Monday, July 23, 2007

Suffering for the Elect

When you adopt a child at an older age, you may be the first person to ever bring discipline and authority into their lives in any meaningful way. You become to them the embodiment of the Law. It is not surprising then when they act according to their nature. They may be rude, rebellious or even call down curses upon you as one of my daughters did. Over time they can bring a great deal of suffering into your family. However, this is not surprising as Paul tells us in
2Ti 3:12-13 'Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."

The shock comes to us as adoptive parents when we realize the source of this persecution comes from our own child. But before we run away, or try to rid ourselves of this difficult child we need to understand the roll of suffering in the life of the Christian. One reason that Christians suffer is for the sake of the gospel and those that will be saved. Again the apostle Paul says:

2Ti 2:8-10 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (ESV)

Here the Apostle Paul gives us a reason for his suffering, that the elect may obtain the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. We as parents should likewise be willing to suffer in order that our children might come to salvation.

In my own life, I have seen this worked out. One of my daughters came to us from a disruption. When she came into our house, she was bitter and angry. In addition, she had very little experience with authority or discipline. On more than one occasion, she litterally called on God to curse me. To this day, I still have scars on my arm from one episode with her.

However, today she is not only my daughter, but my sister in Christ. In the day I saw he heart turn to Christ, I truly understood:

Act 5:40-41 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

Oh, that God, who is rich in mercies, might grant us the will to suffer for the sake of the gospel, whether in the world or in our own homes.

I hope to give some practical help for dealing with suffering in future posts.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Theology Matters - The Doctrine of Suffering

Getting back to the theology matters subject, I have been pondering how to say something that I have seen be a constant problem with families we have counseled. The problem is that they lack any doctrine of suffering. When life becomes difficult their first response is to run away giving up on the child that they have so recently adopted. Having found that, instead of a grateful child willing to obey because of the great sacrifice these parents have made, they have been given a sinful, angry child, they respond with something similar to “God surely wouldn’t want us to be this unhappy, would he?”

As I considered this I ran across the following quote from John Piper’s The Hidden Smile of God. He says well much of what I have want to say.
The Christian Life is Hill Difficulty

Bunyan’s life and labor call us to live like Pilgrim on the way to the Celestial City. His suffering and his story summon us, in the prosperous and pleasure-addicted West, to see Christian life in a radically different way than we ordinarily do. There is a great gulf between the Christianity that wrestles with whether to worship at the cost of imprisonment and death, and the Christianity that wrestles with whether the kids should play soccer on Sunday morning. The full title of The Pilgrim’s Progress shows the essence of the pilgrim path: “The Pilgrim’s Progress from this World, to that Which is to Come: Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream wherein Is Discovered, the Manner of His Setting out, his Dangerous Journey, and Safe Arrival at the Desired Country.” For Bunyan in fact and fiction, the Christian life is a “Dangerous Journey.”

The narrow way leads from the Wicket Gate to the Hill Difficulty.

The narrow way lay right up the hill, and the name of the going up the side of the hill is called Difficulty. Christian now went to the Spring, and drank thereof, to refresh himself (Isaiah 49:10), and then began to go up the Hill, saying,

The Hill, though high, I covet to ascend,
The Difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the Way to life lies here.
Come, pluck the Heart, let’s neither faint nor fear;
Better, though difficult, the Right Way go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the End is Woe

This is the Christian life for Bunyan – experienced in prison and explained in parables. But we modern, western Christians have some to see safety and ease as a right. We move away from bad neighborhood. We leave hard relationships. We don’t go to dangerous unreached people groups.

Bunyan beckons us to listen to Jesus and his apostles again. Jesus never called us to a life of safety, nor even to a fair fight. “Lambs in the midst of wolves” is the way he describes or sending (Luke 10:3). “If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!” (Matthew10:25). “He who loves his lifes loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal” (John 12:25). “Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33, RSV).

