heath as a generation careening downward like no generation before them. Though the power of God’s Word and His unshakeable character, the author gives her readers solid cornerstones to help their children’s confidence take root in Christ. 

“To truly develop God-confidence,” Claypool de Neve writes, “our kids need to learn to move their eyes off the problems they face and onto the ultimate problem solver- our heavenly Father, who deeply loves them.” Our children are not only filtering through screens, images, and voices, but also their very real fear of terror attacks and school shootings that are a part of their reality like no generation before them. I, myself, needed to repeat some of the lessons and truths of God’s word in these richly filled chapters, as the world’s very real dangers are alarming to me as an adult, as well. 

Beyond the fears and distractions our children are growing up alongside is the age old challenge of comparison. Social media has further complicated what is real and what is not. “Understanding and appreciating each child’s uniqueness,” advises Claypool de Neve, “will help them learn to find their God-given purpose- and God-given confidence.”

This book is filled with tips and resources to come alongside parents of the current generation of youth. Excellently written and relatable, I highly recommend this book to parents and those working in youth ministry, as a way to be encouraged and equipped to help lead the current generations to Christ.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

Click here to purchase a copy of “God-Confident Kids.”

Incorruptible Love.

“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” Ephesians 6:24 NAS

Life as a tween mom is akin to an Uber driver. Our vehicle is equipped with all of the snacks, chargers and melt-downs of home. But “the middle” is off limits.

“The Middle,” where all of the important things crucial to driving and my full control of the volume lies. In the tween-age tradition of pushing boundaries, occasionally a cute little elbow will drift into the forbidden zone and bump the shifter into neutral.

My daughters and I daily lose it on each other, take jokes too far, have an absence of patience, and a slew of other things that can probably be explained by fluctuating seasons of life on all sides. But drifting into “the middle” of the vehicle ignites a completely irrational level of panic and anger in me. 

I’m grieved when I lose my temper or harshly criticize my children. Though I cannot love them perfectly, I can see glimpses of how it’s supposed to be.

Shame is strong. It’s intent is to accuse. Squash it, and all of it’s distorted thoughts attempting to convince us we’re undeserving, unfixable, and dysfunctional. Because Jesus says …so what if you are? 

True love is incorruptible.  

“Incorruptible love.” A powerful statement no human being is capable of living up to apart from Christ. We are all, by nature, corrupted. 

My flip out over “the middle” being breached ignites a firestorm, but it always ends in laughter. The reactions are too ridiculous not to re-enact. 

Grace is the key to unlocking incorruptible love. It will flow throughout our lives and look foreign to many. Grace doesn’t play favorites. Jesus came to save us all from the power of sin. Incorruptible love, this side of heaven, is extending grace to ourselves and others.

As a  mother, there are many days that end to the tune of my apologies. For losing my temper, criticizing, or spending too much time gazing into my phone instead of connecting with my kids. The routine of apologizing creates an atmosphere of grace.

There’s nothing Jesus holds over our heads and says …oh, not that one. You’ll pay for that one. I can’t forgive you for that one. We can and should grow and get better. But Grace should be our number one priority. 

“Always forgiven,” I assure my girls, “and never loved less.”

That’s how we’re loved. By Love, incorruptible. 

How to Teach Kids to Pray for Their Friends

Being a kid can feel pretty helpless, but learning how to unlock a conversation with God is like discovering a secret superpower. Suddenly, the people placed around them will mean a little bit more. And turning them outward by teaching them to pray for their friends allows them to experience God’s love. 

We can teach our children to pray for their friends using the acronym LET’S PRAY. 

L – Love

“A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17)

When children understand how much God loves them, their light begins to shine into the cracks of other’s lives. And the foundation of a good friendship is love. When children are just learning to pray for their friends, keep it simple:

“Dear God, thank you for my friends. Help me to love them like You love me. Amen.”

E – Encourage Forgiveness

“Mom,” my daughter cried from the backseat, “I had a really hard day at school…” and off she went about how someone made her get in trouble and someone else was snotty to her and then someone who was “supposed” to be a friend didn’t really act like one that day. 

Friendship can be an emotional battlefield, and learning to forgive quickly is vital. Injustice is a part of existence, and it’s not a new trend or a surprise to God. “In this world you will have trouble,” He promised, but He sent Jesus to show us the perfect example of how to react:

Click here to continue reading …

“Confident Moms, Confident Daughters,” by Maria Furlough

“Confident Moms, Confident Daughters,” by Maria Furlough, caught my attention in the author bio. As a fellow mom of an eleven-year-old daughter, I knew the words Maria wrote were meant to help equip my heart. A tough age, in fact one that now has it’s own, “tween” category, is difficult for this mom …and I’m sure many others …to process. Maria offers advice that is soothing and encouraging, Biblical, and relatable. (I normally follow standard procedure and reference the author by their last name in reviews, and I mean no disrespect to this author by not doing so. It’s the highest compliment. I truly felt, and believe all of her readers will as well, as if I was talking to another mom over coffee about the desires of our hearts to raise our daughters to be confident in who and Whose they are.)

“Our bodies carry a purpose, they carry importance, and each part is uniquely equipped with a certain set of skills. May be focus on this. May we rest here until the thoughts stop coming that our bodies are only for looking at and shaping up.” Maria Furlough, “Confident Moms, Confident Daughters.” 

In twelve chapters, Maria enlists the expertise of a pediatrician, a nutritionist, and a Christian counselor to come alongside her in breaking down the root of our insecurities. Each chapter has a “Confident Mom Challenge,” “Confident Daughter Discussion Questions,” and “A Mom’s Prayer.” The prayers are heartfelt and powerful, as we know all prayer is. I personally love when an author reserves page space to incorporate prayer into the word count. “My prayer is that you will do your own digging and soul searching with this question in mind: What do I want my daughter to learn from my outward adornment’ choices and philosophies?” Maria asks her readers in Chapter 4, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.” 

I highly recommend this book to moms and caregivers of tweens. Its convicting, caring, and confidence building. 

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

Click here to purchase a copy of “Confident Moms, Confident Daughters.”