It’s pretty easy to feel despair today, but should that be our attitude as Christians? This is hardly the first time the church has lived under a hostile government. After all, the church first spread across the world under maniacs like Caligula and Nero. That’s not exactly what we want for our children, though.
My friend Laura posted a few verses that reminded me that we need to remember who’s in charge here.
” …..For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1
“Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above…..” John 19:11
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
” The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19
” Only I can tell you the future
before it even happens.
Everything I plan will come to pass,
for I do whatever I wish.” Isaiah 46:10
Our friends Fletch and Kendra of Homeschooling in Real Life often talk about the danger of hope-shifting – putting our trust in something other than Jesus Christ.
Our hope is not in good candidates. Our hope is not in the Constitution. Our hope is not in any political party.
God is still sovereign. He still loves His people. He has purpose even in trials that affect whole nations.
Our hope is in Jesus Christ.
With that in mind, what are we to do? Where do we go from here? We’re not sure what to tell you about voting, but we are sure about this: Our fate is in the hands of the sovereign God. The best thing we can do is pray.
Worried about the country? Pray.
Hear someone talking about Clinton and Trump? Pray.
See a campaign sign? Pray.
See political ads online? Pray.
Teaching your children about the Constitution? Pray.
“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
That’s our hope. Our hope is in God. Really, that’s all the hope we need, isn’t it?
Hal & Melanie
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Guest Post by Davis Carman
On March 31, 2016, I watched the product-launch video for the new Tesla Model 3, the first mass-production vehicle from Tesla Motors and its founder Elon Musk. Within twenty-four hours, Tesla had taken 100,000 pre-orders for the car.
The company’s first all-electric vehicle was a high-priced, low-volume roadster that few people noticed. They then introduced the Model S several years ago, attracting a few more buyers. A recently launched high-end SUV is also available, designated as the Model X.
As a mechanical engineer and car enthusiast, I’ve followed Tesla with considerable interest. After watching the launch video, I decided it was time to schedule a test drive, which took place on Friday April 15, 2016. No surprise, I found it a much more enjoyable way to spend the day than working on my taxes.
It’s important to note that I took my two youngest sons with me, age twelve and fourteen. This is one of the advantages of homeschooling. They were anticipating the big day, and they were not disappointed. I do believe I earned a few Dad-of-the-Month kudos that day.
Let me cut to the chase: I was blown away. I was ready to be wowed, but the tour and test drive far exceeded my wildest expectations. Here is my review of this absolutely amazing vehicle.
What immediately struck me was the simplicity of the design. There is no complex mass of hoses, wires, belts, fans, pipes, and metal parts. The only compartment I found for a fluid was the windshield washer. The underside is a clean and flat piece of metal, which holds the batteries.
This is an all-electric vehicle, which means you will never run out of gas because you will never buy gas again. You simply plug it into an outlet at home each night and wake up to a fully charged battery the next morning. The Tesla Model 3 has a range of 215 miles. A twenty-minute stop at one of the fast-charging Tesla stations will charge your battery up to 80 percent full, just enough time to grab a quick meal. With more than 600 locations and 3600 Superchargers strategically placed throughout the United States, it is now possible to drive cross-country in a Tesla. By the way, you get free electricity at all Tesla charging stations for life. Sweet!
Not only will this vehicle never leak oil, but you will never again need an oil change. The electric motor doesn’t require lubrication. There is no radiator to fail, no timing belt to break, no tune-up every 20,000 miles. There is simply no scheduled maintenance required. It’s that awesome!
The key fob resembles the car. My boys liked that touch. A tap on the rear opens the trunk. A pat on the front opens the hood. Otherwise you just keep the keys in your pocket.
The rear trunk is more spacious than that of any vehicle I’ve ever seen and has a greater capacity than most SUVs. And because there’s no bulky engine, the front compartment doubles as extra trunk space.
You won’t find a typical grill on the front of a Tesla because the engine doesn’t require air flow for cooling. The body design of the front end emphasizes this fact. You also won’t find a gas cap messing up the clean lines of the body panels. But there’s got to be a place for the electric plug to attach somewhere, right? Yes. Tap the driver’s-side rear light, and it pops open, providing access to the electric plug—definitely a cool feature. In fact, I tapped it open and closed several times just for fun.