The apostle Paul continues the same call: “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). We are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him” (Romans 8:17). We should not be “moved by … afflictions ... [since] this it to be our lot” (1 Thessalonians 3:3 RSV). Faith and suffering are two great gifts of God: “To you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29). The apostle Peter confirms the theme: “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for the testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). It isn’t strange. It’s normal. That is the message of The Pilgrim’s Progress. The Hill Difficulty is the only path to heaven. There is no other. Suffering is as normal as a father disciplining a son. That is how the writer to the Hebrews describes the suffering of the saints: “God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Hebrews 12:7-8). The pattern is rooted in the Old Testament itself. So the psalmist says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19; see Galatians 4:29).

Oh, how we need Bunyan! We are soft and thin-skinned. We are worldly; we fit far too well into our God-ignoring culture. We are fearful and anxious and easily discouraged. We have taken our eyes off the Celestial City and the deep pleasures of knowing God and denying ourselves the lesser things that titillate for a moment but then shrink our capacities for great joy. Bunyan’s Seasonable Counsel for us is: Take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

In light of the sufferings of those Christians who have gone before, and in the light of the sufferings of Our Savior on our behalf, O that God would grant us mercy because we do not want to suffer on the behalf of a child.

Addenda: Also check out this post on Pyromaniacs

The Heart of Anger - book review

Probably the book we recommend most to parents of older adopted children is _The Heart of Anger_, by Lou Priolo. Although not written specifically for parents of internationally adopted children, it is an excellent resource for helping deal with what is often one of the biggest issues with these kids - anger - using biblical principles. Basic communications will need to exist between parent and child in order for the suggested methods to be used, but Mr. Priolo also includes a section in the appendix regarding how to apply these to non verbal children. In his example the child is a two year old, but older children who are learning the language could be reached with a similar approach.

_The Heart of Anger_ is guaranteed to step on your toes, but don't let that stop you from reading it! From the beginning, parents are instructed to examine their own lives (take the log out of their own eye) before tackling the problems their children are having (taking the speck out of their eye). There is a list of 25 ways that parents provoke their children to wrath and if anyone can read that and say honestly that they do not fall prey to some of those temptations, I will be very surprised! A number of them surely hit home with me...

Chapter 5 is a very excellently written description of "Practicing Biblical Communication". He addresses all kinds of situations parents might find themselves in with their kids (ungracious speech, disrespect, interruptions, not communicating, name calling, judging motives, raising the voice, rolling the eyes, manipulation, sulking/pouting, an angry countenance, and inattentiveness) and suggests biblical ways of responding. This entire book is filled with one practical application after another, all of them quite realistic and appropriate to the subject matter.

Journaling is a major way that the author suggests to help your child work through their anger issues, and the heart issues that prompt that anger. Sample journals are provided and copying privileges granted. We have used these journals with some of our own kids and they can be very helpful in difficult situations.

The chapters dealing with manipulation by children are particularly good, and appropriate for our subject of dealing with older adopted children. As most parents of these children soon come to realize, they are absolute masters of manipulation, having learned many of these techniques as a means of survival in their earlier environment. My favorite quote from this book is in Chapter 9, titled "Disrespect and Manipulation". Priolo states, "Again remember, that your child may have practiced his manipulative ways so long, that at any given moment he may not be aware of what his desires really are. Your job is to help him see what they are and that they are selfish and sinful." Ha! Is this not life with the older adopted child, in a nutshell?

In the end, this book offers more excellent suggestions of how to deal with these problems on a day to day basis (i.e., the Think Room) and outlines a process that your child can use for appealing decisions he/she feels may have been made without all of the necessary information. Again, Priolo provides much biblical basis for this appeal process. I was actually quite surprised at all of the appeals he pointed out that were made in the Bible!

This book is an absolute "must-have" for parents of older adopted children, and strongly suggested for all parents, regardless of the backgrounds of their children. Lou Priolo does an excellent job of using biblical principles to guide parents as they deal with this very difficult subject. He also does not shy away from pointing out the need for them to first examine their own lives, which I greatly appreciate.

