Don’t Judge a Kid By His Piercings

kid piercings, blue hair, teen

Last year, two of my teens wanted piercings for their birthdays. My 16 year old wanted her nose pierced, and my 13 year old wanted his lip pierced. It was the first time my husband and I had to figure out where we stand on this.

We are a Bible-believing, Christian family, and we make decisions based on what we believe the word of God and the Holy Spirit are saying. But the issue of piercing is not a clear one for us. We have read the Biblical arguments both for and against it, and we don’t believe there is a mandate against it, which is why many of us have our ears pierced.

So the next consideration was more practical than spiritual. Both of these teens live in an artistic world. Sky (the 16 year old) is a musician. She sings at the opera house, does musical theatre and writes, records and performs her own music. Although she would have to remove a nose piercing to perform in an opera or for a theatre performance, having the piercing is not going to limit her choices in the music industry.

Seth is an aspiring filmmaker. He interns at a creative complex where there are animators, web designers, videographers and all sorts of innovators and entrepreneurs who collaborate on diverse projects. The place is buzzing with young hipsters, zipping around on hover boards, none of whom would be the slightest bit tweaked by a lip piercing.

But we also knew that in the homeschool community and to some degree, in the church community, holes anywhere other than earlobes might not be so welcome. We suspected that they might face some judgement and that we might too.

So ultimately, my husband and I knew that we had to be entirely convinced of whatever decision we made. If we rejected piercings, we would need for our kids to understand why. And if we approved it, we would need to feel confident that we could defend our decision. We know a lot of parents believe that they should not have to justify their choices to their children. They believe that what they say goes, and that their kids to accept their authority without question or comment.

We do believe that parental authority is vital. Jody and I have done radio shows about it, written blogs and articles, taught workshops and given countless talks about establishing a solid foundation of authority. But we also firmly believe that rules without relationship breed rebellion.

Our kids have to know that we value them as individuals. Our children are not extensions of us. They are not ours. They are unique individuals who belong to their Creator. We are just stewards for a short period of time. And while it is absolutely our job to train them and guide them and mentor them to adulthood, we must respect them and value their ideas and interests and desires because they have all been hard wired differently, each for unique purposes that are different than our own.

So if we were going to tell our children that they could not get the piercings they wanted, we had to be fully convinced that it was for their best. Ultimately, we want our children to believe with all their hearts that we have their best in mind.

So here’s what we decided…

After thought and prayer and conversation, we decided that our kids could express themselves in clothing, hair and ornamentation in whatever way they wanted as long as

  1. It did not compromise their modesty or purity
  2. It was not permanent (more on that in a moment)
  3. It would not jeopardize important opportunities in the present or for their future

If either of these two teens had jobs (or wanted jobs) that would be compromised by their piercings, we would not have given our permission. But they’re both entrepreneurs. She has a henna business, and he does videography and video editing. One of my other kids is an aspiring lobbyist. He wants to excel at debate, work on political campaigns, page for the senate and ultimately be taken seriously in the realm of government. A nose or lip piercing would not be a good move for him (not that he would even want one). But for my two artists, it doesn’t present a professional stumbling block.

We also don’t believe it compromises their modesty or purity. And lip or nose or even eyebrow piercings are not permanent. Neither is blue hair, which the 13 year old also wanted to try.

Tattoos are permanent. Gauges in ear lobes can also cause permanent changes to the ears. And we have decided that for anything permanent, our kids must wait until marriage. 1 Corinthians 7:4 says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” So anything permanent must be approved by their future spouses. Once we explained this to our kids and demonstrated it in the Scriptures, they agreed.

Be Careful With Criticism

Jody and I have seen too many young adults turn away from their parents because they feel rejected by their criticism. When our kids believe that we are forcing them to live by our standards in order to make ourselves look good or to avoid potential judgement at church or in our own peer groups, they will eventually reject our standards and may even reject us when they have reached the age of independence.

We have to let our kids be their own people, and we have to deeply value the people they are, even if it is profoundly different from ourselves. Yes, we want them to be wise and pure, and if their choices could hurt themselves or others, we have to assert our authority but also come along side them and coach them toward better choices. Perhaps your family will have a different conviction about piercings than ours did. That’s okay too. Just be willing to sit with your children and discuss your beliefs. Let them know that you deeply value them and you want them to make right choices. Explain your convictions, and stand by your choice. But do it out of love and not fear.

And be careful not judge other families who have made different choices. Remember, every family and every individual has a different calling.

kid piercings, nose ring, teen

Sky

Sky knows that she is called reach the lost. She is not called to reach the church. So she is going to look different than a girl her age who is called to minister primarily to the church body. The apostle Paul said, “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:21, 22).

Let’s be careful not to make quick judgements about what is acceptable or unacceptable. Some have argued that our kids shouldn’t look like the world – they are set apart. Being set apart goes deeper than outward appearance. Our kids can be both relevant and pure. They can dress modestly and still be creative and relevant. The choices they make as ambassadors of God will set them apart.