When you walk up to the car with keys in your pocket, the sleek and flush door handles pop out. This allows you to pull the door open and step into the seat. Once the door is closed, the handles pop back into place, restoring the car’s smooth, sleek look and again upping the cool factor.
Inside, the car had so much room; it almost felt wrong. There’s no big, bulky transmission taking up space between the driver and passenger, and no driveshaft means there’s no hump in the floor in the back seat. The extra room makes the car extremely comfortable.
An all-glass roof blocks out 98 percent of the sun’s rays, yet you can see out just fine. When fully open, the sunroof creates the largest opening I’ve ever seen. I personally like sunroofs—the larger the better. You can easily adjust the size of the opening with the touchscreen control panel.
Speaking of controls, the heart of the technology is a massive seventeen-inch touchscreen control panel. I used the split-screen function to keep the wide-angle rearview camera on the bottom half and the GPS, power consumption, radio, or something else on the top half. The temperature controls are displayed on the extreme bottom of the screen for quick and easy adjustment. Navigating the screen was simple and intuitive for anyone who has ever used a smartphone app or tablet.
Unlike a conventional car, you don’t start a Tesla. Once you sit down, it’s ready to go. Just put a foot on the brake pedal and shift into gear. Then press the pedal and you’re off. There’s no sound, vibration, or feel of an engine revving. It’s quiet as a mouse. Also, the car doesn’t coast when you take your foot off the “gas” because of the regenerative brakes. That took a little getting used to, but it was easy and I quickly grew accustomed to the new normal. The car was poetry in motion as it silently, smoothly, and artfully moved us down the road.
Cruise control was a nice feature in its day, and today some cars are equipped with smart cruise, which causes the vehicle to automatically slow as it approaches a slower-moving car. Still others come with a lane-departure warning system that sounds a beep if you drift left or right. The new Tesla auto-pilot feature takes the next logical step. With a double click of the cruise control stick, the vehicle not only maintains a safe distance from all cars but also steers itself to stay in your current lane. When I signaled to move one lane to the left, the car automatically changed lanes, being sure to watch for any oncoming vehicles. The car stayed in the lane until I manually signaled left or right to tell it to change lanes again. After a period of time, the car will ask you to put your hands on the steering wheel to prove you’re still awake. If you fail to do so, the car will turn on its flashers and slow down until you retake the controls. I felt perfectly safe letting go of the steering wheel and allowing auto-pilot to move us down a crowded interstate.
Tesla vehicles come standard with all-wheel drive. It’s designed this way in order to connect smaller electric motors to all the wheels rather than one big one in the front or back. The result is astounding in terms of control and performance. Tesla doesn’t make a 4×4 truck yet, but if and when they do, I have no doubt it will immediately be the most reliable in that market.
This is the feature I was most eager to test. A really fast car today comes with 425-plus horsepower and can do 0-to-60 mph in just over five seconds. Faster cars, such as a high-end Porsche, can achieve this feat in just under four seconds. The Tesla Model S comes in three varieties. The 70D can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The 90D can do it in 4.2 seconds. The P90D surpasses them all with a 0-to-60 acceleration time of just 3.1 seconds. With a flip of a switch on the control panel, I was able to shift into “ludicrous” acceleration mode and do this in a crazy 2.8 seconds, causing the blood to rush to the back of my brain. My sons said the G-forces they felt were stronger than on any roller coaster they’d been on. I can’t think of a faster car on the road today. By the way, the top-end speed is 155 mph, limited by the computer.
The Model S starts at $70,000 and can cost as much as $125,000, depending on battery range, acceleration, and other options. The new Model 3 is considerably more affordable, starting at $35,000. As a result, I fully expect to see many more Teslas on the road in the days ahead.
The Only Letdown
The only disappointment I felt was when we left the showroom and walked back to my well-loved, eight-cylinder, gas-guzzling, eighteen-year-old BMW. Even though I’ve taken good care of Zidgle (as I affectionately refer to him), he has multiple maintenance and repair issues that pull at my time, attention, and money. I stepped hard on the gas pedal as we left the parking lot, hoping to feel some pride in its abilities, only to be sorely let down. It sounded tough, but the acceleration forces didn’t phase me a bit. I already miss that dizzy sensation that came with the immediate torque and blistering speed afforded by the Tesla’s electric motor.
