Child Rearing Resources
Lately, I’ve had a few conversations and inquiries about the joy-filled challenge (and I’m not being facetious) of raising children. In this post-modern parenting world, the influx of input from various sources is overwhelming… and, from my limited experience, mostly unnecessary. Admittedly, I am still a young parent (my oldest is almost 8), but the early years, from infancy through toddlerhood to early childhood, provide a steep learning curve of educational experiences. That being said, one of my most reliable and consistent resources is my own mother (and her mother), and their wealth of wisdom is still completely relevant and effective, regardless of generational differences. As Scripture confirms, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9), not even children (especially children).
So, the world around us may change–technologies growing, shifting and claiming more of our own internalized knowledge–but humans stay the same and God’s prescription for families (husbands, wives, and children) has never changed. Which is to say, the absolute best resource for child-rearing is God’s Word.
The Bible is a manual for life in Christ and that includes “training children in the way they should go” (Prov. 22:6).
But technology is not without its benefits, and can be a very helpful tool. Thus I’ve discovered, in the course of a mere eight years, a few useful resources to help keep us on the narrow path along the Way. And my hope is that, in sharing them here, they may be helpful to others. This is not an exhaustive list, but just a few of the resources I find myself returning to frequently for help and encouragement in child-rearing.
Ginger also has a fantastic resource called Wise Words for Moms — a handy chart for responding to children’s behavior and enacting Biblical reproof and encouragement. I have found this so helpful lately! Ginger also has a podcast in which she shares helpful tips and stories: https://www.gingerhubbard.com/blogs/podcast
I love Rosemond’s approach to child-rearing. He is pragmatic, biblical and humourous. I haven’t read all of his books (yet), but would heartily recommend anything by him! I’m looking forward to reading The Bible Parenting Code: Revealing God’s Perfect Parenting Plan. Although no longer actively publishing, Rosemond’s archived podcast ‘Because I Said So’ puts a lot of his child-rearing wisdoms and witticisms into short easy-to-retain snippets: https://podcast.rosemond.com/?p=archive&cat=all
And his website offers tons of online resources: https://www.parentguru.com/
Children love stories. And stories are a great way to impart life lessons. This collection of fables, parables and fairy tales is a fantastic read-aloud for the whole family.
I love how these books succinctly and sweetly give children character-building goals in a way that appeals to their imagination. My oldest daughter (5 years old) has especially grasped these concepts through the beautiful illustrations of this book, and I frequently find her seeking to imitate the activities and traits pictured in the book. These are good read-alouds for storytime and also helpful in those teachable moments when we can point to a biblical example of decisions and behavior that honor God (see above, Wise Words for Moms).
Proverbs for Parenting: A Topical Guide for Child Raising from the Book of Proverbs by Barbara Decker
This book is extremely helpful when seeking biblical support for the various behaviors and responses that confront us as parents and as children! I use this most often for personal reflection and self-correction, but it reaps rewards in interactions with my children as well.
I love books and reading, and desire to pass this love along to my children. There are tons and TONS (and tons) of books out there these days, but not all of them are the kind that inspire wisdom and spiritual growth. This book by Ms. McCallum is a wonderful reference for identifying fiction and nonfiction writings that are edifying and entertaining for a variety of ages.
I’ve been listening to Judy Rogers since I was a child, and I still find her music so encouraging and helpful! Her songs put to music Scripture, catechism and biblical wisdom in a way that everyone can enjoy and easily memorize. My personal favorite is her album Never Be Shaken, featuring Celtic-inspired melodies and instruments that sing through several Psalms.
These stories incorporate the music of a famous composer with an engaging and personalized story told from the perspective of a child who meets the composer or has an adventure with them. Wonderful and educational repeat listening!
