Hi there! ....
One of the things that delights my heart is when one of my children helps another of my children – siblings helping siblings. This week I saw them encouraging each other in what is right (sometimes it is done with a bossy heart but most times with a humble-I-want-to-help-you heart). I’ve seen them helping each other with creative projects – giving inspiration and directions. I’ve seen them helping each other to understand something. I’ve seen them encourage each other in God stuff. I wonder why I’ve seen this all happen this week? I don’t think my kids have suddenly upped their efforts – I think it is because my life hasn’t been crazy-busy with lots of commitments. I’ve been at home, I’ve had gentle days where we’ve just done the next thing. There has been time, emotional time as well as physical to observe and enjoy my children. This is a good thing.
Live life with your kids!
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Mistakes will Happen
We’ve been looking at Discernment the last few weeks and I have been surprised at how many situations have arisen in our family life giving us opportunity to discuss this. We’ve discussed a few different definitions but I think this one has been the most understood and applicable:
Discernment is the ability to distinguish
between what is good and what is evil,
in order to make wise decisions.
(The Power For True Success)
Character First lists five different things we can practice as we develop a particular character trait in our life – they call them “I will statements”. Two of these “I will statements” caught my attention this week considering discernment:
- I will learn from experience
- I will not repeat mistakes
We were in a discussion about making choices – and sometimes our choices need to be made on the run so to speak. And it dawned on me that my children needed encouragement that they will make mistakes – discernment isn’t about not making mistakes, it isn’t about seeing what is right and wrong and always making the right decision - discernment will have them learning from their mistakes and not repeating them. Our children need that assurance.
Growing in character in our life isn’t about education and information – that is only the start. Character grows in our life when we start putting what we know into action. It is the practice of character choices that develops character. Practice automatically infers failure. If we got it right the first time we wouldn’t need to practice. There will be bad choices, there will be mistakes, there will be failures – are we prepared to accept that?
Do our children know (that there are going to be mistakes) and do they know that we know (that there are going to be mistakes) and that we are okay with that?
What we are talking about here is unconditional love. Unconditional love automatically infers there is going to be a difficulty ahead – that we are going to have to love when they do something unloveable, when they make a mistake, when they do wrong, when they hurt us. We say we love our children unconditionally but do we think of the conditions that will require that depth of love.
Being a wise parent isn’t just about letting them make mistakes – we teach and guide them right from the start. Remember that toddler who wanted to touch the hot oven. We didn’t just let them make a mistake by letting them put their full hand palm down on the oven door – we taught them, guided them, and then maybe there was a time we let them touch (just gently) so they could see for themselves. But we loved them too – we raced them off to cold water to sooth any pain. This is learning by mistakes. Next time they were sure to discern that the oven was hot and it was not wise to touch it.
This is the model we need – regardless of the age of our children: teach, guide, let go, love!
We need to teach them what is right and wrong. We need to prepare them to make choices. They can make little choices now even as little people. As they grow their choices or the implication of their choices will grow too. We need to be not afraid of being the older, wise people in our children’s lives – they need to learn from our experience and our understanding (discernment). The Bible talks of having wise companions. We need to be wise companions to our children and teach them.
Then we need to guide them – this is a time when we start to remove ourselves from making choices for them. We don’t remove total moral expectations but we put around our children moral boundaries for them to respond within. These boundaries can be both physical and moral. The moral boundaries are when we help write God’s law on their heart.
Thy word have I hid in my heart,
that I may not sin against You.
If our children are to be moral beings they have to make moral choices for themselves. We cannot hold their hand for their entire lives. We have to trust our training (teaching and guiding) and let go and let them make decisions and deal with the consequences. This process starts from a young age – I am not talking just about teenagers here though it is very important to let our teenagers make choices and live with the consequences – but we need to be doing this right from the start. Take manners for example – if our child chooses not to act with good manners is there a consequence? There should be. This is letting them make a choice and deal the repercussions. Do our children know how to look after their possessions? What happens when they make an unwise choice? A consequence? Do they know how to manage their time and their studies? What happens when they make an unwise choice? A consequence?
(Note: When I say consequence I am not talking about punishment – I am talking about the natural outcome of making an unwise choice. Don’t say please – don’t get it. Don’t look after what you own – you loose it. Don’t use your study time wisely – no free time. Etc)
We have the opportunity to teach our children that choices have consequences – the value of their choice will determine the value of the consequences. Consequences can be blessings or cursings!! If our children have the opportunity to make choices, and see consequences from the time they are young – this will develop an understanding that this is how the world operates and when they get older and their choices have bigger implications – Who will be my friend? How will I find entertainment and pleasure? What will I fill my mind with? What will I do with my life? These choices need to be made by our children – we cannot make the choices for them. We have to let go and let them.
But at no time we do step outside of our unconditional love. They may make choices we don’t like, we may have to watch them deal with the consequences (and it hurts our heart) but we still love. Our heart needs always be towards our children; deep unshaken acceptance of our children regardless of the mistakes they make.
This is My commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12 (NKJV)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.
Rom 5:8 (NKJV)
God doesn’t expect perfection from us – He knows us: He knows that we will make unwise choices – that we will make mistakes – that we will sin and yet He loves us. And we are commanded to love our children in the same way.
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My Internet Reading lately Some links to things that I’ve read online this last week or so
Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.
Heart Focus Parenting - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.
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Living life with her kids in Australia!
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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter
I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
- Be a Deliberate Parent – Encouragement to continue in purposeful and intentional parenting.
- Family Life – Spotlights on a particular aspect of family life so we can see the natural opportunities available to us in educating our children.
- Character Education – Each month we focus on a different character trait – The newsletter will include application for Mums, as well as seeing character training opportunities in everyday life.
- A Homeschool Thought – Discussing homeschool issues
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