Personally, I believe this new vehicle is going to totally disrupt the automotive industry. Battery life already puts vehicles well in the 200- to 300-mile range. This will only increase as Tesla continues to develop battery technology. These vehicles are going to usher in a new era in which electric cars are commonplace. As of this writing, Tesla has received deposits for more than 400,000 units. Currently, the best-selling vehicles in the United States—the Ford F-150, Toyota Camry, and Honda Accord—each sells roughly 500,000 units per year. I fully expect the Tesla Model 3 to be the number-one-selling car in America by 2018.
Being a mechanical engineer and homeschooling advocate, I want to make two analogies that I think are appropriate. On the engineering front, comparing a Tesla to a conventional gasoline-powered car is like comparing a sixty-inch, flat-screen, Internet-enabled, high-definition television to a heavy 13-inch box with a fuzzy black-and-white picture and vacuum tubes.
Similarly, I would say that comparing home education to public schools is like comparing a Tesla to a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. One of them employs archaic methods, is highly inefficient, and isn’t very exciting—but it’s what “everyone” drives. The other is simple, beautiful, high tech, and produces great results. Which one would you rather drive?
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
© 2016 Davis Carman
Davis Carman is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to instill a biblical worldview. Good Morning, God is based on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Path is an ABC book based on Psalm 119, and In the Beginning, is based on the Creation account in Genesis. His latest, Psalms to Know Early will be available the summer of 2016. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now!
You can find Davis’s blog here: www.homeschoolcastles.com
You can find Apologia here: www.apologia.com
It is really hard to face major life changes at that age. The emotional rollercoaster that comes with the hormonal changes of early puberty makes nearly all kids feel self-conscious and awkward. Most of them believe (at least now and then) that nobody likes them and nobody cares about them. (For help with this, click here.) The idea of having to find their way in a whole new social situation is terrifying to them. There are a few things you can do to help, though.
“You never would have let me do that,” he said, watching a younger sibling.
We had to admit, he had a point. When he was that age, we were new parents, full of theories but short on experience. He was Offspring 1.0, and parenting was still something of a beta-test experience.
Looking back now on more than 25 years (and eight kids) of being Mom and Dad, we realize there were several points where our parenting philosophy changed – and needed to!
We changed when we realized we weren’t doing it right. Eldest son wasn’t old enough to remember what he did get away with, as a toddler. We were Christians from the start but we wanted to explain everything to our little guy, as if he’d say, “Oh! I get it! Of course that’s what I should do!” And at a critical time, we moved to a community which took a very critical view of any kind of correction of a child. By the time he was three, he was so undisciplined he was nearly unmanageable. Our pastor very politely shared some Biblical advice about balanced, loving, but purposeful direction—and we found life was much smoother with our younger kids!
This can go either way. Sometimes you start off so permissive your children aren’t being trained at all; other times, you may be so rigidly disciplinarian that children feel little love and much repression at home. The Gen2 Study last year found that young adults who experienced consistent, loving discipline as children were more likely to have a strong relationship with their parents and continue in the faith as grownups than children of parents at either extreme.
We changed when our family changed. We were blessed with six boys, one after another, and our parenting style was very boy-directed – firm, direct, challenging as much as affirming. Then God sent us girls, and we found the emphatic directions we gave the boys (“Hey! Don’t touch that stove!”) often startled or frightened the sisters. We had to learn a more gentle approach to guide our more-compliant children (i.e. the girls).
We also realized as the family grew, we didn’t have the luxury of spending every minute focused on one or two very little children. To keep the house and family on track, we had to learn how to give the older kids an appropriate level of self-direction and responsibility; Mama can’t always jump up to respond to other children when she’s nursing a baby!
We changed as we grew in experience and maturity ourselves. People laugh about how uptight they were handling their first baby, and how relaxed they were with the third or fourth one. Is it because experienced parents don’t care any more? Or babies born later are less demanding? Are we like Jacob who showed ungodly favoritism toward his youngest sons Joseph and Benjamin – with sad results?
