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Spencer Lindsey

The “S” Word

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I don’t write often about discipline online because it’s a great way to have an argument with strangers. I feel like in general we have enough yelling on the Internet and I don’t need to contribute more.

Parenting is fraught with controversial topics and discipline is certainly on that list. But today, I wanted to share one thing that I think we can all agree has no place in parenting.


Now we could have a long, boring conversation about healthy guilt and owning the consequences of your actions, but that’s not what I’m talking about right now.

I’m talking about leaving shame out of your discipline. More specifically, I’m talking about not shaming your kids in front of their friends.

I saw this happen recently. A parent had to discipline their 14-year-old and went out of their way to do it in front of their son’s friends. The whole thing was pretty difficult to watch. Why is this so harmful?

Well, for starters, the shame blinds the kid from actually changing their behavior. Shame is loud and neon. Instead of being able to fix the situation, the kid gets this tidal wave of shame that blocks out everything else. It’s hard to learn from your mistakes when shame is screaming at you. It also turns minor offenses into seemingly terrible situations. Shame exaggerates what has actually happened. And last but not least, a middle schooler already carries a load of shame around just by the nature of their season of life. You don’t need to add more.

The problem the parent was mad about wasn’t a big deal. It was minor, right up until they decided to handle the punishment essentially on a stage for all to see.

What should they have done?

They should have pulled the kid aside. They should have talked quietly. They could have even discussed the issue a few hours later. Young kids need to be disciplined in the moment or they get confused. Teenagers can receive discipline after the specific event just fine. (This is not new information either. Every parent on the planet has removed a misbehaving kid from a restaurant at some point.)

Discipline is not easy. It’s definitely one of the many challenges of parenting. When possible though, don’t punish your kids in a way that shames them in front of their friends.

The effect of doing that ruins anything good that might come from the discipline.

I promise.

-Jon Acuff

4 Ways To Connect With Your Kid’s Teacher

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Do you remember your first grade teacher? I loved mine. I remember how Ms. Parker erased the board from left to right every day and then wrote the new date in the top right hand corner. I also remember how she showed me how to use a ruler because I was sick on the day she taught everyone else. She knelt near my desk and she helped me measure my arm and my folder and my snack.

Now that our oldest is in school, I’m beginning to understand the crazy reality of widening his circle. I know his teachers will spend many of the quality hours of his week guiding and molding him, so I want our partnership with those teachers to be strong.

And because I’ve been a teacher longer than I’ve been a parent, I’m clinging to a few things I hope to remember now that I’m on the other side of the playground fence.


I know the hardest time to get to know a teacher is when my kid needs help or is in trouble. I want to make it a point to befriend his teachers as soon as possible. Ask them questions about their classroom and their life. Connect with them however I can and as early as I can. Show them that I am interested in them and what they do to love and serve my child every day. That way, when there’s a bump in the road, my relationship is strong enough for honesty and compassion on both sides.


As our kids grow in their understanding of authority, I know they’ll look to us to learn how to respond when they’re faced with conflict. I feel our disrespect of our child’s teachers will breed their future disrespect of us and other authorities in their life. I want to encourage and model respect, and help them learn from the decisions their teachers make, good and bad.

3 – GIVE

I remember being so touched that a mom randomly brought me new Expo markers that I called her at home to thank her. I want to give my time. My enthusiasm. My old magazines. It doesn’t matter. I know I want to show up and show my kid’s teachers I’m willing to support their every-day, super-tough work.

4 – PRAY

I think I realized how much I like praying on the first day I watched that school bus drive away from our street. Talking to God about my kids’ day is a great way to relieve a lot of anxiety about the things I can’t control . . . and a great way to thank Him for the inevitable and wonderful ways their circles are widening.

-Natalie Kitchen

A Checklist for a Successful School Year

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It may be hard to believe, but summer is almost over! Maybe that fact makes you want to burst into tears—alarm clocks, homework, and bus stops. Or maybe it makes you want to throw a huge party—no kids saying, “I’m bored!” or begging to go to the pool. Probably for most of us, it’s a mixture of both.

Either way, we want to help make the transition as smooth as possible for you and your family! Below is a checklist you can use as a guide to prepare for the coming school year.


Waking up early after weeks of sleeping in is no fun for anyone. Before school starts, start waking up your family and sending them to bed at the same time you will during the school year. This will save a ton of yawns that rst week back.


Choose a time during the weekend to huddle around a calendar with your family. Maybe it’s Sunday night after dinner—everyone shares their plans for the week and discusses any changes from the regular routine. Who has practice? Who has carpool duty? Who has a doctor’s appointment?


Try to eat dinner together as many times a week as possible. Establish a habit of asking each other, “What was the best part of your day?” and “What was your least favorite part?”


Where will the book bags go? Shoes? Lunch boxes? Grab a few hooks and a couple of baskets and create a go-to spot for collecting items your kids will take with them every day. This will help you get out the door faster and eliminate the potential for frustration.


Determine what the rules about homework are. Will you require your student to begin their homework immediately? Give them an hour of downtime? Allow them to wait until after dinner? Make a plan for whatever works best for your family. Then, create an area free of TVs, gaming systems, clutter, etc.


Starting a new school year can give a kid of any age anxiety. Take your child out to lunch or dinner before the rst day of school and talk about the upcoming year. Encourage them. Let them ask questions. Remind them of their wins last year, and discuss your expectations for the new school year. Make sure they know you’re praying for them.


This is especially helpful for parents of younger students. Send in some supplies—tissues or markers or hand sanitizer—and attach a note that introduces you and your kid. Offer your help and encouragement. Ask them what their favorite treat
is, and then surprise them with it a few times in the year.


The best way to start your kid’s day of school
is with some daily encouragement. Send them off to school with words that ll their heart.
» “I’ve already been praying for you this morning.”
» “You look beautiful/handsome/sharp this morning!”
» “I love starting my day with you!”


Be clear and consistent with the rules about homework and bedtimes and the consequences for not following them. De ne a reward system, whether it’s extra screen time or a later curfew.


Gather your family (and other families, if you want!) and pray for the new school year. Reassure your child that you’ll continue to pray for them as the upcoming year progresses.

-Holly Crawshaw