The Meltdown

It had been a rough day.  There had been a few disappointments.  Behavior was not typical and then he snapped.  He started yelling and then crying.   Okay, I’ll be honest it was not just the child misbehaving.  It was me. I was so frustrated and so stressed.

I’ll bet everyone can relate.  Everyone has a tipping point where their behavior crosses from acceptable to unacceptable.  If adults get overwhelmed and sometimes drown in their emotions, then an immature toddler or child having a meltdown is understandable.  It may not be completely acceptable for either.  Both need to learn better responses.   Adults, it is our task to explore and discover the better responses for ourselves and our children.

One common meltdown that children experience is the “after-event” meltdown.   This is the feeling of disappointment and adjustment after a big event such as a holiday, vacation, or a visit to a grandparent’s home.  Adults experience this feeling as the Monday morning back to work blues.  Kids experience this too but may not be able to identify it or understand it.  These types of events are often anticipated with great build up of expectations and enthusiasm.  Whether the expectations are met or not, when it is all over it is all over. 

Some ideas for what to do after an event:

  1. Discuss the feelings of the event ending and try to identify them.
  2. Discuss the event.  What did you like?  Was there anything you didn’t enjoy?
  3. Extend the event by drawing a picture of it or writing a letter to a host or calling someone to talk about it.
  4. Talk about the good things you enjoy in day to day living.
  5. Talk about the next event.
  6. Hug
  7. Laugh
  8. Take a walk or a run or a bike ride to expend physical energy and get fresh air.
  9. Look at photos from the event.   Don’t look just on your little phone screen.  Try casting them onto your big TV screen.

We are all unique.  I love variety and flexibility and my husband thrives with routine. After every vacation he says “it will be good to get back to our normal eating and sleeping schedule.”  Some people are loud when angry and some withdraw and become quiet.  Some need a hug and some need isolation. Study your child.  Ask the Lord to give you insight into their true needs and how best you can guide, direct, and nurture them.  

It is almost Christmas and that means Dec. 26th (the after-event) is coming.  Prepare for both. 

To Santa or Not

Do you remember the day you discovered Santa was a fantasy?  How did you feel?  I remember a conversation about Santa which I had at the bus stop in 8th grade.  No, that was not when I learned that Santa was my parents.   I learned that at age five when my seven-year-old sister showed me where all the presents were hidden.  Our game switched then from make believe about Santa to searching every year for the newest present hiding place.  But that bus stop conversation still rings in my ears.

We were discussing honesty when Matthew asked me if I thought my parents were honest.  I responded in the affirmative.  He declared they were liars.  I fiercely defended them. He then proceeded to tell me he could prove they were liars.  Did they tell me Santa was real?  They had.  Did he prove his point?  It ended the conversation, but I still remember it.  And I remembered it when I became a parent. 

Recently a business acquaintance casually told me she has instructed her fifteen- year-old son, to keep the Santa secret with his ten-year-old brother.  I fail to understand this thinking.  Surely, she is mistaken to believe her younger son still believes.   Of course, there is a continual flood of songs, books and movies which reinforce the myth.  

I understand the fun of make believe.  I encourage imagination, pretend, play, and dress up.   I have clothing and accessories(props) with which my grandchildren play.  Even the teenage grandkids like to do this.

Perhaps parents need an excuse for giving many presents to their children. Perhaps we wish to keep our children young.  Perhaps without Santa there is no focus or meaning to Christmas.  But there is.  We do not have to work at making or keeping Christmas magical or wonderful.  It is miraculous.

Also confusing is the mixed message we send about stranger danger and sitting on the lap of an unknown person at the mall while whispering one’s secret desires.   One of my granddaughters, as a toddler decided no person, not even Santa, should sneak into her house at night.  She barred Santa from her home and wanted nothing to do with him.

Keep Santa if you want, but consider using him as a sidebar and not the focus of Christmas.  Find out who St. Nicholas was and what he did.    Don’t try to make the modern-day image of Santa Claus into a reality.  Be honest with your kids.  The distinction between reality and make believe is already confusing.     

