A Tale of Two Kids — Which One Is Yours?

A tale of two kids, wisdom and foolishness, sibling rivalry, opposites, girls, teens, bored

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”

Sounds like Dickens was writing about the teen years.

Our kids do not always realize that they have their entire lives ahead of them. They can choose to have EVERYTHING before them or they can choose to have NOTHING before them. The question is – which will they choose? Will it be an age of wisdom or an age of foolishness? Depending on their choice, what at first appears to be the “worst of times” may turn out to be the “best of times” for them.

Here is a tale of two kids wanting the same end result. For the sake of clarity, we will call the first child “A” and the second child “B.”

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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What Are Your Kid’s Core Financial Values?

Pink Piggy Bank

When we parent on purpose, we start with the end result and work backwards. What are we hoping to groom in our kiddos? What kind of people do we want them to be?

This month we are talking about teaching our kids life skills, and we are kicking off the discussion with a look at finance and consumerism. But before we dive into the tools for helping our kids become wise consumers (via newspaper and radio), let’s talk about the core financial values that we want to instill in our kids.

Here are some ideas to kickstart your thought process, and then your family can take it from there.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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How are You Preparing Your Child For the Real World?

Out of the Box

Facebook users, we have an AWESOME new group that’s all about preparing our kids for the real world. We want your voice and opinions and ideas, and we’d love for you to ask questions of the community and brainstorm with them.

This community is growing so quickly! We’ve added almost 500 people in the first few hours of it’s existence. Log into Facebook, join the group and invite your friends!

Here’s some info about the group:

This is a community for people who want to share ideas, ask questions and offer information that will help build the kind of skills kids need to succeed in the real world.

The goal of this community is simply to work together in raising kids who have REAL WORLD life skills — the stuff they probably won’t get in school (how to balance a checkbook, buy a house, grow a garden, learn about alternative energy, patent a product and bring it to market, harness social media for a purpose, etc.).

We’re here to talk about HOW and WHY to raise:

  • entrepreneurs
  • good communicators
  • civic-minded people
  • effective activists
  • debt-free, financially wise stewards of our planet
  • world changers
  • people who can manage their own thoughts, emotions and choices well
  • emotionally healthy people

We’re here to brainstorm together, offer ideas, ask questions and share information about:

  • how to help our kids start a business
  • how to teach our kids about our free market system
  • how to raise kids who will know how to cast an informed vote
  • how to help find their passion
  • how to nurture their passion
  • how to teach our kids to advocate effectively for what they believe in
  • how help kids negotiate well
  • how to teach kids good conflict management
  • you get the idea!

Did you join yet? Do it now, and share this post. See you on Facebook!

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with nine kids between them (ages 4 to 28) and #10 due in August. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to parent on purpose.

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Get a Leg Up on Life This Summer

Sam making apple butter

Over the past few days, we’ve been talking about investing rather than spending your kids’ summer. We covered using the summer to boost academics and to pursue passion. Today, we’re wrapping up this short series with a look at ways to invest your child’s summer by building life skills.

Clearly all of this is going to take some planning. If you wait for summer to come and then just sort of let each day happen to you, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll accomplish much. So, take a Saturday, and make some plans. Be deliberate. Parent On Purpose!

The summer is a great time to teach your kids important life skills, such as how to change a tire and the car’s oil, how to do research on the Internet (it dawned on me one year, when I was working on project with my 8-year-old, that kids aren’t born knowing how to Google), how to make travel arrangements, how to sew, can vegetables, do laundry…you get the idea.

But what if you don’t know how to do these things? Honestly, I don’t even know how to turn on a sewing machine. It’s pathetic, I know, especially for a homeschool mom. But the truth is, I didn’t grow up in a very domestic family. We were plenty cultured. Having grown up right outside of Manhattan, I spent my childhood at museums and art galleries, seeing Broadway shows and ballets and symphonies. My grandmother took me to Lincoln Center to see La Boheme, and we spent many weekends at art festivals.

