Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Teaching the "WHYS"

When raising my children, my husband and I adopted many different traditions, strategies, and rules strategically for a certain purpose. One of my desires was to see my children want to obey, and not just obey. Knowing that the Lord institutes His statutes, precepts and judgments for our good makes it so much easier for me to trust Him and want to obey Him. That is the reason I took the time in training my children to let them know why they had certain rules and why we did things a certain way.

The downside to this is that you find yourself doing a lot of explaining; however, your children learn that your rules for the home are designed with their best interests in mind, and consider other members of the family as well.

Often children feel so privy to this information that they may feel that they are entitled to make rules themselves, change rules, or contribute their own reasoning to the rules of the home. This is something that needs to be guarded against. More importantly than children understanding the whys is their concept of authority and honor. If you fail to teach your children to honor you, it will not go well with them. (Deuteronomy 5:16 Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. )

Sadly, too many children don't learn obedience to authority at home, and then they have to learn it a more difficult way at school, at work, or with other authorities. Teaching your children at a very young age to obey you even when they don't agree is helping them train their will. It is so important that you begin this process at a very young age. When your children obey you when it is difficult for them and obey with the right attitude, verbalize how proud you are of them that you know it wasn't easy but they had the strength of character to obey you regardless.

As our children grew older, we instituted a process for them to give us "further information" in the form of an "appeal" process to a rule. For example, if their curfew was 11:00 p.m., they would ask "may I appeal" and then give us some information that could be considered to change the standard rule. They may say something like "we are watching a movie with my friend's family, and the movie won't be done until 11:15." At that point, my husband and I could consider the information and make an exception, or stay with the regular rules. It worked about half and half because we tried to consider the appeals while keeping the lines in place we knew would result in strong family and home values. After the first "appeal" the appeal process was done: we didn't want the process to escalate into a clash of wills and reasons!

Another thing to consider in making rules for your children as they grow older and are driving: we learned to make curfew the time you left someplace and not the time you arrived home. They would have to call us as they were getting into their cars to tell us they were leaving. That way, they didn't leave somewhere late and be speeding to get home on time.

Challenge: Tell your children the "whys" of your standards so they see the good in the rules! Institute an "appeal" process: sometimes there are exceptions to the rules! Give your children a good understanding of authority in the home, at school and in the workplace: these are lessons that will guide them through their entire lives!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Personality Adjustments

I love gardening. The many parables relating to sowing and reaping and fields and harvests speak to me in the garden. When you first plant your seedlings, you have to keep a most watchful eye on them to ensure they take root firmly and grow uprightly. In addition to keeping away harmful elements that will hinder their growth, often you need to put in a stake next to the little plant and tie the little plant onto it to be sure that the plant grows and is pointing in the right direction!~ (Many times with my children I used the example of the stake... if I saw that any of my children were growing in the "wrong direction" I would become the stake and invisibly "tie" that child to me to hang around with me long enough to know they were standing uprightly enough that they could stand on their own again!)

Early on in life, your children begin to exhibit character tendencies that will be a part of their personalities. Left unchallenged, some of these tendencies can be destructive for them, and need to be adjusted so it can become a positive part of their life instead of a negative.

There are many personalities that just need to be adjusted... strengths that could become weaknesses if you are not on guard. I have realized this in my own life. Knowing that your greatest strength can become your greatest weakness, I make sure that I look at some of the characteristics and personality traits that govern me, and make adjustments to be sure that those traits aren't expressed in their negative way. I learn to tweak my weaknesses to work with them and express them in a positive way rather than to be overcome and unduly focus on them.

For example, one of my children would tend to isolate herself when she was hurt or upset. If she had something to say, she usually didn't want to say it. She didn't even want family members watching her open presents on her birthday, much less was she able to interact with someone she didn't know! I began to make some personality adjustments: When she was hurt or upset, I would train her to "let someone in" to her pain. I did projects with her that showed her how important it was when there was a heavy load to have someone take part of it in order to lift it. I did projects to enforce the strength of a bundle of sticks that can't be broken vs. one stick that is broken easily. I gently talked to her about casting her cares on the Lord rather than carrying them, giving word pictures to show her how to put things in the hands of the Lord and leave knowing He can work all things out when we can't. We went over the importance and value of her input into others' lives, and how to step out of her comfort zone. We did experiments on going "way outside" of her box to be overly friendly to others and see their responses. We did "self conscious" vs "other people conscious" comparisons in how we express ourselves. We went to a senior residents home and cancer group to help monthly, and I made sure my children learned "conversation starters" for each time so they could interact and communicate with people they didn't know. I made time and energy to devote to her expressing some of the things she was very talented in so she had a strong sense of the things she did well and her special gifts and talents. We did many many projects, demonstrations and studies on differences in people and how important each talent and gift was to the equation -- learning that we never have to be everything, and we are always something... that we only need to contribute what we are and have, not be stifled because someone else contributes or is something else. Today my daughter is in a profession that involves intense interaction with people, and she loves it. She expresses herself in situations and has learned so many communication skills that it has become her strength. She is able to handle difficult situations as well.

Another child was an obsessive personality that could not stand imperfection. It was just part of her personality. She didn't drop any food on her bib, and she didn't like a drop of anything in her diaper and was potty trained by age 2. She complained and whined, which I saw was becoming part of her personality. I began to integrate many different project and studies and challenges to be sure that she would get outside of her box to enjoy living in an imperfect world and being joyful in imperfect circumstances. We learned differences of striving for perfection vs. perfectionism. We learned that our confidence comes from the Lord and not from our achievements, and the importance to know the difference because our achievements can't always be 100%. I taught her the value of people and stressed the importance of relationships so she didn't get lost in books and studies. We concentrated on balance in our lives vs. extremism. This daughter is in a profession where her constant quest for excellence is what makes her excel; however, her life is balanced with other important relationships and interests, ensuring that she does not have the same propensity to burn out as many others in her profession do. Her JOY is contagious, despite living in an imperfect world, and her joy spills over to any one near her!