It is beneficial to occasionally question or examine why we do the things we do.  I love traditions, but they should result in more joy than stress.  Santa can be stressful.  It is hard to keep the secret.  Don’t let Santa dictate your holiday.  Don’t let Elf on the Shelf dictate your holiday.  Don’t let social media dictate your holiday.  Let go of the pressure to measure up or exceed the images others are posting.   No one posts about the entire Jello on the floor or your toddler’s third melt down of the day.

In the spirit of the Magi who gave gifts to the newborn Savior give gifts to each other.  Reflect on your heart and then from your heart celebrate.  Spread peace and joy this Christmas.

Covid 19 Parenting Challenges

She was shopping with her baby In a typically friendly midwestern town when an elderly man approached, gave a greeting and a word of congratulations.  This seemingly simple act was quite surprising.  It was an oddity.  Previously it was the standard.  Why has it become odd?  Why has the standard changed?   Covid-19. 

Congratulations are typically spoken to parents of a newborn. This baby was already 7 months old, but has seldom been in public places.  This was the first time a stranger had said congratulations to the mother.  It was five or six months later than the usual timeframe for congratulations.  Perhaps the gentleman was being a non-conformist, bucking against the non-kid-friendly culture.  Perhaps he has not been in public much either.

Sadly, our current culture has become an unfriendly place for children. Some fear the children as being disease carriers.  Some adults wearing masks themselves stare with angry eyes at children, toddlers and babies who aren’t wearing masks or their parents or both. Some businesses have banned children.  

St. Louis, MO

Many places families frequented prior to COVID were closed or been altered. Playgrounds have been off limits with caution tape wrapped around the slides and swings and play areas.  Libraries closed.  Park district classes and community events are canceled. Churches, too, have closed their nurseries and canceled children’s programing.  Vacation Bible School was either virtual or nonexistent. 

Many grandparents have stayed away during some or all of the Covid-19 threat. This separation is not healthy socially and emotionally for children, parents or grandparents.  No matter what choices or decisions are made about how to manage this pandemic health crisis, there are people ready to criticize you.  Talk with your parents and grandparents about their comfort level and allow them to set the pace for interaction with your children.  Help them to allow their love to overrule their fears.

Parenting is a tough job from which there is no time off; or even sick leave.  Plus children are incredibly selfish and childish.  But, you can teach them to be patient and not demanding.  You can teach them to give grace to a frightened culture. You can teach them to be loving and accepting to all people even the ones who are different. You can show them maturity with your example of consideration and thoughtfulness. You can model self-control and repay meanness with kindness. You can be an example of letting go of hurt and overlooking an offence.  You can instruct them, just as Jesus did with his 12 imperfect, stubborn, prejudiced disciples, to love the Lord God and to love their neighbors as themselves.


Some of my fondest childhood memories include time with my cousins.  I have lots of them, but most are not my age.  Older cousins, much like older siblings, often do not wish to do stuff with the younger ones.  My parents are both the next to youngest in large families.  I have 37 cousins.  It is awesome.   Most of them are now grandparents, like myself, and some are great grandparents.  And so the family keeps expanding. 

Close to my age I have more boy cousins than girl cousins.  A couple of those boy cousins were great.   Some I adored, and loved every opportunity to spend time with them.   I had a favorite older boy cousin whom I loved to chase and try to count his freckles.   Confession: I really just wanted his attention.  

Once, and only once, I rode in the backseat with a bunch of other cousins (no seat belts) while another favorite, and very wild, boy cousin was driving us down the state highway. While driving opened his door and pretended to be looking under the car.  He received his desired response of us all screaming hysterically.  I am sure none of us told our parents about that adventure. 

Most of my cousin time was harmless and safe.  It was just a few days or a week spent at their house or my house or the best was at Grandma’s house.  We didn’t do great or elaborate or expensive activities.  We just spent time playing together, or maybe swimming or fishing or bicycle riding.  These visits became the highlights of our summer and school breaks.  