Living in the Hudson Valley of New York also meant that I got to do some cool outdoorsy things. I went skiing in the winters, hiked mountains, went parasailing and camping, but there was also a lot that we didn’t do.

I never really learned how to garden or sew or bake. My mom was a master knitter and crocheter, but she never taught me, and I suppose I never asked. Those were just things she did. Actually, I do knit now, but it was my daughter who taught me!

I don’t want my kids to grow up without these important life skills, so I’m learning along side them. YouTube makes just about any skill accessible!

The summer is a great time for kids to start a business. They can baby sit, mow lawns, walk dogs, or make and sell things. Two years ago, my daughter funded a trip by earning $300 knitting and selling the cutest owls you’ve ever seen. Now she does henna tattoos to make money.

Want to give them solid business skills, check out MicroBusiness for Teens.

Teach your kids about investing this summer. Show them how to look up stocks. Then have a little family contest. Have everyone pick a stock and see who’s does best.

Start a garden. Find out what grows well in the summer in your hardiness zone, and then have your kids layout and plant a garden. They’ll love eating the food they’ve grown.

Teach them how to cook. Take them to a kitchen store and show them a bunch of different cooking tools. Build a foundation of basics like how to make a roux and the five mother sauces: béchamel, velouté, espagnole, hollandaise and tomato sauces. Teach them how to wash and cut fruits and veggies, how to blanch, parboil, saute, carmelize, braise and poach.

Make a plan for kids to learn important technology skills like how to type, use PowerPoint and Excel, build a website, do some basic graphic design and use social media for networking and marketing.

 

Let’s all make a pact that we won’t just let our summer days happen to us — we’ll take hold of them, one by one, making everyday count toward a brighter future for our kids.

Leave us comment and let us know what you plan to do to invest your kids’ summer this year.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Have You Bought Into the BIG Education LIE?

Education_Lie

Earlier this week I watched a quick video called The Truth About School, and I got all fired up! We just kicked off an extended series on education, so the timing was perfect for today’s rant about the big education lie. I hope you’ll stick with me through it, but even MORE importantly, I hope you’ll join the conversation by giving your two cents in the comments below. We need ideas. We need voices. But first, let’s look at the problem.

As I was watching the video, I had an aha moment. It wasn’t a new revelation. It was more like a sudden awareness. We send our kids to school for 13 YEARS! That’s a long time.

And wait…there are initiatives in different parts of the country to lower the compulsory education age. Really? The government wants my kids for even more than 13 years? To do what? I can tell you for sure what they’re NOT doing. They are NOT preparing our kids for life and no new legislation can convince me that that’s changing any time soon.

For five years my family lived across the street from an elementary school, and we grieved as we watched lines of innocent children pouring out of buses, filing lethargically into big stone buildings where they would be trapped for the lion’s share of the day’s sunlight hours having the love of learning beaten out of them.

Think I’m being dramatic? Why is it that a third of adults in the U.S. report that they have not read one single book in the past year? It’s because they do not love to learn. Ask anyone who loves learning how many books they’ve read in the past year, and I guarantee you’ll find out it’s way more than one.

Can you tell me why people applaud politicians who say we need to “invest in our future” by increasing education funding? We are a brainwashed society (probably because we’re also a product of the stupefying education system) who is standing by and allowing the government to take our hard earned dollars (dollars that our public eduction did NOT teach us how to earn, keep or grow, by the way) so they can squander 13 years of our kids’ lives.

What the heck are they doing with all that time? Again, I can tell what they’re NOT doing — they are NOT preparing our kids for life.

Does school teach kids how to start a business? Ask your middle schooler to explain the difference between a sole proprietorship, a DBA, an LLC, an S-Corp, a C-Corp and 501(c)3. Ask your high schooler how to choose which kind of business entity a new business owner should become and the steps it takes to do that.

Does the school teach our kids how to file taxes? Ask your tenth grader what W-2 is or a 1099 or a Schedule C. Ask him to explain the standard deduction.

Does school teach kids the steps between an idea and a successful product launch? Does it teach them how to sketch an idea, build a basic mock-up and then turn that mock-up into a prototype? Does it teach them how to turn their prototype into a working product and then take it to market?

