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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Navigating the Early Grade School Years

Navigating the Early Grade School Years

Author Erin MacPherson and her mother, Ellen Schuknecht, an educator, offer encouragement and advice to moms of early grade school-aged children.
Original Air Date: July 25, 2014

Jim Daly: Erin, what’s the number one thing a mom should do as her child enters the grade school years?

Erin MacPherson: My first answer is to pray because this is your child’s experience. They’re starting kindergarten and you need to remember that it’s not you that’s going and it’s not you that’s doing anything, but it’s their chance to start out into the world. And so you just need to pray as you send them out, that you’ll make good choices and that they’ll be able to just grow the way that God wants them to grow.

John Fuller: Hmm. Well, and I think every mom listening said, “Yeah, I’m praying. I’ve been praying.” (laughs). And that is, uh, that is one of many things that you can do as you help your child go into the educational experience. Uh, that’s Erin MacPherson and she’s the author of The Christian Mama’s Guide to the Grade School Years, and she’s also joined by her mom and mentor Ellen Schuknecht. And, uh, we are so glad to have them here on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. And Jim, this should be an imminently practical program for any mother who is worried about what’s ahead here for school.

Jim: It is John and I think, uh, this book is really covering kindergarten through fourth grade. And those are exciting times. I mean, I can remember being a kindergartner and I was, uh, first day of school my mom had to drag me to school ’cause I didn’t want to go. Who wants to go? And, uh, I mean, you can’t be sane and wanna leave all day ’cause you, how you gonna play?

John: Yeah. Home is all I known. It’s a pretty good deal.

Jim: (laughs), it’s a good deal. You get snacks-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and all that good stuff. So she drags me to kindergarten and I fall in love with the teacher. I guess it’s, what you say was a puppy crush.

Erin: (laughs).

Jim: And I didn’t wanna leave that afternoon.

John: Oh, my.

Jim: So my teacher had to actually push me all the way back home.

John: (laughs).

Jim: Fortunately I lived a block from school, but I mean, it was so funny. In fact, my mom, she was so smart. My mom said, “Oh, do you like your teacher?” I said, “Oh, I love my teacher. She’s so nice.” Mrs. Smith. And who doesn’t have a teacher named Mrs. Smith? She said, “Well, why don’t you invite her over for dinner?” And I asked my kindergarten teacher (laughs) out to dinner. And I said, “Can you come to my house for dinner?” And she was so kind and she said yes. So I remember dinner at my house. My mom and her sat at the dining room table and ate. I sat with a TV tray and watched Batman, (laughs). That was my first date. And, uh, boy, I don’t know why Jean said yes. But, uh, anyway, kindergarten, it just has all that trauma and opportunity, right?

Erin: A lot of trauma and a lot of opportunity. But I have to say for me, the trauma was more for me than for my son. I, they told us in a memo that we had to let our kids walk into the school by themselves so they could get used to it because-

Jim: They didn’t push (laughs).

Erin: … I think they didn’t want a bunch of parents in there (laughs). And so I had to just drop him off at the curb. And I had nightmares about that. Like I was at, I was like, “Well what if he falls? What if someone picks on him? What if he can’t find his classroom? What if he just wanders off?” And my husband was like, “Are you serious (laughs)? He has to walk 10 steps.”

Jim: Well Erin, it’s natural for young moms to think in those ways and dads too. I think we have become far more protective because we perceive at least, and I think it’s true, there’s so much more danger lurking that we, uh, batten down the hatches. We’re, you know, making sure they’re never alone. And is that healthy or unhealthy?

Erin: I think it’s unhealthy, but I, ’cause they do obviously need experiences on their own. But I also think that when they’re five, it’s really hard to let go. And they’re not ready to completely be on their own. They’re not ready to walk all the way into the school by themselves. They need a little bit of a hand.

Jim: Ellen, you are mom here for Erin, and I love the way she talks about you.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: The relationship you have comes through and it sounds like every time your daughter Erin is in a jam, she calls mom, you’re like the red phone in the house.

John: (laughs).

Jim: It’s the bat phone. Just, I guess-

John: Oh, okay.

Jim: There’s an analogy here.

John: It’s gonna be all through the program now.

Jim: It’s all about Batman. But, uh, you know, it’s just, I, I love that because that’s the way it should be. You also, the big benefit for Erin here is that you were an educator for 35 years. So you’re coming with wonderful experience. You can help her substantially. Talk about that experience. Being an educator is what we’re talking about. Have you seen those changes where kids had more independence perhaps at an earlier age than they do today?