We have really enjoyed listening to (and reading and watching) this version of Pilgrim’s Progress. The dramatized audio version is very entertaining and accessible, even for young ones. We have had some good conversations sparked from listening to the 2-disc set multiple times over several months. It is great for covering a lot of vocabulary and theology, framed within an imagination-stirring adventure!
When I was growing up, we listened to these recordings of the vintage Let’s Pretend radio show on cassette tapes during our drive to and from school. They are now available digitally on a variety of platforms (we use Amazon Music Unlimited), and these dramatic presentations of classic fairytales are engaging for everyone. It’s especially important that what we’re listening to is interesting to me as well (skip the Baby Shark renditions!). My children love these stories and request them often, especially the more unusual ones like Bluebeard and The Magic Cuckoo!
**Added October 2021**
Additional storytime & listening resources:
For Children 7+ (Cormac is enjoying these right now)
We have had this discipline chart up on our fridge since my oldest was almost 4 years old, and it really hasn’t changed since then. It has been a fantastic tool to help keep me consistent in disciplinary responses, and especially in relation to biblical principles for how God expects us to behave and treat each other.
We are in the midst of training all four children to sit still and listen during our weekly Sunday worship service. We believe it is so important for children to participate and sit with their families during the full church service, even from a young age, so that they can learn by example and absorb the full content of worship, even if they don’t fully comprehend it all. Children learn in stages, and often repetition and habit-building are the most important foundation for concepts that they will come to understand more fully as they grow older. This printable sermon notes sheet is a helpful tool for encouraging them to listen with intent during the sermon.
We actually use a dry-erase magnet board on our refrigerator for tracking chores weekly, but this printable chart is an example of how useful this tool is. Writing things down in a visible location is an important method to keeping us on track throughout the week. Right now, it’s more for me than the children; but, at some point, I plan for them to take on more responsibility in tracking their own tasks and keeping up with responsibilities around the house. Right now, our daily “chores” include:
- Brush Teeth
- Make Bed
- Clean Room
- Pick Up Playroom
- Put Away Laundry
- Practice Piano
- Set the Table
- Feed the Dog
- Clean Out Dishwasher / Put Away Silverware
Not all of my children (current ages 7, 5, 3, 1) can accomplish these tasks at the same level, and some are assigned more or less. The older three currently trade off weekly with setting the table, cleaning out the dishwasher, and feeding the dog weekly. I think it’s helpful for the younger two to be assigned chores as well, even simple ones (pick up/put away toys, “tidy” bed), so they get in the habit of helping care for our home and belongings, training them to take on personal responsibility on a daily basis. This chart will shift as they all get older, but I want to establish the idea that it takes everyone’s participation to keep the household running smoothly, especially when it comes to being responsible for our own bodies and belongings!
One of the joys of being a parent (and of life in general), is the constant discovery that is happening. We are always learning new things, no matter what age! I look forward to continued learning in years to come. Here are a few more random things that I’ve found helpful on the journey:
It’s no secret that children grow quickly and go through clothing and shoes every few months (sometimes it feels like every few weeks!) I have no qualms about decking them out completely in used clothing. It is budget-friendly and eco-friendly and kid-friendly because they put their clothes through such wear and tear! Our favorite local store is Once Upon a Child (they have franchises all over the country). We bring in a laundry basket or used, too-small clothing about once a quarter. They pay cash for used clothes (as well as toys and gear) on the spot, and we almost always use that money in store for our next round of apparel. It’s a win-win!
This is a method we’ve picked up from Montessori preschool. Not all toys have to be accessible at once! It helps keep down the mess and boost the interest if toys are cycled in and out of play every few months. They get more enjoyment and less clutter. This works especially well after Christmas or Birthdays when there is an abundance of new items. Store them away for a few months, then bring them out with the doldrums strike for a fresh round of fun! We also clean out our closets and cupboards every few months and any toys that are no longer used go to Goodwill or Once Upon a Child (see above) for someone else to enjoy.
I’ll add to this list if I think of anything else, but I think that’s it for now!