Posts Tagged children

Gratitude Two: Family

Both of my children, Suzanne and Michael, were here this past weekend. As the banter bounced back and forth it took me back to years ago when their mother worried that if something happened to the two of us, those two would never speak to each other again. If only she knew how wrong she was and she was never wrong.

Christmas 2015 - Raven, Christopher, Carol, Suzanne, Joel, Mitch, Michael, Colin, Nancy, Christina

Christmas 2015 – Raven, Christopher, Carol, Suzanne, Joel, Mitch, Michael, Colin, Nancy, Christina

I know that when the two of them are together my life hangs in the balance. How many mothers can one guy have? On the other hand, how blessed can one father be? Their mother raised them well. They could not have had a better example. She was the light of our world. Still, the teenager in them manages to show itself.

Suzanne cooked and froze dinners for me. Michael changed light bulbs, moved furniture, etc. His own two children, now adults, engaged in the same behaviors as my two did as teenagers. Not to be outdone was Maggie, Nancy and Michael’s dog, who made herself right at home.

Suzanne’s son, Christopher, and wife Raven were here to make the circle complete almost. He was on his way back to Seattle where he is a submariner.

This house was filled with joy and laughter. For a little while we were able to forget the COVID pandemic and how it has devastated our world. We are family.

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Something to Celebrate

Whatever your traditions for the Christmas season may be, they are probably on hold for this year. There will be no midnight Christmas Eve service for me. My sister and brother-in-law probably will not be able to come and my daughter will remain in Tennessee. I cannot say that I am filled with my usual Christmas spirit. I am grateful for my family and friends. My children have really been a constant help this year. I have so much for which to be thankful.

I think that we can best celebrate Christmas and the year ahead by being the best of ourselves we can be and by making life brighter for others. A woman in Virginia celebrated her 53rd. birthday by doing 53 acts of kindness. She has the right idea. What are those things we can do to make life a little better for someone else? These need not be expensive things. I can’t leave a $!,000 tip for a server, but I can leave a little more than usual. I can call someone who lives alone or has no nearby relatives. I can be more thoughtful toward those I meet as I go about my daily or weekly routines. I can listen more and talk less. We may have voted differently in the recent election, but we can be more respectful of one another.

If we all are a little more thoughtful and a little less abrasive, we can turn the tide on incivility. That will be something to celebrate.

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Children and the Internet: Parental Ethics – Robert Marsden Knight*


DRMONTYThis past Christmas my twin 6th grader step-grand-daughters got new i-phones. They weren’t the first among their friends to be entrusted with such a precarious resource. So they were especially excited, given the waiting involved, to have joined their peers in further engaging the ubiquitous computerized culture of these days.

The girls’ mom and dad are hardly “helicopter parents.”  They enjoy their children with a fair and firm hand, providing sufficient family structure, emotional warmth, clear parental boundaries and notable generosity.

I wasn’t, however, expecting a “code of ethics” to be included along with the new i-phones, reminding the girls that responsibility is meant always to be partner with privilege. Their dad said that he got the “contract” from a friend, another father, who got it from a local intermediate school guidance counselor. The girls were required to read and sign the “contract.”

I was so impressed with this particular parental intervention, I couldn’t imagine it not being something thoughtful and helpful to share with other parents of children relative to the age of my step-grand-daughters. Given that children’s access to the morally ambiguous internet in our time is surely a concern to any responsible parent or other supportive, engaged adult.

Cell Phone Agreement

I, ____________________, acknowledge the following:

First, modern technology allows me to electronically communicate with others;

Second, electronic communications can be monitored and recorded by anyone at any time;

Third, nothing can truly be erased in cyberspace;

Fourth, my parents are doing their best to raise me with good character, morals, and values;

Fifth, since my parents have provided me the use of a cell phone, I am to use it responsibly and respectfully;

I,____________________, do hereby agree to the following;

  1. I understand that the cell phone is the property of my parents and I am being allowed to use it with my parents’ permission and any mis-use of it will immediately result in loss of the privilege of using it.
  2. I understand that every text message I receive, or send, may be read by my parents, teachers, and law enforcement officers. If asked, I agree to give my phone to adults in charge without any question or hesitation.
  3. I’ll not send text or generate anything in cyberspace containing profanity of sexually suggestive messages. If crude/inappropriate pictures or messages are sent to me, I’ll let my parents know so we can discuss and take action, if necessary.
  4. I agree text messages/calls received or sent by me can be monitored by my parents. I’ll also not use my phone to communicate with strangers or people I have not met in person and know.
  5. I’ll not read/sent text messages or make/receive calls during the hours that I am at school, or doing any kind of job (homework, chores, babysitting, etc.)
  6. If my grades at school fall or my performance in other activities is affected by the use of the phone, I will agree to further restrictions of its use until the problem is resolved.
  7. I’ll not read/send texts or make/receive calls during a meal with others.
  8. While visiting with or riding in a car with adults, I’ll turn my cell phone off and put it away unless its use is necessary and polite.
  9. I’ll not read/send texts or make/receive calls after _______ on weeknights/school nights. On weekends, holidays and summer breaks, I’ll not do either, as referenced above, after an agree upon time as set by my parents.
  10. My phone will go to sleep each night, just as I do, in a place other than where I sleep.
  11. I’ll not read/send texts or make/receive calls while I am running, riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or (in the future) driving any vehicle.
  12. I’ll not use my phone to gossip, spread rumors, defame or tear down another person or people.
  13. I’ll pay for a new phone with my own money if my phone is lost, damaged or destroyed.
  14. I’ll not create any secret or second accounts on any apps including Facebook, twitter, Instagram, snapchat, periscope, or any other applications that allow communications with others by word or pictures.
  15. My parents shall have all passwords for any apps on my phone and will have access to it at any time.