Ellen Schuknecht: I think there’s a big shift there, but there’s also it, I have to say, it’s really fun for me to have gone through that experience myself and now watch my children with their grandchildren going through there.

Jim: Do you bite your lip?

Ellen: I do. (laughs). Um, and I think the same message is clear in any generation that the kids, parents have to let the kids learn and make the mistakes and grow from these challenges.

Jim: Uh, why are we afraid of those mistakes?

Ellen: The current generation of parents, I think they, they so badly want their kids to be successful like any generation. But I think they’re more apt to feel like they’re responsible and it reflects on them. And so they’re so, I love young moms. I work with a lot of young moms at school with the parents and they feel a lot of guilt and worry. And I try to just tell ’em to relax. ‘Cause the kids do need to learn and they learn and let ’em learn when it’s safe when they’re little.

Jim: Mm-hmm. How do we let go? A real practical question. We all struggle with that. ‘Cause I think we are breeding control freaks-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and, in us, I mean the, the, the environment is making us more control oriented. So how do we actually, uh, take a deep breath and let go a little bit?

Erin: I was gonna say the story I told you about my son having to walk into the school by himself. First of all, I practiced. My husband thought I was crazy.

Jim: You actually practiced it.

Erin: I, I took him like the day before school started and I was like, “We’re just gonna practice walking.” I mean, it’s literally 10 steps.

Jim: And was the practice more for you than him?

Erin: Yeah, it was for me.

Jim: (laughs).

Erin: ‘Cause he was like, “I’m fine mom.” But then I pulled out of the school driveway that morning and I pulled into the side road and I sobbed because I was like, “My baby, he’s in school. What am I going to do with my life?”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: And at that moment I realized I have to let God have my son for these, you know, six hours a day.

Jim: Now we also want to recognize that they’re all different type of educational choices. We have homeschoolers and we have private Christian schools.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Um, you know, there’s a lot of different educational choices today. So we’re not grading those in any way. But parents who are choosing to place their children in school outside the home, that’s the environment we’re talking about.

Erin: Well, I think we’re kind of talking about all the environments. In the book, we actually go through all the different choices. And it’s actually interesting, when I wrote the book, my son was going to public school. And last summer I woke up one morning in July after all of the private school deadlines were long over and I thought, “I cannot send him back there.” And it wasn’t because I had a problem with it. It wasn’t, I loved the school. He did a great job there, but I just felt God really telling me that there was something else.

And I pursued it and I prayed about it and I didn’t tell my husband ’cause he really liked the public school too. And a couple weeks later he told me, “We’re, we can’t send him back there. We’re gonna have to send him somewhere else.” So both of us kind of came to this conclusion on our own.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Erin: So I actually moved my son into a private university model school where he goes two days a week to school and two days a week school at home and started my daughter there. So I’ve done both. So I do the homeschool, we do the public school. We’ve done the private school. So.

Jim: Um, Ellen, you came up with a list of 15 factors, uh, that identify success in children. And, uh, if you could, why don’t you identify two or three out of the 15, and we’ll post those on the website as well.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But, uh, identify a couple of those that actually indicate a child is moving in a healthy direction.

Ellen: One of them is the initiative. And we were talking about a little bit earlier about how-

Jim: Having initiative.

Ellen: Having initiative. Parents today, I feel like young moms like to think that if they worry they care more. And I always tell ’em, “Worry doesn’t mean you care more. You need to let your child go and let them grow and have the initiative to try things out, to approach their teachers, to walk into the school alone.” All those things that we’re trying to do to help them grow in their own initiative, really.

Jim: Hmm.

Ellen: So I think initiative is a huge one. And-

Jim: Let’s explore that for a minute. ‘Cause that’s very interesting to me. Uh, one of the things I’ve written a book about, fathering. And so often both moms and dads today, we tend to want to, uh, make it easier. So the, the analogy that I used was kids climbing trees at the park.

Ellen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It’s so fascinating, if you watch parents today, a lot of moms and dads will actually put their child up on the limb rather than letting them climb it-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … which I find very interesting. And it’s almost we’re saying, “You don’t have to work hard. You, we don’t want you to fail, we don’t want you to fall.” And nobody wants their child to fall out of the tree. But rather than struggle and maybe the first few times they can’t get up on the limb like they’re friends and they’re down at the bottom, maybe crying, let ’em go, let ’em go because you know what? That pressure will create the desire to get up there and they’ll find a way. But so often we wanna bail our children out, don’t we?

