The messy reality of raising kids

Thinking about what she had not read in parenting books was the springboard for the Rev. Kim Meyers when she started writing Parenting with Perspective. Kim’s new book is a candid look at the various stages of child rearing, from bringing home our newborn babies through guiding our adult children.

We talk with Kim about the sometimes messy reality of raising kids, as well as the reason we can have hope that as a parent or as part of the community raising a child, you are enough for whatever adventure comes your way.

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Get Your Spirit in Shape features conversations to help us keep our souls as healthy as our bodies. Logo by Sara Schork, United Methodist Communications.

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The Rev. Kim Meyers

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This episode posted on October 29, 2021.

Transcript

Looking for ways to grow your nursery and early childhood programs? Drawing on brain science as well as theology, Frolic was designed by early childhood experts to build faith through play in babies, toddlers, and young children from birth to age five. Frolic includes resources for your nursery, preschool Sunday school, and families with young children. Engage with parents through Frolic’s monthly newsletters and parent/child classes. Frolic: Little Steps. Big Faith. Learn more at WeAreSparkhouse.org/Frolic.

Prologue

Crystal Caviness, host: Welcome to Get Your Spirit in Shape, UMC.org’s podcast to help us keep our souls as healthy as our bodies. I’m Crystal Caviness.

Thinking about what she had not read in parenting books was the springboard for the Reverend Kim Meyers when she started writing Parenting with Perspective. Kim’s new book is a candid look at the various stages of childrearing from bringing home our newborn babies through guiding our adult children. We talked with Kim today about the sometimes messy reality of raising kids as well as the reason we can have hope that as a parent, or as part of a community raising a child, you are enough for whatever adventure comes your way.

A real parenting book (1:27)

Crystal: Kim Meyers, welcome to Get Your Spirit in Shape. We are so happy to have you here to talk about your new book, Parenting with Perspective. Before we started recording you were actually telling me the story of how this book came to be. And I’d love you to share that again because, as I was also sharing, I just loved how fresh the book is and how candid you are in it. So, do you mind repeating that story so everybody can hear it?

Kim Meyers: Sure. Absolutely. So it was a joke with my friends that somebody said ‘you should writing a parenting book.’ And I thought, well, what’s not out there. And I felt like there’s a lot of ‘how to’s’ with parenting. You can find great resources with that. There’s a lot of brain research. There’s a lot of just data-based parenting books. This one is a real parenting book. What you would do when you call your friend in the middle of the night and you ask, Oh, my gosh, I can’t get through this. I wanted this opportunity to be something that was honest. But sometimes when we’re honest it feels desperate and sad. I wanted this to be honest with hope. I think my inspiration for this book was in the middle of the pandemic. And I have older children right now. I have a 15 and…ah, he’ll be 18 next week. So I guess I can say 18 year old. But watching my friends with littles and listening to my friends with just little either babies or toddlers or elementary school, just giving them hope that you can get through this. You will get through this. You can do this. So that pretty much was the inspiration for the book.

Crystal: So, Kim, you do have a lot of roles in addition to being a wife and as you said a mother to two teenage boys, and author. You’re also a pastor.

Kim Meyers: I am.

Crystal: You are a pastor at Saint Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas. And you have a background in public education and Christian education.

Kim Meyers: Correct.

You are enough (3:35)

Crystal: So you approach the subject of parenting through a lot of different lenses. You have, you know, you have a faith-based lens. You have educational and then you have this real life. And with all these lenses there is a recurring theme in your book. It’s to the parents. You are enough.

Kim Meyers: Ah, I think that… Nobody hears that enough. I believe the majority of parents want to do the best that they can do. One thing that I recognize is I have a degree in early childhood development. I have a degree that specializes in language development. I then have a degree in theology. These are all things that have helped me greatly as a parent. In my church setting, (right?) we have a lot of professionals who go to church here. But they, like, you don’t know what you don’t know. And you try to do the best that you can do. And I wanted this book to let people just breathe. Right? And I learned so much in my decade in education and then running a Christian preschool for a bit. And I’ve moved to children’s ministry. And now I’m over family ministry. And the consistent theme I’ve seen is two-fold. Parents want to do a good job. They also get really frustrated and tired. And so I wanted to breathe in some hope.

Crystal: And you know, there was another kind of major theme… And at first, you know, it is a book about parenting, but you’re not really focusing on the children at first; you’re focusing on the parents. And you talk of here and now about the importance of self-care including mental health. And you share in the book that when your children moved into middle school that you started seeing a counselor again. Can you talk about the perspective you gained through just employing that self-care, and how that was important to you when it came to parenting?

