How to Actually Enjoy Dining Out With Little Kids

How to Actually Enjoy Dining Out With Little Kids

My husband and I took our two youngest (ages 18 months and two years) out to dinner with us on my birthday. Not only did we survive, we enjoyed ourselves, and would do it again. To top it off, we were complimented by a woman who was seated near us. I felt like Mom of the Year!

We have five children, but we sure don’t have this parenting thing all figured out. We’ve had our share of glorious public meltdowns and times we didn’t want to claim the screaming child as one of our own. Still, over the years, we’ve learned a few tricks to help little ones through a restaurant meal without disturbing the peace… read more.

This article was published by parent.co.

Advertisements

Review of ‘The Merchant’s Pearl’ by Amie O’Brien

Review of ‘The Merchant’s Pearl’ by Amie O’Brien

The Merchant’s Pearl, a historical novel, is a fascinating look into a world few know existed, with fictional characters that bring the real history to life.

The Merchant's Pearl CoverLeila is a slave in the Sultan’s palace during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. Now 18, she has spent the past several years of her life in training for the honorable role of concubine. Other girls would kill for the chance to serve in the Sultan’s harem—for the opportunity to be called wife and raise an heir to the throne—but Leila wishes for nothing more than to go unnoticed by the indulgent ruler and his sons.

Living in opulence and serving royalty is regarded as noble for most of the servants, who would be starving or dead had they not been taken in. But Leila’s despair in her captivity is derived from her past. What her slave masters don’t know is that Leila is not who they think she is. She is the adopted daughter of missionaries. She is Sarai… read more.

This article was published by adoption.com.

4 Ways to Arm Your Children Against Addiction

4 Ways to Arm Your Children Against Addiction

I’m not qualified to write this article. I’m not a recovering addict or an addiction specialist. I’ve witnessed the demons of addiction but I’ve never experienced them myself. I’ve never smoked a single cigarette or felt the high of an illegal drug in my body.

Success Story

What I am is an anti-addiction success story. Not because I am a good suburban white girl who “just said no,” but because drugs and alcohol were the catalysts that led to my most painful childhood and adult memories. The single greatest deterrent to the road to addiction is hearing, seeing, or experiencing the negative effects of drugs and alcohol.

I was a zealous little crusader in elementary school. I grew up during the war on drugs and had a “just say no” pin on my jean jacket. My teachers likely thought my intensity was fueled by my perfectionism and desire for praise. They didn’t know that by fifth grade I already had flashbacks and mental battle wounds. I only needed to recall the time I thought my dad was going to kill my mom to be disgusted by the way people smell, talk, and act when they are intoxicated.

I found out later, during my dad’s testimony at church, that when I was young he sold cocaine, among other drugs, out of our tiny house. As early as four years old, I remember not wanting my dad’s friends to come over and fill our house with smoke. To me, they were yucky. I didn’t like it when they talked to me or tried to play with me. Even then, I knew something about them was not right… read more.

This article was published by adoption.com.

10 Reasons You Could Be a Foster Parent

10 Reasons You Could Be a Foster Parent
It’s easy to come up with reasons you COULDN’T be a foster parent . . . but what about reasons you COULD?

You Are Needed

There are approximately 415,000 children in foster care in the United States at any given time, and nearly 100,000 of them are available for adoption. Individuals and families are always needed to provide the love, stability, and support children in crisis desperately need.

You Love Children

Love can’t take away or fix the hurt kids in foster care have experienced but it sure does help. All children need and deserve unconditional love. Loving children and wanting to see them flourish is the first prerequisite for anyone considering becoming a foster parent.

You Are Stable

Children in foster care have been uprooted from their homes and families. A foster parent should be financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally stable before taking on the needs of a child who has experienced trauma… read more.

This article was published by adoption.com.

Caring for Your Marriage While Parenting Challenging Children

Caring for Your Marriage While Parenting Challenging Children
Through the ups and downs of parenting challenging children, your marriage can be a source of strength and joy.