Ellen: And if you ask a mom or a dad what they are most proud of, often it involves a challenge that they overcame. And yet our tendency is maybe to wanna take away the challenges from our kids, the very lessons that grow. So letting them figure out how to face a challenge on their own-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ellen: … grows confidence like nothing else.

Jim: It does, and especially in school. I, uh, you know, this is a seventh grade analogy, not a young grade school analogy. But, uh, one of my boys was doing a science project and he was struggling. The first few assignments, he didn’t do well with the grade yet. He was telling Jean and me, “Y- don’t worry. I’ve got it. I’ve got it.” At one, at one point at the table, he had to say, “You, I feel like you guys are really judging me.”

Ellen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So I said to Jean, let’s just back off. Let’s just back off. And we did. And thankfully, I mean, it ends with a happy story. I’m not sure how I would’ve responded in the other way, but he ended up placing very high in, in the final competition. And I could tell he was beaming about it because he had told us, in essence, “I got it, back off. Don’t judge me in the early stages here, I’ll do it.”

Ellen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And he did. And his confidence was so much healthier-

Ellen: Yes. Yes.

Jim: And in a good way.

Ellen: Yes, yes. Yes.

Jim: That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it?

Ellen: It’s, exactly. And another one would be just being teachable in a child who prefers maybe to think they know it all because they don’t want to admit that there’s something they don’t know. And little kids will do this because for some reason, this idea that you have to know everything and to put on this idea that there’s nothing to learn, starts very early in kids.

John: Mm-hmm.

Ellen: Letting them be okay about not knowing something and learning it. And it’s a hard lesson to teach for the child. I think Joey, when he was little, liked to be the coach, even if he didn’t know the skills-

John: Mm-hmm.

Ellen: … ’cause he wanted to kind of feel like he knew it all.

Jim: Hmm.

Ellen: Knowing it’s okay that as adults we all have to learn too.

Jim: Uh, so initiative is one, resilience is another one that you have on that list. I, I identify with resilience. I think it’s critical, it kind of fits with initiative, but resilience is being able to take the blows and still keep moving. Why is that important for a child?

Ellen: Because that’s what life is really about. It’s about… Life, life is a series of unexpected things. And I feel like when parents recognize their job is to grow children who can face what comes rather than trying to pave the way ahead and make it easy, they’re raising kids who can handle whatever God’s gonna give them to do and what life’s gonna throw at them.

Jim: Mm-hmm. Let me ask you about another one that caught my attention. Genuine faith. It’s interesting that you list it that way as opposed to just faith. What do you mean by genuine faith?

Ellen: We want our kids to behave well and parents want their kids to be respectful and know how to be kind in their words when they talk to adults. And we’re looking at these outward appearances and it’s very easy to replace the gospel with moralism.

Jim: How do you create a lesson like that? Let’s, let’s just go through it. First, second, third grade. Give us an example of teaching genuine faith, a Christ heartedness with your child. Give us a picture of that.

Erin: Well, I’m gonna say, like I always say, my mom was working on her blog the other day and I was reading it and it was talking about the desires of your heart. And if a kid just desires to be good so they don’t get in trouble, then their desire may, it may work when they’re eight and it’s easy, but when it gets hard, they don’t. And so she was talking about how to teach kids to truly desire God and to truly know him. And part of that involves knowing him and knowing who he is and how he works with us. So I think a big lesson for that is just helping kids to learn to desire God.

Ellen: And not focusing so much on outcomes. I think parents want good grades. We all want our kids to be so successful, as you said, but the, it’s the process. It’s what they do along the way that they’re learning more about who they are and who God is.

Jim: I, I remember having lunch with Chuck Colson, uh, before he passed away, and we miss him desperately. But he said to me after looking at some research that was done at the time, this is a couple years ago. And, uh, he said, the moral fiber, the, the moral direction, the compass of a child is really formed by about age 10. And then the teen years are really the boundaries in which those things can be tested or will be tested by many children. I found that both frightening, yet engaging by about 10, that part of your parenting is pretty much over. They’re going to have their moral compass either in a good way or in a not so good way. So as a, as a parent, what are those key things that we need to do to ensure their compass is strong?

Erin: I think the big difference between knowing what’s right and wrong and wanting to do right is a big difference. And I think a lot of parents, me included sometimes are so caught up in the discipline, consequence discipline that they forget that that’s just kind of a surface level thing and there has to be a bigger connection and a deeper understanding of who God is and what he wants from us.

