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A blog to support, encourage, and mentor at home moms in all aspects of home making and family life.

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Thursday
Jan072016

Do You Love Your Children Too Much?

Do you love your children too much?

What's too much???

Does fear of alienation from them keep you from correcting or punishing them?  Do you laugh out of embarrassed powerlessness, when they sass or defy you, in front of others?  When you know they've done something wrong, do you make excuses for them in your mind or to others - they were tired, or hungry, or the other kids took the one that was their favourite colour - of course he's going to get upset and act out.  

Then you love them too much.

There's an account in 1 Samuel 2 of a very wise and godly priest named Eli, but his sons were corrupt.  Eli knew it and did nothing.  He loved his sons too much.  God called him out on it, telling him that he honoured his sons more than he honoured God and God removed His blessing from the house of Eli.  The line of the priesthood was taken away from his sons, and given to someone else.

There's another account in 1 Kings of a rebellious son of King David's, who tried to steal the kingdom out from under his father on his death bed.  The only reason given for his treason?  "His father had never rebuked him by asking, 'Why do you behave as you do?'"  His father hadn't disciplined him when he had the chance.

 

"It's strange really, that by allowing our children to behave just as they choose, we actually drive them away from us." 

 

It's strange really, that by allowing our children to behave just as they choose, by refraining from calling them out on their bad or disrespectful behaviour, that we actually drive them away from us.  

Children, like dogs and even adults with other adults, respond to fair and measured authority, with respect and obedience.  Too much discipline or unfair punishment and you'll drive them away, but the same is true for the opposite, too little and they'll learn, from a very early age, that they can walk all over you.  They'll disrespect you at will, and eventually loose any interest in your opinions at all.  And why shouldn't they?  You're their parent, and if you fail to act like someone placed in authority over them, lovingly correcting them and teaching them how to behave, how are you any different from any other old person they have very little in common with?  What will bind them to you as they move into adulthood, what will give credence to your advice, opinions and even gentle reproach to an adult child, is love born of respect.  Pure and simple.  As adults, most of us love our aging parents, but the only adults I know that still listen to their elderly parents, are those who really respect them.

 

"Weak authority over your children, brings about weak character within your children."


Now I've already written much on the importance of discipline and even given detailed examples of how and how not to do it, and I'd encourage you, if you weren't raised with a healthy example of parenting, to go back and read through these earlier articles.  (Rudeness and Teenagers, Disciplining In Public, are just a couple).  But honestly I think we all know when we're being disrespected by our children, and we know it's wrong.  The trick is to calmly and evenly demand the respect and obedience a child owes a good parent, (here I'm allowing for the exception of tyrannical, or verbally or physically abusive parents).  To teach our children that unkind or disrespectful behaviour towards us, their parents, or towards their peers is not acceptable, the reasons why, and the consequences if they continue with it.  And to then follow through.  The trick is in the follow through.  Not rolling our eyes in exasperation, not winking and smirking at other parents, hands raised in that universal expression of "Whatcha' gonna do???"  Whatcha gonna do?!!!  Take you to task that's what!  

Weak authority over your children, brings about weak character within your children.  It's your job and your responsibility to love them biblically; with authority, boundaries and correction along with all the love, cuddles and giggles.  This is how to really love your children.  It's how to raise them to be adults with strong moral character, the self discipline to do what's right even if it hurts and to consider other's feelings and opinions.  It is also how to have a relationship, built not just upon love but also upon respect, that continues into their adulthood, when it's their choice whether they will spend time with you or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday
Jun192015

To Love As A Bride Loves

"I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me and followed Me through the wilderness through a land not sown."  Jeremiah chapter 2

Through a land not sown.

Such devotion, such trust.  

Through a land not sown.

This was how I married.  There were no stakes defining our territory.  Nothing yet planted.  We were young.  Very young.  Very broke.  But thankfully, and I became more and more aware as I aged, what an advantage it was ~ very free of debt.

We were two kids.  Head over heels in love.  And that was it.