Nope. Watch one episode of Shark Tank, and you’ll find out that our education system does not prepare our children to succeed in the marketplace.

Let’s talk about finances. In the course of that grueling 13 years, does the school system teach our kids about our banking and finance system? Ask your 9th grader to explain the principles of compound interest. Ask your 11th grader what steps you need to take to buy a house. For heaven’s sake, most kids don’t even graduate knowing how to open a bank account or how to balance a checkbook.

You might be reading this and saying, “Oh my son’s school did a lesson on balancing a checkbook. I know education is bad in other schools, but OUR school is good.” We actually hear some version of this all the time. I think parents are so desperately afraid to face the truth because they don’t have an alternative. Let’s face it, not everyone can homeschool.

But the truth is, schools are not preparing our kids for life.

Kids should be learning not just how to balance a checkbook, but how to comparison shop when they’re opening a bank account. What should they be looking for in a checking account? Should they open a money market instead? What is a CD and why or why not should they have one? What’s the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA? What’s the difference between stocks and bonds? What are mutual funds? How do you evaluate whether or not an investment opportunity is a good one?

Does the school system even teach our kids how to be wise consumers? Does it teach them how to find independent product ratings and do cost comparisons? Does it teach them about extended warranties and why you would or wouldn’t want to buy them?

We all live in some kind of house or apartment and drive some kind of vehicle, right? Does school teach our kids how to maintain or repair those things? Nope. We have to depend on other people for everything. Obviously there are some things that we would want to call an expert to do. But after 13 precious years, most kids graduate from the public education system not knowing how to change the oil in their car, repair the brakes, or replace a worn out belt or a broken water pump. These are all fairly simple tasks, and during lean economic times, it can be a big help to do them yourself and not have to pay someone.

We all have to eat right? So does our school system use a portion of those 13 years to teach us how to grow or prepare food? Ask your 4th grader what hardiness zone you live in. Ask them when it’s the best time of year to plant vegetables in your neck of the woods. Ask them what kind of soil you have and what kind organic material and mulch they should add. Ask them to explain the difference between annuals and perennials and how to decide between tilling or building a raised bed.

I remember my first trip to the grocery store as an independent adult. I had no clue what to buy. Hmmm….I should get some milk and some bread, people buy those things, right? School never taught me how to plan a menu, make a shopping list and cook the food, and that was back in the day when we were still required to take HomeEc. I remember reading a recipe that said I needed to make a roux. What the heck is that? Or a bechamel? If your high schooler was asked to bring a crudite to a party, would she know what it was? As it turns out, these are not advanced food preparation things. These are the basics! But unless their parents are foodies, most kids have no clue how to really cook. No wonder fast food places are so successful in this culture.

So, the education system doesn’t prepare our kids for the business world, our finance system or consumerism. It also doesn’t prepare us to be effective members of our government system.

Does your kid know how to effectively lobby for something that impacts their daily life? Do you? Does your kid even know the difference between federal, state and municipal government? Do they know which lawmaking branch deals with education? Do they know who is responsible for the traffic laws? Do they know how to track their representative’s voting records? If not, how on earth can they cast an educated vote?

Aren’t you starting to feel like we’ve created a society where all the important information is elusive? It’s as if everything that we really need to know is a big secret.

So what the heck is our government doing with our kids for 13 YEARS?

There’s been a big push toward foreign language. As Jody and I talk to college admissions officers, we’re hearing that they want to see quality foreign language credits. But the fact is, we are still a nation of people who speak only one language. My family members in the Middle East all speak multiple languages, and they learned them at school. But in spite of the policy changes, we are not producing multilingual kids.

So what are we teaching them? A bunch of facts? Well, not even that!

Here’s a fun test for you. No peaking, okay?

How long did the Pony Express run in the U.S.?

50 years?

100 years?

Most people we ask give us one of these two answers.