Or is it because being a parent becomes easier as you gain wisdom and perspective? Of course you parent your youngest child differently than you did the first one – that means you learned something along the way!
And very importantly, we changed when our children changed. A pre-schooler needs very clear direction and consistent consequences for disobedience. A 9- or 10-year-old needs a lot of guidance, and not much independence. But a teenager is in the transition from childhood to independent adulthood – as we’ve said, we consider our young teens as “adults, in training” – and we the parents need to change from control to advice. You don’t expect to boss your 25-year-old the same as your 5-year-old, do you? The change in relationship needs to happen over the teen years, not as a thunderclap on their eighteenth birthday.
Most parents with more than one child have probably heard that complaint – that younger siblings get away with things. Did we change our parenting style? Should we? You bet – with good reason!
Now, how do you carry out that change without causing anger and resentment in your kids? Listen to our podcast on this subject!
Hal & Melanie]]>
One of the great doctrines of the New Testament is the grace of God and our freedom from bondage to the Law. From the very beginning, it seems, God’s people feel a pull to go back to Egypt – the slavery they knew that doesn’t require maturity, thought, discernment, or courage. God doesn’t want us to walk that way.
But God recognizes that there can be different convictions between sincere believers. Romans 14 (RTWT) talks about disputes between believers over issues like food and holiday observances – and rather than taking sides, Paul warns us against it –
Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. … But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. … [Each] of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another any more, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
(Romans 14:4, 10, 12-13 – NKJV)
So if God warns us not to get judgmental over things which are directly mentioned in Scripture, why get that way over things which aren’t?
Our homeschool program is a case in point. It’s good to share experiences with different books and resources, but we always need to remember that our kids are not your kids, and our kids’ teacher is not your kids’ either. Our boys, for example, have always been active, outgoing, and noisy; we used a grammar program with lots of chanting, singing, and hand-waving, and got good results. We have friends whose children are entirely opposite – quiet, introverted, even shy. A program that gave great results with our boisterous crowd would be like punishment for those kids. The “best” curriculum for the quiet family will likely be different than the best one for ours – and that’s okay.
And that’s doubly true for bigger programs, like co-ops and organized classes, or an overall philosophy for teaching and learning. We’ve seen families so intimidated by a glossy program or a detailed scope and sequence, they will go into financial bondage rather than miss out on supposed benefits. It may be unschooling, it may be tightly structured classical education classes, it may be anything in between – either is permissible, neither is commanded – so don’t let someone else’s experience and agenda tie you into a situation which might not be best for your family.
The church in the 1st century had controversies and arguments over dietary choices, modesty in dress, the role of women, observance of holidays, and circumcision.
But after two thousand years “not under law, but under grace,” the homeschooling movement in the 21st century has controversies over … umm … dietary choices, modesty in dress, the role of women, observance of holidays, and circumcision.
Those are worthwhile things to discuss, and it’s good to have convictions about them. But we need to remember that convictions for me are not commandments for you. What’s more, matters which wise and Godly people have debated for literal millennia are probably not going to be “proved” one way or another in our local church or support group. Let’s stop pretending that they are, and where Scripture is silent or unclear, give each other grace to hold our own beliefs in peace.
We used to be in a support group, years ago, that held to some pretty strict views about some of these things. We had friends whose kids went down waterslides in blue jeans, and daughters went swimming in long denim skirts. Maybe they didn’t care for that style, and maybe they realized that it was interfering with good things they wanted to do … but maybe they were afraid people would talk if they broke the custom.
And the list can go on … anyone have an opinion about vaccination? Or breastfeeding? Or non-GMO food? Or essential oils?
Don’t be bullied one way or another – look at Scripture, consult wise counsel, pray over it, and decide what God would direct – or at least, permit – for your particular family!
…for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit … Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
(Romans 14:17, 19 – NKJV)
CLICK HERE to listen to the Making Biblical Family Life Practical podcast!
|Yours in Christ,Hal and Melanie|
Are you looking for advice on curriculum? No pressure here! Melanie’s introductory Field Guide to Curriculum: Approaches and Choices is a one-hour workshop walking you through the different popular teaching and learning styles, with an eye toward finding materials that work for your family — not somebody else’s! Newly recorded at the 2016 Homeschoolers of Maine convention, this will encourage and enlighten anyone considering a new direction for their kid’s education!
