Secrets to marital happiness

 

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In November last year I attended a marriage seminar at The international Christian Centre by an American couple whose names I forget. They turned theirs from a hateful marriage filled with violence and despair to a happy one. May you also, with the help of God, can.

Today I went through my notes and would like to share some of the secrets to marital paradise.

  1. Triumphant realism.Leave the fantasy behind. Embrace realism depending on whom you married. You are all flawed people. This will not be easy but God can make you mutually happy and whole for life. Apologise first. Start talking first after an argument. Initiate sex first. Show your love by what you do. How are you making your spouse’s life easier? Find what your man/woman likes and do it happily. Be gentle in the way you speak. Are you sarcastic, critical, abusive?

2. A redemptive spirit.  Damaged people carry a heavy burden of pain, anger, hurt and despair. Usher each other into the presence of God. Submit to God first, individually. You are no good to nobody if you are not whole. Return to your first love with Jesus Christ. Troubled marriages need spiritual renewal to get rid of hardness of heart and unforgiveness. The Holy Spirit in you will help you know how to minister to your husband.

Don’t give up on your self or your partner as God doesn’t give up on you. Then go to your spouse and reconcile the conflicts that divide you. Forgive him for his failures and wrong choices. That will probably move you out of your comfort zone. Next begin to provoke your spouse to love by deliberate godly actions. Love stirs up a reaction.

What have you done that has offended your spouse? What have you neglected to do that you’ve been asked many times to remember? Are you loving your spouse the same way you have been loved by God?

3. A passion that lasts. A passionate marriage is the result of investment, not chemistry. How and where you spend your time shows where your passion lies. You reap what you sow, where you sow, and more than you sow. Sow into your marriage. Show diligence in your marriage. Every forgotten action is an act of laziness. When is the last time you had a date together? Do you recognise your mate’s achievements? Have you neglected to pray together? If you show attention, the fire will never go out.

Deliberate actions can also cause the fire to go out in a marriage. These include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Criticising or mocking when you talk.
  • Physical abuse
  • Refusing to have sex to punish
  • Acting harshly or rudely
  • Flirting with someone else
  • Vows broken by adultery

Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. James 1:19

4. Be best friends. A friend loves at all times.  Be his/her enthusiastic and vocal supporter. Be a cheer leader for your husband. Be his friend and his lover, not his mother. Love him for who he is and where he is at, rather than his potential.

5. Ultimate sexual fulfillment. Honour each others needs and desires. The goal is mutual satisfaction. Sex for a man is a legitimate physical need like food or rest. Well, and frequent sex has been linked to less aggressive prostrate cancer. Your husband’s sex drive is God’s gift to you. It was intended for you. A virtuous woman can use the power of sex to call men to virtue and morality. A feeling of guilt is an indication that something’s wrong in your marriage.

6. The serpent expelled. Satan wants to destroy the family unit. Fight to save the marriage and win.

7. Prayer, partnership and purpose. These will bring you to your secret paradise. Stop expecting your husband to think like a woman. Our husband’s differences are intended for our growth. Make your home his safe place. Investigate what he thinks, feels, hopes, fears.Believe in him and intercede to the Lord on his behalf.Take your husband’s dream and birth it out in prayer.

Focus on your growth in the Lord, not his. Minister to him. Don’t take over; continue to refer to him about how he wants things done. The key to unlocking the potential in a man is to treat him with respect long before he deserves it.

Make your husband to enjoy being home with the family. Make your home a place of laughter and peace. Your diner table is your ministry ground. Use that time to know what your husband and kids are thinking.

Be in the word of God as if your life depended on it. And trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.

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How to handle indiscipline and tantrums like a ninja mum

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I often joke that my children were created to teach me patience and anger management. I never knew tiny people could press on all my buttons and leave me raging and out of control. Oh, and I do not like being out of control. Needless to say, one of my biggest parenting challenges has been handling the episodes that drive my emotions towards that curve of no return: anger tantrums, disobedience and indiscipline. My kids are four years and 20 months. My son is a strong-willed boy who never forgets a promise made and has an amazing ability to block out my voice from 10 inches away. My daughter is a fighter, holding and demanding her own quite well with fists and kicks despite her pint size. Oh and she doesn’t relent. It’s her way or her way. And the two can fight like two bull dogs over nothing really.

Through all the chaos my goal is to be a peaceful mom. I am reminded that peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. As is patience, joy, kindness, goodness and self control. I do not have to blow my top. I do not have to lose my joy. I can be kind despite the fact that my children are being mean to each other and to me. I can be good despite the temptation to withhold my love or hugs as punishment.

Slowly I’m becoming a ninja mum. But it has ben a journey. Of personal growth for me, of modelling right behaviour and reigning my emotions and forgiving and training in what I’d want to see. I am also learning my kids and what works and doesn’t. So here are some things you can try to  help navigate the highly emotional training moments. *Learning is the operative word because most times I am raging and threatening and yelling and probably damaging my kids emotionally.