I did this with each of my children. Not to be exhaustive, I will make a short note of a few of the other traits for examples so you can more firmly identify with this principle:

*One child became frustrated very easily. We learned to take all that energy and turn it to a constructive force. We learned to break large projects into smaller pieces. We learned to concentrate on one thing at a time. We learned the value of interruptions and how to handle them and keep on track. We did experiments to exhibit the negative forces of "blowups" by building volcanos and seeing the destruction of tornados, and concentrated on the positive forces of lasers when energy is focused. We played games to build self control in being silent. We learned and discussed how what you say impacts another person. This person is a very successful professional that uses all of his energy to multi-task in amazing ways and accomplish incredible things.

*Another child was so intense, he began telling me what he thought under no uncertain circumstances before he could even put words to the expression, and his intense baby talk was intensely humorous. Even as a toddler he would stumble over all the words he needed to get out! As he grew older, his intensity became more exhibited: he would snap his fingers and ask me "ok, what am I doing next Wednesday... what about Friday... what do I need to get to bring to the birthday party..." I began to challenge him to accept delays in his fast paced mind, to accept interruptions as he built his 60-page lego structures at age 9, to go outside his box to realize as a shortstop baseball player there was not an imaginary line where he was responsible for the ball, but he had to back up other players and they could actually grab a ball that might have been defined as "his." I taught him to train his mind about what he could think about and when, and tried to help him learn to relax his constantly-going mind. I taught him the value of balance and how everything he did didn't necessarily have to "produce" something but relationships, which require a huge time investment, are just as important. I also taught him the value of "puzzles" -- how others' perspectives balance ours, and the importance of others' input into his life. As a young man now, he makes himself incredibly accountable as he is mentored by Godly, amazing people; he values and considers others' perspectives. His greatest assets are his passion for people and his relationships, and he directs his passions with balance in his life.

*Another little toddler showed at an early age that she had no patience for anything that disrupted her schedule. This very positive organizational trait began to express itself negatively as temper tantrums when things didn't go as she had planned. Realizing the value of the positive side of her strong will, I began to train her for disruptions in our schedules in life. I helped her to realize her part in the plan, but to still realize unexpected disruptions can re-direct, postpone, or even have us abandon plans for other ones. I helped her learn to make lemons from lemonades with disruptions, and which disruptions we could control and which we couldn't and how to handle them differently. I taught her how to plan and schedule people into her planner. I taught her many techniques on handling stress, and how to avoid and know when she took on too many things. This daughter's organizational skills have enabled her to excel in her profession while balancing unbelievable things in her life. Her flexibility and understanding for unexpected delays still helps her avoid stress breakdowns when "life happens" to interrupt!

Challenge: What character traits are your child demonstrating that need a stake put alongside to help that trait demonstrate itself more uprightly and positively? What are some projects, studies or parables you can use to demonstrate the positive side of the trait? How can you train your child to express their personality strengths consistently but without making that strength become a weakness by allowing it to be unbridled?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Tribute to my Daddy...

To My Daddy
Father’s Day, 2011
God speaks to us in parables,
So we learn of Him, it’s true.
And when God calls Himself my Father
I can understand because of you.

As a little girl, I remember being in awe:
Your power and strength was easy to see
I couldn’t wait for when you came from work to home
Because you lived for your family.

We knew that when you came through the door
That you were exactly where you wanted to be.
You kicked in - doing whatever it took
Investing 200% energy.

We all remember how much you did
Working yourself to the bone!
Inexhaustibly you fixed things, played with us and cleaned
Making sure that everything got done.

Winter picnics, ice rinks, lists and games
Everything together as a team with heart.
You taught us that work or play, whatever the season,
Our value together was far greater than apart.

We went through frustrations and learned how to deal
With different personalities and thoughts and trends.
We learned the value of family by all chipping in –
The value of relationships that will never end.

Traditions and values, with joy and through pain
You sacrificed task after task.
No matter how you felt, busy morning til night –
The hardest thing to do was relax!!!

You may not remember the countless things you you’ve done
Showing us how only an amazing Dad can love
It was minute by minute the way that you lived
That showed us love on earth AND from above.

The greatest things your life taught me about the love of a Father – both from you AND from my Heavenly Father:
1. That my Father loves and cherishes me for who I am despite who I am
and who I am not; and my Father delights in me!!!
2. That my Father wants to be involved with my life, even at times where I
am not giving him all the attention!
3. That my Father gives me all his resources of time, talents and money,
without reservation, freely and without expectation, only hoping that
I will use them for my good and to better my life and achieve my goals.
4. That my Father sacrificed to give me a family to buffet the storms and
enhance the joys of life.
5. That my Father made sure I knew I am a significant part of our family for a
particular purpose, and that my role is important and cannot be filled by
any other person.
6. That my Father is interested and proud of what I do, regardless of whether
those things changed year to year; he was a 100% participant in the things
I was enthusiastic about.
7. That my Father wants me to make decisions responsibly, because they
affect not just me but my entire family.
8. That my Father wanted me to learn from my mistakes for one reason: so
I wouldn’t repeat them and get hurt again.
9. That my Father’s plans for me were always for my good and never for
his gain.
10. That my Dad would do anything to prevent me from pain or from making
a mistake if he could, and that he felt every pain I felt.