The P Word

Muddling my way through parenting

Archive for the category “church”

‘Make a moment’

I quite like the sound of  ‘Olly Appreciation Day’, or maybe I’d settle for a simple ‘Football Teams With Yellow Shirts Awareness Week’.

It’s fair to say that a proliferation of PR-hungry pressure groups have created their own fast-growing empire of awareness days/weeks/months. It’s something that usually riles me, but when one crops up in support of an issue that I care a bit about my attitude can suddenly change.

So, as a parenting blogger the revelation that I stumbled across this lunchtime of the fast-approaching Parents’ Week has led me to dust of The P Word’s long-neglected dashboard and click ‘New post’.

Parents Week

The strapline associated with this year’s Parents’ Week is ‘Make a Moment’, which gives it a focus which I can really get my teeth into.

Celebrity parents have got behind the campaign: Apprentice loser (sorry, ‘celebrity entrepreneur’!) Saira Khan, the couple behind Ella’s Kitchen and even the legend that is Sid from Cbeebies!

As a Christian bloke, I was a little bit proud that the Church of England has thrown its own weight behind Parents’ Week with a special prayer from the Bishop of Oxford. If you want, you can even listen to the Bish read his own prayer aloud.

The words of that prayer raise a couple of interesting points, which apply to all parents whether you choose to pray or not:

‘Thank you for … what they [our kids] give us as they explore life’

The adventures that our children will take us on is fun – it’s full of life, laughter and tears. If we let them.

It’s all too easy to take the adventure out of life, for ourselves as well as our offspring. Sometimes our own laziness, or perhaps just sheer exhaustion, will quickly reduce the experience of life to the lowest common denominator that we can all handle as a family.

For my own family it’s usually the TV screen that teeters on the brink of hogging too much of our precious time. My kids probably watch more TV than the textbooks suggest to allow, which most of the time I’m happy with because it helps us all rest and unwind. However, sometimes we get a bit close to allowing the TV to restrict opportunities for adventure and exploration. So that’s my personal challenge – what’s yours?

‘Help us to slow down, to pause and make a moment’

Slow down. Really, in 2012?! Life is meant to be run at full pelt, isn’t it? Oh. Good advice, Mr Prayer Author.

As far as our kids are concerned, time really is of the essence. Time is the root of so many things we (me included!) do wrong as parents. It is also the root of so much that we do right. Without spending time together we are not living as a family, merely a disparate group of individuals who happen too live under the same roof. But if we make a bit of effort to spend as much time with our children as we can (as well as leaving a bit of time to sleep, work, clean, eat, etc.) the rewards can be immense.

But heed the Bishop’s own podcast-ed confession. He admits to regretting not giving his own children the time to make more moments and create more memories together as a family. It’s fast becoming a cliché (probably already repeated on this blog as well!) but how many children grow up and say ‘I wish my parents had spent less time with me as a child’?

So, why not do what the Rt Rev says and ‘make a moment’ with your kid(s) this Parents’ Week.

And the week after that.

And every week next month.

And every week next year.

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Who’s taking the lead?

Last week I spent a few days at a leadership conference, because the charity I’m employed by works primarily with church leaders.

It got me thinking about my role as a parent. Am I really a ‘leader’ at home? Am I comfortable with that, or does the term ‘leadership’ not have a place in a domestic situation?

When some of the faithful volunteers without whom the church would struggle to survive are introduced to the concept of leadership, one of the first obstacles for them to overcome is often just to start thinking of themselves as leaders. They may have responsibility for other people for at least an hour or two each week, maybe children or the elderly, or even take charge of a team of other volunteers. But many still struggle to embrace the tag of ‘leader’.

So, as parents, are we leaders in our families? Of course. We have authority, responsibility and influence. Whether we like it or not, our kids look up to us, learn from us and are formed to some extent by the way we act and the words we use. Frightening, eh?!

Turning the tables

Can playtime be fun for all involved?

So here comes the crux of this post. One of the things I’ve learned about leadership is that it’s about more than just leading; it’s is often about being led.

As children we were led by our parents, teachers and other influencers; as we grow up and enter the working world, we’re led by those who manage us, as well as share their experience and knowledge. There are others who lead us: trusted friends, family members, doctors, sports team coaches, priests, the list goes on … you see, being led always comes before leadership itself. And it’s a pretty good habit to retain even when our own responsibilities start to increase.

During my parenting course training (as I’ve mentioned in several previous posts), one of the things that’s covered is letting our children take the lead during playtime. Because all too often as parents we somehow manage to make playtime as miserable as possible. We take on our formal role as ‘leader’ and manage to drain all the fun out of the situation. We choose to play with them, but only on our terms. Our choices, our time-scales, our rules. You know the sort of thing: letting the detailed, over-complicated rules of board games get in the way of our kids having any fun; getting the Lego out so we (not they) can build another world-beating architectural masterpiece. We’ll all have our own examples, I’m sure.

But to conclude, I’ll actually get to the inspiration for this post. About 24 hours ago I read this fantastic story about a six-year-old who wants to help people suffering from poverty. Supported by his parents, advocated by his dad, this young man is making a difference. He wanted to raise £60, but has already topped £3,000 and the figure will no doubt keep rising as his big event (the sponsored two-mile run) gets ever closer. Just see what #teamjoel is doing on Twitter.

This is all happening because he’s being allowed to take the lead.

Forget your cynicism about who’s actually the driving force behind this fundraising project (I’ve only met his dad once, and he seemed to have a trust-worthy character), because this is great stuff. Joel saw something and wanted to respond. When asked what he wanted to do about it, he wasn’t faced with objections, barriers or excuses. He was just allowed to let it fly, to turn his idea into reality. He was allowed to take the lead.

As the charity he’s raising money for, Tearfund has got very excited about it all. I don’t often sponsor strangers, but I’ve made an exception on this occasion. If you want to donate as well, join in here.

Go Joel! (And his parents!)

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