This book can be purchased from Amazon or from Grace and Truth books (see link on sidebar). Buy an extra copy, because you will find yourself recommending it to others and most likely giving your own copy away, as we have done numerous times!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

"Undoing the Wrong"

This is a question that was asked on an email group we moderated a couple of years back, along with Bob's answers and Ramona's practical applications:

Would any of your like to put a little flesh to the quote I've read from Ramona in discussing sin, "We first have to untrain the wrong before we can train the right behavior." That makes sense to me, but I want to SEE it in action.

Bob's answer:

Let me say first that it is probably better to say "at the same time"rather than first. Let me give you a passage from God's Word.

Eph 4:20-32 But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor,working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

The Biblical principle expressed in this passage is one of putting off and putting on. We are to put off the old man and put on the new. This passage has several examples. We need to do more than just not sin, but we need to actively put on righteousness. The one above that is perhaps best for your question is the one of stealing. If you steal, you are to stop stealing. But more than that, you are to labor so that you will have something to give to others. We are to replace the sin of stealing, with hard work and giving to others. Put off stealing, put on hard work and giving.

The problem with older adopted children is that they have often been taught either actively or through neglect that it is OK to steal. So we must teach them to not steal and to replace that with hard work and giving to others.With a biological child you have a clean slate (as much as any sinful human being can be considered clean without Christ). However, from a habit standpoint they are a clean slate. They can be trained with good habits from the beginning. With older children they have already had training with wrong behaviors and have developed habits with these behaviors. This important to remember as you deal with them, because they have been taught previously that it is OK to steal. If you do not remember this, you will become frustrated with the slow progress. We have to remember that they have twice as far to go, since they are unlearning at the same time they are learning.

Further, some children have a personality that naturally resists change and finally add that the tendency of children to believe that the way they were taught first is the "right" way, and it may take even longer. One of the things we constantly heard from the teenagers we adopted was"but in Russia we did..." If I had a nickle for every time one of them said that, I would be a rich man. As an example, we are still working on the notion that Stalin was not one of the good guys. Sigh. Some of what they learned is hard to get rid of.

Another example is with one of our kids, who was taught through experience that the "truth" is the answer that the person asking the question wants to hear. It took me some time to realize that he had no concept of what it means to tell the truth. To him, the right answer is the one that keeps him out of trouble, not the one that represents what actually happened. I think after five years he is finally understanding that, but he still has a hard time telling the truth when there is the fear of consequences looming. This is a hard one to deal with because often the object of the lie is a transgression that demands its own consequences. I guess my main point would be that it is not as much a matter of there being a process of untraining as that you need to realize that it will take longer because you are trying to break old bad habits at the same time you are training new ones.

Also, let me say that I assume that while you are training them toward outward conformance, you are also working on the heart issues. Teaching them God's law, so that they recognize their sinfulness, recognize their need for a Savior, and turn to Christ. In the end, all you will have without a heart that has been changed by the Lord is a well trained Pharisee.

Hope this helps. Maybe Ramona will chime in as she is usually better atthe concrete side of things.


OK, concrete examples. This is my department. I am always demanding (gently, of course), "Give me practical examples!!" So, I will try to illustrate this with some of my own.

One of our kids used to look at me with what I called "dagger eyes", right after we brought him home, any time I would confront him or try to correct him. Finally, our communications got good enough where I would say to him, "The way you are looking at me right now is wrong. Your eyes are saying bad things to me. You need to look at me in a nicer way." He really didn't seem to be aware of what he was doing, but when I told him, he was able to change his look to a much better one. After he practiced that a while, with me having to tell him each time, he no longer gave me those dagger eyes (well, with a few exceptions, of course).

One daughter used to be one way with us (nice and sweet) and then turn into a whole different person when she was behind "closed doors" in her bedroom. This nasty behavior had to stop. First, it needed to be identified, though. So, I would hide behind doors and peek through cracks in order to "catch her" while she was in the middle of it. Right then, I would go to her and say, "THIS is what I want you to stop doing - how you are acting right now." Then, I would show her how she needed to act instead. It took a long time of doing this, and we still have struggles with this, five years later, but for the most part it helped her unlearn the wrong ways and learn the right ways to act.

One of our sons was about 4 years old when he went to the orphanage. He did not know how to eat from a plate, with utensils. Those bad ways of eating had to be unlearned, at the same time as he learned the "new" way of eating - like a civilized person.

