...that they may take hold of the life that is truly life'
1 Tim 6:19
I have returned once again from my annual retreat with the Men on Mountains which is now in its 18th year. We are hatching a few plans for a challenging adventure for year twenty. As ever, we walked, told stories, listened, prayed, asked questions, confessed sins, had them pointed out, poked, laughed and shared each others joys and felt each others pains. These are very special men that I have been graced with to go up hill and down dale and it remains our intention to walk with each other annually to the grave.
As an innovation, this year we had a theme: 'Let's talk about parenting' said one of our number. There are seven of us with children ranging from 0 to 27 so we have a few collective parenting miles on our collective MoM car. Hence, in a pub in Nether Wasdale we each shared a piece or two of parenting advice or a lesson learnt here and there. The Men on Mountains parenting book will follow.
- Help them take responsibility for their lives
- Don't intervene too much
- Eat meals together as much as possible
- No phones at the table
- No being different at home than anywhere else- don't pretend
- Death: deal with death well. Don't hide anything. Cry and be real. Make death normal. Talk about your own story of experiencing death.
- Talk about things without judgment. Try to listen well
- Don't drag your kids around to itinerant things.
- Advice from 'Raising boys': Learn to cook a Sunday lunch by the age of 8'
- Have explicit family values e.g Generosity. Form a family culture as early as you can eg 'In our family we celebrate with each other'
- The phrase 'In our family we....' is a good one. However, the caveat is parents need to honour this too. It's not a means of control.
- One of our number's sons said this at his parents 25th wedding anniversary: 'Dad loves mum way more than he loves us. If there was a train coming he'd rescue her first'
- Prioritize your wife
- Read everything on parenting by Rob Parsons
- Use the 'power of descriptive praise' e.g 'When you sat down with that kid you were really kind'
- 'To know what your own inheritance as a child of parents is and to know that it isn't the last word'. It can be redeemed.
- Don't negotiate with danger. However, patient negotiation is the norm.
- Danny Silk's advice on 'the naughty step' is: 'Take time- you come back when you are ready'
- Twins ;'It's them against the world'
- Christian parents 'We too easily love/speak about grace but do law'
- Trust God's Covenant in your parenting. It doesn't all hang on you and how you parent so trust his grace otherwise your parenting will simply be 'a work' and that rarely ends well.
The Reads of the Year.
On parenting there were a couple apart from 'Everything by Rob Parsons'. One of us said that he thought 'In the days of rain' should be read by every children's worker and Christian parent in his Diocese. Its a story of being raised in a brethren home written by a Cambridge don. He couldn't put it down. Although many would be horrified to think there are parallels with the way we aim to disciple children and this story, he thinks there may be a scary amount of unrecognized similarities to the average evangelical home/ youth ministry. Someone also found 'The Chosen' a help for reflection on parenting. Also Rory Stewart's 'Marches: Border walks with my father.'
Laloux 'Reinventing organisations' has been a help to one while doing a leadership MA.
'Heroic Leadership: The 450 year old company that changed the world' tells the story of the Jesuits.
C S Lewis McGrath
Unseen Warfare Scupoli
Born to Run Bruce Springsteen
The Shepherd's Life was my ten penny worth.
The question that hit me this year was ‘Are your cherishing your wife?’ It was the word ‘cherishing’ that seemed important to reflect on.
I'll share some more after next year!