Ending Racism Starts at Home

I think we all want to do something here.  Something to help.  Something to make a difference.  Something to bring unity to our divided world.  But it’s hard to know what to do…what to tell our kids…what to say…where to start.

I say, we have to start somewhere.  Because sometimes when our world feels so divided…so full of hate…so overwhelmingly out of our control, we just don’t know what to do and sometimes, sadly, we end up doing nothing.

But we can do something.  We can absolutely be a part of bringing positive change to our world.  Because I truly believe that what we do in our homes can make a difference!


THE MODELING TOOL--I just shared this tool with you yesterday about how bad habits can be formed simply by what we say in front of our kids. What are we saying about people that are different than we are?  Are we instilling a hatred, a fear, a prejudice, a judgement without even realizing it?  Think about the words you speak about others.  Your kids are listening and learning and will follow your lead.

How can your words increase an awareness and appreciation for diversity?


THE 24/7 TOOL–When modeling unconditional love and kindness, we have opportunities every single day all throughout the day to instill a love and appreciation for others–no matter what their skin color.  One thing I’ve always done is point out all the different colors, shapes, sizes, and uniqueness in nature and say: “God loves variety and that’s why He made us all look so different. That’s why He made us all different colors.  That’s why He created such a beautiful, wonderful diverse palate in our world. And when you see anyone, no matter what color their skin is…no matter what shape or size they are…no matter what they look like…just remember this: God made them just the way He wanted them to be. And they are perfect in His eyes just the way they are.”

How can you use every minute as well as the world around you to inspire inclusion and a love for every race and color?


THE FAMILY IDENTITY TOOL--identify your family as people who love everyone—–who respects everyone, who values everyone, who sees everyone and who is no better than anyone.

  • We are the Leebs and we are kind to everyone no matter what their skin color is.
  • We are the Sanchez family and we believe that God calls us to treat everyone with respect…EVERYONE.
  • We are the Zang family and we see everyone as beautiful and deserving of our kindness.
  • We are the James family and we understand that this world may be divided, but we choose to seek peace and unity!

How can you use your family name to encourage a sense of belonging in what you believe promoting the just, fair, respectful treatment of others?


THE SERVICE TOOL--Modeling with our words is powerful, but modeling a love for EVERYONE in action is more powerful.  One thing I recommend with your kids is finding ways to serve in your community.  For years my oldest son and I have served the homeless population in our community together. Serving side by side with diverse people to help diverse people models the responsibility we all have to help ALL PEOPLE!

How can you include your kids in opportunities to share love to everyone in need in tangible ways?


THE TEACHING TOOL—As parents, our job is to teach our kids. Yes, we are already teaching them by what they hear us say and what they see us do, but we can also be very intentional about teaching them about the beauty of diversity as well as about what’s going on in this world in age-appropriate ways.

For younger kids—

For older kids, we do things with them that provide great talking points—

  • we can read books like A Kids Book About Racism, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, The Hate U Give (please check ages and appropriateness for your own kids)
  • we can watch movies like The Perfect Game, And The Children Shall Lead, and Hidden Figures
  • we can talk to them…have a deep heart-to-heart discussion about what’s going on and ask them to share their thoughts and feelings about it.
  • we show them short video clips or news footage of what’s going on in our world right now and ask what they think we can do to make this world a better place and end racism–love all people, treat everyone with respect, and give everyone equal opportunities.  I’ll bet your kids will surprise you with their answers.

How can you intentionally and proactively teach your kids in visual and hands-on ways connecting with their hearts in order to guide their hearts?

THE PRAYER TOOL—Every day, pray with your kids.  Pray for God to bring His peace, His unity, and His love into all of our hearts. Ask God to shine His light on our racially divided world and ask for His wisdom for how each of us can make changes…what little things we can do to make a difference. Pray for God to increase our understanding and empathy of what others are going through and how we can help.  And pray for Him to give us the courage to do it.  What if every day, we all prayed together for unity?

How can you use the power of prayer to show your kids to rely on our true Source for change?

Sometimes it feels in tough situations like these, we can’t do anything to make a difference. But I hope you can make little choices applying these practical tools every day in your homes and…

  • model kindness to EVERYONE
  • use the world around you to share the beauty of God’s plan for diversity
  • establish your family as a family who cares about and loves ALL PEOPLE
  • serve others and giving to your community
  • intentionally teach about the beauty of diversity and the sad reality of racism
  • pray for His wisdom on how to work towards unity in our world.

I’m going to choose to be the change in my family and I hope you will too.  I know some of these tools may fall short of uncovering the true brokenness behind the racial division in our country, but we have to try.  We have to start somewhere!