Kids need time to play.  Kids need time with their cousins becoming friends.  Of course, this is extra work and effort for parents and grandparents, but it pays such rich lifetime rewards. 

When our children and their spouses and their children gather, there are 29 of us.  The 17 grandchildren range in age from 17 years to 5 weeks old.  I am thankful they adore being together and I am certain that is at least in part because of the times the cousins get together.  Texting has also helped them keep connected with each other.


I still love seeing my cousins.  We have much to reminisce over.  We have a family love bond.  We share a heritage. We share stories.   Relationships with cousins is a great legacy to give to your children.

Pandemic Ponderings

I want to share a few thoughts on our current crisis. Focus is challenging. Sorting through all the information is challenging.  Communities, states, and nations are fearful and stressed.  Your household is under strain.  Your workplace and your children’s schools are closing and making changes.  Your calendar has been changed.   I wish to impart some hope.

First, God is still God, almighty, all-knowing, merciful and loving. This crisis is not a surprise to Him.  I don’t know why he has allowed it.  I know He will never abandon us or forsake us.  As we trust and lean on Him, He will help us. This crisis is just one more thing we do not need to do on our own.

Second, this too shall pass. Anytime I have to face a painful situation, I remind myself that it has an ending and God will help me through it.  Actually, it won’t be long and I will already be looking back on it. Time is like water we can’t hold it in our hands.  Think back to a recent anticipated big event you planned for and waited and waited for it to arrive. It did. How far back was it?  Funny how time keeps marching.   Some day we will also look back on Covid-19.  What stories will you be telling about how you went through it?

Third, embrace the challenges as a family.  Discuss the situation with your children.  Allow them to express their fears and questions.  If your social calendar has just been cleared and your children are suddenly on extended (indefinite) spring break, then you have been given a rare opportunity for family time.  Use the time well.  Brainstorm together for ideas of together activities such as: a big puzzle, read books aloud, repeating favorite movies, outside yard time, plan/plant a garden, cooking together, board games, shared electronic games, letter writing, phone calls to neighbors and friends.  Also plan 30-60 minutes of quiet, alone time for everyone every day.

Last, the human spirit is resilient. Troubles also present opportunities.  We will invent and create ideas and things as a result of this crisis.  Your family will discover ways to cope and economize (perhaps out of necessity).

Be loving and patient with each other.  Spread hope.

Parent & Adult Child Conflict

What can a parent do when their adult child makes a choice or decision with which they disagree, even strongly disagree?  How about whole-heartedly oppose? The short answer is: Nothing.  The longer answer requires a story.

Before I tell the story, I want to always encourage you to frequently and repeatedly communicate love, support, and acceptance to all your children of all ages.  This does not mean a parent will always agree with their child’s choices and decisions. 

As a child grows and matures, they need to make more and more choices and decisions for themselves.  A young child needs limitations and guidance.  A parent may offer a 3-year-old child two outfits from which to choose to wear for the day.  An older child should be able to choose from within their wardrobe with consideration to the weather and occasion. Making little decisions allows use of personal preferences and leads to the ability to make bigger decisions.

As our children age, we relinquish more and more daily control. As our children age, we grant more and more freedom to them.  We must keep our goal of raising independent adults ever in our mind.  Giving up control over our children is not easy. Some children grab for that independence and freedom and others are reluctant and need urging.

When we strongly disagree with our adult children we can discuss, disagree, argue, cry, plead, beg, or manipulate.  I am guilty of all of these. It all failed.  I tried it all last spring for many weeks when my youngest son informed us that he planned to change his last name.  It is not immoral.  It is not illegal.  It is not unsafe.

I thought it unwise. He would have legal and life-long consequences.  I could not understand.  He and his fianceé who married in May 2019 would both be taking each other’s last names creating a new hyphenated name.  They saw this as embracing and honoring both families.  It felt dishonoring to us.

When I make a decision or a choice, I think my parents or someone else will disagree with, I usually just don’t tell them about it.  I choose the peaceful (cowardly) way.  But some choices cannot be kept to ourselves.  Some decisions will be known to all.

