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The Excuses we Make - Live life with your kids - Issue 070
September 05, 2008
Hi there! ....

This week:

Our youngest son, Daniel, has taken to pirates. He has worked with this topic in his free time; early mornings, afternoons and at various times while waiting for me! I did a little prep, looking on the internet for activities that he could do independently though we have only used one of those so far thanks to the great books he found at the library. I have been impressed with the skills that he has put into play while occupying himself. I have been reminded once again, it is not the subject matter that is important – it is the skills they learn on the way. He has
- used the library computer catalogue to find books
- used the photocopier to enlarge a pattern
- learnt to stencil (stenciled a skull and crossbones onto his flag)
- designed a fabric cover for his hook/hand (this included redesign when his first 2 attempts weren’t right, and sewing on the machine)
- used his wood working tools to cut a coat hanger into a hook
- made treasure for his treasure chest, made a map for a treasure hunt
- mended his pirate pants with a patch (which he feels all pirates have!)
- The best has been that it has brought imagination play into his life, and he has been able to share that with a few other little boys.

It has been good to reflect on the skills rather than just seeing this for play.

Live life with your kids!

Be a Deliberate Parent

Excuses we Make

To be intentional and proactive people we need to do regular spot checks on our own lives:

As a Christian I can ask, How is my daily walk with Jesus?
As a Wife I can as ask, Does my husband come first?
As a Homemaker I can ask, Is there an area in my home that needs attention?
As a Parent I can ask, Is their behaviour reflecting my training efforts?

Regardless of the answers that we come up with the next step has to be “What am I going to do about it?”

There have been times when I have done a parenting check that I have not liked what I saw. I saw me, the parent, resting on my laurels. I was settled and in honesty the kid’s behaviour was reflecting that. At such times I hear myself give all sorts of excuses, or reasons, for their continual repetitive little errors of judgment. Little Errors of Judgment – no, they were Wrong Behaviour!!

The 77 Habits of Highly Ineffective Christians by Chris Fabry, says “Spiritual procrastination is the process by which you convince yourself you are aiming high while actually achieving nothing.” This describes the comfortable parent well. We had achieved high levels in our parenting but I had slipped in my consistently holding to that standard. How quickly things droop. My standard was still high and I had convinced myself, in my procrastination that we were still there. We weren’t!

It was hearing the excuses that I was making that made me look closer at what was really going on. We make excuses, to excuse the child, as if it is the child’s fault that he is misbehaving.

“It is just childishness” “He didn’t mean to do it” “He doesn’t know any better at the moment”

Excuse #1 – It is just childishness
Godly Response – Unchecked childishness leads to foolishness

If a child is old enough to do something naughty he is old enough to be taught to do something right. He may not get it right away, but the training needs to begin. He may not fully understand the moral reason why but his actions need to be formed by habit from an early age.

Yes, the child is acting out of childishness – he hasn’t been taught any different. But what am I going to do about it? We shouldn’t make an excuse as if it is the child’s fault – it is MY responsibility. If you have decided not to deal with childishness, the behaviour will be established in their life, leading to foolishness later on (when they do know better but choose unwisely anyway).

“He doesn’t know how to do that yet…” “I don’t think he understands my instruction”

Excuse #2 – Ignorance, no skills
Godly Response – Parents need to train their children

There are different phases in training our children.

  1. We give instruction, we show how it is done
  2. We work along side of them, helping them do it right
  3. We step aside letting them do it, but are there to keep them on track
  4. We expect them to do it by themselves. It is when they reach this level that we hold them accountable, without us having to remind them of the things they have been taught.

We go through this sequence for every single thing that we teach our children, from the simple manners of “say thank you” to our desire for them to show initiative and diligence with household chores, or school work. Anything that we train our children to know and understand, moral or practical needs to go through these training steps.

Therefore, when they don’t get it right we shouldn’t make an excuse as if it is the child’s fault – it is actually MY responsibility to train him to maturity. Ignorance is not an excuse but it needs to trigger a response in us – training needs to begin or training is not yet complete!

“Check out the face!” “At least he is doing it” “Too bad about the attitude”

Excuse #3 – Ignoring bad attitude because of a good action
Godly Response – God looks at the heart, so should we!

Proverbs is clear that the heart drives the man. We must reach our children’s attitudes as much as we train their actions. So often one bad attitude can be the cause for many bad actions in our child’s life which makes it very effective parenting to go straight to the heart of the matter.

When my child has a bad attitude, we shouldn’t make an excuse as if it is the child’s fault – it is actually MY responsibility! Don’t let him get away with it – work on it! Having a bad attitude is not acceptable; it is an alarm bell that something needs to be done in the training department!

“He’s tired” “He is teething” “He is a Choleric, and cholerics are bossy!”

Excuse #4 – circumstances and personality
Godly Response – We are all held accountable, and will all be judged

If we hold the Bible to be true, if we believe it tells us how we are to live our life it is to be true for all men, not just those for whom it appears to be easy! Galatians 5 tells of the Fruit of the Spirit – these are the traits in which we should be characterized by – regardless of the fact of being tired, in pain or being a Choleric, Melancholic, Phlegmatic or Sanguine! The godly principles we live our life by are to be the standard for all our children.

If you hear yourself giving off such excuses, stop. We shouldn’t make an excuse as if it is the child’s fault – it is actually MY responsibility. We need to take this as a signal and refocus on God’s Word as our standard, not the circumstances.

I’m sure there are many other excuses that we inadvertently give for our children’s misdeeds. In highlighting these four we will be more aware of what we are saying. More often than not, these excuses just pop out, without our thinking, and without our actually hearing what we are saying.

The truth of the situation is that we as parents must take the responsibility for our children’s actions. If they are not doing right, that is okay, it is an opportunity for training. We must grab that opportunity not miss it by the glib giving of an excuse.

Chuck Swindoll says, “Those who achieve excellence are faithful in the tedious, monotonous details of life.” What is more monotonous that the repeating of instructions to our young children! We have the opportunity to achieve excellence. We do this by diligently working on all that God has laid on our hearts to do in the training and instruction of our children. A final thought from Chuck Swindoll,

Do it when it comes naturally
and when it is hard to come by.
Do it when you’re up,
do it when you’re down.
Do it when you feel like it, and
do it when you don’t feel like it.
Do it when it’s hot,
do it when it’s cold.
Keep doing it. Don’t give up!

Website Updates

Manners Matter We need to teach our children manners, not only the what to do but more importantly the why.

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Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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