Please share any other ideas or tools you have used or are using. We’re all in this together!

Lord, Your light shines more brilliantly in dark times. We are asking you to shine brightly and show us how you are working now and how we can work now in our homes…with our kids…to bring Your call to unity to life. 

Here’s to building better families together–

Christine

What Our Anxious Kids Need During COVID-19

It is certainly frightening times…things are so uncertain…there are so many unknowns.

All the mask-wearing, school and event-cancelling, and deadly virus-talking is enough to make anyone anxious.

It’s no surprise that my daughter has started pulling out her eyelashes again.  She struggles with an obsessive compulsive anxiety condition called Trichotillomania.  We had started to make so much progress through counseling and even tools I’ve developed, and for months, she had completely stopped hair-pulling.  And now this…

Sometimes there is no tool and not enough counseling to completely halt anxious feelings or the actions that go along with it.  That’s the life of an anxious child. But really, that’s just life.  It’s unpredictable.  It’s imperfect. And it can be very frustrating.

If you or your kids are struggling during this time, first of all, you are not alone. I’m right there with you!

But there are some tools we can use to make things a little better and ease some of our child’s anxiety (and even our own):

1. The Prayer Tool

God reminds us in Philippians 4:6-7 not to worry about anything, but instead pray about everything. We can come alongside our kids who tend to worry and remind them about the power of prayer.  Pray with them. Ask God to protect your family and your loved ones and watch over our whole community and world. What a great example of putting our worry energy into prayer energy.

  • A simple prayer for worry to teach kids:
    • God, please take my worries away
    • and watch over me and my family every day. 

You can pray with your child. You can also remind them to pray on their own. You can even give them a journal/diary where they can write or draw out their worries or prayers. Set up a little time every day to pray and talk about their anxious feelings together.

Anxious kids need to get their anxious thoughts and feelings out (otherwise that anxiousness will turn to anger.) Yikes!

2. The Routine Tool

Most kids thrive on routine, but anxious kids especially need routine. Routines are predictable and make kids feel secure.  And in such an unpredictable time, why not give them something they can count on.  Now that we are all home together all day every day, take time to create a routine in your day together. For our family, our routine basically revolves around regularly scheduled meals. On most days, everything in between is just play time. But when we need more structure in our day, I give them a sticky note of chores.  Then they need to complete their checklist before they have any TV or electronic time. And of course, any chore completion is always better with teamwork, so it’s OK to work with your kids to Team Clean their rooms with them or turn on some fun, dance music and do the house-cleaning together.

Your anxious child may complain about the chores (which is normal), but will definitely thrive on having the routine—even if it is a relatively loose one like ours.

3. The Connection Tool

Routine is definitely helpful for chores and schoolwork, but so is intentionally planning on some one-on-one time with our kids as well as time together as a whole family! The best thing we can do with our anxious children is to reassure them of our love and attention.  That is certainly one way that God is making all things good in this situation. For more ideas of ways to connect as a family or with your kids individually, you can print out these 2 resources and use them as a checklist:

The more we point our kids to the Source of our peace through prayer, the more we can create some routine and normalcy in their days, and the more fun and light-hearted moments we can provide will not only build our relationship with our anxious child stronger, but will also ease their anxiety longer.

Lord, you are the Source of our Peace…even during times of fear and uncertainty. Remind us that our anxious kids feed off our own anxious thoughts and words. Be our Source of Peace. Remind us to pray about everything and be grateful for what You are doing in our families during this time.

Here’s to building better families together–
Christine

When Our Kids Don’t Want to Go to School–4 Tools to Try

My daughter is really struggling being away from me every day for Kindergarten.  She loves it once she gets there and gets her day going in her classroom but dropping her off is just heartbreaking.  She’s the kid screaming and crying and running back to hug me one more time and clinging to my leg.  Today, they had to have two teachers pull her down the hallway to her classroom.  She was screaming and crying the whole time.

It’s HARD!  That’s how my day starts…every day!  It totally brings me back to the days when I didn’t want to leave my mom for school either.  In fact, my mom reminded me of the time when I locked her out of the car.  Of course, she was wearing a robe and curlers in her hair in her version of the story.  School was a struggle for me, and now it’s a struggle for my little girl.

In praying for wisdom, here’s what I’ve done, realized, said, or tried.  If you have kids struggling with school or any kind of separation anxiety, I hope these tips helps you too…

First of all, our job as parents isn’t to change our children’s emotions.  Our job isn’t to convince our kids to want to do something.  Our job isn’t to be pushy and demanding nor telling them they should feel a certain way.  “School is fun!”  “You should be happy to go!”  “You love to see your friends.”  “You always have so much fun once you get there.”  Not helpful.