After all my attempts failed to talk him/them out of this choice, I turned to praying for them. I asked God to change their minds.  Prayer is actually my best parental tool.  As is often the case when we pray for someone, God changed my mind and attitude about them.  Here is what I believe God gently said in my mind to me: “You have not asked me what I think about them doing this.  I have called them ‘My Child’, because that is their name.”

I have learned not to argue with God.  He is always correct.  I was corrected. I had to let go.  I could not control them.  I could love them.  I could choose to live in a relationship with them.  When relatives have questioned me about their decision, I have shared this story.  It is their decision.  I love my kids.

Are your children squirrely?

Are your children being squirrely?  Are you feeling squirrely?   As a homeschooling mom for 30 years, I want to assure this is a normal feeling.  Every year as May arrived, I felt done and the children were completely distracted. 

We choose to be a homeschool family.  It was a great adventure, privilege and responsibility. But every year when May arrived, I felt the same. I was weary and ready for the school year to come to completion. 

The distance education to which families are being forced to participate is not the same as homeschooling. Yes, you are actively involved in fulfilling their teachers’ lessons and assignments at home.  But you did not choose your curriculum, you did not make the lesson plans, and you cannot adjust the assignments to best suit your child.  You did not withdraw your child from their traditional classroom by choice and plan.  It was thrust upon you without even consulting you.  You are not experiencing the typical freedom, individuality or variety that is part of homeschooling.  You were not prepared. 

 In addition to schooling, parents are also dealing with other adjustments such as spending all day every day with each other.  This is a BIG adjustment.  Homeschooling families have developed strategies for this such as outside play and/or a daily hour of quiet for everyone.

Either or both spouses may be trying to work from home. Continual interruptions can be very frustrating. The house is probably messier because everyone is there All. The. Time.   Parents who are always homeschooling teach and train each child to do daily chores for the benefit of the whole family.  This is not a sudden lifestyle change for parents or children.

Financial pressure and social distancing are also challenging for homeschool families.  This is added stress.  Homeschooling usually includes lots of fieldtrips and hands-on or active learning.  Homeschool families just like their public and private school contemporaries are involved in community events, sports, clubs and activities. No one is doing any of these. The lack of items on our calendars which we are happily anticipating is a loss.  We grieve losses.  Allow yourself to grieve but don’t stay there.

Math seems to be the subject I hear the most moaning and complaining about.  Jumping into a math course three quarters through the year is going to be difficult at almost any grade level.  It is likely your child is learning different methods and problem-solving strategies than you learned in school.   I recall being totally flustered over a 3rd Grade math curriculum that I choose.  I was shocked.  Eventually I did understand it and still think it is brilliant.  I also learned that drawing simple pictures helped me address story problems.  I think I did well with teaching math through 9th grade, but after that we relied on my husband.  You too may need a tutor – perhaps a relative or a friend could assist electronically.  

When my oldest son was ready for Geometry I was nervous because I did so poorly in it myself as a high school student.  I discovered it finally made sense to me.  About half way through the course my son gently said to me, “Mom, I really can do this by myself.  You are slowing me down.”   I was happy for his ability, but sad for myself because I knew I would not work on it on my own if I didn’t need to do it with a student.

In traditional classrooms students sit at desks.  With homeschooling individual desks may or may not be used.  Students may show up in pajamas and lots of work is done with teacher and students in a huddle on the sofa.  I often grouped 2-4 of my children into one class even though they were each at a different grade level.

In Conclusion:

  1. All students are in the same situation of suddenly doing school at home.  Some will accomplish more and some less than others.  That is ok.  This happens in the classroom too.
  2. You have a very unique and special privilege of this time with your children.  Treasure them. 
  3. I found myself learning alongside my children every year that I homeschooled.  You can too.
  4. The pandemic will end someday.  We will probably discover new normals.
  5. Experienced homeschoolers have Very Bad Days too. I remember putting myself in timeout.
  6. Take time to do something fun every day, even if it is just for a few minutes.
  7. Go outside. 
  8. Forgive yourself for your failures. Ask forgiveness from your children when appropriate. Give and receive grace.  
  9.  Be grateful every day.