When they choose peace and prayer during a crisis, they will be set apart, and their peers will notice. When they avoid profanity while the people around them don’t, they will be set apart. When they focus on growing their skills and becoming their own best at whatever gifts and passions they’ve been given, instead of focusing on growing their social life and winning favor with the opposite sex, they will be set apart.

One Pesky Problem

Our kids are to be IN the world but not OF the world. Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) Therein lies our challenge.

Last year when we were key note speakers in British Columbia, one of the conference coordinators gave an excellent talk, and in it he said that in many ways it seems the Amish got it right. We must protect our children from the evil one, so we are tempted to shelter them from the world and cause them to live in the safety of isolation. But there’s one pesky problem with this plan — the Great Commission.

God is going to use every one of our kids in a unique way to fulfill His plan. Some will be called the mountain of government, where piercings and blue hair will not make them effective witnesses. Others will be called to the mountain of arts and entertainment, where piercings and mohawks are not at all strange. Let’s be sensitive to the passions and purposes of each our kids and each other’s kids, and let the Holy Spirit (not biases or prejudices) do the leading.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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10 Tips to Help Your Kids Get Organized

help your kids get organized

 

Disorganization derails success. That’s true for adults and kids too. So as we embark on a new year, here are 10 tips to help your kids get organized.

1. Adopt a Mentorship Mindset

mother_daughter_moment

Punishment, frustration and anger don’t help kids learn to be organized. We, the parents, are their teachers and mentors. A messy room or a disorganized backpack is just a red flag telling us they need new or better tools and consistent training to help them learn how to stay neat and organized.

Today I’m going to share some tips for organizing their rooms, clothes, toys, school supplies and arts and crafts, but with Google and Pinterest by our side, we can easily search ideas at any time to help our kids overcome any organizational problem. The key is our willingness to teach them, follow up and tweak the system until we have a winner.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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The Secret to Raising an Accomplished Kid

raising an accomplished kid, opera, the hobbit, star of the show,

What will your child accomplish this year? A year can hold a multitude of achievements, but there is a secret to raising an accomplished kid that many people overlook. 

Recently I was talking to an admissions officer at one of my daughter’s top choice colleges, and after discussing some of the highlights of her resume, the admissions officer asked, “Are we talking about one student?” She was amazed that one student could have “so many” accomplishments. But to be perfectly honest, I was amazed at her amazement.

My 16 year old is focused, and she works hard at pursuing her passion. But she has not done anything truly extraordinary. She has not done anything that any motivated 16 year old couldn’t do.

She wasn’t a semifinalist in the prestigious Intel Science Competition while living in a homeless shelter like Long Island high school student Samantha Garvey. She didn’t receive a $1 million celebrity investment in an app she had written like 17 year old tech wizard Nick D’Aliosio did. She didn’t gather over 170,000 signatures on a petition to insist that a woman should moderate one of the presidential debates like three girls her age from New Jersey did. And she is certainly not a Nobel Prize laureate like young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.

The way I see it, this admissions officer’s statement was not actually a commentary on my child’s “exceptional achievements” but rather an indictment of society’s woefully low expectations.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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What is serving you well?

Earlier this year, I asked myself a question that was a real game changer for me. I asked, “What is serving me well in my life?” But to answer that question, I found myself first asking the opposite question. “What isn’t serving me well?” For some reason, that one was easier for me to tackle.

The first thing that came to mind when I asked the second question was TV before bed. I had a made a weird observation. Whenever I crashed on the couch at the end of the day and watched TV right before I went to sleep, I had a much more difficult time getting up the next day. I almost felt a little hung over in the morning. But if I skipped TV and spent the late evening doing other things — stretching, journaling, reading — I had more energy the next day.

It turns out there’s science behind this. Blue light, which comes from a variety of sources but includes the light from TV, phones, computers and tablets, interrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm and affects sleep. Since this discovery, we’ve made a new rule in our house. All computers, phones and other electronic devices get collected about 90 minutes before bed.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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This 1 Habit Could Change Everything

What if you could focus on ONE thing, and that ONE thing could change EVERYthing? That’s exactly what happened when a man named Paul O’Neill took over  an international aluminum company that was failing in the late 80’s. And the same habit can overhaul your life too.

Shareholders and financial analysts panicked when O’Neill took the helm of Alcoa and began a highly irregular focus on safety. He didn’t talk about increasing profits. He didn’t talk about lowering costs. He didn’t talk about anything that a CEO of company as big as Alcoa typically talks about. Instead, he was laser focused on what appeared to be a strange obsession with safety.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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How to permanently declutter and organize your home

Earlier this year, I read a review about a book that promised to show the reader how to declutter and organize once and for all. It was a system that claimed to be so effective that you would never have to do it again. I was curious. What system could possibly be so effective that you have to do it more than once? I have tried a bunch of different organization and cleaning systems in my adult life. I did the FlyLady system years ago. Well, I should say that I TRIED to do the FlyLady system. It wasn’t her system that was a problem. I am sure it was me — I was the problem. It felt too complicated for me, and I couldn’t keep up with it, so I just decided to install this home sound system and clean my own home while dancing to some music.