"I don't know much.  But I know I love you.  And that may be all I need to know."  I think Aaron Nevil might just have nailed it on the head with that one.

You see we've been married for twenty six years now, and you know what I've learned through all those years and all those miles?  The most valuable thing I've learned?

That, that really is all I need to know.

That I love him.

Deep down, in the depths of who I am.  I love him.

And that is the answer.  

I love how he loves me.  I love the man he is.  Full of character and work ethic, and a generosity of spirit I've seen in few others.  I love how he loves our daughters.  And the grandpa he's become.  Gently tossing these new little girls around, comforting them, as they howl at being left with Grammy and Boompa for the night, lonely for their mothers.

I love the wrinkles that are now around his still sparkly brown eyes.

I love his elegant fingers, left clean from his passion for computer work, his piano, and his distain for yard work or sports.

I love that he's learned not to talk to me early in the morning, but instead to leaves me in peace as I slowly wake up through out my first hour of the day. 

This is the man I fell in love with.  The man with whom I walked into a land not sown.

I trust him.  Fully. 

I have loved him as a bride loves.  Jumping in with both feet.  Having no career.  Anxious to begin our family and remain home to raise them.  I was often told I should have a "back up plan."  What if he leaves you?  What if he doesn't earn enough?  Don't you think you should be able to provide for yourself - just in case?!

"Like a bride loves."  "The devotion of your youth."  "Through a land not sown." 

There was no back up plan.  No, just in case.  Only joyfully ignorant bliss.

Things could have gone wrong.  Illness.  Finances.  Things out of one's control for the most part. 

But in terms of character I was all in.  I had no doubts.  I was betting it all on black.  Spin the wheel because I'm not pulling out.  "All I need to know."

And he's never let me down.  Not once.

Have there been times he's hurt me?  Yes.  Have there been times I've come second to his work?  Yes.  Has he ever gone back on what he pledged to me on that hot June day back in 1989?  Never.   

He has loved me with a faithful devotion that has steadied and sustained me for the past quarter century. 

We're not kids anymore.  We've planted, and are now reaping the harvest of that unsown land, together. 

A marriage.  A family.  A home and a life.  A security and a stake in something we both hold so dear we almost hesitate to breath as to not upset it. 

And yet now, there's a new land.  Not yet sown.

A place where we learn what it is to be two again.  Jumping in and out of the eight our family has grown into.  Knowing it's there.  The beautiful weight of it, the security and grounding it gives to all of us.

But there's more territory to plant.  There's old age yet to come.  And between then and now, adventures to be had, decisions to be made and new lands yet to come.

"To love as a bride loves." 

Will I follow you?  Of course.  Only a fool wouldn't.  You have led me, lovingly, kindly, tenderly, through the past 26 years.  Making every decision with me in mind.  Every choice, every act of self discipline and sacrifice.  Always choosing me. 

And so I choose you.  Again.  I choose us.  I choose the wilderness.  I hate the dark, I'm afraid of the woods.  But I'm not afraid of what we, together create.  I've seen it.  I feel it.  I carry it inside me, everyday.  And it gives me my strength.

I won't have you forever.  There will come a day when the planting will be done, and I'll be left, or you will be my love, with only the harvest of our choices.  But for now, I want to go where you lead.  There's an entire phase, an entire stage yet to come.  Where it's just us again.  "How as a bride you loved Me and followed Me."  Let's go there together. 

I choose us.

Sunday
Mar152015

The Mistake Of Valuing Motherhood

I'm a full time Mom.

 

I'm the one up in the night cuddling teary eyed, drippy nosed, little ones with sweaty backs, breathing in staccato from a scary dream.  

I'm the one who tenderly nurses a baby so new, he can't support his own head.  With a tummy so tiny, it can't hold more than a thimbles worth of milk.  And so I wake to feed him, from my own body, four or five times a night.  So blurry eyed from exhaustion, I'm close to tears myself.