CLICK HERE to order yours – Download today!]]>
The negative answer is obvious, and most of us have probably said something like this, one time or another:
“You can’t get on the computer until you finish your math.”
“No, you’re not going to the movie with your friends – not until you’ve done your chores!”
“I’m fixing ham and eggs for breakfast, but if you don’t get out of bed and downstairs right now, it’s toast for you!”
That’s the hard reality of life – when you have a responsibility or assignment, your duty needs to come before your pleasure or your comfort. And we all have a tendency to shirk when we can; consider that part of the judgment for Adam’s sin was increasing the difficulty, discomfort, and general drudgery of our daily work (Genesis 3:17-19). Our children need to learn to embrace their work even when they don’t feel like it – just like we should!
But “motivation” isn’t just about warnings and punishment. There are some other things which you might consider, to make a more positive approach to encouraging your kids’ work habits.
Are they disorganized? Face it, when you tell your 8-year-old “Go clean your room,” often it’s a daunting task. When your stuff looks like a tornado hit a thrift store, where do you even start? Suggest a way to make the task simpler. “Why don’t you get all the books up on the shelves first, then get the dirty clothes in the hamper? That will go quickly, and after that, you can sort the toys back into their sets and boxes.”
Even better, pitch in and work alongside them, at least to get them started. It’s a great time to talk, too.
Are they disheartened? Sometimes you have a task that seems so awkward and unpleasant, you procrastinate. After a couple of delays, it becomes a big, ugly monster – and even harder to get started.
We read a motto somewhere that said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and the rest of the day will be an improvement.” Is there something on your list that you really, really wish would go away? Then consider doing that thing first, absolutely first – and then it will be done and things really will seem brighter.
Are they distracted? Productivity expert David Allen recommends that whenever you look at your to-do list, ask yourself, “Can I finish this item in two minutes?” If so, then go ahead! And if not, don’t just put it back on the list – decide when to do it, and put it on your schedule. In fact, sometimes our desire to dodge the job takes longer than just doing it. “Son, you just spent longer arguing with me than it would take to actually carry out the trash like I asked. That’s not efficient, you know!”
There are lots of reasons your son or daughter may seem unmotivated. Sometimes, if it’s truly disobedience or defiance, you may need to give some negative consequences. But there are a lot of reasons your child may have trouble getting started, and honestly, some of them are the same reasons we struggle with! We talk about these things and how you can press through them to help your guy “get off your seat and on your feet!” on this week’s podcast. Listen here.
Hal & Melanie
For more on getting your guys to be diligent, read our award-winning book, Raising Real Men!]]>
We’re not Catholic or Irish, but we love to have fun and we find that celebrating holidays with a little fun is a great way to drive home character lessons to our children and to teach them history, too. If you want to have some fun today learning about St. Patrick and the Irish, here’s a little help…
Patrick was a Britain-born teen when he was captured and enslaved by Irish traders. Made to work long hours out in the fields by himself, he turned to the Lord for comfort and became a Christian. He had learned the gospel as a young man raised in the faith. After six years in captivity, he managed to escape and return to Britain. About a year later, he had a dream that he was being called back to Ireland – this time as a missionary. He set out to study to become a priest and eventually made it back to Ireland. He was not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, though there is no doubt the Lord used him to convert thousands of Irish from pagan druidism to Christianity.
Here are some great topics to research that are connected to St. Patrick and Ireland:
What was Patrick’s real name? Who gave him the name Patrick and why?
What’s a Celtic cross?
Learn at least part of Patrick’s poem, St. Patrick’s Breastplate. It starts “Christ before me…”
What is the Irish Potato Famine? How did it affect American history?
Why are so many people of Irish heritage, policemen and firemen in the Northeast?
Who was St. Columba?
Why is green associated with St. Patrick? Why is green associated with Catholics and orange with Protestants?
Read G.A. Henty’s book, Friends Though Divided or Orange and Green for historical fiction set in Ireland.
We skip the beer so many have on St. Patrick’s Day. Parties with beer are a very recent tradition. In fact, until the late 20th century, pubs were closed by law on St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland! Besides, drunken revelry doesn’t seem a very good way to celebrate a Christian missionary’s life, does it?