Connect

Often, bad behavior is my son’s desperate attempt to make us pay attention to him. He knows running over his sister with a toy truck or snatching her trike will get someone’s attention. He knows that his little whiny voice that can make the same request 45 times in 60 seconds gets to me. So when I realise he’s about to burst into tears for no “apparent” reason, I put down my phone, get the nanny to pick the younger sister from my lap, and we sit and cuddle. We talk if he wants to but most times he doesn’t want; he just wants to be held. After a few minutes (as long as the sister doesn’t run back to me demanding to be held also), he slides off my lap and goes on to do whatever he was doing before. When you find your child acting out, look at your relationship lately. Have you been too busy, too preoccupied? Is your child feeling ignored, unloved? Connect. Hug. Switch off the movie. Put the phone down. Take your child out or help them ride their bike or colour a picture. Spend time.

Meet needs.

Hunger, thirst, fatigue, over stimulation and sickness are major causes of foul moods and anger outbursts. So anticipate these needs and preempt them. We carry a banana or crisps to the playground. I make sure the children are fed and have napped before going to the supermarket. When emotions get high, my first recourse is to cuddle and if things don’t get better soon, we look for food.

Deflect /distract/ prevent.

I marvel at how quickly you can get your child from whining for a toy by distracting with a funny sto that ends with lots of tickles. A child can choose a lollypop over a toy car. Yeah, Sh650 saved. Trade the iPhone she is crying for for an imaginary one. Know the things that instantly capture your child’s imagination. On the brink of a meltdown, you will find me making up a story about monkeys in the nearby tree or how I just saw Kayan of Disney’s Lion Guard laughing in the flower bush. At the supermarket I evade the sweet and toy aisle when I have no plans of buying. I lie that there is no power hence no TV time until homework is done. I send them to the bedroom to search for a ball while I sneak out of the door without accompanying tantrums. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

Negotiate.

Everything is negotiable with kids; you just have to know your kids. I used to tell my son that if he wants to watch TV he has to play outside for one hour. If he doesn’t cry in the mall, he will get Kinder Joy. If he is nice to his sister he can accompany me to wherever. I know he will do anything for an hour on YouTube or a chance to go to the mall with me. So I dangle that carrot. (I know the line is thin with bribery, hey, don’t judge). Also, discuss treats/gifts and rewards way beforehand. Let the child choose the gifts/treats they want. That way your child knows that on his birthday he’s getting a bike, a Ninja Turtle cake and lots of chocolate sweets. Allow this to sink in so there is no space for unmet expectations. Ask the child what he/she wants as a treat on a day out and arrive at a mutually agreeable item. And stick to your pledge. If you said you were buying a milkshake buy one. If she cries for chocolate as well remind her you had a deal and everyone needs to stick to it. Give ample warnings before introducing changes. So tell them you are leaving their friend’s house in ten minutes, then after five then two. Warn them that you will switch off the TV shortly or take away the tablet.

Cool off.

When pressed to the wall, go hide. Leave the screaming preschooler and the spilled rice on the floor and walk to the bedroom or toilet or garden ALONE for a good 15 minutes or until you are no longer in murderous rage and the spilled rice stops feeling like a life and death situation. That mistake may no longer look so bad once you are no longer in the heat of the moment. You may even be able to view it from their lens. If you can’t physically walk off, go to your inner quiet place and daydream about Diani or ice cream. Pray. For peace and perspective and wisdom and that your blood pressure will come down and that these kids won’t be the end of you. Of course at this point everyone around you will judge your parenting skills but who cares. They don’t sleep in your bed and you know you are barely holding on. When you are at your wits end and you are about to lose your own temper, yell, curse or hit someone, breathe. Deeply. Five times. You are the grown up here. A broken TV screen  isn’t the end of the world. Once you are calm you can teach your child how to do the same.

Empathise

See their world from the eyes.Or at least understand that you do not see their world from where you stand. Sipping his milk to check if it’s ok without his permission is a big deal. Opening the sweet wrapper for her before she is ready is earth shattering. You don’t have to understand it. Ask for permission.

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Give in.

A mom’s gotta choose her battles wisely. So she wants more soda or won’t bite any of her veggies or meat. So this is the third cheap toy you are buying in a month out of pressure. So they don’t want to sleep at their bedtime or in their bed and you are tired of fighting with them. Think of how life would be if you never had them or something happened to either of you and the little annoyances get a whole new perspective. Embrace the early years. Embrace their drive and spirit. You were like that too. Don’t get too uptight that lessons aren’t sticking and your children will be malnourished, and you are turning into your crazy mother and your children will be the recluse of society. They won’t.

Put your foot down.

I was told to never force a toddler to eat. I tried it for a year until my daughter became badly  constipated because she won’t drink water or juice or yoghurt or fruits or vegetables. She just loves chicken, ugali and cake. She had to gobble down the spinach whether she liked it or not. We were no longer negotiating on drinking water.  We have to remove her poopy diaper even if she throws the mother of all tantrums.

Don’t be afraid of tears.

Kids easily manipulate and wear down your resolve, especially if you are in public – like church or a restaurant. I have learnt to eat my dinner amidst screams or to walk on unfazed by the teary preschooler who doesn’t want to go to school. My son has learnt my no is a no, whether he cries blood or rolls on the floor in fits. I got tired of being manipulated.