Are you ready for the real answer? The Pony Express ran a single mail delivery line from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacremento, California (it didn’t deliver mail all over the country as most people believe) for a year and a half. That’s it! Basically, the Pony Express was a big flop. It was a business failure. So how come we all know about it, and we all think it was tantamount to the U.S. Postal Service of the 1800s?

Because one of the Pony Express riders, William Cody (better known as Buffalo Bill), who was out of work when the Pony Express went belly up, began touring the U.S. and Europe with his Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows that depicted the exciting perils of riding the Pony Express.

As I’ve done history with my own kids, I’ve learned so much that either I’d missed in my own public school education or was never taught. Do you remember learning about the Dust Bowl migration? I don’t. But it was the largest human migration in the history of this country. From 1931, when the drought in the Plains states began, through 1940, 2.5 million people relocated. Not only did the Dust Bowl stimulate the most seismic movement of people in our country’s history, but it also played a part in the economic downturn of the Great Depression. Yet, I’m not sure that I had even heard the phrase Dust Bowl in my public education.

So what are our kids learning? English is now called Language Arts in most schools, but it seems to me it’s more about the arts than the language these days. Ask your 7th grader the difference between a verb, a participle and a gerund. Ask him what a semi-colon is and how it’s used. Ask him to list the six basic verb forms and explain the proper use of each one. Forget your 7th grader, how would you do on that test?

As a writer, these things happen to be my wheel house (but don’t ask me anything about sines, cosines and tangents). I can tell you that few adults understand the grammar rules of our language. I’m consistently aware of glaring syntax and punctuation errors in emails, blogs and Facebook posts. But I don’t judge the people. It’s the school system that should be ashamed! We graduate kids from high school with just enough writing ability to skate by.

So, what’s the answer to all this?

We have no idea!

But it’s time for us to wake up from The Matrix that is our public education system and start searching for real solutions.

Let’s talk about it and brainstorm and make calls to our leaders.

If you’ve got any thoughts to share, we want to hear them! If you had a say in what our kids learn over these 13 years, what would it include?

Let’s keep the conversation going…

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Shame a Liar and You Create a Better Liar

Shame_Liar

This week we’ve been talking about how to overcome lying in kids. If you missed yesterday’s post, I’d urge you to go back and read it. We gave you the 6 Steps of Overcoming Lying.

But in everything we’ve talked about so far, there’s one concept that is so crucial to this process, that we felt like we had to devote an entire blog to emphasize it.

For whatever reason (we’ll leave that up to the psychologists), people who are prone to lying seem to avoid shame at all costs. It’s like their kryptonite. And when faced with shame or condemnation, the person will learn to become a better a liar so they don’t get caught.

Here’s the tricky part for parents: it can be so deeply upsetting when your kid lies that your gut reaction is freak out say things like, “How could you lie right to my face? How can I ever trust you again?”

But that kind of reaction brings immediate shame, and kids who struggle to tell the truth are conditioned to avoid shame at all costs. That’s not to say you should ignore it. On the contrary…when you’re working with a kid who has a lying habit, you have to confront every single stretch of the truth no matter how slight it may seem. Yesterday’s post gives more specific details of how to do that.

A good way to confront without shaming the child is to explain that everyone has things they are naturally good at and other things that are more challenging for them. Some people are automatically good at telling the truth, but others have to work at it.

We totally get that it’s incredibly difficult to remain calm in the face of lying and that it’s no small task to deal with it without even the slightest hint of condemnation. But that’s what it takes to reach the heart of a kid who struggles with telling the truth. They have highly sensitive shame radars, and the fortress protecting their delicates souls is designed to keep out anyone who threatens to condemn them.

At the end of the day, it’s their hearts we’re after, right? If you are willing to exercise great self control and present yourself as a gentle and loving coach who is there to help the child carefully piece together the truth without in any way condemning them for not having done so in the first place, you will touch their hearts and change their thinking and behavior patterns.

But it takes a lot of time, a lot of love, and tremendous commitment from us. So…are we willing? And are they worth it?

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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50 Great Reads for the Emerging Adult

Great Reads

We are HUGE fans of pumping our kids full of good books, especially in the teen years.