Instead, let’s have some traditional Irish food! We love Irish food around here. It’s hearty and meaty, two of our boys’ top criteria for good food. We usually have Corned Beef and Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread. Here are links to 23 different Irish dinners so you can pick your favorites!
I want to try them all!
Draw Celtic crosses.
Listen to Star of the County Down.
Sing Marie’s Wedding Song.
Make these super-cute exclusive St. Patrick’s Day gift boxes and tuck some treats in them! Sign up for our encouraging newsletter and you can download the pattern right away!
Young Messiah’s theme centers around the struggles of Mary and Joseph in knowing how to explain to Jesus that he was God. That’s the story in a nutshell and it DOES present some interesting opportunities for imaginative supposition: Sort of mental chewing gum. The acting, costumes and cinematography are in a vastly different class from most contemporary “Christian movies” if I may use that term. But the wild conjectures about Jesus raising the dead and performing many other miracles as a child along with the graphic attempts to show the violence of Roman occupation via dozens of crucifixions begins to wear thin rather quickly.
Where the movie takes a decidedly darker, non-family-friendly turn is with the depictions of King Herod Antipas and his court, along with the creepy/disturbing interactions with Lucifer. While it’s probably impossible to overstate either of those themes (Lucifer IS creepy/disturbing and Antipas was a perverted maniac) the depictions will cause most children and many adults nightmares. The court of Herod Antipas is repeatedly and graphically portrayed as a perverted, satanic, insane asylum with grotesque creatures surrounding a sadistic, sexually-obsessed emperor. Meanwhile, Lucifer repeatedly interacts with the movie’s characters in a way that may well haunt children’s dreams for years. Reminiscent of a Stanley Kubrick film at times, the attempts to depict depravity and evil move far beyond “family fare” and border on bizarro-porn.
As adults, some might be able to watch the film and while it will be disturbing, it may provide the basis for some interesting and thoughtful discussions about what could have happened during the 30 years of Jesus’ life that is largely undocumented. But my concern is that many will assume this would make a great “family” experience during the Easter season. NOTHING could be further from the truth.
Jane and I kept nudging one another throughout the movie as each disturbing scene unfolded and each grand-leap of Biblical truth was portrayed until the final credits rolled. When it was revealed that the screenplay was based on a novel by gothic/horror/erotica-porn author Anne Rice we gasped simultaneously! Suddenly it ALL made sense. What COULD HAVE BEEN a thought provoking film about Jesus’ childhood came off as a mash-up of “Jesus of Nazareth” with “Interview With a Vampire” and “Clockwork Orange”.
I was VERY excited to see it based on the previews, but came away concerned for any children that might be exposed to the movie by unsuspecting parents.
Not recommended for children and young teens.
Publisher, Five in a Row
Young Messiah photos courtesy of Focus Features.
Steve Lambert photo courtesy of Steve Lambert]]>
We have six boys (some of them grown now), and back when they were little, Melanie got a surprise.
When we lived in Louisiana, we had good family friends who moved from their home near Baton Rouge to Jackson, Mississippi, a good two hours away. Not long after, we were traveling back to visit our family in the Carolinas and made the slight detour to see them again. We pulled up in their driveway; the door of our station wagon opened and our eldest son, about five years old at the time, jumped out. His friend emerged from the house at about the same time. They met in the front yard and the conversation went something like this:
And they locked arms and rolled in the grass, trying to pin one another to the ground. Both mothers, stunned, circled around them saying, “Boys! Boys!” The fathers, on the other hand, ignored this behavior as perfectly normal. [ * ]
Is this normal? Yes it is! Boys are made to become men. Their roles as grown-ups include working to support themselves and serve others, and that may mean hard labor, dangerous jobs, military or police service, and other situations that require physical toughness. They feel a satisfaction in testing their growing strength even if they don’t win every time (consider Psalm 19:5, describing how a strong man rejoices to run his course). Some rough-and-tumble exercise is appropriate behavior for young boys, just as more physical sports like football and lacrosse encourage a more disciplined physicality.
Is it appropriate for Christians? Actually, we think it is—with certain reservations. The Puritan theologian William Perkins wrote a remarkable passage on a biblical view of sports and entertainment, and among the recreation he recommends are wrestling, fencing, and shooting sports. (We talk about this in more length in our book.)