Kim Meyers: Absolutely. I think, for real quick, the book is set up a little bit different. It’s three sections. And the first section is talking about the parent alone. Who are you? Who you are. Then the child. Who they are; who they’re not. And then how you do it together. When it comes to this self-care piece it’s hard to do that well when you’re in the midst of parenting. Even in my phase of life, I don’t need babysitters to leave the house. I don’t need that. But it’s still constantly going. I don’t know if I shared this in the book, but I’m happy to share it here. My son struggled with some anxiety and some depression. And it got real scary and real dark for a little bit. And I deal with this a lot. You know, I’m gonna use the word ‘a lot’ in my ministry setting right now. But dealing with it with my own family hit different nerves. And it just…it hurts in a way that it doesn’t dealing with somebody else. And I knew for me to be the best parent and pastor through this, I needed an outside lens to help me process what I was doing. And I still am going. And my son…that particular son is a sophomore now. It’s given me a grasp of…. Again, I talk about perspective a lot. It’s so great to have that trained outside source of perspective to breathe into my life as a parent, but also as a pastor, as a mom and a sister and an aunt. You know, all the things. It’s great to have that hour to just process and connect to move forward in healthier ways.

5-5-5 Rule (7:17)

Crystal: I did find in reading the book that there’s information here that’s just good for life whether you’re a parent or not. It’s just good life information. And one of those pieces of information was the 5-5-5 rule. Can you share that a little bit?

Kim Meyers: Yes. So the word for perspective for me is one that I live into. It’s changing your viewpoint. Right? And so that’s really hard to do when you’re in the midst of emotion. Right? And so I say a lot in this book is any decision made, positive or negative emotion, isn’t usually the best decision. So how can you gain that perspective and move forward in a healthier way? Well, for our family we do the 5-5-5 rule. We try to do it. We don’t always do it. But it’s a way to take a step back and gain that perspective. So in 5 days will this still feel big? In 5 weeks? In 5 months? In 5 years? And sometimes the answer is in 5 years this decision is still important. So let’s really think about it. And sometimes the answer is, man, in 5 days I’m not even gonna be thinking about this. Right? But it helps you breathe, and then move forward, I think, in a little bit of a better attitude, better way, better perspective.

Crystal: So my two children are now adults. And I am resisting, Kim, as I read that, how helpful, you know. I want to share that with them. I want to use that in my own life. I want to share it with them because, you know, they’re adults. They’re making adult decisions that very well may have implications in 5 years, or you know, they were maybe past that middle school drama phase where everything feels like it’s raining down on you… rain awful things down on you, and forever. Right? Yeah, that was really good.

Life stages (9:18)

And that’s another thing about the book, Kim, that I really appreciated, is that you look at a child at different stages. And you gave some real-life examples of if they’re babies, you know, here’s a way to teach responsibility. If they’re in elementary school, here’s a way to teach responsibility. Through adulthood I feel like a lot of time books that talk about parenting do so as if one set of guidelines fits every situation, which we all know that’s not the truth. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, that, because I just…I really appreciate how you did look at those different stages.

Kim Meyers: Absolutely. Stages are important. Right? And that’s…. When I go back to the gifts that I was given for having a degree in education, (right?) I know stages are important. How kids think and how they respond is concurrent to how their brain is working and how their body is working. And so, for example, a kid until about the age 8 or 9, is a very concrete thinker. They can’t really think in the abstract. And so what is in front of them in that moment is vital. Right? But I think one of the examples I used is, I’ll say a preschooler is at a birthday party and they’re having the time of their life and then they drop their ice cream cone and they’re crying. Where we as adults can process all those emotions at once, they can only truly process one or two. So they were happy, then they’re sad because their ice cream dropped. Then they get a new one and they can be happy again. Or, sometimes they’re gonna focus on only what’s in front of them and remain sad even though they have a new one. I think it’s just through life. You say, like, life lessons. Through life it’s important to know who you’re talking to. Right? I’m preaching to a different congregation this weekend. And I asked the question: who am I preaching to? Because as you are preparing the message or as you’re speaking to somebody it’s important to know who you’re talking to. And the same with your kids. You know? It’s important to understand where they’re at.

Crystal: I know you said I love toddlers because you never have to guess what they’re feeling.

Kim Meyers: So true.