Grandma & Grandpa, please come

My daughter suggested I write something based on my recent visit with her and to the home of my #2 son and their families.  Both homes have newborns.   These baby girls have increased our number of grandchildren from 14 to 16. Hooray!  Usually when my daughter, or a daughter-in-law (I have 4), gives birth I try to support them by going to their home.  This is my joy and pleasure.  I have made some big mistakes and learned a few things in these 17 years of grandparenting and 20 years of being a mother-in-law.

First don’t make assumptions, but ask if they would like you to come and stay awhile.  Ask when they want you to come and for approximately how long.  Ask how they think you can best help them.   Each family may have very different answers.

When you go, consider these suggestions.

  • Shut up.  Don’t criticize or critique their parenting, housekeeping, marriage or anything else.  None of this is giving help.  Don’t offer advice unless it is requested.
  • Speak up. Give words of encouragement and genuine compliments.  Ask questions such as, “Would it be helpful if I _____________?”    Verbally encourage any older children to respect and obey their parents.  Never undermine their parenting.
  • Go with the flow.  While at your child’s home eat what they eat.  Follow their schedule.  I am lousy at going to bed before midnight, but I can be very quiet and don’t need much light. Don’t be disruptive.  
  • Pitch in.  Help them by assisting to make their schedule work for them. Pay attention to things like chore charts, calendars, and time schedules.  Be generally helpful. Find something to do, such as:  Cook, do dishes, go shopping, vacuum, do laundry, cut the grass, shovel snow, do general pick up and include any older children.   
  • Engage with the children. Holding newborns is wonderful, but doing stuff with the older children is just as important.   What can you do with them? 1. Sing songs and tell nursery rhymes with hand motions. 2.Play games (last week my 7-year-old granddaughter beat me in 3 out of 4 games of Candy Land and all 4 games of Monopoly Jr.)  3. Read aloud.  4.Assist with homework or schoolwork. 5. Have conversations and tell stories about when their parents were little.  (from my #1 son I learned to ask: “what was the best part of today?”) 6. Watch a movie. 7. Play outside. 8. Go on an adventure. (missing from this list is playing video games because I just don’t like to do that)
  • Keep your stuff to yourself.  As a guest in someone’s home, you may have your own room and you may not, but try to keep your stuff as neat as possible and not all over the house.  If sleeping on a sofa, fold up your bedding every day.  If possible, keep your bath towel and toiletries in your room/space.

But, you the reader of this, may not be a grandparent. Perhaps you are the parent of little ones and needing a visit from your parents.  Why not discuss this post or parts of it with them? It might give you both an opportunity to express your appreciation of each other to each other. 

Time spent with parents, grandparents and grandchildren is valuable to all generations. Grandparents need the pure joy, enthusiasm and energy of the grandchildren.  Grandchildren need the love, attention, and wisdom of grandparents.  Parents just need a nap. 


Last Spring my husband and I moved to a new house in a new town in a different part of our state.  I have lived in Illinois my entire life starting in Chicago, then the western suburbs.  Nine years ago we moved to the middle of the state to a city of 75,000 people.  That was quite an adjustment.

People in Chicago consider all Illinois territory south of Interstate 80 to be southern Illinois. People in central Illinois do not view themselves as being in southern Illinois.  Perspective can be very interesting.   Now we truly live in southern Illinois in a town with a population of only 17,500.  When we moved to central Illinois our youngest child was in high school and he moved with us.  He didn’t make this move with us.   He and his bride are living several states away from us.

I feel we are still adjusting to our new small town.  Less traffic is awesome.  But we are further away from 4 of our 5 children.  Actually two of our tribe have made out of state moves since we moved. We have three Dairy Queens and two McDonald’s in this town but only one Aldi, one Kroger and one Walmart.  There is one movie theatre and the mall has been closed.  During the summer the public pool was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  The other days of the week it was open from 1-4 p.m.  It was not crowded and it had a fun water slide.  My grandsons loved it.