Jim: How do you get there?

Ellen: Well, I’d, I’d just like to say that you’re so right when you talked about Chuck Colson saying the moral compass is developed, and I think what he’s saying is that kids by 10 know what’s right and wrong.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ellen: There’s no reason to keep harping and lecturing and telling ’em what’s right and wrong. By that age, they need to then experience and try it out. And they need to learn the consequences of their choices, both good and bad. That when they’re treating their friends poorly, their friends won’t like them. When they’re not turning in their homework, their grades suffer, that there are consequences. And that they’re seeing that knowing what’s good is not enough. They need to learn to desire good and desire God and let out of that flow the right decisions and see that concept.

Jim: Hmm. I need to ask this question because I think, again, as parents, we often want and expect the perfect outcome.

Ellen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And so we’re on our kids about that. And no matter what it is, grades, behavior.

Ellen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And in many ways it’s good to have that expectation, but we also have to leave room for experiential learning. In other words, what you’re saying is, “If you go beyond that boundary, here’s what’s gonna happen.” How does a parent move from, uh, kind of that younger age where maybe they’re five or six into the seven, eight age group where they need to kind of figure it out, you need to let them feel the pain and consequence of their decision? Whereas before, it’s almost like you’re moving from that parent to more of a coach, if I could say it that way.

Ellen: Well, it’s interesting that you would say that that’s what we call our parents in those years. And we train our parents at the school where my grandchildren go to move out of that teacher role to a coach alongside as the child is trying on right behavior and they often in the process will try on wrong behavior.

Jim: Hmm.

Ellen: And allowing them the freedom to make mistakes, the freedom to fail and feel on their own what that feels like ’cause then they change.

Jim: Again, is it when you’re in that public environment particularly, the freedom to fail, that’s a kind of a bigger pill for mom and dad to swallow?

Erin: Well, this is an interesting concept in public schools right now where they’re going away from, you know, you have to get these perfect grades, you have to, or you’ll get detention if you’re tardy, to a place where kids have to solve the problem. So a kid’s tardy 10 times. They tell the teacher, “Well, this is what I need to make sure I’m not tardy. I need to know that I’m gonna be in detention every day” and they’re in detention. Or, “I need to write an essay about being late.” And suddenly the responsibility for coming up with their own consequence. Um, these kids are basically forced to analyze their behavior. And this is in public schools, public high schools in really rough cities, it’s really working.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

John: Hmm.

Erin: And I think that translates to parents, like allow your kids to almost figure out their own consequences for their behavior.

Jim: Well, and you know, what’s interesting about that is that oftentimes in those, uh, settings, there may not be a strong parental role model.

Erin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: They may be, um, something like what I lived. I mean, I didn’t have a parent saying, “Be home by 9:00,” and you’ve got to, as a child, you gotta begin to set your own boundaries.

Erin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Now that has to be healthy and hopefully the, the adults in that environment are making sure, “Yeah, my penalty for being tardy is I get a donut” (laughs).

Erin: Well, and that’s the thing. They have to work with a counselor and a teacher to come up with their own restoration policies, what they call it, to restore themselves to where they should be. And so working together and coming up with it, I think that make, I love the idea of restorative justice.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ellen: I do too. And I think that when kids come up with their own solutions to their problems, they’re often a little harder on themselves than the adults would be.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ellen: And they come up with creative ways that they own and are willing to follow through on.

Jim: It, that’s true. I, I’ve heard it as well that oftentimes kids will be much more severe-

Ellen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … (laughs) in terms of their consequence and maybe we should try that at home. What’s an appropriate age to begin to do that?

Ellen: I think it’s a gradual thing. I think as much opportunities you can give your children, even in the young preschool, kindergarten ages to solve their own problems, as much responsibilities you can give them, you need to do it. And it’s…

Jim: I- if it comes to that kind of disobedient behavior, would that be appropriate? Or are we talking about other things where it’s not defiance per se? It, for me, defiance seems to fit into a separate category all its own.

Erin: I agree. I think it’s defiance is different. I think this is more like you’ve hurt someone else or you’ve hurt yourself in a way, whether it’s intentional or unintentional and you solve the problem. So you accidentally spilled the milk, you have to clean it up. You did that.

Jim: When you’re looking at those early years of, of grade school, let’s top out at fourth grade, what should that fourth grader look like, he or she going into fifth grade? What are the characteristics of their nature that you want them to possess?