Our job isn’t to make them feel shameful for how they feel “Stop it. You are the only kid crying.”  “Look at you–you’re the ONLY KID crying!”  Our job isn’t to compare them to other kids “Look–all your friends are going in without crying.”  We definitely don’t want to plant the seed of “you do something because ALL the other kids are/aren’t doing it”.  Our children are unique individuals with their own unique feelings.

We want to be a safe person who our kids can come to no matter how they feel.  I don’t like it when someone tries to change how I feel or tells me I should or shouldn’t feel a certain way.  I just want to be listened to…understood…empathized with.  Our kids need the same from us.  Our job is to empathize with them and teach them strategies for what to do when they do feel anxious.

Empathy Tool

  1. THE EMPATHY TOOL 
  • “I totally understand how you feel. Let’s talk more about why you feel that way.”
  • “I’m here to listen.  Tell me how you’re feeling.”
  • “I know how you feel.  I used to feel upset or a little nervous about going to school too. Do you want a hug?”
  • “It’s ok to be sad. Tell me more about your sad feelings.

Allowing kids to express their emotions actually helps to release their emotions (not suck them in and store them up for later). Plus, if you say these things with affection…you are helping their brains calm. Plus, empathy doesn’t create a power struggle like convincing does and it gives our kids the power to express their emotions and calm down when they’re ready…not because we are making them.

Prayer Tool

2.  THE PRAYER TOOL

“Let’s pray together.”  Remind them that God’s love and presence is always with them.   They are never alone.  He is always there to comfort them when they are sad or feel lonely.  Help them find comfort in God’s word.  Give them empowering Bible verses to memorize or write them down and put them in their backpack. The verse I used for separation anxiety was from Joshua 1:9–Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord, Your God, is with you wherever you go.

Reminding our kids that they can rely on God for comfort and peace can empower them to be confident for anything!

The Teamwork Tool

3.  THE TEAMWORK TOOL

Let’s remind our kids that, just like God, we love them and are here to work as a team to figure out a way to make going to school better.  Especially when it’s something kids have to do, we can say:  “I totally understand you don’t want to go.  You don’t have to want to go, but you are going to go to school. Let’s work as a team to help make it better.”  I used this tool with my daughter and we came up with a list of things she can do.  Remember, it’s not me forcing her not to cry, it’s me comforting her and helping her to feel strong and capable in finding a solution.

  • To help her remember that I’m always in her heart and she’s always in mine, we decided that we could give each other “heart hugs”.  I told her whenever she felt warmth in her heart, that was me giving her a “heart hug” from home and she could do the same for me.
  • To help her feel close to me, we decided she could keep a picture of me or a picture of our family in an envelope for her to look at throughout the day.

Age Tool (4)

4.  THE AGE TOOL

Every day, our kids are a day older.  And every day, we can look at that day as an opportunity to try anything again.  So, yes, even though they cried yesterday at drop-off, doesn’t mean that they will or that they have to cry today.  “You’re a day older today…how do you feel about going to school today? Do you think you’re old enough to walk to your classroom on your own?”  I’m not trying to teach her to stop crying.  Remember it’s OK for our kids to be sad…it’s OK for them to miss us.  We are in no way trying to teach them that expressing their emotions are bad.  But it’s the process of teaching them coping skills for when they do feel sad.

And my daughter absolutely can still cry and be sad, but it’s the fit-throwing and having to be dragged down the hallway by several teachers into her classroom that we are trying to help her through.  I want to teach her to be sad, but to also be brave at the same time and show self-control.  Boldness and bravery are not in the absence of sadness. They can coexist.

Kids need to know that every day, they are a day older and every day they get more and more capable, smart and confident to learn, grow, and improve.

Kids need to feel empowered that they can solve their problems and that we will be someone to comfort them, pray for them, and work as a team with them to find a solution to ease their angst.

I can’t be pushy with my daughter even though I want her to go in the school without making a scene.  Pushing her–or any strong-willed kid–before she’s ready will only make things worse.  It’s certainly not easy, but I do have peace that if I can be patient and focus on teaching her and empowering her…one day, she will stop crying at drop-off when she’s ready…and not a second sooner.  This is her journey, and I’m just here to teach her, be patient with her, and help her through it.

Lord, give our kids the confidence they need in You.  Bring peace to their anxious hearts and help us to be there to pray for them, bless them with Your word, love them, and encourage them.  

Here’s to building better families—

Christine