Before my husband and I became foster parents our marriage was solid. Our relationship was thriving and we wanted to protect our marriage throughout whatever challenges might lie ahead. Fortunately, we knew several families who had been foster parents for years. Conversations with couples who’d parented traumatized children and our own research helped us enter the foster care system with a plan for keeping our marriage a top priority.

The past year has been the most difficult year of our lives together. We’ve doubted ourselves, we’ve felt like failures, we’ve questioned God, and we’ve grieved for children that have left our home. But through it all, we have remained united. Rather than growing apart through the turmoil, our connection deepened because we prepared for a difficult journey and did the work along the way.

I’m not a marriage expert and I’m aware that there are millions of articles and books written on marriage, but when I’m working through hard things, I find that connecting with someone who has been through what I am experiencing can be comforting and helpful. These guidelines helped us when we felt like we were being pummeled by the world and even our home didn’t feel like a safe space… read more.

This article was published by adoption.com.

7 Ways to Help Kids in Foster Care Without Becoming a Foster Parent

7 Ways to Help Kids in Foster Care Without Becoming a Foster Parent
Foster parenting isn’t for everyone, but everyone can do something to help children in need.

Pray. 

Pray for the children who will lie down in an unfamiliar bed in a stranger’s home tonight. Pray for the the parents who had their kids removed today. Pray for the reunification and restoration of families. Pray for healing for the kids who have lost faith in everyone and everything that was supposed to keep them safe.

Pray for the judges, attorneys, social workers, advocates, and counselors who are tasked with making potentially life-altering decisions and recommendations for children in care. Pray for the foster families who have voluntarily opened their homes to brokenness and heartache. Pray for the hearts of Americans to be broken and enflamed by the children in crisis in our country.

Provide Respite Care.

Respite care is basically any time a ward of the state is with someone other than the foster parent, birth parent, or caseworker. Because all children in care must be under the supervision of an adult who has been cleared by the state, foster parents can’t call a neighbor or their 17-year-old niece to watch the kids, even in an emergency.

Providing respite care can be as simple filling out a form and submitting a copy of your driver’s license so you can babysit or serve as an emergency contact for a foster family. Or, respite care can be a commitment to short-term care, in which you become licensed by the state for the occasions when foster parents need a break or a child needs a safe place to stay during a transition.

Respite care can be planned in advance or urgent and can last from a few minutes to a few weeks. Requirements vary by state and agency… read more.

This article was published by adoption.com.

5 Important Things I Learned in my First Year as a Foster Parent

5 Important Things I Learned in my First Year as a Foster Parent

It is worth it. 

“There is no such thing as other people’s children” –Glennon Doyle Melton

I’d typically place this point at the bottom of the article, as the wrap up, but I thought it important to begin by confirming: Yes, it is worth it.

The two overwhelming responses to foster care from outsiders are 1) I could never do it. I would become too attached. 2) Foster kids are “bad kids” who steal, lie, and ruin the lives of people who are just trying to help them. Be careful!

The truth about foster care and the children in the system cannot be conveyed through generalities or clichés. Every case, every child, and every family is unique; therefore, every experience and outcome is unique. The only certainty is this: There will be scars.

Some foster care advocates tout that the rewards of caring for hurting children outweigh the challenges. The propaganda also implies that there will be redemption and solace at the end of the dark periods, but in foster care there are no guarantees. Being a foster parent is, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever done. But it’s worth it for the same reasons men and women, in public service or the armed forces, put themselves in harm’s way everyday.

Foster care is worth it is because the kids—our children—are worth it. They have experienced the worst of humanity and their parents have failed them. More than anyone, they deserve grace, and those basic  human rights: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” For me, a Christ follower, living out grace and love is a calling on my life that I cannot ignore.

The system &?%*@!# sucks.

As a rule, I do not curse but I find the f-bomb necessary when describing the state of the foster care system in the United States. I have experienced the brokenness of the system within the walls of my home and I believe there is an argument that the institution that is meant to protect broken and displaced children is intrinsically abusive… read more.

This article was published by adoption.com.