By signing below, I agree to abide by the rules of this contract and further agree that a cell phone is a privilege and not a right and its use can be taken away if any of these rules are broken.

Agreed to and accepted this _____ day of _________, 2015

*Robert Marsden Knight is a pastoral counselor in Charleston, South Carolina.


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Thanksgiving Day, 2060 – David Gushee – Baptist News Global

Thanksgiving Day, 2060

On marriage, covenant and Thanksgiving Day, 2060.

By David Gushee

Follow David: @dpgushee

My wife Jeanie displays a famous Norman Rockwell painting every year around this time. It depicts the patriarch and matriarch of a large clan gathered around the Thanksgiving table preparing to tuck into a freshly cooked turkey.

Except from the turkey’s perspective, it’s a happy scene. And it’s a scene Jeanie and I often talk about when doing marriage preparation work with young couples. We say something like this:

Look closely at this scene. See the aged grandparents surrounded by their children and grandchildren at the Thanksgiving table. Everything you are doing right now to get ready for marriage is, in a sense, preparation for that day. Right now, Thanksgiving Day 2060 is the furthest thing from your mind. You are thinking about your wedding, your honeymoon, and … well, many things other than what will happen in 2060. And nothing in our culture leads you to think about 45 years down the road.

But marriage is never just about the couple. If you are blessed with children they will become your greatest responsibility. And one aspect of your responsibility to them will be to exert every effort to keep your marriage covenant healthy and whole through your entire lives and thus much of their lives. Your marriage is the scaffolding on which they will construct their wedding,lives. Your practice of marriage will become their default understanding of marriage. Having you happy and together and devoted to each other over their childhood and much of their lifetime will provide for them an indispensable model and an equally indispensable sense of security and order. If your marriage shatters, their sense of security and order will also shatter. You are playing for keeps here.

The dirty little secret of the wedding day is that while it may seem to be about your impossibly youthful and beautiful selves it is actually at least as much about the even more impossibly youthful and beautiful creatures you will bring into the world and raise to adulthood. If all goes well, they too will marry and start their families and then you will be grandparents like this couple in the picture here.

This is one reason why marriages take place in public. Indeed, it is the main reason why the state cares about marriage at all. Because marriage has social and intergenerational significance, not just personal significance. Marriage is not just an extended dating relationship with an oddly expensive celebration day. Marriage is a link in the chain crossing all generations. It is a baton being handed from one set of adults to other young adults who will bring forth into the world the next generation that will one day be adults. You have your own responsibilities that commence right now and that you cannot avoid.

This is one major reason why Christian faith teaches that marriage is a sacred covenant. People date as long as it is fun for both. People in a secular culture marry when, and for as long as, it suits them. But Christians make sacred covenant oaths to God, each other, and the church community. It is perfectly natural for God-created, relational-sexual adults to want to find a suitable partner (Gen. 2:15) to love and make love with. But human beings are also sinners. Our sinfulness affects all our relationships, including (perhaps especially) our most intimate ones. You are blissfully happy today, perhaps. But one day you won’t be. One day you’ll be very frustrated with this or that thing about your spouse. One day you might find another person enter your field of vision in a way that entices you. One day you will grow bored. One day you will grow weary of conflict. One day you will wish that your character, both its good and bad parts, was not so clearly known by your partner. One day you might just feel like blowing up your life and starting over. And all this will one day be true of your spouse as well.

But if you have exchanged genuine sacred oaths before God and with each other, and if you are people of the character who mean what they say and do what they vow, you both will realize that on the day you married you made promises that you cannot now break. You said: I will be with you for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. You promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. You promised fidelity and exclusivity, not just when you feel like it, but when you don’t. And so, when a hard day or hard season comes along, you will remind yourselves of the covenant you made. Your covenant — and the God of covenant love — will secure and hold you. Within the shelter of that covenant you will ride out the hard times. You will return to each other again and again.

And then, before you know it, you will look up and it will be 2060. It will be Thanksgiving Day and you will have gray hair. You will by God’s grace have children and grandchildren gathered around a table groaning with food and filled with laughter. You will look at each other and think: we did it. Our covenant held. And many generations will call you blessed.

In honor of my late father-in-law, Dr. W. Vance Grant, Jr., 1924-2014, and my late mother, Janice Elizabeth Gushee, 1933-2014.

David Gushee

David P. Gushee is senior columnist for faith, politics and culture for Baptist News Global. He is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University.

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