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Quiet Kids: Help Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extroverted World

It was by accident that I stumbled upon the book Quiet Kids: Help Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extroverted World at the library. I was looking for books to help me to better understand my more introverted children, and this one seemed interesting. So I took it home with no particular expectations.

So it was a great surprise that as I read the book, I found explanations of my own actions, behaviors, and tendencies as an introvert.  On top of that, the book opened my eyes to see that a number of the more challenging patterns of behavior (see below) of my one especially introverted child are owing primarily not to a disobedient or selfish spirit, but to his God-given nature!

The book is divided into four sections. First, the author provides definitions for introversion and extroversion.  Subsequently, the author explains how introverts behave at home, school, and the social environment.  The purpose of the book is to help parents and teachers help children discover their strengths as introverts and enable them to thrive in a typically extroverted world.

According to this book, an introvert is someone who prefers one-on-one or small group settings, needs solitary time to recharge, and thinks deeply.  Living in an overstimulated environment often lead to frustration and inability to cope, which in turn results in explosive outbursts and lack of communication.  In order to help the child thrive, a calm, loving, and understanding home environment is needed.  When school settings and social interactions are overwhelming, introverts need to find (or be taught) ways to decompress, properly communicate and control their emotions.

Though an introvert myself, I had never studied what the ramifications were of my make-up, and how it affected the ways I acted and reacted to the world around me. One would imagine that as an introvert, I would’ve better understood my one particular introverted child better, but that was not the case. The book provided the knowledge I lacked — both for myself and my introverted child(ren) — and allowed me to see introversion not simply as a disadvantage, but as something God designed for a purpose. The insights I’ve culled from it make me recommend this book for everyone, whether introverts or extroverts.

Posted in Reviews.


Harnessing Video Games

Video games in this day and age are everywhere.

I consistently see kids on iPads and iPhones playing games (or watching movies) at restaurants.  I once saw a mom with two young boys at the Costco food court, each glued to their own iPad while their mom pleadingly fed both of them. The boys were barely willing to turn away from the iPad for even one second just to receive a bite of food from mom. I also know of kids who are so addicted to video games that they spend every minute locked in their rooms playing.  To top all that, I also know adults in their 30′s and 40′s who act just the same.  Given the prevalence and seeming addictiveness of video games, I am very cautious of how I guide my family in their engagement with this technology.  My first instinct is to do away with all video games and ban my kids from it.  As much as this is tempting for me, I know it is unwise: 1) there is nothing intrinsically immoral about video games, and 2) I am wary of parenting out of fear or legalism.

Thus, over the past few years, our family has gone through various approaches to video games in our home.

In the beginning, our kids weren’t exposed to video games.  As they got older they became more interested, especially when they heard about certain games from friends.  At that point we allowed them to play and quickly figured out a system to help streamline this form of entertainment.  The kids had to earn stickers for doing school and chores, and once every four stickers were earned, they may play 20 minutes of video game of their choice.  Up to 80 minutes of video game time could be redeemed at a time.  This system worked for a long time but over time they began to crave spending more of their free time playing (whether on a console, a tablet, a smartphone or a PC).

As we saw our kids’ growing hunger for video game time, my husband and I went back to the drawing board and discussed the nature of video games — whether they were harmful, whether it was even possibly helpful (hand/eye coordination, teamwork on collaborative games, etc.)  A friend even informed us that while growing up, he had been allotted 30 minutes of video game every day and after that he had to go outside and play.  We decided to give this system a try.  The kids no longer had to earn stickers to play. Instead, they were given 30 minutes per day as long as their school work and chores were done.  This new system was more immediately gratifying because they no longer had to wait a long time to earn enough stickers to play.  I  also enjoyed this system  because the kids were so eager to finish their school and chores just so they could play.  However, within a few weeks, I inadvertently discovered that they were secretly playing games during school time.  Penalties were implemented, and before long, weekly and monthly bans were installed.  Yet in spite of those warnings & bans, the kids still found (unauthorized) ways to play.  We analyzed the situation and realized that the more they had consistent video game time, the more they desired it.  They almost lived and breathed it – we had inadvertently created a steady appetite that grew.  What’s more, they were often just talking about their video game accomplishments (thank you, Minecraft!!!) when away from the games. In light of the growing difficulty we were having reigning in their hunger for video game time, we called an indefinite ban on video games for everyone until further notice, and until we’d had more time to consider if there were better ways to integrate this entertainment into our family life.