Lying is a hard one, I must admit, since it is difficult at times to document the lie and show them the correct way. The key for us seems to be to find times when they are definitely lying, and we can prove it. Then we explain why we know that the child lied and how they could have better handled the situation. Our deaf daughter has a problem communicating - she wants to talk in grunts and monosyllables. I have to slow her down and make her talk right. She needs to unlearn the bad way of talking and learn how to better communicate, on a daily basis.


(Note - It is interesting to read these posts, three years later. I assure you that we are still working on many of these behaviors with our older adopted children. It is a life long process, not a goal to be conquered and then put behind you.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Theology Matters

As we go back to a new beginning I want to address some foundational issues. We have many times talked to individuals who were struggling with their child that they had adopted. In these cases we have identified three primary reasons why they struggle:

A lack of knowledge. With a child that you have had from birth you have as complete a knowledge of the child as is possible with finite human beings. You know their genetics, their family history, their culture, and life experiences. With an older adopted child this is seldom true. While the results of this lack can be frustrating. Time, patience, study, and listening to the child will eventually solve most of these problems.

An unregenerate heart. Many of the problems we have dealt with have been the result of an unregenerate heart on the part of the parents. Unbelieving, they are simply unwilling to ask "what does God say about this issue" and then obey. Sadly, these are often individuals who profess the name of Christ. The answer in this case is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bad theology. This is the one I hope to address in these series of post. John Frame says in his The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God that theology is “the application of the Word of God by persons to all areas of life.” As such theology is the place where the Word of God intersects with life. A failure to understand God's Word or a failure to rightly apply it means trouble for the individual. If someone buys an appliance in the store and ignores the warnings in the user's manual, he can expect problems to result. How much more so the individual who lives life ignoring the designer and His revelation of how life is to be lived in relation to Him.

In the upcoming articles I hope to identify some of the bad theology we have seen, and demonstrate how it shapes the struggles in ours and others' lives. Of course, in keeping with the purpose of this blog, we will focus on the adoption of older foreign children.

Till then

By His Grace,


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Back to the Beginning

Along the lines of what this blog was originally intended for, I am going to post a letter from a troubled mother of an older adopted child and then my reply to her. All personal information has been removed from both of these.

Mother's letter:

Now for our problem. We adopted from China lastJanuary, and our daughter turned 14 in July. We knew that the bonding process would take a long time, and that it takes a whole lot longer for a teenager to adapt to a new culture, but we did not expect everyone to be so miserable almost a year later. Our daughter exhibits many (almost all) of the signs and symptoms of RAD. We have been spared the rages and for that we are grateful. But we have a child who seems unable to function in a family setting. Although she spent her first 11 years with a family (not her birthfamily) apparently she was allowed to rule the roost. She will not follow our rules (and trust me, we only have a few), she constantly talks back, she has alienated her brother and, for a time, was abusive to our younger son. (When confronted about this, she simply smiled) I will not leave her alone with him now, and although I know she did it out of extreme jealousy and it may never happen again, I cannot forgive her nor trust her with him. She is jealous of all our other kids, even the grown ones. As long as we are not asking her to do something, or turning down a demand of hers, she can be pleasant. But Friday night, after an hour long, calm (for once) discussion about treating us and others with respect, and how much happier she would be(and all of us) if she would try to be nicer to everyone (therefore causing everyone to be nicer to her), and we thought we had finally made some progress she announces that we were the ones who needed to change. It would be too hard to be nice and follow the rules. We were the ones who were wrong. She did not have to do what we said. She could continue to refuse to eat, refuse to go to bed, or basically refuse to do anything unless she wanted to do it. We are exhausted. The whole family is unhappy. We have taken away her internet (messaging total strangers and visiting very inappropriate websites),and pulled her from the school athletic team because of her behavior. No changes. She attends a private school and although she excels in math, she has no real interest in any other subjects. She audited school last spring,and was enrolled in her age appropriate grade this fall. Major mistake. She really needs to be homeschooled, but that is not an option for us. She misses the other girls in the orphanage, and the closeness they shared, but we have boys at home. We need some guidance! Any suggestions, comments or ideas? We are so tired of the fighting. The other morning we sat at the dining room table for 4 hours because she refused to drink her milk. We have raised kids to adulthood, but dealing with her is more painful than anything the others ever did or are doing now. Help.