So I ordered this book that promised permanent organization, probably more out of curiosity than anything else. When it arrived in the Amazon envelope, the first thing I noticed was how small it was. How could a system so entirely life-changing (that’s even part of the book’s long title) be summed up in such a small package?

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Have You Met the Applewhites?

Remember the days when network television aired certain movies once a year, and the whole family gathered around the TV for the annual event? The Sound of Music was one of those, and it was one of my personal favorites. But there was one scene that I remember not liking. It was the scene where Mother Abbess sings Climb Every Mountain to Maria. I thought it was boring, but after reading a kids’ book (of all things), it occurred to me that I missed something profound in that song.

mother abbess

I started reading Surviving the Applewhites at the beginning of this week because it is our book of the month for the Weekly Leader, which will we start again tomorrow, and I could hardly put it down. It was such a fun and inspiring read. No wonder it won the Newbery Medal in 2002!

 

applewhites

In the book, the Applewhite dad is directing a local performance of The Sound of Music. References to the songs of the show are sprinkled throughout the story. So last night, after finishing the book, as I was getting ready for bed, I caught myself singing Climb Every Mountain — my very LEAST favorite song on the entire soundtrack.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Son, Don’t Check Your Brain at the Door

Have you ever heard the saying, “God has no grandchildren?” Our kids can not ride into heaven on our coattails. They have to choose a personal relationship with God all on their own, and they have to develop that relationship independently of us. But for this generation especially — a generation born into the Information Age, where answers (both true and false) to every conceivable question on planet earth are at their fingertips — truth is no easy thing to establish. This generation demands evidence. They want hard, tangible facts before they are willing to hitch their ride to any one bandwagon of belief. And that is a beautiful thing because if we can give our kids the tools to find cold, hard evidence for their faith, we can be confident about two things:

  1. They won’t be shaken when they are attacked for their beliefs.
  2. And they will be strong witnesses to their generation.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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I Wish I Had This For My Older Kids

When I saw the opportunity to review FamilyLife’s Passport 2 Purity, I jumped on it! I have an 11-year-old boy, and I knew this would be perfect timing for him. My older kids have had “the talk,” but they have all been very respectful about not sharing that information with the younger siblings. So I was pretty sure my Sammy didn’t know much about this stuff. (I was right!)

The Passport 2 Purity program is designed help prepare your child for their journey into adolescence. Let’s face it, the world they are walking into is much different than when we were young. Their’s is a world of sexting, cyber bullying, online stalking and perhaps the most blatant moral defiance in the history of our country. Innocence is under attack, and you cannot win the battle with a single awkward talk or a strict set of rules. The only real defense for your child is a strong relationship with you and with God.

FamilyLife developed Passport 2 Purity to assist parents in building heart-to-heart communication with their preteens, while laying a foundation of purity that will prepare them for the potentially turbulent years ahead. It is actually designed to be done as a mother-daughter or father-son team, over the course of a weekend getaway, but we broke all the rules.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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You Can Do It — Baby Wearing

When my older kids were babies, I often used a Baby Bjorn carrier to hold them while I was doing housework or taking a walk, but it didn’t work well for newborns, and it put a lot of strain on my back. When they were older, I used a metal-frame hiking backpack, but you can imagine how comfy that was, and being so big and cumbersome, it was hardly like throwing a cloth sling in the diaper bag to use on the go. You should also make sure you have cloth nappies for your child while baby wearing.

After the birth of my fourth child in 2004, a friend sent me a Moby Wrap. She promised I was going to love it, but trying to put it on felt like advanced calculus to me. It seemed more complicated than I was willing to grasp.

Secretly, I felt like a bit of a failure. I admit that I didn’t try very hard, but my unwillingness to learn made feel inferior to all the awesome moms I saw toting around their little ones, snuggled against them in beautiful cloth wraps or ring slings.

It turns out all I needed was a good teacher. Thanks to my buddy Tanya Taylor, I was a baby wearing ninja with our sixth child! Tanya makes her own wraps under the brand Baby the Baby, and she walked me through it, step-by-step using a Smart Water bottle as the baby.

Contact your local midwives and ask if they know of any baby wearing groups in your area. We have quite a few here in the Gulfcoast Florida region. These groups can you practice with different types of wraps and offer all sorts of helpful tips, including how to breastfeed in a wrap.

In case you’re interested, here is an article by Dr. Sears on the benefits of baby wearing.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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