As we instituted the ban, we explained our reasons behind it.  Our primary concern was their addiction to it.  We shared that if they could play video games without their thoughts and time being dominated by them (or a hunger for them), we’d let them play.  I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 6:12 where it says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.”  We are free to do anything but we must evaluate whether this one thing we desire is beneficial for us.  Will it also take control over us?  Even as God gave the command to Adam to subdue the earth, can’t we apply the same principle in subduing video games and not let it dominate over us?  I believe we should teach our children to overcome or subdue video games (or any form of entertainment, really) instead of simply banning them and imagining that we’ve actually accomplished any form of parenting in the process.  This idea of learning how to overcome something instead of removing the item itself is a valuable lesson that can be applied to other areas.

That was a few months ago.  How are we faring now? Our kids don’t seem to crave video games as much. Instead, they go outside and play and enjoy the outdoors.  When they’re inside, they’re more creative with their free time because their first thought isn’t to plop in front of devices and play video games. A long break has enabled them to appreciate other activities in life.

So do they get to play video games?  Yes, but on an ad hoc and definitely not on a frequent, ongoing basis. We don’t have a set schedule for video games. Instead, the kids simply  ask for permission and we say yes or no depending on the situation. When the kids play, they’ll usually go at it anywhere from one hour to four hours at a time.  However, the frequency is greatly reduced which is about every 2-3 weeks.

All of the above is merely our own experience. Through it:

  • we’re learning to fight the temptation to just enforce a law
  • our kids are learning to enjoy video games without feeling a need for them
  • we’re all learning something about partaking of God’s gifts but avoiding making idols of them
  • we’re appreciating that parenting, like all of life, is an ongoing experience of trusting God through our imperfect wisdom

Hopefully some of you, our faithful & few readers, may find our experiences helpful. And, of course, if you have any helpful insights, we’d love to hear them!

Posted in Our Family, Parenting, Theology in Life.

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“When I Think of How God Sees Me, I Think…”

I posed a question to each of my children and asked them to pick the answer that they thought best applied to him/her:

When I think of how God sees me, I think . . .
A. He loves me and accepts me even when I do bad things
B. He doesn’t care about me. He’s unhappy with me because I do bad things.
C. He’s indifferent about me. He’s not interested in me. He doesn’t care whether I do good or bad.

I typed out the question and instructed my oldest four, ages 8-12, to consider the question carefully and pick the answer that best describes how they feel.  I told them that there was no right or wrong answer. In addition, they were to select an answer not based on what they think is the correct answer.

Two of the children picked answer A and one picked C.  Yet another child picked A but was unsatisfied because it did not fully answer how he felt.  Knowing what he was communicating, I told him he could circle any part of the sentences on the entire sheet to describe how he feels.  To which he circled the following: “He loves me” and “He’s unhappy with me because when I do bad things.” It was interesting that he changed the wording from “because” to “when.”

I’ve been reflecting on why and how certain children reject God after they leave their parents’ home. I increasingly see how we as parents play a huge part in our children’s belief in God and perception of him.  How we treat our children has an effect on how they think God treats them. We are the link to our children’s view of God. If we create a legalistic home life – one that primarily emphasizes obedience to rules – they tend to see think of God primarily as a rule-giver.  But if we give them a grace-filled home – where rules are not abandoned, but mistakes and failures and disobedience are received with patience, forgiveness and understanding – it is much easier for our children to see how wondrous and gracious God. With this in mind, I crafted the above question to understand how my children really think about God.