I'm the one who accomplishes little during the day, when I'm called to snuggle on the couch, by a bright faced, curly haired little one, who can't really speak yet, but knows her favourite board book by heart and "reads" along every time.   The one who rushes to flip loads of laundry so we can go to the park before nap time, because it's her favourite part of the day. And because today she's finally gotten brave enough to go down the big slide.  So long as I'm waiting at the bottom to catch her.

The one who by four o'clock is so ready for adult company that even Magic School Bus is a welcome companion.  And while the first smells of dinner start filling our home, and we snuggle in our blanket on the couch, I know there is absolutely no where else I'd rather be.  And nothing else I'd rather be.  

That the lack of sleep and the 24 hour nature of motherhood is what makes it so rewarding.  That I've earned the title of Mom.  From the agony of having them torn from my body.  To holding them through the night when they're sick.  To the being responsible for them in every possible way, every minute of the day.  For their safety, their health, their happiness, their security and emotional well being.  The development of their faith.  How they'll see and relate to the world.  I hold that in my hand.  I rock the cradle.

I've dreamt of this since childhood.  Since I held plastic, tenderly in my arms, cooing and petting to ensure baby doll was okay.  All my life I've wanted this.  I didn't crave a pay cheque.  I didn't crave promotions or favourable reviews.  I don't take offence at the fact that I don't have a "job."  Anymore than a fish would take offence that it can't fly.  He's a fish.  He swims.  I'm not an employee, I'm a mother.  You don't need to quantify what I'm worth.  I know my value.  I see it in my children's faces as I read to them.  In the safety I bring when they call out in the night.  I know I'm a nurse, a teacher, a cleaning lady, cook, chauffeur, etc., etc.  You needn't list all I do, because I can promise you, you'll fall short.  Because what you can't measure.  What is unquantifiable, is who I am.  My children's mother.  No one can replace me.  No one can measure the tasks or chores I complete in a day and put a price on it, because those things are just the busy work of a much bigger goal.  The means to an end.  I'm raising a child.  I'm cultivating the next generation.  Preparing souls for eternity.  There is no pay appropriate for such a task.  One can only look at what I do and put a value on it.  And that value is immeasurable.

I'm a full time mother.  I'm someone's entire world.  They will grow to have loves of their own, children and homes of their own.  And each time someone asks them why they do something a certain way, and they respond, "It's just the way my mom did it."  That will have been me.  When they are kind.  When they use good manners, display patience, or understanding.  When they look at the world, with calmness and security I will be with them.  When they create homes where family is paramount and God is honoured, I am honoured too.

You can't tell me what I'm worth.  Don't you dare even try.  Money is crass and insulting.  I don't labour for you, for recognition, or worst of all, for pay.  I labour for the future, for my legacy.  I labour out of love.  A love that began with conception, was tried with birth, a love that endured and performed for 20 straight years without respite.  Without vacation pay or bonuses or promotions.  I don't want what you have to offer.  I'm not seeking remuneration.  You're not complimenting me when you estimate my hourly rate.  I'm invaluable.  I'm a mother.

 

 

Thursday
Mar052015

Let Your Children Fail

~For my beautiful friend, who's in the midst of figuring out how to motivate her teenagers...

I've written about this before.  The importance of letting our kids fail.

Fail at school assignments.  Fail at relationships.  Fail in sports.   Fail, fall down and hurt.  Get detentions, get their hearts broken, get left to ride the bench.

And not to try and fix it for them.  Smooth it all over.  And in doing so, telling them, that in failing - they've failed. 

But rather to emphasize the lessons learned.  The things they've come to grasp, and would do differently next time. Because really what is life but one big experiment at trying, failing, learning and trying again. 

Whether in how we live out our faith, how we behave within relationships, or learning from day to day errors -whether in school, work or life in general.

So why should failing be considered a bad thing

Something to be avoided at all costs?  Something we gloss over to avoid feeling the shame of having failed?  And why on earth would we try to prevent our children from failing?  From learning the hard learned lessons we ourselves have gained through failure?  Isn't that the reason we learned them so well?  Because we failed.  Got bloodied and decided we'd never let that happen again.