Catch the teaching moments.

Every moment is a moment to train your child into the person you’d want them to be. There’s no better time to teach about sharing as when your child is being selfish with his toys or chocolate. I ask my son what he would feel if he’s the one who wanted to play with the toy and someone wouldn’t share it. Once my son comes crashing on the floor from the sofa where he’s been bouncing despite my warnings, I use the pain in his arm to explain that he could get hurt or hurt others.

Discipline.

According to your child’s age and disposition. Spanking gets to my daughter. It doesn’t quite have the same effect to my son. For him I am currently trying denying privileges.  He  is currently not allowed to watch any TV for a month because he broke the TV screen. He gets it. He may not be happy about it but understands that he lost the right to demand for cartoon time after hitting the TV with a bicycle pump, intentionally.  This is working way better than any spanking I would have ever done. He also does not get to play with my tablet indefinitely because he forgets to go to the toilet when on the tablet.

Use your normal voice.

Yelling will drive you crazy and you will find you have to increase the decibels as resistance to your voice builds. Instead go stand or kneel before your child, call out their name in a normal voice and stop until they look at you, then pass whatever message you needed to pass.

Threaten.

Well, that really doesn’t work for us but you can try. Threaten to never buy them another toy if they smash theirs down, threaten to abandon them at the mall if they dare raise their voice, threaten to never go anywhere with them if they misbehave… you get the drift.

 BONUS TIP:

Grow along. Enjoy the teaching and growth moments for both of you. Ultimately, my children are helping me become more patient, prayerful, mature, healthy, loving… And I think that is a big point. May be it’s the whole point.

 

11 questions to ask when looking for a kindergarten

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So you have made the visit to your child’s prospective school. Here are the questions to ask the head teacher to enable you judge whether that is the place that your child will call their academic home for the next 3 or so years.

1. What’s a normal school day like?

You want to find out what the children learn, how structured or unstructured their day is, meal times, nap times and any other extras that your child could benefit from. One school told me they start every day with singing and prayer. Another had a different “social citizen” agenda each day – on  Monday the kids talked about the environment, on Tuesday they covered science, Wednesday was about the various foods we eat and so on.

This information will help you know if the school exposes your child to just more than learning the sounds and numbers, whether it offers regular breaks and provides meals on time and how varied your child’s day is.

Also find out if teachers follow a strict curriculum or if is there an emphasis on lesson plans tailored to the progress of each child. What happens if your child is gifted or a little behind?

2. What are the school rules?

You are looking for rules and regulations that are simple, clear and logical and that tie with those that you have set at home to avoid clashes and future troubles. We all remember the case of a school that did not allow dreadlocks on boys in primary school and the fiasco that was. I recently saw a parent complain on social media because the kid was asked to repeat a class for not meeting the half way mark. Know the rules early on and choose whether you can live by them.

On the same note, what happens when the rules are not followed? What are the penalties?

3. What does the school fees cover?

Does it include meals? Is school transport paid for aside? Are extras such as swimming, ballet lessons and school trips covered? I assumed my son’s school fees was all inclusive only to find out school trips and music classes are paid for as extras.

4. What’s the school menu or do kids bring their own lunch?

You want to find out if meals are balanced, creative and adequate, and this can also help you plan your own dinner menu at home to avoid duplication. I know a mother who never cooks rice at home because that’s what the kids eat every day at school. Also, can you bring food or snacks to school? This might seem silly but there will be instances when your child hasn’t had his breakfast and you wish you could pack it.

5. How do you handle medical emergencies?

What happens if a child is unwell? Do they give emergency help or do they have to call the parent? Can they give painkillers for fever? Can they take the child to hospital before the parent arrives? Do they bring the child home?

6. What’s the policy on school uniform?

Can a child attend school in home clothes? What’s the average cost of uniform and where do you get it? By the way, school uniform shopping can cost a big chunk especially if you are restricted to one shop that has fixed (and high) prices.

7. What’s the school’s discipline policy?

How does the school handle specific incidents like bullying, prejudice etc? What does the school consider indiscipline?

8. What’s the classroom size?

How many teachers are there in a class? Small classes provide more individualised attention than classes with a high student-teacher ratio.

9. What extra curricular activities are available and what’s their cost?

Schools offer different programmes like skating, ballet, piano, tae kwon-do, horse riding and crafts. There are however schools that offer basic activities like field sports and that’s it. If you think your child could be the next Jason Dunford, you might need to get a little creative.

10. What’s your role as a parent?

Apart from paying fees and getting your child ready for school every day, some schools may place certain demands on you  like taking part in school activities or volunteering in certain areas. On the other hand you may want to be more active in your child’s academic pursuits but the school does not provide any arena for involvement.

11. Where do children who graduate from the kindergarten go?

I know a school whose curriculum did not allow my child to rejoin 8-4-4 syllabus without much hiccups because for the first three years, they focused on play and behavior rather than academic stuff. He would have been that kid in Class One who does not know to write ABCD. You may also find that the kindergarten has a special relationship with a primary school that takes their kids in Class One.

This article was originally published by Mums Village.