Here was my reply:

Wow, it sounds like you have some real challenges before you! I would be happy to help, if I can. My husband and I have had the privilege of helping a few families who are struggling like you are, and I sure hope we can help you, too. Hearing your daughter's history, I am not surprised that you are having the problems you are with her. Not at all. It sounds like she may have been in a "family", but didn't have the family structure that we accept as normal here in the US. God's plan for families is for the adults to be in charge and the children to learn from them and respect them. Any other form of a family is a dismal failure, as her's ultimately was in China. It sounds like there was no discipline whatsoever. You are basically dealing with a 14 year old girl who never learned that actions have consequences, when she was a toddler. She never had the advantage of being taught respect for adults as a two year old. You have to go way back with her, to the point where she missed the basic facts of how adults and children must act towards each other.

My husband and I have what appears to be a unique opinion of RAD behaviors. This long, long list of behaviors that post institutionalized children may exhibit are sinful (wrong) behaviors that they have picked up during their life and have not been trained otherwise on, and they need to be dealt with as such. When a child does something wrong, they must have consequences for it, right? It sounds like you are already doing this, but you may need some help, encouragement and suggestions. As I read over the list of RAD behaviors, I see many things that our bio kids do that are on the lists! It is just when you put all of these things together on a list targeted towards a specific group of children (adopted) and then put a label on it that things can get dangerous. Parents and professionals alike may tend to let the kids get away with these behaviors due to the fact that they have been through so much, or because they are adopted, or due to a myriad of other reasons. The fact is though - these kids need to UNlearn those behaviors! They need to be trained to behave and obey their parents. This is particularly hard with older children who did not learn respect for adults when they were young. Many institutionalized children never even interacted with adults, much less learn how to respect and honor them. These teenagers, or preteens, must be taught and trained, (lovingly and firmly) as a two year old would!

One note on actual attachment issues - those are not necessarily the same as RAD. Certainly, these kids who have been in an institution may have great challenges in bonding with a family. That should not at all be surprising. We, as parents, should keep realistic expectations of these children and not expect more out of them than they are able to give. Even some bio kids are more affectionate than others. Perhaps we should not expect a child adopted at an older age to ever be emotionally like a child we nurtured from birth. That is a much different relationship. This does not mean that we cannot have a GOOD, LOVING, and HEALTHY relationship with that child - but we just need to keep a very open mind and see what the child is emotionally capable of.

OK, if you are like me, you are wanting some practical applications now!! I certainly understand that, as I am a very concrete person. Well, basically you need to choose a particular area or two to work on with her and then buckle down to concentrate on that and put other problems on the back burner for now. "Choose your battles," as we say around here. Find something that you and she both know she CAN DO, so that she cannot use the excuse of, "It's too hard - I can't do it." One thing that might work is to require her to say "Yes Ma'am and Yes Sir" to you when you tell her to do something. That is a habit for our kids now, and they don't even think about it. She CAN do something like that, if she can speak English, right? You could also insist that she pick up her clothes, or put them away, or put her plate in the sink when she is finished, turn lights off when she leaves a room, etc. The goal is to establish a habit of obedience and to avoid big issues at first. This will also help to establish your authority over her, though, a bit at a time. As the Bible says, "Precept upon precept" (one thing at a time, building on the thing before). Work on perfecting your calm "game face" when doling out the consequences. "Oh, I am so sorry that you chose to not do that, honey. Remember those consequences we talked about? Well, now I have to enforce them," (with a smile on your face). DON'T negotiate with her. Your terms have been set already (you stated what the consequences would be for particular behaviors) and you must follow through with them. She WILL test you over and over again, to see if you are serious and if you will be consistent. This will take up much of your time for a good while, but it is imperative that you get it done now and not wait until she gets even worse.