I rejoice that two of my children think that God accepts and loves them for who they are, even when they mess up. As for the other two children’s answers, I was not surprised by how they answered because I had long suspected it based on their personalities and, yes, how we’ve parented them differently.  I am not dejected but I press on with hope that God is more than able and willing to help me show grace towards these two children who are made quite differently from me. The questionnaire is humbling.  It forces me to think about ways that I can help my children move towards the truth that God accepts and loves them for who they are, not based on what they do.

Posted in Children, Our Family, Theology in Life.


“Dads Against Daughters Dating”: How Not to “Protect” Your Daughter

A few months ago, I came across this shirt in public and got a chuckle out of it:

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Of course, this shirt is merely one in a long line of jokes revolving around daughters growing older and the fathers who’ll intimidate, threaten and otherwise scare off unsuitable would-be suitors with a shotgun on their lap.

And, in jest, I think, there’s nothing wrong with such jokes.

Today, however, my wife brought to my attention a very thoughtful and compelling blog post pointing out that fathers may actually be sending the wrong message by purporting to be ready to scare off unqualified suitors:

Here’s the problem with shotgun jokes and applications posted on the fridge: to anyone paying attention, they announce that you fully expect your daughter to have poor judgment.

Yup. By stepping up with all seriousness about our preparedness to fend off suitors lest our daughters marry the wrong kind of man, we’re actually denigrating our daughters!  In contrast, the blogger, says fathers should:

… raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own. Because, you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness. Those are the bricks that build the wall that withstands the advances of old Slouchy-Pants, whether you ever show up with your Winchester locked and loaded or not. The unsuitable suitor finds nothing more terrifying than a woman who knows her worth to God and to her family.

The blogger then makes some very pertinent and powerful observations that cut to the heart of what, I think, are very real problems underlying many Christian families who strive to uphold God’s standards for marriage and distinctions between men and women. In fact, her observations go beyond merely dating, and bring to light some serious misconceptions that I’ve personally witnessed in numerous marriages about what constitutes godly leadership and/or strength. This passage, in particular, felt like a whole lot of wisdom packed in a single paragraph:

Raise a strong daughter, even if – no, especially if it means potential suitors question whether they can “lead her”, whatever that means to them. You’ve just identified those suitors as ineligible, without so much as an application process. Leadership is not about the strong looking for weaker people to lead. It’s about the humble looking for those whose strengths offset their weaknesses and complement their strengths. Strong leaders surround themselves with strong people, not with weak ones. Rather than finding the strengths of others threatening, they celebrate them and leverage them. This is Management 101, but I fear young Christian men and well-intentioned Christian parents of daughters have gotten a little fuzzy on the concept.

Now, please, dear reader of the too-rarely-updated DingHome.net blog, don’t miss the central philosophical point here:

Leadership is not about the strong looking for weaker people to lead. It’s about the humble looking for those whose strengths offset their weaknesses and complement their strengths. Strong leaders surround themselves with strong people, not with weak ones.

My wife and I have been baffled by Christians whose practical translation of the Biblical concept of “husband as head of the wife” is literally “Husbands, disciple your wives” — virtually assuming that wives are less knowledgeable in the Scriptures, less capable in discernment, and less mature than their husbands. We’ve come across and heard of marriages (and heard counsel to the same effect) that the most important dynamic in a Christian marriage is that the wife submit to her husband’s leadership, i.e., that he’s the one in charge, and she’s to follow him. But such “leadership” is foreign to the New Testament. That’s not Jesus’ kind of leadership. That’s not the “headship” he exerts over his church. Instead, “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10:45). Jesus’ leadership isn’t about wielding authority; it’s about self-sacrifice and service!  And that’s what this blogger pointed out well: true marital leadership is not the so-called “strong” husband leading the “weak” wife. It’s about the humble (husband) looking for a strong (wife) to offset his weaknesses!