So don't deny your children the same privilege.

Let them fail! 

And then, let them reap the consequences.  Learn the lessons.  Make the changes - of their own volition.  Or if they choose to do the same thing again - let them fail again!  Eventually they'll stop banging their head against the same wall.

Let them fail while they still have life's training wheels on. 

Let them fail in elementary school, when the ramifications are almost non-existant.  Let them date while they're still in school, (responsibly and with rules and parameters), when the stakes are still so low.  Let them learn that without actually practicing they won't make the rep team, or that maybe they're not cut out for that sport at all, freeing them up to try something else.  Let them learn that success comes with a price.  And that price is usually trying, failing, learning and trying again.   

And don't feel that their failure is necessarily yours.  Let them reap the of consequences for their actions or inactions.  Let them bear the weight of personal responsibility and the pride in hard won accomplishment when they succeed.

Give them the gift of failure.  And with it the opportunity to try.  Let them learn that although they might not be the math king or the team's allstar, that there is still pride in trying, in striving, in doing their best.  Eventually, happening upon that one thing they're great at!  The thing that they love!  The thing they'll do without being nagged.  The hobby, sport or subject they'll take pleasure in because they have a knack for it.

In a time when parents are throwing around words like "entitled," "unambitious," and are waxing poetic about how different things were when we were kids.   Maybe we should back up a little and ask ourselves what the difference is between our childhood and that of our own kids. 

When I was little I rode my bike to softball practice, I got there on time, without being told or reminded to do so.  If I was late my coach made me run laps.  During the early years when the ball never left the infield I was repeatedly placed in left field where my coach could be sure I'd never have the opportunity to even touch the ball.  And I was aware of this!  But there was no parental intervention.  No one lobbied to ensure that I was given equal time in the infield.  I knew I wasn't the best player on the team.  But I still enjoyed myself!  I learned the lessons that teamwork teaches, valuable lessons.  Lessons in humility, cooperation, and functioning as a whole rather than for individual glory.  Then when I hit my growth spurt, a full year and a half before the other girls - overnight I became a super star!  Hitting home runs, catching fly balls too high for the other girls to reach, rounding bases on my newly lengthened legs faster than everyone else.  I enjoyed it because it was real.  No one pushed for me to get my fair share of glory before I had earned it.  I had ridden the bench and stood in the outfield, twirling and picking buttercups, for years before hand.  And I had loved those years.  They were childhood.  Carefree, pressure free, I wasn't the best, but I was still allowed to play, still made to feel that I was part of the team.  And in being part of that team part, I was part of the personal politics and hierarchies that are part of any group, and are as much or more of what childhood team sports teach us, than the actual sport.  Did I fail during those early years?  Kinda of.  I failed at catching fly balls, fielding grounders or even paying attention to the happenings on the infield most of the time.  But I was allowed time.  I was allowed to participate without being shamed.  There were consequences for my lack of ability and motivation, I wasn't falsely puffed up, I knew I sucked, I knew I had been given the worst position on the field.  But I didn't particularly care.  I was there for the chitter chatter on the bench anyway.  And when I finally did get good, it meant something.

As I've gotten older, and the pressure to be great at things has lessened.  I truly enjoy trying new things.  Because at 46 no one expects me to be a Olympic quality athlete -  I'm free to exercise for my own personal pleasure and accomplishment.  I now learn things because they interest me.  There aren't any tests with gold stars or the possibility of classroom accolades, and that's made the learning all the more meaningful.  When I was in school and constantly ranked against other students the focus was on success or failure, not the actual lesson.  And to be honest with you the pressure to "place" distracted me from the learning itself.  If I couldn't "succeed" why try?  So I often didn't.  Now that, that pressure is gone, I feel like I've become a much better student.  And having failed at many things I've tried, I would say I'm more empathetic of others who are struggling and yet carry on the fight.

Let your children fail.  Let them get humiliated every now and then.  Let them be left out or passed over.  Remain silent and let them experience life.  Or at least a micro version of it.  It will teach them more than winning, being praised or promoted under false pretenses ever could. 

