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Out of the Mouths of Babes: Sophie Saves God

“Teach your children well.” The words to this simple, beautiful song have been on a continuous loop in my head recently, perhaps due to my first-born daughter, Sophie, starting kindergarten! She’s growing up so fast! And like all parents, I sometimes wonder how well I am teaching her, how well I am preparing her for the challenges and transitions she will face in life. Most especially, I wonder and ponder a ...

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Rock, Paper, Scissors … GOD! – Children and a Nonviolent Reading of the Bible

Last April, my family moved to Eugene, Oregon. Eugene is located in Linn County. This is all you need to know that important fact: Linn County is the “Grass Seed Capital of the [FREAKIN] World.” Guess who is allergic grass seed? Yeah, that’s right. Me. My face has been a hideous mess of goopy sludge emanating from my nose and eyes. I’ve tried everything soothe my pain. Claritin. Allegra. Zyrtec. Nothing wor ...

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Why Rewards Backfire with Children: Advice for Teachers and Parents

What impact does grading or rewarding our children for their school work have on their motivation to learn? There’s a wide range of thought on whether or not external rewards motivate kids to do well. But I am a Montessori pre-school directress, and so I am firmly in the camp of those against using external rewards. Here are my reasons. According to Dr. Maria Montessori, children are born with an intrinsic ...

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The Hellish Dream of a Parent: Why CS Lewis Was Wrong about Hell and Free Will

At five years old, my middle child has developed a defiant pattern. A typical day runs like this: It’s time to get dressed. No. It’s time to put on your shoes. No. It’s time to go to school. No. It’s time to eat dinner. No. It’s time to go to bed. No. His defiance has apparently nestled its way into my subconscious because I dreamt about it last night. We were visiting my childhood house. My son was in our ...

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Parenting Confessions: How a Child Redeems the Sins of His Father

Parenting is hard. It’s damn hard. It happened to me again on Sunday morning. We just moved to Oregon last week and were about to try a new church. Our morning routine is pretty typical: we tell our children it’s time to get dressed. Our first and third child diligently put on their clothes, while our middle child finds a thousand and one ways to stall. Driving. Me. Crazy. Intellectually, I could sympathize ...

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Why You Should Pray Like a Six Year Old Boy

It was a proud moment in the Ericksen household. The five of us sat down for lunch and my six-year-old Boy said, Let’s pray. This is every pastor’s dream. Usually I have to coerce people into prayer. Now my Boy is offering to pray. With great pride and a smile on my face I said, Yes my Son. Will you lead us in prayer? He took a pensive moment and agreed. We bowed our heads, closed our eyes, and then … this ...

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God of Carnage: From the Schoolyard to the Killing Fields

What’s the connection between a suburban schoolyard brawl in which an eleven year old boy gets two teeth knocked out and the Darfur genocide? That’s the question raised by the play, God of Carnage, by Yasmina Reza. In its current excellent staging at AstonRep in Chicago, the intimate theater with a thirty seat capacity brings the audience right into the living room of the play where two polite, middle-class ...

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Parenting Dilemma: Two Brothers and One Girlfriend

A fascinating thing happened as I drove my children home last night. Brayden, my 5 year old, teased Gavin, my 4 year old. Okay. I’ll admit that’s not fascinating. Children – especially my own! – tease each other all the time. But I swear something fascinating did happen. And the story starts like this: As we entered our driveway, my children noticed “Ba-Ba” pulling weeds from her yard. “Ba-Ba” is what they ...

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How Praise Fails Your Child

Madeline Levine’s article in this week’s New York Times Sunday Magazine “Raising Successful Children” about the risks of overparenting is incredibly insightful and I’d like to offer a supporting anecdote from my days as a Montessori preschool teacher. In my teacher training course, the instructor gave this odd bit of advice: do not praise the children. Don’t praise them when they show you their artwork or c ...

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