So here’s a proposal: instead of “Dads Against Daughters Dating,” let’s go with a new one: “Dads Against Dumbed-Down Daughters.”  Let’s raise our daughters to be strong, godly, faithful women who will be amazing helpers (read: not assistants, but co-laborers!) to their future husbands.  You want your daughter to marry a truly godly man? Then help shape her into the kind of woman that a truly godly man will want to marry; and anyone else will not want! Instead of planning to protect our daughters from their own future folly by wielding shotguns (and/or locking them in their rooms!), we need to pour our lives into raising daughters now who are humble, gracious, wise, well-read, critically-thinking, diligent; who love Jesus and, above all, know they are deeply and unswervingly loved by Jesus.

P.S. Dads of boys, don’t miss this counterpoint from a commenter on the blog post, equally essential to emphasize:

Parents of young sons: If you like this post, please raise your boys to appreciate these types of Christian women. Today, I’m praying for a whole lot of single women in my church (not just me) who are waiting, waiting waiting long past the college years.

Posted in Parenting.


Gardening: A New Hobby

For years I had always said I don’t have time to grow plants because I’m busy growing kids.  We have finally reached a season where we are able to grow plants while not ignoring our six vibrant children.  I never knew gardening could be so much fun, relaxing, and rewarding.  As I get older, I’m more convinced that we need more nature.  Having a little garden to cultivate forces us outdoors and enjoy nature more regularly.

A couple of months ago, we decided to convert part of our back lawn for veggie gardening. This is what our back lawn looked like before:

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My handy husband built four planters from a design he found online:

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… and together with everyone in the family, we transported several cubic yards / truck loads of compost and soil from local sources to our home and then our backyard:

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We then sprayed the old grass with undiluted vinegar, dug holes with a post hole digger, and put in four total planter beds and filled them in. Here’s what they look like today:

 

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In addition to the four new planters, we have other existing beds in our garden where we are growing different types of zucchini, tomatoes, kale, stevia, lettuce, etc.

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We look forward to a fruitful summer where we can enjoy the fruit (and veggies!) of our labor as well as sharing with friends.

Posted in Gardening, Photos.


Am I Worthy To Come To the Lord’s Table?

Still LifeOur weekly church bulletin contains four different silent prayer suggestions for the portion of the service when we come to the Lord’s Table to receive the Lord’s Supper, which our church does on a weekly basis. I find these helpful because many times I’m left wondering what I should be doing while waiting for people to take the Lord’s Supper. One of the lines in one of the prayers caught my attention:

I come to this table on the basis of your merit only and not my own.

Through many years of church experience, when taking the Lord’s Supper, I’ve routinely been encouraged to focus primarily on searching my heart for any wrongdoings or attitudes or broken relationships. I’ve been reminded that if I have any unresolved conflicts or undealt-with sin, I should refrain from taking the Lord’s Supper. This idea is taken from 1 Cor 11:27-29:

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.

This has always puzzled me. What if I miss something? What if I search my heart with all my might for any wrongdoings, but my search is incomplete? Does that mean I risk taking the Lord’s Supper in vain and being potentially subject to God’s judgment and that I may have offended God for receiving the Lord’s Supper with an impure heart? We all have broken relationships with people, and many of them remain unresolved. Many require years to resolve and heal. Are we then to refrain until these conflicts are done and over with? Will we ever be completely pure, without any “overlooked sin,” enough to come to the Lord’s Supper in this kind of “worthy” way? What exactly was going on in Corinth that Paul set aside this special rebuke for them that wasn’t raised with any other church to which he wrote?

The mistake of the Corinthian believers wasn’t that they hadn’t cleansed themselves enough, or that they’d spent an inadequate amount of time in self-reflection. Rather, their fault was that they were an overwhelmingly self-absorbed bunch in partaking of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper had simply become their supper (vv. 20-21):

So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk.

Paul’s tough words in 1 Cor 11 are not a universal admonition to spend a prolonged period of self-examination before taking the Lord’s Supper. They are a rebuke against a church that had effectively taken the Lord out of the Lord’s Supper by simply making it a self-centered gluttonous first-come, first served buffet line!