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Crystal: Today’s episode is sponsored by Frolic by Sparkhouse. Looking for ways to grow your nursery and early childhood programs? Drawing on brain science as well as theology, Frolic was designed by early childhood experts to build faith through play in babies, toddlers, and young children from birth to age five. Frolic includes resources for your nursery, preschool Sunday school, and families with young children. Engage with parents through Frolic’s monthly newsletters and parent/child classes. Frolic: Little Steps. Big Faith. Learn more at WeAreSparkhouse.org/Frolic. Now back to our conversation.

Faith and parenting (12:33)

Crystal: You share in the book that you grew up in a Christian home and you have a Christian home and that’s always been a part of who you are. But can you talk about how that…how that phase has given you perspective as you’ve parented.

Kim Meyers: So, that’s a big question. The easiest way for me to answer it is in our family’s rules. And we have two rules as a family. And the first one is: Make good choices. Now that our kids are teenagers we frame it as: don’t be stupid. But when they were younger we used a kinder version of that. But the second rule is: Remember whose you are. That helps me as much as it helps my children because who you are is a child of God which is created perfectly in God’s image. And this child of God is a gift that doesn’t always feel like one, that has been given to me. But ultimately their core value is a child of God, not son of Kim, or baseball player, or boyfriend, or whatever we attach…what label we attach ourselves with, we have that core when those other labels fall off. It gives us another place to ground ourselves. I found that personally for me when things have been real hard and I haven’t maybe gotten a particular label I wanted. If I can ground myself in who I truly am, which is first and foremost a child of God, that helps me move forward in a positive way. It also, I hope, helps me and my family see others as that gift created by God. So how we treat others is important. How we love others is important. And I think that to have faith has really cemented our family together is recognizing the whose we are, not who we are.

Crystal: Each chapter your format was prayer and you also had guest contributors. And I loved that your mom was one of the guest contributors. And I really appreciated her three-step plan for apologizing. And I wondered is that something you grew up with?

Kim Meyers: Actually, I’ll say, not really. My mom…. If you want to hear a great interview…I’m gonna plug my podcast real quick…. I interviewed her for the book on the parenting podcast for chapter 8, ‘When you Don’t Like Your Kids’ because I was a very difficult teenager. So it’s a great piece to hear my mom’s voice in this. But she was a middle school principal. So God bless her soul right there. And I think that’s where she really developed that. I will say, yes. When I was growing up I had to apologize. It had to be a complete sentence. I don’t…I don’t really remember the 3-step process. But I remember knowing there was a way to apologize and a way not to apologize. But how she talks about naming what was wrong, saying you won’t do it again and then asking the person to accept the apology. I think it’s important because so much of life we just go about and be like, ‘sorry.’ And that isn’t thought through and sometimes it’s viewed as insincere, even if it is sincere. So if you say, I am sorry for yelling at you; I was tired and lost my patience. Will you accept my apology? I mean, putting that grace into your home is so powerful, because you’re gonna mess up. Every parent messes up. Every kid messes up. And giving that opportunity and that space to say I’m sorry and then accept it. I mean, I think that’s what we’re taught on the cross (right?) that grace is given fully as we move forward with it in our lives. We’ve got to take what we’ve learned and move forward in a different way.

Kids are people too (16:52)

Crystal: There were a couple of tones that I thought were in your book. One, it was really calm. Like you had this, you know…like, it’s okay; we’re gonna get through this. It’s okay. But the other, Kim, was a tone of respect. It was respect for yourself. But it was respect for your children ‘cause they’re kind of…you know, they’re finding their way. I did appreciate that because I think sometimes we forget that, you know, they’re younger, they’re smaller, you know. They’re… They haven’t had as many life experiences, but they’re still… You know, they still deserve respect as people and treat them that way.

Kim Meyers: Yeah, I think how we deal with our children…. When I was a first grade teacher before I had kids…. I’ll never forget this day. This…. One of my students was just devastated about a pencil. And in my adult brain I just couldn’t comprehend…like, just get over it. It’s a pencil. You can’t find your pencil. But she woke up that morning looking forward to going to school to have her pencil. And she was devastated that it wasn’t there. And for me to not acknowledge what she was feeling and where she was in that moment just isn’t fair. It isn’t fair. So it’s: I understand that you’re sad that you lost your pencil; let’s go find a new one and maybe together we’ll look for the other one. But it’s acknowledging their feelings. It’s important. It really is important.