Ellen: By fourth grade, I think they know how to be respectful first of all, they need to know how to be a good friend. How to share, how to turn in their homework, how to complete their work on their own. They need to have the basics down of behavior.

Jim: Hmm.

Ellen: They need to know what it looks like.

Jim: Uh, talk to us about the overdoing of praise because I, you can see that as well when children aren’t really earning your praise. But because we’ve been told as parents, “Make sure you’re praising your kids.” We say, “Wow, I’ve never seen anybody eat a bowl of cereal the way you’ve just eaten that cereal-”

John: (laughs).

Jim: “… you’re awesome. High five me.” Kids can go, “Wow, that’s all you’d need for, you know, strokes here. That’s pretty easy.” Do we give our kids a challenge when we’re overpraising them?

Erin: I think not only do we not give them a challenge, but we also kind of set ourselves up as liars. Like you say, “You’re the smartest kid in the entire world.”

Jim: And the kids figure it out.

Erin: And then the kid figures out, “Wait, I got a C on this. I’m not the smartest kid in the entire world. My mom lied to me.” Um-

Jim: Do they really process it that way?

Erin: I think some older kids could.

Jim: Hmm.

Erin: I think the important thing is to praise the effort, to praise the process. “You worked really hard on that math assignment. I’m proud of you. You’ve done a really good job of trying to learn patience.” And-

Jim: So don’t overstate it.

Erin: Right. And praise the process and the effort and what they’re working on instead of these amazing feats. And also don’t pray something that God gave them. Why, like, “You are the most beautiful person in the world.” That’s a gift from God.

John: Mm-hmm.

Erin: Praise what they’re doing.

Jim: Do you make a, a distinction, uh, in these early years of grade school between the gifts God has given you and the attributes that you have honed? Is there a distinction that you would make?

Erin: I think there is. I think you can say something like, you know, “God gave you a talent to be a writer and I’m really proud of you for honing it and working so hard to get better.”

Jim: At, sometimes you don’t want to have them rest, right? So they, they get lazy with the talent God has given them.

Erin: Right.

Jim: How do you motivate a child, uh, perhaps when you notice the gift and then the gift isn’t being developed?

Ellen: I love your question here because I think that if we continue to praise our kids for work ethic and the process, we continue to motivate them to get better. And if the flattery comes in, they may see no reason to get better, but they also may be afraid to try ’cause it may not meet the standards you’ve set about them. So they’ll hide behind, “What if I’m not really as good as my mom said I was?”

Jim: (laughs). Yeah.

Ellen: So the praise on the effort, if they see that work ethic is what really sets up success down the road, that it’s growth.

Jim: And praise that.

Ellen: Yes.

Jim: Yeah. Erin, you talk in your book, The Christian Mama’s Guide to the Grade School Years. Uh, you talk about being in college and having a season where you fell away from your faith. Talk about that. Did you feel you weren’t ready? Uh, was there something in your early experience that perhaps provided the root for that? Um, what was happening?

Erin: I think I got to college and I realized I had a lot of freedom and I realized that I had known what was right and wrong, but I hadn’t necessarily, like I said earlier, desired what was right and wrong. And I wasn’t truly seeking God in my life. So I figured, “Hey, it’s way more fun to just do what I want to sleep in on Sunday and hang out with my friends.” And it just wasn’t important enough to me to stick to God, even though I still knew he was real.

Jim: It, that’s a very typical story that we’ll get here at Focus on the Family, parents of 18, 19, 20 year olds, especially those that go off to college. Not everyone goes off to college, but t- they do have a moment where their, their faith is in a crisis because mom and dad who have set those boundaries and have monitored, uh, perhaps overly monitored their children aren’t ready to launch. And so they get into that environment where there may be parties and other things, and they really have not developed the skillset to say no. How do you do a better job? How do we as parents do a better job launching our children to be able to get into an environment where we’re not around them and they make the right decisions?

Erin: Yeah. It’s that genuine faith where they do the right thing, even when they don’t have to or they’re not being forced to. I’m gonna let you answer that.

Jim: (laughs).

Ellen: Well, I think one of the most important things we can do is be okay with the kids asking the tough questions at home. Being a safe place to talk about the tough things. And that’s hard for Christian families ’cause we don’t wanna hear doubt, we don’t wanna hear these questionings. And yet in those middle school adolescent years where they are questioning inside and they don’t wanna bring it out, if we could help our kids to be safe in talking about it.

