I’ve shared before about our youngest child, adopted from Russia when he was just nine months old. We’re approaching the seventh anniversary of his “gotcha date,” and we’re so glad Zane is part of our family. The journey hasn’t exactly been easy, however. Most adoptive families struggle with something…from emotional complexities to learning difficulties to physical challenges. We seem to be dealing with every one of those concerns. Fortunately, we have found many helpful resources and experts along the way.
At a banquet a few months ago for a ministry that helps orphans, I sat near a dynamic woman with a huge heart for orphans and adopted children. She is enthusiastic, energetic, and insightful! And she’s our guest on this Focus on the Family radio program. Debi Grebenik offers encouragement and guidance that every adoptive parent should hear. Debi will help you better empathize with the unique difficulties your child is experiencing, allowing him or her – and your entire family – to thrive.
There’s also a book about adoption worth noting. Several friends contributed chapters to Handbook on Thriving As an Adoptive Family: Real-Life Solutions to Common Challenges. It is an excellent read, with multiple aspects of adoption addressed with firsthand insight.
Related, if you have a heart for orphans and adopted kids, there’s a terrific event you need to know about sponsored by my friends at Christian Alliance For Orphans. This annual conference has become a national hub for Christians committed to adoption, foster care and global orphan initiatives rooted in the local church. This year it is May 12-13 at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. With more than 75 workshops & unforgettable speakers and music, you’ll find passionate, caring folks and lots of great advice. I highly recommend Summit!
This morning it was the usual question. I don’t know when she started asking it, but suspect that I started the tradition. Almost every morning my daughter asks, “How’d you sleep last night, Dad?”
Thinking back over the years, sleep has been elusive. Our first child didn’t sleep through the night until he was 18 months. “Ugh,” was all we could think most mornings. Our second didn’t sleep much better. We spent those early years as parents bleary eyed and craving caffeine. By our third and subsequent kids, though, we’d learned how to encourage the babies to sleep through an entire night by the time they were only six or seven weeks old.
Maybe you can relate? If your sleep is interrupted because of a newborn, your life is suffering a bit. You aren’t performing optimally at work or at home. And I’d guess that your marriage is strained – at least a little. Allow some advice?
I’ve written a book for new fathers, called First Time Dad. It’ll be available May 1 (see the side bar to your right for info and some free downloads). In a chapter about how babies can affect a marriage, I shared some tips from David and Claudia Arp. They’re are counselors who have written about having a good marriage—in spite of having a baby. Their experience is universal. Most new parents feel like they’ve been blindsided by their baby. David and Claudia have boiled down advice for new parents to seven healthy habits. Take a look and see how you’re doing.
1. Be deliberate in sharing responsibilities: Every family is different, but it’s important to make sure one parent, usually the mother, is not the new baby’s sole caretaker. If she is bearing the brunt of it, a wise man offers to shop, cook, and clean around the house.
2. Develop healthy sleep habits: Without proper rest, parents grow edgy and irritable. They don’t think clearly. Try to establish a routine that will allow each parent to get some uninterrupted rest. Granted the first few weeks will be tough, but things should soon even out.
3. Find time for each other: One of my biggest mistakes was assuming I was done with dating my wife. Ironically, there
is probably no better time to be deliberate about dating your spouse than after a new baby arrives. Plan ahead. Get a babysitter, even if it’s for an hour’s walk around the neighborhood.
4. Talk and listen effectively: This advice applies to any married couple, but it’s especially important when Junior arrives. Don’t assume your spouse can read your mind, and don’t assume you can do the same. Ask questions—and listen to her answers!
5. Make your love life a priority: Romance didn’t rank high on my list those first weeks with a new baby—and you can be sure my wife was interested even less. But it’s important to carve out time. Be creative and spontaneous. Perhaps a friend can watch the baby at their house—and instead of going out, the two of you can stay in.
6. Grow together spiritually: It’s easy to let Scripture study and prayer time together slide when you’re exhausted and trying to find your way as a new father. But as with dating, this is a time when you need the Lord’s wisdom most. Even if you read only a passage or two, keep reading your Bible. Pray simple prayers together. Pray for each other—and pray for this wonderful new life!
7. Nurture your relationship: Do you remember why you fell in love with your spouse? Maybe it’s time to write her a letter and remind her. (Perhaps you’ll benefit from the recollection too.) Don’t forget that it’s often the little things, like bringing her coffee in bed or bringing home flowers for no reason, that make the biggest impression.
So, how’d YOU sleep last night?
I hate school! I don’t want to go to school!
That’s what he said, and my calm reply was, in essence, “Too bad.” I explained that it is my rule, and a state law, that he has to go to school. We all have things we don’t like, and usually we have to just do those. Same for school.
A day or two later, he got out of school. Well, for a day. He was suspended. I won’t go into the details here, but let’s say that these are not the usual challenges parents of a first-grade student have to deal with. He figured out how to get out of school. Good for him! In this regard he is an over-achiever!
While difficult, we do smile at the boy’s persistence. He is, if nothing else, creative and determined. Now, to challenge that energy into something more…productive. Whew!
Related to the broad spectrum of parenting challenges, I saw this article about younger children who wrestle with going to school. Now, this woman’s child isn’t as trying as our son, but still, it seems many kids are struggling with life? Even something as constant and enduring as school?
Are YOUR kids stressed out?
As the plants outside my window are starting to bud, and soaking in the sunshine is a special grace, my thoughts turn toward spring. Not that we’re done with snow in the Rockies – I understand that March and April happen to be our two biggest snow months.
This time of year there’s a definite surge in online searches for “spring break” getaways. According to Yahoo, 70-percent of the searchers are male, many of whom will be looking to party hard. That, by the way, is one reason why I’ll always discourage my daughters to head to a beach during March. Here in Colorado, we’ll soon see a significant increase in out-of-state vehicles as families pile into Suburbans and spend spring break skiing our many wonderful resorts.
Anticipating our family’s plans for the week-long school hiatus, I’ve been wondering what options appeal most to families and students with extra time on their hands. Wondering what to do with anxious children?
Check out these ideas for putting the time to good use – and these are some pretty fun suggestions, too.
This compilation of family fun in Dallas is a good thought-starter for anyone, regardless of your location.
See this slideshow of favorite family spring break trips. While many of these ideas aren’t cheap, some are affordable for most families.
For those heading toward Walla Walla, here’s a list of spring break activities that won’t leave you exhausted.
Have a student traveling for the break? Be aware of this list of popular – and dangerous – spring break destinations (the top three are Orlando, Daytona Beach, Las Vegas). Maybe it isn’t too late to redirect that son (or daughter) to a safer hang-out.
Finally, in the good-news department, here’s some altruism at work, as college kids bucked the trend of self-indulgence and spent the week giving back to the local community. I like that this trend is gaining momentum.
How about you? How are you spending spring break?