Writer’s Desk with Melissa Hannigan
Melissa Hannigan holds a master of arts degree in counseling from Midwestern Theological Seminary. She is the wife of John Hannigan, executive director of Celebrate Kids. They have been married for 17 years and have four children. Before becoming a full-time homeschool mom, Melissa worked with teen girls to overcome abuse, addictions, and trauma. She is passionate about helping people discover God’s best for their lives. Melissa is an Associate of Celebrate Kids and Ignite the Family.
More about Inconvenient Parenting
Hope and help for shaping Christ-honoring future generations.
Families are like little churches. They are meant to be places of discipleship, worship, and rest—places where we can fine-tune the gifts God’s given us so we can bless the world. They can be full of surprises and joy. But family life can also be heartbreaking and downright discouraging. Trained counselor and mother Melissa Hannigan knows how hard it is to cast and keep a vision of rich family life. How do we cultivate a family culture that’s vibrant and encouraging—a refuge amidst life’s storms?
Melissa is passionate about helping families build healthy, strong, God-honoring homes. In Inconvenient Parenting, she shares twelve qualities that are the key ingredients to that desired end:
Wisdom — Wonder — Vitality — Sensitivity — Flexibility —Curiosity —
Creativity — Imagination — Inventiveness — Playfulness — Humor — Joy
Melissa shows us why, though inconvenient at times, it’s necessary to encourage and infuse these traits in our children and reveals how we can unknowingly discourage these qualities. Each chapter concludes with practical activities, book recommendations, and discussion questions to help parents immediately apply the principles discussed.
Become more connected to God and one another through the rich wisdom and help offered in Inconvenient Parenting.
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Excerpt from Inconvenient Parenting
How do we teach wisdom to our kids?
Wisdom starts with humility. We must first admit that we need help because we don’t possess wisdom within ourselves. We must be willing to be a student, desiring to learn and grow in knowledge. We never get to a place where we have learned everything we need to know, right? Modeling this type of humility to our children is an important first step.
We must hunger for knowing more about the world around us, and especially God’s Word. Do you have a hobby, or have you learned a new skill? Is there a Bible study that you have enjoyed lately? Have you demonstrated to your kids that you desire to keep learning and growing, or are you content believing that you already know everything you need to
know? If you’re reading this book, then you are demonstrating a desire to learn and to grow. That’s a great example to your kids!
I learned in the last ten years how to crochet. My children witnessed my frustrating beginning and pitiful first attempts at scarves and baby blankets. But they also witnessed me grow and develop in my ability, mostly through seeking more experienced friends who helped me along the way. Also, thanks to YouTube, I was able to teach myself some new crocheting skills. I hope my kids understand that this mom still has a lot to learn, and I am humbly willing to admit that and willing to put in the time and effort to continue to learn.
For you, it may not be crocheting; it could be birdwatching, tennis, or even the history of ancient Egypt that you’re learning alongside your kids as they study. As a homeschool mom, I get a lot of opportunities to say, “I don’t know, let’s research that!” My family is not under any delusion that I know everything, but they do know that what I don’t know, I can learn. More is caught than taught, and if we demonstrate an ongoing interest in learning, our kids will catch the excitement for learning too.
Ultimately, we want our children to see us going to the source of all wisdom. They need to see us seeking God’s Word for wisdom and direction. They need to hear us talk about what God is teaching us because we must never stop learning and growing, especially when it comes to the living and active Word of God. If we desire our children to seek godly wisdom above all, then they must see us doing that as well.
Maybe that means you occasionally include your children in your time of Scripture study. It may be more convenient to do your studying in private—trust me, I love my quiet time alone, but modeling this habit before your family, no matter how noisy it may be, helps them see the value that you place on God’s Word.
But we cannot simply stop at showing our children the importance of learning new things. That is only the first step toward wisdom. They must also see us seeking to apply that knowledge with discernment. They need to see us taking what we are learning in God’s Word and applying it in our daily lives. They need to hear us talking about relying on the Holy Spirit for discernment and praying for strength to implement whatever God is asking us to change. No matter the age of your children, they will benefit from seeing a parent who humbly seeks God for truth and then shares about the ways they are applying that truth! This is true wisdom!
How do we empower our children to seek out truth?
The first step is to become students of our kids and discover how they learn best. In her book 8 Great Smarts, 9 Dr. Kathy describes the eight ways children learn. She calls these different learning styles their “smarts” because it describes the natural way that they are wired to receive information. Some children are music smart and love listening to different genres of music or using instruments from other cultures—these children will be inspired to learn in musical ways. Another child will thrive outside in nature—being surrounded by creation, and therefore an outdoor environment, makes learning more engaging for them. Our job as parents is to figure out how they are wired to encourage their unique style of learning. When we understand how our children are created uniquely it becomes much easier to create settings for learning.
Another great step in helping our children become wise is to introduce them to various ideas and information. Charlotte Mason, a pioneer in early childhood education in the 1900s, believed that a child’s mind was just as hungry as their stomach and that a parent’s job is to provide variety for them to feast on.10 This feasting will look different depending on the stage of your child’s development.
When our children are babies, we can provide visually stimulating environments, talk to them often, play music, and read picture books to them. Elementary-age children are eager to learn new things; for parents, this is an ideal time to capitalize on this desire. Read engaging stories, find out what they are interested in, and learn about it together. We went through a period where one child was fascinated by the Titanic. We read books, studied the history of the era, and watched documentaries. These activities reinforce the message that in our home, when we are interested in a topic, we will study about it together!
This is also the perfect time to help your children learn how to identify reputable sources of information. Wisdom is not just the gathering of facts but involves discerning where to go for that information and what to do with that knowledge. This is something we must intentionally teach our children.
By the teenage years and into young adulthood, children should understand where to go for reputable truth and scholarly sources. Hopefully by this point, they understand the value of God’s Word and its infallibility. We must help them develop a biblical worldview that stands firm on the unchanging Word of God. Once their worldview is firm, it is time to encourage studying a variety of cultures and viewpoints that don’t necessarily align with their worldview. Invite people of different cultures and views into your home and learn more about them. Help your teen learn how to think critically about current events. They must be able to defend their faith, so introducing apologetics is helpful. Encourage your young teen to travel. Mission trips are a great way to see that the world is so much bigger than they realized. Even if your family can’t physically go anywhere, there are boundless resources that can transport us to foreign lands. The point is to help our children value understanding and insight.
It seems so simple, right? Just model a love of learning, expose them to lots of valuable information to feast on, help them develop a strong biblical worldview that filters all things through the lens of Scripture, and they will be wise. Okay, maybe that doesn’t sound simple, but it is doable. So why aren’t we as Christian parents doing a better job of this? (I’m looking in the mirror when I ask this.) May I gently suggest that while we have the best of intentions, we let lesser things distract us?