Archive for January, 2013

Can You Really Bully-proof Your Kids?

When I first discovered Paul Coughlin’s excellent book Raising Bully-proof Kids, my first reaction to the title was: Really? Is that possible in today’s world? I’m not going to answer that. I hope you’ll read this book and come to your own conclusion.

Actually, I was first attracted to Coughlin’s writing when I came across his original title: No More Jellyfish, Chicken or Wimps: Raising Secure, Assertive Kids in a Tough World. This title will give you a clue as to why I am recommending the book. It’s really a book that deals with some of our most basic issues as parents: fear (ours and our kids’, but especially ours); courage; and raising resilient kids.

Coughlin addresses fear as the underlying cause of what he warns against: “timid living.”

“Fear, my fellow parents, is our newest baby-sitter, our most prominent childcare consultant . . .” (p.13).

“Fearful parents are raising fear-filled children, which yields anxiety-saturated households and worry-worn relationships.” (p. 15)

Too true! And these words were written long before the unspeakable Sandy Hook tragedy.

Let’s face it. We live in a fear-filled world. A dangerous world, actually. The question is how we will respond—and how we will teach our children to navigate this real world we live in. Because fear can warp our parenting and paralyze our kids. Fear causes us to become overprotective parents raising underdeveloped kids.

Coughlin’s antidote? Courageous living. Godly living. He has some great chapters on where courage can be found, the traits of the courageous, and how to teach our children the crucial difference between being “nice” and being good. He uses a number of helpful examples from Scripture. I particularly liked his discussion of a proper understanding of the “turn the other cheek” teaching from the Sermon on the Mount juxtaposed with Jesus’ response to the high priest in John 18:19-23. Very helpful insights for parents wanting to help kids respond “Christianly” in potential bullying situations.

The author does include some great specific tips on preventing and dealing with bullying. I also liked his emphasis on the importance of instilling in kids a healthy, Godly sense of worth that prepares them proactively against bullying. It sounds a lot like what we teach at Mom to Mom!

As I read this book, and as I speak with so many moms about the ever-present bullying issue, 2 Timothy 1:7 comes to mind: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity [many versions read “fear”], but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” (NIV)

Happy New Year—and Take the Light!

It’s happened again. The Light. Just showing up when and where I least expect it. I’ve written before—in past Christmases, I think—about that “certain slant of light” that sneaks across the nativity set on our mantle on certain early mornings when the sun shines here in Wisconsin.

But this happened in the dark. Just the day before yesterday. I got up and stumbled into the kitchen, before coffee, and it was cold. And dark. Very dark.

And there it was. One single candle on the mantle, just to the right of the Bethlehem gathering, with its bulb lit. The candle next to it (both of them battery run) remained dark. They had, after all, been turned off before we went to bed.

But there it was. Stubborn, persistent, wonderful light. Penetrating the darkness and the cold with the reminder that the Light of Christmas isn’t extinguished after the holiday. It remains—persists, even—right on into the New Year, into the January of our lives.

Startled as I was by the light, I had a sudden flashback. One dark night long ago, early in our marriage, Woody and I were working as short-term missionaries in a very remote area in Northern Kenya. We had just finished dinner with a missionary couple and were leaving to cross a winding dirt road to the little cottage where we slept. As we started out the door, the missionary ran after us with a flashlight: “You’d better take this,” he said.

We resisted: “Oh no, we won’t need it,” we assured him. “There’s moonlight, it’s a short distance, and we know the way.”

“Oh, if I were you I’d take it,” he insisted. “There’s a leopard that likes to hang out around that road at night. But he’s very afraid of the light.”

We took the flashlight.

The memory came back to me as I contemplated that candle. I reflected on the closing days of 2012 and wondered about 2013. There’s been a lot of darkness lately. And 2013 is looking a bit murky just now. You never know what leopards might be lurking around. What did Peter say? Something about lion-like evil that prowls around, seeking to devour? (I Peter 5:8)

But there’s that Light. It’s persistent. Steady. Stubborn, even. John said even the darkness can’t put it out. (John 1:5) So I feel I can wish you—even despite and amidst any darkness in our world, or in your personal world—a Happy New Year.

And don’t forget—Take the Light!

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