Finding a community (18:21)

Crystal: Yeah. And you reference of the book is put into these 3 sections. And the third one is community—this idea of working together. So I loved it, all of you had some great contributors brought such a breadth of experience and information. But one that really touched me was Dr. Kerry Rone, her story of becoming a single parent in her 30s. And just heart-breaking, so honest and how she relied on her children’s grandparents, among others to really help her through those difficult years. So, you know, you do talk about the role that our village plays as we raise our children.

Kim Meyers: I think my husband joked with me, like, you're kind of ending your book on a downer, aren’t you? I was like, that’s life. Right? She lost her husband, became a widow. She didn’t lose her husband. Her husband died of cancer. And she became a widow in her 30s. Not her plan. But she also had to keep moving forward. And so her daughter’s in dance. So that dance community rallied around her. Her son… Everybody rallied around her, and helped her continue to be who she could be. I think I talk in the book also, like, I have a great, fabulous husband. We’ve been married 21 years. We are not perfect, but we still like each other and we love each other most days. But I need others in my life to help me process what’s going through it. So, my best friend…. I call her my silent partner in marriage. Like, I call her and talk to her about things. But I also have a covenant group of clergywomen that I connect with. I’m a football mom, which is hilarious because I didn’t grow up playing sports. But I have this football community that I connect with. All of these people…. I didn’t even talk about my church community. Right? Like to me that’s a given, but sometimes I need to say it out loud. My church community and how the different adults are pouring into my kids’ lives. I look at my kids. I’m so proud of who they’ve become and who they are becoming. But I know it happened because of community. And in fact when I was writing the book, I think the section of that book is called ‘How we Work Together.’ And we went back and forth if we want to use the word ‘work’ ‘cause it seems difficult. I was like, well, I don’t know about you, but parenting is not easy. It is hard. So it takes work. You know? And I think, though, having that community surrounding you each and every day makes it a little bit sweeter.

Crystal: Absolutely.  I’ve got a couple of more questions, Kim, as we finish up here. One is, is there something you wanted to say and talk about from the book. There was so much that we couldn’t cover. Is there something you wanted to make sure we talked about that we didn’t?

Kim Meyers: Yeah. From the faith-based perspective, we did purposely set up the chapters with Scripture at the beginning and prayers at the end. And I think that’s because some days that’s all you can do. If you are having that day where you don’t feel like you’re enough, go to chapter 4. Read the prayer. Find a breath of inspiration and just let it go. I found that with other things that I’ve done I just have to go to this prayer or this Scripture and I don’t do a big Bible study in the book. It’s Scripture and prayer. But sometimes I think that’s all you need to kind of take that moment and reconnect to again the core. And in my mind the core is ‘child of God.’ And admit that you’re tired and frustrated and you want to move forward in a positive way.

How Kim keeps her spirit in shape (22:22)

Crystal: One thing that we ask all of our guests is, how do you keep your spirit in shape?

Kim Meyers: I knew you were gonna ask me this. And I have so many answers. So, one thing I’ve learned about who I am as a person is I like lists and Excel documents and color-coding things. And so I have learned that if I do a Bible study book it becomes a task. It becomes a head thing and not a heart thing. And so I’ve learned to start my day quietly, asking where God can use me. Sometimes that’s while I’m doing my makeup. Sometimes that’s when I’m drinking a cup of coffee. Sometimes that is when I’m going for a walk. But I always, in all of those situations, take time to have some silence. Right? If I’m drinking my cup of coffee I put my phone down. If I’m going for my walk I’m not listening to something in those moments. Sometimes it’s in my commute into work, and I just turn the radio off. But I ask myself how I can be a beacon of light and hope and peace that day. And it helps me see then and reframe right perspective of the opportunity I have to give that peace and joy and hope in the world. Even on days where I don’t feel like it. But I think that’s my ultimate is, again, pausing and asking the question and really connecting.

Crystal: Kim, thank you so much for being a guest here on Get Your Spirit in Shape. It’s been just delightful to talk with you and thank you for your ministry, for writing this book and a really important book for parents to just find, sort of, as you said, to give them hope as they go through this adventure of raising children. So, anyway, you take care. Thank you so much, again, for being here. We look forward to talking maybe at another time.

Kim Meyers: Sounds great. Thanks so much for having me.

Crystal: Thanks. Bye.

That was Kim Meyers, author of Parenting with Perspective. To find more about Kim and her book go to UMC.org/podcast and look for this episode. In addition to the helpful links and the transcript of our conversation you’ll find a link to my email address so you can talk with me about Get Your Spirit in Shape. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s podcast episode. I look forward to the next time that we’re together on Get Your Spirit in Shape. I’m Crystal Caviness.


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