We do not yet have a new doctor or dentist. We have found a new church to attend and in which to be involved. It is only 3 miles from our front door. This church is on the “edge” of town and we are “in the country”. Therefore every time we leave home and head “into town” we keep our eyes on the prowl for deer. Since the beans and corn fields have all been harvested it is easier to spot them.

To be near my aging parents was our reason for this move.  They have increasing health needs and so do we.  They have been extremely happy about our arrival and helpful in many ways.  Even though we chose to make this move and are glad we have done so it has been an adjustment.  Because they have lived here for nearly 30 years this is a community with which we were already familiar.  We have entered another season of life.  This also is an adjustment. 

Life is full of seasons and adjustments. Some we make willingly and with much anticipation and excitement.  Others are thrust upon us whether or not we feel prepared or desire the change.  We are all continually changing and adapting.  Some of us see this as a thrilling adventure and some see it as frightening.  Each of your children has their own view as well.   If you are making changes, such as a move or perhaps adding a new member to the family, remember that adjusting can be a struggle not only for you but also for your children. 

Be patient with each other.  Often when a small event causes a big break down other things need to be addressed besides the small event.   Sometimes stopping all the activity is needed to decompress.  Here are just a few ideas to assist with stress:  be alone, be with someone, go outside, take a walk or a bike ride, sit on a swing, be quiet, listen to favorite music, cuddle, take a break from the task but with a plan to return to it, talk about it, ask for another perspective, and reconsider.

Just as climate seasons come and go so do life seasons.  Each season has an ending to be followed by a new season.  If one takes a moment to reflect on the many seasons they have experienced, then one will begin to understand the speed of life. Try to enjoy each season.

How I went past my excuses

Life has conveniently given me the excuses I needed to not write.  The excuses allowed me to ignore the real issue. Insecurity.  Self-doubt. Discouragement.

First, the life excuses. I have not written a blog post since February 6, 2019.  In the meantime we decided to move south 180 miles to be nearer my parents, bought a house, moved, sold a house, and had two garage sales,(one at each house).  Additionally, our youngest son got married out of state.  We took a 1000-mile (each way) road trip to my niece’s wedding in Florida.  Two uncles have passed away. And we hosted a family reunion at our new home. I have lost track of how many trips we have made to how many of our children’s homes.  Our five children presently live in five different states.  Only one lives in the same state in which we live, but even he is 345 miles away.  All of our children have come to see us. Hooray for family togetherness. Yes, I have been extremely busy, busy, busy.

Us at our son’s wedding.

Secondly, the insecurity.  When I listened to the conversation in my head, I heard statements such as,

“It doesn’t matter that you are too busy to write, no one is interested anyway.”

“You are out of things to say.”

“You are out of touch with today’s young parents and their culture.”

“You are too old to talk about parenting.”

“You have lost your readership.”

“This isn’t the type of writing you wanted to do. Why continue?”

“The reward is not worth the cost. What reward? Am I so insecure I need a reward?”

“Do I make a difference?”

On and on it snowballed.

Finally, the encouragement.  It came to me from an unexpected source. He wasn’t talking to me or about me but it applied to me. I heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio talking about Millennials and their struggles with “adulting”.  It was a generalized statement which held much truth. He hit on my topic of helping parents prepare their children to be independent adults.

My focus has been on preparing the child so the parent can let them go. I now think an equal focus must be on preparing the child to let go of the parent and desire to be independent.

Once again, I am feeling inspired to write. Yes, I am distant from active parenting as my youngest child is 24 years old. But this gives me a clearer viewpoint that is less muddled with everyday exhausting parenting challenges, than when my five children were 1-18 years old. 

I have weathered a season of writing discouragement.  I am thankful it was only a season. It was intensified because of life changes.  Change can be scary, just like parenting or becoming an adult. We never navigate these changes perfectly. We just do it day by day, as best we can, and it is okay.