Unfortunately, our culture has sold us a bill of goods that says adolescence is a person’s last ditch effort at enjoying life’s bounty and sewing their wild oats. What a lie!

The truth is you reap what you sew. Wild oats produce untamed fruit.

And this mindset robs our kids of an important truth as well. It says, “Enjoy life now because soon the harsh realities of adulthood are going to come, and then you’ll have no fun.” Think about it — it’s a play-now-work-later mindset.

But that’s not how life works. It’s actually the total opposite. Life is really about work-now-play-later. Play is the fruit of work.

And adulthood doesn’t have to be drudgery. When you know your purpose in life, and you live intentionally, your life can get better and better with each passing year.

The teens years are really the final preparation for independence. Instead of focusing on making sure our kids are having maximum fun, we should focus on making sure they’re ready to go out into the world and be wise, resourceful, compassionate, creative and fulfilled adults.

Here are some great reads to help that process along.

1. The 4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss

2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey

3. 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, by Suze Orman

4. The 80/20 Principle, by Richard Koch

5. Awaken the Giant Within, by Anthony Robbins

6. Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

7. The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel

8. The Christian Atheist, by Craig Groeschel

9. The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson

10. Crazy Love, by Francis Chan

11. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are Highby Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

12. Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown

13. The Definitive Book of Body Language, by Barbara and Allan Pease

14. Developing the Leader Within You, by John Maxwell

15. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, and Roger Fisher

16. Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris

17. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White

18. The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman

19. Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

20. Getting Things Done, by David Allen

21. Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart, by Kyle Idleman

22. Good to Great, by Jim Collins

23. I Am Second, by Dave Sterrett, Doug Bender and Colt McCoy

24. I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris

25. The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham

26. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, by David Bornstein

27. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

28. Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, by Mark Goulston

29. The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch

30. Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives, by Christopher Gergen

31. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl

32. Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches, by Winston S. Churchill

33. On Writing, by Stephen King

34. On Writing Well, by William Zinsser

35. Organizing From the Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern

36. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

37. Passion and Purity, by Elisabeth Elliot

38. The Power of Positive Thinking, by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

39. Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Othersby Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas

40. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, by David Platt

41. Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki

42. See You at The Top, by Zig Ziglar

43. The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary, by Joseph Michelli

44. Talent is Overrated, by Geoffrey Colvin

45. The Tipping Point, by Malcom Gladwell

46. Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey

47. Tribes, by Seth Godin

48. The Warren Buffet Way, by Robert Hagstrom

49. We Hold These Truths, by Randall Norman DeSoto

50. Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson

 

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with nine kids between them (ages 4 to 28) and #10 due in August. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to parent on purpose.

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Transcending The Ballet Budget

It’s back to school time, and that means time to pay tuition for ballet, club soccer, swim team, and whatever else your budding star might pursue this year.

While we all know financial constraints are a reality, especially when it comes to extra curricular activities, if it’s God’s plan, He will provide. If your child is passionate about something, but the cost doesn’t fit your budget, pray and ask God for creative ideas to fund it.

Call the activity directors and ask if there are scholarships or financial aid or if you could exchange work for lessons. You might be able to answer phones, file, stuff letters, and so on, in exchange for all or part of your child’s tuition.

Horse back riding lessons are pricey, and we have a big family. But when our older daughter had dreamed of being an equine vet, so we knew that horses need to play a part in her extra curricular plan. During her annual week of horse camp, she had built relationships with the trainers and worked out a deal to exchange cleaning out stalls for riding instruction.

Now that music is her primary focus, opera is a focal point in her education. On our own, we wouldn’t be able to afford the youth opera program, but the opera house has wealthy supporters who want to infuse the next generation with a love for opera. Their endowments mean scholarships for kids like Skyler who are passionate about music.

If all else fails, talk to family members. A semester’s tuition could be a far more valuable Christmas or birthday gift than toys or clothing – especially if it’s something that feeds your child’s true passion.

As you plan this year’s extra curricular activites, don’t let financial constraints hinder your child from pursuing her passions. With God all things are possible!

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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