Friday
Feb272015

How To Teach Your Children Character By Simply Shutting Up

Shut up, butt out and mind your own business.  Seriously.

Your kids don't need you defending them at every turn.

You know what that teaches them?  To be self absorbed, demanding, little Mumma's boys (or girls).  Throwing hissy fits whenever they don't get their way.  Brats.  Yup, that's right, brats.  A term that needs to be reinstated as far as I'm concerned.

You know what being left out, picked last, short changed or getting less than they were expecting teaches your kids?  Patience.  Grace.  How to handle frustration.  That life isn't fair.  How to speak up for themselves.  How to handle conflict.  How to handle disappointment.  In short.  It teaches them character.

In a time where children (and dogs for some odd reason - but that's another topic completely), are dotted on to a point verging on worship, we're seeing less and less character in our children.  And we, as parents, don't fail to recognize it.  Many are the conversations I've had with parents frustrated with adult children who fail to "launch".  Suddenly these little idols they once paid homage to so willingly, feel burdensome.  Which only makes sense.  Standing up for a 27 year old who lives in your basement somehow isn't so fun or cute or primal anymore.  There's a point at which the parenting instinct switches off.  A point at which children have overstayed their welcome.  A point at which we're simply - tired.  When we've put in our years and we're ready for quiet evenings and control over the remote.  When we'd prefer to use our disposable income on, well…  ourselves.

But why would they leave?  And more importantly, when did we teach them how to?  (I know I finished a sentence with a preposition.  Get over it!  See!  There!  I did it again!  Wait, is "it" a preposition?)

When they were developing, learning from all we said, did, demonstrated, allowed them to try or not to try, were we teaching them independence?  Were we teaching them character, work ethic?  Were we teaching them how to interact with the world at large?  Or were we coddling them?  Protecting them at every turn?  At every injustice?  Creating a utopia in which the sun rose and set around them.  Sounds great to me!  I'd never leave that place either!

If you want your kids to grow up, actually "grow up."  To become adults that are capable of creating lives for themselves, where they can navigate the ins and outs of the world.  The trials and disappointments of adult life.  Where they can fall down and yet pick themselves up and try again.  Then you'd better let them start practicing that now.  We don't leave the training wheels on until the day a cyclist participates in the Tour de France and expect them to aptly compete.  Let your kids experience disappoint for pete's sake!  It won't kill them!  I promise you! 

I totally get the relief and pleasure there is in seeing the joy on our children's faces when disappointment turns to satisfaction.  The peace that is brokered when the melodramatic fussing stops and they settle down quietly, having been given the object of their desire.   Utopia.  A world in which all their wants are appeased.  Never shall they suffer not being given as many turns as the next kid.  Never shall they be given a failing mark on a test they couldn't be bothered to study for.  Never shall they miss out on a sports camp so they can work a Summer job.

Instead of meeting your child's frustrations with appeasement, how about meeting it with solemn understanding, an explanation of the realities of the situation and an expectation that they figure out how to process the idea that they won't be getting what they want.  If that fails, there's always discipline.  A quaint old custom where children were reigned in and told to  - "Smarten up!"  "Stop it!"  To "Stop crying or you'll be given something to cry about."  

Your children are darling.  Seriously.  I'm not being sarcastic.  Children are adorable.  With their wispy hair, big sparkly eyes and funny little voices.  They're absolutely adorable!  I can easily melt into a puddle around babies and children.  They are also however, capable of being told no and proceeding on without having a complete melt down.  Of being disappointed and yet still going ahead to lead a full and productive life.  They will not die if they get the green lollipop and their sister gets the pink one.  Trust me!  I'm a doctor!  (I'm actually not.  It just sounded really good at the end of that sentence!)  

Stop worshiping your children.  Stop defusing or negotiating every disappointment or frustration that comes their way.  Let them take a few knocks.  They'll survive.  They'll grow up.  And then they'll leave home.  The end.