Also, carefully consider what things are important to her, so that you can start your strategy of taking them away from her, as consequences for her misbehavior. Does she get an allowance? Charge her a quarter for every time when she does not say it. Does she watch television? Take away a certain number of minutes per day for every misbehavior. Make sure that she knows ahead of time what the consequences will be if she does not obey you in the area that you choose. Then, FOLLOW THROUGH EVERY SINGLE TIME. Every time. Did I mention that you need to do that every time? :-) In a calm manner, state that she will now have the consequences that you have chosen, whatever they are. You may need to keep a chart or do something that she can see the privileges being actually taken away (or money out of a bank, etc). Now, be prepared for additional misbehaviors in other areas while you are doing this. Do not try to deal with them all, though. It will overwhelm you and you cannot do it. This is why you need to choose your battles carefully - make sure you choose the ones that really matter but are not the huge issues that you aren't ready to touch yet. Try to not get upset when she misbehaves in other ways. You can state calmly to her, "We will work on that misbehavior later." That way, she will know that you are not letting her "get by with it".

Also, let your older son know what you are doing, since he may be the brunt of some of her additional misbehaviors. You mentioned that you do not have many rules in your home. You may want to consider making some new ones. Kids need the structure of rules, whether they realize (or admit) it or not. There was once an experiment done at an elementary school where they took the fence away. All of the kids huddled together in the middle of the playground, afraid to venture too far out. However, once they put the fence back up, the kids felt free to wander all the way around the playground, within the safe boundaries of the fence! Go figure!

You might also want to give her a list of the few items you are going to expect absolute obedience on, and another list of things she has a choice on, so that she won't feel overwhelmed. She will still have some opportunities to assert herself, but on the other hand she will be learning to obey as she goes along. Once she gets those few items of obedience down pat, then move on to other things. A good illustration is the training of a horse. They must first learn to wear a bit in their mouth. This takes a good while. After they get used to that, then they get one more piece of equipment for a while. Then another. Then another. Then, they start to get trained for riding. BUT, that is not done all at once, because the horse would be a bucking bronco and completely unmanageable!! (I don't consider kids and animals to be on the same level at all, but I do like to use animals for illustrative purposes at times.)

One more thing. You mentioned food issues. Kids (especially girls) are great at making the table a battleground. Parents are so afraid that kids will starve - I must admit that I have this same weakness. However, it is highly unlikely that they will. It would take many days of going without any food at all for a child to starve. Many, many days. They might get weak and green around the gills, but that could be a good lesson for them. If she starts to balk at eating what you set before her, then cheerfully say, "Oh, I am so sorry you are choosing to not eat this. I will put it in the refrigerator for you and you can eat it at the next meal!" Then, do it. Do not let her eat anything at all in between meals. This may mean taking all snacks out of your house, if she insists on making this a big deal, so that she cannot sneak in at nighttime and eat. You may have to bring this unsightly plate back meal after meal after meal, but if she gets hungry enough, she WILL eat it, so that she can go on and eat something else. It sounds like you have the perseverance for this, since you made her sit four hours one time when she didn't want to drink her milk.

OK, really one more thing this time. Our kids have really been easy. I give the glory to God, fully and completely, but I know that one way God used was to convince us to keep them at home for a time, away from their peers. We were able to deal with any and all behavioral issues at home, rather than on the school battlefield. It helped for us to be able to work on them all day, and not just in the evenings and on weekends. So many families that we see spend as much time UNdoing the negative effects of peer pressure as we do training our kids each day, and they have not even gotten started with the training time! I know you say that homeschooling is not an option for you right now, but in the long run it might end up saving you time? That is something you have to decide on your own, though. It is a very personal decision, just like most parenting decisions are.

Well, I will let you digest this for now. I tend to ramble and get carried away, so forgive me if I have done that now! Please ask me more questions, too. I do best when I have specific questions to address. Our own personal guide book for parenting is the Bible, and all of our advice is given with a prayer and the hopes that it lines up with God's Word in every way. I will be praying for you and looking forward to hearing back from you!

End of reply.

copyright, 2007