So this prayer I came across got my attention because it’s a wonderful refocusing on the proper point and basis for coming to the Lord’s Table. Being worthy of the Lord’s Supper doesn’t depend on how well I vet myself of any wrongdoing or faults. My worthiness for this beautiful sacrament is what Christ has done for me through the cross to make me worthy. The beauty of this truth is that it is not about me but about Christ. He has invited me and enabled me to come. I no longer have to be plagued by whether I’m worthy to come or whether I’ve done enough to come. What a blessed truth, and one that makes the Lord’s Supper even more wonderful. Instead of a weekly cause for worry, it becomes a weekly rejoicing in His grace, His generosity and His goodness toward us in the gospel!

 

Posted in Theology in Life.


Teaching Children How to Receive Criticism

I really wish I were not so sensitive to criticism that comes my way, and I suspect many people feel the same way.  Criticism often go straight to the heart and they can rip our hearts into pieces.  And yet criticism isn’t necessarily bad. Proverbs tells us in many different ways the value of correction and reproof; and the wisdom of heeding it graciously and turning aside from it.  So I want my children to learn how to receive criticism rightly and not be emotionally destroyed.  We can learn much from criticism, as long as we are humble and have a teachable attitude.

It is exciting to see my children’s personalities develop, and we can clearly see each of their strengths and weaknesses.  In some instances, I want them to be a certain way but that’s not how God made them.  I wish all of them could be good at whatever they attempt, but this simply isn’t so.  I wish they wouldn’t compare themselves with one another or with other people, but again, this comes so easily.  I wish they wouldn’t cry or feel so dejected when they fail, but that seems quite natural as well.

I am with my children all day long.  When we do school together, the children’s abilities come to the surface and it is very apparent to see who is good at certain subjects and who isn’t.  They even know this.  Sometimes they speak harshly to those who are less capable, and I have to step in and relieve the tension.  Sometimes they get frustrated themselves because they don’t know how to overcome a problem, so once again, I step in to comfort and dry tears.  Sometimes I just have to be the mean mom and bluntly utter those dreadful words: “YOU ARE NOT GOOD AT THIS.”

How do we teach the children to better receive criticism?  I believe the first thing we need to do is be honest with our children.  Don’t sugar coat the facts.  Just say those hard words of “You are not good at this.”  Children need to learn to accept this.  No one can be possibly be good at everything and there’s always someone better than you.  Just accept this fact.  Once this is established, we can move on to how to receive critique well.  Just because we may not be good at a certain subject or activity, it doesn’t mean we cannot improve or that we should not even try.  I explain to my children that God made them with different gifts and talents, and we should be thankful for what God has given them.  In the areas where we are weak, we can work on them and be better.  Don’t compare their weaknesses with others’ strengths. As I work with the children’s weak subjects, I tell them that they can’t expect to be better overnight and that it takes a while for them to improve.  Don’t lose heart but keep at it.  They need to keep a humble attitude and a teachable heart so they can learn, even when it is hard.

All of us have the tendency to base our worth on the things we do.  When we excel at them, we feel good because our worth just got bumped up couple notches.  When we fail, our self-worth plummets.  After I tell my children that they are not good at certain things, I bring in the fact that because our worth is not based on what we do but based on God’s acceptance of us, we need not feel dejected.  We are made in the image of God and just because we are not good at certain things, we don’t need to feel depressed.

Ultimately, how we receive criticism is tied to how we view ourselves. If we think that our value in this world is tied to how well we can do stuff or what other people think of us, criticism becomes a nemesis — a threat to whatever efforts we’re putting in to be “better people.”  But if we place our worth not in our abilities but in God’s unswerving love toward us and Christ’s accomplishments on our behalf, we can actually welcome criticism as an opportunity and not as a feared enemy.

 

Posted in Children, Homeschooling, Parenting.