Research suggests that moms have a hard time with this! Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore cites a study which showed subjects a series of videos of boys wrestling. Is it a fight, or are they just playing? Children ages eight and eleven got it right 85% of the time. Adult men, and adult women who had brothers growing up, could tell the difference 70% of the time. Adult women who didn’t have brothers, identified nearly every scene as a real fight. (RTWT)
We don’t allow bullying – you know it when you see it. Big boys and small boys can wrestle and play physically without it becoming a demeaning thing – otherwise, how can fathers play with their toddlers? Learning to be physical without being overwhelming or brutal is an important life skill for a young man.
We have a “knock it off” rule – if they’re wrestling and someone calls “Knock it off,” they stop whatever they’re doing and check for problems. If they don’t, then it’s bullying.
We don’t play at sin. That’s foolish (Proverbs 14:9). Wrestling and physical competition are okay, but don’t pretend to be doing evil – we all have enough practice of sin without inventing games to rehearse it.
We also don’t allow boys and girls to mix it up. Even when they’re of similar size and strength, it’s not a good thing for either one. We know that high school wrestling is often co-ed in certain weight classes, but consider this angle – is it good to train our boys to overpower girls against their resistance? Really? Instead, it’s a cardinal rule for guys in our family, “You don’t fight girls, you protect them. Always treat them with gentleness.” We don’t want our girls to learn to expect the other treatment, either. (Read more here)
It’s appropriate to take it outside—especially as they get bigger. We’ve actually had to replace a couple of pieces of furniture.
If you don’t know, really know, then ask—”Is everybody having fun?” Are they smiling? Are they taking turns or repeating the contest? There are clues if you know where to look—and then, ask if you’re still not sure.
Sometimes it’s alarming, sometimes it’s hard on the clothing or the furniture, but it’s normal – maybe it’s time to clear some space and cheer it on!
Hal and Melanie
We talk about this and a lot more in our book (chapter 4 on rough play and chapter 6 on competition!) If you’d like your own copy today, why not order the downloadable version and start reading in minutes?
That boy. The one I wondered if I’d ever be able to teach him enough to fill out an application to work in fast food.
It all started when he was small. I was pretty confident when we started teaching him. His older brothers all learned to read early and well. I knew he was just as smart as they were. He seemed to be brilliant, even.
Somehow, though, he couldn’t seem to get it. He struggled to learn the alphabet at all. Some days he would sound a word out easily and I’d think, “Yes! We’re making progress.” The next day, looking at the same word, it was like he’d never seen the letters before.
I thought it must be the curriculum, so we tried another. And another. And another. He complained his head hurt or his stomach hurt when we did school. I thought he was just old-soldiering. I didn’t know that was common in dyslexia.
When he was finally diagnosed, we actually both felt a lot better. He was smart, he just had a learning glitch to overcome. We started using Dianne Craft’s materials to address those glitches and though there wasn’t any immediate change, we persisted — and that’s the year he learned to read! He was eleven.
It was exciting, but there seemed to be such a long road ahead. We’d worked hard to keep him up to speed with audiobooks and reading aloud, but to be just learning to read in middle school, and not being able to write at all at that point, was downright frightening. How could we prepare him for life??
I didn’t take into account the pure grit in our son and the pure grace of God. By the time he was 13 he was reading on a college level and beginning to write. His curiosity and drive took over from there. He just took off in learning.
And the other day, a college president called our son.
“The professors who met with you last week at Scholarship Day came to see me. They told me they were blown away by your interview, that you were the kind of man we wanted at our college, that I needed to make it happen. I would like to offer you our most prestigious academic scholarship.”
Tears. Oh, God, you are so good. I knew he was smart. I knew he could do well. I just didn’t know we would ever see this day.
To the mama who is struggling right along with her struggling reader: Don’t lose hope. Keep going. Get help. Keep up his spirits — and yours. One day there will be sweet rewards.
If you need some encouragement, my son and I did a workshop you can listen to with your struggling reader. If you need practical help, you can check out the materials we used to help him with his learning glitches. Be sure to read Special Needs Homeschooling for encouragement, too.