Jim: Let me ask you this, because temperament can play into this, I, I’m just, parental temperament. Um, Jean and I, Jean’s a science person, she did biochemistry. Those styles in parenting can play into this because especially in, in our Christian experience, uh, we hold ourselves to a high standard. We want our children to live to a high standard and sometimes we become intolerant of failure. And I think all along God is saying, uh, like in the prodigal story, love that child-

Ellen: Yes.

Jim: … because that in the end is what will make the difference, uh, through thick and thin, through right and wrong. And the earlier they can make some of those mistakes-

Ellen: Yes.

Jim: … actually the better it is so that they can go off better prepared to confront those pulls and those things that they’re going to encounter once they’re out of the home. Is that fair? Or would you add something to that Ellen?

Ellen: Absolutely. And that they see when they make the mistakes when they’re under your roof, that you still love them. That your connection to them is not based on their perfection, but based on their desire to grow and learn and that you’re gonna love them even if they’re in a mess.

John: That’s Ellen Schuknecht and, uh, she and her daughter Erin MacPherson joined us today on Focus on the Family and what great practical advice they offered to ensure that those years of early grade school are some of the best parenting years as you mold and shape the character of your child.

Jim: You know, John, navigating those early years in school can be tough and it’s such a privilege to be able to share this kind of advice and information, especially as everyone is heading back to school. We also have a fantastic podcast called Thriving Student: What Your Child Needs For School Success. And it’s available wherever you listen to podcasts and on our website. You’ll hear from great parenting experts like Dr. Kevin Leman, Dr. Kathy Koch, and many others who will help you and your child gear up for heading back to school. Uh, you know, we receive letters from parents all the time that needed a boost or didn’t know how to handle a particular situation with their children. And because of your financial support, we’ve been able to be there for them and give them the answers that they’re seeking.

John: Mm-hmm. And one mom wrote to us saying, “Your broadcast has led me to study more deeply and respond more effectively in my relationships. I love the way you always direct us through the word of God and hit real life situations.”

Jim: Well, the only way we can continue to offer that kind of help is because of you, our listeners. Your gifts and donations reach hundreds of thousands of families every year. And we are committed to fulfilling the work God has called us to do. And we want you to join in that. In fact, when you donate a gift of any amount today, we’ll send you a copy of Erin’s book, The Christian Mama’s Guide to the Grade School Years, as our way of saying thank you for standing for the Family.

John: Donate today to the Ministry of Focus on the Family and request your copy of The Christian Mama’s Guide to the Grade School Years. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459, where you can, uh, contribute to the work of Focus and request that book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Next time Courtney Ellis will have you thinking about downsizing and simplifying your life.

Preview:

Courtney Ellis: And living in this cluttered place really started to get to me and the, the stuff was part of it, my overstuffed schedule was part of it. But I began to feel like I, I almost couldn’t breathe-

Jim: Wow.

Courtney: … because my life had too much in it.

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The Christian Mama's Guide to the Grade School Years

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The Surprising Blessings of an Unplanned Pregnancy

If your family is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, it can be a very difficult time, with lots of emotions and potential outcomes. In this Focus on the Family chapel message, a winsome mother-daughter team share how an unplanned pregnancy rocked their world, the confusion that resulted, and how the daughter found strength through biblical counseling at a local pregnancy resource center. Ultimately, the baby was adopted by an extended family member and is growing up delighted to have an ‘extra’ mom.

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Organizing the Chaos in Your Home

Kristi Clover, mother of 5, shares quick and simple tips to bring joy into your home by getting more organized. From clearing the clutter to choosing your top priorities, you’ll learn some techniques to make housework easy and fun for the whole family!

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Encouraging Your Kids to Discuss Their Feelings

Feelings can be confusing for children to experience and express. In this upbeat message, Dr. Joshua Straub will equip you to create a safe environment in your home, so that your children can express what they are feeling and learn how to manage their emotions.

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A Legacy of Music and Trusting the Lord

Larnelle Harris shares stories about how God redeemed the dysfunctional past of his parents, the many African-American teachers who sacrificed their time and energy to give young men like himself a better future, and how his faithfulness to godly principles gave him greater opportunities and career success than anything else.

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Accepting Your Imperfect Life

Amy Carroll shares how her perfectionism led to her being discontent in her marriage for over a decade, how she learned to find value in who Christ is, not in what she does, and practical ways everyone can accept the messiness of marriage and of life.